2 Corinthians 2


The apostle farther explains the reasons why he did not pay his

intended visit to the Corinthians, 1.

And why he wrote to them in the manner he did, 2-5.

He exhorts them also to forgive the incestuous person, who had

become a true penitent; and therefore he had forgiven him in

the name of Christ, 6-11.

He mentions the disappointment he felt when he came to Troas in

not meeting with Titus, from whom he expected to have heard an

account of the state of the Corinthian Church, 12, 13.

Gives thanks to God for the great success he had in preaching

the Gospel, so that the influence of the name of Christ was

felt in every place, 14.

Shows that the Gospel is a savour of life to them that believe,

and of death to them that believe not, 15, 16.

And that he and his brethren preached the pure, unadulterated

doctrine of God among the people, 17.


Verse 1. But I determined this] The apostle continues to give

farther reasons why he did not visit them at the proposed time.

Because of the scandals that were among them he could not see them

comfortably; and therefore he determined not to see them at all

till he had reason to believe that those evils were put away.

Verse 2. For if I make you sorry] Should he have come and

used his apostolical authority, in inflicting punishment upon the

transgressors, this would have been a common cause of distress.

And though he might expect that the sound part of the Church would

be a cause of consolation to him, yet as all would be overwhelmed

with trouble at the punishment of the transgressors, he could not

rejoice to see those whom he loved in distress.

Verse 3. And I wrote this same unto you] This I particularly

marked in my first epistle to you; earnestly desiring your

reformation, lest, if I came before this had taken place, I must

have come with a rod, and have inflicted punishment on the

transgressors. See 1Co 5:1-13.

My joy is the joy of you all.] I know that ye wish my comfort

as much as I wish yours.

Verse 4. For out of much affliction, &c.] It is very likely

that the apostle's enemies had represented him as a harsh,

austere, authoritative man; who was better pleased with inflicting

wounds than in healing them. But he vindicates himself from this

charge by solemnly asserting that this was the most painful part

of his office; and that the writing of his first epistle to them

cost him much affliction and anguish of heart, and many tears.

Verse 5. But, if any have caused grief] Here he seems to

refer particularly to the cause of the incestuous person.

Grieved me, but in part] I cannot help thinking that the εκ

μερους and απομερους, which we render in part, and which the

apostle uses so frequently in these epistles, are to be referred

to the people. A part of them had acknowledged the apostle,

2Co 1:14;

and here, a part of them had given him cause of grief; and

therefore he immediately adds, that I may not overcharge you all;

as only a part of you has put me to pain, (viz. the transgressor,

and those who had taken his part,) it would be unreasonable that I

should load you all, επιβαρωπανταςυμας, with the blame which

attaches to that party alone.

Verse 6. Sufficient to such a man is this punishment] That

is, the man has already suffered sufficiently. Here he gives a

proof of his parental tenderness towards this great transgressor.

He had been disowned by the Church; he had deeply repented; and

now the apostle pleads for him.

Verse 7. Ye ought rather to forgive him] He had now suffered

enough; for the punishment inflicted had answered the end for

which it was inflicted; and there was some danger that, if this

poor culprit were not restored to the bosom of the Church, his

distress and anguish would destroy his life, or drive him to


Verse 8. That ye would confirm your love toward him.] You do

love him, notwithstanding the reproach he has brought on the

Gospel; and notwithstanding your love to him, ye were obliged to

cut him off for the credit of the Gospel. Now that he has

repented, I beseech you to confirm, κυρωσαι, to ratify, by a

public act of the Church, your love to him; give him the fullest

proof that you do love him; by forgiving him and restoring him to

his place in the Church.

Verse 9. For to this end also did I write] εγραψα, I have

written this also, the advices and commands which I now give you,

that I might know whether ye be obedient in all things.

Verse 10. To whom ye forgive any thing] Here he farther shows

them that his sole object in the punishment inflicted on the

transgressor, was his amendment and therefore promises to ratify,

in the name and authority of Christ, the free pardon which he

exhorts them to dispense.

In the person of Christ] As I believe Christ acts towards his

penitent soul, so do I. Christ forgives his sin, and takes him to

his favour; let us forgive him his offence against the Church, and

restore him to its communion.

Verse 11. Lest Satan should get an advantage] If the man who

has given sufficient proof of the sincerity of his repentance be

not restored, he may be overwhelmed with sorrow, and sink into

despair; and then the discipline of the Church will be

represented, not as emendatory, but as leading to destruction. Of

this our enemies would most gladly avail themselves, as they wish

to discredit this ministry; and there is always at hand a devil to

suggest evil, and prompt men to do it; for in this respect we have

thorough acquaintance with his devices. Let us therefore be

careful to remove, both from Satan and his partisans, all those

occasions which might turn to the disadvantage or disparagement of

the Gospel of Christ.

Verse 12. When I came to Troas] After having written the

former epistle, and not having heard what effect it had produced

on your minds; though the Lord had opened me a particular door to

preach the Gospel, in which I so especially rejoice and glory;

Verse 13. I had no rest in my spirit] I was so concerned for

you, through the love I bear you, that I was greatly distressed

because I did not find Titus returned to give me an account of

your state.

But taking my leave of them] I went thence into Macedonia,

expecting to find him there; and thither he did come; and gave me

a joyous account of your state. See 2Co 8:6, 7.

Verse 14. Now, thanks be unto God] His coming dispelled all

my fears, and was the cause of the highest satisfaction to my

mind; and filled my heart with gratitude to God, who is the Author

of all good, and who always causes us to triumph in Christ; not

only gives us the victory, but such a victory as involves the

total ruin of our enemies; and gives us cause of triumphing in

him, through whom we have obtained this victory.

A triumph, among the Romans, to which the apostle here alludes,

was a public and solemn honour conferred by them on a victorious

general, by allowing him a magnificent procession through the city.

This was not granted by the senate unless the general had

gained a very signal and decisive victory; conquered a province,

&c. On such occasions the general was usually clad in a rich

purple robe, interwoven with figures of gold, setting forth the

grandeur of his achievements; his buskins were beset with pearls,

and he wore a crown, which at first was of laurel, but was

afterwards of pure gold. In one hand he had a branch of laurel,

the emblem of victory; and in the other, his truncheon. He was

carried in a magnificent chariot, adorned with ivory and plates of

gold, and usually drawn by two white horses. (Other animals were

also used: when Pompey triumphed over Africa, his chariot was

drawn by elephants; that of Mark Antony, by lions; that of

Heliogabalus, by tigers; and that of Aurelius, by deer.) His

children either sat at his feet in the chariot, or rode on the

chariot horses. To keep him humble amidst these great honours a

slave stood at his back, casting out incessant railings, and

reproaches; and carefully enumerating all his vices, &c. Musicians

led up the procession, and played triumphal pieces in praise of

the general; and these were followed by young men, who led the

victims which were to be sacrificed on the occasion, with their

horns gilded, and their heads and necks adorned with ribbons and

garlands. Next followed carts loaded with the spoils taken from

the enemy, with their horses, chariots, &c. These were followed

by the kings, princes, or generals taken in the war, loaded with

chains. Immediately after these came the triumphal chariot,

before which, as it passed, the people strewed flowers, and

shouted Io, triumphe!

The triumphal chariot was followed by the senate; and the

procession was closed by the priests and their attendants, with

the different sacrificial utensils, and a white ox, which was to

be the chief victim. They then passed through the triumphal arch,

along the via sacra to the capitol, where the victims were slain.

During this time all the temples were opened, and every altar

smoked with offerings and incense.

The people at Corinth were sufficiently acquainted with the

nature of a triumph: about two hundred years before this, Lucius

Mummius, the Roman consul, had conquered all Achaia, destroyed

Corinth, Thebes, and Chalcis; and, by order of the senate, had a

grand triumph, and was surnamed Achaicus. St. Paul had now a

triumph (but of a widely different kind) over the same people; his

triumph was in Christ, and to Christ he gives all the glory; his

sacrifice was that of thanksgiving to his Lord; and the incense

offered on the occasion caused the savour of the knowledge of

Christ to be manifested in every place. As the smoke of the

victims and incense offered on such an occasion would fill the

whole city with their perfume, so the odour of the name and

doctrine of Christ filled the whole of Corinth and the

neighbouring regions; and the apostles appeared as triumphing in

and through Christ, over devils, idols, superstition, ignorance,

and vice, wherever they came.

Verse 15. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ] The

apostle still alludes to the case of a triumph; the conqueror

always represented the person of Jupiter; as even the heathens

supposed that God alone could give the victory: and as the

punishment of death was inflicted on some of the captives, who had

often rebelled and broken leagues and covenants; so others were

spared, made tributaries, and often became allies. Alluding to

this, the apostle says: We are a sweet savour to God-we have

fulfilled his will in faithfully proclaiming the Gospel, and

fighting against sin. And as he has determined that those who

believe shall be saved, and those who believe not shall perish,

we are equally acceptable to him though we unsuccessfully preach

the Gospel to some who obstinately reject it, and so perish, as

we are in preaching to others who believe, and are saved.

Verse 16. To the one we are the savour of death unto death]

There are several sayings among the ancient Jewish writers similar

to this. In Debarim Rabba, sec. i. fol. 248, it is said: "As the

bee brings home honey to its owner, but stings others; so it is

with the words of the law;" : sam chaiyim leyisrael,

"They are a savour of lives to the Israelites:"

vesam hammaveth leomoth haolam, "And a

savour of death to the people of this world." The learned reader

may see much more to this effect in Schoettgen. The apostle's

meaning is plain: those who believe and receive the Gospel are

saved; those who reject it, perish. The meaning of the rabbins is

not less plain: the Israelites received the law and the prophets

as from God, and thus possessed the means of salvation; the

Gentiles ridiculed and despised them, and thus continued in the

path of death. The same happens to the present day to those who

receive and to those who reject the Gospel: it is the means of

salvation to the former, it is the means of destruction to the

latter; for they are not only not saved because they do not

believe the Gospel, but they are condemned because they reject

it. For how can they escape who neglect so great a salvation?

The sun which nourishes the tree that is planted in a good soil,

decomposes and destroys it if plucked up and laid on the surface.

That the saved, σωζομενοι, and they that perish, απολλυμενοι

mean those who receive and obey the Gospel, and those who reject

it and live and die in sin, needs no proof. No other kinds of

reprobate and elect, in reference to the eternal world, are known

in the BOOK of GOD, though they abound in the books of men. The

Jews were possessed with such an exalted opinion of their own

excellence that they imagined that all the love and mercy of God

were concentrated among themselves, and that God never would

extend his grace to the Gentiles.

Such sentiments may become JEWS but when we find some Gentiles

arrogating to themselves all the salvation of God, and

endeavouring to prove that he has excluded the major part even of

their own world-the Gentiles, from the possibility of obtaining

mercy; and that God has made an eternal purpose, that the death of

Christ shall never avail them, and that no saving grace shall ever

be granted to them, and that they shall infallibly and eternally

perish; what shall we say to such things? It is Judaism in its

worst shape: Judaism with innumerable deteriorations. The

propagators of such systems must answer for them to God.

Who is sufficient for these things?] Is it the false apostle

that has been labouring to pervert you? Or, is it the men to whom

God has given an extraordinary commission, and sealed it by the

miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost? That this is the apostle's

meaning is evident from the following verse.

Verse 17. For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of

God] God has made US sufficient for these things by giving us his

own pure doctrine, the ministry of reconciliation, which we

conscientiously preserve and preach; and we act, not like many

among you, who, having received that doctrine, corrupt it;

mingling with it their own inventions, and explaining away its

force and influence, so as to accommodate it to men of carnal


The word καπηλευοντες, from καπηλος, a tavernkeeper, signifies

acting like an unprincipled vintner; for this class of men have

ever been notorious for adulterating their wines, mixing them with

liquors of no worth, that thereby they might increase their

quantity; and thus the mixture was sold for the same price as the

pure wine. Isa 1:22,

Thy wine is mixed with water, the Septuagint thus translate: οι

καπηλοισουμισγουσιτονοινονυδατι. "Thy vintners mix thy wine

with water;" that is, thy false prophets and corrupt priests

adulterate the word of God, and render it of none effect, by their

explanations and traditions.

The word has been used, both among the Greeks and Latins, to

signify a prostitution of what was right and just, for the sake of

gain. So Herodian, lib. vi. cap. 11; ειπηνηνχρυσιου

καπηλευοντες, "Making peace for money." So cauponari bellum is,

"To make war for money." In short, the word is used to signify

any artifice employed to get gain by making a thing look more or

better than it is; or mingling that which is excellent with what

is not so to promote the gain of the adulterater.

It is used by Aristophanes, Plut. Act. iv., scene 5, ver. 1064,

to express an old woman who was patched and painted to hide her





Not at all; the old woman is painted:

If the paint were washed off, then you

Would plainly see her wrinkled face.

Where see the note of the Scholiast, who observes that the term

is applied to those who deal in clothes, patching, mending, &c.,

as well as to those who mix bad wine with good. καπηλικωςεχει.

πανουργικως. επειοικαπηλοιχριεινκαιαναποιεινταιματια


Vid. Kusteri Aristoph., page 45.

But as of sincerity] εξειλικρινειας.

See Clarke on 2Co 1:12.

We receive the doctrine pure from God; we keep it pure, and

deliver it in its purity to mankind. For we speak in Christ-in

the things of his Gospel, as being in the sight of God-our whole

souls and all their motives being known to him. As the

unprincipled vintner knows that he adulterates the wine, his

conscience testifying this; so we know that we deliver the sincere

truth of God, our conscience witnessing that we deliver it to you,

as we receive it, by the inspiration of the Spirit of truth.

1. THAT St. Paul was a man of a very tender and loving spirit

is evident from all his epistles; but especially from this, and

particularly from the chapter before us. It was not an easy thing

with him to give a reproof; and nothing but a sense of his duty to

God and his Church could have led him to use his apostolical

power, to inflict spiritual punishment on transgressors. He felt

like a loving and tender father, who, being obliged to correct his

froward and disobedient child, feels in his own heart the pain of

a hundred blows for that occasioned by one laid on the body of his

son. There are some ministers who think nothing of cutting off

members from the Church of Christ; they seem to do it, if not

cheerfully, yet with indifference and unconcern! How can this be?

Nothing but absolute duty to God should induce any man to separate

any person from the visible Church; and then it must be on the

conviction that the case is totally hopeless. And who, even in

those circumstances, that knows the worth of a soul, can do it

without torture of heart?

2. We must not only love the doctrines, but also the morality

of the Gospel. He who loves this will not corrupt it; but, as

Quesnel says truly, in order to love the truth a man must practise

it; as in order to practise it he must love it. That a minister,

says he, may preach the word of God in such a manner as is worthy

of him, he must, with St. Paul, be always mindful of these three

things: 1. That he be sent by God, and that he speak directly from

him, and as his ambassador. 2. That he speak as in his presence,

and under his immediate inspection. 3. That he consider himself

as being in the place of Christ, and endeavour to minister to the

souls of men, as he has reason to believe Christ would do, were he

in the place; and as he knows Christ did, when he sojourned among

men. The minister of the Gospel is Christ's ambassador; and he

prays men in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God.

See 2Co 5:20.

The people should consider the nature of this embassage, and

receive it as coming immediately from God, that it may accomplish

the end for which he has sent it.

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