2 Corinthians


9. Paul proposes a visit to Corinth, 12:19-13:10

i] Warning and admonition


Paul "now concludes with a stern warning and an earnest admonition. Paul's warning is that when he comes to Corinth this time he will show no leniency toward those members of the congregation whose practical conduct continues to belie their professed commitment to Christ, v2-4. His admonition is that, in advance of his arrival, the Corinthian believers should critically examine their own life as a community of faith, and then effect the needed changes, v5-9. The matter is summed up in v10, where Paul indicates why he is writing this present letter to warn them of his determination to exercise authority when he comes and to ensure that it need not be used to punish wrongdoers, but only to build up the congregation", Furnish.


i] Context: See 10:1-11. Paul now concludes his letter / address to the Corinthian believers. He winds up with an exhortation aimed at restoring discipline in the Corinthian Church, v1-10, and concludes with final exhortations and a benediction, v11-13.


ii] Background: See 1:1-7.


iii] Structure: Warnings and admonitions:

A stern warning, v1-4;

A stern admonition, v5-9;

The purpose of Paul's letter, v10.


iv] Interpretation:

Guthrie notes that this passage possesses a resounding note of accountability. Paul wants the Corinthians to sort out their own problems; he doesn't want to have to sort them out for them. If the Corinthian believers fail to take action, then Paul promises that he will use his authority as necessary for their upbuilding. As Barnett notes, Paul wants them to prove their standing in Christ. Many in Corinth have demanded a "proof that Christ is speaking" through Paul, that Paul is an "approved" apostle. Of course, if he's not approved then neither are they since he is their founding apostle. What is important is that they check their approval, that they are "in the faith" and that "Christ Jesus is in" them.


Does Paul's stern warnings support the Compilation Hypothesis? Given the positive report from Titus, as regards the "repentance" of the Corinthian believers, cf. chapter 7, it seems rather strange that Paul now writes so sternly concerning his intended dealings with ongoing sin in the fellowship. As already noted, some commentators explain this anomaly by arguing that chapters 10-13 represent a separate letter sent by Paul to Corinth.

Of course, we may simply be witnessing the mixed results of Titus' visit to Corinth - for the most part, the Corinthians had reaffirmed their submission to Paul as their apostle, but some individuals were still holding out (presumably members of the circumcision party and some members continuing in sexual immorality). Paul states that when he arrives in Corinth, on this his planned third visit, he will deal with those who have lapsed, as well as those who have turned a blind eye to their behavior. On his second visit, Paul had obviously warned the Corinthian believers that he would return to settle these issues and now he intends doing just that.


Who are "those who sinned previously and all the others"? As is often the case in Paul's letters, he addresses a particular problem which is fully understood by the recipients of the letter and which therefore he does not spell out in detail. As a result it is often difficult for us to identify the actual nature of the problem addressed. It is obvious that, although the Corinthians as a whole have accepted Paul's apostolic authority (this is Titus' assessment of the situation), some members are resisting that authority. As already noted, Paul seems to be having a problem with both outsiders and insiders. The outsiders are most likely the judaizers, members of the circumcision party, along with their sympathizers in the church at Corinth. Paul's letters to the Romans and the Galatians address the heresy promoted by the judaizers; see Barrett p28ff, Barnett p453ff. The insiders who question Paul's apostolic authority are probably those who have maintained their pagan ways (lax sexual practice, eating food offered to idols .....) and who are not impressed by Paul's stature as their apostle.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 13:1

Paul's concluding admonition, v1-10: i] Paul's stern warning, v1-4. Paul intends to visit the church again and reinforce his apostolic authority - a third visit to bear witness to the will of God for the Corinthians, cf. Deut.19:15.

triton touto "this [will be my] third" - this is the third time. Accusative of respect; "with respect to this third time I am coming to you." The first visit is referenced in Acts 18:1-8, and the second visit, the painful visit, in this letter, cf. 2:1.

ercomai pres. "will be my [third] visit" - i am coming [to you]. Probably a futuristic present, "I will be coming to you."

rJhma (a atoV) "[every] matter" - every [word, thing]. "Every question, we read, must be settled by the voice (testimony) of two or three witnesses", Knox.

staqhsetai (iJsthmi) fut. pas. "must be established" - shall stand, be established, substantiated. Future indicative used as a categorical imperative, BDF#362. "Any charges must be proved true by at least two or three witnesses", CEV.

epi + gen. "by" - on, upon / by. Expressing basis / cause; "on the basis of."

stomatoV (a atoV) "the testimony" - the mouth [of two witnesses and three]. Ref. Deut.19:15, expressing the principle that every word must be substantiated on the evidence of multiple witnesses, in this case, multiple visits by Paul to Corinth. "On the evidence", Zerwick.


During his second visit to Corinth, the "painful visit", Paul warned the offenders of his intention to deal with them, and now he warns them again in a written word. His warning also applies to any others who have aligned themselves with the offenders. Verses 2-4 is a single sentence in the Gk.

proeirhka kai prolegw "I already gave you a warning" - i have foretold and am foretelling. An interesting linking of the same verb prolegw, "to foretell", the first being perfect and second present, a kind of durative past and present foretelling, or better, "warning", as NIV.

wJV ...... kai "-" - as [being present the second time] and [being absent now, to the ones having sinned previously and all the rest]. Here forming a correlative construction, BAGD 897c; "as for being present the second time, and being absent now." This with the two adverbial participles, parwn, "being present", and apwn, "being absent", serves to form a correlative temporal clause, as NIV; "I have warned when I was with you the second time and do now warn now that I am absent", Barrett.

oJti "-" - that. Introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing the content of Paul's warning; "I gave warning when...... to ...... that ...." Given the sentence structure, the warning is given on two occasions, "when I was with you" and "now", and it is also given to two groups, "those who sinned earlier" and "any of the others".

ean + subj. "on" - if, as the case may be, [i come again, then i will not spare them. Introducing a 3rd. class conditional clause where the condition has the possibility of coming true. Here probably expressing an eventual condition, Zerwick #320, a future eventuality, "whenever" (esp. with the aorist subjunctive), ref. BAGD 211b. "When I come this time, I will show no leniency", REB.

eiV to palin "my return" - into the again = again. This prepositional construction is adverbial, "again", temporal, "another time"; "if I come again" = "when I come again".

ou feisomai (feidomai) fut. "I will not spare" - i will not refrain, spare. As of refraining from killing a captured enemy, so "spare".

toiV prohmarthkosin (proamartanw) dat. perf. part. "those who sinned earlier" - to the ones having sinned previously. The participle serves as a substantive, present tense indicating ongoing action, dative of indirect object; "those who have continued in their former sins", Harris, cf. 12:21.

toiV loipoiV dat adj. "[any of] the others" - [and] to [all] the rest, left. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of indirect object. It is unclear who these "others" are and what is actually the nature of their sin. Paul is possibly just deterring future sin, possibly even referring to "all the rest of the congregation", Furnish", but better that he is referring to those "who tacitly supported the habitual sinners against Paul's strong demands, but who themselves were not actually involved in the immorality", Barnett.


Those troubling the Corinthian church have questioned Paul's authority as a messenger of Christ. In their eyes Paul can't support his claim to apostleship. So, Paul makes the point that when he visits next, his detractors will get a taste of his authority, an authority supported by Christ himself.

epei "since" - because. Causal conjunction, introducing a causal clause explaining (a "supplementary reason", Harris) why Paul is going to come down heavily on the sinners when he visits Corinth again. "Because you wish to have a proof that I am speaking for Christ."

zhteite (zhtew) "you are demanding [proof]" - you are seeking [a proof]. The "you" must surely refer to the two groups mentioned in v2, although there are other possibilities. See above.

tou ....Cristou gen. "that Christ" - of the christ. The genitive is adjectival, usually taken as either verbal, objective, Harris, or subjective, Meyer. Paul may be weak when it comes to his physical disabilities (the thorn in the flesh), but when it comes to the spiritual power of his ministry he is anything but weak, and this because of the empowering of Christ's word. The way Paul has already dealt with overt sin in the Corinthian congregation, and how he will deal with it when he visits again, "will in fact be a proof that I speak in the power of Christ", Phillips.

lalountoV (lalew) pres. part. "is speaking" - speaking. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "Christ": "you are seeking proof / verification of the Christ who speaks through me."

en "through [me]" - in [me]. Possibly local, "Christ is speaking in me", but better instrumental, expressing means, "by means of me" = "through me", as NIV.

o}V pro. "he" - who. Nominative subject of the verb "to be weak" and "to be strong." Obviously referring to Christ.

ouk .... alla " ...... but ..." - [is] not [weak toward you] but [powerful in you]. A counterpoint construction.

eiV uJmaV ..... en uJmin " in dealing with you ..... among you" - toward you .... among you. The preposition eiV is expressing movement toward, and en is expressing space / sphere. "Christ is not weak in dealing with them", Barnett, "but mighty in their midst / within them", Barrett. The Corinthians have much to evidence the power of God in their midst, eg. spiritual gifts. Yet, as far as Paul is concerned, Christ's "power, through his agency, may be exercised to their disadvantage when he arrives in person in Corinth", Thrall, cf., Furnish.


Paul uses Christ's life to illustrate his own, along with the life of all believers. Christ was weak on the cross; wickedness had its way. Yet, he overcame death and was victorious through his resurrection. Those who are "in him" (in Christ) share both his weakness and power. A believer is often impotent in the face of human sin, overcome and made of none effect. Yet ultimately, resurrection-power will have its way, if not here, then certainly in eternity.

kai gar ...... kai gar "for to be sure .......... likewise" - for indeed [he was crucified from weakness, but he lives from power of god] for also [we are weak in him, but we will live with him from power of god into you]. The conjunction gar introduces two coordinate causal clauses explaining why the Corinthians can expect the exercise of Christ's power; "for indeed ......... for we also ......", Harris. The first kai is emphatic, "indeed", and the second is adjunctive, "also".

ek + gen. "in [weakness, yet he lives] by" - out of, from. Note how the NIV, so also Bruce, gives a different sense to the preposition in its two uses in this clause. Other translations also give different meanings to the preposition, eg. "out of weakness .... with the power of God", NJB. Yet, it is likely a similar sense is intended, possibly "through", "he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth through the power of God", RV, ie. "under the conditions of", Tasker, but better causal, "because of", Barrett. Christ was crucified because he chose the path of obedience under God for the sake of the lost, emptying himself for our sake, and Christ was raised because, under the power of God, you can't keep a good man down!

en + dat. "in [him]" - Local, expressing space / sphere - incorporative union, but possibly reference / respect. As Christ's crucifixion expresses weakness, so also Paul's thorn, and also possibly his failure to deal with the sinners in Corinth during his last visit.

dunamewV (iV ewV) "God's power" - [from] the power. "God will grant him (Paul) such a measure of resurrection life as will suffice to deal with the situation in Corinth. In his weakness, God's power will be perfectly revealed", Barrett.

qeou (oV) gen. "of God" - The genitive is probably adjectival, possessive, "God's power", but it could also be classified as verbal, subjective, "the power exercised by God, or ablative, source / origin, "from God."

sun + dat. "[we live] with [him]" - Expressing association, "with", but possibly with the sense "in him". Paul, having identified with Christ's resurrection, exercises divine power on behalf of God, something the Corinthians need to consider.

eiV + acc. "to [serve you]" - into [you]. Local, emphatic; "In relation to you", Barrett.


ii] Prior to his arrival at Corinth, Paul now encourages the Corinthian believers to critically examine their own life as a community of faith, and then restore discipline as necessary, v5-9. Paul asks the Corinthian believers to examine themselves. If they find themselves "true to the faith", Christ Jesus will confirm the truth to them, and of course, confirm the truth that Paul himself proclaims. As Paul was the person who brought the gospel to the Corinthians, and thus faith in Christ, to defy Paul's authority is to deny the validity of their faith.

peirazete (peirazw) pres. imp. "examine" - test. "Prove by examination", rather than the sense "put to the test / tempt."

eJautouV pro. "yourselves" - Emphatic by position. Instead of examining Paul and his credentials, the Corinthians need to examine themselves, prove their own standing before God.

ei + ind. "whether" - if. The conditional particle may introduce a conditional construction, "test if you are in the faith", although it is probably serving here as an interrogative particle introducing an indirect question, "test whether you are in the faith"; "examine yourselves; are you living the life of faith?", REB, cf., BDF#440(3).

en + dat. "in" - [you are] in [the faith]. Probably local, expressing space / sphere; "resting in the Lord Jesus for their salvation", Naylor. Yet, the actual sense of the phrase en th/ pistei is open to some debate. Thrall lists four possible meanings:

*Taking pistei as "the faith" = Christian doctrine, the phrase expresses "a correct appreciation of Pauline doctrine";

*The phrase is "synonymous with the indwelling of Christ in believers", so Barrett, Wendland;

*"Faith" is being used here in the sense of obedience, so Furnish;

*The phrase simply means "to live the Christian life", so Martin - "continue to adhere to Christ."

dokimazete (dokimazw) pres. imp. "test" - test, prove / approve [yourselves]. Note the repeated use of this word grouping, "proof", "approve", "approved", "approving", "disproved", in this passage. See "Interpretation" above.

ouk "not" - [do you] not [realize yourselves]. This negation, when used in a question, expects the answer "yes".

oJti "that" - Introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech / question, as NIV.

en + dat. "is in [you]" - [jesus christ is] in [you]. Local, expressing incorporative union. Not "with you / among you", but "in" as in "union with" = an integral relationship with. In the Gk., this fact is reinforced by the use of the reflexive pronoun, "do you not realize yourselves", and by the use of the intensified verb "thoroughly realize". The sense of Paul's words is somewhat difficult. He may be referring to the community, "do you not recognize yourselves as a people in whom Jesus Christ is present", NJB, following Chrysostom who took the view that through self-examination the Corinthian believers are able to verify the truth and therefore the truth of Paul's words. Yet, Paul may be speaking more on the level of the individual in union with Christ. Again, the issue of truth is probably in Paul's mind - the indwelling Christ confirms truth and thus confirms Paul's words.

ei mhti "unless, of course" - except if [you are unapproved]. Introducing an exceptive clause expressing a contrast by designating an exception. "Unless you are counterfeits", Berkeley.


elpizw "I trust" - [but/and] i hope. "I think [that] you will recognize that", Knox.

oJti .... oJti - "that ..... that " - that [you will know] that [we are not unapproved]. Introducing dependent statements of perception, the first of hoping, and the second of knowing. "I hope that you will realize that we have been tested and not failed the test", Barclay.

gnwsesqe (ginwskw) fut. "you will discover" - you will know, discover, realize, recognize.

adokimoi adj. "[failed the test]" - unapproved, disqualified. Predicate adjective. "That Paul has proved himself to be an apostle", TH.


Having asked the Corinthians to examine their lives and, if necessary, to restore discipline, Paul now expresses the hope in prayer that they "do not do any evil .... but that you may do the good." The "evil" is undefined, but has been referred to in various ways throughout chapters 10-13; see "Background" for the problems facing the Corinthian church. Paul's hope is that, prompted by this letter, the Corinthian believers will sort out their problems, and this irrespective of his own standing in the matter. Paul is not interested in confirming his own approval, as God's apostle to the Gentiles, by exercising apostolic discipline over wayward members. What matters is their own standing before God. Paul's hope / prayer, along with his stated qualifications, makes for a complex sentence.

de "now" - but/and. Transitional connective, indicating a step in the argument.

mh poihsai (poiew) aor. inf. "you will not do" - [we pray to god that you] do not do [any evil]. The infinitive introduces a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing the content of Paul's hope / prayer, as NIV. The subject of the infinitive is possibly "God", "that God may do you no harm", Lietzmann, but more likely "you" is the accusative subject of the infinitive, "that you will not do anything evil", Junkins.

iJna + subj. "[not] that]" - [not] that [we may appear]. This hina clause is followed by a second hina clause, "that you may do the good." It is possible that this dependent statement expresses two more elements of Paul's hope / prayer, so Thrall, but it is more likely that it is final, expressing purpose, namely, the purpose of the prayer, first a negated purpose, then, following the adversative alla, "but", a positive purpose, so Harris. "Our purpose is not that we should be seen to be passing the test, but that you should do what is right", Cassirer.

dokimoi adj. "that we have stood the test" - approved. Serving as a subject complement standing in a double nominative construction. The sense is somewhat obscure, but Harris is probably right when he says "the test is the proof of apostolic authority shown in his discipline of unrepentant sinners, a test he will gladly fail." Paul's authenticity as an apostle, his genuineness / approval, can be "validated by his displaying remarkable powers of inflicting punishment on moral delinquents", Thrall, and it is this approval / test of genuineness that he is happy to fail, in the sense of not having to inflict the punishment.

all (alla) "but" - but [you the good may do]. Strong adversative standing in a counter point construction.

wJV "though [we may] seem" - [and we] as [unapproved may be]. The comparative here takes a concessive sense, "as if; "and then we would be as if reprobates / as if we had failed."


"For whatever powers we are endowed with, they are all in support of the truth, not in opposition to it", Cassirer. Paul is supporting his contention that he is not interested in confirming his own approval as God's apostle to the Gentiles by exercising apostolic discipline over wayward members.

gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why it would be inappropriate to exercise apostolic discipline on the Corinthians in a situation where they have addressed and corrected the "wrong" in the church, even though by not exercising discipline the genuineness of Paul's apostolic credentials are not then verified.

ou ...... alla "cannot .... but" - [we are] not [able to do anything against the truth] but [for the truth]. Counterpoint construction.

kata + gen. "against" - Here expressing opposition, as NIV.

thV alhqeiaV (a) "the truth" - The sense of "truth" is open to some debate:

*Possibly the specific issues, "the facts", facing the Corinthian church referenced by Paul, so Chrysostom;

*More generally "Christian purity of behavior", Harris, ie., "the very essence of what God wills and requires", Bultmann;

*In the more particular sense of "the truth of the gospel", Barrett, Thrall, Furnish, Martin, Denny, Filson, Tasker;

*Even possibly "truth" as opposed to "lying / falsehood", "Paul speaks the truth and does not lie ... he is an apostle of Christ for whom gospel truth and moral truth are critical", Barnett.

uJper + gen. "for" - on behalf of [the truth]. Expressing benefit, advantage; "in support of the truth", Cassirer.


Paul further supports his contention that he is not interested in confirming his own approval as God's apostle to the Gentiles by exercising apostolic discipline over wayward members. What Paul wants for the Corinthians is their "perfection", that they be "strong", strong in Christ, living the Christian life. If, as a consequence, Paul is shown to be "weak", that he does not gain the opportunity to authenticate his apostolic qualifications through godly disciple, all the better.

gar "-" - for. Repeating the causal intent of gar in v8 and so emphatic; "indeed, we are only too glad ..", Cassirer.

oJtan + subj. "whenever [we are weak]" - [we rejoice] whenever [we are weak and you are strong]. Introducing an indefinite temporal clause, as NIV.

de "but" - Here contrastive. "We are quite happy to be weak, provided you are strong", Barclay.

eucomeqa (ercomai) pres. "our prayer" - [this also] we pray, hope, wish.

thn ... katartisin (iV ewV) "[your] perfection / that [you] may be fully restored" - the adequacy, qualification, perfection [of you]. Accusative substantive standing in apposition to touto, "this". "Hapax legomenon, once only use in the NT. The verb expresses "to restore, fix, fit, make right, complete ..." and so therefore of the restoration of something to its former condition. The noun takes a number of meanings, but the sense "restoring" fits here. Therefore, Paul prays, not so much for the "restoration of perfection", Zerwick, but simply for their "restoration" (rectifying their shortcomings), Harris; "repairing what is broken and restoring what is lost", Tasker.


iii] Paul now concludes with the final warning and appeal which he commenced in v5 of this chapter. He reminds them again why he writes these things / "this letter", Barclay; he writes "in order to build them up in keeping with the authority the Lord has given him", Barnett.

dia touto "this is why" - because of this. This causal construction is usually treated as inferential, "therefore".

grafw pres. "I write" - The present tense used to refer to the present letter, although sometimes Paul does use an aorist.

tauta "these things" - Accusative direct object of the verb "to write." "As for my reason for writing to you like this", Cassirer.

apwn (apeimi) pres. part. "when I am absent" - being absent, being far away. Introducing an adverbial clause, best treated as temporal, as NIV, "while I am away from you", NRSV, but possibly concessive, "although I am away from you." "Before I come to visit you", Barclay.

iJna + subj. "that" - that. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose, but possibly consecutive, expressing result; "in order that / so that".

parwn (pareimi) pres. part. "when I come" - being present. The participle is again adverbial, usually treated as temporal; "when I do arrive", Barclay.

apotomwV adv. "harsh" - [i may not treat you] with severity. Modal adverb; "I may not, when present, exercise unsparing severity", Barrett.

kata + acc. "in my use of " - according to [the authority]. Expressing a standard; "according to, in accord with the power, authority the Lord gave me." Obviously qualifying "I may not treat with severity", although Thrall is not so sure. The point is that the harsh exercise of authority lies within Paul's remit as an apostle; "I write this in my absence so that ..... I need not be severe in the exercise of the authority which the Lord has granted me", Berkeley.

moi dat. pro. "me" - [the lord gave] to me. Dative of indirect object after the verb didwmi, "to give."

eiV "for" - to, into [edification and not] to, into [destruction]. The preposition here takes a final sense expressing purpose / benefaction, "in order to build up / for the purpose of edification, not in order to tear down / not for the purpose of destruction." "He writes these things sharply that he may not have to act sharply", Plummer. Possibly a little wider in that the preposition may express "the content and (as well as the) goal of apostolic authority", Kitzberger / Harris.


2 Corinthians Introduction



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