2 Corinthians


8. Paul defends his ministry, 10:1-12:21

viii] Expressions of concern


Still with his impending visit in mind, Paul states categorically that his reason for writing this letter to the Corinthians is not to defend his own character, but to edify them. It would be to the Corinthians detriment if Paul failed to address the slander against him. The upbuilding of the Corinthian believers is foremost in Paul's mind and is what drives his fear that when he inevitably arrives in Corinth he may find the believers floundering. Paul has three fears: First, that on arriving and finding the church not as it should be, he will be forced to address their failures, embarrassing himself and them; Second, that he will have the painful task of addressing discord in the church when he arrives; Third, that he will have the painful task of addressing immorality in the church when he arrives.


i] Context: See 10:1-11


ii] Background: See 1:1-7.


iii] Structure: Expressions of concern:

The nature of Paul's letter - a defense of apostleship for the upbuilding of the Corinthians, v19

Paul's fears for his upcoming visit to Corinth, v20-21.

Mutual embarrassment;

Discord in the Corinthian church;

Immorality in the Corinthian church.


iv] Interpretation:

In v19, Paul assumes that his readers can conclude that the purpose of his letter is an apologia, a personal defense. Without denying that the letter is an apologia, he declares, before God, that its purpose is for the upbuilding, strengthening of the Corinthian congregation. Although Paul doesn't actually deny that the letter is an apologia, a denial is implicit in his words and this has caused commentators some difficulty, given as Barrett notes, "if this is not an apologia what is?" Clearly Paul defends himself in this letter, but for Paul, this is not his intended purpose, for ta ponta, "all things", everything he does, including letter writhing, is done for the moral and spiritual improvement of those under his charge.

Text - 12:19

Expressions of concern, v19-21: i] The purpose of 2 Corinthians - not so much a defense of Paul's apostolic credentials as an instrument for the upbuilding of the Corinthian congregation, v19.

palai adv. "all along" - [are you thinking] long ago, formally. Temporal adverb, here used of looking back from the present, so "for a while now", Guthrie.

oJti "that" - that [we are making a defense to]. Here introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what the Corinthians may have been thinking. The word can be taken to express the more general sense of "to commend"; "do you think we have been commending ourselves to you." The sense "defense" seems more likely.

uJmin dat. pro. "to you" - you. Dative of direct object after the apo prefix verb "to make a defense before", taking a dative of persons.

katenanti + gen. "in the sight of [God]" - [we speak] in the presence of, before [god]. Spacial. The wording moves close to an act of swearing the truth of something before God, but at least Paul is expressing his accountability before God as to his motives in writing 2 Corinthians. The letter can be viewed as a defense, but its purpose is for the edification of the Corinthian believers. Note again the royal plural, "we speak." "It is as men standing in God's very presence, as men in union with Christ, that we speak as we do", Cassirer.

en + dat. "as those in [Christ]" - in [christ]. Local, space metaphorical / incorporation, is Paul's standard sense, but possibly association "with Christ." Paul's letter is written as one under the supervision / authority of God and as one who is united to / in a relationship with Christ.

de "-" - but/and. Here as a transitional connective, indicating a step in the argument.

uJper + gen. "for [your strengthening]" - [beloved, all things are] for [the edification, upbuilding of you]. Expressing advantage / benefit. "My only reason for so doing is to help you in your spiritual life", Phillips.


ii] Paul's fears for his upcoming visit to Corinth, v20-21. Exercising pastoral oversight for the edification of believers is Paul's prime purpose in writhing this letter, and it will also be his aim when he visits Corinth in the near future. This prompts fear in Paul because it seems he may well have to deal with some moral and spiritual problems in the church. Paul presents his foboumai, "fear", in three content clauses. The first, foboumai .. mh pwV, "I am afraid that .....", afraid that when he gets to Corinth "everything will fall to pieces", Peterson. The second mh pwV, with foboumai, "fear" assumed, "I am afraid that ..."; he fears that he will find nothing but dysfunctional relationships when he gets to Corinth. The third content clause, consisting of v21, is introduced by mh + subj., with foboumai, "fear" and pwV, "that / perhaps", assumed, "I am afraid that ..... my God will humble me .."; Paul fears that he is going to have to confront blatant immorality in the church.

gar "for" - More reason than cause - a clarification.

mh pwV + subj. "that" - [i am afraid] that perhaps [having come not such as i wish, i may find you]. This negated particle + subj. introduces an object clause / dependent statement of perception, here as a negative perception after a verb of apprehension, serving to express Paul's misgivings, cf., BDAG 901. "I do admit that I have fears that when I come you'll disappoint me and I'll disappoint you, and everything will fall to pieces", Peterson.

elqwn (ercomai) aor. part. "when I come" - having come. The participle is adverbial, temporal, as NIV.

uJmin dat. pro. "[and] you [may not find me as you want me to be]" - [and be found] by you [not as you wish]. The dative is instrumental / agency.

mh pwV + subj. "I fear that there may be" - lest perhaps [there be strife, jealousy, anger, factions, slander, gossip, conceit commotions]. Introducing the second content clause; see above. Paul fears that he will find "fragmentation and harmful interpersonal dynamics in the community", Guthrie. "I am afraid that I will find quarreling and jealousy, bad tempers and selfishness, insults and gossip, pride and disorder", TEV.


mh + subj. "I am afraid that" - not = that. Introducing the third content clause; see v20 above. "I'm afraid that if I come again God will humiliate me in front of you", Barclay.

elqontoV (ercomai) gen. aor. part. "when I came" - having coming. Genitive absolute participle, best treated as temporal, as NIV.

palin "again" - again. Placed forward in the Gk. for emphasis. Taken with the participle by NIV, but better with the subjunctive "may make me humble"; "that ..... my God may humble me again before you."

proV + acc. "before you" - [the god of me may humble me] before you. Here expressing relationship, "with"; "in my relationship with you", but possibly reference / respect, "with respect to you", Cassirer, or spacial, "in front of you", Barclay.

twn prohmarthkotwn (proamartanw) gen. perf. part. "who have sinned earlier" - [and i may mourn much] of the ones having sinned before. The participle, as with metanohsantwn, "having [not] repented", serves as a substantive, the genitive being adjectival, partitive.

epi + dat. "of [the impurity ...]" - [and not having repented] upon [the uncleanness and fornication and debauchery which they practised]. Here expressing cause / basis; "because of / on the basis of." "And I will weep over the many who have sinned in the past and not repented of the immoral things they have done - their lust and their sexual sins", TEV.


2 Corinthians Introduction

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