2 Corinthians


2. Paul defends his integrity, 1:8-2:13

ii] Paul's self-defense


Paul now sets out to answer the charges brought against him by the opposition party in the Corinthian church. In the passage before us he addresses two charges. The first charge relates to the severe letter which Paul has recently sent to the Corinthian church. It is more than likely that this letter is 1 Corinthians, but there is debate on the matter. The charge seems to be that Paul has shown himself in this letter to be domineering and insincere - he is a bully and speaks with a forked tongue. Against this charge, Paul claims that he has always acted "with integrity and godly sincerity" in his dealings with the Corinthian believers. A fair reading of his letter would show this to be true and he hopes that they will soon come to this realization so that he can boast of them in the last day. The second charge relates to Paul's failure to follow through on his intended visit to Corinth. The charge is that he acted with th/ elafria, "fickleness", that he is untrustworthy, fickle, capricious. Paul simply reminds his readers that plans are just that, plans - the plans of mice and men.


i] Context: See 1:8-11.


ii] Background: See 1:1-7.


iii] Structure: Paul's self-defense:

Answers to the charge:

Paul's severe letter shows him to be domineering and insincere, v11-14;

Paul's failure to visit the church, when he said he would, shows him to be untrustworthy and capricious, v15-17.


iv] Interpretation:

Getting a handle of Paul's travel plans, his pan to convey to Jerusalem the collection for the saints, is rather difficult since we really don't have the exact itinerary, but it is clear that he did change his plans. He may have outlined a plan for a return visit to Corinth on the occasion of his painful visit (2Cor.,13:2), some time between 54-55AD while he was based at Ephesus. This would have been the second time he visited the church, a visit not recorded in Acts. He may have even detailed arrangements in the letter he wrote to confront the immorality evident in the church, cf., 1Cor.5:9f (now lost??).

It seems likely that in 2 Corinthians 1:15-16 Paul outlines this original travel plan - Paul intended leaving Ephesus for Corinth, then to Macedonia, back to Corinth, and then ultimately to Jerusalem. Given the troubles in the church, Paul modifies his plans, giving the church time to settle down before visiting them. He outlines his revised plan in 1 Corinthians 16:2-8. This travel plan entailed leaving Ephesus for Macedonia, then to Corinth and then obviously to Jerusalem. Paul's point is, OK, plans change, but what's the fuss? It is not clear whether the issue for the Corinthians is changes in the travel plans, or spending more time in Macadonia rather than in Corinth - probably both. At any rate, the opposition party was able to stir up trouble because of the changes.

What actually occurred is that Paul was forced to leave Ephesus due to the Demetrius riot (Acts 19:23-41), move to Troas then Macedonia (Acts 20:1b-2a - where he writes 2 Corinthians), then to Corinth (Acts 20.2b-3a) .......... then ultimately Jerusalem. "It is because he expects his visits to bring blessing that he can rebut the accusation of making plans for worldly motives", Barnett.

Text - 1:12

Paul's self-defense, v12-17: i] An answer to the charge that Paul is domineering and insincere, v12-14. As far as Paul is concerned, his dealings with the world, and in particular, his dealings with the Corinthians through the harsh / severe letter (1 Corinthians??), his conscience is clear; he has acted toward them with integrity.

gar "now" - for. More as a connective than reason / explanation, marking the next step in the argument / "to introduce the main matter of the letter at this point", Barnett.

hJ ... cauchsiV (iV ewV) "boast" - the boasting [of us is this]. Probably not "boasting" here, but more in the sense of "confidence", ie., Paul's confidence that he has done the right thing by the Corinthians.

thV suneidhsewV (iV ewV) gen. "[our] conscience" - [the witness / testimony] of the conscience [of us]. The genitive is usually treated as verbal, subjective, in that Paul's conscience produces the action, as NIV, it testifies to him that he has done the right thing by the Corinthians; "the testimony borne by our conscience", Cassirer. Conscience is used here of "a natural inward facility of judgment .... which evaluates conduct in an objective way, in accordance with given .... norms. For Christian believers, the criteria will be Christian", Thrall. "Our conscience shows us that in our dealings with others, and above all in our dealings with you, our conduct has been governed by a devout and godly sincerity", REB.

oJti "that" - that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what Paul's conscience testifies, namely "that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity not ......", ESV.

en + dat. "in [the world]" - [we lived] in [the world]. Local, expressing space. "Lived" in the sense of conducting oneself according to "the practice of certain principles", BAGD. When it comes to "our activities in this world", Phillips.

proV + acc. "with [you]" - [and more especially] toward [you]. Probably adverbial here, reference / respect; "and especially with respect to you."

en + dat. "with [integrity]" - in [simplicity and integrity]. Here adverbial, modal, expressing manner, as NIV, "honestly and sincerely", CEV, but possibly instrumental, expressing means, "it wasn't by any fancy footwork on our part", Peterson.

ouk en + dat. "we have done so, relying not on [worldly wisdom]" - not in [fleshly wisdom]. Again adverbial, expressing manner, "not with worldly cunning, but with God's grace / godly grace", but possibly local, as NIV, or instrumental, means, "not by means of worldly cunning, but by divine grace"; "it was not worldly wisdom, but divine grace that always shaped our conduct", Barclay.

qeou (oV) gen. "[on] God's [grace]" - [but in the grace] of god. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, as NIV, or attributive, "godly grace", or ablative, source / origin, "grace from God."


There is nothing in the harsh / severe letter, when given a fair reading, that would impinge on Paul's integrity - there is nothing to read between the lines.

gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why Paul feels his conscience is clear as to his dealings with the Corinthians in the severe letter, because the letter says it as it is .

ou .... all "-" - [we do] not [write other things to you] but. An adversative comparative construction. There is nothing to read between the lines.

uJmin dat. pro. "you" - to you. Dative of indirect object.

h] "- ... or" - we write nothing more or = than [what you read] or [and = even know].. Correlative disjunctive construction.

de "-" - but/and. Here serving as a transitional connective, indicating the next step in the argument. Linked to v14, as NIV, rather than v13a.

oJti "[I hope] that" - Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what Paul hopes.

e{wV .... kaqwV kai "as" - until [you will completely know] as [also you know us in part]. We have here a coordinate comparative / temporal construction - what Paul hopes will be is compared to what presently is; a temporal e{wV with a comparative kaqwV. The NIV reverses the order of the two clauses to aid understanding. "I hope there will come a time when you fully understand my harsh letter to you, just as you already partly understand it."


Once the Corinthians have got over their inclination to read their own attitudes into the severe letter, it is Paul's hope that they will come to fully understand the issues he has raised with him, and so be confident again in his apostolic ministry.

apo + gen. "in [part]" - [just as also you know us] from [part]. The preposition is being used adverbially, changing the noun "part" into the adverb, "partially"; "just as you have partially understood us / the letter."

oJti "that" - that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expanding on what the Corinthians can know; "I hope there will come a time when you fully understand my harsh letter to you, just as you already partly understand it, understand that .......

uJmwn gen. pro. "[you can] boast [of us]" - [we are] the boast [of you]. The genitive, as with hJmwn, "of us", below, is adjectival, possessive / verbal, subjective.

kauchma (a atoV) "boast" - "Boast", in the sense of the "object of one's boast", Zerwick; "It is we who will provide you with your ground for boasting, even as you will provide us with ours, on the day when the Lord Jesus comes", Cassirer. "Boast" probably in the sense of "confidence". Paul is the "basis of their confidence. Their very salvation cannot be separated from his ministry to them"...... On the day of the Lord Jesus the Corinthians (and other believers) will be the visible object of the apostle's confidence", Barnett; "I hope there will come a time when you fully ........ understand that we are (I am) the ground / basis of your confidence as a believer, just as you are the ground / basis of our confidence in that day when we must stand before our Lord Jesus." On the day of resurrection the Corinthian believers will stand as a testimony to Paul's apostolic ministry, a ground / basis of confidence for him on that day. Paul is for the Corinthians a ground of confidence in the present day, and in due time they will recognize this fact.

kaqaper "just as" - A corresponding comparative.

kai "[we will boast of you]" - and = also [you are the boast of us]. Here probably adjunctive; "you are also the boast of us" = "you are also our ground for confidence in the day of the Lord."

en + dat. "in" - in [the day of the lord]. Temporal use of the preposition.

hJmwn gen. pro. "-" - of us. Variant. The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic / subordination; "over us."

Ihsou (oV) gen. "Jesus" - jesus. Standing in apposition to "Lord".


ii] An answer to the charge that Paul's failure to visit the church when he said he would shows him to be untrustworthy and capricious, v15-17. It seems that Paul made arrangements for a visit to the church, a visit which he didn't follow through on. Paul's change in travel plans is being used by the opposition party to defame him. Paul assures them that the revised itinerary (1Cor.16:2-8), as with the original itinerary (2Cor.1:16), was not made lightly or insincerely.

th/ pepoiqhsei (iV ewV) dat. "because I was confident of [this]" - [and] in / on [this] confidence. The dative is probably instrumental, cause, as NIV. Paul's apostolic ministry to the Corinthians is their ground for boasting, their ground for "confidence", and because of tauth/, "this", it was always Paul's intention to visit them and minister to them for spiritual, and not "worldly" reasons, v17.

elqein (ercomai) aor. inf. "to visit [you]" - [i planned] to come [to you]. The infinitive introduces an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what Paul planned.

proteron adv. "first" - first = previously. This adverb is best linked with the infinitive elqein, "to come", rather than the verb eboulomhn, "planned", as NIV.

iJna + subj. "so that" - that [you might have a second favor]. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose. "Our original plan was to visit you first and give you a double treat", Phillips.


The intended itinerary before it was changed in 1 Corinthians 16:2-8.

dielqein (diercomai) aor. inf. "[I wanted] to visit you on may way [to]" - [and through you] to pass through [into macedonia]. The infinitive introduces an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what Paul eboulomhn, "wanted = planned", v15. Due to the dia prefix the dia + gen. preposition "through" in space, is redundant, but normal usage.

apo + gen. "from [Macedonia]" - [and again] from [macedonia]. Expressing separation; "away from."

elqein (ercomai) aor. inf. "[and] to come" - to come [to you]. The infinitive as above.

uJf (uJpo) + gen. "and then" - [and] by [you]. Here expressing agency, "by you."

propemfqhnai (propempw) aor. pas. inf. "to have [you] send" - to be sent [to judea]. The infinitive as above. "You being the ones to give me my send-off for my journey to Judea", Cassirer.


"Are you now going to accuse me of being a flip-flop man with my promises because some menial travel plans didn't work out? Do you think I talk out of both sides of my mouth - a glib yes one moment, a glib no the next?", Peterson, adjusted.

oun "-" - therefore, [this desiring, planning]. Inferential / drawing a logical conclusion; "Well then ...."

mhti ara "-" - not so. Introducing a question expecting an emphatic negative answer; "in planning this did I appear fickle?", TEV - expected answer, "Surely not". The ara here is illative, not inferential.

ecrhsamhn (craomai) aor. "was I" - do i use, act. This verb takes a dative of feeling when it means "act, proceed."

th/ elaqria/ (a) dat. "fickle" - with fickleness. Hapax legomenon; "Behavior characterized by caprice and instability*" Dative of direct object after the verb craomai.

boulomenoV (bouleuw) pres. part. "when I intended to do" - desiring, planning. The participle is adverbial, temporal, as NIV etc., or possibly better causal, "because we had to change our plan, does it mean that we are fickle?", Phillips.

touto pro. "this" - Referring to Paul's initial plan to visit Corinth, then Macedonia, then back to Corinth, ie., use Corinth as a base for his ministry in Macedonia = his 3rd. missionary journey.

h] "or" - or [do i plan the things which i plan according to flesh]. Disjunctive; "or do you want to propose that I devise my travel plans kata sarka (lit. "according to the flesh": "with my tongue in my cheek", Phillips; "from selfish motives", TEV; "like that of the worldly ones", Cassirer), that with me its today 'Yes, yes', and tomorrow 'No, no'"?

kata + acc. "in [a worldly manner]" - according to [flesh]. Here the preposition is adverbial, modal, expressing manner; "in a fleshly way." "Conduct motivated by human nature bereft of God's Spirit, and operating according to (purely) human criteria", Thrall / Bachmann, cf., Martin.

iJna" + subj. "so that" - that [there may be with me the yes yes and the no no]? Adverbial, consecutive, expressing result, "with the result that", so BDF #440 [21], Harris, Martin, .... Possibly better taken as appositional / epexegetic, explaining / specifying "the things which I plan according to the flesh", namely, "that with me its yes, yes, and no, no", so Barnett. The "Yes, yes and No, no" is presented as a quote; it is what the Corinthian opposition party says of Paul - "He's a yes man; Says one thing and does anther."


2 Corinthians Introduction


[Pumpkin Cottage]