2 Corinthians


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

iii] About the previous letter


Paul sets out to explain to the Corinthian believers why he changed his plan to visit them. It seems likely that Paul planned to make Corinth his base of operations while he evangelized Macedonia. In the passage before us, Paul explains that the change in his plans relates to the painful visit and the recent harsh / severe letter that he has written to them (1 Corinthians??), both of which stir up a hornets nest in the church. As far as Paul is concerned, time is needed to heal the wounds. A visit too early after the disciplinary action undertaken in the harsh / severe letter would likely cause pain to the Corinthians and to Paul.


i] Context: See 1:8-11.


ii] Background: See 1:1-7.


iii] Structure: A note about the previous letter:

The reason why Paul didn't follow through on his plans to come to Corinth before the Macedonian mission, v23

it was "to spare you."

The criteria by which Paul exercises his authority over the Corinthians, v24;

Paul explains how his decision not to make another painful visit is related to the harsh / severe letter, 2:1-3;

Paul's emotional distress in having to write the harsh / severe letter, v4.


iv] Interpretation:

The opposition party in Corinth, most likely Judaizers / members of the circumcision party, have implied evil intent in Paul's failure to follow through on his plans to move from Ephesus to Corinth so as to make Corinth his base of operations for the Macedonian mission. Paul is a "yes man", arbitrarily changes his mind. Yet, worse than that, "he has shown himself to be a spiritual dictator who tries to dominate his converts and dictate the terms of their faith and ..... not hesitate to cause them pain", Harris. From Paul's perspective, he "tries to clarify how emotionally difficult the recent breakdown in their relationship with him has been for him. Rather than feeling triumphant over his wielded authority, the whole experience has been gut-wrenching, breaking his heart, and he wants them to know that his motivation for writing has always been love", Guthrie.

Text - 1:23

Paul explains why he canceled his intended move to Corinth, 1:23-2:4: i] The reason behind Paul's cancelled plans - it was "to spare you."

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

egw "I" - i [i call god]. Emphatic by use and position.

martura (uV uroV) "as [my] witness" - as a witness. Complement of the direct object "God" standing in a double accusative construction and asserting something about the object, namely, that "God" serves as Paul's witness, as NIV.

epi + acc. "- / and I stake [my life] on it" - on / over / against [my soul]. Serving to introduce an oath with "hostile force", so BAGD, "against my soul", Harris; "I call God as my witness, and may I be struck dead if it's not true, that ....."

oJti "that" - that it was. Here probably epexegetic, specifying the content of the witness Paul requires of God, namely, "that I did not come again to Corinth because I wanted to / in order to spare you."

feidomenoV (feidomai) pres. mid. part. "in order to spare" - sparing. The participle is adverbial, either final, expressing purpose, as NIV, or causal, expressing cause, "because"; "it was because I did not want to hurt you."

uJmwn gen. pro. "you" - Genitive of direct object after the verb "to spare"; "It was out of consideration for you", Cassirer.

ouketi adv. "that [I did] not [return" - [i have] not yet [come to corinth]. Temporal adverb indicating that Paul has not returned to Corinth since the blow up caused by the painful visit / harsh letter.


ii] The criteria by which Paul exercises his authority over the Corinthians, v24. A right-relationship with God in Christ is not something that can be coerced, but must be undertaken as an act of will. No person can be cajoled into faith in Christ and Paul certainly hasn't tried to cajole the Corinthians into a faith response toward Christ, but he and his team have worked together for them that they may experience the joy that faith in Christ brings.

ouc oJti "not that" - not that. Introducing an object clause, dependent statement of indirect speech of an implied verb of saying introducing what is said; "I am not saying that."

kurieuomen (kurieuw) pres. "we lord it over" - we rule, lord it over. Paul actually does rule over the church as their apostle, but the word has harsh military overtones so expressing domination, a harsh rule, cf., Lk.22:25. Paul's relationship with the Corinthians as their apostle is not like that, he is not out to dominate them, rather it is "paternal and filled with grace", Guthrie.

thV pistewV (iV ewV) gen. "[your] faith" - the faith [of you]. The verb "to rule / govern" implies "over" so the genitive is a genitive of direct object / of person after the verb "to rule over", so Long, etc.; "We are not bosses telling you what to believe", CEV. Yet, adverbial, reference / respect, may be better. Paul does not rule over them with respect to / with reference to their faith. The sense of "faith" here has been variously interpreted, but it is surely used in the same sense that "faith" is used at the end of the verse, ie., their personal trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for right-standing in the sight of God.

alla "but" - Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction; "not ...., but ....".

thV caraV (iV ewV) gen. "for your joy" - [we are co-workers] of the joy [of you]. The genitive is usually read as verbal, objective; "for your joy." The joy that is ours through faith in Christ, that's what Paul and the team has worked for.

gar "because" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why Paul doesn't "lord it over" their faith, "because ....." Paul is saying "It is neither necessary nor possible to have control over your faith, because you have a firm standing of your own in the faith", Harris, although "in the faith" is doubtful, rather "by faith in Christ."

pistei (iV ewV) dat. "by faith" - in/by faith [you have stood]. The dative is best taken instrumental, expressing means, as NIV, "for it is by faith that you stand", Barrett, but possibly local, as ESV, "in your faith." "Faith", as above, a personal faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.


iii] An explanation for the cancelled visit, v1-3. Paul now explains "that he did not come to them as he planned, because he was determined not to exacerbate an already difficult situation", Guthrie, v1-3..

gar "so" - for. Variant, dropped in some manuscripts, but obviously because its function is unclear. It is very unlikely that it expresses cause / reason, although often linked to 1:23, so Barnett. It seems more likely to function here as a transitional connective, indicating the next step in the argument, as NIV, so Harris.

emautw/ dat. reflex. pro. "[I made up] my mind" - [i judged, decided this] in myself. The dative is local, metaphorical, "within myself"; "I judged" expresses the idea of making a judgement about something, assessing a situation and then deciding to act in a certain way. The addition of "in myself" probably intensifies this process, so "I came to a firm decision."

to mh .... elqein (ercomai) aor. inf. "that I would not make" - not to come. The articular infinitive forms a noun clause standing in apposition to touto, "this"; "I decided this, namely to not come ......" = "that I would not pay you another painful visit", Phillips.

palin adv. "another" - again [to you]. To not come "again" = "to not return", but possibly related to the whole clause such that Paul is saying "that he wanted to avoid a repetition of another earlier visit which had itself been a sorrowful occasion", Thrall.

en luph/ (h) dat. "painful visit" - in pain, grief. The preposition here is adverbial, modal, expressing manner; "with pain, grief, emotional turmoil." "Another visit that could only be painful for both of us", Peterson. Paul's painful visit to Corinth is usually related to his former lost letter which addressed the issue of immorality in the life of the congregation. It is unclear which is first, but both are usually thought to be prior to the writing of 1 Corinthians. Of course, all this is a matter conjecture. Barnett thinks that the painful visit was between the writing of first and second Corinthians; a flying visit made from Ephesus in order to sort out the problems in the church. Barnett also argues that this visit is associated with Paul's lost harsh / severe letter to the Corinthians, although it seems more likely that Paul is referring to what we know as 1 Corinthians.


As Thrall notes, the reasoning here is somewhat convoluted. In continuing to explain his reasons for canceling his intended visit to Corinth, Paul argues that not wanting to distress the Corinthians with another confrontation rests on the fact that "if he causes the Corinthians grief, there is no one to cause him gladness." There is always a sour note after the exercise of corrective discipline, and a visit so soon is only likely to inflame matters. Paul obviously loved these rather difficult believers and inflaming the situation is only going to undermine the joyous fellowship that exists between Paul and those in his charge.

gar "for" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Paul didn't want to emotionally distress the Corinthian fellowship with another confrontation; "because ...."; "what point is there in me depressing the very people who can give me such joy", Phillips.

ei "if" - if, as is the case, [i grieve you and / then who is the one cheering me]. Introducing a 1st. class conditional clause where the proposed condition is assumed to be true for argument sake.

oJ eufrainwn (eufrainw) pres. part. "is left to make [me] glad" - the one cheering [me]. The participle serves as a substantive.

ei mh "but" - except. Introducing a exceptive clause expressing a contrast by designating an exception.

oJ lupoumenoV (lupew) pres. mid./pas. part. "you whom I have grieved" - the one being grieved. The participle serves as a substantive.

ex (ek) + gen. "I" - from [me]. Here the preposition expresses source / means, "by me", as NIV.


Paul wrote concerning touto auto, "this very thing", although what does it refer to. Is it the harsh / stern / sever letter itself, our 1 Corinthains? Some commentators think so, eg., Naylor. Yet, probably, in a more pointed sense, it refers to the changed travel plans outlined in 1 Corinthians, changes which have prompted resentment in Corinth, so Guthrie. So the sense is, "I wrote and told you about my changed travel plans in order that ....." Paul now gives us another reason for the changed travel plans, virtually the opposite of v2; "in order that when I arrive, I might not be distressed by the very believers who aught to give me joy, because I am convinced that we have a common source of joy (ie., a mutual faith in Christ)."

touto auto "as I did" - [and i wrote] this very thing. Direct object of egraya, "I wrote", so Furnish, Thrall, rather than adverbial, "this very reason." The neut. pro. auto is intensive so "very thing"

iJna hm "so that" - that not = lest. Here introducing a negated final clause expressing purpose; "in order that not / lest ...."

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

af (apo) + acc. "by [those]" - [i may have grief] from [whom]. Expressing source / origin, "from those", ESV.

cairein (cairw) pres. inf. "rejoice" - [it is necessary for me] to rejoice. The infinitive serves as a substantive, subject of the verb "is necessary; "for me to rejoice is necessary." The accusative pronoun me, "me", serves as the subject of the infinitive. "I would not come and have grief from the ones who should make me rejoice", Long.

pepouqwV (peiqw) perf. part. "I had confidence" - having confidence. The participle is adverbial, causal, explaining why Paul wants to be joyous, rather than distressed, when he visits the church, namely, "because I am confident / persuaded / convinced, with respect to you, that if I am rejoicing / happy then you will share in my joy / happiness."

epi + acc. "in" - in [you all]. Spacial, although probably better reference / respect "with respect to all of you."

oJti "that" - that [the joy of me is the joy]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what Paul is convinced of."

pantwn gen. adj. "[you share my joy]" - of all [of you]. The genitive is adjectival, possessive.


iv] The personal anguish that Paul experienced when writing the harsh / severe letter (probably 1 Corinthians), v4. Paul provides another reason for writing the harsh / severe letter: it was not an act of callous discipline, but rather a demonstration of love. Given that love was the prime motivator, the writing of the letter caused Paul emotional distress.

gar "for" - More reason than cause. Thrall suggests that "Paul is substantiating what he has just said about avoiding a visit to Corinth lest it should cause him sorrow." The sorrow caused by the letter was bad enough; "That letter I sent you came out of great distress and anxiety ...", REB.

uJmin dat. pro. "to you" - [i wrote] to you. Dative of indirect object.

ek + gen. "out of" - from [much affliction]. Possibly expressing source / origin here, the source of the letter, so Harris, although BAGD suggests that here it expresses the "circumstances which accompany an action without necessarily being the source of it.", Best we go with Long who classifies it as adverbial, manner, "heartbreaking"; "I wrote that letter to you with a deeply troubled mind and a very sore heart", Barclay.

kardiaV (a) gen. "[anguish] of heart" - [and distress] of heart. Long suggests the genitive is verbal, objective, but better treated as adjectival, attributed; "a most unhappy heart", Phillips.

dia + gen. "with" - through [many tears]. As with ek, adverbial, attendant circumstance, "I wept as I was writing", or manner, "I wrote .... tearfully", as NIV. Harris, Moule, ... suggest that here the preposition establishes the circumstances of the harsh letter. Guthrie suggests a spatial sense; "I wrote ..... through a flood of tears."

iJna + subj. "to [grieve you]" - [not] that [you should be grieved]. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose; "not in order to grieve you." Note the contrasting double hina construction, "not in order to ..... but in order to .... "In order that you may know the great love I have for you."

alla "but" - but [that you may know]. Strong adversative in a counterpoint construction; "not ....., but ...."

perissoterwV comp. adv. "the depth [of my love]" - [the love which i have] abundantly. This comparative adverb is usually taken with "love", as NIV, "the abundant love that I have for you", TEV, but it could go with uJmaV, "you", "that you may know the love I have specially for you", Barrett.

eiV + acc. "for [you]" - into [you]. Here expressing advantage.


2 Corinthians Introduction


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