RPM, Volume 18, Number 29, July 10 to July 16, 2016

Barnes' New Testament Notes

Notes on the New Testament Explanatory and Practical
Part 62

By Albert Barnes




In the Introduction to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, the situation and character of the city of Corinth, the history of the church there, and the design which Paul had in view in writing to them at first, have been fully stated. In order to a full understanding of the design of this epistle, those facts should be borne in distinct remembrance; and the reader is referred to the statement there made as material to a correct understanding of this epistle. It was shown there that an important part of Paul's design at that time was to reprove the irregularities which existed in the church at Corinth. This he had done with great fidelity. He had not only answered the inquiries which they proposed to him, but he had gone with great particularity into an examination of the gross disorders of which he had learned by some members of the family of Chloe. A large part of the epistle, therefore, was the language of severe reproof. Paul felt its necessity; and he had employed that language with unwavering fidelity to his Master.

Yet it was natural that he should feel great solicitude in regard to the reception of that letter, and to its influence in accomplishing what he wished. That letter had been sent from Ephesus, where Paul proposed to remain until after the succeeding Pentecost, (1 Co 16:8;) evidently hoping by that time to hear from them, and to learn what had been the manner of the reception of his epistle. He proposed then to go to Macedonia, and from that place to go again to Corinth, (1 Co 16:5-7;) but he was evidently desirous to learn in what manner his first epistle had been received, and what was its effect, before he visited them. He sent Timothy and Erastus before him to Macedonia and Achaia, (Ac 19:22; 1 Co 16:10,) intending that, they should visit Corinth, and commissioned Timothy to regulate the disordered affairs in the church there. It would appear also that he sent Titus to the church there in order to observe the effect which his epistle would produce, and to return and report to him, 2 Co 2:13; 7:6-16 Evidently, Paul felt much solicitude on the subject; and the manner in which they received his admonitions would do much to regulate his own future movements. An important case of discipline; his authority as an apostle; and the interests of religion in an important city, and in a church which he had himself founded, were all at stake. In this state of mind he himself left Ephesus, and went to Troas on his way to Macedonia, where it appears he had appointed Titus to meet him, and to report to him the manner in which his first epistle had been received. See Barnes "2 Co 2:13".

Then his mind was greatly agitated and distressed because he did not meet Titus as he had expected, and in this state of mind he went forward to Macedonia. There he had a direct interview with Titus, (2 Co 7:5,6,) and learned from him that his first epistle had accomplished all which he had desired, 2 Co 7:7-16. The act of discipline which he had directed had been performed; the abuses had been in a great measure corrected; and the Corinthians had been brought to a state of true repentance for their former irregularities and disorders. The heart of Paul was greatly comforted by this intelligence, and by the signal success which had attended this effort to produce reform. In this state of mind he wrote to them this second letter.

Titus had spent some time in Corinth. He had had an opportunity of learning the views of the parties, and of ascertaining the true condition of the church. This epistle is designed to meet some of the prevailing views of the party which was opposed to him there, and to refute some of the prevailing slanders in regard to himself. The epistle, therefore, is occupied to a considerable extent in refuting the slanders which had been heaped upon him, and in vindicating his own character. This letter also he sent by the hands of Titus, by whom the former had been sent; and he designed, doubtless, that the presence of Titus should aid in accomplishing the objects which he had in view in the epistle, 2 Co 8:17,18.


It has been generally admitted that this epistle is written without much definite arrangement or plan. It treats on a variety of topics mainly as they occurred to the mind of the apostle at the time, and perhaps without having formed any definite arrangement before he commenced writing it. Those subjects are all important, and are all treated in the usual manner of Paul, and are all useful and interesting to the church at large; but we shall not find in this epistle the same systematic arrangement which is apparent in the epistle to the Romans, or which occurs in the first epistle to the Corinthians. Some of the subjects, of which it treats are the following:

(1.) He mentions his own sufferings, and particularly his late trials in Asia. For deliverance from these trials he expresses his gratitude to God; and states the design for which God called him to endure such trials to have been, that he might be better, qualified to comfort others who might be afflicted in a similar manner, 2 Co 1:1-12.

(2.) He vindicates himself from one of the accusations which his enemies had brought against him, that he was unstable and fickle-minded. He had promised to visit them; and he had not yet fulfilled his promise. They took occasion, therefore, to say that he was unstable, and that he was afraid to visit them. He shows to them, in reply, the true reason why he had not come to them, and that his real object in not doing it had been "to spare" them, 2 Co 1:13-24.

(3.) The case of the unhappy individual who had been guilty of incest had deeply affected his mind. In the first epistle he had treated of this case at large, and had directed that discipline should be exercised. He had felt deep solicitude in regard to the manner in which his commands on that subject should be received, and, had judged it best not to visit them until he should be informed of the manner in which they had complied with his directions. Since they had obeyed him, and had inflicted discipline on him, he now exhorts them to forgive the unhappy man, and to receive him again to their fellowship, 2 Co 2:1-11.

(4.) He mentions the deep solicitude which he had on this subject, and his disappointment when he came to Troas and did not meet with Titus as he had expected, and had not been informed, as he hoped to have been, of the manner in which his former epistle had been received, 2 Co 2:12-17. In view of the manner in which they had received his former epistle, and of the success of his efforts, which he learned when he reached Macedonia, he gives thanks to God that all his efforts to promote the welfare of the church had been successful, 2 Co 2:14-17.

(5.) Paul vindicates his character, and his claims to be regarded as an apostle. He assures them that he does not need letters of commendation to them, since they were fully acquainted with his character, 2 Co 3:1-6. This subject leads him into an examination of the nature of the ministry and its importance, which he illustrates by showing the comparative obscurity of the Mosaic ministrations, and the greater dignity and permanency of the gospel, 2 Co 3:7-18.

(6.) In chapters 4 and 5 he states the principles by which he was actuated in the ministry. He and the other apostles were greatly afflicted, and were subjected to great and peculiar trims, but they had also great and peculiar consolations. They were sustained with the hope of heaven, and with the assurance that there was a world of glory. They acted in view of that world, and had gone forth in view of it to entreat men to be reconciled to God.

(7.) Having referred in chapter 5 to the nature and objects of the Christian ministry, he expatiates with great beauty on the temper with which he and his brethren, in the midst of great trials and afflictions, executed this important work, 2 Co 6:1-10.

(8.) Having in this manner pursued a course of remark that was calculated to conciliate their regard, and to show his affection for them, he exhorts them (2 Co 6:11-18) to avoid those connexions which would injure their piety, and which were inconsistent with the gospel which they professed to love. The connexions to which he particularly referred, were improper marriages and ruinous alliances with idolaters, to which they were particularly exposed.

(9.) In 2 Co 7 he again makes a transition to Titus, and to the joy which he had brought him in the intelligence which he gave of the manner in which the commands of Paul in the first epistle had been received, and of its happy effect on the minds of the Corinthians.

(10.) In chapters 8 and 9 Paul refers to and discusses the subject on which his heart was so much set-the collection for the poor and afflicted Christians in Judea. He had commenced the collection in Macedonia, and had boasted to them that the Corinthians would aid largely in that benevolent work, and he now sent Titus to complete it in Corinth.

(11.) In chapter 10, he enters upon a vindication of himself, and of his apostolic authority, against the accusation of his enemies; and pursues the subject through chapter 11 by a comparison of himself with others, and in chapter 12 by an argument directly in favour of his apostolic authority from the favours which God had bestowed on him, and the evidence which he had given of his having been commissioned by God. This subject he pursues also in various illustrations to the end of the epistle.

The objects of this epistle, therefore, and subjects discussed, are various. They are to show his deep interest in their welfare; to express his gratitude that his former letter had been so well received, and had so effectually accomplished what he wished to accomplish; to carry forward the work of reformation among them which had been so auspiciously commenced; to vindicate his authority as an apostle from the objections which he had learned through Titus they had continued to make; to secure the collection for the poor saints in Judea, on which his heart had been so much set; and to assure them of his intention to come and visit them according to his repeated promises. The epistle is substantially of the same character as the first. It was written to a church where great, dissensions and other evils prevailed; it was designed to promote a reformation, and is a model of the manner in which evils are to be corrected in a church. In connexion with the first epistle, it shows the manner in which offenders in the church are to be dealt with, and the spirit and design with which the work of discipline should be entered on and pursued. Though these were local evils, yet great principles are involved here of use to the church in all ages: and to these epistles the church must refer at all times, as an illustration of the proper manner of administering discipline, and of silencing the calumnies of enemies.


It is manifest that this epistle was written from Macedonia, (2 Co 8:1-14; 9:2,) and was sent by Titus to the church at Corinth. If so, it was written probably about a year after the former epistle. Paul was on his way to Corinth, and was expecting to go there soon. He had left Ephesus, where he was when he wrote the first epistle, and had gone to Troas, and from thence to Macedonia, where he had met with Titus, and had from him learned what was the effect of his first epistle. In the overflowing of his heart with gratitude for the success of that letter, and with a desire to carry forward the work of reformation in the church, and completely to remove all the objections which had been made to his apostolic authority, and to prepare for his own welcome reception when he went there, he wrote this letter—a letter which we cannot doubt was as kindly received as the former, and which, like that, accomplished the objects which he had in view.


THIS chapter consists of the following parts, or subjects:

(1.) The usual salutation and benediction in the introduction of the epistle, 2 Co 1:1-2. This is found in all the epistles of Paul, and was at once an affectionate salutation and an appropriate expression of his interest in their welfare, and also an appropriate mode of commencing an address to them by one who claimed to be inspired and sent from God.

(2.) He refers to the consolation which he had had in his heavy trials, and praises God for that consolation, and declares that the reason for which he was comforted was, that he might be qualified to administer consolation to others in the same or in similar circumstances, 2 Co 1:3-7.

(3.) He informs them of the heavy trials which he was called to experience when he was in Ephesus, and of his merciful deliverance from those trials, 2 Co 1:8-12. He had been exposed to death, and had despaired of life, 2 Co 1:8,9; yet he had been delivered, 2 Co 1:10; he desired them to unite with him in thanksgiving on account of it, 2 Co 1:11; and in all this he had endeavoured to keep a good conscience, and had that testimony that he had endeavoured to maintain such a conscience toward all, and especially toward them, 2 Co 1:12.

(4.) He refers to the design which he had in writing the former letter, to them, 2 Co 1:13,14. He had written to them only such things as they admitted to be true and proper; and such as he was persuaded they would always admit. They had always received his instructions favourably and kindly and he had always sought their welfare.

(5.) In this state of mind, Paul had designed to have paid them a second visit, 2 Co 1:15,16. But he had not done it yet; and it appears that his enemies had taken occasion from this to say that he was inconstant and fickle-minded. He, therefore, takes occasion to vindicate himself, and to convince them that he was not faithless to his word and purposes, and to show them the true reason why he had not visited them, 2 Co 1:17-24. He states, therefore, that his real intentions had been to visit them, 2 Co 1:15,16; that his failure to do so had not proceeded from either levity or falsehood, 2 Co 1:17, as they might have known from the uniform doctrine which he had taught them, in which he had inculcated the necessity of a strict adherence to promises, from the veracity of Jesus Christ his great example, 2 Co 1:18-20, and from the fact that God had given to him the Holy Spirit, and anointed him, 2 Co 1:21,22; and he states therefore, that the true reason why he had not come to them was that he wished to spare them, 2 Co 1:23,24 he was willing to remain away from them until they should have time to correct the evils which existed in their church, and prevent the necessity of severe discipline when he should come.

Verse 1. Paul, an apostle, See Barnes "Ro 1:1, See Barnes "1 Co 1:1".

By the will of God. Through, or agreeably to the will of God. See Barnes "1 Co 1:1".

And Timothy our brother. Paul was accustomed to associate some other person or persons with him in writing his epistles. Thus, in the first epistle to the Corinthians, Sosthenes was associated with him. For the reasons of this, See Barnes "1 Co 1:1".

The name of Timothy is associated with his in the epistles to the Philippians and Colossians. From the former epistle to the Corinthians, 1 Co 16:10, we learn that Paul had sent Timothy to the church at Corinth, or that he expected that he would visit them. Paul had sent him into Macedonia in company with Erastus (Ac 19:21,22,) intending himself to follow them, and expecting that they would visit Achaia. From the passage before us, it appears that Timothy had returned from this expedition, and was now with Paul. The reason why Paul joined Timothy with him in writing this epistle may have been the following:

(1.) Timothy had been recently with them, and they had become acquainted with him; and it was not only natural that he should express his friendly salutations, but his name and influence among them might serve in some degree to confirm what Paul wished to say to them. Comp. See Barnes "1 Co 1:1".

(2.) Paul may have wished to give as much influence as possible to Timothy. He designed that he should be his fellow-labourer; and as Timothy was much younger than himself, he doubtless expected that he would survive him, and that he would in some sense succeed him in the care of the churches. He was desirous, therefore, of securing for him all the authority which he could, and of letting it be known that he regarded him as abundantly qualified for the great work with which he was intrusted.

(3.) The influence and name of Timothy might be supposed to have weight with the party in the church that had slandered Paul, by accusing him of insincerity or instability in regard to his purposed visit to them. Paul had designed to go to them directly from Ephesus, but he had changed his mind, and the testimony of Timothy might be important to prove that it was done from motives purely conscientious. Timothy was doubtless acquainted with the reasons; and his testimony might meet and rebut a part of the charges against him. See 2 Co 1:13-16.

Unto the church of God, etc. See Barnes "1 Co 1:2".

With all the saints which are in all Achaia. Achaia, in the largest sense, included the whole of Greece. Achaia Proper, however, was the district or province of which Corinth was the capital. It comprehended the part of Greece lying between Thessaly and the southern part of the Peloponnesus, embracing the whole western part of the Peloponnesus. It is probable that there were not a few Christians scattered in Achaia, and not improbably some small churches that had been established by the labours of Paul or of others. From Ro 16:1, we know that there was a church at Cenchrea, the eastern port of Corinth; and it is by no means improbable that there were other churches in that region. Paul doubtless designed that copies of this epistle should be circulated among them.

{a} "apostle of Jesus Christ" 1 Ti 1:1; 2 Ti 1:1

{b} "saints which are in all Achia" Php 1:1; Col 1:2


Verse 2. Grace be to you, etc. This is the usual Christian salutation. See Barnes "Ro 1:7" See Barnes "1 Co 1:3"

{c} "Grace be to you" Ro 1:7


Verse 3. Blessed be God. This is the commencement, properly, of the epistle; and it is the language of a heart that is full of joy, and that bursts forth with gratitude in view of mercy. It may have been excited by the recollection that he had formerly written to them, and that during the interval which had elapsed between the time when the former epistle was written and when this was penned, he had been called to a most severe trial, and that from that trial he had been mercifully delivered. With a heart full of gratitude and joy for this merciful interposition, he commences this epistle. It is remarked by Doddridge, that eleven out of the thirteen epistles of Paul begin with exclamations of praise, joy, and thanksgiving. Paul had been afflicted, but he had also been favoured with remarkable consolations; and it was not unnatural that he should allow himself to give expression to his joy and praise in view of all the mercies which God had conferred on him. This entire passage is one that is exceedingly valuable, as showing that there may an elevated joy in the midst of deep affliction, and as showing what is the reason why God visits his servants with trials. The phrase "blessed be God" is equivalent to "praised be God," or is an expression of thanksgiving. It is the usual formula of praise, (compare Eph 1:3;) and shows his entire confidence in God, and his joy in him, and his gratitude for his mercies. It is one of innumerable instances which show that it is possible and proper to bless God in view of the trials with which he visits his people, and of the consolations which he causes to abound.

The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is mentioned here in the relation of the "Father of the Lord Jesus," doubtless, because it was through the Lord Jesus, and him alone, that He had imparted the consolation which he had experienced, 2 Co 1:5. Paul knew no other God than the "Father of the Lord Jesus;" he knew no other source of consolation than the gospel; he knew of no way in which God imparted comfort except through his Son. That is genuine Christian consolation which acknowledges the Lord Jesus as the medium by whom it is imparted; that is proper thanksgiving to God which is offered through the Redeemer; that only is the proper acknowledgment of God which recognizes him as the "Father of the Lord Jesus."

The Father of mercies. This is a Hebrew mode of expression, where a noun performs the place of an adjective, and the phrase is synonymous nearly with "merciful Father." The expression has, however, somewhat more energy and spirit than the simple phrase "merciful Father." The Hebrews used the word father often to denote the author or source of anything; and the idea in phraseology like this is, that mercy proceeds from God, that he is the source of it, and that it is his nature to impart mercy and compassion, as if he originated it, or was the source and fountain of it—sustaining a relation to all true consolation analogous to that which a father sustains to his offspring. God has the paternity of all true joy. It is one of his peculiar and glorious attributes that he thus produces consolation and mercy.

And the God of all comfort, The source of all consolation. Paul delighted, as all should do, to trace all his comforts to God; and Paul, as all Christians have, had sufficient reason to regard God as the source of true consolation. There is no other real source of happiness but God; and he is able abundantly, and willing, to impart consolation to his people.

{d} "Blessed be God" Eph 1:3; 1 Pe 1:3


Verse 4. Who comforteth us. Paul here doubtless refers primarily to himself and his fellow-apostles as having been filled with comfort in their trials; to the support which the promises of God gave; to the influences of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter; and to the hopes of eternal life through the gospel of the Redeemer.

That we may be able to comfort, etc. Paul does not say that this was the only design which God had in comforting them, that they might be able to impart comfort to others; but he does say that this is an important and main purpose. It is an object which he seeks, that his people in their afflictions should be supported and comforted; and for this purpose he fills the hearts of his ministers with consolation; gives them personal experience of the sustaining power of grace in their trials; and enables them to speak of what they have felt in regard to the consolations of the gospel of the Lord Jesus.

By the comfort, etc. By the same topics of consolation; by the same sources of joy which have sustained us. They would have experience; and by that experience they would be able to minister consolation to those who were in any manner afflicted. It is only by personal experience that we are able to impart consolation to others. Paul refers here undoubtedly to the consolations which are produced by the evidence of the pardon of sin, and of acceptance with God, and the hope of eternal life. These consolations abounded in him and his fellow-apostles richly; and sustained by them he was able also to impart like consolation to others who were in similar circumstances of trial.


Verse 5. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us. As we are called to experience the same sufferings which Christ endured; as we are called to suffer in his cause, and in the promotion of the same object. The sufferings which they endured were in the cause of Christ and his gospel; were endured in endeavouring to advance the same object which Christ sought to promote; and were substantially of the same nature. They arose from opposition, contempt, persecution, trial, and want, and were the same as the Lord Jesus was himself subjected to during the whole of his public life. Comp. Col 1:24. Thus Peter says 1 Pe 4:13 of Christians, that they were "partakers of Christ's sufferings."

So our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. By means of Christ, or through Christ, consolation is abundantly imparted to us. Paul regarded the Lord Jesus as the source of consolation, and felt that the comfort which he imparted, or which was imparted through him, was more than sufficient to overbalance all the trials which he endured in his cause. The comforts which he derived from Christ were those, doubtless, which arose from his presence, his supporting grace, from his love shed abroad in the heart, from the success which he gave to his gospel, and from the hope of reward which was held out to him by the Redeemer, as the result of all his sufferings. And it may be observed as an universal truth, that if we suffer in the cause of Christ, if we are persecuted, oppressed, and calumniated on his account, he will take care that our hearts shall be filled with consolation.

{a} "sufferings of Christ" Col 1:24


Verse 6. And whether we be afflicted. If we are afflicted; or, our affliction is for this purpose. This verse is designed to show one of the reasons of the sufferings which the apostles had endured; and it is a happy specimen of Paul's skill in his epistles, he shows that all his trials were for their welfare, and would turn to their benefit. He suffered that they might be comforted; he was afflicted for their advantage. This assurance would tend to conciliate their favour, and strengthen their affection for him, as it would show them that he was disinterested. We are under the deepest obligations of gratitude to one who suffers for us; and there is nothing that will bind us more tenderly to any one than the fact that he has been subjected to great calamity and trial on our account. This is one of the reasons why the Christian feels so tenderly his obligation to the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is for your consolation and salvation. It will be useful for your consolation; or it is endured in order to secure your comfort, and promote your salvation. Paul had suffered in Ephesus, and it is to this that he here particularly refers. He does not mean to say that his sufferings there were particularly for the comfort of the Corinthians; but that they had been endured in the general purpose of promoting the salvation of men, and that they, together with others, would reap the benefit of his trials. He endured them in order to spread the true religion; and they would be benefited by that; and besides, he would be the better able by his trials to administer to them the true consolations of the gospel in their sufferings; and his example, and experience, and counsel, would enable them to bear up under their own trials in a proper manner.

Which is effectual, etc. Margin, wrought. The Greek word energoumenhv denotes here efficacious, operating to, producing; and the phrase denotes that their salvation would be effected, wrought out, or secured by the patient endurance of such sufferings. Those sufferings were necessary; and a patient endurance of them would tend to promote their salvation. The doctrine that the patient endurance of affliction tends to promote salvation, is everywhere taught in the Bible. See Barnes "Ro 5:3, also Ro 5:4-5.

In the enduring. By your enduring; or by your patience in such sufferings. You are called to endure the same kind of sufferings; and patience in such trials will tend to promote your salvation.

Or whether we be comforted, etc. One design of our being comforted is, that we may be able to impart consolation to you in the times of similar trial and calamity. See 2 Co 1:4. The sentiment of the whole passage is, that their eternal welfare would be promoted by the example of the apostles in their trials, and by the consolations which they would be able to impart as the result of their afflictions.

{b} "for your consolation" 2 Co 4:15

{1} "effectual" "wrought"


Verse 7. And our hope of you is steadfast. We have a firm and unshaken hope in regard to you; we have a confident expectation that you will be saved. We believe that you will be enabled so to bear trial as to show that you are sustained by the Christian hope; and so as to advance your own piety, and confirm your prospect of heaven.

As ye are partakers of the sufferings. It is evident from this, that the Corinthians had been subjected to trials similar to those which the apostle had endured. It is not known to what afflictions they were then subjected; but it is not improbable that they were exposed to some kind of persecution and opposition. Such trials were common in all the early churches; and they served to unite all the friends of the Redeemer in common bonds, and to make them feel that they were one. They had united sorrows; and they had united joys; and they felt they were tending to the same heaven of glory. United sorrows and united consolations tend more than anything else to bind people together. We always have a brotherly feeling for one who suffers as we do; or who has the same kind of joy which we have.

{c} "ye are partakers" Ro 8:17


Verse 8. For we would not have you ignorant. We wish you to be fully informed. See Barnes "1 Co 10:1" See Barnes "1 Co 12:1".

The object of Paul here is to give a full explanation of the nature of his trials, to which he had referred in 2 Co 1:4. He presumed that the Corinthians would feel a deep interest in him and in his trials; that they would sympathize with him, and would pray that those sufferings and that this deliverance might be attended with a blessing, 2 Co 1:11 and perhaps he wished also to conciliate their kindness towards himself by mentioning more at length the, nature of the trials which he had been called to endure on account of the Christian religion, of which they were reaping so material benefits.

Of our trouble which came to us in Asia. The term Asia is often used to denote that part of Asia Minor of which Ephesus was the capital. See Barnes "Ac 2:9".

There has been considerable diversity of opinion as to the "troubles" to which Paul here refers. Some have supposed that he refers to the persecutions at Lystra, Ac 14:6,19,20, from which he had been recovered as it were by miracle; but as that happened so long before this, it seems improbable that he should here refer to it. There is every mark of freshness and recentness about this event; and Paul evidently referred to some danger from which he had been lately delivered, and which made a deep impression on his mind when he wrote this epistle. Semler supposes that he refers to the lying in wait of the Jews for him when he was about to go to Macedonia, mentioned in Ac 20:3. Most commentators have supposed that he refers to the disturbances which were made at Ephesus by Demetrius and his friends, mentioned in Ac 19, and by reason of which he was compelled to leave the city. The only objection to this is, that which is mentioned by Whitby and Macknight, that as Paul did not go into the theatre there, Ac 19:31, he incurred no such risk of his life as to justify the strong expressions mentioned in 2 Co 1:9,10. They suppose, therefore, that he refers to the danger to which he was exposed in Ephesus on another occasion, when he was compelled to fight there with wild beasts. See 1 Co 15:32. But nearly all these opinions may be reconciled, perhaps, by supposing that he refers to the group of calamities to which he had been exposed in Asia, and from which he had just escaped by going to Macedonia—referring, perhaps, more particularly to the conflict which he had been compelled to have with the wild beasts there. There was the riot excited by Demetrius, Ac 19, in which his life had been endangered, and from which he had just escaped; and there had been the conflict with the wild beasts at Ephesus, See Barnes "1 Co 15:32, which perhaps had occurred but just before; and there were the plots of the Jews against him, Ac 20:3, from which, also, he had just been delivered. By these trials his life had been endangered, perhaps, more than once, and he had been called to look death calmly in the face, and to anticipate the probability that he might soon die. Of these trials —of all these trials—he would not have the Corinthians ignorant; but desired that they should be fully apprized of them, that they might sympathize with him, and that through their prayers they might be turned to, his benefit.

That we were pressed out of measure. See Ac 19. We were borne down, or weighed down by calamity (ebarhyhmen,) exceedingly, (kay uperbolhn) super-eminently. The expression denotes excess, eminence, or intensity. It is one of Paul's common and very strong expressions to denote anything that is intensive or great. Ro 7:13; Ga 1:13; 2 Co 4:17.

Above strength. Beyond our strength. More than in ourselves we were able to bear.

Insomuch that we despaired even of life. Either expecting to be destroyed by the wild beasts with which he had to contend, or to be destroyed by the people. This was one of the instances undoubtedly to which he refers in 2 Co 11:23, where he says he had been "in deaths oft." And this was one of the many cases in which Paul was called on to contemplate death as near. It was doubtless one cause of his fidelity, and of his great success in his work, that he was thus called to regard death as near at hand; and that, to use the somewhat unpoetical but deeply affecting lines of Baxter, expressing a sentiment which guided all his ministry, and which was one source of his eminent success,

He preach'd as though he ne'er would preach again And as a dying man to dying men

{a} "trouble which came" Ac 19:23


Verse 9. But we had the sentence of death in ourselves. Marg., "answer:" The word rendered "sentence" (apokrima) means, properly, an answer, judicial response, or sentence; and is here synonymous with verdict. It means that Paul felt that he was condemned to die; that he felt as if he were under sentence of death, and with no hope of acquittal; he was called to contemplate the hour of death as just before him. The words, "in ourselves," mean, against ourselves; or, we expected certainly to die. This seems as if he had been con- condemned to die; and may either refer to some instance when the popular fury was so great that he felt it was determined he should die, or, more probably, to a judicial sentence that he should be cast to the wild beasts, with the certain expectation that he would be destroyed, as was always the case with those who were subjected to the execution of such a sentence.

That we should not trust in ourselves. This is an exceedingly beautiful and important sentiment. It teaches that, in the time to which Paul refers, he was in so great danger, and had so certain a prospect of death, that he could put no reliance on himself, he felt that he must die; and that human aid was vain. According to every probability he would die; and all that he could do was to cast himself on the protection of that God who had power to save him even then, if he chose, and who, if he did it, would exert power similar to that which is put forth when the dead are raised. The effect, therefore, of the near prospect of death, was to lead him to put increased confidence in God. He felt that God only could save him; or that God only could sustain him if he should die. Perhaps, also, he means to say, that the effect of this was to lead him to put increased confidence in God after his deliverance; not to trust in his own plans, or to confide in his own strength; but to feel that all that he had was entirely in the hands of God. This is a common and a happy effect of the near prospect of death to a Christian; and it is well to contemplate the effect on such a mind as that of Paul in the near prospect of dying, and to see how instinctively then it clings to God. A true Christian in such circumstances will rush to His arms, and feel that there he is safe.

But in God which raiseth the dead. Intimating that a rescue in such circumstances would be like raising the dead. It is probable that on this occasion Paul was near dying; that he had given up all hope of life—perhaps, as at Lystra, (Ac 14:19,) he was supposed to be dead. He felt, therefore, that he was raised up by the immediate power of God, and regarded it as an exertion of the same power by which the dead are raised. Paul means to intimate, that so far as depended on any power of his own, he was dead. He had no power to recover himself; and but for the gracious interposition of God he would have died.

{b} "trust in ourselves" Jer 17:5,7


Verse 10. Who delivered us from so great a death. From a death so terrible, and from a prospect so alarming. It is intimated here by the word which Paul uses, that the death which he apprehended was one of a character peculiarly terrific—probably a death by wild beasts. See Barnes "2 Co 1:8".

He was near to death; he had no hope of rescue; and the manner of the death which was threatened was peculiarly frightful. Paul regarded rescue from such a death as a kind of resurrection and felt that he owed his life to God as if he had raised him from the dead. All deliverance from imminent peril, and from dangerous sickness, whether of ourselves or our friends, should be regarded as a kind of resurrection from the dead. God could with infinite ease have taken away our breath, and it is only by his merciful interposition that we live.

And doth deliver. Continues yet to deliver us—or preserve us; intimating perhaps, that danger had continued to follow him after the signal deliverance to which he particularly refers, and that he had continued to be in similar peril of his life. Paul was daily exposed to danger; and was constantly preserved by the good providence of God. In what manner he was rescued from the peril to which he was exposed, he has nowhere intimated. It is implied, however, that it was by a remarkable Divine interposition; but whether by miracle, or by the ordinary course of Providence, he nowhere intimates. Whatever was the mode, however, Paul regarded God as the source of the deliverance, and felt that his obligations were due to him as his kind Preserver.

In whom we trust that he will yet deliver us. That he will continue to preserve us. We hope; we are accustomed to cherish the expectation that he will continue to defend us in the perils which we shall yet encounter. Paul felt that he was still exposed to danger. Everywhere he was liable to be persecuted, See Barnes "Ac 20:23,) and everywhere he felt that his life was in peril. Yet he had been thus far preserved in a most remarkable manner; and he felt assured that God would continue to interpose in his behalf, until his great purpose in regard to him should be fully accomplished, so that at the close of life he could look to God as his Deliverer, and feel that all along his perilous journey he had been his great Protector.

{c} "delivered us from" 2 Pe 2:9

{*} "yet" "still"


Verse 11. Ye also helping together by prayer for us. Tindal renders this, in connexion with the close of the previous verse, "we trust that yet hereafter he will deliver us, by the help of your prayer for us." The word rendered "helping together," means co-operating, aiding, assisting; and the idea is, that Paul felt that his trials might be turned to good account, and give occasion for thanksgiving; and that this was to be accomplished by the aid of the prayers of his fellow Christians. He felt that the church was one, and that Christians should sympathize with one another, He evinced deep humility and tender regard for the Corinthians when he called on them to aid him by their prayers. Nothing could be better calculated to excite their tender affection and regard than thus to call on them to sympathize with him in his trials, and to pray that those trials might result in thanksgiving throughout the churches.

That for the gift bestowed upon us. The sentence which occurs here is very perplexing in the original, and the construction is difficult. But the main idea is not difficult to be seen. The "gift" here referred to (to carisma) means, doubtless, the favour shown to him in his rescue from so imminent a peril; and he felt that this was owing to the prayers of many persons on his behalf. He believed that he had been remembered in the petitions of his friends and fellow Christians, and that his deliverance was owing to their supplications.

By the means of many persons. Probably meaning that the favour referred to had been imparted by means of the prayers of many individuals who had taken a deep interest in his welfare. But it may also imply, perhaps, that he had been directly assisted, and had been rescued from the impending danger by the interposition of many friends who had come to his relief. The usual interpretation is, however, that it was by the prayers of many in his behalf.

Thanks may be given by many on our behalf. Many may be induced also to render thanks for my deliverance. The idea is, that as he had been delivered from great peril by the prayers of many persons, it was proper also that thanksgiving should be offered by as many in his behalf, or on account of his deliverance. "Mercies that have been obtained by prayer should be acknowledged by praise."— Doddridge. God had mercifully interposed in answer to the prayers of his people; and it was proper that his mercy should be as extensively acknowledged. Paul was desirous that God should not be forgotten; and that those who had sought his deliverance should render praise to God: perhaps intimating here, that those who had obtained mercies by prayer, were prone to forget their obligation to return thanks to God for his gracious and merciful interposition.

{a} "helping together" Ro 15:30; Php 1:19; Jas 5:16-18

{*} "gift" "benefit"


Verse 12. For our rejoicing is this. The source or cause of our rejoicing. "I have a just cause of rejoicing; and it is, that I have endeavoured to live a life of simplicity and godly sincerity, and have not been actuated by the principles of worldly wisdom." The connexion here is not very obvious, and it is not quite easy to trace it. Most expositors, as Doddridge, Locke, Macknight, Bloomfield, etc. suppose that he mentions the purity of his life as a reason why he had a right to expect their prayers, as he had requested in 2 Co 1:11. They would not doubt, it is supposed, that his life had been characterized by great simplicity and sincerity, and would feel, therefore, a deep interest in his welfare, and be disposed to render thanks that he had been preserved in the day of peril. But the whole context and the scope of the passage are rather to be taken into view. Paul had been exposed to death, he had no hope of life. Then the ground of his rejoicing and of his confidence was, that he had lived a holy life. he had not been actuated by "fleshly wisdom," but he had been animated and guided by "the grace of God." His aim had been simple, his purpose holy, and he had the testimony of his conscience that his motives had been right; and he had, therefore, no concern about the result. A good conscience, a holy life through Jesus Christ, will enable a man always to look calmly on death. What has a Christian to fear in death? Paul had kept a good conscience towards all; but he says that he had special and peculiar joy that he had done it towards the Corinthians. This he says, because many there had accused him of fickleness, and of disregard for their interests. He declares, therefore, that even in the prospect of death he had a consciousness of rectitude towards them, and proceeds to show 2 Co 1:13-23 that the charge against him was not well-founded. I regard this passage, therefore, as designed to express the fact that Paul, in view of sudden death, had a consciousness of a life of piety, and was comforted with the reflection that he had not been actuated by the "fleshly wisdom" of the world.

The testimony of our conscience. An approving conscience. It does not condemn me on the subject. Though others might accuse him, though his name might be calumniated, yet he had comfort in the approval which his own conscience gave to his course. Paul's conscience was enlightened, and its decisions were correct. Whatever others might charge him with, he knew what had been the aim and purpose of his life; and the consciousness of upright aims, and of such plans as the "grace of God" would prompt to, sustained him. An approving conscience is of inestimable value when we are calumniated—and when we draw near to death.

That in simplicity. en aplothti. Tindal renders this forcibly, "without doubleness." The word means sincerity, candour, probity, plain-heartedness, Christian simplicity, frankness, integrity. See 2 Co 11:3. It stands opposed to double-dealings and purposes; to deceitful appearances, and crafty plans; to mere policy, and craftiness in accomplishing an object. A man under the influence of this, is straightforward, candid, open, frank; and he expects to accomplish his purpose by integrity and fair dealing, and not by stratagem and cunning. Policy, craft, artful plans, and deep-laid schemes of deceit belong to the world; simplicity of aim and purpose are the true characteristics of a real Christian.

And godly sincerity. Greek, "Sincerity of God." This may be a Hebrew idiom, by which the superlative degree is indicated; when, in order to express the highest degree, they added the name of God, as in the phrases "mountains of God," signifying the highest mountains, or "cedars of God," denoting lofty cedars. Or it may mean such sincerity as God manifests and approves; such as he, by his grace, would produce in the heart; such as the religion of the gospel is fitted to produce. The word used here, eilikrineia, and rendered sincerity, denotes, properly, clearness, such as is judged of or discerned in sunshine, (from eilh and krinw,) and thence pureness, integrity. It is most probable that the phrase here denotes that sincerity which God produces and approves; and the sentiment is, that pure religion, the religion of God, produces entire sincerity in the heart. Its purposes and aims are open and manifest, as if seen in the sunshine. The plans of the world are obscure, deceitful, and dark, as if in night.

Not with fleshly wisdom. Not with the wisdom which is manifested by the men of this world; not by the principles of cunning, and mere policy, and expediency, which often characterize them. The phrase here stands opposed to simplicity and sincerity, to openness and straightforwardness. And Paul means to disclaim for himself, and for his fellow-labourers, all that carnal policy which distinguishes the mere men of the world. And if Paul deemed such policy improper for him, we should deem it improper for us; if he had no plans which he wished to advance by it, we should have none; if he would not employ it in the promotion of good plans, neither should we. It has been the curse of the church and the bane of religion; and it is to this day exerting a withering and blighting influence on the church. The moment that such plans are resorted to, it is proof that the vitality of religion is gone; and any man who feels that his purposes cannot be accomplished but by such carnal policy, should set it down as full demonstration that his plans are wrong, and that his purpose should be abandoned.

But by the grace God. This phrase stands opposed, evidently, to "fleshly wisdom." It means that Paul had been influenced by such sentiments and principles as would be suggested or prompted by the influence of his grace. Locke renders it, "By the favour of God directing me." God had shown him favour; God had directed him; and he had kept him from the crooked and devious ways of mere worldly policy. The idea seems to be not merely that he had pursued a correct and upright course of life, but that he was indebted for this to the mere grace and favour of God—an idea which Paul omitted no opportunity of acknowledging.

We have had our conversation. We have conducted ourselves, (anestrafhmen.) The word here used means, literally, to turn up, to overturn; then to turn back, to return, and, in the middle voice, to turn one's self around, to turn one's self to anything, and, also, to move about in, to live in, to be conversant with, to conduct one's self. In this sense it seems to be used here. Comp. Heb 10:33; 13:18; 1 Ti 3:15; 1 Pe 1:17.

The word conversation we usually apply to oral discourse; but in the Scriptures it means conduct; and the sense of the passage is, that Paul had conducted himself in accordance with the principles of the grace of God, and had been influenced by that.

In the world. Everywhere; wherever I have been. This does not mean in the world, as contradistinguished from the church; but in the world at large, or wherever he had been, as contradistinguished from the church at Corinth. It had been his common and universal practice.

And more abundantly to you-ward. Especially towards you. This was added, doubtless, because there had, been charges against him in Corinth, that he had been crafty, cunning, deceitful, and especially that he had deceived them, 2 Co 1:17, in not visiting them as he had promised. He affirms, therefore, that in all things he had acted in the manner to which the grace of God prompted, and that his conduct, in all respects, had been that of entire simplicity and sincerity.

{+} "rejoicing" "glorying"

{b} "not with fleshly" 1 Co 2:4,13

{c} "Grace of God" 1 Co 15:10

{++} "fleshly" "carnal"

{&} "conversation" "Behaved ourselves"

{|} "to you-ward" "Towards you"


Verse 13. For we write none other things, etc. There has been much variety in the interpretation of this passage; and much difficulty felt in determining what it means. The sense seems to me to be this: Paul had just declared that he had been actuated by pure intentions and by entire sincerity, and had in all things been influenced by the grace of God. This he had shown everywhere, but more particularly among them at Corinth. That they fully knew. In making this affirmation they had full evidence, from what they had known of him in former times, that such had been his course of life; and he trusted that they would be able to acknowledge the same thing to the end, and that they would never have any occasion to form a different opinion of him. It will be recollected that it is probable that some at Corinth had charged him with insincerity; and some had accused him of fickleness in having promised to come to Corinth and then changing his mind, or had charged him with never having intended to come to them. His object in this verse is to refute such slanders; and he says, therefore, that all that he affirmed in his writings about the sincerity and simplicity of his aims, was such as they knew from their past acquaintance with him to be true; and that they knew that he was a man who would keep his promises. It is an instance of a minister who was able to appeal to the people among whom he had lived and laboured in regard to the general sincerity and uprightness of his character—such an appeal as every minister ought to be able to make to refute all slanders; and such as he will be able to make successfully, if his life, like that of Paul, is such as to warrant it. Such seems to me to be the sense of the passage, Beza, however, renders it, "I write no other things than what ye read, or may understand;" and so Rosenmuller, Wetstein, Macknight, and some others interpret it; and they explain it as meaning, "I write nothing secretly, nothing ambiguously, but I express myself dearly, openly, plainly, so that I may be read and understood by all." Macknight supposes that they had charged him with using ambiguous language, that he might afterwards interpret it to suit his own purpose. The objection to this is, that Paul never adverts to the obscurity or perspicuity of his own language. It was his conduct that was the main subject on which he was writing; and the connexion seems to demand that we understand him as affirming that they had abundant evidence that what he affirmed of his simplicity of aim and integrity of life was true.

Than what ye read. Anaginwskete. This word properly means, to know accurately; to distinguish; and in the New Testament usually to know by reading. Doddridge remarks, that the word is ambiguous, and may signify either to acknowledge, to know, or to read. He regards it as here used in the sense of knowing. It is probably used here in the sense of knowing accurately, or surely; of recognising from their former acquaintance with him. They would see that the sentiments which he now expressed were such as accorded with his character and uniform course of life.

Or acknowledge. Epiginwskete. The preposition epi in composition here is intensive; and the word denotes, to know fully; to receive full knowledge of; to know well; or to recognise. It here means that they would fully recognise, or know entirely to their satisfaction, that the sentiments which he here expressed were such as accorded with his general manner of life. From what they knew of him, they could not but admit that he had been influenced by the principles stated.

And I trust ye shall acknowledge. I trust that my conduct will be such as to convince you always that I am actuated by such principles. I trust you will never witness any departure from them—the language of a man of settled principle, and of fixed aims and honesty of life. An honest man can always use such language respecting himself.

Even to the end. To the end of life; always. "We trust that you will never have occasion to think dishonourably of us; or to reflect on any inconsistency in our behaviour."—Doddridge.

{*} "read" "know"


Verse 14. As also ye have acknowledged us. You have had occasion to admit my singleness of aim, and purity of intention and of life, by your former acquaintance with me; and you have cheerfully done it.

In part. apo merouv. Tindal renders this, "as ye have found us partly." The sense seems to be, "as part of you acknowledge;" meaning that a portion of the church was ready to concede to him the praise of consistency and uprightness, though there was a faction, or a part, that denied it.

That we are your rejoicing. That we are your joy, and your boasting. That is, you admit me to be an apostle; you regard me as your teacher and guide; you recognise my authority, and acknowledge the benefits which you have received through me.

Even as ye also are our's. Or, as you will be our rejoicing in the day when the Lord Jesus shall come to gather his people to himself. Then it will be seen that you were saved by our ministry; and then it will be an occasion of abundant and eternal thanksgiving to God that you were converted by our labours. And as you now regard it as a matter of congratulation and thanksgiving that you have such teachers as we are, so shall we regard it as a matter of congratulation and thanksgiving—as our chief joy—that we were the instruments of saving such a people. The expression implies that there was mutual confidence, mutual love, and mutual cause of rejoicing, it is well when ministers and people haw such confidence in each other, and have occasion to regard their connexion as a mutual cause of rejoicing and of kauchma or boasting.

{a} "that we are your" Php 4:1

{+} "rejoicing" "grace"


Verse 15. And in this confidence. In this confidence of my integrity, and that you had this favourable opinion of me, and appreciated the principles of my conduct, I did not doubt that you would receive me kindly, and would give me again the tokens of your affection and regard. In this Paul shows, that however some of them might regard him, yet that he had no doubt that the majority of the church there would receive him kindly.

I was minded. I willed, (eboulomhn;) it was my intention.

To come unto you before. Tindal renders this, "the other time." Paul refers doubtless to the time when he wrote his former epistle, and when it was his serious purpose, as it was his earnest wish, to visit them again, See 1 Co 16:6. In this purpose he had been disappointed, and he now proceeds to state the reasons why he had not Visited them as he had purposed, and to show that it did not arise from any fickleness of mind. His purpose had been at first to pass through Corinth on his way to Macedonia, and to remain some time with them. See 2 Co 1:16. Comp. 1 Co 16:5,6. This purpose he had now changed; and instead of passing through Corinth on his way to Macedonia, he had gone to Macedonia by the way of Troas, (2 Co 2:12;) and the Corinthians having, as it would seem, become acquainted with this fact, had charged him with insincerity in the promise, or fickleness in regard to his plans. Probably it had been said by some of his enemies that he had never intended to visit them.

That ye might have a second benefit. Marg., grace. The word here used (carin) is that which is commonly rendered grace, and means probably favour, kindness, good-will, beneficence; and especially favour to the undeserving. Here it is evidently used in the sense of gratification, or pleasure. And the idea is, that they had been formerly gratified and benefited by his residence among them; he had been the means of conferring important favours them, and he was desirous of being again with them, in order, to gratify them by his presence, and that he might, be the means of imparting to them other favours. Paul presumed that his presence with them would be to them a source of pleasure, and that his coming would do them good. It is the language of a man who felt assured that he enjoyed, after all, the confidence of the mass of the church there, and that they would regard his being with them as a favour. He had been with them formerly almost two years. His residence there had been pleasant to them and to him; and had been the occasion of important benefits to them, He did not doubt that it would be so again. Tindal renders this, "that you might have had a double pleasure." It may be remarked here, that several Mss. instead of carin, grace, read caran, joy.

{++} "minded" "desirous"

{&} "before" "formerly"

{1} "benefit" "grace"


Verse 16. And to pass by you. Through (di) you; that is, through your city, or province; or to take them, as we say, in his way. His design was to pass through Corinth and Achaia on his journey. This was not the direct way from Ephesus to Macedonia. An inspection of a map (see the map of Asia Minor prefixed to the Notes on the Acts of the Apostles) will show at one view that the direct way was that which he concluded finally to take—that by Troas. Yet he had designed to go out of his way in order to make them a visit; and intended also, perhaps, to make them a longer visit on his return, The former part of the plan he had been induced to abandon.

Into Macedonia. A part of Greece having Thrace on the north, Thessaly south, Epirus west, and the AEgean Sea east. See Barnes "Ac 16:9".

And of you to be brought on my way. By you. See Barnes "1 Co 16:6".

Toward Judea. His object in going to Judea was to convey the collection for the poor saints which he had been at so much pains to collect throughout the churches of the Gentiles. See Barnes "Ro 15:25, See Barnes "Ro 15:26".

Comp. 1 Co 16:3,4.

{*} "brought" "conducted"

{a} "my way" Ac 21:5


Verse 17. When I therefore was thus minded. When I formed this purpose; when I willed this, and expressed this intention.

Did I use lightness? The word elafria (from elafrov) means, properly, lightness in weight. Here it is used in reference to the mind; and in a sense similar to our word levity, as denoting lightness of temper or conduct; inconstancy, changeableness, or fickleness. This charge had been probably made, that he had made the promise without any due consideration, or without any real purpose of performing it; or that he had made it in a trifling and thoughtless manner. By the interrogative form here, he sharply denies that it was a purpose formed in a light and trifling manner.

Do I purpose according to the flesh. In such a manner as may suit my own convenience and carnal interest. Do I form plans adapted only to promote my own ease and gratification, and to be abandoned when they are attended with inconvenience? The phrase "according to the flesh" here seems to mean, "in such a way as to promote my own ease and gratification; in a manner such as the men of the world form; such as would be formed under the influence of earthly passions and desires, and to be forsaken when those plans would interfere with such gratifications." Paul denies in a positive manner that he formed such plans; and they should have known enough of his manner of life to be assured that that was not the nature of the schemes which he had devised? Probably no man ever lived who formed his plans of life less for the gratification of the flesh than Paul.

That with me there should be yea, yea, and nay, nay! There has been a great variety in the interpretation of this passage. See Bloomfield, Crit. Dig. in loco. The meaning seems to be, "That there should be such inconstancy and uncertainty in my counsels and actions, that no one could depend on me, or know what he had to expect from me." Bloomfield supposes that the phrase is a proverbial one, and denotes a headstrong, self-willed spirit, which will either do things or not do them, as he pleases, without giving any reasons. He supposes that the repetition of the words yea and nay is designed to denote positiveness of assertion—such positiveness as is commonly shown by such persons, as in the phrases, "what I have written I have written," "what I have done I have done." It seems more probable however, that the phrase is designed to denote the ready compliance which an inconstant and unsettled man is accustomed to make with the wishes of others; his expressing a ready assent to what they propose; falling in with their views; readily making promises; and instantly, through some whim, or caprice, or wish of others, saying "yea, nay," to the same thing; that is, changing his mind, and altering his purpose without any good reason, or in accordance with any fixed principle or settled rule of action. Paul says that this was not his character. He did not affirm a thing at one time and deny it at another; he did. not promise to do a thing one moment and refuse to do it the next.

{+} "thus minded" "thus purposed"

{b} "according to the flesh" 2 Co 10:2

{++} "flesh" "after the manner of men"


Verse 18. But as God is true. Tindal renders this, in accordance more literally with the Greek, "God is faithful; for our preaching unto you was not yea and nay." The phrase seems to have the form of an oath, or to be a solemn appeal to God as a witness, and to be equivalent to the expression "the Lord liveth," or, "as the Lord liveth." The idea is, "God is faithful and true. He never deceives; never promises that which he does not perform. So true is it that I am not fickle and changing in my purposes." The idea of the faithfulness of God is the argument which Paul urges why he felt himself bound to be faithful also. That faithful God he regarded as a witness, and to that God he could appeal on the occasion.

Our word. Marg., preaching, (o logov). This may refer either to his preaching, to his promises of visiting them, or his declarations to them in general on any subject. The particular subject under discussion was the promise which he had made to visit them. But he here seems to make his affirmation general, and to say universally of his promises, and his teaching, and of all his communications to them, whether orally or in writing, that they were not characterized by inconstancy and changeableness. It was not his character to be fickle, unsettled, and vacillating.

{1} "our word" "preaching"


Verse 19. For the Son of God. In this verse and the following, Paul states that he felt himself bound to maintain the strictest veracity, for two reasons: the one, that Jesus Christ always evinced the strictest veracity, 2 Co 1:19; the other, God was always true to all the promises that he made, (ver. 20;) and as he felt himself to be the servant of the Saviour and of God, he was bound by the most sacred obligations also to maintain' a character irreproachable in regard to veracity. On the meaning of the phrase "Son of God," See Barnes "Ro 1:4".

Jesus Christ. It is agreed, says Bloomfield, by the best commentators, ancient and modern, that by Jesus Christ is here meant his doctrine. The sense is, that, the preaching respecting Jesus Christ did not represent him as fickle and changeable—as unsettled, and as unfaithful; but as TRUE, consistent, and faithful. As that had been the regular and constant representation of Paul and his fellow-labourers in regard to the Master whom they served, it was to be inferred that they felt themselves bound sacredly to observe the strictest constancy and veracity.

By us, etc. Silvanus, here mentioned, is the same person who in the Acts of the Apostles is called Silas. He was with Paul at Philippi, and was imprisoned there with him, Ac 16 and was afterwards with Paul and Timothy at Corinth when he first visited that city, Ac 18:5. Paul was so much attached to him, and had so much confidence in him, that he joined his name with his own in several of his epistles, 1 Th 1:1; 2 Th 1:1.

Was not yea and nay. Our representation of him was not that he was fickle and changeable.

But in him was yea. Was not one thing at one time, and another at another. He is the same yesterday, today, and for ever. All that he says is true; all the promises that he makes are firm; all his declarations are faithful. Paul may refer to the fact that the Lord Jesus when on earth was eminently characterized by TRUTH. Nothing was more striking than his veracity. He, called himself the truth," as being eminently true in all his declarations. "I am the way, and THE TRUTH, and the life," Joh 14:6; Re 3:7. And thus (Re 3:14) he is called the faithful and true Witness." In all his life he was eminently distinguished for that. His declarations were simple truth; his narratives were simple, unvarnished, uncoloured: unexaggerated statements of what actually occurred. He never disguised the truth; never prevaricated; never had any mental reservation; never deceived; never used any word, or threw in any circumstance, that was fitted to lead the mind astray. He himself said that this was the great object which he had in view in coming into the world. "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth," Joh 18:37. As Jesus Christ was thus distinguished for simple truth, Paul felt that he was under sacred obligations to imitate him and always to evince the same inviolable fidelity. The most felt obligation on earth is that which the Christian feels to imitate the Redeemer.

{d} "Son of God" Mr 1:1; Ro 1:4


Verse 20. For all the promises of God in him. All the promises God has made through him. This is another reason why Paul felt himself bound to maintain a character of the strictest veracity. The reason was, that God always evinced that; and that as none of promises failed, he felt himself sacredly bound to imitate him, to adhere to all his. The promises of God which are made through Christ, relate to the pardon of sin to the penitent; the sanctification of his people; support in temptation and trial; guidance in perplexity; peace in death, and eternal glory beyond the grave. All of these are made through a Redeemer, and none of these shall fail,

Are yea. Shall all be certainly fulfilled. There shall be no vacillation on the part of God; no fickleness; no abandoning of his gracious intention.

And in him Amen. In Re 3:14, the Lord Jesus is called the Amen. The word means true, faithful, certain; and the expression here means that all the promises which are made to men through a Redeemer shall be certainly fulfilled. They are promises which are confirmed and established, and which shall by no means fail.

Unto the glory of God by us. Either by us ministers and apostles, or by us who are Christians. The latter, I think, is the meaning; and Paul means to say, that the fulfillment of all the promises which God has made to his people shall result in his glory and praise as a God of condescension and veracity. The fact that he has made such promises is an act that tends to his own glory—since it was of his mere grace that they were made; and the fulfillment of these promises in and through the church, shall also tend to produce elevated views of his fidelity and goodness.

{e} "in him" Ro 15:8,9; Heb 13:8


Verse 21. Now he which stablisheth us. He who makes us firm, (o bebaiwn hmav;) that is, he who has confirmed us in the hopes of the gospel, and who gives us grace to be faithful, and them in our promises. The object of this is to trace all to God, and to prevent the appearance of self-confidence or of boasting. Paul had dwelt at length on his own fidelity and veracity. He had taken pains to prove that he was not inconstant and fickle-minded. He here says, that this was not to be traced to himself, or to any native goodness, but was all to be traced to God. It was God who had given them all confident hope in Christ; and it was-God who had given him grace to adhere to his promises, and to maintain a character for veracity. The first "us," in this verse, refers probably to Paul himself; the second includes also the Corinthians, as being also anointed and sealed.

And hath anointed us. Us who are Christians. It was customary to anoint kings, prophets, and priests, on their entering on their office, as a part of the ceremony of inauguration. The word anoint is applied to a priest, Ex 28:41; 40:15 to a prophet, 1 Ki 19:16; Isa 61:1; to a king, 1 Sa 10:1; 15:1; 2 Sa 2:4; 1 Ki 1:34.

It is applied often to the Messiah as being, set apart or consecrated to his office as prophet, priest, and king—i. e., as appointed by God to the highest office ever held in the world. It is applied also to Christians as being consecrated or set apart to the service of God by the Holy Spirit—a use of the word which is derived from the sense of consecrating, or setting apart, to the service of God. Thus in 1 Jo 2:20, it is said, "But we have an unction from the Holy One, and know all things." So in 1 Jo 2:27, "But the anointing which ye have received abideth in you," etc. The anointing which was used in the consecration of prophets, priests, and kings, seems to have been designed to be emblematic of the influences of the Holy Spirit, who is often represented as poured upon those who are under his influence, (Pr 1:23; Isa 44:3; Joe 2:28,29; Zec 12:10; Ac 10:45, ) in the same way as water or oil is poured out. And as Christians are everywhere represented as being under the influence of the Holy Spirit, as being those on whom the Holy Spirit is poured, they are represented as "anointed." They are in this manner solemnly set apart, and consecrated to the service of God.

Is God. God has done it. All is to be traced to him. It is not by any native goodness which we have, or any inclination which we have by nature to his service. This is one of the instances which abound so much in the writings of Paul, where he delights to trace all good influences to God.

{a} "stablisheth us" 2 Th 2:17; 1 Pe 5:10

{b} "anointed us" 1 Jo 2:20,27; Re 3:18


Verse 22. Who hath also sealed us. The word used here (from sfragizw) means, to seal up; to close and make fast with a seal, or signet—as, e.g., books, letters, etc., that they may not be read. It is also used in the sense of setting a mark on anything, or a seal, to denote that it is genuine, authentic, confirmed, or approved—as when a deed, compact, or agreement is sealed. It is thus made sure; and is confirmed, or established. Hence it is applied to persons, as denoting that they are approved, as in Re 7:3: "Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads." Comp. Eze 9:4. See Barnes "Joh 6:27, where it is said of the Saviour, "for him hath God the Father sealed." Comp. Joh 3:33. In a similar manner Christians are said to be sealed; to be sealed by the Holy Spirit, Eph 1:13; 4:30; that is, the Holy Spirit is given to them to confirm them as belonging to God. He grants them his Spirit. He renews and sanctifies them. He produces in their hearts those feelings, hopes, and desires which are an evidence that they are approved by God; that they are regarded as his adopted children; that their hope is genuine; and that their redemption and salvation are SURE—in the same way as a seal makes a will or an agreement sure. God grants to them his Holy Spirit as the certain pledge that they are his, and shall be approved and saved in the last day. In this there is nothing miraculous, or in the nature of direct revelation. It consists of the ordinary operations of the Spirit on the heart, producing repentance, faith, hope, joy, conformity to God, the love of prayer and praise, and the Christian virtues generally; and these things are the evidences that the Holy Spirit has renewed the heart, and that the Christian is sealed for the day of redemption.

And given the earnest of the Spirit. The word here used (arrabwna) from the Heb. means, properly, a pledge given to ratify a contract; a part of the price, or purchase-money; a first payment; that which confirms the bargain, and which is regarded as a pledge that all the price will be paid. The word occurs in the Septuagint and Hebrew, in Ge 38:17,18,20.

In the New Testament it occurs only in this place, and in 2 Co 5:5; Eph 1:14—in each place in the same connexion as applied to the Holy Spirit, and his influences on the heart. It refers to those influences as a pledge of the future glories which await Christians in heaven. In regard to the "earnest," or the part of a price which was paid in a contract, it may be remarked,

(1.) that it was of the same nature as the full price, being regarded as a part of it;

(2.) it was regarded as a pledge or assurance that the full price would be paid. So the "earnest of the Spirit" denotes that God gives to his people the influences of his Spirit; his operation on the heart as a part or pledge that all the blessings of the covenant of redemption shall be given to them. And it implies,

(1.) that the comforts of the Christian here are of the same nature as they will be in heaven. Heaven will consist of like comforts; of love, and peace, and joy, and purity begun here, and simply expanded there to complete and eternal perthetlon. The joys of heaven differ only in degree, not in kind, from those of the Christian on earth. That which is begun here is perfected there; and the feelings and views which the Christian has here, if expanded and carried out, would constitute heaven.

(2.) These comforts, these influences of the Spirit, are a pledge of heaven. They are the security which God gives us that we shall be saved. If we are brought under the renewing influences of the Spirit here; if we are made meek, and humble, and prayerful by his agency; if we are made to partake of the joys which result from pardoned sin; if we are filled with the hope of heaven, it is all produced by the Holy Spirit; and is a pledge or earnest, of our future inheritance—as the first sheaves of a harvest are a pledge of a harvest, or the first payment under a contract a pledge that all will be paid. God thus gives to his people the assurance that they shall be saved; and by this "pledge" makes their title to eternal life sure.

{c} "sealed us" Eph 1:13,14; 4:30; 2 Ti 2:19

{d} "Spirit" Ro 8:9,14-16


Verse 23. Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul. It is well remarked by Rosenmuller, that the second chapter should have commenced here, since there is here a transition in the subject more distinct than where the second chapter is actually made to begin. Here Tindal commences the second chapter. This verse, with the subsequent statements, is designed to show them the true reason why he had changed his purpose, and had not visited them according to his first proposal. And that reason was not that he was fickle and inconstant; but it was that he apprehended that if he should go to them in their irregular and disorderly state, he would be under a necessity of resorting to harsh measures, and to a severity of discipline that would be alike painful to them and to him. Dr. Paley has shown with great plausibility, if not with moral certainty, that Paul's change of purpose about visiting them was made before he wrote his first epistle; that he had at first resolved to visit them, but that, on subsequent reflection, he thought it would be better to try the effect of a faithful letter to them, admonishing them of their errors, and entreating them to exercise proper discipline themselves on the principal offender; that with this feeling he wrote his first epistle, in which he does not state to them as yet his change of purpose, or the reason of it; but that now, after he had written that letter, and after it had had all the effect which he desired, he states the true reason why he had not visited them. It was now proper to do it. And that reason was, that he desired to spare them the severity of discipline, and had resorted to the more mild and affectionate measure of sending them a letter, and thus not making it necessary personally to administer discipline. See Paley's Horae Paulinae, on 2 Co 4, 2 Co 5. The phrase, "I call God for a record upon my soul," is, in the Greek, "I call God for a witness against my soul." It is a solemn oath, or appeal to God; and implies, that if he did not in that case declare the truth, he desired that God would be a witness against him, and would punish him accordingly. The reason why he made this solemn appeal to God, was the importance of his vindicating his own character before the church, from the charges which had been brought against him.

That to spare you. To avoid the necessity of inflicting punishment on you; of exercising severe and painful discipline. If he went among them in the state of irregularity and disorder which prevailed there, he would feel it to be necessary to exert his authority as an apostle, and remove at once the offending members from the church, he expected to avoid the necessity of these painful acts of discipline, by sending to them a faithful and affectionate epistle, and thus inducing them to re- form, and to avoid the necessity of a resort to that which would have been so trying to him and to them. It was not, then, a disregard for them, or a want of attachment to them, which had led him to change his purpose, but it was the result of tender affection. This cause of the change of his purpose, of course, he would not make known to them in his first epistle, but now that that letter had accomplished all he had desired, it was proper that they should be apprized of the reason why he had resorted to this instead of visiting them personally.


Verse 24. Not for that we have dominion, etc. The sense of this passage I take to be this: "The course which we have pursued has been chosen, not because we wish to lord it over your faith, to control your belief, but because we desired to promote your happiness. had the former been our object, had we wished to set up a lordship or dominion over you, we should have come to you with our apostolical authority, and in the severity of apostolic discipline. We had power to command obedience, and to control your faith. But we chose not to do it. Our object was to promote your highest happiness. We, therefore, chose the mildest and gentlest manner possible; we did not exercise authority in discipline, we sent an affectionate and tender letter." While the apostles had the right to prescribe the articles of belief, and to propound the doctrines of God, yet they would not do even that in such a manner as to seem to "lord it over God's heritage," (ou kurieuomen;) they did not set up absolute authority, or prescribe the things to be believed in a lordly and imperative manner; nor would they make use of the severity of power to enforce what they taught. They appealed to reason; they employed persuasion; they made use of light and love to accomplish their desires.

Are helpers of your joy. This is our main object, to promote your joy. This object we have pursued in our plans; and in order to secure this, we forbore to come to you, when, if we did come at that time, we should have given occasion perhaps to the charge that we sought to lord it over your faith.

For by faith ye stand. See Barnes "1 Co 15:1".

This seems to be a kind of proverbial expression, stating a general truth, that it was by faith that Christians were to be established or confirmed. The connexion here requires us to understand this as a reason why he would not attempt to lord it over their faith; or to exercise dominion over them. That reason was, that thus far they had stood firm, in the main, in the faith, (1 Co 15:1;) they had adhered to the truths of the gospel, and in a special manner now, in yielding obedience to the commands and entreaties of Paul in the first epistle, they had showed that they were in the faith, and firm in the faith. "It was not necessary or proper, therefore, for him to attempt to exercise lordship over their belief; but all that was needful was to help forward their joy, for they were firm in the faith. We may observe,

(1.) that it is a part of the duty of ministers to help forward the joy of Christians.

(2.) This should be the object even in administering discipline and reproof.

(3.) If even Paul would not attempt to lord it over the faith of Christians, to establish a domination over their belief, how absurd and wicked is it for uninspired ministers now— for individual ministers, for conferences, conventions, presbyteries, synods, councils, or for the pope—to attempt to establish a spiritual dominion in controlling the faith of men. The great evils in the church have arisen from their attempting to do what Paul would not do; from attempting to establish a dominion which Paul never sought, and which Paul would have abhorred. Faith must be free, and religion must be free, or they cannot exist at all.

{a} "have dominion" 1 Co 3:5; 1 Pe 5:3

{b} "by faith" Ro 11:20; 1 Co 15:1

REMARKS on 2nd Corinthians Chapter One

In view of this chapter we may remark,

(1.) God is the only true and real source of comfort in times of trial, 2 Co 1:3. It is from him that all real consolation must come, and he only can meet and sustain the soul when it is borne down with calamity. All persons are subjected to trial, and, at some periods of their lives, to severe trial, Sickness is a trial; the death of a friend is a trial; the loss of property or health, disappointment, and reproach, and slander, and poverty, and want, are trials to which we are all more or less exposed. In these trials, it is natural to look to some source of consolation; some way in which they may be borne. Some seek consolation in philosophy, and endeavour to blunt their feelings and destroy their sensibilities, as the ancient stoics did. But "to destroy sensibility is not to produce comfort." —Dr. Mason. Some plunge deep into pleasures, and endeavour to drown their sorrows in the intoxicating draught; but this is not to produce comfort to the soul, even were it possible in such pleasures to forget their sorrows. Such were the ancient epicureans. Some seek consolation in their surviving friends, and look to them to comfort and sustain the sinking heart. But the arm of an earthly friend is feeble, when God lays his hand upon us. It is only the hand that smites that can heal; only the God that sends the affliction that can bind up the broken spirit. He is the "Father or mercies," and he "the God of ALL consolation;" and in affliction there is no true comfort but in him.

(2.) This consolation in God is derived from many sources.

(a.) He is the "Father of mercies," and we may be assured, therefore, that he does nothing inconsistent with MERCY.

(b.) We may be assured that he is right—always right—and that he does nothing but right. We may not be able to see the reason of his doings, but we may have the assurance that it is all right, and will yet be seen to be right.

(c.) There is comfort in the fact that our afflictions are ordered by an intelligent Being, by one who is all-wise and all-knowing. They are not the result of blind chance; but they are ordered by one who is wise to know what ought to be done, and who is so just that he will do nothing wrong. There could be no consolation in the feeling that mere chance directed our trials; nor can there be consolation except in the feeling that a Being of intelligence and goodness directs and orders all. The true comfort, therefore, is to be found in religion, not in atheism and philosophy.

(3.) It is possible to bless God in the midst of trials, and as the result of trial. It is possible so clearly to see his hand, and to be so fully satisfied with the wisdom and goodness of his dealings, even when we are severely afflicted, as to see that he is worthy of our highest confidence and most exalted praise, 2 Co 1:3. God may be seen, then, to be the "Father of mercies;" and he may impart, even then, a consolation which we never experienced in the days of prosperity. Some of the purest and most elevated joys known upon earth, are experienced in the very midst of outward calamities; and the most sincere and elevated thanksgivings which are offered to God, are often those which are the result of sanctified afflictions. It is when we are brought out from such trials, where we have experienced the rich consolations and the sustaining power of the gospel, that we are most disposed to say with Paul, "Blessed be God;" and can most clearly see that he is the "Father of mercies." No Christian will ever have occasion to regret the trials through which God has brought him. I never knew a sincere Christian who was not finally benefited by trials.

(4.) Christian joy is not apathy, it is comfort, 2 Co 1:4,6. It is not insensibility to suffering; it is not stoical indifference. The Christian feels his sufferings as keenly as others. The Lord Jesus was as sensitive to suffering as any one of the human family ever was; he was as susceptible of emotion from reproach, contempt, and scorn, and he as keenly felt the pain of the scourge, the nails, and the cross, as any one could. But there is positive joy, there is true and solid comfort. There is substantial, pure, and elevated happiness, Religion does not blunt the feelings, or destroy the sensibility, but it brings in consolations which enable us to bear our pains, and to endure persecution without murmuring. In this, religion differs from all systems of philosophy. The one attempts to blunt and destroy our sensibilities to suffering; the other, while it makes us more delicate and tender in our feelings, gives consolation adapted to that delicate sensibility, and fitted to sustain the soul, notwithstanding the acuteness of its sufferings.

(5.) Ministers of the gospel may expect to be peculiarly tried and afflicted, 2 Co 1:5. So it was with Paul and his fellow-apostles; and so it has been since. They are the special objects of the hatred of sinners, as they stand in the way of the sinful pursuits and pleasures of the world; and they are, like their Master, especially hated by the enemy of souls. Besides, they are, by their office, required to minister consolation to others who are afflicted; and it is so ordered in the providence of God, that they are subjected to peculiar trials often, in order that they may be able to impart peculiar consolations. They are to be the examples and the guides of the church of God; and God takes care that they shall be permitted to show by their example, as well as by their preaching, the supporting power of the gospel in times of trial.

(6.) If we suffer much in the cause of the Redeemer, we may also expect much consolation, 2 Co 2:5. Christ will take care that our hearts shall be filled with joy and peace. As our trials in his cause are, so shall our consolations be. If we suffer much, we shall enjoy much; if we are persecuted much, we shall have much support; if our names, are cast out among men for his sake, we shall have increasing evidence that they are written in his book of life. There are things in the Christian religion which can be learned only in the furnace of affliction; and he who has never been afflicted on account of his attachment to Christ, is a stranger yet to much, very much of the fulness and beauty of that system of religion which has been appointed by the Redeemer, and to much, very much, of the beauty and power of the promises of the Bible. No man will ever understand all the Bible who is not favoured with much persecution and many trials.

(7.) We should be willing to suffer, 2 Co 1:3-5. If we are willing to be happy, we should also be willing to suffer. If we desire to be happy in religion, we should be willing to suffer. If we expect to be happy, we should also be willing to endure much. Trials fit us for enjoyment here, as well as for heaven hereafter.

(8.) One great design of the consolation which is imparted to Christians in the time of affliction is, that they may be able to impart Consolation also to others, 2 Co 1:4,6,7.

God designs that we should thus be mutual aids. And he comforts a pastor in his trials, that he may, by his own experience, be able to minister consolation to the people of his charge; he comforts a parent, that he may administer consolation to his children; a friend, that he may comfort a friend. He who attempts to administer consolation should be able to speak from experience; and ,God, therefore, afflicts and comforts all his people, that they may know how to administer consolation to those with whom they are connected.

(9.) If we have experienced peculiar consolations ourselves in times of trial, we are under obligations to seek out and comfort others who are afflicted. So Paul felt. We should feel that God has qualified us for this work; and having qualified us for it, that he calls on us to do it. The consolation which God gives in affliction is a rich treasure which we are bound to impart to others; the experience which we have of the true sources of consolation is an inestimable talent which we are to use for the promotion of his glory. No man has a talent for doing more direct good than he who can go to the afflicted, and bear testimony, from his own experience, to the goodness of God. And every man who can testify that God is good, and is able to support the soul in times of trial,—and what Christian cannot do it who has ever been afflicted?—should regard himself as favoured with a peculiar talent for doing good, and should rejoice in the privilege of using it to the glory of God. For there is no talent more honourable than that of being able to promote the Divine glory, to comfort the afflicted, or to be able, from personal experience, to testify that God is good—always good. "The power of doing good, always implies an obligation to do it."—Cotton Mather.

(10.) In this chapter, we have a case of a near contemplation of death, 2 Co 1:8,9. Paul expected soon to die. He had the sentence of death in himself. He saw no human probability of escape. He was called, therefore, calmly to look death in the face, and to contemplate it as an event certain and near. Such a condition is deeply interesting; it is the important crisis of life. And yet it is an event which all must soon contemplate. We all, in a short period, each one for himself, must look upon death as certain, and as near to us; as an event in which we are personally interested, and from which we cannot escape. Much as we may turn away from it in health, and unanxious as we may be then in regard to it, yet by no possibility can we long avert our minds from the subject. It is interesting, then, to inquire how Paul felt when he looked at death; how we should feel; and how we actually shall feel when we come to die.

(11.) A contemplation of death as near and certain, is fitted to lead us to trust in God. This was the effect in the case of Paul, 2 Co 1:9. He had learned in health to put his trust in him; and now, when the trial was apparently near, he had nowhere else to go, and he confided in him alone. He felt that if he was rescued, it could be only by the interposition of God; and that there was none but God who could sustain him if he should die. And what event can there be that is so well fitted to lead us to trust in God as death And where else can we go in view of that dark hour? For

(a.) we know not what death is. We have not tried it; nor do we know what grace may be necessary for us in those unknown pangs and sufferings; in that deep darkness, and that sad gloom.

(b.) Our friends cannot aid us then. They will, they must, then give us the parting hand; and as we enter the shades of the dark valley, they must bid us farewell. The skill of the physician then will fail Our worldly friends will forsake us when we come to die. They do not love to be in the room of death, and they can give us no consolation if they are there. Our pious friends cannot attend us far in the dark valley. They may pray, and commend us to God, but even they must leave us to die alone. Who but God can attend us? Who but he can support us then?

(c.) God only knows what is beyond death. How do we know the way to his bar, to his presence, to his heaven? How can we direct our own steps in that dark and unknown world? None but God our Saviour can guide us there; none else can conduct us to his abode.

(d.) None but God can sustain us in the pain, the anguish, the feebleness, the sinking of the powers of body and of mind in that distressing hour. He can uphold us then; and it is an unspeakable privilege to be permitted then, "when heart and flesh faint," to say of him, God is the strength of our heart, and our portion for ever, Ps 73:26.

(12.) We should regard a restoration from dangerous sickness, and from imminent peril of death, as a kind of resurrection. So Paul regarded it, 2 Co 1:9. We should remember how easy it would have been for God to have removed us; how rapidly we were tending to the grave; how certainly we should have descended there, but for his interposition. We should feel, therefore, that we owe our lives to him as really and entirely as though we had been raised up from the dead; and that the same kind of power and goodness have been evinced as would have been had God given us life anew. Life is God's gift; and every instance of recovery from peril, or from dangerous illness, is as really an interposition of his mercy as though we had been raised up from the dead.

(13.) We should, in like manner, regard a restoration of our friends from dangerous sickness, or peril of any kind, as a species of resurrection from the dead. When a parent, a husband, a wife, or a child has been dangerously ill, or exposed to some imminent danger, and has been recovered, we cannot but feel that the recovery is entirely owing to the interposition of God. With infinite ease he could have consigned them to the grave; and had he not mercifully interposed, they would have died. As they were originally his gift to us, so we should regard each interposition of that kind as a new gift, and receive the recovered and restored friend as a fresh gift from his hand.

(14.) We should feel that lives thus preserved, and thus recovered from danger, belong to God. He has preserved them. In the most absolute sense they belong to him, and to him they should be consecrated. So Paul felt; and his whole life shows how entirely he regarded himself as bound to devote a life often preserved in the midst of peril, to the service of his kind Benefactor. There is no claim more absolute than that which God has on those whom he has preserved from dangerous situations, or whom he has raised up from the borders of the grave. All the strength which he has imparted, all the talent, learning, skill which he has thus preserved, should be regarded in the most absolute sense as his, and should be honestly and entirely consecrated to him. But for him we should have died; and he has a right to our services and obedience, which is entire, and which should be felt to be perpetual. And it may be added, that the right is not less clear and strong to the service of those whom he keeps without their being exposed to such peril, or raised up from such beds of sickness. A very few only of the interpositions of God in our behalf are seen by us. A small part of the perils to which we may be really exposed are seen. And it is no less owing to his preserving care that we are kept in health, and strength, and in the enjoyment of reason, than it is that we are raised up from dangerous sickness. Man is as much bound to devote himself to God for preserving him from sickness and danger, as he is for raising him up when he has been sick, and defending him in danger.

(15.) We have here an instance of the principle on which Paul acted, 2 Co 1:12. In his aims, and in the manner of accomplishing his aims, he was guided only by the principles of simplicity and sincerity, and by the grace of God. He had no sinister and worldly purpose; he had no crooked and subtle policy by which to accomplish his purposes. He sought simply the glory of God and the salvation of man; and he sought this in a manner plain, direct, honest, and straightforward. He admitted none of the principles of worldly policy which have been so often acted on since in the church; he knew nothing of "pious frauds," which have so often disgraced the professed friends of the Redeemer; he admitted no form of deception and delusion, even for the promotion of objects which were great, and good, and desirable. He knew that all that ought to be done could be accomplished by straightforward and simple-hearted purposes; and that a cause which depended on the carnal and crooked policy of the world was a bad cause; and that such policy would ultimately ruin the best of causes. How happy would it have been if these views had always prevailed in the church!

(16.) We see the value of a good conscience, 2 Co 1:12. Paul had the testimony of an enlightened conscience to the correctness and uprightness of his course of life everywhere. He felt assured that his aims had been right; and that he had endeavoured in all simplicity and sincerity to pursue a course of life which such a conscience would approve. Such a testimony, such an approving conscience, is of inestimable value. It is worth more than gold, and crowns, and all that the earth can give. When like Paul we are exposed to peril, or trial, or calamity, it matters little, if we have an approving conscience. When like him we are persecuted, it matters little, if we have the testimony of our own minds that we have pursued an upright and an honest course of life. When like him we look death in the face, and feel that we "have the sentence of death in ourselves," of what inestimable value then will be an approving conscience! How unspeakable the consolation if we can look back then on a life spent in conscious integrity—a life spent in endeavouring to promote the glory of God and the salvation of the world!

(17.) Every Christian should feel himself sacredly bound to maintain a character of veracity, 2 Co 1:19,20. Christ was always true to his word; and all that God has promised shall be certainly fulfilled. And as a Christian is a professed follower of Him who was "the Amen and the true witness," he should feel himself bound by the most sacred obligations to adhere to all his promises, and to fulfil all his word. No man can do any good who is not a man of truth; and in no way can Christians more dishonour their profession, and injure the cause of the Redeemer, than by a want of character for unimpeachable veracity. If they make promises which are never fulfilled; if they state that as true which is not true; if they overload their narratives with circumstances which had no existence; if they deceive and defraud others; and if they are so loose in their statements that no one believes them, it is impossible for them to do good in their Christian profession. Every Christian should have—as he easily may have—such a character for veracity that every man shall put implicit confidence in all his promises and statements; so implicit that they shall deem his word as good as an oath, and his promise as certain as though it were secured by notes and bonds in the most solemn manner. The word of a Christian should need no strengthening by oaths and bonds; it should be such that it could really not be strengthened by anything that notes and bonds could add to it.

(18.) All Christians should regard themselves as consecrated to God, 2 Co 1:21. They have been anointed, or set apart to his service. They should feel that they are as really set apart to his service as the ancient prophets, priests, and kings were to their appropriate offices by the ceremony of anointing. They belong to God, and are under every sacred and solemn obligation to live to him, and him alone.

(19.) It is an inestimable privilege to be a Christian, 2 Co 1:21,22. It is regarded as a privilege to be an heir to an estate, and to have an assurance that it will be ours. But the Christian has an "earnest," a pledge, that heaven is his. He is anointed of God; he is sealed for heaven. Heaven is his home; and God is giving to him daily evidence in his own experience that he will soon be admitted to its pure and blissful abodes.

(20.) The joys of the Christian on earth are of the same nature as the joys of heaven. These comforts are an "earnest" of the future inheritance; a part of that which the Christian is to enjoy for ever. His joys on earth are "heaven begun;" and all that is needful to constitute heaven is that these joys should be expanded and perpetuated. There will be no other heaven than that which would be constituted by the expanded joys of a Christian.

(21.) No one is a Christian, no one is fitted for heaven, who has not such principles and joys as being fully expanded and developed would constitute heaven. The joys of heaven are not to be created for us as some new thing; they are not to be such as we have had no foretaste, no conception of; but they are to be such as will be produced of necessity, by removing imperfection from the joys and feelings of the believer, and carrying them out without alloy, and without interruption, and without end. The man, therefore, who has such a character that, if fairly developed, would not constitute the joys of heaven, is not a Christian. He has no evidence that he has been born again; and all his joys are fancied and delusive.

(22.) Christians should be careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit. Comp. Eph 4:30. It is by that Spirit that they are "anointed" and "sealed," and it is by his influences that they have the earnest of their future inheritance. All good influences on their minds proceed from that Spirit; and it should be their high and constant aim not to grieve him. By no course of conduct, by no conversation, by no impure thought, should they drive that Spirit from their minds. All their peace and joy is dependent on their cherishing his sacred influences; and by all the means in their power they should strive to secure his constant agency on their souls.


Introduction to 2nd Corinthians Chapter 2

IN this chapter Paul continues the discussion of the subject which had been introduced in the previous chapter. At the close of that chapter, he had stated the reasons why he had not visited the church at Corinth. See Barnes "2 Co 1:23, See Barnes "2 Co 1:24".

The main reason was that instead of coming to them in that disordered and irregular state, he had preferred to send them an affectionate letter. Had he come to them personally, he would have felt himself called on to exercise the severity of discipline. He chose, therefore, to try what the effect would be of a faithful and kind epistle. In this chapter, he prosecutes the same subject. He states, therefore, more at length the reason why he had not come to them, 2 Co 2:1-5. The reason was, that he resolved not to come to them, if he could avoid it, with severity; that his heart was pained even with the necessity of sending such a letter; that he wrote it with much anguish of spirit; yet that he cherished towards them the most tender love. In his former epistle (1 Co 5) he had directed them to exercise discipline on the offending person in the church. This had been done according to his direction; and the offender had been suitably punished for his offence. He had been excommunicated; and it would seem that the effect on him had been to induce him to forsake his sin, and probably to put away his father's wife, and he had become a sincere penitent. Paul, therefore, in the next place, (2 Co 2:6-11,) exhorts them to receive him again into fellowship with the church. The punishment he says had been sufficient, (2 Co 2:6;) they ought now to be kind and forgiving to him, lest he should be overwhelmed with his sorrow, (2 Co 2:7) he says that he had forgiven him, so far as he was concerned, and he entreated them to do the same, (2 Co 2:10;) and says that they ought, by all means, to pursue such a course that Satan could' get no advantage of them, 2 Co 2:11. Paul then states the disappointment which he had had at Troas in not seeing Titus, from whom he had expected to learn what was the state of the church at Corinth, and what was the reception of his letter there; but that not seeing him there, he had gone on to Macedonia, 2 Co 2:12,13. There, it would seem, he met Titus, and learned that his letter had had all the success which he could have desired. It had been kindly received; and all that he had wished in regard to discipline had been performed, 2 Co 2:14. The hearing of this success gives him occasion to thank God for it, as one among many instances in which his efforts to advance his cause had crowned with success. God had made him everywhere successful; and had made him triumph in Christ in every place. This fact gives him occasion 2 Co 2:15,16 to state the general effect of his preaching and his labours. His efforts, he says, were always acceptable to God—though he could not be ignorant that in some cases the gospel which he preached was the occasion of the aggravated condemnation of those who heard and rejected it. Yet he had the consolation of reflecting that it was by no fault of his, 2 Co 2:17. It was not because he had corrupted the word of God; it was not because he was unfaithful; it was not because he was not sincere. He had a good conscience— a conscience which assured him that he spoke in sincerity, and as in the sight of God—though the unhappy effect might be that many would perish from under his ministry.

Verse 1. But I determined this with myself. I made up my mind on this point; I formed this resolution in regard to my course.

That I would not come again to you in heaviness. In grief, (en luph) would not come, if I could avoid it, in circumstances which must have grieved both me and you. I would not come while there existed among you such irregularities as must have pained my heart, and as must have compelled me to resort to such acts of discipline as would be painful to you. I resolved, therefore, to endeavour to remove these evils before I came, that when I did come, my visit might be mutually agreeable to us both. For that reason I changed my purpose about visiting you, when I heard of those disorders, and resolved to send an epistle. If that should be successful, then the way would be open for an agreeable visit to you." This verse, therefore, contains the statement of the principal reason why he had not come to them as he had at first proposed. It was really from no fickleness, but it was from love to them, and a desire that his visit should be mutually agreeable. Comp. See Barnes "2 Co 1:23".

{a} "heaviness" 2 Co 1:23; 12:20,21; 13:10


Verse 2. For if I make you sorry. "If when I should come among you I should be called on to inflict sorrow by punishing your offending brethren by an act of severe discipline as soon as I came, who would there be to give me comfort but those very persons whom I had affected with grief? How little prepared would they be to make me happy, and to comfort me, amidst the deep sorrow which I should have caused by an act of severe discipline. After such an act—an act that would spread sorrow through the whole church, how could I expect that comfort which I should desire to find among you? The whole church would be affected with grief; and though I might be sustained by the sound part of the church, yet my visit would be attended with painful circumstances. I resolved, therefore, to remove all cause of difficulty, if possible, before I came, that my visit might be pleasant to us all." The idea is, that there was such a sympathy between him and them—that he was so attached to them— that he could not expect to be happy unless they were happy; that though he might be conscious he was only discharging a duty, and that God would sustain him in it, yet that it would mar the pleasure of his visit, and destroy all his anticipated happiness by the general grief.


Verse 3. And I wrote this same unto you. The words "this same" (touto auto) refer to what he had written to them in the former epistle, particularly to what he had written in regard to the incestuous person, requiring them to excommunicate him. Probably the expression also includes the commands in his former epistle to reform their conduct in general, and to put away the abuses and evil practices which prevailed in the church there.

Lest, when I came, etc. Lest I should be obliged, if I came personally, to exercise the severity of discipline, and thus to diffuse sorrow throughout the entire church.

I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice. Lest I should have grief in the church. Lest the conduct of the church, and the abuses which prevail in it, should give me sorrow. I should be grieved with the existence of these evils; and I should be obliged to resort to measures which would be painful to me, and to the whole church. Paul sought to avoid this by persuading them before he came to exercise the discipline themselves, and to put away the evil practices which prevailed among them.

Having confidence in you all. Having confidence that this is your general character, that whatever adds to my joy, or promotes my happiness, would give joy to you all. Paul had enemies in Corinth; he knew that there were some there whose minds were alienated from him, and who were endear outing to do him injury. Yet he did not doubt that it was the general character of the church that they wished him well, and would desire to make him happy; that what would tend to promote his happiness would also promote theirs; and, therefore, that they would be willing to do anything that would make his visit agreeable to him when he came among them. He was therefore persuaded, that if he wrote them an affectionate letter, they would listen to his injunctions, that thus all that was painful might be avoided when he came among them.


Verse 4. For out of much affliction. Possibly Paul's enemies had charged him with being harsh and overbearing. They may have said that there was much needless severity in his letter. He here meets that, and says, that it was with much pain and many tears that he was constrained to write as he did. He was pained at their conduct, and at the necessity which existed for such an epistle. This is an eminently beautiful instance of Paul's kindness of heart, and his susceptibility to tender impressions. The evil conduct of others gives pain to a good man; and the necessity of administering reproof and discipline is often as painful to him who does it, as it is to those who are the subjects of it.

And anguish of heart. The word rendered "anguish" (sunochv) means, properly, a holding together or shutting up; and then pressure, distress, anguish—an affliction of the heart by which one feels tightened or constrained; such a pressure as great grief causes at the heart.

I wrote unto you with many tears. With much weeping and grief that I was constrained to write such a letter. This was an instance of Paul's great tenderness of heart—a trait of character which he uniformly evinced. With all his strength of mind, and all his courage and readiness to face danger. Paul was not ashamed to weep; and especially if he had any occasion of censuring his Christian brethren, or administering discipline, Comp. Php 3:18; Ac 20:31. This is also a specimen of the manner in which Paul met the faults of his Christian brethren. It was not with bitter denunciation. It was not with sarcasm and ridicule. It was not by blazoning those faults abroad to others. It was not with the spirit of rejoicing that they had committed errors, and had been guilty of sin. It was not as if he was glad of the opportunity of administering rebuke, and took pleasure in denunciation and in the language of reproof. All this is often done by others; but Paul pursued a different course. He sent an affectionate letter to the offenders themselves; and he did it with many tears. IT WAS DONE WEEPING. Admonition would always be done right if it was done with tears. Discipline would always be right, and would be effectual, if it were administered with tears. Any man will receive an admonition kindly, if he who administers it does it weeping; and the heart of an offender will be melted, if he who attempts to reprove him comes to him with tears. How happy would it be if all who attempt to reprove should do it with Paul's spirit. How happy, if all discipline should be administered in the church in his manner. But, we may add, how seldom is this done ! How few are there who feel themselves called on to reprove an offending brother, or to charge a brother with heresy or crime, that do it with tears!

Not that ye should be grieved. It was not my object to give you pain.

But that ye might know the love, etc. This was one of the best evidences of his great love to them which he could possibly give. It is proof of genuine friendship for another, when we faithfully and affectionately admonish him of the error of his course; it is the highest proof of affection when we do it with tears. It is cruelty to suffer a brother to remain in sin unadmonished; it is cruel to admonish him of it in a harsh, severe, and authoritative tone; but it is proof of tender attachment when we go to him with tears, and entreat him to repent and reform. No man gives higher proof of attachment to another than he who affectionately admonishes him of his sin and danger.

{a} "love which" 2 Co 11:2


Verse 5. If any have caused grief. There is doubtless here an allusion to the incestuous person. But it is very delicately done. He does not mention him by name. There is not anywhere an allusion to his name; nor is it possible now to know it. Is this not a proof that the names of the offending brethren in a church should not be put on the records of sessions, and churches, and presbyteries, to be handed down to posterity? Paul does not here either expressly refer to such a person. He makes his remark general, that it might be as tender and kind to the offending brother as possible. They would know whom he meant, but they had already punished him, as Paul supposed, enough; and now all that he said in regard to him was as tender as possible, and fitted, as much as possible, to conciliate his feelings and allay his grief. He did not harshly charge him with sin; he did not use any abusive or severe epithets; but he gently insinuates that he "had caused grief;" he had pained the hearts of his brethren.

He hath not grieved me, but in part. He has not particularly offended or grieved me. He has grieved me only in common with others, and as apart of the church of Christ. All have common cause of grief; and I have no interest in it which is not common to you all. I am but one of a great number who have felt the deepest concern on account of his conduct.

That I may not overcharge you all. That I may not bear hard (epibarw) on you all; that I may not accuse you all of having caused me grief. The sense is, "Grief has been produced. I, in common with the church, have been pained, and daily pained, with the conduct of the individual referred to; and with that of his abettors and friends. But I would not charge the whole church with it; or seem to bear hard on them, or overcharge them with want of zeal for their purity, or unwillingness to remove the evil." They had shown their willingness to correct the evil by promptly removing the offender when he had directed it. The sense of this verse should be connected with the verse that follows; and the idea is, that they had promptly administered sufficient discipline, and that they were not now to be charged severely with having neglected it. Even while Paul said he had been pained and grieved, he had seen occasions not to bear hard on the whole church, but to be ready to commend them for their promptness in removing the cause of the offence.

{b} "if any" Ga 5:10

{c} "but in part" Ga 4:12


Verse 6. Sufficient to such a man. The incestuous person that had been by Paul's direction removed from the church. The object of Paul here is to have him again restored. For that purpose he says that the punishment which they had indicted on him was "sufficient." It was

(1.) a sufficient expression of the evil of the offence, and of the readiness of the church to preserve itself pure; and

(2.) it was a sufficient punishment to the offender. It had accomplished all that he had desired. It had humbled him, and brought him to repentance; and doubtless led him to put away his. wife. Compare See Barnes "1 Co 5:1".

As that had been done, it was proper now that he should be again restored to the privileges of the church. No evil would result from such a restoration, and their duty to their penitent brother demanded it. Mr. Locke has remarked, that Paul conducts this subject here with very great tenderness and delicacy. The entire passage, from 2 Co 2:5-10, relates solely to this offending brother; yet he never once mentions his name, nor does he mention his crime. He speaks of him only in the soft terms of "such a one" and "any one." Nor does he use an epithet which would be calculated to wound his feelings, or to transmit his name to posterity, or to communicate it to other churches. So that though this epistle should be read, as Paul doubtless intended, by other churches, and be transmitted to future times, yet no one would ever be acquainted with the name of the individual. How different this from the temper of those who would blazon abroad the names of offenders, or make a permanent record to carry them down with dishonour to posterity.

Which was inflicted of many. By the church, in its collective capacity. See Barnes "1 Co 5:4".

Paul had required the church to administer this act of discipline, and they had promptly done it. It is evident that the whole church was concerned in the administration of the act of discipline; as the words "of many" (upo twn pleionwn) are not applicable either to a single "bishop," or a single minister, or a presbytery, or a bench of elders: nor can they be so regarded, except by a forced and unnatural construction. Paul had directed it to be done by the assembled church, 1 Co 5:4, and this phrase shows that they had followed his instructions. Locke supposes that the phrase means, "by the majority;" Macknight renders it, "by the greater number;" Bloomfield supposes that it means that the punishment was carned rate effect by all. Doddridge paraphrases it, "by the whole body of your society." The expression proves beyond a doubt that the whole body of the society was concerned in the act of the excommunication, and that that is a proper way of administering discipline. Whether it proves, however, that that is the mode which is to be observed in all instances, may admit of a doubt, as the example of the early churches, in a particular case, does not prove that that mode has the force of a binding rule on all.

{1} "this punishment" "censure"

{d} "was inflicted of many" 1 Co 5:4,5; 1 Ti 5:20


Verse 7. So that contrariwise. On the other hand; on the contrary. That is, instead of continuing the punishment. Since the punishment was sufficient, and has answered all the purpose of bearing your testimony against the offence, and of bringing him to repentance, you ought again to admit him to your communion.

Ye ought rather to forgive him. Rather than continue the pain and disgrace of excommunication. It follows from this,

(1.) that the proper time for restoring an offender is only when the punishment has answered the purpose for which it was designed; that is, has shown the just abhorrence of the church against the sin, and has reformed the offender; and

(2.) that when that is done, the church ought to forgive the offending brother, and admit him again to their fellowship. When it can be ascertained that the punishment has been effectual in reforming him, may depend somewhat on the nature of the offence. In this case, it was sufficiently shown by his putting away his wife, and by the manifestations of sorrow. So, in other cases, it may be shown by a man's abandoning a course of sin, and reforming his life. If he has been unjust, by his repairing the evil; if he has been pursuing an unlawful business, by abandoning it; if he has pursued a course of vice, by his forsaking it, and by giving satisfactory evidences of sorrow and of reformation, for a period sufficiently long to show his sincerity. The time which will be required in each case must depend, of course, somewhat on the nature of the offence, the previous character of the individual, the temptations to which he may be exposed, and the disgrace which he may have brought on his Christian calling. It is to be observed, also, that then his restoration is to be regarded as an act of forgiveness, a layout, (carisasyai, that is, cariv, favour, grace,) on the part of the church. It is not a matter of justice, or of claim on his part; for having once dishonoured his calling, he has forfeited his right to a good standing among Christians; but it is a matter of favour, and he should be willing to humble himself before the church, and make suitable acknowledgment for his offences.

And comfort him. There is every reason to think that this man became a sincere penitent. If so, he must have been deeply pained at the remembrance of his sin, and the dishonour which he had brought on his profession, as well as at the consequences in which he had been involved. In this deep distress, Paul tells them that they ought to comfort him. They should receive him kindly, as God receives to his favour a penitent sinner. They should not cast out his name as evil; they should not reproach him for his sins; they should not harrow up his recollection, of the offence by often referring to it; they should be willing to bury it in lasting forgetfulness, and treat him now as a brother. It is a duty of a church to treat with kindness a true penitent, and receive him to their affectionate embrace. The offence should be forgiven and forgotten. The consolations of the gospel, adapted to the condition of penitents, should be freely administered; and all should be done that can be, to make the offender, when penitent, happy and useful in the community.

Lest perhaps such a one. Still forbearing to mention his name; still showing towards him the utmost tenderness and delicacy.

Should be swallowed up, etc. Should be overcome with grief; and should be rendered incapable of usefulness by his excessive sorrow. This is a strong expression, denoting intensity of grief. We speak of a man's being drowned in sorrow; or overwhelmed with grief; of grief preying upon him. The figure here is probably taken from deep waters, or from a whirlpool which seems to swallow up anything that comes within reach. Excessive grief or calamity, in the Scriptures, is often compared to such waters. See Ps 124:2-5, "If it had not been the LORD who was on our side when men rose up against us, then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us; then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul; then the proud waters had gone over our soul." See Ps 69:1, "Save me, O God, for the waters are come into my soul." Paul apprehended that, by excessive grief, the offending brother would be destroyed. His life would waste away under the effect of his excommunication and disgrace, and the remembrance of his offence would prey upon him, and sink him to the grave.

{a} "so that" Ga 6:1

{*} "contrariwise" "on the contrary"


Verse 8. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. The word here rendered confirm, (kurwsai) occurs in the New Testament only here and in Ga 3:15. It means, to give authority, to establish as valid, to confirm; and here means that they should give strong expressions and assurances of their love to him; that they should pursue such a course as would leave no room for doubt in regard to it. Tindal has well rendered it, "Wherefore I exhort you that love may have strength over him." Paul referred doubtless, here, to some public act of the church by which the sentence of excommunication might be removed, and by which the offender might have a public assurance of their favour.


Verse 9. For to this end also did I write. The apostle did not say that this was the only purpose of his writing, to induce them to excommunicate the offender, he does not say that he wished, in an arbitrary manner, to test their willingness to obey him, or to induce them to do a thing in itself wrong, in order to try their obedience. But the meaning is this: This was the main reason why he wrote to them, rather than to come personally among them. The thing ought to have been done; the offender ought to be punished; and Paul says that he adopted the method of writing to them, rather than of coming among them in person, in order to give them an opportunity to show whether they were disposed to be obedient. And the sense is, "You may now forgive him. He has hot only been sufficiently punished, and he has not only evinced suitable penitence, but also another object which I had in view has been accomplished. I desired to see whether you were, as a church, disposed to be obedient. That object, also, has been accomplished. And now, since everything aimed at in the case of discipline has been secured, you may forgive him, and should, without hesitation, again receive him to the bosom of the church."

{b} "obedient" 2 Co 7:15


Verse 10. To whom ye forgive any thing. The sense here is, "I have confidence in you as a Christian society; and such confidence, that if you forgive an offence in one-of your members, I shall approve the act, and shall also be ready to forgive." He refers, doubtless, to this particular case; but he makes his remark general. It is implied here, I think, that the Corinthians were disposed to forgive the offending brother; and Paul here assures them that they had his hearty assent to this, and that if they did forgive him, he was ready to join them in the act, and to forgive him also.

For if I forgave any thing. If I forgive anything; if I remit any of the punishments which have been inflicted by my authority.

For your sakes. It is not on account of the offender alone; it is in order to promote the happiness and purity of the church.

In the person of Christ. Locke paraphrases this, "By the authority, and in the name of Christ." Doddridge, "As in the person of Christ, and by the high authority with which he has been pleased to invest me." Tindal, "In the room of Christ." The word rendered person (marg., sight proswpw, from prov and wq) means, properly, the part towards, at, and around the eye.—Robinson. Then it means the face, visage, countenance; then the presence, person, etc. Here it probably means, in the presence of Christ; with his eye upon me, and conscious that I am acting before him, and must give account to him. It implies, undoubtedly, that Paul acted by his authority, and felt that he was doing that which Christ would approve.

{1} "the person" "sight"


Verse 11. Lest Satan. The devil. The name Satan denotes an adversary, an accuser, an enemy. It is the usual proper name which is given to the devil, the great adversary of God and man.

Should get an advantage of us. The literal translation of the Greek would be, "That we may not be defrauded by Satan," ina mh pleonekthywmen upo tou satana. The verb here used denotes, to have more than another; then to gain, to take advantage of one, to defraud. And the idea is, that they should at once re-admit the penitent offender to their communion, lest, if they did not do it, Satan would take advantage of it to do injury to him and them. It is a reason given by Paul why they should lose no time in restoring him to the church. What the advantage was which Satan might gain, Paul does not specify. It might be this: That under pretence of duty, and seeking the purity of the church, Satan would tempt them to harsh measures; to needless severity of discipline; to an unkind and unforgiving spirit; and thus, at the same time, injure the cause of religion, and ruin him who had been the subject of discipline.

For we are not ignorant of his devices. We know his plans, his thoughts, his cunning, his skill. We are not ignorant of the great number of stratagems which he is constantly using to injure us, and to destroy the souls of men. He is full of wiles; and Paul had had abundant occasion to be acquainted with the means which he had used to defeat his plans, and to destroy the church. The church, at all times, has been subjected to the influence of those wiles, as well as individual Christians And the church, therefore, as well as individual Christians, should be constantly on its guard against those snares. Even the best and purest efforts of the church are often perverted, as in the case of administering discipline, to the worst results; and by the imprudence and want of wisdom—by the rashness or overheated zeal—by the pretensions to great purity and love of truth —and by a harsh, severe, censorious spirit, Satan often takes advantage of the Church, and advances his own dark and mischievous designs.


Verse 12. Furthermore. But, (de.) This particle is properly adversative; but frequently denotes transition, and serves to introduce something else, whether opposite to what precedes, or simply continuative or explanatory. Here it is designed to continue or explain the statement before made of his deep affection for the church, and his interest in its affairs. He therefore tells them that when he came to Troas, and was favoured there with great success, and was engaged in a manner most likely of all others to interest his feelings and to give him joy, yet he was deeply distressed because he had not heard, as he expected, from them; but so deep was his anxiety, that he left Troas, and went into Macedonia.

When I came to Troas. This was a city of Phrygia, or Mysia, on the Hellespont, between Troy on the north, and Asses on the south. See Barnes "Ac 16:8".

It was on the regular route from Ephesus to Macedonia. Paul took that route because on his journey to Macedonia he had resolved, for the reasons above stated, not to go to Corinth.

To preach Christ's gospel. Greek, "For (eiv) the gospel of Christ;" that is, on account of his gospel; or to promote it. Why he selected Troas, or the region of the Troad, See Barnes "Ac 16:8"

as the field of his labours, he does not say. It is probable that he was waiting there to hear from Corinth by Titus, and while there he resolved not to be idle, but to make known as much as possible the gospel.

And a door was opened unto me. See Barnes "1 Co 16:9".

There was an opportunity of doing good, and the people were disposed to hear the gospel. This was a work in which Paul delighted to engage, and in which he usually found his highest comfort. It was of all things the most adapted to promote his happiness.

{a} "when I came to Troas" Ac 16:8

{b} "a door" 1 Co 16:9


Verse 13. I had no rest in my spirit. I was disappointed, sad, deeply anxious. Though the work in which I was engaged was that which usually gives me my highest joy, yet such was my anxiety to learn the state of things in Corinth, and the success of my letter, and to see Titus, whom I was expecting, that I had comparatively no peace, and no comfort.

But taking my leave of them. Though so many considerations urged me to stay; though there was such a promising field of labour, yet such was my anxiety to hear from you, that I left them.

I went from thence into Macedonia. See Barnes "Ac 16:9".

I went over where I expected to find Titus, and to learn the state of your affairs. This is one of the few instances in which Paul left an inviting field of labour, and where there was a prospect of signal success, to go to another place. It is adduced here to show the deep interest which he had in the church at Corinth, and his anxiety to learn what was their condition. It shows that there may be cases where it is proper for ministers to leave a field of great and inviting usefulness, to go to another field, and to engage in another part of the great vineyard.

{c} "no rest in my spirit" 2 Co 7:5,6


Verse 14. Now thanks be unto God, etc. There seem to have been several sources of Paul's joy on this occasion. The principal was his constant and uniform success in endeavouring to advance the interests of the kingdom of the Redeemer. But in particular he rejoiced,

(1.) because Titus had come to him there, and had removed his distress, compare 2 Co 2:13;

(2.) because he learned from him that his efforts in regard to the church at Corinth had been successful, and that they had hearkened to his counsels in his first letter; and,

(3.) because he was favoured with signal success in Macedonia. His being compelled, therefore, to remove from Tress and to go to Macedonia had been to him ultimately the cause of great joy and consolation. These instances of success Paul regarded as occasions of gratitude to God.

Which always causeth us. Whatever may be our efforts, and wherever we are. Whether it is in endeavouring to remove the errors and evils existing in a particular church,, or whether it be in preaching the gospel in places where it has been unknown, still success crowns our efforts, and we have the constant evidence of Divine approbation. This was Paul's consolation in the midst of his many trials; and it proves that, whatever may be the external circumstances of a minister, whether poverty, want, persecution, or distress, he will have abundant occasion to give thanks to God if his efforts as a minister are crowned with success.

To triumph in Christ. To triumph through the aid of Christ, or in promoting the cause of Christ. Paul had no joy which was not connected with Christ, and he had no success which he did not trace to him. The word which is here rendered triumph (yriambeuonti), from yriambeuw occurs in no other place in the New Testament, except in Col 2:15. It is there rendered "triumphing over them in it," that is, triumphing over the principalities and powers which he had spoiled, or plundered; and it there means that Christ led them in triumph after the manner of a conqueror. The word is here used in a causative sense—the sense of the Hebrew Hiphil conjugation. It properly refers to a triumph; or a triumphal procession. Originally the word yriambov meant a hymn which was sung in honour of Bacchus; then the tumultuous and noisy procession which constituted the worship of the god of wine; and then any procession of a similar kind.—Passow. It was particularly applied, among both the Greeks and the Romans, to a public and solemn honour conferred on a victorious general on a return from a successful war, in which he was allowed a magnificent entrance into the capital. In these triumphs, the victorious commander was usually preceded or attended by the spoils of war; by the most valuable and magnificent articles which he had captured; and by the princes, nobles, generals, or people whom he had subdued. The victor was drawn in a magnificent chariot, usually by two white horses. Other animals were sometimes 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."—. Clark. The people of Corinth were not unacquainted with the nature of a triumph. About one hundred and forty-seven years before Christ, Lucius Mummius, the Roman consul, had conquered all Achaia, and had destroyed Corinth, Thebes, and Colchis, and by order of the Roman senate was favoured with a triumph, and was surnamed Achaicus. Tindal renders this place, "Thanks be unto God, which always giveth us the victory in Christ." Paul refers here to a victory which he had, and a triumph with which he was favoured by the Redeemer. It was a victory over the enemies of the gospel; it was success in advancing the interests of the kingdom of Christ; and he rejoiced in that victory, and in that success, with more solid and substantial joy than a Roman victor ever felt on returning from his conquests over nations, even when attended with the richest spoils of victory, and by humbled princes and kings in chains, and when the assembled thousands shouted Io triumphe!

And maketh manifest. Makes known; spreads abroad—as a pleasant fragrance is diffused through the air.

The savour. osmhn. The smell; the fragrance. The word in the New Testament is used to denote a pleasant or fragrant odour, as of incense or aromatics, Joh 12:3; Eph 5:2; Php 4:18.

There is an allusion here, doubtless, to the fact that in the triumphal processions fragrant odours were diffused around; flowers, diffusing a grateful smell, were scattered in the way; and on the altars of the gods incense was burned during the procession, and sacrifices offered, and the whole city was filled with the smoke of sacrifices, and with perfumes. So Paul speaks of knowledge—the knowledge of Christ. In his triumphings, the knowledge of the Redeemer was diffused abroad, like the odours which were diffused in the triumphal march of the conqueror. And that odour or savour was acceptable to God—as the fragrance of aromatics and of incense was pleasant in the triumphal procession of the returning victor. The phrase, "makes manifest the savour of his knowledge," therefore means, that the knowledge of Christ was diffused everywhere by Paul, as the grateful smell of aromatics was diffused all around the triumphing warrior and victor. The effect of Paul's conquests everywhere was to diffuse the knowledge of the Saviour—and this was acceptable and pleasant to God— though there might be many who would not avail themselves of it, and would perish. See 2 Co 2:15.

{d} "God, which always"

{*} "savour" "odour"

{a} "savour of his knowledge" So 1:3


Verse 15. For we are unto God. We who are his ministers, and who thus triumph. It is implied here that Paul felt that ministers were labouring for God, and felt assured that their labours would be acceptable to him. The object of Paul in the statement, in this and in the following verses, is undoubtedly to meet the charges of his detractors and enemies, he says, therefore, that whatever was the result of his labours in regard to the future salvation of men, yet that his well-meant endeavours, and labours, and self-denials in preaching the gospel, were acceptable to God. The measure of God's approbation in the case was not his success, but his fidelity, his zeal, his self-denial, whatever might be the reception of the gospel among those who heard it.

A sweet savour. Like the smell, of pleasant incense, or of grateful aromatics, such as were burned in the triumphal processions of returning conquerors. The meaning is, that their labours were acceptable to God; he was pleased with them, and would bestow on them the smiles and proofs of his approbation. The word here rendered "sweet savour" (euwdia occurs only in this place, and in Eph 5:2; Php 4:18; and is applied to persons or things well-pleasing to God. It properly means good odour, or fragrance; and in the Septuagint it is frequently applied to the incense that was burnt in the public worship of God, and to sacrifices in general, Ge 8:21; Ex 29:18,25,41; Le 1:9,13,17; 2:2,9,12; 3:5,16; 4:31, etc. Here it means that the services of Paul and the other ministers of religion were as grateful to God as sweet incense, or acceptable sacrifices.

Of Christ. That is, we are Christ's sweet savour to God; we are that which he has appointed, and which he has devoted and consecrated to God; we are the offering, so to speak, which he is continually making to God.

In them that are saved. In regard to them who believe the gospel through our ministry, and who are saved. Our labour in carrying the gospel to them, and in bringing them to the knowledge of the truth, is acceptable to God. Their salvation is an object of his highest desire, and he is gratified with our fidelity, and with our success. This reason why their work was acceptable to God is more fully stated in the following verse, where it is said that in reference to them they were the "savour of life unto life." The word "saved" here refers to all who become Christians, and who enter heaven; and as the salvation of men is an object of such desire to God, it cannot but be that all who bear the gospel to men are engaged in an acceptable serried, and that all their efforts will be pleasing to him, and approved in his sight. In regard to this part of Paul's statement there can be no difficulty.

And in them that perish. In reference to them who reject the gospel, and who are finally lost. It is implied here,

(1.) that some would reject the gospel and perish, with whatever fidelity and self-denial the ministers of religion might labour.

(2.) That though this would be the result, yet the labours of the ministers of religion would be acceptable to God. This is a fearful and awful declaration, and has been thought by many to be attended with difficulty. A few remarks may present the true sense of the passage, and remove the difficulty from it.

(1.) It is not affirmed or implied here that the destruction of those who would reject the gospel, and who would perish, was desired by God, or would be pleasing to him. This is nowhere affirmed or implied in the Bible.

(2.) It is affirmed only that the labours of the ministers of religion in endeavouring to save them would be acceptable and pleasing to God. Their labours would be in order to save them, not to destroy them. Their desire was to bring all to heaven—and this was acceptable to God. Whatever might be the result, whether successful or not, yet God would be pleased with self-denial, and toil, and prayer that was honestly and zealously put forth to save others from death. They would be approved by God in proportion to the amount of labour, zeal, and fidelity which they evinced.

(3.) It would be by no fault of faithful ministers that men would perish. Their efforts would be to save them, and those efforts would be pleasing to God.

(4.) It would be by no fault of the gospel that men would perish. The regular and proper tendency of the gospel is to save, not to destroy men; as the tendency of medicine is to heal them, of food to support the body, of air to give vitality, of light to give pleasure to the eye, etc. It is provided for all, and is adapted to all. There is a sufficiency in the gospel for all men, and in its nature it is as really fitted to save one as another. Whatever may be the manner in which it is received, it is always in itself the same pure and glorious system; full of benevolence and mercy. The bitterest enemy of the gospel can, not point to one of its provisions that is adapted or designed to make men miserable, and to destroy them. All its provisions are adapted to salvation; all its arrangements are those of benevolence; all the powers and influences which it originates, are those which are fitted to save, not to destroy men. The gospel is what it is in itself pure, holy, and benevolent system, and is answerable only for effects which a pure, holy, and benevolent system is fitted to produce. To use the beautiful language of Theodoret, as quoted by Bloomfield,

We indeed bear the sweet odour of Christ's gospel to all; but all who participate in it do not experience its salutiferous effects. Thus to diseased eyes even the light of heaven is noxious; yet the sun does not bring the injury. And to those in a fever, honey is bitter; yet it is sweet, nevertheless. Vultures too, it is said, fly from sweet odours of myrrh; yet myrrh is myrrh, though the vultures avoid it. Thus, if some be saved, though others perish, the gospel retains its own virtue, and we the preachers of it remain just as we are; and the gospel retains its odorous and salutiferous properties, though some may disbelieve and abuse it, and perish.


(5.) it is implied that the gospel would be the occasion of heavier condemnation to some, and that they would sink into deeper ruin in consequence of its being preached to them. This is implied in the expression in 2 Co 2:16, "to the one we are a savour of death unto death." In the explanation of this we may observe,

(a.) that those who perish would have perished at any rate. All were under condemnation whether the gospel had come to them or not. None will perish in consequence of the gospel's having been sent to them who would not have perished had it been unknown. Men do not perish because the gospel is sent to them, but for their own sins.

(b.) It is in fact by their own fault that men reject the gospel, and that they are lost. They are voluntary in this; and, whatever is their final destiny, they are not under compulsion. The gospel compels no one against his will either to go to heaven or to hell.

(c.) Men under the gospel sin against greater light than they do without it. They have more to answer for. It increases their responsibility. If, therefore, they reject it, and go down to eternal death, they go from higher privileges; and they go, of course, to meet a more aggravated condemnation. For condemnation will always be in exact proportion to guilt; and guilt is in proportion to abused light and privileges.

(d.) The preaching of the gospel, and the offers of life, are often the occasion of the deeper guilt of the sinner. Often he becomes enraged. He gives vent to the deep malignity of his soul. He opposes the gospel with malice and infuriated anger, his eye kindles with indignation, and his lip curls with pride and scorn. He is profane and blasphemous; and the offering of the gospel to him is the occasion of exciting deep and malignant passions against God, against the Saviour, against the ministers of religion. Against the gospel men often manifest the same malignity and scorn which they did against the Saviour himself. Yet this is not the fault of the gospel, nor of the ministers of religion. It is the fault of sinners themselves; and while there can be no doubt that such a rejection of the gospel will produce their deeper condemnation, and that it is a savour of death unto death unto them, still the gospel is good and benevolent, and still God will be pleased with those who faithfully offer its provisions, and who urge it on the attention of men.

{b} "them that are save" 1 Co 1:18


Verse 16. To the one. To those who perish.

We are the savour of death unto death. We are the occasion of deepening their condemnation, and of sinking them lower into ruin. The expression here used means, literally, "to the one class we bear a death- conveying odour leading to their death"—a savour, a smell which, under the circumstances, is destructive to life, and which leads to death. Mr. Locke renders this, "To the one my preaching is of ill-savour, unacceptable and offensive, by their rejecting whereof they draw death on themselves." Grateful as their labours were to God, and acceptable as would be their efforts, whatever might be the results, yet Paul could not be ignorant that the gospel would in fact be the means of greater condemnation to many, See Barnes "2 Co 2:15".

It was indeed by their own fault; yet wherever the gospel was preached, it would to many have this result. It is probable that the language here used is borrowed from similar expressions which were common among the Jews. Thus in Debarim Rabba, &1, fol. 248, it is said, "As the bee brings home honey to the owner, but stings others, so it is with the words of the law." "They (the words of the law) are a savour of life to Israel, but a savour of death to the people of this world." Thus in Taarieth, fol. 7, 1, "Whoever gives attention to the law on account of the law itself, to him it becomes an aromatic of life, (HEBREW,) but to him who does not attend to the law on account of the law itself, to him it becomes an aromatic of death, (HEBREW) the idea of which is, that as medicines skilfully applied will heal, but if unskillfully applied will aggravate a disease, so it is with the words of the law. Again, "The word of the law which proceeds out of the mouth of God is an odour of life to the Israelites, but an odour of death to the Gentiles." See Rosenmuller and Bloomfield. The sense of the passage is plain, that the gospel, by the wilful rejection of it, becomes the means of the increased guilt and condemnation of many of those who hear it.

And to the other. To those who embrace it, and are saved.

The savour of life. An odour, or fragrance producing life, or tending to life. It is a living, or life-giving savour. It is in itself grateful and pleasant.

Unto life. Tending to life; or adapted to produce life. The word life here, as often elsewhere, is used to denote salvation. It is life,

(1.) in opposition to the death in sin in which all are by nature;

(2.) in opposition to death in the grave—as it leads to a glorious resurrection;

(3.) in opposition to eternal death—to the second dying—as it leads to life and peace and hey in heaven. See the words "life" and "death" explained See Barnes "Ro 6:23".

The gospel is "the savour of life unto life," because

(1.) it is its nature and tendency to produce life and salvation. It is adapted to that; and is designed to that end.

(2.) Because it actually results in the life and salvation of those who embrace it. It is the immediate and direct cause of their salvation; of their recovery from sin; of their glorious resurrection; of their eternal life in heaven.

And who is sufficient for these things? For the arduous and responsible work of the ministry; for a work whose influence must be felt either in the eternal salvation, or the eternal ruin of the soul. Who is worthy of so important a charge? Who can undertake it without trembling? Who can engage in it without feeling that he is in himself unfit for it, and that he needs constant Divine grace? This is an exclamation which any one may well make in view of the responsibilities of the work of the ministry. And we may remark,

(1.) if Paul felt this, assuredly others should feel it also. If, with all the Divine assistance which he had—all the proofs of the peculiar presence of God, and all the mighty miraculous powers conferred on him—Paul had such a sense of unfitness for this great work, then a consciousness of unfitness, and a deep sense of responsibility, may well rest on all others.

(2.) It was this sense of the responsibility of the ministry, which contributed much to Paul's success. It was a conviction that the results of his work must be seen in the joys of heaven, or the woes of hell, that led him to look to God for aid, and to devote himself so entirely to his great work. Men will not feel much concern unless they have a deep sense of the magnitude and responsibility of their work. Men who feel as they should about the ministry will look to God for aid, and will feel that he alone can sustain them in their arduous duties.

{a} "To the one" Joh 9:39; 1 Pe 2:7,8

{*} "savour" "odour"

{b} "who is sufficient"


Verse 17.For we are not as many. This refers doubtless to the false teachers at Corinth; and to all who mingled human philosophy or tradition with the pure word of truth. Paul's design in the statement in this verse seems to be to affirm that he had such a deep sense of the responsibility of the ministerial office, and of its necessary influence on the eternal destiny of man, that it led him to preach the simple gospel, the pure word of God. He did not dare to dilute it with any human mixture, he did not dare to preach philosophy or human wisdom. He did not dare to mingle with it the crude conceptions of man. He sought to exhibit the simple truth as it was in Jesus; and so deep was his sense of the responsibility of the office, and so great was his desire on the subject, that he had been enabled to do it, and to triumph always in Christ. So that, although he was conscious that he was in himself unfit for these things, yet by the grace of God he had been able always to exhibit the simple truth, and his labours had been crowned with constant and signal success.

Which corrupt the word of God. Margin, "deal deceitfully with." The word here used (kaphleuontev) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, and does not occur in the Septuagint. The word is derived from kaphlov, which signifies, properly, a huckster, or a retailer of wine; a petty chapman; who buys up articles for the purpose of selling them again. it also means sometimes a vintner, or an innkeeper. The proper idea is that of a small dealer, and especially in wine. Such persons were notorious, as they, are now, for diluting their wines with water, (comp. Sept. in Isa. i. 22;) and for compounding wines of other substances than the juice of the grape, for purposes of gain. Wine, of all substances in trade, perhaps, affords the greatest facilities for such dishonest tricks; and accordingly the dealers in that article have generally been most distinguished for fraudulent practices and corrupt and diluted mixtures, hence the word comes to denote to adulterate, to corrupt, etc. It is here applied to those who adulterated or corrupted the pure word of God in any way, and for any purpose. It probably has particular reference to those who did it either by Judaizing opinions, or by the mixtures of a false and deceitful philosophy. The latter mode would be likely to prevail among the subtle and philosophizing Greeks. It is in such ways that the gospel has been usually corrupted.

(1.) It is done by attempting to attach a philosophical explanation to the facts of revelation, and making the theory as important as the fact.

(2.) By attempting to explain away the offensive, points of revelation by the aid of philosophy.

(3.) By attempting to make the facts of Scripture accord with the prevalent notions of philosophy, and by applying a mode of interpretation to the Bible which would fritter away its meaning, and make it mean anything or nothing at pleasure. In these, and in various other ways, men have corrupted the word of God; and of all the evils which Christianity has ever sustained in this world, the worst have been those which it has received from philosophy, and from those teachers who have corrupted the word of God. The fires of persecution it could meet, and still be pure; the utmost efforts of princes, and monarchs, and of Satan to destroy it, it has outlived, and has shone purely, and brightly amidst all these efforts; but, when corrupted by philosophy, and by "science falsely so called," it has been dimmed in its lustre, paralyzed in its aims, and shorn of its power, and has ceased to be mighty in pulling down the strongholds of Satan's kingdom. Accordingly, the enemy of God has ceased to excite persecution, and now aims in various ways to corrupt the gospel by the admixture of philosophy, and of human opinions. Tindal renders this passage, "For we are not as many are which choppe and chaunge with the word of God"—an idea which is important and beautiful—but this is one of the few instances in which he mistook the sense of the original text. In general, the accuracy of his translation, and his acquaintance with the true sense of the Greek text, are very remarkable.

But as of sincerity. Sincerely; actuated by unmingled honesty and simplicity of aim. See Barnes "2 Co 1:12".

As of God. As influenced by him; as under his control and direction; as having been sent by him; as acting by his command. See Barnes "Ac 1:12".

In the sight of God. As if we felt that his eye was always on us. Nothing is better fitted to make a man sincere and honest than this.

Speak we in Christ. In the name, and in the service of Christ, We deliver our message with a deep consciousness that the eye of the all-seeing God is on us; that we can conceal nothing from him; and that we must soon give up our account to him.

{1} "which corrupt" "deal deceitfully" 2 Co 4:2

{+} "corrupt" "adulterate"

{c} "sight of God" Heb 11:27

{2} "we in Christ" "of"

REMARKS on 2nd Corinthians Chapter 2.

(1.) In this chapter, and in the management of the whole case to which Paul here refers, we have an instance of his tenderness in administering discipline. This tenderness was manifested in many ways.

1st. He did nothing to wound the feelings of the offending party.

2nd. He did nothing in the way of punishment which a stern sense of duty did not demand.

3rd. He did it all with many tears. He wept at the necessity of administering discipline at all. He wept over the remissness of the church. He wept over the fall of the offending brother.

4th. He did not mention even the name of the offender. He did not blazon his faults abroad; nor has he left any clue by which it can be known; nor did he take any measures which were fitted to pain, unnecessarily, the feelings of his friends. If all discipline in the church were conducted in this manner, it would probably always be effectual and successful, 2 Co 2:1-10.

(2.) We ought cordially to receive and forgive an offending brother, as soon as he gives evidence of repentance. We should harbour no malice against him; and if, by repentance, he has put away his sins, we should hasten to forgive him. This we should do as individuals, and as churches. God cheerfully forgives us, and receives us into favour on our repentance; and we should hail the privilege of treating all our offending brethren in the same manner, 2 Co 2:7,8.

(3.) Churches should be careful that Satan should not get an advantage over them, 2 Co 2:11. In every way possible he will attempt it; and perhaps in few modes is it more often done than in administering discipline. In such a case, Satan gains an advantage over a church in the following ways:

1st. In inducing it to neglect discipline. This occurs often because an offender is rich, or talented, or is connected with influential families; because there is a fear of driving off such families from the church; because the individual is of elevated rank, and the church suffers him to remain in her bosom. The laws of the church, like other laws, are often like cobwebs: great flies break through, and the smaller ones are caught. The consequence is, that Satan gains an immense advantage. Rich and influential offenders remain in the church; discipline is relaxed; the cause of Christ is scandalized; and the church at large feels the influence, and the work of God declines.

2nd. Satan gains an advantage in discipline, sometimes, by too great severity of discipline. If he cannot induce a church to relax altogether, and to suffer offenders to remain, then he excites them to improper and needless severity. He drives them on to harsh discipline for small offences. He excites a spirit of persecution. He enkindles a false zeal on account of the shibboleth of doctrine. He excites a spirit of party, and causes the church to mistake it for zeal for truth. He excites a spirit of persecution against some of the best men in the church, on account of pretended errors in doctrine, and kindles the flames of intestine war; and breaks the church up into parties and fragments. Or he urges on thee church, even in cases where discipline is proper, to needless and inappropriate severity; drives the offender from its bosom; breaks his spirit; and prevents ever onward his usefulness, his return, and his happiness. One of the chief arts of Satan has been to cause the church, in cases of discipline, to use severity instead of kindness; to excite a spirit of persecution instead of love. Almost all the evils which grow out of attempts at discipline might have been prevented by a spirit of LOVE.

3rd. Satan gains an advantage in cases of discipline, when the church is unwilling to re-admit to fellowship an offending but a penitent member. His spirit is broken; his usefulness is destroyed. The world usually takes sides with him against the church, and the cause of religion bleeds.

(4.) Individual Christians, as well as churches, should be careful that Satan does not get an advantage over them, 2 Co 2:11. Among the ways in which he does this are the following:

1st. By inducing them to conform to the world. This is done under the plea that religion is not gloomy, and morose, and ascetic. Thence he often leads professors into all the gaieties, and amusements, and follies of which the world partake. Satan gains an immense advantage to his cause when this is done for all the influence of the professed Christian is with him.

2nd. By producing laxness of opinion in regard to doctrine. Christ intends that his cause shall advance by the influence of truth; and that his church shall be the witness of the truth. The cause of Satan advances by error and falsehood; and when professed Christians embrace falsehood, or are indifferent to truth, their whole influence is on the side of Satan, and his advantage is immense when they become the advocates of error.

3rd. By producing among Christians despondency, melancholy, and despair. Some of the best men are often thus afflicted and thrown into darkness, as Job was, Job 23:8,9. Indeed, it is commonly the best members of a church that have doubts in this manner, and that fall into temptation, and that are left to the buffetings of Satan. Your gay, and worldly, and fashionable Christians have usually no such troubles—except when they lie on a bed of death. They are not in the way of Satan. They do not oppose him, and he will not trouble them. It is your humble, praying, self-denying Christians that he dreads and hates; and it is these that he is suffered to tempt, and to make sad, and to fill with gloom and doubt. And when this is done, it is an immense advantage to his cause. It produces the impression that religion is nothing but gloom and melancholy, and the people of the world are easily led to hate and avoid it. Christians, therefore, should be cheerful, and benevolent, and happy—as they may be —lest Satan should get an advantage over them.

4th. By fanaticism. For when Satan finds that he can get no advantage over Christians by inducing them to do nothing, or to do anything positively wrong or immoral, he drives them on with over-heated and ill-timed zeal; he makes them unreasonably strenuous for some single opinion or measure; he disposes them to oppose and persecute all who do not fall into their views, and feel as they feel.

5th. By contentions and strifes. Satan often gets an advantage in that way. No matter what the cause may be, whether it be for doctrines, or for any other cause, yet the very fact that there are contentions among the professed followers of "the Prince of peace" does injury, and gives Satan an advantage. No small part of his efforts, therefore, have been to excite contentions among Christians—an effort in which he has been, and is still, eminently successful.

(5.) Satan gets an advantage over sinners, and they should be on their guard. He does it,

1st, by producing a sense of security in their present condition; and by leading them to indifference in regard to their eternal condition. In this he is eminently successful; and when this is gained, all is gained that his cause demands. It is impossible to conceive of greater success in anything than Satan has in producing a state of indifference to the subject of religion among men.

2nd. By inducing them to defer attention to religion to some future time. This is an advantage, because

(a.) it accomplishes all he wishes at present;

(b.) because it is usually successful altogether. It is usually the same thing as resolving not to attend to religion at all.

3rd. By producing false views of religion. He represents it at one time as gloomy, sad, and melancholy; at another, as so easy that it may be obtained whenever they please; at another, by persuading them that their sins are so great that they cannot be forgiven. One great object of Satan is to blind the minds of sinners to the true nature of religion; and in this he is usually successful.

4th. He deludes the aged by telling them it is too late; and the young by telling them that now is the time for mirth and pleasure, and that religion may be attended to at some future period of life.

5th. He gains an advantage by plunging the sinner deeper and deeper in sin; inducing him to listen to the voice of temptation; by making him the companion of the wicked; and by deluding him with the promises of pleasure, honour, and gain in this world until it is too late, and he dies.

(6.) Ministers of the gospel may have occasion to triumph in the success of their work. Paul always met with success of some kind; always had some cause of triumph. In all his trials, he had occasion of rejoicing, and always was assured that he was pursuing that course which would lead him ultimately to triumph, 2 Co 2:14.

(7.) The gospel may be so preached as to be successful, 2 Co 2:14. In the hands of Paul it was successful. So it was with the other apostles. So it was with Luther, Knox, Calvin. So it was with Whitefield, Edwards, Wesley, and Payson. If ministers are successful, it is not the fault of the gospel. It is adapted to do good, and to save men; and it may be so preached as to accomplish those great ends. If all ministers were as self-denying, and laborious, and prayerful as were these men, the gospel would be as successful now as it has ever been.

(8.) Much of the work of the ministry is pleasant and delightful. It is the savour of life unto life, 2 Co 2:15,16. There is no joy on earth of a higher and purer character than that which the ministers of the gospel have in the success of their work. There is no work more pleasant than that of imparting the consolations of religion to the sick and the afflicted—than that of directing inquiring sinners to the Lamb of God; no joy on earth so pure and elevated as that which a pastor has in a revival of religion. In the evidence that God accepts his labours, and that to many his message is a savour of life unto life, there is a joy which no other pursuit can furnish a joy, even on earth, which is more than a compensation for all the toils, self-denials, and trials of the ministry.

9. In view of the happy and saving results of the work of the ministry, we see the importance of the work. Those results are to be seen in heaven. They are to enter into the eternal destiny of the righteous. They are to be seen in the felicity and holiness of those who shall be redeemed from death. The very happiness of heaven, therefore, is dependent on the fidelity and success of the ministry. This work stretches beyond the grave. It reaches into eternity. It is to be seen in heaven. Other plans and labours of men terminate at death. But the work of the ministry reaches in its results into the skies; and is to be seen ever onward in eternity. Well might the apostle ask, "Who is sufficient for these things ?"

10.) The ministers of the gospel will be accepted of God if faithful, whatever may be the result of their labours; whether seen in the salvation, or the augmented condemnation of those who hear them, 2 Co 2:15. They are a sweet savour to God. Their acceptance with him depends not on the measure of their success, but on their fidelity. If men reject the gospel, and make it the occasion of their greater condemnation, the fault is not that of ministers, but is their own. If men are faithful, God accepts their efforts; and even if many reject the message and perish, still a-faithful ministry will not be to blame. That such results should follow from their ministry, indeed, increases their responsibility, and makes their office more awful, but it will not render them less acceptable in their labours in the sight of God.

(11.) We are to anticipate that the ministry will be the means of the deeper condemnation of many who hear the gospel, 2 Co 2:16. The gospel is to them a savour of death unto death. We are to expect that many will reject and despise the message, and sink into deeper sin, and condemnation, and woe. We are not to be disappointed, therefore, when we see such effects follow, and when the sinner sinks into a deeper hell from under the ministry of the gospel. It always has been the case, and we have reason to suppose it always will be and painful as is the fact, yet ministers must make up their minds to witness this deeply painful result of their work.

(12.) The ministry is a deeply and awfully responsible work, 2 Co 2:16. It is connected with the everlasting happiness, or the deep and eternal condemnation, of all those who hear the gospel. Every sermon that is preached is making an impression that will never be obliterated, and producing an effect that will never terminate. Its effects will never all be seen until the day of judgment, and in the awful solemnities of the eternal world. Well might Paul ask, "Who is sufficient for these things?

(13.) It is a solemn thing to hear the gospel. If it is solemn for a minister to dispense it, it is not less solemn to hear it. It is connected with the eternal welfare of those who hear. And thoughtless as are multitudes who hear it, yet it is deeply to affect them hereafter. If they ever embrace it, they will owe their eternal salvation to it; if they continue to neglect it, it will sink them deep and for ever in the world of woe. Every individual, therefore, who hears the gospel dispensed, no matter by whom, should remember that he is listening to God's solemn message to men; and that it will and must exert a deep influence on his eternal doom.

(14.) A people should pray much for a minister. Paul often entreated the churches to which he wrote to pray for him. If Paul needed the prayers of Christians, assuredly Christians now do. Prayer for a minister is demanded because,

1st, he has the same infirmities, conflicts, and temptations which other Christians have.

2nd. He has those which are peculiar, and which grow out of the very nature of his office; for the warfare of Satan is carried on mainly with the leaders of the army of God.

3rd. He is engaged in a great and most responsible work—the greatest work ever committed to mortal man.

4th. His success will be generally in proportion as a people pray for him. The welfare of a people, therefore, is identified with their praying for their minister. He will preach better, and they will hear better, just in proportion as they pray for him. His preaching will be dull, dry, heavy—will be without unction, spirituality, and life—unless they pray for him; and their hearing will be dull, lifeless, and uninterested, unless they pray for him. No people will hear the gospel to much advantage who do not feel anxiety enough about it to pray for their minister.

(15.) The interview between a minister and his people in the day of judgment will be a very solemn one. Then the effect of his ministry will be seen. Then it will be known to whom it was a savour of life unto life, and to whom it was a savour of death unto death. Then the eternal destiny of all will be settled. Then the faithful minister will be attended to heaven by all to whom his ministry has been a savour of life unto life; and then he will part for ever with all whom he so often warned and entreated in vain. In distant worlds—worlds for ever separated—shall be experienced the result of his labours. Oh, how solemn must be the scene when he must give up his account for the manner in which he has preached, and they for the manner in which they attended on his ministry!

(16.) Let all ministers, then, be careful that they do not corrupt. the word of God, 2 Co 2:17. Let them preach it in simplicity and in truth. Let them not preach philosophy, or metaphysics, or their own fancy, or the tradition of men, or the teaching of the schools; but the simple truth as it is in Jesus. Let them preach as sent by God; as in the sight of God; as commissioned by Christ to deliver a simple, plain, pure message to mankind, whether they will hear or forbear. Their success will be in proportion to the simplicity and purity of the gospel which they present; their peace and joy in death and in heaven will be just as they shall have evidence then that in simplicity and sincerity they have endeavoured to present everywhere, and to all, the pure and simple gospel of Jesus Christ. As ministers, therefore, desire acceptance with God and success in the work, let them preach the pure gospel; not adulterating it with foreign admixtures; not endeavouring to change it so as to be palatable to the carnal mind; not substituting philosophy for the gospel, and not withholding anything in the gospel because men do not love it; and let the people of God everywhere sustain the ministry by their prayers, and aid them in their work by daily commending them to the God of grace. So shall they be able to perform the solemn functions of their office to Divine acceptance; and so shall ministers and people find the gospel to be "a savour of life unto life."


Introduction to 2nd Corinthians Chapter 3

THIS chapter is closely connected in its design with the preceding. Paul had said in that chapter, (Co 2:14,) that he had always occasion to triumph in the success which, he had, and that God always blessed his labours; and especially had spoken, in the close of the previous chapter, (2 Co 2:17,) of his sincerity as contrasted with the conduct of some who corrupted the word of God. This might appear to some as if he designed to commend himself to them, or that he had said this for the purpose of securing their favour. It is probable, also, that the false teachers at Corinth had been introduced there by letters of recommendation, perhaps from Judea. In reply to this, Paul intimates (2 Co 3:1) that this was not his design; 2 Co 3:2 that he had no need of letters of recommendation to them, since (2 Co 3:2,3) they were his commendatory epistle; they were themselves the best evidence of his zeal, fidelity, and success in his labours. He could appeal to them as the best proof that he was qualified for the apostolic office. His success among them, he says, (2 Co 3:4,) was a ground of his trusting in God, an evidence of his acceptance. Yet, as if he should seem to rely on his own strength, and to boast of what he had done, he says (2 Co 3:5) that his success was not owing to any strength which he had, or to any skill of his own, but entirely to the aid which he had received from God. It was God, he says, (2 Co 3:6,) who had qualified him to preach, and had given him grace to be an able minister of the New Testament.

It is not improbable that the false teachers, being of Jewish origin, in Corinth, had commended the laws and institutions of Moses as being of superior clearness, and even as excelling the gospel of Christ. Paul takes occasion, therefore, (2 Co 3:7-11,) to show that the laws and institutions of Moses were far inferior, in this respect, to the gospel. His was a ministration of death, (2 Co 3:7;) though glorious, it was to be done away, (2 Co 3:7;) the ministration of the Spirit was therefore to be presumed to be far more glorious, (2 Co 3:8;) the one was a ministration to condemnation, the other of righteousness, (2 Co 3:9;) the one had comparatively no glory, being so much surpassed by the other, (2 Co 3:10;) and the former was to be done away, while the latter was to remain, and was therefore far more glorious, 2 Co 3:11.

This statement of the important difference between the laws of Moses and the gospel is further illustrated, by showing the effect which the institutions of Moses had had on the Jews themselves, (2 Co 3:12-15.) That effect was to blind them. Moses had put a veil over his face, (2 Co 3:13;) and the effect had been that the nation was blinded in reading the Old Testament, and had no just views of the true meaning of their own Scriptures, 2 Co 3:14,15. Yet, Paul says, that that veil should be taken away, 2 Co 3:16-18. It was the intention of God that it should be removed. When that people should turn again to the Lord, it should be taken away, 2 Co 3:16. It was done where the Spirit of the Lord was, 2 Co 3:17. It was done, in fact, in regard to all true Christians, 2 Co 3:18. They were permitted to behold the glory of the Lord as in a glass, and they were changed into the same manner. The same subject is continued in 2 Co 4, where Paul illustrates the effect of this clear revelation of the gospel, as compared with the institutions of Moses, on the Christian ministry.

Verse 1. Do we begin again. This is designed evidently to meet an objection. He had been speaking of his triumph in the ministry, (2 Co 2:14,) and of his sincerity and honesty as contrasted with the conduct of many who corrupted the word of God, 2 Co 2:17. It might be objected that he was magnifying himself in these statements, and designed to commend himself in this manner to the Corinthians. To this he replies in the following verses.

To commend ourselves? To recommend ourselves; do we speak this in our own praise, in order to obtain your favour?

Or need we, as some others. Probably some who had brought letters of recommendation to them from Judea. The false teachers at Corinth had been originally introduced there by commendatory letters from abroad. These were letters of introduction, and were common among the Greeks, the Romans, and the Jews, as they are now. They were usually given to persons who were about to travel, as there were no inns, and as travellers were dependent on the hospitality of those among whom they travelled.

Of commendation from you? To other churches. It is implied here by Paul, that he sought no such letters; that he travelled without them; and that he depended on his zeal, and self-denial, and success to make him known, and to give him the affections of those to whom he ministered —a much better recommendation than mere introductory letters. Such letters were, however, sometimes given by Christians, and are by no means improper, Ac 18:27. Yet they do not appear to have been sought or used by the apostles generally. They depended on their miraculous endowments, and on the attending grace of God to make them known,

{a} "commend ourselves" 2 Co 5:12

{b} "epistles of commendation" Ac 18:27


Verse 2. Ye are our epistle. Comp. 1 Co 9:2. This is a most beautiful and happy turn given to the whole subject. The sense is plain. It is, that the conversion of the Corinthians, under the faithful labours of the apostle, was a better testimonial of his character and fidelity than any letters could be. To see the force of this, it must be remembered,.

(1.) that Corinth was an exceedingly dissolute and abandoned place, (see the Introduction to the first epistle;)

(2.) that a large number of them had been converted, and a church organized;

(3.) that their conversion, and the organization of a church in such a city, were events that would be known abroad; and

(4.) that it had been accomplished entirely under the labour of Paul and his companions. To their knowledge of him, therefore, and to his success there, he could confidently appeal as a testimonial of his character. The characteristics of this commendatory epistle he proceeds immediately to state. The general sense is, that they were the letter of recommendation which God had given to him; and that their conversion under his ministry was the public testimonial of his character, which all might see and read.

Written in our hearts. A few Mss. and versions read thus, " your hearts;" and Doddridge has adopted this reading, and supposes that it means that the change produced not only in their external conduct, but in their inward temper, was so great, that all must see that it was an unanswerable attestation to his ministry. But there is not sufficient authority for changing the text; nor is it necessary. The sense is, probably, that this letter was, as it were, written on his heart. It was not merely that Paul had a tender affection for them, as Clarke supposes; nor was it that he regarded them as "a copy of the letter of recommendation from Christ written in his heart," according to the fanciful conceit of Macknight; but Paul's idea seems to have been this: He is speaking of the testimonial which he had from God. That testimonial consisted in the conversion of the Corinthians. This he says was written on his heart. It was not a cold letter of introduction, but it was such as, while it left him no room to doubt that God had sent him, also affected his feelings, and was engraven on his soul. It was to him, therefore, far more valuable than any mere letter of commendation or of introduction could be. It was a direct testimonial from God to his own heart of his approbation, and of his having appointed him to the apostolic office. All the difficulty, therefore, which has been felt by commentators on this passage, may be obviated by supposing that Paul here speaks of this testimonial or epistle as addressed to himself, and as satisfactory to him. In the other characteristics which he enumerates, he speaks of it as fitted to be a letter commendatory of himself to others.

Known and read of all men. Corinth was a large, splendid, and dissipated city. Their conversion, therefore, would be known afar. All men would hear of it; and their reformation, their subsequent life under the instruction of Paul, and the attestation which God had given among them to his labours, was a sufficient testimonial to the world at large, that God had called him to the apostolic office.

{a} "Ye are our epistle" 1 Co 9:2


Verse 3. Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared. You are made manifest as the epistle of Christ; or you, being made manifest, are the epistle, etc. They had been made manifest to be such by their conversion. The sense is, It is plain, or evident, that ye are the epistle of Christ.

To be the epistle of Christ. That which Christ has sent to be our testimonial, he has given this letter of recommendation. He has converted you by our ministry, and that is the best evidence which we can have that we have been sent by him, and that our labour is accepted by him. Your conversion is his work, and it is his public attestation to our fidelity in his cause.

Ministered by us. The idea here is, that Christ had employed their ministry in accomplishing this. They were Christ's letter, but it had been prepared by the instrumentality of the apostles. It had not been prepared by him independently of their labours, but in connexion with, and as the result of, those labours. Christ, in writing this epistle, so to speak, has used our aid; or employed us as amanuenses.

Written not with ink. Paul continues and varies the image in regard to this "epistle," so that he may make the testimony borne to his fidelity and success more striking and emphatic, he says, therefore, that it was not written as letters of introduction are, with ink—by traces drawn on a lifeless substance, and in lines that easily fade, or that may become easily illegible, or that can be read only by a few, or that may be soon destroyed.

But with the Spirit of the living God. In strong contrast thus with letters written with ink. By the Spirit of God moving on the heart, and producing that variety of graces which constitute so striking and so beautiful an evidence of your conversion. If written by the Spirit of the living God, it was far more valuable, and precious, and permanent, than any record which could be made by ink. Every trace of the Spirit's influences on the heart was an undoubted proof that God had sent the apostles; and was a proof which they would much more sensibly and tenderly feel than they could any letter of recommendation written in ink.

Not in tables of stone. It is generally admitted that Paul here refers to the evidences of the Divine mission of Moses which was given by the law engraven on tablets of stone. Comp. 2 Co 3:7. Probably those who were false teachers among the Corinthians were Jews, and had insisted much on the Divine origin and permanency of the Mosaic institutions. The law had been engraven on stone by the hand of God himself; and had thus the strongest proofs of Divine origin, and the Divine attestation to its pure and holy nature. To this fact the friends of the law, and the advocates for the permanency of the Jewish institutions, would appeal. Paul says, on the other hand, that the testimonials of the Divine favour through him were not on tablets of stone. They were frail, and easily broken. There was no life in them, (comp. 2 Co 3:6,7;) and valuable and important as they were, yet they could not be compared with the testimonials which God had given to those who successfully preached the gospel.

But in fleshy tables of the heart. In truths engraven on the heart. This testimonial was of more value than an inscription on stone, because

(1.) no hand but that of God could reach the heart, and inscribe these truths there.

(2.) Because it would be attended with a life-giving and living influence. It was not a mere dead letter.

(3.) Because it would be permanent. Stones, even where laws were engraven by the finger of God, would moulder and decay, and the inscription made there would be destroyed. But not so with that which was made on the heart. It would live for ever. It would abide in other worlds. It would send its influence into all the relations of life; into all future scenes in this world; and that influence would be seen and felt: in the world that shall never end. By all these considerations, therefore, the testimonials which Paul had of the Divine approbation were more valuable than any mere letters of introduction or human commendation could have been; and more valuable even than the attestation which was given to the divine mission of Moses himself.

{b} "tables of stone" Ex 24:12

{c} "fleshy tables" Jer 31:33; Eze 11:19


Verse 4. And such trust have we. ,Such confidence have we that we are appointed by God, and that he accepts our work. Such evidence have we in the success of our labours—such irrefragable proof that God blesses us—that we have trust, or confidence, that we are sent by God, and are owned by him in our ministry. His confidence did not rest on letters of introduction from men, but in the evidence of the Divine Presence, and the Divine acceptance of his work.

Through Christ. By the agency of Christ. Paul had no success which he did not trace to him; he had no joy of which he was not the source; he had no confidence, or trust in God, of which Christ was not the author; he had no hope of success in his ministry which did not depend on him.

To Godward. Toward God; in regard to God. prov ton yeon. Our confidence relates to God. It is confidence that he has appointed us, and sent us forth; and confidence that he will still continue to own and to bless us.

{*} "trust"


Verse 5. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves. This is evidently designed to guard against the appearance of boasting, or of self-confidence. He had spoken of his confidence; of his triumph; of his success; of his undoubted evidence that God had sent him. He here says, that he did not mean to be understood as affirming that any of his success came from himself, or that he was able by his own strength to accomplish the great things which had,. been effected by his ministry. He well knew that he had no such self-sufficiency; and he would, not insinuate, in the slightest manner, that he believed himself to be invested with any such power. See Barnes "Joh 15:5".

To think any thing. logisasyai ti. The word here used means, properly, to reason, think, consider; and then to reckon, count to, or impute to any one. It is the word which is commonly rendered impute. See it explained more fully See Barnes "Ro 4:1".

Robinson (Lexicon) renders it in this place, "To reason out, to think out, to find out by thinking." Doddridge renders it, "To reckon upon anything as from ourselves." Whitby renders it, "To reason;" as if the apostle had said, We are unable by any reasoning of our own to bring men to conversion. Macknight gives a similar sense. Locke renders it, "Not as if I were sufficient of myself, to reckon upon anything as from myself;" and explains it to mean that Paul was not sufficient of himself, by any strength of natural parts, to attain the knowledge of the gospel truths which he preached. The word may be rendered here, to reckon, reason, think, etc.; but it should be confined to the immediate subject under consideration. It does not refer to thinking in general; or to the power of thought on any, and on all subjects—however true it may be in itself; but to the preaching the gospel. And the expression may be regarded as referring to the following points, which are immediately under discussion:

(1.) Paul did not feel that he was sufficient of himself to have reasoned or thought out the truths of the gospel. They were communicated by God.

(2.) He had no power by reasoning to convince or convert sinners. That was all of God.

(3.) He had no right to reckon on success by any strength of his own. All success was to be traced to God. It is, however, also true, that all our powers of thinking and reasoning are from God; and that we have no ability to think clearly, to reason calmly, closely, and correctly, unless he shall preside over our minds and give us clearness of thought. How easy is it for God to disarrange all our faculties, and produce insanity! How easy to suffer our minds to become unsettled, bewildered, and distracted with a multiplicity of thoughts! How easy to cause everything to appear cloudy, and dark, and misty! How easy to affect our bodies with weakness, languor, disease, and through them to destroy all power of close and consecutive thought! No one who considers on how many things the power of dose thinking depends, can doubt that all our sufficiency in this is from God; and that we owe to him every clear idea on the subjects of common life, and on scientific subjects, no less certainly than we do in the truths of religion. Comp. the case of Bezaleel and Aholiab in common arts, Ex 31:1-6; Job 32:8.

{a} "sufficient of ourselves" Joh 15:5

{b} "but our sufficiency" 1 Co 15:10; Php 2:13


Verse 6. Who also hath made us able ministers, etc. This translation does not quite meet the force of the original. It would seem to imply that Paul regarded himself and his fellow-labourers as men of talents, and of signal ability; and that he was inclined to boast of it. But this is not the meaning. It refers properly to his sense of the responsibility and difficulty of the work of the ministry, and to the fact that he did not esteem himself to be sufficient for this work in his own strength, (2 Co 2:16; 3:5;) and he here says that God had made him sufficient—not able, talented, learned, but sufficient, (ikanwsen hmav;) he has supplied our deficiency; he has rendered us competent, or fit: if a word may be coined after the manner of the Greek here, "he has sufficienced us for this work."' There is no assertion therefore, here, that they were men of talents or peculiar ability, but only that God had qualified them for their work, and made them by his grace sufficient to meet the toils and responsibilities of this arduous office.

Of the new covenant, See Barnes "Mt 21:28, in contradistinction from the old covenant, which was established through Moses. They were appointed to go forth and make the provisions of that new covenant known to a dying world.

Not of the letter. Not of the literal or verbal meaning, in contradistinction from the spirit. See Barnes "Ro 2:27, See Barnes "Ro 2:29" See Barnes "Ro 7:6".

This is said, doubtless, in opposition to the Jews and Jewish teachers. They insisted much on the letter of the law, but entered little into its real meaning. They did not seek out the true spiritual sense of the Old Testament; and hence they rested on the mere literal observance of the rites and ceremonies of religion, without understanding their true nature and design. Their service, though in many respects conformed to the letter of the law, yet became cold, formal, and hypocritical; abounding in mere ceremonies, and where the heart had little to do. Hence there was little pure spiritual worship offered to God; and hence also they rejected the Messiah whom the old covenant prefigured, and was designed to set forth.

For the letter killeth. Comp. See Barnes "Ro 4:15" See Barnes "Ro 7:9,10".

The mere letter of the law of Moses. The effect of it was merely to produce condemnation; to produce a sense of guilt, and danger, and not to produce pardon, relief, and joy. The law denounced death; condemned sin in all forms; and the effect of it was to produce a sense of guilt and condemnation.

But the spirit giveth life. The spirit, in contradistinction front the mere literal interpretation of the Scriptures. The Spirit, that is, Christ, says Locke. Comp. 2 Co 3:17. The spirit here means, says Bloomfield, that new spiritual system, the gospel. The Spirit of God speaking in us, says Doddridge. The spirit here seems to refer to the new testament, or the new dispensation, in contradistinction from the old. That was characterized mainly by its strictness of law, and by its burdensome rites, and by the severe tone of its denunciation for sin. It did not in itself provide a way of pardon and peace. Law condemns; it does not speak of forgiveness. On the contrary, the gospel, a spiritual system, is designed to impart life and comfort to the soul. It speaks peace. It comes not to condemn, but to save. It discloses a way of mercy, and it invites all to partake and live. It is called "spirit," probably because its consolations are imparted and secured by the Spirit of God—the source of all true life to the soul. It is the dispensation of the Spirit; and it demands a spiritual service—a service that is free, and elevated, and tending eminently to purify the heart and to save the soul. See Barnes "2 Co 3:17".

{c} "able ministers" Eph 3:7; 1 Ti 1:12

{d} "the new testament" Mt 26:28; He 8:6-10

{e} "but of the spirit" Ro 2:28,29

{f} "letter killeth" Ro 4:15; 7:9,10

{g} "spirit giveth" Joh 6:63; Ro 8:2

{1} "giveth life" "quickeneth"


Verse 7. But if the ministration of death. In the previous verses, Paul had referred incidentally to the institutions of Moses, and to the superiority of the gospel. He had said that the former were engraven on stones, but the latter on the heart, (2 Co 3:3;) that the letter of the former tended to death, but the latter to life, (2 Co 3:6.) This sentiment he proceeds further to illustrate, by showing in what the superior glory of the gospel consisted. The design of the whole is to illustrate the nature and to show the importance of the ministerial office, and the manner in which the duties of that office were to be performed. That the phrase "ministration of death" refers to the Mosaic institutions, the connexion sufficiently indicates, 2 Co 3:13-15. The word "ministration" (diakonia) means, properly, ministry; the office of ministering in Divine things. It is usually applied to the officers of the church in the New Testament, Ac 1:17,25; Ro 11:13; 1 Co 12:5.

The word here, however, seems to refer to the whole arrangement, under the Mosaic economy, by which his laws were promulgated and perpetuated. The expression, "ministrations— written and engraven on stone," is somewhat harsh; but the sense evidently is, the ministration of a covenant, or of laws, written on stones, The word "ministration'" there refers to the arrangement, office, etc., by which the knowledge of these laws was maintained; the ministering under a system like that of the Jewish; or, more strictly, the act and occasion on which Moses himself ministered, or promulgated that System to the Jews, and when the glory of the work was irradiated even from his countenance. And the purpose of the apostle is to show that the ministry of the gospel is more glorious than even the ministry of Moses, when he was admitted near to God on the holy mount; and when such a glory attended his receiving and promulgating the law. It is called the "ministration of death,"' because it tended to condemnation; it did not speak of pardon; it was fitted only to deepen the sense of sin, and to produce alarm and dread. See Barnes "2 Co 3:6.

Written and engraven in stones. The ten commandments—the substance of all the Mosaic institutes, and the principal laws of his economy— were written, or engraven, on tables of stone.

Was glorious. Was attended with magnificence and splendour. The glory here referred to consisted in the circumstance of sublimity and grandeur in which the law of Moses was given. It was

(1.) the glory of God, as he was manifested on Mount Sinai, as the Lawgiver and Ruler of the people.

(2.) The glory of the attending circumstances, of thunder, fire, etc., in which God appeared. The law was given in these circumstances. Its giving—called here the "ministration"—was amidst such displays of the glory of God. It was

(3.) a high honour and glory for Moses to be permitted to approach so near to God; to commune with him; and to receive at his hand the law for his people, and for the world. These were circumstances of imposing majesty and grandeur, which, however, Paul says were eclipsed and surpassed by the ministry of the gospel.

So that the children of Israel, etc. In Ex 34:29,30, it is said, that "when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone, while he talked with him. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him." The word rendered "stedfastly behold" (atenisai) means, to gaze intently upon; to look steadily, or constantly, or fixedly. See Barnes "Ac 1:10".

There was a dazzling splendour, an irradiation; a diffusion of light, such that they could not look intently and steadily upon it—as we cannot look steadily at the sun. How this was produced is not known. It cannot be accounted for from natural causes; and was doubtless designed to be to the Israelites an attestation that Moses had been with God, and was commissioned by him. They would see

(1.) that it was unnatural, such as no known cause could produce; and,

(2.) not improbably, they would recognise a resemblance to the manner in which God usually appeared—the glory of the Shechinah in which he so frequently manifested himself to them. It would be to them, therefore, a demonstration that Moses had been with God.

Which glory was to be done away. The splendour of that scene was transitory. It did not last. It was soon destroyed, (thn katargoumenhn). It was not adapted or designed long to continue. This does not mean, as Doddridge supposes, "soon to be abolished in death;" or, as others, "ceasing with youth;" but it means, that the shining or the splendour was transitory; it was soon to cease; it was not designed to be permanent. Neither the wonderful scenes accompanying the giving of the law on Sinai, nor the shining on the countenance of Moses, was designed to abide. The thunders of Sinai would cease to roll; the lightnings to play; the visible manifestations of the presence of God would all be gone; and the supernatural illumination of the face of Moses also would soon cease— perhaps as Macknight, Bloomfield, and others suppose, as a prefiguration of the abrogation of the glory of the whole system of the Levitical law. Paul certainly means to say, that the glory of Moses, and of his dispensation, was a fading glory; but that the glory of the gospel would be permanent, and increasing for ever.

{*} "children of Israel" "Israelites"

{a} "for the glory" Ex 34:1,29-35


Verse 8. How shall not the ministration of the Spirit. This is an argument from the less to the greater. Several things in it are worthy of notice.

(1.) The proper contrast to the "ministration of death," (2 Co 3:7,) would have been "ministration of life." But Paul chose rather to call it the "ministration of the Spirit "—as the source of life, or as conferring higher dignity on the gospels than to have called it simply the ministration of life.

(2.) By the "Spirit" here is manifestly meant the Holy Spirit; and the whole phrase denotes the gospel, or the preaching of the gospel, by which eminently the Holy Spirit is imparted.

(3.) It is the high honour of the gospel ministry, that it is the means by which the Holy Spirit is imparted to men. It is designed to secure the salvation of men by his agency; and-it is through the ministry that the Holy Spirit is imparted, the heart renewed, and the soul saved. The work of the ministry is, therefore, the most important and honourable in which man can engage.

Be rather glorious?

(1.) Because that of Moses tended to death; this to life.

(2.) Because that was engraven on stone; this is engraven on the heart.

(3.) Because that was the mere giving of a law; this is connected with the renovating influences of the Holy Spirit.

(4.) Because that was soon to pass away. All the magnificence of the scene was soon to vanish. But this is to remain. Its influence and effect are to be everlasting. It is to stretch into eternity; and its main glory is to be witnessed in souls renewed and saved, and amidst the splendours of heaven. "The work of the Spirit of God on the heart of a rational being, is much more important than any dead characters which can be engraved on insensible stones."—Doddridge.


Verse 9. For if the ministration of condemnation. Of Moses, in giving the law, the effect of which is to produce condemnation. Law condemns the guilty; it does not save them. It denounces punishment; it contains no provisions of pardon. To pardon is to depart from the law; and must be done under the operation of another system—since a law which contains a provision for the pardon of offenders, and permits them to escape, would be a burlesque in legislation. The tendency of the Mosaic institutions, therefore, was to produce a sense of condemnation. And so it will be found by all who attempt to be justified by the law. It will tend to, and result in their condemnation.

Be glory. Be glorious; or be glory itself. It was glorious as a manifestation of the holiness and justice of God; and glorious in the attending circumstances. No event in our world has been more magnificent in the circumstances of external majesty and splendour than the giving of the law on Mount Sinai.

The ministration of righteousness. The gospel; the promulgation of the plan of mercy. It is called "the ministration of righteousness," in contradistinction from the law of Moses, which was a "ministration of condemnation." The word " righteousness," however, does not exactly express the force of the original word. That word is dikaiosunhv, and it stands directly opposed to the word katakrisewv, condemnation. It should be rendered, "the ministration of justification;" the plan by which God justifies men. See Barnes "Ro 1:17".

The law of Moses condemns; the gospel is the plan by which man is justified. And if that which condemns could be glorious, much more must that be by which men can be justified, acquitted, and saved. The superior glory of the gospel, therefore, consists in the fact that it is a scheme to justify and save lost sinners. And this glory consists,

(1.) in the fact that it can be done when all law condemns.

(2.) In the showing forth of the Divine character while it is done, as just, and merciful, and benevolent in doing it—blending all his great and glorious attributes together; while the law discloses only one of his attributes—his justice.

(3.) In the manner in which it is done. It is by the incarnation of the Son of God—a far more glorious manifestation of Deity than was made on Mount Sinai. It is by the toils, and sufferings, and death of Him who made the atonement, and by the circumstances of awful and imposing grandeur which attended his death, when the sun was darkened, and the rocks were rent—far more grand and awful scenes than occurred when the law was given. It is by the resurrection and ascension of the Redeemer—scenes far more sublime than all the external glories of Sinai when the law was given.

(4.) In the effects, or results. The one condemns; the other justifies and saves. The effect of the one is seen in the convictions of conscience, in alarm, in a sense of guilt, in the conscious desert of condemnation, and in the apprehension of eternal punishment. The other is seen in sins forgiven; in peace of conscience; in the joy of pardon; in the hope of heaven; in comfort and triumph on the bed of death, and amidst the glories of heaven.


Verse 10. For even that which was made glorious. to dedoxasmenon. That was splendid, excellent, or glorious. This refers, doubtless, to the laws and institutions of Moses, especially to the primary giving of the law. Paul does not deny that it had an honour and majesty such, in some respects, as the Jews claimed for it. It was glorious in the manner in which it was given; it was glorious in the purity of the law itself; and it was glorious, or splendid, in the magnificent and imposing ritual in which the worship of God was celebrated. But all this was surpassed in the brighter glory of the gospel.

Had no glory. Greek, Was not glorious, or splendid, (oude dedoxastai.) Had comparatively no glory, or splendour. Its glory was all eclipsed. It was like the splendour of the moon and stars compared with the bright light of the sun.

By reason of the glory that excelleth. In the gospel; in the incarnation, life, sufferings, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus; in the pardon of sin; in the peace and joy of the believer; and in the glories of the heavenly world to which the gospel elevates dying men.


Verse 11. For if that which is done away, etc. The splendour that attended the giving of the law; the bright shining of the face of Moses; and the ritual institutions of his religion. It was to be done away. It was never designed to be permanent. Everything in it had a transient existence, and was so designed. Yet it was attended, Paul admits, with much that was magnificent and splendid, He had, in the previous verses, stated several important differences between the law and the gospel, he here states another. The law he calls (to katargoumenon) the thing which was to be made to cease; to be put an end to; to be done away with; to be abolished. It had no permanency; and it was designed to have none. Its glory, therefore, great as in many respects it might be, could not be compared with that which was to be permanent— as the light of the stars fades away at the rising sun. It is implied here, that it was originally designed that the Mosaic institutions should not be permanent; that they should be mere shadows and types of better things; and that when the things which they adumbrated should appear, the shadows would vanish of course. This idea is one which prevails everywhere in the New Testament, and which the sacred writers are often at great pains to demonstrate.

Was glorious. Greek, By glory. dia doxhv. That is, it was attended by glory; it was introduced by glory, it was encompassed with glory when it was established. The idea here is, not that it was glorious in itself, but that it was accompanied with splendour and majesty.

That which remaineth. The gospel, (to menon.) The thing that is to remain; that is permanent, abiding, perpetual; that has no principle of decay; and whose characteristic it is, that it is everlasting. The gospel is permanent, or abiding,

(1.) because it is designed to remain immutable through the remotest ages. It is not to be superseded by any new economy or institution. It is the dispensation under which the affairs of the world are to be wound up, and under which the world is to close. See Barnes "1 Co 15:51".

(2.) Its effects on the heart are permanent. It is complete in itself. It is not to be succeeded by any other system, and it looks to no other system in order to complete or perfect its operations on the soul.

(3.) Its effects are to abide for ever. They will exist in heaven. They are to be seen in the soul that shall be recovered from sin, and that shall be glorious in the bosom of God for ever and ever. The Mosaic system—glorious as it was—shall be remembered as introducing the gospel; the gospel shall be remembered as directly fitting for heaven. Its most great and glorious results shall be seen in the permanent and eternal joys of heaven. The gospel contemplates a great, permanent, and eternal good, adapted to all ages, all climes, all people, and all worlds. It is, therefore, so much more glorious than the limited, temporary, and partial good of the Mosaic system, that that may be said in comparison to have had no glory.

{b} "if that" Ro 5:20,21


Verse 12. Seeing then that we have such hope. Hope properly is a compound emotion, made up of a desire for an object, and an expectation of obtaining it. If there is no desire for it, or if the object is not pleasant and agreeable, there is no hope, though there may be expectation -as in the expectation of the pestilence, of famine, or sickness, or death. If there is no expectation of it, but a strong desire, there is no hope, as in eases where there is a strong desire of wealth, or fame, or pleasure; or where a man is condemned for murder, and has a strong desire, but no prospect of pardon; or where a man is shipwrecked, and has a strong desire, but no expectation of again seeing his family and friends. In such cases, despondency or despair is the result. It is the union of the two feelings in proper proportions which constitutes hope. There has been considerable variety of views among expositors in regard to the proper meaning of the word in this place. Mr. Locke supposes that Paul here means the honourable employment of an apostle and minister of the gospel, or the glory belonging to the ministry in the gospel; and that his calling it "hope" instead of "glory," which the connexion would seem to demand, is the language of modesty. Rosenmuller understands it of the hope of the perpetual continuance of the gospel dispensation. Macknight renders it "persuasion" and explains it as meaning the full persuasion or assurance that the gospel excels the law in the manner of its introduction; its permanency, etc. A few remarks may, perhaps, make it clear.

(1.) It refers primarily to Paul, and the other ministers of the gospel. It is not properly the Christian hope, as such, to which he refers, but it is that which the ministers of the gospel had.

(2.) It refers to all that he had said before about the superiority of the gospel to the law; and is designed to express the result of all that on his mind, and on the minds of his fellow-labourers.

(3.) It refers to the prospect, confidence, persuasion, anticipation which he had as the effect of what he had just said, It is the prospect of eternal life; the clear expectation of acceptance, and the anticipation of heaven, based on the fact that this was a ministry of the Spirit, (2 Co 3:8;) that it was a ministry showing the way of justification, (2 Co 3:9;) and that it was never to be done away, but to abide for ever, 2 Co 3:11. On all these this strong hope was founded; and in view of these, Paul expressed himself clearly, not enigmatically; and not in types and figures, as Moses did. Everything about the gospel was clear and plain; and this led to the confident expectation and assurance of heaven. The word hope therefore, in this place, will express the effect on the mind of Paul in regard to the work of the ministry, produced by the group of considerations which he had suggested, showing that the gospel was superior to the law; and that it was the ground of more clear and certain confidence and hope than anything which the law could furnish.

We use. We employ; we are accustomed to. He refers to the manner in which he preached the gospel.

Great plainness of speech. Marg., boldness. We use the word "plainness," as applied to speech, chiefly in two senses:

(1.) to denote boldness, faithfulness, candour, in opposition to trimming, timidity, and unfaithfulness; and,

(2.) to denote clearness, intelligibleness, and simplicity, in opposition to obscurity, mist, and highly-wrought and laboured forms of expression. The connexion here shows that the latter is the sense in which the phrase here is to be understood. See 2 Co 3:13. It denotes openness, simplicity, freedom from the obscurity which arises from enigmatical, and parabolical, and typical modes of speaking. This stands in opposition to figure, metaphor and allegory—to an affected and laboured concealment of the idea in the manner which was common among the Jewish doctors and heathen philosophers, where their meaning was carefully concealed from the vulgar, and from all except the initiated. It stands opposed also to the necessary obscurity arising from typical institutions like those of Moses. And the doctrine of the passage is, that such is the clearness and fulness of the Christian revelation, arising from the fact that it is the last economy, and that it does not look to the future, that its ministers may and should use clear and intelligible language. They should not use language abounding in metaphor and allegory. They should not use unusual terms. They should not draw their words and illustrations from science. They should not use mere technical language. They should not attempt to vail or cloak their meaning. They should not seek a refined and overwrought style. They should use expressions which other men use; and express themselves as far as possible in the language of common life. What is preaching worth that is not understood? Why should a man talk at all, unless he is intelligible? Who was ever more plain and simple in his words and illustrations than the Lord Jesus?

{1} "plainness of speech" "boldness"


Verse 13. And not as Moses. Our conduct is not like that of Moses. We make no attempt to conceal anything in regard to the nature, design, and duration of the gospel. We leave nothing designedly in mystery.

Which put a vail over his face. That is, when he came down from Mount Sinai, and when his face shone: Ex 34:33, "And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face." This vail he put off when he went to speak with God, but put on again when he delivered his commands to the people. What was the design of this, Moses has not himself declared. The statement which he makes in Exodus would lead us to suppose that it was on account of the exceeding brightness and dazzling splendour which shone around him, and which made it difficult to look intently upon him; and that this was in part the reason, even Paul himself seems to intimate in 2 Co 3:7. He, however, in this verse intimates that there was another design, which was that he might be, as Doddridge expresses it, "a kind of type and figure of his own dispensation."

That the children of Israel. Mr. Locke understands this of the apostles, and supposes that it means, "We do not vail the light so that the obscurity of what we deliver should hinder the children of Israel from seeing in the law, which was to be done away, Christ who is the end of the law." But this interpretation is forced and unnatural. The phrase rendered "that" (prov to) evidently connects what is affirmed here with the statement about Moses; and shows that the apostle means to say that Moses put the vail on face in order that the children of Israel should not be able to see to the end of his institutions. That Moses had such a design, and that the putting on of the vail was emblematic of the nature of his institutions, Paul here distinctly affirms. No one can prove that this was not his design; and in a land and time when types, and emblems, and allegorical modes of speech were much used, it is highly probable that Moses meant to intimate that the end and full purpose of his institutions were designedly concealed.

Could not stedfastly look. Could not gaze intently upon, (atenisai.) See Barnes "2 Co 3:7".

They could not clearly discern it; there was obscurity arising from the fact of the designed concealment. He did not intend that they should clearly see the full purport and design of the institutions which he established.

To the end. eiv to telov. Unto the end, purpose, design, or ultimate result of the law which he established. A great many different interpretations have been proposed of this. The meaning seems to me to be this: There was a glory and splendour in that which the institutions of Moses typified, which the children of Israel were not permitted then to behold. There was a splendour and lustre in the face of Moses, which they could not gaze upon, and therefore he put a vail over it to diminish its intense brightness. In like manner there was a glory and splendour in the ultimate design and scope of his institutions, in that to which they referred, which they were not then able, i.e. prepared to look on, and the exceeding brightness of which he of design concealed. This was done by obscure types and figures, that resembled a vail thrown over a dazzling and splendid object. The word "end," then, I suppose, does not refer to termination, or close, but to the design, scope, or purpose of the Mosaic institutions; to that which they were intended to introduce and adumbrate. THAT END was the Messiah, and the glory of his institutions. See Barnes "Ro 10:4, "Christ is the end of the law." And the meaning of Paul, I take to be, is, that there was a splendour and a glory in the gospel which the Mosaic institutions were designed to typify, which was so great that the children of Israel were not fully prepared to see it, and that he designedly threw over that glory, the vail of obscure types and figures; as he threw over his face a vail that partially concealed its splendour. Thus interpreted there is a consistency in the entire passage, and very great beauty. Paul, in the following verses, proceeds to state that the vail to the view of the Jews of his time was not removed; that they still looked to the obscure types and institutions of the Mosaic law, rather than on the glory which they were designed to adumbrate; as if they should choose to look on the vail on the face of Moses, rather than on the splendour which it concealed.

Of that which is abolished. Or rather, to be abolished, (tou katargoumenou;) whose nature, design, and intention it was that it should be abolished. It was never designed to be permanent; and Paul speaks of it here as a thing that was known and indisputable that the Mosaic institutions were designed to be abolished.

{*} "children of Israel" "Israelites"

{a} "to the end of that" Ro 10:4


Verse 14. But their minds were blinded. The word here used (pwrow) means rather to harden; to make hard like stone; and then to make dull or stupid. It is applied to the heart, in Mr 6:52; 8:17; to persons, in Ro 11:7; and to the eyes, in Job 17:7. Paul refers here to the act that the understandings of the Jews were stupid, dull, and insensible, so that they did not see clearly the design and end of their own institutions. He states simply the fact; he does not refer to the cause of it. The fact that the Jews were thus stupid and dull is often affirmed in the New Testament.

For until this day, etc. The sense of this is, that even to the time when Paul wrote, it was a characteristic of the great mass of the Jewish people, that they did not understand the true sense of their own Scriptures. They did not understand its doctrines in regard to the Messiah. vail seems to be thrown over the Old Testament when they read it, as there was over the face of Moses, so that the glory of their own Scriptures is concealed from their view, as the glory of the face of Moses was hidden.

Of the old testament. Greek, "of the old covenant." See this Word "testament," or covenant, explained See Barnes "1 Co 11:25.

This, I believe, is the only instance in which the Scriptures of the Jews are called the "Old Testament," or covenant, in the Bible. It was, of course, not a name which they used, or would use; but it is now with Christians the common appellation. No doubt can be entertained but that Paul uses the terms in the same manner in which we now do, and refers to all the inspired writings of the Jews.

Which vail is done away in Christ. In the manifestation, or appearance of Jesus the Messiah, the vail is removed. The obscurity which rested on the prophecies and types of the former dispensation is withdrawn; and as the face of Moses could have been distinctly seen if the vail on his face had been removed, so it is in regard to the true meaning of the Old Testament by the coming of the Messiah. What was obscure is now made clear; and the prophecies are so completely fulfilled in him, that his coming has removed the covering, and shed a clear light over them all. Many of the prophecies, for example, until the Messiah actually appeared, appeared obscure, and almost contradictory. Those which spoke of him, for illustration, as man and as God; as suffering, and yet reigning; as dying, and yet as ever-living; as a mighty Prince, a Conqueror, and a King, and yet as a man of sorrows; as humble, and yet glorious: all seemed difficult to be reconciled until they were seen to harmonize in Jesus of Nazareth. Then they were plain, and the vail was taken away. Christ is seen to answer all the previous descriptions of him in the Old Testament; and his coming casts a clear light on all which was before obscure.

{a} "for until this day remaineth" Ro 11:7,8,25

{*} "which vail" "covenant"


Verse 15. But even unto this day. To the time when Paul wrote this epistle, about thirty years after Christ was put to death. But it is still as true as it was in the time of Paul; and the character and conduct of the Jews now so entirely accords with the description which he gives of them in his time, as to show that he drew from nature, and as to constitute one of the strong incidental proofs that the account in the New Testament is true. Of no other people on earth, probably, would a description be accurate eighteen hundred years after it was made.

When Moses is read. When the five books of Moses are read, as they were regularly and constantly in their synagogues. See Barnes "Lu 4:16".

The vail is upon their heart. They do not see the true meaning and beauty of their own Scriptures—a description as applicable to the Jews now as it was to those in the time of Paul.


Verse 16. Nevertheless. This is not always to continue. The time is coming when they shall understand their own Scriptures, and see their true beauty.

When it shall turn to the Lord. When the Jewish people shall be converted. The word "it" here refers undoubtedly to "Israel" in 2 Co 3:13; and the sense is, that their blindness is not always to remain; there is to be a period when they shall turn to God, and shall understand his promises, and become acquainted with the true nature of their own religion. This subject the apostle has discussed at much greater length in the eleventh chapter of the epistle to the Romans. See Notes on that chapter.

The vail shall be taken away. They shall then understand the true meaning of the prophecies, and the true nature of their own institutions. They shall see that they refer to the Lord Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, and the true Messiah. The genuine sense of their sacred oracles shall break upon their view with full and irresistible light. There may be an allusion in the language here to the declaration in Isa 25:7: "And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations." This verse teaches,

(1.) that the time will come when the Jews shall be converted to Christianity; expressed here by their turning unto the Lord, that is, the Lord Jesus. See Barnes "Ac 1:24".

(2.) It seems to be implied that their conversion will be a conversion of the people at large; a conversion that shall be nearly simultaneous; a conversion en masse. Such a conversion we have reason to anticipate of the Jewish nation.

(3.) The effect of this will be to make them acquainted with the true sense of their own Scriptures, and the light and beauty of the sayings of their own prophets. Now they are in deep darkness on the subject; then they will see how entirely they meet and harmonize in the Lord Jesus.

(4.) The true and only way of having a correct and full meaning of the Bible is by turning unto God. Love to him, and a disposition to do his will, is the best means of interpreting the Bible.

{b} "Taken away" Isa 25:7


Verse 17. Now the Lord is that Spirit. The word "Lord" here evidently refers to the Lord Jesus. 2 Co 3:16. It may be observed in general in regard to this word, that where it occurs in the New Testament, unless the connexion requires us to understand it of God, it refers to the Lord Jesus. It was the common name by which he was known. See Joh 20:13; 21:7,12; Eph 4:1,5.

The design of Paul in this verse seems to be to account for the "liberty" which he and the other apostles had, or for the boldness, openness, and plainness (2 Co 2:12) which they evinced in contradistinction from the Jews, who so little understood the nature of their institutions. He had said, (2 Co 3:6,) that he was a minister "not of the letter, but of the Spirit;" and he had stated that the Old Testament was not understood by the Jews who adhered to the literal interpretation of the Scriptures. He here says, that the Lord Jesus was "the Spirit" to which he referred, and by which he was enabled to understand the Old Testament so as to speak plainly, and without obscurity. The sense is, that Christ was the Spirit; i.e., the sum, the substance of the Old Testament. The figures, types, prophecies, etc., all centered in him, and he was the end of all those institutions. If contemplated as having reference to him, it was easy to understand them. This I take to be the sentiment of the passage, though expositors have been greatly divided in regard to its meaning. Thus explained, it does not mean absolutely and abstractly that the Lord Jesus was "a Spirit," but that he was the sum, the essence, the end, and the purport of the Mosaic rites, the spirit of which Paul had spoken in 2 Co 3:6, as contradistinguished from the letter of the law.

And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. This is a general truth designed to illustrate the particular sentiment which he had just advanced. The word "liberty" here eleuyeria refers, I think, to freedom in speaking; the power of speaking openly and freely, as in 2 Co 3:12. It states the general truth, that the effect of the Spirit of God was to give light and clearness of view; to remove obscurity from a subject, and to enable one to see it plainly. This would be a truth that could not be denied by the Jews, who held to the doctrine that the spirit of God revealed truth, and it must be admitted by all. Under the influence of that Spirit, therefore, Paul says that he was able to speak with openness and boldness; that he had a clear view of truth, which the mass of the Jews had not; and that the system of religion which he preached was open, plain, and clear. The word "freedom" would, perhaps, better convey the idea. "There is freedom from the dark and obscure views of the Jews; freedom from their prejudices, and their superstitions; freedom from the slavery and bondage of sin; the freedom of the children of God, who have clear views of him as their Father and Redeemer, and who are enabled to express those views openly and boldly to the world."

{c} "Lord is that Spirit" 1 Co 15:45

{d} "Spirit of the Lord" Ro 8:2


Verse 18. But we all. All Christians. The discussion in the chapter has related Mainly to the apostles' but this declaration seems evidently to refer to all Christians, as distinguished from the Jews.

With open face. See Barnes "1 Co 13:12".

Tindal renders this, "And now the Lord's glory appeareth in us all as in a glass. The sense is, "with unvailed face," alluding to the fact 2 Co 3:13 that the face of Moses was vailed, so that the Children of Israel could not steadfastly look on it. In contradistinction from that, Paul says that Christians are enabled to look upon the glory of the Lord in the gospel without a vail—without any obscure, intervening medium.

Beholding as in a glass. On the word glass, and the sense in which it is used in the New Testament, See Barnes "1 Co 13:12".

The word here used (katoptrizomenoi) has been very variously rendered. Macknight renders it, "We all reflecting as mirrors the glory of the Lord." Doddridge, "Beholding as by a glass." Locke, "With open countenances as mirrors, reflecting the glory of the Lord." The word katoptrizw occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly means, to look in a mirror; to behold as in a mirror. The mirrors of the ancients were made of burnished metal, and they reflected images with great brilliancy and distinctness. And the meaning is, that the gospel reflected the glory of the Lord; it was, so to speak, the mirror—the polished, burnished substance in which the glory of the Lord shone, and where that glory was irradiated and reflected so that it might be seen by Christians. There was no vail over it; no obscurity; nothing to break its dazzling splendour, or to prevent its meeting the eye. Christians, by looking on the gospel, could see the glorious perfections and plans of God, as bright, and clear, and brilliant as they could see a light reflected from the burnished surface of the mirror. So to speak, the glorious perfections of God shone from heaven, beamed upon the gospel, and were thence reflected to the eye and the heart of the Christian, and had the effect of transforming them into the same image. This passage is one of great beauty, and is designed to set forth the gospel as being the reflection of the infinite glories of God to the minds and hearts of men.

The glory of the Lord. The splendour, majesty, and holiness of God as manifested in the gospel, or of the Lord as incarnate. The idea is, that God was clearly and distinctly seen in the gospel. There was no obscurity, no vail, as in the case of Moses. In the gospel they were permitted to look on the full splendour of the Divine perfections—the justice, goodness, mercy, and benevolence of God—to see him as he is with undimmed and unvailed glory. The idea is, that the perfections of God shine forth with splendour and beauty in the gospel, and that we are permitted to look on them clearly and openly.

Are changed into the same image. It is possible that there may be an allusion here to the effect which was produced by looking into an ancient mirror. Such mirrors were made of burnished metal, and the reflection from them would be intense. If a strong light were thrown on them, the rays would be cast by reflection on the face of him who looked on the mirror, and it would be strongly illuminated. And the idea may be, that the glory of God, the splendour of the Divine perfections, was thrown on the gospel, so to speak, like a bright light on a polished mirror; and that that glory was reflected from the gospel on him who contemplated it, so that he appeared to be transformed into the same image. Locke renders it, "We are changed into his very image by a continued succession of glory, as it were, streaming upon us from the Lord." The figure is one of great beauty; and the idea is, that by placing ourselves within the light of the gospel—by contemplating the glory that shines there—we become changed into the likeness of the same glory, and conformed to that which shines there with so much splendour. By contemplating the resplendent face of the blessed Redeemer, we are changed into something of the same image. It is a law of our nature that we are moulded, in our moral feelings, by the persons with whom we associate, and by the objects which we contemplate. We become insensibly assimilated to those with whom we have intercourse, and to the objects with which we are familiar. We imbibe the opinions, we copy the habits, we imitate the manners, we fall into the customs of those with whom we have daily conversation, and whom we make our companions and friends. Their sentiments insensibly become our sentiments, and their ways our ways. It is thus with the books with which we are familiar. We are insensibly but certainly moulded into conformity to the opinions, maxims, and feelings which are there expressed. Our own sentiments undergo a gradual change, and we are likened to those with which in this manner we are conversant: So it is in regard to the opinions and feelings which from any cause we are in the habit of bringing before our minds. It is the way by which men become corrupted in their sentiments and feelings in their contact with the world; it is the way in which amusements, and the company of the gay and the dissipated, possess so much power; it is the way in which the young and inexperienced are beguiled and ruined; and it is the way in which Christians dim the lustre of their piety, and obscure the brightness of their religion, by their contact with the gay and fashionable world. And it is on the same great principle that Paul says that, by contemplating the glory of God in the gospel, we become insensibly but certainly conformed to the same image, and made like the Redeemer. His image will be reflected on us. We shall imbibe his sentiments, catch his feelings, and be moulded into the image of his own purity. Such is the great and wise law of our nature; and it is on this principle, and by this means, that God designs we should be made pure on earth, and kept pure in heaven for ever.

From glory to glory. From one degree of glory to another. "The more we behold this brilliant and glorious light, the more do rove reflect back its rays; that is, the more we contemplate the great truths of the Christian religion, the more do our minds become imbued with its spirit."—Bloomfield. This is said in contradistinction probably to Moses. The splendour on his face gradually died away. But not so with the light reflected from the gospel. It becomes deeper and brighter constantly. This sentiment is parallel to that expressed by the psalmist: "They go from strength to strength," Ps 84:7; that is, they go from one degree of strength to another, or one degree of holiness to another, until they come to the full vision of God himself in heaven. The idea in the phrase before us is, that there is a continual increase of moral purity and holiness under the gospel, until it results in the perfect glory of heaven. The doctrine is, that Christians advance in piety; and that this is done by the contemplation of the glory of God as it is revealed in the gospel.

As by the Spirit of the Lord. Marg.; "Of the Lord the Spirit." Greek, "As from the Lord the Spirit." So Beza, Locke, Wolf, Rosenmuller, and Doddridge render it. The idea is, that it is by the Lord Jesus Christ the spirit of the law, the spirit, referred to by Paul above, 2 Co 3:6,17. It is done by the Holy Spirit procured or imparted by the Lord Jesus. This sentiment is in accordance with that which prevails everywhere in the Bible, that it is by the Holy Spirit alone that the heart is changed and purified. And the object of the statement here is, doubtless, to prevent the supposition that the change from "glory to glory" was produced in any sense by the mere contemplation of truth, or by any physical operation of such contemplation on the mind. It was by the Spirit of God alone that the heart was changed even under the gospel, and amidst the full blaze of its truth. Were it not for his agency, even the contemplation of the glorious truths of the gospel would be in vain, and would produce no saving effect on the human heart.

{a} "a glass the glory" 1 Co 13:12

{b} "same image" Ro 8:29

{c} "glory to glory" Ps 84:7

{1} "by the Spirit" "of the Lord the Spirit"

REMARKS on 2nd Corinthians Chapter 3

(1.) The best of all evidences of a call to the office of the ministry is the Divine blessing resting on our labours, 2 Co 3:1,2. If sinners are converted; if souls are sanctified; if the interest, of pure religion are advanced; if by humble, zealous, and self-denying efforts a man is enabled so to preach as that the Divine blessing shall rest constantly on his labours, it is among the best of all evidences that he is called of God, and is approved by him. And though it may be true, and is true, that men who are self-deceived, or are hypocrites, are sometimes the means of doing good, yet it is still true, as a general rule, that eminent and long-continued success in the ministry is an evidence of God's acceptance, and that he has called a minister to this office. Paul felt this, and often appealed to it; and why may not others also?

(2.) A minister may appeal to the effect of the gospel among his own people as a proof that it is from God, 2 Co 3:2,3. Nothing else would produce such effects as were produced at Corinth but the power of God. If the wicked are reclaimed; if the intemperate and licentious are made temperate and pure; if the dishonest are made honest, and the scoffer learns to pray, under the gospel, it proves that it is from God. To such effects a minister may appeal as proof that the gospel which he preaches is from heaven. A system which will produce these effects must be true.

(3.) A minister should so live among a people as to be able to appeal to them with the utmost confidence in regard to the purity and integrity of his own character, 2 Co 3:1,2. He should so live, and preach, and act, that he will be under no necessity of adducing testimonials from abroad in regard to his character. The effect of his gospel, and the tenor of his life, should be his best testimonial and to that he should be able to appeal. A man who is under a necessity constantly, or often, of defending his-own character; of bolstering it up by testimonials from abroad; who is obliged to spend much of his time in defending his reputation, or who chooses to spend much of his time in defending it, has usually a character and reputation not worth defending. Let a man live as he ought to do, and he will, in the end, have a good reputation. Let him strive to do the will of God, and save souls, and he will have all the reputation which he ought to have. God will take care of his character; and will give him just as much reputation as it is desirable that he should have. See Ps 37:5,6.

(4.) The church is, as it were, an epistle sent by the Lord Jesus, to show his character and will, 2 Co 3:3. It is his representative on earth. It holds his truth. It is to imitate his example. It is to show how he lived. And it is to accomplish that which he would accomplish were he personally on earth, and present among men— as a letter is designed to accomplish some important purpose of the writer when absent. The church, therefore, should be such as shall appropriately express the will and desire of the Lord Jesus. It should resemble him. It should hold his truth; and it should devote itself with untiring diligence to the great purpose of advancing his designs, and spreading his gospel around the world.

(5.) Religion has its seat in the heart, 2 Co 3:3. It is engraven there. It is written not with ink, or engraven on stone, but it is written by the Spirit of God on the heart. That professed religion, therefore, which does not reach the heart, and which is not felt there, is false and delusive. There is no true religion which does not reach and affect the heart.

(6.) We should feel our dependence on God in all things, 2 Co 3:5. We are dependent on him,

1st, for revelation itself. Man had no power of originating the truths which constitute revelation. They are the free and pure gift of God.

2nd. For success in saving souls. God only can change the heart. It is not done by human reasoning; by any power of man; by any eloquence of persuasion. It is by the power of God; and if a minister of religion meets with any success, it will be by the presence and by the power of God alone.

3rd. We are dependent on him for the power of thought at all; for clearness of intellect; for such a state of bodily health as to permit us to think; for bright conceptions; for ability to arrange our thoughts; for the power of expressing them clearly; for such a state of mind as shall be free from vain fancies, and vagaries, and eccentricities; and for such a state as shall mark our plans as those of common sense and prudence. On such plans much of the comfort of life depends; and on such plans depends also nearly all the success which men ever meet with in any virtuous and honourable calling. And if men felt, as they should do, how much they are dependent on God for the power of clear thinking, and for the characteristics of sound sense in their schemes, they would pray for it more than they do; and would be more grateful that such a rich blessing is so extensively conferred on men.

(7.) Religion has a living power, 2 Co 3:6. It is not the letter, but the spirit. It is not made up of forms and ceremonies. It does not consist in Cold, external rites, however regular they may be; nor in formal prayer, or in stated seasons of devotion. All these will be dead and vain, unless the heart is given to God and to his service. If these are all, there is no religion. And if we have no better religion than that, we should at once abandon our hopes, and seek for that which does not kill, but which makes alive.

(8.) The office of the ministers of the gospel is glorious, and most honourable, 2 Co 3:7-9. It is far more honourable than was the office of Moses; and their work is far more glorious than was his. His consisted in giving the law on tables of stone; in the external splendour which attended its promulgation; and in introducing a system which must be soon done away. His was a ministry "of death" and of "condemnation." Theirs is a ministration by which the Holy Spirit is communicated to men—through them as channels, or organs, by which the saving grace of that Spirit is imparted, it is a work by which men are made righteous, justified, and accepted; it is a work whose effects are never to fade away, but which are to live amidst the splendours of heaven.

(9.) The responsibility and solemnity of the work of the ministry. It was a solemn and responsible work for Moses to give the law amidst the thunders of Sinai to the children of Israel. It is much more solemn to be the medium by which the eternal truths of the gospel are made known to men. The one, imposing as it was, was designed to be temporary, and was soon to pass away; the other is to be eternal in its effects, and is to enter vitally and deeply into the eternal destiny of man. The one pertained to laws written on stone; the other to influences that are deeply and for ever to affect the heart. No work can be more solemn and responsible than that through which the Holy Spirit, with renewing and sanctifying power, is conveyed to man; that which is connected with the justification of sinners; and that which in its effects is to be permanent as the soul itself, and to endure as long as God shall exist.

(10.) We see the folly of attempting to be justified by the law, 2 Co 3:7,9. It is the ministration of death and of condemnation. It speaks only to condemn. Law knows nothing of pardon. It is not given for that purpose; and no perfect law can contain within itself provisions for pardon. Besides, no one has ever complied with all the demands of the law; no one ever will. All have sinned. But if ALL the demands of the law be not complied with, it speaks only to condemn, Jas 2:10. If a man in other respects has been ever so good a citizen, and yet has committed murder, he must die. So says the law. If a man has been ever so valiant, and fought ever so bravely, and yet is guilty of an act of treason, he must die. The question is not what he has been in other respects, or what else he may or may not have done, but has he committed this offence? If he has, the law knows no forgiveness, and pronounces his condemnation. If pardoned, it must be by some other system than by the regular operation of law. So with the sinner against God. If the law is violated, it speaks only to condemn. If he is pardoned, it can be only by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

(11.) The danger of grieving the Holy Spirit, 2 Co 3:8. The gospel is the field of the operations of the Holy Spirit in our world. It is the ministration of the Spirit. It is the channel by which his influences descend on man. To reject that gospel is to reject him, and to cut off the soul from all possibility of being brought under his saving influence and power for ever. He strives with men only in

connexion with the gospel; and all hope, therefore, of being brought under his saving power, is in attending to that gospel, and embracing its provisions. The multitudes, therefore, who are rejecting or neglecting that gospel, are throwing themselves beyond his saving influences, and placing themselves beyond the possibility of salvation,

(12.) We see the guilt of neglecting or rejecting the gospel. It is the scheme, and the only scheme, for pardon, 2 Co 3:8-10. It is a far more glorious manifestation of the goodness of God than the law of Moses. It is the glorious and benevolent manifestation of God, through the incarnation, the sufferings, and the death of his Son. It is the ONLY plan of pardoning mercy that has been or that will be revealed. If men are not pardoned through that, they are not pardoned at all. If they are not saved by that, they must die for ever. What guilt is there, therefore, in neglecting and despising it! What folly is there in turning away from its provisions of mercy, and neglecting to secure an interest in what it provides!

(13.) The gospel is to spread around the world, and endure to the end of time, 2 Co 3:11. It is not like the institutions of Moses, to endure for a limited period, and then to be done away. The cloud and tempest, the thunder and lightning on Mount Sinai, which attended the giving of the law, soon disappeared. The unusual and unnatural splendour on the countenance of Moses soon vanished away. All the magnificence of the Mosaic ritual also soon faded away. But not so the gospel. That abides. That is the last dispensation; the permanent economy; that under which the affairs of the world are to be brought to an end. That is to pervade all lands; to bless all people; to survive all revolutions; to outlive all the magnificence of courts, and all the splendour of mighty dynasties, and is to endure till this world shall come to an end, and live in its glorious effects for ever and ever. It is, therefore, to be the fixed principle, on which all Christians are to act, that the gospel is to be permanent, and is to spread over all lands, and yet fill all nations with joy. And if so, how fervent and unceasing should be their prayers and efforts to accomplish this great and glorious result!

(14.) We learn from this chapter the duty of preaching in a plain, simple, intelligible manner, 2 Co 3:12. Preaching should always be characterized indeed by good sense, and ministers should show that they are not fools, and their preaching should be such as to interest thinking men—for there is no folly or nonsense in the Bible. But their preaching should not be obscure, metaphysical, enigmatical, and abstruse. It should be so simple that the unlettered may learn the plan of salvation; so plain that no one shall mistake it except by his own fault. The hopes of the gospel are so clear that there is no need of ambiguity or enigma; no need of abstruse metaphysical reasoning in the pulpit. Nor should there be an attempt to appear wise or profound, by studying a dry, abstruse, and cold style and manner. The preacher should be open, plain, simple, sincere; he should testify what he feels; should be able to speak as himself animated by hope, and to tell of a world of glory to which he is himself looking forward with unspeakable joy.

(15.) It is the privilege of the Christian to look on the unvailed and unclouded glory of the gospel, 2 Co 3:12,13. He does not look at it through types and shadows. He does not contemplate it when a vail of obscurity is drawn designedly over it. He sees it in its true beauty and splendour. The Messiah has come, and he may contemplate openly and plainly his glory, and the grandeur of his work. The Jews looked upon it in the light of prophecy; to us it is history. They saw it only through obscure shadows, types, and figures; we see it in open day, may survey at leisure its full beauty, and contemplate in the fulness of its splendour the gospel of the blessed God. For this we cannot be too thankful; nor can we be too anxious lest we undervalue our privileges, and abuse the mercies that we enjoy.

(16.) In reading the Old Testament, we see the importance of suffering the rejected light of the New Testament to be thrown upon it, in order correctly to understand it, 2 Co 3:13,14. It is our privilege to know what the institutions of Moses meant; to see the and which he contemplated. And it is our privilege to see what they referred to, and how they prefigured the Messiah and his gospel. In reading the Old Testament, therefore, there is no reason why we should not take with us the knowledge which we have derived from the New, respecting the character, work, and doctrines of the Messiah; and to suffer them to influence our understanding of the laws and institutions of Moses. Thus shall we treat the Bible as a whole, and allow one part to throw light on another—a privilege which we always concede to any book, There is no reason why Christians in reading the Old Testament should remain in the same darkness as the ancient or the modern Jews.

(17.) Thus read, the Old Testament will be to us of inestimable value, 2 Co 3:14. It is of value not only as introducing the gospel; as furnishing predictions whose fulfillment are full demonstration of the truth of religion; as containing specimens of the sublimest and purest poetry in the world; but it is of value as embodying, though amidst many types and shadows and much obscurity, all the great doctrines of the true religion. Though to the Jews, and to the world, there is a vail cast over it, yet to the Christian there is a beauty and splendour on all its pages—for the coming of Christ has removed that vail, and the sense of those ancient writings is now fully seen. True piety will value the Old Testament, and will find there, in the sweetest poetry in the world, the expression of feelings which the religion of the Messiah only can produce; and pure and elevated thoughts which could have been originated by nothing but his anticipated coming. It is no mark of piety or of wisdom to disparage the Jewish Scriptures. But the higher the attainments in Christian feeling, the more will the writings of Moses and the prophets be loved.

(18.) Men may have the Bible, and may read it long, and much, and yet not understand it, 2 Co 3:15. So it was, and is, with the Jews. The Scriptures were attentively read by them, and yet they did not understand them. So it is still. There is a vail on their heart, and they are blinded. So it is often now with others. Men often read the Bible, and see little beauty in it. They read, and they do not understand it. The reason is, the heart is not right. There should be a correspondence of feeling between the heart and the Bible, or a congeniality of view in order to appreciate its value and its truth. No man can understand or appreciate Milton or Cowper who has not a taste like theirs. No man can understand and appreciate a a poem or an essay on patriotism, who is not a lover of his country; or on chastity, who is impure; or on temperance, who is intemperate; or on virtue in general, who is a stranger to virtue in every form. And so in reading the Bible. To appreciate and understand fully the writings of David, Isaiah, Paul, or John, we must have their feelings; our hearts must glow with their love to God and the Redeemer; we must feel as they did the guilt and burden of sin; and we must rejoice as they did in the hope of deliverance, and in the prospect of heaven. Till men have these feelings, they are not to wonder that the Bible is to them a dead letter, or a sealed book, and that they do not understand it, or see any beauty in its pages.

(19.) This chapter furnishes an argument for the fidelity and truth of the statement of Paul, 2 Co 3:15. The argument is, that his description is as applicable to the Jews now as it was in his own time—and that, therefore, it must have been drawn from nature. The same vail is on their hearts now as in his time; there is the same blindness arid darkness in regard to the true meaning of their Scriptures. The language of Paul will accurately express that blindness now; and his description, therefore, is not drawn from fancy, but from fact. It is true now in regard to that singular people, and it was true in his own time; and the lapse of eighteen hundred years has only served to confirm the truth of his description in regard to the people of his own nation and time.

(20.) That vail is to be removed only by their turning to God, 2 Co 3:16. It is only by true conversion that the mind can be brought to a full and clear understanding of the Scriptures; and that event will yet take place in regard to the Jews. They shall yet be converted to the Messiah whom their fathers slew, and whom they have So long rejected; and when that event shall occur, they shall see the beauty of their own Scriptures, and rejoice in the promises and glorious hopes which they hold out to the view.

(21.) The duty of meditating much on the glory of the gospel, 2 Co 3:18. It is by that we are purified. It is by keeping it constantly before the mind; dwelling on its splendour; thinking of its glorious truths, that we become transformed into the same image, and made like God. If the character is formed by the objects which we contemplate, and with which we are familiar; if we are insensibly moulded in our feelings and principles by that with which we constantly associate, then we should think much of the truths of the gospel. We should pray much—for thus we come in contact with God and his truth. We should read the Scripture much. We should commune with the good and the pure. We should make our companions of those who most love the Lord Jesus, and most decidedly bear his image. We should think much of a pure heaven. Thus shall we be moulded, insensibly it may be, but certainly, into the image of a holy God and Saviour, and be prepared for a pure and holy heaven.

Subscribe to RPM
RPM subscribers receive an email notification each time a new issue is published. Notifications include the title, author, and description of each article in the issue, as well as links directly to the articles. Like RPM itself, subscriptions are free. Click here to subscribe.