Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII

In this epistle, written from Macedonia, within a year after the former, St. Paul beautifully displays his tender affection toward the Corinthians, who were greatly moved by the seasonable severity of the former, and repeats several of the admonitions he had there given them. In that he had written concerning the affairs of the Corinthians: in this he writes chiefly concerning his own; but in such a manner as to direct all he mentions of himself to their spiritual profit. The thread and connexion of the whole epistle is historical: other things are interwoven only by way of digression.

It contains,

 1.The inscription,.................................... C.i. 1, 2
 II.The treatise itself.
   1. In Asia I was greatly pressed; but God comforted me;
      as I acted uprightly; even in this, that I have not
      yet come to you; who ought to obey me,................... 3
                                                          Cii. 11
   2. From Troas I hastened to Macedonia, spreading the
      gospel everywhere, the glorious charge of which I
      execute, according to its importance,................... 12
                                                          Cvii. 1
   3. In Macedonia I received a joyful message
      concerning you,....................................... 2-16
   4. In this journey I had a proof of the liberality of
      the Macedonians, whose example ye ought to follow,
   5. I am now on my way to you, armed with the power of
      Christ.  Therefore obey,................... C.x 1-C.xiii.10
     The conclusion........................................ 11-13

Chapter I

1 Timotheus our brother - St. Paul writing to Timotheus styled him his son; writing of him, his brother.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ - A solemn and beautiful introduction, highly suitable to the apostolical spirit. The Father of mercies, and God of all comfort - Mercies are the fountain of comfort; comfort is the outward expression of mercy. God shows mercy in the affliction itself. He gives comfort both in and after the affliction. Therefore is he termed, the God of all comfort. Blessed be this God!
4 Who comforteth us in all our affliction, that we may be able to comfort them who are in any affliction - He that has experienced one kind of affliction is able to comfort others in that affliction. He that has experienced all kinds of affliction is able to comfort them in all.
5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us - The sufferings endured on his account. So our comfort also aboundeth through Christ - The sufferings were many, the comfort one; and yet not only equal to, but overbalancing, them all.
6 And whether we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation - For your present comfort, your present and future salvation. Or whether we are comforted, it is for your comfort - That we may be the better able to comfort you. Which is effectual in the patient enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer - Through the efficacy of which you patiently endure the same kind of sufferings with us.
7 And our hope concerning you - Grounded on your patience in suffering for Christ's sake, is steadfast.
8 We would not have you ignorant, brethren, of the trouble which befell us in Asia - Probably the same which is described in the nineteenth chapter of the Acts. Acts 19:1 The Corinthians knew before that he had been in trouble: he now declares the greatness and the fruit of it. We were exceedingly pressed, above our strength - Above the ordinary strength even of an apostle.
9 Yea, we had the sentence of death in ourselves - We ourselves expected nothing but death.
10 We trust that he will still deliver - That we may at length be able to come to you.
11 You likewise - As well as other churches. Helping with us by prayer, that for the gift - Namely, my deliverance. Bestowed upon us by means of many persons - Praying for it, thanks may be given by many.
12 For I am the more emboldened to look for this, because I am conscious of my integrity; seeing this is our rejoicing - Even in the deepest adversity. The testimony of our conscience - Whatever others think of us. That in simplicity - Having one end in view, aiming singly at the glory of God. And godly sincerity - Without any tincture of guile, dissimulation, or disguise. Not with carnal wisdom, but by the grace of God - Not by natural, but divine, wisdom. We have had our conversation in the world - In the whole world; in every circumstance.
14 Ye have acknowledged us in part - Though not so fully as ye will do. That we are you rejoicing - That ye rejoice in having known us. As ye also are ours - As we also rejoice in the success of our labours among you; and we trust shall rejoice therein in the day of the Lord Jesus.
15 In this confidence - That is, being confident of this.
17 Did I use levity - Did I lightly change my purpose? Do I purpose according to the flesh - Are my purposes grounded on carnal or worldly considerations? So that there should be with me yea and nay - Sometimes one, sometimes the other; that is, variableness and inconstancy.
18 Our word to you - The whole tenor of our doctrine. Hath not been yea and nay - Wavering and uncertain.
19 For Jesus Christ, who was preached by us - That is, our preaching concerning him. Was not yea and nay - Was not variable and inconsistent with itself. But was yea in him - Always one and the same, centering in him.
20 For all the promises of God are yea and amen in him - Are surely established in and through him. They are yea with respect to God promising; amen, with respect to men believing; yea, with respect to the apostles; amen, with respect to their hearers.
21 I say, to the glory of God - For it is God alone that is able to fulfil these promises. That establisheth us - Apostles and teachers. With you - All true believers. In the faith of Christ; and hath anointed us - With the oil of gladness, with joy in the Holy Ghost, thereby giving us strength both to do and suffer his will.
22 Who also hath sealed us - Stamping his image on our hearts, thus marking and sealing us as his own property. And given us the earnest of his Spirit - There is a difference between an earnest and a pledge. A pledge is to be restored when the debt is paid; but an earnest is not taken away, but completed. Such an earnest is the Spirit. The first fruits of it we have Rom 8:23; and we wait for all the fulness.
23 I call God for a record upon my soul - Was not St. Paul now speaking by the Spirit? And can a more solemn oath be conceived? Who then can imagine that Christ ever designed to forbid all swearing? That to spare you I came not yet to Corinth - Lest I should be obliged to use severity. He says elegantly to Corinth, not to you, when be is intimating his power to punish.
24 Not that we have dominion over your faith - This is the prerogative of God alone. But are helpers of your joy - And faith from which it springs. For by faith ye have stood - To this day. We see the light in which ministers should always consider themselves, and in which they are to be considered by others. Not as having dominion over the faith of their people, and having a right to dictate by their own authority what they shall believe, or what they shall do; but as helpers of their joy, by helping them forward in faith and holiness. In this view, how amiable does their office appear! and how friendly to the happiness of mankind! How far, then, are they from true benevolence, who would expose it to ridicule and contempt!

Chapter II

1 In grief - Either on account of the particular offender, or of the church in general.
2 For if I grieve you, who is he that cheereth me, but he that is grieved by me - That is, I cannot be comforted myself till his grief is removed.
3 And I wrote thus to you - I wrote to you before in this determination, not to come to you in grief.
4 From much anguish I wrote to you, not so much that ye might be grieved, as that ye might know by my faithful admonition my abundant love toward you.
5 He hath grieved me but in part - Who still rejoice over the greater part of you. Otherwise I might burden you all.
6 Sufficient for such an one - With what a remarkable tenderness does St. Paul treat this offender! He never once mentions his name. Nor does he here so much as mention his crime. By many - Not only by the rulers of the church: the whole congregation acquiesced in the sentence.
10 To whom ye forgive - He makes no question of their complying with his direction. Anything - So mildly does he speak even of that heinous sin, after it was repented of. In the person of Christ - By the authority wherewith he has invested me.
11 Lest Satan - To whom he had been delivered, and who sought to destroy not only his flesh, but his soul also. Get an advantage over us - For the loss of one soul is a common loss.
12 Now when I came to Troas - It seems, in that passage from Asia to Macedonia, of which a short account is given, Acts 20:1,2. Even though a door was opened to me - That is, there was free liberty to speak, and many were willing to hear: yet,
13 I had no rest in my spirit - From an earnest desire to know how my letter had been received. Because I did not find Titus - In his return from you. So I went forth into Macedonia - Where being much nearer, I might more easily be informed concerning you. The apostle resumes the thread of his discourse, 2Cor 7:2, interposing an admirable digression concerning what he had done and suffered elsewhere, the profit of which he by this means derives to the Corinthians also; and as a prelude to his apology against the false apostles.
14 To triumph, implies not only victory, but an open manifestation of it. And as in triumphal processions, especially in the east, incense and perfumes were burned near the conqueror, the apostle beautifully alludes to this circumstance in the following verse: as likewise to the different effects which strong perfumes have upon different persons; some of whom they revive, while they throw others into the most violent disorders.
15 For we - The preachers of the gospel. Are to God a sweet odour of Christ - God is well - pleased with this perfume diffused by us, both in them that believe and are saved, treated of, 2Cor 3:1; 2Cor 4:2; and in them that obstinately disbelieve and, consequently, perish, treated of, 2Cor 4:3 - 6.
16 And who is sufficient for these things - No man living, but by the power of God's Spirit.
17 For we are not as many, who adulterate the word of God - Like those vintners (so the Greek word implies) who mix their wines with baser liquors. But as of sincerity - Without any mixture. But as from God - This rises higher still; transmitting his pure word, not our own. In the sight of God - Whom we regard as always present, and noting every word of our tongue. Speak we - The tongue is ours, but the power is God's. In Christ - Words which he gives, approves, and blesses.

Chapter III

1 Do we begin again to recommend ourselves - Is it needful? Have I nothing but my own word to recommend me? St. Paul chiefly here intends himself; though not excluding Timotheus, Titus, and Silvanus. Unless we need - As if he had said, Do I indeed want such recommendation?
2 Ye are our recommendatory letter - More convincing than bare words could be. Written on our hearts - Deeply engraven there, and plainly legible to all around us.
3 Manifestly declared to be the letter of Christ - Which he has formed and published to the world. Ministered by us - Whom he has used herein as his instruments, therefore ye are our letter also. Written not in tables of stone - Like the ten commandments. But in the tender, living tables of their hearts - God having taken away the hearts of stone and given them hearts of flesh.
4 Such trust have we in God - That is, we trust in God that this is so.
5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves - So much as to think one good thought; much less, to convert sinners.
6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new covenant - Of the new, evangelical dispensation. Not of the law, fitly called the letter, from God's literally writing it on the two tables. But of the Spirit - Of the gospel dispensation, which is written on the tables of our hearts by the Spirit. For the letter - The law, the Mosaic dispensation. Killeth - Seals in death those who still cleave to it. But the Spirit - The gospel, conveying the Spirit to those who receive it. Giveth life - Both spiritual and eternal: yea, if we adhere to the literal sense even of the moral law, if we regard only the precept and the sanction as they stand in themselves, not as they lead us to Christ, they are doubtless a killing ordinance, and bind us down under the sentence of death.
7 And if the ministration of death - That is, the Mosaic dispensation, which proves such to those who prefer it to the gospel, the most considerable part of which was engraven on those two stones, was attended with so great glory.
8 The ministration of the Spirit - That is, the Christian dispensation.
9 The ministration of condemnation - Such the Mosaic dispensation proved to all the Jews who rejected the gospel whereas through the gospel (hence called the ministration of righteousness) God both imputed and imparted righteousness to all believers. But how can the moral law (which alone was engraven on stone) be the ministration of condemnation, if it requires no more than a sincere obedience, such as is proportioned to our infirm state? If this is sufficient to justify us, then the law ceases to be a ministration of condemnation. It becomes (flatly contrary to the apostle's doctrine) the ministration of righteousness.
10 It hath no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excelleth - That is, none in comparison of this more excellent glory. The greater light swallows up the less.
11 That which remaineth - That dispensation which remains to the end of the world; that spirit and life which remain for ever.
12 Having therefore this hope - Being fully persuaded of this.
13 And we do not act as Moses did, who put a veil over his face - Which is to be understood with regard to his writings also. So that the children of Israel could not look steadfastly to the end of that dispensation which is now abolished - The end of this was Christ. The whole Mosaic dispensation tended to, and terminated in, him; but the Israelites had only a dim, wavering sight of him, of whom Moses spake in an obscure, covert manner.
14 The same veil remaineth on their understanding unremoved - Not so much as folded back, (so the word implies,) so as to admit a little, glimmering light. On the public reading of the Old Testament - The veil is not now on the face of Moses or of his writings, but on the reading of them, and on the heart of them that believe not. Which is taken away in Christ - That is, from the heart of them that truly believe on him.
16 When it - Their heart. Shall turn to the Lord - To Christ, by living faith. The veil is taken away - That very moment; and they see, with the utmost clearness, how all the types and prophecies of the law are fully accomplished in him.
17 Now the Lord - Christ is that Spirit of the law whereof I speak, to which the letter was intended to lead. And where the Spirit of the Lord, Christ, is, there is liberty - Not the veil, the emblem of slavery. There is liberty from servile fear, liberty from the guilt and from the power of sin, liberty to behold with open face the glory of the Lord.
18 And, accordingly, all we that believe in him, beholding as in a glass - In the mirror of the gospel. The glory of the Lord - His glorious love. Are transformed into the same image - Into the same love. From one degree of this glory to another, in a manner worthy of his almighty Spirit. What a beautiful contrast is here! Moses saw the glory of the Lord, and it rendered his face so bright, that he covered it with a veil; Israel not being able to bear the reflected light. We behold his glory in the glass of his word, and our faces shine too; yet we veil them not, but diffuse the lustre which is continually increasing, as we fix the eye of our mind more and more steadfastly on his glory displayed in the gospel.

Chapter IV

1 Therefore having this ministry - Spoken of, 2Cor 3:6. As we have received mercy - Have been mercifully supported in all our trials. We faint not - We desist not in any degree from our glorious enterprise.
2 But have renounced - Set at open defiance. The hidden things of shame - All things which men need to hide, or to be ashamed of. Not walking in craftiness - Using no disguise, subtlety, guile. Nor privily corrupting the pure word of God - By any additions or alterations, or by attempting to accommodate it to the taste of the hearers.
3 But if our gospel also - As well as the law of Moses.
4 The God of this world - What a sublime and horrible description of Satan! He is indeed the god of all that believe not, and works in them with inconceivable energy. Hath blinded - Not only veiled, the eye of their understanding. Illumination - Is properly the reflection or propagation of light, from those who are already enlightened, to others. Who is the image of God - Hence also we may understand how great is the glory of Christ. He that sees the Son, sees the Father in the face of Christ. The Son exactly exhibits the Father to us.
5 For - The fault is not in us, neither in the doctrine they hear from us. We preach not ourselves - As able either to enlighten, or pardon, or sanctify you. But Jesus Christ - As your only wisdom, righteousness, sanctification. And ourselves your servants - Ready to do the meanest offices. For Jesus' sake - Not for honour, interest, or pleasure.
6 For God hath shined in our hearts - The hearts of all those whom the god of this world no longer blinds. God who is himself our light; not only the author of light, but also the fountain of it. To enlighten us with the knowledge of the glory of God - Of his glorious love, and of his glorious image. In the face of Jesus Christ - Which reflects his glory in another manner than the face of Moses did.
7 But we - Not only the apostles, but all true believers. Have this treasure - Of divine light, love, glory. In earthen vessels - In frail, feeble, perishing bodies. He proceeds to show, that afflictions, yea, death itself, are so far from hindering the ministration of the Spirit, that they even further it, sharpen the ministers, and increase the fruit. That the excellence of the power, which works these in us, may undeniably appear to be of God.
8 We are troubled, &c. - The four articles in this verse respect inward, the four in the next outward, afflictions. In each clause the former part shows the "earthen vessels;" the latter, "the excellence of the power." Not crushed - Not swallowed up in care and anxiety. Perplexed - What course to take, but never despairing of his power and love to carry us through.
10 Always - Wherever we go. Bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus - Continually expecting to lay down our lives like him. That the life also of Jesus might be manifested in our body - That we may also rise and be glorified like him.
11 For we who yet live - Who are not yet killed for the testimony of Jesus. Are always delivered unto death - Are perpetually in the very jaws of destruction; which we willingly submit to, that we may "obtain a better resurrection."
12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you - You live in peace; we die daily. Yet - Living or dying, so long as we believe, we cannot but speak.
13 Having the same spirit of faith - Which animated the saints of old; David, in particular, when he said, I believed, and therefore have I spoken - That is, I trusted in God, and therefore he hath put this song of praise in my mouth. We also speak - We preach the gospel, even in the midst of affliction and death, because we believe that God will raise us up from the dead, and will present us, ministers, with you, all his members, "faultless before his presence with exceeding joy." Psalm 116:10.
15 For all things - Whether adverse or prosperous. Are for your sakes - For the profit of all that believe, as well as all that preach. That the overflowing grace - Which continues you alive both in soul and body. Might abound yet more through the thanksgiving of many - For thanksgiving invites more: abundant grace.
16 Therefore - Because of this grace, we faint not. The outward man - The body. The inward man - The soul.
17 Our light affliction - The beauty and sublimity of St. Paul's expressions here, as descriptive of heavenly glory, opposed to temporal afflictions, surpass all imagination, and cannot be preserved in any translation or paraphrase, which after all must sink infinitely below the astonishing original.
18 The things that are seen - Men, money, things of earth. The things that are not seen - God, grace, heaven.

Chapter V

1 Our earthly house - Which is only a tabernacle, or tent, not designed for a lasting habitation.
2 Desiring to be clothed upon - This body, which is now covered with flesh and blood, with the glorious house which is from heaven. Instead of flesh and blood, which cannot enter heaven, the rising body will be clothed or covered with what is analogous thereto, but incorruptible and immortal. Macarius speaks largely of this.
3 If being clothed - That is, with the image of God, while we are in the body. We shall not be found naked - Of the wedding garment.
4 We groan being burdened - The apostle speaks with exact propriety. A burden naturally expresses groans. And we are here burdened with numberless afflictions, infirmities, temptations. Not that we would be unclothed - Not that we desire to remain without a body. Faith does not understand that philosophical contempt of what the wise Creator has given. But clothed upon - With the glorious, immortal, incorruptible, spiritual body. That what is mortal - This present mortal body. May be swallowed up of life - Covered with that which lives for ever.
5 Now he that hath wrought us to this very thing - This longing for immortality. Is God - For none but God, none less than the Almighty, could have wrought this in us.
6 Therefore we behave undauntedly - But most of all when we have death in view; knowing that our greatest happiness lies beyond the grave.
7 For we cannot clearly see him in this life, wherein we walk by faith only: an evidence, indeed, that necessarily implies a kind of "seeing him who is invisible;" yet as far beneath what we shall have in eternity, as it is above that of bare, unassisted reason.
8 Present with the Lord - This demonstrates that the happiness of the saints is not deferred till the resurrection.
9 Therefore we are ambitious - The only ambition which has place in a Christian. Whether present - In the body. Or absent - From it.
10 For we all - Apostles as well as other men, whether now present in the body, or absent from it. Must appear - Openly, without covering, where all hidden things will be revealed; probably the sins, even of the faithful, which were forgiven long before. For many of their good works, as their repentance, their revenge against sin, cannot other wise appear. But this will be done at their own desire, without grief, and without shame. According to what he hath done in the body, whether good or evil - In the body he did either good or evil; in the body he is recompensed accordingly.
11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we the more earnestly persuade men to seek his favour; and as God knoweth this, so, I trust, ye know it in your own consciences.
12 We do not say this, as if we thought there was any need of again recommending ourselves to you, but to give you an occasion of rejoicing and praising God, and to furnish you with an answer to those false apostles who glory in appearance, but not in heart, being condemned by their own conscience.
13 For if we are transported beyond ourselves - Or at least, appear so to others, treated of, 2Cor 5:15 - 21, speaking or writing with uncommon vehemence. It is to God - He understands (if men do not) the emotion which himself inspires. If we be sober - Treated of, 2Cor 6:1 - 10. If I proceed in a more calm, sedate manner. It is for your sakes - Even good men bear this, rather than the other method, in their teachers. But these must obey God, whoever is offended by it.
14 For the love of Christ - To us, and our love to him. Constraineth us - Both to the one and the other; beareth us on with such a strong, steady, prevailing influence, as winds and tides exert when they waft the vessel to its destined harbour. While we thus judge, that if Christ died for all, then are all, even the best of men, naturally dead - In a state of spiritual death, and liable to death eternal. For had any man been otherwise, Christ had not needed to have died for him.
15 And that he died for all - That all might be saved. That they who live - That all who live upon the earth. Should not henceforth - From the moment they know him. Live unto themselves - Seek their own honour, profit, pleasure. But unto him - In all righteousness and true holiness.
16 So that we from this time - That we knew the love of Christ. Know no one - Neither ourselves, nor you, neither the rest of the apostles, Gal 2:6, nor any other person. After the flesh - According to his former state, country, descent, nobility, riches, power, wisdom. We fear not the great. We regard not the rich or wise. We account not the least less than ourselves. We consider all, only in order to save all. Who is he that thus knows no one after the flesh? ln what land do these Christians live? Yea, if we have known even Christ after the flesh - So as to love him barely with a natural love, so as to glory in having conversed with him on earth, so as to expect only temporal benefits from him.
17 Therefore if any one be in Christ - A true believer in him. There is a new creation - Only the power that makes a world can make a Christian. And when he is so created, the old things are passed away - Of their own accord, even as snow in spring. Behold - The present, visible, undeniable change! All things are become new - He has new life, new senses, new faculties, new affections, new appetites, new ideas and conceptions. His whole tenor of action and conversation is new, and he lives, as it were, in a new world. God, men, the whole creation, heaven, earth, and all therein, appear in a new light, and stand related to him in a new manner, since he was created anew in Christ Jesus.
18 And all these new things are from God, considered under this very notion, as reconciling us - The world, 2Co 5:19, to himself.
19 Namely - The sum of which is, God - The whole Godhead, but more eminently God the Father. Was in Christ, reconciling the world - Which was before at enmity with God. To himself - So taking away that enmity, which could no otherwise be removed than by the blood of the Son of God.
20 Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ - we beseech you in Christ's stead - Herein the apostle might appear to some "transported beyond himself." In general he uses a more calm, sedate kind of exhortation, as in the beginning of the next chapter. What unparalleled condescension and divinely tender mercies are displayed in this verse! Did the judge ever beseech a condemned criminal to accept of pardon? Does the creditor ever beseech a ruined debtor to receive an acquittance in full? Yet our almighty Lord, and our eternal Judge, not only vouchsafes to offer these blessings, but invites us, entreats us, and, with the most tender importunity, solicits us, not to reject them.
21 He made him a sin offering, who knew no sin - A commendation peculiar to Christ. For us - Who knew no righteousness, who were inwardly and outwardly nothing but sin; who must have been consumed by the divine justice, had not this atonement been made for our sins. That we might be made the righteousness of God through him - Might through him be invested wi th that righteousness, first imputed to us, then implanted in us, which is in every sense the righteousness of God.

Chapter VI

1 We then not only beseech, but as fellow - labourers with you, who are working out your own salvation, do also exhort you, not to receive the grace of God - Which we have been now describing. In vain - We receive it by faith; and not in vain, if we add to this, persevering holiness.
2 For he saith - The sense is, As of old there was a particular time wherein God was pleased to pour out his peculiar blessing, so there is now. And this is the particular time: this is a time of peculiar blessing. Isaiah 49:8.
3 Giving, as far as in us lies, no offence, that the ministry be not blamed on our account.
4 But approving ourselves as the ministers of God - Such as his ministers ought to be. In much patience - Shown,
  1. In afflictions, necessities, distresses - All which are general terms.
  2. In stripes, imprisonments, tumults - Which are particular sorts of affliction, necessity, distress
  3. In labours, watchings, fastings - Voluntarily endured.
All these are expressed in the plural number, to denote a variety of them. In afflictions, several ways to escape may appear, though none without difficulty in necessities, one only, and that a difficult one; in distresses, none at all appears.
5 In tumults - The Greek word implies such attacks as a man cannot stand against, but which bear him hither and thither by violence.
6 By prudence - Spiritual divine; not what the world terms so. Worldly prudence is the practical use of worldly wisdom: divine prudence is the due exercise of grace, making spiritual understanding go as far as possible. By love unfeigned - The chief fruit of the Spirit.
7 By the convincing and converting power of God - Accompanying his word; and also attesting it by divers miracles. By the armour of righteousness on the right hand and the left - That is, on all sides; the panoply or whole armour of God.
8 By honour and dishonour - When we are present. By evil report and good report - When we are absent. Who could bear honour and good report, were it not balanced by dishonour? As deceivers - Artful, designing men. So the world represents all true ministers of Christ. Yet true - Upright, sincere, in the sight of God.
9 As unknown - For the world knoweth us not, as it knew him not. Yet well known - To God, and to those who are the seals of our ministry. As dying, yet behold - Suddenly, unexpectedly, God interposes, and we live.
10 As sorrowing - For our own manifold imperfections, and for the sins and sufferings of our brethren. Yet always rejoicing - In present peace, love, power, and a sure hope of future glory. As having nothing, yet possessing all things - For all things are ours, if we are Christ's. What a magnificence of thought is this!
11 From the praise of the Christian ministry, which he began 2Cor 2:14, he now draws his affectionate exhortation. O ye Corinthians - He seldom uses this appellation. But it has here a peculiar force. Our mouth is opened toward you - With uncommon freedom, because our heart is enlarged - In tenderness.
12 Ye are not straitened in us - Our heart is wide enough to receive you all. But ye are straitened in your own bowels - Your hearts are shut up, and so not capable of the blessings ye might enjoy.
13 Now for a recompence of the same - Of my parental tenderness. I speak as to my children - I ask nothing hard or grievous. Be ye also enlarged - Open your hearts, first to God, and then to us, so 2Cor 8:5, that God may "dwell in you," 2Cor 6:16; 7:1; and that ye may "receive us," 2Cor 7:2.
14 Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers - Christians with Jews or heathens. The apostle particularly speaks of marriage. But the reasons he urges equally hold against any needless intimacy with them. Of the five questions that follow, the three former contain the argument; the two latter, the conclusion.
15 What concord hath Christ - Whom ye serve. With Belial - To whom they belong.
16 What agreement hath the temple of God with idols - If God would not endure idols in any part of the land wherein he dwelt, how much less, under his own roof! He does not say, with the temple of idols, for idols do not dwell in their worshippers. As God hath said - To his ancient church, and in them to all the Israel of God. I will dwell in them, and walk in them - The former signifying his perpetual presence; the latter, his operation. And I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people - The sum of the whole gospel covenant. Lev 26:11, &c.
17 Touch not the unclean person - Keep at the utmost distance from him. And I will receive you - Into my house and family. Isaiah 52:11; Zeph 3:19,20.
18 And ye shall be to me for sons and for daughters, saith the Lord Almighty - The promise made to Solomon, 1Chr 28:6, is here applied to all believers; as the promise made particularly to Joshua is applied to them, Heb 13:5. Who can express the worth, who can conceive the dignity, of this divine adoption? Yet it belongs to all who believe the gospel, who have faith in Christ. They have access to the Almighty; such free and welcome access, as a beloved child to an indulgent father. To him they may fly for aid in every difficulty, and from him obtain a supply in all their wants. Isaiah 43:6.

Chapter VII

1 Let us cleanse ourselves - This is the latter part of the exhortation, which was proposed, 2Cor 6:1, and resumed, 2Cor 6:14. From all pollution of the flesh - All outward sin. And of the spirit - All inward. Yet let us not rest in negative religion, but perfect holiness - Carrying it to the height in all its branches, and enduring to the end in the loving fear of God, the sure foundation of all holiness.
2 Receive us - The sum of what is said in this, as well as in the tenth and following chapters. We have hurt no man - In his person. We have corrupted no man - In his principles. We have defrauded no man - Of his property. In this he intimates likewise the good he had done them, but with the utmost modesty, as it were not looking upon it.
3 I speak not to condemn you - Not as if I accused you of laying this to my charge. I am so far from thinking so unkindly of you, that ye are in our hearts, to live and die with you - That is, I could rejoice to spend all my days with you.
4 I am filled with comfort - Of this he treats, 2Co 7:6, &c.; of his joy, 2Co 7:7, &c.; of both, 2Co 7:13.
5 Our flesh - That is, we ourselves. Had no rest from without - From the heathens. Were fightings - Furious and cruel oppositions. From within - From our brethren. Were fears - Lest they should be seduced.
7 Your earnest desire - To rectify what had been amiss. Your grief - For what had offended God, and troubled me.
8 I did repent - That is, I felt a tender sorrow for having grieved you, till I saw the happy effect of it.
10 The sorrow of the world - Sorrow that arises from worldly considerations. Worketh death - Naturally tends to work or occasion death, temporal, spiritual, and eternal.
11 How great diligence it wrought in you - Shown in all the following particulars. Yea, clearing of yourselves - Some had been more, some less, faulty; whence arose these various affections. Hence their apologizing and indignation, with respect to themselves; their fear and desire, with respect to the apostle; their zeal and revenge, with respect to the offender, yea, and themselves also. Clearing of yourselves - From either sharing in, or approving of, his sin. Indignation - That ye had not immediately corrected the offender. Fear - Of God's displeasure, or lest I should come with a rod. Vehement desire - To see me again. Zeal - For the glory of God, and the soul of that sinner. Yea, revenge - Ye took a kind of holy revenge upon yourselves, being scarce able to forgive yourselves. In all things ye - As a church. Have approved yourselves to be pure - That is, free from blame, since ye received my letter.
12 It was not only, or chiefly, for the sake of the incestuous person, or of his father; but to show my care over you.

Chapter VIII

1 We declare to you the grace of God - Which evidently appeared by this happy effect.
2 In a great trial of affliction - Being continually persecuted, harassed, and plundered.
4 Praying us with much entreaty - Probably St. Paul had lovingly admonished them not to do beyond their power.
5 And not as we hoped - That is, beyond all we could hope. They gave themselves to us, by the will of God - In obedience to his will, to be wholly directed by us.
6 As he had begun - When he was with you before.
9 For ye know - And this knowledge is the true source of love. The grace - The most sincere, most free, and most abundant love. He became poor - In becoming man, in all his life; in his death. Rich - In the favour and image of God.
12 A man - Every believer. Is accepted - With God. According to what he hath - And the same rule holds universally. Whoever acknowledges himself to be a vile, guilty sinner, and, in consequence of this acknowledgment, flies for refuge to the wounds of a crucified Saviour, and relies on his merits alone for salvation, may in every circumstance of life apply this indulgent declaration to himself.
14 That their abundance - If need should so require. May be - At another time. A supply to your want: that there may be an equality - No want on one side, no superfluity on the other. It may likewise have a further meaning: - that as the temporal bounty of the Corinthians did now supply the temporal wants of their poor brethren in Judea, so the prayers of these might be a means of bringing down many spiritual blessings on their benefactors: so that all the spiritual wants of the one might be amply supplied; all the temporal of the other.
15 As it is written, He that had gathered the most had nothing over; and he that had gathered the least did not lack - That is, in which that scripture is in another sense fulfilled. Exod 16:18
17 Being more forward - Than to need it, though he received it well.
18 We - I and Timothy. The brother - The ancients generally supposed this was St. Luke. Whose praise - For faithfully dispensing the gospel, is through all the churches.
19 He was appointed by the churches - Of Macedonia. With this gift - Which they were carrying from Macedonia to Jerusalem. For the declaration of our ready mind - That of Paul and his fellow - traveller, ready to be the servants of all.
22 With them - With Titus and Luke. Our brother - Perhaps Apollos.
23 My partner - In my cares and labours. The glory of Christ - Signal instruments of advancing his glory.
24 Before the churches - Present by their messengers.

Chapter IX

1 To write to you - Largely.
2 I boast to them of Macedonia - With whom he then was.
3 I have sent the above mentioned brethren before me.
5 Spoken of before - By me, to the Macedonians. Not as a matter of covetousness - As wrung by importunity from covetous persons.
6 He that soweth sparingly shall reap sparingly; he that soweth bountifully shall reap bountifully - A general rule. God will proportion the reward to the work, and the temper whence it proceeds.
7 Of necessity - Because he cannot tell how to refuse.
8 How remarkable are these words! Each is loaded with matter and increases all the way it goes. All grace - Every kind of blessing. That ye may abound to every good work - God gives us everything, that we may do good therewith, and so receive more blessings. All things in this life, even rewards, are, to the faithful, seeds in order to a future harvest. Prov 22:9
9 He hath scattered abroad - (A generous word.) With a full hand, without any anxious thought which way each grain falls. His righteousness - His beneficence, with the blessed effects of it. Remaineth for ever - Unexhausted, God still renewing his store. Psalm 112:9
10 And he who supplieth seed - Opportunity and ability to help others. And bread - All things needful for your own souls and bodies. Will continually supply you with that seed, yea, multiply it to you more and more. And increase the fruits of your righteousness - The happy effects of your love to God and man. Isa 55:10
11 Which worketh by us thanksgiving to God - Both from us who distribute, and them who receive, your bounty.
13 Your avowed subjection - Openly testified by your actions. To all men - Who stand in need of it.
15 His unspeakable gift - His outward and inward blessings, the number and excellence of which cannot he uttered.

Chapter X

1 Now I Paul myself - - A strongly emphatical expression. Who when present am base among you - So, probably, some of the false teachers affirmed. Copying after the meekness and gentleness of Christ, entreat - Though I might command you.
2 Do not constrain me when present to be bold - To exert my apostolical authority. Who think of us as walking after the flesh - As acting in a cowardly or crafty manner.
3 Though we walk in the flesh - In mortal bodies, and, consequently, are not free from human weakness. Yet we do not war - Against the world and the devil. After the flesh - By any carnal or worldly methods. Though the apostle here, and in several other parts of this epistle, speaks in the plural number, for the sake of modesty and decency, yet he principally means himself. On him were these reflections thrown, and it is his own authority which he is vindicating.
4 For the weapons of our warfare - Those we use in this war. Are not carnal - But spiritual, and therefore mighty to the throwing down of strong holds - Of all the difficulties which men or devils can raise in our way. Though faith and prayer belong also to the Christian armour, Eph 6:15, &c., yet the word of God seems to be here chiefly intended.
5 Destroying all vain reasonings, and every high thing which exalteth itself - As a wall or rampart. Against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought - Or, rather, faculty of the mind. Into captivity to the obedience of Christ - Those evil reasonings are destroyed. The mind itself, being overcome and taken captive, lays down all authority of its own, and entirely gives itself up to perform, for the time to come, to Christ its conqueror the obedience of faith.
6 Being in readiness to avenge all disobedience - Not only by spiritual censure, but miraculous punishments. When your obedience is fulfilled - When the sound part of you have given proof of your obedience, so that I am in no danger of punishing the innocent with the guilty.
7 Do ye look at the outward appearance of things - Does any of you judge of a minister of Christ by his person, or any outward circumstance? Let him again think this of himself - Let him learn it from his own reflection, before I convince him by a severer method.
8 I should not be ashamed - As having said more than I could make good.
9 I say this, that I may not seem to terrify you by letters - Threatening more than I can perform.
10 His bodily presence is weak - His stature, says St. Chrysostom, was low, his body crooked, and his head bald.
12 For we presume not - A strong irony. To equal ourselves - As partners of the same office. Or to compare ourselves - As partakers of the same labour. They among themselves limiting themselves - Choosing and limiting their provinces according to their own fancy.
13 But we will not, like them, boastingly extend ourselves beyond our measure, but according to the measure of the province which God hath allotted us - To me, in particular, as the apostle of the gentiles. A measure which reaches even unto you - God allotted to each apostle his province, and the measure or bounds thereof.
14 We are come even to you - By a gradual, regular process, having taken the intermediate places in our way, in preaching the gospel of Christ.
15 Having hope, now your faith is increased - So that you can the better spare us. To be enlarged by you abundantly - That is, enabled by you to go still further.
16 In the regions beyond you - To the west and south, where the gospel had not yet been preached.

Chapter XI

1 I wish ye would bear - So does he pave the way for what might otherwise have given offence. With my folly - Of commending myself; which to many may appear folly; and really would be so, were it not on this occasion absolutely necessary.
2 For - The cause of his seeming folly is expressed in this and the following verse; the cause why they should bear with him, 2Cor 11:4.
3 But I fear - Love is full of these fears. Lest as the serpent - A most apposite comparison. Deceived Eve - Simple, ignorant of evil. By his subtilty - Which is in the highest degree dangerous to such a disposition. So your minds - We might therefore be tempted, even if there were no sin in us. Might be corrupted - Losing their virginal purity. From the simplicity that is in Christ - That simplicity which is lovingly intent on him alone, seeking no other person or thing.
4 If indeed - Any could show you another Saviour, a more powerful Spirit, a better gospel. Ye might well bear with him - But this is impossible.
6 If I am unskilful in speech - If I speak in a plain, unadorned way, like an unlearned person. So the Greek word properly signifies.
7 Have I committed an offence - Will any turn this into an objection? In humbling myself - To work at my trade. That ye might be exalted - To be children of God.
8 I spoiled other churches - I, as it were, took the spoils of them: it is a military term. Taking wages (or pay, another military word) of them - When I came to you at first. And when I was present with you, and wanted - My work not quite supplying my necessities. I was chargeable to no man - Of Corinth.
9 For - I choose to receive help from the poor Macedonians, rather than the rich Corinthians! Were the poor in all ages more generous than the rich?
10 This my boasting shall not be stopped - For I will receive nothing from you.
11 Do I refuse to receive anything of you, because I love you not? God knoweth that is not the case.
12 Who desire any occasion - To censure me. That wherein they boast, they may be found even as we - They boasted of being "burdensome to no man." But it was a vain boast in them, though not in the apostle.
14 Satan himself is transformed - Uses to transform himself; to put on the fairest appearances.
15 Therefore it is no great, no strange, thing; whose end, notwithstanding all their disguises, shall be according to their works.
16 I say again - He premises a new apology to this new commendation of himself. Let no man think me a fool - Let none think I do this without the utmost necessity. But if any do think me foolish herein, yet bear with my folly.
17 I speak not after the Lord - Not by an express command from him; though still under the direction of his Spirit. But as it were foolishly - In such a manner as many may think foolish.
18 After the flesh - That is, in external things.
19 Being wise - A beautiful irony.
20 For ye suffer - Not only the folly, but the gross abuses, of those false apostles. If a man enslave you - Lord it over you in the most arbitrary manner. If he devour you - By his exorbitant demands; not - withstanding his boast of not being burdensome. If he take from you - By open violence. If he exalt himself - By the most unbounded self - commendation. If he smite you on the face - (A very possible case,) under pretence of divine zeal.
21 I speak with regard to reproach, as though we had been weak - I say, "Bear with me," even on supposition that the weakness be real which they reproach me with.
22 Are they Hebrews, Israelites, the seed of Abraham - These were the heads on which they boasted.
23 I am more so than they. In deaths often - Surrounding me in the most dreadful forms.
24 Five times I received from the Jews forty stripes save one - Which was the utmost that the law allowed. With the Romans he sometimes pleaded his privilege as a Roman; but from the Jews he suffered all things.
25 Thrice I have been shipwrecked - Before his voyage to Rome. In the deep - Probably floating on some part of the vessel.
27 In cold and nakedness - Having no place where to lay my head; no convenient raiment to cover me; yet appearing before noble - men, governors, kings; and not being ashamed.
28 Beside the things which are from without - Which I suffer on the account of others; namely, the care of all the churches - A more modest expression than if he had said, the care of the whole church. All - Even those I have not seen in the flesh. St. Peter himself could not have said this in so strong a sense.
29 Who - So he had not only the care of the churches, but of every person therein. Is weak, and I am not weak - By sympathy, as well as by condescension. Who is offended - Hindered in, or turned out of, the good way. And I burn not - Being pained as though I had fire in my bosom.
30 I will glory of the things that concern my infirmities - Of what shows my weakness, rather than my strength.
32 The governor under Aretas - King of Arabia and Syria of which Damascus was a chief city, willing to oblige the Jews, kept the city - Setting guards at all the gates day and night.
33 Through a window - Of an house which stood on the city wall.

Chapter XII

1 It is not expedient - Unless on so pressing occasion. Visions are seen; revelations, heard.
2 I knew a man in Christ - That is, a Christian. It is plain from 2Cor 12:6,7, that he means himself, though in modesty he speaks as of a third person. Whether in the body or out of the body I know not - It is equally possible with God to present distant things to the imagination in the body, as if the soul were absent from it, and present with them; or to transport both soul and body for what time he pleases to heaven; or to transport the soul only thither for a season, and in the mean time to preserve the body fit for its re - entrance. But since the apostle himself did not know whether his soul was in the body, or whether one or both were actually in heaven, it would be vain curiosity for us to attempt determining it. The third heaven - Where God is; far above the aerial and the starry heaven. Some suppose it was here the apostle was let into the mystery of the future state of the church; and received his orders to turn from the Jews and go to the gentiles.
3 Yea, I knew such a man - That at another time.
4 He was caught up into paradise - The seat of happy spirits in their separate state, between death and the resurrection. Things which it is not possible for man to utter - Human language being incapable of expressing them. Here he anticipated the joyous rest of the righteous that die in the Lord. But this rapture did not precede, but follow after, his being caught up to the third heaven: a strong intimation that he must first discharge his mission, and then enter into glory. And beyond all doubt, such a foretaste of it served to strengthen him in all his after trials, when he could call to mind the very joy that was prepared for him.
5 Of such an one I will - I might, glory; but I will not glory of myself - As considered in myself.
6 For if I should resolve to glory - Referring to, I might glory of such a glorious revelation. I should not be a fool - That is, it could not justly be accounted folly to relate the naked truth. But I forbear - I speak sparingly of these things, for fear any one should think too highly of me - O where is this fear now to be found? Who is afraid of this?
7 There was given me - By the wise and gracious providence of God. A thorn in the flesh - A visitation more painful than any thorn sticking in the flesh. A messenger or angel of Satan to buffet me - Perhaps both visibly and invisibly; and the word in the original expresses the present, as well as the past, time. All kinds of affliction had befallen the apostle. Yet none of those did he deprecate. But here he speaks of one, as above all the rest, one that macerated him with weakness, and by the pain and ignominy of it prevented his being lifted up mere, or, at least, not less, than the most vehement head ache could have done; which many of the ancients say he laboured under. St. Paul seems to have had a fresh fear of these buffetings every moment, when he so frequently represses himself in his boasting, though it was extorted from him by the utmost necessity.
8 Concerning this - He had now forgot his being lifted up. I besought the Lord thrice - As our Lord besought his Father.
9 But he said to me - ln answer to my third request. My grace is sufficient for thee - How tender a repulse! We see there may be grace where there is the quickest sense of pain. My strength is more illustriously displayed by the weakness of the instrument. Therefore I will glory in my weaknesses rather than my revelations, that the strength of Christ may rest upon me - The Greek word properly means, may cover me all over like a tent. We ought most willingly to accept whatever tends to this end, however contrary to flesh and blood.
10 Weaknesses - Whether proceeding from Satan or men. For when I am weak - Deeply conscious of my weakness, then does the strength of Christ rest upon me.
11 Though I am nothing - Of myself.
14 The third time - Having been disappointed twice. I seek not yours - Your goods. But you - Your souls.
15 I will gladly spend - All I have. And be spent - Myself.
16 But some may object, though I did not burden you, though I did not take anything of you myself, yet being crafty I caught you with guile - I did secretly by my messengers what I would not do openly, or in person.
17 I answer this lying accusation by appealing to plain fact. Did I make a gain of you by Titus - Or any other of my messengers? You know the contrary. It should be carefully observed, that St. Paul does not allow, but absolutely denies, that he had caught them with guile; so that the common plea for guile, which has been often drawn from this text, is utterly without foundation.
18 I desired Titus - To go to you.
19 Think ye that we again excuse ourselves - That I speak this for my own sake? No. I speak all this for your sakes.
21 Who had sinned before - My last coming to Corinth. Uncleanness - Of married persons. Lasciviousness - Against nature.

Chapter XIII

1 I am coming this third time - He had been coming twice before, though he did not actually come.
2 All the rest - Who have since then sinned in any of these kinds. I will not spare - I will severely punish them.
4 He was crucified through weakness - Through the impotence of human nature. We also are weak with him - We appear weak and despicable by partaking of the same sufferings for his sake. But we shall live with him - Being raised from the dead. By the power of God in you - By that divine energy which is now in every believer, 2Cor 13:5.
5 Prove yourselves - Whether ye are such as can, or such as cannot, bear the test - This is the proper meaning of the word which we translate, reprobates. Know ye not yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you - All Christian believers know this, by the witness and by the fruit of his Spirit. Some translate the words, Jesus Christ is among you; that is, in the church of Corinth; and understand them of the miraculous gifts and the power of Christ which attended the censures of the apostle.
6 And I trust ye shall know - By proving yourselves, not by putting my authority to the proof.
7 I pray God that ye may do no evil - To give me occasion of showing my apostolical power. I do not desire to appear approved - By miraculously punishing you. But that ye may do that which is good, though we should be as reprobates - Having no occasion to give that proof of our apostleship.
8 For we can do nothing against the truth - Neither against that which is just and right, nor against those who walk according to the truth of the gospel.
9 For we rejoice when we are weak - When we appear so, having no occasion to show our apostolic power. And this we wish, even your perfection - In the faith that worketh by love.
11 Be perfect - Aspire to the highest degree of holiness. Be of good comfort - Filled with divine consolation. Be of one mind - Desire, labour, pray for it, to the utmost degree that is possible.
13 The grace - Or favour. Of our Lord Jesus Christ - By which alone we can come to the Father. And the love of God - Manifested to you, and abiding in you. And the communion - Or fellowship. Of the Holy Ghost - In all his gifts and graces.

It is with great reason that this comprehensive and instructive blessing is pronounced at the close of our solemn assemblies; and it is a very indecent thing to see so many quitting them, or getting into postures of remove, before this short sentence can be ended.

How often have we heard this awful benediction pronounced! Let us study it more and more, that we may value it proportionably; that we may either deliver or receive it with a becoming reverence, with eyes and hearts lifted up to God, "who giveth the blessing out of Sion, and life for evermore."

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