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CHAP. I. 3-VII. 16.
THIS first part of this second epistle, of St. Paul to the corinthians, is spent in justifying himself, against several imputations, from the opposite faction; and setting himself right, in the opinion of the corinthians. The particulars whereof we shall take notice of, in the following numbers.
SECT. II. No. 1.
He begins with justifying his former letter to them, which had afflicted them, (vid. chap. vii. 7, 8,) by telling them, that he thanks God for his deliverance out of his afflictions, because it enables him to comfort them, by the example, both of his affliction and deliverance; acknowledging the obligation he had to them, and others, for their prayers and thanks for his deliverance, which, he presumes, they could not but put up for him, since his conscience bears him witness (which was his comfort) that, in his carriage to all men, and to them more especially, he had been direct and sincere, without any self, or carnal interest; and that what he writ to them had no other design but what lay open, and they read in his words, and did also acknowledge; and he doubted not, but they should always acknowledge; part of them acknowledging also, that he was the man they gloried in, as they shall be his glory in the day of the Lord. From what St. Paul says, in this section, (which, if read with attention, will appear to be writ with a turn of great insinuation) it may be gathered, that the opposite faction
endeavoured to evade the force of the former epistle, by suggesting, that, whatever he might pretend, St. Paul was a cunning, artificial, self-interested man, and had some hidden design in it, which accusation appears in other parts of this epistle: as chap. iv. 2, 5.
3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
4 Who comforteth us, in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them, which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
6 And, whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual, in the enduring of the same sufferings, which we also suffer: or, whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.
7 And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing that, as you are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus
3 That this is the right translation of the Greek here, see Eph. i. 3, and 1 Pet. i. 3, where the same words are so translated; and that it agrees with St. Paul's sense, see Eph. i. 17.
4 + He means, here, the corinthians, who were troubled for their miscar riage towards him; vid. chap. vii. 7.
6Σwrnplu," relief," rather than "salvation;" which is understood, of deliverance from death ́and hell; but here it signifies only deliverance from their present sorrow.
8 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble, which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength; insomuch that we despaired even of life.
9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God, which raised the dead:
10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver; in
whom we trust, that he will yet deliver us:
11 You also helping together by prayer for us: that, for the gift bestowed upon us, by the means of many persons, thanks may be given by many on our behalf.
12 For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity, and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-wards.
hopes, as concerning you; being assured, that as you have had your share of sufferings, so ye shall, like8 wise, have of consolation. For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, of the load of afflictions in Asia that were beyond measure heavy upon me, and beyond my strength: so that I could see no way 9 of escaping with life. But I had the sentence of
death in myself, that I might not trust in myself, but in God, who can restore to life even those who 10 are actually dead: Who delivered me from so imminent a danger of death, who doth deliver, and in 11 whom I trust, he will yet deliver me: You also
joining the assistance of your prayers for me; so that thanks may be returned by many, for the deliverance procured me, by the prayers of many per12 sons. For I cannot doubt of the prayers and concern of you, and many others for me; since my glorying in this, viz. the testimony of my own conscience, that, in plainness of heart, and sincerity before God, not in fleshly wisdom *, but by the favour of God directing met, I have behaved myself to
12 What "fleshly wisdom" is, may be seen chap. iv. 2, 5.
This anλ' xápil. ε8," But in the favour of God," is the same with áλλà xápis e ho pol," the favour of God, that is with me," i, e, by God's favourable assistance,
13 For we write none other things unto you, than what you read, or acknowledge, and I trust you shall acknowledge even to the end.
14 As also you have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus.
wards all men, but more particularly towards you. 13 For I have no design, no meaning, in what I write to you, but what lies open, and is legible, in what you read and you yourselves cannot but acknowledge it to be so; and I hope you shall always ac14 knowledge it to the end. As part of you have already acknowledged that I am your glory*; as you will be mine, at the day of judgment, when, being my scholars and converts, ye shall be saved.
14"That I am your glory;" whereby he signifies that part of them which stuck to him, and owned him as their teacher: in which sense," glorying" is much used, in these epistles to the corinthians, upon the occasion of the several partisans boasting, some, that they were of Faul; and others, of Apollos.
SECT. II. N°. 2.
CHAP. I. 15.—II. 17.
THE next thing St. Paul justifies is, his not coming to them. St. Paul had promised to call on the corinthians, in his way to Macedonia; but failed. This his opposers would have to be from levity in him; or a mind, that regulated itself wholly by carnal interest; vid. ver. 17. To which he answers, that God himself, having confirmed him amongst them, by the unction and earnest of his Spirit, in the ministry of the gospel of his Son, whom he, Paul, had preached to them steadily the same, without any the least variation, or unsaying any thing, he had at any time delivered; they
could have no ground to suspect him to be an unstable, uncertain man, that would play fast and loose with them, and could not be depended on, in what he said to them. This is what he says, ch. i. 15—22. ·
In the next place, he, with a solemn asseveration, professes, that it was to spare them, that he came not to them. This he explains, ch. i. 23, and ii. 2, 3.
He gives another reason, chap. ii. 12, 13, why he went on to Macedonia, without coming to Corinth, as he had purposed; and that was the uncertainty he was in, by the not coming of Titus, what temper they were in, at Corinth. Having mentioned his journey to Macedonia, he takes notice of the success, which God gave to him there, and every where, declaring of what consequence his preaching was, both to the salvation, and condemnation, of those, who received, or rejected it; professing again his sincerity and disinterestedness, not without a severe reflection on their false apostle. All which we find in the following verses, viz. ch. ii. 14-17, and is all very suitable, and pursuant to his design in this epistle, which was to establish his authority and credit amongst the corinthians.
15 And, in this confidence, I was minded to come unto you before, that you might have a second benefit;
16 And to pass by you into Macedonia, and to come again, out of Macedonia, unto you; and, of you, to be brought on my way towards Judea.
15 Having this persuasion, (viz.) of your love and esteem of me, I purposed to come unto you ere this, that you 16 might have a second gratification; And to take you in my way to Macedonia, and from thence re
15 By the word xápw, which our Bibles translate "benefit," or " grace," it is plain the apostle means his being present among them a second time, without giving them any grief or displeasure. He had been with them before, almost two years together, with satisfaction and kindness. He intended them another visit; but it was, he says, that they might have the like gratification, i. e. the like satisfaction in his company a second time, which is the same he says, 2 Cor. ii. 1.