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Against the false apostles, who disgraced the weakness of his person and bodily presence, he setteth out the spiritual might and authority, with which he is armed against all adversary powers, 7 assuring them that at his coming he will be found as mighty in word, as he is now in writing being absent, 12 and withal taxing them for reaching out themselves beyond their compass, and vaunting themselves into other men's labours.
Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who 'in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you:
2 But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh.
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh :
4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds ;)
5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
7 Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's.
given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed:
9 That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters.
8 For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath
10 For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.
11 Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present.
12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, "are
13 But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the 'rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you.
14 For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as though we reached not unto you for we are come as far as to you also in preaching the Gospel of Christ:
15 Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men's labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly,
16 To preach the Gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man's line of things made ready to our hand.
17 But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
18 For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth."
1 Or, in outward appearance. 2 Or, reckon. 3 Or, to God. 4 Or, reasonings. 5 Or, understand it not. 6 Or, line.
Verse 1. "Who in presence am base," &c.-St. Paul now proceeds to notice one of the new misrepresentations of his opponents at Corinth, who appear to have pretended that, through distrust of his own authority, he had conducted himself humbly, and even servilely, when present at Corinth; but that in his absence he wrote to them haughty and menacing letters.
4. "The weapons of our warfare," &c.-These weapons are said to be mighty, because they are "not carnal,""mighty through God." Thus, as Bloomfield beautifully illustrates, when Patroclus, clothed in the armour of Achilles, conquered, he conquered by the strength of Achilles, not by his own.
10. "His bodily presence is weak."-It has generally been conceived that this and other passages of similar import, refer to the disadvantageous personal appearance of the apostle, particularly to his diminutive stature and ungracious, air and manner. It is, in fact, difficult to understand such expressions in any other way. The heathen writer (Lucian, or Pseudo-Lucian) of the dialogue called Philopatris' concurs, with Chrysostom and Nicephorus, in describing the apostle as short of stature, crooked, and bald. The first of these makes one of his two talkers relate how he had met with a bald-pated and long-nosed Galilean, who had been caught up into the third heaven, and there learned most wonderful things. This puts the reference to St. Paul beyond doubt. The friendly hand of Nicephorus (1. ii., c. 37) does not draw a more flattering portrait; though, to a physiognomist, it would not appear that his description is that of an ignoble countenance. "He had a small and contracted body, somewhat bent. His head was small, his face pale, and he looked old. He had a sharp eye, with overhanging eyebrows. His nose, though finely curved, was somewhat long; his beard was thick, and long; and that, as well as the hair of his head, was largely sprinkled with gray hairs." Some have been unwilling to concede that our distinguished apostle had any disadvantages of personal appearance. And why this reluctance? Because man seeth not as God seeth:-" Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." (1 Sam. xvi, 7.)
16. "To preach the Gospel in the regions beyond you."-What regions he mea as has been disputed. Some think Peloponnesus is intended; but this supposes that the Gospel had not already beea preached there; and this is by no means clear, since we know that Paul himself had been preaching the word in and through Achaia, and Achaia, as a Roman province, comprehended Peloponnesus, indeed all Greece except Macedonia. But since we know from the Epistle to the Romans, written a year or two after, that Paul intended to take a journey into Spain, by way of Rome, it seems to us far better to understand that he here refers to this intention. Compare this with the following, in the first epistle of Clement of Rome (who knew Paul) to the Corinthians. Speaking of this apostle, he says, " He preached both in the east and in the west; leaving behind him the glorious report of his faith: and so, having taught the whole world righteousness, and for that end travelled even to the utmost bounds of the west, he at last suffered martyrdom by the command of the governors." From this it would seem that St. Paul was ultimately enabled to fulfil his intention of taking a journey into Spain; for "the utmost bounds of the west" can hardly mean less than Spain; if it does not even, as some suppose, denote Britain.
1 Out of his jealousy over the Corinthians, who seemed to make more account of the false apostles than of him, he entereth into a forced commendation of himself, 5 of his equality with the chief apostles, 7 of his preaching the Gospel to them freely, and without any their charge, 13 shewing that he was not inferior to those deceitful workers in any legal prerogative, 23 and in the service of Christ, and in all kind of sufferings for his ministry, far superior.
WOULD to God ye could 'bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.
2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another Gospel, which have not accepted, ye might well bear with
13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
16 I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool 'receive me, that I may boast myself a little.
17 That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.
18 Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also.
19 For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.
20 For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face.
5 For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.
6 But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things.
7 Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the Gospel of God freely?
8 I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.
22 Are they Hebrews? 'so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.
9 And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.
23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
25 Thrice was I 'beaten with rods, once
10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no
1 Or, you do bear with me.
6 Deut. 25. 3. 7 Acts 16. 22.
Acts 14. 19.
21 I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I
am bold also.
ROMAN LICTOR, BEARING THE FASCES.-FROM AN ANTIQUE SCULPTURE
Verse 2. "Present you as a chaste virgin to Christ."-"This circumstance is much illustrated by recollecting that there was an officer among the Greeks whose business it was to educate and form young women, especially those of rank and figure, designed for marriage, and then to present them to those who were to be their husbands: and if this officer permitted them, through negligence, to be corrupted between the espousals and the consummation of the marriage, great blame would naturally fall upon him." (Doddridge.) Others give the same explanation: but many, with whom our translators may apparently be numbered, rather follow the Greek commentators in understanding that there is an allusion to the friend or friends who made and procured the marriage for the bridegroom.
6. "Rude in speech."-The apostle is here adverting to the more personal objections of his adversaries, in verse 10 of the preceding chapter. The remarks on his personal appearance he does not condescend to notice further; but with respect to the allegation that he was in "speech contemptible," he answers, "Though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge." Some difference of opinion has been entertained with regard to the defect which gave occasion to the objection and the vindication. Some suppose it was a natural defect consisting either of an impediment in his speech,
or a weak and squeaking voice. But we must take the word "rude," in this text, to illustrate the meaning of "contemptible" in the other. Now this word is rns, which we have had more than one occasion to explain as meaning one of the common people, as distinguished from the learned and the polite. He says therefore that his phraseology was as that of the common people, without pretensions to that polish or elegance which the native Greek speakers so sedulously cultivated. This is indeed rather what his Corinthian opponents said; and he is repeating their objection. That they should have made it, will not appear strange, when we reflect on the critical attention which the Greeks were accustomed to give to the pronunciation and phraseology of their orators, and at the same time consider that Paul was a Jew of Asia Minor, and that, as such, his style of speech in the Greek language, was doubtless provincial, popular, idiomatical, and negligent of those minor graces of elocution which the ear of the native Greek demanded.
7. "I have preached to you the Gospel of God freely."—Now the apostle again refers to a subject on which it seems the Corinthians were very sore, and to which he had already adverted in the previous epistle. His refusal to accept his maintenance from the Corinthian church seems to have led to various misrepresentations. One was, that he was himself conscious that he was no apostle, since he declined to accept that which he allowed to be due to him in that character: another was, that he did not love them (verse 11); and a third, that this apparent disinterestedness was only a crafty trick to ensnare them (xii. 16). All this he answers.
12. "That I may cut off occasion."-The Jewish teachers also sometimes felt the desirableness of that line of conduct, which St. Paul thought it expedient to adopt with regard to the Corinthians. It was indeed a maxim among them that, "It is better for the wise men to skin dead beasts for a living, than to ask a maintenance from the generosity of those whom they teach." To understand the force of this it should be recollected that the skinning of dead beasts, as well as tanning the skins, were the most degraded of occupations in the eyes of the Jews.
24. Forty stripes save one."-See the note on Deut. xxv. 3.
25. "Thrice was I beaten with rods."-This was a Roman punishment, and was therefore inflicted by the civil autho rities. The principle of this and other forms of beating and scourging has already been sufficiently explained in this work: and we have also noticed that scourging, properly so called, was at this time considered far more ignominious than beating with rods. The punishment was usually inflicted by the lictors, who were in constant attendance on the principal magistrates, going before them as they went. The insignia of their office, as well as of the dignity of the magistrate on whom they attended, consisted of a number of elm rods bound with a thong into a bundle, which they carried on their shoulder. An axe was bound up in the bundle, and its head jutted forth from it. Within the city of Rome, however, the axe was omitted, out of respect to the Roman people. The bundle, in fact, comprised the apparatus of the lictor as executioner of the magistrate's sentence. The thong served him to bind the criminal, with the rods he inflicted beatings, and with the axe he beheaded.
Dr. Paley in his 'Hora Paulinæ,' ch. iv. No. ix., makes admirable use of this enumeration by Paul of his various sufferings, in support of his great argument derived from the independent corroborations which the Acts of the Aposties and the Epistles of Paul offer to each other. He observes, what every reader will notice, "That the particulars here given cannot be extracted out of the Acts of the Apostles, which proves that the Epistle was not framed from the history: yet they are consistent with it, which, considering how numerically circumstantial the account is, is more than could happen to arbitrary and independent fictions. When I say that these particulars are consistent with the history, I mean, first, that there is no article in the enumeration which is contradicted by the history: secondly, that the history, though silent with respect to many of the facts here enumerated, has left space for the existence of these facts, consistent with the fidelity of its own narration."
With reference to the present instance, Dr. Paley observes: "When St. Paul says, thrice was I beaten with rods, although the history record only one beating with rods, viz. at Philippi, (Acts xvi. 22.) yet is there no contradiction. It is only the omission in one book of what is related in another. But had the history contained accounts of four beatings with rods, at the time of writing this epistle, in which St. Paul says he had only suffered three, there would have been a contradiction properly so called. The same observation applies generally to the other parts of the enumeration concerning which the history is silent."
"Once was I stoned."-This was at Lystra in Lycaonia, Acts xiv. 19.
"Thrice I suffered shipwreck.”—The history only records one shipwreck, that at Melita; and that, as it occurred after this time, must have been at least the fourth. Paley thinks it possible that these three shipwrecks may have occurred in the interval of apparently three or four years, during which the history leaves Paul at his native city of Tarsus (Acts ix. 30; xi. 25). "As Tarsus was situated upon the sea-coast, and as, though Tarsus was his home. yet it is probable that he visited from thence many other places, for the purpose of preaching the Gospel, it is not unlikely, that, in the course of three or four years, he might undertake many short voyages to neighbouring countries, in the navigating of which we may be allowed to suppose that some of those disasters and shipwrecks befel him to which he refers in the passage before us."
"A night and a day I have been in the deep.”—That “the deep” here means a well or dungeon, as Hammond and others think, seems a very untenable conjecture. Neither does it appear necessary to conclude, with others, that he supported himself all this time by swimming. Most commentators suppose that he sustained himself on some beam or other broken portion of the ship. Paley, observing that Paul is recounting his sufferings, not relating miracles, is inclined to explain it of his being obliged to take to an open boat, on the loss of the ship, and his continuing out at sea, in that dangerous situation, a day and a night.
32. "The governor under Aretas the king."-The name of Aretas, as the Lord of Damascus, does not occur in any previous account of this transaction: and the mention of it here is not without its difficulty. We do not read in Jo sephus or any other writer that Damascus was ever subject to Aretas: and the question naturally occurs, What ar thority could a governor under Aretas, a petty king of Arabia, have in Damascus, a city belonging to the Romans? It is not wonderful that we have no existing evidence of the fact; but it is something to be able to show that it was not by any means improbable, that Aretas should, at the time in question, have had Damascus under his dominion. It will be recollected that the daughter of this Aretas was married to Herod, tetrarch of Galilee, by whom she was repudiated. that he might form the incestuous marriage with his niece Herodias. (See the notes on Matt. xiv. 1, 3.) Incensed at this treatment of his daughter, Aretas commenced hostilities against Herod, and in the last year of the emperor Tiberius (A.D. 37) had completely defeated his army. It also appears that Herod notified this event to Tiberius, who, provoked at an act so much like that of an independent sovereign, ordered Vitellius, the prefect of Syria, to declare war against Aretas, and to take him alive, or send him his head. Vitellius commenced preparations accordingly; but receiving news of the emperor's death, he dismissed his forces into winter quarters; and Aretas was delivered from the danger he
had incurred. Thus far we have history; from which we learn that, a few years before the transaction now referred to, war had been declared between the Romans and Aretas. On this is based the very reasonable conclusion, that at the time when Vitellius drew off his forces, Aretas invaded Syria. took Damascus, which had once belonged to his ancestors, and retained it in his possession during all the reign of Tiberius's stupid successor Caligula. Kuinoel, indeed, concludes that Aretas did not finally subdue Damascus until Vitellius had already departed from the province. The German critics, particularly Heyne and Walch, have some able dissertations on this subject. The above, which in the main embodies their views, is derived from Michaelis, vol. ii. p. 12; and Kuinoel ap. Bloomfield.
1 For commending of his apostleship, though he might glory of his wonderful revelations, 9 yet he rather chooseth to glory of his infirmities, 11 blaming them for forcing him to this vain boasting. 14 He promiseth to come to them again: but yet altogether in the affection of a father, 20 although he feareth he shall to his grief find many offenders, and publick disorders there.
It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.
2 I knew a man in Christ about fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth ;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell : God knoweth ;)
4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not 'lawful for a man to utter.
5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.
6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above mea
8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfeet in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in perse
1 Or, possible. See Ezek. £8. 24.
cutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
11 I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.
12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.
13 For what is it wherein you were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong.
14 Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not your's, but you for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.
15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.
16 But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile.
17 Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you 1?
18 I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps?
19 Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying.
20 For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults:
21 And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.
3 Chap. 11. 9. 4 Gr. your souls.
Verse 2. "The third heaven.”—The apostle speaks in conformity with the division established by the Jews, who described the heavens as threefold:-1. The lower heaven; that is, the aerial heaven, including the clouds and atmosphere. 2. The middle heaven, being the place of the stars. 3. The third heaven, otherwise the supreme heaven, or heaven of heavens; being the habitation of God and his angels.