Text in red are my additions.
2 Cor 1:1-2 THE APOSTOLIC GREETING
A Summary of 2 Corinthians 1:1-2~As in the previous letter so here, St. Paul begins by an assertion of his Apostolic authority and divine commission. Timothy, his faithful companion and fellow-laborer in preaching the Gospel (1 Cor 16:10; Rom 16:21), is associated in the writing of this Epistle because, since the Apostle is going to speak much of himself and defend his life and actions against his adversaries, he could have no better witness than Timothy, and no one who was more highly esteemed by the Corinthians. Here too, all the faithful, not only of Corinth, but of the whole Roman Province of Achaia, are addressed.
2 Cor 1:1. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother: to the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints that are in all Achaia:
Paul, an apostle, etc. See on Rom 1:1. Here is what Fr. Callan wrote in his comments on Rom 1:1~Paul. The Apostle probably assumed this name for the first time in Cyprus when he converted the Proconsul Sergius Paulus (Acts 13:7-12), perhaps, as St. Jerome says (in Philem.), in honor of his victory in making so great a convert. St. Thomas and others, however, think he was called both Paul and Saul from his infancy; the latter being his Jewish, and the former his Latin name. As Tarsus, the Apostle’s birth place, was under the Roman Empire, it seems not improbable that he should have been given a Latin, as well as a Jewish name, from the beginning. It seems unlikely (pace St Jerome) that St Paul would have been so ostentatious as to “honor his victory in making so great a convert” as to adopt the name Paulus from the Proconsul Sergius Paulus Gallio.
Of Jesus Christ (Vulg., Jesu Christi) is according toA D G K; whereas B M P read, “Of Christ Jesus.”
Our brother. Literally, “The brother,” i.e., not only a fellow-Christian, but a co-laborer in preaching the Gospel. In five other Epistles (Philip., Col., 1 and 2 Thess. and Philem.) Timothy is similarly associated with St. Paul.
With all the saints, etc., i.e., this letter is addressed to Corinth, and also to all the other Christian communities of Achaia. Unlike Galatians, however, this was not a circular Epistle. It embraced the outlying Churches of Achaia only so far as they shared the disorders and opinions of the central Church at Corinth.
Achaia was a distinct Roman Province including the Peloponnesus and north Greece as far as Macedonia. Corinth was its capital.
2 Cor 1:2. Grace unto you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
See on Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:3. Concerning grace and peace Fr. Callan wrote this on Rom 1:7~Grace . . . peace, etc. This form of well-wishing, which occurs in nearly all the Epistles of St. Paul, is found nowhere before the Apostle, and therefore seems to have been his own creation (Lagrange). Grace, in its proper sense, is a special gift of God by which one is made holy and agreeable in God’s sight, and is rendered a participant of the divine nature, a brother of Christ, and heir to the glory of the Father in heaven. Peace with God insures interior tranquility of mind and soul, and is one of the most precious effects of grace. St. Paul here speaks of these eminent gifts as coming from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ, thus placing the latter on a level with the former, but not identifying the two as persons.
At 1 Cor 1:3 he wrote~Cf. 1 Thess 1:1 and 3:11, where the Father and the Son stand together as subjects of a verb in the singular, showing the perfect unity of their nature.
2 Cor 1:3-11 THANKSGIVING FOR RECENT BENEFITS
A Summary of 2 Corinthians 1:3-11~The Apostle has lately passed through dire perils, for deliverance from which he now thanks God, especially since his trials and his safe escape from them have been ordained to the ultimate good and comfort of his dear ones in the faith. It was by their prayers that he was assisted in time of danger, and he trusts to their devout cooperation for deliverance from similar circumstances in the future.
2 Cor 1:3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.
The Apostle now thanks God the Father for the mercy and comfort which he, Timothy, and perhaps other fellow-laborers (verse 19) have experienced in their trials and toils.
The God and Father ( ο θεος και πατηρ). The one article for the two names shows that they both refer to the one Divine Person. The Father is called the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, just as the Saviour Himself said: “I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God” (John 20:17).
The Father of mercies, etc., i.e., the merciful Father who is the source of all consolation (Eph 2:4).
2 Cor 1:4. Who comforteth us in all our tribulation; that we also may be able to comfort them who are in all distress, by the exhortation wherewith we also are exhorted by God.
God comforts St. Paul, Timothy and their fellow-workers in the ministry, in order that they in turn may comfort the faithful in their afflictions.
Distress represents the same word in Greek (θλιψει) as tribulation; and likewise comfort and comforteth render the same Greek terms as exhortation and exhorted. The same variation between our version and the Vulgate, on the one hand, and the Greek text, on the other, occurs again in verse 6.
The et . . . et (“also”) of the Vulgate here are not in the Greek.
2 Cor 1:5. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us: so also by Christ doth our comfort abound.
If the sufferings of the Apostles were extraordinary, their consolations were correspondingly great.
The sufferings of Christ, i.e., the sufferings which Christ bore for the diffusion of the Gospel and the salvation of souls, and which are continued in the members of His mystical body (Col 1:24). There is no thought here of Christ now suffering in glory.
2 Cor 1:6. Now whether we be in tribulation, it is for your exhortation and salvation: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation: or whether we be exhorted, it is for your exhortation and salvation, which worketh the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer.
The Apostle wishes to say now that whatever happens to him and his fellow workers for Christ—whether it be joy or sorrow, comfort or affliction, it is all ordained for the good of the faithful. Their afflictions beget patience, and their comfort inspires hope in the goodness of God.
The text of this verse causes much confusion. In the first place the Vulgate clause, sive autem tribulamur pro vestra exhortatione et salute must be omitted as a repetition of the last part of the first clause (a case of scribal dittography). The corresponding words in our version, or whether we beexhorted, it is for your exhortation and salvation must likewise be omitted.
This done, there are two principal readings of the verse: (a) “Now whether we be in tribulation, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is wrought out in the endurance of the same sufferings which we also suffer; or whether we be comforted it is for your consolation, knowing that,” etc. [as in verse 7] (see manuscripts B D F G K L); (b) “Now whether we be in tribulation, it is for your comfort and salvation; or whether we be comforted, it is for your comfort, which worketh in the endurance of the same sufferings that we also suffer” (see manuscripts A C M P). The latter reading is more like the Vulgate and is preferable.
2 Cor 1:7. That our hope for you may be steadfast: knowing that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so shall you be also of the consolation.
The Apostle expresses his unwavering hope that as the Corinthians bear their afflictions courageously they may also experience much comfort and consolation.
That our hope, etc. ( Vulg., Ut spes nostra, etc.) should be “And our hope,” etc. This clause is transferred by the Vatican MS. and many other authorities to the middle of the preceding verse, but such placing is against the best internal and external evidence. It is true that the participle knowing is without an antecedent, but this is not uncommon in St. Paul.
2 Cor 1:8. For we would not have you ignorant, brethren, of our tribulation, which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure above our strength, so that we were weary even of life.
A particular instance of great suffering endured by St. Paul, and perhaps by Timothy, in Asia is now recalled to the minds of the Corinthians. What was this terrible affliction? Since it seemed to be well known to the Corinthians, it was probably the report of the rebellion in Corinth against the Apostle’s authority. It overwhelmed him with grief. Now this could hardly be said of the uproar caused by Demetrius at Ephesus (Acts 19:23), for Timothy was not there at that time (Acts 19:22). Neither could we easily suppose it to have been some mere private distress caused by sickness, shipwreck or the like.
In Asia, i.e., in the Roman Province of Asia, which consisted of the coastlands of Asia Minor on the Aegean Sea, of which Ephesus was the capital.
That we were pressed, etc., i.e., exceedingly above our strength, so that we were weary, etc., i.e., so that we despaired even of life. The Apostle is saying that his affliction was more than his natural strength could support, but which he was able to bear by the grace of God (1 Cor. 19:13).
2 Cor 1:9. But we had in ourselves the answer of death, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raiseth the dead.
So great was the affliction of St. Paul and Timothy that they felt sure they must die, if left to their own strength. This extremity of suffering was given them that they might learn to trust in God who is able to raise the dead to life, and so, a fortiori, can rescue from death (Rom. 4:17).
But (ἀλλὰ) is not adversative here; it confirms what was said before and should be translated, “Nay.”
The answer of death, i.e., the sentence, the judgment, the expectation of death (St. Chrys.).
2 Cor 1:10. Who hath delivered and doth deliver us out of so great dangers: in whom we trust that he will yet also deliver us.
So great dangers. More literally, “So great a death.” The danger was naturally tantamount to death.
That he will yet also, etc. This shows that the same situation might occur again, which is against the supposition that the affliction in question was caused by the uproar of the silversmiths (Acts 19:23).
And doth deliver (Vulg., et emit with F G K L) would better be “and will deliver,” et eruet (B א C).
2 Cor 1:11. You helping withal in prayer for us: that for this gift obtained for us, by the means of many persons, thanks may be given by many in our behalf.
The Apostle is confident that in future the help of God will not be wanting to him, because he trusts in the prayers of all the faithful, and of the Corinthians in particular.
That for this gift, etc. The meaning is: That from many persons (faces) thanks may be given on our behalf for the gift obtained for us through the prayers of many. St. Paul desires many prayers to be offered for him and his companions, so that when the favor is obtained God may be honored by the thanksgiving of many.
THE REASON FOR THE APOSTLE’S CONFIDENCE OF BEING HELPED IN FUTURE BY THE PRAYERS OF THE CORINTHIANS
There has been a mutual sharing of benefits between St. Paul and the Corinthians: the good things which he experienced, like the evils that he suffered, have both turned to the welfare of the faithful ; while he, in turn, has been assisted by their prayers in rising above his afflictions. And he is confident that they will continue to help in the future as in the past. This confidence is grounded on the testimony of his conscience that when with them he always acted with the utmost sincerity and candor, and he firmly trusts they will find that same spirit of sincerity in this letter, and that they will continue to acknowledge that they have reason to glory in him and his helpers as their Apostles, while he and his co-workers will rejoice in them as in their spiritual children when Christ comes in judgment. This section leads up to the first part of the body of the Epistle in which the Apostle gives a general defense of his Apostolic life. The Judaizers at Corinth as in other places sought by defaming the Apostle, to destroy his Apostolic authority, and thus remove the great obstacle to the spread of their errors. They said he was a weak and inconstant man who was always changing his mind and plans, that he was proud and full of conceit, that he forced people to accept his doctrines by constant threats, and so on. Such reports as these naturally made some, if not many, of the faithful suspicious of St. Paul. But when the Apostle learned of conditions at Corinth he lost no time in refuting these calumnies of his adversaries, so that when he would later arrive there the situation might not demand severity. Therefore in the first part of the present Epistle (2 Cor 1:12-7:16) he is chiefly at pains to disprove accusations of fickleness and inconstancy (2 Cor 1:15-2:17); to show that he was not guilty of pride and arrogance (2 Cor 3:1-4:6); and finally, by laying bare his motives in preaching and by explaining the reasons that impelled him in the exercise of his ministry, to foil all the efforts of his enemies (2 Cor 4:7-6:10). The Apostle terminates this part of his letter with an affectionate exhortation to the faithful to entertain towards him the same tender love which he has always cherished for them (2 Cor 6:11-7:16).
2 Cor 1:12. For our glory is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity if heart and sincerity of God, and not in carnal wisdom, but in the grace of God, we have conversed in this world : and more abundantly towards you.
For our glory is this, etc., i.e., the reason for glorying in the future help of the prayers of the Corinthians is founded on the testimony of his conscience that, while he and his companions were doing the work of God among them, they were at all times moved by candor and sincerity.
In simplicity. This is according to D F L, the Vulgate, Old Latin, and Syriac versions; but the best Greek MSS. read: “In holiness” (ἐν ἁγιότητι), and this reading has been adopted by all modern critics.
Sincerity of God, i.e., the sincerity that comes from God, God given sincerity.
Carnal wisdom is here set over against “simplicity” (holiness) and sincerity, and means the product of hypocrisy and duplicity; it is not to be confounded with the “wisdom of this world” (1 Cor. 2:5-6).
In the grace of God, i.e., moved by the grace of God.
We have conversed, etc., i.e., St. Paul and his co-workers have everywhere in their preaching been moved in simplicity and candor by God’s grace, but more especially so at Corinth, where they refused even the support to which they were entitled (2 Cor 11:7-9; 1 Cor. 9:1-15).
Of heart (Vulg., cordis) should be omitted.
2 Cor 1:13. For we write no other things to you, than what you have read and known. And I hope that you shall know unto the end:
2 Cor 1:14. As also you have known us in part, that we are your glory, as you also are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
You have read and known. Better, “You read and even acknowledge.” The meaning is that he is not writing anything in this Epistle which the Corinthians do not already know from his life and conduct when among them, and from the other letters he has sent them and which they have.
And I hope, etc. This clause should be separated from what follows in verse 14 by a comma only. The Apostle is not quite certain, but he hopes the Corinthians will continue to the end of their lives, even to the end of the world, to acknowledge, as in part, i.e., as some of them have already done, that he and his companions, as Apostles, are their glory, while they are his glory, as his spiritual children, in the day of judgment.
ST. PAUL REFUTES THE CALUMNY OF HIS ADVERSARIES THAT HE IS FICKLE AND INCONSISTENT
The Judaizers who sought to destroy the Apostle’s authority and work at Corinth charged him, among other things, with fickleness and instability, and they gave as an instance his change of plan regarding his visit to Corinth from Ephesus. Against these calumniators he now asserts the consistency of his teaching, which is based on the truthfulness of God Himself, and upon the special character as Apostles with which God has consecrated him and his companions for their ministerial labors and duties.
2 Cor 1:15. And in this confidence I had a mind to come to you before, that you might have a second grace:
2 Cor 1:16. And to pass by you into Macedonia, and again from Macedonia to come to you, and by you to be brought on my way towards Judea.
In this confidence, etc., i.e., in view of the Apostle’s firm belief in the mutual reasons for glorying which existed between the Corinthians and himself, he had at first planned to go directly from Ephesus to Corinth, then to Macedonia, and finally back to Corinth again; and it seems he had made known this plan, or a part of it, to the faithful at Corinth, perhaps through the letter, now lost, which he first sent them (1 Cor. 5:9). When, therefore, he told them in 1 Cor. 16:5 ff. that he had made other arrangements and would go first to Macedonia and then come to Corinth, his enemies seized upon this change to accuse him of lightmindedness and inconsistency.
A second grace. i.e., a second joy and a spiritual favor. The first joy would be on his way to Macedonia, the second on his return from there. Some, with Estius, hold that the first “grace” was when St. Paul first preached the Gospel at Corinth, and that consequently the “second grace” here would have been his second visit there. But this view would be against the very probable opinion that the Apostle paid a hurried visit to Corinth between the writing of our First and Second Corinthians (see Introduction, 1).
Towards Judea, whither he was to carry the collection for the poor Christians of Palestine.
2 Cor 1:17. Whereas then I was thus minded, did I use lightness? Or, the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that there should be with me, it is and it is not?
Did I use lightness? i.e., did I change my mind out of mere fickleness? That he did not is shown by the fact that his resolutions are not made according to human considerations and passions, but according to the illumination and direction of the Holy Ghost. If he did not go directly from Ephesus to Corinth, it was because the Spirit restrained him, as had happened before, when he and Silas attempted to go into Bithynia (Acts 16:7).
That I purpose. The change here from the past to the present tense draws attention to the Apostle’s general conduct.
That there should be, etc. Better, “So that with me it is now ‘Yea, yea,’ and now ‘Nay, nay.’ ” i.e., that he should resolve to do a thing while at the same time having the intention not to do it.
Both in the English and in the Vulgate here the affirmation and the negation should be repeated twice to agree with the Greek.
2 Cor 1:18. But God is faithful, for our preaching which was to you, was not, It is, and It is not.
Digressing for a moment from the question of his visit to Corinth St. Paul insists upon the consistency of his teaching in general.
God is faithful. This may mean that he calls God, as by an oath, to witness the truth of what he is saying (cf. 2 Cor 11:10; Rom. 14:11) ; or, more likely, that “God is faithful to His promises; He had promised to send you preachers of truth, and therefore since I am sent to you, our preaching is not ‘Yes and No’ i.e., there is no falsity in it” (St. Thomas).
Our preaching . . . was not. Better, “Our preaching . . . is not” (B K A C D F G P), i.e., all the promises and preaching of the Apostle and his companions are reliable and consistent.
The Vulgate qui fuit and in illo are not represented in the Greek.
2 Cor 1:19. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, by me, and Sylvanus, and Timothy, was not, It is and It is not, but, It is, was in him.
In this and the three following verses St. Paul is proving the faithfulness and consistency of his promises and of his preaching at all times. His argument is: “Just as the Son of God whom we preached to you was faithful to God’s promises (verse 19), since through Him were fulfilled all the promises of God (verse 20), so we ministers of that faithful Christ, having been confirmed and anointed by God (verse 21) and sealed with the pledge of His Spirit (verse 22), are also faithful to our promises and consistent in our preaching.”
The Son of God, etc., whom we preached to you, and who, as God, is truth and immutability itself, was not fickle and unfaithful, but, on the contrary, was the fulfillment of all God’s promises to men.
Silvanus was doubtless the same as Silas (Acts 15:40; 16:1 ff.), who, together with Paul and Timothy, had labored in the foundation of the Church in Corinth (Acts 18:5).
2 Cor 1:20. For all the promises of God are in him. It is; therefore also by him, amen to God, unto our glory.
The last words of the preceding verse are now explained.
For all the promises, etc. Better, “For how many soever are the promises,” etc., i.e., all the Messianic promises made by God to the Patriarchs and Prophets (1 Cor 7:1; Rom. 9:4; Gal. 3:16-21; Heb. 6:12; 8:6; 11:13, etc.) are verified and fulfilled in Christ.
Therefore also by him. Better, “Wherefore also through him.” The meaning is that since through Christ have been fulfilled all the Messianic promises, through Him also is made possible the Amen by which the fulfill ment of those promises is acknowledged. The Apostle is alluding to the practice on the part of the faithful of saying Amen in response to the prayers of the priest in the public religious assemblies (1 Cor. 14:16).
To God, unto our glory. Better, “To God’s glory through us.” The sense is that the acknowledgment of the fulfillment of God’s promises, as preached by Paul and his companions (which is expressed by the word Amen), redounds to the glory of God.
The nostram of the Vulgate should be per nos.
2 Cor 1:21. Now he that confirmeth us with you in Christ, and that hath anointed us, is God:
As Christ, whom the Apostles have announced, is unchangeable, so is their preaching of Him, and this by a special spiritual anointing which they have received from God.
Confirmeth us, i.e., renders us Apostles firm and unchangeable in teaching the doctrines of revelation to the faithful. The words with you imply that the faithful also received from God the firmness and stability with which they retained the doctrines preached to them.
Hath anointed us, i.e., has especially called us to preach the Gospel, and has given us the graces necessary to discharge this high office. The word χρίω (= chriō) from which the name Christ is derived, is used only four times in the New Testament, and in each instance of our Saviour (Luke 4:18; Acts 4:27; 10:38; Heb. 1:9). Therefore the anointing here spoken of must mean that Paul and his companions were especially called to preach the Gospel and perform their ministry. The reference is not to the Sacrament of Confirmation, nor to Baptism, which is received by all the faithful, but more properly to ordination, since God was the anointer and the purpose of the anointing was to enable the Apostles to discharge the spiritual duties of their ministry. In the Old Testament kings, priests, and prophets were anointed before undertaking their offices (1 Sam 9:16; Ex 40:13).
2 Cor 1:22. Who also hath sealed us, and given the pledge of the Spirit in our hearts.
Hath sealed us. Not only did God anoint and consecrate Paul and his companions for the work of preaching the Gospel, but He also stamped upon them, as it were, the seal of His divine authority and sanction by giving them the power of miracles, and by enriching them with the various gifts of the Holy Ghost These gifts were a pledge and an earnest of the still more precious endowments reserved for them in the life to come.
The pledge of the Spirit. The sense is that the Holy Ghost dwelling in the hearts of the Apostles was an earnest of the still greater gifts awaiting them hereafter.
2 Cor 1:23. THE REASON WHY ST. PAUL CHANGED HIS PLAN
2 Cor 1:23. But I call God to witness upon my soul, that to spare you, I came not any more to Corinth: not because we exercise dominion over your faith : but we are helpers of your joy: for in faith you stand.
After having proved the firmness and consistency of his promises and preaching the Apostle now returns to the subject of verse 17, and explains why he did not go directly from Ephesus to Corinth as he had planned.
Upon my soul, etc. He calls God to witness against his soul, meaning that God should destroy it, if he is not telling the truth when he says that the reason why he did not come to Corinth as first planned was in order to spare the Corinthians. The condition of the Church there was so bad that the Apostle could not at the time have gone thither without using great severity, and hence he preferred to remain away till later. But even in this he was not acting “according to the flesh”: he was acting under the guidance of the Spirit, as in Acts 16:7 (St. Chrys.).
I came not any more. The Apostle here seems to be repeating the complaint of the Corinthians, who regretted that he “came not any more to Corinth.” He means to say that he did not pay the visit alluded to in verse 15 above. This statement does not interfere with the very probable opinion which holds that St. Paul paid a short and painful visit to Corinth after writing 1 Cor. (2 Cor. 12:14, 21; 13:1), because that painful visit was not of the nature, duration or extent of the one alluded to in verse 15 above, and promised very likely in the lost letter to the Corinthians of which there is question in 1 Cor. 5:9.
Not because we exercise, etc. Better, “Not that we exercise,” etc. Having just spoken of sparing the Corinthians the Apostle now explains his meaning. He does not want the faithful to think that he and his companions desire to tyrannize over their faith, using despotic methods with them: rather he wishes to promote their joy in believing; and since, on account of their factions and disorders he could not do this, he preferred to remain away. As regards their faith they were not in need of correction, but they were at fault in other matters (Theod.).