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Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament

2 Corinthians 7



Verse 1

2 Corinthians 7:1. ταύτας οὖν ἔχοντες κ. τ. λ.: having therefore these (note the emphasis given to ταύτας by its position) promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all contamination of flesh and spirit (cf. 1 Peter 2:11, 1 John 3:3). We find the construction καθαρίζειν ἀπό again in Sirach 38:10 and Hebrews 9:14 (see also Deissmann, Neue Bibelstud., p. 44). We have already pointed out (on 2 Corinthians 6:14) that μολυσμός is always used of the defilement which springs out of evil (and especially heathen) associations; this may affect the πνεῦμα (see on 2 Corinthians 2:13) as well as the σάρξ.— ἐπιτελοῦντες ἁγιωσύνην κ. τ. λ.: perfecting holiness in the fear of God, sc., the fear that man ought to feel towards God (see 2 Corinthians 5:11), which is, indeed, one of the gifts of the Divine Spirit (Isaiah 11:3), and which was repeatedly commended to the chosen people (Deuteronomy 6:2, Psalms 111:1). The practical issue of belief in the promises of the Old Covenant (which have a yet larger meaning under the New) is positive as well as negative, sanctification as well as separation. St. Paul’s word for man’s sanctification is ἁγιασμός, the result of which process is here expressed by ἁγιωσύνη (see reff.); this is especially an attribute of God in the O.T. (Psalms 95:6; Psalms 96:12; Psalms 144:5, 2 Maccabees 3:12).

Verse 2

2 Corinthians 7:2. χωρήσατε ἡμᾶς κ. τ. λ.: make room for us, sc., in your hearts, i.e., let there be no στενοχωρία, (2 Corinthians 6:12); we wronged no man, we corrupted no man, we took advantage of no man. Apparently accusations of this sort had been laid to his charge (see esp. chap. 2 Corinthians 12:16-17), and he is, as ever (chap. 2 Corinthians 2:17, Acts 20:33), careful to assert their baselessness. It is an excessive refinement of exegesis which finds here distinct charges hinted at in the three words ἠδικήσαμεν, ἐφθείραμεν, ἐπλεονεκτήσαμεν. They are used quite generally, the only one that offers any ambiguity being the second, φθείρειν often (see reff.), though not always, carrying a reference to bodily defilement through lust; here (as at 1 Corinthians 3:17) it seems to connote injury of any sort.

Verses 2-4

2 Corinthians 7:2-4. HE CLAIMS THEIR SYMPATHY AGAIN. He now resumes the appeal which is interrupted at 2 Corinthians 6:13 by the parenthetical warning 2 Corinthians 6:14 to 2 Corinthians 7:1.

Verse 3

2 Corinthians 7:3. πρὸς κατάρ. κ. τ. λ.: I do not say this by way of condemnation (i.e., do not think that I accuse you of mistrusting me); for I have said before (viz., in 2 Corinthians 3:2, 2 Corinthians 6:11) that ye are in our hearts (cf. Philippians 1:7) to die together and to live together (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:6), i.e., your image is in my heart in life and in death. Where there is such a wealth of sympathy as this, there can be no thought of “condemnation”. Wetstein gives a good verbal parallel from Athenæus (vi., 249), τούτους δʼ οἱ βασιλεῖς ἔχουσι συζῶντας καὶ συναποθνησκότας.

Verse 4

2 Corinthians 7:4. πολλή μοι παρρησία κ. τ. λ.: great is my boldness of speech towards you (cf. 2 Corinthians 6:11), great is my glorying on your behalf, sc., on account of the good news of their conduct (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:14, 2 Corinthians 3:2), I am filled with comfort (for the constr. cf. Luke 2:40, Romans 1:29, 2 Maccabees 7:21), sc., with the comfort (note the article) which Titus had brought, I overflow with joy (cf. Philippians 2:17, Colossians 1:24) in all our affliction (see 2 Corinthians 6:10).

Verse 5

2 Corinthians 7:5. καὶ γὰρ ἐλθόντων κ. τ. λ.: for even when we were come into Macedonia (he has explained in 2 Corinthians 2:12 his anxiety when he was at Troas, but it remained with him even when he had crossed into Europe) our flesh had no relief (see note on the similar phrase, 2 Corinthians 2:13), but [we were] afflicted on every side. Note the anacoluthon, the participle θλιβόμενοι being used as if it were a finite verb (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:12 for a like constr.).— ἔξωθεν μάχαι κ. τ. λ.: without were fightings, sc., with adversaries (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:32), within were fears, sc., the anxieties which the Apostle would feel for his converts, especially those at Corinth (cf. chap. 2 Corinthians 11:28). It will be noticed that the familiar cadence “fightings within and fears without” is a misquotation.

Verses 5-12

2 Corinthians 7:5-12. HE WAS COMFORTED TO LEARN FROM TITUS THAT HIS REBUKE HAD BEEN PROFITABLE. Cf. throughout 1 Thessalonians 3:1-8, a passage strikingly like this in its human sympathy and kindliness.

Verse 6

2 Corinthians 7:6. ἀλλʼ παρακαλῶν κ. τ. λ.: but He that comforteth the lowly (see ref. Isa.), even God (to whom he is especially careful in this Epistle to trace up all grace and consolation), comforted us by the coming of Titus. παρουσία is often used for the Advent of Christ, but also (see reff.) for the advent of St. Paul or his companions. This is the first explicit mention of St. Paul’s meeting with Titus in Macedonia (but cf. 2 Corinthians 2:13) which was the occasion of the letter being written.

Verse 7

2 Corinthians 7:7. οὐ μόνον δὲ κ. τ. λ.: and not by his coming only, but also (see reff. for constr.) by the comfort wherewith he was comforted in respect of you (cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:7 for constr.), i.e., “I was comforted, not only by his coming, but by the good news which he brought”; while he told us your longing, sc., to see me, your mourning, sc., at the rebuke which I sent you, your zeal on my behalf. ζῆλος may either mean “zeal,” in a good sense, as here (see reff.), or “jealousy,” in a bad sense (see reff. 2 Corinthians 12:20).— ὥστε με μᾶλλον χαρῆναι: so that I rejoiced yet more, sc., than at the mere coming of Titus with his news (cf. 2 Corinthians 7:13).

Verse 8

2 Corinthians 7:8. ὅτι εἰ καὶ ἐλύπησα κ. τ. λ.: for though I made you sorry with my epistle (sc., esp. 1 Corinthians 5; cf. Introd., p. 14), I do not regret it; though I did regret it (for I see that that epistle made you sorry, though but for a season), yet now I rejoice, etc. We follow the punctuation adopted by Tisch., W.H. and the American Revisers, the second clause softening the apparent harshness of the first, and βλέπω γάρὥραν being a parenthetic explanation.

Verse 9

2 Corinthians 7:9. νῦν χαίρω κ. τ. λ.: now, sc., now that Titus is come, and I have learnt the effect of my letter, I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye were made sorry unto repentance (of which there was no sign when he wrote; see 1 Corinthians 5:2), for ye were made sorry according to the will of God, sc., in God’s way as contrasted with man’s way (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:32 and see reff.), so that ye might suffer loss by us in nothing, i.e., the sorrow caused by my rebuke was divinely ordered for your good, so that my severity did not hurt but rather benefited you. The word μετάνοια occurs curiously seldom in St. Paul (see reff.), perhaps because it indicates the very first step in the religious life, that “change of mind” as to God which precedes even the renunciation of sin (see esp. for this use reff., Acts and Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4:17, Acts 2:38, etc.), and this first step his correspondents had already taken, or his letters to them would not have been written.

Verse 10

2 Corinthians 7:10. γὰρ κατὰ θεὸν λύπη κ. τ. λ.: for such godly sorrow, i.e., sorrow for sin as an offence against God (Psalms 50:6) and not only for the temporal consequences of sin (cf. Bengel, “animi Deum spectantis et sequentis”), worketh repentance which leads to salvation, a repentance which bringeth no regret. ἀμεταμέλητον may be taken with σωτηρία (see R.V. margin), but there would be no point in applying such an adj. to σωτηρία, whereas it is quite apposite as applied to μετάνοια (as by Chrys., R.V., etc.).— δὲ τοῦ κόσμου κ. τ. λ.: but the sorrow of the world, sc., such sorrow as the world feels—for failure, not for sin—worketh out death, sc., as opposed to σωτηρία (cf. chap. 2 Corinthians 2:16).

Verse 11

2 Corinthians 7:11. ἰδοὺ γὰρ αὐτὸ κ. τ. λ.: for behold, this same thing, viz., that you were made sorry after a godly sort, what diligence it wrought in you, yea (sc., “not only so, but also,” ἀλλά introducing an accessory idea) what a defence, sc., of yourselves to me through the mediation of Titus, yea what indignation, yea what fear, sc., of St. Paul’s rebukes, yea what longing, sc., that he should come to them (see 2 Corinthians 7:7), yea what zeal, sc., on behalf of God and righteousness, yea what avenging, sc., the heavy punishment solemnly inflicted on the offender in God’s name (chap. 2 Corinthians 2:6). Observe that ἐκδίκησις and ἐκδικέω are always (see reff. and Luke 18:7, 1 Peter 2:14, etc.) used of God’s avenging of sin, not of man’s retaliation.— ἐν παντὶ κ. τ. λ.: in everything ye approved yourselves to be pure in the matter, i.e., not that they were quite free from gross sins of the flesh (see 2 Corinthians 12:21), but that by their ready compliance with the Apostle’s directions they had cleared themselves from the guilt of connivance at incest (see 2 Corinthians 2:6). τῷ πράγματι (the dat. of regard) is a vague phrase used here and at 1 Thessalonians 4:6 to denote abominable wickedness.

Verse 12

2 Corinthians 7:12. ἄρα εἰ καὶ ἔγραψα κ. τ. λ.: consequently, although I wrote to you, i.e., wrote a severe letter, it was not for his cause that did the wrong, sc., the incestuous son of 1 Corinthians 5:1, nor for his cause that suffered the wrong, sc., his father, but that your diligence on our behalf might be made manifest to yourselves (“chez vous,” so πρὸς ὑμᾶς, 1 Thessalonians 3:4) in the sight of God. He does not mean that this was the only reason for writing (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:9), and that the more obvious reason was not in his mind; but he states strongly (expressing himself by an idiom common in the O.T., e.g., Jeremiah 7:22) a principal cause of his writing, viz., that the Corinthian Church might be recalled to a true sense of what was due to its founder, as if it were the only cause. See on 2 Corinthians 2:9, and, for a discussion of the whole question, see Introd., p. 10 ff.

Verse 13

2 Corinthians 7:13. διὰ τοῦτο παρακεκλ.: wherefore we have been comforted. With Tisch., W.H. and modern editors generally we place a full stop here. What follows introduces a new idea.

Verses 13-16

2 Corinthians 7:13-16. THE JOY OF TITUS IN THE TIDINGS HE BROUGHT. Chrysostom notes the tact which leads St. Paul to communicate this so emphatically; Titus was going back to Corinth on the business of the collection (2 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 8:16; 2 Corinthians 8:23), and it was very desirable that he should be well received there.— ἐπὶ δὲ τῇ παρακλήσει ἡμῶν περισσοτέρως μᾶλλον κ. τ. λ.: and in addition to this comfort of ours we rejoiced the more exceedingly (cf. 2 Corinthians 7:7, and for the double comparative cf. Mark 7:36, Philippians 1:23) at (for the constr. χαίρειν ἐπὶ cf. 1 Corinthians 13:6; 1 Corinthians 16:17, etc.) the joy of Titus, because his spirit hath been refreshed by you all (cf. the somewhat similar use of ἀπό in chap. 2 Corinthians 2:3, Matthew 11:19, Acts 2:22). Both here and at 2 Corinthians 7:15 πάντων is emphasised by its position before ὑμῶν; Titus was well received by all at Corinth, and it seems to be implied at 2 Corinthians 12:18 that he left a favourable impression upon them all.

Verse 14

2 Corinthians 7:14. ὅτι εἴ τι κ. τ. λ.: for if in anything I have gloried to him on your behalf, i.e., have boasted of you (cf. 2 Corinthians 9:2, 2 Corinthians 12:5), I was not put to shame, sc., by the vanity of my boasting being exposed; but as we spake all things to you in truth (this he is continually insisting on, e.g., at 2 Corinthians 1:18, 2 Corinthians 2:17, 2 Corinthians 4:2, etc.), so our glorying also, viz., that made before Titus (cf. Mark 13:9 for ἐπί with the gen.), was found (not “is found” as A.V., but “was found” as at 1 Corinthians 1:30) to be truth.

Verse 15

2 Corinthians 7:15. καὶ τὰ σπλάγχνα κ. τ. λ.: and his heart is more abundantly towards you, while he recalls to himself the obedience of you all, how with fear (see reff. and cf. Matthew 28:8, 1 Peter 3:15, for μετὰ φόβου) and trembling you received him. He had brought a stern message, which involved the excommunication of the unworthy member (1 Corinthians 5:5); it was no wonder that they trembled at his coming.

Verse 16

2 Corinthians 7:16. χαίρω ὅτι κ. τ. λ.: I rejoice that in everything I am of good courage (not as A.V. “I have confidence,” which would be πέποιθα) concerning you.

11. The Collection for the Judæan Christians (2 Corinthians 8:1 to 2 Corinthians 9:15). We have now come to the second main topic of the Epistle, viz., the collection to be made at Corinth, as in all the Christian communities which the Apostle had founded, on behalf of the poor Christians at Judæa (chaps. 8 and 9). We first hear of this great undertaking at 1 Corinthians 16:1, but it is plain from that passage as well as from 2 Corinthians 8:10; 2 Corinthians 9:2, that it had been organised some time before 1 Cor. was written. (See Introd., p. 6.) The poverty of the Christians at Jerusalem, however caused, was evidently acute; and when St. Paul first parted from the Twelve on his mission to the Gentiles, one of the stipulations made with him was that he should “remember the poor” (Galatians 2:10). This stipulation he faithfully observed, and it was to convey the money thus entrusted to him to its proper recipients that he paid his last visit to Jerusalem (Acts 24:17). See further the excellent discussion in Stanley’s note on 1 Corinthians 16:1.


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Bibliography Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 7:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

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