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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

2 Corinthians 2



Verse 1

That I would not come again to you with sorrow (το μη παλιν εν λυπηι προς υμας ελτεινto mē palin en lupēi pros humas elthein). Articular second aorist active infinitive with negative μηmē in apposition with τουτοtouto (this) preceding. What does Paul mean by “again” (παλινpalin)? Had he paid another visit besides that described in Acts 18 which was in sorrow (εν λυπηιen lupēi)? Or does he mean that having had one joyful visit (that in Acts 18) he does not wish the second one to be in sorrow? Either interpretation is possible as the Greek stands and scholars disagree. So in 2 Corinthians 12:14 “The third time I am ready to come” may refer to the proposed second visit (2 Corinthians 1:15.) and the present plan (a third). And so as to 2 Corinthians 13:1. There is absolutely no way to tell clearly whether Paul had already made a second visit. If he had done so, it is a bit odd that he did not plainly say so in 2 Corinthians 1:15. when he is apologizing for not having made the proposed visit (“a second benefit”).

Verse 2

Who then? (και τισkai tiṡ). For this use of καιkai see note on Mark 10:26; John 9:36. The καιkai accepts the condition (first class ειλυπωei̇̇lupō) and shows the paradox that follows. ΛυπεωLupeō is old word from λυπηlupē (sorrow) in causative sense, to make sorry.

Maketh glad (ευπραινωνeuphrainōn). Present active participle of old word from ευeu well, and πρηνphrēn mind, to make joyful, causative idea like λυπεωlupeō f0).

Verse 3

I wrote this very thing (εγραπσα τουτο αυτοegrapsa touto auto). Is this (and εγραπσαegrapsa in 2 Corinthians 2:4, 2 Corinthians 2:9, 2 Corinthians 2:12) the epistolary aorist referring to the present letter? In itself that is possible as the epistolary aorist does occur in the N.T. as in 2 Corinthians 8:18; 2 Corinthians 9:3 (Robertson, Grammar, p. 854f.). If not epistolary aorist as seems improbable from the context and from 2 Corinthians 7:8-12, to what Epistle does he refer? To 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 or to a lost letter? It is possible, of course, that, when Paul decided not to come to Corinth, he sent a letter. The language that follows in 2 Corinthians 2:3, 2 Corinthians 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:8-12 can hardly apply to I Corinthians.

Should have sorrow (λυπην σχωlupēn schō). Second aorist (ingressive) active subjunctive of εχωechō should get sorrow, after ινα μηhina mē negative final particles.

From them of whom (απ ωνaph' hōn). Antecedent omitted, απο τουτων απ ωνapo toutōn aph' hōn (from those from whom).

I ought (εδει μεedei me). Imperfect for unrealized present obligation as often and like English.

Having confidence (πεποιτωςpepoithōs). Second perfect active participle of πειτωpeithō (2 Corinthians 1:9).

Verse 4

Anguish (συνοχηςsunochēs). Ablative case after εκek (out of). Old word from συνεχωsunechō to hold together. So contraction of heart (Cicero, contractio animi), a spiritual angina pectoris. In N.T. only here and Luke 21:25.

With many tears (δια πολλων δακρυωνdia pollōn dakruōn). He dictated that letter “through tears” (accompanied by tears). Paul was a man of heart. He writes to the Philippians with weeping (κλαιωνklaiōn) over the enemies of the Cross of Christ (Philemon 3:18). He twice mentions his tears in his speech at Miletus (Acts 20:19-31).

But that ye might know the love (αλλα την αγαπην ινα γνωτεalla tēn agapēn hina gnōte). Proleptic position of αγαπηνagapēn and ingressive second aorist active subjunctive γνωτεgnōte come to know.

Verse 5

If any (ει τιςei tis). Scholars disagree whether Paul refers to 1 Corinthians 5:1, where he also employs τισ τοιουτοςtisΣαταναςtoioutos and αλλα απο μερουςSatanās as here, or to the ringleader of the opposition to him. Either view is possible. In both cases Paul shows delicacy of feeling by not mentioning the name.

But in part (ινα μη επιβαρωalla apo merous). “But to some extent to you all.” The whole Corinthian Church has been injured in part by this man‘s wrongdoing. There is a parenthesis (that I press not too heavily, Επιβαρεωhina mē epibarō) that interrupts the flow of ideas. επι βαροςEpibareō to put a burden on (epibaros), is a late word, only in Paul in N.T. (here and 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8). He does not wish to give pain by too severe language.

Verse 6

Punishment (επιτιμιαepitimia). Late word for old Greek to επιτιμιονepitimion (so papyri), from επιτιμαωepitimaō to show honour to, to award, to adjudge penalty. Only here in N.T.

By the many (υπο των πλειονωνhupo tōn pleionōn). By the more, the majority. If Paul refers to the case in 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, they had taken his advice and expelled the offender.

Verse 7

So that on the contrary (ωστε τουναντιονhōste tounantion). The natural result expressed by ωστεhōste and the infinitive. ΤουναντιονTounantion is by crasis for το εναντιονto enantion and accusative of general reference.

Rather (μαλλονmallon). Absent in some MSS.

Lest by any means (μη πωςmē pōs). Negative purpose.

Swallowed up (καταποτηιkatapothēi). First aorist passive subjunctive of καταπινωkatapinō to drink down (1 Corinthians 15:54).

With his overmuch sorrow (τηι περισσοτεραι λυπηιtēi perissoterāi lupēi). Instrumental case, “by the more abundant sorrow” (comparative of adjective περισσοςperissos).

Verse 8

To confirm (κυρωσαιkurōsai). First aorist active infinitive of old verb κυροωkuroō to make valid, to ratify, from κυροςkuros (head, authority). In N.T. only here and Galatians 3:15.

Verse 9

That I might know the proof of you (ινα γνω την δοκιμην υμωνhina gnō tēn dokimēn humōn). Ingressive second aorist active subjunctive, come to know. ΔοκιμηDokimē is proof by testing. Late word from δοκιμοςdokimos and is in Dioscorides, medical writer in reign of Hadrian. Earliest use in Paul and only in him in N.T. (2 Corinthians 2:9; 2 Corinthians 8:2; 2 Corinthians 9:13; 2 Corinthians 13:3; Romans 5:4; Philemon 2:22).

Obedient (υπηκοοιhupēkooi). Old word from υπακουωhupakouō to give ear. In N.T. only in Paul (2 Corinthians 2:9; Philemon 2:8; Acts 7:39).

Verse 10

In the person of Christ (εν προσωπωι Χριστουen prosōpōi Christou). More exactly, “in the presence of Christ,” before Christ, in the face of Christ. Cf. ενωπιον του τεουenōpion tou theou (2 Corinthians 4:2) in the eye of God, ενωπιον Κυριουenōpion Kuriou (2 Corinthians 8:21).

Verse 11

That no advantage may be gained over us (ινα μη πλεονεκτητωμενhina mē pleonektēthōmen). First aorist passive subjunctive after ινα μηhina mē (negative purpose) of πλεονεκτεωpleonekteō old verb from πλεονεκτηςpleonektēs a covetous man (1 Corinthians 5:10.), to take advantage of, to gain, to overreach. In N.T. only in 1 Thessalonians 4:6; 2 Corinthians 2:11; 2 Corinthians 7:2; 2 Corinthians 12:17. “That we may not be overreached by Satan.”

His devices (αυτου τα νοηματαautou ta noēmata). ΝοημαNoēma from νοεωnoeō to use the νουςnous is old word, especially for evil plans and purposes as here.

Verse 12

To Troas (εις την Τρωιαδαeis tēn Trōiada). Luke does not mention this stop at Troas on the way from Ephesus to Macedonia (Acts 20:1.), though he does mention two other visits there (Acts 16:8; Acts 20:6).

When a door was opened unto me (τυρας μοι ανεωιγμενηςthuras moi aneōigmenēs). Genitive absolute with second perfect passive participle of ανοιγνυμιanoignumi Paul used this very metaphor in 1 Corinthians 16:9. He will use it again in Colossians 4:3. Here was an open door that he could not enter.

Verse 13

I had no relief (ουκ εσχηκα ανεσινouk eschēka anesin). Perfect active indicative like that in 2 Corinthians 1:9, vivid dramatic recital, not to be treated as “for” the aorist (Robertson, Grammar, p. 896, 898ff.). He still feels the shadow of that restlessness. ΑνεσιςAnesis from ανιημιaniēmi to let up, to hold back, is old word for relaxing or release (Acts 24:23).

For my spirit (τωι πνευματι μουtōi pneumati mou). Dative of interest.

Because I found not Titus (τωι μη ευρειν με Τιτονtōi mē heurein me Titon). Instrumental case of the articular infinitive with negative μηmē and accusative of general reference μεme “by the not finding Titus as to me.”

Taking my leave of them (αποταχαμενος αυτοιςapotaxamenos autois). First aorist middle participle of αποτασσωapotassō old verb, to set apart, in middle in late Greek to separate oneself, to bid adieu to as in Mark 6:46.

Verse 14

But thanks be unto God (τωι δε τεωι χαριςtōi de theōi charis). Sudden outburst of gratitude in contrast to the previous dejection in Troas. Surely a new paragraph should begin here. In point of fact Paul makes a long digression from here to 2 Corinthians 6:10 on the subject of the Glory of the Christian Ministry as Bachmann points out in his Kommentar (p. 124), only he runs it from 2:12-7:1 (Aus der Tiefe in die Hohe, Out of the Depths to the Heights). We can be grateful for this emotional outburst, Paul‘s rebound of joy on meeting Titus in Macedonia, for it has given the world the finest exposition of all sides of the Christian ministry in existence, one that reveals the wealth of Paul‘s nature and his mature grasp of the great things in service for Christ. See my The Glory of the Ministry (An Exposition of II Cor. 2:12-6:10).

Always (παντοτεpantote). The sense of present triumph has blotted out the gloom at Troas.

Leadeth in triumph (τριαμβευοντιthriambeuonti). Late common Koiné{[28928]}š word from τριαμβοςthriambos (Latin triumphus, a hymn sung in festal processions to Bacchus). Verbs in ευω̇euō (like ματητευωmathēteuō to make disciples) may be causative, but no example of τριαμβευωthriambeuō has been found with this meaning. It is always to lead in triumph, in papyri sometimes to make a show of. Picture here is of Paul as captive in God‘s triumphal procession.

The savour (την οσμηνtēn osmēn). In a Roman triumph garlands of flowers scattered sweet odour and incense bearers dispensed perfumes. The knowledge of God is here the aroma which Paul had scattered like an incense bearer.

Verse 15

A sweet savour of Christ (Χριστου ευωδιαChristou euōdia). Old word from ευeu well, and οζωozō to smell. In N.T. only here and Philemon 4:18; Ephesians 5:2. In spreading the fragrance of Christ the preacher himself becomes fragrant (Plummer).

In them that are perishing (εν τοις απολλυμενοιςen tois apollumenois). Even in these if the preacher does his duty.

Verse 16

From death unto death (εκ τανατου εις τανατονek thanatou eis thanaton). From one evil condition to another. Some people are actually hardened by preaching.

And who is sufficient for these things? (και προς ταυτα τις ικανοσkai pros tauta tis hikanoṡ). Rhetorical question. In himself no one is. But some one has to preach Christ and Paul proceeds to show that he is sufficient.

For we are not as the many (ου γαρ εσμεν ως οι πολλοιou gar esmen hōs hoi polloi). A bold thing to say, but necessary and only from God (2 Corinthians 3:6).

Verse 17

Corrupting (καπηλευοντεςkapēleuontes). Old word from καπηλοςkapēlos a huckster or peddlar, common in all stages of Greek for huckstering or trading. It is curious how hucksters were suspected of corrupting by putting the best fruit on top of the basket. Note Paul‘s solemn view of his relation to God as a preacher (from God εκ τεουek theou in the sight of God κατεναντι τεουkatenanti theou in Christ εν Χριστωιen Christōi).


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 2:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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