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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

2 Corinthians 7

 

 

Verse 1

1. Having—This verse completes the last section, and should belong to the sixth chapter.

These promises—In the Greek the position of these words in the sentence renders them emphatic, these glorious promises. Paul refers to the promises of the last verse of the previous chapter, in which Jehovah promises us, upon our departure from sin, that we shall be his sons and daughters.

Let us cleanse ourselves—Let us exert our active powers to our own purification; yet through the gracious power derived from God.

Filthiness—Pollution, soiling, staining.

The flesh and spirit—Sins of the flesh are those that arise from man’s animal or corporeal nature, as gluttony, intemperance, licentiousness; sins of the spirit are those that come from man’s intellectual nature, as pride, scepticism, falsehood, idolatry, etc. By the former, man is allied to brutes; by the latter, to devils. Yet both these classes of sins the apostle stigmatizes as filthiness. They defile the purity of man’s nature. He thereby stands before the perfectly pure God spotted with guilt.

Perfecting—The positive process of which the purifying is the negative. To perfect is to bring to completion or normal maturity.

Fear—That sentiment that deters and drives from sin, but can never bring us to holiness without the mingling and predominance of love.

On this passage we may note that a perfected holiness is here represented as a possible attainment; that it is the result of a properly-directed activity, and that its attainment is not to be delayed until death, but is to be realized and possessed during the Christian’s life.


Verse 2

2. Paul’s exhortation to acceptance of his apostleship, 2 Corinthians 7:2-16.

a. From his purity and tender affection, 2 Corinthians 7:2-4.

2. Receive us—Accept and acknowledge me (with my co-labourers) as your founder-apostle. Paul blends the elevation of the Corinthians to a high platform of holiness with this acceptance. In his review of his gospel scheme, 2 Corinthians 5:13-21, and of his apostolic elevation, in 2 Corinthians 6:1-11, a sublime piety is the claim. In the earnest exhortation of 2 Corinthians 6:11 -vii, 1, this is the view: that Paulinism is pre-eminently a holy Christianity. This appeal, receive us, therefore means, do you on this high plane receive us who present and occupy that plane. Let us stand in union on the same high level of an exalted Christianity.

Have… have… have—The Greek aorist tense requires these three haves to be omitted. The three verbs then left, all point to a particular period; namely, (like a similar passage at 2 Corinthians 11:7-9,) the period of St. Paul’s first visit to Corinth and first founding that Church. Acts 18:1-18. We have wronged no man. This passage makes beautiful reference to the magnanimous appeal of Samuel to Israel, as he closed his prophetic office, asserting the purity of his administration, (1 Samuel 12:3,) “Witness against me before the Lord, and before his anointed: whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded? whom have I oppressed? or of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind mine eyes therewith?” St. Paul refers, no doubt, to the insinuations of his detractors at Corinth.

Wronged—By any kind of injustice.

Corrupted—By any false or demoralizing doctrine; as the word signifies in 1 Corinthians 15:33.

Defrauded—In any money matters. Comp. Acts 20:33-34. St. Paul here intimates that his holiness consisted not purely in religious emotions, but also in plain, downright equity of dealing. Piety without honesty is a poor article. Sublimated religious professions are a sad deception unless sustained by true, square, conscientious dealing in the shop, the store, the market, or the exchange. Piety has a great deal to do with money. It is in a true sense a “cash article.”


Verse 3

3. Condemn you—The apostle is checked in his self-assertion by a delicate fear lest he should seem to retain in his heart a lurking feeling of resentment at the Corinthians for listening for even a moment to the insinuations of his traducers in his absence.

Condemn—Blame, impute wrong.

Said before—Above, at 2 Corinthians 6:12.

To die and live— So prominent with Paul is the readiness and liability for death that it stands as first and most probable. It contradicts the favourite fancy of Alford and others, that he expected not to die, but to live until the second advent, and undergo the resurrection “change.”

Die… with you—If it is to be martyrdom, I could lay my neck upon the same block; if by quiet death, upon a simultaneous pillow.

Live—He could spend his days, so far as affection was concerned, under the shadow of the Acro-corinthus, in the bosom of his dear Corinthian Church. So did James, at Jerusalem; and John, at Ephesus. But Paul was by mission the great itinerant. He could stay in one place only by imprisonment, as at Cesarea and at Rome.


Verse 4

4. Great—Paul cannot directly address the Corinthians (as at 2 Corinthians 6:1) without breaking into exultation.

Boldness—The fearlessness of a friendship that dares say any thing it pleases.

Great… glorying—A climax; as is also comfort and exceeding joyful. Paul was lovingly bold in speaking to them, and boastful in speaking of them. He spake to them in fearless love; he spake to them in (if we may so say) holy pride.

Tribulation—In every crisis of danger and damage, joy over his Corinthian Church was a cheer and an exultation.


Verse 5

b. His affection instanced by his anxiety until he heard from them, and joy at hearing of their loyalty, 2 Corinthians 7:5-16.

St. Paul instances his love for his Corinthians by calling to mind (as in 2 Corinthians 2:12-14, and 2 Corinthians 1:8-10) his intense suspense until he heard from them, and their heart towards him, by Titus.

5. Into Macedonia—His next stage and stopping place after passing through Troas, (2 Corinthians 2:12,) whence he is writing this epistle.

Our flesh—Our bodily and nervous system; in distinction from spirit, 2 Corinthians 2:13.

Fightings—Of the assailing Jews and heathens.

Fears—Anxieties for news from you.


Verse 6

6. Those that are cast down—In a word the lowly, whether in spirit, position, or magnitude. And beautiful is the characteristic ascribed here by our apostle’s faith to God; the God that consoles the lowly. Men are apt to fancy that God is too great to mind small things. But inability to care for the very smallest as well as the greatest would not be greatness, but a defect of greatness. God is truly so great, so truly omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent, that he can take as perfect a care of the smallest thing in immensity or in eternity as if that thing were the only thing in all the universe that he had to take care of. Our humblest prayer, our lightest thought, our most secret sin, are as perfectly known to him as if there were nothing else to know. And so our apostle believes with undoubting faith that God is the consoler of his humble sorrows.

By—Rather, in.

The coming—The very presence of Titus was refreshing to his spirit, apart from the message he brought.


Verse 7

7. The consolation wherewith he was comforted—Titus received consolation from the Corinthians; and that same consolation was transferred to St. Paul’s heart. So that Paul was consoled with the same consolation that Titus was by them.

Desire—Their longing for Paul’s presence in Corinth.

Mourning—For the sin which Paul rebuked in them in his first epistle.

Fervent mind—Your zeal in my behalf; that is, your readiness to maintain my cause and sustain my gospel.

The more—For his message in addition to his personal presence.


Verse 8

8. Now—Earnestly emphatic.

Now—After all that has past and I see the whole at a glance.


Verse 9

9. To repentance—Over their sorrow alone he could not rejoice: but over a sorrow merging into repentance he could rejoice.

Sorry after a godly manner—Literally, sorry according to God. A sorrow that has reference to God in contradistinction from a sorrow that regards the world.


Verse 10

10. Godly sorrow—Sorrow in view of God, his law and judgment.

Not to be repented of—An unrepentable repentance.

Death—Not only a visible death, by a wasting of the body, but an eternal death, from the impenitent, worldly, godless sorrow. Sad destiny, when temporal sorrow does but work an eternal sorrow!


Verse 11

11. Thing—Fact, circumstance.

Carefulness—Where there heretofore had been carelessness, viz., in not expelling the adulterous offender.

Clearing—From his guilt; either by showing to Titus that you had no responsibility for it, or by promptly proceeding to expel it.

Indignation— At the sin.

Fear—Of the divine penalty from the apostle’s interdict.

Desire—Longing for Paul’s presence.

Zeal—Earnest purpose to punish the transgressor.

Revenge—Used here in a good sense for justice against the guilty.

Clear—Free from blame in the final result.


Verse 12

12. His cause that had done the wrong—The incestuous transgressor.

That suffered—The father. Here St. Paul assures them that it was not to right the parties that he wrote, but to right the Church. There were countless adulterers in Corinth, but Paul did not interfere with them, as they belonged not to the Church, and so did not corrupt it.

Our care— Literally, that your zeal for us might be manifested among you before God. His object was to inspire among them a genuine Pauline zeal before God.


Verse 13

13. Your comfort… joy of Titus—Paul sympathized with both Corinth and Titus. Their comfort was his comfort; Titus’s joy was his joy.


Verse 14

14. Boasted… ashamed—Paul takes care to offer Titus to their high respect. Titus had justified his highest boasts.


Verse 16

16. Confidence—In this word is the final seal of settlement of all misgivings between St. Paul and his Corinthians. The agonies of suspense and distrust are all over, and their hearts are one. He will meet them again as their assured apostle. And he will now exhibit his confidence in their fidelity by moving them to open their pockets, and give a generous lead in furnishing funds for the poor saints at Jerusalem.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 7:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-corinthians-7.html. 1874-1909.

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