2 Corinthians

Paul's relationships with the Corinthians span a seven-year period. In AD 50-52 he spent a year and a half in Corinth establishing the church. Some time in 55 or 56 he made a second visit (2 Cor 13:2), what he calls a 'painful visit' (2:1), to deal with an emergency disciplinary problem in the church. In 56 or 57 he came to Corinth for the third time (13:1) and stayed for three months (Ac 20:3).

Paul wrote 2 Corinthians from Macedonia in the north of Greece after his second visit to Corinth, to prepare the church for his third, final visit. Paul had decided to phase himself out of his ministry to the provinces surrounding the Aegean Sea (Asia, Macedonia, Achaia) and to establish a new work in Spain, at the western extremity of the Empire (Ro 15:23-29).

Of the churches founded by Paul, the Corinthian church proved to be the most demanding. Their problems, both among themselves and in their relations with him, caused him to write not only the two lengthy letters we have, but also two others which have not survived - one written before, the other after, 1 Corinthians (1 Cor 5:9; 2 Cor 2:3-4; 7:8-12).

There are major differences of emotional tone between 1 and 2 Corinthians. The first epistle addresses behavioral problems (e.g., divisions, slack moral standards, lawsuits, unkindness to the poorer or less-gifted members) and doctrinal disagreements (e.g., doubts about the coming resurrection of believers). Certain members appear to doubt Paul's abilities and authority (1 Cor 2:1-5; 4:8-13). In responding, Paul is objective, calm, controlled and confident (1 Cor 9:2). However, the second letter is less well arranged and reveals a range of emotions from joy, confidence and pride (7:4) to the pain of rejection (6:12) and the feeling that they have 'put up' with him (11:1). Paul describes how the Corinthians have believed a whole range of criticisms, of being worldly and irresolute (1:17), of moral cowardice in writing instead of coming (1:23), of lacking inner strength (4:16), of being demoralized and theologically deviant (4:2), or being an impostor (6:8), of being corrupt and exploitative (7:2), of not being a true minister of Christ (10:7), of being weak in speech when present and powerful only by letter, when absent (10:1, 10; 11:6, 21), of being a fool, even mad (11:1, 16, 23), of breaching convention or of craftiness in declining financial support (11:7; 12:13-16), and of lacking mystical and miraculous credentials of ministry (12:1, 11-12). Throughout this letter Paul is forced to defend his doctrines, his ministry and his character. He is sorrowful that the Corinthians do not reciprocate the love he had for them (6:11-13) and that they do not acknowledge the genuineness of his apostleship and what, under God, has been achieved by him among them (3:1-3; 12:11-13). In spite of this, the letter ends on a positive note.

What lead to the differences between 1 and 2 Corinthians? First, there were cultural problems. Paul's relationships with these southern Greeks had been strained for some time. The first letter reveals that not all the Corinthians acknowledged Paul's authority as an apostle. Some preferred the ministry of Apollos, the gifted orator and an Alexandrian Jew who appealed to educated Greek members. Others preferred Cephas (Peter), a Palestinian Jew who had been a leading disciple among the original followers of Jesus. Both Apollos and Cephas had visited Corinth more recently than Paul, the manual worker with amateurish speaking abilities in an age in which rhetoric and oratory were highly valued. And while Paul was not above accepting money from the rustic northerners in Macedonia (11:7-9) he refused to accept money from the Corinthians in patronage of his ministry. Moreover, Paul was a hardliner and intolerant of wayward members still caught in pagan temple worship or fornication. His stand on church discipline made him unpopular but Paul was unafraid to confront ongoing and unresolved problems about idolatry and immorality and felt it necessary to admonish them in both his letters.

The second and major source of criticism of Paul arose, apparently, from the recent arrival of certain Jewish 'ministers' or 'apostles' (11:13, 23) who were trying to persuade the Corinthian church that Paul's theology was in error and, specifically, that the covenant of Moses was still in force. They argued for their legitimacy as ministers on the grounds of mystic and paranormal abilities, claiming that Paul lacked these superior gifts and, moreover, that he was personally and morally deficient in many ways. These intruders not only heightened some long-standing Corinthian criticisms of Paul but also created new complaints. Paul employs Greek rhetorical practices of 'comparison' and 'boasting' (chapters 10-11) in answering the newcomers. While there is debate as to their identity, there may be purpose behind Paul's decision not to name them.

Paul writes 2 Corinthians to prepare the way for his farewell visit to them. He explains why he deferred the third visit and wrote to them instead (chapters 1 and 2), expressing joy, nevertheless, that the moral problem which necessitated the second, painful visit and the (now lost) 'sorrowful' letter has been resolved (chapter 7). Paul also urges that the collection of money for the Jerusalem church, which had lapsed, be revived and completed before his arrival (chapters 8-9). The major part of the letter, however, is devoted to his answers to these recently arrived 'apostles' - to their 'different gospel' (chapters 3-6) and to their assault on his character (chapters 10-13).

1 1Paul, an apostle [apostolos]

Meant someone sent by, and acting as an agent for, someone else; a delegated representative.

of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and Timothy [Timotheos] our brother [adelphos], to the assembly [ekklēsia]

Studies in the social sciences have revealed that the Corinthian churches were predominantly middle-class, literate city dwellers, though with numbers of poorer members as well as slaves. A few members were drawn from the upper socio-economic echelons of Achaian society. There were Jews as well as Gentiles within the congregation. The word ekklesia would have been understood as an everyday term for a gathering of people or, more technically, for an official assembly such as a parliament or court (cf. Ac 19:39, 41 for an example of each use). In the LXX it was used of great 'gatherings' of the people of God, cf. Ju 20:2; 1 Chron 23:8; Ac 7:38.

of God which is at Corinth [Korinthō]

Corinth was located on a narrow isthmus which was fortunately placed to catch the east-west sea trade and the north-south land traffic. The Roman writer Strabo described Corinth as 'always great and wealthy'. The city is estimated by some moderns at approximately 750 000 people.

, with all the saints [agiois] who are in the whole of Achaia [Achaia]: 2Grace [charis]

The Greek cultural convention in ancient letters was for the writer to express pious wishes for the health and well-being of his readers, invoking the names of the gods. The apostle here introduces a distinctively Christian hope.

to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3Blessed [eulogētos]

The Jewish blessing of God (The First Benediction) would have been read out in synagogues of that time: 'Blessed art thou, O Lord our God and God of our fathers'.

be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies [oiktirmōn] and God of all comfort [paraklēseōs]

The God of the Greeks, by contrast, was indifferent to human pain. He existed, but possessed no knowable qualities and exerted no influence in the world.

; 4who comforts [parakaleō] us in all our affliction [thlipsei]

This word contains the idea of pressure which Paul felt as a result of his ministry. At Corinth he had been rebuffed and criticized. At Ephesus a city-wide riot had occurred over his ministry so that it was not longer safe for him to remain there.

, that we may be able to comfort [parakaleō] those who are in any affliction, through the comfort [paraklēseōs] with which we ourselves are comforted [parakaloumetha] by God. 5For as the sufferings [pathēmata] of Christ abound [perisseuō] to us, even so our comfort [paraklēsis] also abounds through Christ. 6But if we are afflicted [thlibō], it is for your comfort [paraklēseōs] and salvation. If we are comforted [parakaleō], it is for your comfort [paraklēsēos], which produces in you the patient enduring [hypomonē] of the same sufferings [pathēmatōn] which we also suffer [paschō]. 7Our hope for you is steadfast [bebaia], knowing that, since you are partakers [koinōnoi] of the sufferings [pathēmatōn], so also are you of the comfort [paraklēsēōs]. 8For we don't desire to have you uninformed [agnoein], brothers [adelphoi], concerning our affliction which happened to us in Asia [Asia], that we were weighed down exceedingly [kath'hyperbolēn], beyond our power [hyper dynamin]

Here there is a picture of a ship being weighed down as by the ballast, or of being 'crushed' (RSV). These ideas of power and weight are inverted so as to indicate the surpassing power of God's indescribable glory and the power of Christ perfected in weakness, cf. 2 Cor 4:7, 4:17 and 12:9.

, so much that we despaired even of life [zēn]. 9Yes, we ourselves have had the sentence of death within ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead, 10who delivered us out of so great a death, and does deliver; on whom we have set our hope that he will also still deliver us; 11you also helping together on our behalf by your supplication; that, for the gift [charisma] bestowed on us by means of many [pollōn prosōpōn]

Lit. 'out of many faces' which may be understood as a picture of many faces upturned to God in thanksgiving. According to Josephus, the Pharisees taught that human free will is the major factor in action, God merely co-operating with human decision, Jewish War II, 162-163. Paul here indicates that as the Corinthians are united in prayer for Paul they are 'working together' with God.

, thanks [eucharisteō] may be given by many persons on your behalf. 12For our boasting [kauchēsis]

Boasting of achievement was common among both Gentiles and Jews. As a matter of convention successful Roman soldiers commemorated their victories in wall paintings and in epic narratives. Cf. Lk 18:12.

is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and sincerity of God, not in fleshly wisdom [sophia sarkikē]

Complaints in Corinth arose from the changes Paul had made to his plans to come and see them before he finally withdrew from the Aegean region. Originally (Ac 19:21; 1 Cor 16:5-7), when the churches of Corinth and Ephesus were relatively stable, he had written that his withdrawal plan would be Asia - Macedonia - Achaia - Judea. But after writing 1 Corinthians it was necessary to make an unscheduled 'painful' visit (2:1) to Corinth during which he said that he would return to them before going to Macedonia (v15-16). However, instead of coming back to them immediately, he wrote a letter (1:23; 2:4), and reverted to his original plan to go first to Macedonia and then to Achaia. Unforeseen to Paul, a letter brought about a resolution to the problem (7:5-16) and the crisis in Ephesus necessitated his withdrawal (1:9). The upshot was that the Corinthians were accusing Paul of double-mindedness and worldly wisdom.

but in the grace [chariti] of God we behaved ourselves in the world, and more abundantly toward you. 13For we write no other things to you, than what you read or even acknowledge, and I hope you will acknowledge to the end; 14as also you acknowledged us in part, that we are your boasting, even as you also are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus. 15In this confidence, I was determined to come first to you, that you might have a second benefit; 16and by you to pass into Macedonia [Makedonian], and again from Macedonia [Makedonias] to come to you, and to be sent forward by you on my journey to Judea ['Ioudaian]. 17When I therefore was thus determined, did I show fickleness? Or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh [sarka], that with me there should be the "Yes, yes" and the "No, no?" 18But as God is faithful, our word [logos] toward you was not "Yes and no." 19For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, by me, Silvanus [Silouanou], and Timothy [Timotheou], was not "Yes and no," but in him is "Yes." 20For however many are the promises of God, in him is the "Yes." Therefore also through him is the "Amen," to the glory of God through us. 21Now he who establishes [bebaioō]

'Makes … stand firm' was used in business law to signify a seller's guarantee to honour a contract.

us with you in Christ, and anointed [chriō] us, is God; 22who also sealed [sphragizō]

The seal in antiquity was an impression made on wax by a special instrument (also called a seal) to indicate the ownership of a document.

us, and gave [didōmi] us the down payment [arrabōna]

The guarantee was a deposit or down-payment in pledge of payment in full. In modern Greek this word is also used of an engagement ring.

of the Spirit in our hearts [kardiais]. 23But I call God for a witness to my soul, that I didn't come to Corinth [Korinthon]to spare you. 24Not that we have lordship [kyrieuomen] over your faith [pisteōs], but are fellow workers [synergoi] with you for your joy [karas]. For you stand firm [histēmi] in faith [pistei].

2 1But I determined [krinō]

Verb also means 'judged', implying careful consideration in arriving at this decision.

this for myself, that I would not come to you again in sorrow. 2For if I make you sorry, then who will make me glad but he who is made sorry by me? 3And I wrote this very thing to you, so that, when I came, I wouldn't have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice [chairō]; having confidence in you all, that my joy [chara] would be shared by all of you. 4For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears, not that you should be made sorry, but that you might know the love [agapēn] that I have so abundantly for you. 5But if any has caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow, not to me, but in part (that I not press too heavily) to you all. 6Sufficient to such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the many; 7so that on the contrary you should rather forgive [charizomai] him and comfort [parakaleō] him, lest by any means such a one should be swallowed up with his excessive sorrow. 8Therefore I beg you to confirm your love [agapēn] toward him. 9For to this end I also wrote, that I might know the proof of you, whether you are obedient in all things. 10Now I also forgive [charizomai] whomever you forgive [charizomai] anything. For if indeed I have forgiven [charizomai] anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence [prosōpō] of Christ, 11that no advantage may be gained over us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes. 12Now when I came to Troas [Trōada]

Although scarcely mentioned by surviving documents of the ancient world, Troas appears in the NT as a transit city for travel between northern Greece and Asia Minor.

for the Good News [euangelion] of Christ, and when a door was opened to me in the Lord, 13I had no relief for my spirit [anesin tō pneumati], because I didn't find Titus [Titon], my brother [adelphon], but taking my leave [apotassomai] of them, I went out into Macedonia [Makedonian]. 14Now thanks [charis] be to God, who always leads us in triumph [thriambeuō]

A Roman military triumphal procession ('triumphas') was one of the grandest spectacles of ancient times. For over a thousand years, Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honour of a triumph, a tumultuous parade. The stipulations were that the victory was complete and decisive, that it was over a foreign foe, that at least five thousand of the enemy were slain in a single battle, that the conquest extended the territory of the state, and that it put an end to the war. When the senate decided that the conditions were met, a day for the procession was set and every arrangement for the pageant made. People crowded the streets, temples were decorated with flowers, and incense was burned on every altar. Fragrance from burning spices was smelt everywhere. The senate and chief citizens of the state were there to honour the conqueror and the richest spoils of war - gold, silver, weapons, standards, works of art - were carried in open view in the procession. In the procession came trumpeters and musicians and strange animals from conquered territories together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. Dazed prisoners walked in chains before him. The victorious general rode in a chariot drawn by four horses and wore a robe embroidered with gold and a tunic with flowers. In his right hand he carried a laurel bough, and in his left, a sceptre. On his brow was a wreath of Delphic laurel. Sometimes his children stood robed in white rode with him in the chariot or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning that all glory is fleeting.

The conqueror was carried through the streets amid shouts and applause to the temple of Jupiter, where sacrifices were made and a feast held. The most spectacular procession of the first century was the celebration of the conquest of the Jews when, in AD 71, the Emperor Vespasian and his son Titus rode in chariots through the streets of Rome behind their pathetic prisoners of war. Josephus records this at length (Jewish War vii, 132-157) and it is also depicted on the Titus Arch in Rome, where it may still be seen.

A triumphal return was the ultimate tribute that the Republic could pay to one of its own. Driven through the grateful streets, borne on the clamour of deafening applause and acclamation, a general on the day of his triumph became something more than a citizen, something more even than a man. Not only was he dressed in the gold and purple of a king, but his face was painted red like the holiest statue in Rome, that of Jupiter in the great temple on the Capitol. To partake of the divine was a glorious, intoxicating, perilous thing, and during the few brief hours when it was permitted a general became a spectacle of wonder and edification. To the Roman people who lined the streets to cheer him, he was living reassurance that ambition might indeed be sacred, that in struggling to reach the top, and to achieve great things, a citizen was fulfilling his duty to the Republic and to the gods.

in Christ, and reveals [phaneroō]

Lit. 'manifests'.

through us the sweet aroma [osmēn]

The burning of incense along the victory route was part of the ceremonial of the Roman triumph.

of his knowledge [gnōseōs] in every place. 15For we are a sweet aroma [euōdia] of Christ to God, in those who are saved [sozō], and in those who perish [apollymi]; 16to the one a stench [osmē] from death to death; to the other a sweet aroma [osmē] from life to life [zōēs eis zōēn]. Who is sufficient [hikanos] for these things? 17For we are not as so many, peddling [kapēleuō]

'Make gain by corrupting.' The verb used of these 'peddlers' was used of wine hawkers who watered down the pure vintage to make fraudulent profits, the implication being that the newcomers were receiving (excessive?) payment from the Corinthians in return for a diluted, weakened message.

the word [logon] of God. But as of sincerity [eilikrineias]

Lit. 'tested by the sun'.

, but as of God, in the sight of God, we speak in Christ.

3 1Are we beginning again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as do some, letters [epistolōn]

At that time such letters were common, and Paul himself used letters to introduce people to new congregations (Ro 16:1; 2 Cor 8:22; Col 4:7-8). The signatories were likely to have been extreme Judaistic Christians in Jerusalem whose emissaries, probably without James's support (cf. Ac 15:24), had embarked on a misguided programme of capturing Paul's churches for their own brand of Jewish Christianity.

of commendation to you or from you? 2You are our letter [epistolē], written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3being revealed that you are a letter [epistolē] of Christ, served [diakonētheisa] by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God [pneumati theou zōntes]; not in tablets of stone, but in tablets that are hearts of flesh [kardias sarkinais]. 4Such confidence we have through Christ toward God; 5not that we are sufficient [hikanoō] of ourselves, to account anything as from ourselves; but our sufficiency [ikanotēs] is from God; 6who also made us sufficient as servants [diakonous] of a new covenant [kainēs diathēkēs]; not of the letter [gramma], but of the Spirit. For the letter [gramma] kills, but the Spirit gives life [zōopoieō]. 7But if the service [diakonia] of death, written engraved on stones, came with glory [doxē], so that the children of Israel could not look steadfastly on the face of Moses for the glory of his face; which was passing away [katargeō]

If for modern people the problem with Christianity is its antiquity, the problem people had then was its novelty. People of those times venerated the past, believing that old ideas and customs went back to the gods. Cicero wrote that 'ancient times were closest to the gods' (De Legibus, 2.10.27). Doubtless these ministers pointed to Moses as a venerable figure and to their temple as an ancient institution. Moreover, the Jews were God's historic people who had, by that time, settled in many parts of the world and represented approximately a tenth of the population of the Roman Empire. The existence of numerous 'God fearers' or Gentile onlookers in the synagogues is evidence of the attractiveness of Judaism to many pagans. It would have been easy enough for the newcomers to dismiss Paul as a self-appointed, self-recommended upstart peddling a heretical, novel version of Judaism.

: 8won't service [diakonia] of the Spirit be with much more glory? 9For if the service [diakonia] of condemnation has glory, the service [diakonia] of righteousness [dikaiosynēs] exceeds much more in glory. 10For most certainly that which has been made glorious has not been made glorious in this respect, by reason of the glory that surpasses. 11For if that which passes away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory. 12Having therefore such a hope, we use great boldness of speech, 13and not as Moses, who put a veil on his face, that the children of Israel wouldn't look steadfastly on the end of that which was passing away. 14But their minds were hardened [pōrōsis], for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant [diathēkēs] the same veil remains, because in Christ it passes away. 15But to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. 16But whenever one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18But we all, with unveiled [anakalyptō]

Face-covering is associated with shame and mourning whereas to cover the face means confidence and freedom. Parresia (boldness) is equivalent to an Aramaic word which means 'to uncover the face'.

face beholding as in a mirror [katoptrizō] the glory [doxan] of the Lord, are transformed [metamorphoumetha] into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the Spirit [kyriou pneumatos].

4 1Therefore seeing we have this ministry [diakonian], even as we obtained mercy, we don't faint. 2But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word [logon] of God deceitfully; but by the manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. 3Even if our Good News [euangelion] is veiled, it is veiled in those who perish; 4in whom the god of this world [theos tou aiōnos] has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the Good News [euangeliou] of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn on them. 5For we don't preach [kēryssō]

In Paul's day 'preach' was not primarily a religious but a secular word, although the secular society of that period was also very religious and the keryx (herald, a person who brought important announcements from a king or emperor to his people, scattered throughout the kingdom) often proclaimed information from the king that was religious in character. An approximate modern equivalent to the keryx is the radio or television news broadcaster. The messengers are not permitted to embellish the message but to relay it clearly and accurately.

ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants [doulous] for Jesus' sake; 6seeing it is God who said, "Light will shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7But we have this treasure [thēsauron] in clay vessels [skeuesin], that the exceeding greatness [hyperbolē] of the power [dynameōs] may be of God, and not from ourselves. 8We are pressed on every side, yet not crushed; perplexed, yet not to despair; 9pursued, yet not forsaken; struck down, yet not destroyed; 10always carrying in the body [sōmati] the putting to death [nekrōsin]

Lit. 'dying'.

of the Lord Jesus, that the life [zōē] of Jesus may also be revealed in our body [sōmati]. 11For we who live [zōntes] are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life [zōē] also of Jesus may be revealed in our mortal flesh [thnētē sarki]. 12So then death works in us, but life [zōē] in you. 13But having the same spirit of faith, according to that which is written, "I believed, and therefore I spoke." We also believe, and therefore also we speak; 14knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will present us with you. 15For all things are for your sakes, that the grace [charis], being multiplied through the many, may cause the thanksgiving [eucharistian] to abound to the glory of God. 16Therefore we don't faint, but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man [esōthen]

Paul is not distinguishing, as the Greeks did, body from soul or body from mind, but rather is considering our total existence from different points of view. By 'outwardly' Paul means a mortal person belonging to this age which is 'passing away' (1 Cor 7:31). By 'inwardly' Paul refers to the person who already possesses the Spirit of the new age.

is renewed day by day. 17For our light affliction [thlipseōs], which is for the moment, works [katergazomai] for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory [doxēs]; 18while we don't look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal [aiōnia].

5 1For we know that if the earthly house of our tent [oikia tou skēnous]

This imagery is natural for Paul, an itinerant leather-worker who, among other things, made and repaired tents.

is dissolved, we have a building [oikodomēn] from God, a house [oikian] not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens [ouranois]. 2For most certainly in this we groan, longing to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven; 3if so be that being clothed we will not be found naked. 4For indeed we who are in this tent [skēnei] do groan, being burdened; not that we desire to be unclothed, but that we desire to be clothed, that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life [zoēs]. 5Now he who made us for this very thing is God, who also gave [didōmi] to us the down payment [arrabōna]

Used in Paul's time in commercial transactions; today the same Greek work is used for an engagement ring, pledging and guaranteeing the marriage day.

of the Spirit. 6Therefore, we are always confident [tharreō] and know that while we are at home [endēmeō] in the body [sōmati], we are absent [ekdēmeō] from the Lord; 7for we walk [peripateō] by faith, not by sight. 8We are of good courage [tharreō], I say, and are willing rather to be absent [ekdēmeō] from the body [somatas], and to be at home [ekdēmeō] with the Lord. 9Therefore also we make it our aim, whether at home or absent, to be well pleasing to him. 10For we must all be revealed [phaneroō] before the judgment seat [bēmatos]

In Roman cities the governor sat on the judgement seat to hear court cases, cf. Ac 18:12; Mt 27:19; 1 Cor 4:5.

of Christ; that each one may receive the things in the body [sōmatos], according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11Knowing therefore the fear [phobeomai] of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are revealed to God; and I hope that we are revealed also in your consciences. 12For we are not commending ourselves to you again, but speak as giving you occasion of boasting on our behalf, that you may have something to answer those who boast in appearance [prosōpō]

Lit. 'someone's face'.

, and not in heart. 13For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God. Or if we are of sober mind, it is for you. 14For the love [agapē] of Christ constrains us; because we judge [krinō] thus, that one died for [hyper]

Sometimes used in letter-writing where a scribe wrote in substitution for someone who was unable to write.

all, therefore all died. 15He died for [hyper] all, that those who live should no longer live to themselves, but to him who for their sakes died and rose again. 16Therefore we know [eidō] no one after the flesh [sarka] from now on. Even though we have known [ginōskō] Christ after the flesh, yet now we know [ginōskō] him so no more. 17Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. See [idou], all things have become new. 18But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, and gave to us the ministry [diakonian] of reconciliation; 19namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world [kosmon] to himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses, and having committed [tithēmi] to us the word [logon] of reconciliation. 20We are therefore ambassadors [presbeuomen] on behalf of [hyper] Christ, as though God were entreating by us: we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21For him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf [hyper]; so that in him we might become the righteousness [dikaiosynē] of God.

6 1Working together [synergeō], we entreat also that you not receive the grace [charin] of God in vain, 2for he says, "At an acceptable time I listened to you, in a day of salvation I helped you." Consider this [idou]; now is the acceptable time. Consider it [idou]; now is the day of salvation. 3We give no occasion of stumbling [proskopē] in anything, that our service [diakonia] may not be blamed, 4but in everything commending ourselves, as servants [diakonoi] of God, in great endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, 5in beatings, in imprisonments, in riots, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; 6in pureness, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in sincere love [agapē], 7in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the armour [hoplōn] of righteousness [dikaiosynēs] on the right hand and on the left, 8by glory and dishonours, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; 9as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and see [idou], we live; as punished, and not killed; 10as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. 11Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians [Korinthioi]. Our heart is enlarged. 12You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. 13Now in return, I speak as to my children, you also be open wide. 14Don't be unequally yoked with unbelievers, for what fellowship have righteousness [dikaiosynē] and iniquity [anomia]? Or what fellowship [koinōnia] has light with darkness? 15What agreement [symphōnēsis] has Christ with Belial [Beliar; Heb. B'liya'al]? Or what portion has a believer with an unbeliever? 16What agreement has a temple of God with idols [eidōlōn]

Corinth was, in Paul's words, a city of 'many "gods" and many "lords"'. A century later in his description of Corinth, Pausanias mentions, in addition to the temples of Apollo and Aphrodite, some twenty images 'in the open', six other temples of the Greek gods and five precincts for the 'Lords' of the 'mysteries' (Description of Greece, Book II, 2-5). Small dining rooms accommodating a dozen or so people formed part of these temple complexes. It was customary for hosts to invite friends to a meal in the name of a god. Prayers to the god would then occur during the banquet. While Paul did not in most circumstances disallow eating at home food previously offered to an idol before being sold in the shops, he strongly opposed believers eating such food in an idol's temple (1 Cor 8:10; 10:14-22).

? For you are a temple of the living God. Even as God said, "I will dwell [enoikeō] in them, and walk [emperipateō] in them; and I will be their God, and they will be my people." 17Therefore, "'Come out from among them, and be separate,' says the Lord. 'Touch no unclean thing. I will receive you. 18I will be to you a Father. You will be to me sons and daughters,' says the Lord Almighty [kyrios pantokratōr]."

7 1Having therefore these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh [sarkos] and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2Open your hearts to us. We wronged no one. We corrupted no one. We took advantage of no one. 3I say this not to condemn you, for I have said before, that you are in our hearts to die together and live together. 4Great is my boldness of speech toward you. Great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I overflow with joy in all our affliction. 5For even when we had come into Macedonia [Makedonian]

Sea travel being suspended for the winter months, we infer that Titus' absence from Troas by late autumn left Paul with no alternative but to sail (on the last ship?) for Macedonia. Of the three known churches in Macedonia - Beroea, Thessalonica, Philippi - the latter is the most likely alternative rendezvous to have been previously agreed on by Paul and Titus. Paul may have spent some time there awaiting the arrival of Titus and then writing this letter. The period of waiting could have been tense, with fears that thieves might have struck Titus down, especially if he had been expected to bring the collection with him.

, our flesh [sarx] had no relief, but we were afflicted on every side. Fightings were outside. Fear was inside. 6Nevertheless, he who comforts [parakaleō] the lowly, God, comforted [parakaleō] us by the coming of Titus [Titou]; 7and not by his coming only, but also by the comfort [paraklēsei] with which he was comforted in you, while he told us of your longing, your mourning, and your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced still more. 8For though I made you sorry with my letter [epistolē]

This was one of two letters that have not survived; see 1 Cor 5:9; 2 Cor 2:4.

, I do not regret [metamelomai] it, though I did regret it. For I see that my letter made you sorry, though just for a while [metanoian]. 9I now rejoice [chairō], not that you were made sorry [lupeō], but that you were made sorry to repentance [metanoian]. For you were made sorry in a godly way, that you might suffer loss by us in nothing. 10For godly sorrow works repentance [metanoian] to salvation [sōtērian], which brings no regret [ametameleton]

Notice word play with metamelomai above, v8.

. But the sorrow [lypē] of the world [kosmou] works death. 11For think of it [idou]: this same thing, that you were made sorry in a godly way, what earnest care it worked in you. Yes, what defense, indignation, fear, longing, zeal, and vengeance! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be pure in the matter. 12So although I wrote to you, I wrote not for his cause that did the wrong [adikeō]

Lit. 'an injustice'.

, nor for his cause that suffered the wrong, but that your earnest care for us might be revealed in you in the sight of God. 13Therefore we have been comforted [parakaleō]. In our comfort [paraklēsei] we rejoiced the more exceedingly for the joy of Titus [Titou], because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. 14For if in anything I have boasted to him on your behalf, I was not disappointed. But as we spoke all things to you in truth, so our glorying also which I made before Titus [Titou] was found to be truth. 15His affection [splagchna] is more abundantly toward you, while he remembers all of your obedience, how with fear and trembling you received him. 16I rejoice [chairō] that in everything I am of good courage concerning you.

8 1Moreover, brothers [adelphoi], we make known to you the grace [charin] of God which has been given in the assemblies of Macedonia [ekklesiais tēs Makedonias]

The letters to the Macedonian churches are The Thessalonians and Philippians. They can be contrasted with the Corinthians who, though prosperous, had proved to be tight-fisted; were quick to form factions, take one another to court, and parade their spiritual gifts (1 Cor 1:12; 6:1; 13:1-3). They were slow to show consideration to the poor and weak amongst them (1 Cor 11:21); and they tolerated, even boasted in, flagrant immorality (1 Cor 5:2). When new ministers from Judaea arrived, they quickly lost interest in Paul in favour of these more interesting new arrivals (11:4). Paul felt it necessary to repeatedly exhort the Corinthians to show love whereas the Macedonian churches are commended for their loving behaviour. The Philippians for example demonstrated their love by sending money and, on one occasion, the gift of a personal companion to Paul (Phil 4:16; 2:25-30).

; 2how that in much proof of affliction [thlipseōs] the abundance [perisseia] of their joy [charas] and their deep poverty abounded to the riches of their liberality. 3For according to their power, I testify, yes and beyond their power, they gave of their own accord, 4begging us with much entreaty [meta pollēs paraklēseōs] to receive this grace [charin] and the fellowship in the service to the saints [koinōnian tēs diakonias tēs eis tous agious]. 5This was not as we had hoped, but first they gave their own selves to the Lord, and to us through the will of God. 6So we urged Titus, that as he made a beginning before, so he would also complete in you this grace [charin]. 7But as you abound in everything, in faith, utterance, knowledge, all earnestness, and in your love [agapē] to us, see that you also abound in this grace [chariti]. 8I speak not by way of commandment, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity also of your love [agapēs]. 9For you know the grace [charin] of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might become rich. 10I give a judgment in this: for this is expedient for you, who were the first to start a year ago, not only to do, but also to be willing. 11But now complete the doing also, that as there was the readiness to be willing, so there may be the completion also out of your ability. 12For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what you have, not according to what you don't have. 13For this is not that others may be eased and you distressed, 14but for equality. Your abundance at this present time supplies their lack, that their abundance also may become a supply for your lack; that there may be equality. 15As it is written, "He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack." 16But thanks [charis] be to God, who puts the same earnest care [spoudēn] for you into the heart of Titus [Titou]. 17For he indeed accepted [dechomai] our exhortation [paraklēsin], but being himself very earnest, he went out to you of his own accord. 18We have sent together with him the brother [adelphon] whose praise in the Good News [euangeliō] is known through all the assemblies [ekklēsiōn]. 19Not only so, but who was also appointed by the assemblies [ekklēsiōn] to travel with us in this grace, which is served [diakoneō] by us to the glory of the Lord himself, and to show our readiness. 20We are avoiding this, that any man should blame us concerning this abundance which is administered [diakoneō] by us. 21Having regard for honourable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. 22We have sent with them our brother [adelphon], whom we have many times proved earnest in many things, but now much more earnest, by reason of the great confidence which he has in you. 23As for Titus [Titou], he is my partner [koinōnos] and fellow worker [koinōnos] for you. As for our brothers [adelphoi], they are the apostles [apostoloi] of the assemblies [ekklēsiōn], the glory [doxa] of Christ. 24Therefore show the proof [endeixin] of your love [agapēs] to them in front of the assemblies [ekklēsiōn], and of our boasting [kauchēseōs] on your behalf.

9 1It is indeed unnecessary for me to write to you concerning the service [diakonias] to the saints [agious], 2for I know your readiness, of which I boast on your behalf to them of Macedonia [Makedosin], that Achaia [Achaia] has been prepared for a year past. Your zeal has stirred up very many of them. 3But I have sent the brothers [adelphous] that our boasting on your behalf may not be in vain in this respect, that, just as I said, you may be prepared, 4so that I won't by any means, if there come with me any of Macedonia [Makedones] and find you unprepared, we (to say nothing of you) should be disappointed in this confident boasting. 5I thought it necessary therefore to entreat [parakaleō] the brothers [adelphous] that they would go before to you, and arrange ahead of time the generous gift that you promised before, that the same might be ready as a matter of generosity, and not of greediness. 6Remember this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly. He who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7Let each man give according as he has determined in his heart; not grudgingly, or under compulsion; for God loves [agapaō] a cheerful [hilaron] giver. 8And God is able to make all grace [charin] abound to you, that you, always having all sufficiency in everything, may abound to every good work [ergon agathon]. 9As it is written, "He has scattered abroad, he has given to the poor. His righteousness [dikaiosynē] remains forever." 10Now may he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, supply and multiply your seed for sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness [dikaiosynēs]; 11you being enriched in everything to all liberality, which works through us thanksgiving [eucharistian] to God. 12For this service [diakonia] of giving that you perform not only makes up for lack among the saints [agiōn], but abounds also through many givings of thanks [eucharistiōn] to God; 13seeing that through the proof given by this service [diakonia tēs leitourgias], they glorify [eucharistiōn] God for the obedience of your confession [homologias] to the Good News [euangelion] of Christ, and for the liberality of your contribution [koinōnias] to them and to all; 14while they themselves also, with supplication on your behalf, yearn for you by reason of the exceeding grace [charin] of God in you. 15Now thanks [charis] be to God for his unspeakable gift [dōrea]!

10 1Now I Paul, myself, entreat [parakaleō] you by the humility [praotētos] and gentleness [epieikeias] of Christ; I who in your presence am lowly among you, but being absent am of good courage toward you. 2Yes, I beg you that I may not, when present, show courage with the confidence with which I intend to be bold against some, who consider us to be walking according to the flesh [kata sarka peripateō]. 3For though we walk [peripateō] in the flesh [sarki], we don't wage war [strateuō]


While it had been a constant principle of the Republic that war should turn a profit, profit, to the Romans, had tended to mean plunder. If the barbarians followed conquest by taxation, the Romans pillaged with abandon, and then topped up funds with an indemnity or two.

according to the flesh [sarka]; 4for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh [sarkika], but mighty before God to the throwing down of strongholds [ochurōmatōn], 5throwing down imaginations and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; 6and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience will be made full. 7Do you look at things only as they appear in front of your face? If anyone trusts in himself that he is Christ's, let him consider this again with himself, that, even as he is Christ's, so also we are Christ's. 8For though I should boast somewhat abundantly concerning our authority, (which the Lord gave for building you up, and not for casting you down) I will not be disappointed, 9that I may not seem as if I desire to terrify you by my letters [epistolōn]. 10For, "His letters [epistolai]," they say, "are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence [parousia tou sōmatos]

Paul may have been unimposing and unimpressive. He may have lacked the high professionalism of the much-vaunted orators of the day. Perhaps the 'thorn of the flesh' was a distraction in a Greek world which admired physical beauty and leisure, while despising imperfection and manual labour. Measured against Greek values, Paul the tentmaker of amateurish speech and doubtful appearance, had little to commend him. Before he became a noted orator the young Demosthenes was subjected to ridicule in Athens on account of his poor physique and weak voice which were 'corrected' by arduous physical and vocal exercise. 'He corrected his lisp and his indistinct articulation by holding pebbles in his mouth while he recited long speeches and he strengthened his voice by running or walking uphill … reciting speeches … in a single breath' (Plutarch, The Age of Alexander).

is weak, and his speech is despised." 11Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters [tō logō di' 'epistolōn] when we are absent, such are we also in deed when we are present. 12For we are not bold to number [egkrinō] or compare [sygkrinō]

Comparison as a rhetorical device was widely practiced among the Greeks; cf. Lk 18:9-14. Paul thinks of comparisons as futile.

ourselves with some of those who commend themselves. But they themselves, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves with themselves, are without understanding [syniēmi]. 13But we will not boast [kauchaomai] beyond proper limits [ametra], but within the boundaries [kanōn]

This word originally applied to a carefully specified area in which local communities were obliged to provide donkeys and carts as public transport for Roman officials who were passing through.

with which God appointed to us, which reach even to you. 14For we don't stretch ourselves too much [hyperekteinō]

'Overextending ourselves'.

, as though we didn't reach to you. For we came even as far as to you with the Good News [euangeliō] of Christ, 15not boasting beyond proper limits [ametra] in other men's labours [kopois], but having hope that as your faith [pisteōs] grows, we will be abundantly enlarged by you in our sphere of influence, 16so as to preach the Good News [euangelizō] even to the parts [kanōni] beyond [hyperekeina]

Lit. 'not in another's rule'.

you, not to boast in what someone else has already done. 17But "he who boasts, let him boast in the Lord." 18For it isn't he who commends himself who is approved [dokimos], but whom the Lord commends.

11 1I wish that you would bear with me in a little foolishness [aphrosynē]

Lit. 'a mind-less person'; also 16, 21.

, but indeed you do bear with me. 2For I am jealous [zeloō] over you with a godly jealousy [zēlō]. For I married you to one husband, that I might present you as a pure virgin [parthenon agnēn] to Christ. 3But I am afraid that somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve in his craftiness, so your minds might be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4For if he who comes preaches another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or if you receive a different spirit, which you did not receive, or a different "good news [euangelion] ", which you did not accept, you put up with that well enough. 5For I reckon that I am not at all behind the very best apostles [hyperlian apostolōn]

Hyperlian does not occur elsewhere in the NT apart from 12:11. The word is not found elsewhere until writing of the medieval ages. Paul could have coined the compound word from hyper, above, and lian, very much. The word is ironic and means something like 'very superior'. Within chapters 10- 13, where he particularly inter- acts with his opponents, there are a number of compound words formed of hyper, 'above', 'beyond'. Cf. use of hyper in 10:14, 16; 11:23; 12:7; cf. 3:5-6; 11:21.

. 6But though I am unskilled in speech [logō]

Educated people in the major Hellenistic cities were greatly taken by those who were impressive public speakers, cf. interest shown by the Corinthians in Apollos. Orators trained their voices for hours and learned literally hundreds of rhetorical speaking devices, a few of which (such as comparison, simile and metaphor) are still recognized today. While Paul's letters reflect considerable rhetorical skill, he was, for some reason, unimpressive as a speaker, lit. a 'layman in speech'.

, yet I am not unskilled in knowledge. No, in every way we have been revealed to you in all things. 7Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted [hypsoō]

Continues word-play on hyper root.

, because I preached to you God's Good News [euangelion] free of charge [dōrean]

Lit. 'as a gift'. At that time it was customary for the wealthy to put other people under obligation by gifts and favours. The practice of patronage was deeply embedded in Graeco-Roman society. The expectation was that the affluent gave money to travelling philosophers and that this was received without question and with due deference and gratitude to one's patron. In declining the Corinthian's gifts Paul was, from their viewpoint, in serious breach of social convention. But worse than declining their money, Paul had actually done manual work to support himself. By lowering himself in this way which the Greeks despised, Paul evangelized them, lifting them out of the morass of their former evil lifestyle. Paul does not give his reasons for declining to accept financial support in Corinth. One likely consideration in his mind may have been that Corinth, due to its position and wealth, was plagued with visiting money-hungry prophets and philosophers. In provincial, unsophisticated Macedonia the apostle could perhaps accept support without compromising the gospel, but not in Achaia, v10.

? 8I robbed other assemblies [ekklēsias], taking wages from them that I might serve [diakonian] you. 9When I was present with you and was in need, I wasn't a burden on anyone, for the brothers [adelphoi], when they came from Macedonia [Makedonias], supplied the measure of my need. In everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and I will continue to do so. 10As the truth of Christ is in me, no one will stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia [Achaias]. 11Why? Because I don't love [agapaō] you? God knows. 12But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them that desire an occasion, that in which they boast, they may be found even as we. 13For such men are false apostles [pseudapostoloi], deceitful workers, masquerading [metaschēmatizō]

May refer to ecstatic speech (5:13), the visions and revelations (12:1, 7) and the miracles (12:12) with which the newcomers clothed themselves.

as Christ's apostles [apostolous]. 14And no wonder, for even Satan masquerades [metaschēmatizō] as an angel of light [angelon phōtos]

May refer to certain Jewish legends which told of Satan coming to and deceiving Eve in the disguise of an angel.

. 15It is no great thing therefore if his servants [diakonoi] also masquerade [metaschēmatizō] as servants of righteousness [diakonoi dikaiosynēs]

Suggests service of the Jewish law and of Pharisaism.

, whose end will be according to their works. 16I say again, let no one think me foolish. But if so, yet receive me as foolish [ōs aphrona], that I also may boast [kauchaomai]

Through Christian influence on Western values, boasting is regarded as brash and impolite. Humility and self-effacement have traditionally been regarded as virtues. In Paul's day it was quite otherwise. People in Graeco-Roman antiquity possessed no hope of glory in an after-life. A detached immortality was the most one could expect. Therefore it was customary to achieve 'glory' in this life, and to boast of one's achievements in this life. Thus citizens and soldiers, without embarrassment and as a social convention, outdid one another in boasting of military and political achievements. These were listed on monuments or public buildings, depicted in household murals, or set forth in epic narratives. A good example is the Res Gestae of the Emperor Augustus in which he proudly recounts his many victories, official positions in Roman society, successfully completed buildings and other accomplishments. Boasting was also commonplace among the Jews (cf. Lk 18:9-12 and the echoes of earlier boasting in Phil 3:4-6). Here, in what must have been a daring exercise in antiquity, Paul takes the literary convention of boasting and inverts it. His boast is in folly, weakness, disappointment and defeat. One of the Roman soldier's most glorious achievements in battle, the corona muralis, was awarded for being the first over the wall of the city under siege. As Christ's fool, Paul boasts of being lowered down a wall as a fugitive (32-33).

a little [micron]. 17That which I speak, I don't speak according to the Lord, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of boasting. 18Seeing that many boast after the flesh [kata sarka], I will also boast. 19For you bear with the foolish gladly, being wise. 20For you bear with a man, if he brings you into bondage [katadouloō], if he devours you, if he takes you captive, if he exalts himself, if he strikes you on the face. 21I speak by way of disparagement, as though we had been weak. Yet however any is bold (I speak in foolishness), I am bold also. 22Are they Hebrews [Hebraioi]

A word used for those who were descended from the patriarchs.

? So am I. Are they Israelites [Israēlitai]

Those who were by race and religion Jewish.

? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. 23Are they servants [diakonoi] of Christ? (I speak as one beside himself) I am more [hyper egō]

Paul here boasts of being 'more' a servant of Christ than his opponents, the 'superapostles', because he has suffered greater ignominy. Truly Paul's opponents are hyper-men, aptly described as 'very superior', hyperlian. It was their belief, apparently, that God's power would come upon their power, making them men of hyper-power. In their eyes Paul had no power of his own and therefore none from God; he was quite power-less, 'weak' and lacking in 'competence' (cf 3:5-6; 11:21).

. so; in labours more abundantly, in prisons more abundantly, in stripes [plēgais] above measure [hyperballontōs], in deaths often. 24Five times from the Jews I received forty stripes minus one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I suffered shipwreck. I have been a night and a day in the deep. 26I have been in travels often, perils of rivers, perils of robbers, perils from my countrymen, perils from the Gentiles [ethnōn], perils in the city, perils in the wilderness, perils in the sea, perils among false brothers [pseudadelphois]; 27in labour and travail, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, and in cold and nakedness. 28Besides those things that are outside, there is that which presses on me daily, anxiety for all the assemblies [ekklēsiōn]. 29Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is caused to stumble, and I don't burn with indignation? 30If I must boast, I will boast of the things that concern my weakness. 31The God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, he who is blessed [eulogētos] forevermore, knows that I don't lie. 32In Damascus [Damaskō] the governor [ethnarches] under King Aretas [Areta tou basileōs] guarded the city of the Damascenes [Damaskēnōn] desiring to arrest me. 33Through a window I was let down in a basket [sarganē] by the wall, and escaped his hands.

12 1It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. For I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2I know a man in Christ, fourteen years ago (whether in the body [sōmati], I don't know, or whether out of the body [sōmatos], I don't know; God knows), such a one caught up [arpazō] into the third heaven. 3I know such a man (whether in the body, or outside of the body, I don't know; God knows), 4how he was caught up [arpazō] into Paradise [paradeison], and heard unspeakable words [aprētarēmata], which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 5On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in my weaknesses. 6For if I would desire to boast, I will not be foolish; for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, so that no man may think more of me than that which he sees in me, or hears from me. 7By reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations [hyperbolē tōn apocalypseōn], that I should not be exalted excessively [hyperairō]

'Super-elation' or being 'uplifted'; the Greek word could almost mean 'airborne'.

, there was given to me a thorn [skolops]

Can mean either a 'stake' which pegged him to the ground or a 'splinter' (or thorn) which constantly irritated him.

in the flesh [sarki], a messenger [angelos] of Satan to torment [kolapsizō] me, that I should not be exalted excessively [hyperairō]. 8Concerning this thing, I begged the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9He has said to me, "My grace [charis] is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect [teleioō] in weakness [astheneia]." Most gladly therefore I will rather glory [kauchaomai] in my weaknesses [astheneiais], that the power of Christ may rest [episkēnoō]

'May dwell'.

on me. 10Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses [astheneiais], in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions [diōgmois], in distresses, for [hyper] Christ's sake. For when I am weak [asthenō], then am I strong [dynatos]. 11I have become foolish in boasting. You compelled me, for I ought to have been commended by you, for in nothing was I inferior to the very best apostles [hyperlian apostolōn], though I am nothing. 12Truly the signs [sēmeia] of an apostle [apostolou] were worked among you in all patience, in signs [semeiois]

A literal translation is, "The signs of an apostle were performed among you in all endurance with signs and wonders and miracles"; i.e., not that the signs of an apostle are miracles, but rather that the signs of an apostle are accompanied by signs, wonders, and miracles.

and wonders [terasin] and mighty works [dynamesin]. 13For what is there in which you were made inferior to the rest of the assemblies [ekklēsias], unless it is that I myself was not a burden to you? Forgive [charizomai] me this wrong. 14Look [idou], this is the third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be a burden to you; for I seek not your possessions, but you. For the children ought not to save up for the parents, but the parents for the children. 15I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love [agapaō] you more abundantly, am I loved the less? 16But be it so, I did not myself burden you. But, being crafty, I caught you with deception. 17Did I take advantage of you by anyone of them whom I have sent to you? 18I exhorted [parakaleō] Titus [Titon], and I sent the brother [adelphon] with him. Did Titus [Titos] take any advantage of you? Didn't we walk [peripateō] in the same spirit? Didn't we walk in the same steps? 19Again, do you think that we are excusing ourselves to you? In the sight of God we speak in Christ. But all things, beloved [agapētoi], are for your edifying. 20For I am afraid that by any means, when I come, I might find you not the way I want to, and that I might be found by you as you don't desire; that by any means there would be strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, whisperings, proud thoughts, riots; 21that again when I come my God would humble me before you, and I would mourn for many of those who have sinned before now, and not repented of the uncleanness and sexual immorality and lustfulness which they committed.

13 1This is the third time I am coming to you. "At the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established." 2I have said beforehand, and I do say beforehand, as when I was present the second time, so now, being absent, I write to those who have sinned before now, and to all the rest, that, if I come again, I will not spare; 3seeing that you seek a proof of Christ who speaks in me; who toward you is not weak, but is powerful in you. 4For he was crucified through weakness, yet he lives [zō] through the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we will live with him through the power of God toward you. 5Test [peirazō] your own selves, whether you are in the faith. Test [dokimazō] your own selves. Or don't you know [epiginēskō] as to your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you are disqualified [adokimoi]

That is, 'dis-proved'.

. 6But I hope that you will know [gnorizō] that we aren't disqualified [adokimoi]. 7Now I pray to God that you do no evil; not that we may appear approved, but that you may do that which is honourable, though we are as reprobate. 8For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. 9For we rejoice when we are weak and you are strong. And this we also pray for, even your perfecting [katartisin]

Or, 'mending'; the same verb that is used of James and John when they were 'mending' their nets (Mk 1:19).

. 10For this cause I write these things while absent, that I may not deal sharply when present, according to the authority which the Lord gave me for building up, and not for tearing down. 11Finally, brothers [adelphoi], rejoice [chairō]. Be perfected [katartizō], be comforted [parakaleō], be of the same mind [auto phroneite], live in peace, and the God of love [agapēs] and peace will be with you. 12Greet [aspazomai] one another with a holy kiss. 13All the saints [agioi] greet you. 14The grace [charis] of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love [agapē] of God, and the fellowship [koinōnia] of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen [amēn].

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