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THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 1 - Verse 12
Verse 12. For our rejoicing is this. The source or cause of our rejoicing. "I have a just cause of rejoicing; and it is, that I have endeavoured to live a life of simplicity and godly sincerity, and have not been actuated by the principles of worldly wisdom." The connexion here is not very obvious, and it is not quite easy to trace it. Most expositors, as Doddridge, Locke, Macknight, Bloomfield, etc. suppose that he mentions the purity of his life as a reason why he had a right to expect their prayers, as he had requested in 2 Co 1:11. They would not doubt, it is supposed, that his life had been characterized by great simplicity and sincerity, and would feel, therefore, a deep interest in his welfare, and be disposed to render thanks that he had been preserved in the day of peril. But the whole context and the scope of the passage are rather to be taken into view. Paul had been exposed to death, he had no hope of life. Then the ground of his rejoicing and of his confidence was, that he had lived a holy life. he had not been actuated by "fleshly wisdom," but he had been animated and guided by "the grace of God." His aim had been simple, his purpose holy, and he had the testimony of his conscience that his motives had been right; and he had, therefore, no concern about the result. A good conscience, a holy life through Jesus Christ, will enable a man always to look calmly on death. What has a Christian to fear in death? Paul had kept a good conscience towards all; but he says that he had special and peculiar joy that he had done it towards the Corinthians. This he says, because many there had accused him of fickleness, and of disregard for their interests. He declares, therefore, that even in the prospect of death he had a consciousness of rectitude towards them, and proceeds to show 2 Co 1:13-23 that the charge against him was not well-founded. I regard this passage, therefore, as designed to express the fact that Paul, in view of sudden death, had a consciousness of a life of piety, and was comforted with the reflection that he had not been actuated by the "fleshly wisdom" of the world.
The testimony of our conscience. An approving conscience. It does not condemn me on the subject. Though others might accuse him, though his name might be calumniated, yet he had comfort in the approval which his own conscience gave to his course. Paul's conscience was enlightened, and its decisions were correct. Whatever others might charge him with, he knew what had been the aim and purpose of his life; and the consciousness of upright aims, and of such plans as the "grace of God" would prompt to, sustained him. An approving conscience is of inestimable value when we are calumniated—and when we draw near to death.
That in simplicity. en aplothti. Tindal renders this forcibly, "without doubleness." The word means sincerity, candour, probity, plain-heartedness, Christian simplicity, frankness, integrity. See 2 Co 11:3. It stands opposed to double-dealings and purposes; to deceitful appearances, and crafty plans; to mere policy, and craftiness in accomplishing an object. A man under the influence of this, is straightforward, candid, open, frank; and he expects to accomplish his purpose by integrity and fair dealing, and not by stratagem and cunning. Policy, craft, artful plans, and deep-laid schemes of deceit belong to the world; simplicity of aim and purpose are the true characteristics of a real Christian.
And godly sincerity. Greek, "Sincerity of God." This may be a Hebrew idiom, by which the superlative degree is indicated; when, in order to express the highest degree, they added the name of God, as in the phrases "mountains of God," signifying the highest mountains, or "cedars of God," denoting lofty cedars. Or it may mean such sincerity as God manifests and approves; such as he, by his grace, would produce in the heart; such as the religion of the gospel is fitted to produce. The word used here, eilikrineia, and rendered sincerity, denotes, properly, clearness, such as is judged of or discerned in sunshine, (from eilh and krinw,) and thence pureness, integrity. It is most probable that the phrase here denotes that sincerity which God produces and approves; and the sentiment is, that pure religion, the religion of God, produces entire sincerity in the heart. Its purposes and aims are open and manifest, as if seen in the sunshine. The plans of the world are obscure, deceitful, and dark, as if in night.
Not with fleshly wisdom. Not with the wisdom which is manifested by the men of this world; not by the principles of cunning, and mere policy, and expediency, which often characterize them. The phrase here stands opposed to simplicity and sincerity, to openness and straightforwardness. And Paul means to disclaim for himself, and for his fellow-labourers, all that carnal policy which distinguishes the mere men of the world. And if Paul deemed such policy improper for him, we should deem it improper for us; if he had no plans which he wished to advance by it, we should have none; if he would not employ it in the promotion of good plans, neither should we. It has been the curse of the church and the bane of religion; and it is to this day exerting a withering and blighting influence on the church. The moment that such plans are resorted to, it is proof that the vitality of religion is gone; and any man who feels that his purposes cannot be accomplished but by such carnal policy, should set it down as full demonstration that his plans are wrong, and that his purpose should be abandoned.
But by the grace God. This phrase stands opposed, evidently, to "fleshly wisdom." It means that Paul had been influenced by such sentiments and principles as would be suggested or prompted by the influence of his grace. Locke renders it, "By the favour of God directing me." God had shown him favour; God had directed him; and he had kept him from the crooked and devious ways of mere worldly policy. The idea seems to be not merely that he had pursued a correct and upright course of life, but that he was indebted for this to the mere grace and favour of God—an idea which Paul omitted no opportunity of acknowledging.
We have had our conversation. We have conducted ourselves, (anestrafhmen.) The word here used means, literally, to turn up, to overturn; then to turn back, to return, and, in the middle voice, to turn one's self around, to turn one's self to anything, and, also, to move about in, to live in, to be conversant with, to conduct one's self. In this sense it seems to be used here. Comp. Heb 10:33; 13:18; 1 Ti 3:15; 1 Pe 1:17.
The word conversation we usually apply to oral discourse; but in the Scriptures it means conduct; and the sense of the passage is, that Paul had conducted himself in accordance with the principles of the grace of God, and had been influenced by that.
In the world. Everywhere; wherever I have been. This does not mean in the world, as contradistinguished from the church; but in the world at large, or wherever he had been, as contradistinguished from the church at Corinth. It had been his common and universal practice.
And more abundantly to you-ward. Especially towards you. This was added, doubtless, because there had, been charges against him in Corinth, that he had been crafty, cunning, deceitful, and especially that he had deceived them, 2 Co 1:17, in not visiting them as he had promised. He affirms, therefore, that in all things he had acted in the manner to which the grace of God prompted, and that his conduct, in all respects, had been that of entire simplicity and sincerity.
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