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THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 12

Verse 12. Seeing then that we have such hope. Hope properly is a compound emotion, made up of a desire for an object, and an expectation of obtaining it. If there is no desire for it, or if the object is not pleasant and agreeable, there is no hope, though there may be expectation -as in the expectation of the pestilence, of famine, or sickness, or death. If there is no expectation of it, but a strong desire, there is no hope, as in eases where there is a strong desire of wealth, or fame, or pleasure; or where a man is condemned for murder, and has a strong desire, but no prospect of pardon; or where a man is shipwrecked, and has a strong desire, but no expectation of again seeing his family and friends. In such cases, despondency or despair is the result. It is the union of the two feelings in proper proportions which constitutes hope. There has been considerable variety of views among expositors in regard to the proper meaning of the word in this place. Mr. Locke supposes that Paul here means the honourable employment of an apostle and minister of the gospel, or the glory belonging to the ministry in the gospel; and that his calling it "hope" instead of "glory," which the connexion would seem to demand, is the language of modesty. Rosenmuller understands it of the hope of the perpetual continuance of the gospel dispensation. Macknight renders it "persuasion" and explains it as meaning the full persuasion or assurance that the gospel excels the law in the manner of its introduction; its permanency, etc. A few remarks may, perhaps, make it clear.

(1.) It refers primarily to Paul, and the other ministers of the gospel. It is not properly the Christian hope, as such, to which he refers, but it is that which the ministers of the gospel had.

(2.) It refers to all that he had said before about the superiority of the gospel to the law; and is designed to express the result of all that on his mind, and on the minds of his fellow-labourers.

(3.) It refers to the prospect, confidence, persuasion, anticipation which he had as the effect of what he had just said, It is the prospect of eternal life; the clear expectation of acceptance, and the anticipation of heaven, based on the fact that this was a ministry of the Spirit, (2 Co 3:8;) that it was a ministry showing the way of justification, (2 Co 3:9;) and that it was never to be done away, but to abide for ever, 2 Co 3:11. On all these this strong hope was founded; and in view of these, Paul expressed himself clearly, not enigmatically; and not in types and figures, as Moses did. Everything about the gospel was clear and plain; and this led to the confident expectation and assurance of heaven. The word hope therefore, in this place, will express the effect on the mind of Paul in regard to the work of the ministry, produced by the group of considerations which he had suggested, showing that the gospel was superior to the law; and that it was the ground of more clear and certain confidence and hope than anything which the law could furnish.

We use. We employ; we are accustomed to. He refers to the manner in which he preached the gospel.

Great plainness of speech. Marg., boldness. We use the word "plainness," as applied to speech, chiefly in two senses:

(1.) to denote boldness, faithfulness, candour, in opposition to trimming, timidity, and unfaithfulness; and,

(2.) to denote clearness, intelligibleness, and simplicity, in opposition to obscurity, mist, and highly-wrought and laboured forms of expression. The connexion here shows that the latter is the sense in which the phrase here is to be understood. See 2 Co 3:13. It denotes openness, simplicity, freedom from the obscurity which arises from enigmatical, and parabolical, and typical modes of speaking. This stands in opposition to figure, metaphor and allegory—to an affected and laboured concealment of the idea in the manner which was common among the Jewish doctors and heathen philosophers, where their meaning was carefully concealed from the vulgar, and from all except the initiated. It stands opposed also to the necessary obscurity arising from typical institutions like those of Moses. And the doctrine of the passage is, that such is the clearness and fulness of the Christian revelation, arising from the fact that it is the last economy, and that it does not look to the future, that its ministers may and should use clear and intelligible language. They should not use language abounding in metaphor and allegory. They should not use unusual terms. They should not draw their words and illustrations from science. They should not use mere technical language. They should not attempt to vail or cloak their meaning. They should not seek a refined and overwrought style. They should use expressions which other men use; and express themselves as far as possible in the language of common life. What is preaching worth that is not understood? Why should a man talk at all, unless he is intelligible? Who was ever more plain and simple in his words and illustrations than the Lord Jesus?

{1} "plainness of speech" "boldness"

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