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THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 11 - Verse 4
Verse 4. For if he that cometh, etc. There is much difficulty in this verse in ascertaining the true sense, and expositors have been greatly perplexed and divided in opinion, especially with regard to the true sense of the last clause, "ye might well bear with him." It is difficult to ascertain whether Paul meant to speak ironically or seriously; and different views will prevail, as different views are taken of the design. If it be supposed that he meant to speak seriously, the sense will be, "If the false teacher could recommend a better Saviour than I have done, or a Spirit better able to sanctify and save, then there would be a propriety in your receiving him, and tolerating his doctrines." If the former, then the sense will be, "You cannot well bear with me; but if a man comes among you preaching a false Saviour, and a false Spirit, and a false doctrine, then you bear with him without any difficulty." Another interpretation still has been proposed, by supposing that the word "me" is to be supplied at the close of the verse instead of "him;" and then the sense would be, "If you receive so readily one who preaches another gospel, one who comes with far less evidence that he is sent from God than I have, and if you show yourselves thus ready to fall in with any kind of teaching that may be brought to you, you might at least bear with me also." Amidst this variety it is not easy to ascertain the true sense. To me it seems probable, however, that Paul spoke seriously, and that our translation has expressed the true sense. The main idea doubtless is, that Paul felt that there was danger that they would be corrupted. If they could bring a better gospel, a more perfect system, and proclaim a more perfect Saviour, there would be no such change. But that could not be expected. It could not be done. If, therefore, they preached any other Saviour or any other gospel—if they departed from the truths which he had taught them—it would be for the worse. It could not be otherwise. The Saviour whom he preached was perfect, and was able to save. The Spirit which he preached was perfect, and able to sanctify. The gospel which he preached was perfect, and there was no hope that it could be improved. Any change must be for the worse; and as the false teachers varied from his instructions, there was every reason to apprehend that their minds would be corrupted from the simplicity that was in Christ. The principal idea therefore is, that the gospel which he preached was as perfect as it could be, and that any change would be for the worse. No doctrine which others brought could be recommended because it was better. By the phrase "he that cometh" is meant, doubtless, the false teacher in Corinth.
Preacheth another Jesus. Proclaims one who is more worthy of your love, and more able to save. If he that comes among you and claims your affections can point out another Christ who is more worthy of your confidence, then I admit that you do well to receive him. It is implied here that this could not be done. The Lord Jesus, in his character and work, is perfect. No Saviour superior to him has been provided; none but he is necessary.
Whom we have not preached. Let them show, if they can, that they have any Saviour to tell of whom we have not preached. We have given all the evidence that we are sent by God, and have laid all the claim to your confidence, which they can do for having made known the Saviour. They, with all their pretensions, have no Saviour to tell you of with whom we have not already made you acquainted. They have no claims therefore, from this quarter, which we have not also.
Or if ye receive another spirit, etc. If they can preach to you another Sanctifier and Comforter; or if under their ministry you have received higher proofs of the power of the Spirit in performing miracles, in the gift of tongues, in renewing sinners, and in comforting your hearts. The idea is, that Paul had proclaimed the existence and agency of the same Holy Spirit which they did; that his preaching had been attended with as striking proofs of the presence and power of that Spirit; that he had all the evidence of a Divine commission from such an influence attending his labours which they could possibly have. They could reveal no spirit better able to sanctify and save; none who had more power than the Holy Spirit which they had received under the preaching of Paul; and there was therefore no reason why they should be "corrupted" or seduced from the simple doctrines which they had received, and follow others.
Or another gospel, etc. A gospel more worthy of your acceptance —one more free, more full, more rich in promises; one that revealed a better plan of salvation, or that was more full of comfort and peace.
Ye might well bear with him. Marg.,"with me." The word "him" is not in the Greek; but is probably to be supplied. The sense is, There would then be some excuse for your conduct. There would be some reason why you should welcome such teachers; But if this cannot be done; if they can preach no other and no better gospel and Saviour than I have done, then there is no excuse. There is no reason why you should follow such teachers, and forsake those who were your earliest guides in religion. Let us never forsake the gospel which we have, till we are sure we can get a better. Let us adhere to the simple doctrines of the New Testament, until some one can furnish better and clearer doctrines. Let us follow the rules of Christ in our opinions and our conduct—our plans, our mode of worship, our dress, and our amusements, engagements, and company—until we can certainly ascertain that there are better rules. A man is foolish for making any change until he has evidence that he is likely to better himself: and it remains yet to be proved that any one has ever bettered himself or his family by forsaking the simple doctrines of the Bible, and embracing a philosophical speculation; by forsaking the scriptural views of the Saviour as the incarnate God, and embracing the views which represent him as a mere man; by forsaking the simple and plain rules of Christ about our manner of life, our dress, and our words and actions, and embracing those which are recommended by mere fashion and by the customs of a gay world.
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