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2 Corinthians 12


2Cor 12:1

I must needs glory (καυχασθα δε). This is the reading of B L Latin Syriac, but Aleph D Bohairic have δε while K M read δη. The first is probably correct. He must go on with the glorying already begun, foolish as it is, though it is not expedient (ου συμφερον).

Visions (οπτασιας). Late word from οπταζω. See on Lu 1:22; Ac 26:19 .

Revelations of the Lord (αποκαλυψεις Κυριου). Unveilings (from αποκαλυπτω as in Re 1:1 ). See on 2Th 1:7; 1Co 1:7; 14:26 . Paul had both repeated visions of Christ (Ac 9:3; 16:9; 18:9; 22:17; 27:23f. ) and revelations. He claimed to speak by direct revelation (1Co 11:23; 15:3; Ga 1:12; Eph 3:3 , etc.).


2Cor 12:2

I know a man (οιδα ανθρωπον). Paul singles out one incident of ecstasy in his own experience that he declines to describe. He alludes to it in this indirect way as if it were some other personality.

Fourteen years ago (προ ετων δεκατεσσαρων). Idiomatic way of putting it, the preposition προ (before) before the date (Robertson, Grammar, p. 621f.) as in Joh 12:1 . The date was probably while Paul was at Tarsus (Ac 9:30; 11:25 ). We have no details of that period. Caught up (αρπαγεντα). Second aorist passive participle of αρπαζω, to seize (see on Mt 11:12 ). Even to the third heaven (εως τριτου ουρανου). It is unlikely that Paul alludes to the idea of seven heavens held by some Jews (Test. of the Twelve Pat., Levi ii. iii.). He seems to mean the highest heaven where God is (Plummer).


2Cor 12:3

I do not know (ουκ οιδα). Paul declines to pass on his precise condition in this trance. We had best leave it as he has told it.


2Cor 12:4

Into Paradise (εις παραδεισον). See on Lu 23:43 for this interesting word. Paul apparently uses paradise as the equivalent of the third heaven in verse 2. Some Jews (Book of the Secrets of Enoch, chapter viii) make Paradise in the third heaven. The rabbis had various ideas (two heavens, three, seven). We need not commit Paul to any "celestial gradation" (Vincent).

Unspeakable words (αρρητα ρηματα). Old verbal adjective (α privative, ρητος from ρεω), only here in N.T.

Not lawful (ουκ εξον). Copula εστιν omitted. Hence Paul does

not give these words.


2Cor 12:5

But on mine own behalf (υπερ δε εμαυτου). As if there were two Pauls. In a sense there were. He will only glory in the things mentioned above, the things of his weaknesses ( 11:30).


2Cor 12:6

I shall not be foolish (ουκ εσομα αφρων). Apparent contradiction to 11:1,16 . But he is here speaking of the Paul "caught up" in case he should tell the things heard (condition of the third class, εαν and first aorist subjunctive θελησω).

Of me (εις εμε). To my credit, almost like dative (cf. εν εμο in 1Co 14:11 ).


2Cor 12:7

By reason of the exceeding greatness (τη υπερβολη). Instrumental case, "by the excess."

That I should not be exalted overmuch (ινα μη υπεραιρωμα). Present passive subjunctive in final clause of υπεραιρω, old verb to lift up beyond, only here in N.T. This clause is repeated at the end of the sentence.

A thorn in the flesh (σκολοπς τη σαρκ). This old word is used for splinter, stake, thorn. In the papyri and inscriptions examples occur both for splinter and thorn as the meaning. In the LXX it is usually thorn. The case of τη σαρκ can be either locative (in) or dative (for). What was it? Certainly it was some physical malady that persisted. All sorts of theories are held (malaria, eye-trouble, epilepsy, insomnia, migraine or sick-headache, etc.). It is a blessing to the rest of us that we do not know the particular affliction that so beset Paul. Each of us has some such splinter or thorn in the flesh, perhaps several at once.

Messenger of Satan (αγγελος Σατανα). Angel of Satan, the affliction personified.

Buffet (κολαφιζη). See on Mt 26:67; 1Co 4:11 for this late and rare word from κολαφος, fist. The messenger of Satan kept slapping Paul in the face and Paul now sees that it was God's will for it to be so.


2Cor 12:8

Concerning this thing (υπερ τουτου). More likely, "concerning this messenger of Satan."

That it might depart from me (ινα αποστη αφ' εμου). Second aorist active (intransitive) subjunctive of αφιστημ in final clause, "that he stand off from me for good."


2Cor 12:9

He hath said (ειρηκεν). Perfect active indicative, as if a final word. Paul probably still has the thorn in his flesh and needs this word of Christ.

Is sufficient (αρκε). Old word of rich meaning, perhaps kin to Latin arceo, to ward off against danger. Christ's grace suffices and abides.

Is perfected (τελειτα). Present passive indicative of τελεω, to finish. It is linear in idea. Power is continually increased as the weakness grows. See Php 4:13 for this same noble conception. The human weakness opens the way for more of Christ's power and grace.

Most gladly rather (ηδιστα μαλλον). Two adverbs, one superlative (ηδιστα), one comparative (μαλλον). "Rather" than ask any more (thrice already) for the removal of the thorn or splinter "most gladly will I glory in my weaknesses." Slowly Paul had learned this supreme lesson, but it will never leave him (Ro 5:2; 2Ti 4:6-8 ).

May rest upon me (επισκηνωση επ' εμε). Late and rare verb in first aorist active subjunctive with ινα (final clause), to fix a tent upon, here upon Paul himself by a bold metaphor, as if the Shechinah of the Lord was overshadowing him (cf. Lu 9:34 ), the power (δυναμις) of the Lord Jesus.


2Cor 12:10

Wherefore I take pleasure (διο ευδοκω). For this noble word see on Mt 3:17; 2Co 5:8 . The enemies of Paul will have a hard time now in making Paul unhappy by persecutions even unto death (Php 1:20-26 ). He is not courting martyrdom, but he does not fear it or anything that is "for Christ's sake" (υπερ Χριστου).

For when (οταν γαρ). "For whenever," indefinite time.

Then I am strong (τοτε δυνατος ειμ). At that very time, but not in myself, but in the fresh access of power from Christ for the emergency.


2Cor 12:11

I am become foolish (γεγονα αφρων). Perfect active indicative of γινομα. In spite of what he said in verse 6 that he would not be foolish if he gloried in the other Paul. But he feels that he has dropped back to the mood of 11:1,16 . He has been swept on by the memory of the ecstasy.

For I ought to have been commended by you (εγω γαρ ωφειλον υφ' υμων συνιστασθα). Explanation of "ye compelled me." Imperfect active ωφειλον of οφειλω, to be under obligation, and the tense here expresses an unfulfilled obligation about the present. But συνιστασθα is present passive infinitive, not aorist or perfect passive. He literally means, "I ought now to be commended by you" instead of having to glorify myself. He repeats his boast already made (11:5f. ), that he is no whit behind "the super-extra apostles" (the Judaizers), "though I am nothing" (ε κα ουδεν ειμ). Even boasting himself against those false apostles causes a reaction of feeling that he has to express (cf. 1Co 15:9; 1Ti 1:15f. ).


2Cor 12:12

Of an apostle (του αποστολου). "Of the apostle" (definite article). Note the three words here for miracles wrought by Paul (σημεια, signs, τερατα, wonders, δυναμεις, powers or miracles) as in Heb 2:4 .


2Cor 12:13

Wherein ye were made inferior (ο ησσωθητε). First aorist passive indicative of ησσοομα, the text of Aleph B D instead of the usual ηττηθητε from the common ητταομα to be inferior or less from the comparative ηττων. See ησσων in verse 15. Hο is the neuter accusative with the passive verb (Robertson, Grammar, p. 479).

Forgive me this wrong (χαρισασθε μο την αδικιαν ταυτην). Consummate irony to the stingy element in this church (cf. 11:9).


2Cor 12:14

Third time I am ready to come (τριτον τουτο ετοιμως εχω). Had he been already twice or only once? He had changed his plans once when he did not go (1:15f. ). He will not change his plans now. This looks as if he had only been once (that in Ac 18 ). Note the third use of καταναρκαω (11:9; 12:13,14 ). They need not be apprehensive. He will be as financially independent of them as before. "I shall not sponge on you."

Not yours, but you (ου τα υμων, αλλα υμας). The motto of every real preacher.

To lay up (θησαυριζειν). For this use of the verb see 1Co 16:2 (Mt 6:19-21; Jas 5:3 ).


2Cor 12:15

I will most gladly spend and be spent (ηδιστα δαπανησω κα εκδαπανηθησομα). Both future active of old verb δαπαναω (Mr 5:26 ) to spend money, time, energy, strength and the future passive of εκδαπαναω, late compound to spend utterly, to spend out, (εκ-), to spend wholly. Only here in N.T.


2Cor 12:16

I did not myself burden you (εγω ου κατεβαρησα υμας). First aorist active of late verb καταβαρεω, to press a burden down on one. Only here in N.T.

Crafty (πανουργος). Old word from παν, all, and εργο, to do anything (good or bad). Good sense is skilful, bad sense cunning. Only here in N.T. and Paul is quoting the word from his enemies.

With guile (δολω). Instrumental case of δολος, bait to catch fish with. The enemies of Paul said that he was raising this big collection for himself. Moffatt has done well to put these charges in quotation marks to make it plain to readers that Paul is ironical.


2Cor 12:17

Did I take advantage (επλεονεκτησα). Paul goes right to the point without hedging. For this verb from πλεον and εχω, to have more, see on 2Co 2:11; 7:2 .

By any one of them (τινα--δι' αυτου). An anacoluthon for τινα is left in the accusative without a verb and δι' αυτου takes up the idea, "as to any one by him."

Whom (ων). The genitive relative is attracted from the accusative ους into the case of the unexpressed antecedent τουτον). Μη expects the negative answer as does μητ in 18.


2Cor 12:18

The brother (τον αδελφον). Probably the brother of Titus (cf. 8:18).

Did Titus take advantage of you? (μητ επλεονεκτησεν υμας Τιτοσ?). That puts the issue squarely.

By the same Spirit (τω αυτω πνευματ). That translation refers to the Holy Spirit and makes the case instrumental. The locative case, "in the same spirit," makes it mean that Paul's attitude is the same as that of Titus and most likely is correct, for "in the same steps" (τοις αυτοις ιχνεσιν) is in locative case.


2Cor 12:19

Ye think all this time (παλα δοκειτε). Progressive present indicative, "for a long time ye have been thinking."

We are excusing ourselves (απολογουμεθα). He is not just apologizing, but is in deadly earnest, as they will find out when he comes.


2Cor 12:20

Lest by any means, when I come, I should find you not such as I would (μη πως ελθων ουχ οιους θελω ευρω υμας). An idiomatic construction after the verb of fearing (φοβουμα) with μη πως as the conjunction and with ουχ as the negative of the verb ευρω (second aorist active subjunctive of ευρισκω), μη the conjunction, ουχ the negative. See Robertson, Grammar, p. 995.

And I be found (καγω ευρεθω). Same construction with first aorist passive subjunctive.

Such as ye would not (οιον ου θελετε). Neat change in voice just before and position of the negative here.

Lest by any means (μη πως). Still further negative purpose by repeating the conjunction. With graphic pen pictures Paul describes what had been going on against him during his long absence.

Backbitings (καταλαλια). Late and rare word. In N.T. only here and 1Pe 2:1 . If it only existed nowhere else!

Whisperings (ψιθυρισμο). Late word from ψιθυριζω, to whisper into one's ear. An onomatopoetic word for the sibilant murmur of a snake charmer (Ec 10:11 ). Only here in N.T.

Swellings (φυσιωσεις). From φυσιοω, to swell up, late word only here and in ecclesiastical writers. Did Paul make up the word for the occasion? See on 1Co 4:6 for verb.

Tumults (ακαταστασια). See on 2Co 6:5 .


2Cor 12:21

When I come again (παλιν ελθοντος μου). Genitive absolute. Paul assumes it as true.

Lest my God humble me (μη ταπεινωση με ο θεος μου). Negative final clause (μη and first aorist active subjunctive), going back to φοβουμα in 20. He means a public humiliation as his fear. The conduct of the church had been a real humiliation whether he refers to a previous visit or not.

That have sinned heretofore (των προημαρτηκοτων). Genitive plural of the articular perfect active participle of προαμαρτανω to emphasize continuance of their sinful state as opposed to μη μετανοησαντων (did not repent) in the aorist tense.

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