2 Corinthians 1:12-14
12. For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.
12. Nam gloriatio nostra haec est: testimonium conscientiae nostrae, quod in simplicitate et puritate 1 Dei, non in sapientia carnali, sed in gratia Dei versati sumus in mundo; abundantius autem erga vos.
13. For we write none other things unto you than what ye read or acknowledge, and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end;
13. Non enim alia scribimus vobis quam quae recognoscitis vel etiam agnoscitis: spero autem, quod usque in finem agnoscetis:
14. As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.
14. Quemadmodum et agnovistis nos ex parte: siquidem gloriatio vestra sumus: sicuti et vos nostra in die Domini Iesu.
12. For our glorying is this. He assigns a reason why his preservation should be a subject of interest to all -- that he had conducted himself 2 among them all in simplicity and sincerity. He deserved, therefore, to be dear to them, and it would have been very unfeeling not to be concerned in reference to such a servant of the Lord, that he might be long preserved for the benefit of the Church. "I have conducted myself before all in such a manner, that it is no wonder if I have the approbation and love of all good men." He takes occasion from this, however, for the sake of those to whom he was writing, to make a digression for the purpose of declaring his own integrity. As, however, it is not enough to be approved of by man's judgment, and as Paul himself was harassed by the unjust and malignant judgments of some, or rather by corrupt and blind attachments, 3 he adduces his own conscience as his witness -- which is all one as though he had cited God as a witness, or had made what he says matter of appeal to his tribunal.
But how does Paul's glorying in his integrity comport with that statement,
He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord?
(2 Corinthians 10:17.)
Besides, who is so upright 4 as to dare to boast in the presence of God? In the first place, Paul does not oppose himself to God, as though he had anything that was his own, or that was from himself. Farther, he does not place the foundation of his salvation in that integrity to which he lays claim, nor does he make confidence in that the ground of his dependence. Lastly, he does not glory in God's gifts in such a way as not at the same time to render all the glory to him as their sole Author, and ascribe everything to him. 5 These three exceptions lay a foundation for every godly person glorying on good grounds in all God's benefits; while the wicked, on the other hand, cannot glory even in God, except on false and improper grounds. Let us therefore, first of all, acknowledge ourselves to be indebted to God for everything good that we possess, claiming no merit to ourselves. Secondly, let us hold fast this foundation -- that our dependence for salvation be grounded exclusively on the mercy of God. Lastly, let us repose ourselves 6 in the sole author of every blessing. Then in that there will be a pious 7 glorying in every kind of blessing.
That in the simplicity 8 of God. He employs the expression simplicity of God here, in the same way as in Romans 3:23, the glory of God; and in John 12:43, the glory of God and of men. Those who love the glory of men, wish to appear something before men, or to stand well in the opinion of men. The glory of God is what a man has in the sight of God. Hence Paul does not reckon it enough to declare that his sincerity was perceived by men, but adds, that he was such in the sight of God. Eijlikrinei>a| (which I have rendered purity) is closely connected with simplicity; for it is an open and upright way of acting, such as makes a man's heart as it were transparent. 9 Both terms stand opposed to craft, deception, and all underhand schemes.
Not it fleshly wisdom. There is here a sort of anticipation; for what might be felt to be wanting in him he readily acknowledges, nay more, he openly proclaims, that he is destitute of, but adds, that he is endowed with what is incomparably more excellent -- the grace of God. "I acknowledge," says he, "that I am destitute of fleshly wisdom, but I have been furnished with divine influence, and if any one is not satisfied with that, he is at liberty to depreciate my Apostleship. If, on the other hand, fleshly wisdom is of no value, then I want nothing that is not fitted to secure well-grounded praise." He gives the name of fleshly wisdom to everything apart from Christ, that procures for us the reputation of wisdom. See the first and second chapters of the former epistle. Hence, by the grace of God, which is contrasted with it, we must understand everything that transcends man's nature and capacity, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which openly manifested the power of God in the weakness of the flesh.
More abundantly towards you. Not that he had been less upright elsewhere, but that he had remained longer at Corinth, in order that he might (not to mention other purposes) afford a fuller and clearer proof of his integrity. He has, however, expressed himself intentionally in such a way as to intimate that he did not require evidences that were far-fetched, inasmuch as they were themselves the best witnesses of all that he had said.
13. For we write no other things. Here he indirectly reproves the false apostles, who recommended themselves by immoderate boastings, while they had little or no ground for it; and at the same time he obviates calumnies, in order that no one may object, that he claims for himself more than is his due. He says, therefore, that he does not in words boast of anything that he is not prepared to make good by deeds, and that, too, from the testimony of the Corinthians.
The ambiguity, however, of the words, has given occasion for this passage being misinterpreted. Anaginw>skein, among the Greeks, signifies sometimes to read, and at other times to recognize. Epiginw>skein sometimes signifies to discover, while at other times it means what the Latins properly express by the verb agnoscere, to own, as among lawyers the phrase is used to own a child, 10 as Budaeus also has observed. In this way ejpiginw>skein means more than ajnaginw>skein. For we say that a person recognises a thing, that is, that being silently convinced of it in his judgment, he perceives it to be true, while at the same time he does not acknowledge it, or, in other words, cordially intimate his assent to it.
Let us now examine Paul's words. Some read thus -- We write no other things than what ye read and acknowledge, which it is very manifest is exceedingly lifeless, not to say senseless. For as to Ambrose's qualifying the statement in this way -- You not only read, but also acknowledge, there is no one that does not perceive that it is quite foreign to the import of the words. And the meaning that I have stated is plain, and hangs together naturally, and, up to this point, there is nothing to prevent readers from understanding it, were it not that they have had their eyes shut, from being misled by the different meanings of the word. The sum is this -- that Paul declares, that he brings forward no other things than what were known and perceived by the Corinthians -- nay more, things as to which they would bear him witness. The first term employed is recognoscere, (to recognize,) which is applicable, when persons are convinced from experience that matters are so. The second is agnoscere, (to acknowledge,) meaning that they give their assent to the truth. 11
And, I hope, will acknowledge even to the end. As the Corinthians had not yet perfectly returned to a sound mind, so as to be prepared to weigh his fidelity in a just and even balance, 12 but at the same time had begun to abate somewhat of their perverse and malignant judgment respecting him, he intimates, that he hopes better as to the future. "You have already," says he, "to some extent acknowledged me. I hope that you will acknowledge more and more what I have been among you, and in what manner I have conducted myself." 13 From this it appears more clearly what he meant by the word ejpiginw>skein. (acknowledge. 14) Now this relates to a season of repentance, for they had at the beginning acknowledged him fully and thoroughly; afterwards their right judgment had been beclouded 15 by unfair statements, but they had at length begun to return in part to a sound mind.
14. For we are your glorying. We have briefly adverted to the manner in which it is allowable for saints to glory in God's benefits -- when they repose themselves in God alone, and have no other object of aim. Thus it was a ground of pious glorying on the part of Paul, that he had, by his ministry, brought the Corinthians under obedience to Christ; and of the Corinthians, on the other hand, that they had been trained up so faithfully and so virtuously by such an Apostle -- a privilege that had not been allotted to all. This way of glorying in men does not stand in the way of our glorying in God alone. Now he instructs the Corinthians, that it is of the greatest importance for themselves that they should acknowledge him to be a faithful, and not a merely pretended, servant of Christ; because, in the event of their withdrawing from him, they would deprive themselves of the highest glory. In these words he reproves their fickleness, inasmuch as they voluntarily deprived themselves of the highest glory, by listening too readily to the spiteful and envious.
In the day of the Lord. By this I understand the last day, which will put an end to all the fleeting 16 glories of this world. He means, then, that the glorying of which he is now speaking is not evanescent, as those things are that glitter in the eyes of men, but is abiding and stable, inasmuch as it will remain until the day of Christ. For then will Paul enjoy the triumph of the many victories that he had obtained under Christ's auspices, and will lead forth in splendor all the nations that have, by means of his ministry, been brought under Christ's glorious yoke; and the Church of the Corinthians will glory in having been founded and trained up by the services of so distinguished an Apostle.