2 Corinthians 2:3-5
3. And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.
3. Et scripseram vobis hoc, ne veniens tristitiam super tristitiam haberem, a quibus oportebat me gaudere: fiduciam habens de vobis omnibus, quod meum gaudium vestrum omnium sit.
4. For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.
4. Ex multa enim afflictione et angustia cordis scripsi vobis per multas lacrimas: non ut contristaremini, sed ut caritatem cognosceretis, quam habeo abundantius erga vos.
5. But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part; that I may not overcharge you all.
5. Si quis autem contristavit, non me contristavit, sed ex parte: ut ne vos omnes gravem.
3. I had written to you. As he had said a little before, that he delayed coming to them, in order that he might not come a second time in sorrow and with severity, (2 Corinthians 2:1,) so now also he lets them know, that he came the first time in sadness by an Epistle, that they might not have occasion to feel this severity when he was present with them. Hence they have no ground to complain of that former sadness, in which he was desirous to consult their welfare. He goes even a step farther, by stating that, when writing, he did not wish to occasion them grief, or to give any expression of displeasure, but, on the contrary, to give proof of his attachment and affection towards them. In this way, if there was any degree of keenness in the Epistle, he does not merely soften it, but even shows amiableness and suavity. When, however, he confesses afterwards, what he here denies, he appears to contradict himself. I answer, that there is no inconsistency, for he does not come afterwards to confess, that it was his ultimate object to grieve the Corinthians, but that this was the means, by which he endeavored to conduct them to true joy. Previously, however, to his stating this, he speaks here simply as to his design. He passes over in silence, or delays mentioning for a little the means, which were not so agreeable.
Having confidence. This confidence he exercises towards the Corinthians, that they may thus in their turn be persuaded of his friendly disposition. For he that hates, is envious; but where joy is felt in common, there must in that case be perfect love. 1 If, however, the Corinthians are not in accordance with Paul's opinion and judgment as to them, they shamefully disappoint him.
4. For out of much affliction. Here he brings forward another reason with the view of softening the harshness which he had employed. For those who smilingly take delight in seeing others weep, inasmuch as they discover thereby their cruelty, cannot and ought not to be borne with. Paul, however, declares that; his feeling was very different. "Intensity of grief," says he, "has extorted from me every thing that I have written." Who would not excuse, and take in good part what springs from such a temper of mind, more especially as it was not on his own account or through his own fault, that he suffered grief, and farther, he does not give vent to his grief, with the view of lightning himself by burdening them, but rather, for the purpose of shewing his affection for them? On these accounts, it did not become the Corinthians to be offended at this somewhat severe reproof.
He adds, tears -- which, in a man that is brave and magnanimous are a token of intense grief. Hence we see, from what emotions of mind pious and holy admonitions and reproofs must of necessity proceed. For there are many noisy reprovers, who, by declaiming, or rather, fulminating against vices, display a surprising ardour of zeal, while in the mean time they are at ease in their mind, 2 so that it might seem as if they exercised their throat and sides 3 by way of sport. It is, however, the part of a pious pastor, to weep within himself, before he calls upon others to weep: 4 to feel tortured in silent musings, before he shows any token of displeasure; and to keep within his own breast more grief, than he causes to others. We must, also, take notice of Paul's tears, which, by their abundance, shew tenderness of heart, but it is of a more heroical character than was the iron-hearted hardness of the Stoics. 5 For the more tender the affections of love are, they are so much the more praiseworthy.
The adverb more abundantly may be explained in a comparative sense; and, in that case, it would be a tacit complaint -- that the Corinthians do not make an equal return in respect of affection, inasmuch as they love but coldly one by whom they are ardently loved. I take it, however, in a more simple way, as meaning that Paul commends his affection towards them, in order that this assurance may soften down every thing of harshness that might be in his words.
5. But if any one. Here is a third reason with the view of alleviating the offense -- that he had grief in common with them, and that the occasion of it came from another quarter. "We have," says he, "been alike grieved, and another is to blame for it." At the same time he speaks of that person, too, somewhat mildly, when he says, if any one -- not affirming the thing, but rather leaving it in suspense. This passage, however, is understood by some, as if Paul meant to say: "He that has given me occasion of grief, has given offense to you also; for you ought to have felt grieved along with me, and yet I have been left almost to grieve alone. For I do not wish to say so absolutely -- that I may not put the blame upon you all." In this way the second clause would contain a correction of the first. Chrysostom's exposition, however, is much more suitable; for he reads it as one continued sentence -- "He hath not grieved me alone, but almost all of you. And as to my saying in part, I do so in order that I may not bear too hard upon him." 6 I differ from Chrysostom merely in the clause in part, for I understand it as meaning in some measure. I am aware, that Ambrose understands it as meaning -- part of the saints, inasmuch as the Church of the Corinthians was divided; but that is more ingenious than solid.