2 Corinthians 13:1-4
1. This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.
2. I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent, now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare:
2. Praedixi et praedico, ut praesens quum essem iterum, ita et absens nunc scribo iis, qui ante peccaverunt, et reliquis omnibus: quod, si venero denuo, non parcam.
3. Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you.
3. Quandoquidem esperimentum quaeritis in me loquentis Christi: qui erga vos non est infirmus, sed potens est in vobis.
4. For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God: for we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.
4. Nam quamvis crucifixus fuit ex infirmitate, vivit tamen ex virtute Dei: siquidem et nos infirmi sumus in illo, sed vivmus cum illo ex virtute Dei erga vos.
"The declaration of the law," says he, "is, that we must rest on the testimony of two or three witnesses for putting an end to disputes." 2 (Deuteronomy 19:15.)
For the word
It is asked, however, why it was, that the Apostle allowed himself to expose the particular faults of individuals in so open a manner, as in a manner to point his finger at the very persons? I answer, that he would never have done so, if the sins had been hid, but as they were manifest to all, and matter of notoriety, so as to furnish a pernicious example, it was necessary that he should not spare the authors of a public scandal. 4
It is asked, secondly, what kind of chastisement he threatens to inflict upon them, as he could scarcely chastise them more Severely in words. I have no doubt that he means, that he will inflict punishment upon them by excommunication. For what is more to be dreaded, than being cut off from the body of Christ, expelled from the kingdom of God, and delivered over to Satan for destruction, (1 Corinthians 5:5,) unless you repent?
Some one, however, will object thus: "What! Will a man's doctrine, then, be exempted from all investigation, so soon as he makes it his boast, that he has Christ as his authority? And. what false prophet will not make this his boast? What distinction, then, will there be between truth and falsehood, and what will, in that case, become of that injunction:
Try the spirits, whether they are of God." (1 John 4:1.)
Every objection of this nature Paul anticipates, when he says that Christ has wrought efficaciously in them by his ministry. For these two clauses, Christ speaking in me, and, who is mighty in you, not weak, must be read in connection, in this sense: "Christ, by exercising his power towards you in my doctrine, has declared that he spoke by my mouth, so that you have no excuse on the ground of ignorance.
We see, that he does not merely boast in words, but proves in reality that Christ speaks in him, and he convinces the Corinthians, before requiring them to give him credit. Whoever, then, will speak in the Church, whatever be the title that he claims for himself, it will be allowable to inquire as to his doctrine, until Christ has manifested himself in him, and thus it will not be of Christ that judgment will be formed, but of the man. When, however, it is apparent, that it is the word of God that is advanced, what Paul says holds good -- that it is God himself who is not believed 5 Moses spake with the same confidence. (Numbers 16:11.)
What are we -- I and Aaron? You are tempting God.
In like manner, Isaiah:
Is it too small a thing that you grieve men,
unless you grieve my God also? (Isaiah 7:13.)
For there is no more room for shuffling, when it has been made apparent, that it is a minister of God that speaks, and that he discharges his office faithfully. I return to Paul. As the confirmation of his ministry had been so decided among the Corinthians, inasmuch as the Lord had shown himself openly, it is not to be wondered, if he takes it so much amiss, that he meets with resistance. On good grounds, truly, 6 might he throw back upon them, as he does, the reproach, that they were rebels against Christ.
emptied himself, even to the death of the cross.
He shows, however, at the same time, how absurd it is to despise in Christ 8 the abasement of the cross, inasmuch as it is conjoined with the incomparable glory of his resurrection. "Shall Christ be esteemed by you the less, because he showed signs of weakness in his death, as if his heavenly life, that he leads subsequently to his resurrection, were not a clear token of his Divine power? For as the term flesh here means Christ's human nature, 9 so the word
Here, however, a question arises -- whether Christ labored under such infirmity as to be subjected to necessity against his will; for, what we suffer
2 "This is only an allusion: it is taken, with a trifling abridgement, from the Alexandrine copy of the Septusgint, which is an exact translation of the Hebrew." -- Horne's Introduction, (Lond. 1823,) volume 2. -- Ed.
3 "Vn abandon desmesure, et douceur trop grande;" -- "Excessive indulgence, and too great sweetness."
4 It might almost seem as if Baxter must have had this passage of Calvin in his eye, when penning his celebrated apology for animadverting so freely on the faults of the ministers of religion in his times. "If it should be objected, that I should not have spoken so plainly and sharply against the sins of the ministry, or that I should not have published it to the view of the world, or, at least, that I should have done it in another tongue, and not in the ears of the vulgar. when the sin is open in the sight of the world, it is in vain to attempt to hide it; and when the sin is public, the confession should also be public. If the ministers of England had sinned only in Latin, I would have made shift to have admonished them in Latin, or else should have said nothing to them. But if they will sin in English, they must hear of it in English." -- Baxter's Reformed Pastor, (Glasgow, 1829,) pp. 60, 61. -- Ed.
5 "Que si on ne la recoit, cest oster a Dieu son authorite;" -- "That if this is not received, that is to take from God the authority, which belongs to him."
6 "Tant y a qu'il auoit bonne occasion et droict;" -- "To such an extent had he good occasion and right."
7 "Afin de donner taeitement & entendre;" -- "That he may tacitly give them to understand."
8 "En nostre Seigneur Iesus;" -- "In our Lord Jesus."
9 "Car comme que par infirmite, est yet signifiee l'humanite de Christ;" -- "For as by weakness is here meant the humanity of Christ."
10 "Nostre nature mortelle;" -- "Our mortal nature."
11 "Apres que mon infirmite aura comme fait son temps;" -- "After my weakness shall have, as it were, served its time."
12 "Ascauoir quand vn homme est en estime et reputation;" -- "That is, when a man is held in esteem and reputation."