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Verse 2. But have renounced. apeipameya, from apo and eipon. The word means, properly, to speak out or off; to refuse or deny; to interdict or forbid. Here it means, to renounce, or disown; to spurn, or scorn with aversion. It occurs nowhere else in the New Testament; and the sense here is, that the apostles had such a view of the truth of religion, and the glory of the Christian scheme, 2 Co 3:13-18, as to lead them to discard everything that was disguised, and artful, and crafty; everything like deceit and fraud. The religions of the heathen were made up mainly of trick, and were supported by deception practised on the ignorant, and on the mass of men. Paul says, that he and his fellow-labourers had such views of, the truth, and glory, and holiness of the Christian scheme, as to lead them solemnly to abjure and abhor all such dishonest tricks and devices. Truth never needs such arts; and no cause will long succeed by mere trick and cunning.

The hidden things of dishonesty. Marg., shame. The Greek word most commonly means shame, or disgrace. The hidden things of shame here mean disgraceful conduct; clandestine and secret arts, which were ill themselves shameful and disgraceful. They denote all underhanded dealings; all dishonest artifices and plans, such as were common, among the heathen, and such probably as the false teachers adopted in the propagation of their opinions at Corinth. The expression here does not imply that the apostles ever had anything to do with such arts; but that they solemnly abjured and abhorred them. Religion is open, plain, straightforward. It has no alliance with cunning, and trick, and artifice. It should be defended openly; stated clearly; and urged with steady argument. It is a work of light, and not of darkness.

Not walking in craftiness. Not acting craftily; not behaving in a crafty manner. The word here used, (panourgia, from pan, all, ergon work, i.e., doing everything, or capable of doing anything,) denotes shrewdness, cunning, and craft. This was common; and this was probably practised by the false teachers in Corinth. With this Paul says he had nothing to do. He did not adopt a course of carnal wisdom and policy, See Barnes "2 Co 1:12"; he did not attempt to impose upon them, or to deceive them; or to make his way by subtle and deceitful arts. True religion can never be advanced by trick and craftiness.

Nor handling the word of God deceitfully. dolountev. Not falsifying; or deceitfully corrupting or disguising the truth of God. The phrase seems to be synonymous with that used in 2 Co 2:17, and rendered, "corrupt the word of God." See Barnes "2 Co 2:17"

on that verse. It properly means to falsify, adulterate, corrupt, by Jewish traditions, etc., (Robinson, Bloomfield, Doddridge), etc. or it may mean, as in our translation, to handle in a deceitful manner; to make use of trick and art in propagating and defending it. Tindal renders it, "neither corrupt we the word of God."

But by manifestation of the truth. By making the truth manifest; i.e., by a simple exhibition of the truth. By stating it just as it is, in an undisguised and open manner. Not by adulterating it with foreign mixtures; not by mingling it with philosophy or traditions; not by blunting its edge, or concealing anything, or explaining it away; but by an open, plain, straight-forward exhibition of it as it is in Jesus. Preaching should consist in a simple exhibition of the truth. There is no deceit in the gospel itself; and there should be none in the manner of exhibiting it. It should consist of a simple statement of things as they are. The whole design of preaching is to make known the truth. And this is done in an effectual manner only when it is simple, open, undisguised, without craft, and without deceit.

Commending ourselves to every man's conscience. That is, so speaking the truth that every man's conscience shall approve it as true; every man shall see it to be true, and to be in accordance with what he knows to be right. Conscience is that faculty of the mind which distinguishes between right and wrong, and which prompts us to choose the former and avoid the latter, Joh 8:9. See Barnes "Ro 2:15"; See Barnes "1 Co 10:25, See Barnes "1 Co 10:27, See Barnes "1 Co 10:27,29; See Barnes "2 Co 1:12".

It is implied here,

(1.) that a course of life and a manner of preaching that shall be free from dishonesty, and art, and trick, will be such as the consciences of men will approve. Paul sought such a course of life as should accord with their sense of right, and thus serve to commend the gospel to them.

(2.) That the gospel may be so preached as to be seen by men to be true; so as to be approved as right; and so that every man's conscience shall bear testimony to its truth. Men do not love it, but they may see that it is true; they may hate it, but they may see that the truth which condemns their practices is from heaven. This is an exceedingly important principle in regard to preaching, and vastly momentous in its bearing on the views which ministers should have of their own work. The gospel is reasonable. It may be seen to be true by every man to whom it is preached. And it should be the aim of every preacher so to preach it, as to enlist the consciences of his hearers in his favour. And it is a very material fact that when so preached the conscience and reason of every man is in its favour, and they know that it is true even when it pronounces their own condemnation, and denounces their own sins. This passage proves, therefore, the following things:

(1.) That the gospel may be so preached as to be seen to be true by all men. Men are capable of seeing the truth; and even when they do not love it, they can perceive that it has demonstration that it is from God. It is a system so reasonable; so well established by evidence; so fortified by miracles and the fulfillment of prophecies; so pure in its nature; so well adapted to man; so fitted to his condition, and so well designed to make him better; and so happy in its influence on society, that men may be led to see that it is true. And this I take to be the case with almost all those who habitually attend on the preaching of the gospel. Infidels do not often visit the sanctuary; and when they are in the habit of doing it, it is a fact that they gradually come to the conviction that the Christian religion is true. It is rare to find professed infidels in our places of worship; and the great mass of those who attend on the preaching of the gospel may be set down as speculative believers in the truth of Christianity.

(2.) The consciences of men are on the side of truth, and the gospel may be so preached as to enlist their consciences in its favour. Conscience prompts to do right, and condemns us if we do wrong. It can never be made to approve of wrong, never to give a man peace if he does that which he knows to be evil. By no art or device; by no system of laws, or bad government; by no training or discipline, can it be made the advocate of sin. In all lands, at all times, and in all circumstances, it prompts a man to do what is right, and condemns him if he does wrong. It may be silenced for a time; it may be "seared as with a hot iron," and for a time be insensible, but if it speak at all, it speaks to prompt a man to do what he believes to be right, and condemns him if he does that which is wrong. The consciences of men are on the side of the gospel; and it is only their hearts which are opposed to it. Their consciences are in favour of the gospel in the following, among other respects:

(a.) They approve of it as a just, pure, holy, and reasonable system; as in accordance with what they feel to be right; as recommending that which ought to be done, and forbidding that which ought not to be done.

(b.) In its special requirements on themselves. Their consciences tell them that they ought to love God with all the heart; to repent of their sins; to trust in that Saviour who died for them, and to lead a life of prayer and of devotedness to the service of God; that they ought to be sincere and humble Christians, and prepare to meet God in peace.

(c.) Their consciences approve the truth that condemns them. No matter how strict it may seem to be; no matter how loud its denunciation against their sins; no matter how much the gospel may condemn their pride, avarice, sensuality, levity, dishonesty, fraud, intern, perance, profaneness, blasphemy, or their neglect of their soul, yet their consciences approve of it as right, and proclaim that these things ought to be condemned, and ought to be abandoned. The heart may love them, but the conscience cannot be made to approve them. And the minister of the gospel may always approach his people, or an individual man, with the assurance that however much they may love the ways of sin, yet that he has their consciences in his favour; and that in urging the claims of God on them, their consciences will always coincide with his appeals.

(3.) The way in which a minister is to commend himself to the consciences of men, is that which was pursued by Paul. He must

(a.) have a clear and unwavering conviction of the truth himself. On this subject he should have no doubt. He should be able to look on it as on a burnished mirror, See Barnes "2 Co 3:18, and to see its glory as with open face.

(b.) It should be by the simple statement of the truth of the gospel. Not by preaching philosophy, or metaphysics, or the traditions of man, or the sentiments of theologians, but the simple truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Men may be made to see that these are truths, and God will take care that the reason and consciences of men shall be in their favour.

(c.) By the absence of all trick and cunning, and disguised and subtle arts. The gospel has nothing of these in itself, and it will never approve of them, nor will God bless them. A minister of Jesus should be frank, open, undisguised, and candid. He should make a sober and elevated appeal to the reason and conscience of man. The gospel is not "a cunningly devised fable;" it has no trick in itself, and the ministers of religion should solemnly abjure all the hidden things of dishonesty.

In the sight of God. As in the immediate presence of God. We act as if we felt that his eye was upon us; and this consideration serves to keep us from the hidden things of dishonesty, and from improper arts in spreading the true religion. See Barnes "2 Co 2:17".


{1} "dishonesty" "shame" {b} "God deceitfully" 2 Co 2:17 {*} "deceitfully" "corrupting the word of God"

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