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2 Corinthians 11:7-12

7. Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?

7. Num illud peccavi, quod me ipsum humiliaverim, 821821     “En ce que ie me suis humilie moy mesme, ou, abbaisse;” — “Because I have humbled or abased myself.” ut vos exaltaremini: quod gratuito Evangelium Dei praedicaverim vobis?

8. I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.

8. Caeteras Ecclesias depraedatus sum accepto ab illis stipendio, quo vobis inservirem.

9. And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself

9. Et quum apud vos essem et egerem, non onerosus fui cuiquam; 822822     Je n’ay foulle personne, ou, ne suis point deuenu lasche en besongne au dommage de quelqu’vn;” — “I was not burdensome to any one, or, I did not become remiss in labor to the hurt of any one.” nam quod mihi deerat, suppleverunt fratres, qui venerant ex Macedonia; et in omnibus sic me servavi, ne cui essem onerosus, atque ita servabo.

10. As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.

10. Est veritas Christi in me, quod haec gloriatio non interrumpetur contra me in regionibus Achaiae.

11. Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth.

11. Quapropter? An quod non diligam vos? Deus novit.

12. But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.

12. Verum quod facio, idem et faciam: ut amputem occasionem iis qui cupiunt occasionem, ut in quo gloriantur, reperiantur, quemadmodum et nos.


7. Have I committed an offense? His humility was cast up to him by way of reproach, while it was an excellence that was deserving of no ordinary commendation. Humility here means — voluntary abasement; for in conducting himself modestly, as if he had nothing in him that was particularly excellent, so that many looked upon him as one of the common people, he had done that for the advantage of the Corinthians. For the man was inflamed with so great a desire, 823823     Car ce sainct Apostre estoit tellement embrasse du desir.” — “For this holy Apostle was to such a degree inflamed with desire.” and so great an anxiety for their salvation, that he made a regard to himself a secondary consideration. Hence he says, that he had of his own accord made a surrender of his own greatness, that they might become great through his abasement. For his design was, that he might promote their salvation. He now indirectly charges them with ingratitude, in imputing to him as a fault so pious a disposition — not indeed for the purpose of reproaching him, but with the view of restoring them so much the better to a sound mind. And certainly, he wounded them more severely by speaking ironically, than if he had spoken in a simple way, and without a figure. He might have said, “What is this? Am I despised by you, because I have lowered myself for your advantage?” The questioning, however, which he makes use of, was more forcible for putting them to shame.

Because I preached freely This is a part of his abasement. For he had given up his own right, as though his condition had been inferior to that of others; but such was the unreasonableness of some of them, that they esteemed him the less on that account, as if he had been undeserving of remuneration. The reason, why he had given his services to the Corinthians gratuitously, is immediately subjoined — for he did not act in this manner everywhere, but, as we have seen in the former Epistle, 824824     See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. 1, p. 288. there was a danger of his furnishing the false Apostles with a handle against him.

8. I robbed other churches He has intentionally, in my opinion, made use of an offensive term, that he might the more forcibly express the unreasonableness of the matter — in respect of his being despised by the Corinthians. “I have,” says he, “procured pay for myself from the spoils of others, that I might serve you. While I have thus spared you, how unreasonable it is to make me so poor a return!” It is, however, a metaphor, that is taken from what is customary among soldiers; for as conquerors take spoils from the nations that they have conquered, so every thing that Paul took from the Churches that he had gained to Christ was, in a manner, the spoils of his victories, though, at the same time, he never would have taken it from persons against their will, but what they contributed gratuitously was, in a manner, due by right of spiritual warfare. 825825     The word ἐσύλησα, rendered in our authorized version robbed, is derived from σύλη, spoils, and comes originally from the Hebrew verb שלל (shalal), which is frequently employed to denote spoiling, or making booty. (See Isaiah 10:6; Ezekiel 29:19.) — “The word ἐσύλησα,” says Barnes, “means properly, ‘I spoiled, plundered, robbed,’ but the idea of Paul here is, that he, as it were, robbed them, because he did not render an equivalent for what they gave him. They supported him, when he was labouring for another people. A conqueror who plunders a country gives no equivalent for what he takes. In this sense only could Paul say, that he had plundered the Church at Philippi. His general principle was, that ’the labourer was worthy of his hire;’ and that a man was to receive his support from the people for whom he labored, (See 1 Corinthians 9:7-14,) but this rule he had not observed in this case.” — Ed.

Observe, however, that he says that he had been in want, for he would never have been a burden to them, had he not been constrained by necessity. He, nevertheless, in the mean time, labored with his hands, as we have seen before, (1 Corinthians 4:12,) but, as the labor of his hands was not sufficient for sustaining life, something additional was contributed by the Macedonians. Accordingly he does not say, that his living had been furnished to him by the Macedonians, 826826     “Il ne dit pas que les Macedoniens luy eussent donne tout ce qui luy estoit necessaire;” — “He does not say that the Macedonians had given him every thing that was necessary.” but merely that they had supplied what was wanting. We have spoken elsewhere of the Apostle’s holy prudence and diligence in providing against dangers. Here we must take notice of the pious zeal of the Macedonians, who did not hesitate to contribute of their substance for his pay, that the gospel might be proclaimed to others, and those, too, that were wealthier than themselves. Ah! how few Macedonians are there in the present day, and on the other hand how many Corinthians you may find everywhere!

10. The truth of Christ is in me. Lest any one should suspect, that Paul’s words were designed to induce the Corinthians to be more liberal to him in future, and endeavor to make amends for their error in the past, he affirms with an oath, that he would take nothing from them, or from others in Achaia, though it were offered to him. For this manner of expression — the truth of Christ is in me, is in the form of oath. Let me not be thought to have the truth of Christ in me if I do not retain this glorying among the inhabitants of Achaia. Now Corinth was in Achaia. 827827     “See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. 1, p. 37.

11. Is it because I love you not? Those that we love, we treat with greater familiarity. Lest the Corinthians, therefore, should take it amiss, that he refused their liberality, while he allowed himself to be assisted by the Macedonians, and even declared with an oath that he would do so still, he anticipates that suspicion also. And by the figure termed anthypophora, 828828     Pour repoudre & l’objection;” — “With the view of replying to the objection.” — See Calvin on the Corinthians, volume 1. he asks, as it were in their name, whether this is a token of a malevolent mind? He does not return a direct answer to the question, but the indirect answer that he returns has much more weight, inasmuch as he calls God to be a witness of his good disposition towards them. You see here, that in the course of three verses 829829     “Ces trois lignes;” — “These three lines.” there are two oaths, but they are lawful and holy, because they have a good design in view, and a legitimate reason is involved. Hence to condemn indiscriminately all oaths is to act the part of fanatics, who make no distinction between white and black. 830830     “An oath is to be used, when other means are deficient; and more particularly, we are then only to swear, when the honor of God is concerned, or Religion and Christianity is falsely accused; and these are public grounds. To which we may add the good of the Commonwealth: or we are to swear upon a particular occasion to clear ourselves from false accusations and crimes charged upon us, if otherwise our innocency cannot appear; or in the behalf of others, when they shall suffer either in name, life, or estate, and we are required thereunto by the Magistrate, that so justice may proceed.” — Burgesse on 2 Corinthians 1. — See Calvin’s Harmony, volume 1. — Ed.

12. But what I do. He again explains the reason of his intention. 831831     “C’estoit vne fausse monstre de quelque zele excellent, de seruir sans rien prendre;” — “It was a false show of eminent zeal, to serve without taking any thing.” The false Apostles, with the view of alluring to themselves ignorant persons, took no pay. Their serving gratuitously was a show of uncommon zeal. 832832     De la resolution qu’il a prinse en cest endroit;” — “Of the resolution that he had taken as to this matter.” If Paul had availed himself of his right, he would have given them occasion to raise their crest, as if they had been greatly superior to him. Paul, accordingly, that he might give them no occasion of doing injury, did himself, also, preach the Gospel, free of charge, and this is what he adds — that he is desirous to cut off occasion from those that desire occasion For the false Apostles were desirous to insinuate themselves by this artifice, and to detract, in proportion to this, from Paul’s credit, if they were superior to him in any respect. He says, that he will not give them this advantage. “They will be found,” says he, “on a level with us in that glorying which they would wish to have for themselves exclusively.” This, however, is a useful admonition in connection with cutting off occasion from the wicked, as often as they desire one. For this is the only way to overcome them — not in the way of furnishing them with arms through our imprudence. 833833     Par nostre imprudence et inconsideration;” — “By our imprudence and inconsideration.”

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