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Further Warning


This is the third time I am coming to you. “Any charge must be sustained by the evidence of two or three witnesses.” 2I warned those who sinned previously and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again, I will not be lenient— 3since you desire proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful in you. 4For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.

5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless, indeed, you fail to meet the test! 6I hope you will find out that we have not failed. 7But we pray to God that you may not do anything wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. 8For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. 9For we rejoice when we are weak and you are strong. This is what we pray for, that you may become perfect. 10So I write these things while I am away from you, so that when I come, I may not have to be severe in using the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down.

Final Greetings and Benediction

11 Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.

13 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

3. Since ye seek a proof A twofold meaning may be drawn from these words. The first is, “Since you wish to try me, whether I speak of myself, or whether Christ speaks by me;and in this way Chrysostom, and Ambrose, explain it. I am rather inclined, however, to understand him as declaring, that it does not so much concern himself as Christ, when his authority is detracted from — that when his admonitions are despised, Christ’s patience is tried. “It is Christ that speaks by me; when therefore, you bring my doctrine under your lash, it is not so much to me as to him that you do injury.”

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 947947     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.” 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, 948948     Tant y a qu’il auoit bonne occasion et droict;” — “To such an extent had he good occasion and right.” might he throw back upon them, as he does, the reproach, that they were rebels against Christ.

4. For though he was crucified. He speaks, with particular intention, of Christ’s abasement, with the view of intimating indirectly, 949949     Afin de donner taeitement & entendre;” — “That he may tacitly give them to understand.” that nothing was despised in him, but what they would have been prepared to despise, also, in Christ himself, inasmuch as he

emptied himself, even to the death of the cross.
(Philippians 2:8.)

He shows, however, at the same time, how absurd it is to despise in Christ 950950     En nostre Seigneur Iesus;” — “In our Lord Jesus.” 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, 951951     Car comme que par infirmite, est yet signifiee l’humanite de Christ;” — “For as by weakness is here meant the humanity of Christ.” so the word God is taken here to denote his Divinity.

Here, however, a question arises — whether Christ labored under such infirmity as to be subjected to necessity against his will; for, what we suffer through weakness, we suffer from constraint, and not from our own choice. As the Arians of old abused this pretext for effectually opposing the divinity of Christ, the orthodox Fathers gave this explanation of it — that it was effected by appointment, inasmuch as Christ so desired, and not from his being constrained by any necessity. This answer is true, provided it be properly understood. There are some, however, that mistakenly extend the appointment to Christ’s human will — as if this were not the condition of his nature, but a permission contrary to his nature. For example: “His dying,” they say, “did not happen because his humanity was, properly speaking, liable to death, but by appointment, because he chose to die.” I grant, indeed, that he died, because he chose to do so; but, whence came this choice, but from this — that he had, of his own accord, clothed himself with a mortal nature 952952     Nostre nature mortelle;” — “Our mortal nature.” If, however, we make Christ’s human nature so unlike ours, the main support of our faith is overturned. Let us, therefore, understand it in this way — that Christ suffered by appointment, not by constraint, because, being in the form of God he could have exempted himself from this necessity, but, nevertheless, he suffered through weakness, because he emptied himself (Philippians 2:6.)

We are weak in him. To be weak in Christ means here to be a partaker of Christ’s weakness. Thus he makes his own weakness glorious, because in it he is conformed to Christ, and he no longer shrinks back from the disgrace, that he has in common with the Son of God; but, in the mean time, he says that he will live towards them after Christ’s example. “I also,” says he, “will be a partaker of Christ’s life, after I shall have been exempted from weakness.” 953953     Apres que mon infirmite aura comme fait son temps;” — “After my weakness shall have, as it were, served its time.” To weakness he opposes life, and, accordingly, he understands by this term a condition that is flourishing, and full of honor. 954954     Ascauoir quand vn homme est en estime et reputation;” — “That is, when a man is held in esteem and reputation.” The clause towards you may also be taken in connection with the power of God, but it is of no importance, as the meaning always remains the same — that the Corinthians, when they began to judge aright, would have respectful and honorable views of the power of God, which was in Paul, and would no longer despise outward infirmity.

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