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2 Corinthians 13 Commentary

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A verse by verse commentary on this chapter with quotations from many different authors.
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  2 CORITHIAS 13 COMMETARY EDITED BY GLE PEASE 1. This will be my third visit to you. “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”[a] 1. BARES, This is the third time ... - see the note on 2Co_12:14. For an interesting view of this passage, see Paley’s Horae Paulinae on this Epistle, No. 11: It is evident that Paul had been to Corinth but once before this, but he had resolved to go  before a second time, but had been disappointed. In the mouth of two or three witnesses ... - This was what the Law of Moses required; Deu_20:16; see the note on Joh_8:17; compare Mat_18:16. But in regard to its application here, commentators are not agreed. Some suppose that Paul refers to his own epistles which he had sent to them as the two or three witnesses by which his promise to them would be made certain; that he had purposed it and promised it two or three times, and that as this was all that was required by the Law, it would certainly be established. This is the opinion of Bloomfield, Rosenmuller, Grotius, Hammond, Locke, and some others. But, with all the respect due to such great names, it seems to me that this would be trifling and childish in the extreme. Lightfoot supposes that he refers to Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, who would be witnesses to them of his purpose; see 1Co_16:17. But the more probable opinion, it seems to me, is that of Doddridge, Macknight, and others, that he anticipated that there wound be necessity for the administration of discipline there, but that he would feel himself under obligation in administering it to adhere to the reasonable maxim of the Jewish Law. No one should be condemned or punished where there was not at least two or three witnesses to prove the offence. But where there were, discipline would be administered according to the nature of the crime. 2. CLARKE, This is the third time I am coming to you - These words are nearly the same with those 2Co_12:14; and probably refer to the purpose which he had twice before formed of seeing them. But the latter clause seems to attach a different meaning to the passage; at least so it has been understood by some learned men.Schoettgen thus interprets the whole: the first coming of the apostle to Corinth was  when he personally visited them, and there founded the Christian Church. By his second coming we are to understand his first epistle to them; and, by his being now ready to come to them the third time, we are to understand this second epistle, which he was then going to send them. These were the two witnesses, and the apostle the third, which he gave to the Corinthians concerning the truth of his own ministry, or the falsity of the ministry of the pretended apostle.  Calmet contends that the apostle had been twice before at Corinth, and that he now purposed to go a third time; and that these visits were the two or three witnesses to  which the apostle appeals.Dr. Lightfoot thinks that the two or three witnesses were Stephanas, Fortunatus, and  Achaicus, sent to assure them of his coming. But this opinion cannot be supported. With respect to the two or three witnesses establishing the subject, Dr. Whitby says. “Though these words seem to be cited from Deu_19:15, rather than from Mat_18:16, it  being rare to find this apostle citing any thing from the New Testament, without calling it an ordinance of the Lord, yet it is probable that he here alludes to the practice there prescribed for the reclaiming of offenders. And then his first epistle being written with this introduction: Paul an apostle, and Sosthenes; his second thus: Paul and Timotheus; may pass for two or three witnesses; and his presence the third time in person, to exercise his censures on those offenders, before the body of the Church, may bear a fair resemblance to our Lord’s prescription in the above case: If thy brother offend,” etc. - So far Whitby. See my notes on Mat_18:16(note). 3. GILL, This is the third time I am coming to you ,.... Or am ready to come to  you , as the Alexandrian copy reads, as in 2Co_12:14. Though he had been as yet but once at Corinth, and is to be reckoned and accounted for, either after this manner; he had been once with them when he first preached the Gospel to them, and was the means of their conversion, and laid, the foundation of their church state, of which there is some account in  Act_18:1he came to them a second time, by writing his first epistle,  when he desired to be considered by them, as though he was present with them, 1Co_5:3and now a third time by this second epistle, in which he also speaks as if he was among them, see the following verse; or else in this way, he had been actually in person with them one time, and had been about to come in purpose and preparation a second time,  but was prevented, and now was just ready a third time to set forward in his journey to them; see 2Co_12:14and so the Syriac version reads it here, this is the third time that I am ready to come to you , and which our version also favours. The Alexandrian copy and some others, the Complutension edition, the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions, read, behold, this third time , &c. in order to raise and fix their attention to what he was saying, or about to say: in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established ; referring to Deu_19:15 which he applies much in the same manner Christ does in Mat_ 18:16and which it is probable he had in view; signifying hereby, that he proceeded in a  judicial way, according to due form of law, and in such a manner as Christ had directed; and that they were to look upon his several comings in the sense now explained, to be as so many witnesses, whereby the several charges exhibited against them were fully attested and confirmed, so that things were now ripe for judgment, and for a final sentence to pass upon them. 4. HERY, The apostle threatens to be severe against obstinate sinners when he should come to Corinth, having now sent to them a first and second epistle, with proper admonitions and exhortations, in order to reform what was amiss among them. Concerning this we may notice, 1. The caution with which he proceeded in his censures: he was not hasty in using severity, but gave a first and second admonition. So some understand his words (2Co_13:1): This is the third time I am coming to you,  referring to his first and second epistles, by which he admonished them, as if he were present with  them, though in person he was absent, 2Co_13:2. According to this interpretation, these two epistles are the witnesses he means in the first verse, referring rather to the direction of our Saviour (Mat_17:16) concerning the manner how Christians should deal  with offenders before they proceed to extremity than to the law of Moses (Deu_17:6; Deu_19:15) for the behaviour of judges in criminal matters. We should go, or send, to our brother, once and again, to tell him of his fault. Thus the apostle had told these Corinthians before, in his former epistle, and now he tells them, or writes to those who heretofore had sinned, and to all others,  giving warning unto all before he came in person the third time,  to exercise severity against scandalous offenders. Others think that the apostle had designed and prepared for his journey to Corinth twice already, but  was providentially hindered, and now informs them of his intentions a third time to come to them. However this be, it is observable that he kept an account how often he endeavoured, and what pains he took with these Corinthians for their good: and we may  be sure that an account is kept in heaven, and we must be reckoned with another day for the helps we have had for our souls, and how we have improved them. 2. The threatening itself: That if   (or when) he came again  (in person) he would not spare obstinate sinners, and such as were impenitent, in their scandalous enormities. He had told them before, he feared God would humble him among them,  because he should find some who had sinned and had not repented;  and now he declares he would not spare such, but would inflict church-censures upon them, which are thought to have been accompanied in those early times with visible and extraordinary tokens of divine displeasure. Note, Though it is God's gracious method to bear long with sinners, yet he  will not bear always; at length he will come, and will not spare those who remain obstinate and impenitent, notwithstanding all his methods to reclaim and reform them. 5. JAMISO, 2Co_13:1-14.  He threatens a severe proof of his apostolic authority, but prefers they would spare him the necessity for it. This is the third time I am coming to you — not merely  preparing  to come to  you. This proves an intermediate visit   between the two recorded in  Act_18:1;  Act_20:2. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established —Quoted from Deu_19:15,  Septuagint.  “I will judge not without examination, nor will I abstain from punishing upon due evidence” [Conybeare and Howson]. I will no longer  be among you “in all patience” towards offenders (2Co_12:12). The apostle in this case,  where ordinary testimony was to be had, does not look for an immediate revelation, nor does he order the culprits to be cast out of the church before his arrival. Others understand the “two or three witnesses” to mean his two or three visits  as establishing either (1) the truth of the facts alleged against the offenders, or (2) the reality of his threats. I prefer the first explanation to either of the two latter. 6. BI, Paul’s epistolary farewell to the Corinthians There is no evidence that Paul wrote a word to them after this. The letters had evidently  been a task to a man of his tender nature. No doubt he felt a burden rolled from his heart, and a freer breath, when he dictated the last sentence. I.  Words of warning. He warns them of a chastisement which he was determined to inflict upon all offenders against the gospel of Christ. 1. The discipline would be righteous (2Co_13:1). He will not chastise any without proper evidence. Therefore the true need not fear; the false alone need apprehend. 2. The discipline would be rigorous (2Co_13:2). He had threatened this in his former  letter (1Co_4:13-19). There is no more terrible chastisement than excommunication from the fellowship of the good. 3. The discipline would demonstrate the existence of Christ in him (2Co_13:3). He could have given this proof sooner, but he acted in this respect like Christ, and was content to appear “weak “ amongst them, in order that his power might be more conspicuously displayed (2Co_13:3-4). 7. HAWKER, I take occasion from what Paul here saith of a two or threefold witness, in confirmation of general truths, to observe to the Reader; what a blessed testimony the Church of God hath everlastingly to rest upon in the Holy Three, which bear record in heaven, and which Three are One, 1Jn_5:7. All the Persons of the Godhead have set to their seal, of the truth as it is in Jesus. Three times from heaven, during our Lord’s ministry upon earth, God the Father, by an audible voice, confirmed the glories of his Person, and the authority of his mission, Mat_3:16-17; Mat_17:5; Joh_12:28-30. Jesus himself appeals both to his Father’s testimony, and his own, in proof of the same thing: it is also written (saith Jesus) in your law that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me, Joh_8:17-18; Deu_17:6and Deu_19:15. And God the Holy Ghost, by his descent at the day of Pentecost, according to Christ’s most sure promise, as well as in the spirit of every child of God, beareth witness of Christ, Luk_24:49;  Act_2:1-4; Rom_8:15-16. Reader what know you of this threefold witness to your soul’s joy? Rom_15:13. 8. CALVI, This will be the third. He goes on to reprove still farther the insolence of those of whom he had been speaking, some of whom living in profligacy and licentiousness, and others, carrying on contentions and strifes among themselves, cared nothing for his reproof. For his discourse did not apply to the entire body of the Church, but to certain diseased and half-rotten members of it. Hence he now, with greater freedom, uses sharpness, because he has to do with particular individuals, not with the whole body of the people, and besides this, it was with persons of such a stamp, that he perceived, that he would do them no good by kindness, and mild remedies. After having spent a year and a half among them, (Acts 18:11,) he had visited them a second time. ow he forewarns them, that he will come to them a third time, and he says, that his three comings to them will be in the place of three witnesses. He quotes the law as to the authority of witnesses; not in the natural and literal sense, as it is termed, but by accommodation, 943 or similitude, applying it to his particular purpose.“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.” 944 (Deuteronomy 19:15.)For the word established means that a decision is pronounced respecting a matter, that the strife may cease. “I, indeed, am but one individual, but coming a third time I shall have the authority of three witnesses, or, my three comings will be in the place of three testimonies.” For the threefold effort that was made for their welfare, and perseverance, as made trial of on three different occasions, might, with good reason, be held equivalent to three persons.9. EBC, THE first part of this chapter is in close connection with what precedes; it is,

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