18. And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches;
18. Misimus autem una cum illo fratrem, cuius laus est in Evangelio per omnes Ecclesias.
19. And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:
19. Nec id solum, verum etiam delectus ab Ecclesiis est comes peregrinationis nostrae, cum hac beneficentia quae administratur a nobis, ad eiusdem Domini gloriam, et animi vestri promptitudinem:
20. Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us:
20. Declinantes hoc, ne quis nos carpat in hac exsuperantia, quae administratur a nobis.
21. Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.
21. Procurantes honesta, non tantum coram Deo, sed etiam coram hominibus.
22. And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you.
22. Misimus autem una cum illis fratrem nostrum, quem probaveramus in multis saepenumero diligentem; nunc autem multo diligentiorem, ob multam fiduciam quam habeo ergo vos:
23. Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.
23. Sive Titi nomine, qui socius meus est, et erga vos adiutor, sive aliorum, qui fratres nostri sunt, et Apostoli Ecclesiarum, gloria Christi.
24. Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.
24. Proinde documentum caritatis vestrae et nostrae de vobis gloriationis erga eos ostendit et in conspectu Ecclesiarum.
18. We have sent with him the brother. The circumstance that three persons are sent, is an evidence, that great expectations were entertained respecting the Corinthians, and it became them to be so much the more attentive to duty, that they might not disappoint the hopes of the Churches. It is uncertain, however, who this second person was; only that some conjecture that it was Luke, others that it was Barnabas. Chrysostom prefers to consider it to have been Barnabas. I agree with him, because it appears that, by the suffrages of the Churches, he was associated with Paul as a companion. As, however, it is almost universally agreed, that Luke was one of those who were the bearers of this Epistle, I have no objection that he be reckoned to be the third that is made mention of.
Now the second person, whoever he may be, he honors with a signal commendation, that he had conducted himself as to the gospel in a praiseworthy manner, that is, he had earned applause by promoting the gospel. For, although Barnabas gave place to Paul in the department of speaking, yet in acting they both concurred. He adds farther, that he had received praise, not from one individual, or even from one Church merely, but from all the Churches. To this general testimony he subjoins a particular one, that is suitable to the subject in hand -- that he had been chosen for this department by the concurrence of the Churches. Now it was likely, that this honor would not have been conferred upon him, had he not been long before known to be qualified for it. We must observe, however, the mode of election -- that which was customary among the Greeks -- cheirotonia, (a show of hands,) in which the leaders took the precedence by authority and counsel, and regulated the whole proceeding, while the common people intimated their approval.
19. Which is administered by us. By commending his ministry, he still farther encourages the Corinthians. He says, that it tends to promote the glory of God, and their kindness of disposition. Hence it comes, that these two things are conjoined -- the glory of God and their liberality, and that the latter cannot be given up without the former being proportionally diminished. There is, in addition to this, the labor of those distinguished men, which it were very inconsistent to reject, or allow to pass unimproved.
20. Avoiding this, that no one Lest any one should think, that the Churches had an unfavorable opinion of Paul, as if it had been from distrusting his integrity that they had associated partners with him, as persons that are suspected are wont to have guards set over them, he declares that he had been the adviser of this measure, with the view of providing against calumnies. Here some one will ask, |Would any one have been so impudent, as to venture to defame with even the slightest suspicion the man, whose fidelity must have been, in all quarters, beyond every surmise?| I answer, Who is there that will be exempt from Satan's bite, when even Christ himself was not spared by them? Behold, Christ is exposed to the reproaches of the wicked, and shall his servants be in safety? (Matthew 10:25.) Nay rather, the more upright a person is, in that proportion does Satan assail him by every kind of contrivance, if he can by any means shake his credit, for there would arise from this a much greater occasion of stumbling. Hence the higher the station in which we are placed, we must so much the more carefully imitate Paul's circumspection and modesty. He was not so lifted up, as not to be under control equally with any individual of the flock. He was not so self-complacent, as to think it beneath his station to provide against calumnies. Hence he prudently shunned dangers, and used great care not to furnish any wicked person with a handle against him. And, certainly, nothing is more apt to give rise to unfavorable surmises, than the management of public money.
21. Providing things honest I am of opinion, that there were not wanting, even among the Corinthians, some who would have proceeded so far as to revile, if occasion had been allowed them. Hence he wished them to know the state of matters, that he might shut the mouths of all everywhere. Accordingly he declares, that he is not merely concerned to have a good conscience in the sight of God, but also to have a good character among men. At the same time, there can be no doubt, that he designed to instruct the Corinthians, as well as all others, by his example, that, in doing what is right, the opinion of men is not to be disregarded. The first thing, it is true, is that the person take care, that he be a good man. This is secured, not by mere outward actions, but by an upright conscience. The next thing is, that the persons, with whom you are conversant, recognize you as such.
Here, however, the object in view must be looked to. Nothing, assuredly, is worse than ambition, which vitiates the best things in the world, disfigures, I say, the most graceful, and makes sacrifices of the sweetest smell have an offensive odor before the Lord. Hence this passage is slippery, so that care must be taken lest one should pretend to be desirous, in common with Paul, of a good reputation, and yet be very far from having Paul's disposition, for he provided things honest in the sight of men, that no one might be stumbled by his example, but that, on the contrary, all might be edified. Hence we must, if we would desire to be like him, take care that we be not on our own account desirous of a good name. |He that is regardless of fame,| says Augustine, |is cruel, because it is not less necessary before our neighbor, than a good conscience is before God.| This is true, provided you consult the welfare of your brethren with a view to the glory of God, and in the mean time are prepared to bear reproaches and ignominy in place of commendation, if the Lord should see it meet. Let a Christian man, however, always take care to frame his life with a view to the edification of his neighbors, and diligently take heed, that the ministers of Satan shall have no pretext for reviling, to the dishonor of God and the offense of the good.
22. On account of the great confidence. The meaning is, |I am not afraid of their coming to you proving vain and fruitless; for I have felt beforehand an assured confidence, that their embassy will have a happy issue; I am so well aware of their fidelity and diligence.| He says that the brother, whose name he does not mention, had felt more eagerly inclined; partly because he saw that he had a good opinion of the Corinthians, partly because he had been encouraged by Titus, and partly because he saw many distinguished men apply themselves to the same business with united efforts. Hence one thing only remained -- that the Corinthians themselves should not be wanting on their part.
In calling them the Apostles of the Churches, he might be understood in two senses -- either as meaning that they had been set apart by God as Apostles to the Churches, or that they had been appointed by the Churches to undertake that office. The second of these is the more suitable. They are called also the glory of Christ, for this reason, that as he alone is the glory of believers, so he ought also to be glorified by them in return. Hence, all that excel in piety and holiness are the glory of Christ, because they have nothing but by Christ's gift.
He mentions two things in the close: |See that our brethren behold your love,| and secondly, |Take care, that it be not in vain that I have boasted of you.| For autous (to them,) appears to me to be equivalent to coram ipsis, (before them,) for this clause does not refer to the poor, but to the messengers of whom mention had been made. For he immediately afterwards subjoins, that they would not be alone witnesses, but in consequence of the report given by them, a report would go out even to distant Churches.