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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : 2 Corinthians 11:1-6

Commentary On Corinthians Volume 2 by Jean Calvin

2 Corinthians 11:1-6

1. Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.

1. Utinam tolerassetis me paulisper in insipientia mea: imo etiam sufferte me.

2. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

2. Nam zelotypus sum erga vos Dei zelo: adiunxi enim vos uni viro, ad exhibendam virginem castam Christo.

3. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

3. Sed metuo, ne qua fiat, ut quemadmodum serpens Evam decepit versutia sua: ita corrumpantur sensus vestri a simplicitate, quae est in Christo.

4. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him

4. Nam si is qui venit, (vel, si quis veniens,) alium Iesum praedicat, quem non praedicavimus; aut si alium Spiritum accipitis, quem non accepitis: aut Evangelium aliud, quod non accepistis, recte sustinuissetis.

5. For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.

5. Arbitror enim me nihilo inferiorem fuisse eximiis Apostolis.

6. But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things.

6. Caeterum licet imperitus sim sermone, non tamen scientia: verum ubique manifesti fuimus in omnibus erga vos.

1. Would that ye did bear with me. As he saw that the ears of the Corinthians were still in part pre-engaged, he has recourse to another contrivance, for he turns to express a wish, as persons do when they do not venture openly to entreat. Immediately afterwards, however, as if gathering confidence, he nevertheless entreats the Corinthians to bear with his folly. He gives the name of folly to that splendid proclamation of his praises, which afterwards follows. Not as if he were a fool in glorying; for he was constrained to it by necessity, and besides, he restrained himself in such a manner, that no one could justly regard him as going beyond bounds; but as it is an unseemly thing to herald one's own praises, and a thing that is foreign to the inclinations of a modest man, he speaks by way of concession.

What I have rendered in the imperative -- bear with me, Chrysostom interprets as an affirmation, and certainly the Greek word is ambiguous, and either sense suits sufficiently well. As, however, the reasons that the Apostle subjoins are designed to induce the Corinthians to bear with him, and as we will find him afterwards expostulating with them again on the ground of their not conceding anything to him, I have followed the Old Interpreter. By saying, Would that, etc., he had seemed to be distrustful; now, as if correcting that hesitation, he openly and freely commands.

2. For I am jealous Mark why it is that he acts the fool, for jealousy hurries a man as it were headlong. |Do not demand that I should show the equable temper of a man that is at ease, and not excited by any emotion, for that vehemence of vehemence of jealousy, with which I am inflamed towards you, does not suffer me to be at ease.| As, however, there are two kinds of jealousy -- the one springs from self love, and of a wicked and perverse nature, while the other is cherished by us on God's account, he intimates of what sort his zeal is. For many are zealous -- for themselves, not for God. That on the other hand, is the only pious and right zeal, that has an eye to God, that he may not be defrauded of the honors that of right belong to him.

For I have united you to one man. That his zeal was of such a nature, he proves from the design of his preaching, for its tendency was to join them to Christ in marriage, and retain them in connection with him. Here, however, he gives us in his own person a lively picture of a good minister; for One alone is the Bridegroom of the Church -- the Son of God. All ministers are the friends of the Bridegroom, as the Baptist declares respecting himself. (John 3:29.) Hence all ought to be concerned, that the fidelity of this sacred marriage remain unimpaired and inviolable. This they cannot do, unless they are actuated by the dispositions of the Bridegroom, so that every one of them may be as much concerned for the purity of the Church, as a husband is for the chastity of his wife. Away then with coldness and indolence in this matter, for one that is cold will never be qualified for this office. Let them, however, in the mean time, take care, not to pursue their own interest rather than that of Christ, that they may not intrude themselves into his place, lest while they give themselves out as his paranymphs, they turn out to be in reality adulterers, by alluring the bride to love themselves.

To present you as a chaste virgin. We are married to Christ, on no other condition than that we bring virginity as our dowry, and preserve it entire, so as to be free from all corruption. Hence it is the duty of ministers of the gospel to purify our souls, that they may be chaste virgins to Christ; otherwise they accomplish nothing. Now we may understand it as meaning, that they individually present themselves as chaste virgins to Christ, or that the minister presents the whole of the people, and brings them forward into Christ's presence. I approve rather of the second interpretation. Hence I have given a different rendering from Erasmus.

3. But I fear He begins to explain, what is the nature of that virginity of which he has made mention -- our cleaving to Christ alone, sincerely, with our whole heart. God, indeed, everywhere requires from us, that we be joined with him in body and in spirit, and he warns us that he is a jealous God, (Exodus 20:5,) to avenge with the utmost severity the wrong done to him, in the event of any one's drawing back from him. This connection, however, is accomplished in Christ, as Paul teaches in Ephesians, (Ephesians 5:25, 27.) He points out, however, at present the means of it -- when we remain in the pure simplicity of the gospel, for, as in contracting marriages among men, there are written contracts drawn out, so the spiritual connection between us and the Son of God is confirmed by the gospel, as a kind of written contract. Let us maintain the fidelity, love, and obedience, that have been there promised by us; he will be faithful to us on his part.

Now Paul says that he is concerned, that the minds of the Corinthians may not be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ Paul, it is true, says in Greek eis Christon, which Erasmus renders towards Christ, but the Old Interpreter has come nearer, in my opinion, to Paul's intention, because by the simplicity that is in Christ is meant, that which keeps us in the unadulterated and pure doctrine of the gospel, and admits of no foreign admixtures By this he intimates that men's minds are adulterated, whenever they turn aside, even in the least degree, to the one side or to the other, from the pure doctrine of Christ. Nor is it without good reason, for who would not condemn a matron as guilty of unchastity, so soon as she lends an ear to a seducer? So in like manner we, when we admit wicked and false teachers, who are Satan's vile agents, show but too clearly, that we do not maintain conjugal fidelity towards Christ. We must also take notice of the term simplicity, for Paul's fear was not, lest the Corinthians should all at once openly draw back altogether from Christ, but lest, by turning aside, by little and little, from the simplicity which they had learned, so as to go after profane and foreign contrivances, they should at length become adulterated.

He brings forward a comparison as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty For if false teachers have a show of wisdom, if they have any power of eloquence for persuading, if they plausibly insinuate themselves into the minds of their hearers, and instill their poison by fawning artifices, it was in a similar way that Satan also beguiled Eve, as he did not openly declare himself to be an enemy, but crept in privily under a specious pretext.

4. For if he that cometh. He now reproves the Corinthians for the excessive readiness, which they showed to receive the false apostles. For while they were towards Paul himself excessively morose and irritable, so that on any, even the least occasion, they were offended if he gave them even the slightest reproof, there was, on the other hand, nothing that they did not bear with, on the part of the false Apostles. They willingly endured their pride, haughtiness, and unreasonableness. An absurd reverence of this nature he condemns, because in the mean time they showed no discrimination or judgment. |How is it that they take so much liberty with you, and you submit patiently to their control? Had they brought you another Christ, or another gospel, or another Spirit, different from what you received through my hands, I would assuredly approve of your regard for them, for they would be deserving of such honor. But as they have conferred upon you nothing, that I had not given you previously, what sort of gratitude do you show in all but adoring those, to whom you are indebted for nothing, while you despise me, through whom God has bestowed upon you so many and so distinguished benefits?| Such is the reverence that is shown even at this day by Papists towards their pretended Bishops. For while they are oppressed by their excessively harsh tyranny, they submit to it without difficulty; but, at the same time, do not hesitate to treat Christ himself with contempt.

The expressions -- another Christ, and another gospel, are made use of here in a different sense from what they bear in Galatians 1:8. For another is used there in opposition to what is true and genuine, and hence it means false and counterfeit. Here, on the other hand, he means to say -- |If the gospel had come to you through their ministry, and not through mine.|

5. For I reckon that I am. He now convicts them of ingratitude, by removing the only thing that could serve as an excuse for them, for he shows that he is on a level, even with the chief of the Apostles. The Corinthians, therefore, were ungrateful in not esteeming him more highly, after having found him, by experience, to be such; while, on the other hand, the authority that was justly due to him, they transferred to persons of no value. For the sake of modesty, however, he says that he reckons so, while the thing was known and manifest to all. His meaning, however, is, that God had honored his Apostleship with no less distinguished marks of favor, than that of John or Peter. Now the man that despises the gifts of God, which he himself recognizes, cannot clear himself from the charge of being spiteful and ungrateful. Hence, wherever you see the gifts of God, you must there reverence God himself: I mean, that every one is worthy of honor, in so far as he is distinguished by graces received from God, and especially if any advantage has redounded to thee from them.

6. But though I am rude There was one thing in which he might appear, at first view, to be inferior -- that he was devoid of eloquence. This judgment, therefore, he anticipates and corrects, while he acknowledges himself, indeed, to be rude and unpolished in speech, while at the same time he maintains that he has knowledge By speech here he means, elegance of expression; and by knowledge he means, the very substance of doctrine. For as man has both a soul and a body, so also in doctrine, there is the thing itself that is taught, and the ornament of expression with which it is clothed. Paul, therefore, maintains that he understands, what should be taught, and what is necessary to be known, though he is not an eloquent orator, so as to know how to set off his doctrine by a polished and eloquent manner of expression.

It is asked, however, whether elegance of speech is not also necessary for Apostles; for how will they otherwise be prepared for teaching? Knowledge might perhaps suffice for others, but how could a teacher be dumb? I answer, that, while Paul acknowledges himself to be rude in speech, it is not as though he were a mere infant, but as meaning, that he was not distinguished by such splendid eloquence as others, to whom he yields the palm as to this, retaining for himself what was the principal thing -- the reality itself, while he leaves them talkativeness without gravity. If, however, any one should inquire, why it is that the Lord, who made men's tongues, (Exodus 4:11,) did not also endow so eminent an apostle with eloquence, that nothing might be wanting to him, I answer, that he was furnished with a sufficiency for supplying the want of eloquence. For we see and feel, what majesty there is in his writings, what elevation appears in them, what a weight of meaning is couched under them, what power is discovered in them. In fine, they are thunderbolts, not mere words. Does not the efficacy of the Spirit appear more clearly in a naked rusticity of words, (so to speak,) than under the disguise of elegance and ornament? Of this matter, however, we have treated more largely in the former Epistle. In short, he admits, as far as words are concerned, what his adversaries allege by way of objection, while he denies in reality what they hold forth. Let us also learn, from his example, to prefer deeds to words, and, to use a barbarous but common proverb -- |Teneant alii quid nominis, nos autem quid rei;| -- |Let others know something of the name, but let us know something of the reality.| If eloquence is superadded, let it be regarded by us as something over and above; and farther, let it not be made use of for disguising doctrine, or adulterating it, but for unfolding it in its genuine simplicity.

But everywhere. As there was something magnificent in placing himself on a level with the chief Apostles, that this may not be ascribed to arrogance, he makes the Corinthians judges, provided they judge from what they have themselves experienced; for they had known sufficiently well, from many proofs, that he did not boast needlessly, or without good reason. He means, therefore, that he needs not make use of words, inasmuch as reality and experience afford clear evidence of every thing that he was about to say

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