Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. St. Timothy, it appears, had been sent to Corinth to confirm the faithful in the doctrine which they had received from St. Paul. After he had fulfilled this commission, he returned to St. Paul, and gave him an account how they had behaved, and what good effects his first letter had produced. He styles him brother, to conciliate to him the esteem and respect of the Corinthians. This epistle is not merely addressed to the Corinthians, but to all Achaia, of which Corinth was the capital. (Estius) — Others think that Timothy had left Corinth before St. Paul’s first epistle had arrived thither; and that this determined St. Paul to send Titus with another disciple thither. See 2 Corinthians xii. 18. From him St. Paul had the consolation to learn the happy effects produced by his first letter. See 2 Corinthians vi. 7. 11.
Ver. 4. Wherewith we also are exhorted by God. The Latin interpreter sometimes translates the same Greek word by exhorted, sometimes by comforted: so the sense may be, with which we are comforted by God. (Witham) — St. Paul knew that his former letter had afflicted them exceedingly; here he comforts them by telling them that God had filled him with consolation in order to comfort them. The Greek rather signifies, by the consolation with which we are comforted. Either explanation is sufficiently clear, though the latter is stronger. We may here remark the great tenderness St. Paul had for the Corinthians, since he here insinuates that he had received comfort from God merely to communicate it to them. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. St. Paul here styles his own sufferings, the suffering of Christ, to shew that Christ takes part, and suffers in all his members. (St. Chrysostom) — Though it is generally understood to signify the sufferings undergone for Christ. (Estius) — If we consider the very intimate union that exists between Jesus Christ, who is the head, and every one of the living members of his body, that is, the Church, that whatever any one suffers, for the cause of truth, Christ is said to suffer, as the Lord said to Saul, why persecutest thou me? and that whatever is given to any indigent brother in the name of a disciple, Christ receives as given to himself, can we want any further proof of the excellence and power of good works, which begin and terminate in charity? (Haydock)
Ver. 6. Or whether we be exhorted, for your exhortation and salvation. These words are not in the present Greek copies; the omission is not of moment, being in a manner a repetition of what is in the same verse: the sense is, that this happens to us for your instruction, and that you may be exhorted, or comforted by our example. This is also signified by the following words, which makes you bear (literally, which worketh the enduring) the like tribulations, as we suffer. (Witham) — Whatever happens to us, it will always be to your advantage. And certainly it is the greatest comfort when the faithful are in affliction, to see their pastors preaching and planting the faith of Christ, in the midst of afflictions and persecutions. This gives them the greatest courage to bear patiently all adversity, being convinced after the example of their divine master, that by many tribulations we are to enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Cajetan)
Ver. 8. That we were weary even of life. The Greek seems to imply the condition of one, who knows not what way to turn himself, seeing no prospect to avoid the dangers. (Witham) — The sufferings which we underwent in Asia were so great, that we despaired of escaping even with our life. We were in daily expectation of death; like the criminal, who has been condemned to death, we had no hopes of escaping, but we trusted in God, who has delivered us from all danger, by your intercession, ver. 11. He alludes to the tumult raised at Ephesus, and other afflictions which befell him on that account, which, though not mentioned in the Acts, (Acts xix. 24[29?], &c.) were of such a nature as to make him weary of life. (St. Chrysostom)
Ver. 9. The sentence. Literally, the answer of death, by which death seemed unavoidable; and this God permitted to teach us not to trust, or confide, in ourselves, but in him only, &c. (Witham)
Ver. 11. That for this gift, or favour, obtained for us by many persons, &c. The words and construction are obscure, both in the Latin and Greek. It would seem a tautology if translated, that by many persons thanks may be rendered by many. Therefore the sense must be, that God must now be thanked by many persons for the benefit in preserving my life, and hearing the prayers of many persons, who before had prayed for my life. (Witham) — St. Paul in soliciting the prayers of the Corinthians, did not suppose that this was derogatory to Christ’s mediation, nor to the hope he had in God. And can it be more dishonourable to God to solicit the aid of saints in heaven than of sinners on earth? Or is it to be supposed, asks St. Jerome, that the intercession of our fellow-men beneath, is more available with God, than the prayers of those, who enjoy the beatific vision above. (Cont. Vigil.)
Ver. 12. And sincerity of God, which, according to the style of the Scriptures, seems the same as in great sincerity. — In the grace of God. and more abundantly towards you: the sense seems to be, that God had wrought more wonders and miracles by him for their conversion, than in other places. (Witham) — The apostle here indirectly attacks the false teachers, by saying that his doctrine was always the same, in one continued path of sincerity, and that he made no use of the wisdom of this world, like those false doctors, whose whole design was to insinuate themselves into the affections of the Corinthians by speaking what they knew would be agreeable to them. (Estius) — He declares that the subject of his glory was, the testimony his own conscience afforded him of having uniformly acted in their regard with sincerity and truth.
Ver. 13. What you have read, in my former letter, or letters, and known by my preaching: this he says, to clear himself from the accusation of his adversaries, that his words, preaching, and promises were not to be regarded, saying different things at different times, and promising to come to them, which he had not done. (Witham)
Ver. 17. When, therefore, I had a mind, and purposed to come to you, did I use levity? was it an effect of levity, of a fickle mind, and of a want of sincerity? or do I purpose and promise things according to the flesh, to human motives and interest, which make me say, and unsay again, so that in me is yes and no? (Witham)
Ver. 18. But God is faithful: The sense seems to be, as God is faithful, or I appeal to God, who is faithful, that in what I have preached to you, there is not yes and no; my doctrine concerning the faith in Jesus Christ, is and was always the same. Whether I, or Silvanus, or Timothy preached the Son of God, that is, what we taught concerning the Son of God, was not yes and no, was not first one thing, and then another; but in him was yes only, that is, in him, and his doctrine, which we have taught, all is yes, firm, and unchangeable. — And all the promises of God, of sanctification and salvation, made to us in him, by his merits and grace, are equally yes, certain, and infallible; and therefore by him, and his promises are Amen to God, must needs be true, unto our glory, will turn to the salvation and glory of his elect in heaven. (Witham)
Ver. 19. It is, was in him. There was no inconstancy in the doctrine of the apostles, sometimes, like modern sectaries, saying, It is, and at other times saying, It is not. But their doctrine was ever the same, one uniform yea, in Jesus Christ, one Amen, that is, one truth in him. (Challoner)
Ver. 20. The doctrine which the apostle delivered to them was not ambiguous, doubtful, or contradictory, first one thing, then another; on the contrary, it was such, that the apostle could say, (ver. 14.) we are your glory. — Amen. All the promises made by God, with regard to Christ, are fulfilled in him; therefore we may say Amen, and give glory to God, through Jesus Christ, who hath fulfilled all his promises. (Calmet) — One of the distinctive marks, as the holy fathers affirm, between separatists and Catholics is; the former are fond of innovation, changes, and reform, the latter are scrupulously tenacious of what has been delivered from the beginning. See St. Irenĉus, lib. i. chap. 18.; Tertullian, de prĉscript.; St. Basil, ep. 12. Vine: Lyr. See also Les Variations, by Bossuet.
Ver. 21-22. This must needs be true, because he is God, who hath confirmed us with you, both us and you in Christ, in the faith, and grace of Christ crucified, who hath anointed us with divine graces, who hath sealed us, as it were, by an indelible character, in the sacraments of baptism, and confirmation, and ordination, when we were made ministers of Christ, who in this manner hath given the pledge  of his holy Spirit in our hearts, a sufficient pledge and earnest of his graces in this life, and of the glory he has prepared for us in the next. (Witham) — By these texts, and Ephesians iv., the Catholic Church teaches, that we are anointed and consecrated to the service of God, and sealed with a spiritual and distinctive mark, called by divines, a character, (see St. Jerome in Ephesians iv.; St. Cyril, cateches. 17.) which, as it is indelible, can never be iterated. The same is true of confirmation, and holy orders. See St. Augustine, cont. Parm. chap. xiii. & Conc. Tarrac. chap. vi.
Ver. 23. Now as to my not coming to you, I call God to witness, that I only deferred my coming out of kindness to you, and that I came not hitherto to Corinth, to spare you, when by reason of the disorders among you, I must have been forced to use severities against those who were not yet reformed. — Not that we lord it over your faith, nor desire to treat God’s faithful with severity, or by shewing the power that God hath given us: but we rather desire to be helpers and promoters of your joy, that we may rejoice together with you in God. And now I have this greatest comfort to hear that you stand steadfast and firm in the faith of Christ. (Witham)
 Ver. 6. In the Greek we only read, eite de thlibometha, uper tes umon paraklesewos, kai soterias, tes energoumenes en upomone ton auton pathematon, on kai emeis paschomen eite parakaloumetha, uper tes umon parakleseos kai soterias.
 Ver. 8. Ita ut tĉderet nos etiam vivere, oste exaporethenai. See St. Chrysostom, om. b. p. 550.
 Ver. 11. Ut ex multorum personis, ejus, quĉ in nobis est donationis, per multos gratiĉ agantur pro nobis. The Greek is clearer, ina ek pollon prosopo, ton eis emas charisma, dia pollon eucharistethe uper emon.
 Ver. 12. Sinceritate Dei, eilikrineia Theou, so montes Dei, i.e. magni.
 Ver. 22. Pignus spiritus, ton arrabona. That by receiving the earnest, says St. Chrysostom, p. 662, you may be assured to receive the whole.
Bible Text & Cross-references:
He speaks of his troubles in Asia. His not coming to them was not out of levity. The constancy and sincerity of his doctrine.
1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 *Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all consolation,
4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation: that we also may be able to comfort them who are in all distress, by the exhortation wherewith we also are exhorted by God.
5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us: so also by Christ doth our comfort abound.
6 Now whether we be in tribulation, for your exhortation and salvation: or whether we be comforted, for your consolation: or whether we be exhorted, for your exhortation and salvation, which worketh the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer.
7 That our hope for you may be steadfast: knowing that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so shall you be also of the consolation.
8 For we would not have you ignorant, brethren, of our tribulation, which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure above our strength, so that we were weary even of life.
9 But we had in ourselves the answer of death, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God, who raiseth the dead:
10 Who hath delivered, and doth deliver us out of so great dangers: in whom we hope that he will yet also deliver us,
11 You also helping in prayer for us: that for this gift obtained for us, by many persons, thanks may be given by many in our behalf.
12 For our glory is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity of heart and sincerity of God, and not in carnal wisdom, but in the grace of God, we have conversed in this world: and more abundantly towards you.
13 For we write no other things to you, than what you have read and known. And I hope that you shall know unto the end:
14 As also you have known us in part, that we are your glory, as you also are ours on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15 And in this confidence I had a mind to come to you before, that you might have a second favour:
16 And to pass by you into Macedonia, and again from Macedonia to come to you, and by you to be brought on my way towards Judea.
17 When, therefore, I had a mind to do this, did I use levity? Or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that there should be with me, It is, and It is not.
18 But God is faithful, for our preaching which was to you, was not, It is, and It is not.
19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, by me, and Sylvanus, and Timothy, was not, It is, and It is not, but, It is, was in him.
20 For all the promises of God are in him, It is: therefore also by him, Amen to God, unto our glory.
21 Now he that confirmeth us with you in Christ, and he that hath anointed us, is God:
22 Who also hath sealed us, and given the pledge of the Spirit in our hearts.
23 But I call God to witness upon my soul, that to spare you, I came not any more to Corinth: not because we lord it over your faith: but we are helpers of your joy: for in faith you stand.
3: Ephesians i. 3.; 1 Peter i. 3.