Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. St. Paul continues to justify his not coming to them as he promised. He told them that he did not wish to domineer over their faith, but that his whole design was to contribute to their joy, and that he did not wish to visit them as long as any thing remained worthy of correction, lest his presence should only increase their sorrow. And if in his former epistle he made use of strong expressions, it was not through any design to make them sad, but merely to correct them, by which he manifested his great charity for them. (Calmet)

Ver. 2. Who is he that should make me glad? &c. The sense is to be gathered from the circumstances. He speaks of the Corinthian guilty of incest, whom he brought to sorrow and repentance, by excommunicating him in his former epistle, and now St. Paul rejoiceth at his conversion. (Witham) — The meaning of the apostle is, that if I had come to you in order to make you sorrowful, what pleasure could I have derived from your grief, since you are the only persons who can afford me any, the least comfort? What motives could have influenced me to undertake so disagreeable a mission? This is more fully explained in the following verse, which shows this to be the reason why he had written to them. (Calmet)

Ver. 5. And if any one (he means the same incestuous man) hath caused grief, or caused me to grieve, he hath not grieved me, that is, not me only, but all the virtuous Christians at Corinth: but in part, that I may not charge you all with this fault. The sense seems to be, but in part, that is, it was only one man, and some that joined with him, by showing themselves unconcerned for his scandalous crime, so that I do not blame the rest: or as it was but in part, that is, it was only a passing trouble for a little time, since by admonitions and severities, he soon repented. (Witham) — When last I wrote to you, I was in great anguish on account of the crime of the incestuous man; but my grief was moderated by the consideration of the behaviour of the rest of the Church of Corinth, which had remained steadfast in faith and virtue. (St. Gregory and St. Augustine) — It is not the whole Church of Corinth that has caused me this grief, but only one of you: I say this, that you may not believe that I wished to charge you all with this crime. (Grotius)

Ver. 6. This rebuke already given him, may suffice, and I would have you pardon and comfort him, lest he be overwhelmed, and as it were swallowed up[1] and devoured by and excess of grief, so that by the artifices of Satan, which we are acquainted with, it turn to his greater prejudice. I wrote, and proceeded in that manner, to know by experience, how far you are obedient to me, and to the ministers of Christ. (Witham)

Ver. 9. This was another reason why I wrote my former letter to you, viz. to try your obedience, and your attachment to the faith, and that I might know whether the difference of opinion which prevailed among you had prevented you from being obedient. (Calmet) — Others explain it thus: I have written this second letter to you to try your obedience, and to know if you will pay the same obedience to my orders, when I tell you to receive the incestuous man into your communion, as you did when I told you to separate him from your communion. (Estius and Theodoret)

Ver. 10. I also. The apostle here granted an indulgence, or pardon, in the person, and by the authority of Christ, to the incestuous Corinthian, whom before he had put under penance: which pardon consisted in a releasing of part of the temporal punishment due to his sin. (Challoner) — Now as you have pardoned him by my instructions, and have received him again into your communion, I also pardon[2] him, and confirm what you have done, for your sake, as well as for his, and dispense with any further severities of a longer penance, which he deserved. (St. Chrysostom) And I do this in the person of Christ, by that power and authority derived from Christ, which he left to his apostles, when he said, (Matthew xviii. 18.) whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed in heaven, &c. not only in the sight of men, says St. Chrysostom, but in the sight of God, who hath given us this power. (Witham)

Ver. 11. In the name and in the person of Christ, I ordered him to be excommunicated; in the same, I order him now to be re-admitted into your communion, and this for your sake. We ought to take care that the remedies we employ, do not give occasion to the triumphs of Satan, by throwing the patient into despair, on account of our too great severity. (St. Ambrose) — The Greek may be translated: that we may not fall into the power of Satan, on account of our too great severity. (Calmet)

Ver. 12, &c. When I was come to Troas….and a door was opened to me, towards promoting the gospel, which I never neglect, yet I had no rest in my spirit; I remained still in a great concern for you, not meeting with Titus, from whom I expected with impatience to hear how all things went with you at Corinth: I went on, therefore, bidding them farewell at that time, and deferred the good I might do by a longer stay with them till another time. (Witham) — Troas is the same town as the ancient Troy or Ilium, famous for its ten years’ siege, when it was destroyed by the Greeks in the year 1184, B. Christ [1184 B.C.]. (Estius) — Here, though there was a great promise of abundant fruit, St. Paul’s solicitude to meet Titus, that he might learn from him the effect of his letter, made him depart from Macedonia, where he had much to suffer. (Bible de Vence)

Ver. 14. Thanks be to God, who always causeth us to triumph by his grace, so that we every where make manifest the odour of his knowledge, making God known and worshipped, and instructing the people in the faith of Christ, to the advantage and eternal good of those who hearken to us, and are saved; but to the greater condemnation of those, who after they have heard of the truth, by their own fault remain obstinate: so that the preaching of the gospel is to some the odour of death unto death, when they remain dead in their sins, they incur an eternal death: and to them who are converted, the odour of life unto life; they receive the spiritual life of grace in their souls in this world, and an eternal life in the next. (Witham)

Ver. 16. The odour of death, &c. The preaching of the apostle, which by its fragrant odour brought many to life, was to others, through their own fault, the occasion of death; by their wilfully opposing and resisting that divine call. (Challoner) — And for these things who is so sufficient,[3] as we whom Christ hath chosen to be the ministers of his gospel? In the Greek copies and in St. Chrysostom, we only read, who is fit? as if he said, who is fit to discharge this great duty, without the continual assistance of God’s grace? The reading of the Latin Vulgate seems to agree better with the following verse of the next chapter, when he answers their objection, Do we then begin again to commend ourselves? (Witham) — Who are so fit as we who are chosen by God to fulfil his ministry? If God had not chosen us, how should we have been able to acquit ourselves of so arduous an undertaking? for we did not intrude or thrust ourselves into this ministry. (Calmet) —Though it is not so difficult for those to preach the gospel who corrupt its doctrines, who weaken its truths, who disguise its obligations, and who mix the word of God with human inventions in order to be more esteemed, or for the sake of filthy lucre, like those who mix and adulterate their wines, in order to be the greater gainers. (St. Chrysostom) — But we preach the word in all sincerity, as on the part of God, in the presence of God, and in the Spirit and person of Jesus Christ. (Bible de Vence) — In this grand work all may justly tremble, for who is fit? as we read in the Greek.

Ver. 17. We are not as many false doctors and preachers, who adulterate[4] the word of God, by mixing human doctrine, to be more esteemed, or for gain-sake. The expression is metaphorical, from the custom of those who mix and adulterate wines, says St. Chrysostom, for their greater gain and advantage. (Witham)


[1] Ver. 7. Ne forte….absorbeatur, katapothe, absorbeatur, deglutiatur.

[2] Ver. 10. In persona Christi, en prosopo Christou, [not only before Christ] and St. Chrysostom says, os tou Christou keleuontos. Christo jubente, though he had not done sufficient penance, nor deserved it: ou gar epeide axios esti, oude epeide archousan metanoian epedeixato.

[3] Ver. 16. Et ad hæc quis tam idoneus? but in the Greek without tam; kai pros tauta tis ikanos.

[4] Ver. 17. Adulterantes, kapeleuontes, cauponantes; upon which St. Chrysostom, p. 576, otan tis notheue ton oinon.

Bible Text & Cross-references:He grants a pardon to the incestuous man, upon his doing penance.1 But I determined this with myself, that I would not to come to you again in sorrow:2 For if I make you sorrowful, who is he then that should make me glad, but he who is made sorrowful by me?3 And I wrote this same to you; that I may not, when I come, have sorrow upon sorrow, from them of whom I ought to rejoice: having confidence in you all that my joy is that of you all.4 For out of much affliction, and anguish of heart, I wrote to you with many tears: not that you should be made sorrowful, but that you might know the charity I have more abundantly towards you.5 And if any one have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part, that I may not burden you all.6 To him who is such a one, this rebuke is sufficient, which is given by many:7 So that on the contrary you should rather forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.8 Wherefore I beseech you, that you would confirm your charity towards him.9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the experiment of you, whether you be obedient in all things.10 And to whom you have forgiven any thing, I also: for, what I forgave, if I have forgiven any thing, it was for your sakes in the person of Christ,11 That we may not be circumvented by Satan: for we are not ignorant of his devices.12 And when I was come to Troas, for the gospel of Christ, and a door was opened to me in the Lord,13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus, my brother, but bidding them farewell, I went into Macedonia.14 Now thanks be to God, who always causeth us to triumph in Christ Jesus, and maketh manifest the odour of his knowledge by us in every place.15 For we are unto God the good odour of Christ in them who are saved, and in them who perish.16 To some, indeed the odour of death unto death: but to the others, the odour of life unto life. And for these things who is so sufficient?17 For we are not as many adulterating the word of God, but with sincerity, but as from God, in the sight of God, we speak in Christ.