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2 Corinthians 1:12

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

For our rejoicing is this - Ἡ καυχησις . Our boasting, exultation, subject of glorying.

The testimony of our conscience - Μαρτυριον της συνειδησεως· That testimony or witness which conscience, under the light and influence of the Spirit of God, renders to the soul of its state, sincerity, safety, etc.

In simplicity - Ἁπλοτητι· from α, denoting unity or together, and πελω, to be; or from α, negative, and πολυς, many; not compounded, having one end in view, having no sinister purpose, no by end to answer. Instead of ἁπλοτητι, many MSS. and versions have ἁγιοτητι, holiness.

In godly sincerity - Ειλικρινειᾳ Θεου· The sincerity of God: that is, such a sincerity as comes from his work in the soul. Ειλικρινεια, sincerity, and ειλικρινης, sincere, come from ειλη, the splendor, or bright shining of the sun; and here signifies such simplicity of intention, and purity of affection, as can stand the test of the light of God shining upon it, without the discovery being made of a single blemish or flaw.

Not with fleshly wisdom - The cunning and duplicity of man, who is uninfluenced by the Spirit of God, and has his secular interest, ease, profit, pleasure, and worldly honor in view.

But by the grace of God - Which alone can produce the simplicity and godly sincerity before mentioned, and inspire the wisdom that comes from above.

We have had our conversation - Ανεστραφημεν· We have conducted ourselves. The word properly refers to the whole tenor of a man's life - all that he does says, and intends; and the object or end he has in view, and in reference to which he speaks, acts, and thinks; and is so used by the best Greek writers. The verb αναστρεφω is compounded of ανα, again, and στρεφω, to turn; a continual coming back again to the point from which he set out; a circulation; beginning, continuing, and ending every thing to the glory of God; setting out with Divine views, and still maintaining them; beginning in the Spirit, and ending in the Spirit; acting in reference to God, as the planets do in reference to the sun, deriving all their light, heat, and motion from him; and incessantly and regularly revolving round him. Thus acted Paul; thus acted the primitive Christians; and thus must every Christian act who expects to see God in his glory. The word conversation is not an unapt Latinism for the Greek term, as conversatio comes from con, together, and verto, I turn; and is used by the Latins in precisely the same sense as the other is by the Greeks, signifying the whole of a man's conduct, the tenor and practice of his life: and conversio astrorum, and conversiones caelestes, is by Cicero used for the course of the stars and heavenly bodies. - De Leg. c. 8: Caelum una conversione atque eadem, ipse circum se torquetur et vertitur. - CIC de Univers., c. 8: "The heaven itself is, with one and the same revolution, whirled about, and revolves round itself."

In the world - Both among Jews and Gentiles have we always acted as seeing Him who is invisible.

More abundantly to you-ward - That is, We have given the fullest proof of this in our conduct towards you; You have witnessed the holy manner in which we have always acted; and God is witness of the purity of the motives by which we have been actuated; and our conscience tells us that we have lived in uprightness before him.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

For our rejoicing is this - The source or cause of our rejoicing. “I have a just cause of rejoicing, and it is, that I have endeavored to live a life of simplicity and godly sincerity, and have not been actuated by the principles of worldly wisdom.” The connection here is not very obvious, and it is not quite easy to trace it. Most expositors, as Doddridge, Locke, Macknight, Bloomfield, etc., suppose that he mentions the purity of his life as a reason why he had a right to expect their prayers, as he had requested in 2 Corinthians 1:11. They would not doubt, it is supposed, that his life had been characterized by great simplicity and sincerity, and would feel, therefore, a deep interest in his welfare, and be disposed to render thanks that be had been preserved in the day of peril. But the whole context and the scope of the passage is rather to be taken into view. Paul had been exposed to death.

He had no hope of life. Then the ground of his rejoicing, and of his confidence, was that he had lived a holy life. He had not been actuated by “fleshly wisdom,” but he had been animated and guided by “the grace of God.” His aim had been simple, his purpose holy, and he had the testimony of his conscience that his motives had been right, and he had, therefore, no concern about the result. A good conscience, a holy life through Jesus Christ, will enable a man always to look calmly on death. What has a Christian to fear in death? Paul had kept a good conscience toward all; but he says that he had special and unique joy that he had done it toward the Corinthians. This he says, because many there had accused him of fickleness, and of disregard for their interests. He declares, therefore, that even in the prospect of death he had a consciousness of rectitude toward them, and proceeds to show 2 Corinthians 1:13-23 that the charge against him was not well founded. I regard this passage, therefore, as designed to express the fact that Paul, in view of sudden death, had a consciousness of a life of piety, and was comforted with the reflection that he had not been actuated by the “fleshly wisdom” of the world.

The testimony of our conscience - An approving conscience. It does not condemn me on the subject. Though others might accuse him, though his name might be calumniated, yet he had comfort in the approval which his own conscience gave to his course. Paul‘s conscience was enlightened, and its decisions were correct. Whatever others might charge him with he knew what had been the aim and purpose of his life; and the consciousness of upright aims, and of such plans as the “grace of God” would prompt to, sustained him. An approving conscience is of inestimable value when we are calumniated; and when we draw near to death.

That in simplicity - ( ἐν ἁπλότητι en haplotētiTyndale renders this forcibly “without doubleness.” The word means sincerity, candor, probity, plain-heartedness, Christian simplicity, frankness, integrity; see 2 Corinthians 11:3. It stands opposed to double-dealings and purposes; to deceitful appearances, and crafty plans; to mere policy, and craftiness in accomplishing an object. A man under the influence of this, is straightforward, candid, open, frank; and he expects to accomplish his purpose by integrity and fair-dealing, and not by stratagem and cunning. Policy, craft, artful plans, and deep-laid schemes of deceit belong to the world; simplicity of aim and purpose are the true characteristics of a real Christian.

And godly sincerity - Greek “sincerity of God.” This may be a Hebrew idiom, by which the superlative degree is indicated, when, in order to express the highest degree, they added the name of God, as in the phrases “mountains of God,” signifying the highest mountains, or “cedars of God,” denoting lofty cedars. Or it may mean such sincerity as God manifests and approves such as he, by his grace, would produce in the heart; such as the religion of the gospel is suited to produce. The word used here, εἱλικρινεία heilikrineiaand rendered sincerity, denotes. properly, clearness, such as is judged of or discerned in sunshine (from εἵλη heilēand κρίνω krinō), and thence pureness, integrity. It is most probable that the phrase here denotes that sincerity which God produces and approves; and the sentiment is, that pure religion, the religion of God, produces entire sincerity in the heart. Its purposes and aims are open and manifest, as if seen in the sunshine. The plans of the world are obscure, deceitful, and dark, as if in the night.

Not with fleshly wisdom - Not with the wisdom which is manifested by the people of this world; not by the principles of cunning, and mere policy, and expediency, which often characterize them. The phrase here stands opposed to simplicity and sincerity, to openness and straightforwardness. And Paul means to disclaim for himself, and for his fellow-laborers, all that carnal policy which distinguishes the mere people of the world. And if Paul deemed such policy improper for him, we should deem it improper for us; if he had no plans which he wished to advance by it, we should have none; if he would not employ it in the promotion of good plans, neither should we. It has been the curse of the church and the bane of religion; and it is to this day exerting a withering and blighting influence on the church. The moment that such plans are resorted to, it is proof that the vitality of religion is gone, and any man who feels that his purposes cannot be accomplished but by such carnal policy, should set it down as full demonstration that his plans are wrong, and that his purpose should be abandoned.

But by the grace of God - This phrase stands opposed, evidently, to “fleshly wisdom.” It means that Paul had been influenced by such sentiments and principles as would be suggested or prompted by the influence of his grace. Locke renders it, “by the favor of God directing me.” God had shown him favor; God had directed him; and he had kept him from the crooked and devious ways of mere worldly policy. The idea seems to be not merely that he had pursued a correct and upright course of life, but that he was indebted for this to the mere grace and favor of God, an idea which Paul omitted no opportunity of acknowledging.

We have had our conversation - We have conducted ourselves ἀναστράφημεν anastraphēmenThe word used here means literally, “to turn up, to overturn”; then “to turn back, to return,” and in the middle voice, “to turn oneself around, to turn oneself to anything, and, also, to move about in, to live in, to be conversant with, to conduct oneself.” In this sense it seems to be used here; compare Hebrews 10:33; Hebrews 13:18; 1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Peter 1:17. The word “conversation,” we usually apply to oral discourse, but in the Scriptures, it means “conduct,” and the sense of the passage is, that Paul had conducted himself in accordance with the principles of the grace of God, and had been influenced by that.

In the world - Everywhere; whereever I have been. This does not mean in the world as contradistinguished from the church, but in the world at large, or wherever he had been, as contradistinguished from the church at Corinth. It had been his common and universal practice.

And more abundantly to you-ward - Especially toward you. This was added doubtless because there had been charges against him in Corinth, that he had been crafty, cunning, deceitful, and especially that he had deceived them (see 2 Corinthians 1:17), in not visiting them as he had promised. He affirms, therefore, that in all things he had acted in the manner to which the grace of God prompted, and that his conduct, in all respects, had been that of entire simplicity and sincerity.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Though, as a sinner, the apostle could only rejoice and glory in Christ Jesus, yet, as a believer, he might rejoice and glory in being really what he professed. Conscience witnesses concerning the steady course and tenor of the life. Thereby we may judge ourselves, and not by this or by that single act. Our conversation will be well ordered, when we live and act under such a gracious principle in the heart. Having this, we may leave our characters in the Lord's hands, but using proper means to clear them, when the credit of the gospel, or our usefulness, calls for it.
Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 3, 304

I call upon you in the name of Christ to withdraw the suit that you have begun and never bring another into court. God forbids you thus to dishonor His name. You have had great light and many opportunities, and you cannot afford to unite with worldlings and follow their methods. Remember that the Lord will treat you according to the stand that you take in this life.... 3SM 304.1

I tell you solemnly that if you take the action which you now purpose to take, you will never recover from the result of it. If you open before the world the wrongs that you suppose your brethren have done you, there will be some things that will have to be said on the other side. I have a caution to give you. 3SM 304.2

In regard to the case of those who shared large responsibilities with you in the Review and Herald, and who have turned to be enemies of the work, you will not wish to hear the verdict that shall be passed upon them when the judgment shall sit and the books shall be opened, and every man shall be judged according to the things written in the books. I want to save you from following a course that would link you up with those who have linked themselves up with fallen angels, to do all the harm they possibly can to those who love God, and who, under great difficulty, are striving to proclaim present truth to the world. 3SM 304.3

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Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 195.5

Those who preach the truth will strive to demonstrate the truth by a well-ordered life and godly conversation. And as they do this, they will become powerful in advocating the truth and in giving it the sure application that God has given it.... TDG 195.5

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Ellen G. White
Medical Ministry, 295

If you are called upon to attend a council meeting, ask yourself whether your perceptive faculties are in a proper condition to weigh evidence. If you are not in a proper condition, if your brain is confused, you have no right to take part in the meeting. Are you fractious? Is your temper sweet and fragrant, or is it so disturbed and disagreeable that you will be led to make hasty decisions? Do you feel as though you would like to fight someone? Then do not go to the meeting; for if you go you will surely dishonor God. Take an ax and chop wood or engage in some physical exercise until your spirit is mild and easy to be entreated. Just as surely as your stomach is creating a disturbance in your brain, your words will create a disturbance in the assembly. More trouble is caused by disturbed digestive organs than many realize. MM 295.1

We ought always to eat the most simple food. Often twice as much food as the system needs is eaten. Then nature has to work hard to get rid of the surplus. Treat your stomach properly, and it will do its best.... MM 295.2

Whether they acknowledge it or not, God lays upon all human beings the duty of taking care of the soul temple. The body is to be kept clean and pure. The soul is to be sanctified and ennobled. Then, God says, I will come unto him and take up My abode with him. We are responsible for our own salvation, and God holds us accountable for the influence we exert on those connected with us. We should stand in such a position, physically and spiritually, that we can recommend the religion of Christ. We are to dedicate our bodies to God. MM 295.3

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