This is the third time I am coming to you. Or the third that I have purposed to come; and when I come it will be to punish those who are convicted, on the testimony of two or three witnesses, of having sinned, and of not having done penance.
In the mouth of two or three witnesses. Every accusation, every cause shall be settled on the deposition of two or three witnesses, so that the guilt that I shall punish may be sufficiently established. Others explain this to mean that the two or three witnesses are his three visits to Corinth, and they point to the reference to his three visits which immediately precedes this clause. I am one, he would then say; but coming to you a third time (xii14 , note), I shall have the authority of two or three witnesses (Maldonatus, Not, mss.). But this interpretation is too jejune. The lofty mind of the Apostle has in view something wider and higher than this; moreover, it seems foreign to his drift. He is quoting Deut. xix15 , the plain meaning of which,...
SYNOPSIS OF THE CHAPTER
i. There were some at Corinth who had abandoned themselves to impurity, others who were proud and contentious (xi20 , 21), others given to other sins, and disposed to regard S. Paul"s admonitions cheaply. He threatens such in this chapter, that he may provoke them to repentance.
ii. He bids them (ver3) keep in mind and reverence the effectual grace given him by Christ, and the wonderful works it had enabled him to perform.
iii. He beseeches them (ver7) to do no evil, lest he be forced to use against them his power to punish.
iv. He exhorts them (ver11) to perfection, to love one another, to live at peace, to greet one another, and sends them his own salutation.
The third time he had made preparations to visit the Corinthians, (see chap. xii. 14.) when every delinquent shall be tried as the law directs. (Deuteronomy xix. 15.; Matthew xviii. 16.; Hebrews x. 28.)
The wisdom of Paul and his much tender affection, one may observe in many other circumstances, but especially in this, his being so abundant and vehement in his admonitions, but so tardy and procrastinating in his punishments. For he did not chastise them immediately on their sinning, but warned them once and again; and not even so, upon their paying no attention, does he exact punishment, but warns again, saying, This is the third time I am coming to you; and 'before I come I write again.' Then, that his procrastinating may not produce indifference, see how he corrects this result also, by threatening continually and holding the blow suspended over them, and saying, If I come again I will not spare; and lest when I come again I should mourn for many. These things, then, he does and speaks, in this too imitating the Lord of all: because that God also threatens indeed continually and warns often, but not often chastises and punishes. And so in truth also does Paul, and therefore he said...
Of all the rest, but because "by three witnesses must every word be established.".
still retains the very formula of the law: "In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established? ".
Three witnesses every word shall stand: "