2 Corinthians 13:3

Since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who toward you is not weak, but is mighty in you.
All Commentaries on 2 Corinthians 13:3 Go To 2 Corinthians 13

John Chrysostom

AD 407
Seeing that you seek a proof of Christ that speaks in me. For he said this, dealing at once a blow at these, and at the same time lashing those also. Now what he means is this; 'Since you are desirous of proving whether Christ dwells in me, and call me to an account, and on this score make a mock of me as mean and despicable, as if I were destitute of that Power; you shall know that we are not destitute, if you give us occasion, which God forbid.' What then? Tell me. Do you therefore punish, because they seek a proof? 'No,' he says; for had he sought this, he would have punished them at the first on their sinning, and would not have put off. But that he does not seek this, he has shown more clearly as he proceeds, saying, Now I pray that you do no evil, not that we may appear approved, but that you may be approved, though we be as reprobates. 2 Corinthians 13:7 He does not employ those words then as assigning a reason, but rather in indignation, rather as attacking those that despise him. 'For,' he says, 'I have no desire indeed to give you such a proof, but if you yourselves should furnish cause and should choose to challenge me, you shall know by very deeds.' And observe how grievous he makes what he says. For he said not, 'Since ye seek a proof of me,' but of Christ that speakest in me, showing that it was against Him they sinned. And he did not say merely, 'dwelling in me,' but speaking in me, showing that his words are spiritual. But if he does not display His power nor punish, (for thenceforward the Apostle transferred what he said from himself to Christ, thus making his threat more fearful,) it is not from weakness; for He can do it: but from long suffering. Let none then think His forbearance to be weakness. For why do you marvel that He does not now proceed against sinners, nor in his forbearance and long suffering exacts satisfaction, seeing that He endured even to be crucified, and though suffering such things punished not? Wherefore also he added, Who to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you. For though He was crucified through weakness, yet He lives through the Power of God. These words have much obscurity and give disturbance to the weaker sort. Wherefore it is necessary to unfold them more clearly, and to explain the signification of the expression as to which the obscurity exists, that no one may be offended, even of the simpler sort. What then, at all, is that which is here said, and what the term weakness designates, and in what signification it is used, it is necessary to learn. For the term is indeed one, but it has many meanings. For bodily sickness is termed 'weakness:' whence it is even said in the Gospel, Behold, he whom You love is weak, John 11:3-4 concerning Lazarus; and He Himself said, This weakness is not unto death; and Paul, speaking of Epaphras, For indeed he was weak near unto death, but God had mercy on him; Philippians 2:57 and of Timothy, Use a little wine for your stomach's sake and your often weaknesses. 1 Timothy 5:23 For all these denote bodily sickness. Again, the not being established firmly in the faith is called 'weakness;' the not being perfect and complete. And denoting this Paul said, Him that is weak in the faith receive ye but not to doubtful disputations: Romans 14:1-2 and again, One believes that he may eat all things; another, who is weak, eats herbs, denoting him who is weak in the faith. Here then are two significations of the term 'weakness;' there is yet a third thing which is called 'weakness.' What then is this? Persecutions, plottings, insults, trials, assaults. And denoting this Paul said, For this thing I besought the Lord thrice. And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for you: for My power is made perfect in weakness. Chap. 12:8, 9 What is in weakness? In persecutions, in dangers, in trials, in plottings, in deaths. And denoting this he said, Wherefore, I take pleasure in weakness. Then showing what kind of weakness he means, he spoke not of fever, nor of doubt about the faith; but what? in injuries, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For when I am weak, then am I strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10 That is to say 'when I am persecuted, when I am driven up and down, when I am plotted against, then am I strong, then the rather I prevail over, and get the better of them that plot against me, because that grace rests upon me, more largely. It is then in this third sense that Paul uses weakness; and this is what he means by it; aiming again, as I said also before, at that point, his seeming to them to be mean and contemptible. For indeed he had no desire to boast, nor to seem to be what he really was, nor yet to display the power which he possessed of punishing and revenging; whence also he was accounted to be mean. When then as so accounting they were going on in great indifference and insensibility, and repented not of their sins, he seizes a favorable opportunity, discourses with much vigor upon these points also, and shows that it was not from weakness he did nothing, but from long-suffering. 3. Then, as I said, by transferring the argument from himself to Christ, he enhances their fear, he increases his threat. And what he says is this; 'for even supposing I should do something and chastise and take vengeance on the guilty ones, is it I that chastise and take vengeance? It is He that dwells in me, Christ Himself. But if you do not believe this, but are desirous of receiving a proof by deeds of Him that dwells in me, you shall know presently; For he is not weak to you-ward, but is even powerful.' And wherefore added he to you-ward, seeing He is mighty everywhere? For should He be minded to punish unbelievers, He is able; or demons, or anything whatsoever. What then is the import of the addition? The expression is either as shaming them exceedingly by remembrance of the proofs they have already received; or else as declaring this, that meanwhile He shows His power in you who ought to be corrected. As he said also in another place, For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? 1 Corinthians 5:12 'For those that are without,' he says, 'He will then call to account in the day of judgment, but you even now, so as to rescue you from that punishment.' But nevertheless even this instance of his solicitude, although arising from tender affection, observe how he combines with fear and much anger, saying, Who to you-ward is not weak, but is powerful in you.
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Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation - 2 Peter 1:20

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