2 Corinthians 2:17
(17) For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God.--More accurately, We are not as most, as the greater number. There is a ring of sadness in the words. Even then the ways of error were manifold, and the way of truth was one. Among Judaisers, and the seekers after Greek wisdom, asserters of license for liberty, questioners of the resurrection: how few were those who preached the true word of God in its purity! The word for "corrupt," formed from a word which signifies "huckster" or "tavern-keeper," implies an adulteration like that which such people commonly practised. We, says St. Paul, play no such tricks of trade with what we preach; we do not meet the tastes of our hearers by prophesying deceits. The very fact that we know the tremendous issues of our work would hinder that. Comp. St. Peter's use of the same figure in "the sincere (the unadulterated) milk of the reason" (1Peter 2:2). It is doubtful whether the imagery of the triumph is still present to his thoughts. If it were, we may think of the word "corrupt" as connected with the thought of the sweet savour: "Our incense, at any rate, is pure. If it brings death it is through no fault of ours. It is not a poisoned perfume."

As of sincerity, but as of God.--The two clauses are half connected, half contrasted. To have said "of sincerity" alone would have been giving too much prominence to what was purely subjective. He could not feel sure that he was sincere unless he knew that his sincerity was given to him by God. (For the word "sincerity," see Note on 2Corinthians 1:12.)

Verse 17. - For we are not as many; rather, as the many. This clause is introduced to show how much courage and effort the work requires. "The many" might, by Greek idiom, mean "the majority." The apparent harshness of the assertion that the majority of teachers in the apostolic age dealt untruly with the Word of God, led to the substitution of οἱ λοιποὶ, the rest, in some manuscripts (D, E, F, G, L). But "the many" here means "the many antagonists of mine," who preach a different gospel (Galatians 1:6). It must be remembered that conceit, Pharisaism, moral laxity, and factions were all at work in the Corinthian Church. Which corrupt. The Word means who are merely" trafficking with," "adulterating," "huckstering," the Word of life. The word occurs in the LXX. of Isaiah 1:22; Ecclus. 26:29; and Plato applies the same metaphor to the sophists, who peddle their wisdom about ('Protag.,' p. 313 d). The substantive kapelos means "a retail dealer," and especially a vintner, and the verb kapeleuo is always used in a bad sense, like the English "to huckster." Such deceitful dealers with the gospel are described in 2 Peter 2:3, and in one of the Ignatian letters they are called Christemporoi, Christ-traffickers. Such were those who altered the perspective of the gospel, lowered its standard, and adulterated it with strange admixtures. Their methods and their teaching are constantly alluded to in these Epistles (1 Corinthians 1:17, 31; 1 Corinthians 2:1-4; and 2 Corinthians 10:12, 15; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, etc.), But as of sincerity, but as of God. lake one who speaks from the sincerity of his heart (2 Corinthians 1:12; 2 Corinthians 4:2) and by the inspiration of God (1 Corinthians 14:25). Before God speak we in Christ. The sphere of our teaching as of our life is Christ; and our work is done

"As ever in our great Taskmaster's eye."

2:12-17 A believer's triumphs are all in Christ. To him be the praise and glory of all, while the success of the gospel is a good reason for a Christian's joy and rejoicing. In ancient triumphs, abundance of perfumes and sweet odours were used; so the name and salvation of Jesus, as ointment poured out, was a sweet savour diffused in every place. Unto some, the gospel is a savour of death unto death. They reject it to their ruin. Unto others, the gospel is a savour of life unto life: as it quickened them at first when they were dead in trespasses and sins, so it makes them more lively, and will end in eternal life. Observe the awful impressions this matter made upon the apostle, and should also make upon us. The work is great, and of ourselves we have no strength at all; all our sufficiency is of God. But what we do in religion, unless it is done in sincerity, as in the sight of God, is not of God, does not come from him, and will not reach to him. May we carefully watch ourselves in this matter; and seek the testimony of our consciences, under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, that as of sincerity, so speak we in Christ and of Christ.For we are not as many,.... The apostle here removes from himself, and other ministers of the Gospel, a character which belonged not to them, but to the false apostles; who are described by their number many; there were great swarms of false teachers in the early times of Christianity; see 1 John 2:18; some copies read, "as the rest": and so the Syriac and Arabic versions; and also by their quality,

which corrupt the word of God; by "the word of God", may be meant the Scriptures in general, which are from God, contain his will, and which he uses for the good of men, and his own glory, and may be corrupted by false glosses, and human mixtures, and by adding to them, or taking from them; or the Gospel in particular, which is the word of truth, of faith, righteousness, reconciliation, and salvation, and which was corrupted by these false teachers, by making merchandise of it; they huckstered the word of God, made gain of it, sought merely their own worldly interest and advantage in it, and so mixed it with their own vain philosophy, to please the carnal ears and hearts of men; they blended law and Gospel, grace and works, in the business of salvation; they did, as peddling merchants do, mix good and bad commodities together, and then vend them for sound ware; or as vintners, who mix their wine with water, and sell it for neat wine. The Septuagint interpreters on Isaiah 1:22, translate the last clause of that verse thus, , "thy vintners mix wine with water"; which may be understood in a moral or spiritual sense; so did these men mix, and hereby corrupt the Gospel, the word of God; and so the Syriac version reads the words "who mix the word of God": now the apostle says, they did not do so; they delivered out the word pure and unmixed, without any corruption or adulteration:

but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God, says he,

speak we in Christ; they spoke "in Christ", in the name of Christ, of or concerning him, and him only, and freely, fully, and plainly, as God's free gift, and the only way of salvation without the works of men: and they spoke, "as of sincerity"; what they delivered was the sincere milk of the word; the manner in which they did it was sincere, with all integrity and faithfulness; and so were their views, which were not their own profit and applause, but the glory of God and the good of souls; they spoke in Christ, and with all sincerity, "as of God"; by whom they were called and sent forth to speak in his name, and from whom they received the Gospel, and gifts, and abilities to preach it; and all this they did, in the sight of God, as the searcher of hearts, and to whom they knew they must give an account of their ministry another day.

2 Corinthians 2:16
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