2 Corinthians Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern

chapter 2
1. So I made up my mind that I would not pay you another painful visit.
2. For if I cause you pain, who is left to make me happy except the people I have pained?
3. Indeed, this is why I wrote as I did — so that when I came, I would not have to be pained by those who ought to be making me happy; for I had enough confidence in all of you to believe that unless I could be happy, none of you could be happy either.
4. I wrote to you with a greatly distressed and anguished heart, and with many tears, not in order to cause you pain, but to get you to realize how very much I love you.
I wrote, that is, in I Corinthians; see 7:8-12 and 10:1,9 below. 

5. Now if someone has been a cause of pain, it is not I whom he has pained, but, in some measure — I don’t want to overstate it — all of you.
6. For such a person the punishment already imposed on him by the majority is sufficient,
7. so that now you should do the opposite — forgive him, encourage him, comfort him. Otherwise such a person might be swallowed up in overwhelming depression.
8. So I urge you to show that you really do love him.
9. The reason I wrote you was to see if you would pass the test, to see if you would fully obey me.
10. Anyone you forgive, I forgive too. For indeed, whatever I have forgiven, if there has been anything to forgive, has been for your sake in the presence of the Messiah
See 1С 5:1-5&NN, 5:9-13&NN for the background. 

11. so that we will not be taken advantage of by the Adversary — for we are quite aware of his schemes!
The adversary. Satan, "the devil." See Mt 4:1&N. 

12. Now when I went to Troas to proclaim the Good News of the Messiah, since a door had been opened for me by the Lord,
13. I could not rest, because I failed to find my brother Titus. So I left the people there and went on to Macedonia.
Titus, mentioned 6 times in Chapters 7-8 and again in Chapter 12, also in Galatians 2 as a Gentile believer whom Sha'ul did not circumcise, in 2 Timothy 4, and in Ti 1:4 as the recipient of Sha'ul's letter. 

14. But thanks be to God, who in the Messiah constantly leads us in a triumphal procession and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of what it means to know him!
15. For to God we are the aroma of the Messiah, both among those being saved and among those being lost;
16. to the latter, we are the smell of death leading only to more death; but to the former, we are the sweet smell of life leading to more life. Who is equal to such a task?
The Good News is like a flower's fragrance. If a sweet-smelling flower smells bad to someone, the fault is not with the flower. Rather, there must be some disorder in his smelling apparatus. In the case of the Gospel, the disorder is called sin. So, if to God we who believe and proclaim the Good News are the sweet aroma of the Messiah, who lives in us, then among those being saved, we are the same sweet smell of life leading to more life. But among those in the process of being lost, we are the stinking smell of death, leading only to more death. Those bent on sin, those in the process of being eternally lost, cannot stand to hear the Good News and do not respond to it, except with redoubled antagonism or indifference (as seen in Rv 16:9, 11,21; compare Ro 1:19-32; Ac 13:45,14:4-5, 14:19, 16:20-24, 17:5-9, 17:32a, 18:9a).

v. 2:16—3:18 Who is equal to such a task as being a suitable channel for God to "spread everywhere the fragrance of what it means to know him" (2:14)? In other words, what can make people competent to be workers proclaiming a New Covenant (3:6a) even more glorious than the one Moses brought (3:6b—11)? The answer is that such competence is not produced by financial incentives (2:17), self-recommendation or letters to or from others (3:1), but is from God (3:5), through his Spirit (3:3,6b, 8,17-18). It is the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit of God, who gives workers the confidence (3:4) to be sincere and open (3:12-13), who has the power to remove spiritual blindness (3:14-16), and who in doing so turns people into a living letter of recommendation from the Messiah himself, thus obviating the need for the usual kind (3:2-3). 

17. For we are not like a lot of folks who go about huckstering God’s message for a fee; on the contrary, we speak out of a sincere heart, as people sent by God, standing in God’s presence, living in union with the Messiah.
We don't go about huckstering God's message for a fee. Quite the opposite — Sha'ul made the Good News available to the Corinthians free of charge (10:7, 11:7-12, 12:13; also 1С 9:12b—19, Ac 18:2-3), even though he was entitled to material support (1С 9:4-12a, Ga 6:6). The Mishna expresses the same attitude toward teaching Torah: "Do not make of it a crown with which to advance yourself or a spade with which to dig" (Avot 4:5, cited more fully at 1С 9:4N). 

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