Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


2 Corinthians 1:17

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Did I use lightness? - When I formed this purpose, was it without due consideration? and did I abandon it through fickleness of mind?

That with me there should be yea, etc. - That I should act as carnal men, who change their purposes, and falsify their engagements, according as may seem best to their secular interest?

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

When I therefore was thus minded - When I formed this purpose; when I willed this, and expressed this intention.

Did I use lightness? - The word ἐλαφρια elaphria(from ἐλαφρός elaphros) means properly lightness in weight. Here it is used in reference to the mind; and in a sense similar to our word levity, as denoting lightness of temper or conduct; inconstancy, changeableness, or fickleness. This charge had been probably made that he had made the promise without any due consideration, or without any real purpose of performing, it; or that he had made it in a trifling and thoughtless manner. By the interrogative form here, he sharply denies that it was a purpose formed in a light and trifling manner.

Do I purpose according to the flesh - In such a manner, as may suit my own convenience and carnal interest. Do I form plans adapted only to promote my own ease and gratification, and to be abandoned when they are attended with inconvenience? The phrase “according to the flesh” here seems to mean “in such a way as to promote my own ease and gratification; in a manner such as the people of the world form; such as would be formed under the influence of earthly passions and desires, and to be forsaken when those plans would interfere with such gratifications.” Paul denies in a positive manner that he formed such plans; and they should have known enough of his manner of life to be assured that that was not the nature of the schemes which he had devised? Probably no man ever lived who formed his plans of life less for the gratification of the flesh than Paul.

That with me there should be yea, yea, and nay, nay? - There has been a great variety in the interpretation of this passage; see Bloomfield, Critical Digest in loco. The meaning seems to be, “that there should be such inconstancy and uncertainty in my counsels and actions, that no one could depend on me, or know what they had to expect from me.” Bloomfield supposes that the phrase is a proverbial one, and denotes a headstrong, self-willed spirit which will either do things, or not do them as pleases, without giving any reasons. He supposes that the repetition of the words “yea and nay” is designed to denote positiveness of assertion - such positiveness as is commonly shown by such persons, as in the phrases, “what I have written I have written,” “what I have done I have done.” It seems more probable, however, that the phrase is designed to denote the ready compliance which an inconstant and unsettled man is accustomed to make with the wishes of others; his expressing a ready assent to what they propose; falling in with their views; readily making promises; and instantly, through some whim, or caprice, or wish of others, saying “yea, nay,” to the same thing; that is, changing his mind, and altering his purpose without any good reason, or in accordance with any fixed principle or settled rule of action. Paul says that this was not his character. He did not affirm a thing at one time and deny it at another; he did not promise to do a thing one moment and refuse to do it the next.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The apostle clears himself from the charge of levity and inconstancy, in not coming to Corinth. Good men should be careful to keep the reputation of sincerity and constancy; they should not resolve, but on careful thought; and they will not change unless for weighty reasons. Nothing can render God's promises more certain: his giving them through Christ, assures us they are his promises; as the wonders God wrought in the life, resurrection, and ascension of his Son, confirm faith. The Holy Spirit makes Christians firm in the faith of the gospel: the quickening of the Spirit is an earnest of everlasting life; and the comforts of the Spirit are an earnest of everlasting joy. The apostle desired to spare the blame he feared would be unavoidable, if he had gone to Corinth before he learned what effect his former letter produced. Our strength and ability are owing to faith; and our comfort and joy must flow from faith. The holy tempers and gracious fruits which attend faith, secure from delusion in so important a matter.
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