Verse 17. "For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God" - God has made US sufficient for these things by giving us his own pure doctrine, the ministry of reconciliation, which we conscientiously preserve and preach; and we act, not like many among you, who, having received that doctrine, corrupt it; mingling with it their own inventions, and explaining away its force and influence, so as to accommodate it to men of carnal minds.
The word kaphleuontev, from kaphlov, a tavernkeeper, signifies acting like an unprincipled vintner; for this class of men have ever been notorious for adulterating their wines, mixing them with liquors of no worth, that thereby they might increase their quantity; and thus the mixture was sold for the same price as the pure wine. Isa. i. 22, Thy wine is mixed with water, the Septuagint thus translate: oi kaphloi sou misgousi ton oinon udati? "Thy vintners mix thy wine with water;" that is, thy false prophets and corrupt priests adulterate the word of God, and render it of none effect, by their explanations and traditions.
The word has been used, both among the Greeks and Latins, to signify a prostitution of what was right and just, for the sake of gain. So Herodian, lib. vi. cap. 11; eiphnhn crusiou kaphleuontev, "Making peace for money." So cauponari bellum is, "To make war for money." In short, the word is used to signify any artifice employed to get gain by making a thing look more or better than it is; or mingling that which is excellent with what is not so to promote the gain of the adulterater.
It is used by Aristophanes, Plut. Act. iv., scene 5, ver. 1064, to express an old woman who was patched and painted to hide her deformity.
ou dhtĘ, epei men nun kaphlikwv ecei? ei dĘ ekpluneitai touto to fimuqion, oyei katadhla tou proswpou ge ta rakh.
Not at all; the old woman is painted: If the paint were washed off, then you Would plainly see her wrinkled face.
Where see the note of the Scholiast, who observes that the term is applied to those who deal in clothes, patching, mending, &c., as well as to those who mix bad wine with good.
kaphlikwv ecei? panourgikwv? epei oi kaphloi criein kai anapoiein ta imatia eiwqasi, kai ton oinon de nwquleuousi, summignuntev autw sapron. Vid. Kusteri Aristoph., page 45.
"But as of sincerity" - ex eilikrineiav. See the note on 2 Corinthians i. 12. We receive the doctrine pure from God; we keep it pure, and deliver it in its purity to mankind. For we speak in Christ-in the things of his Gospel, as being in the sight of God-our whole souls and all their motives being known to him. As the unprincipled vintner knows that he adulterates the wine, his conscience testifying this; so we know that we deliver the sincere truth of God, our conscience witnessing that we deliver it to you, as we receive it, by the inspiration of the Spirit of truth.
1. THAT St. Paul was a man of a very tender and loving spirit is evident from all his epistles; but especially from this, and particularly from the chapter before us. It was not an easy thing with him to give a reproof; and nothing but a sense of his duty to God and his Church could have led him to use his apostolical power, to inflict spiritual punishment on transgressors. He felt like a loving and tender father, who, being obliged to correct his froward and disobedient child, feels in his own heart the pain of a hundred blows for that occasioned by one laid on the body of his son.
There are some ministers who think nothing of cutting off members from the Church of Christ; they seem to do it, if not cheerfully, yet with indifference and unconcern! How can this be? Nothing but absolute duty to God should induce any man to separate any person from the visible Church; and then it must be on the conviction that the case is totally hopeless. And who, even in those circumstances, that knows the worth of a soul, can do it without torture of heart? 2. We must not only love the doctrines, but also the morality of the Gospel. He who loves this will not corrupt it; but, as Quesnel says truly, in order to love the truth a man must practice it; as in order to practice it he must love it. That a minister, says he, may preach the word of God in such a manner as is worthy of him, he must, with St. Paul, be always mindful of these three things:
1. That he be sent by God, and that he speak directly from him, and as his ambassador. 2. That he speak as in his presence, and under his immediate inspection. 3. That he consider himself as being in the place of Christ, and endeavour to minister to the souls of men, as he has reason to believe Christ would do, were he in the place; and as he knows Christ did, when he sojourned among men. The minister of the Gospel is Christ's ambassador; and he prays men in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God. See chap. v. 20. The people should consider the nature of this embassage, and receive it as coming immediately from God, that it may accomplish the end for which he has sent it.