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1. Revelations (apokaluyeiv). See on Apoc. i. 1.
2. l knew (oida). Rev., correctly, I know.
Above fourteen years ago (pro etwn dekatessarwn). Above, of A.V., is due to a misunderstanding of the Greek idiom. Lit., before fourteen years, that is, fourteen years ago, as Rev. Caught up (arpagenta). Compare Dante:
Third heaven. It is quite useless to attempt to explain this expression according to any scheme of celestial gradation. The conception of seven heavens was familiar to the Jews; but according to some of the Rabbins there were two heavens - the visible clouds and the sky; in which case the third heaven would be the invisible region beyond the sky. Some think that Paul describes two stages of his rapture; the first to the third heaven, from which he was borne, as if from a halting-point, up into Paradise.
4. Paradise. See on Luke xxiii. 43.
Unspeakable words (arrhta rhmata). An oxymoron, speaking which may not be spoken.
7. Abundance (uperbolh). Rev., more correctly, the exceeding greatness. Thorn (skoloy). Only here in the New Testament. Frequent in classical Greek in the sense of a pale or stake. It occurs once in Euripides, meaning a stump ("Bacchae," 983). It is a stake for a palisade, or for impaling; a surgical instrument; the point of a fish-hook. In the Septuagint it occurs three times, translated thorn in Hos. ii. 6, where, however, it is distinguished from ajkanqaiv thorns; brier in Ezek. xxviii. 24, and prick in Num. xxxiii. 55. Nine different Hebrew words are rendered by thorn, for which, in the great majority of cases, Septuagint gives akanqa. The rendering thorn for skoloy has no support. The figure is that of the impaling stake. Herodotus, alluding to this punishment, uses ajnaskolopizein (i., 128; 3, 132). In the ninth book of his history, Lampon says to Pausanias: "When Leonidas was slain at Thermopylae, Xerxes and Mardonius beheaded and crucified (anestaurwsan) him. Do thou the like by Mardonius.... for by crucifying (anaskolopisav) thou wilt avenge Leonidas" (ix., 78). The verb seems, therefore, to have been used interchangeably with crucify; and clear instances of this occur in Philo and Lucian.
At least one text of the Septuagint gives ajnaskolopizw in Esther vii. 10, of Haman's being hanged. 159 See further, on Gal. ii. 20. The explanations of the peculiar nature of this affliction are numerous. Opinions are divided, generally, between mental or spiritual and bodily trials. Under the former head are sensual desires, faint-heartedness, doubts, temptations to despair, and blasphemous suggestions from the devil. Under the latter, persecution, mean personal appearance, headache, epilepsy, earache, stone, ophthalmia. It was probably a bodily malady, in the flesh; but its nature must remain a matter of conjecture. Very plausible reasons are given in favor of both epilepsy and ophthalmia. Bishop Lightfoot inclines to the former, and Archdeacon Farrar thinks that it was almost certainly the latter.
Messenger of Satan (aggelov Satan). The torment is thus personified. Messenger is the word commonly rendered angel in the New Testament, though sometimes used of human messengers, as Luke vii. 24, 27; ix. 52; Jas. ii. 25; see also on the angels of the churches, Apoc. i. 20. Messenger and Satan are not to be taken in apposition - a messenger who was Satan - because Satan is never called aggelov in the New Testament. Messenger is figurative, in the sense of agent. Satan is conceived in the New Testament as the originator of bodily evil. Thus, in the gospel narrative, demoniac possession is often accompanied with some form of disease. Compare Luke xiii. 16; Acts x. 38, and see on 1 Corinthians v. 5.
Buffet (kolafizh). Connect with messenger, which better suits depart; not with thorn, which would be a confusion of metaphor, a stake buffeting. For the verb, meaning to strike with the fist, see Matt. xxvi. 67; Mark xiv. 65; 1 Pet. ii. 20. Compare Job ii. 5, 7, where the Septuagint has ayai touch, and epaise smote.
8. For this thing (uper toutou). Rev., concerning this thing. But it is better to refer this to messenger: concerning this or whom. For, of A.V., is ambiguous.
9. He said (eirhken). Rev., correctly, He hath said. The force of the perfect tense is to be insisted on. It shows that the affliction was still clinging to Paul, and that there was lying in his mind when he wrote, not only the memory of the incident, but the sense of the still abiding power and value of Christ's grace; so that because the Lord hath said "my grace," etc., Paul can now say, under the continued affliction, wherefore I take pleasure, etc., for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong. A more beautiful use of the perfect it would be difficult to find in the New Testament.
My strength. The best texts omit my, thus turning the answer into a general proposition: strength is perfected in weakness; but besides the preeminent frigidity of replying to a passionate appeal with an aphorism, the reference to the special power of Christ is clear from the words power of Christ, which almost immediately follow. Compare 1 Cor. ii. 3, 4; 2 Cor. iv. 7; Heb. xi. 34. Rev., rightly, retains my italicized. May rest upon (episkhnwsh). Only here in the New Testament. The simple verb skhnow to dwell in a tent is used by John, especially in Revelation. See on John i. 14. The compound verb here means to fix a tent or a habitation upon; and the figure is that of Christ abiding upon him as a tent spread over him, during his temporary stay on earth.
For Christ's sake. This may be taken with all the preceding details, weaknesses, etc., endured for Christ's sake, or with I take pleasure, assigning the specific motive of his rejoicing: I take pleasure for Christ's sake.
11. I am become a fool in glorying. Ironical. By the record I have presented I stand convicted of being foolish.
I ought to have been commended of you. You ought to have saved me the necessity of recounting my sufferings, and thus commending myself as not inferior to those preeminent apostles (ch. xi. 5).
12. Signs (shmeia). See on Matt. xxiv. 24. Stanley observes that the passage is remarkable as containing (what is rare in the history of miracles) a direct claim to miraculous powers by the person to whom they were ascribed. Compare 1 Cor. ii. 4; Rom. xv. 19.
Were wrought (kateirgasqh). The testimony was decisive. They were fully wrought out.
13. Except that I was not a burden. Alluding to the possible objection that his refusal to receive pay was a sign either of his want of power to exact it, or of his want of affection for them (ch. xi. 7).
Forgive, etc. Ironical.
15. Be spent (ekdapanhqhsomai). Only here in the New Testament. To spend utterly. Later Greek writers use the simple verb dapanaw to expend, of the consumption of life.
20. Strifes (eriqeiai). Rev., better, factions. See on Jas. iii. 14. Wraths (qumoi) For the plural, compare deaths, ch. xi. 33; drunkennesses, Gal. v. 21; bloods, John i. 13 (see note); the willings of the flesh, Eph. ii. 3; mercies, Philip. ii. 1. Excitements or outbursts of wrath.
Whisperings (yiqurismoi). Psithurismoi, the sound adapted to the sense. Only here in the New Testament. Secret slanders. In Sept., Eccl. x. 11, it is used of the murmuring of a snake-charmer. 161 Yiquristhv whisperer, occurs Rom. i. 29.
Swellings (fusiwseiv). Only here in the New Testament. Conceited inflation. For the kindred verb fusiaw to puff up, see on 1 Corinthians iv. 6.
Tumults (akatastasiai). See on ch. vi. 5.
21. Among you (prov umav). Better, as Rev., before. In my relation to you.
Shall bewail (penqhsw). Lament with a true pastor's sorrow over the sin.
Sinned - already (prohmarthkotwn). Rev., heretofore. Only here and ch. xiii. 2. The perfect tense denotes the continuance of the sin. Heretofore probably refers to the time before his second visit.
Of the uncleanness (epi th akaqarsia). Connect with bewail, not with repent. There are no examples in the New Testament of the phrase metanoein ejpi to repent over, though such occur in the Septuagint. Lasciviousness (aselgeia). See on Mark vii. 22.