2 Cor 6:1

Paul Toseland toseland at blueyonder.co.uk
Tue Jan 7 18:01:52 EST 2003


Steve and Iver

Thank you both for engaging with me on this, and for your patience; 
I know I am being rather stubborn.

There are actually three issues, I think: the meaning of PARAKALEW,
the syntactical construction, and context. The last is very complex; I
would like to share my own perception; in fact, I am writing a book on
2 Corinthians - a development of my doctoral dissertation (Bristol 1998).
But it wouldn't be easy to precis the argument in a post of acceptable 
length. Yet I recongnise that I must answer you this point if am to
have any credibility with you; I will do the best I can.

First then, the meaning of PARAKALEW. Iver writes,

>I accept that it can best be translated by "console/comfort" in several
>places in the LXX and three places in the NT which probably go back to a
>Hebrew text, that is: Matt 2:8, Matt 5:4 and Luke 16:25. Comfort has to
>do with encouraging people who has suffered in some serious way. All
other
>places in the NT, PARAKALEW is better translated by encourage than
>comfort/console, although the two senses are close.

Well, Isa 49:9-10 LXX, immediately following the passage quotated in 2 Cor
6:2, describes the happy situation of the exiles of Israel when Yahweh
delivers them from their chains. They will not hunger or thirst, they 
will not be scorched by the heat and the sun,

ALL' hO ELEWN AUTOUS PARAKALESEI,

for he will lead them by springs of water. Cf. v. 13, alluded to in 
2 Cor 7:6. 

In Isa 40-66 LXX, PARAKALEW speaks not merely of encouragement, but
of deliverance. However, the Lord works through mediators, especially
the Servant, and the process begins with the proclamation of words
of consolation. 

The same true of the Psalms. Take Ps 22(23):4. The Psalmist is not
afraid of walking in the shadow of death, because 

hH hRABDOS SOU KAI hH BAKTHRIA SOU, AUTAI ME PARAKALESAN.

Turning to 2 Cor 1-7, Paul has just been through a dreadful affliction
(1:8-11) and, it would seem, has been miraculously delivered. He 
introduces 1:8 with GAR, linking this account with his opening eulogy 
(1:3-7). You may insist, Iver, that even in 1:3-7, PARAKALEW means
only 'encourage', but I think most NT scholars would disagree. Paul is
giving thanks here for his recent experience. PARAKALEW / PARAKLHSIS,
which together occur 10 times in these 5 verses, speak of comfort or
consolation in suffering. The same is plainly true of PARAKALEW in 7:6.

Second, the context of 6:1. As you recognise, Steve, context must be 
considered at different levels, and the immediate context is decisive.
Neverthless, I will begin at the discourse level of 2 Cor 1-7 as a 
literary unit. If this post isn't to get completely out of hand, I must 
of necessity be rather cryptic.

2 Cor 1:3-11 serves as the introduction. Here Paul portrays himself as
one who has suffered and been comforted *vicariously, on behalf of*
(hUPER) the Corinthians (1:6). If he has been afflicted (by God), it was
for their comfort and salvation; if he has been comforted (by God), it 
was for their comfort. I know this sounds like heresy - Christ's 
sufferings redeemed them. But cf. Col 1:24. The explanation is that,
though Paul's sufferings are real enough, they are in reality the 
enactment of a sacred drama. The Corinthians got themselves seriously
into sin; Paul, instead of going to Corinth and dealing with them as he
had threatened (2 Cor 13:2), interceded for them as their representative
(cf. Exod. 32:32). So God afflicted him, and then delivered him. It was
a re-enactment of the Cross. The point of it was to reveal in Paul's
body the death and the resurrection life of Jesus (4:10). This 
revelation of Christ, God's glory, has a transforming power upon those
who are being saved (2:14-16a; 3:18), and was made made known to the
Corinthians by means of the mission of Titus and the Letter of Tears
(2:3-4; 7:8, 12; now lost). But some in Corinth felt that Paul had been
reckless (ELAFREA, 1:17). He had endangered not only his own salvation,
but theirs also. He makes his initial response to this charge in 1:18-22,
but deals with the matter at length in 1:12-7:15.

Now the immediate context. The quickest way to explain my thinking is
by way of a translation (5:18-21):

18 All this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself in Christ, and 
has given us the (mediatory) agency of reconciliation - 19 it is as if 
God were reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not reckoning their
transgressions against them - and he has entrusted to us the message of
reconciliation. 20 Therefore we are undertaking an embassy on behalf of
Christ, as if God were making an appeal through us. We appeal on behalf 
of Christ, ‘Be reconciled to God!’ 21 For our sake he made to be sin him
who knew no sin, so that we might become in him the righteousness of God.
6:1 And as fellow-workers we also speak words of consolation: you have 
not received the grace of God in vain. 

In the enactment of the sacred drama, Paul fell under God's (fatherly)
wrath, and suffered a severe beating; but God then reconciled him to
himself. So Paul was then in a position to mediate reconciliation to 
the Corinthians, which he did, I think, in the Letter of Tears. But 
here he portrays this sort of thing as part and parcel of his apostolic
ministry. In the sacred drama he plays the role of the Isaianic Servant,
and he spells this out in 6:2, by quoting Isa 49:8. But since he is 
their representative, all that is said to the Servant in Isa 49:1-8
applies to them too.

So at this point, I think Paul is still explaining and defending his
handling of the recent crisis. His hortatory remarks begin in 6:11. 

Finally, syntax. Steve, you wrote,

> Considering that PARAKALEW in this type of construction introduces an
> infinitive in indirect command or prohibition, it appears obvious to me
> that the sense of PARAKALEW in these cases must be something along the
> lines of "urge." This would have the same sense as an imperative in an
> exhortation.
 
I don't see how you reason back from the fact of an infinitve of indirect
discourse constructed with PARAKALEW to the meaning of that verb. Are you
simply saying that ths type of construction occurs only when PARAKALEW 
has the sense, 'urge', and never when it means 'console'? If so, I am
asking whether Paul, following the normal rules of grammar, might have
chosen to construct PARAKALEW with an infinitive of indirect discourse,
even though this would be unusual, or even unique. He uses KATALASSW in
5:18 in a way that appears to have been unique up to that time. I would
be happy to accept that the language simply doesn't work like that; I
would like to be sure, one way or the other. But I am afraid I am not 
yet convinced!  

Best wishes

Paul Toseland



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