on 2-corinthians 1 :23
I call God for a record upon my soul - The apostle here resumes the subject which he left 2 Corinthians 1:16, and in the most solemn manner calls God to witness, and consequently to punish, if he asserted any thing false, that it was through tenderness to them that he did not visit Corinth at the time proposed. As there were so many scandals among them, the apostle had reason to believe that he should be obliged to use the severe and authoritative part of his function in the excommunication of those who had sinned, and delivering them over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, etc.; but to give them space to amend, and to see what effect his epistle might produce, (not having heard as yet from them), he proposed to delay his coming. It is plain, as several commentators have observed,
1. That St. Paul's doctrine had been opposed by some of Corinth, 1 Corinthians 15:12. His apostleship questioned, 1 Corinthians 9:1, 1 Corinthians 9:2, and 2 Corinthians 12:13.
2. Himself despised, and treated as a person who, because of the consciousness he had of his own worthlessness, dared not to come, 1 Corinthians 4:18. His letters, say they, are weighty and powerful - full of boastings of what he can and what he will do; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible, 2 Corinthians 10:10.
3. This being the state in which his reputation was then at Corinth, and he having promised to come to them, 1 Corinthians 16:5, he could not but think it necessary to vindicate his failing them by reasons which should be both convincing and kind, such as those contained in the preceding verses. See Dodd and others.
on 2-corinthians 1 :23
Moreover, I call God for a record upon my soul - It is well remarked by Rosenmuller, that the second chapter should have commenced here, since there is here a transition in the subject more distinct than where the second chapter is actually made to begin. Here Tyndale commences the second chapter. This verse, with the subsequent statements, is designed to show them the true reason why he had changed his purpose, and had not visited them according to his first proposal. And that reason was not that he was fickle and inconstant; but it was that he apprehended that if he should go to them in their irregular and disorderly state, he would be under a necessity of resorting to harsh measures, and to a severity of discipline that would be alike painful to them and to him. Dr. Paley has shown with great plausibility, if not with moral certainty, that Paul's change of purpose about visiting them was made before he wrote his First Epistle; that he had at first resolved to visit them, but that on subsequent reflection, he thought it would be better to try the effect of a faithful letter to them, admonishing them of their errors, and entreating them to exercise proper discipline themselves on the principal offender; that with this feeling he wrote his First Epistle, in which he does not state to them as yet his change of purpose, or the reason of it; but that now after he had written that letter, and after it had had all the effect which he desired, he states the true reason why he had not visited them.
It was now proper to do it; and that reason was, that he desired to spare them the severity of discipline, and had resorted to the more mild and affectionate measure of sending them a letter, and thus not making it necessary personally to administer discipline; see Paley's Horae Paulinae, on 2 Corinthians, Numbers 4 and 5. The phrase, "I call God for a record upon my soul," is in the Greek, "I call God for a witness against my soul." It is a solemn oath, or appeal to God; and implies, that if he did not in that case declare the truth, he desired that God would be a witness against him, and would punish him accordingly. The reason why he made this solemn appeal to God was, the importance of his vindicating his own character before the church, from the charges which had been brought against him.
That to spare you - To avoid the necessity of inflicting punishment on you; of exercising severe and painful discipline. If he went among them in the state of irregularity and disorder which prevailed there, he would feel it to be necessary to exert his authority as an apostle, and remove at once the offending members from the church. He expected to avoid the necessity of these painful acts of discipline, by sending to them a faithful and affectionate epistle, and thus inducing them to reform, and to avoid the necessity of a resort to that which would have been so trying to him and to them. It was not, then, a disregard for them, or a lack of attachment to them, which had led him to change his purpose, but it was the result of tender affection. This cause of the change of his propose, of course, he would not make known to them in his First Epistle, but now that that letter had accomplished all he had desired, it was proper that they should be apprized of the reason why he had resorted to this instead of visiting them personally.
on 2-corinthians 1 :23
1:23 I call God for a record upon my soul - Was not St. Paul now speaking by the Spirit? And can a more solemn oath be conceived? Who then can imagine that Christ ever designed to forbid all swearing? That to spare you I came not yet to Corinth - Lest I should be obliged to use severity. He says elegantly to Corinth, not to you, when be is intimating his power to punish.