What does 2 Corinthians 1:23 mean?
ESV: But I call God to witness against me — it was to spare you that I refrained from coming again to Corinth.
NIV: I call God as my witness—and I stake my life on it—that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth.
NASB: But I call God as witness to my soul, that it was to spare you that I did not come again to Corinth.
CSB: I call on God as a witness, on my life, that it was to spare you that I did not come to Corinth.
NLT: Now I call upon God as my witness that I am telling the truth. The reason I didn’t return to Corinth was to spare you from a severe rebuke.
KJV: Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth.
NKJV: Moreover I call God as witness against my soul, that to spare you I came no more to Corinth.
Verse Commentary:
Prior verses made a grand, theological declaration. Paul has stated how all who affirm Christ as the "yes" to all of God's promises are established in Christ by God and anointed by God with His Holy Spirit. He has done so by way of defending himself against a charge of selfishly changing his travel plans to come and visit them. The implication is that a) his plans were changed, in part, by the leading of Christ and the Holy Spirit, and b) that he made the change in order to serve them better.

Now Paul gets to the heart of his motivation for delaying his return trip to Corinth from Macedonia. He calls on God to witness against him if he is not telling the truth—which coming from someone like Paul means he is undeniably telling the truth. He did not return from Macedonia to see them as he had apparently said that he would in order to spare them from something. The following chapter will reveal that he is sparing them from disciplinary action for potential sinfulness.
Verse Context:
Second Corinthians 1:12–24 contains a defense against accusations. Apparently, some claimed Paul had acted without integrity, openness, or commitment to his stated plans to visit the Corinthians. Those were referenced near the end of his letter of 1 Corinthians. Paul insists that, especially with them, he and his co-workers have behaved with simple integrity and transparency, as well as sincerity. His change in plans has not been a case of frivolously saying ''yes and no'' to them at the same time. He has responded to the leading of the Holy Spirit and delayed his most recent visit for their own good.
Chapter Summary:
Paul begins another letter to the Corinthians following a series of tumultuous events with them. He begins by praising God for His comfort to those who are in affliction, connecting Christian suffering to the sufferings of Christ. Paul insists that his suffering and the comfort he has received from God have been for the Corinthians' benefit. He defends both his integrity and sincerity in dealing with them and explains that he delayed his planned trip to visit them again for their sake.
Chapter Context:
Second Corinthians 1 follows about a year after the end of 1 Corinthians, and much has happened between the two letters. Paul has had a painful visit with the Corinthians before traveling to Macedonia, where he wrote a painful letter. The text of which has not been kept. He writes this new letter from Macedonia, as well, after learning about a positive change of heart on their behalf. Paul begins by praising God for His comfort for those who are afflicted and defending himself against several complaints from some in the church.
Book Summary:
Second Corinthians returns to similar themes as those Paul mentioned in his first letter to this church. Paul is glad to hear that the church in Corinth has heeded his advice. At the same time, it is necessary for Paul to counter criticisms about his personality and legitimacy. Most of this text involves that subject. The fifth chapter, in contrast, contains comforting words which Christians have quoted often in times of hardship. Paul also details his expectations that the church in Corinth will make good on their promise to contribute to the needs of suffering believers in Jerusalem.
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