2 Cor 2:12-13

The Ordeal Continues


This page should have a navigation bar and a header frame. If it does not, please click here.


12 Now when I came to the Troad in the service of the good news about Christ, and a door was opened for me by the Lord, my spirit had no rest, for I did not find my brother Titus there; 13 so I said farewell to them and set out for Macedonia.


Ἐλθὼν δὲ εἰς τὴν Τρῳάδα εἰς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ θύρας μοι ἀνεῳγμένης ἐν κυρίῳ, 13  οὐκ ἔσχηκα ἄνεσιν τῷ πνεύματί μου τῷ μὴ εὑρεῖν με Τίτον τὸν ἀδελφόν μου, ἀλλὰ ἀποταξάμενος αὐτοῖς ἐξῆλθον εἰς Μακεδονίαν.

‘Now when I came to the Troad [1] in the service of the good news about the Messiah, [2] and a door [of opportunity] was opened [3] for me by the Lord, 13 [4] my spirit [5] had no relief, [6] for I did not find my brother Titus there; so I said farewell [7] to them and set out for Macedonia.’

After the digression of vv. 5-11, Paul resumes from v. 4 his account of his response to the recent crisis. Having set out for Macedonia, following the travel plan announced in 1 Cor 16:5-9, Paul arrived in the Troad 'in the service of the good news (εὐαγγέλιον) about the Messiah'. He has recently reminded his addressees of the content of his gospel message (1 Cor 15:3-8): that 'Christ died for our sins as it is written, and that he was buried, and that he rose on the third day, as it is written', together with a list of various appearances of the Risen Lord to many witnesses, including himself. The term εὐαγγέλιον is almost absent from the LXX, but the cognate verb εὐαγγελίζω ('proclaim good news') is more common. In light of Paul's self-understanding as an envoy of the Isaianic Servant the expression τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Χριστοῦ brings to mind, in particular, Isa 40:9 and 52:7.

Paul's ordeal in the Province of Asia (1:8) began in Ephesus, when Timothy reported on his mission to Corinth (cf. 1 Cor 16:11). Following an ordeal of imprisonment and the departure for Corinth of his envoy Titus, Paul travelled to the region of the Troad, in the northwest of the Roman Province of Asia, where he had evidently arranged to meet Titus. There the Lord opened a door of opportunity for evangelism, and the apostle was evidently having some success. However, though he had been confident of the outcome when he dispatched his envoy to Corinth (7:14), when Titus' return was delayed serious doubts began to torment him; he feared that the church had again disregarded his exhortations. Driven by anxiety, he abandoned his mission in the Troad and crossed over into Macedonia. [8] Thrall argues cogently that the perfect ἔσχηκα emphasises the seriousness of Paul’s anxiety; moreover, 'the force of the οὐκ ἔσχηκα ... ἀλλὰ ... ἐξῆλθον is arguably sharpened, since the aorists ἀποταξάμενος and ἐξῆλθον mark the point of sudden decisive action when the continuing anxiety becomes too great to be borne.' [9]

Paul could not be comforted by the success of his mission in the Troad; new converts could never compensate him for the loss of his beloved Corinthians. Unbearable anxiety drove him on in search of Titus, and news from Corinth. So, taking his leave of them, he crossed over to Macedonia. [10] The effect of the narrative is to underscore once more Paul's great love for the Corinthians; he will reveal shortly that this love is due to the work of the Spirit in his heart (3:2-3).

Paul would not have risked passing Titus on the open sea, so it seems likely that he crossed over by the Bosphorus and the Via Egnatia.

[1] The definite form ἡ Τρῳάς seems be originally adjectival, ἡ Τρῳς γῆ, the land of the Troad. The indefinite form refers to the city of Troas, located in the Troad (BDAG s.v.). The city of Troas was made a Roman colonia under Augustus, independent of the governor of the Province of Asia (Conybeare, Life and Epistles of St. Paul 216), though it could still be properly described as ἐν τῇ Ἀσίᾳ.

[2] τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ χριστοὕ, see BDAG s.v. εὐαγγέλιον 1bβא.

[3] The perfect participle (of ἀνοίω) indicates that this was more than a passing opportunity (cf. 1 Cor 16:9; Thrall, Second epistle to the Corinthians I 85).

[4] The expression εἰς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ χριστοῦ  is locative, ‘in the service of the gospel of Christ’ (cf. 9:13; Phil 1:5; 2:22); the expression ἐν κυρίῳ, therefore, is probably instrumental (Thrall, Second epistle to the Corinthians I 184 n 388).

[5] πνεῦμα, ‘the source and seat of insight, feeling, and will, generally as the representative part of human inner life’; BDAG s.v. 3b.

[6] BDAG s.v. ἄνεσις 2.

[7] ἀποτάσσω, ‘to express a formal farewell’, BDAG s.v. 1.

[8] Contrast Paul’s earlier decision to extend his stay in Ephesus when a similar opportunity had presented itself (1 Cor 16:9), and despite great opposition.

[9] Thrall,  Second epistle to the Corinthians I 185 n 401.

[10] 'The emphasis does not lie on any minor evangelistic successes attaching to this visit, but rather, and very definitely, on its premature breaking-off. The allusion to the formal farewell is evidence of this, since the simple reference to the apostle’s departure for Macedonia would otherwise have been sufficient'. Thrall, Second epistle to the Corinthians I 187.