2 Corinthians 12:20
For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and [that] I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest [there be] debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults:
Note 13 at 2Co 12:20: Paul was expounding on his reasons for writing this letter to the Corinthians. He had already said at the beginning of this letter (2Co 1:23-2:3) that he had delayed his second trip to Corinth because he didn't want his meeting with them to be sorrowful. Here, he was expressing that he feared there would be debates (see note 14 at this verse), envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings (see note 15 at this verse), whisperings (see note 16 at this verse), swellings (see note 17 at this verse), tumults and grief over some who have not repented of their sins (2Co 12:21).
Note 14 at 2Co 12:20: The Greek word from which "debates" was translated is "ERIS," and this Greek word means "a quarrel, i.e. (by implication) wrangling" (Strong's Concordance). It was translated as "contention," "debate," "strife," and "variance." The New International Version translated this word as "quarreling" in this verse. Paul did not enjoy this kind of debate. A discussion for the purpose of exchanging ideas and learning is okay, but arguing serves no good purpose.
Note 15 at 2Co 12:20: The Greek word from which "backbitings" was translated is the word "KATALALIA." KATALALIA means "defamation" (Strong's Concordance). The New International Version translated this word as "slander." Christians often commit this sin by prefacing their criticism with "I don't mean this bad, but..." and then proceeding to slander the person.
Certainly, there are times when something negative must be said about others. Parents have to reprove their children. Employers need to correct their employees. And not all of this is done in front of those who are at fault. Parents might need to discuss things between themselves before they approach their children. Supervisors may need to take problems with their workers to their superiors for advice. But the key is that the Lord said to do nothing with malice (1Co 5:8, 14:20; Eph 4:31; Col 3:8; Tit 3:3; and 1Pe 2:1; see note 23 at 1Co 14:20).
Note 16 at 2Co 12:20: The Greek word that was translated "whisperings" here is "PSITHURISMOS." This word is a derivative of "PSITHOS," and PSITHOS means "a whisper; by implication, a slander" (Strong's Concordance). The New International Version translated this word as "gossip." Slander and gossip are closely related.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines "slander" as "1. (Law) Oral communication of false statements injurious to a person's reputation. 2. A false and malicious statement or report about someone." "Gossip" is defined as "rumor or talk of a personal, sensational, or intimate nature" (AHD). The main difference lies in the manner in which gossip and slander are done. Slander can be open, whereas gossip is secretive.
Note 17 at 2Co 12:20: The English word "swellings" was translated from the Greek word "PHUSIOSIS," and this Greek word means "inflation, i.e. (figuratively) haughtiness" (Strong's Concordance). PHUSIOSIS comes from the Greek word "PHUSIOO," and PHUSIOO means "to inflate, i.e. (figuratively) make proud (haughty)" (Strong's Concordance). Today we would say this is describing someone with a "big head" or an "inflated ego." The New International Version translated this word as "arrogance."
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