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Bible Commentaries

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

2 Corinthians 2

Verses 1-4


1:12-2:17 PAUL EXPLAINS HIS RECENT ACTIONS

Reasons for changing his plans (1:12-2:4)

Certain people in Corinth had accused Paul of insincerity. According to them, Paul tried to give the impression through his conduct and his letters that he felt in a certain way, when he did not feel that way at all. Paul denies this. In all his behaviour, whether in dealing with people in general or in dealing with the Corinthians in particular, he has been sincere and straightforward. The same is true of his letter-writing. He hopes the Corinthians will believe this, so that in the coming judgment neither they nor he will feel shame on account of wrong attitudes (12-14).

In the recent past, Paul had twice been forced to change his plans for a visit to Corinth. His first plan was to go to Macedonia, down to Corinth and then to Jerusalem (Acts 19:21; 1 Corinthians 16:5-7; 1 Corinthians 16:5-7). His second plan was to go to Corinth first, up to Macedonia, back to Corinth and then to Jerusalem. The advantage of this second plan was that the Corinthians would benefit from his ministry twice. When he was forced to change this plan also, the Corinthians accused him of not keeping his word, of being like an ordinary person of the world who says ‘Yes’ one day and ‘No’ the next (15-17).

Again Paul denies the accusation. To act in such a way would be contrary to the character of Christ that Paul had preached to them. There was nothing uncertain about Christ. The fulfilment of all God’s promises in him shows that he always said ‘Yes’ to his Father’s will. And Christians add their ‘Yes’ by saying ‘Amen’, by which they mean ‘Yes, indeed, this person is the Truth of God’ (18-20). The Christian life is one of assurance and stability, because it is from God, it is in Christ, and it is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit (21-22).
Paul’s decision against going to Corinth was not because he lacked certainty or courage. Rather it was because he wished to spare the Corinthians the unpleasantness of his stern treatment (23). He does not want them to think he is a dictator; but they must realize the importance of discipline if they are to have true happiness (24).
Neither Paul nor the Corinthians would have wanted him to pay them another painful visit. Paul’s desire was to enjoy fellowship with them, but this would not have been possible had they been full of sorrow. So instead of visiting them personally, he wrote to them. The purpose of the severe letter was not to hurt them, but to urge them to repent. He wrote out of love, so that his next visit to them would be an occasion for joy (2:1-4).

Verses 5-11


Forgiveness for the offender (2:5-11)

In this section Paul speaks about an offender and his offence, and although we do not know to whom or what he was referring, the Corinthians did. The offence seems to have concerned Paul personally (perhaps a denial of his apostolic authority), and was one reason for Paul’s severe letter. The issue caused sorrow for the church and for Paul (5). The church finally dealt with the offender, probably by excluding him from the fellowship for a period (6).
Paul now has to warn the Corinthians not to be hard and unforgiving. The man had shown sorrow and repentance for his sin, and the church should now lovingly welcome him back. If they continue to treat him harshly, their action could have bad results instead of good, through driving the man away from God in bitterness and sorrow (7-8).
The Corinthians had demonstrated their unity with Paul in dealing with the offender. He wants them to demonstrate that unity again, by forgiving the man and receiving him back (9-10). If they fail to forgive, Satan may use the opportunity to do further damage, both to the man and to the church (11).

Verses 12-17


Paul’s sincerity in his ministry (2:12-17)

Once again Paul states that all his movements were guided by an interest for the Corinthians, not for himself. He was so keen to meet Titus and hear news of the Corinthians that he could not concentrate on his work in Troas. So rather than wait for Titus in Troas he went across to Macedonia, in the hope of meeting him there (12-13).
The good news that Titus brought from Corinth leads Paul to an outburst of praise to God. He pictures the preachers of the gospel joining Christ in his victory procession. The gospel is triumphant. In another illustration he likens the gospel to a sweet smell that spreads everywhere (14). But some reject the gospel, and to them it is an offensive stench that kills. The preachers whom God calls to carry such a message of life and death have a great responsibility. They are not hawkers trying to sell goods for their own gain, but announcers of God’s message. They have no mixed motives, but are concerned only for the spiritual well-being of others (15-17).

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Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 2". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/2-corinthians-2.html. 2005.