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Wednesday, July 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 2

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

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Verses 1-17

Chapter 2

But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness ( 2 Corinthians 2:1 ).

"I wrote a heavy letter to you, but I was determined that I wasn't going to come again in heaviness."

For if I make you sorry [by having to rebuke you and deal with those issues], who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me [the ones that I made sorry]? ( 2 Corinthians 2:2 )

"You rejoice me, you cause my heart to rejoice when I see your faithfulness and all, but here I am rejoicing in the very same persons, they're causing me to rejoice, the very same persons that I had to make sorry."

And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all ( 2 Corinthians 2:3 ).

So, "I didn't want to have sorrow when I came, I wanted it to be a joyful experience when I come. I want us both to be able to rejoice."

For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you ( 2 Corinthians 2:4 )

"That first epistle was a hard thing to write. I want to you know that it was hard for me; it was with a lot of anguish and with a lot of tears. The anguish of my heart, I wrote to you with tears. It wasn't, you know, the heavy rebuke of a hard-fisted tyrant. But the first epistle was coming out of a broken heart."

I think that we so often misunderstand God. Because we so often think of God coming down on our heads as a heavy tyrant, you know. When we read in the Bible the stories of the Bible, it's too bad that we can't somehow have it in record that we could hear the tone of voice. Because many times, the tone of voice really determines what is actually said. And your relationship with God, or your understanding of God, oftentimes, I believe, puts the wrong tone of voice on the word of God.

For instance, when Adam sinned in the garden and God came down to talk with Adam, and Adam hid himself from God. And God said, "Adam, where art thou?" What tone of voice do you hear? Heavy judgment, an arresting officer? Hand up, you're under arrest? I don't hear that tone of voice at all. I hear the sob of a heartbroken father. "Adam, where are you? What have you done?" And the disappointment of a heartbroken father over the failure of man, even as Jesus wept over Jerusalem when He saw what their actions was going to bring upon them. And God, knowing what Adam's action was going to bring upon mankind, sobbing over the failure of man. And when God deals with you, it's with tears, a heart filled with anguish. For He loves you and He wants only the best for you. Don't misunderstand God.

Paul didn't want them to misunderstand him, God's servant. "That heavy letter that I had to write to you, it was hard. I did it with anguish. It was with tears."

not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you. But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all ( 2 Corinthians 2:4-5 ).

Now, you remember when he wrote the first epistle, he wrote to them concerning that man that was living in an adulteress relationship with his father's mother, or with his father's wife. And Paul had told the church that they should put him out of the fellowship, that they weren't to keep company with a brother who was an adulterer, that they should turn him over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh. It was not good that they just accepted and received this man into the fellowship of the believers, because he was leaven, and a little leaven will leaven the whole lump.

Now, they did follow Paul's injunction. They put the fellow out because of the adulteress life that he was living, but the desired effect came. The man did repent, and he wanted now to come back into fellowship, having cleaned up his act. But there were those that were still going to keep him from fellowship. And Paul is saying:

Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him ( 2 Corinthians 2:6-8 ).

Time now to receive him back.

For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices ( 2 Corinthians 2:9-11 ).

So, Paul encourages them to take the fellow back in, lest Satan really get hold of the guy and he lose out. That if they forgive him, he forgives him, in the stead of Christ, he offers that forgiveness. Jesus said to him, "Every sins you remit, they shall be remitted. Whoever's sins you retain, they shall be retained" ( John 20:23 ). Paul here is, in the name of Christ, forgiving the man because of the man's repentance.

Now, God doesn't require us to forgive, except there be repentance. If he repents, forgive him. Now, that bothers a lot of people. But I like to suggest that you think that through. God does not forgive apart from repentance. Jesus said, "Unless you repent, you're going to perish" ( Luke 13:3 ). God will not forgive apart from repentance. But where there is repentance, then there ought to be, and should be, immediate forgiveness. If your brother offends you and repents, forgive him. But there is not a requirement of forgiveness apart from repentance that I know of in the scriptures.

We are not ignorant of Satan's devices. Now, our problem is that we are ignorant many times of Satan's devices. I think that a lot of times we have real difficulty, because we don't recognize the real source of conflict, being ignorant of Satan's devices. I believe that Satan is able to attack us in the realm of the spirit, also in the realm of our emotions. I feel that some days when we just feel out of sorts and nasty, that really it is a spiritual attack of the enemy against us. I feel that a lot of times when there is this unrest within the home, the children are really on each other, that it is a spiritual battle that is going on. And if we are ignorant of Satan's devices, many times we can be drawn into these conflicts and we can lose our joy and the blessing of the Lord upon our lives as we get drawn into this physical kind of a contact. Satan is constantly trying to draw you into the physical realm to battle with you, because if he can get you into the physical arena, he can knock your block off. He can beat you to pieces. That's why I never like to meet him in the physical arena, in the area of the flesh. I don't want to meet him. I only want to meet him in the spiritual arena, because there I have the great advantage -- the name of Jesus Christ.

And so, a lot of times we have problems when we are ignorant of Satan's devices, and we need to recognize the source of this problem that we are facing. And recognizing the source, it is Satan that is coming against us. It is Satan that is allowing this or doing this to us. Then I can deal with it, and I resist him in the name of Jesus, and then I rejoice for the glorious victory that I have in Christ.

So those are the three R's of the spiritual walk. The recognition of the source of the problem. The resisting of his work, for the Bible says, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you" ( James 4:7 ). And then the rejoicing in the victory that we have through Jesus Christ over every work of the enemy. So remember the three R's. Don't be ignorant of his devices, or you can find yourself really being defeated more often than you'd like to be.

Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel ( 2 Corinthians 2:12 ),

He had gone to Troas from Ephesus in Acts, Chapter 20.

and a door was opened unto me of the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them [so I left them], I went from thence into Macedonia ( 2 Corinthians 2:12-13 ).

So, Paul went to Troas. Opportunity was given to him to preach, but his spirit was so heavy, because Titus wasn't there, who was to meet him and bring him news of the church in Corinth. "We went on over to Macedonia." He just was restless, concerned, so concerned for the condition of the church in Corinth, for the believers there.

Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place ( 2 Corinthians 2:14 ).

So, Paul gives thanks to God who causes us to always triumph. I love that. In Christ.

For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savor of death unto death; and to the other the savor of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? ( 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 )

God has made me responsible to be his representative, to bring a message to people, which to some is a message of eternal life, a sweet savour unto God, life to life. But to others who reject and who refuse, it's a message of death, of judgment. I bear God's word. To believe and to receive means life; to reject means death. To bear that kind of message, a message of life and death, is a heavy responsibility. The message that I bring, the teaching of God's word that I bring, a person's eternal life hangs in their believing that message. That is why it is so important that I teach the message clearly, that I teach it plainly, and that my life backs up what I say. Because it's a person's eternal life that's at stake. And if I get too much of my personality into it and they find my personality obnoxious and they go away from the message because of the way I have presented it, it was offensive or obnoxious to them, then it was a savor of death unto death. Tragic.

So, it is a heavy responsibility that I have in bearing this message, because it is life or death. And that is why Paul said, "Who is sufficient for these things? I mean, hey, I can't handle that, that I am responsible of bearing a message that can mean life or death. That's eternal life or death. Who is sufficient for these things?"

In the next chapter . . . and it's too bad we don't get there tonight, because Paul gives the answer to this question, "Who is sufficient for these things?" He says, "For our sufficiency is not of ourselves, but of Christ" ( 2 Corinthians 3:5 ). If that weren't the case, I wouldn't be here. You know, if God put it all on me, I'd say, "Noooo way." But our sufficiency is of Christ.

For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God ( 2 Corinthians 2:17 ):

There are people today who are guilty of corrupting the word of God, twisting the scriptures to their own ends, in order that they might gather a following after themselves. People who are always looking for some secret meaning within the scripture, making it mean something other than what it says. "Now, that's not really what God meant. What God meant was..." And then they go off on their own little tangents. "I'll tell you what God really meant to say. I know He said that, but that's not what He meant. Let me tell you what God really meant." And I become God's interpreter. Dangerous place to be, a place I don't want to be.

For I personally feel that God meant what He said. And if God didn't mean what He said, I don't know why He didn't say what He meant. But I do believe God meant what He said, and thus, I believe that always the plain and obvious meaning of the scripture is the correct interpretation. Unless your understanding of that scripture makes it seem foolish, then your understanding is wrong; your interpretation is wrong. Because God didn't say anything foolish. But I believe that the plain and obvious meaning. I believe that God meant what He said, and I believe that any of you can go home and take your Bible, and read it, and understand it, and know what God said, and know what God meant to say.

I don't have any science and health and keys to the scriptures to tell you what God meant to say. I don't have any Awake Magazines to tell you what God meant to say. I don't have any revelations from the angel Moroni to tell you what God meant to say. You see, people always say, "Well, there are so many religions and there are so many churches, and they say different things, so I'm confused. I don't know who to believe, so I don't go to any church." Agreed. A lot of churches are saying a lot of different things. And they are all saying they are right. Then how do I know? Just read the Book.

You see, we don't have any other books to pedal. We tell you, "Just read the Book." I'm not afraid of anything that you will come to believe by just reading this Book. I have such confidence in this Book and in the Holy Spirit to guide you in your understanding of this Book, that I don't have any worries or fears about what you're going to come to believe by reading this Book.

I don't have to say to you, "Oh now, don't read that book. If you read that you'll get confused. You can read this for two years and you'll be in darkness. But you read our books which explain this book to you. And you don't have to read this book anymore, all you read is our explanations."

Why do they have to do that? Because if you just read this Book, you'll never come to their explanations. I mean, they are so weird and far out, that unless it was explained to you that way, you would have never have guessed it. You could never have come to believe it that way, except it was taught to you that this is what God really meant.

Hey, I don't have any qualms or fears about your reading the Book. In fact, I encourage you, read the Book and get it first hand. Let God speak to you right out of His word. You're not going to come up with any weird doctrines or be lead astray. The Spirit of God, who is the Spirit of truth, will lead you into all truth if you'll read the Book.

Now, that's what makes us different. Others are afraid for you to read the Book, unless you also read theirs. Definitely read theirs. Because you can't understand this Book, you see. No, no, that's not so. You can understand this Book, for the Spirit of God will teach you the truth. Read the Book.

For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ ( 2 Corinthians 2:17 ).

We speak as God's servants before God, His truth.

Father, we thank You for Your word which gives light, for the entrance of thy word gives light. The light unto our path to guide us into truth. May we walk in the light and in the truth of thy word. Bless, Lord, thy word to our hearts tonight. Help us to assimilate it, to meditate upon it, and to feed from it, that our spiritual man might grow and become strong. In Jesus' name, Father. Amen.

May the Lord keep His hand upon your life in a wonderful way this week. May it be a week of spiritual growth, as you come to a richer, fuller understanding of the grace and the love of God towards you that He has demonstrated in Jesus Christ. And may the promises of God be to you "yes" in Christ, and may you begin to experience the richness and the blessings of those promises of God as His peace and His joy and His love fill your life. And may He use you as His instrument in sharing that joy and peace with others. In Jesus' name. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 2". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/2-corinthians-2.html. 2014.
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