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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 7

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

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Verses 1-16

Shall we turn in our Bibles now to II Corinthians, chapter seven.

The first verse of chapter seven immediately refers us back to chapter six. And so as we look at this, we realize that chapter seven more, verse one of chapter seven, more appropriately belongs with chapter six. This is one of those cases where I feel they made a mistake in their chapter separations.

Originally, when Paul wrote his letter to the Corinthians, it was just a letter that they were to read straight through. In about the year 1300, in the 1300s, a scholar decided to divide the Bible into chapters. And so, they made chapter distinctions in the 1300s to help a person, really, in looking up a scripture. Oh, I know it's somewhere in Isaiah. Well, that's a pretty long book. So they divided Isaiah into sixty-six chapters, so you can say, "Well, it's somewhere in the fifty-third chapter. If I say, "Oh, well," then you were able to find it more readily.

Then in the 1600s, they came along and they divided the Bible up also into verses. Divided the chapters into verses. And so making it even that much easier to look up a particular passage of scripture. But this was done by man, nothing about divine inspiration as far as the chapter divisions. And so, though they overall did a very excellent job, in a few places I feel that they did make a mistake. And this is one where I feel there is a mistake in the chapter divisions. For obviously, as we begin chapter seven, we have a reference back to chapter six as he refers to the promises that he had just quoted.

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved ( 2 Corinthians 7:1 ),

What promises? In verse seventeen and eighteen, Paul put together a collage of scriptures from the Old Testament, none of them quoted exactly accurately. But in the latter part of chapter six, and of course, remember Paul did not have chapters and verses, and so he is quoting from memory, which they so often did. But let me share something with you now.

I do feel that there is a tremendous benefit in a lot of the new translations, in that it has gotten us away from this kind of being bound to chapter and verse, or being bound to the exact wording of a scripture. The Holy Spirit is not really called the Spirit of Chapter and Verse. He's called the Spirit of Truth. Now, it is more important that you grab the truth out of the verse than the exact wording. The truth that is there is what will set us free.

And so Paul is free quoting, free translating as he brings the essence of truth that was expressed through the word. And I think that this is great when we have the truth in our hearts and we can express the truth and we don't have to worry about getting the exact quotation.

A lot of people are so bound because, "Oh, I don't know if it's in or on, you know." And I'm afraid to say it because I don't know if it's in or on, you know. And I want to be so . . . We grew up in Sunday School, and the teacher, "No, no, no, that was wrong." You know, because you made some slight mistake in the preposition or something. And so we become fearful of quoting the scripture because we want to quote it exactly word for word.

But the new translations, especially the Living Letters, Amplified and so forth, do help free us from that sort of bondage almost that we had to the "get the word just exactly right." Get the truth right, that's what's important. The Spirit of Truth. King James is an excellent translation, but the Bible wasn't written in King James. Paul didn't know anything about King James English. And I, he can't quite go along with the fellow who says, "Well, I like the King James Bible because that's the one Paul wrote." And they are so bound, you know, to the exact word.

So, Paul is freely quoting from several passages of the Old Testament and as he is freely quoting, he makes reference here to some of the glorious promises that God has made. First of all, God said, "I will receive you" ( 2 Corinthians 6:17 ). And that, in itself, is something to be thankful for. Something to rejoice over, the fact that God will receive me. You know, the President of the United States won't even receive me.

I, years ago, when I was in college, I went back to the Ford Motor Company. I wanted to meet Henry Ford. That's the kind of a young man I was. And I went into the factory there in Detroit, Michigan and I said to the girl at the desk, "I'd like to see your boss." And so, she got me into her boss and I said, "I'm here; I'd like to see Henry Ford." And the fellow said, "Well, I would, too. I've been working here for the Ford Company for thirty years, I haven't seen him yet, you know." He wouldn't receive me. But the Lord said He would receive me. That's what is important.

Not only that, He said, "I will be a Father unto you" ( 2 Corinthians 6:18 ). Now, there are a lot of people who have difficulty in relating to God in the father image, because they did not have a good relationship with their own fathers. And unfortunately, we are finding this to be true more and more. As the fathers refuse to take their real role as a father within the home, and thus, many times people have a hard time relating to God as a father. If indeed you have a poor father image because of your own relationship to your own earthly father, don't be afraid of the father image.

If you've had a good relationship with your father, then this becomes really glorious as God says, "I will be a Father to you." And it has all of the right implications. It should have, no matter what kind of a father you've had. It should have the right implications to you.

Fortunately, I had a great dad. And so this thing has all the right implications. I'm thrilled that God would say, "I will be a Father unto you," because I had a great father. My father was a real supporter and fan of his son. I could be playing football, the stands would be crowded with people, and after I had made a touchdown, everybody was cheering and yelling, I could hear my dad above them all. Always I could hear my dad. "That's my son, you know." Great dad! And so, I have no problem with this father image, and it's really something that's very meaningful to me that God would say, "I would be a Father unto you," because it implies to me the love, the devotion, the attention, the provisions, the concern--all that my dad was to me. "And ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty" ( 2 Corinthians 6:18 ). Glorious promises.

"Having therefore these promises," that He would receive us, that we would be His sons and daughters, He would be our Father,

let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God ( 2 Corinthians 7:1 ).

So the call was, "Come apart and be separate, saith the Lord, touch not the unclean thing." The broader context is, "Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship has light with darkness? What concord has Christ with Belial? What part has he who believes with an infidel? What agreement has the temple of God with idols?" So come apart from idolatry. Come apart from unrighteousness. "Be separate, saith the Lord, don't touch the unclean thing. And if we will, then God will receive us, be our Father, we will be His sons and daughters" ( 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 ).

And because of these promises, let us then really come apart; cleanse ourselves from the filthiness of the flesh and of the mind. And there is both. The filthiness of the man's flesh, the filthiness of the man's mind, as we perfect or we become complete in holiness in the fear of God. The reverence of God, the awe of God.

Again, I think it was Thursday night that we mentioned that whenever we talk about the fear of God, there are some people that have the wrong concept here. When I was a child, I was afraid of God. I had heard a lot of preaching that caused me to be afraid of God. I was afraid that God was going to hurt me. That He was just waiting for me to do something wrong, and then He was going to hurt me. And as a child, I had this fear of God. God's going to hurt me.

That is not the fear of God that the Bible is encouraging. My fear of God is changed. Now I fear that I might hurt God. I love Him. I appreciate His love; I don't want to do anything that would hurt Him. And that's what the true fear of the Lord is. Afraid that you might hurt Him. God truly isn't going to hurt you, and I surely don't want to hurt Him.

Now, Paul is talking in sort of a relieved way. Paul heard that there were problems in Corinth, that there were divisions there, and so he visited the church and his visit was a disaster. Yes, there were divisions, and they sort of polarized when Paul came. So Paul left Corinth quite upset. He then wrote a letter to them and sent it by Titus. And after he wrote the letter, he worried about that letter that maybe he was too severe. Maybe he laid it on them too heavy. And so he was really worried about what their reaction would be to the letter that he wrote because he was very firm in the things that he said. And he did rebuke them soundly in many areas.

And so, Paul now is coming back to the previous letter. And Titus, having met him . . . Paul was in Troas, opportunities came to minister there, but Paul couldn't rest in his spirit because he was so worried about the Corinthians and what their response might be. The heart of the true minister. You know that, at times, it is necessary to rebuke. And yet, you're fearly because you don't want to hurt. And so Paul said,

Receive us; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man. I speak not this to condemn you: for I have said before, that ye are in our hearts to die and live with you ( 2 Corinthians 7:2-3 ).

So, Paul is now asking for acceptance by them, for he has been honest before them.

Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation. For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears. Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus ( 2 Corinthians 7:4-6 );

So, Paul is telling now of his feelings, his love for them, and how concerned he was because he hadn't heard from them. And he had sent this letter off, he didn't know how they received it, he didn't know just what the reaction was going to be, and he had this real turmoil going on within him. The fighting on the outside, no rest; within him he was filled with fear. Until he finally caught up with Titus, and Titus told him of the positive response of the people in Corinth to the letter that he had written.

And so, "God that comforts those that are cast down," I like that. "God who comforts those who are cast down." You're cast down in spirit tonight. God comforts those that are cast down. But that comfort comes by getting our eyes on the Lord. Getting them off of those troubling things that have disturbed us. You see, our problem is that we so often become so completely involved in our problem that we lose sight of God. The problem becomes overwhelming; we lose perspective. Our problem seems to be greater than God. But God comforts those that are cast down. So we need to get our eyes upon the Lord this evening.

If you're discouraged, if you're cast down, if you're worried about a pressing situation, get your eyes off of that and get your eyes on to the Lord. Just begin to worship Him, tell Him how much you love Him. Develop your relationship with God, and you'll be amazed how the other things will just smooth out. Jesus said, "Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these other things will be taken care of" ( Matthew 6:33 ). Isn't it interesting how that our minds are so filled with these other things.

All through Bible college I was looking for that one that God had chosen to be with me in the ministry. Every year when the new class came in, I sat in the front row looking them over. Graduation time came, and I had never seen one that really did anything for me. In fact, we used to say that 95 percent of the women in America were beautiful and the other 5 percent went to our school. And I was getting a little panicky. Graduation time has come. Going have to go out into the world by myself. But the Lord kept giving me the scripture, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these other things will be taken care of, will be added to you."

So, I just began to seek the Lord first, His kingdom. And one evening, in the most unexpected way, as I was sitting at a ballgame . . . I had graduated; I had been out ministering as an evangelist. I had come home for a time. My brother was playing on a ball team, and we used to play together a lot, so I went out to watch his game. And as I was sitting there watching the game, here came this beautiful gal who didn't want to sit down on the bench because it was dusty. And so I just scooted across and said, "Here, I've dusted off a place for you." Right out of the blue, there she was.

So Paul said, "I was comforted."

And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more ( 2 Corinthians 7:7 ).

Titus brought good news: "Paul, the people have really repented. They really love you, Paul. They really appreciate your love and concern for them. And they were grieving over these things that they had allowed to become a part of the fellowship there in Corinth." And so, Paul speaks about the report of Titus just really rejoicing his heart.

For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent ( 2 Corinthians 7:8 ):

"Man, I was sorry for a while until I got Titus' word. I was really sorry that I wrote that letter, because I didn't know how the response was. And so at one time, I had really felt bad that I wrote it. Now I don't."

for I perceive that the same epistle [or letter] hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death ( 2 Corinthians 7:8-10 ).

And so, Paul draws a distinction here between sorrow and repentance. There is a sorrow; there is a godly sorrow that works repentance. There is a sorrow of the world that brings death. Repentance brings a change. True repentance is to change. We find in the Scriptures that Judas brought the money back that he had received from the high priest when he betrayed Jesus. "And he said, 'Take this back; I betrayed innocent blood.' And they said, 'What's that to us? It's your problem.' And so he threw it down at their feet and he went out and he said, 'Now it's your problem.' And he repented and went out and hung himself" ( Matthew 27:3-5 ).

Judas was sorry for what he did, as many people are sorry for what they have done. But if you're sorry and you keep doing it, that just brings death. If you're sorry and you don't do it anymore, that's repentance. Godly sorrow that leads to repentance.

Peter denied his Lord three times. When the rooster crowed, Jesus looked at Peter, and Peter remembered the words of Jesus that said, "Before the cock crows you will deny me three times. And he repented and went out and wept bitterly" ( Matthew 26:75 ). Never again did Peter deny his Lord. He repented. There was a real change. And repentance always does signify a change, and the godly sorrow works repentance.

I dare say if you would go to San Quentin Prison and do a survey asking the question, "Are you sorry for your crime?" That you probably have a very high ratio of prisoners that would mark a "Yes, I am sorry for what I did." But if they were totally honest, and your next question said, "Are you sorry for what you did, or are you sorry that you got caught?" That if they were truly honest, most of them would then put, "I'm sorry I got caught." For when they get out, they go back and they do the same thing over again, only they would try and do it more cleverly so they won't get caught the next time.

Now, make sure that you just don't have a sorrow that you've been found out, sorrow that you got caught. That's worldly sorrow. Godly sorrow brings a change, a changed life. "Godly sorrow works repentance to salvation, not to be repented of."

For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter ( 2 Corinthians 7:11 ).

So, the things that Paul wrote to them about: their carnality, their allowing into the fellowship evil conditions. And there was a real repentance there in Corinth over these things.

Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you ( 2 Corinthians 7:12 ).

So, it was really for your sakes that I wrote these things. That you might know how concerned I am about you.

Therefore we were comforted in your comfort: yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all ( 2 Corinthians 7:13 ).

So, I'm rejoicing because of the treatment you gave Titus, and how joyful he was over what God had wrought in your lives.

For if I have boasted any thing to him of you, I am not ashamed ( 2 Corinthians 7:14 );

And he, Paul no doubt told him what a tremendous church the Corinthian church was, what great people.

but as we spake all things to you in truth, even so our boasting, which I made before Titus, is found a truth. And his inward affection is more abundant toward you, whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him. I rejoice therefore that I have confidence in you in all [of these] things ( 2 Corinthians 7:14-16 ).

So Paul's report from Titus, his reaction and response to it. Titus' feelings concerning the church of Corinth and how that the hurts and the wrongs had now been corrected as the result of Paul's first epistle.

Now, as we get into chapter eight, towards the end, in fact the sixteenth chapter of the first epistle, Paul wrote to them in Corinth also, on the first day of the week to set aside an offering for the poor saints in Jerusalem. You remember when the church first started in Jerusalem there was an attempt at a communal type of living. The people were selling their possessions, bringing the money to the apostles, and the apostles made distribution to every man according to as he had need. They had a real equality.

But in times when they had ran out of funds, they had sold their homes, their properties, now the money had been dissipated. The needs were still there. And so, the church in Jerusalem was in a very poor condition. The church in Jerusalem was made up basically of Jews who were suspicious of the Gentile believers. Not all of them were convinced that a Gentile could really be saved except he became a Jew. There were many Pharisees and all who believed, but they brought in a lot of the Jewish practices, and with it, a general suspicion of the Gentile.

Paul, being an apostle to the Gentile, is desiring to take to Jerusalem, to the Jewish believers, a good, healthy sum of money to help them in their poverty, to sort of break down the feelings that existed in the Jewish believers towards the Gentile believers. He felt if we could bring to them a generous offering from the Gentiles, that this wall of partition that more or less existed between them could be broken down. And they would realize the oneness of the family of God as they received help and support from the Gentile believers, a token of their love and esteem for Jerusalem.

Now, it was from the church in Jerusalem that the gospel went out. And so there was a debt, in a sense, of the Gentile believers to the church in Jerusalem, for it was the result of the church in Jerusalem sending out the apostles and all that they received the gospel.

So, Paul comes back now and spends the eighth chapter on the issue over the offering that he wanted them to take for the church in Jerusalem. And in encouraging them to give, he first of all tells them of what the churches in Macedonia gave. Now Macedonia was upper Greece, the area of Thessalonica, Berea, Philippi. And these churches in the upper part of Greece were rather poor. And yet, they gave very generously.

The church in Corinth was a wealthy church. And so, Paul is encouraging them to follow the example of the poor brethren in Macedonia. And so,


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 7". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/2-corinthians-7.html. 2014.
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