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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 2

Gann's Commentary on the BibleGann on the Bible

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Verse 1

2 Corinthians 2:1

Outline of 2Corinthians 2

2 Corinthians 2:1-5. Having shown the reason why he came not to them,

2 Corinthians 2:6-9. he requires them to forgive and to comfort that excommunicated person,

2 Corinthians 2:10-11. even as himself also upon his true repentance had forgiven him;

2 Corinthians 2:12-13. declaring withal why he departed from Troas to Macedonia,

2 Corinthians 2:14-17. and the happy success which God gave to his preaching in all places

For I made up my mind -- I formed this resolution in regard to my course of action.

Some think the "But" or "For" should be translated "And" because it continues the explanation from 2 Corinthians 1:23.

not come again to you in heaviness [make you sorrowful] -- Paul didn’t want to cause them grief again. He had been compelled to resort to to acts of discipline.

Paul had not come them because of fickleness, but from love for them.

again -- Paul mentions a third visit to Corinth in 2 Corinthians 12:14; 2 Corinthians 13:1. The book of Acts does not record this second painful visit. His initial stay in Corinth is recorded in Acts 18:1-11.

It probably occurred between the writing of I and II Corinthians or during his three-year ministry in Ephesus (Acts 19:8-22).

This just cannot apply to Paul’s first visit to Corinth, for his first visit did not end in failure and rejection. When Paul first left Corinth, he was filled with joy over the great success God had given.

We may thus paraphrase his words, I decided that the best course for me to pursue was not to come again to you in heaviness. - CBSC

Verse 2

2 Corinthians 2:2

cause you pain -- The church had a heaviness because apparently on Paul’s last visit a man in the church had been confronted by Paul probably by the incestuous man. It seems Paul was deeply grieved over the church’s lack of loyalty to him and to the truth.

The NJB (New Jerusalem Bible) translation reads, “for if I cause you distress I am causing distress to my only possible source of joy.”

Paul did not enjoy the confrontational aspect of his apostolic responsibility.

the one whom I have painted? -- The church had to deal with the man in his sin, but it pained them.

The only thing that would bring Paul joy would be repentance from such a one and any who agreed with him.

Evidently if Paul had come to them as originally planned he would have had to rebuke or discipline them for some situation that existed in the church. Instead of doing this and producing sorrow he decided to wait and give them an opportunity to deal with the problem themselves. - Constable

Verse 3

2 Corinthians 2:3

I wrote this very thing -- This is most suitably understood as a direct reference to 1 Corinthians 16:5 ff where he told the Corinthians of his revised itinerary." Some have referred these words to the "lost letter"; but such a reference is arbitrary. Besides, the understanding of these words as a reference to First Corinthians "has been the understanding of the church through many centuries." - Coffman Commentaries

I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice - Lest the conduct of the church, and the abuses which prevail in it should give me sorrow. I should be grieved with the existence of these evils; and I should be obliged to resort to measures which would be painful to me, and to the whole church. Paul sought to avoid this by persuading them before he came to exercise the discipline themselves, and to put away the evil practices which prevailed among them.

having confidence in you all -- Paul was persuaded that if he wrote them a letter, they would listen to his injunctions, that thus all that was painful might be avoided when he came among them.

Verse 4

2 Corinthians 2:4

For ... I wrote unto you -- This continues to be a reference to 1 Corinthians, nor can this be construed as any sort of proof of a second lost letter between the canonical Corinthians.

The notion that 1 Corinthians could not have been written out of "anguish of heart" betrays a total insensitivity to the things which most assuredly can cause anguish of heart to any Christian, especially to the apostle who had converted them and had such love for them.

The conditions at Corinth, described in 1 Corinthians, were exceedingly deplorable. Incest, heartless lawsuits by the members before pagan judges, drunkenness at the Lord’s table, arrogant self-seeking among the members, denials of the resurrection, warring, loveless factions, etc., etc. "Any one of these things was sufficient to cause Paul real distress and the severest grief." McGarvey also understood this verse as a reference to 1 Corinthians. -Coffman Commentaries

Verse 5

2 Corinthians 2:5

has caused pain -- The traditional interpretation of this makes it a reference to the incestuous person of 1 Corinthians 5:1-8. McGarvey saw in 2 Corinthians 2:3-5 above a plain hint of the connection between the two passages, since, he said, "By referring to 1 Corinthians 4:21; 1 Corinthians 5:1, it will be seen that the threat of correction at his coming and the case of the incestuous person were twin thoughts in his mind." - Coffman Commentaries

In all history, until very recent times, only one voice was ever raised in denial of the identity of the two offenders as one; and that was that of Tertullian who lived only about a hundred years after the times of Paul. Yet, even in his case, it appears that the universally held conviction of that time was denied by nobody except Tertullian; and he was able to offer no proof whatever to support it. Coffman Commentaries

Verse 6

2 Corinthians 2:6

this punishment by the majority -- Paul had directed the church to remove the incestuous man from their fellowship (1 Corinthians 5:5) Paul’s object here is to have his restored to their fellowship again since he had repented. He says that the punishment which they had meted out was "sufficient."

1) It was a sufficient express of the evil the man represented,

2) It was sufficient to demonstrated that the church wanted to preserve purity, (1 Corinthians 5:6)

3) It was sufficient punishment to being the offender to repentance.

Verse 7

2 Corinthians 2:7

forgive and comfort him -- Rather than continue the pain and disgrace of excommunication, it was not time to forgive and restore the offender.

There is every reason to believe that the man had sincerely repented and changed his ways.

lest he be overwhelmed [swallowed up] by excessive sorrow. -- This is a strong expression, denoting intensity of grief.

We speak of a man’s being drowned in sorrow; or overwhelmed with grief; of grief preying upon him. The figure here is probably taken from deep waters, or from a whirlpool which seems to swallow up anything that comes within reach.

Excessive grief or calamity, in the Scriptures, is often compared to such waters; see Psalms 124:2-5; Psalms 69:1.

Verse 8

2 Corinthians 2:8

reaffirm your love -- Perhaps Paul is thinking of some public act of the church by which their excommunication would be removed and the man reassured of their love for him.

The word rendered here as “confirm” (κυρῶσαι kurōsai) occurs in the New Testament only here and in Galatians 3:15 (confirmed, ratified).

Verse 9

2 Corinthians 2:9

this is why I wrote -- Paul doesn’t say this was the only purpose of his writing (of his first epistle). Neither does he mean is was an rbitrary meanner to test their willingness to obey him.

1) It was meant to define sin; 2) to keep the church pure from defilement; 3) to bring the man to repentance; 4) it revealed the church’s to obey and to do the right thing even when it was somewhat painful.

Verse 10

2 Corinthians 2:10

whom you forgive, I also forgive -- Paul wanted them to know that their forgiveness toward the penitent man was what he also wanted.

What I have forgiven, -- Paul express what he would have done if there with the church.

in the presence of Christ, -- Paul expresses that forgiveness, both Paul’s and the church’s, would be what Christ would have done if He was literally there with them.

Verse 11

2 Corinthians 2:11

not be outwitted by Satan -- If the penitent man was not forgiven and restored, his overwhelming grief may give Satan an opportunity to claim the man again. Paul doesn’t want Satan to get an advantage in this situation, as he uses such wiles to reclaim men.

Verse 12

2 Corinthians 2:12

When I came to Troas -- Paul had passed through Troas on his second missionary journey (Acts 16:8-9). But this occasion of coming to Troas followed his mission at Corinth in Acts 18 and following his former epistle to them. Paul had not heard what effect his epistle had on them, and he desperately wanted to know.

preaching the gospel -- Paul was not idle in waiting to hear regarding the reception the Corinthians gave to his epistle. He had an open door, and opportunity where people were disposed to hear the gospel. (1 Corinthians 16:9)

Verse 13

2 Corinthians 2:13

my spirit was not at rest -- Apparently Paul had planned to meet Titus there at Troas and was eager to learn from him how his letter to the Corinthians has been received, (2 Corinthians 12:18). He was disappointed in not finding Titus there so he left Troas for Macedonia.

Paul probably knew the route Titus was to take to come to Paul. It was apparently the over-land route from Corinth up through Macedonia rather than by sea to Troas.

Titus -- Titus’ name is mentioned 9 times in 12 verses in this epistle. 2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 7:6; 2 Corinthians 7:13-14; 2 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 8:16; 2 Corinthians 8:23; 2 Corinthians 12:18.

It is surprising that Titus is never mentioned in the book of Acts. He was one of Paul’s most trusted and faithful helpers. (See Note at Titus 1:4; and Titus 1:1 introduction to the book of Titus). Apparently Titus, following Paul’s example, also did not receive any money from this church.

Verse 14

2 Corinthians 2:14

But thanks be to God -- There seem to have been several sources of Paul’s joy on this occasion. But in particular he rejoiced;

(1) Because Titus had come to him there, and had removed his distress; compare 2 Corinthians 1:1.

(2) because he learned from him that his efforts in regard to the church at Corinth had been successful, and that they had hearkened to his counsels in his first letter.

God ... always leads us in triumphal procession -- The picture seems this: As victorious Roman generals would lead a victory procession through the streets of Rome upon their return, just so God leads us in victory over sin and death, etc.

Triumph in Christ -- (Triumphal procession -- NIV) The only other place this word occurs is in Colossians 2:15. See note on Ephesians 4:8.

through us diffuses [spreads] the fragrance -- As in the victorious procession the generals and soldiers would throw out coins to the people, God is spreading the gospel out everywhere. The gospel is likened to sweet smelling perfume spreading out to all those around it.

People seeing and hearing the news of the conversion and the life the Corinthians now lead for Christ would spread out everywhere.

Verse 15

2 Corinthians 2:15

we are the aroma of Christ to God -- Incense was burned in the triumphal procession of returning conquerors. Likewise victorious Christians, and especially ministers like Paul, were pleasant aromatic incense before God,

among ... saved and ... perishing -- The reference is to those who hear the gospel and obey it being saved. But those who reject it will be lost.

Verse 16

2 Corinthians 2:16

a fragrance from death to death, -- To those who are lost the gospel smells of death; they are dead to the message and eternal death that will be theirs.

to the other a fragrance from life to life. -- To those believing and obeying the gospel it is the sweet smelling aroma that gives life.

Verse 17

2 Corinthians 2:17

For we are not, like so many, -- Doubtlessly this refers to the false teachers at Corinth, and to all who mingle human philosophy or traditions with the pure word of truth.

peddlers of God’s word, -- Paul equates these false teachers as peddlers out for making money.

which corrupt the word of God [KJV]-- Margin, "deal deceitfully with." The word used here (καπηλεύοντες kapēleuontes) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, and does not occur in the Septuagint. The word is derived from κάπηλος kapēlos, which signifies properly a huckster, or a retailer of wine, a man who buys up articles for the purpose of selling them again.

men of sincerity -- Paul was preaching the word of God not mixed with anything false.

The word "sincere" comes from the Latin "sincerus" (sine= without; cera= wax) meaning "without wax". The word "sincere" was stamped by artisans on the bottom of their ceramic works as evidence they were genuine. The artisans would break their works that had flaws or didn’t meet their standards. However, Con-men would often steal the artisans’ rejected works and would piece them together with wax and then dupe unsuspecting buying.

commissioned by God -- Paul agains alludes to his authority as an apostle as he had done in the opening verses of his epistle, 2 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:22; (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:20; Ephesians 6:20)

we speak in Christ. -- In the name of, and in the service of Christ as His ministers. Paul has no ulterior motive than preaching simply and faithfully the words of Christ.

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 2". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/2-corinthians-2.html. 2021.
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