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HE RESOLVES NOT TO COME TO THEM IN SORROW
2 Corinthians 2:1-13 .
Paul most sagaciously and successfully maneuvers this whole matter. It would have been a terrible ordeal to him, who had spent eighteen months with them and seen them all born from above, and rejoiced exultantly with his spiritual children, to come among them with the castigatory rod, holding church trials and turning out a big lot of them. So he determines from the start, and arriving at Ephesus from his great Eastern tour, and there bearing all about these irregularities, heresies and disorders, he decides that he will wheel them into line by firing on them at long range.
4. “ For out of much grief and anguish of heart I wrote unto you through many tears, not that you may be grieved, but that you may know the Divine love I have toward you exceedingly.” While he had met every issue fairly and squarely, withholding not an iota or flickering, he had baptized his letters with his tears. Timothy and Titus, his noble preachers, had been signally blessed of God in their work among them, corroborating the Pauline epistles by their preaching and bringing about a genuine repentance and radical reform.
5. “ But if anyone has grieved you all in part, he did not grieve me but in part, that I may not burthen you.
6. “ This punishment from the many is sufficient for such an one.
7. “ So, on the contrary, you should rather bless and exhort him, lest he may be swallowed up with excessive grief.
8. “ Therefore, I exhort you to stir up your Divine love toward him.” This is that notorious incestuous man who had his father’s wife (the old man still living, ch. 2 Corinthians 7:12), though Paul had assured them that this man should be turned over to Satan, i. e., expelled from the church, in case that he did not take heed. But, to the infinite gratitude of Paul, he had not only reformed and made everything right as far as possible, but he was about to grieve himself to death, and the whole church was down in mourning with him and praying for him, not a single one vindicating him, but condemning him, and crying to God to have mercy on him and them. When Titus arrives and tells Paul about the genuine, radical and excessive repentance, and the man even about to grieve himself to death, Paul tells them here that it is enough, and exhorts them to turn the tide and labor to comfort him, all stirring up their Divine love in his behalf, exhorting and blessing him, lest he die of grief.
9. “ For unto this indeed I wrote, in order that I may know your approval, if you are obedient in all things.” He had the blessed consolation of realizing that they were obedient in all things. Instead of dividing up into factions, as is customary in case of church discipline, they unanimously accepted the situation and came down in sackcloth and ashes, those who had sinned crying for mercy, and the balance crying along with them that the sin had occurred among them.
10-11. “ But in whatsoever you rejoice as to anything, I do also, for indeed I have rejoiced in this, if I have rejoiced in anything, for your sakes in the face of Christ, in order that we may not be gobbled up by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his devices.” If they had broken into divisions over the Pauline discipline, Satan would have made great capital out of it. But as it was, he was utterly defeated and the victory was complete.
12-13. “ Having come into Troas unto the gospel of Christ, indeed a door being opened to me in the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit because I did not find Titus my brother, but bidding them adieu I departed into Macedonia.” Troas is over in Asia, the capital of Mysia, the successor of old Troy of Homeric notoriety. Titus was to meet Paul there, and give him the news from Corinth, whither Paul had sent him to preach and to do his utmost to obey his epistles and make everything right. On arrival, he does not find him. Such is his anxiety to hear from Corinth that he does not delay, but hastens away over the sea to Macedonia, where he meets Titus bringing the glorious news of his great revival at Corinth, so ravishing to the longing heart of their spiritual father.
THE GOSPEL OMINOUS OF DOOM
14. “ Thanks be unto God, who causeth us to triumph in Christ, manifesting the odor of the knowledge of Himself through us in every place.” The apostles are everywhere the heralds of victory in Christ, who causes them to triumph over all of their spiritual foes, their message of truth, testimony of personal Salvation, songs of joy and shouts of victory filling the very atmosphere with the fragrant odors of the knowledge of Christ; i. e., everything they say and do is constantly revelatory of the knowledge of Christ.
15. “ Because we are a sweet savor to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” So long as we are in this world we are not saved in a final sense, but only being saved, i. e., in process of salvation, ripening for Heaven, justification being primary salvation, sanctification full salvation and glorification final salvation. Meanwhile the wicked are not yet damned, but only condemned, with an opportunity to have the condemnatory sentence rescinded. There is no final issue in either case till we pass out of this probation. The true ministers are a sweet savor to God, because they so proclaim the whole counsel of God as to turn the full responsibility over to the hearers, thus vindicating the Divine justice and magnifying sovereign mercy, whether in the case of salvation or perdition.
16. “ To the latter an odor from death unto death, and to the former an odor of life unto life. Who is sufficient for these things?” In the case of the wicked, we are an odor from the spiritual death which now locks them tight unto the eternal death which awaits them. In the case of the righteous, we are an odor from the glorious spiritual life they now enjoy, to the ineffable joys of the eternal life to which they fast hasten, the present state in either case being significantly ominous of the momentous future. No wonder he indulges in the interjection, “ Who is equal to these things?” Tremendous are the issues and immeasurable the responsibilities.
17. “ For we are not as many, who are in the habit of adulterating the Word of God .” What an awful responsibility! and yet how many are guilty of bending the Word to suit the creed or the congregation. God’s Word is His voice, replete with His awful majesty. In the first place, it is an awful pity a creed was ever made. This is the reason why they corrupt the Word to suit the creed. No one should assume the awful responsibility of handling God’s Word till he is dead to creeds, opinions, and everything but God. “But as from purity, but as from God, we speak before God in Christ.” The “sincerity” in E.V. is eilikrineias, from eilee, a “sunbeam,” and krinoo, judge. Hence it means “judged in a sunbeam,, i. e., God proposes to make your heart so pure that when illuminated by the infallible Sun of Righteousness, His own omniscient eye can see no impurity in it. We are to preach in the constant realization that we are standing in the presence of God.
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Godbey, William. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 2". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent