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God's Verification of Paul's Sincerity
God had established Paul's sincerity by backing him with signs and miracles. Since God was a promise keeper, He would not support one who was dishonest. God had anointed Paul as an apostle and placed His seal on him to show His ownership. The Holy Spirit working through Paul was God's way of putting up enough money to guarantee payment of His part of the bargain. The Spirit was evidence that Paul was working in God's behalf ( 2Co_1:21-22 ).
Paul called God as a witness since God knows all things and is able to search man's heart. He wanted them to know that he did not come to Corinth when promised, to spare them added hardships. The apostle could not rule over their faith. Instead, he revealed the will of God to them in the hope that they would grow in faith. He wanted his trip to be with them to be a happy occasion, which it would be if they stood firm in God's truth. Paul refused to come to them while they needed discipline for their weakness in the faith. He had made them sorry by the discipline of the earlier letter and was hoping to be made happy by their changed lives. His love for the church and desire to see them grow in faith made it well worth the wait before coming. Only those he had caused to be sorry could make him happy. Their standing firm in the faith would bring rejoicing ( 2Co_1:23-24 ; 2Co_2:1-2 ).
Discipline that Worked
Paul wrote his first letter to the church in Corinth in an effort to get them to change. Specifically, he was concerned that they were tolerating sin. He directed them to withdraw from the disorderly brother in an effort to save his soul. He warned them to change and confidently believed they would make him rejoice. He had not rejoiced in the evil that was present in the church but was brought to a state of anguish ( 1Co_4:21 ; 1Co_5:1 ). He demonstrated his love for them by correcting and disciplining them ( 2Co_2:3-4 ).
The fornicator Paul mentioned in 1Co_5:1-13 had brought sorrow to Paul through his sinful acts. Paul saw his sorrow in the matter as nothing compared to the sorrow of the church. The apostle had encouraged them to withdraw fellowship from him in an effort to bring him to repentance. Apparently, they were successful in their actions and Paul pleaded with them to forgive the penitent man and accept him back lest his sorrow and shame drive him to Satan for lack of hope. Just as Paul had instructed them to discipline the fornicator, he wanted them to forgive him and publicly display their love for him ( 2Co_2:5-8 ).
Paul had used this case of fellowship as a test of their willingness to obey. They had proven faithful. He was in agreement with any action taken under God's direction. In fact, he indicated any action which is taken in accord with Christ's law is actually taken in conjunction with the Lord. The purpose of discipline is to save the sinner ( 1Co_5:3 ). In a similar manner, the apostle urged the church to forgive to defeat Satan. If we are unmerciful, or unforgiving, Satan can use that to completely harden the penitent sinner against the truth ( 2Co_2:9-11 ).
If his words sounded boastful, Paul's conscience could withstand the test of God's scrutiny and still show him holy and truthful. He had not lived as one after earthly gain, but as one following God's instruction. This was true in all his actions and especially in Corinth. His dealings with the Corinthians could withstand the inspection of the divisive teachers ( 2Co_1:12 ).
Paul had used the same sincere approach in his writings to them. He had written plainly and without double meaning. All his writings were public, open to anyone's inspection. He did not write privately to some to clarify or change his meaning. He hoped they would continue to confess the truth of his words until the day they died. If they continued to acknowledge his truthful words till death, they could glory in one another in judgment. Paul could be proud of them as his children in the faith and they could be proud of him as their father in the faith ( 2Co_1:13-14 ).
Triumphant in Christ
Before going into a brief discussion of discipline, Paul had been telling about the first letter and reasons for his delay in coming. He next resumed by telling them he went from Ephesus to Troas. He had an opportunity to preach. However, being so disturbed over waiting and receiving no word from Titus of Corinth, Paul moved on to Macedonia. His anxiety over the Corinthian response to the first letter hindered his preaching ( 2Co_2:12-13 ).
Paul was thankful for the good word that Titus brought from Corinth. He also thanked God for the continual triumphs he experienced so long as he remained in Christ. G. Campbell Morgan saw this as a picture of a Roman triumph. The knowledge of Christ is like an incense burned by the victor and carried as he goes. In a similar way, the apostle to the Gentiles saw Christ's messengers as producing an aroma. To those who accepted the gospel, they gave off the sweet smell of victory. To those who rejected the good news, they were like the incense smelled by the Roman captives going to their death ( 2Co_2:14-15 ).
Those who reject God's plan to save man face death, while the believers look forward to life eternal. Paul asked who was prepared to deliver such a great message. Unfortunately, he knew there were many who would corrupt God's word, changing it to suit popular demands and their own selfish desires. The word "peddling" originally was used of a tavern keeper who would short change his customers and dilute supposedly pure drinks. Paul intended to deliver a pure gospel, remembering God could see all. Also, he was constantly aware that he was one of Christ's spokesmen ( 2Co_2:16-17 ).
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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 2". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany