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These first few verses are a continuation of chapter 1. Paul had purposed that he would not come to the Corinthians "in heaviness," and for this reason delayed his visit. For his First Epistle was such that it would tend to deeply plough them up, and make them sorry. He did not want to continue the same reproving ministry when he came to them. If they were made sorry in such a way as to correct the wrongs among them, then of course they would make him glad. So he had written with the earnest desire of such a result. In coming to them, he did not want to have sorrow, but to have from them the normal joy of seeing the truth prosper in souls who were after all his own brethren. For in reality Paul's joy is the proper joy of all believers, for it is joy in the Lord, and in the pure truth of His Word. He could have confidence then that this too was their joy, though it had needed the First Epistle to clear away the rubbish that obscured their true joy.
But he assures them that it was far from a joy to write that letter: his anguish and many tears were however, both because of the seriousness of the evil that had attacked them, and because he did not desire to grieve them. Yet true love for them required his writing.
In verse 5 he refers to the man he had required them to put out of their fellowship (1 Corinthians 5:1-13). He had caused grief, not merely to Paul (in case anyone thought this was the important factor), but in part to them all. Compare the New Translation of J. N. Darby here. He says "in part" because he does not want to overcharge them, or to make them so opposed to the man that they would have no genuine desire for his recovery and restoration.
For it is evident that they had obeyed Paul's instructions to put away the man. Now it is just as serious that the man be restored. The discipline had achieved its proper end in leading the man to self-judgment and ceasing from his sin. It is to be noted that the "punishment" or "rebuke" had been inflicted by "the many." Perhaps not every individual in the assembly had fully concurred in this (as is sometimes the case), but it was nevertheless a true assembly judgment, in obedience to God. Now he is to be forgiven publicly, and comforted, or encouraged: otherwise discipline might be carried to such an extreme as to swallow up the offender in sorrow. Paul entreats them to assure the man of their love. Once the guilt is properly judged and stopped, this should always be the case.
For Paul's writing them first (and certainly this second time also) involves the question as to whether the Corinthians had concern to be obedient to the truth of God, whether as to judging the evil, or in regard now to the forgiving of the offender.
Verse 10 shows the excellent spirit of unity on Paul's part. If he had required unity in reference to judgment, it is to be true as to forgiveness too: he would concur with their forgiving and restoring this brother. His forgiveness in such a case too, is for their sakes, and as in the Person of Christ; for certainly a true restoration of the man would be for their own blessing, and consistent with the character of the Person of Christ, He who is the Center of unity.
But there was also a danger of Satan getting an advantage of the saints. If at first he would threaten the assembly by introducing moral evil, in this case his threat is rather that of producing, in saints, a mere self-righteous attitude that does not forgive even when repentance is evident. Satan's devices are numerous, and cunning: the apostles were not ignorant of these, and neither ought we to be.
Verse 12 shows that, though Paul had left Ephesus to go into Macedonia (Acts 20:1), he had stopped at Troas, where the Lord had opened a door for the preaching of the gospel. Yet he did not stay, because he had no rest in his spirit. Evidently he had thought that Titus may have come there from Corinth, but it was not so. And Paul's concern as to Corinth would not allow him to stay at Troas in spite of the open door. He deeply desired to learn from Titus how the Corinthians had received his first letter, so he went on to Macedonia. Notice, the New Translation, "I came into Macedonia," not "went." Compare chapter 7:5,6. He did not find Titus when he arrived there, but Titus did come afterward, which was a great comfort to Paul. No doubt it was because of the good news Titus brought that Paul speaks as he does in verse 14.
His heart expands in thanksgiving to God, who "always leads us in triumph in Christ." Not that it is their triumph, but His, while they are His willing captives, led as it were in His victory procession. He has triumphed, not only over them, but over all their circumstances, making all these things subserve His perfect will. And through them the savour of His knowledge was made manifest. Their willing subjection to His leading was a precious witness to the greatness of His triumph and glory. This was as true in regard to those who perish as to those who are saved. The servants' subjection and
devotion to Christ was a sweet savour to God, for it was a true representation of Him. If one rejected this, yet he had been given the honest witness that such rejection was choosing death; and God is glorified in the righteous carrying out of the sentence of death. On the other hand, the life promised in Christ is as absolutely real; and God is glorified in the reception of life by the believing heart.
What an honor to be in the place of representing God in Christ! No wonder the apostle asks, "And who is sufficient for these things?" The answer is found in chapter 3:5. The solemnity of such a trust certainly requires the sincerity and truth that trembles at the Word of God. There were "many" who made a trade of the Word of God, manipulating it by cunning deceit to serve their own selfish interests; and today their number is multiplied. Paul was in constant exercise of soul to guard thoroughly against such a thing. The Word means precisely what God intends it to mean, and I am not at liberty to interpret it simply as I see fit; but to seek in it God's own mind. No doubt it has various applications, but I must be seriously careful before God to apply it consistently with the rest of Scripture. The servant is to faithfully represent God, in single-eyed sincerity, with a sense always of acting and speaking as "in the sight of God." Compare chapter 4:3.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 2". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24