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2 CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 7
2 Corinthians 7:1 Paul exhorteth the Corinthians to purity of life,
2 Corinthians 7:2 and to receive him, who had done nothing to forfeit their esteem.
2 Corinthians 7:3-7 He repeateth the assurance of his love for them, and showeth what comfort he had received in all his troubles from the report which Titus had brought of their good dispositions toward him.
2 Corinthians 7:8-12 So that, upon the whole, he did not repent of having grieved them a little by letter, considering the good effects which that godly sorrow had produced.
2 Corinthians 7:13-16 Above all, he rejoiced to observe the good impressions which their behaviour, so answerable to his former boastings of them, had left in the mind of Titus.
Having therefore these promises; i.e. of God’s dwelling in us, and walking with us; of God’s being our Father, and making and owning us as his sons; which promises are made to true penitents that will touch no unclean thing.
Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and the spirit; let us, through the assistance of Divine grace, endeavour to cleanse ourselves, or keep ourselves clean, not only from fleshly filthiness, such as are sins of intemperance, drunkenness, uncleanness; but also from spiritual filthiness, extravagant passions, corrupt affections, pride, envy, rash anger, idolatry, contention, division.
Perfecting holiness in the fear of God; and that, because we are not only obliged to holiness, but to perfect holiness, in, or through, the fear of the Lord; awing our hearts, lest we should profane the temple of the Lord, or behave ourselves as undutiful sons to so good a Father. So far are God’s promises, and our belief of them, or affiance in God for the fulfilling of them, from hindering us in the practice and exercise of holiness, that there can be no more potent motive to persuade the perfection of holiness; and that not only from the argument of Divine love, contained in the promises, but from the consideration of the persons to whom, and the conditions upon which, the promises are made.
Receive us; let us have a room in your hearts and esteem, or (more generally) accept us, as you ought to receive and accept the ministers of Christ. As our heart is enlarged towards you, so let your hearts be enlarged towards us; we have done nothing to alienate your hearts from us.
We have wronged no man; we have done no harm to any of you, we have not been like the shepherds that merely take the fleece, and eat the flesh of the flock: Acts 20:33; I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. We have corrupted no man; we have corrupted none by any false doctrine, or by flattering speeches, or by bribes or gifts.
We have defrauded no man; we have cheated or defrauded no man. By which vindication of or apology for himself and his fellow labourers, it is not improbably judged, that the apostle reflecteth upon those false apostles and teachers that were crept into this church, who had wronged him, corrupted them, and been too busy in other ways to pick their pockets. Nothing becometh more a minister of the gospel, than innocency and righteousness; nothing more commends him unto his people: for though they are easily persuaded that an innocent and just man must be a pious man, yet they are difficultly persuaded, (and there is no reason for it), that an unjust or mischievous man can be so. Men are so mad of their lusts, that ofttimes teachers who will favour them in them, though never so unjust and unrighteous in their actings, shall find more favour with them, than the most righteous person that will not spare them as to their Herodias: But he who will entertain the least hopes to bring men off from their lusts and sinful practices, is concerned above all men to be innocent and righteous.
The apostle deals very tenderly with this church, which was (as he knew very well) full of many touchy members; who upon all occasions were ready to reflect upon him, and to take occasion from any expressions of his in letters, as well as other things, to that purpose; to obviate whose whisperings, the apostle tells them, that he did not speak this to reflect upon or expose them, as if they had wronged or defrauded him; for the love which he bare to them was such, as would admit of no such thing; he so loved them, as that he could live and die with them.
Great is my boldness of speech toward you; because I so dearly love you, therefore I speak so boldly and freely to you (as men use to speak most freely to those whom they most love).
Great is my glorying of you; I boast of your obedience to others, and therefore would be far from exposing you. And this I do not feignedly, for
I am filled with comfort on your behalf (a further account of this he giveth us afterward).
I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation; yea, (saith he), the report I have received of your carriage and behaviour, upon your receipt of my former Epistle, hath filled me with a joy that balanceth all the affliction and tribulation that I meet with for the gospel. So good news to a faithful minister is the repentance and reformation of any member or members that belong to his flock; whereas the hireling, or false teacher, is not much concerned whether the souls of his people do well or ill.
Of this motion of the apostle’s into Macedonia, what he did and suffered there, we have a short account, Acts 20:1-38. He saith his
flesh had no rest, he met with incessant storms of persecution; and was
troubled both by Jews and Gentiles in all places where he came.
Without were fightings; by persons that were without the Christian church; such were the generality of the Jews and Gentiles;
within were fears; and by false brethren within, or with his own fears, lest those violent dealings should be temptations to Christians, being yet tender and young in the faith, to relapse and apostatize.
God, that comforteth those that are cast down: it is observable, how careful the apostle is to ascribe all the supports and reliefs of his spirit unto God. Nor is this notion, or name, of God unuseful to any that fear him, who through any casualties or contingences of this life shall happen to be cast down. It advantageth our faith in prayer, in any such straits, to consider God as having taken to himself the name of him that comforteth those that are cast down.
Comforted us by the coming of Titus: it is only the coming of Titus, his fellow labourer, and one dear to him, that he mentioneth in this verse, as the means of his support and relief; yet he entitleth God to his comfort under his dejection. God comforteth his people variously, sometimes by his good word, sometimes by his providence; be what will the instrumental cause, God is the principal efficient.
And not by big coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you: I was glad to see Titus, but that was the least of that consolation which he brought me. You had before much comforted and rejoiced him, and he being come to me, made me a partaker of his consolation, upon his beholding or being a witness to
your earnest desire, to give me satisfaction in the things about which I wrote to you;
your mourning, either for those scandals amongst you, of which I have given you notice; or for my afflicted state and condition; or for the offence you had given me, which caused me to write that sharp letter to you.
Your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more: your earnest desire to give me satisfaction, and yield obedience to my admonitions, or to maintain and defend my honour and reputation against such as had impeached and wounded it; these things much augmented my rejoicing in and over you. Nothing so much rejoiceth the heart of a conscientious, faithful minister of Christ, as to see his people’s obedience to the doctrine of the gospel, which he is an instrument to communicate to them.
For though I made you sorry with a letter; the apostle doubtless meaneth the former Epistle to this church.
I do not repent, though I did repent: as to which, he saith, that although he was sometimes troubled, because (probably) he understood that some truly pious persons in this church were troubled at it, as thinking themselves intended in the reprehensions of it; for which effect, or mistake, (he saith), he was once sorry, being troubled that he should do any thing to grieve them, whom he so affectionately loved; yet now he tells them he was not sorry.
The same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season; and their sorrow was but a temporary sorrow, until they could reform those abuses, which they were made sensible of by that Epistle, and give the apostle that wrote it just satisfaction.
Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: the apostle takes all advantages to insinuate himself into the good opinion and affections of the members of this famous church, and to obviate any misrepresentations of him to them from those false teachers that were crept in amongst them. Lest they should take some advantage from his saying, that he repented not that he had made them sorry, he here openeth himself, and tells them, he did not rejoice in their sorrow, but in the blessed product and effect of it; which was their reformation of those abuses and errors which he had reproved them for, the effect of which reproof was this their sorrow for a little season. And that they
were made sorry after a godly manner; they did but sow in tears, they reaped in joy; they had a wet seed time, but a fair harvest. They sorrowed with a sorrow according to God; the cause of their sorrow was their sin, the root of it a love to God, the manner of it such as was agreeable to the will of God.
That ye might receive damage by us in nothing; the wise God so governing things hy his providence, that nothing which the apostle spake or wrote should prove detrimental, but rather advantageous; to this church which he so loved.
Godly sorrow; that sorrow which is according to God, either commanded by him, (as sorrow for our own or others’ sins, or for the judgments of God, as they are the indications of God’s wrath and displeasure for sin), or which he, as the God of grace, worketh in the soul, touching the heart by the finger of his Spirit, Zechariah 12:10. Or that sorrow whose end is the glory of God, in the reformation of the person sorrowing, by a hatred and detestation of sin, and a hearty turning from it.
Worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of; it is not repentance, but it produceth that change of heart and life which is repentance; and shall not be imperfect, but perfect, which shall issue in the salvation of the soul, and will never be repented of. Never did any when he came to die repent of true repentance; nor is it possible that reasonable souls should repent of what issueth in their eternal salvation.
But the sorrow of the world worketh death; but all sorrow except this is but the sorrow of the world, the effect of which is ofttimes natural death; while men bow down under their burdens, and through impatience destroy themselves, or at least so fix their thoughts upon sad objects, and so afflict themselves with them, that they bring themselves into diseases tending to death. It also worketh spiritual death; as it indisposeth men for their duty, (as it was in the case of Elijah), and is a temptation to them to be angry against God, (as in the case of Jonah), to fret, murmur, and repine against God’s providence: and by this means it also worketh towards eternal death, which is the wages belonging to sin.
The apostle having showed the mischievous effects of worldly sorrow, all which he comprehended under the word death, here showeth the blessed effects of that sorrow which is according to God.
What carefulness it wrought in you! The first he mentioneth is great carefulness, both to make our peace with God for our former violations of his law, (using all means he hath prescribed and directed thereunto), and also to preserve our peace, by avoiding the like breaches for the time to come.
What clearing of yourselves! The Corinthians’ sorrow might work in some of them a clearing or purging themselves of that guilt which other members of that church had incurred. But there is another clearing of ourselves, which true repentance worketh, not by denying the fact, but by confessing it, with taking shame to ourselves; which, though it be not a clearing of a person from the fact, yet, through Divine grace, joined with a reformation, it is a clearing him from the guilt thereof.
What indignation! What a displeasure against yourselves for your follies!
What fear! Not so much of the wrath of God, as lest you should again fall into the like temptations, and be overcome by them.
What vehement desire! What hearty prayers to God, that for the time to come you might be kept from the like temptations!
What zeal! What warmth and great degrees of all sanctified affections; love to God, hatred of sin, fear of offending God, desire to please him!
What revenge! What acts of discipline, fasting, denying of yourselves in some lawful things wherein you may have offended, or the too free use of which may have been to you occasions of offending.
In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter; by these acts, though some of you have been to be blamed, yet the body of you have showed yourselves clear of this matter; or though all of you have been formerly too guilty of some things I have charged you with, yet you have cleared yourselves both to God, who imputeth no sin to him that confesseth his sin and forsaketh it, and to me, who am abundantly satisfied with your declared sorrow, repentance, and reformation.
I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong; for the cause of him that had abused his father’s wife, not out of any particular hatred or ill-will I had to him;
nor for his cause that suffered wrong; nor for the sake of him whose wife was so abused; nor for my own sake, who had been so abused, and suffered wrong by you.
But that our care for you in the sight of God might appear to you; but only out of a love to your souls, and a care I had for you, that in all things you might approve yourselves unto God. Or possibly this text is more generally be interpreted, without respect either to the incestuous person in particular, or to his father; and the sense of the verse no more than this: Though in my former Epistle I wrote something sharply to you, yet I did it not in any passion, nor was I drawn aside by any prejudice or hatred of any person, nor out of any partial affection to any, as to any thing for which I blamed you; but out of that general love and affection which I have to you all, which produceth in me a care of and a solicitude for you, that you might do no evil; which care I was willing should appear to you.
We were comforted in your comfort; the comfort which your letters brought us, and so came from you; or the comfort which you received upon your reformation of those things which were amiss amongst you. And we also
joyed for the joy that Titus conceived, upon his understanding of your affairs, and your ready obedience to the Epistle which I wrote to you: such is the union between the true members of Christ, that they are comforted with one another’s comforts, and afflicted with one another’s sorrows and griefs.
The apostle here multiplieth expressions to sweeten the Corinthians, by all manner of ways declaring his value for and affection towards them. It appeareth by this, that the apostle had at some time before spoken something to Titus in commendation of this church of Corinth, which he here calleth a
boasting of them; he now again boasted, that he had said nothing but the truth, which Titus had experienced, and reported to him.
By your obedience to my admonitions and exhortations, you have not only obliged me in a debt of love to you, but Titus also; who joyfully remembers, with what
fear and trembling you received him, lest he should find any thing amongst you that should grieve and offend him.
That I can write and speak to you with confidence that you will hearken to my admonitions and exhortations, and that I can confidently boast and glory concerning you.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 7". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25