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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 7

McGarvey's Commentaries on Selected BooksMcGarvey'S Commentaries

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Verse 1

Having therefore these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. [By an appeal to the prophets the apostle shows how it was God’s design that his people should avoid all fellowship with unrighteous people in their unrighteous practices. To stimulate them to obedience, God had given them the wonderful promise that he would adopt them as his children if they would obey him in these things. This promise of adoption had been renewed in the new covenant, and belonged to all Christians, and therefore it behooved Christians not to temporize with evil because of any vainglorious desire to display their liberty, lest they should thereby lose the real and eternal glory of being adopted sons and daughters of God.]

Verse 2

[In this section the apostle appeals to the Corinthians to accept him as a true apostle and minister of Christ, and as persuasive to this end he sets forth his affection for them, his anxiety concerning them, and his joy at learning of their loyalty to him.] Open your hearts to us: we wronged no man, we corrupted no man, we took advantage of no man. [Open your hearts and receive us into your love and confidence, for, despite all that our enemies have said about us, it must be apparent to you when you have sifted their accusations that they have proved nothing which should shake your confidence in us. We have replied to their accusations without in any way dealing unjustly by them, and they have failed to show that we have corrupted any one, either in morals or doctrine, or that we have in any way overreached anybody, or shown any mercenary spirit (1 Corinthians 9:1-6) Compare Numbers 16:15; 1 Samuel 12:3-5]

Verse 3

I say it not to condemn you: for I have said before, that ye are in our hearts to die together and live together. [I do not say these things as though I would complain of you that you are so ungrateful and unjust as to accuse me of them. I am merely defending myself and not condemning you. I have no desire to do the latter, for as I have before said, I love you so that I am ready to die with you or live with you. Compare 1 Thessalonians 2:8; Philippians 1:7; Philippians 1:20; Philippians 1:24; Philippians 2:17-18; also John 10:11 . The apostle mentions death first, because to him death seemed daily more probable than life. He would have loved to dwell among the Corinthians as James then dwelt with the church at Jerusalem, and afterwards John took up his abiding-place at Corinth, but his duties as apostle to the Gentiles made him a wanderer.]

Verse 4

Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying on your behalf: I am filled with comfort, I overflow with joy in all our affliction. [This verse tells of Paul’s restored confidence in the Corinthians, and his consequent freedom of speech and joyfulness of heart. The next few verses show us that these changes were wrought in him by the report which he received from Titus concerning affairs at Corinth.]

Verse 5

For even when we were come into Macedonia our flesh had no relief, but we were afflicted on every side; without were fightings, within were fears. [The apostle here resumes the thread of his narrative begun at 2 Corinthians 2:12-13 . For the connection see the comment on those verses. He here tells us that even after he came to Macedonia his burdens were increased rather than lightened; for, in addition to the fears and anxieties which he felt concerning Corinth, he became the object of persecution. His condition, therefore, was less agreeable than at Troas, for there he had a full and free opportunity to preach the gospel.]

Verse 6

Nevertheless he that comforteth the lowly, even God, comforted us by the coming of Titus;

Verse 7

and not by his coming only, but also by the comfort wherewith he was comforted in you, while he told us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced yet more. [The apostle was not only refreshed by the presence of Titus, and the report which he brought, but he was more especially cheered by the visible satisfaction of Titus with regard to affairs at Corinth. Paul regarded the feeling of Titus as a more palpable proof of the improved state of things at Corinth than even the substance of the report which he brought. Thus the consolation felt by Titus became transferred to the heart of Paul, and the joyful manner in which Titus gave his report, as he told how the Corinthians longed to see the apostle, how they mourned over those things which they had done to displease him, and what zeal they showed to carry out his instructions, was more to Paul than the mere facts which he narrated. If Titus felt comfort or joy in narrating these facts, Paul felt more joy in hearing them thus narrated. Or we can take the phrase "yet more" as a comparison between his present joy and his previous sorrow. This latter construction fits better with what is said in the next two verses.]

Verse 8

For though I made you sorry with my epistle, I do not regret it: though I did regret it (for I see that that epistle made you sorry, though but for a season),

Verse 9

I now rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye were made sorry unto repentance; for ye were made sorry after a godly sort, that ye might suffer loss by us in nothing. [In his first epistle to the Corinthians Paul had sternly rebuked them. Though recognizing that the rebuke was well deserved, the apostle regretted that he had written so sternly and uncompromisingly, fearing lest his letter might not work the results which he wished, for speaking what is right does not always lead to happy results (John 6:60-68). His words were calculated to cause them the sorrow of vexation or hurt vanity, or the sorrow of mortified pride, etc. But when he learned from Titus that it had caused them to sorrow as being culpable in the sight of God, and so caused them to repent as he desired, the apostle was glad that he had written as he had, for they hall lost nothing by reason of his timidity or tenderheartedness. He had made them sorry but for a season, and could now make them glad by this second epistle which contained the consolation of his approval.]

Verse 10

For godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation, a repentance which bringeth no regret: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. [Godly sorrow results in repentance, and repentance results in salvation, and this result is never to be regretted, either by those who attain it, or by those who have helped towards its attainment. While it is true that the sorrow of the world tends toward despair and suicide and so towards death, as is witnessed by the cases of Saul, Ahithophel and Judas, yet this is not the apostle’s thought; he means that worldly sorrow tends toward that eternal death which is the antithesis of salvation. This becomes apparent when we consider that a worldly sorrow, arising because of and by means of the consequences of sin, tends to make the sinner worse instead of better, for it breeds in him a boldness, a malignant recklessness and a morbid despair which tend to paralyze all efforts toward reformation.]

Verse 11

For behold, this selfsame thing, that ye were made sorry after a godly sort, what earnest care it wrought in you, yea what clearing of yourselves, yea what indignation, yea what fear, yea what longing, yea what zeal, yea what avenging! In everything ye approved yourselves to be pure in the matter. [This very selfsame incident is an example of godly sorrow worthy of your consideration. For you see in how many ways it brought forth the fruit of repentance in you. As to yourselves, it made you most careful to set yourselves right with God, and indignant with yourselves that you had been so lax in your discipline. As to me, it made you fearful that 1 would come with a rod as I had promised, and punish you, and after you had removed the cause for such punishment, you felt a longing for my presence. As to the offender, it roused you to aggressive action against him to punish him for having injured the cause of Christ. Thus, your sorrow worked a repentance which rested not until it had cleared your hands of all blame. The apostle here, of course, refers to the discipline of the incestuous person, which, as he has said, he made a test case of their obedience or willingness to repent under his instruction (2 Corinthians 2:9). As to the phrase "this matter," it has been well said that Paul, in accordance with his usual manner, "speaks indefinitely of what is odious"-- 1 Thessalonians 4:6]

Verse 12

So although I wrote unto you [for what he had written, see 1 Corinthians 5:1-5], I wrote not for his cause that did the wrong [i. e., the incestuous son], nor for his cause that suffered the wrong [i. e., the injured father], but that your earnest core for us might be made manifest unto you in the sight of God. [In writing to you to discipline the incestuous man, I was not moved by the small motive of setting to rights a difficulty between two parties, though one of them was clearly a wrongdoer, and the other obviously a sufferer by reason of his wrong-doing. My motive was much larger. I wished you to see that despite all the accusations brought against me to which you gave ear, you still show, by your own conduct, as you view it in the sight of God, that you know better than to disobey me.]

Verse 13

Therefore we have been comforted: and in our comfort we joyed the more exceedingly for the joy of Titus, because his spirit hath been refreshed by you all. [Therefore, as we have said before, our anxiety has been removed, and we have been comforted when we have seen how you have obeyed us, and stood the test which we imposed upon you, and our joy has been greatly increased as we have seen the joy felt by Titus at your conduct.]

Verse 14

For if in anything I have gloried to him on your behalf, I was not put to shame; but as we spake all things to you in truth, so our glorying also which I made before Titus was found to be truth. [Paul had evidently told Titus that he would find the Corinthians true and loyal, and ready to obey the apostle’s letter. Had events proved otherwise, Paul would have been put to shame in the eyes of Titus. But as the apostle, despite the accusations of the Corinthians to the contrary (2 Corinthians 1:15-17), had always spoken truth to them, so he had always been truthful in speaking to Titus about them. Paul’s affection for the Corinthians had not caused him to overstep the limits of perfect accuracy while boasting of them to Titus.]

Verse 15

And his affection is more abundantly toward you, while he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him.

Verse 16

I rejoice that in everything I am of good courage concerning you. [The affections which the Corinthians had awakened in the heart of Titus, who had come among them and had been received as Paul’s messenger, greatly established the confidence of the apostle in that church, as he here tells them. Having thus led up to a well-grounded expression of confidence, Paul makes it a basis on which to rest the second division of his epistle--a division in which he appeals to them to fulfill their promises with regard to the collection for the poor at Jerusalem.]

Bibliographical Information
McGarvey, J. W. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 7". "J. W. McGarvey's Original Commentary on Acts". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/oca/2-corinthians-7.html. Transylvania Printing and Publishing Co. Lexington, KY. 1872.
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