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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
2 Corinthians 7

 

 

Verses 1-16

Verse 1 is plainly connected with chapter 6. Because the saints of God have these promises, and because they are dearly beloved, they are exhorted to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. "Flesh and spirit" are not used here in the same way as in Romans 8:1-39 and Galatians 5:1-26, where the flesh is the corrupted nature of man, and the spirit is the new nature, incapable of sin. Here the flesh speaks rather of our bodily, human condition; and the spirit, of man's human spirit. Fornication is sin against one's own body, and therefore filthiness of the flesh (1 Corinthians 6:18). Idolatry, or association with "doctrines of demons," that is, religious corruption, is "filthiness of the spirit," the human spirit of course. Both are contrary to our precious association with our God and Father revealed in His beloved Son. "Perfecting holiness" is the full development of the nature and quality of holiness in response to the very character of our God and Father; and this is to be in reverential fear.

"Receive us," the apostle pleads: this would be no false yoke; indeed rather one of vital blessing to them. As Samuel could call Israel itself to witness to his honourable treatment of all men (1 Samuel 12:3-4), so Paul could rightly appeal in the same way to the Corinthians: no man could accuse the apostles of wrongdoing toward any individual. Not that Paul desired to put them down: rather indeed the opposite: he desired their purest blessing. "Ye are in our hearts to die and live with you." True love desires the company of its object, and the apostles sought nothing less than the full fellowship of the Corinthians, in death and in life. Notice the order here, not to "live and die," but to "die and live." Is it not the truth of association with the death of Christ that is of first importance in uniting the hearts of saints? And it is this that leads rightly to what is real living, for we are also raised with Him.

Confidence in God gives him great boldness in addressing them, and indeed in rejoicing in them; and this was encouraged by good news of them through Titus, so that he was filled with comfort, and greatly rejoicing, though in much affliction. What evidence of his real affection for them!

Paul had come to Macedonia, not too long a distance from Corinth, but not free to go to Corinth yet, for he had apprehensions as to them: "Within were fears." And also, "Without were fightings." Pressures from both directions combined to deeply try the vessel.

But God, true to His character, had intervened in mercy, bringing Titus at last from Corinth with good news. Both the coming of Titus and the news he brought were occasions of encouragement to Paul. Titus himself had been encouraged in the visit to Corinth, for Paul's First Epistle had proved effectual in speaking to the souls of these dear saints. Their proper spiritual sentiments had been awakened, in earnest desire, in mourning, which of course involves self-judgment, and in fervent concern for Paul himself. How great a relief and joy to him!

He had feared his First Epistle might have been too severe. Little did he realize at the time that God had inspired its complete writing, and 1 Corinthians is Scripture. Precious to see in this the weakness of the vessel, and the sovereign working of God! Thankful now for such good results, Paul no longer regretted so writing: it is rather cause for his eternal thanksgiving. The Epistle had grieved them in such a way as to cause, not resentment, but repentance. It was grieving according to God, that is, seen as from God's viewpoint, therefore fruitful in blessing, rather than damaging, as Paul had feared. Such grief works repentance to salvation, never to be regretted. This is true as to salvation first, of course, but here applied to believers: their true repentance issues in salvation from the snares of self-indulgence. On the other hand, if it were only the grief of the world, no faith in God involved, the issue is death, the misery of no recovery.

This grief had wrought in the Corinthians great carefulness, or diligence, the serious exercise of desiring God's mind; and a clearing of themselves from the guilt of wicked associations. "Indignation" is added too, no doubt from the viewpoint of God's indignation against sin. And "fear" also, the realization that God's government is a most solemn matter. "Vehement desire" may seem very strong here, but evidently the First Epistle had struck them deeply, and awakened ardent affection toward the Lord. "Zeal" follows, and reminds us of the words from the lips of the Lord Jesus, "The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up" (John 2:17). Last is "revenge" or "vengeance," which would speak Of the actual judgment of the evil among them, and the putting away of the wicked man of 1 Corinthians 5:1-13. There remains no question that they had properly cleared themselves in this matter.

We have already seen that in chapter 2 Paul had urged the restoration of this now repentant offender. The judgment had been by "the many:" as an assembly they were clear, and the apostle heartily commends every godly motive in this. We may wonder as to the sharp warnings he gives them in later chapters (10 to 13); but there were "some" still whose consciences had evidently not been properly reached (ch. 10:2), and Paul feared that in his coming to them he might be required to discipline "many" (ch. 12:20,21). This would not of course be the majority, but it was a condition serious enough to call for this warning.

In verse 12 Paul does not imply that he was unconcerned about the person guilty of wrongdoing or as to any who suffered wrongly (as would be the case in those mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:1-20 as going to law); but his reason for writing the Corinthians was mainly for the sake of the assembly itself: they cared for the assembly as in the sight of God, and for its true spiritual prosperity.

So that it was sweet encouragement to find that his First Epistle had not only grieved them, but had encouraged them. The apostle therefore was encouraged in their encouragement, and found exceeding joy in the joy of Titus, because his spirit had been refreshed by the Corinthians. Now whatever boast he had made to Titus as to the commendable virtues of the Corinthians, Titus had found to be true, and Paul does not have to ashamedly retract it. And the deeper affections of Titus were drawn out toward them because of their spirit of obedience, and their receiving him "with fear and trembling." This is a precious reminder of Paul's own attitude toward the Corinthians in his first visit to them (1 Corinthians 2:3). The apostle considers this therefore with the joyful assurance of his confidence in them "in all things:" for it was evident that God was working in their souls, a work always worthy of confidence.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 7:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/2-corinthians-7.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, September 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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