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Study Notes on 2 Corinthians 2

2 Corinthians 2

So we hear a little more about Paul's delayed visit to Corinth and his anguish of heart in the letter he wrote to them previously.

1 But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.

Paul spared them by delaying his visit (1 Corinthians 1:23), and didn't want to visit them with "heaviness", usually translated as sorrow or grief.

2 For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me?

So Paul really loved this church, he had special affection for Corinth, so if he comes to them and makes them grieve he will grieve also in seeing their sorrow. He wants to be glad with them and experience joy with them. He doesn't want to come just for the sake of discipline and correction.

That's why he wrote a letter instead. See next verse.

3 And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.

He's saying this is what he wrote to them, to avoid the grief in person. He had confidence in their love for him, and knowing that they desire his joy, as his joy is to their joy as well. It wouldn't be a joyful visit if he just brought the rod.

Paul loves the church and wants to experience joy with them. 1 Corinthians 4:14 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.

4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.

So this is where people are kind of divided. Most older commentaries and theologians (maybe all?) see this as the 1st epistle to the Corinthians, but since affliction, anguish, and tears, doesn't seem to describe the first epistle, others think this refers to a separate letter we no longer have.

If it DOES refer to the 1st epistle, then this would be describing chapter 5 and Paul telling the church to kick this guy out. See 1 Corinthians 5:5-7. It's tough love, and shows how seriously and cautiously we should go about with church discipline.

5 But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all.

"If any" is generally taken to refer to the guy in 1 Corinthians 5 that was involved in fornication. The idea of this verse is that Paul isn't personally grieved by this guy but that his grief was along the same lines as the rest of the church at Corinth that it hurt their testimony and fellowship. He has caused mutual and shared grief.

Paul doesn't want to "overcharge" them meaning he doesn't want to press too hard on this issue or exaggerate it beyond its proper place.

6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.

The punishment of being kicked out of the church (Corinth obviously listened to Paul's advice) was sufficient to cause this man's repentance.

7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.

Forgive him. Great lesson here. When you need to ask someone to leave the church or leave your life, forgive them quickly when they admit their wrong, leave their particular sin, and desire to renew fellowship.

8 Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.

Confirm your love to this man and receive him back gladly. Church discipline takes place because of love, never anger or spite.

9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.

So his previous instructions for this man weren't given just to purify the church body but also to see if the church would follow through. Remember that many in the church were divided about following Paul or Apollos, and some spoke poorly of Paul, so he was glad they listened in this case.

10 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;

We should forgive as Christ forgives. Think about how many times a day we are each forgiven by Christ. When someone comes back seeking forgiveness, acknowledging their wrongdoing, they should get forgiveness immediately.

Paul is saying that his forgiveness is in alignment with the forgiveness of the Corinthian church.

11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

This is an important verse! Don't skip over this. How does Satan get an advantage over us? By not forgiving, by keeping someone out of the church when they should be brought back into it. Remember this particular offender was given over to Satan but once repentance comes we must receive him back.

12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord,

See Acts 16:8-11 & 20:1-6. This seems to be part of the reason for Paul's delay to Corinth, that he had a door of opportunity to preach the gospel. He says the same thing about Ephesus in 1 Corinthians 16:9.

When you are given an opportunity to share the gospel, don't miss it. Set whatever other obligations you have to the side.

13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia.

So this is the first mention in the bible of Titus in the bible, and of course we have Paul's letter to him later in the New Testament. Although he isn't mentioned in Acts, he certainly had a very important part in the ministry during this time.

Paul was expecting to see Titus in order to hear from him regarding the state of things at Corinth. We read more about Titus' report and the comfort he brings later in this epistle.

14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.

"From 2 Corinthians 2:14 through 7:4 – is sometimes called 'the great digression.' In this extended section, Paul describes and defends his ministry as an apostle." -- David Guzik

The end of this chapter is a praise, a doxology. And we see the reason for the praise around 2 Corinthians 7:5-6 with the arrival of Titus.

Our victory is in Christ. It is something we currently posses. Christians should be the boldest people in the world because Christ is with us.

A savour is a smell or fragrance (see Ephesians 5:1-2).

15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:

Meaning our labor for the Lord is a sweet savour whether the people we preach to get saved or stay lost. It's great to save people, but even if that doesn't happen, we are still called to preach the gospel. The way people respond to the gospel is on them.

Albert Barnes, "Whatever might be the result, whether successful or not, yet God would be pleased with self-denial, and toil, and prayer that was honestly and zealously put forth to save others from death. They would be approved by God in proportion to the amount of labor, zeal, and fidelity which they evinced."

This sweet savour also alludes to Old Testament types like in Genesis 8:20-21, Exodus 29:18, etc.

16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?

Only two kinds of people in the world: saved and lost. One of my soulwinning partners always says when someone angrily rejects the good news that they will remember that moment in eternity.

Who is sufficient? As we see in the next verse, only the grace of God could enable him and others to labor for the Lord as they did.

17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

Even in the early days of Christianity people were corrupting the word of God. And that word for corrupt (καπηλεύω) is only used here and it means a tavernkeeper or wine seller, and they were notorious for mixing their product with worthless substances in order to sell more to increase profits. People today sell the word of God and mix in things with the gospel that don't belong.

I like the last few words in this verse, and something we should always keep in mind. When we are preaching the word of God, we do so in His sight. Let's take such a thing very seriously.


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