Study Notes on 2 Corinthians 7
2 Corinthians 7
The first verse of this chapter concludes the previous chapter, and references to 1 Corinthians are made here.
1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
This verse goes naturally at the end of chapter 6. And as you can see, God desires a lot from us. Not for salvation, but as saved followers of Christ we should do our best to live as saved followers of Christ, and we live by faith. The promises of God should motivate us to live for the Lord.
H. A. Ironside, "God has given promises of blessing that will accrue to us if we walk in separation from evil, and now we must see to it that we meet the conditions."
2 Receive us; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man.
He's saying he has been totally transparent in his dealings as a minister of God. This is what God expects of all of us.
William Burkitt writes, "As it was the continual practice of the false apostles to discredit St. Paul's ministry, and reflect upon his person; so it was his constant care to counter-work them, by a professed vindication of himself, and all his actions."
You get the feeling that this is a very sensitive church, or that throughout these letters Paul is extremely careful with how he phrases things to them. There are so many lessons in these chapters that are great examples of showing love without allowing a shred of moral compromise, or how to set a good example while making sure to give God the glory.
3 I speak not this to condemn you: for I have said before, that ye are in our hearts to die and live with you.
He's not trying to make them look bad or feel bad by hinting that they're dishonorable but that he's acted in a manner that entitles him to be heard and listened to. He loves this church dearly, and we see his love all over this epistle (see verse 1). It's a defense of himself not a complaint against them.
1 Thessalonians 2:8 says something similar about the intense love that Paul and his companions had for the churches. It reads, "So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us."
We can learn the intellectual meaning, or the doctrine, of many passages in a short time. But to live out that meaning and instruction from such passages will take a lifetime. When have we felt such sacrificial love for people in our church?
4 Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.
Even with Paul's delicate handling of various matters with the Corinthians, he remains bold in speech, or frank. He doesn't hold back. He glories in them means he brags or boasts about them and he mentions this in 2 Corinthians 9:2 as well. He's about to explain the tribulation he went through as well as what brought him joy.
2 Corinthians 3:12 also mentions his boldness of speech towards them.
This verse ends a large parenthetical section in 2 Corinthians, often called the great digression. From 2 Corinthians 2:14 through 7:4 Paul spends a lot of time defending his ministry. But if we look back at 2 Corinthians 2:13 and then pick up from there going into verse 5 here, we see that line of thought continuing.
5 For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.
6 Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus;
Paul had trouble and affliction just about everywhere he went. His fears were likely related to both his situation in Macedonia as well as anxiety pertaining to finding Titus and hearing reports from him.
God is the God of all comfort (see 2 Corinthians 1:3-4), and He used Titus to bring comfort to Paul. Titus delivered the letter of anguish (2 Corinthians 2:4, which either refers to 1 Corinthians or some missing letter between our two epistles. See Notes on 2 Corinthians 2), which now Paul describes the news he got from Titus about how the Corinthians received that letter.
7 And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more.
Paul had searched for Titus and not found him where he expected him, then did find him and was overjoyed. But it wasn't just the coming of Titus that brought Paul comfort and joy but also that the Corinth church gladly received Titus and responded very well to Paul's letter.
They had an earnest desire to obey Paul's instructions, mourned over their sin, and had positive feelings towards Paul despite the anti-Paul factions in that church.
8 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.
He had doubts or regret about the letter, but hearing how they received it he did not repent at all. Their sorrow was but for a season and worked out for their benefit.
People get very confused about the word repent but in general it just means a change of mind.
William Burkitt writes, "Learn hence, That the faithful ministers of Christ must by no means omit the duty of sharp reproof, nor neglect to bring the censures of the church upon notorious offenders, how ungrateful soever the work is either to themselves or others."
9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
He rejoices not in the sorrow but in the repentance from their error. We see down in verse 12 that this seems to refer specifically to the man involved in fornication per 1 Corinthians 5. No real lasting damage or hurt was inflicted on the Corinthians.
10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
Now based on the context, this isn't referring to salvation to eternal life, as well as the fact that the church was already saved, but this is deliverance (same word in the Greek) from the impurity of their church (see 1 Corinthians 5:6-7).
However, a Godly sorrow (or a sorrow according to God), can lead someone to salvation from hell. Realizing the wrong you've done and understanding the need for a Savior. The goodness of God can also lead people to repentance (Romans 2:4).
The bible gives examples of worldly repentance (or grief, regret). Judas repented, but not towards God, and went to hell (Matthew 27:3-5). Esau repented according to a worldly manner as well (Genesis 27; Hebrews 12:15-17).
Godly repentance is seen in David (2 Samuel 12:13; Psalm 51:1-11), Peter (Mark 14:72), and Paul (Acts 9:1-22).
11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
So Paul is rejoicing that the sorrow he gave them worked godly repentance of allowing sin to corrupt their church. They took care regarding the situation. "Clearing of yourselves" is to make a defense, they chose to care about how the world might perceive them because their testimony matters. We shouldn't care what the world says about us but we should take care as to how we live in order to not hurt our testimony (2 Corinthians 6:3). Indignation meaning hatred of evil, or anger at themselves for tolerating sin. They had a fear of God, a fear of the consequences of sin. Vehement desire can mean an intense longing to be separated from sin. Zeal is a passionate desire, in this case to be obedient. Revenge here isn't a personal vengeance but a judicial punishment, a correction or discipline.
Psalm 97:10 Ye that love the Lord, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked.
So these are all the things that godly sorrow will produce in us.
12 Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you.
So the harsh letter wasn't written for the guy that had done wrong or whom he had wronged, but for the church and for his love for the church.
13 Therefore we were comforted in your comfort: yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all.
14 For if I have boasted any thing to him of you, I am not ashamed; but as we spake all things to you in truth, even so our boasting, which I made before Titus, is found a truth.
Titus was refreshed by the Corinthians, their treatment of him and their response to Paul's letter.
Apparently, even though the letter to the Corinthians was harsh, Paul boasted about them to Titus trusting in the work of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. He had hopeful confidence and that hope was found to be true.
15 And his inward affection is more abundant toward you, whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him.
16 I rejoice therefore that I have confidence in you in all things.
Adam Clarke writes, "Ye reverenced his authority; ye were obedient to his directions; and ye dreaded lest any thing should be undone or ill done which he had delivered to you in the name of God."
Because of you and what you've done I have courage in you. Even though this church had a lot of problems, it was their positive response and willingness to be obedient to God that brought much hope and confidence.