Danger of Controversies: Also, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians: 2

2 Corinthians 2  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 9
There is danger when controversies arise through Satan's attacks upon the truth, of forgetting the need of souls- of being so occupied with the enemy, as to overlook the necessity of diligent and persistent ministrations of Christ to sustain and nourish souls, and thus enable them to repel the enemy's assaults. God's people cannot be fed, built up, with controversies-a warning word for the present moment.
1JO 1: The Second Epistle to the Corinthians
Chapter 22CO 2
The apostle continues in this chapter to explain to the Corinthian saints why he had not gone to them a second time. They ought to have understood it from the First Epistle, fourth chapter, and verses 18-21 particularly. In the first chapter of this Epistle he has told them that it was not a changeable mind in him that led to his staying away, but to spare them; for if he had gone to Corinth while they were in the state he had learned was true of them, he must indeed have dealt with them severely in the exercise of the authority the Lord had given him.
Verse 1. But Paul had determined this with himself that he would not come again to them in grief, and instead of going there he had written, was now writing a second time, hoping that they would judge thoroughly the sin that had crept in among themselves, that then he might again meet them face to face without grief.
Verse 2. If by his letter he gave them grief about their sinful ways, that very state of self-judgment produced in them would gladden the apostle; so (verse 3) he wrote, that, coming a second time he might not have grief from those with whom he ought to have joy, for he now trusted in them all, that his joy was that of them all. If they were subject to God, they would share the apostle's thoughts in what concerned Him. Now they had shown this, in measure, for they had put away the wicked person spoken of in the 5th chapter of the First Epistle.
Verse 4. So with confidence reestablished in part in his beloved Corinthians, Paul can now open his heart and tell them that the First Epistle was written out of much tribulation and distress of heart, with many tears; "not," he says, "that ye may be grieved, but that ye may know the love which I have very abundantly toward you.”
Paul has been called the "pattern servant" of the Lord in the present interval of grace; if there were many like him in our times, could we not look for much blessing among God's people? We long to see much more Paul-likeness or better still, Christ-likeness, among those who seek to care for the sheep and lambs of the flock of God.
Servant of Christ, do you know much of distress of heart and tears on account of the present state of the Church? Ministry which has such a background is what is needed at this moment, and is sure to carry with it the Lord's blessing (See Psa. 126:5, 65They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. 6He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. (Psalm 126:5‑6)).
In verses 5 to 11, the apostle refers to the believer who had fallen into sin (1st Epistle, chapter 5):
“But if any one has grieved, he has grieved, not me, but in part (that I may not overcharge you) all of you" (verse 5, N. T.).
He would have overcharged the saints at Corinth if he had said, "You are all bad," but they had had their consciences aroused, and judged the sin that had been going on among themselves.
The discipline of the assembly, and the man's own conscience being awakened, had produced the needed effect in him; he abhorred his sin; the deepest sorrow was now his. The Word of God by the apostle is therefore, "Sufficient to such a one is this rebuke which has been inflicted by the many (the body at large)"; they should now show grace, or forgive and encourage him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with excessive grief. Therefore the apostle exhorts the gathered saints to assure him of their love, receiving him back to their number.
This was a happy outcome of assembly discipline; would that there were such a result in every case! But, alas! what do we sometimes see as we look around among the gathered saints today, and reflect upon the same course pursued by some who in years past were likewise subjected to assembly discipline, and were never restored? Instead of grief, and far from being swallowed up with overmuch sorrow on account of un-discerned self, because of which they had become an easy prey of the devil, some have nursed a grievance, and sat in judgment on the saints who, with sorrow of heart, dealt with them in discipline under the Lord's authority; it has even been the case that some under discipline have sought to draw away the disciples after themselves. Will such ways have the Lord's commendation in the coming day of rewards when the course of each of us is reviewed?
Paul wrote (verse 9) that he might know, by putting the saints at Corinth to the test, if as to everything they were obedient.
“But to whom ye forgive anything, I also; for I also, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, it is for your sakes in the person of Christ; that we might not have Satan get an advantage against us, for we are not ignorant of his thoughts" (verses 10, 11 N. T.).
The assembly at Corinth was responsible to act in restoring the repentant one, and the apostle adds his word as joining with them; "in the person of Christ" is as though He were personally present to give His authority to the act. Satan would separate the saints from Paul, if he could; would make a division between them and the apostle; this is work at which he has proved himself a master, turning as many as he can of God's people away from the truth of His Word.
When Paul, after writing the First Epistle to the Corinthians at Ephesus, and sending it with Titus, left that city, and came to the seaport town of Troas, from which he had first crossed over to Macedonia (Acts 16:8-118And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. 9And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. 10And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. 11Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; (Acts 16:8‑11)). There he now proceeded to make the gospel known, and a door was opened to him in the Lord; he should therefore, we may think, have remained at Troas, but he was so anxious about the effect his letter, correcting so many faults, and requiring the exclusion of a sinning saint, had produced at Corinth, that he had no rest in his spirit. Perhaps it was too soon to expect Titus back from his long journey to the Greek city; nevertheless Paul bade the Christians at Troas adieu and crossed the Aegean Sea to Macedonia. It was, perhaps, at Philippi, or at Thessalonica or Berea, that Titus, bearing good news from Corinth, met the apostle.
Of the meeting with Titus he says nothing. If he had failed in leaving the work at Troas in his concern over the Corinthian assembly, God had wrought for His own glory, so that Paul could say, as a willing captive in His train,
“But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in the Christ, and makes manifest the odor of His knowledge through us in every place" (verse 14, N. T.).
In verses 14 to 16 the apostle uses the figure of a triumphal parade such as the Romans used to celebrate the victorious conclusion of a military expedition, when the captured enemies formed part of the procession, and aromatic drugs were burned. Some of the captives would afterward be put to death. Paul looks at himself as the instrument whereby the sweet savor, or odor, of Christ was made known. To the saved, the odor was from life unto life; to those that perish, the odor was from death unto death. So is it with the gospel.
Verse 17. If in the 16th verse the apostle's expression, Who is sufficient for these things? shows how he felt the responsibility he carried, to make known the riches of Christ, in the closing verse of the chapter he could testify in his own behalf. Not as the many did he corrupt, or adulterate the Word of God, but as of sincerity, but as of God, before God, he spoke in Christ. We can thank the Lord that He had in Paul a faithful servant, and long for many more like him.