The Second Epistle to the Corinthians: 7

2 Corinthians 7  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 9
With divinely given wisdom, the apostle has written in the first part of this epistle to the Corinthian saints concerning the ministry committed to him,—by means of which ministry they had been brought out of nature's darkness,—and he has called upon them to separate from all that was contrary to the position in which they stood before God. Now he proceeds in tender love with the restoration of the former happy relations between himself and them which Satan had sought to destroy.
With clear conscience, and in the energy of the affection he bore the saints at Corinth, Paul writes,
"Receive us; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man. I speak not this to condemn you, for I have said before that ye are in our hearts to die and live with you" (verses 2-3).
The form of the last expression shows that the apostle was not thinking of life here, so much as of death—of suffering martyrdom, which was to be his portion, and might be theirs, because of faithfulness to Christ.
"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." (verse 4.)
These expressions came from the encouragement which Titus had brought him from Corinth upon their meeting in Macedonia, to which he had briefly alluded in chapter 2:13. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians had taken them to task on many subjects, among them the case of the fifth chapter of the man living in sin. How had they received his letter? That had given him great concern, as he goes on to say, while at the same time he was enduring persecution for Christ's sake.
"For indeed, when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted in every way; without combats, within fears. But He who encourages those that are brought low, even God, encouraged us by the coming of Titus; and not by his coming only, but also through the encouragement with which he was encouraged as to you; relating to us your ardent desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I the more rejoiced. For if also I grieved you in the letter, I do not regret it, if even I have regretted it; for I see that that letter, if even it were only for a time, grieved you" (verses 5-8, JND).
This passage shows the difference between the apostle's writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and his individuality coming out as here, where his heart's affections are displayed. Just for a moment he had feared that he had lost the Corinthians by the very effort he had made to recover them. Let us consider for a moment the unwearied love Paul bore to these Corinthians, his care for them in the face of much that might have estranged him permanently. In chapter 12:15 he says to them,
"And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you, though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved."
This was not natural affection, but of God, fruit of the new nature possessed by every child of God, but seen in uncommon measure in the apostle Paul.
"Now I rejoice, not that ye have been grieved, but that ye have been grieved to repentance; for ye have been grieved according to God, that in nothing ye might be injured by us. For grief according to God, works repentance to salvation, never to be regretted, but the grief of the world works death" (verses 9-10, JND).
The word "repentance" in Scripture, used in connection with a sinner or a saint, stands for thorough, unsparing self judgment, applied, as another has said, "to all that I am, and to all that I have done." This is most important. The cause of much unhappiness among God's children is neglect of this elementary truth set forth in Matthew 7:3-53And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. (Matthew 7:3‑5); Romans 14:2222Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. (Romans 14:22); 1 Corinthians 10:1212Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12), and 11:28; Ephesians 4:20-2420But ye have not so learned Christ; 21If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:20‑24), and Colossians 3:5-75Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 7In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. (Colossians 3:5‑7), but indicated on page after page of the Epistles, so that the Christian has only to open his Bible to discern from its precepts the great need for the fullest judgment of self before God.
Verses 11, 12. "For, behold, this same thing, your being grieved according to God, how much diligence it wrought in you, but what excusing of yourselves, but what indignation, but what fear, but what ardent desire, but what zeal, but what vengeance; in every way ye have proved yourselves to be pure in the matter. So then, if also I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of him that injured, nor for the sake of him that was injured, but for the sake of our diligent zeal for you being manifested to you before God. For this reason we have been encouraged" (JND).
It would be well to turn back to 1 Corinthians 5, and read what the apostle there so solemnly laid before the Corinthian believers. The words of inspiration left no alternative but to deal at once and according to God with the person characterized as wicked. He must be removed from amongst themselves; the old leaven must be purged out, that the assembly might be a new lump. They had been puffed up, instead of mourning.
No instructions had been given them how to deal with evil when it might be found among them, but the gathered saints should have been before God about this case as soon as it came to light. Now that they had the apostle's directions, to refuse or neglect to act upon them, would be to forfeit all title to be counted an assembly of God. And so of course it is today, although the Church of God is outwardly in ruins, because His word stands, and shall stand in spite of human failure.
Verses 13-16. "And we the rather rejoiced in our encouragement more abundantly by reason of the joy of Titus because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. Because if I boasted to him anything about you, I have not been put to shame; but as we have spoken to you all things in truth, so also our boasting to Titus has been the truth, and his affections are more abundantly towards you, calling to mind the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him. I rejoice that in everything I am confident as to you" (JND).
Thus we are given to see the happy ending of this matter which might have had a very different close, but for the obedience of the saints to what we know to be the Word of God, given through the apostle.