2Corinthians 2 - Outline of 2Corinthians (MENU page)
II. The Characteristics of Paul's Ministry. 1:8- 7:16
A. Comforted and Comforting.
     2(b). Paul's postponement of his planned visit -- delayed to avoid discomfort. 1:23- 2:4
[NOTE: To avoid interruption of this section by the chapter break, the last two verses of ch.1 and the related notes are included, here, in the notes for ch.2.]
1:23 Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul,
that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth.
1:24 Not for that
{not as though} we have dominion over your faith,
but are helpers
{co-workers} of your joy:
for by faith
{lit., in the faith} ye stand.
...to spare you I came not as yet...
In addition to the unexpected interruption to his travel plans (discussed in 2Cor 1:12-22), Paul had another reason for delaying his visit to Corinth. He wanted to 'spare' {avoid, forego} unpleasant disciplinary action against the church. He was hoping to hear that they had dealt with a matter, according to his previous counsel.
Not for that we have dominion {ie., not as though we are lords} over your faith...
Church leaders are not to exercise 'lordship' over their brethren (cp. Mat 20:25-28; 1Pet 5:3).
The Corinthian believers were accountable to the Lord Jesus Christ. But as their 'co-worker,' Paul had urged them to do what was pleasing to the Lord, that they might know His joy (cp. Php 1:26,27). Just as their standing before God was by their personal faith in Christ (2Cor 1:21,22; 1Cor 15:1), it was their responsibility to take their stand against evil, according to 'the faith' (cp. 1Pet 5:8,9).
2:1. But I determined this with myself,
that I would not come again to you in heaviness
{ie., sorrow, grief}.
2:2 For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad,
but the same which is made sorry by me?
2:3 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.
{cp. 2Cor 1:14}
2:4 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.
For... I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved...
This refers, primarily, to Paul's written counsel concerning the brother involved in fornication (in 1Cor 5:1-13). That was not an easy letter to write. But the church had to be corrected, and it could not wait until he got there (1Cor 4:18-21).
     As he wrote those stearn words, Paul agonized over them. He was moved with love for his spiritual children (eg., 2Cor 11:2). Correction was necessary, but was he being too harsh? would they be alienated and rebel against him? After sending the letter, he remained unsettled in heart, as he awaited the return of Titus, who had been sent to check on them. That news was many months in coming. But when it finally came, he was greatly relieved, as he will relate, later in this epistle (2Cor 7:8,9,12).
     Now, knowing that the church had exercised discipline according to his counsel, he writes with further counsel on the situation.
A. Comforted and Comforting.
     3. Pardon for a repentant sinner. 2:5-11
5. But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part:
that I may not overcharge you all.
or, "But if anyone has caused sadness, he has not saddened me alone,
but to some extent (not to exaggerate) he has saddened all of you as well." [NET2]
6 Sufficient to such a man [is] this punishment,
which [was inflicted] of many.
{1Cor 5:3-5,13}
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.
8 Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm [your] love toward him.
9 For to this end also did I write,
that I might know the proof of you
{know by putting you to the test},
whether ye be obedient in all things.
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;
11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us:
for we are not ignorant of his devices.
So that contrariwise ye [ought] rather to forgive {show grace}, and comfort {GK=parakaleo, encourage}...
When a sinning brother turns from his sin in sincere repentance, the church can turn from its disciplinary action to restore him to fellowship and encourage him in a right walk with the Lord. Gal 6:1,2; Eph 4:32
...lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch {excessive} sorrow.
When intense godly sorrow leads to repentance, the Lord forgives on the basis of Christ's blood shed for us (eg., Psa 32:1-5; 1Joh 1:7-10). Then, other believers ought to put aside their former grievance and forgive on the same basis. A refusal to forgive, like a refusal to repent, allows sin to put down poisonous roots (Heb 12:11-16).
...wherefore... confirm {ie., reaffirm, assure him of}... love toward him. (cp. 1Joh 5:1-5)
...lest Satan should get an advantage of us {defraud us}:
for we are not ignorant of his devices {purposes, intentions}. (cp. 2Cor 11:3,14; Eph 6:11)
Satan cannot destroy God's people (2The 3:3; 1Pet 1:5), but he can cause damage and division, in many ways, such as:
  • by corrupting the church with tolerance toward sin (eg., 1Cor 5:1-2,6-7).
  • by hardening unloving hearts against forgiving and restoring a repentant brother (v.7-10).
    Paul forgave this man "in the person {or, presence} of Christ."
    Every true Christian knows he is nothing but a forgiven sinner. Col 3:13-15
  • by lies that discourage God's people from claiming the victory and joy of our Lord,
    who delivers us from our sin. cp. Joh 8:44; Luk 22:31,32; 1Cor 6:9-11; 10:13
II. The Characteristics of Paul's Ministry. 1:8- 7:16
A. Comforted and Comforting.
     4. Rest for Paul's troubled spirit. 2:12-13
B. Triumphant. 2:14-17
12. Furthermore, when I came to Troas to [preach] Christ's gospel,
and a door was opened unto me of the Lord,
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.
14 Now thanks [be] unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ,
and maketh manifest the savour
{GK=osme, unpleasant odor, pleasant aroma}
of his knowledge by us in every place.
15 For we are unto God a sweet savour
{GK=euodia, good fragrance} of Christ,
in them that are saved, and in them that perish:
16 To the one [we are] the savour
{GK=osme, odor} of death unto death;
and to the other the savour
{GK=osme, aroma} of life unto life.
And who [is] sufficient for these things?
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.
...when I came to Troas... I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus...
Following the uproar in Ephesus, Paul stopped briefly at other cities, including Troas, where he had a great opportunity to preach the Gospel. [Note: Perhaps due to the turmoil of this period, the record in Acts is very brief. All events between Paul's hasty departure from Ephesus and his second visit to Corinth are compressed into less than two verses (Acts 20:1,2a). Paul's second visit, to this prominent city in Greece, is briefly mentioned in Acts 20:2b,3. The journey to Jerusalem (with intervening stops, including another visit to Troas) begins in Acts 20:4.]
     Still longing for news from Corinth, Paul had been expecting to meet Titus along the way. Eventually, he broke off from ministry at Troas and went searching for Titus, whom he found in Macedonia (2Cor 7:5,6).
Now thanks be to God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ...
Paul rejoiced to hear of God's faithful care for the church in Corinth, as reported by Titus (2Cor 7:7-13).
...which always causeth us to triumph {lit., always leads us in triumphant procession} in Christ...
While Satan's lies are intended to discourage, God places His people on display as the victors over the powers of darkness (Eph 3:10). The victory is ours, because we are 'in Christ,' who is the true Victor (Col 2:15; Rom 8:35-37).
...we are unto God a sweet savour {GK=euodia, good fragrance} of Christ...
We, who are in Christ, bear the fragrance of Christ, before God. As Christ offered Himself as a sweet-smelling sacrifice, to the Father, so, we are to offer ourselves (Rom 12:1,2; Eph 5:2).
     The fragrance of Christ, in the lives of His own, is sweet to God, and pleasant to His children, for it reminds them of their Savior and eternal life in His presence.
     But the same fragrance is the stench of death to those who are perishing, for it reminds them of the righteous Judge, who is the Savior they reject. cp. Joh 3:16; Heb 2:3; 1Pet 2:7,8
Who is sufficient for these things?
How can it be that the Gospel of Christ means life for some and death for others?
God's wisdom, displayed in His provision of salvation, and in His separation of the saved from the lost, is beyond our comprehension. cp. Rom 11:33-36
For we are not as many, which corrupt {ie., retail, hucksterize} the word of God:
but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
Verse 17 connects the closing discussion of ch.2 with the openning of ch.3.
     The apostle and his co-workers did not compromise the Gospel to gain followers. They told the truth, without attempting to make it 'smell' better to those who heard (v.15,16).
     Neither did they 'make merchandise' of God's Word, for personal gain, as do many false teachers (cp. 2Pet 2:1-3). Rather, as sincere representatives of God, the reputation of Paul (and company) was well known (2Cor 3:1) and untainted by any form of dishonesty (2Cor 4:1,2).

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