2 Corinthians, Chapter 2 Discussion Notes

Discussion Notes for 2 Corinthians

Chapter 2


Paul’s Abundant Love for the Corinthians – 2 Corintians 2:1-4


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

  • [JD]  This statement follows the same thought seen earlier in chapter 1, verse 23.  The statement may point directly to Paul’s reason for writing his previous letter to the church in Corinth.  His desire would have been for them to correct the problem before his arrival.

2 For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me?

  • [JD] – ESV – “For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained?”
  • [JD] – The pain or sorrow which Paul referenced would have been on the part of the one guilty of sin, then one whom Paul chastised in his previous letter.  This would have included the man who had taken his father’s wife and those who had tolerated the sin.  (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:1-2)  Paul’s “gladness” could only come by the guilty repenting, turning away from their sins.

3 And I wrote this very thing to you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow over those from whom I ought to have joy, having confidence in you all that my joy is the joy of you all.

  • [JD] – Paul desired to rejoice over the work in Corinth. However, if Paul arrived in Corinth while these sins were present, then his time there would have been spent in sorrow. Paul was confident the brethren in Corinth sought the same joy which he likewise sought.
  • [Seth] v3 Cool definition of a preacher = a worker with you for your joy

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

  • [JD]  This verse gives a direct look into how the sin of the Corinthians troubled the apostle Paul.  Consider the following descriptions: “affliction,” “anguish of heart,” and “many tears.”
  • [JD]  Paul did not write the letter to cause grief or pain (as seen earlier).  Paul wrote the letter to show his love for the brethren.
  • [Seth] v4 — How Paul wrote harsh things: many tears, anguish of heart, much affliction
    1. Paul loved them so much that he was willing to do what he had to do to bring them back to God
    2. He didn’t like telling them that they were wrong
    3. Some people might enjoy that kind of thing, but he didn’t. He did this out of love and the hope to cause repentance
  • [Seth] True love for someone seeks the best for their soul.
    1. Say you have a friend, co-worker, cousin, child, or spouse that is living in blatant sin. What should you do for them if you love them?
    2. Too many times, especially in families, sin gets overlooked or accepted because they love their family and do not want to lose them.
    3. Wakeup! If they do not correct the sin in their lives, they will be lost for all eternity!
    4. Is it worth losing the friendship of a child, cousin, aunt, uncle, co-worker to do everything in your power to help them go to heaven?
    5. Paul could have sugar coated everything, but then it would not have led to repentance
    6. We need to do what is best for our loved ones even if it hurts us horribly.

Forgive and Love a Restored Brother – 2 Corinthians 1:5-11

5 But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent—not to be too severe.

  • [Seth] Who is the man Paul is speaking about?
    1. Possibly the man in 1 Corinthians 5.
    2. Some other person in sin that Paul saw on an unrecorded visit.
    3. Cannot know for sure, but we do know Paul does not go into detail here about the man’s name, the sin, or the steps taken to come out of it.
  • [JD]  ESV – “Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you.”
  • [JD]  The man who had taken his father’s wife is understood as the one who “has caused grief” to “all of you to some extent.”  
    1. It would be good to note that one man’s sin affected the whole congregation.
    2. [Seth] Not only that, but the people you hurt most is not the far away Paul, but the people who are close to you.
    3. [Seth] Also, Not easy to correct someone you care about and especially a brother in Christ.

6 This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man,

  • [JD]  ESV – “Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you.”
  • [JD]  The man who had taken his father’s wife is understood as the one who “has caused grief” to “all of you to some extent.”  
    1. It would be good to note that one man’s sin affected the whole congregation.

7 so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow.

  • [JD]  While such discipline is important, removing the discipline is likewise important.
    • The apostle Paul said the brethren were to “forgive and comfort him.”
      • What type of forgiveness do we see here?
        1. Definition:  forgive – charizomai (χαρίζομαι) – “to show favor, grant, bestow,”  (Vine’s)  Usages . . .
          • Luke 7:21 – “and to many blind He gave sight”
          • Luke 7:43 – “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”
          • Acts 3:14 – “and asked for a murderer to be granted to you”
          • Romans 8:32 – “how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”
          • Ephesians 4:32 – “forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
        2. Is it the same type of forgiveness God grants to the repentant?
          • Compare this to Matthew 6:12, 14: “and forgive (aphiemi) us our debts, as we also have forgiven (aphiemi) our debtors . . . For if you forgive (aphiemi) others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive (aphiemi) you . . .”
          • Definition:  aphiemi (ἀφίημι) – “signifies ‘to send away, set free’; also ‘to let alone,’”  (Vine’s)
          • With this type of forgiveness, one is sending away or setting free the wrong done by the offender.  (See Luke 17:3-4 for an explanation of this type of forgiveness (aphiemi).
          • [WW] But compare Luke 7:42, 47, 48, 49, which uses the two terms interchangeably, and which uses χαρίζομαι with reference to debt.
          • [WW] ἀφίημι actually has a really broad semantic range. It means anything from “permit” to “leave someone alone” to even “divorce”
          • [JD]  I had not taken notice of Luke 7.  However, it is interesting that when posing the scenario of the creditor and the two debtors, Jesus uses charizomai (χαρίζομαι) but when referring to the women’s sins being forgiven he uses aphiemi (ἀφίημι).  I’m not sure if it makes any difference though.
        3. The forgiveness which Paul instructed in 2 Corinthians 2:7 appears to be different.
          • The forgiveness granted by the Corinthians does not appear to be the same type of forgiveness granted by one toward another when wronged (as in to put the offense away.)
          • The forgiveness which Paul instructed the Corinthians to extend toward the repentant brother seems to address their no longer holding him as separate but, instead, accepting him back into their fellowship.  It was that which they were to “grant” to him.
      • In addition to the forgiveness, the brethren were to comfort the repentant brother.
    • If the discipline continued past the point of repentance, then the sorrow felt by the repentant brother would become unnecessary and threatening to his own soul.
  • [Seth] Let bygones be bygones
    1. Do not hold on to the hard feelings or dwell on how much pain they caused you.
  • [Seth] If someone stumbles and falls when they are young, should they always carry around the labels associated with their sin?
    1. Child out of marriage?
    2. Convicted of multiple crimes?
    3. Did the Corinthians think of Paul as a persecutor, murderer, and a jailbird?
    4. Neither should we hang things over other people’s heads when they repent of them.
  • [ER] It seems obvious, but perhaps it should be emphasized that repentance is required before forgiveness. Paul doesn’t specifically mention that the man repented, but assuming it was the one who had his father’s wife, can anyone imagine that Paul would say to forgive and comfort him if he was still involved in that unlawful relationship?
  • [ER] In this case, the discipline applied by the majority worked, but sadly it doesn’t always turn out so good. Regardless, the sin has to be removed from the group.

8 Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him.

  • [JD]  Although the brethren disciplined the brother out of love for him, the brethren needed to “reaffirm” their love for him.
    1. Definition:  reaffirm – kuroo (κυρόω) – “I. to make valid II. to confirm publicly or solemnly, to ratify”

9 For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things.

  • [JD]  In a manner of speaking, Paul’s previous letter put the brethren to the test, to see whether or not they would would obey the Lord.
    1. Any type of correction, whether it comes directly from the word or delivered by a fellow child of God, is a test of our obedience.  Will we listen and change or will we ignore the warning  (cf. Hebrews 2:1-4).

10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ,

  • [JD]  This verse shows Paul’s trust in the brethren regarding the situation.  
  • [JD]  “. . . For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.”  Within the context Paul may be referring to the possibility of Satan taking advantage of them if they were unwilling to forgive and to reaffirm their love for the repentant brother.

11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

  • [JD] Knowledge of Satan’s devices or methods is crucial to resisting his efforts.
    1. Some of Satan’s devices may not be as obvious as others.
  • [ER] How many souls are in danger because they refuse to forgive? Sin had crept into Corinth, but even after it had been addressed and repented of, Satan could still “win” if the brethren refused to forgive. Not only would the penitent man perhaps be overwhelmed with sorrow, but the unforgiving brethren would jeopardize their own forgiveness (Matt. 6:15)

Paul’s Opportunities in Troas and Macedonia – 2 Corinthians 1:12-17

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

  • [Seth] What would Paul usually do with an open door to preach the gospel?
    1. He would go through that door!
    2. He loved to preach the gospel
    3. Instead, something else happened
    4. (v13) He decided to travel to Macedonia in hopes to hear from Titus about the Corinthian brethren and how they had accepted his letter

13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia.

14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.

  • [Seth] Notice what Paul left out?
    • Paul is distraught with worry about the Corinthian brethren
    • Looking for Titus so left for Macedonia
    • “But thanks be to God….” who let me find Titus????
    • That is not what it says, Paul is so happy, he left out how he found Titus and the report Titus gave
    • All we know is the response to Titus’ report!
  • [ER] It appears that with this verse Paul begins a separate train of thought, almost forgetting what he was talking about (as Seth mentions). He picks up the thought about finding Titus in Macedonia again in chapter 7.
  • [HR] Paul uses the Roman Triumph as a familiar backdrop for what he is trying to express in 2:14-16. Compare this paragraph from Wikipedia’s article on “Roman Triumph” with the imagery of this section:
    1. The Roman triumph… was a civil ceremony and religious rite of ancient Rome, held to publicly celebrate and sanctify the success of a military commander who had led Roman forces to victory in the service of the state, or originally and traditionally, one who had successfully completed a foreign war… On the day of his triumph, the general wore a crown of laurel and the all-purple, gold-embroidered triumphal toga picta (“painted” toga), regalia that identified him as near-divine or near-kingly. He rode in a four-horse chariot through the streets of Rome in unarmed procession with his army, captives and the spoils of his war. At Jupiter’s temple on the Capitoline Hill he offered sacrifice and the tokens of his victory to the god. Thereafter he had the right to be described as vir triumphalis (“man of triumph”, later known as triumphator) for the rest of his life.”
    2. Many of the Corinthians would have witnessed such and known exactly what Paul was referring to.
  • [WW] This background raises a question: Who are we in the “Roman triumph” parade?
    1. The verb for “lead in triumph” (θριαμβένω / thriambenō) is elsewhere applied to leading off conquered prisoners into captivity (Col 2:15). Since the parade typically included a procession of captured prisoners who would be killed at the end of the parade, a similar meaning is likely here.
    2. The false apostles might have claimed they were the victorious soldiers, but Paul does not see himself this way. Rather, he sees himself like a captured prisoner, sentenced to death for his service to Christ! (Compare this to 1 Cor 4:9, where Paul envisions the apostles as condemned to die in the arena)

15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.

  • [Seth]God diffuses the “fragrance of His knowledge” in every place (14b)
  • [Seth]To God, they are the “fragrance of Christ” (15)
    • A smell has an ability to fill a room
    • Where can you go to hide from a smell?
    • How would it smell to the victors? Good smell
    • How would it smell to the defeated? Smell like death
    1. How do you diffuse a fragrance
    2. A Conquering hero would have a processional and a party when coming home. They would burn incense upon his arrival.
    3. To those who are perishing, they are an “aroma of death” (16a)
    4. To those who are being saved, they are an “aroma of life” (16b)
    5. When we smell like Christ, some people will like it, other people will think we smell like death.
  • [WW] We’ve seen the contrast of “saved” and “perishing” before (1 Cor 1:18-25). Paul’s point is similar here.
    • To those being saved, the cross = power of God
    • To those perishing, the cross = foolishness
  • [WW] If we swap out “cross” for “triumph execution” in this context:
    • To those perishing, being “led in triumph” = death (“death to death”)
    • To those being saved, being led in triumph = life (“life to life”)
  • [WW] Both are shameful Roman methods of execution. We emulate Christ’s cross by being “led in triumph.”

16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?

  • [Seth] Neither Paul nor I are sufficient or worthy to be entrusted with such a gospel.
    1. Some will love us, some will hate us.
    2. We should have the attitude of the Apostles in Acts 5:41-42.  Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.  (42)  And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.

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