Paul’s Change of Plans (cont’d), 1-4

2 Cor 2:1 So I made up my mind that I would not make another painful visit to you.

2 Cor 2:2 For if I grieve you, who is left to make me glad but you whom I have grieved?

2 Cor 2:3 I wrote as I did so that when I came I should not be distressed by those who ought to make me rejoice. I had confidence in all of you, that you would all share my joy.

2 Cor 2:4 For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.

Forgiveness for the Sinner, 5-11

2 Cor 2:5 If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you, to some extent—not to put it too severely.

The ‘problem’ requiring church discipline is undefined here, but the procedure is: after sincere repentance

  1. Forgive him
  2. Comfort him
  3. Love him

The following passages deal with church discipline: Mt 18:15-18; 1 Cor 5; 2 Cor 2:5-11; Gal 6:1; 2 Thess 3:6-15; 1 Tim 5:19f; Tit 3:9-11.

2 Cor 2:6 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him.

2 Cor 2:7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.

2 Cor 2:8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.

2 Cor 2:9 The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything.

2 Cor 2:10 If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake,

2 Cor 2:11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

‘Satan was too crafty for man in his perfection, much more now in his maimed estate.’ (Gurnall)

Ministers of the New Covenant, 12-17

2 Cor 2:12 Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me,

2 Cor 2:13 I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said good-by to them and went on to Macedonia.

2 Cor 2:14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.

The passage that extends from 2:14 to 7:4 is generally regarded as a digression. The alternative view, held by some scholars, is that this passage is another letter from Paul which has been accidentally inserted into the present letter ‘has little to commend it, because the first copies were on scrolls (codices were later), which preclude accidental insertions.’ (NT Background Commentary)

‘What Paul has been saying up to this point in the letter could be taken as a rather depressing account of his ministry. He has spoken of hardships suffered in Asia, criticisms of his integrity, pain experienced in Corinth and his inability to settle to preaching in Troas. As if to balance this somewhat depressing account, Paul goes on to strike a positive note, describing how God always and in every place enabled him to carry on an effective ministry.’ (NBC)

‘The imagery is probably that of the Roman triumphal procession, and Paul pictures himself as a soldier led in triumph by God. In this context such imagery does not support a ‘triumphalist’ approach to ministry, because Paul has in mind victory through suffering. In the triumphal procession sweet-smelling incense was offered to the gods and Paul says that through us God spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ.’ (NBC)

2 Cor 2:15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

2 Cor 2:16 To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?

Who is equal to such a task? – The question will be answered in 2 Cor 3:5 – ‘Our competence comes from God.’

2 Cor 2:17 Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.

Unlike so many – Paul is referring to those false teachers who had invaded his territory at Corinth, an dwhom he will denounce in more detail in the later chapters of this epistle. Probably, there were similar people troubling other churches. If this should happen in Paul’s day, we should not be surprised to find ‘many’ false teachers troubling and deceiving the church today.

We do not peddle the word of God for profit – ‘It is characteristic of these intruders that they go about hawking or peddling the word of God cheapening and degrading the message by the illegitimate admixture of foreign elements, judaistic or pagan, as a dishonest merchant adulterates wine with water; they seek only their own gain, irrespective of the effect of their teaching on others and careless of the momentous issues which are at stake; self-interest governs their outlook…They have taken up “apostleship” as a business, and so long as it brings quick returns they are not particularly scrupulous as to how they conduct it. In unmistakeable contrast, Paul, who is the Corinthians’ genuine apostle, exercises a ministry which, subjectively, is stamped with complete sincerity and objectively, is derived from God (cf.1:1).’ (Hughes)

‘The Greek expression, which we have translated, “peddle,” is derived from a word, the etymology of which is not quite agreed on by lexicographers. It either means a tradesman, who does his business dishonestly, or a vintner, who adulterates the wine which he exposes for sale. Tyndale renders it, “We are not of those who chop and change the Word of God.” The Rhemish version is, “We are not as many, who adulterate the Word of God.” In our margin we read, “We are not as many, who deal deceitfully with the Word of God.” In the construction of the sentence, the Holy Spirit has inspired Paul to use both the negative and the positive way of stating the truth. This mode of construction adds clearness and unmistakableness to the meaning of the words, and intensity and strength to the assertion, which they contain. Instances of a similar construction occur in three other remarkable passages of Scripture, two on the subject of baptism, one on the subject of the new birth..’ (Jn 1:13 1 Pet 1:23 1 Pet 3:21) (J.C. Ryle)

‘In the Greek, the word peddle refers to winemakers who had a little scam. They would dilute the wine and pass it off as if it were the real thing. Paul says no, don’t violate the integrity of the truth of God’s Word. Don’t become so concerned about “communication” that the pure content is diluted. Paul goes on to say, “On the contrary … we speak before God with sincerity.” That tells us to be genuine in our communication, maintaining integrity. Don’t be an orator who becomes an actor, who gets so enthralled by saying something in a way that people will give you a standing ovation. Don’t be overly concerned with turning a phrase in a way to get the smiles and approval of people.’ (Crawford Lorrits, in The Art and Craft of Biblical Preaching, eds. Robinson & Larson, ch. 6)