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 2 Corinthians Chapter 2

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PostSubject: 2 Corinthians Chapter 2   Sun Feb 22, 2015 11:42 pm

2 Corinthians 2:1-2

We found in 1 Corinthians that Paul had received disturbing news of further difficulties at Corinth, including the arrival of self styled false apostles. To create the platform to teach their false gospel, they began by assaulting the character of Paul. They had to convince the people to turn from Paul to them if they were to succeed in preaching demon doctrine.
Temporarily abandoning the work at Ephesus, Paul went immediately to Corinth. The visit (known as the painful visit), was not a successful one from Paul’s perspective; someone in the Corinthian church (possibly one of the false apostles) even openly insulted him. Saddened by the Corinthians’ lack of loyalty to defend him, seeking to spare them further reproof, and perhaps hoping time would bring them to their senses, Paul returned to Ephesus.
From there Paul wrote what is known as the “severe letter” and sent it with Titus to Corinth. Leaving Ephesus after the riot sparked by Demetrius (Acts 19: 20-23-20:1), Paul went to Troas to meet Titus. But Paul was so anxious for news of how the Corinthians had responded to the “severe letter” that he could not minister there though the Lord had opened the door.
So he left for Macedonia to look for Titus. To Paul’s immense relief and joy, Titus met him with the news that the majority of the Corinthians had repented of their rebellion against Paul. Wise enough to know that some rebellious attitudes still smoldered under the surface, and could erupt again, Paul wrote (possibly from Philippi) with the letter called 2 Corinthians. A servant of Christ is no stranger to pain and suffering (Mat_5:10-12; Joh_15:18-20; 1Pe_2:21). Paul had his share (cf. 2Co_1:4-10; 2Co_11:16-32) which he did not shirk. But he was no fool. If he could avoid it and still accomplish his work he would do so. This belief led to his change of plans with the Corinthians.
Paul went to Corinth from Ephesus after writing 1 Corinthians. His “painful visit” may be linked to the projected double visit previously mentioned (2Co_1:15-16) and may thus refer to the first part of those unconsummated plans. During that visit some painful event transpired which grieved the Corinthians and Paul (see 2Co_2:5). To spare further grief for both of them Paul deferred his visit.
In this letter, though the apostle expressed his relief and joy at their repentance 7:8-16, his main concern was to defend his apostleship, exhort the Corinthians to resume preparations for the collection for the poor at Jerusalem and confront the false apostles head on. He then went to Corinth, as he had written. The Corinthians’ participation in the Jerusalem offering (Romans 15:26) implies that Paul’s third visit to that church was successful.

2 Corinthians 2:3-4

He decided instead to write a letter, a daring venture in view of the Corinthians’ propensity for misunderstanding (cf. 1Co_5:9-10).
What that letter contained can only be conjectured from the comments which follow in 2Co_2:5-11 and 2Co_7:5-12. What is clear was Paul’s depth of feelings for the Corinthians and the level of his own discomfort experienced in writing the letter (great distress [thlipseōs; “troubles or pressures”; cf. 2Co_1:4] and anguish of heart and with many tears) and in his waiting for news from Titus concerning its reception (cf. 2Co_7:5-Cool. Paul is saying, in a sense that the letter would be better than a personal visit, to keep down hard feelings. Paul wants to be friends with the church people in Corinth. He feels like a parent who has had to scold the children, but still loves them, and wants them to love him. Paul's love for this church has not diminished at all. A letter is sometimes taken better than an open rebuke.
His reason for writing was that those in sin would repent, and then there could be mutual joy when the apostle came. Paul is trying to explain, that he prayed and thought about what he had to write to them. It was painful for Paul to have to write anything negative to them at all. He wrote the letter with tears in his eyes. We see a bit of an apology in this chapter from Paul. He is saying, perhaps, I acted hastily in the punishment of the sinner. Paul's love for these people is very much like the parent for a child.
The letter had not been meant to be harsh but loving.

2 Corinthians 2:5

The event that made his visit painful (2Co_2:1) and prompted the severe letter seems to have centered on the action of a certain man at Corinth. Whether he was a member of the Corinthian church or someone visiting them is not clear. Paul did, however, regard him as a Christian.
What this individual did to cause grief is uncertain. In this, we see that Paul is not angry with the whole church for what this one man, who had sinned, had done. Paul is also saying, you cannot let it affect the daily functions of the church. You must get past this moment of problem and go on. Paul's heart was broken about the man committing this sin, but he was not overwhelmed by grief with it.
Paul is acknowledging the reality of the offense and its ongoing effect, not on him, but on the church.
With this deflection of any personal vengeance, he sought to soften the charge against the penitent offender and allow the church to deal with the man and those who were with him objectively, apart from Paul’s personal anguish or offense.
This is the only time in the New Testament that "overcharge" was used. It means to be heavy upon, to be expensive to, and to be severe towards. Paul is saying, in this, that he will not be hard on all of them for what one had done.
Paul’s diffidence in this verse suggests the more likely alternative that his authority as an apostle was affronted or challenged at some point in the course of his painful visit (2Co_2:1). The Corinthians apparently failed to make the connection between a challenge to Paul’s authority and their own spiritual well-being. They had regarded this as a personal problem requiring no action on their parts, a view which Paul had dispelled in his letter and which they now realized.

2 Corinthians 2:6

Their response had been to discipline the offender. Punishment may be too strong a translation of the Greek word epitimia. Perhaps “censure” is better. This discipline, whatever it was, was made by the church “as a whole” (hē hypo tōn pleionōn) rather than the majority (cf. 2Co_7:11). Paul now feels that the humiliation that the man had endured from him and the whole church had been sufficient punishment.
This indicates that the church had followed the biblical process in disciplining the sinning man. The process of discipline and punishment was enough; now it was time to show mercy because the man had repented.

2 Corinthians 2:7-8

Paul had reason to believe that their pendulum might swing too far (cf. 2Co_7:11). They were no longer dispassionate spectators of the wrongdoer, and might become impassioned prosecutors. In that case he would be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow (lit., “grief”). Now, Paul is saying, if he desires to be forgiven, forgive him. Take him back into the church, and treat him again as a brother. If they will not take him back, he might never get back in right standing with God. He has grieved enough.
It was time to grant forgiveness so the man’s joy would be restored. Paul knew there was and is, no place in the church for manmade limits on God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness toward repentant sinners. Such restrictions could only rob the fellowship of the joy of unity.
The offender was apparently penitent so Paul urged the church to forgive and comfort him (for in fact it was they who had been wronged, 2Co_2:10) and extend “comfort” to him. As a church they were to affirm their love for this fellow Christian and admit him to their fellowship (cf. 1Co_5:11). Paul is saying in this, forgive him, and forget the incident. Restore him and love him as a brother. (Reaffirm may be too strong for the word kyrōsai; it occurs elsewhere in the NT only in Gal_3:15 where it is trans. “has been duly established.”)

2 Corinthians 2:9-11

Paul’s concern in this matter was not simply personal vindication or primarily that an earring brother be brought in line but that the Corinthian congregation could demonstrate the strength of their commitment to Paul (cf. 2Co_7:2). Their love and devotion to him would be affirmed by their being obedient to his directives (cf. Joh_15:14). Paul was a watchman over their souls He had given them instruction on how to handle the situation, and was anxious to know whether they would take his instruction and do it.
This is actually instruction on how they can forgive the man. Paul is saying, in yourself you cannot. When you remember what Christ forgave you, then Christ within you can forgive the man. Paul is saying it is the power of Christ within him that gives him the power to forgive. If we have something in our life that is hard to forgive, we should remember this and allow Christ within us to forgive.
Paul was constantly aware that his entire life was lived in the sight of God, who knew everything he thought, did and said.
The expression of their solidarity with him was mutual. As one with him, they could forgive this offender who had wronged them by wronging Paul. Like their own sorrow for this wrong (2Co_7:Cool repentance resulted (cf. 2Co_7:9) so that Paul could offer forgiveness. Otherwise, Satan might use a bitterness of spirit to vitiate Paul’s or the Corinthians’ ministry. It was important that fellowship between Paul, the Corinthians, and the repentant offender be restored so that the incident not becomes an occasion for Satan to drive a wedge between the church and Paul. It would really please Satan for these Christians not to forgive. If you do not forgive, you cannot be forgiven. It would please Satan greatly, if we could not be forgiven.
Paul used a different word but with similar meaning for devices (wiles). It, along with the words for advantage and ignorant, strongly implies that Satan targets the believer’s mind, but God has provided protection by unmasking Satan’s schemes in Scripture, along with providing the counteracting truth.
This was one of Satan’s schemes (cf. 2Co_11:13-14) which Paul had worked so strenuously to thwart.
In sum, his plans had changed. But that was out of concern for the well-being of the Corinthian church. In place of a personal visit Paul had sent Titus with a letter and accomplished his purpose. But he did not know that until he met Titus in Macedonia. The interim was not an easy time for Paul as 2Co_2:12-16 indicate.

2 Corinthians 2:12-13

Glorious ministry described

The interim period between Paul’s dispatch of Titus with the letter (2Co_2:4; 2Co_7:6-7) and his return to report on the state of affairs in the Corinthian church was a turbulent time for Paul. He apparently sensed in an acute way his own helplessness and weakness and came to appreciate afresh how utterly dependent he was on God to accomplish anything of lasting value in his ministry. That theme pervades this section. A ministry is glorious because God is in it.
Triumphant In Christ
Paul had planned to rendezvous with Titus at Troas and be apprised of the Corinthian situation. Before proceeding to Greece Paul had hoped to minister in Troas, a favored Roman colony. The Lord had opened a door (cf. 1Co_16:9; Col_4:3) for him, that is, had given him a favorable opportunity to preach the gospel of Christ.
Paul had been in Troas to minister, when he had the vision and the Lord sent him to Macedonia. If God does not send you and open the door for you to minister, you can forget being successful in your journey. Go where God sends you. Enter in at each door He opens. The success that really counts is the success in God's eyes.
One of the main reasons Paul went to Troas was to meet Titus, returning from Corinth after delivering “the severe letter” and to hear how the Corinthians had responded to that letter.
God sovereignly provided a great evangelistic opportunity for Paul, which may have led to the planting of the church in Troas. Because of the success of his preaching, Paul was assured that this opportunity was from God.
But those hopes were dashed when Titus failed to appear. In addition to his apprehension about the church in Corinth, Paul was now also concerned about Titus’ safety. For all Paul knew Titus might have been carrying with him a portion of the proposed Corinthian collection (cf. 2Co_8:6) and fallen prey to bandits. Why else had he failed to meet Paul in Troas? Thus Paul had no peace of mind (anesin tō pneumati, lit., “relief in spirit”; anesin is also used in 2Co_7:5 and 2Co_8:13).
Despairing at his own inability to concentrate on the great potential for ministry in Troas (cf. 2Co_7:5-6) Paul said good-by to the church there and pushed on to Macedonia. Notice here, that Titus was more than just another brother in Christ. Paul calls him, my brother. This indicates that Titus and Paul were very close. Paul had wanted to wait until Titus brought information on how his letter to the Corinthians had been accepted, but he went on to Macedonia where God the Holy Spirit had opened a door of utterance for him.
Paul’s concerns for the Corinthians problems and how its members were responding to both those problems and his instructions caused Paul debilitating restlessness and anxiety. These concerns became so heavy and distracting that he was unable to give full attention to his ministry.
The door would remain open for him and on his return (cf. Act_20:5-11) God used him mightily in their midst, but for the moment Paul departed, unable to rise to the occasion, no doubt feeling like a beaten man (cf. 2Co_4:9).

2 Corinthians 2:14

At this juncture Paul broke off his narrative to the Corinthians, not to resume it until 2Co_7:5. (Cf. “Macedonia” in 2Co_2:13 and 2Co_7:5.)
But this transition is fitting. The defeated Paul drew attention from himself to the triumphant Christ in whose train, by the grace of God, he found himself.
Paul’s words in 2Co_2:14 are based on a Roman triumphal procession; the victory parade awarded a conquering general in which enemy prisoners were forced to march. Jesus Christ won the victory on the cross. The victory is ours for the claiming. The best way to taste victory is to stay in the perfect will of God. This is just saying, that the knowledge that Paul, or any of us, has is in Christ. We are to take no thought for what we shall say.
If we are ministering in the fashion the Lord would have us to, the words that come from our mouth will not be from our accumulated learning {knowledge}, but will be as an oracle of God. God will speak through us the message He wants given.
“Manifest the savor of his knowledge”: The imagery comes from the strong, sweet smell of incense from censers in the Triumph parade, which along with the fragrance of crushed flowers strewn under horse’s hooves, produced a powerful aroma that filled the city. By analogy, every believer is transformed and called by the Lord to be an influence for His gospel throughout the world.
Through Christ, God the Victor had vanquished His enemies (cf. Rom_5:10; Col_2:15) and Paul, Christ’s captive, was now marching in His parade! Paul, who had been “taken captive”, by Christ (in Phm_1:23 “fellow prisoner” is lit. “Fellow captive”; cf. 1Co_4:9), was now led in triumph. This “triumph in defeat,” by a slave, who was free, was the paradox of the ministry which Paul subsequently amplified (e.g., in 2Co_4:7-12; 2Co_6:9-10).
In a Roman triumph processional incense was burned. Paul compared this to the knowledge of Christ, which like a fragrance was diffused everywhere throughout the world via the preaching of the gospel.

2 Corinthians 2:15-16

The gospel produces paradoxical results. As a bearer of this message Paul was identified with it so that he could refer to himself as the aroma of Christ. In the Septuagint the term “aroma” (euōdia) was used of Old Testament sacrifices (Gen_8:21; Exo_29:18; Lev_1:9; Num_15:3). Paul’s life was a sacrificial offering (Rom_12:1), well-pleasing to God. Anything that made a sweet savor to God had been totally dedicated to God. If we are totally dedicated to God, it is not our responsibility whether the message is accepted or rejected.

God appreciates us just as much for bringing His message to those who will not accept it, as He does to those who do accept it. Either way, we have pleased God. The course of his life in proclaiming God’s message while at the same time suffering rejection and attack by many was an extension of Jesus’ life as the Servant of God (cf. Col_1:24).

The heart of the gospel is that through Jesus’ death people may receive life and resurrection (1Co_15:1-58). To those who rejected the gospel and disbelieved the message of Christ crucified and raised Paul was like the stench of death in their nostrils (Act_17:32). They continued on the path to destruction. But to those who believe, their salvation leads on to glorification (cf. 2Co_4:17; Rom_8:18, Rom_8:30). For them the gospel is like the fragrance of life.
This twofold consequence of Paul’s ministry staggered him. Who is equal to such a task? He answered this question later (2Co_3:5-6). If they reject the message that God has spoken through us, they are lost. The great thing is, if we gave the message, we are not responsible for their souls. Had we not given the message to them, then we would have been responsible for their souls. If they are determined to die, and we have brought God's redemption message to them, God is pleased with us.
Those who receive the message that God has given through us, will receive life everlasting. Our reward is the same, because we obeyed God. It is the person's choice to receive life, or death. Our responsibility is to bring the message to the best of our ability in Him.
For the moment, however, he recalled the work of the false apostles. They thought themselves more than adequate but it was because their message and motivation differed so radically from Paul’s. To that point he needed to respond.

2 Corinthians 2:17

In Paul’s day there was apparently no lack of false apostles (cf. 2Pe_2:1). According to Paul, the ministry of the many false apostles was a matter of self-interest. Unlike them, he had ministered in Corinth without charge (cf. 2Co_11:7-12; 2Co_12:14), though in principle he had no problem accepting material remuneration for spiritual labor (1Co_9:1-27). What characterized the false apostles were their messages and their motives. Like dishonest merchants they selfishly hawked their wares. Paul said they peddle God’s Word. This word kapēleuontes, “to hawk, peddle,” is used only here. Paul may have had in mind Isaiah’s description of Jerusalem’s unscrupulous Israelites who “diluted” their wine with water to increase their profits (Isa_1:22; so too these false apostles adulterated the Word of God for profit.

They served themselves, not God whom Paul represented. They were “greedy for money” (1Pe_5:2), an evidence of their falsehood. But Paul ministered with sincerity (cf. 2Co_1:12).
There are even more ministers today who corrupt the Word of God, than when Paul wrote this. The Word of God is true. We must not change the Word of God. It is alright to explain what you believe the meaning of the Word to be. It is not alright to add to, or take away from the Word of God.
Paul is saying, that he was sincere in the message he brought. Paul is saying that his message is really God's message that was put in Paul's mouth. Paul spoke under the anointing of the Holy Spirit of God. Paul is saying, Christ in me is bringing you this message. He also says God is my witness; it is Christ speaking in me.
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2 Corinthians Chapter 2
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