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The Repentance of the Corinthians
Summary —Paul's Affliction Over the Sins at Corinth. His Rebukes Caused by His Love for Them. The Excommunication of the Offender. He to be Forgiven on Repentance. Paul's Uneasiness at Troas. His Departure to Macedonia.
1–4. I would not come again to you in heaviness. See verse 23 of last chapter. He desired not to come to rebuke, but to rejoice with them. This verse seems to point to a time when he had come in “heaviness.” It is generally admitted now by commentators that he did make such a visit, probably while preaching at Ephesus, running across the sea, a voyage of two or three days, for a short visit. This visit seems to be proved by 2 Cor. 12:14, 21, and 13:1. See Conybeare and Howson, Vol. II, p. 27. 2. For if I make you sorry, etc. The thought is, your sorrow, because rebuked, gladdens me on account of your repentance. 3. I wrote this same. What he had written in 1 Cor. 16:5 concerning the delay of his coming. He delayed, having confidence that they would reform, so that all could rejoice together. 4. For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote. The First Epistle, which rebuked their divisions and immorality. He wrote sharply, but in great sorrow, not to grieve them, but to demonstrate his love by his assiduous care of them and rebuke of their sins.
5–8. If any have caused grief. The reference in this indirect way is to the incestuous person named in 1 Cor. 5:1. It was not Paul, only in part, that this man had injured and grieved, but the whole church. Overcharge you all. Lay too heavy charges on you. 6. Sufficient to such a man is this punishment. The excommunication of the offender (1 Cor. 5:4, 5). Inflicted by the many. Literally, by the majority. This shows that the whole church took action, and implies that there were dissenters. The command of Paul was endorsed by the action of the church. So ought the decision of the officers of a congregation always be submitted for approval. 7. Ye ought rather to forgive him. The Apostle sternly commands excommunication of the offender, but tenderly enjoins forgiveness of the penitent sinner. 8. I beseech you that to confirm your love toward him. The object of the discipline was to save (1 Cor. 5:5). Since it had had the desired effect, the offender should be restored. 134
9–11. For to this end also did I write. One object of his writing was to test their obedience. He commanded positively in 1 Corinthians, chapter 5. 10. To whom ye forgive anything, I forgive also. As your excommunication of the man was my act, so also your restoration of him will be my act. Forgave I it in the person of Christ. As Paul acted as the servant of Christ, under his direct orders, his official acts represented in the Master. 11. Lest Satan should get an advantage of us. Satan would gladly have kept the sinful man in the church; since he has repented, Satan would gladly have the church keep him out.
12–17. When I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel. See Acts 16:8 and 20:5–12. In Acts two visits to Troas are named, but the one alluded to here is omitted. Troas was then a large city, situated not far from the site of old Troy, and almost within sight of Europe. There is now a small village there and extensive ruins. See notes in Acts. A door was opened. An opportunity for the gospel. Though he did not tarry now, a little later we find a church there (Acts 20:5). 13. I had no rest in spirit. Because he had expected to meet Titus there and to get news concerning the state of affairs at Corinth. Hence he went on soon, hoping to meet him on the way to Macedonia. 14. Now thanks be to God. He did meet him there, and heard news that filled him with thankfulness. To triumph in Christ. A Roman triumph was given because of victory; God always gave the victory, through Christ, in the end. He had feared that Corinth would be an exception. Maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge. The figure is that of a sacrifice. A sweet-smelling savor was diffused by the offerings. So, through them everywhere, the knowledge of God was made known, and was grateful to the saved. 15. A sweet savor of Christ. This fragrant odor of the gospel was diffused both among the saved and the unsaved. 16. To the one we are the savor of death unto death. In the triumphal procession, alluded to in verse 14, the captives were led, and when it closed were put to death. The fragrant odors of the incense, flowers and sacrifices, were a savor to them of their approaching death. So the savor of the gospel is a savor, a sign, an intimation of death to those who reject it. And to the other the savor of life. This savor to the saved is a sign of life, and leads to eternal life. Who is sufficient for these things? He seems to exclaim in astonishment that such results should follow human preaching. 17. We are not as many which corrupt the word of 135God. The Greek figure is taken from the tavern-keepers who adulterate the wine they offer for sale. There were those at Corinth, Judaizing teachers, who adulterated the gospel with ingredients of Judaism. These are the “false brethren” (11:26) with whom his whole ministry was a struggle. On the contrary, he and his fellow-preachers spoke the words of genuine sincerity and with a sense of responsibility to God. 135
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