2 Corinthians 7:8-11
8. For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.
8. Quoniam etsi contristavi vos in epistola, non me poenitet: etiamsi poenituerit. Video enim, quod epistola illa, etsi ad tempus, vos contristavit.
9. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
9. Nunc gaudeo: non quod sitis contristati, sed quod sitis contristati in poenitentiam, contristati enim estis secundum Deum, ita ut nulla in re damno affecti sitis ex nobis.
10. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
10. Nam quae secundum Deum est tristitia, poenitentiam ad salutem non poenitendam efficit: mundi autem tristitia mortem efficit.
11. For, behold, this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge!
11. Ecce enim hoc ipsum, quod secundum Deum, contristati estis quantum produxit in vobis stadium! Imo defensionem, imo indignationem, imo timorem, imo desiderium, imo zelum, imo vindictam!
But what does he mean when he adds -- though I did repent? For if we admit, that Paul had felt dissatisfied with what he had written, there would follow an inconsistency of no slight character -- that the former Epistle had been written under a rash impulse, rather than under the guidance of the Spirit. I answer, that the word repent is used here in a loose sense for being grieved. For while he made the Corinthians sad, he himself also participated in the grief, and in a manner inflicted grief at the same time upon himself. "Though I gave you pain against my inclination, and it grieved me to be under the necessity of being harsh to you, I am grieved no longer on that account, when I see that it has been of advantage to you." Let us take an instance from the case of a father; for a father feels grief in connection with his severity, when at any time he chastises his son, but approves of it, notwithstanding, because he sees that it is conducive to his son's advantage. In like manner Paul could feel no pleasure in irritating the minds of the Corinthians; but, being conscious of the motive that influenced his conduct, he preferred duty to inclination.
9. Not because you have been made sorry. He means, that he feels no pleasure whatever in their sorrow -- nay more, had he his choice, he would endeavor to promote equally their welfare and their joy, by the same means; but that as he could not do otherwise, their welfare was of so much importance in his view, that he rejoiced that they had been made sorry unto repentance. For there are instances of physicians, who are, indeed, in other respects good and faithful, but are at the same time harsh, and do not spare their patients. Paul declares, that he is not of such a disposition as to employ harsh cures, when not constrained by necessity. As, however, it had turned out well, that he had made trial of that kind of cure, he congratulates himself on his success. He makes use of a similar form of expression in 2 Corinthians 5:4,
We in this tabernacle groan, being burdened, because we are desirous not to be unclothed, but clothed upon.
There is, however, a beautiful allusion here to the term repentance, when he says -- not to be repented of; for however unpleasant the thing is at first taste, it renders itself desirable by its usefulness. The epithet, it is true, might apply to the term salvation, equally as to that of repentance; but it appears to me to suit better with the term repentance. "We are taught by the result itself, that grief ought not to be painful to us, or distressing. In like manner, although repentance contains in it some degree of bitterness, if, is spoken of as not to be repented of on account of the precious and pleasant fruit which it produces."
To salvation. Paul seems to make repentance the ground of salvation. Were it so, it would follow, that we are justified by works. I answer, that we must observe what Paul here treats of, for he is not inquiring as to the ground of salvation, but simply commending repentance from the fruit which it produces, he says that it is like a way by which we arrive at salvation. Nor is it without good reason; for Christ calls us by way of free favor, but it is to repentance. (Matthew 9:13.) God by way of free favor pardons our sins, but only when we renounce them. Nay more, God accomplishes in us at one and the same time two things: being renewed by repentance, we are delivered from the bondage of our sins; and, being justified by faith, we are delivered also from the curse of our sins. They are, therefore, inseparable fruits of grace, and, in consequence of their invariable connection, repentance may with fitness and propriety be represented as an introduction to salvation, but in this way of speaking of it, it is represented as an effect rather than as a cause. These are not. refinements for the purpose of evasion, but a true and simple solution, for, while Scripture teaches us that we never obtain forgiveness of sins without repentance, it represents at the same time, in a variety of passages, the mercy of God alone as the ground of our obtaining it.
What is meant by
Yea, what clearing of yourselves. Erasmus having rendered it satisfaction, ignorant persons, misled by the ambiguity of the term, have applied it to popish satisfactions, whereas Paul employs the term
Yea, what indignation. 7 This disposition, also, is attendant on sacred sorrow -- that the sinner is indignant against his vices, and even against himself, as also all that are actuated by a right zeal 8 are indignant, as often as they see that God is offended. This disposition, however, is more intense than sorrow. For the first step is, that evil be displeasing to us. The second is, that, being inflamed with anger, we press hard upon ourselves, so that our consciences may be touched to the quick. It may, however, be taken here to mean the indignation, with which the Corinthians had been inflamed against the sins of one or a few, whom they had previously spared. Thus they repented of their concurrence or connivance.
Fear is what. arises from an apprehension of divine judgment, while the offender thinks -- "Mark it well, an account must be rendered by thee, and what wilt thou advance in the presence of so great a judge?" For, alarmed by such a consideration, he begins to tremble.
As, however, the wicked themselves are sometimes touched with an alarm of this nature, he adds desire. This disposition we know to be more of a voluntary nature than fear, for we are often afraid against our will, but we never desire but from inclination. Hence, as they had dreaded punishment on receiving Paul's admonition, so they eagerly aimed at amendment.
But what are we to understand by zeal? There can be no doubt that he intended a climax. Hence it means more than desire. Now we may understand by it, that they stirred up each other in a spirit of mutual rivalry. It is simpler, however, to understand it as meaning, that every one, with great fervor of zeal, aimed to give evidence of his repentance. Thus zeal is intensity of desire.
Yea, what revenge. What we have said as to indignation, must be applied also to revenge; for the wickedness which they had countenanced by their connivance and indulgence, they had afterwards shown themselves rigorous in avenging. They had for some time tolerated incest; but, on being admonished by Paul, they had not merely ceased to countenance him, but had been strict reprovers in chastening him, -- this was the revenge that was meant. As, however, we ought to punish sins wherever they are, 9 and not only so, but should begin more especially with ourselves, there is something farther meant in what the Apostle says here, for he speaks of the signs of repentance. There is, among others, this more particularly -- that, by punishing sins, we anticipate, in a manner, the judgment of God, as he teaches elsewhere, If we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged by the Lord. (1 Corinthians 11:31.) We are not, however, to infer from this, that mankind, by taking vengeance upon themselves, compensate to God for the punishment due to him, 10 so that they redeem themselves from his hand. The case stands thus -- that, as it is the design of God by chastising us, to arouse us from our carelessness, that, being reminded of his displeasure, we may be on our guard for the future, when the sinner himself is beforehand in inflicting punishment of his own accord, the effect is, that he no longer stands in need of such an admonition from God.
But it is asked, whether the Corinthians had an eye to Paul, or to God, in this revenge, as well as in the zeal, and desire, and the rest. 11 I answer, that all these things are, under all circumstances, attendant upon repentance, but there is a difference in the case of an individual sinning secretly before God, or openly before the world. If a person's sin is secret, it is enough if he has this disposition in the sight of God. on the other hand, where the sin is open, there is required besides an open manifestation of repentance. Thus the Corinthians, who had sinned openly and to the great offense of the good, required to give evidence of their repentance by these tokens.
1 "Obstinez et endurcis;" -- ." Obstinate and obdurate."
2 "Le Docteur et Ministre;" -- "The Teacher and Minister."
3 "Tristitia secundum Deum;" -- "La tristesse qui est selon Dieu;" -- "The sorrow which is according to God." "
4 "Ne pensons pas que iamais il se convertisse au Seigneur;" -- "Let us not think that ever he will turn to the Lord."
5 "Nonchalance, ou paresse, ou asseurance qui procede de stupidite;" -- "Carelessness or indolence, or confidence arising from stupidity."
6 Wiclif, (1380,) following the Vulgate, reads, defendynge. -- Ed.
7 "Voire marrissement. Il y a proprement au Grec, Indignation ou courroux;" -- "Yea what concern. It is properly in the Greek, Indignation or wrath."
8 "Qui ont vn bon et sainct zele;" -- "Who have a good and holy zeal."
9 "En quelque personne qu'ils soyent trouuez;" -- "In any person in whom they are found."
10 "La peine qu'il leur pourroit iustement imposer;" -- "The punishment which lie could justly have inflicted upon them."
11 "Et autres affections yci nominees;" -- "And other dispositions here mentioned."