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Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and of spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of God.


Paul’s Joy at the Church’s Repentance

2 Make room in your hearts for us; we have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. 3I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. 4I often boast about you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with consolation; I am overjoyed in all our affliction.

5 For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted in every way—disputes without and fears within. 6But God, who consoles the downcast, consoled us by the arrival of Titus, 7and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was consoled about you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more. 8For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it (though I did regret it, for I see that I grieved you with that letter, though only briefly). 9Now I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance; for you felt a godly grief, so that you were not harmed in any way by us. 10For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death. 11For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves guiltless in the matter. 12So although I wrote to you, it was not on account of the one who did the wrong, nor on account of the one who was wronged, but in order that your zeal for us might be made known to you before God. 13In this we find comfort.

In addition to our own consolation, we rejoiced still more at the joy of Titus, because his mind has been set at rest by all of you. 14For if I have been somewhat boastful about you to him, I was not disgraced; but just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting to Titus has proved true as well. 15And his heart goes out all the more to you, as he remembers the obedience of all of you, and how you welcomed him with fear and trembling. 16I rejoice, because I have complete confidence in you.


11. What earnest desire it produced in you I shall not enter into any dispute as to whether the things that Paul enumerates are effects of repentance, or belong to it, or are preparatory to it, as all this is unnecessary for understanding Paul’s design, for he simply proves the repentance of the Corinthians from its signs, or accompaniments. At the same time he makes sorrow according to God to be the source of all these things, inasmuch as they spring from it — which is assuredly the case; for when we have begun to feel self-dissatisfaction, we are afterwards stirred up to seek after the other things.

What is meant by earnest desire, we may understand from what is opposed to it; for so long as there is no apprehension of sin, we lie drowsy and inactive. Hence drowsiness or carelessness, or unconcern, 646646     “Nonchalance, ou paresse, ou asseurance qui procede de stupidite;” — “Carelessness or indolence, or confidence arising from stupidity.” stands opposed to that earnest desire, that he makes mention of. Accordingly, earnest desire means simply an eager and active assiduity in the correcting of what is amiss, and in the amendment of life.

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 ἀπολογίαν, (defense.) It is on this account that I have preferred to retain the word defensionem, which the Old Interpreter had made use of. 647647     Wiclif, (1380,) following the Vulgate, reads, defendynge.Ed. It is, however, to be observed, that it is a kind of defense that consists rather in supplication for pardon, than in extenuation of sin. As a son, who is desirous to clear himself to his father, does not enter upon a regular pleading of his cause, but by acknowledging his fault excuses himself, rather in the spirit of a suppliant, than in a tone of confidence, hypocrites, also, excuse themselves — nay more, they haughtily defend themselves, but it is rather in the way of disputing with God, than of returning to favor with him; and should any one prefer the word excusationem, (excuse,) I do not object to it; because the meaning will amount to the same thing, that the Corinthians were prompted to clear themselves, whereas previously they cared not what Paul thought of them.

Yea, what indignation 648648     “Voire marrissement. Il y a proprement au Grec, Indignation ou courroux;” — “Yea what concern. It is properly in the Greek, Indignation or wrath.” 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 649649     “Qui ont vn bon et sainct zele;” — “Who have a good and holy zeal.” 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, 650650     “En quelque personne qu’ils soyent trouuez;” — “In any person in whom they are found.” 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, 651651     “La peine qu’il leur pourroit iustement imposer;” — “The punishment which he could justly have inflicted upon them.” 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. 652652     “Et autres affections yci nominees;” — “And other dispositions here mentioned.” 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.

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