Scripture reading – 2 Corinthians 2
Paul’s greeting continued in the second chapter of his second letter to the believers in Corinth. In fact, I suggest the second half of his initial greeting began in chapter one. Justifying his delay in coming to Corinth. Paul wrote, “23Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth” (1:23-24). From what was Paul sparing the congregation? The answer is recorded in chapter 2.
A Heavy Heart (1:24-2:4)
Having admonished the believers in his first letter, Paul had no desire to come too soon after that letter, to prevent being perceived as a spiritual tyrant (1:24); therefore, he purposed he “would not come again to [Corinth] in heaviness,” lest he be forced out of duty to discipline and charge them for their sins (2:1-2). As with any loving pastor, Paul took no joy in adding to his own sorrows the need to reprove those to whom he ministered (2:3). He described how his first letter was written “with many tears,” not to distress or grieve the church, but because he loved them (2:4).
Church Discipline, Forgiveness, and Restoration (2:5-11)
As instructed by Paul, the congregation in Corinth had judged and removed the man who had an incestuous relationship with his stepmother (1 Corinthians 5:1-2). The fruit of their faithfulness resulted in the man accepting chastening with humility and repentance (2:5-6). Having heard of his repentance, Paul instructed the believers, “ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. 8Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him” (2:7-8).
The goal of church discipline is not punishment, but restoration (Matthew 18:15-17). Paul therefore, affirmed concerning the man who sinned and repented: “To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ” (2:10). Notice the basis of Paul affirming his own forgiveness was under the authority and “person of Christ” (2:10).
Closing thoughts – Tragically, the majority of 21st century churches are unwilling to follow Scriptural guidelines, and address sin in the congregation. Under the guise of love and longsuffering, the tolerance for sin in the church has perpetuated a desensitization of sin in our homes, and institutions. The Corinthian congregation experienced a joy that few churches see in our day. Because they had been obedient and followed Paul’s instruction to “put away” the one who had sinned (1 Corinthians 5), they had the joy of seeing him repent and restored to their love and fellowship (2:8).
Ephesians 4:32 – 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
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