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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

2 Corinthians 2

 

 

Verses 1-17

2 Corinthians 2:1. But I determined — that I would not come again to you in heaviness; but rather wait till the late scandal should subside. The offender, a man no doubt much known in the city, had laid his horn in the dust, and brought a dark cloud of shame and grief on the church; he had caused both jews and gentiles to triumph over the christian name. If a man under any strong temptation to sin, would open his mind to a friend, his fall might possibly be prevented. The words of Christ would be thundered in his ears, “Cut off thy right hand; pluck out thy right eye.”

2 Corinthians 2:4. Out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears. The heart always makes the best apology. When we see the honest man, and nature itself unfolded, we ask no more. The issue of those sentiments were pardon for the offender, healing for the church, and the restoration of love to the brethren. But oh, what calamities had resulted from a single case of irregular desire ending in shame!

2 Corinthians 2:11. Lest Satan should get an advantage of us. Lest he should expose to the world all your weaknesses, your conflicts, and your passions, with a thousand augmentations. Therefore heal the wound at once, and return to mutual love. When any member of a church falls into gross and scandalous sins, the weakness of the church becomes exposed. The prudence of the elders must therefore be exercised to save religion from contempt by expelling the offender, and equally so by seasonable endeavours to restore him again to the peace of his brethren, as soon as the fruits of repentance shall fairly appear. In cases where a succession of relapses do not follow, we should show the same compassion to others which God has shown to us.

2 Corinthians 2:13. I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother. Fellow-labourers for twenty years, delighting in the work, willing to suffer, and ready to die for Christ, must be united in spirit beyond all that fleshly affinities can boast. He wanted the more to find Titus, that he might drink fresh streams of joy in hearing of the recent success of the gospel in all the provinces of ancient Greece.

2 Corinthians 2:14. Thanks be to God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ. Of the triumph of Sesostris, we have spoken on the nineteenth of Isaiah. His triumph was imitated by Roman conquerors. Sometimes on entering the city of Rome, the chariot of the hero was drawn by white horses; sometimes by lions, by tigers, or by deer. All the trophies of war followed, and all the splendour that art could devise. But their triumphs were after Bellona had blown the trumpet of carnage. Paul’s was after the joyful sound, the gospel of peace. They had left the countries behind bleeding, weeping, burning. Paul left the sunbeams of righteousness and joy on all the churches. They had left their enemies slumbering in the dust. Paul left the idols broken, like Dagon before the ark. Their victories were partial, and at the expense of much Roman blood. Paul’s triumphs were in every city, and the dead in trespasses and sins were quickened to a life of faith and love. Thanks be to God, who made bare his holy arm of salvation.

REFLECTIONS.

This chapter is extremely interesting in regard to christian discipline. It displays an admirable style of reasoning, discovers the tenderness of the apostle’s heart, and confirms the restoration of the incestuous Corinthian to the peace of the church. This man had been publicly expelled, and denied communion for about a year. 1 Corinthians 5. But he had borne it as the sentence of God, and submitted with tears and meekness to the rod. Now, despair in men who have fallen into fornication and adultery can never work repentance; but a judicious exercise of mercy may prevent their health from being ruined by too much sorrow. Hence the religion of Christ, distinguished by charity, can sustain no new wound by the reädmission in one year of a man who had evident marks of repentance and piety. And in this opinion, I am happy to add, the great body of christian critics concur.

The sanction which St. Paul conferred on the church to forgive this gross offender, fully shows in what light the power of remitting sins, conferred on the apostles, and in them on all ministers, is to be understood: it is to apply the promises of pardon, and officially to receive a sinner into the church. On this subject, Tirinus quarrels with Calvin, but without a doubt the latter has truth on his side. However, let us warn men, that if they fall again and again into gross sin, they ought not to expect the mercy of the church: nor ought they to wish to be stumblingblocks to persons of delicate sentiments. We say to profligate characters, sin no more, lest both the church and heaven be for ever shut against you. The thanks which the apostle renders to God for making the ministry triumphant in every place, is an admirable consideration of encouragement and comfort. He had been twenty four years in the ministry; he had travelled through Asia and Greece; and in the face of this great city he could say, that truth had in all places prevailed against error; love had vanquished prejudice, and patience had surmounted persecution. Whenever he gained the ear of a people, grace was sure to gain many of their hearts, and to win them over to the faith of Christ. The fragrance of paradise was once more felt by sinful man, in the glory of their doctrine, in the sweetness of their temper, and in the excellence of their piety.

The gospel was not without most instructive effects on the minds of the wicked. When men saw this light, and still wandered in darkness; and when they even hated and persecuted the preachers, the gospel was to them a pestilential odour. Their proud hearts, revolting at its fragrance, gave new energy to sin, which wrought death in them, while the gospel left them without excuse. Menochius laments in his day (1602) that among the Roman catholics so few ministers were found who were by their life and doctrine a sweet odour to God. And we may all say, who is sufficient for these things? Do thou, oh Lord, make us men who abhor and scorn to corrupt and adulterate thy word.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 2:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/2-corinthians-2.html. 1835.

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