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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

2 Corinthians 7



Verses 2-16


2 Corinthians 7:2-16

2Receive us; we have [om. have, ὴδικήσαμεν] wronged no Prayer of Manasseh, we have [om. have] corrupted no Prayer of Manasseh, we have [om. have] defrauded no Prayer of Manasseh 3I speak not this to condemn you,[FN1] for I have said before, that ye are in our hearts to die and live with you. 4Great is my boldness of speech [om. of speech, παῤῥησία] toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with [the] comfort, I am exceeding joyful [made exceedingly to abound with the joy] in all our tribulation 5 For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest,[FN2] but we were troubled on every side [in every way];without were fightings, within were fears 6 Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus; 7And not by his coming only, but by the consolation [comfort] wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind [zeal, ζῆλον] toward me; so that I rejoiced the more 8 For though I made you sorry with a [the] letter, I do not repent though[FN3] I did repent: for[FN4] I perceive that the same epistle hath made you 9 sorry, though it were but for a season. Now [I do not regret it: although I did regret it (for I perceive that that epistle made you sorry though but for a season), yet 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 10 For godly sorrow worketh[FN5] repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but thesorrow of the world worketh death 11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye[FN6] sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness [diligence, σπουδή] it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, [longing, ἐπιπόθησιν] yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge [infliction of punishment]! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in[FN7] this matter 12 Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you [your earnest care for us][FN8] in the sight of God might appear unto [with, πρὸς] you 13 Therefore we were comforted in your comfort;[FN9] yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we [comforted. But in our comfort, we joyed the more exceedingly] for the joy of Thus, because his spirit was [has been] refreshed by you all 14 For if I have boasted any thing to him of you, I am not ashamed; [was not made ashamed, οὐ κατῃσχύνθην] but as we spake all things to you in truth, even so our[FN10] boasting which I made [om. which I made] before Titus, is [was, ἐγενήθη] found a truth. And his inward affection is more abundant toward you, whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him 16 I rejoice therefore [om. therefore][FN11] that I have confidence in you in all things.


[Hodge: “So far from having any disposition to upbraid or to recriminate, his heart was overflowing with different feelings. He had not only confidence in them, he was proud of them; he was not only comforted, he was filled with exceeding joy.” Instead of the third member of the anaphora, the Apostle has, by way of a stronger and climactic expression, πεπλήρωμαι]. Πεπλήρωμαι here, as also in Romans 1:29, and sometimes in the classic writers, is used with the dative. Υπερπερισσεύομαι signifies: I am made rich, overflowing with, etc. Περισσεύειν is used transitively also in 2 Corinthians 4:15; 2 Corinthians 9:8, and passively in Matthew 13:12. The article implies that the Corinthians were the source of both emotions (as in 2 Corinthians 7:7): the special consolation which is from you and the joy which is in you (Osiander); or it indicates the particular consolation and joy which he needed (Meyer). The ἑπὶ here signifies, not as in 2 Corinthians 1:4, concerning (so as to express the relation or object of χαρά), but in, in the midst (simultaneously), and it expresses the relation of both the preceding clauses. The frequent change of the singular to the plural, and of the plural to the singular in this section, shows that the Apostle’s own feelings were predominant in all that he was saying of himself in common with his fellow-laborers. [In this verse the change was to indicate that he bore the suffering in common with them, but that the joy was wholly a matter of his own experience. Alford also notices that “the present tense indicates the abiding of the effect”].

2 Corinthians 7:5-7. For even as we went into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled in every way. ( 2 Corinthians 7:5).—The Apostle now enters into some details; and, in the first place, with respect to the tribulation. καί has reference to what he had said in 2 Corinthians 2:12 f. He had there informed them that on his arrival at Troas he could not rest, but that he had gone immediately to Macedonia. He now adds that even when he came to Macedonia he was unable to find rest. Ἔσχηκεν is here the same as in 2 Corinthians 2:12, and its accordance with the verb in that passage suggests the suspicion that ἔσχεν may have been the original reading. The reason that our flesh ( σάρξ ἡμῶν) is substituted for my spirit (τῷ πνεύματί μου) as in 2 Corinthians 2:12, may be found in the difference of circumstances on the two occasions. At Troas the unrest had its source and seat within, and consisted of anxious thoughts, etc.; but in Macedonia it was one which affected the flesh. And yet we must not suppose it exactly confined to the body (as Rückert supposes, e. g, a sickness), nor that it means his whole person, and so the same as we; but it means the whole natural life in its infirmities, its susceptibilities and its sensibility to suffering; in a word, the whole sensuous nature, internal and external (comp. Matthew 26:41), every thing which can be influenced not only by the conflicts of the world around him, but by those cares and temptations of the inward spirit of which he was about to speak. In positive contrast with this he now says we were troubled in every way (ἀλλ̓ ἐν παντὶ θλιβόμενοι). He uses the participle, as if he had written οὐκ ἤμεθα ἄνεσιν ἐχοντες τῇ σαρκί (comp. Meyer). What he means by ἐν παντί (in every condition, in all possible circumstances) is more fully developed when he says,—without were fightings, and within were fears. (ἔξωθεν μάχαι, ἔσωθεν φόβοι). The latter phrase is more forcible without ἦσαν). Ἐξωθεν and ἔσωθεν have reference not to those who were Christians (weak brethren and erroneous teachers), and those who were not; but in the one case to those opponents with whom he came in conflict, whether in the Church or out of it, and in the other to various difficulties within the Christian community, some of which, especially those which pertained to the Corinthian Church, occasionally became quite formidable. [It seems more natural to understand these particles with reference to the Apostle himself, since he was narrating his personal restlessness and troubles].—Nevertheless He who comforteth the downcast, comforted us. even God comforted us, by the coming of Titus—( 2 Corinthians 7:6). Having considered the trouble to which he had been subjected, he now turns to notice the Divine consolation he had received under it. This had been sufficient to allay the storm in his soul. He mentions God in this connection [not at first under any of the ordinary names of the Deity, for at the moment he was so full of this peculiar aspect of God, that he deems it sufficient to designate him] as the One whose peculiar office it is to comfort them who are cast down ( παρακαλῶν τοὺς ταπεινούς, comp. 2 Corinthians 1:3). [The present indicates that this is what is always taking place. In classical and Hellenistic usage ταπεινοί means not only those who are humble, but. those who are humbled, stricken down; and it refers not merely to the outer condition, but to the feelings of the heart, the disposition, and probably to both united (cast down). In the present case it should probably be taken in the most extensive sense. In the conclusion of this part of the sentence God must be regarded as especially emphatic. ̓Εν signifies, as usual, in, the sphere in which the comfort took place, but it also means in consequence of. The arrival of Titus was the reason for his consolation. With great delicacy he speaks of himself as bowed down on account of the misconstruction of his brethren, and as if nothing could relieve his mind but the personal return of his beloved associate. He intimates also that one essential element in the comfort he experienced, sprung from the delightful frame of mind which Titus exhibited on their account.—And not by His coming only, but also by the comfort wherewith He was comforted concerning you ( 2 Corinthians 7:7 a).—Ἐπί has here, as in 1 Thessalonians 3:7, the sense of: on account of, in relation to. We conclude, therefore, that Titus also had been much disturbed and anxious on account of the state of things at Corinth, and that he had been reassured by what he had seen during his visit there. The close connection between the participial sentence and παρεκλήθη, suggests that the Apostle was here speaking of the tranquilizing effect which the visit at Corinth had had upon Titus’ own mind. This was so perceptible, that during the recital of what Titus had witnessed, the load of care was removed also from the heart of the Apostle himself. Of course this implies that Titus had previously had all his anxieties allayed by what he had seen of the disposition of the Corinthian Church. (Osiander thinks that the Apostle in the tumult of his joy had completely amalgamated into a single thought the consolation of Titus, his own perception of that consolation, and the account of the whole which he was then writing). [It is implied that Titus was comforted while he was reciting the story in the ears of Paul himself, for the participle sἀναγγ. is given to explain how Titus was comforted. The Apostle was comforted while hearing, and Titus while telling such news]. The comforting things which Titus announced respecting the Corinthians, are given in the succeeding sentence,—when he told us your longing, your mourning, your zeal respecting me, so that I rejoiced the more. ( 2 Corinthians 7:7 b).—This implies: 1, their longing to see the Apostle once more, increased, as it doubtless was, by his delay in coming to them; 2, their ὀδυρμός. i. e., the extreme sorrow which they had expressed in bitter Lamentations, when they became aware of the anxiety their sad state had caused him, and when they had received the severe reproof contained in his first Epistle; 3, their zeal in behalf of the Apostle, the interest awakened in the Church (as a whole, though not without some important exceptions), in behalf of his person and his authority (others say: affectionate zeal to repair the injury they had done him, to allay all his apprehensions, and to give him joy by their amendment). The phrase ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ (your zeal for, or in behalf of me), is so essentially and immediately connected with ζῆλον, that it seemed needless to repeat the article in order to define it more perfectly. The power of the impression made upon him by the account is shown in the sentence: ὥστε με μᾶλλον χαρῆναι. If we regard μᾶλλον here as equivalent to: potius, we must place the emphasis upon χαρῆναι, and the sense then would be: ‘so that instead of being troubled, I rather rejoiced,’ But from the order of the words we are induced to place the emphasis rather upon μᾶλλον, or at least upon παρεκάλεσεν, which, indeed, contains essentially the idea of joy, and may be regarded as the climax of this joy [so that the sense would be, so that I rejoiced or was comforted more than before]. Others suggest in addition that the increased joy was in consequence of the arrival of Titus [i. e., my usual joy was much increased]. Such a meaning would be much the same in its essential result. [In the old Oxford Paraphrase, the expression here is: so that I rejoiced now the more exceedingly from the occasion of my former grief. Chrysostom: “On these (before mentioned) he abounds in joy, and was filled with consolation, because he had made them feel. These things seem to me to be said, not only to soften what has gone before, but to encourage those who had acted well. For although we doubt not that some among the Corinthians were obnoxious to his former accusations, and unworthy of these praises, he did not wish to distinguish them, but makes both the praises and the accusations common, leaving it to the consciences of his hearers, to select what respectively belonged to them.”]

2 Corinthians 7:8-11. Because even though I made you sorry in the Epistle, I do not regret it: although I did regret it (for I perceive that that Epistle made you sorry, though but for a season), yet now I rejoice.—[The word ὅτι compels us to treat this sentence as a reason for the rejoicing of which he had just spoken. The phrase εἰ καὶ occurs three times in this single verse, and in each instance admits a fact without encouraging a doubt respecting it: ‘I admit I made you sorry, that I regretted it, and that the sorrow was but for a season.’ And yet it is implied that notwithstanding those facts, there were qualifying circumstances: ‘Even though such things were true, he did not then regret the sorrow, etc.’]. The painful impression his former Epistle had produced, did not prevent his present rejoicing. He refers, when he speaks of making them sorrowful, to the effect of the severe reproofs he had administered in his first Epistle, especially in the fifth chapter. [And yet many cannot discover anything in the first Epistle answering to such representations. The severity there refers mainly to a private wrong of an individual. They think, therefore, that an Epistle which had been so severe that the Apostle shrinks from reminding the Corinthians that it was his own (τῇ ἐπιστολῇ), must have been a brief and lost one which was confined to public censures, see Introd, § 6.]. There is some dispute regarding the way in which the following sentences should be taken. If we adopt the reading, εἰ καὶ μετεμελόμην (without the δὲ, which is contained only in Cod. B.), two different constructions are possible. In the first place, we may connect this expression with what precedes, as if he had intended to say: ‘I do not regret it, though I did regret it;’ in which case βλέπω γὰρ, ὅτι ἐλύπησα ὑμᾶς is simply a practical confirmation of the preceding ἐλύπησα: I see, from what Titus has told me, that the Epistle made you sorrowful, though only for a season; or we may regard it as giving the reason for his regretting that he had written (μετεμελόμην). When he says: although for a brief season, he informs them of a circumstance which had diminished his regrets, and he probably implies also that his own regret had been only a transient feeling (and yet it is in the imperfect). Meyer, however, correctly remarks that βλέπω γάρ, etc., could not be construed as the reason for any but the οὐ μετεμελόμην of the preceding clause (with which, however, on this construction it could have no suitable meaning [for why should he give what he now sees as a reason for his former regrets])? In the second place, we may commence a new sentence with εἰ καὶ μετεμελόμην, as we may also, and even must do, if we accept of the reading εἰ δὲ καὶ. Those also who leave out γάρ after βλέπω, find in the clause beginning with βλεπω the apodosis of the whole sentence beginning with εἰ καὶ μεταμ.: q. d. “though I did regret it, I now perceive that the Epistle made you sorry only for a season.” Even this construction gives no better specimen of reasoning than the other. It remains that we should make the clause commencing with νῦν χαίρω ( 2 Corinthians 7:9) the apodosis of the whole sentence in which εἰ κὰι μεταμ., etc., is the protasis. [The Vulgate renders it: Quoniam etsi contristavi vos in epistola, non me pœnitet: et si pœniteret, videns quod epistola illa, etsi ad horam, vos coniristavit, Nunc gaudeo, etc. This is translated by the Rhemish, “ For, although I made you sorry in an Epistle, it repenteth me not: albeit it repented me, seeing that the same Epistle (although but for a time) did make you sorry. Now I am glad,” etc.] If we adopt the reading which the Vulgate must have used [i. e., βλέπω γὰρ,] the participial sentence will very conveniently connect with, and form a part of, the protasis, to which the apodosis Isaiah,now I rejoice.’ The reading βλέπω γὰρ, Isaiah, however, so well established that we are compelled to receive it into our text. We may then regard the sentence commencing with these words as a logical parenthesis, thus: “Though I did at one time regret it—(and not without reason) for I perceive (from the account of you by Titus) that that Epistle made you sorry—now I rejoice” (Meyer.) The regret of which he spoke had been experienced sometime before that in which his feelings changed and he became joyful. On this construction, we are struck with the difficulty, that the Apostle used the present βλέπω, rather than the past ἕβλεπον to correspond with μεταμελόμην; but the reason probably is that what the Apostle perceived on a former occasion continued still before his mind, and the peculiar nature of the parenthesis had introduced some confusion into the strict logical connection. The actual course of thought was probably something like the following: From the first account brought by Titus he had perceived that the Corinthians were much troubled by the contents of this first Epistle, and for a while he had been sorry that he had reproved them so severely. But when Titus had brought further information [on a second return from Corinth] he perceived not only that the disturbance had been essentially only temporary (πρὸς ὥραν, Galatians 2:5, for a season), but that it soon gave way to a feeling of joy, and was productive of many important benefits. Their sorrow was therefore so far from being a source of regret to him, that he never recollected the effects which that Epistle had produced without joyful emotions. [The word βλέπω is more expressive than ὁρῶ. It refers to the mental contemplation which his paternal spirit had of them while he was absent from the scene. The abrupt and disconnected form which the Apostle’s language here assumes gives us a vivid picture of the inner workings of his heart. Wordsworth remarks: “that the language is beyond the rigid rules of ordinary grammar, and belongs to a higher science, the grammar of nature and even of inspiration; and impart an indescribable grace of tenderness and truth to these impassioned outpourings of his full heart. If they so touch the soul when read now, what must have been their effect when they sounded forth in all their original freshness, with the living voice, in the public recitations of these Epistles in the churches of Corinth and Achaia.” It is not implied that the Apostle’s regret involved any moral self-reproach. Dr. Campbell says it denotes simply “that uneasiness which a good man feels, not from the consciousness of having done wrong, but from a tenderness for others, and a fear lest that which, prompted by duty he had said, should have too strong an effect upon them.”] Accordingly the hesitation which some writers have felt in admitting that an inspired writer would be the subject of such regrets, springs from a mistake with regard to the human element in inspiration, i. e., the variable disposition of the inspired person. As the nobler human feelings are still supposed to be in exercise, notwithstanding the essential divinity of the power which moves them, there is no call for those arbitrary attempts, which some have made to interpret our passage (com. Meyer and Osiander). From what we have already said, it is evident that υῦν in 2 Corinthians 7:9, should be taken in a temporal and not in a logical sense. Not because ye were made sorry, but because ye were made sorry unto repentance. ( 2 Corinthians 7:9 b). In οὐχ ὅτι ἐλυπῄθῃτε: (not because ye were, etc.) his design was to prevent, the misconstruction which might be put upon what he had said, as if it were a pleasure to him to remember that he had given them pain, (cold severity, com. Lamentations 3:33). The matter which gave occasion to his joy was that they had been troubled in such a way as to produce a change of their feelings, especially with respect to the sad case mentioned in the former Epistle ( 1 Corinthians 5.). The result of such a change was that they had made a great advance in Christian morality and seriousness, and that they had been deeply humbled. He proceeds to speak still further on this point when he adds: For ye were made sorry according to God, that ye might receive damage from us in no respect ( 2 Corinthians 7:9 c). In accordance with Paul’s usage κατὰ θεόν must be designed to direct our minds to the efficient author of the sorrow. (Deo efficiente.) It means: according to God, i. e., according to the mind or will of God. Thus in Romans 8:27. Bengel says: “The sorrow of penitents renders their minds conformable to God,” and “κατά signifies the feeling of the mind which has regard to and follows after God.” Such a one “is grieved because he has done what God abhors.” (Ambrosius). “Iva is here expressive of the divine intention, with, respect to their sorrow according to God; and it implies, even if it had not been implied in κατὰ θεόν, that God had had a hand in producing their sorrow. The object God had in view was, that they might in no way suffer injury from their teachers, not even by their sorrow. Neander: “It is agreeable to the theological view every where predominant in Paul’s writings to say that what he had written with an upright intention should not result in injury to them.” Osiander: ἐν μηδενί has the sense of, in no part, i. e., neither in your joyful confidence nor in the purity of the Church.” But is such a meaning quite appropriate or consistent with the context? Ζημιοῦσθαι occurs in 1 Corinthians 3:15, in the sense of, he shall suffer loss. The preposition ἐκ shows the source of the injury which is denied ( 2 Corinthians 2:2). He does not mean that they would thus be saved from punishment. He merely implies that they might have been injured if they had experienced no change of mind, especially if their feelings had become alienated from him and embittered toward him. On the contrary he rejoiced to find that the result had been salutary.—This idea is further carried out in 2 Corinthians 7:10, where a reason is assigned for what had been said in the preceding final sentence: “Ye have been troubled by God that ye might receive injury from us in nothing.—For the sorrow which is according to God worketh out repentance unto salvation not to be repented of, ( 2 Corinthians 7:10 a),—i. e., a change of heart which leads to salvation.” The apostle here refers back to εῖς μετάνοια, (unto repentance) in 2 Corinthians 7:9, and he describes this as the effect of a right kind of sorrow. When a man

is conformed to the mind of God, or is troubled by a regard to God on account of his sins, he will turn from those sins with all his heart; and he will become totally opposed to all that once was pleasant or seemed indifferent to him (μετάνοια). But this change of heart which was the result of the sorrow spoken of, and which in the actual experience of believers always included faith, was especially the fruit of the sorrow according to God and conducted to salvation.[FN12] If we connect ἀμεταμέλητον with σωτηρίαν, the idea will be that when a man is delivered from his sinful corruption he thereby attains everlasting life and must of course be forever satisfied. It would be absurd to suppose that such a one would ever regret his course or have the slightest wish that he had never come into this state or into the way which leads to it. It must be conceded therefore that this epithet is quite suitable to σωτηρίαν, and the order of the words favors such an application. But Luther and others connect it with μετάνοιαν, and pœnitentiam non pœnitendam is an expression which makes good sense. [Calvin also with fine critical discernment remarks: The play here upon the word penitence, when he says not to be repented of, is elegant, for however unpleasant at first taste a thing may be, it renders itself desirable by its usefulness. For though the epithet (ἀμεταμέλ.) may refer as much to the salvation as to the penitence, it appears to me to agree better with the latter word: q. d.: We are taught by the very event that no sorrow ought to be grievous or troublesome to us; so that though repentance have something bitter in it of itself, it is described as not to be repented of because of the sweet and precious fruit which it produces.” The Vulgate renders the phrase thus: pœnitentiam in salutem stabilem operatur, which the Rhemish translates: worketh penance unto salvation that is stable. This use of ἀμεταμέλητος in the sense of unchangeable is perhaps sanctioned by its use in Romans 11:29. It is commonly supposed that our English Version favors the reference of the word to repentance. This however does not seem quite clear.] It is true we should more naturally have expected that ἀμετανόητον would have been used in application to μετάνοιαν, but ἀμεταμέλητος brings out better that part of the sorrow which is painful, and no one can justly say that it creates any halting or feebleness in the course of thought. We may therefore, with Osiander give the preference to such a connection. There is an evident reference to the οὐ μεταμέλομαι in 2 Corinthians 7:8. As this epistle had drawn forth their sorrow and this had produced a change of heart which could never be regretted, it had been followed by such fruits and had led to salvation (σωτηρία), he could of course have no regrets on account of the effect of his epistle, and he could only rejoice in the recollection of it.—But the sorrow of the world worketh death. ( 2 Corinthians 7:10 b).—He here brings up as an illustration of what he had said, a striking contrast. To the divine sorrow of which he had spoken he now opposes the sorrow of the world, i. e., the sorrow which the ungodly multitude sometimes experience. As Thomas says: “as is the love so is the sorrow.” Τοῦ κόσμου is the genitive, not of the object, i. e., a sorrow on account of worldly things or possessions, but of the subject, and it must be interpreted with reference to the contrast. It here signifies such a trouble about the apostle’s reproofs as would have produced no change of mind, but rather an irritability and a depression of spirit on account of wounded pride. As this could only harden the heart, it would lead to the death which was equivalent to perdition, and of course the reverse of salvation. Death is here not merely moral corruption, nor a fretting of one’s self to death, and above all not a mortal sickness or suicide. Comp. Elwert. Stud. der Würt. Geistl. IX:1135ff.—For behold this very thing, that ye were made sorry according to God, what great diligence it wrought in you ( 2 Corinthians 7:11).—The apostle here points out the way in which the good results of the sorrow had been exhibited among the Corinthians themselves. He shows by actual facts the proof (introduced by γάρ) of what he had been saying. Behold! (ἰδού) is here the utterance of a lively emotion. (Osiander). Τοῦτο indicates in advance and in a very emphatic manner, the matter on which he is about to speak, and the particulars of which he immediately proceeds to specify; and by αὐτό he designed to say that it was that precise thing, and that alone which had had such an influence. The simple dative ὑμῖν (in you) is more forcible than ε̇ν ὑμῖν would have been, and it must here be regarded as the Dative of relation, but closely approximating the dat. commodi. The substantive σπουδή signifies originally haste, then diligence, activity, and it is here applied to the case of discipline then in hand, in contrast with the previous inactivity (Starke: diligence in recognizing your defects, in complying with my exhortations, in removing offences, and in making up for past neglects).—Yea, clearing of yourselves; yea, indignation; The ἀλλά which is so many times repeated and with so much emphasis (comp. 1 Corinthians 6:11), is not only climactic, but corrective; equivalent to: yea, rather. He intended to say that σπουδή was perhaps too feeble a word to express the change which took place in their minds in consequence of their godly sorrow. Ἀπολογία here means, not their defence of the Apostle against his opponents, but in accordance with the context, their own justification before Titus and so before the Apostle. It signifies their answer to the charge of having apparently given countenance to sin, and their solemn disavowal of all fellowship with crime. It was not, however, their practical justification of themselves by the actual punishment of the offender, for this would have anticipated the idea expressed afterwards by ἐκδίκησις. The ἀγανάκτησις (indignation) was more than the ἀπολογία; for it implies that they were indignant that such a thing should have taken place among them, and perhaps at themselves that they had so long tolerated it and had been so careless of the honor of the church.—yea, fear; yea, longing desire.—The φόβος was in this case a fear not of Divine judgment and still less of apostasy, but of the Apostle lest he should come to them with a rod ( 1 Corinthians 4:21). (Heubner thinks incorrectly that it was an apprehension that new offences might arise, and hence that it signifies an increased watchfulness and jealousy of themselves). To this reference of the fear of the Apostle corresponds the succeeding word, in which he passes suddenly to the very opposite; for ἐπιπόθησις signifies not a joyful longing for their own improvement, but as in 2 Corinthians 7:7, an earnest desire to see the Apostle himself, whose love for them they felt even while he reproved them so severely, but to whom they turned with confidence as soon as they had removed the offence.—yea, zeal; yea, infliction of punishment.—If (with Bengel and Meyer) we divide the series of six things here mentioned into three pairs, in which ἀπολογία and ἀγανάκτησις relate to the Corinthians themselves; [φόβος and ἐπιπόθησις to Paul], and ζῆλος and ἐκδίκησις to the offender, we must regard ζῆλος as signifying something different from what it means in 2 Corinthians 7:7. It must signify in such a case a zeal to punish the offender, which attains its end in the ἐκδίκησις, but which is essentially a zeal in behalf of God, the Apostle’s authority, and the church’s reputation. Bengel makes both of these refer to the incestuous person, and with a rather excessive refinement he explains ζῆλο̇ς as pro bono animæ ejus, and ἐκδίκησις as contra malum ejus. Ἐκδίκησις is the infliction of punishment in consequence of which the law (in this case the Divine) is carried out, maintained and satisfied in its demands upon the holiness of God’s people. (The attempt to find in this place the Romish doctrine of satisfaction is purely arbitrary). If (with Osiander) we regard the members in the several pairs as contrasted with one another and rising in each case towards a climax, ζῆλος would be zeal for the Lord, etc., that the Divine law might be maintained through the ἐκδίκησις, i. e., the punishment of the guilty one. [Doddridge: “Some divines have taken it for granted that this verse contains seven distinct marks of true repentance, to be found in every sincere penitent, whereas these are not the characters of the temper of each, but of different persons in different circumstances, according to the part they respectively acted in the affair in question.”] The result of all this was—In every respect ye have commended yourselves as clear in this affair. ( 2 Corinthians 7:11 b).—In accordance with the lively and emphatic style in which the Apostle was here writing, this is introduced without an οὖν or anything of the kind. Ἐν παντὶ signifies here in every respect. Συνεστήσατε is equivalent to ἀπεδείξατε (Osiander makes it a collateral idea in connection with what he had said of their conciliatory and just course). With this meaning the word has sometimes an accusative of the object in connection with it ( Romans 5:8), sometimes ὅτι, and sometimes as in the present case an accus. cum infin. Ἁγνος signifies pure, innocent. In other places it is used with a genitive of the offence, but here it is with a dative signifying with reference to, like ἐλεύθερος τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ (free from righteousness) in Romans 6:20. Τῷ πραγματι is a lenient general phrase to avoid anything more specific. Bengel: “He speaks indefinitely because the thing was unpleasant.” Neander uses this passage to confirm his view, that Paul has reference in this epistle nowhere to the case of the incestuous person, but to some individual in personal hostility to himself. [“If the case alluded to here had been that of the incestuous person, the Corinthians would have had no need of showing their innocence in the matter, for no one could have supposed them to be sharers in such a crime; but if we suppose that it was the case of some individual in personal opposition to the Apostle, we can easily see how they might have shared in this offence, and how they might have shown themselves clear in this matter.”]

2 Corinthians 7:12-16. Accordingly, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his sake who had done the wrong, nor for his sake who had suffered wrong. ( 2 Corinthians 7:12 a).—We have here an inference [ἄρα, consequently] from the effects which his first Epistle had produced, with reference to his object in writing it. [The same phrase (εἰ καὶ) occurs here which had occurred thrice a few sentences before ( 2 Corinthians 7:8), and in the same sense: “Even though I wrote unto you; conceding, as I do, that I did so”]. His first inference, as to what must have been his motive in writing, is stated negatively as to what was not his object. From the results which he had recounted in their own experience, he wished them to infer what must have been his true design, and to give up all unfounded surmises with respect to his motives. He doubtless had reference to his design in writing that portion of the Epistle ( 1 Corinthians 5.) which treated of the matter in hand, and its contents; not to the severity or sternness of its spirit. The latter could not be alluded to without some more specific designation of his object. Meyer expresses it thus: “Though I have not been silent, but have opened my heart to you by letter on this matter.” From ἔγραψα we may readily conclude what verb must be supplied in the final sentence It must be, of course, “I wrote.” Neander thinks that ἔγραψα refers not to the first Epistle to the Corinthians, but to one which has been lost, and which, being confined to a single object, may have contained some severe expressions. Οὐκ—ἀλλά in this place also should not be enfeebled in its meaning, for the Apostle intended to say that his object in writing had not been to do justice to either of these persons, but one far higher. Meyer: “He must, indeed, have written in opposition to the wrong doer (ἀδικήσας), and to the same extent in favor of the injured one (ἀδίκηθείς), and yet the determining cause which had prevailed upon him and had induced him to write, was not the case of either of these persons, but the interest of the Church in general.” Most expositors understand ἀδικήσας as having reference to the incestuous person. But who is the ἀδικηθείς? We are not surprised to find it in the Masculine, for this seems demanded by its contrast with ἀδικήσας. The neuter=ἀδικήματος would have been not only inconsistent with grammatical usage, but without a consistent meaning, for he had nowhere said any thing of the crime itself. That the Corinthians were not meant is evident from the use of the singular number. He must, therefore, have meant either himself, who, as an Apostle, had been deeply injured by such a blot upon the reputation of one of his churches, or the father of the incestuous person whose conjugal rights had been so severely violated. But not only 2 Corinthians 2:5 (οὐκ ἐμὲ λελύπηκεν), but the entire absence of any more particular designation (as ἐμοῦ), argues very strongly against the former view, even though we leave out the improbable extension some have given it, by reminding us that the man may have become especially vindictive against the Apostle, and may have drawn others into his party. In behalf of the second view we may also suggest that in other places ἀδικεῖσθαι is employed with reference to a violation of conjugal relations. As a reason for the silence of the other passages ( 1 Corinthians 5:2; 1 Corinthians 5:5 ff.) with respect to the father, we may remark that there was no occasion, or at least no necessity, for a reference to him there. If we make the word apply to him, the Apostle must be understood to deny that his object was to procure satisfaction for him. Neander regards the Apostle as the one who had received a personal offence (comp. 2 Corinthians 2:5). If this were Song of Solomon, Paul would have been the ἀδικηθείς, and we must understand him to deny that he wrote under the irritation such an injury might be supposed to produce. His real object in mentioning the matter at all in a letter to them, is brought before us in the next clause (which, according to the best established reading of the text, is):—but that your diligence in our behalf might be made manifest among you in the sight of God ( 2 Corinthians 7:12 b)—i. e., that your care for us and our work, to help us in accomplishing our aims and purposes, and in attaining the great objects of our mission, might be brought into the light (comp. 2 Corinthians 7:11; 2 Corinthians 2:9). Very likely πρὸς ὑμᾶς appeared inappropriate in this place, and hence the various reading: ἡμῶν τὴν ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν. But he intended to say that by their means or under their direction, in the church and in consequence of their active exertions in this matter, their zeal in his behalf had become apparent, Πρός appropriately designates what direction this manifestation had taken. The purity or uprightness with which this had been done is pointed out by the phrase, in the sight of God, which evidently was intended to show the presence in which the manifestation took place. This intimates that they ought to make trial of their zeal as in the presence of God, and see to it that it was no mere pretence or vain form.—Therefore we have been comforted: but besides (ἐπί) our comfort we have rejoiced more abundantly in the joy of Titus ( 2 Corinthians 7:13).—He means here to say: On this account, i. e., since this was our object, and inasmuch as this object has been attained ( 2 Corinthians 7:9 ff.), we have been comforted. [The perfect indicates a continued comfort]. If we adopt the reading of the Receptus: ἐπὶ τῇ παρακλήσει ὑμῶν περισσοτέρως δὲ, we must take ὑμῶν not in an active sense, so that the idea would be: “in consequence of the consolation afforded me by you;” but in a passive sense, according to which the meaning would be: in consequence of the comfort you enjoyed after the temporary (πρὸς ὥραν, 2 Corinthians 7:8) sorrow my epistle caused you, you have found peace by means of the repentance (μετάνοια). The word παράκλησις in this connection has the sense of comfort, not as Reiche maintains, of an admonition, as if Paul was comforted on account of the favorable result of the severe admonition he had given the Corinthians. But the best established reading places the δέ immediately after ἐπί; in consequence of which a new sentence must commence with ἐπί, and the preceding three words form a beautiful, impressive and brief sentence by themselves (Osiander). We may then regard ἐπί as indicating the condition or state in which the speaker was with the sense of either, in, or still better, in addition to what had been possessed before, as in Matthew 25:20, and Luke 16:26. That which is added is thus regarded as based or resting upon that which before existed (Passow 2 Corinthians 1:2, p1038 b). [There is a general unity, with a particular diversity, in the meaning which ἔπὶ bears in this section. Its general signification (upon, Jelf. §633, Webster, pp174–6) is obviously at the basis of each instance of its use, and yet this branches out into the special meanings, with a dative; on account of ( 2 Corinthians 5:7; 2 Corinthians 5:13, second time), in addition to ( 2 Corinthians 7:13, first time), and with a genitive: before, or in the presence of ( 2 Corinthians 7:14). Comp. Ellicott on 1 Timothy 5:19]. By περισσοτέρως μᾶλλον (comp. 2 Corinthians 7:7) the Apostle intended to say that this new joy which is added to the previous comfort was more abundant than that of the comfort itself. The double comparative [for even in the positive a comparison is implied, and μᾶλλον (found also in Mark 7:36) therefore doubles it] increases the force of the expression. The object or reason for this joy was the joy of Titus. The latter is more definitely described when it is added—because his spirit had been refreshed by you all. ( 2 Corinthians 7:13 b).—These words are not dependent upon ἐχάρημεν, as if Paul rejoiced because the spirit of Titus had been refreshed; and of course they are not parallel with ἐπὶ τῇ χαρᾷ to define more distinctly what the joy of Titus was; but they are added to inform us with more precision respecting the cause of Titus’ joy. The position of ἀναπἐπαυται at the commencement of the clause shows that it was intended to be emphatic. We had ἀναπαύειν (they refreshed my spirit) once before, in 1 Corinthians 16:18. The source from which the refreshment came is pointed out by ἀπο. Another reason for his great joy on account of Titus’ joy he proceeds to assign in 2 Corinthians 7:14.—For if in anything I have boasted to him of you I was not made ashamed, but as we spake all things to you in truth, so also our boasting before Titus was found to be truth.—Ἒι τι does not signify any doubt as to the fact asserted, but it is a delicate mode of expression, common also in classical writers, and equivalent to τι or ὃσον . The dative αὐτῷ should be explained by means of the λαλε͂ιν implied in καυχᾶσθαι. To the negative, I was not made ashamed, he adds the positive, our boasting was found to be truth. Ἐγενήθη, in its logical signification, means here: turned out to be, proved to be in accordance with facts. Ἐπὶ has here, as 1 Corinthians 6:1, the sense of, before, in the presence of. His object was, by way of comparison, to put by the side of what he had said to them what he had boasted before Titus when he sent him to Corinth and when he was anxious to encourage him. All that he had said to them and to him was now proved to have been said uprightly. The whole passage is apologetical (comp. 2 Corinthians 1:17 ff.). Πάντα must be taken in a general sense, and not applied merely to the favorable things he had been saying to them respecting Titus. Ἐν ἀληθεἰᾳ has an adverbial signification (truly), as in Colossians 1:16 and John 17:19. One result of this confirmation of the Apostle’s boastful assertions, by means of Titus’ own experience among the Corinthians, is mentioned in ver15, where it is said—And his inward affection is more abundant toward you while he remembers the obedience of you all.—Σπλάγχνα occurred before in chap 2 Corinthians 6:12. Περισσοτέρως, signifies: even more than before. Εἰς ὑμᾶς ἐστιν means that he was inclined or attached to them. In the phrase ἀναμιμνησκομένου, etc. (recalling to himself. Jelf. § 363, 6; Winer, § 39, 3), he refers to that which awakened and perpetually sustained his earnest love toward them, viz: their ὑπαποή, their obedience to Titus, his deputy to them. This sprung up in his heart when he learned the spirit with which they had received Titus, and it was sustained more especially by his lively recollection of the same event.—How with fear and trembling ye received him. ( 2 Corinthians 7:15 b.)—With respect to fear and trembling, comp. on 1 Corinthians 2:3. The phrase here signifies that profound reverence which they entertained for one who had been delegated by Christ’s own Apostle, and which made them exceedingly zealous lest they should fail in any duty they owed him (Osiander, Meyer). He concludes this section with an expression of his joyful confidence in them.—I rejoice that I have confidence in you in all things ( 2 Corinthians 7:16).—[He here gives the conclusion of the whole discussion. The first seven chapters had been occupied with subjects of a personal nature between him and the Corinthians, and as he is about to leave the subject] he gives the result at which he arrives in an abrupt appendix (asyndeton, without οὑν). The proper signification of θαῤῥῶ is simply, I am of good courage, not I may or can be of good courage, as if he had meant merely, that he had ground for encouragement. As in other passages θαῤῥεῶ is never construed with ἑν, when the object of confidence is referred to. Meyer is inclined to consider ἐν as expressive of the original cause or source of the confidence. (I am of good courage through you), and yet the analogy of πιστεύειν, ἐλπίζειν and other words of a similar meaning, favors the interpretation which seems here most natural, viz: with respect to the object: I have confidence concerning, with regard to, or in you. [Dr. Hodge thinks that if θαῤῥῶ cannot, when joined with ἐν, be rendered, I have confidence, “ἐν had better be rendered before: I stand full of confidence before you, i. e, in your presence,” and he refers to 1 Corinthians 14:11. Hebrews, however, with our author, prefers the translation given in the common English version. Stanley renders the passage: “I am bold through your encouragement.”] The comprehensive ἐν παντὶ, which must here signify, in all things, forms a suitable transition to the following section.


1. The inspiration of the sacred writers was not inconsistent with the free exercise of all human feelings ( 2 Corinthians 7:8). Even assuming that Paul was fully inspired when he wrote the lost Epistle, he appears afterwards to have had misgivings respecting it, whether he had acted under an infallible Divine influence. Conceding this, we may still maintain that every thing which has been actually preserved as holy Scripture is infallibly true and Divine. Men who claimed to be, and doubtless were, infallibly inspired in all that concerned their official duties, seem to have been left to doubts and infirmities at other times and in their private relations, like other men ( Galatians 2:11; 2 Corinthians 12:7; 2 Corinthians 1:15 f. Philippians 2:23). “Holy men,” whose free human faculties were “moved,” informed and directed to any requisite extent “by the Holy Ghost,” appear to have been allowed, even in the moment of inspiration, to express themselves according to their individuality of character. Paul’s style and manner of expression is unmistakably unlike John’s, or David’s, or Jeremiah’s. Different instruments of music, even when played upon by the same hand, and with equal power, will give forth each its peculiar tone. The most plenary inspiration was probably consistent with the freest possible play of human thoughts and feelings. Comp. Lee. on Inspiration, Chap6, p 176 ff. Hodge: “Inspiration simply rendered its subject infallible in writing and speaking as the messenger of God. Paul might doubt whether he had in a given instance made a wise use of his infallibility, as he might doubt whether he had wisely exercised his power of working miracles. He never doubted as to the truth of what he had written.”]

2. Godly sorrow, or the sorrow which is conformed to the will of God, is one which directs the man wholly and only to God. He is troubled because he has violated God’s law, has injured God’s cause, has dishonored God’s name, and has made himself utterly unworthy of God’s holy love. In this mere act of renouncing sin there must be involved such a radical change of heart as must remove all hindrances on man’s part to his participation in God’s salvation. It is in itself such a thoroughly purifying fire, as necessarily implies that its subject is in the way to everlasting life. By such a change of disposition, which every one must recognize as the work of God’s Spirit, he becomes susceptible of, and prepared for, every blessing proffered to him by Divine grace, and purchased for him by Christ’s expiatory work. But there is another kind of sorrow which is sometimes felt by men who are alienated and estranged from God. They are often indignant and offended when their misdeeds are brought to light, because they apprehend that their reputation and standing among men may be injured, when they are brought by providential discipline into various kinds of trouble, and when their honor, their earthly possessions, or their enjoyments are impaired. They are not disturbed at the thought of sin itself, in its relation to God and His kingdom, nor as a violation of their duty to their fellow-men, and an impediment or a complete destruction to all intercourse with God. They who have only this kind of sorrow are still in the way of death, of eternal perdition, and of everlasting banishment from God’s kingdom.



2 Corinthians 7:2. Ministers are bound not to injure their hearers (e. g., by excessive severity), nor to corrupt them (by false doctrines or wrong conduct), nor needlessly to molest or trouble them; but their hearers are equally bound to love, honor and imitate their ministers.

2 Corinthians 7:3. Those who have great success in preaching, and have affectionate hearers, may have obtained them without any violation of conscience or of the duties of their office.—Those who are faithful are willing to lay down their lives for the salvation of their people ( 2 Corinthians 12:15).

2 Corinthians 7:4. To be afflicted for Jesus’ sake, and yet to be joyful and confident, implies something above human power.—Hedinger:

2 Corinthians 7:5. The life, the work and the love of the Christian may sometimes bring him much anxiety; and yet how calm can he be in the midst of commotion! The flesh may be in the conflict while the spirit is calm! Blessed indeed are they who know what this is! John 16:33. Spener:—God afflicts His people in many ways, and we must not suppose His saints to be insensate blocks; they are obliged to endure much inward suffering, and to feel that they are still men.

2 Corinthians 7:6. Thou who sittest in the dust and art troubled, listen to a good friend, whose counsels will cheer and enliven thee again! God sent him to comfort thee! 2 Corinthians 7:7. Blessed indeed are they who make such a use of their spiritual chastisements! It is the mark not only of a good spirit, but of an upright minister, when nothing troubles a man more than offences among his people, or rejoices him more than the removal of them ( Jeremiah 13:7; 3 John 1:4).—Hedinger:

2 Corinthians 7:8 ff. It is never a pleasure to a minister to reprove and disturb his people. But when his words reach their hearts and produce excellent fruit, it is a blessed offence and the beginning of a glorious conversion. Hedinger:—That godly sorrow in which the sinner repents of his wickedness, not because it brings upon him punishment, torment, fears, shame and disturbance, but because he has offended the God who loves him and does him good, and in which he would willingly suffer a thousand deaths, if he could thereby blot out the reality of his guilt, has its source in a union of sorrow with filial love, and in a faith which recognizes the goodness of God and the inconceivable abomination of sin (Examples in 2 Samuel 12:13; Luke 15:21; Luke 18:13; Matthew 26:75; Luke 7:38). Such a sorrow frees us from sin, brings us nigh to God, and makes us partakers of eternal glory. We can never regret such a repentance, even though it occasions us some temporary pain, if in the end it leads us to great glory.—The sorrow of the world (on account of worldly losses, fear of punishment, or dishonor) will never know any thing of mercy from God, but it will drive the soul to despair, to new and fretful complainings, on account of its condemnation, and finally to actual hardness of heart.—Spener:

2 Corinthians 7:11. He who is troubled after a godly sort will have his carnal slumbers driven from him; and having thus become conscious of the power of sin, he will be more watchful against it, and will press forward more vigorously in the way of the Lord.—The marks of true repentance are: horror and disgust at sin, delight in goodness, and diligence in the pursuit of it—. 2 Corinthians 7:13. True love rejoices with those who rejoice, and weeps with those who weep ( Romans 12:15). Blessed are they of whom their ministers can testify and boast much which is good. But alas! for those over whom their ministers can breathe forth nothing but sighs! ( Hebrews 13:17). Uprightness becomes any man but especially one who preaches the Gospel.

Berlenb. Bible:

2 Corinthians 7:3. People are very quick in their rage to take what they hear as a condemnation of themselves; but if our own hearts condemn us not, no man can condemn us.

2 Corinthians 7:4. Within a single hour a pious soul may be in deep affliction and overwhelmed with joy.

2 Corinthians 7:6 f. It is one of the mysteries of God’s way that Christians must be comforters to one another. They will thus be joined together as one body.

2 Corinthians 7:8 f. (Cassian): “The sorrow which worketh repentance is obedient, humble, gentle, loving and patient; for it comes from the love of God, and under many and severe trials it will never grow weary in following after perfection. But the sorrow which the devil gives is harsh, impatient, severe, selfish, full of fears, and it is sure to drive the man in his ignorance in an opposite direction.” Can God then be served only in brooding sorrow? The great point Isaiah, what reason we have for sorrow, and whither our sorrow tends? A true child of God cannot but grieve that, during his whole life, he has done so little which can be pleasing to his heavenly Father.

2 Corinthians 7:10. Sorrow is usually looked upon as something disagreeable, and even spiritless and dull; and hence most persons strive to be merry and drive away sad thoughts by worldly pleasures and luxuries. But while such miserable expedients leave our nature infected with the evil, they bring down upon us additional judgments, and afford no protection against the gnawing tooth of conscience. Still less can false comfort and mere fancies give us relief. We must search deep within our souls for the true cause of our sorrow, or we shall derive no permanent benefit from it. God never afflicts us willingly; but such is our present state, that he can do us good in no other way; He is obliged to kill before he can give us life. Before we can have any true joy, we must sorrow unto repentance. By making light of repentance, we only plunge deeper into an eternal melancholy. The godly sorrow which springeth from God and his love leaves nothing behind it but blessedness, for the repentance to which it leads is unto salvation. The sorrow itself, and all that legitimately flows from it, must correspond with the spirit and purpose of the Being who produced it. Hence, if our sorrow comes from God, it must awaken within us a salutary humility, and a repentance which excites us to the exercise of true godliness, and makes us prayerful, obedient to God, patient under trials, kind to our fellowmen, and rich in good works; while the sorrow of the world will make us sullen and unfit for any useful work; and yet in this latter state, sad and dark as it Isaiah, (melancholy), are all those who live without God. Even pious souls are not without temptations to this worldly sorrow. They are liable to melancholy (the sorrow of the world) when they are discouraged under the torments of sin and corruption, under the disorders and distractions of spiritual and bodily trials, and under the afflictions incident to an inordinate love of the world. He who has been a murderer from the beginning, and grudges every happy hour the willing soul spends with its God, conceals himself behind all these depressions of the believer’s spirit, and aggravates them when he pretends to remove them. That dark spirit often induces men under extraordinary afflictions to forsake that which is good, and deprives them of all desire or capacity to enjoy it. The recollection of sins committed before conversion frequently contributes much to such a state of mind; and hence Christians should pay no attention to those representations, in which the serpent, under the guise of humility, reminds them of abominations, which God himself has blotted out and cast into the depths of the sea. In like manner we should never despair on account of those sinful remnants of former habits which continue to beset us even after our conversion.

2 Corinthians 7:11. When a man first obtains a correct idea of his own corruption, and is properly humbled for his sins, his whole heart is aroused, and everything there is in confusion. One emotion only gives place to another. We set about correcting everything at once; the thought of former sluggishness and security makes us indignant at ourselves; we tremble under apprehensions of God’s wrath; we are so anxious to clear ourselves in the minds of those whom we have offended, that we lose no opportunity to do them good; and we burn with zeal to be revenged upon the enemy of our souls, by a true repentance and a hearty renunciation of every sin. Every possible method is resorted to to cast off this hated evil of sin, and if we are not as successful as we hoped to be at once, we are apt to be perplexed, and at a loss what to think or do. Though this shows our utter weakness, it is a good sign that we have truly repented of sin. It indicates that we are thoroughly in earnest, and it is a thousand fold better than the tranquil state of the hypocrite or the self-deceiver. We need not doubt that God will be very patient with persons in such a state. “That ye are clear!” Past offences are easily forgotten when the parties are thoroughly reconciled. Our Lord himself said to those who had miserably sinned against Him, that they were already clean from a regard to Him and through the Gospel which He was speaking to them ( John 15:3.). Wherever the heart is right, He will be satisfied, although He is obliged to overlook many improprieties in the outward life of His disciples.


2 Corinthians 7:2-7. If we are under the direction of the Spirit of love and of power and of a sound mind, we shall never be at a loss to conduct ourselves so as to avoid showing undue fear or favor toward those around us, to meet with composure whatever they inflict upon us, and at the same time to maintain as far as is in us lies their confidence, and to show them that in other respects we esteem them, and are satisfied with them. “The Comforter of those who are cast down!” what a precious name for God!

2 Corinthians 7:8 ff. How the spirit of a father, yea, of God Himself, is apparent here! For although God does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men, yet when He cannot do them good in any other way He brings them into trouble; and, like Joseph before his brethren, turns away and weeps. We are in continual danger not only of being too tender with our brethren, and of withholding from them the needful salt of Christian reproof, but of exercising the authority given us with such severity as will overwhelm them in overmuch sorrow. Ours is the delicate work of assisting them in bringing forth godly sorrow. Blessed are they who can bring about a harvest of joy from a sowing of tears! Those whom God’s Spirit makes sorrowful, because they have lost God, His grace, His way, and the hope of being with Him forever, must see to it that their sorrow does not stop short of that repentance unto life, which can never be repented of. The sorrow of the world must end in death and corruption, because it not only fosters erroneous views and wrong motives, but engenders powerful, though often secretly indulged lusts which mutually strengthen one another.


2 Corinthians 7:2. We should receive those who love us and are sincerely endeavoring to do us good, with the most enlarged affection.

2 Corinthians 7:3. The affectionate minister never puts forth a severe expression merely to wound, or reprove, or condemn any one, but to do him good. To accomplish this he is willing to risk every thing else.

2 Corinthians 7:4. Those who are free and candid with us, give the best proof that they have confidence in us.

2 Corinthians 7:6. God bestows His consolations only upon the lowly, because they trust not to themselves and their own powers, but in God alone; and because they know their own wretchedness, and sigh and weep over it before God. The Lord always looks kindly upon such. Often when they are in the deepest affliction He is preparing to help and comfort them.

2 Corinthians 7:7. How precious the joy of benefiting others.

2 Corinthians 7:8. The purer and the more considerate all your conduct Isaiah, the less reason will you have to apprehend future regrets respecting it. A brief sorrow which leads to amendment saves us from eternal torment.

2 Corinthians 7:9. The new birth cannot be effected without pain.

2 Corinthians 7:10. The distinction between a holy sorrow and the sorrow of the world, springs from their different sources. The latter is merely a feeling of mortification or chagrin under the injuries or the dishonor of which sin has been the occasion. The man complains very little of himself; but against God and Divine Providence he not only complains, but sometimes exhibits extreme malice and spite. On the other hand godly sorrow lays all the burden of guilt upon the sinner, and is full of shame and grief for the dishonor which belongs to sin itself. The former only makes the man worse, hardens his heart, drives him away from God, and lands him in despair; while the latter turns him from his sins, strengthens his powers, and gives him peace with God. The world’s sorrows and the world’s joys are equally worthless. The joys it vaunts in society, and the sorrows it endures all the remaining time.

2 Corinthians 7:11. The repentance of a whole congregation for some offence it has committed, should not be a merely transient emotion of sympathy, but it should lead to earnest efforts to remove the offence, and to withstand the evil. It is no true love which fears to disturb offenders, and is only anxious to make their repentance as easy as possible.

2 Corinthians 7:12. Every minister should strive to convince his people that he has no interest at heart but theirs.

Ver14. A minister should be very cautious about boasting of his people or of his work among them. He is very liable thus to prepare occasions for subsequent mortification. Should we afterwards find ourselves deceived, the reaction will be painful and the great enemy never feels happier than when he finds us indulging in such boastings.

W. F. Besser:

2 Corinthians 7:3. The Christian life extends beyond the present world, and does not attain its perfection until after death. Blessed is that fellowship in which each one has all others in his heart to live and to die with them.

2 Corinthians 7:4. Deeper than the pain God’s ministers suffer from a persecuting world, is the pain they feel for straying brethren and unthankful children; but they have a joy which no earthly sorrow can destroy, a joy which is exceeding abundant, when these lost sheep return to the fold of the Good Shepherd.

2 Corinthians 7:13. Godly comforts are never wanting where there is godly sorrow. It is by the way of repentance that God graciously brings to Jesus Christ those who sorrow after a godly manner over their fallen state.

2 Corinthians 7:15. How unfounded the common impression that a Christian’s love to a brother will grow cold in proportion to his knowledge of that brother’s sins and imperfections! On the contrary, the more it does for him, the warmer it grows.

[ 2 Corinthians 7:2-8. I. Paul’s claim to a cordial reception: 1. Its ground; (a) he deserved it, for his blameless life ( 2 Corinthians 7:2) and for his self-sacrificing love ( 2 Corinthians 7:3 b); 2. The way in which he urged it, (a) so as to give no needless pain ( 2 Corinthians 7:3 a), (b) with open unsuspecting confidence ( 2 Corinthians 7:4). II. His former experience with reference to them: 1. He had been compelled to reprove them, 2. He had been depressed by great trials ( 2 Corinthians 7:5, comp. 2 Corinthians 2:12 f.), 3. God had comforted him ( 2 Corinthians 7:6 f.).

2 Corinthians 7:9-10. Power of sorrow: I. The sorrow of the world: 1. It has no moral basis; 2. It is irreparable; 3. It engenders corrupt passions. II. Godly sorrow: 1. Its source (God in Christ) proves it right; 2. It estranges from all which really can injure us; 3. It works out a positive love of goodness; 4. It shuts us up into the faith of Christ; 5. It secures everlasting salvation.—On the whole section: A minister’s joy in his people: 1. When he has a large place in their hearts; 2. When they heed his admonitions; 3. When their sorrows are not entirely worldly; 4. When their sorrow is according to God; 5. When this works among them all spiritual graces; 6. When he can safely boast of them, and hope confidently for the future. Comp. F. W. Robertson. Serm. VIII, series II. Lectt. L. and LI, and Lisco’s Entwürfe.]


FN#1 - 2 Corinthians 7:3.—Lachm. instead of ον̓ μρὸς κατάκ. λ̇έγω has πρός κατάκρισιν ον̓ λέγω with B. C.; but against much stronger evidence. [Sinait. has since added its testimony to that of B. C, but even such authority is doubtful against all the versions and nearly all the Greek and Latin Fathers.]

FN#2 - 2 Corinthians 7:5—Lachm. has ἄνεσιν ἔσχεν instead of ἔσχηκεν ἄνεσιν, with pretty strong but not decisive authorities. [The Rec. has ἔσχηκεν with C. D. L. and Sin. with Chrys, Theodt. and Damasc. The perfect (hath had) is much more likely to be genuine, as expressive of a continued and not a momentary feeling. The position of ἄνεσιν before ἔσχ. is sustained principally by C. F. G. the Ital. and Vulg. Theodt. and the Latin Fathers.]

FN#3 - 2 Corinthians 7:8.—Lachm. has εἰ δὲ καί instead of the second εί καί, with only B. The δέ was interpolated in order to make the contrast with the preceding sentence more prominent.

FN#4 - The Rec. will thus best explain all the variations; all agree that a new subject is introduced with εἰ καί μετεμελόμην; then δέ was introduced for the sake of contrast and connection; then γάρ was left out by some because the apodosis was supposed to commence with βλέπω; and by others βλέπων was substituted for βλέπω γάρ, because they thought the apodosis should commence with νῦν χαίρω. Tischendorf (agreeing in sense with the Vulgate and Luther) punctuates as Dr. Kling does in his version, with a colon after μεταμέλομαι, and a comma after ὑμᾶς. The punctuation in our Eng. Vers, makes the sense very tame.]

FN#5 - Κατεργάζ. does not seem demanded here, as it does at the close of 2 Corinthians 7:10, even if the simple verb had been used in the first half of that verse].

FN#6 - 2 Corinthians 7:11.—Rec. has ὐμᾶς although opposed by the best MSS. It was evidently inserted to complete what was understood. [Inserted by D. K. L. and the Greek Fathers, but omitted by B. C. F. Sin. and the Lat. Fathers].

FN#7 - 2 Corinthians 7:11.—Recep. has ἐν before τῷ πράγματι, but it is thrown out by some of the best MSS. It was probably an explanatory addition. [It does not, appear in B. C. D. (1Cor.) F. G. Sin. the Vulg. and Goth, verss, and some of the Fathers]. In like manner, in the first part of the verse, ἐν is Sometimes put before ὑμῖν, and Lachmann has received it though in brackets. [It is omitted by B. D K. L. Sin, with the Copt, and Goth, verss, and Clem, Damasc. and Oecum.]

FN#8 - 2 Corinthians 7:12.—Some MSS. have ὑμῶν τ.ὑμῶν, some ἠμῶν,—ἡμῶν and some ἡμῶν—ὐμῶν. The decided preponderance of testimony, however, is in favor of ὐμῶν—ἡμῶν, which also is to be preferred as the more difficult reading. [Alterations from the original may have taken place either designedly to remove a difficulty, or undesignedly from the resemblance in appearance and sound. Our author’s rendering is adopted by Griesbach, Lach, Tisch. and Alford, and they are sustained by B. C. D. (2d and 3 d Cor.) K. L. and many cursives with the Syr, Arm, Copt, Ethiop, Damasc. and Oecum. The Sinait. has in the orig. cod. ὐμῶν—ὐμῶν. B. and Sin. (3d Cor.) also insert ἀλλ̓ before οὐδὲ.]

FN#9 - 2 Corinthians 7:13.—Rec. has παρακεκλήμεθα ἐπί τῇ παρ.ῦ. περισσοτέρως δὲ in opposition to the best MSS. The same may be said of ὐμῶν which it has instead of ἡμῶν. The latter was a change on account of the ἐπι occurring twice in different senses. [Alford: “The δε was placed after περισ. apparently to conform to the ἐχαρήμεν ἐπι below, by joining παρακεκλ. έπὶ: then also the change of ἡμ. into ὐμ became necessary.” The reading adopted by Lach, Tisch. and Alford is παρακεκλήμεθα. Ἐπι δε τῇ παρακλ. ἡμ.περισ. μᾶλλον, after B. C. D. F. K. L. Sin. with the Lat. Syr. and Copt, versions.]

FN#10 - 2 Corinthians 7:14.—Lachm. has ὑμῶν instead of ἡμῶν after καύχησις but it is feebly sustained. The same is true of the omission of before ἑπι Τίτου, [although it has for itself the important testimony of B. and Sin.]

FN#11 - It is absent from every uncial of much authority, and from most of the cursives, and it is an evident correction to assist the connection].

FN#12 - in this passage ( 2 Corinthians 7:8-10), the words μετανοέω and μεταμέλομαι are translated indiscriminately by the English word: repent. The latitude with which this English word is popularly used may perhaps warrant this, and yet such a fact only shows how inadequate the word is to express the particular meaning of at least one of these Greek verbs. The more precise meaning which Theology has assigned to the term Repentance, is certainly not quite suitable to either of them. Divines have attempted to show that the original words were uniformly distinguishable in sense, and yet passages from the Bible have been quoted to show that each of them has sometimes borne every meaning which has been given to the other. It must however be conceded that the predominant usage of each word arose naturally out of its original meaning, and differs very essentially from that of the other. Bengel, (on 2 Corinthians 7:10), Bishop J. Taylor, (on Repent. Chap2. § 1), Campbell, (Diss. VI. part III. § 9), Archbp. Trench, (Synn. Ser2 p90 ff), and Webster, (Synn. p221 f.), have described this meaning and difference with the greatest care. Both words have reference to a knowledge or feeling after (μετά) the event. Μεταμέλομαι is from the simple μέλω: to be an object of care; μετανοέω from the simple νοέωto see, to think. There was from the first a gradual change in the meaning of both words; the latter signifying first, after knowledge, then a change of views, then regret, and finally a complete change of the whole mind. often it was used irrespective of all moral feeling, but when it came into New Testament language, it gradually came to mean a change to a better mind. The noun (μετάνοια) occurs there some five and twenty, and the verb (μετανοε͂ιν) some five and thirty times. The noun (μεταμέλεια) does not occur in the N. T, the verb, (μεταμέλομαι) only five times; once for the beginning of a true repentance ( Matthew 21:29), once of the Jews who “did not repent” ( Matthew 21:32) once of Judas ( Matthew 27:3), twice (once also as a verbal adjective) in our passage, and once of God ( Hebrews 7:21). Μετάνοια then evidently signifies what Coleridge expressively calls, “transmentation” in a good sense, i. e, to come to a right understanding, conversion so far as it relates to the mind; whereas, μεταμέλεια is simply: after care, in a good or indifferent sense, sorrowful retrospections, and leading to a good or bad result. Osiander: “μετάμελ. has reference simply to a change of care or effort, μετάν. to a change of the whole mind and course of thought; that concerns an individual thing, this everything; that refers principally to the feelings and is therefore usually translated sorrow, while this is the fruit of a true sorrow, and hence (as what is perfect embraces the whole) is also frequently used to designate the whole process of repentance. The moral nature and worth of repentance is represented in μετάν. inasmuch as it includes a change of the entire mind, and hence Valla with many others much prefer the Greek to the Latin word pænitentia, (and the Germ. Büsse). In the N. T, μετάν. is sometimes and μετάμελ. is never, employed to designate this entire change.” Paul’s λύπη when it was κατα θεὸν worked out a μετάνοια which was ἀμεταμέλητον, i, e. the sorrow which was according to God would worκ out in the soul a mental revolution, which could never give rise to unhappy regrets: on the other hand, the λύπη which was τοῦ κόσμου would at some period of existence work out a μεταμέλεια, a painful regret which will continue to eternity, and be in itself a θάνατον μεταμέλητον.]


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 7:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". 1857-84.

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