Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: 2 Corinthians Studies|
Chapter: 2 Cor 7
Passage: 2 Cor 7:1-4
A. Find Out:
1. What does Paul exhort them to do and why? v.1
2. What does he ask them to do? v.2a
3. What does he say he hasn't done? v.2b
4. Why wasn't he saying this? v.3a
5. What does he feel about them? v.3b
6. What more does he say about them? v.4
A letter is a one sided communication. Paul's letters were responding to people and situations. We don't have what those situations were, just his responding to the situations. So when we read his responses we can work out the other side.
From Paul's writings here it seems that things had been going on in Corinth that were contaminating the believers with uncleanness, possibly in both body and spirit. We know that Corinth was a morally impure place and perhaps the believers were being contaminated by its ways. Yesterday we saw Paul speak again partnering unbelievers, so it's quite possible it was something of a sexual nature.
The other problem that Paul faces is that he has already written to them and has had a negative reaction from them. We know that from 2:4,9. Whenever there is sin in the church there is also deception and division and upset. So, we see Paul first exhorting them to cleanse themselves and work out holiness, but then appealing for them to receive him and what he says in their hearts. I haven't done any wrong, he says, so don't push me away for that reason.. I'm not trying to condemn you, for you actually have a real place in our hearts of love. We are blessed by you, so please receive us. That is humility.
A. Find Out:
1. What had they encountered in Macedonia ? v.5
2. Who comforts who? v.6a
3. How had they been comforted? v.6b
4. What two ways had they been comforted? v.7a
5. What three things had Paul been told about? v.7b
We pause on just three verses because they contain a particular facet of the life of the early church planters (apostles). Paul tells how, when they came to Macedonia , they seemed to encounter every sort of opposition, they were “harassed at every turn”. Planting new churches was pure warfare! Wherever they turned the enemy brought conflicts in his endeavour to stop them. And Paul is very honest about this. This was not something glorious and wonderful, persecution never is. No, this was something that made them afraid. Yes, even the great apostle was afraid when these things came upon him. He needed picking up!
Then Titus had come. That was a comfort in itself, just having another brother arrive to stand alongside. But more than that Titus came with news about the Corinthians. They had really helped and blessed Titus, and when they had talked about Paul it was with a real longing to see him again. His last letter (we'll see tomorrow) had brought them real sorrow, but also a concern to follow Paul's directions, and that had brought real joy to Paul.
Again and again in this letter we see something of the interaction between this church in Corinth that had strayed, and the apostle Paul who was anxious for them and had a duty to bring correction, however tough that may be.
A. Find Out:
1. What effect did Paul's letter seem to have on them? v.8
2. What had that led on to? v.9
3. What is the right order of things? v.10
4. What had godly sorrow brought in them? v.11
5. So what does Paul conclude about his writing? v.12
When Paul had written before (whether it was 1 Corinthians or another letter) his letter had caused upset. It was a letter of correction (as 1 Corinthians is) and it had a good effect among the Corinthian Christians. Instead of defending themselves the Corinthians had wanted to clear their name by dealing with the matter. They were really upset that they had offended God (and Paul) by their sin. The sorrow that his letter had produced was indeed worth it. More than that, says Paul, when there is sin it is imperative that there is godly sorrow and upset, for only that will lead to true repentance.
Here within this short passage we find some basic principles. When sin is revealed in a person there can be one of two reactions. One reaction is ‘worldly sorrow', that is the sorrow of having been found out, the sorrow of remorse at exposure. It isn't really sorry that it has committed sin, only that it has been found out. This sort of sorrow doesn't deal with the issue and so leads to death.
The other sorrow is godly sorrow, a sorrow that grieves that it has offended God. That sorrow leads to true repentance, a turning away from the sin, back to God and back to righteousness. This sort of sorrow is anxious to put things right, and this, of course, leads to salvation and to life.
A. Find Out:
1. What had happened to Titus? v.13
2. What had Paul done with Titus? v.14a
3. How had that worked out? v.14b
4. What did Titus feel about them and why? v.15
5. What did Paul say about what he felt about them? v.16
Concluding his comments about their repentance, Paul says that he has been really encouraged by the Corinthians' response. That had really blessed him. However that wasn't the only thing that had blessed him about them. When Titus had arrived after having visited them, he was clearly blessed by his visit and this in turn blessed Paul.
Let's note what had happened to Titus when he had visited Corinth . First Paul notes that Titus had been really refreshed by the visit. That was the overall effect upon him of it. When people come to visit us, do they go away feeling refreshed?
Second, he observes that the Corinthians had received Titus with fear and trembling, acknowledging his apostolic office and recognising his authority. In this they had a good attitude. Do we hold a good attitude towards all who come to visit us?
Third, he notes that they were obedient. They did what they were told by spiritual authority. They obeyed the word of God. Do we receive God's word when it comes to us from an outsider, and are we obedient to it? As a result of all this Paul is blessed. What he had told Titus about them had proved true and that made him feel completely confident in them. Although they had to be corrected, he still had confidence in them. They had responded well to the correction.
In this final group of 4 studies we have seen Paul speaking about:
Paul is concerned for these Corinthians, In the previous chapter he had appealed to them to make the most of their salvation. In this chapter he exhorted them to make sure they got rid of anything that polluted their lives and then opened up a plea for them to receive him and what he was saying.
In all of his correcting he makes sure he is positive about them. This chapter is littered with his positive comments about them: v.3b, v.4, v.7, v.9, v.11, v.13, v.14, v.15, v.16.
In the midst of this he gives us a simple teaching about repentance which comes from godly sorrow and brings life, and remorse which is a self-centred sorrow and brings death. In order to bring repentance we have to face people with their sin, which is never pleasant, yet that unpleasantness can then lead on to bring the God-given way to life. These are vital lessons for us to learn.
1. When we are correcting someone, we need to bring encouragement at the same time
that we face them with the negative areas of their life.
2. We all need encouraging, especially when the circumstances are difficult and trying.
3. The reason we confront is to help people face their sin so that godly sorrow can then
bring true repentance.
Ask the Lord to help you truly learn these lessons.
As we come to the end of these studies in the first half of the second letter from Paul to the Corinthians we should note the following:
Paul's Corrective Role as an Apostle
The very reason for this letter is based in Paul's role as a father figure to this church in Corinth, and his need to bring correction to them. This correction had two aspects.
First, Paul had written previously to correct a number of things, but particularly to deal with the matter of sexual immorality that they were tolerating. Now it is clear from what he says that they had dealt with this.
The second aspect is that they appear to have acted negatively to some of the things that he had said to them previously, and the fact that he had not come to them when he had said originally that he would. These reactions seem to have been stirred up by false prophets or teachers who had come to Corinth and who seem to have suggested to the Corinthians that Paul was being heavy handed.
Paul's Approach to this Correction
Paul could have been heavy handed. Instead he approached them with gentleness. He explains that although he had originally been coming to see them he had decided to postpone his visit to give them more time to put right the wrong, so he wouldn't have to deal strongly with them. It was, in fact, his understanding and compassion that had delayed him.
He also went to some lengths to explain the nature of his ministry (hence the title “The Reality of their Work” on Summary above) in his appeal to them. He wants them to understand the nature of his calling, the nature of his work in the Gospel. He explains all this in his appeal to them to be open to him. Finally he commends them again and again. Although he is seeking to correct them he wants them to know that he is not writing them off. To the contrary, he has confidence in them.
This is a difficult letter with which to get to grips, so read it again at one sitting, using the Summary on the previous page. This letter is a lesson to us on being gentle hearted while maintaining responsibility. Paul could have walked away from this church because of their folly, but he doesn't. His heart is for them, and in this he reflects the grace of the Lord. In positions of responsibility do we have this grace?