II Corinthians 7
1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved” – The promises of God’s
indwelling and fatherly love (vs. 16-18 of last chapter) – “let us cleanse ourselves” –
Every Christian, even the best, has need of daily cleansing from his daily assoilment
(John 13:10), and this cleansing depends on the purifying activity of moral effort maintained
by the help of God’s grace. Similarly John (1 John 3:1-3), after speaking of God’s
fatherhood and the hopes which it inspires, adds, “And every man that hath this hope in
him purifieth himself even as he is pure”- (comp. James 4:8) – “from all filthiness” -
rather, from all defilement. Sin leaves on the soul the moral stain of guilt, which was
typified by the ceremonial defilements of the Levitical Law (comp. Ezekiel 36:25-26).
The word used for “filth” in I Peter. 3:21 is different – “of the flesh and spirit” -
From everything which outwardly pollutes the body and inwardly the soul; the two being
closely connected together, so that what defiles the flesh inevitably also defiles the soul,
and what defiles the spirit degrades also the body. Uncleanness, for instance, a sin of
the flesh, is almost invariably connected with pride and hate and cruelty, which degrade
the soul - “perfecting holiness” - This is the goal and aim of the Christian, though in
this life it cannot be finally attained (Philippians 3:12) - “in the fear of God.” There is,
indeed, one kind of fear, a base and servile fear, which is cast out by perfect love; but
the fear of reverential awe always remains in the true and wisely instructed Christian, who
will never be guilty of the profane familiarity adopted by some ignorant sectarians, or speak
of God “as though He were some one in the next street” (Psalm 50:21; Hebrews 12:28;
I Peter 3:15).
In this verse Paul exhorts the Corinthians to the PURSUIT OF PURITY! He seems
to regard the attainment of spiritual purity as consisting in two things:
the flesh and spirit.” Perhaps the reference to “filthiness” here referred
especially to the idolatry and unchastity which was so prevalent in the
is a stain on nature; it is not something inwrought into the very texture of
our being, otherwise it could not be cleansed away. It is no more ourselves
than the soil on the white robe is the robe. It can, it should, it must, be
washed out, that we may appear “without spot or wrinkle.” (Ephesians 5:27)
implies the consecration of our entire nature, flesh and spirit, body and
soul, to the Divine will, and this requires habitual, solemn effort in “the fear
of God.” Now, the grand end of Christ’s mission to the world is to
produce this purity in man. “Having therefore these promises” (viz. the
promises in the last verse of the preceding chapter, which are in substance
the promises of the gospel), this spiritual purity should be struggled for.
“The grace of God hath appeared to all men, teaching them that, denying
ungodliness and worldly lusts,” – (Titus 2:11) The supreme desire of every
true minister of the gospel is that his people shall become pure.
2 Receive us; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have
defrauded no man.” Paul insists on the fact that, whatever his enemies might
insinuate, there was no single member of their Church who could complain of injury,
moral harm, or unfair treatment from him. The verb to be covetous, i.e. (by implication)
to overreach: — get an advantage, defraud, make a gain – here in the past tense or aorist
form - epleonekth>samen, translated – we have“defrauded” no man - pleonekte>w,
— pleh-on-ek-teh’-o; is often used in connection with other verbs, implying sensuality.
It is difficult for us even to imagine that Paul had ever been charged with gross immorality;
but it may have been so, for in a corrupt atmosphere everything is corrupt. Men like Nero
and Heliogabalus, being themselves the vilest of men, openly declared their belief that no
man was pure, and many in the heathen world may have been inclined to similar suspicions.
Of Whitefield, the poet says —
sins were such as
And calumny stood up to swear all true.”
We know too that the Christians were universally charged with Thyestean banquets
and promiscuous licentiousness. It is, however, more natural to take pleonekte>w, —
pleh-on-ek-teh’-o; in its general sense, in which it means “to overreach,” “to claim or
seize more than one’s just rights” (ch. 2:11) In I Corinthians 9:1-6 he is defending himself
against similar charges, as also in this Epistle (5:12; 6:3; 10:7-11; chps. 11 & 12., passim).
3 I speak not this to condemn you: for I have said before, that ye are in our hearts
to die and live with you. 4 Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my
glorying (boasting) of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all
our tribulation.” (Joy in the very midst of affliction was an essentially Christian
blessing – Philippians 2:17).
5 For, when
we were come into
reminds Paul to resume the thread of the narrative which makes this letter almost like
an itinerary. He has
spoken of his trials in
now he tells them that even in
“our flesh had no rest” - External troubles assailed him as well as inward anxiety.
“had” seems here to be the best reading (B, F, G, K); not “has had,” which may be
borrowed from ch. 2:13. Rest; rather, remission, respite - “but we were troubled on
every side” - literally, but in everything being afflicted. The style, in its picturesque
irregularity, almost seems as though it were broken by sobs – “without were fightings,
within were fears. “From without battles, from within fears.” No light is thrown on
these “battles.” The Acts of the Apostles has no details to give us of this brief stay in
of Titus, and of ch.12:20).
6 Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down (the humbled),
comforted us by the coming of Titus” – He of whom his opponents accused of
so much egotism, ambition and arrogance, meekly accepted the term and applies it
7 And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted
in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind
toward me; so that I rejoiced the more.” The mere fact of Titus’s arrival cheered
Paul, because Titus seems to have been of a strong and cheery temperament. Paul,
partly because of his infirmities, was peculiarly dependent on the support of human
sympathy (I Thessalonians 3:1-8; Philippians 2:20; II Timothy 4:4; Acts 17:15; 28:15).
It was not, however, the mere arrival of Titus which cheered him, but still more
good news which he brought about the church at
his anxieties. So that I rejoiced the more. More than he had even anticipated could be
possible; or, as the next verse may imply, all the more because of his past anguish (ch. 2:4).
In the previous three verses we have THE GOOD TRIED AND COMFORTED.
“For when we were come into
Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side;
without were fightings, within were fears.” In ch. 2:13 Paul refers to one
circumstance that troubled him on his way to
because I found not Titus my brother.” He
had come from
excitement and agitation, fully expecting to meet with Titus, who would convey
to him some information concerning the Church at
his intense anxieties. But he was disappointed. What the other particular troubles
were that he refers to here, the “fightings without” and “fears within,” we know
not; but well we know that everywhere in the prosecution of his apostolic mission
he met with trials — great, varied, and most distressing. The best of men in this
life are frequently “cast down.” (see Psalms 42:5,11; 43:5) - There are many
things that “cast down” the spirits of good men.
ü The prosperity of the wicked. Asaph felt this. “My feet had almost gone,
my steps were well nigh slipped,” (Psalm 73:2)
ü The triumphs of wrong. Fraud in trade, corruption in politics, errors in
science, moral filth in popular literature, blasphemies, sectarianism and
cant in religion. What noble souls are depressed here in
CY – 2010) with these things!
ü The non-success of Christly labor. How many preachers of spiritual
thought, disinterested love, inflexible loyalty to truth, are subject to
depressing moods on account of the little success apparently resulting
from their arduous and self-denying toils! Often, like Elijah, they feel
inclined to retire into the caves of solitude; like Jeremiah, who resolved
“to speak no more” in His Name, (Jeremiah 20:9) and like One greater
than either or all, who wailed out the words, “I have labored in vain, and
spent my strength for nought.” (Isaiah 49:4)
comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of
Titus.” (v. 7) - God is a Comforter. No one requires higher qualifications than
a true comforter. He must have a thorough knowledge of the sufferer, know
his constitution, and the causes of the complaint; his diagnosis must be
perfect. He must possess the necessary remedial elements; he must have
the antidote at command. He must also have the tenderest sympathy; an
unsympathetic nature can never administer comfort, whatever the extent of
his knowledge or the suitableness of his means. GOD HAS ALL THES
QUALIFICATIONS IN AN INFINITE DEGREE! Hence He is the
Comforter. God comforted Paul by sending him Titus.
ü The appearance of Titus was comforting. The advent of his young
friend was as the rising of the morning sun in the dark heavens of his
spirit. God comforts man by man. Moses was comforted in the
wilderness by the unexpected visit of his father-in-law Jethro
(Exodus 18:7). Hannah was cheered in spirit by the talk of old Eli
(I Samuel 1:18). David, dejected in the wood, had his heart
strengthened by Jonathan (I Samuel 23:16).
ü The communication of Titus was comforting. “And not by his coming
only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you,
when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent
mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more.”
ü That Christianity in its highest form does not exempt from the trials of
life. A more Christly man than Paul perhaps never lived. Yet how great
ü That the vicarious sufferings of love are amongst the most depressing.
The more love a man has in him in this world of affliction and sorrow, the
more, by the law of sympathy, will he endure. Paul now suffered for the
ü A genuine disciple of Christ carries comfort into the house of his
distressed friend. Young Titus carried comfort into the saddened home
of the Apostle Paul.
“He who hath most of heart
Knows most of sorrow; nor a thing he said
Nor did but was to him at times a woe,
At times indifferent, at times a joy.
Folly and sin and memory make a curse
Wherewith the future fires may vie in vain,
The sorrows of the soul are graver still.”
8 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, (regret it) though I did
repent:” - Every one has experienced the anxiety which has followed the dispatch of
some painful letter. If it does good, well; but perhaps it may do harm. The severity was
called for; it seemed a duty to write severely. But how will the rebuke be received?
Might we not have done better if we had used language less uncompromisingly stern?
(While traveling today, I heard a radio personality talking about the pitfalls of the
Modern day “texting” – the idea being you couldn’t take back what you texted and
that there is a permanent record of it – CY – August 3,2010) – “for I perceive that
the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.” - He
means to say that their grief will at any rate cease when they receive this letter, and he can
bear the thought of having pained them when he remembers the brevity of their grief
and the good effects which resulted from it.
9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance:
for ye were made sorry after a godly manner” - literally, according to God; i.e. in a
way which He would approve (Romans 8:27) - “that ye might receive damage by us
10 For godly sorrow” - “For the sorrow which is according to God worketh out a
repentance unto salvation which bringeth no regret – “worketh repentance to
salvation not to be repented of” - Sin causes regret, remorse, that sort of repentance
metameleia – metameleia - which is merely an unavailing rebellion against the inevitable
consequences of misdoing; but the sorrow of self-reproach which follows true repentance –
metanoia (metanoia, change of mind) is never followed by regret. Some take “not to be
regretted” with “salvation,” but it is a very unsuitable adjective to that substantive –
“but the sorrow of the world”- Here sorrow for the loss, or disappointment, or shame,
or ruin, or sickness caused by sin; such as the false repentance of Cain, Saul, Ahithophel,
Judas, etc. “worketh death” - Moral and spiritual death always, and sometimes physical
death, and always — unless it is followed by true repentance — eternal death, which is the
opposite of salvation (Romans 5:21).
GODLY SORROW is essentially different to THE SORROW OF THE WORLD –
“Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance.”
Great is the difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow.
having done the wrong thing simply on account of inconvenience to
himself; (or that he got caught) - in the latter the anguish is in the wrong itself.
that an ungodly man has felt will lead to some deeper, darker, more terrible
sorrow in Cain (Genesis 4:12-14); in Saul (I Samuel 31:3-6); in Ahithophel
(II Samuel 17:23); in Judas (Matthew 27:3-5). The “sorrow of the world”
is the certain way to DESPERATION, unless God prevents it! See godly
sorrow in the prodigal son (Luke 15.); in Peter (Matthew 26:33-75; John
21:15-23; Acts 2:1-40); in the converts on the day of Pentecost (Ibid.
There is only one way to avoid sorrow, and that is to AVOID SIN. The ungodly may
sorrow because they have sinned. But observe:
rebuked and chastened for their wrong doing, their vanity is wounded, their
anger is excited, their resentment is aroused, they are vexed because they
lose the favor of their neighbors or suffer in reputation.
deleterious, drawing the thoughts away from the moral heinousness of sin,
and confirming the sinner in courses whose only end is spiritual death.
How different the sorrow of the godly!
“Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight.”
child grieves to hurt his father’s spirit, so a truly sensitive nature is pained
in the very pain of Christ.
abused and grace defied.
GODLY SORROW LEADS to a change of mind and purpose; a turning away from
the error, the folly, the unbelief of the past, a turning away from temptation and from
the society of the sinful, a turning to God as He has revealed in Christ His infinite
mercy and loving-kindness. Especially is this repentance that “which bringeth no
regret.” He who comes out of bondage into liberty can never rue his choice.
THE ULTIMATE ISSUE OF TRUE REPENTANCE is SALVATION, which
contrasts with that death to which worldly sorrow leads. Such is the appointment of Infinite
Wisdom. And be who studies this process must acknowledge that, to a true and eternal
salvation, there can be no other path than the path of repentance and of faith – THIS
11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what
carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what
indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea,
what revenge! (the judicial punishment to the incestuous offender – “In all things ye
have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” Whatever may have been
your previous carelessness and connivance, the steps you took on receiving my letter
vindicated your character.
GODLY SORROW BRINGS GREAT RESULTS IN THE SOUL. It brought:
wrong and pursue the right.
disapproval of the evil of which you have been guilty!
against the sin. This is a holy anger.
of the devil. This fear is, indeed, the highest courage. He who shrinks from
the morally wrong is the truest hero.
All these expressions mean intense earnestness, and earnestness, not about temporal
matters, which is common and worthless, but about spiritual matters, which is rare
and praiseworthy. Genuine repentance is antagonistic to indifference; it generates
earnestness in the soul, it leads to the most strenuous efforts, to the most vehement
cries to Heaven. “Sorrow in itself,” says F.W. Robertson, “is a thing neither good nor
bad; its value depends on the spirit of the person on whom it falls. Fire will inflame
straw, soften iron, or harden clay; its effects are determined by the object with which
it comes in contact. Warmth develops the energies of life or helps the progress of
decay. It is a great power in the hothouse, a great power also in the coffin: it expands
the leaf, matures the fruit, adds precocious vigor to vegetable life; and warmth, too,
develops with tenfold rapidity the weltering process of dissolution. So, too, with sorrow.
There are spirits in which it develops the seminal principle of life; there are others
in which it prematurely hastens the consummation of irreparable decay.” Remember
what we learned in ch. 2:15-16!
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 in the
sight of God might appear unto you.
13 Therefore we were comforted in your comfort: yea, and exceedingly the more
joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all.
14 For if I have boasted any thing to him of you, I am not ashamed; but as we
spake all things to you in truth, even so our boasting, which I made before Titus,
is found a truth.
15 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 that I have confidence in you in all things. Thus the godly
sorrow which the Corinthians manifested on account of that which was wrong amongst
them, was in every way satisfactory to Paul; it gave him comfort, it greatly refreshed the
spirit of Titus, increased his affection for them, and inspired the apostle himself with
confidence and with joy.
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