2 Corinthians 7

CHAPTER VII.

The apostle's inference from the preceding exhortation, 1.

He presses them to receive him with affection, because of his

great love towards them, 2-4.

He tells them what distress he felt on their account in

Macedonia, till he had met with Titus, and heard of their

prosperity, 6-7.

He rejoices that his first epistle was made the means of their

reformation, 8, 9.

States how they were affected by his letter, and the process of

their reformation, 10, 11.

Shows why he had written to them, 12.

Rejoices that his boasting of them to Titus is found to be a

truth; and takes occasion to mention the great affection of

Titus for them, and his own confidence in them, 13-16.

NOTES ON CHAP. VII.

Verse 1. Having therefore these promises] The promises

mentioned in the three last verses of the preceding chapter, to

which this verse should certainly be joined.

Let us cleanse ourselves] Let us apply to him for the

requisite grace of purification; and avoid every thing in spirit

and practice which is opposite to the doctrine of God, and which

has a tendency to pollute the soul.

Filthiness of the flesh] The apostle undoubtedly means,

drunkenness, fornication, adultery, and all such sins as are done

immediately against the body; and by filthiness of the spirit, all

impure desires, unholy thoughts, and polluting imaginations. If

we avoid and abhor evil inclinations, and turn away our eyes from

beholding vanity, incentives to evil being thus lessened, (for the

eye affects the heart,) there will be the less danger of our

falling into outward sin. And if we avoid all outward occasions

of sinning, evil propensities will certainly be lessened. All

this is our work under the common aids of the grace of God. We

may turn away our eyes and ears from evil, or we may indulge both

in what will infallibly beget evil desires and tempers in the

soul; and under the same influence we may avoid every act of

iniquity; for even Satan himself cannot, by any power he has,

constrain us to commit uncleanness, robbery, drunkenness, murder,

&c. These are things in which both body and soul must consent.

But still withholding the eye, the ear, the hand, and the body in

general, from sights, reports, and acts of evil, will not purify a

fallen spirit; it is the grace and Spirit of Christ alone,

powerfully applied for this very purpose, that can purify the

conscience and the heart from all dead works. But if we do not

withhold the food by which the man of sin is nourished and

supported, we cannot expect God to purify our hearts. While we

are striving against sin, we may expect the Spirit of God to

purify us by his inspiration from all unrighteousness, that we may

perfectly love and magnify our Maker. How can those expect God to

purify their hearts who are continually indulging their eyes,

ears, and hands in what is forbidden, and in what tends to

increase and bring into action all the evil propensities of the

soul?

Perfecting holiness] Getting the whole mind of Christ brought

into the soul. This is the grand object of a genuine Christian's

pursuit. The means of accomplishing this are, 1. Resisting and

avoiding sin, in all its inviting and seducing forms. 2. Setting

the fear of God before our eyes, that we may dread his

displeasure, and abhor whatever might excite it, and whatever

might provoke him to withhold his manna from our mouth. We see,

therefore, that there is a strong and orthodox sense in which we

may cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and of the

spirit, and thus perfect holiness in the fear of God.

Verse 2. Receive us] χωρησατεημας. This address is

variously understood. Receive us into your affections-love us as

we love you. Receive us as your apostles and teachers; we have

given you full proof that God hath both sent and owned us.

Receive, comprehend, what we now say to you, and carefully mark

it.

We have wronged no man] We have never acted contrary to the

strictest justice.

We have corrupted no man] With any false doctrine or

pernicious opinion.

We have defrauded no man.] Of any part of his property. But

what have your false teachers done? They have beguiled you from

the simplicity of the truth, and thus corrupted your minds.

2Co 11:3.

They have brought you into bondage; they have taken of you;

devoured you; axalted themselves against you, and ye have

patiently suffered all this. 2Co 11:20.

It is plain that he refers here to the false apostle or teacher

which they had among them.

Verse 3. I speak not this to condemn you] I do not speak to

reproach but to correct you. I wish you to open your eyes and see

how you are corrupted, spoiled, and impoverished by those whom ye

have incautiously preferred to the true apostles of Jesus Christ.

I have said before, that ye are in our hearts] He has in

effect and substance said this, 2Co 1:6-8; 2:4, 12; 3:2, 13;

where see the passages at length, and the notes.

To die and live with you.] An expression which points out the

strongest affection, as in cases where love blinds us to the

faults of those whom we love, and causes us to prefer them to all

others; like that in Horace:-

Quanquam sidere pulchrior

llle est, tu levior cortice, et improbo

Iracundior Adria.

Tecum vivere amem, tecum obeam tibens.

ODAR. lib. iii. Od. ix. ver. 21.

"Though he exceed in beauty far

The rising lustre of a star;

Though light as cork thy fancy strays,

Thy passions wild as angry seas

When vex'd with storms; yet gladly I

With thee would live, with thee would die."

FRANCIS.

From all appearance there never was a Church less worthy of an

apostle's affections than this Church was at this time; and yet no

one ever more beloved. The above quotation applies to this case

in full force.

Verse 4. Great is my boldness of speech] He seems to refer to

the manner in which he spoke of them to others.

Great is my glorying of you] They had probably been very

loving and affectionate previously to the time in which they were

perverted by their false apostle. He therefore had boasted of

them in all the Churches.

I am filled with comfort] My affection for you has still the

most powerful ascendancy in my soul. Here we may see the

affection of the most tender father to his children.

I am exceeding joyful] υπερπερισσευομαι. I superabound in

joy; I have a joy beyond expression. υπερπερισσευω is an

extremely rare verb. I have not met with it in any Greek author;

and it occurs no where in the New Testament but here and in

Ro 5:20.

In all our tribulation.] Perhaps επι here should be rendered

under instead of in, as it signifies, Mr 2:26; Lu 3:2;

Ac 11:28.

Under all our tribulations, I feel inexpressible joy on your

account.

Verse 5. When we were come into Macedonia] St. Paul, having

left Ephesus, came to Troas, where he stopped some time;

afterwards he came to Macedonia, whence he wrote this epistle,

Our flesh had no rest] So exceedingly anxious was he to know

the success of his first epistle to them.

Without were fightings] The oppositions of pagans, Jews, and

false brethren.

Within were fears.] Uncertain conjectures relative to the

success of his epistle; fears lest the severity of it should

alienate their affections utterly from him; fears lest the party

of the incestuous person should have prevailed; fears lest the

teaching of the false apostle should have perverted their minds

from the simplicity of the truth; all was uncertainty, all

apprehension; and the Spirit of God did not think proper to remove

the causes of these apprehensions in any extraordinary way.

Verse 6. Comforted us by the coming of Titus] Who brought him

a most satisfactory account of the success of his epistle, and the

good state of the Corinthian Church.

Verse 7. He told us your earnest desire] To see me, and

correct what was amiss among yourselves.

Your mourning] Because you had sinned.

Your fervent mind] The zeal you felt to testify your

affectionate regard for me.

Verse 8. I do not repent, though I did repent] Though I had

many doubts in my mind concerning the success of my letter; and

though I grieved that I was obliged to write with so much

severity, the case absolutely requiring it; yet now I am not sorry

that I have written that letter, because I find it has completely

answered the end for which it was sent.

Verse 9. Ye sorrowed to repentance] Ye had such a sorrow as

produced a complete change of mind and conduct. We see that a man

may sorrow, and yet not repent.

Made sorry after a godly manner] It was not a sorrow because

ye were found out, and thus solemnly reprehended, but a sorrow

because ye had sinned against God, and which consideration caused

you to grieve more than the apprehension of any punishment.

Damage by us in nothing.] Your repentance prevented that

exercise of my apostolic duty, which would have consigned your

bodies to destruction, that your souls might be saved in the day

of the Lord Jesus.

Verse 10. For godly sorrow] That which has the breach of

God's holy law for its object.

Worketh repentance] A thorough change of mind unto salvation,

because the person who feels it cannot rest till he finds pardon

through the mercy of God.

But the sorrow of the world worketh death.] Sorrow for lost

goods, lost friends, death of relatives, &c., when it is poignant

and deep, produces diseases, increases those that already exist,

and often leads men to lay desperate hands on themselves. This

sorrow leads to destruction, the other leads to salvation; the one

leads to heaven, the other to hell.

Verse 11. What carefulness it wrought in you] Carefulness of

obeying my directions, 2Co 7:15;

yea, what clearing of yourselves from guilt by inflicting censures

on the guilty person, and putting away evil from among you,

1Co 5:13;

yea, what indignation against him who had dishonoured his

profession, and defiled the Church; yea, what fear of my

displeasure, and the rod which I threatened, 1Co 4:21;

yea, what vehement desire to rectify what was amiss in this

matter, 2Co 7:7;

yea, what zeal for me; yea, what revenge in punishing the

delinquent. See Whitby.

In all things, &c.] In the whole of your conduct in this affair

since ye have received my letter, ye have approved yourselves to

be clear, αγνους; not only to be clear of contumacy and obstinate

persistance in your former conduct, but to have done all in the

compass of your power to rectify the abuses which had crept in

among you. The Corinthians were not clear, i.e. innocent or void

of blame in the fact, but they were clear of all blame in their

endeavours to remove the evil.

Verse 12. Not for his cause that had done the wrong] viz. the

incestuous person.

Nor for his cause that suffered wrong] Some think the apostle

means himself; others, that he means the Church at Corinth, the

singular being put for the plural; others, the family of the

incestuous person; and others, the father of the incestuous

person. If this latter opinion be adopted, it would seem to

intimate that the father of this person was yet alive, which would

make the transgression more flagrant; but these words might be

spoken in reference to the father, if dead, whose cause should be

vindicated; as his injured honour might be considered, like Abel's

blood, to be crying from the earth.

But that our care for you-might appear] It was not to get the

delinquent punished, nor merely to do justice to those who had

suffered in this business, that the apostle wrote his epistle to

them, but that they might have the fullest proof of his fatherly

affection for them, and his concern for the honour of God; and

that they might thereby see how unnatural their opposition to him

was, and what cause they had to prefer him, who was ready to give

up his life in their service, to that false apostle or teacher who

was corrupting their minds, leading them from the simplicity of

the truth, and making a gain of them.

Verse 13. For the joy of Titus] Titus, who had now met St.

Paul in Macedonia, gave him the most flattering accounts of the

improved state of the Corinthian Church; and indeed their kind

usage of Titus was a full proof of their affection for St. Paul.

Verse 14. For if I have boasted] The apostle had given Titus

a very high character of this Church, and of their attachment to

himself; and doubtless this was the case previously to the evil

teacher getting among them, who had succeeded in changing their

conduct, and changing in a great measure their character also; but

now they return to themselves, resume their lost ground, so that

the good character which the apostle gave them before, and which

they had for a time forfeited, is now as applicable to them as

ever. Therefore his boasting of them is still found a truth.

Verse 15. And his inward affection] τασπλαγαγχνααυτου.

Those bowels of his-his most tender affection. For the meaning of

this word See Clarke on Mt 9:36.

Whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all] This is a very

natural picture; he represents Titus as overjoyed even while he is

delivering his account of the Corinthian Church. He expatiated on

it with extreme delight, and thereby showed at once both his love

for St. Paul and his love for them. He loved them because they so

loved the apostle; and he loved them because they had shown such

kindness to himself; and he loved them because he found so many

excellent and rare gifts, joined to so much humility, producing

such an exemplary and holy life.

With fear and trembling ye received him.] Ye reverenced his

authority; ye were obedient to his directions; and ye dreaded lest

any thing should be undone or ill done which he had delivered to

you in the name of God.

Verse 16. I have confidence in you, in all things.] It

appears that the apostle was now fully persuaded, from the

accounts given by Titus, that every scandal had been put away from

this Church; that the faction which had long distracted and

divided them was nearly broken; that all was on the eve of being

restored to its primitive purity and excellence; and that their

character was now so firmly fixed, that there was no reason to

apprehend that they should be again tossed to and fro with every

wind of doctrine.

1. THUS a happy termination was put to an affair that seemed

likely to ruin the Christian Church, not only at Corinth, but

through all Greece; for, if this bad man, who had been chief in

opposing the apostle's authority, bringing in licentious

doctrines, and denying the resurrection of the dead, had

ultimately succeeded at Corinth, his doctrine and influence might

soon have extended over Greece and Asia Minor, and the great work

of God which had been wrought in those parts would have been

totally destroyed. This one consideration is sufficient to

account for the apostle's great anxiety and distress on account of

the divisions and heresies at Corinth. He knew it was a most

pernicious leaven; and, unless destroyed, must destroy the work of

God. The loss of the affections of the Church at Corinth, however

much it might affect the tender, fatherly heart of the apostle,

cannot account for the awful apprehensions, poignant distress, and

deep anguish, which he, in different parts of these epistles, so

feelingly describes; and which he describes as having been

invariably his portion from the time that he heard of their

perversion, till he was assured of their restoration by the

account brought by Titus.

2. A scandal or heresy in the Church of God is ruinous at all

times, but particularly so when the cause is in its infancy; and

therefore the messengers of God cannot be too careful to lay the

foundation well in doctrine, to establish the strictest

discipline, and to be very cautious whom they admit and accredit

as members of the Church of Christ. It is certain that the door

should be opened wide to admit penitent sinners; but the watchman

should ever stand by, to see that no improper person enter in.

Christian prudence should ever be connected with Christian zeal.

It is a great work to bring sinners to Christ; it is a greater

work to preserve them in the faith; and it requires much grace and

much wisdom to keep the Church of Christ pure, not only by not

permitting the unholy to enter, but by casting out those who

apostatize or work iniquity. Slackness in discipline generally

precedes corruption of doctrine; the former generating the

latter.

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