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Summary: This Epistle was designed to produce pain in the Corinthian believers—and Paul felt very apprehensive about its effect on them. It was painful to him to write it, and he was well aware that it must cause deep distress among them to be scolded in this manner.

August 26, 2014

Tom Lowe

The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians

Lesson II.C.2.b: Correction of the Letter. (7:8–12)

2nd Corinthians 7:8-12 (NKJV)

8 For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while.

9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.

10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

11 For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

12 Therefore, although I wrote to you, I did not do it for the sake of him who had done the wrong, nor for the sake of him who suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear to you.

Commentary

8 For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while.

For even if I made you sorry with my letter

“For even if I made you sorry,” or rather, caused you much distress and pain of mind. Titus had told Paul about their distress; and for him to have caused pain to others would have been a source of grief for him

“My letter” was probably the First Epistle he wrote to the church at Corinth, though some suppose that the allusion is to an intermediate letter, which has been lost for centuries. There are various ways of considering this clause. Nothing, however, is simpler than to regard it as a parenthetic remark (for I see that that Epistle, though it were but for a time, saddened you). In the First Epistle which he had sent to them he had felt it necessary to scold them for their disagreements and other disorders which had occurred and which were tolerated in the church; particularly, the part dealing with the incestuous person. That Epistle was designed to produce pain in them—as severe and just reproof always does; and Paul felt very apprehensive about its effect on them. It was painful to him to write it, and he was well aware that it must cause deep distress among them to be scolded in this manner.

I do not regret it; though I did regret it

“I do not regret it,” but did he have any misgivings? Didn’t he question whether the letter might have been dispensed with? Was there no internal struggle; no sorrow; no emotion which may be called regret at the action which he has taken? Yet there is no repentance, like a parent whose punishment was too severe might show. He feels that he has done what was right and necessary. He approves of his own actions, and has cause for rejoicing because of the good effects which follow. This appears to have been the mindset of the Apostle Paul in this case; and it shows that he had a tender heart that he did not delight in giving pain and that he had no desire to overwhelm them with grief. When the effect was observed, he was willing to appraise them of the pain which it had caused him. When a parent has corrected a child, there is nothing wrong with informing him of the internal struggle which ensued, and the deep pain and anxiety caused by the necessity of resorting to chastisement. And he adds that he is now glad that he drove them to that sorrow even though it was against his will, since it was so profitable to them. For there is a sorrow not only praiseworthy, but also necessary, by which repentance grows by degree: and he highly praises them for their repentance.

The Apostle used rebukes calculated to grieve the Corinthians; but now that he has learned from Titus the beneficial effect it produced in them, he no longer regrets it. “I do not regret it”—I have seen such happy effects produced by it; it has so completely answered the outcome which I had envisioned; it was so kindly received, that I no longer regret that I wrote it. It gives me no pain when I recall the experience, but I have good reason to rejoice that it was done. The severity was called for; it seemed my duty to write severely.

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