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2 Corinthians Chapter Seven


2 Corinthians 7

The apostle returns to his own relationships with the Corinthians-relations formed by the word of his ministry. And now having laid open what this ministry really was, he seeks to prevent the bonds being broken, which had been formed by this ministry between the Corinthians and himself through the power of the Holy Ghost.

"Receive us: we have wronged no one"-he is anxious not to wound the feelings of these restored ones, who found themselves again in their old affection for the apostle, and thus in their true relation with God. "I do not say this to condemn you," he adds; "for I have said before that ye are in my heart to die and live with you. My boldness is great towards you, great is my glorying of you. I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all my tribulation." He is not now unfolding the principles of the ministry, but the heart of a minister, all that he had felt with regard to the state of the Corinthians. When he had arrived in Macedonia (whither, it will be remembered, he had gone without visiting Corinth), after he had left Troas, because he did not find Titus there, who was to bring him the answer to his first letter to the Corinthians-when he was come into Macedonia, his flesh had no rest there either; he was troubled on every side: without were fightings, within were fears. There however God, who comforts those who are cast down, comforted him by the arrival of Titus, for whom he had waited with so much anxiety; and not only by his coming, but by the good news he brought from Corinth. His joy went beyond all his sorrow, for his heart was to die and live with them. He saw the moral fruits of the operation of the Spirit, their desire, their tears, their zeal with regard to the apostle; and his heart turns again to them in order to bind up, by the expression of his affection, all the wounds (needful as they were) which his first letter might have made in their hearts.

Nothing more touching than the conflict in his heart between the necessity he had felt, on account of their previous state, to write to them with severity, and in some sort with a cold authority, and the affections which, now that the effect had been produced, dictated almost an apology for the grief he might have caused them. If, he says, I made you sorry by the letter, I do not repent: even though he might have repented and had done so for a moment. For he saw that the letter had grieved them, were it but for a season. But now he rejoiced, not that they had been made sorry, but that they had sorrowed unto repentance. What solicitude! What a heart for the good of the saints! If they had a fervent mind towards him, assuredly he had given them the occasion and the motive. No rest till he had tidings: nothing, not open doors, nor distress, could remove his anxiety. He regrets perhaps having written the letter, fearing that he had alienated the hearts of the Corinthians; and now, still pained at the thought of having grieved them, he rejoices, not at having grieved them, but because their godly sorrow had wrought repentance.

He writes a letter according to the energy of the Holy Ghost. Left to the affections of his heart, we see him, in this respect, below the level of the energy of inspiration which had dictated that letter which the spiritual were to acknowledge as the commandments of the Lord; his heart trembles at the thought of its consequences, when he receives no tidings. It is very interesting to see the difference between the individuality of the apostle and inspiration. In the first letter we remarked the distinction which he makes between that which he said as the result of his experience, and the commandments of the Lord communicated through him. Here we find the difference in the experience itself. He forgets the character of his epistle for a moment, and, given up to his affections, he fears to have lost the Corinthians by the effort he had made to reclaim them. The form of the expression he uses shews that it was but for a moment that this sentiment took possession of his heart. But the fact that he had it plainly shews the difference between Paul the individual and Paul the inspired writer.

Now he is satisfied. The expression of this deep interest which he feels for them is a part of his ministry, and valuable instruction for us, to shew the way in which the heart enters into the exercise of this ministry, the flexibility of this mighty energy of love, in order to win and bend hearts by the opportune expression of that which is passing in our own: an expression which will assuredly take place when the occasion makes it right and natural, if the heart is filled with affection; for a strong affection likes to make itself known to its object, if possible, according to the truth of that affection. There is a grief of heart which consumes it, but a heart that feels godly sorrow is on the way to repentance. [1]

Greatness of heart does not readily talk about feelings, because it thinks of others, not of itself. But it is not afraid, when occasion arises, to do so; because it thinks of others, and has a depth of purpose in its affections, which is behind all this movement of them. And Christianity gives greatness of heart. And besides, from its nature, it is confiding, and this wins, and gives unsought, influence this greatness of heart does not seek, for it is unselfish. His true relationship for their good the apostle did maintain.

The apostle then sets forth the fruits of this godly sorrow, the zeal against sin it had produced, the heart's holy rejection of all association with sin. Now also that they had morally separated themselves, he separates those who were not guilty from those who were so. He will no longer confound them together. They had confounded themselves together morally by walking at ease with those who were in sin. By putting away the sin they were now outside the evil: and the apostle shews that it was with a view to their good, because he was devoted to them, that he had written to testify the loving occupation of his thoughts about them, and to put to the test their love for him before God. Sad as their walk had been, he had assured Titus, when encouraging him to go to Corinth, that he would certainly find hearts there that would respond to this appeal of apostolic affection. He had not been disappointed, and as he had declared the truth among them, that which he had said of them to Titus was found true also, and the affections of Titus himself were strongly awakened when he saw it.


[1] Greatness of heart does not readily talk about feelings, because it thinks of others, not of itself. But it is not afraid, when occasion arises, to do so; because it thinks of others, and has a depth of purpose in its affections, which is behind all this movement of them. And Christianity gives greatness of heart. And besides, from its nature, it is confiding, and this wins, and gives unsought, influence this greatness of heart does not seek, for it is unselfish. His true relationship for their good the apostle did maintain.

── John DarbySynopsis of 2 Corinthians


2 Corinthians 7

Chapter Contents

An exhortation to holiness, and the whole church entreated to bear affection to the apostle. (1-4) He rejoiced in their sorrowing to repentance. (5-11) And in the comfort they and Titus had together. (12-16)

Commentary on 2 Corinthians 7:1-4

(Read 2 Corinthians 7:1-4)

The promises of God are strong reasons for us to follow after holiness; we must cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit. If we hope in God as our Father, we must seek to be holy as he is holy, and perfect as our Father in heaven. His grace, by the influences of his Spirit, alone can purify, but holiness should be the object of our constant prayers. If the ministers of the gospel are thought contemptible, there is danger lest the gospel itself be despised also; and though ministers must flatter none, yet they must be gentle towards all. Ministers may look for esteem and favour, when they can safely appeal to the people, that they have corrupted no man by false doctrines or flattering speeches; that they have defrauded no man; nor sought to promote their own interests so as to hurt any. It was affection to them made the apostle speak so freely to them, and caused him to glory of them, in all places, and upon all occasions.

Commentary on 2 Corinthians 7:5-11

(Read 2 Corinthians 7:5-11)

There were fightings without, or continual contentions with, and opposition from Jews and Gentiles; and there were fears within, and great concern for such as had embraced the Christian faith. But God comforts those who are cast down. We should look above and beyond all means and instruments, to God, as the author of all the consolation and good we enjoy. Sorrow according to the will of God, tending to the glory of God, and wrought by the Spirit of God, renders the heart humble, contrite, submissive, disposed to mortify every sin, and to walk in newness of life. And this repentance is connected with saving faith in Christ, and an interest in his atonement. There is a great difference between this sorrow of a godly sort, and the sorrow of the world. The happy fruits of true repentance are mentioned. Where the heart is changed, the life and actions will be changed. It wrought indignation at sin, at themselves, at the tempter and his instruments. It wrought a fear of watchfulness, and a cautious fear of sin. It wrought desire to be reconciled with God. It wrought zeal for duty, and against sin. It wrought revenge against sin and their own folly, by endeavours to make satisfaction for injuries done thereby. Deep humility before God, hatred of all sin, with faith in Christ, a new heart and a new life, make repentance unto salvation. May the Lord bestow it on every one of us.

Commentary on 2 Corinthians 7:12-16

(Read 2 Corinthians 7:12-16)

The apostle was not disappointed concerning them, which he signified to Titus; and he could with joy declare the confidence he had in them for the time to come. Here see the duties of a pastor and of his flock; the latter must lighten the troubles of the pastoral office, by respect and obedience; the former make a due return by his care of them, and cherish the flock by testimonies of satisfaction, joy, and tenderness.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on 2 Corinthians


2 Corinthians 7

Verse 1

[1] Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Let us cleanse ourselves — This is the latter part of the exhortation, which was proposed, 2 Corinthians 6:1, and resumed, 2 Corinthians 6:14.

From all pollution of the flesh — All outward sin.

And of the spirit — All inward. Yet let us not rest in negative religion, but perfect holiness - Carrying it to the height in all its branches, and enduring to the end in the loving fear of God, the sure foundation of all holiness.

Verse 2

[2] Receive us; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man.

Receive us — The sum of what is said in this, as well as in the tenth and following chapters.

We have hurt no man — In his person.

We have corrupted no man — In his principles.

We have defrauded no man — Of his property. In this he intimates likewise the good he had done them, but with the utmost modesty, as it were not looking upon it.

Verse 3

[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.

I speak not to condemn you — Not as if I accused you of laying this to my charge. I am so far from thinking so unkindly of you, that ye are in our hearts, to live and die with you - That is, I could rejoice to spend all my days with you.

Verse 4

[4] Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.

I am filled with comfort — Of this he treats, 2 Corinthians 7:6, etc.; of his joy, 2 Corinthians 7:7, etc.; of both, 2 Corinthians 7:13.

Verse 5

[5] 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.

Our flesh — That is, we ourselves.

Had no rest from without — From the heathens.

Were fightings — Furious and cruel oppositions.

From within — From our brethren.

Were fears — Lest they should be seduced.

Verse 7

[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.

Your earnest desire — To rectify what had been amiss.

Your grief — For what had offended God, and troubled me.

Verse 8

[8] For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.

I did repent — That is, I felt a tender sorrow for having grieved you, till I saw the happy effect of it.

Verse 10

[10] For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

The sorrow of the world — Sorrow that arises from worldly considerations.

Worketh death — Naturally tends to work or occasion death, temporal, spiritual, and eternal.

Verse 11

[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! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

How great diligence it wrought in you — Shown in all the following particulars.

Yea, clearing of yourselves — Some had been more, some less, faulty; whence arose these various affections. Hence their apologizing and indignation, with respect to themselves; their fear and desire, with respect to the apostle; their zeal and revenge, with respect to the offender, yea, and themselves also.

Clearing of yourselves — From either sharing in, or approving of, his sin.

Indignation — That ye had not immediately corrected the offender.

Fear — Of God's displeasure, or lest I should come with a rod.

Vehement desire — To see me again.

Zeal — For the glory of God, and the soul of that sinner.

Yea, revenge — Ye took a kind of holy revenge upon yourselves, being scarce able to forgive yourselves.

In all things ye — As a church.

Have approved yourselves to be pure — That is, free from blame, since ye received my letter.

Verse 12

[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.

It was not only, or chiefly, for the sake of the incestuous person, or of his father; but to show my care over you.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on 2 Corinthians


Chapter 7. Exhort to be Holy

Conflicts on the Outside
Fear Within

I. Encouragement in Troubles

  1. Always in Our Hearts
  2. Live or Die Together
  3. Longing and Deep Sorrow

II. Godly Sorrow

  1. Worldly Sorrow
  2. Repentance Leads to Salvation
  3. What Earnestness

III. Fellowship Through Titus

  1. Not Embarrassed
  2. All Obedient
  3. Complete Confidence
── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament
Chapter Seven General Review
1) To see how God can use others to comfort us
2) To understand true repentance:  what leads to it, and what is the
   evidence that it has occurred
Chapter seven begins with Paul summarizing his pleas to the Corinthians
made in the previous chapter.  Again he calls for spiritual purity, and
for "hearts wide open" (1-3).
Paul returns now to a point where he left off in chapter two, his
anxiety when searching for Titus (cf. 2:12-13).  After arriving in 
Macedonia, he finds him and the report Titus has from the church in 
Corinth is a source of great comfort and joy to Paul.  Indeed, even the
manner in which Titus was received by the Corinthians filled Paul with 
joy (4-7).
The Corinthians had received a previous letter from Paul with much
sorrow, but with a godly sorrow that led to true repentance.  Paul 
could see that, and he wanted them to know it was only out of care for
them he had written it (8-12).  Thus, the way they had received Titus
and Paul's letter, rendering quick obedience, gave Paul confidence in
the Corinthians (13-16).
      1. In view of the promises given (1a)
      2. By cleansing ourselves from all filthiness (1b)
      3. By perfecting holiness in the fear of God (1c)
      -- This is a summary of the plea found in 6:14-18
      1. To open their hearts for Paul and his companions (2a)
      2. For they have done no wrong to anyone (2b)
      3. Not said to condemn, but out of love (3)
      -- This is a repetition of the plea found in 6:11-13
      1. Paul's boldness made possible by his comfort and joy (4)
      2. Arriving in Macedonia, Paul was troubled (5)
      3. But God comforted him by the arrival of Titus (6; cf. 2:12-13)
      1. Titus bore good news of their repentance (7)
      2. Their repentance made him glad he had written the earlier
         epistle (8)
      3. He was glad their sorrow was that godly sorrow which leads to
         true repentance (9-10)
      4. The evidence of their godly sorrow (11)
      5. Even so, he initially wrote out of a desire to express his 
         care for them (12)
      1. Comforted in their comfort, he also rejoiced seeing the joy of
         Titus (13a)
      2. Titus' spirit had been refreshed by the Corinthians (13b)
      3. The Corinthians had lived up to the reputation Paul have given
         them (14)
      4. Titus grew in his love for them by the way they received him
      5. All this increased Paul's joy and confidence in the 
         Corinthians (16)
1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - Paul's plea to the Corinthians (1-3)
   - Paul's comfort and joy (4-16)
2) In view of the promises in the preceding chapter, what two things
   does Paul admonish us to do? (1)
   - Cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit
   - Perfecting holiness in the fear of God
3) What plea does Paul repeat that was made in chapter six? (2)
   - Open your hearts to us
4) What was Paul's condition when he first came to Macedonia? (5)
   - His flesh had no rest, troubled on every side
   - Outside were conflicts, inside were fears
5) How did God comfort him in Macedonia? (6-7)
   - By the coming of Titus
   - By the consolation Titus had in the earnest desire, mourning, and
     zeal of the Corinthians toward Paul
6) What about the Corinthians' sorrow led Paul to rejoice? (9)
   - Their sorrow led to repentance
7) What is the difference between "godly sorrow" and "sorrow of the 
   world"? (10)
   - Godly sorrow produces repentance to salvation
   - Sorrow of the world produces death
8) Name seven things that demonstrated the Corinthians' godly sorrow
   - Diligence
   - Clearing of themselves
   - Indignation
   - Fear
   - Vehement desire
   - Zeal
   - Vindication
9) Why had Paul written to the Corinthians? (12)
   - That his care for them in the sight of God might be apparent
10) What gave Paul comfort and joy? (13)
   - The comfort of the Corinthians gave him comfort
   - The joy of Titus who had been refreshed by the Corinthians gave
     him joy
11) What had served to increase Titus' affection for the Corinthians?
   - Their obedience
   - How they received him in fear and trembling
12) What else gave Paul joy? (16)
   - The confidence he had in the Corinthians in all things


True Repentance (7:9-11)
1. A prominent theme in the preaching of the Gospel is the call to 
   a. Jesus wanted it to be preached in His name to all nations - Lk 
   b. Peter proclaimed the call to repent in his first two sermons 
      - Ac 2:36-38; 3:19
   c. Paul spoke of repentance to philosophers and kings - Ac 17:30-31;
2. However, the call to repentance is often neglected in modern day 
   a. By some who preach "faith only"
   b. By some who in reaction stress "baptism"
3. One cannot truly preach the gospel of Christ without the call to 
   repent; and yet...
   a. What is repentance?
   b. How is it produced?
   c. What are some indications that repentance has occurred?
[Perhaps the most elaborate discussion on repentance is found in 2 Co 
7:9-11, which serves as the text for this lesson entitled "True 
Repentance".  Let's begin by...]
      1. That repentance is "sorrow"
         a. 2 Co 7:9-10 shows that repentance is an OUTCOME of sorrow
         b. Sorrow leads to repentance; sorrow itself is not repentance
      2. That repentance is "a changed life"
         a. Some understand that repentance is a converted life
         b. But Ac 3:19 reveals that repentance and conversion are two
            separate things
            1) Peter says "Repent therefore and be converted"
            2) If repentance is the same as conversion, then Peter is 
               being redundant
         c. As we shall see, the order is actually this:
            1) First, sorrow
            2) Then, repentance
            3) Finally, a changed life
      1. W. E. Vine's definition ...
         a. "change of mind"
         b. "involves both a turning from sin and a turning to God"
      2. So think of repentance as simply "a change of mind" in which 
         we DECIDE to "turn from sin and turn to God"
         a. Which is PRECEDED by sorrow
         b. And is FOLLOWED by a changed life
[Repentance is therefore a decision of the mind in which one decides to
change their life;  but what prompts one to make such decision?]
      1. This we glean from our text (2 Co 7:9-10); but note carefully:
         a. It is not simply "sorrow", but sorrow that is "godly"
         b. For there is a sorrow that is "of the world"
      2. Note the difference between "godly sorrow" and "worldly 
         a. "Worldly sorrow" is a SELFISH kind of sorrow
            1) E.g., when one is sorry because HE got caught
            2) E.g., when one is sorry because what one did made HIM 
               look bad
            -- In "worldly sorrow", one is more concerned about SELF!
         b. "Godly sorrow" is sorrow directed toward GOD ("godly" is
            lit. "according to God")
            1) I.e., one is sorry because their actions are sins 
               against a Holy God -cf. Ps 51:4
            2) Also, one is sorry for the price GOD must pay to have 
               our sins removed
            -- In "godly sorrow", one is more concerned with GOD than
      3. Some more differences...
         a. "Worldly sorrow" produces regret; "godly sorrow" suffers
            loss in nothing
         b. "Worldly sorrow" produces death; "godly sorrow" produces
            repentance to salvation
   [If "godly sorrow" leads to repentance, how best to produce this
   "godly sorrow" in others?]
      1. Nathan's rebuke to David in 2 Sam 12:7-12 provides some 
         a. He made an appeal to God's love (7-8)
         b. He revealed the sin (9)
         c. He warned of the consequences (10-12)
      2. The Gospel of Christ, when properly taught, is designed to so
         produce "godly sorrow", and in turn, repentance...
         a. It appeals to God's love as a basis for repentance - Ro 2:4
         b. It reveals our sin - Ro 3:23
         c. It warns of the consequences - Ro 2:5-11
      3. Our best hope for producing repentance in others that leads to
         salvation is proclaim the gospel in its entirety
         a. Not just the "commands" (believe, repent, be baptized)
         b. Nor just the "promises" (remission of sins, eternal life,
            gift of the Holy Spirit)
         b. But also the "facts" (man's sin, God's love, the coming
[If people are not responding to the "commands" of the gospel, perhaps
we need to consider whether we are providing proper emphasis to the 
"facts" of the gospel.  Finally, consider the...]
      1. "diligence" (KJV, carefulness)
         a. This can be defined as "earnestness, zeal, sometimes with
            haste accompanying it"
         b. I.e., being quick to do what is right!
         c. Examples of conversion in ACTS demonstrate this diligence
            in that every case described in detail shows people obeying
            the gospel after just one lesson!
      2. "clearing of yourselves"
         a. To clear one's self of blame
         b. E.g., quick to stop doing what is wrong, if such is the
         c. E.g., quick to respond to the offer of forgiveness when one
            realizes their guilt
      3. "indignation"
         a. This involves a sort of anger, or moral outrage
         b. I.e., toward the SIN which required the repentance
      4. "fear"
         a. Lest the sin should be repeated
         b. Lest the sin should not be entirely removed
      5. "vehement desire"
         a. I.e., a fervent wish
         b. Especially to be right in God's eyes
      6. "zeal"
         a. This involves an "eagerness and ardent interest in pursuit
            of something"
         b. In this case, to turn from sin and turn to God
      7. "vindication" (KJV, revenge)
         a. As the NIV puts it, "what readiness to see justice done"
         b. I.e., to do the right thing!
      1. Not apathy, not half-hearted service
      2. But a desire to do "works befitting repentance" - Ac 26:20
1. Is this indicative of OUR repentance?
   a. Can we look at our lives and see signs that we have really had "a
      change of mind"?
   b. That we have truly made "a decision to turn from sin and to turn
      to God"?
      1) If we have not yet obeyed the gospel ...we have not repented!
      2) If we have become slack in our service...we are in need of
2. If so, then we are in need of a healthy dose of "godly sorrow", 
   brought about by realizing...
   a. God's love for us
   b. The fact we have all sinned
   c. And the consequences if we do not repent!
May the love of God and the reality of the coming judgment move us all
to "True Repentance"! The blessings for those who do repent are 
wonderful... - cf. Ac 2:38-39; 3:19


--《Executable Outlines


Exhort to be Holy

Conflicts on the Outside

Fear Within


I.  Encouragement in Troubles

1.    Always in Our Hearts

2.    Live or Die Together

3.    Longing and Deep Sorrow

II.Godly Sorrow

1.    Worldly Sorrow

2.    Repentance Leads to Salvation

3.    What Earnestness

III.       Fellowship Through Titus

1.    Not Embarrassed

2.    All Obedient

3.    Complete Confidence

-- Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament