THE GOAL OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE IS FORGIVENESS AND RESTORATION – NOT EXCESSIVE PUNISHMENT
I. (2:5-6) ENOUGH IS ENOUGH — WARNING AGAINST OVER-PUNISHING
A. (:5) There Has Already Been Sufficient Sorrow (difficult verse to exegete)
1. To the Apostle Paul
“But if any has caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow not to me”
i.e. not to me alone; not just to me
Sin inevitably causes sorrow … whether repented of or not
2. To the Majority of the Corinthian Church
“but in some degree—in order not to say too much—to all of you.”
Let’s not compound the situation by adding sorrow upon sorrow . . .
Who is the individual who had sinned, caused such sorrow, had repented and now was deserving of forgiveness and restoration?
– older commentators assumed it was the person committing incest in 1 Cor. 5
– but context here seems to indicate it was some sort of ringleader that had risen up against the authority of Paul or of his missionary team
B. (:6) There Has Already Been Sufficient Punishment
“Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority.”
Shows that the entire church had not gone along with the prescription of punishment which Paul had laid out in his severe letter (written between first and second Corinthians and subsequently lost)
Barclay: Punishment should encourage and not discourage. It should aim at producing, not the despair which abandons the struggle of goodness, but the new view which inspires to a greater and a more successful struggle. In the last analysis, this can only happen, when we make it clear that, even when we are punishing a person, we still believe in him.
II. (2:7-9) FORGIVE AND RESTORE — INSTRUCTION REGARDING HOW TO FORGIVE AND REAFFIRM LOVE
A. (:7) The Need for Forgiveness and Restoration
“so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, lest somehow such a one be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.”
B. (:8) The Exhortation to Forgiveness and Restoration
“Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.”
C. (:9) The Test of Forgiveness and Restoration = Test of Obedience
“For to this end also I wrote that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things.”
III. (2:10-11) FORGIVENESS PROTECTS AGAINST BITTERNESS — THE EXAMPLE OF THE APOSTLE PAUL
(Mercy triumphs over Vengeance)
A. (:10) Forgiveness Lies at the Heart of Christian Relationships
“But whom you forgive anything, I forgive also, for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ.”
Tasker: He forgives the offender, however, not merely as a personal act, but because such forgiveness is necessary for the welfare of the Corinthian church, whose apostle he has been called to be.
B. (:11) Satan Uses Bitterness to Drive a Wedge Between Believers
“In order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes.”
Guzik: Take advantage (the Greek word pleonekteo) is used in four other verses in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 7:2, 12:17-18, 1 Thessalonians 4:6). It has the idea of cheating someone out of something that belongs to them. When we are ignorant of Satan’s strategies, he is able to take things from us that belong to us in Jesus, things like peace, joy, fellowship, a sense of forgiveness, and victory.
IV. (2:12-13) RECONCILIATION TAKES PRIORITY OVER MINISTRY OPPORTUNITY – THE PASTORAL HEART OF THE APOSTLE PAUL
A. (:12) An Open Door is Not Always the Right Door
“Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord,”
Hughes: How long he remained in Troas he does not say, but it was sufficiently long for him to discover that there was an open door for the evangelical message. This door of opportunity was apparently still open on his return to Troas the following spring, as the incident recounted in Acts 20:6-12 indicates.
B. (:13) A Troubled Spirit Must Always be Addressed
“I had no rest for my spirit, not finding Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I went on to Macedonia.”
Kent: The reason for this restlessness was that Titus had not arrived at Troas. Apparently Titus was the associate who had been sent to Corinth with the severe letter, and Paul had hoped for an early return with good news from the church. Presumably Paul and Titus had planned to meet at Troas. . .
Paul could wait for Titus no longer. His restless spirit drove him to Macedonia, with the plan of encountering Titus on the way. His chief reason for wanting to find Titus was to hear recent news from Corinth. Not even the open door at Troas could entice Paul from his deep desire to meet the needs at Corinth. Surely there was no basis for suspecting his motives or his love for the Corinthians.
Gromacki: Thus, Paul ended this section as he began, by intimately expressing his concern. He wanted the church to know how he really felt about them and how those feelings affected his travel plans and treatment of the offender.
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1) Forgiveness and Restoration lie at the heart of the ministry of Christ. He came to pay the ultimate price so that reconciliation might be accomplished. We are out of bounds if we are seeking punishment or revenge on those who have wronged us. Mercy must always triumph over judgment in our personal relationships.
2) In fact Christ is looking on as a witness, motivating us to respond to others with the same spirit of forgiveness and restoration that He has demonstrated to us (vs. 10).
3) What drove Paul relentlessly was the burden of bringing the message of the gospel of Christ to people who had never heard the good news before (vs. 12).
4) The Lord places a priority on relationships over service.