Commentary on 2 Corinthians 2:1-10
[This is Week 2 of a 5-week preaching series on 2 Corinthians.]
Week 2 (July 19, 2020)
Preaching text: 2 Corinthians 2:1-10; accompanying text: Matt 18:21-22
This section deals events that precipitated Paul’s writing to the Corinthians. Although we are not clear on precisely what happened, it appears that someone had mistreated Paul during a previous visit. Instead of revisiting them as he had said he would, Paul sent them a “painful” letter that they interpreted as a harsh rebuke.1
Paul seeks to communicate that he did not write the letter to cause them pain; he wrote it out of his overflowing love and deep joy in them. It appears, however, that as a result of his letter the community did, in fact, strongly rebuke the person who had created the problem — whatever it was. Now Paul urges them to forgive and console that individual so that he might not be swallowed up with overwhelming shame. The word translated as “forgive” in 2 Corinthians 2:7 is charizomai (“to give freely”), which is the same word Paul will use when he calls on them to “give freely” to the collection for the poor in Jerusalem (in 2 Corinthians 8-9).
The reason Paul so stresses the importance of forgiving — and the mutuality involved in his forgiving anyone they forgive — is that both he and the Corinthians all stand together before the “face” (prosopon) of Christ, the source of their life together. Indeed, he warns, we forgive so as not to be taken advantage of by Satan, whose intentions are to destroy any community we might have with one another through Christ.
- See David Fredrickson, “‘Through Many Tears’ (2 Cor 2:4), Paul’s Grieving Letter and the Occasion of 2 Cor 1-7,” Paul and Pathos (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2001), 161-179.