STUDY II Corinthians
7:1-16 (click here for notes)
Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one. I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.
For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn-conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.
Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it-I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while-yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. So even though I wrote to you, it was not on account of the one who did the wrong or of the injured party, but rather that before God you could see for yourselves how devoted to us you are. By all this we are encouraged.
In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you. I had boasted to him about you, and you have not embarrassed me. But just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting about you to Titus has proved to be true as well. And his affection for you is all the greater when he remembers that you were all obedient, receiving him with fear and trembling. I am glad I can have complete confidence in you. (NIV)
This chapter begins with a segue from the previous chapter in which Paul quotes Isaiah, Ezekiel, and 2 Samuel, reminding the Corinthians of God's promises of faithfulness to his people if they keep themselves pure from sin and sinful alliances. He admonishes them to perfect holiness "out of reverence for God." He uses this call to holiness as a springboard for discussing their repentance when he confronted them with sin in their fellowship.
Make Room in Your Hearts
1. Why does Paul feel the need to plead for the Corinthians to make room in their hearts for him? (see 2 Cor. 6:11-13; 1:232:4; 1 Cor. 1:10-17; 3:1-9; 4:14-16)
2. How do you account for the intensity of Paul's feelings for the Corinthians that causes him to say he would live or die with them? (see 1 Cor. 4:15-16; 2 Cor. 1:12-17; 3:3)
3. Based on his pleas to the Corinthians, how do you think Paul was feeling about their attitude toward him before the news about them came to him via Titus?
God's People Suffering
Verse five resumes Paul's account of how and why his travel plans changed. He digressed from this retelling in 2:14, and here he picks up his narrative again, beginning with his arrived in Macedonia after leaving Troas.
4. What had been bothering Paul when he left Troas for Macedonia? (see 2 Corinthians 2:13)
5. How was he "harassed at every turn" when he came into Macedonia? (see 4:8-10)
6. How is Paul's suffering, both "within" and "without" reminiscent of the Song of Moses in which Moses prophesied the suffering of apostate Israel? (see Deuteronomy 32:25)
7. Why do Christ-followers committed to the gospel suffer in ways the Israelites suffered under God's discipline? (see Hebrews 12:5-7, 10-11; Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 1:5-6; 4:8-12; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)
8. Compare and contrast the cause and effect of apostate Israel's suffering with the suffering of a committed disciple of Christ.
Comfort from Titus
9. What particularly made Paul happy about Titus's news from Corinth, and why had he been so concerned about this issue? (verses 7-9; 2:2-4, 9)
10. Paul had written the Corinthians a letter asking them to deal justly with a member of their church who had seriously wronged another member. He now says he is happy because they "became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us." What is the difference between "godly sorrow" that brings repentance and "worldly sorrow"? (see Acts 11:18; 2:38-39; Mark 1:15; Luke 13:3-5; Matthew 19:16-22; 27:3-5)
11. The Corinthians' godly sorrow produced earnestness, eagerness to clear themselves, indignation, alarm, longing, concern, and readiness to see justice done. How do these reactions confirm that they experienced godly sorrow as opposed to worldly sorrow?
12. Paul now makes the somewhat enigmatic comment that he did not write to them "on account of the one who did the wrong or of the injured party." Rather, he wrote to them to test their loyalty to him as an apostle. How was the letter he wrote a test of their loyalty to his apostleship? (see verse 8; 2:3-4, 9; 1 Corinthians 5:1-5)
13. Why was Paul so deeply joyful and reassured when he heard from Titus that the Corinthians had responded to his letter in obedience and with truthful motives? (see verse 4; 2:4; 12:14-15)
Paul concludes this section of his letter by declaring his joy that just as the Corinthians have affirmed that everything Paul said to them was true, so his boasting about them to Titus was also true. They had lived up to Titus's expectations based on Paul's glowing account of them.
14. To what did Titus find the Corinthians were obedient? (see 2:9; 10:4-6)
15. How does obedience fit into the new covenant when the law, to which we used to try to be obedient, is fulfilled? (see 10:5; Philippians 2:5-8; John 10:18; 1 Peter 1:1,2; 4:17; 2 John 6)
16. What is the significance of the Corinthians meeting Titus in obedience with "fear and trembling?" (see 1 Corinthians 2:2-5; Philippians 2:12-13)
17. How might their fear and trembling be related to their godly sorrow?
18. Is there anyone in your life who has nurtured you and been persistently responsible for your spiritual health as Paul was to the Corinthians? Have you been that committed to anyone you've nurtured?
19. With what conflicts on the outside and fears within do you struggle as you say "Yes" to Jesus?
20. Have you experienced godly sorrow? If so, what did it motivate you to do?
21. Has anyone you trusted confronted you with an offense or offensive behavior you've done? Who, what, and when?
22. What unpleasant or humiliating thing are you struggling to do in obedience to Christ?
23. How are you suffering because of the gospel, and how is Jesus teaching you to trust him?
24. What in your life are you resisting submitting to God's discipline?
25. Ask God to show you how he wants you to change and grow. Ask him to do whatever he needs to do in you to help you become obedient to him. Praise him for what he's doing in you, and ask him to glorify himself through you.
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CA USA. All rights reserved. Posted June 26, 2002.