STUDY II Corinthians 1:23-2:11 (click here for notes)

I call God as my witness that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth. Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.

So I made up my mind that I would not make another painful visits to you. For if I grieve you, who is left to make me glad but you whom I have grieved? I wrote as I did so that when I came I should not be distressed by those who ought to make me rejoice. I had confidence in all of you, that you would all share my joy. For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.

If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you, to some extent-not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven-if there was anything to forgive-I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes. (NIV)


Paul here continues explaining why he changed his plans to visit the Corinthian church. He has discussed that in Christ his word is trustworthy, and now he refers to a previous visit to them which was painful to them and probably also to him. We do not know anything about the details of the visit to which Paul refers, but it was a visit separate from his initial time in Corinth when he established the church there. In chapters 12 and 13 he talks about being ready to make his third visit to them.

The letter he wrote "out of great distress and anguish" was thought for centuries to have been 1 Corinthians. Recent scholarship, however, suggests that Paul is referring to another letter written between 1 and 2 Corinthians, and most Bible scholars hold this view today. The best evidence suggests that the letter Paul references has been lost.


Faith and Joy from Discipline

1. Paul says he is postponing his visit to the Corinthians in order "to spare" them. He explains that he does not feel arrogant or superior to them but works with them for their joy, "because it is by faith you stand firm." Why does Paul emphasize standing firm by faith to these troubled young Christians? (see Romans 11:20; 1 Corinthians 10:12; 15:1)


2. As Paul explains that he will not visit them in order to spare them pain, apparently the pain of their thinking he was dealing harshly and arbitrarily with them, he says, "We work with you for your joy, because it is by faith" (v.1:23) If, as the passage suggests, Paul has administered serious discipline or correction or advice to the Corinthians, why does he stress that he is working with them for their joy? (see Romans 14:17; 15:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7; James 1:2; 1 Peter 1:8)


3. What can we deduce about Paul from verse 2:4?


Restore the Sinner

Paul next addresses the case of a church member who has been disciplined. The details of the case are not known. Some think this passage refers to the incident in 1 Corinthians 5. Others think it was another incident, perhaps something even done against Paul himself.

4. What are legitimate causes of grief in a church, and what is grief supposed to yield? (see 1Corinthians 5:1-5; 2 Corinthians 7:7-11)


5.What is the corporate punishment that this person likely experienced, and what was such punishment supposed to yield? (see 1 Corinthians 5:4-5; 2 Corinthians 7:10-11)


6. If a person repents and changes as a result of experiencing church discipline, how are the members to treat that person? (see also Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13)


7. Why is it so important that we love and forgive each other? (see Proverbs 10:12; John 13:34-35; Galatians 5:13-15; Ephesians 4:2-6; Colossians 3:13-14; 1 John 3:18-19)


8. Verse 9 indicates that Paul had written to the Corinthians demanding that they punish the offending person to whom this passage refers. Why might Paul have had reason to question their willingness to deal with the person's offense? (see 1 Corinthians 5:1-2)


Obedience and Awareness of Satan's Schemes

9. Since we are no longer under the law, what role does obedience play in the life of a Christ-follower, and if not the law, what do we obey? (see Romans 1:5; 2 Corinthians 9:12-14; 10:5; Titus 2:11-14; 1 Peter 1:2; 4:17; 1 John 3:21-24; 5:1-5)


10. Paul indicates that forgiving one another is part of our protection against Satan's deceptions. "For we are not unaware of his schemes," Paul says. (v.11) How does Satan scheme against us? (see Luke 22:31; Job 1:7-12; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 Peter 5:8-9; Revelation 12:10)


11. How do we protect ourselves from Satan's schemes? (see Luke 22:32; Romans 8:26-27; 1 Corinthians 10:12-13; 1 Peter 2:15-17; 5:6-7; 2 Peter 3:17-18)


12. How does our forgiveness protect others against Satan's deception?



13.Have you been crushed in your past by unforgiveness from fellow church members?


14. Do you know anybody currently who is suffering from lack of forgiveness even though they have repented?


15. How have you been protected from Satan's schemes?


16. In what ways have you experienced growing faith and joy because of hardship or discipline in your life?



16. Whom do you need to forgive so you can move ahead in your life and accept God's complete forgiveness of you?


17. In what area(s) of your life do you need to be obedient, submitting to God and allowing him to work his will?


18. Whom do you need to hold accountable, allowing God to work in them and also depending upon God to comfort them and also you?


19. Ask God to reveal truth to you, truth about yourself and about how he wants you to surrender to him, and truth about your relationships. Ask him to give you forgiveness in your heart where it's needed, and ask him to root out any sin or resentment you might have buried inside. Ask God to glorify himself through your life and to make you a vehicle of his love and grace.


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