2 Cor. 2: 1-11
Paul endured many hardships for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake. To preach the gospel of salvation to
the unsaved he faced life and death situations (2 Cor. 11:24-28). He also has some problem with his
health, but they are all nothing to him. As a true shepherd, his greatest burden is the “care of all the
churches” (v. 28).
Illustration 1: A Test of Faith
God sometimes allows us to enter into discouraging situations for the primary purpose of testing our
faith. At such times we must refuse to give up in despair. Like Jonah in the belly of the great fish, we
must turn to the Lord when our soul is fainting within us, trusting Him completely. James H.
McConkey wrote, “What can you do when you are about to faint physically? You can’t DO anything!
In your weakness you just fall upon the shoulders of some strong loved one, lean hard, and rest until
your strength returns. The same is true when you are tempted to faint under adversity. The Lord’s
message to us is ‘Be still, and know that I am God’ (Psalm 46:10). Hudson Taylor was so feeble in the
closing months of his life that he said to a dear friend, ‘I’m so weak that I can’t work or read my
Bible, and I can hardly pray. I can only lie still in God’s arms like a little child and trust.’ And that is all
the Heavenly Father asks of you when you grow weary in the fierce fires of affliction.”
Our Daily Bread, Monday, March 26.
I. Paul’s tears over the church (2 Cor. 2:1-4)
A. A true shepherd, Paul had these new and young churches on his heart and on his
shoulders. Tears are an important part of a spiritual ministry. Jesus wept; Paul
ministered with tears (Acts 20:19 and 31); and Ps 126:5-6 states that there will be no
harvest apart from tears.
B. Paul did not want to visit the church as an angry father, but as a loving friend. The
church should have brought joy to his heart, not sorrow. If he had made them sorry,
how could they in turn make him glad? He wanted to give them time to make
matters right in the church; then he would visit them and their fellowship would be
joyful. When he wrote to them, he wrote with a pen dipped in tears. He even wept
over that letter. (v. 4). (He may be referring to 1 Corinthians, or to an even sterner
letter that we do not have.)
C. In chapter 1, Paul’s theme was abundant comfort; here it is abundant love. “Charity
(Love) never fails” (1 Cor 13:8). Where there is love, there is always the burden to
see others enjoy the very best. How many times pastors weep over wayward
Christians? Yet God honored Paul’s tears and worked in the church so that sin was
Illustration 2: Spiritual Leadership
Spiritual leadership is not won by promotion, but by prayers and tears. It is attained by much heartsearching
and humbling before God; by self-surrender, a courageous sacrifice of every idol, a bold,
uncompromising, and uncomplaining embracing of the cross, and by an eternal, unfaltering looking
unto Jesus crucified.
This is a great price, but it must be unflinchingly paid by him who would be a real spiritual leader of
men, a leader whose power is recognized and felt in heaven, on earth and in hell.”
Samuel Logan Brengle, quoted in Spirit of Revival, Life Action Ministries, Vol. 28, No. 1, March, 1998,
II. Restoration through Forgiveness (2:5-11)
A. This section takes us back to 1 Cor 5, where Paul had admonished the church to
discipline the man who was living in open sin. Here Paul states that the offender did
not cause Paul alone trouble and sorrow: he had brought trouble to the whole
church! He had instructed them to call the church together and dismiss this man
from the fellowship. This act of discipline would then bring him to a place of sorrow
and repentance. Well, they had done this, but then they went to the opposite
extreme! The man had evidenced sorrow for sin, but the church was not willing to
receive him back after his confession!
B. “Forgive him and take him back,” says the apostle. “If you don’t, Satan will
overburden him with too much sorrow.” How often Christians confess their sins and
yet fail to believe that God will forgive and forget. There is an abnormal sorrow that
is not really true repentance; it is remorse, the sorrow of the world. Peter showed
repentance; his was a godly sorrow that led him back to Christ. Judas showed
remorse; his was a hopeless sorrow, a sorrow of the world, that led him away from
Christ into suicide. Satan wants us to believe that we cannot be forgiven (Zech. 3:1-
5); yet read Rom. 8:31-39. If Satan can accuse us of sin and discourage us with our
past failures, he will rob us of our joy and usefulness to Christ.
If God forgives a person of sin, we must forgive the person, too (Eph. 4:32).
C. As a responsible, loving, caring, and spiritual leader, Paul wisely advised the young
Corinthian church to do the right thing regarding the man who openly committed
sexual sin. The purity of the church must be maintained. The unsaved must see the
love for God, love for holiness, and love for truth, love for Christ’s testimony, and
love for the brethren.
Illustration 3: Infidelity
A man on staff with Chuck Swindoll got sexually involved with his secretary. The church chose not to
handle it in public, but rather deal with this privately. The next year, 17 marriages of senior
leadership people in the church broke up! Paul is clear that when a leader sins, he/she needs to be
publicly rebuked so that others will be warned away from the same sin.
Jack DeWolf, in a conference on conflict resolution in Spokane, WA, April 30, 1994
Illustration 4: Concentration Camp Letter
O Lord, remember not only the men and woman of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not
remember all of the suffering they have inflicted upon us:
Instead remember the fruits we have borne because of this suffering—our fellowship, our loyalty to
one another, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown from
When our persecutors come to be judged by you, let all of these fruits that we have borne be their
forgiveness. (Found in the clothing of a dead child at Ravensbruck concentration camp.)
III. Practical Principles
A. The practical principles involved in this passage are plain, important, and abiding.
1. No church should fail to discipline its offending members.
2. This discipline should not be administered by the decision of any one man in the
church, but by the “many” (2 Cor. 2:6).
3. The one supreme purpose of such discipline should be the reformation and
restoration of the offender.
4. When the offender is truly repentant, he should receive forgiveness and be
treated with Christian affection.
5. Pharisaical severity and lack of Christian sympathy may drive the offender to
desperation and again place him under the power of Satan
Paul wants to see the Corinthian Church rejoicing when he comes back that is why he is
delaying his visit. Church discipline must be done to conform an individual or a church to
the will of God, and to maintain the purity and the good testimony of the church. Come
to Christ now and be a member of His body the church.