“But I call God to witness against me—it was to spare you that I refrained from coming again to Corinth. Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.
For I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you. For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all. For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you. Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.”
2 Corinthians 1:23-2:11
The apostle Paul helped establish the church in Corinth and lived there for 18 months. From Corinth, he went to Ephesus. In his absence, the “super-apostles” (2 Cor 11:5), infiltrated the church and disparaged Paul, as they preached a different Jesus and a different gospel (2 Cor 11:4). Paul wrote a severe letter that has been lost to us, admonishing the church and calling them to repentance (2 Cor 7:8-9). The majority of the professing Christians in Corinth had repented and embraced the gospel of grace. 2 Corinthians is written in light of these realities.
Joy is what faith is as it constantly treasures Jesus in the awakened heart.
How to Experience Joy in Christ
1. Make joy your aim [as you continually rehearse the wonder of the gospel. 2 Cor 1:20-22]. (2 Cor 1:24)
“We frequently forget that one of the true marks of Christ’s church is joy. If joy is lacking, then the message of Jesus has either not been received or it has been given up…” David E. Garland, The New American Commentary, 2 Corinthians, p. 111
“Paul calls them “helpers of their joy-by which term I understand happiness. At the same time he employs the term joy as opposed to the terror that tyrants awaken by means of their cruelty and also false prophets, resembling tyrants that rule with harshness and authority (Ezekiel 34:4).” John Calvin, 2 Corinthians Commentary
2. Be in a community of deep pathos (heartfelt relationships). (2 Cor 2:1-4)
“The pastor/elder/leader is to weep within himself before he calls upon others to weep: to feel tortured in silent musings, before he shows any token of displeasure; and to keep within his own breast more grief than he causes to others. We must also take notice of Paul’s tears, which by their abundance, show tenderness of heart...” John Calvin, 2 Corinthians Commentary, p. 148
3. Understand with joy, there is a path given by the Father that brings flourishing, hope, and biblical effectiveness; and realize there is a wayward path of living that leads to death and destruction. (Prov 1:32-33, Prov 7:23b)
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11
“You crown the year with Your goodness, and Your paths drip with abundance.” Psalm 65:11 (NKJV)
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105
“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” Proverbs 4:18
“Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.' But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” Jeremiah 6:16
4. We glory in the forgiveness that is extended to broken people who have stumbled in the walk of faith.
2 Corinthians 2:5-11 addresses a situation involving behavior that even the pagans of Corinth found to be outlandish: a man was living in open adultery with his stepmother. Paul admonishes the church by saying that the church, instead of being broken in heartfelt sorrow over sin, they had become arrogant: “And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.” (1 Cor 5:2)
1. Why did Paul postpone his visit to the church at Corinth?
2. How does the treasuring of Jesus sever the root of our idols?
3. Why was there affliction, anguish and tears in the life of Paul for the church of Corinth?
4. Ancient Corinth has been called a cesspool of immorality. How did the message of sexual purity sound bizarre, strange and outlandish to those people and how does that relate to our culture today?
5. How can we be guilty of being casual about sin or being harsh in receiving people who are evidencing an attitude of repentance?