2 Corinthians 2:7
So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) Ye ought rather to forgive.—The indignation which St. Paul had felt has passed, on his hearing of the offender’s state, into pity and anxiety. The time had come for words of pardon and comfort and counsel. What if he should be “swallowed up,” and sink as in the great deep of sorrow? Suicide, madness, apostasy, seem to float before his mind as but too possible results.

2:5-11 The apostle desires them to receive the person who had done wrong, again into their communion; for he was aware of his fault, and much afflicted under his punishment. Even sorrow for sin should not unfit for other duties, and drive to despair. Not only was there danger last Satan should get advantage, by tempting the penitent to hard thoughts of God and religion, and so drive him to despair; but against the churches and the ministers of Christ, by bringing an evil report upon Christians as unforgiving; thus making divisions, and hindering the success of the ministry. In this, as in other things, wisdom is to be used, that the ministry may not be blamed for indulging sin on the one hand, or for too great severity towards sinners on the other hand. Satan has many plans to deceive, and knows how to make a bad use of our mistakes.So that contrariwise - On the other hand: on the contrary. That is, instead of continuing the punishment. Since the punishment was sufficient, and has answered all the purpose of bearing your testimony against the offence, and of bringing him to repentance, you ought again to admit him to your communion.

Ye ought rather to forgive him - Rather than continue the pain and disgrace of excommunication. It follows from this:

(1) That the proper time for restoring an offender is only when the punishment has answered the purpose for which it was designed; that is, has shown the just abhorrence of the church against the sin, and has reformed the offender; and,

(2) That when that is done the church ought to forgive the offending brother, and admit him again to their fellowship.

When it can be ascertained that the punishment has been effectual in reforming him, may depend somewhat on the nature of the offence. In this case, it was sufficiently shown by his putting away his wife, and by the manifestations of sorrow. So in other cases, it may be shown by a man's abandoning a course of sin, and reforming his life. If he has been unjust, by his repairing the evil; if he has been pursuing an unlawful business, by abandoning it; if he has pursued a course of, vice; by his forsaking it, and by giving satisfactory evidences of sorrow and of reformation, for a period sufficiently long to show his sincerity. The time which will be required in each case, must depend, of course, somewhat on the nature of the offence, the previous character of the individual, the temptations to which he may be exposed, and the disgrace which he may have brought on his Christian calling. It is to be observed, also, that then his restoration is to be regarded as an act of "forgiveness," a favor (χαρίσασθαι charisasthai, that is, χαρις charis, favor, grace) on the part of the church. It is not a matter of justice, or of claim on his part for having once dishonored his calling, he has forfeited his right to a good standing among Christians; but it is a matter of favor, and he should be willing to humble himself before the church, and make suitable acknowledgment for his offences.

And comfort him - There is every reason to think that this man became a sincere penitent. If so, he must have been deeply pained at the remembrance of his sin, and the dishonor which he had brought on his profession, as well as at the consequences in which he had been involved. In this deep distress, Paul tells them that they ought to comfort him. They should receive him kindly, as God receives to his favor a penitent sinnor. They should not cast out his name as evil; they should not reproach him for his sins; they should not harrow up his recollection of the offence by often referring to it; they should be willing to bury it in lasting forgetfulness, and treat him now as a brother. It is a duty of a church to treat with kindness a true penitent, and receive him to their affectionate embrace. The offence should be forgiven and forgotten. The consolations of the gospel, adapted to the condition of penitents, should be freely administered; and all should be done that can be, to make the offender, when penitent, happy and useful in the community.

Lest perhaps such a one - Still forbearing to mention his name; still showing toward him the utmost tenderness and delicacy.

Should be swallowed up ... - Should be overcome with grief, and should be rendered incapable of usefulness by his excessive sorrow. This is a strong expression, denoting intensity of grief. We speak of a man's being drowned in sorrow; or overwhelmed with grief; of grief preying upon him. The figure here is probably taken from deep waters, or from a whirlpool which seems to swallow up anything that comes within reach. Excessive grief or calamity, in the Scriptures, is often compared to such waters; see Psalm 124:2-5. "If it had not been the Lord who was on our side when men rose up against us, then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us; then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul; then the proud waters had gone over our soul;" see Psalm 69:1. "Save me, O God, for the waters are come into my soul." Paul apprehended that by excessive grief, the offending brother would be destroyed. His life would waste away under the effect of his excommunication and disgrace, and the remembrance of his offence would prey upon him, and sink him to the grave.

7. with overmuch sorrow—Greek, "with HIS overmuch sorrow." So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him: forgiveness in this place doth not signify the taking away or remitting of the guilt of sin, (that is God’s work, not man’s), but remitting of the punishment. And this maketh that probable, that they had not as yet proceeded with this person to excommunication, only kept him (like a suspected leper, without the camp) out of a communion with the church: or if they had actually cast him out, forgiving here can signify nothing but restoring him again to a full communion with them; which is also the comforting which is here mentioned.

Lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow: it is plain from hence, that the apostle had intelligence that this person expressed abundant sorrow; otherwise he would not have expressed his fear of his being drowned in his own tears. Though the condition of such, at this day, is sad enough, who are regularly cast out of the communion of any true church of Christ, for crimes which deserve such a punishment, yet we must imagine it much sadder then. Now churches are multiplied, whole cities and nations are Christianized, and though a person be cast outof a church, yet it is not so taken notice of, but he may yet have converse with other Christians, &c.: but there, the greater part of the city being heathens, and the whole countries of Achaia and Greece (contiguous to it) being heathens; one cast out of the communion of the church (if he had the least sense of religion) could not but be deeply afflicted to be in such a case, as none but heathens and professed idolaters would keep him company, or have any intimacy with him.

So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him,.... On the other hand, so far the apostle suggests they should be from inflicting any other punishment on him, or by any means adding to, and increasing what was inflicted, that they ought to forgive him his offence, by taking off the censure from him, which had been sufficient for the purpose, and had continued on him a sufficient time:

and comfort him; by restoring him to the communion of the church, and to an enjoyment of all the privileges and ordinances of the house of God: and this was necessary to be done,

lest perhaps such an one should be swallowed up with over much sorrow: be overwhelmed with trouble, engulfed in despair, and so become unfit for the exercise of grace, and discharge of duty; to prevent therefore such dangerous and pernicious consequences, it is incumbent on the churches of Christ, as soon as ever they observe that censures have answered the end in bringing persons to a sense and acknowledgment of sin and amendment of life, to remove them, and restore such to fellowship.

So that contrariwise ye ought rather to {f} forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.

(f) That whereas before you punished him sharply, you should now forgive him.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 2:7. So that you, on the contrary, rather (potius) pardon and comfort. This is the consequence which ensued, connected with the utterance of ἱκανὸν κ.τ.λ … Hence the notion of δεῖν (Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 754; Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. ii. 2. 1) is not here to be supplied, as Billroth and Olshausen wish, following the older commentators. It is not said what ought to happen, but what, according to the apostle’s conception, ensued as a necessary and essential consequence of the ἱκανὸν κ.τ.λ. (Kühner, II. p. 564). The χαρίσασθαι, however, is not at variance with the reference to the adulterer (because forgiveness belongs to God

Bleek, Neander), for what is here spoken of in a general way is only the pardon, which the church imparts in reference to the offence produced in it, the pardon of Christian brethren (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:20).

τῇ περισσοτέρᾳ λύπῃ] through the higher degree of affliction, which, namely, would be the consequence of the refusal of pardon, and certainly of the eventual complete excommunicatio.

καταποθῇ] Comp. 1 Corinthians 15:54; 1 Peter 5:8. This being swallowed up is explained by some, of dying (Grotius, according to his view of an illness of the sinner), by others, of suicide, or of apostasy from Christianity (the latter is held by Theodoret, Pelagius, and others, also Flatt; Kypke and Stolz, following Chrysostom, Theophylact, and others, leave a choice between the two); or as conveying a hint that the λύπη bordering on despair might drive him into the world, and he might be devoured by its prince (Olshausen). The latter point: “by the prince of the world,” is quite arbitrarily imported. The sadness (conceived as a hostile animal) is what swallows up. The context gives nothing more precise than the notion: to be brought by the sadness to despair, to the abandoning of all hope and of all striving after the Christian salvation.[142] Comp. on καταπίνειν in the sense of destroying, Jacobs, Animadv. in Athen. p. 315.

[142] The ὁ τοιοῦτος repeated at the end, in itself superfluous, has the tone of compassion.

2 Corinthians 2:7. ὥστε τοὐναντίον μᾶλλον κ.τ.λ.: so that contrariwise ye should rather forgive him and comfort him (cf., for the sentiment, Sir 8:5, Colossians 3:13, Ephesians 4:32). We should expect some verb like δεῖν, but it is perhaps sufficiently suggested by ὥστε. χαρίζεσθαι is generally found in the N.T. in the sense of “to bestow a favour”; but it conveys the special meaning “to forgive” in the passages referred to above.—μήπως τῇ περισσοτέρᾳ λύπῃ κ.τ.λ.: lest such an one should be swallowed up with his excessive sorrow, sc., should be driven to despair through overmuch severity. Again (see on 2 Corinthians 2:4 above) we are not to press the comparative force of περισσοτέρᾳ.

7. comfort him] Better, perhaps, encourage him. See note on ch. 2 Corinthians 1:3.

such a one] ὁ τοιοῦτος, the man of that description, the name by which St Paul always denotes the offender. See note on 1 Corinthians 5:5. St Paul will not disgrace him to all future ages by mentioning his name.

swallowed up] Some commentators have supposed that St Paul here meant apostasy or suicide. But he designedly leaves the result indefinite. It is impossible to foresee what will become of a man overwhelmed with excessive sorrow.

with overmuch sorrow] Literally, by the excess of sorrow. “Nothing is more dangerous than to give Satan a handle whereby he may harass a sinner into despair.” Calvin. Cf. also Galatians 6:1 and Sir 8:5.

2 Corinthians 2:7. Χαρίσασθαι) This word has the meaning of an indicative, whence he is rather forgiven; and the indicative is a very mild form of exhortation: 2 Corinthians 12:9; Matthew 26:18, note.

Verse 7. - Contrariwise; i.e. contrary to the line taken or to the view expressed by the severer portion of the community. Rather. The word is omitted in A and B. To forgive him. The word is used of the mutual attitude of gracious forbearance which ought to exist among Christians(Forgiving one another," Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13), so that they might be not only Christians, but as Gentiles ignorantly called them, Chrestians (" kind-hearted," Ephesians 4:82). And comfort; i.e. "strengthen," "encourage." The "him" is emitted in the Greek, with the same delicate, compassionate reticence which leads St. Paul to speak of this person "a man of such of a kind." In Galatians 6:11 St. Paul suddenly breaks off the course of his remarks to give similar advice in a tone of peculiar solemnity; and in 2 Thessalonians 3:15 he warns against any excess in the severity which he enjoins in the previous verse. Such a one. Like the indefinite "one" in 1 Corinthians 5:5. In the Greek it is compassionately placed last in the clause. Should be swallowed up. The same metaphor, of being swallowed in an abyss, occurs in 1 Corinthians 15:54. In 1 Peter 5:8 it is said that Satan is ever striving to "swallow up" men. With overmuch sorrow; rather, with the, or his, excessive grief. Despair might drive the man to suicide, or apostasy, or the wretchlessness of unclean living. 2 Corinthians 2:7Forgive (χαρίσασθαι)

The idea of freeness (χάρις, see on Luke 1:30) lies in the word forgive, which is forth-give.

Overmuch sorrow (τῇπερισσοτέρᾳ λύπῃ)

Rev. gives the force of the article, his sorrow. Overmuch, excessive, through the refusal of pardon.

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