2 Corinthians 7:11
For behold this selfsame thing, that you sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it worked in you, yes, what clearing of yourselves, yes, what indignation, yes, what fear, yes, what vehement desire, yes, what zeal, yes, what revenge! In all things you have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) That ye sorrowed after a godly sort.—Better, as before, that ye sorrowed after the will of God. The series of emotional words that follow represent the Apostle’s estimate of what he had heard from Titus. There was (1) earnestness where there had been indifference to evil, or even approval of it (1Corinthians 5:2); and this was shown (2) in the vindication of their conduct which they had sent through Titus, and (3) in their stern “indignation” against the offender; (4) in their “fear,” partly of the supernatural chastisement which St. Paul had threatened, partly of the judgment of God, which was against such things; (5) in the longing to have him once more among them which mingled with their fear; (6) in their new “zeal” for the law of purity; (7) in their actual vengeance, i.e., their sentence of condemnation passed upon the offender.

To be clear in this matter.—Literally, in the matter, possibly with exclusive reference to the sin condemned in 1Corinthians 5:1-5, but possibly also, as in 1Thessalonians 4:6, as an euphemistic expression for the sin of impurity generally.

7:5-11 There were fightings without, or continual contentions with, and opposition from Jews and Gentiles; and there were fears within, and great concern for such as had embraced the Christian faith. But God comforts those who are cast down. We should look above and beyond all means and instruments, to God, as the author of all the consolation and good we enjoy. Sorrow according to the will of God, tending to the glory of God, and wrought by the Spirit of God, renders the heart humble, contrite, submissive, disposed to mortify every sin, and to walk in newness of life. And this repentance is connected with saving faith in Christ, and an interest in his atonement. There is a great difference between this sorrow of a godly sort, and the sorrow of the world. The happy fruits of true repentance are mentioned. Where the heart is changed, the life and actions will be changed. It wrought indignation at sin, at themselves, at the tempter and his instruments. It wrought a fear of watchfulness, and a cautious fear of sin. It wrought desire to be reconciled with God. It wrought zeal for duty, and against sin. It wrought revenge against sin and their own folly, by endeavours to make satisfaction for injuries done thereby. Deep humility before God, hatred of all sin, with faith in Christ, a new heart and a new life, make repentance unto salvation. May the Lord bestow it on every one of us.For behold this self-same thing - For see in your own case the happy effects of godly sorrow. See the effects which it produced; see an illustration of what it is suited to produce. The construction is, "For lo! this very thing, to wit, your sorrowing after a godly manner, wrought carefulness, clearing of yourselves," etc. The object of Paul is to illustrate the effects of godly sorrow, to which he had referred in 2 Corinthians 7:10. He appeals, therefore, to their own case, and says that it was beautifully illustrated among themselves.

What carefulness - (σπουδήν spoudēn). This word properly denotes "speed, haste;" then diligence, earnest effort, forwardness. Here it is evidently used to denote the diligence and the great anxiety which they manifested to remove the evils which existed among them. They went to work to remove them. They did not sit down to mourn over them merely, nor did they wait for God to remove them, nor did they plead that they could do nothing, but they set about the work as though they believed it might be done. When people are thoroughly convinced of sin, they will set about removing it with the utmost diligence. They will feel that this can be done, and must be done, or that the soul will be lost.

What clearing of yourselves - (ἀπολογίαν apologian). Apology. This word properly means a plea or defense before a tribunal or elsewhere; Acts 22:1; 2 Timothy 4:16. Tyndale renders it, "Yea, it caused you to clear yourselves." The word here properly means "apology" for what had been done; and it probably refers here to the effort which would be made by the sounder part of the church to clear themselves from blame in what had occurred. It does not mean that the guilty, when convicted of sin, will attempt to vindicate themselves and to apologize to God for what they had done; but it means that the church at Corinth were anxious to state to Titus all the mitigating circumstances of the case: they showed great solicitude to free themselves, as far as could be done, from blame; they were anxious, as far as could be, to show that they had not approved of what had occurred, and perhaps that it had occurred only because it could not have been prevented. We are not to suppose that all the things here referred to occurred in the same individuals, and that the same persons precisely evinced diligence, and made the apology, etc. It was done by the church; all evinced deep feeling; but some manifested it in one way, and some in another. The whole church was roused, and all felt, and all endeavored in the proper way to free themselves from the blame, and to remove the evil from among them.

Yea, what indignation - Indignation against the sin, and perhaps against the persons who had drawn down the censure of the apostle. One effect of true repentance is to produce decided hatred of sin. It is not mere regret, or sorrow, it is positive hatred. There is a deep indignation against it as an evil and a bitter thing.

Yea, what fear - Fear lest the thing should be repeated. Fear lest it should not be entirely removed. Or it may possibly mean fear of the displeasure of Paul, and of the punishment which would be inflicted if the evil were not removed. But it more probably refers to the anxious state of mind that the whole evil might be corrected, and to the dread of having any vestige of the evil remaining among them.

Yea, what vehement desire - This may either mean their fervent wish to remove the cause of complaint, or their anxious desire to see the apostle. It is used in the latter sense in 2 Corinthians 7:7, and according to Doddridge and Bloomfield this is the meaning here. Locke renders it, "desire of satisfying me." It seems to me more probable that Paul refers to their anxious wish to remove the sin, since this is the topic under consideration. The point of his remarks in this verse is not so much their affection for him as their indignation against their sin, and their deep grief that sin had existed and had been tolerated among them.

Yea, what zeal - Zeal to remove the sin, and to show your attachment to me. They set about the work of reformation in great earnest.

Yea, what revenge! - Tyndale renders this: "it caused punishment." The idea is, that they immediately set about the work of inflicting punishment on the offender. The word used here (ἐκδίκησις ekdikēsis) probably denotes "maintenance of right, protection;" then it is used in the sense of avengement, or vengeance; and then of penal retribution or punishment; see Luke 21:22; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 2:14.

In all things ... - The sense of this is, "You have entirely acquitted yourselves of blame in this business." The apostle does not mean that none of them had been to blame, or that the church had been free from fault, for a large part of his former Epistle is occupied in reproving them for their faults in this business, but he means that by their zeal and their readiness to take away the cause of complaint, they had removed all necessity of further blame, and had pursued such a course as entirely to meet his approbation. They had cleared themselves of any further blame in this business, and had become, so far as this was concerned, "clear" (ἁγνοὺς hagnous) or pure.

11. Confirmation of 2Co 7:10 from the Corinthians' own experience.

carefulness—solicitude, literally, "diligence"; opposed to their past negligence in the matter.

in you—Greek "for you."

yea—not only "carefulness" or diligence, but also "clearing of yourselves," namely, to me by Titus: anxiety to show you disapproved of the deed.

indignation—against the offender.

fear—of the wrath of God, and of sinning any more [Sclater and Calvin]; fear of Paul [Grotius], (1Co 4:2, 19-21).

vehement desire—longing for restoration to Paul's approval [Conybeare and Howson]. "Fear" is in spite of one's self. "Longing desire" is spontaneous, and implies strong love and an aspiration for correction [Calvin]. "Desire" for the presence of Paul, as he had given them the hope of it (1Co 4:19; 16:5) [Grotius and Estius].

zeal—for right and for God's honor against what is wrong. Or, "for the good of the soul of the offender" [Bengel].

revenge—Translate, "Exacting of punishment" (1Co 5:2, 3). Their "carefulness" was exhibited in the six points just specified: "clearing of themselves," and "indignation" in relation to themselves; "fear" and "vehement desire" in respect to the apostle; "zeal" and "revenge" in respect to the offender [Bengel]; (compare 2Co 7:7).

In all—the respects just stated.

clear—Greek, "pure," namely, from complicity in the guilty deed. "Approved yourselves," Greek, "commended yourselves." Whatever suspicion of complicity rested on you (1Co 5:2, 6) through your former remissness, you have cleared off by your present strenuousness in reprobating the deed.

The apostle having showed the mischievous effects of worldly sorrow, all which he comprehended under the word death, here showeth the blessed effects of that sorrow which is according to God.

What carefulness it wrought in you! The first he mentioneth is great carefulness, both to make our peace with God for our former violations of his law, (using all means he hath prescribed and directed thereunto), and also to preserve our peace, by avoiding the like breaches for the time to come.

What clearing of yourselves! The Corinthians’ sorrow might work in some of them a clearing or purging themselves of that guilt which other members of that church had incurred. But there is another clearing of ourselves, which true repentance worketh, not by denying the fact, but by confessing it, with taking shame to ourselves; which, though it be not a clearing of a person from the fact, yet, through Divine grace, joined with a reformation, it is a clearing him from the guilt thereof.

What indignation! What a displeasure against yourselves for your follies!

What fear! Not so much of the wrath of God, as lest you should again fall into the like temptations, and be overcome by them.

What vehement desire! What hearty prayers to God, that for the time to come you might be kept from the like temptations!

What zeal! What warmth and great degrees of all sanctified affections; love to God, hatred of sin, fear of offending God, desire to please him!

What revenge! What acts of discipline, fasting, denying of yourselves in some lawful things wherein you may have offended, or the too free use of which may have been to you occasions of offending.

In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter; by these acts, though some of you have been to be blamed, yet the body of you have showed yourselves clear of this matter; or though all of you have been formerly too guilty of some things I have charged you with, yet you have cleared yourselves both to God, who imputeth no sin to him that confesseth his sin and forsaketh it, and to me, who am abundantly satisfied with your declared sorrow, repentance, and reformation. For behold, this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort,.... The apostle proceeds to describe godly sorrow by its effects, which are so many evidences of the sincerity and genuineness of it; some of the things mentioned are peculiar to the case of the Corinthians, and others common to evangelical repentance in any:

what carefulness it wrought in you; to remove the incestuous person from communion with them, which they were very negligent of before; to sin no more after this sort; to keep up, for the future, a more strict and regular discipline in the church; to perform good works in general, and not to offend God:

yea, what clearing of yourselves; not by denying the fact, or lessening, or defending it; but by acknowledging their neglect, praying it might be overlooked, declaring that they were not partakers of the sin; nor did they approve of it, but disliked and abhorred it, and were highly pleased with the method the apostle advised to:

yea, what indignation; not against the person of the offender, but against his sin; and not his only but their own too, in not appearing against him, and taking notice of him sooner; and particularly that they should act in such a manner, as to deserve the just rebuke of the apostle:

yea, what fear; not of hell and damnation, as in wicked men and devils, who repent not; but of God, and of grieving his ministers; and lest the corruption should spread in the church, as the apostle had suggested, "a little leaven leavens the whole lump";

yea, what vehement desire; of seeing the apostle; of giving him full satisfaction; of behaving in quite another manner for the time to come; and to be kept from evil, and to honour God by a becoming conversation:

yea, what zeal; for God and his glory; for restoring the discipline of the church: for the doctrines of the Gospel; for the ordinances of Christ's house; for the supporting the character of the apostle, and other ministers of the word, against the false apostles:

yea, what revenge; not of persons in a private way, vengeance belongs to God; but of all disobedience, particularly that of the unhappy criminal among them, which has shown in the punishment inflicted on him by many:

in all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter; of the incestuous person: it appeared plainly that they did not consent to, and approve of his sin; and though at first they were unconcerned about it, did not mourn over it as they ought, nor make such haste to deal with the offender as they should, yet having discovered true repentance for their sloth, negligence, and indulgence, they are acquitted, and stand, in the apostle's view of them, as if they had not offended.

For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 7:11. What has just been said of the godly sorrow is now proved by experience from the instance of the readers themselves. For see, this very thing (nothing else), the having been afflicted with godly sorrow, etc. The emphatic use of the preparatory τοῦτο before infinitives is very common in classic writers. See Kühner, II. p. 330; Breitenb. ad Xen. Oec. 14. 10.

ὑμῖν] not: among you, but: vobis.

σπουδήν] activity, namely, to efface and make amends for the offence, as opposed to their previous negligence in regard to the incestuous perso.

ἀλλά] yea rather, imo, corrective, and thereby advancing beyond the last idea (comp. 1 Corinthians 3:2; John 16:2). Paul feels that he has said too little by using σπουδήν. The co-ordinate repetition of ἀλλά before each point lays on each a special emphasis. Comp. on 1 Corinthians 6:11.

ἀπολογίαν] πρὸς ἐμέ, Chrysostom and Theophylact rightly say; but we must at the same time observe that they have answered for themselves in the first instance to Titus, and through him to Paul (that they were not partakers in the guilt of the incestuous person). Billroth understands the de facto exculpation by the adjudging of punishment to the transgressor. An arbitrary view, and opposed to the context (ἐκδίκησιν). Ewald, in accordance with his assumption of a letter in reply now lost, refers it to the latte.

ἀγανάκτησιν] displeasure, vexation, that such a disgraceful thing had been carried on in the churc.

φόβον] “ne cum virga venirem” (Bengel), namely, in the event of the state of things not being amended (1 Corinthians 4:21), or even of new transgressions. Comp. Chrysostom and Theophylact. The explanation: fear of God’s punishments (Pelagius, Calvin, Flatt, Olshausen), is at variance with the context (ἐπιπόθησ.).

ἐπιπόθ.] as in 2 Corinthians 7:7, longing after the apostle’s comin.

ζῆλον] not as in 2 Corinthians 7:7, where ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ is associated with it, but, as is suggested by the following ἐκδίκησιν (punishment of the transgressor): disciplinary zeal against the incestuous person, not zeal in general for the honour of Christ, of the church, and of the apostle (Osiander). The six objects introduced by ἀλλά go logically in pairs, so that ἀπολογ. and ἀγανάκτ. relate to the disgrace of the church, φόβον and ἐπιπόθ. to the apostle, and ζῆλον and ἐκδίκησιν to the incestuous person, the latter, however, without the arbitrary distinction drawn by Bengel, that ζῆλον refers to the good of his soul, and ἐκδικ. only to his punishment for his transgression. ζῆλος is the zeal for bot.

ἐν παντὶ συνεστήσατε κ.τ.λ.] a judgment on the whole matter added asyndetically, and so with the more weight (Dissen, ad Pind. Exc. II. p. 278): in every respect you have proved that you yourselves are innocent as regards the matter in question. By this the Corinthians are acquitted from positive participation in the offence; they could not be acquitted (comp. 1 Corinthians 5:6) of a negative participation (through toleration and connivance), but this is not further touched on in accordance with his purpose, which is here throughout conciliator.

ἑαυτούς] you for your own person, as opposed to the evil-doer.

On συνίστημι, with the accusative and infinitive, comp. Diod. Sic. i. 96, xiv. 45. Without εἶναι (comp. Galatians 2:18) the attribute would appear as purely objective, as the proved fact; with εἶναι the expression is subjective, denoting the relation from the standpoint of the readers. Comp. in general, Krüger, § 65, 1. 4.

The dative τῷ πράγματι is that of ethical reference, expressing the matter with respect to which what is affirmed takes place. See Matthiae, p. 876; Bernhardy, p. 84. Comp. ἐλεύθεροιτῇ δικαιοσύνῃ, Romans 6:20; Matthew 5:8. This, at the same time, in opposition to Rückert’s assertion that ἐν (see the critical remarks) cannot be dispensed with. On the term itself, Bengel rightly remarks: “indefinite loquitur de re odiosa.” Comp. 2 Corinthians 2:5 ff.2 Corinthians 7:11. ἰδοὺ γὰρ αὐτὸ κ.τ.λ.: for behold, this same thing, viz., that you were made sorry after a godly sort, what diligence it wrought in you, yea (sc., “not only so, but also,” ἀλλά introducing an accessory idea) what a defence, sc., of yourselves to me through the mediation of Titus, yea what indignation, yea what fear, sc., of St. Paul’s rebukes, yea what longing, sc., that he should come to them (see 2 Corinthians 7:7), yea what zeal, sc., on behalf of God and righteousness, yea what avenging, sc., the heavy punishment solemnly inflicted on the offender in God’s name (chap. 2 Corinthians 2:6). Observe that ἐκδίκησις and ἐκδικέω are always (see reff. and Luke 18:7, 1 Peter 2:14, etc.) used of God’s avenging of sin, not of man’s retaliation.—ἐν παντὶ κ.τ.λ.: in everything ye approved yourselves to be pure in the matter, i.e., not that they were quite free from gross sins of the flesh (see 2 Corinthians 12:21), but that by their ready compliance with the Apostle’s directions they had cleared themselves from the guilt of connivance at incest (see 2 Corinthians 2:6). τῷ πράγματι (the dat. of regard) is a vague phrase used here and at 1 Thessalonians 4:6 to denote abominable wickedness.11. after a godly sort] See note on last verse. Also 2 Corinthians 7:9.

what carefulness] Literally diligence (so Tyndale and Grammer; bisynes, Wiclif; moral earnestness, Robertson). See Mark 6:25; Luke 1:39, where it is translated haste.

what clearing of yourselves] Literally, defence or excuse, but a better translation than that in the text is impossible.

indignation] or vexation, a sort of feeling between indignation and disgust at themselves for having been ‘puffed up,’ and not having ‘rather mourned that he that had done this deed had not been taken away from among them.’ 1 Corinthians 5:2.

fear] Ne cum virga venirem. Bengel. See 1 Corinthians 4:21, and 2 Corinthians 7:15. Or, perhaps, fear of God’s wrath. See 2 Corinthians 7:1. But cf. note below.

vehement desire] Rather, longing, i.e. for St Paul’s presence (see Php 1:8; Php 2:26; 1 Thessalonians 3:6; also ch. 2 Corinthians 5:2, 2 Corinthians 9:14). The same word in 2 Corinthians 7:7 is translated earnest desire. Theophylact detects here another instance of the anxiety of the Apostle not to lay too much stress on his authority. To the idea of fear he immediately subjoins that of affection.

zeal] (a fervent mynde, Tyndale). See note on 2 Corinthians 7:7.

revenge] punysshment, Tyndale. The word is used of punishment inflicted by judicial process. See Luke 18:3. Also ch. 2 Corinthians 10:6. Such a process had taken place in this case. Cf. 1 Corinthians 5:4-5, with 2 Corinthians 2:6. Bengel remarks that the six results mentioned by the Apostle fall into three pairs. The first two relate to their feelings towards themselves, the next to their feelings towards the Apostle, the last to their feelings towards the offender and his offence.2 Corinthians 7:11. ʼ Ιδού, behold) Paul proves this from their present experience.—ὑμῖν, to you) The Dative of advantage; comp. 2 Corinthians 7:9, at the end.—σπουδὴν, carefulness) Σπουδαῖον, is said of whatever of its kind is good, sound, and vigorous. A beautiful passage in the 2d book of Aristotle’s Eth. Nicom. c. 5, furnishes an illustration, ἡ τοῦ ὀφθαλμοῦ ἀρετὴ τόν τε ὀφθαλμὸν σπουδαῖον ποιεῖ καὶ τὸ ἔργον αὐτοῦ· ὁμοίως ἡ τοῦ ἵππου ἀρετὴ, ἵππον τε σπουδαῖον ποιεῖ, καὶ ἀγαθὸν δραμεῖν, κ.τ.λ. “The vigour of the eye renders both the eye and its action excellent, in like manner the vigour of the horse renders the horse excellent and well fitted for running,” etc.; so that τὸ σπουδαῖον is τὸ εὐ ἔχον, and is opposed to τῷ φαύλῳ, ib. c. 4. Therefore σπουδὴ signifies activity, diligence; and in the present case expresses the principal characteristic of repentance, when it seriously enters into the soul, a characteristic which καταφρονηταὶ, despisers, are devoid of, Acts 13:41. Six special characteristics presently follow this ‘carefulness;’ and this one is again mentioned at 2 Corinthians 7:12. The same word is also at ch. 2 Corinthians 8:7-8; 2 Corinthians 8:16-17; 2 Corinthians 8:22.—ἀλλὰ ἀπολογίαν, κ.τ.λ., but, clearing of yourselves) But makes an emphatic addition [Epitasis]. Not only this, which I have said, but also, etc. Some of the Corinthians had behaved well, others not so well in that affair; or else even all in one respect had been blameless, in another, had been culpable; from which cause it was that various feelings arose. They had taken up the clearing of themselves [ἀπολογίαν, self-defence] and a feeling of indignation, in respect to themselves; they had fear and vehement desire, in respect to the apostle; zeal and revenge, in respect of him, who had been guilty of the sin. Comp. in this threefold respect 2 Corinthians 7:7, note, and 2 Corinthians 7:12, note.—ἀπολογίαν, clearing of yourselves [self-defence]) inasmuch as you did not approve of the deed.—ἀγανάκτησιν, indignation) inasmuch as you did not instantly restrain it.—ἀγανάκτησιν is used here with admirable propriety. It denotes the pain, of which a man has the cause in himself, for example in dentition; for E. Schmidius compares with this passage that from Plato, κνῆσις καὶ ἀγανάκτησις περὶ τὰ οὖλα, itching and pain about the gums.—φόβον, fear) lest I should come with a rod.—ἐπιπόθησιν, vehement desire) to see me.—ζῆλον, zeal) for the good of the soul of him, who had sinned.—ἀλλʼ ἐκδίκησιν, but revenge) against the evil, which he had perpetrated, 1 Corinthians 5:2-3.—ἐν παντὶ) in all the respects, which I have stated.—συνεστήσατε ἑαυτοὺς, you have approved yourselves to me) you have given me satisfaction.—ἁγνοὺς εἶναι, to be clear) To be is a mild expression for to have become; for they had not been quite clear, 1 Corinthians 5:6. A mutual amnesty is expressed in this and the following verse.—πράγματι, in the matter) He speaks indefinitely, as in the case of an odious occurrence.Verse 11. - For behold, etc. The effects produced by their repentance showed that it was "according to God;" for it brought forth in them "the fruits of good living to the honour and glory of God." Carefulness; rather, earnestness, active endeavour. Yea what. There is an untranslatable energy about the original Greek. The same use of ἀλλὰ (Latin, immo vero) in a climax is found in 1 Corinthians 6:11. Clearing of yourselves; literally, apology, self-defence, addressed to me through Titus. Indignation. Against themselves for their neglect. Fear. Of the measures which I might take, if I came to you "with a rod" (1 Corinthians 4:21). Vehement desire. Longing that I should return to you (see ver. 7). Zeal. To make up for past remissness. Revenge. Judicial punishment of the incestuous offender. The "apology" and "indignation" referred to themselves; the "fear" and "yearning" to the apostle; the "zeal" and "judicial retribution" to the offender. In all things. His summing up is, "In every respect ye approved yourselves to be pure in the matter." Whatever may have been your previous carelessness and connivance, the steps you took on receiving my letter vindicated your character. In this matter; rather, in the matter. It is quite in accordance with St. Paul's usual manner that "he speaks indefinitely of what was odious" (1 Thessalonians 4:6). Sorrowed (λυπηθῆναι)

Rev., correctly, were made sorry. The verb is in the passive voice, and is so rendered by the A.V. in 2 Corinthians 7:9, but, inconsistently, sorrowed in the next clause.

Carefulness (σπουδήν)

See on diligence, Romans 12:8. Rev., earnest care.

Clearing of yourselves (ἀπολογίαν)

See on 1 Peter 3:15. Exculpation or self-defense from complicity with the incestuous person by their neglect and refusal to humble themselves.

Indignation (ἀγανάκτησιν)

Only here in the New Testament. Compare the kindred verb ἀγανακτέω to be indignant, Matthew 20:24; Mark 10:14, etc.

Revenge (ἐκδίκησιν)

An unfortunate rendering, because of the personal feeling of vindictiveness which attaches to the popular usage. Rev. avenging is little, if any, better. It is rather meting out of justice; doing justice to all parties. See on Luke 18:3; see on Luke 21:22. The word has, however, the sense of requital (see on Romans 12:19; compare 2 Thessalonians 1:8), and carries with it, etymologically, the sense of vindication, as Luke 18:7, Luke 18:8. Bengel remarks that the six results of godly sorrow fall into pairs: clearing and indignation relating to the disgrace of the Church; fear and longing (vehement desire) to the apostle; zeal and avenging to the offender.

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