2 Corinthians 7:8
For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same letter has made you sorry, though it were but for a season.
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(8) For though I made you sorry with a letter.—Better, For even if, and, as the Greek has the article, with my letter. This Titus had told him; and commonly to have caused pain to others would have been a source of grief to him, but he cannot bring himself now to say, I regret. (This is, perhaps, better than repent. On the words, see Notes on Matthew 21:29; Matthew 27:3.) He owns, however, that there had been a moment, either on first hearing of their grief or in his previous anxiety, when he had half regretted that he had written so strongly. Now he sees that that grief was but transient, and he trusts that the good wrought by it will be abiding.

2 Corinthians 7:8-11. For though I made you sorry — Caused you much distress and pain of mind by the letter I formerly wrote; I do not now repent — Of writing it; although I did repent — After it was sent away, fearing it might irritate some of you, and produce some ill effect. Or the meaning is, I felt a tender sorrow for having grieved you, till I saw the happy fruit of it. Now I rejoice not barely that ye were made sorry — By my letter, for that would rather still give me pain; but that ye sorrowed to repentance — To true and genuine repentance, attended with a change of heart and life; for ye were made sorry after a godly manner — With a penitential and humble regard to the honour of God: Greek, κατα Θεον, according to God, in the manner God requires. That ye might receive — Or so that ye received; damage by us in nothing — But on the contrary, as we intended, great benefit, by the severity we were compelled to use. For godly sorrow — A sorrow for having offended God, or sorrowing according to the will of God; worketh repentance — Productive of fruit worthy of repentance; so the word μετανοια, rendered repentance, implies, denoting such a change in a person’s mind or judgment, concerning some action, word, or disposition, as produces a change in his spirit and conduct for the better in time to come. Unto salvation — Issuing in eternal salvation; not — Never afterward; to be repented of — Or grieved for, as αμεταμελητον properly signifies. But the sorrow of the world — Sorrow that arises from worldly considerations; worketh death — Temporal, spiritual, and eternal. For behold this self-same thing — As if he had said, And it appears that your sorrow was godly, by the excellent fruits and effects thereof; that ye sorrowed after a godly sort — In a manner pleasing to God; what carefulness it wrought in you — Namely, to amend what was amiss; or what diligence, or earnestness, as ποσην σπουδην rather signifies, namely, diligence manifested in the following particulars. Some had been more, some less faulty, whence arose the various affections here mentioned. Hence their apologizing and indignation, with respect to themselves; their fear and desire with respect to the apostle; their zeal and revenge with respect to the offender: yea, and themselves also. What clearing yourselves — From either sharing in, or approving of his sin; indignation — That ye had not immediately corrected the offender; fear — Of God’s displeasure. or lest I should come with a rod; vehement desire — To see me again; zeal — For the glory of God, and the soul of that sinner; yea, revenge — Ye took a kind of holy revenge upon yourselves, being scarce able to forgive yourselves. In all things ye — As a church; have approved yourselves to be pure — That is, free from blame, since ye received my letter. Dr. Whitby here remarks, “That true repentance for sin clears us from the guilt of it, not only in the sight of God, but man; so that it is both uncharitable and unchristian to stigmatize or reproach any person for the sin we know or believe he hath truly repented of.” 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 though I made you sorry ... - That is, in the First Epistle which he had sent to them. In that Epistle he had felt it necessary to reprove them for their dissensions and other disorders which had occurred and which were tolerated in the church. That Epistle was suited to produce pain in them - as severe and just reproof always does; and Paul felt very anxious about its effect on them. It was painful to him to write it, and he was well aware that it must cause deep distress among them to be thus reproved.

I do not repent - I have seen such happy effects produced by it; it has so completely answered the end which I had in view; it was so kindly received, that I do not regret now that I wrote it. It gives me no pain in the recollection, but I have occasion to rejoice that it was done.

Though I did repent - Doddridge renders this: "however anxious I may have been." The word used here does not denote repentance in the sense in which that word is commonly understood, as if any wrong had been done. It is not the language of remorse. It can denote here nothing more than "that uneasiness which a good man feels, not from the consciousness of having done wrong, but from a tenderness for others, and a fear lest that which, prompted by duty, he had said, should have too strong an effect upon them." - Campbell, diss. vi. part iii. section 9. See the meaning of the word further illustrated in the same dissertation. The word (μεταμέλομαι metamelomai) denotes properly to change one's purpose or mind after having done anything (Robinson); or an uneasy feeling of regret for what has been done without regard either to duration or effects - Campbell. Here it is not to be understood that Paul meant to say he had done anything wrong.

He was an inspired man, and what he had said was proper and right. But he was a man of deep feeling, and of tender affections. He was pained at the necessity of giving reproof. And there is no improbability in supposing that after the letter had been sent off, and he reflected on its nature and on the pain which it would cause to those whom he tenderly loved, there might be some misgiving of heart about it, and the deepest anxiety, and regret at the necessity of doing it. What parent is there who has not had the same feeling as this? He has felt it necessary to correct a beloved child, and has formed the purpose, and has executed it. But is there no misgiving of heart? No question asked whether it might not have been dispensed with? No internal struggle; no sorrow; no emotion which may be called regret at the resolution which has been taken? Yet there is no repentance as if the parent had done wrong. He feels that he has done what was right and necessary. He approves his own course, and has occasion of rejoicing at the good effects which follow. Such appears to have been the situation of the apostle Paul in this case; and it shows that he, had a tender heart, that he did not delight in giving pain, and that he had no desire to overwhelm them with grief. When the effect was seen, he was not unwilling that they should be apprized of the pain which it had cost him. When a parent has corrected a child, no injury is done if the child becomes acquainted with the strugglings which it has cost him, and the deep pain and anxiety caused by the necessity of resorting to chastisement.

For I perceive ... - I perceive the good effect of the Epistle. I perceive that it produced the kind of sorrow in you which I desired. I see that it has produced permanent good results. The sorrow which it caused in you is only for a season; the good effects will be abiding. I have, therefore, great occasion to rejoice that I sent the Epistle. It produced permanent repentance and reformation 2 Corinthians 7:9, and thus accomplished all that I wished or desired.

8. with a letter—Greek, "in the letter" namely, the first Epistle to the Corinthians.

I do not repent, though I did repent—Translate, "I do not regret it, though I did regret it." The Greek words for regret and repent are distinct. Paul was almost regretting, through parental tenderness, his having used rebukes calculated to grieve the Corinthians; but now that he has learned from Titus the salutary effect produced on them, he no longer regrets it.

for I perceive, &c.—This is explanatory of "I did repent" or "regret it," and is parenthetical ("for I perceive that that Epistle did make you sorry, though it was but for a season").

For though I made you sorry with a letter; the apostle doubtless meaneth the former Epistle to this church.

I do not repent, though I did repent: as to which, he saith, that although he was sometimes troubled, because (probably) he understood that some truly pious persons in this church were troubled at it, as thinking themselves intended in the reprehensions of it; for which effect, or mistake, (he saith), he was once sorry, being troubled that he should do any thing to grieve them, whom he so affectionately loved; yet now he tells them he was not sorry.

The same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season; and their sorrow was but a temporary sorrow, until they could reform those abuses, which they were made sensible of by that Epistle, and give the apostle that wrote it just satisfaction. For though I made you sorry with a letter,.... His former epistle, relating to the incestuous person:

I do not repent, though I did repent; not of writing the letter, which was wrote by divine inspiration; but of the sorrow occasioned by it, though now he did not repent of that:

for I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though it were but for a season; inasmuch as the sorrow was true, hearty, and genuine, though it was but for a time, the apostle was entirely satisfied, and the more pleased, because of its brevity, since it was sincere.

{2} For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.

(2) An objection: but you have handled us roughly. The apostle answers that he did not use his roughness without grief. And he adds moreover, that he is also glad now that he drove them to that sorrow even though it was against his will, since it was so profitable to them. For there is a sorrow not only praiseworthy, but also necessary, that is, by which repentance grows by certain degrees: and for this repentance he praises them highly. And this is the fifth part of this epistle.

2 Corinthians 7:8 f. Information regarding this μᾶλλον χαρῆναι, explaining the ground of it. With εἰ καὶ μετεμελόμην there begins a new protasis, the apodosis of which is νῦν χαίρω κ.τ.λ., so that the βλέπω γὰρ κ.τ.λ., which stands between, assigns parenthetically the ground of the protasis. For if I have even saddened you in my Epistle, I do not regret it; if I did regret it (which I have no wish to deny) formerly (and as I now perceive, not without ground, for I learn from the accounts of Titus that that Epistle, if even for a short time, has saddened you), now I am glad, etc. Comp. Luther; Rinck, Lucubr. crit. p. 162, and the punctuation of Lachmann and Teschendorf; also Kling. Only in this way of dividing and interpreting this passage does the explanatory statement advance in a simple logical way (1, I do not regret; 2, if I did previously regret, now I am glad), and the imperfect μετεμελ. stand in right correlation with the present νῦν χαίρω, so that μετεμελόμην applies to the time before the present joyful mood was reached. The common punctuation, adopted also by Osiander and Hofmann, which connects εἰ καὶ μετεμελ. with the previous words, and begins a new sentence with νῦν χαίρω, breaks asunder the logical connection and the correlation of the parts, and leaves βλέπω γὰρ κ.τ.λ. (which must be the reason assigned for οὐ μεταμέλομαι, as Hofmann also correctly holds, and not for ἐλύπησα ὑμᾶς, as Olshausen, de Wette, and others would make it) without any proper reference. Bengel, indeed, wishes to take εἰ καί before πρ. ὥρ elliptically: “Contristavit vos, inquit, epistola tantummodo ad tempus vel potius ne ad tempus quidem.” But it is not the bare εἰ καί which is thus used elliptically, but εἰ καὶ ἄρα, or more often εἴπερ ἄρα, even εἰ ἄρα (see Vigerus, ed. Herm. p. 514; comp. Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 440; Klotz, ad Devar. p. 521); further, πρὸς ὥραν must have logically stood before εἰ καί; lastly, the thought itself would be in the highest degree unsuitable, since Paul could not cast doubt on the genuine sadness of the readers (comp. ὀδυρμόν, 2 Corinthians 7:7, and see 2 Corinthians 7:9 ff.). The meaning would not be, as Bengel thinks, ἤθους apostolici plenissimum, but in contradiction with the context. Billroth would (and Chrysostom in a similar way) bring out a logical grounding of οὐ μεταμέλομαι by taking βλέπω as meaning: I take into consideration;[259] “I take into consideration that it has saddened you, though only for a short time, as I had intended; by allowing yourselves to be saddened, you have shown that you are susceptible to amendment” (2 Corinthians 2:2). But in this way everything, in which the probative force is supposed to lie, is imported. This is the case also with Hofmann, who makes (comp. Bengel above) εἰ καί form by itself alone a parenthetic elliptic sentence, but in a concessive sense, so that the import of the whole is held to be: “Although the Epistle has saddened them, it is a temporary, not a permanent, sadness with which it has filled them. This the apostle sees, and he therefore does not regret that he has saddened them by it.” Paul does not write in this enigmatical fashion; he would have said intelligibly: ἡ ἐπιστ. ἐκείνη, εἰ καὶ ἐλύπησεν ὑμᾶς, πρὸς ὥραν ἐλύπησεν, or, at any rate, have added to εἰ καί the appropriate verb (comp. 2 Corinthians 7:12). Such an elliptic εἰ καί is as unexampled as that which is assumed by Bengel, and both serve only to misconstrue and distort the meaning of the words. Rückert comes nearest to our view; he proposes to read βλέπων (as also Lachmann, Praef. p. xii., would), and to make the meaning: “That I have thus saddened you I do not regret, but although I regretted it (εἰ δὲ καὶ μετεμελόμην) when I saw that that Epistle had caused you … sadness, still I am glad now,” etc. But apart from the very weak attestation for the reading βλέπων, and apart also from the fact that εἰ δὲ καί would be although, however, not but although, βλέπωνἐλύπησεν ὑμᾶς would only contain a very superfluous and cumbrous repetition of the thought already expressed in the acknowledgment εἰ καὶ ἐλύπησα ὑμᾶς, since βλέπων would not apply to the insight gained from the news brought by Titus. Ewald has the peculiar view, which is simply an uncalled for and arbitrary invention, that Paul intended to write: for I see that that Epistle, though it saddened you for a short time, has yet brought you to a right repentance; but feeling this to be unsuitable, he suddenly changed the train of thought and went on: I am now glad, etc. Neander has a view quite similar.

On πρὸς ὥραν, comp. Philemon 1:15; Galatians 2:5. The clause “although for a short time” is here a delicately thoughtful addition of sympathetic love, which has in view the fact that the sadness caused by it will only last up to the receipt of the present Epistle, which is intended to assure the readers of the apostle’s pardon and joy (comp. 2 Corinthians 2:4 ff.).

[259] Camerarius already took it as hoc intueor et considero. It is simply animadverto, cognosco (Romans 7:23). Comp. Jacobs, ad Anthol. II. 3, p. 203.


Some make an alteration in the meaning of εἰ καὶ μετεμελόμην: etiamsi poenituisset (Erasmus, Castalio, Vatablus, and others, including Flatt); or hold that poenitere is here equivalent to dolorem capere (Calvin, comp. Grotius); or suggest explanations such as: “Non autem dolere potuit de eo quod scripserit cum severitate propter schismata …; hoc enim omne factum instinctu divino per θεοπευστίαν; sed quod contristati fuerint epistola sua et illi, quos illa increpatio adeo non tetigit,” Calovius (comp. Grotius); or the more ingenious device of Beza: “ut significet apostolus, se ex epistola illa acerbius scripta nonnullum dolorem cepisse, non quasi quod fecerat optaret esse infectum, sed quod clementis patris exemplo se ad hanc severitatem coactum esse secum gemens, eventum rei expectaret.” But these are forced shifts of the conception of mechanical inspiration. The Theopneustia does not put an end to the spontaneity of the individual with his varying play of human emotions; hence Wetstein is so far right in remarking: “Interpretes, qui putant, et consilium scribendi epistolam (rather of writing in so hard a vein of chastisement), et ejus consilii poenitentiam, et poenitentiae poenitentiam ab afflatu Spir. sancti fuisse profectam, parum consentanea dicere videntur.” Not as if such alternation of moods testified against the existence of inspiration; but it attests its dependence on the natural conditions of the individual in the mode of its working, which was not only different in different subjects, but was not alike even in individuals where these were differently determined by outer and inner influences; so that the divine side of the Scripture does not annul the human, or make it a mere phantom, nor can it be separated from it mechanically. It is indissolubly blended with it.2 Corinthians 7:8. ὅτι εἰ καὶ ἐλύπησα κ.τ.λ.: for though I made you sorry with my epistle (sc., esp. 1 Corinthians 5; cf. Introd., p. 14), I do not regret it; though I did regret it (for I see that that epistle made you sorry, though but for a season), yet now I rejoice, etc. We follow the punctuation adopted by Tisch., W.H. and the American Revisers, the second clause softening the apparent harshness of the first, and βλέπω γάρὥραν being a parenthetic explanation.8. with a letter] Rather, by the letter, i.e. the First Epistle.

though I did repent] “There was a moment in the Apostle’s life when he half regretted what he had done. To some persons this would be perplexing. They cannot understand how an inspired Apostle could regret what he had done: if it were done by inspiration, what room could there be for misgivings? And if he regretted an act done under God’s guidance, just as any common man might regret a foolish act, how could the Apostle be inspired? But this, which might perplex some, exhibits the very beauty and naturalness of the whole narrative. God’s inspiration does not take a man and make a passive machine of him. When God inspires, His spirit mixes with the spirit of man in the form of thought, not without struggles and misgivings of the human element Otherwise it would not be inspiration of the man, but simply a Divine echo through the man.” Robertson. Similar conflicts of the human with the Divine in the inspired writers maybe seen in Exodus 4:10-14; Exodus 6:12; Jeremiah 1:6-9; Jeremiah 14:13; Jeremiah 20:7-9; Jeremiah 20:14-18, and in the whole book of Jonah.

for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry] There are a good many various readings here, and the editors have adopted various punctuations, possibly from the difficulty mentioned in the last note. But in truth there need be no such difficulty. The right course was that taken in the First Epistle, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. But after the Epistle was sent, the tender human heart of St Paul doubted whether he had done right, whether he had not given unnecessary pain, and the like, and his mind was not fully set at rest on the point until the arrival of Titus shewed him clearly the hand of God in the matter. Such self-questionings are constantly going on in the mind of every conscientious man, even when he has been acting most thoroughly under the guidance of God’s Spirit. The word here translated made sorry, which is owing to Wiclif, is the same word which in ch. 2 is rendered ‘caused grief’ and ‘grieved.’2 Corinthians 7:8. Ἐν τῇ ἐπιστολῇ) in the letter, he does not add, my: presently after, he removes himself further from it, when he adds, ἐκείνη, that [same epistle.]—εἰ καὶ) although: Paul had wished to remove, if possible, sorrow from the repentance of the Corinthians. He uses this particle thrice in one verse; also at 2 Corinthians 7:12. Observe his paternal gentleness, he all but deprecates [his having caused them sorrow].—βλέπω, I perceive) from the fact itself.—εἰ καὶ, although) in this clause, ὅτι ἡ ἐπιστολὴ ἐκείνη εἰ καὶ πρὸς ὥραν ἐλύπησεν ὑμᾶς, the words εἰ καὶ should have a comma either before and after them, or else neither before nor after them. The apostle explains the reason, why he does not repent of having caused sorrow to the Corinthians. The letter, he says, has made you sad only for a time, or rather not even for a time. Whence also Chrysostom in his exposition repeats the words, ὅτι πρὸς ὥραν ἐλύπησεν ὑμᾶς, in such a way as to omit εἰ καὶ. The particle εἰ καὶ, put absolutely, expresses much feeling [Valde morata est. end.] Sextus πρὸς ἀστρολόγον, says, Μεθʼ ἡμέραν οὐδὲν τῶν προειρημένων δυνατόν ἐστι παρασημειοῦσθαι, μόνα δὲ, εἰ καὶ ἄρα, τὰς τοῦ ἡλίου κινήσεις. By day none of the things previously mentioned can possibly be observed, but only the motions of the sun, if indeed even those; wherein εἰ καὶ ἄρα, as Devarius properly remarks, takes away the concession, that had been made, namely, that the motions of the sun only can be observed; if only, says he, viz., even the motions of the sun can be observed. See Devar. on the Gr. particles, in the instance, εἰ καὶ, also in the case of ἀλλʼ εἴπερ, and ἀλλʼ εἰ ἄρα, and Budaei Comm. L. Gr. f. 1390, ed. 1556, and, if you please, my notes on Gregor. Neocaes. Paneg., p. 174, on εἰ put absolutely. Luther very appropriately translates it Vielleicht. Others, without observing the force of the particle, have wondrously tortured this passage, which is most full of the characteristic ἦθος [end.] of the apostle. The οὐδὲ πρὸς ὥραν, Galatians 2:5, is a kindred phraseology.Verse 8. - With a letter; rather, with my Epistle. Probably the First Epistle, though some suppose that the allusion is to a lost intermediate letter. I do not repent, though I did repent; better, I do not regret it. Every one has experienced the anxiety which has followed the despatch of some painful letter. If it does good, well; but perhaps it may do harm. The severity was called for; it seemed a duty to write severely. But how will the rebuke be received? Might we not have done better if we had used language less uncompromisingly stern? As St. Paul thought with intense anxiety that perhaps in his zeal for truth he may have irrevocably alienated the feelings of the Corinthians, whom, with all their grave faults, he loved, a moment came when he actually regretted what he had written. He himself assures us that he had this feeling. Those who try all kinds of fantastic hypotheses and tortuous exegesis to explain away this phrase as though it were inconsistent with St. Paul's inspiration, go to Scripture to find there their own a priori dogmas, not to seek what Scripture really says. The doctrine of inspiration is not the fetish into which it has been degraded by formal systems of scholastic theology. Inspiration was not a mechanical dictation of words, but the influence of the Holy Ghost in the hearts of men who retained all their own natural emotions. For I perceive, etc. There are various ways of taking this clause. Nothing, however, is simpler than to regard it as a parenthetic remark (for I see that that Epistle, though it were but for a time, saddened you). Though it were but for a season. (For the phrase, see Philemon 1:15; Galatians 2:5.) He means to say that their grief will at any rate cease when they receive this letter, and he can bear the thought of having pained them when he remembers the brevity of their grief and the good effects which resulted from it. Repent (μεταμέλομαι)

See on Matthew 21:29. Rev., regret it.

Though I did repent

Punctuate as Am. Rev., I do not regret it: though (even if) I did regret it (for I see that that epistle made you sorry, though but for a season) I now rejoice.

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