The Church's Dealings with Unworthy Members
2 Corinthians 2:5-11
But if any have caused grief, he has not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all.…

The main defence of the apostle against the charge of fickleness in the nonfulfilment of his promise was that he had abstained from going to Corinth in order to spare them the sharp rebuke lag must have administered had he gone thither. A great crime had been committed; the Church had been compromised, more especially as some of the Corinthians had defended the iniquity on the ground of liberty, and St. Paul had stayed away after giving his advice, that not he, but they themselves, might do the work of punishment. He gave sentence that the wicked person should be put away, but he wished them to execute the sentence. For it was a matter of greater importance to St. Paul that the Corinthians should feel rightly the necessity of punishment, than merely that the offender should be punished. We notice -

I. THE SINNER WITHIN THE CHURCH GRIEVES THE WHOLE CHURCH. If one member suffer, all the members suffer with him; and if one member sin, the whole Church ought to, feel grieved and distressed by the sin. St. Paul argues that, if a Church fails to clear itself of complicity with the wrong of its members, the guilt of such wrong attaches to it as well as to him. No man within Christ's Church can be alone in his sin, for we are "members one of another." The judgment of the Church may be the means of winning the penitence of the erring member.

II. THE SINNER WHEN PENITENT SHOULD FIND THE LOVE AND FORGIVENESS OF THE WHOLE CHURCH. In relation to him there should be harmonious and united Church action. Yet, in actual fact, the wrong doing of individuals too often creates party feeling. Some take the side of the wrong doer and prevent the full exercise of Church discipline.

III. SUCH FORGIVENESS OF THE CHURCH MAY EXPRESS GOD'S FORGIVENESS. It is only becoming, and only efficient, as following upon God's forgiveness. And it has its special use in being the earthly assurance of the Divine forgiveness and acceptance. The Church can give no absolution; it can only find expression for the absolution which God has already granted to the penitent, and add its forgiveness of the wrong so far as it disturbed Church relations. In the proper expression of Church feeling towards moral offenders, the Apostle Paul, as a recognized Church leader, herein sets an efficient example. He is as jealous for the Church's honour and mercifulness as he is for the restoration of the penitent offender. - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all.

WEB: But if any has caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow, not to me, but in part (that I not press too heavily) to you all.

The Aim of Church Discipline
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