In the early verses of this chapter the apostle gives a reason why he did not come to Corinth as was expected. He was unwilling to grieve them or be grieved by them. He preferred to have a cheerful visit to them, and this would have been impossible with the divisions, disorders and unjudged sin among them. He desired to have his instructions, which were given in the first epistle, carried out so that his next visit might be to teach and not to bear the rod.
(Vs. 1, 2.) Paul made up his mind that he would not go to Corinth in sorrow and heaviness, rebuking and censuring them for their disorders. He had already done this in the previous epistle, which was a sort of coming to them and by which he made them sorry. If his visit was to be one of rebuke and conflict, which would be the means of fresh grief and sorrow, what pleasure and joy would he have among them?
(Vs. 3.) This was the purpose of his first epistle, that when he came again to Corinth, he might not be pained by those who ought to make him rejoice. He had written in confidence that they would correct the things that were amiss among them.
(Vs. 4.) Paul preached in Corinth eighteen months. After he left Corinth, false teachers crept in and disturbed the church with false doctrine and unscriptural practices. The church fell into divisions, factions and misuse of gifts, questions arose about marriage and going to law with one another, members were allowed to live in open sin without being disciplined, the resurrection was questioned, ordinances were abused and they flaunted their learning and gifts. Paul wrote the first epistle to them out of much sorrow, distress and tears, not just to cause them grief but that they might realize the great love he had for them. True ministers and other believers who reprove and rebuke error of doctrine, spirit and conduct show their love for us and their concern for our spiritual welfare.
(Vs. 5-8.) In these verses Paul deals with the matter of the man who was guilty of incest (1 Cor. 5:1, 2). The man, evidently a preacher, teacher, or gifted man, was living in open sin with his stepmother. Equally shocking to Paul was the fact that the church held the man in esteem and overlooked his conduct. Paul instructed them to discipline him strongly (1 Cor. 5:3-5), which they evidently did, for he now instructs them to comfort, forgive and receive him back into their fellowship. "The man's behaviour has not only grieved me but in some measure all of you." Now the public rebuke and excommunication by so many was sufficient punishment. The man was broken, humbled and truly repentant. Therefore, they ought now to forgive him, comfort him and reinstate him to keep him from being overwhelmed by excessive sorrow and despair (Gal. 6:1). Paul exhorts them to reinstate him and to express their love to him in the most kind and tender manner.
(Vs. 9.) This was my purpose in writing you then and my purpose in writing now that I might prove your faith, love and obedience to Christ, his Word, and his apostles in all things! When the apostles write these epistles under the power of God's Spirit, God speaks! (Luke 10:16; 1 John 4:6; 2 Tim. 3:16.)
(Vs. 10, 11.) "Remember that when you forgive and comfort this man or any other, I forgive them, too. I readily forgive for Christ's sake, in the name of Christ, and in conformity to his teaching and example (Eph. 4:32; Mark 11:25, 26). I also forgive for your sake or for the good and advantage of the church, before the presence of Christ! I am aware of Satan's ways and devices." He will use any means against the Lord and his church. If he can foster division, an unforgiving spirit, harsh feelings, or pride in the church, he will do it. He will, under pretence of showing indignation against sin, keep a strict and harsh attitude towards offenders, destroy souls and convince men that they are serving God in their self-righteous (2 Cor. 11:13-15).
(Vs. 12, 13.) When Paul journeyed to Troas (Acts 20:6) to preach the gospel of Christ, God was pleased to open the door for him. This indicates the liberty he had to preach, the hearing he received, or a measure of success which God gave to his ministry (I Cor. 16:9). Paul was grieved that his brother (in the faith), Titus, was not there to give him an account of the church at Corinth (2 Cor, 7:5-7). He journeyed on to Macedonia, where Titus met him and refreshed his spirit with a good report from Corinth.
(Vs. 14.) "Blessed be God and thanks be unto God, who, though we have many enemies, yet through Christ makes us more than conquerors and accomplishes his purpose through us. In every place we preach God reveals the sweet fragrance of Christ. As when a box of priceless perfume is opened, the fragrance fills the place and everyone smells it or is aware of it.
(Vs. 15, 16.) To those whose hearts are opened by the Spirit of God, who feel the guilt of sin and who see the beauty of Christ, the substitute and sin offering, this gospel is the sweet fragrance of life unto life -- spiritual life now and life everlasting, But to those who are perishing, whose hearts are hardened and who are filled with pride and unbelief, this fragrance of Christ is an offensive odour. Their rejection of our gospel only adds to their condemnation. Eternal death is added to spiritual death; death for sin is added to death in sin. "Who is sufficient for these things?" What man is sufficient for such a mighty work, such responsibility, such an awesome task? Who is worthy to speak for God? No one! But our sufficiency is Christ (2 Cor. 3:5).
(Vs. 17.) Paul declares that he does not, like so many hucksters, false preachers and flesh merchants, make merchandise of and deal deceitfully with the Word of God. But in sincerity and with the purest motive (for the glory of God and the eternal salvation of men), he preaches Christ and him crucified in the presence of God and by the power of God!