(Vs. 8.) The apostle refers to his first epistle to the Corinthians. He had to deal with so many errors of the spirit and the flesh that had risen in the church that he was sure he had offended others and caused all to be shaken somewhat. He did not regret writing the letter, for he wrote under divine inspiration (2 Tim. 3:16), but he regretted the sorrow it caused. However, that sorrow was only for a little time, for it led them to repent and correct the errors of which Paul wrote.
(Vs. 9.) Paul did not rejoice in their sorrow and grief. No one can be glad when a brother weeps and is afflicted, even under the chastening hand of the Lord. But Paul rejoiced in the effect and results of this experience. Their sorrow led them to acknowledge their error, to repent toward God and to correct these abuses of which he wrote. "Ye were made sorry after a godly manner" - that is, their sorrow was of the right kind. They had not just offended Paul and wronged one another, but their sin was against God (Ps. 51:3, 4; Acts 5:4). We may grieve and wound others by our evil conduct and words, but we sin against God; therefore, true repentance is toward God and is born of love for God and a desire to do his will. The goodness of God leads us to repentance. The church suffered no loss nor harm by what Paul did; rather they gained, because they repented and corrected matters.
(Vs. 10.) These words prove that Christians and churches suffer no harm but rather profit by rebuke and correction from faithful ministers (2 Tim. 4:1, 2). "Godly sorrow," which is a work of his grace and Spirit, which springs not from fear of hell and damnation, but from a love for God and grief over offending him and which looks to Christ in faith for grace and mercy, leads to salvation and deliverance from evil. Repentance and faith are inseparable. You cannot have one without the other. They are like a sheet of paper - there must be two sides (Acts 20:21). No man has ever believed on Christ without repentance, and no man will repent apart from true faith in the Lord Jesus. True repentance will never bring regret, only rejoicing. "The sorrow of the world worketh death." Esau was sorry that he lost his birthright, not that he had sinned against God. All men are sorry when they lose worldly riches, honour, comfort and reputation, but their sorrow has nothing to do with their relationship toward God, therefore, it results not in true repentance, nor faith, nor forgiveness, only death upon death. Tree repentance has to do with my relationship with God, not with this world and its influence (Isa. 55:6, 7).
(Vs. 11.) Godly sorrow, which works repentance and leads to deliverance, produces many evidences of the sincerity and genuineness of it (1 Thess. 1:4, 5, 9). "What carefulness, to correct our behaviour before God and to avoid future offences in this area. "What clearing of yourselves," not by denying our guilt and sins, but by confessing them and seeking forgiveness (1 John 1:9). "What indignation," not against God because of his holiness and law, nor against God's servant for pointing out our sins, but against ourselves for our folly and our rebellion (Job 42:5, 6). "What fear," not of hell and damnation, but of God, of incurring his displeasure and of bringing reproach on Christ (Prov. 1:7; 16:6). "What vehement desire" to honour God, to right that which is wrong and to live for the glory of Christ in this present evil world (Phil. 3:10-14). "What zeal" for God and his glory, for the testimony of the gospel and for the unity and holiness of the church. God forbid that we should be the occasion for stumbling on the part of one of his sheep or the occasion for the gospel's being ridiculed by outsiders (2 Sam. 12:14). "What revenge," not against persons in a private way, for that belongs to God, but against sin and disobedience, whether found in us or others. This may refer especially to discipline exercised in the matter of incest found in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5. In that matter they acted in accordance with Paul's counsel and cleared themselves by dealing firmly with the offender.
(Vs. 12.) Paul declared in this verse that he did not enter into the problem of the incestuous person for the guilty man's sake only (though he needed to be disciplined, corrected and restored to obedience), nor for the sake of the father who had been wronged, but for the welfare and good of the whole church, lest the church suffer for permitting such a scandal to continue. His chief concern was for the glory of God and the good of Christ's Church.
(Vs. 13.) What comfort and encouragement Paul received when he learned that the church at Corinth had grieved over their errors, repented toward God and corrected the abuses he had exposed in his letter! True believers grieve over sin and faults, not only in themselves, but in others, and are overjoyed when matters are corrected. They restore the fallen with great joy (Luke 15:10; Gal. 6:1, 2). Paul was especially delighted at the joy of Titus, for be was able to give Paul a good report of the church when he came to visit (2 Cor. 7:6, 7). Believers weep with those who weep and are comforted with one another's comforts.
(Vs. 14.) Evidently Paul had boasted to Titus of the faith, liberality and devotion to him which the church at Corinth had demonstrated. They had not disappointed him, nor proved his words to be false. Titus came to him with a report from the church which confirmed all of the good things he had said of them. Love enjoys a good report and always grieves over any sin (Cor. 13:6, 7).
(Vs. 15.) "The heart of Titus goes out to you more abundantly than ever as he recalls and reports to me how submissive you were to his teaching and leadership (Heb. 13:7, 17). You received him and his words with humility and respect."
(Vs. 16.) The apostle rejoices that he could write and speak to them with confidence that they would hearken to his exhortations in the future as in the past. He may be saying this partly to commend them and partly to pave the way for what he has to say in the next chapter concerning giving.