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2 Corinthians 7:1 . Having therefore these promises. Our good archbishop Langton is blamed by many critics for separating this verse from the preceding chapter. The great and precious promises of the new covenant are all designed to embolden our approaches to God. If he adopt us, and make us his living temple, then we should resemble him in holiness. This holiness, it would seem, is taught here, both as a progressive, and as an instantaneous work. The first effort towards holiness is the renunciation of sin at a stroke, by the knife of excision. Mark 9:43-48. Also by an approach to the fountain, which cleanses from all unrighteousness. Then to grow in grace, and profit by all the trials of life for the mortification of sin. But, at the same time, ever to seek an instantaneous deliverance, for now is the day of salvation.
Perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Cultivating and improving the Christian temper, by growing in knowledge and in grace, till from a little child, the inner man of the heart shall attain the measure and stature of Christ. Labouring to attain that perfect faith which would sacrifice every idol at the divine command, that perfect love which distinguished the martyrs and confessors, that perfect patience which endures affliction with joy, and blesses God under the severest privations. This great change is superinduced by the effectual working of the divine power. Christ, long knocking at the door, enters the heart, expels the serpent’s brood, and hallows the living temple as his abode. His presence changes the mind from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. The old man is put off with his deeds, and the inner man is renewed day by day. This is the new heart, the glorious liberty of the children of God. The believer sinks into a state of humility, as less than the least of all saints, that Christ may be all in all.
2 Corinthians 7:2 . We have wronged no man of his rights, corrupted no man in moral or religious principles, defrauded no man of money or of his just claims. These are three sins which alienate the affections of people from their ministers, and are here enumerated as a tacit rebuke to false teachers.
2 Corinthians 7:6 . God who comforts those that are cast down. See Acts 9:31. Romans 5:5.
2 Corinthians 7:10 . The sorrow of the world worketh death. Sorrow for the loss of reputation, of fortune, of relatives, shortens life by grief and despair. Alas, what suicides followed the French revolution, and how many are still occurring even in our own country! True faith, on the contrary, bows to the will of God, and says, like the Shunamite, on the death of an only son, It is well. It rejoices in tribulation, and glories in the cross, as Christ has commanded us to do. Matthew 5:11-12.
2 Corinthians 7:11 . Ye sorrowed after a godly sort, so as not to relapse in anywise into the like faults, as was apparent from the seven fruits which followed.
(1) What carefulness to avoid temptation, and to shun the appearance of evil.
(2) What clearing of yourselves, by an apology in self-defence, that you never covered a deed which stained the church, nor ate bread with a fornicator.
(3) What indignation: αγανακτησις , a just and laudable contest with sin.
(4) What fear of the divine displeasure, and visitations on the church.
(5) What desire, yea, great desire, as signified by letter, that Paul would come with a rod, and restore order and peace among the brethren.
(6) What zeal for the honour and glory of God, and the purgation of evil.
(7) Yea, what revenge, when the church assembled, and expelled the offender: 2 Corinthians 2:6. All these facts, and all these effects are recorded for the instruction of the church in future ages, and to warn men against the consequences of falling away.
This chapter commences with an inference from the preseding, of withdrawing from the feasts and intercourse of the heathen. It is, that the heart, as well as the life, should be purified from sin. Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh by temperance, and a rigorous chastity, as in the sixth chapter of the former epistle. The filthiness of the mind, or mental impurity, are pride, unbelief, malice, and all the reveries of earthly and sensual desire. These are common to demons and men; for what is the imagination of a wicked man but a roving fiend which dares not meet the eyes of God. From defilement of this nature we must be farther cleansed by coming to the blood of Christ. But all this is only the negative part of religion. We must grow in grace, and aspire to perfect holiness. We want a faith like that in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, which looks at unseen things. We want a love which casts out fear, and discovers perfection when called to suffer for religion. Thus when the soul is cleansed from all impurity, grace takes a deep root and brings forth all the fruits of the Spirit to perfection.
The best consolation of a minister, suffering for Christ, is good news from the churches. While the mob was fighting without, while the saints were trembling within, St. Paul’s soul overflowed with consolation when Titus informed him of the prosperity at Corinth. He seemed to exult in the thought, that though he should die in the contest, the cause of Christ should live and conquer the world. What a temper of mind what a model for martyrs.
Reformation and purity in the church is one grand and leading means of a revival of religion. In consequence of St. Paul’s command to put the incestuous man out of the church, (for Reuben lost his birthright and Absalom his life for the same crime) religion afterwards revived in the city. The hearts of the people melted by true repentance, and they became united to one another in the bonds of purity. Thus tender plants flourish the more when the weeds are removed. One bad man, retained in communion, may paralize the whole church, and awfully revolt the world.
The honourable way in which St. Paul mentions Titus here, and his other fellow-labourers elsewhere, should teach ministers to behave well, and to be cordially attached to one another. It is both weak and base to deteriorate a brother’s character because of his talents or popularity. If providence has placed us in a secondary rank, let us glorify God in that situation, and rejoice that we have brethren more honourable than ourselves.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 7". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany