1 But I determined this within myself, that I would not come again to you in sorrow.
2 For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me?
3 And I wrote this very thing to you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow over those from whom I ought to have joy, having confidence in you all that my joy is the joy of you all.
4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you.
But I decided this in my own interest, and for my own sake, not to come again to you in grief. For, as for myself, if, as is the case, I cause you grief, who then is he who makes me joyful except the one who was made to grieve by me? And I wrote this very thing, lest, when I came, I should have grief from those whom it was a necessity in the nature of the case to be making to rejoice, having confidence in you all that my joy is the joy of all of you, for out of a source of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you through many tears, and not in order that you may be made to grieve, but in order that you may come to know experientially the sacrificial love which I have so abundantly for you. — Wuest, page 419.
This second epistle was written rather than paying the church a visit at this time, when so many were still defiant. Indeed, in his closing words the apostle says: “Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord has give me to edification, and not to destruction” (2 Corinthians 13:10). — Stam, page 47.
[The first] letter, though effective in many ways, had not brought about full restoration. Thus, rather than visiting them now and risking negative results, he was led to write them a second letter, doubtless praying that the further delay in visiting them might provide an occasion for intervening grace to do its work.
The argument in verse 2 is that he ought to be rejoicing in their spiritual restoration and progress, but if the obstinate continuance of some in their permissive ways should call for his rebuke, and cause them sorrow, who then would bring him joy? If his rebuke should discourage them, who would encourage him? Obviously such encouragement could only come from those who had been “made sorry” by him! But it did not follow that if he made them “sorry” they would sincerely repent and make him glad.
If he came to Corinth again and still saw there the blighting effects of party strife, fleshly lusts, and indulgence in worldly pleasures, he would again suffer sorrow from those over whom he “ought to rejoice,” and nothing would satisfy him but their joy in Christ. Thus he writes in the confidence that “my joy is the joy of you all,” that they understood that his aim was the removal of that which had not only grieved him, but had brought sorrow to them all.
In verse 4 he shows by example how church leaders and Christian assemblies should exercise discipline. His first letter and especially his instructions about the man living brazenly in incest had not revealed harsh pride but sorrow and loving concern, and when sincere repentance had resulted his appeal was: “Forgive him heartily, and restore him to full fellowship” (vs. 6-7). — Stam, pages 48-49
15 Because I was confident of this, I wanted to visit you first so that you might benefit twice.
16 I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia and to come back to you from Macedonia, and then to have you send me on my way to Judea.
17 Was I fickle when I intended to do this? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say both “Yes, yes” and “No, no”?
18 But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.”
19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silas and Timothy—was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.”
20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
benefit (v.15) = a token or proof of grace, a gift of grace
fickle (v.17) = levity, lightness, of little weight
worldly manner (v.17) = according to the flesh, human nature
glory (v.20) = honor, renown, splendor
In … confidence in their affection [Paul] planned to visit Corinth; from thence to pass into Macedonia; then to return to Corinth; and from there to set out for Judea—so giving them a double “benefit.” … The Apostle was not guilty of fickleness of purpose because he changed his plans. He was not like men of the world who say “Yes, Yes,” but in action say “No, No”; but just as God is faithful to His “yea” so was the Apostle. … His argument was—how could he act with fickleness when he proclaimed a God that is faithful to His promises; and he reminds them that, let the promises of God be never so many, yet are they all reliable for they are all deposited in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. He is the great “Yes” of these promises.
The promises under the first covenant were deposited in man and depended for realization upon his obedience. There was of course complete failure; but [now] the promises … are all given to Christ, and their realization depends upon Him. There can, therefore, be no failure, for His is the “Amen” as well as the “Yea,” i.e., He is the Performer as well as the Promiser and all His actions in relation to these promises has for its aim the glory of God. — Williams, page 897.
Important circumstances, including their sad state, had prevented him from coming to them sooner. But on the other hand, he insists that he did not make his plans “according to the flesh,” and then stand by them just to prove his own integrity. He sought leading from God, who knows the end from the beginning and leads His children one step at a time. He never needs to change His mind, but they may.
The apostle names Silas and Timothy, who had faithfully labored in their midst, and declares that he and they had not preached to them a “yes” and “no” gospel., but a very positive one, centered in Christ, who is the “yea” and “amen” (yes and so be it) of all God’s promises. — Stam, page 44.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
blessed (v.1) = speak well of, celebrate by praising, worthy of praise, used only of God the Father and of Christ, because only God is inherently praiseworthy. From the Greek word from which we get the English word eulogize.
mercies (v.1) = compassion, favor, grace — a deep feeling about someone’s difficulty or misfortune.
comfort (v.1) = a calling or summons to one’s aid, consolation and encouragement
This next quote from Stam really got me thinking about what I expect—and should expect—when I got to God for comfort.
The English word comfort had a somewhat different meaning to the translators … than it does to us today. We generally think of comfort as consolation or solace: an effort to assuage another’s grief. But to them it had more of the meaning of encouragement. Indeed, the Greek paraklesis means to be “called alongside,” i.e., to help. The classic example … of the Holy Spirit’s usage of the words rendered “comfort” and “Comforter” is found in Hebrews 6:18-19, and John 14:16 respectively:
“That … we might have strong consolation [Greek, paraklesis] … to lay hold on the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul both sure and stedfast …” (Hebrews 6:18-19).
“And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter …” (John 14:16).
Here again, the “Comforter” is not one who would assuage their grief, but one who would always be “alongside to help,” as our Lord had been.
In the “comfort” we read of in 2 Corinthians 1:3, God does not say, “Just lie down here and get a good sleep, and you’ll feel better.” Rather He comes alongside to arouse us from sleep and to en-courage us (i.e., to inspire us with courage)”. — Stam, pages 34-35.
Christ’s followers are not promised exemption from suffering, but they are assured of consolation in suffering. They only can truly comfort others who themselves have suffered and been comforted. — Williams
Some … see believers only as in Christ, already seated in the heavenlies, having been justified from all their sins. But these overlook the fact that the same passage in Ephesians which states that we have been raised from the dead, and made to sit in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 2:6), also says that we have “access by one Spirit unto the Father (Ephesians 2:18). The former, of course, has to do with our present position in Christ, while the latter refers to our present condition and our need to take advantage of the free “access” God has given us into His presence by the blood of Christ. This access is given to us that we may “obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (See Hebrews 4:16; 10:19-20). — Stam, page 33.