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2 Corinthians 7:11–13a

“Although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the one who did the wrong, nor for the sake of the one who suffered the wrong, but in order that your earnestness for us might be revealed to you in the sight of God. Therefore we are comforted” (vv. 12–13a).

Although we know that an individual in the Corinthian congregation opposed Paul during his “painful visit” to the Christians in Corinth after he wrote 1 Corinthians (2 Cor. 2:1–11; 7:12), we do not know for sure the reason for the opposition. No doubt it had to do with the false apostles who were casting aspersions on Paul’s Apostolic authority (10:1–12:10), so perhaps the man who opposed Paul was a leading figure in that group. It may also have had to do with Paul’s public confrontation of the Corinthians regarding their sexual sin during his painful visit. Commentators believe 2 Corinthians 12:20–13:3 alludes to such a confrontation. In any case, the painful visit was enough to move Paul not to return to Corinth immediately but to send a letter instead to urge the Corinthians to repent (1:12–2:4). It was not so much that they had supported the person who stood against Paul but that they did not come to his defense in the middle of the controversy. This letter, as we have seen, had the intended effect and the people repented, placing the offender under discipline (see 2:5–11; 7:5–10).

However, despite the fact that this confrontation and painful visit inspired Paul to write a letter of rebuke, the Apostle says in today’s passage that his purpose in writing the letter of rebuke was not primarily to deal with either the offender or with Paul’s feelings on the matter. As we see in 2 Corinthians 7:12, Paul wrote “in order that [the Corinthians’] earnestness for [him] might be revealed [to them] in the sight of God.” To understand Paul’s statement, we must consider texts such as 1:14; 3:2–3; and 7:4, 14, where the Apostle seems confident in the Corinthians and confident that they will do the right thing even in the midst of all the difficulties he had with them. Apparently, Paul did not doubt that the Corinthian church was a true church of Christ and that it would finally prove its love for God and for Paul by standing with the Apostle and disciplining the man who opposed him. However, the Corinthians may have had such doubts about themselves. Paul, therefore, wrote to give the Corinthians an opportunity to choose righteousness and to see themselves for who they truly were before God—transformed sinners who were committed to the truth even as they struggled with their transgressions. Paul’s trust in them was more than vindicated, as we see in 7:11.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Scripture teaches that God tests His people. But as 2 Corinthians 7:11–13 implies, such tests are not for God’s sake. After all, He knows in advance how we will respond. Instead, God tests us for our sake. He allows our commitment to Him to be tried so as to show us that we truly are His people. When we pass the test, we see that we do strive to live for Him. Tests of faith are God’s gifts to us. In persevering through them, we have further assurance of our salvation.


For Further Study
  • Genesis 22:1–19
  • Exodus 15:22–26
  • Psalm 66
  • 1 Peter 1:3–9

Giving and Receiving Love

Paul’s Confidence in the Corinthians

Keep Reading The Doctrine of Justification

From the October 2021 Issue
Oct 2021 Issue