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The Epistles of Paul - 2 Corinthians Part 7: Touch Not the Unclean
In the latter portion of 2 Corinthians chapter 6 Paul of Tarsus had warned his readers, as it is translated in the Christogenea New Testament “14 Do not become yoked together with untrustworthy aliens; for what participation has justice and lawlessness? And what fellowship has light towards darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Beliar? Or what share the faithful with the faithless? 16 And what agreement has a temple of Yahweh with idols? For you are a temple of the living Yahweh; just as Yahweh has said, 'I will dwell among them, and I will walk about; and I will be their God, and they will be my people.' 17 On which account 'Come out from the midst of them and be separated,' says the Prince, and 'do not be joined to the impure, and I will admit you'. 18 'And I will be to you for a father, and you will be mine for sons and daughters, says the almighty Prince.'” With all certainty all of these statements are inter-connected and were intended to be a single admonition. Sadly, the meaning of this admonition is lost on nearly all Christians of modern times. Here Paul had quoted from Isaiah chapter 52, and he is warning his readers to come out from among certain unclean people. Not things, as the King James and other versions insist, but people. The impure, or unclean, of verse 17 are the “them” from whom Christians are to come out from among in verse 16, among whom are also the untrustworthy aliens Christians should not be joined to in verse 14! The apostle John was teaching very similarly where he in turn had warned his readers, in his second epistle, that “9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” John was not merely talking of those who profess Jesus or of those who do not profess Jesus, but more specifically of those who abide in His doctrine, or those who do not abide in His doctrine, and Yahshua Christ had constantly admonished His followers to keep His law.
During the course of His ministry Yahshua Christ had also told those who had opposed Him among the Judaeans, as it is recorded in John chapter 10, “27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” According to the Word of God, on the cross of Christ only those sheep were cleansed – and according to Scripture those sheep are only the children of Israel. At that very same time Christ had also told His adversaries “26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.” The leaders and rulers and a great number of the people in Judaea at that time were in large part Edomites, and not Israelites at all, as the ancient histories attest. Therefore, because Edomites and Israelites could often not be distinguished otherwise, the tree would be known by its fruit, and the apostles took it for granted that those who had heard and obeyed the Gospel of Christ were indeed of His sheep, and those who did not hear and obey were to be accounted among His enemies and turned over to the world so that they may suffer judgment. Of course, the apostles only took the Gospel to those nations of the Roman oikoumenê where those sheep were located, since the very purpose of the Gospel was to reconcile the “lost” sheep of Israel to Yahweh their God. However the apostles of Christ also had an advantage which evangelists of the true Gospel do not have today: the deposit of the Spirit of God by which they were able to perform marvelous deeds. The people of that time accepted their words by the testimony which those deeds had provided, and for that reason they were willing to go to their deaths to defend the veracity of that which they had seen and heard. Those who rejected Christ also rejected His works, and so it was with the apostles who followed after Him.
Therefore we can assert with confidence that in Paul's time the admonition to “come out from among them” was indeed an admonition relating to the race of those who were listening: for Yahshua's sheep did indeed hear His voice, and they were commanded to come out from among those who did not. The Gospel was to separate the wheat from the tares right from the beginning, even if the process was gradual. Paul had already demonstrated in his first letter to the Corinthians that he was bringing the Gospel to people whose ancestors had been in the Exodus with Moses, as he had said that explicitly in 1 Corinthians chapter 10 where he had also professed that the pagan nations around them were indeed “Israel according to the flesh”, meaning the scattered Israelites of ancient times who had been alienated from God. Therefore we have seen him explain here in relation to these very things, that his Gospel was a gospel of reconciliation to God. In 1 Corinthians chapter 7 Paul had advised those with husbands or wives who had not yet accepted Christ to remain with them. There we read “12 Now furthermore I (not the Lord) say: if any brother has an unbelieving wife, and she consents to dwell with him, he must not put her away. 13 And any woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to dwell with her, she must not divorce that husband. 14 The unbelieving husband has been sanctified in the wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified in the brother; otherwise then your children are unclean, while now they are holy.” From a Christian perspective, that means that such a husband or wife must nevertheless consent to abide by the law of God, since otherwise the Christian would not be able to remain with a sinner. Therefore Paul said that with that consent, the children would be sanctified. So therefore, Paul's admonition here in 2 Corinthians chapter 6 has nothing to do with religion, and it has everything to do with race and a keeping of the law. If someone of the race of Israel professes Jesus, but does not keep the law, his profession means nothing. As Christ had said, “This people … honoureth Me with their lips but their heart is far from Me.” If someone of the “lost sheep” remains with his race and lives in a manner which is not contrary to the law of God, then he honors God whether he professes Jesus or not, and that is what really matters in the end.
Today's world is much more complex than the world of the apostles, and we see the systemization of deception of which the apostles themselves had warned us, as Peter had warned in his second epistle, in chapter 3: “3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” Today we live with mystery Babylon and the flood from the mouth of the serpent described in Revelation chapters 12 through 18. However that does not mean that the admonition to “come out from among them” is left idle. Indeed, the Scripture is every bit as valid as it always has been. But while Identity Christians understand that the message which they bear is the only valid Gospel, they should nevertheless have forbearance with their brethren who do not yet understand it, so long as those brethren are still willing to follow those laws of God which were written upon the hearts of the children of Israel. On the other hand, Identity Christians must treat those who reject Christ and despise His law as tares along with the rest of the enemies of Christ, ostracizing them and praying that they either repent or that God Himself may judge them. That is why Paul had said of the fornicator in 1 Corinthians chapter 5 that the assembly was: “5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” While that particular sinner referenced in that passage had evidently repented, and was for that reason allowed to remain within the assembly, the model of conduct still remains as an example to Christians today: that we reject all of those who remain in sin as well as rejecting the enemies of Christ and the non-Israelite races from whom Christians are to separate themselves. Those of our own race who both deny the Gospel of Christ and the laws of our God are to be accounted no differently than the traditional enemies of God who were never candidates for Christ in the first place. We must indeed come out from among all of them, distinguishing ourselves with our Christian behavior, and as Paul had also explained in Romans, preferring one another without hesitation.
Yahshua Christ had also told His apostles, as it is recorded in John chapter 15: “3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” Therefore Paul had said in Ephesians chapter 5 that Christ had loved the assembly, meaning the children of Israel in the world, and gave Himself for it “26 in order that He would consecrate it, cleansing it in the bath of the water in the word, 27 that He may present it to Himself in honor, the assembly not having a blemish or a wrinkle or any of such things, but that it would be holy and blameless.” The children of Israel reconciled to Christ must therefore keep themselves cleansed in like manner, as Paul exhorts here in the opening verse of 2 Corinthians chapter 7:
7:1 Therefore having these promises, beloved, we must cleanse ourselves from every defilement of flesh and of Spirit, accomplishing sanctity in awe [P46 has “love”] of Yahweh.
The promises which Paul refers to here are those promises which he repeats at the end of chapter 6 of this epistle, which are found in Scripture in places such as Leviticus chapter 26, Jeremiah chapter 31 and Ezekiel chapter 37.
As we had seen when we presented that chapter, all of those promises are made specifically for the children of Israel and all of them are also conditional, depending upon Israel's keeping the covenant which Yahweh their God had made with the nation. Although Israel was also a recipient of other and earlier promises which were unconditional, they are not a point of discussion here. Therefore where Paul also cites Isaiah chapter 52, he cites it as an example of the conditions which Israel must live up to in order to receive those promises he mentioned which concern fellowship with God. Israel had agreed to those conditions in the establishment of the Old Covenant from Exodus chapter 19 forward.
So where Paul had stated in 2 Corinthians 6:16 that “ just as Yahweh has said, 'I will dwell among them, and I will walk about; and I will be their God, and they will be my people'” and then where he had stated in 6:18 “'And I will be to you for a father, and you will be mine for sons and daughters, says the almighty Prince'”, those promises are conditional upon the admonition from Isaiah which he cites in 6:17 where he said “On which account 'Come out from the midst of them and be separated,' says the Prince, and 'do not be joined to the impure, and I will admit you'.” This admonition encapsulates what Israel had agreed to in Exodus chapter 19 where the Word of God says “ 5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. 7 And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him. 8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.”
Being a peculiar treasure above all people and a holy nation, the children of Israel were to be separate from all other races and nations. By necessity, that also means separating themselves from their own brethren who refuse to be separate. If an Israelite is a race-mixer or a sodomite or he is caught up in idolatry or some other sinful behavior, he also must be treated as one of the unclean. This admonition still stands today, we see it here in Paul in 2 Corinthians, and also in 1 Peter chapter 2.
Therefore in Leviticus chapter 26 we read, in part: “3 If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them … 9 ... I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.... 11 And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. 12 And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.”
Likewise in Jeremiah chapter 31 we read, in part “33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” The promise of the New Covenant in Jeremiah is for the same houses of Israel and Judah with which the Old Covenant had been made. The New Covenant is a matter of God's Word of prophecy for Israel alone.
This new covenant is also prophesied in Ezekiel chapter 34, speaking again of the children of Israel who were scattered: “ 20 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD unto them; Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle. 21 Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad; 22 Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle. 23 And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. 24 And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it. [David is invoked in Ezekiel as a type for Christ.] 25 And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods.”
Then ultimately we see in Ezekiel chapter 37, in part: “24 And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them.... 26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. 27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 And the nations shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.” As Job had said in the Book of Job, in chapter 14: “4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.”
Once again here in the opening verse of 2 Corinthians chapter 7, Paul has displayed his Christian Identity worldview. It was only the children of Israel, the same children of Israel who were under the Old Covenant, of whom it could be said “therefore having these promises” and no one had those promises except the children of Israel who were under the Old Covenant. Wherever in the Old Testament Yahweh God had said “I will dwell among them, and I will walk about; and I will be their God, and they will be my people” He was speaking explicitly and exclusively of the children of Israel, whom He promised to gather long after He had them scattered. Paul brought his gospel to the very nations which were in large part descended from those very same people, which a proper study of ancient history certainly reveals.
2 Make room for us; we have wronged no one, we have ruined no one, we have defrauded no one.
It must be kept in mind that Paul is using the plural because he is speaking for Timothy as well, who is mentioned in the opening salutation of the epistle. Here Paul asks the Corinthians to make room in their hearts for himself and Timothy, as they had professed having space for the Corinthians in their own hearts, where he had said in chapter 6: “11 Our mouths have been opened to you, Korinthians, our hearts enlarged.”
Paul further insists that they themselves had not caused the assembly any trouble, nor had they short-changed them. Apparently this is because upon their troubles and the divisions within the assembly as to how to handle the incident of the fornicator, they insisted that Paul come to them and he refused, having written his instructions to them instead. We read in 1 Corinthians chapter 4, verses 18 and 19: “Now concerning my not coming to you, some had been indignant; But I will come to you soon, if the Prince wishes”.
3 I do not speak for condemnation, for I have said before that you are in our hearts, for which to die together and to live together.
We do not have the very first epistle which Paul had written to the Corinthians, but where we learn of it Paul had said “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators” (1 Corinthians 5:9). So that first and now missing epistle to the Corinthians may have been where Paul had first told them in response to this problem that he would not come to them. There in that epistle he may also have made such a commitment of his life to them as he describes here. However in several places in both of his surviving epistles to the Corinthians Paul had spoken of a disregard for death in relation to his commitment to the ministry of the Gospel. In 1 Corinthians chapter 3 he said “22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Kephas, or Society, or life, or death, or present, or future, all is yours; 23 but you of Christ, and Anointed of Yahweh. ” In 1 Corinthians chapter 4 he had written: “ 9 For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.”
4 Great to me is openness towards you. Great to me is a reason to boast concerning you. I am filled with encouragement. I overflow in joy at all of our tribulation.
Paul's openness, his speaking freely and honestly to the assembly at Corinth, is very important to him. In the opening chapter of this epistle Paul had explained that his own good conduct and his honest transmission of the Gospel was his reason to boast, where he wrote in 2 Corinthians chapter 1: “12 Therefore this is our reason to boast: the testimony of our conscience, that in sanctity and sincerity of Yahweh, (and not with fleshly wisdom, but with favor of Yahweh,) we have had our dwelling in the Society, and more extraordinarily in reference to you.”
Concerning Paul's joy in the face of tribulation, he had said in Romans chapter 5, which was written several months after this epistle: “1 Therefore, having been deemed worthy from out of faith, we have peace before Yahweh through our Prince, Yahshua Christ, 2 through whom we also have access by faith to this favor in which we are established, and we boast in expectation of the honor of Yahweh. 3 And not only, but we should also boast in afflictions, knowing that affliction results in endurance; 4 and the endurance a tried character, and the tried character an expectation; 5 and the expectation does not disgrace, because the love of Yahweh has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which is given to us: 6 Indeed when we were feeble, Christ at the appointed time died for the impious. ”
5 For we indeed, going into Makedonia, had not any relaxation of our flesh, but in every way being afflicted: battles from without, fears from within.
In 1 Corinthians chapter 16 Paul had stated that he would stay at Ephesus until the Pentecost, but because of the trouble with the silversmiths and Paul's seemingly hasty departure from Ephesus we do not know if he was indeed able to remain there that long. We only read at the opening of Acts chapter 20: “1 And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.” By this time he had already written the epistle which we know as 1 Corinthians. Writing that epistle, Paul had planned on wintering in Corinth at the end of that same year, and because of the divisions within the assembly there and the degree to which it was troubled, he had delayed his visit, which we have seen Paul explain in the opening chapter of this epistle.
Then we read in the subsequent verses of Acts chapter 20: “2 And when he had gone over those parts [meaning Macedonia], and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece, 3 And there abode three months.” Leaving Ephesus, Paul had stopped in the Troad en route to Makedonia, something which is not recorded by Luke. We learn from verse 6 of Acts chapter 20 that Luke was not with Paul during his time in Ephesus and his travels in Greece, so in that chapter Luke was only summarizing a second-hand report of Paul's travels.
When Paul had left Ephesus and arrived in the Troad, he had hoped to find Titus there. This is the context of the epistle to Titus, as we can see from his explanation in 2 Corinthians chapter 2 where he says: “12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord, 13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia.”
While Paul was in the Troad, it seems that he must have found out where he could reach Titus, since he wrote his epistle to Titus either at this time or some short time later while he was in Makedonia, and he said (in Titus chapter 3): “12 When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter.” So this is where we also learn that even though before he had left Ephesus Paul had planned on wintering in Corinth (1 Corinthians 16:6), after he had left Ephesus and before writing to Titus he decided to winter in Nicopolis instead (Titus 3:12). We also see from 2 Corinthians chapter 2 that Paul had not yet arrived in Nicopolis when he had written to Titus.
There was one other surviving epistle which was written after Paul had left Ephesus and before he arrived in Nicopolis, and that is the epistle known to us as 1 Timothy. This is evident in 1 Timothy chapter 1 where we read: “3 Just as I, traveling into Makedonia, had summoned you to remain in Ephesus that you should command some not to teach errors 4 nor give heed to myths and endless genealogies, which afford disputes rather than management of the family of Yahweh which is by faith.” Then a few months later, writing this second epistle to the Corinthians the following winter from Nicopolis, Timothy is once again found to be with Paul. This must have been at least 7 or 8 months after the Pentecost which he had hoped to spend in Ephesus, depending on the date of Passover in 56 AD. Paul left Timothy in Ephesus after the trouble with the silversmiths, then he wrote both Titus and 1 Timothy as he traveled from the Troad and through Makedonia en route to Nicopolis, and Timothy as well as Titus had joined him in Nicopolis where he wintered and wrote this second epistle to the Corinthians.
In that same chapter of 1 Timothy, after exhorting Timothy to abide in the faith, Paul had said “19 ... which refusing to accept some have been shipwrecked in regard to the faith. 20, Of which are Humenaios and Alexandros, whom I have surrendered to the Adversary in order that they would be disciplined, not to blaspheme.” Paul went on in that epistle to give Timothy detailed instructions as to the organization and the quality of leaders which a Christian assembly should have. In its final chapter he gave some examples of things which could cause problems within the Christian assembly, especially relating to the love of money and the corruption of leaders who are caught up in the lust for riches.
So it seems that the only clue as to what those troubles were which Paul had in Makedonia, where he said that going there he was “in every way being afflicted: battles from without, fears from within”, are found in 1 Timothy chapter 1 where he had mentioned having problems with Humenaios and Alexandros. From this we may imagine that Paul had to persuade at least certain of the assemblies of Macedonia to put these men out of their congregations, which must be the “much exhortation” which was mentioned by Luke in Acts 20:2, and that perhaps these men were leaders of one or more of those assemblies.
As a digression, Luke had written in Acts 20:2-3 that Paul had spent 3 months in Greece at this time, wintering in Nicopolis which is in Epirus and about 180 miles from Corinth by the shortest route if a ferry could be utilized to cross the Gulf of Patras. Otherwise the trip by land would be about 290 miles. These 3 months must have included a typical Roman winter of 2 months in January and February, during which travel was difficult, and during which time this epistle known as 2 Corinthians was written, and then included Paul's final visit to Corinth in the course of the 3rd month. At the end of March after visiting Corinth, Paul must have traveled back through Macedonia to the Troad as Luke explains in Acts 20:3-6, and it was most likely at that time that the epistle to the Romans was written.
After mentioning the troubles he faced in Macedonia, Paul must be referring to the arrival of Titus while he was already in Nicopolis:
6 But He who encourages those who are humbled has encouraged us: Yahweh; in the arrival of Titos.
One can expect the comfort of God only if one is humble, and humility is submitting oneself to the law of God. From Psalm 119: “ 50 This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me. 51 The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law. 52 I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself. 53 Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law.” Speaking of the proper Christian attitude towards the greater society, the apostle James says in chapter 4 of his epistle: “4 Adulterers! Do you not know that the love of Society is hatred for Yahweh? He therefore who would desire to be a friend of Society establishes himself as an enemy of Yahweh! 5 Or do you suppose that vainly the Scripture says: 'With envy yearns the spirit which dwells in us'? 6 But more greatly He gives favor, on which account it says: 'Yahweh opposes the arrogant, but He gives favor to the humble.' 7 Therefore subject yourselves to Yahweh, but stand against the False Accuser and he shall flee from you.” With this we should perceive that true humility is the subjecting of oneself to God. If all Christians sought to subject themselves to God, there would be little disagreement among Christians, and the Kingdom of Heaven would begin to materialize on earth.
Here Paul describes the events which befell him in Macedonia as an affliction, and the coming of Titus bearing news of what had transpired in Corinth as a source of comfort in the face of that affliction:
7 And not only in his arrival, but also in the encouragement with which he had been encouraged by you; relating to us your longing, your lamentation, your zeal on behalf of me; consequently for me to rejoice still more.
Paul had not found Titus in the Troad, but he was able to write to him and ask him to join him for the winter in Nicopolis. From the salutation of this epistle, we see that Timothy had also joined Paul, ostensibly departing from Ephesus, for that same winter in Nicopolis. From Nicopolis, during the winter and just before Paul had gone on to visit Corinth in March of 57 AD, he had first written this second epistle to the Corinthians, for which both men were present.
Here in 2 Corinthians chapter 7 we see Paul describing the coming of Titus as he had requested in chapter 3 of his epistle to Titus. Here in this chapter Paul explains that upon his arrival in Nicopolis, Titus had given him much encouragement concerning the Corinthians. With all of this it is evident as to why Paul did not find Titus in the Troad as he had evidently expected, because he found that Titus had gone to Corinth. When Titus went to Nicopolis to meet Paul for the winter, he had transmitted to him “the encouragement with which he had been encouraged by you”, meaning the Corinthians. We also see Paul mention here “your zeal on behalf of me”, and therefore it is evident that Paul must have had his critics among the Corinthians. We saw Paul explain in 1 Corinthians chapter 4 certain things in relation to his own ministry, where questions must have been asked of him in a letter from the Corinthians which were critical of him. There Paul had responded by saying “2 But furthermore, you must require with stewards that one is found faithful. 3 Now to me, it is in the least matter that by you I am examined, or in the days of mankind. But neither do I examine myself. 4 Indeed not one thing for myself am I conscious, although not in this have I been proven, but it is the Prince who examines me.” This predicament is also evident once again later in this epistle, as in chapter 10 where Paul seems to infer that the Corinthians had been adversely affected by others, and where among other things he says “12 For we do not venture to rank or compare ourselves with any of those recommending themselves; rather these, measuring themselves with themselves, and comparing themselves with themselves, do not understand.”
Later, in 2 Corinthians chapter 8, we shall see that Titus returns to Corinth ahead of Paul, which was certainly in late February or very early March of 57 AD, to deliver this second epistle to the Corinthians before Paul himself finally arrives there. But first, here in 2 Corinthians chapter 7, Paul once again revisits the grief the assembly at Corinth had with his first epistle:
8 Because if then I had grieved you with the letter, I do not regret it, even though I had regretted it; for I see that that letter, even if for a while, had grieved you.
The last clause may have been written in English as a parenthetical statement. Paul was saddened to put his fellow Christians at Corinth in a position which grieved them, which was ostensibly when he had instructed them to put the fornicator of 1 Corinthians chapter 5 out of their assembly. However from chapter 1 of 1 Corinthians it is evident that there were other problems as well, since the assembly had taken to sectarianism by making themselves followers of men rather than of God, even if those men were the apostles themselves.
As Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians chapter 1, Christians must first choose to please Yahweh their God, and that means submitting themselves to the law of God regardless of the effect which that has on their relationships with men. If one accepts a Sodomite or a fornicator so as to have peace with men, then one is accepting of the sin of that person, and becomes a party to that sin. As Paul said in Romans chapter 1, “32 such as these who knowing the judgments of Yahweh, that they practicing such things are worthy of death, not only they who cause them, but also they approving of those committing them.” Therefore the law of God can cause us grief, but ultimately Christians must choose God over men, and the rewards for doing that are eternal.
9 Now I rejoice, not because you have been grieved, rather because you have been grieved into repentance; for you had been grieved by Yahweh, in order that in nothing have you been damaged by us. 10 For that grief which is by Yahweh accomplishes repentance for preservation not to be regretted, but the grief of the Society accomplishes death.
Paul simply instructed the Corinthians on what the Word of God insists for the situation which they were in, that the wicked must be put out of the congregation, and that the assembly not be divided against itself for the benefit of any particular individual. It is manifest that the assembly was quite divided in this matter, and they evidently repented upon Paul's admonitions not only concerning the fornicator, but in regards to the divisions within the assembly and the other related problems which they had, all of which were treated by Paul in the first 6 chapters of his first epistle to the Corinthians.
Now at greater length Paul insists that it was not his words which caused them grief, but God's law, and the repentance which they achieved was in following the law, by which the assembly would find preservation. Paul is therefore commending them for choosing to do what was right by the Gospel of Christ. Next he talks about the problems resulting when the entire assembly does not at first seek to follow the law:
11 Therefore behold, this same thing that by Yahweh you are to have been grieved, at what price has it cultivated diligence in you, but an explanation, but irritation, but fear, but longing, but jealousy, but an avenging? In each you yourselves have continued to be pure in the matter.
While we do not have the letters which the Corinthians themselves had written to Paul, and there were at least two of those, here we see that the price that the assembly had paid for being divided and not, at least initially, following the law of God included things such as irritation, fear, jealousy, and possibly even the vengeance of men. We can determine that this is true because in 1 Corinthians, after admonishing them as to what to do with a fornicator in chapter 5, Paul also admonished them for their apparent inability to judge one another without turning to the worldly courts of the ungodly in chapter 6 of that epistle. We say possibly the vengeance of men here, because it is also plausible that by using the Greek word ἐκδίκησις (Strong's # 1557) in verse 11 Paul may have meant vindication and not vengeance. The word bears either meaning, but the context here is difficult to determine without more precise knowledge of the trials which the assembly in Corinth had suffered because of this matter. Therefore Paul may have been using the word to describe the steps which the assembly had taken leading to their vindication in the matter, against those who remained divided and who had been “boasting in others’ troubles”, which he alludes to later here in chapter 10.
In 1 Corinthians chapters 4 and 5, Paul had written of men who had inflated themselves, and were boasting, in reference to the problem with the fornicator. Here in 2 Corinthians chapter 5 Paul had endorsed those people whom he is addressing at the assembly of Corinth where he says of them: “that you should hold up against those boasting in appearance and not in heart.” Boasting is a topic once again later in this epistle, in chapters 10 through 12 where Paul seems to be addressing a sect that may still be in opposition in Corinth. Paul says in chapter 10: “14 For not as if reaching to you do we overextend ourselves, indeed as far as you we also came before with the good message of the Anointed; 15 not in regard to things without measure boasting in others’ troubles; but having hope, increasing your faith, with you to be magnified in accordance with our standard for abundance; 16 to announce the good message to those beyond you, not ready to boast by another’s standard for things, 17 but 'he who is boasting, in Yahweh he must boast.' 18 For it is not he who is recommending himself, who is the person approved, but he whom the Prince recommends.” Then in chapter 11 Paul addresses certain false apostles, and in that we may see an even deeper reason than what has so far been apparent for some of the problems among the Corinthians.
However the greater number of Christians in the assembly at Corinth must have been grieved, and also exhorted to diligence by Paul's first epistle, and while Paul had to delay visiting Corinth because he wanted the assembly to first work out its own problems, they must have continued in the Gospel and chosen the proper course of action for Paul to be commending them here, where he tells them “In each you yourselves have continued to be pure in the matter.”
12 Next then, I had written to you not for the sake of he who had been doing wrong, nor for the sake of he who had been wronged, but for the sake of making manifest your diligence, which is on our [א and D have “your”] behalf to you before Yahweh.
In regards to the fornicator of 1 Corinthians chapter 5, Paul wrote quoting the law, to see if the Corinthians would keep the law. However the sinner must have repented of his misdeeds because rather than following the law requiring the Corinthians to put the sinner out of their midst, they had decided to instead choose the law of mercy and forgiveness in Christ. In any event, Paul commends them for their willingness to keep the law. As Christ Himself had quoted Hosea chapter 6, “6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”
13 On this account we have been encouraged. And upon our encouragement still more abundantly have we rejoiced in the joy of Titos, because his Spirit has been refreshed by all of you.
It seems that Timothy had delivered the first epistle to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 4:17), while Paul was still in Ephesus, and then had returned to Ephesus before Paul had departed from there (1Timothy 1:3). We do not know why Titus had gone to Corinthian, but he must have done so even though Paul had hoped to find him in the Troad, as he also explained here in 2 Corinthians chapter 2. In any event, we see that Titus was in Corinth, came to Paul in Nicopolis, that Paul received a good report from him concerning the Corinthians, and that Paul shall send him back to Corinth with this epistle.
In Acts 18:7, after Paul arrives in Corinth to preach the Gospel there for the first time, and he is rejected in the assembly hall of the Judaeans, we read: “7 And removing from there he went into a house of someone named Titios Ioustos, a worshiper of Yahweh whose house was abutting the assembly hall.” Here we see the name “Titios Ioustos”, and some ancient manuscripts have “Titos Ioustos” where the King James Version has only the Anglicized “Justus”. However the oldest of the Great Uncial manuscripts have one or the other version of the fuller name, and it is very likely that this is the same Titus who is often seen in the company of Paul after that time. Therefore we estimate that it would be natural for Titus to be in Corinth, having had a prior connection with the place.
14 Because if to him I had boasted anything concerning you, I have not been disgraced, but as we have spoken all things [C has “at all times”] in truth to you, in that manner also our [B has “your”] reason to boast to Titos had become truth;
Paul had plenty of opportunity to speak well to Titus of the Corinthians, especially since Titus was evidently a Corinthian himself, and it is now perhaps 6 years since Paul had first begun his ministry in Corinth.
15 and exceedingly are his inward affections for you, remembering the obedience of you all, how you had received him with fear and trembling. 16 I rejoice, because in everything I have confidence in you.
The word σπλάγχνον (Strong's # 4698) is usually translated literally as bowels in the King James Version, as it had been at 2 Corinthians 6:12 where the Christogenea New Testament has affections. The word is literally the inward parts, but was also used metaphorically “like our heart, the seat of feelings and affections” (Liddell & Scott) and therefore it is inward affections here, where the King James Version agrees.
Paul rejoices because evidently, in their letter responding to what he had written them in 1 Corinthians and according to the report of TItus, the Corinthians had chosen to follow God and not those men who were inflating themselves.