Saturday, 19 September 2015
For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 2 Corinthians 7:11
Paul’s words in this verse show the fulfillment of the words of the previous verse in the believers at Corinth. That verse said, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted…” And sure enough, Paul confirms that this has been evidenced in them as seen in the words, “For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner.”
After this introductory statement, he lists the things which he had heard about from Titus concerning them. He begins with, “What diligence it produced in you.” The word he uses indicates speed or haste. They quickly made every effort to correct those things which were wrong and to restore the congregation to a doctrinally sound one.
“What clearing of yourselves” is the Greek word apologia. It is a logical defense of the actions they have taken. The word is used particularly in a court of law when clearing oneself of charges. In the case of the Corinthians, they took necessary action and have made their defense based on the actions they took.
“What indignation” uses a word, aganaktésis, which is found only here in the NT. The indignation certainly wasn’t against Paul or his words of correction, and they were probably not against the offender directly either. Rather, based on Paul’s words, their indignation arose against the sin which existed. Once it was brought to their eyes, they realized the seriousness of it.
“What fear” wouldn’t be connected to condemnation. Paul writes elsewhere that there is now no condemnation for the believer in Christ. However, for the sake of the church, there was fear. It is what any congregant should feel as they see sin entering the body. As Paul says in Galatians 5:9, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” In the book of Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus speaks of the consequences of a church when it departs from sound doctrine. The congregation in Corinth feared and so they made the necessary corrections.
“What vehement desire” indicates their desire to clear their name and to be shown in right standing before the Lord and in the eyes of their beloved Apostle Paul. He was as a father in the faith to them and his words touched at their very heart. Paul was their faithful friend and they worked towards receiving his approval of their correct doctrine.
“What zeal” must certainly be referring to their desire to honor the Lord and bring Him the glory he is due. With the sin which had infected their congregation, they realized this wasn’t possible. And so they zealously worked to get the matter corrected.
“What vindication!” The KJV has the most unfortunate rendering here of, “What revenge!” This is either an anachronism, or it is simply a mistranslation. Revenge is not the idea here but rather exoneration. They had worked to be exonerated of the offense which existed in their congregation. Paul’s words show that they had, in fact, accomplished this.
He sums up with the thought with, “In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” The Corinthians had worked diligently to clear their names individually and collectively so that they would be a doctrinally sound congregation, living in accord with the admonishments and exhortations of their beloved brother Paul. They did this because they knew that he carried with him the authority of their beloved Lord and Savior.
Life application: Jesus speaks strong words of warning to the seven churches that He addresses in Revelation. In those words of warning are the corrections they need in order to be in a right relationship with Him. Take time to read those seven letters and to see if your own congregation falls short in any precept mentioned there. If so, be sure to bring it to the attention of the elders or pastor. Jesus loves us enough to warn us in advance of what is necessary to be in a right standing with Him. Let us love Him enough to be obedient to His words.
Heavenly Father, I sure wish churches would take time to read the seven letters to the seven churches which are contained in Revelation 2 and 3. It is appalling to see the moral perversion, wickedness, and lack of love for the commands of Christ which permeate the churches of the world today. How many have already had their lampstands removed? How many are heading there now? Open our eyes Lord! Open our hearts Lord! Give us the desire to turn our congregations back to holy and right living. Amen.