2 Corinthians 2
But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.
2 For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me?
3 And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; 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 unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.
5 But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all.
6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.
7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.
8 Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.
9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.
10 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;
11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
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.
14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.
15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:
16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?
17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
In 2 Corinthians 2, Paul had been dealing for an extended period of time with a person who undermined his authority and apparently attempted to discredit him. Fellow church members become sisters and brothers in Christ. This makes interpersonal conflict within a church even more painful as such conflict can rapidly escalate to more than just a disagreement to feeling betrayed by a family member. Churches have split over something as simple as a burnt pot of soup.
But just because church conflict and discipline are painful does not mean that a person’s sin should be hidden or tolerated by the church. As Luke 12:2 reminds us, “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed.” Paul rebuked Peter, an apostle, in Antioch when he discriminated against the Gentiles and also called out the sin of this unnamed Corinthian.
However, punishment should not last forever for the truly contrite. Paul calls on the Corinthians to reconcile and encourage the sinner. The goal of discipline should be to bring healing to the sinning person and especially the person and the community injured and make amends. Displaying Christ’s love for others must be central to every act of a Christian.
Heidi Olson Campbell
PhD student, Burleson, Texas USA