Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.
2 Please open your hearts to us. We have not done wrong to anyone, nor led anyone astray, nor taken advantage of anyone. 3 I’m not saying this to condemn you. I said before that you are in our hearts, and we live or die together with you. 4 I have the highest confidence in you, and I take great pride in you. You have greatly encouraged me and made me happy despite all our troubles.
Paul’s Joy at the Church’s Repentance
5 When we arrived in Macedonia, there was no rest for us. We faced conflict from every direction, with battles on the outside and fear on the inside. 6 But God, who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus. 7 His presence was a joy, but so was the news he brought of the encouragement he received from you. When he told us how much you long to see me, and how sorry you are for what happened, and how loyal you are to me, I was filled with joy!
8 I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while.
What letter? This probably is not the letter of 1 Corinthians, but a letter that Paul wrote in between 1 and 1 Corinthians.
It helps if we remember the sequence of events. Things were going badly among the Christians in Corinth, and in an attempt to get them on track, Paul made a quick, unplanned visit which only seemed to make things worse (the “sorrowful visit” mentioned in 2 Corinthians 2:1). After the failure of this visit, Paul decided to not visit Corinth again in person at the time, but he sent Titus to them, with a strong letter of rebuke. Paul was very worried about how the Corinthians would receive the letter, and if it would turn them to Jesus or just make them angry. But when Titus came back with good news from the Corinthian Christians, Paul was greatly relieved.
9 Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. 10 For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO REPENT?
Some Christians believe repentance means simply to “turn around” and go in the opposite direction. But the Bible tells us repentance is much more than this.
The full, literal meaning of the word “repent” in the New Testament is “to feel remorse and self-reproach for one’s sins against God; to be contrite, sorry; to want to change direction.” The difference in meanings here rests on the word “want.” True repentance includes a desire to change!
Moreover, simply being sorry does not constitute repentance. Rather, true sorrow leads to repentance. Paul states, “Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).
Paul is speaking here of a sorrow that is without regrets—one that is genuine, that “sticks” in the life of the repentant person. This kind of godly sorrow naturally produces a repentance that includes a hatred for sin, a righteous fear of God and a desire to right all wrongs.
11 Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right. 12 My purpose, then, was not to write about who did the wrong or who was wronged. I wrote to you so that in the sight of God you could see for yourselves how loyal you are to us. 13 We have been greatly encouraged by this.
In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was about the way all of you welcomed him and set his mind at ease. 14 I had told him how proud I was of you—and you didn’t disappoint me. I have always told you the truth, and now my boasting to Titus has also proved true! 15 Now he cares for you more than ever when he remembers the way all of you obeyed him and welcomed him with such fear and deep respect. 16 I am very happy now because I have complete confidence in you.
This verse completes the first section of 2 Corinthians, a section which, as we have seen, has been devoted to a description of the apostle’s ministry and a determined effort on Paul’s part to strengthen the bonds which existed between the Corinthians and himself. The next two chapters handle “the grace of giving.”
Many churches do not talk much about repentance, but in Mark 1 Jesus announces his arrival on the scene by saying, “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” I think we do well to face our sins and name them as sins, confess them, regret them, and ask forgiveness for them. So, HERE is Steve Green to help us — “I Repent.”
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.