2 Corinthians chp 2 vs 1 to 13: 'The Sorrow of Joy' - J Stewart Gillespie

An interlude in an epistle of suffering 

The subject of 'joy' 

This is joy restored by repentance 

The endurance of Gods gracious discipline in the life of His people is given not to crush or destroy but to restore joy! 

Sin is separation 
Separation is from God 
God is the source of all true joy 

Psa 16:11 'Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.' 

The gracious discipline of the Father for His people may for a season bring about a sense of suffering but ultimately when we respond to it, that suffering will and can be used to restore the 'joy of our salvation'. 

'Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.' Psalms 51:12 

cf. Hebrews 12:6ff 

There is no joy in separation from the Lord 

The prodigals joy lay in the fathers house and not in the far off country. 
Naomi's joy lay in Bethlehem and not in Moab 
Judah's joy lay in Jerusalem and not in exile in Babylon 
Jonah's joy lay with the Lord and not in the belly of the whale! 

The joy lies in coming back to the Lord and not in departing from the Lord! 

In this section on restoring joy we learn some great lessons: 

How to: 

Heal a division in the Church 
Defeat the plans of Satan 
Get over grudges 

All of this is against a background of interdependent joy (1:14; 2:1-3) 

Is this, could this be a synonym for fellowship? 

'interdependent joy'? 

1:24 – description of Paul: 'helpers of your joy' 

Is that an apt / accurate description of the preacher 

Could we use these terms interchangeably? 

'helper of our joy' 

or is it? 

'old misery guts' 
'dry as an old stick' 
'make you depressed listening to him' 
'glad I've got a hearing aid – switch it off' 

Because Paul is a 'helper of their joy' ignoring sin is not an option! 

He does not have the heart to abandon them to the misery of of their sin! 

Sometimes going soft on sin can be portrayed as the gracious, the kind, the big hearted, the soft hearted course of action. 

There is nothing kind about abandoning a man to the misery of his sin! 

Pauls joy is dependent on their joy (1:14; 2:2). 

To bring them joy, Paul had to pass through sorrow (2:4). 


Heal a division in the Church 

This section appears to be dealing with quite severe discipline for someone guilty of a serious sin! 

Paul appears to have instigated / played a large part in this. 

Difficult to regard this as unrelated to the events of 1 Corinthians chapter 5 – a bit too much of a coincidence. 

It would appear that some have attempted to deflect responsibility and uncountability for sin and for their actions by trying to make the issue of discipline for sin, rather an issue of personality! 

This often happens when someone has sinned and is disciplined 

One of the simplest ways of avoiding dealing with the issue of sin and guilt and discipline is to deflect attention and transfer the issue into one of personality! 

Along come the conspiracy theories! 

It wasn't about the sin! 

It was a personal issue! 

He had it in for me! 

They had it in for him! 

They didn't like me! 

How does Paul heal rifts? 

Don't make it any worse!! 

Paul postponed his visit rather than accentuate divisions (2:1; 1:15-17) 

If there is nothing or little we can say at the moment to maje the situation better, better to say nothing. 

Paul doesn't shout above everyone else, he waits till the shouting has settled! 

Keep loving the people of God even if it causes tears (2:4) 

We will be of little blessing to any of the people of God unless we first love them! 

De-personify the issue – keep the issue clearly about the issue 

Rifts usually arise between people 


We need to de-personify the issue! 

Get back to the issue! 

It is not about me and him (2:5) 

It is about the stand we take on sin and discipline 

It is far easier to be pro Paul or anti Paul, than it is to lend our support to the sinners sin and to be pro incest!! 

Extend an olive branch if they are willing to open a window and send out a dove! (2:5ff) 

Get over grudges (2:10) 

'I can never forget what he did to me' 

That is not fair 

That is not reasonable 

How do we forgive? 

Stop trying 

So often we fail to forgive because we try with our our own mind to forgive! 

Paul extends forgiveness in a completely different way! 

'for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ.' (v10) 

Take that sin to a place of: 

Sorrow incomparable 

Lam 1:12 'Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger.' 

Darkness impenetrable 

Cries unanswered 

'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?' (Psalm 22:1) 

Depths unfathomable 

'Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul.I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.' (Psalm 69:1-2) 

Suffering immeasurable 

'For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit' 

Pain unimaginable 

Sacrifice unrepeatable 

'But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;' (Heb 10:12) 

Grace undeserved 

Love unreasonable 

'Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins' (1John 4:10) 

Come to that place and at the foot of that cross then say; 

'there is a sin I cannot reasonably forgive.' 

For know this that God forgives with a love unreasonable! 

Instead of trying myself to forgive anothers sin, let me rather accept the forgiveness already paid in Christ. 

Let me not unforgive what Christ has forgiven. 

Defeat the plans of Satan 

What is Satan's advantage (2:11)? 

To destroy a believer? 

To deliver a believer over to Satan (1 Co 5) with no prosepect of recovery is to leave the discipline as destruction! 

The fish had permission to swallow Jonah but not to digest Jonah! 

To discourage the saints? 

If sin and discipline is permanent and recovery not feasible, should we perhaps just throw in the towel now? 

To divide Christians?