In this passage of the second letter to the Corinthians, Paul addresses several concerns. He is addressing the situation of a man who has sinned not only against himself, but against the Corinthian Church as well. He explains why he wrote a letter rather than bringing sorrow upon them. Paul is sensitive to the Lord’s leading, and in love, writes to the church encouraging them to discipline this man in love for the purpose of restoring him. He urges the Corinthians to be obedient and love the man through forgiving and encouraging him. Paul shares with them his trust in the Lord for the outcome of this matter and how burdened he was for restoration to take place. He warns them of the need to not allow Satan a foothold through this matter. Finally, Paul puts the focus on Christ; for it is in Him that we are adequate thereby becoming His fragrance to others.
In this passage, Paul first addresses the fact that he did not want to return to the church at Corinth and bring pain upon them again. Paul had a previously painful situation with this church. We are not told the specifics of the current situation which caused Paul to write to Corinth, but we know that Paul was very sensitive in dealing with the matter. He did not desire to harm them or bring sorrow upon them.
The word “pain” Paul was referring to is from the Greek word lúpē. This word means to grieve, torment, afflict with sorrow, or bring pain upon. We see similar instances where this word is used in scripture. Job said, “nights of trouble are appointed me” (Job 7:3) . Jeremiah similarly said, “My sorrow is beyond healing, my heart is faint within me” (Jer. 8:18). Paul didn’t want to bring undue sorrow upon the church or cause the situation to intensify by his physical presence.
Paul wasn’t thinking about himself or his own feelings, he was putting the Corinthian Church first. His love for them and his desire to see the church as a whole restored took precedence over his own personal feelings. He knew that if he came to oversee the resolution of the problem, it might intensify the situation. If he didn’t address the situation and it remained unresolved, there could and would be greater sorrow in the future. Paul knew that writing a letter to the Corinthian Church might bring them pain, but this would be for their good rather than their harm.
When dealing with a situation in love, sometimes there is pain before the situation is resolved or restored. With a family we sometimes call this “tough love.” When a child is sinning, the parent works with that child to bring him into submission. Often the child does not want to repent. Instead, he continues in his sin, unwilling to turn away from it or “repent.” As a parent, we have the option of confronting the situation or ignoring it. The parent would be in a situation similar to the one we see Paul in. If the child refuses to repent, the parent must choose how to deal with the child lovingly. Paul, being...