Join us as we study through 2 Corinthians verse by verse. Our discussion questions, teaching points, and applications can help you or your small group get the most out of this book as you grow in understanding and obedience.

2 Corinthians 7:6-16 – Bible Study With Discussion Questions For Groups

Outline

I. Being set apart for God (1)
II. Acting joyfully with pure motives (2-5)
III. Godly grief brought about repentance (6-11)
IV. Paul’s confidence in the Corinthians (12-16)

For the first part of this chapter visit: 2 Corinthians 7:1-5

III. Godly grief brought about repentance (6-11)

Discussion Questions

  • How has God comforted you? How does God use people to comfort others?
  • What had the Corinthians been mourning about?
  • What letter does Paul refer to in verse 8? Why had this caused grief?
  • How did they respond to the letter?
  • What can we see about the relationship between grief and repentance? Does grief always bring about repentance?
  • Why had Paul written such a rebuke to them? What then can we learn about the purpose of rebuke in the church?
  • What is the difference between godly grief and worldly grief?

Cross-References

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

Matthew 5:4 – Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Acts 17:30 – The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.

2 Chronicles 7:14 – If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Matthew 3:8 – Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.

Teaching Points

1. God who comforts the downcast – Note how Paul writes. When he refers to God, he often inserts a short (or sometimes long) description of who God is. It is as if whenever he thinks of God he cannot help but make some positive comment.

A boy who is in love cannot help but think about and praise the girl who occupies that prominent position in his heart. In a similar way, through Paul’s writing you can see that he often is meditating on God and His character. And praising God is a natural outflow of the prominent place God has in his heart.

Application: Let us each strive to praise God in our own normal conversations.

God comforts the downcast. He is the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). There is no true and lasting comfort from any other source than Him. He is ready and waiting to give real comfort to all who seek after Him in repentance.

2. He told us of your longing, mourning, and zeal for me – It is likely that Titus was the one who carried the letter 1 Corinthians to them. Paul was unsure how they would respond. It was a letter filled with rebuke and correction.

Titus returning was not the primarily source of Paul’s comfort. Rather, it was the news he brought with him. From Titus, Paul learned that his rebukes had been received well. The Corinthians had repented!

Their repentance was also manifest by their changed attitude toward Paul. Longing to see him, they wanted to see the relationship restored. In addition, they mourned over their sin. And they were zealous for Paul. That could mean that they were very concerned for his welfare and ministry. Perhaps this was shown by praying for him, giving to him, and inquiring about him. All of these things showed a drastic change of heart.

When Paul heard these things from Titus, he was overjoyed.

3. Though I made you grieve with my letter, I did not regret it – Paul quantifies this statement by saying, “though I did regret it.” Most likely this does not mean that Paul wished he could take it back. Instead it shows the reluctance with which he sent it. It was not enjoyable. He knew the anguish it would bring. Confrontation like this is not pleasant.

But in the end Paul knew that he had to send it. Though it may cause temporary grief, that was well worth it because they needed to hear it. Their spiritual growth, healthy church, and even eternal destiny were at stake. Such a rebuke would cause temporary discomfort. This was a means to bring about the desired effect, repentance.

Hebrews 12:11 – For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Application: According to 2 Timothy 3:16, God’s word has four functions: teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. Reproof is the least pleasant one. Yet it is necessary. One problem in many churches is that this role is not taken seriously. Sin is tolerated. Comfort is valued about holiness. Thus sin is often allowed to creep in gain a foothold. Church leaders, you must take this God-given role seriously and rebuke sin. But it is not only for church leaders.

Every believer has a responsibility to use God’s word to encourage those around us toward holy living. According to Matthew 18, when you see a person in sin, you should directly approach that person. Every believer is an instrument in God’s hands. Member to member care is the first line of defense against sin. So do not remain silent and expect the church leaders to do all the work of ministry. Humbly pray and follow the Spirit’s leading to use Scripture to encourage repentance. The next step after individual “confrontation” is to escalate to two or three and then the whole church.

4. Godly grief produces repentance –

Reflect – What is the difference between godly grief and worldly sorrow?

It is possible to feel sorry for one’s sin and yet never come to God in repentance. One clear biblical example of this is Judas. He was ravaged by guilt and shame because of his role in Jesus’ crucifixion. Genuinely sorrowful for what he did, he likely would have chosen to take it back. But he did not go to God or repent. Instead he killed himself. Thus he was not forgiven and instead bears the judgment for what he did. In verse 10 Paul says that worldly grief produces death. It always produces spiritual death. In Judas’ case it also produced physical death.

In like manner, many people are sorry for what they have done. Perhaps they are sorry because they got caught. Perhaps they are sorry because of the consequences they find themselves in. Perhaps they are genuinely sorry for having hurt others. God made people with a spiritual barometer, our conscience.

This conscience will accuse us when we sin, causing us to feel guilt or sorrow. But people will react to that guilt in different ways. Some try to escape from it. Others try to drown it out, perhaps with drugs or alcohol.

Worldly sorrow is not motivated by a love for God, or disappointment because we have grieved the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30).

Godly grief is different. Godly grief happens when a person is sorry for the right reasons. He knows that his sin is an affront against God himself. He knows that he has failed and displeased his Creator. It stems out out of a motivation of love for God. Thus since we want to please Him, we grieve when we don’t.

David is an example of godly grief.

Psalm 51:3-4 – For I know my transgressions,  and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.

He recognized that his sins was against God. That grief motivated him to come to God and plead for forgiveness.

Application: When you are confronted with your sin, do you grieve? If you justify it, blame others, defend yourself, or deny it then your actions show that you are not truly grieving. These are incompatible with godly grief and repentance. Our sins should cause us genuine sadness. Ezra ripped out his hair and beard (Ezra 9). He fell to the ground and stayed there all day because of sin. How do you react when you are made aware of sin?

5. Leads to a salvation without regret – Once a person confesses their sin, they are forgiven. God removes their sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). A believer need not keep reliving that sin. He should not be stuck endless grief. Because he has been forgive, he can move forward with the joy of the Lord. He can forget what is behind and press on toward what is ahead (Philippians 3:13-15).

6.The fruit of repentance – Paul knew their repentance was genuine. It proved itself to be sincere because of the earnestness of their response to the letter. They were indignant of the sin. Righteous anger was stoked. The Corinthians wanted to clear themselves of the stigma associated with the sin which had been spreading rampant in their church. That meant rooting it out and dealing with it. In 7:1, it says “bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”

That fear of God and punishment for sin was also manifest in their hearts. It drove them to repent, transform their attitudes, and change their behavior. Whereas before they were ignorant of or ambivalent to sin, now they were zealous for righteousness. Zeal for righteousness also meant a hatred of sin.

Fake repentance is words that are not backed up with action. We have all seen it. People say, “I am sorry” and then go back and do the same thing again. When they are caught, it is again “I am sorry.” The repeated behavior shows that their supposed repentance is not real. But when they whole-heartedly seek to change their behavior, it is clear the repentance is real. Often repentance begins with a changed attitude toward sins, recognizing its seriousness. With that changed attitude, will come changed behavior.

Application: If you truly repent over sin, there will be fruit of a changed life. Ask yourself if you are sorry because you are caught or if you are sorry because you have grieved God. Evaluate your spiritual life to see if you are bearing the fruit of repentance or of it is only words.

IV. Paul’s confidence in the Corinthians (12-16)

Discussion Questions

  • Who did Paul hope to touch through his letter (12?)
  • How could this letter reveal their earnestness?
  • What lessons can we learn from these interchanges about communication?

Teaching Points

1. Not for the sake of the one who did the wrong or suffered the wrong – Paul’s primary motivation in writing 1 Corinthians was to wake up the Corinthians from their spiritual lethargy. If they were real believers, and it looks like they were, then his letter would shock them out of their stupor. Their love for God and hatred of sin would be revealed. It was there all along but had become dull due to worldly influences.

2. We are comforted – Paul’s trust in them and confidence in their response was not misplaced. He believed the best about them. He believed his letter would stir up their spiritual life and bring them back to God. It did and Paul was comforted.

3. Our boasting before Titus proved true – Paul had expressed to Titus his belief that the Corinthians would have a positive response of repentance. Perhaps Titus was nervous about delivery such a strong letter. Maybe he even though that the Corinthians were a lost cause. Paul encouraged him and more or less told him, “Don’t give up on the Corinthians. They will turn back to God. They just need a good poke.”

4. His affection for you is even greater – Titus recalled how the Corinthians received him, not with hostility or anger, but with fear and trembling. They were scared because of the sin they had tolerated. It was a reaction that showed a willingness to obey.

5. I have complete confidence in you –

1 Corinthians 13:7 – Love believes all things.

Paul gives us a great example of how a Christian worker should think of the people he serves. He could have become cynical or a skeptic. The continued sin of those he ministered to could have hardened his own heart. Over time he could have become more and more annoyed by the irritating behaviors of the flock.

Some who work in one occupation for a long time begin to act in this way. We have all met certain people in the DMV or airline attendants who seem to live with a chip on their shoulder. They are ready to call you out at the smallest provocation. It is likely that years of seeing people flout the rules or not pay attention to basic instructions has turned them into cynics. Cynics and skeptics believe the worst about others, viewing them in the worst possible light.

Love believes all things. Paul repeatedly shows us this optimistic attitude toward those he ministered to. He believed the best about them, expecting that they would respond positively to his message.

Application: Don’t become cynical toward those you minister to! When you begin to complain about them or view them as an annoyance, immediately come to God in prayer. Repent of a negative attitude. Ask God to fill your heart with love for them. Know that God will finish the work He started in someone’s heart. Jesus loved them to the extent that He gave His own life for them.

Attitudes toward people can be an important influence in their life. Some children have grown up with parents who say how worthless and dumb they are. They believe it and then in some ways it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Jesus called Simon, “Peter,” which means “rock.” At the time, Peter was not a rock. But Jesus saw what he could become. Then He helped him get there.

Believe the best about others and then help them to press on and grow in Christ to be all that God wants them to be.

2 Corinthians 8:1-7

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