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2 Corinthians 2:1

ESV For I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you.
NIV So I made up my mind that I would not make another painful visit to you.
NASB But I decided this for my own sake, that I would not come to you in sorrow again.
CSB In fact, I made up my mind about this: I would not come to you on another painful visit.
NLT So I decided that I would not bring you grief with another painful visit.
KJV But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.

What does 2 Corinthians 2:1 mean?

Once again, readers of Scripture should keep in mind that chapter and verse divisions were not part of the original writing. What's said here is not meant to be a separate thought from the prior words. In fact, Paul is completing a statement begun in the previous two verses. He is explaining why he delayed a second planned visit to Corinth instead of arriving when he initially said he would. He has written that this change was to spare the Corinthians in some way, likely from his own discipline for their potential sinfulness (2 Corinthians 1:23).

Now he describes his decision—"I made up my mind"—not to make another upsetting visit to them. That begs the question of what's causing this controversy. Most interpreters look at the context of 2 Corinthians and determine that Paul traveled directly to Corinth from Ephesus after writing 1 Corinthians. This would have been instead of first traveling to Macedonia as described in that earlier letter (1 Corinthians 16:5–9). Perhaps Paul received news from Timothy about issues in Corinth that needed his immediate attention.

In any case, that visit with them is the one Paul now describes as "painful." It seems there was a confrontation of some kind between Paul and one of the Corinthians. Given the earlier divisions in the church (1 Corinthians 1:10–12), this may have been about Paul's qualifications to be an apostle in the first place. In challenging Paul's authority, this man was challenging the spiritual foundation of the entire church. Despite this, it seems the rest of the Christians in Corinth did not intervene.

So, Paul left and continued to Macedonia. From there, he wrote a painful letter to them about the incident and about their responsibility to stand for what was right and true, including his authority as an apostle. Paul may have sent that letter with Titus and then waited for Titus to return with news about their response. The text of that letter has not been conserved; we don't know exactly what was said.

That incident and its aftermath is why Paul did not return to Corinth as quickly as he had said. He did not want to put anyone through another painful visit until he learned how they had responded to his letter.
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