What does 2 Corinthians chapter 7 mean?The first verse of this chapter—chapter divisions were not part of the original writing—concludes Paul's teaching from the previous chapter. That discussion was about not being "yoked" or harnessed to unbelievers in binding relationships, especially when it comes to issues of idol worship. In short, Christians should cleanse themselves from every physical and spiritual thing that is opposed to God. In that way, believers participate with God in completing His work of bringing them to holiness. (2 Corinthians 7:1).
Paul begins the main theme of this chapter by returning to his plea with the Corinthians to make room in their hearts for him and his co-workers for the gospel. He declares again their innocence from any false accusations that they have wronged, corrupted, or taken advantage of those they minister to in Christ's name. Paul is quick to say, though, that he is not condemning the Corinthians. He has so much affection for them that he is ready to both to die with or live with them (2 Corinthians 7:2–3).
The reason for his abundant affection is that he has heard back from Titus about their response to his letter of rebuke to them. That has given him great boldness to write to them in this way, because he has been so comforted by Titus' report of his time with the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 7:4–9).
Paul picks up the thread of a story he left hanging in chapter 2. After a difficult visit with the Corinthians, Paul had written a severe letter of rebuke to them. They had either sided with a man among them in the church against Paul or they had simply not responded to this man's opposition to Paul, who represented Christ. Paul corrected them and instructed them to discipline the man (2 Corinthians 2:3–10).
He gave this difficult letter, now lost to us, to Titus to deliver to the church in Corinth. Then he waited, not sure how they would respond. Would they get angry and reject his role as an apostle of Jesus? Would they be unkind to Titus in their anger? Paul's concern grew when Titus failed to appear at an arranged meeting in Troas. Paul returned to Macedonia and faced even more affliction.
Finally, though, Titus arrived with news from Corinth. They had received Paul's letter with great sorrow that provoked them to repentance—as godly grief over sin always does. The Corinthians did punish the man for his sin and eagerly did everything they could to make things right between Paul and themselves. Paul's relief at this news is obvious in this chapter. He rejoices still more that Titus was so impressed and encouraged by the Corinthians' obedience and humility (2 Corinthians 7:11–16).
The chapter concludes with Paul's declaration that he now has complete confidence in the Corinthians. Still, there will be difficult issues to discuss in the following chapters.