What does 2 Corinthians 2:4 mean?
ESV: For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.
NIV: For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.
NASB: For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not so that you would be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have especially for you.
CSB: For I wrote to you with many tears out of an extremely troubled and anguished heart--not to cause you pain, but that you should know the abundant love I have for you.
NLT: I wrote that letter in great anguish, with a troubled heart and many tears. I didn’t want to grieve you, but I wanted to let you know how much love I have for you.
KJV: For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.
NKJV: For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you.
Verse Commentary:
Many Bible scholars believe that what's described here is a now-lost letter of Paul. This would have been sent between what we now know as 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians. Some suggest the mystery letter was actually written prior to 1 Corinthians, but that's not as clean a fit with the context of those two letters.

Instead, the sequence seems to be that Paul visited the Corinthians briefly following the writing of 1 Corinthians. During that painful visit, a confrontation took place. This appears to have been with a church member challenging Paul's authority as an apostle. It is unclear if most in the church sided with Paul or with this other man. Paul wrote the now-lost letter to them in order to urge the church to deal with this man and make clear their support for Paul's authority as an apostle of Jesus.

Writing that letter, Paul now says, caused him great pain. He wrote it out of affliction and anguish of heart, shedding tears as he sent it. He did not write it in order to cause them pain. That's the last thing Paul wanted for them. Instead, he wrote it because he loved them so deeply. He knew that hearing the truth might hurt them, but he also hoped it would bring healing to everyone involved. Apparently, that's exactly what has happened.
Verse Context:
Second Corinthians 2:1–4 finds Paul explaining with great emotion how he decided not to return to Corinth until he learned whether they would side with or against him. He did not want to cause mutual needless pain with another difficult visit. Instead, he wrote to them in great anguish. That letter—now lost—told them to correct the man and to remain loyal to God's authority in and through him. He did not write to hurt them but out of abundant love for them.
Chapter Summary:
Paul explains why he delayed coming to visit the Corinthians. In great anguish, he had written a painful letter to tell them they must correct a man among them. This person may have challenged Paul's authority as an apostle of Jesus. The Corinthians disciplined the man, and he repented. Paul told them to forgive him. He tells of Titus failing to show up in Troas with news about the Corinthians, then transitions into teaching that Christians are the aroma of Christ on earth to everyone they know.
Chapter Context:
Second Corinthians continues uninterrupted from the previous chapter. Paul is explaining why he waited to come to Corinth. He wanted to see if they would side with him, or with the man who challenged his authority. They disciplined the man. He repented. Paul commands restoration and forgiveness. He then tells of failing to find Titus in Troas with news about them before transitioning into teaching that Christians are the aroma of Christ on earth, smelling of death to the perishing and life to those being saved. This brings Paul back to the subject of his own authority in chapter 3.
Book Summary:
Second Corinthians returns to similar themes as those Paul mentioned in his first letter to this church. Paul is glad to hear that the church in Corinth has heeded his advice. At the same time, it is necessary for Paul to counter criticisms about his personality and legitimacy. Most of this text involves that subject. The fifth chapter, in contrast, contains comforting words which Christians have quoted often in times of hardship. Paul also details his expectations that the church in Corinth will make good on their promise to contribute to the needs of suffering believers in Jerusalem.
Accessed 4/24/2024 5:57:35 PM
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