A DECISION PAUL CAME TO
2 Cor. 2:1
“But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.” As I read this statement by Paul I thought that this really gives insight into the life of this great man of God. When I think of Paul, I think of a person who is rock-hard and gun barrel straight and committed to the truth without a willingness to let up until truth had been submitted to. I didn’t picture Paul as unfeeling but I did see him as one who would sacrifice friends if necessary on the altar of truth. This gives us a little different picture of the man. And it does not take anything away for his courageous stand for the truth. But it does give insight into his feelings for those to whom he had to rebuke and a willingness to back off and allow what he had already said do its work over time.
The words “But I determined” (krino) meaning “to determine, to resolve, to decree.” It also means “to make a judgment.” It is an aorist active indicative verb. The aorist tense means that Paul had firmly made up his mind after having carefully thought it over at a point of time in the past. He had come to a determination.
The words “with myself” (emautou) means that Paul had meditated on his second approach to Corinth. He had written a letter which dealt with problems including heresy and put them on the spot and coached them to act against some who were in need of discipline, some of whom may have been their friends or family members. He taught against some who had held him as their favorite preacher. What he had written had caused sorrow. So Paul had meditated on his next approach to them and had come to a settled conclusion.
The words “that I would not come again to you” mean (erchomai) to come in the form of this epistle. The word “again” means that this is at least the second time. I do not believe that he is talking about his first trip to them in person when he says “again.” I believe he is talking about the trip he made to them in the form of the first epistle. He came to them with Apostolic authority, not unloving or uncaring, but in the interest of truth without any consideration of anything but the truth. There are times when this must be the rule. Paul was not a compromiser. He is not apologizing in this epistle for his approach in the first epistle. He is telling them that he did carefully consider how he would approach them in this epistle.
The words “in heaviness” (lupe) mean “sorrow, pain, grief, annoyance, affliction; of persons mourning.” John 16:22 uses this word and there it is translated “sorrow.” “And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.” So Paul is talking about sorrow that causes heaviness. Paul determined that he would not speak to them this time in a way that would leave them in “heaviness” as did the first epistle.
Paul knew that too much sorrow producing truth would be damaging to them personally. He loved these people and had their personal interest in view. There is a great lesson to be learned in Paul’s approach to this church.
The same principle is probably set forth by our Lord. In John 16:12 Jesus said, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.”
The church at Corinth had the truth of First Corinthians. This still stands as truth before this church. Paul is not changing any statement in that epistle by what he says here. He is saying that he realized that he wrote them a sorrow producing letter. Now he says that after meditation and carefully thinking it over, I will not do this again right now. I want you know that I love you. I want to confirm my love to you at this time.
This intimates that he could have come to them in another sorrow producing letter. The church at Corinth had not become a perfect church as a result of his first epistle. There were still things wrong with Corinth. You will not find a perfect church down here. This is an important point. Paul could still minister to them in love when there was error enough in the church to come to them in heaviness. He made a decision not to do this: “But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.” I know this decision was right because it is a part of the inspired Word of God.
Sometimes a preacher or a Bible teacher has to state the truth about certain things when he knows that it will produce heaviness. It must be said. The error must be dealt with. Paul is not giving license in this statement to set aside the truth and allow error to progress without challenge. Dealing with the truth in the first epistle had caused Paul sorrow: verse 4 says, “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.” It is time now to show them that he had not rejected them because of the errors that he had dealt with in the first epistle.
I never will forget a preacher telling me that one of his members had said to him when he came through the front door leaving the services after the Sunday morning message, “I am always depressed after I hear your messages.” The preacher laughed as he told me. I laughed with him. We thought the man evidently needed what was preached and was unwilling to repent. I have since thought that situation over. They’re a times when a pastor has to come before his people in heaviness. But if he does, has he wept the tears of Paul? And does he come before them every time with a message of heaviness? If so, he is not helping the people nor standing for the truth. He is using the people as a punching bag and feeds his own ego and reputation as one who “stands for the truth without compromise.”
I have always pastored people who would hold me as a hero if I “let um have it” every time I got up. Well, at the risk of those people thinking I am a compromiser, I am going to have to say that a preacher should not let that group control him. He needs to balance what produces heaviness with what produces joy.
May the Lord bless you.