This is what God gave me today in his word:
Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure–not to put it too severely–to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. (2 Corinthians 2:5-9)
I think it’s clear we need to establish a few things here. First, who is Paul taking to? And second, who is he referring to? Well we know Paul is talking to the Church in Corinth, but who is he referring to, if anyone?
First, who is Paul referring to? … Is he just giving them general instructions?
1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? 3 For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. 4 So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh,[a][b] so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 5:1-5)
Paul is actually referring to the man he told them to cast out in his last letter to them. Now he’s telling them to forgive him. Clearly we can see this man is repentant, so Paul basically tells them to welcome him back with open arms. In fact he even makes a point of clarifying why he wrote the way he wrote. In part to help the man, in part to help the body and in part to set his own mind at rest. So now we know who Paul’s referring to. Yes, he’s giving general rules on what to do should this problem or one like it come up again in the church. But he’s also specifically referring to this one man; The man who was given over to Satan, so that everyone else (in the Church) would be pure…
But, so what? What does it matter what Paul tells the Corinthians to do or not to do? This is just a general pattern after all: sin lead’s to being put out of the body of Christ, which in turn lead’s to the realization of how much you need the body of Christ, which lead’s to asking and receiving forgiveness and the reentering to the body of Christ. Well, you see, this applies to us as well as to the Corinthians. But how?
Second, how is what Paul is saying apply to us? … Otherwise I don’t see how this whole passage is of much help or use to us.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:14-17)
How does this apply to us? It applies to us in that those formerly cast out should be forgiven (whether asked for or not). By “cast out” I mean either if you’ve Spiritually or physically cast someone out. Why? Because whatever it is we’re forgiving, we speak in Christ. It’s not our flesh babbling, but Christ speaking. Why is that important? Because when we realize it’s not us but Christ speaking and we’re doing that in the sight of God. We are more willing to start the conversation, because we know Christ will carry it on to completion, to put it one way.
That’s the point of what Paul’s saying here, that we should forgive those who have been cast out. More than that though, he reminds us of the only way we’re able to do that, which is through Christ Jesus.
You are Loved!
Take me, guide me, lead me
I’m trusting in You, Lord
Teach me and show me the way
Break me, love me, forgive me
I’m asking of You, Lord
Take me and show me the way