For an introduction to this series, click here.
This chapter is a very personal section. Paul is just kind of sharing his heart with his friends in Corinth:
"Make room in your hearts for us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy. For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn— fighting without and fear within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more." (7:2-7)
This section doesn't really need comment, so we will go on to the next one:
"For I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter. So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the one who did the wrong, nor for the sake of the one who suffered the wrong, but in order that your earnestness for us might be revealed to you in the sight of God." (7:8-12)
This is a very revealing passage. We usually use the phrase "Godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation" when talking about unbelievers getting saved. Obviously that is true, but Paul is using it here as describing saved people. The church at Corinth had some serious problems, and Paul pulled no punches when dealing with them in his first letter. And apparently the fact that Paul did not come back to Corinth or send another letter very soon discouraged the believers in the church there, as we discussed in an earlier chapter. But the overall result of the letter was positive, as they did get rid of some of the sin that was in the church. Paul said that he even regretted at some level some of the things he said, but he was glad the church repented and moved closer to the Lord.
I am struck by the statement that the Corinthians had proven themselves innocent. What a testimony of the grace of God in the life of believers! The Corinthians were obviously doing a lot of things wrong, but their repentance - not to salvation but toward their wrong practices - demonstrated their salvation and demonstrated that God was not judging them for the wrong they were doing. I think this is what Paul meant when he said, “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”
"Therefore we are comforted. And besides our own comfort, we rejoiced still more at the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. For whatever boasts I made to him about you, I was not put to shame. But just as everything we said to you was true, so also our boasting before Titus has proved true. And his affection for you is even greater, as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling. I rejoice, because I have perfect confidence in you." (7:13-16, ESV)
I love these passages where we get to know the writer a little bit. Paul was proud of his converts in the Corinthian church, and wrote the first letter out of love. This second letter shows even more love, because what he knew about the people was confirmed by the fact that they responded positively to the first letter, even if they were somewhat discouraged.