Make Room in Your Hearts – 2 Corinthians 7:2–4

In 2 Corinthians 2:12-13 Paul says he went to Troas and after a long digression he picks up that thread again in 7:5. If we were reading the letter straight through, or hearing the letter read to us for the first time, we might have expected Paul’s response to meeting Titus and hearing the report that of a favorable response to the tearful letter.

Paul seems a little defensive in this verse, he claims to have wronged no one.

  • “We wronged no one.” To “wrong” someone (ἀδικέω) can refer to physically mistreating someone, but can also refer to a legal injury, with the sense of doing an injustice to someone. Perhaps Paul’s opponents in the Corinthian church accused Paul of being too harsh in dealing with the incestuous man, perhaps treating him in a way that damaged his honor in the city of Corinth.
  • “We have corrupted no one.” The verb φθείρω can mean either “ruin financially” or “corrupt” in the matter of doctrine or morals” (Harris, 517). This accusation has the connotation of ruining someone financially. It is true Paul has told his congregations to be wary of business relationships with the unsaved. If some in the church followed that recommendation, then his opponents could accuse Paul of intentionally ruining people financially.
  • “We have taken advantage of no one.” The verb (πλεονεκτέω) has the sense of cheating someone financially. This might be a hint of some accusation about the collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem, a topic Paul will shift to after this section of the book. Paul’s opponents may have been suspicious of this collection since it was not at all common for someone to collect money and even less common to give collected money to another city.

Since he has behaved properly toward the church, Paul asks the church to open up to him so that he may be reconciled with the church. This is a common metaphor even in contemporary English, to be “in someone’s heart” is to have a close personal relationship; “openheartedness” implies such a close relationship that being completely transparent is possible.

Image result for open heartPaul had already opened his heart to them when he confronted them about their sin and what they needed to do to deal with that sin. Paul is now hopeful the church would also find some room for him so reconciliation can happen.

Paul’s love for the congregation leads to a level of frankness which could be understood as offensive. Since Paul had to correct obvious sins, the church could potentially be hurt by his words (v. 3-4).

The tone of the tearful letter could be interpreted as “putting them in their place.” Tone is almost impossible to convey in writing, and after the Paul’s last visit to the church it would have been easy to read the tearful letter as a harsh condemnation.

A factor modern readers may overlook is the social status of Paul and the church at Corinth. By speaking frankly, Paul could be interpreted as asserting his higher social status, perhaps “pulling rank” on the Corinthians. This was not the relationship Paul wanted to have with his churches. Paul and the Corinthians are “fellow-servants” of Christ and Paul regularly calls them “brothers.” Paul’s love is so deep for the Corinthian believers that he is willing to “live or die with them (v. 3). Some might think of this as a rhetorical flourish, but Paul was genuinely willing to lay his life down on behalf of the church, something he often demonstrated in ministry.

In summary, at the beginning of the letter Paul was concerned the tearful letter had caused the church sorrow, and perhaps caused the rift between himself and the church. After 2:14 he drops this feeling, only now expressing joy in the positive response from the church. But there was a long, tense period of time when Paul was unsure how the letter would be received, so in this next section he describes the depth of his sorrow and how that sorrow turned to joy when he finally heard from Titus the good news from the church.

12 thoughts on “Make Room in Your Hearts – 2 Corinthians 7:2–4

  1. It’s odd that you say there’s such a love from Paul that leads him to confronted come across as mean. We still have those kinds of relationships and banters today. Having room in our hearts for others is a key to ministry. Sometimes a good, endearing relationship forms and there’s that space and openness that allows us to be frank with others. There’s a sense of honesty. But more than anything, Paul is open with a people he loves.

  2. First and foremost, I love how morbid the photo on this post is. Let us all rip our chests open! Secondly, I connected well with the part of the post that discussed openheartedness. I agree that Paul was showing this vile young man openheartedness when he confronted him. This shows the deep love and care that This simply adds to the statement Paul has stated about himself being like a mother and father. The next step for the mending of relationships in this situation is allowing this man to be forgiven. Paul speaks about the issue of reconciliation in 2 Corinthians 5, illustrating how Christ reconciled us and now the church must reconcile with one another. Even though there was much hurt by what had been done in this situation, the church members are called to continue to love like Christ, including forgiving and reconciling with this man.

  3. Throughout this course’s study of the letters and work of Paul, I have definitely noticed a sense of openhearted nature of the Apostle Paul. In ministry, this is absolutely essential. Though I am not a ministry major, I am sure that Grace’s ministry programs stresses the importance of building relationships and being openhearted in order to experience spiritual, as well as relational, growth and benefits in ministry. So far, we have studied major cities that Paul has done ministry in such as Galatia, Corinth, and Thessalonica. In each of these cities, Paul builds a bond with the people during the course of his ministry. Typically, his deep love and care for these people as a result of this relational bond is the reason that he writes to them. For example, Longenecker and Still (2014) write about Paul and his relationship with the city of Galatia and the citizens of the city in the following quote: “Because the Christian communities that Paul addresses in this letter were founded by him, he felt especially protective of their corporate well-being” (p. 89). Ultimately, Paul had a relationship with the people of Galatia and the ministry and missionary foundation that he built that made him feel concerned about the agitators of Galatia. Ultimately, Paul has a heart for the people he does ministry for. The reason he is able to care for these people so deeply is a result of his willingness to be openhearted to the people he is doing ministry with, while also asking them to be openhearted with him.

    • (This is an addition to the post that I posted right above. I did not mean to submit the comment until I added this section.)

      Think about the closest relationships we have in our own lives. Think about the moments where our closest relationships grow closer and grow closer. For me, many of these moments come from openhearted, unprotected conversations in a car, at a restaurant, etc. where it is just a one-on-one conversation. Similarly, Paul experiences this with large groups of people in Corinth. Paul is clear about the importance of being openhearted or frank in 2 Corinthians 7:4. Paul cares deeply for the people he works with in ministry. He wants people to accept Jesus Christ, love Jesus Christ, and transform their lives to live for Jesus Christ (Romans 12:2). To get people to make a decision or commitment of this magnitude, the people that Paul teaches must trust him and believe what he is saying. If someone you do not trust asks you to make a decision of this magnitude, it is incredibly difficult to take a step like that. Paul needs to earn the trust from the people he does ministry with, and as a result of this, he must build relationships like he has with the people in Corinth. The tearful letter is an excellent example of his care of these people. Moreover, this sense of trust that Paul is expected to build seems to be a reason that Paul is offended when critics have questioned the legitimacy of his gospel teachings in Galatia.

      Paul wants the people of Corinth to keep their hearts open. I believe this is a key trait of Christianity in trusting God and fulfilling ministry.

  4. Being transparent and openhearted with one another is an important action to take as a community in Christ. Paul made this clear in his letter to the Corinthian church. Paul opened his heart to the Corinthians and made it clear that his intentions were pure in helping them—in 2 Corinthians 7:2-4 Paul explains that he has wronged no one, corrupted no one, and taken advantage of no one. Paul had approached the Corinthians, in order to help draw them closer to Christ, and addressed all of the actions they needed to change. This could have come across as too harsh of an approach by some people, which is the reasoning for Paul’s explanation in verses 2-4. To wrong someone could mean to physically mistreat them or to legally do injustice toward them. Being accused of corrupting could refer to either financially ruining someone or to corrupt someone in the matter of doctrine or morals. Paul was also accused of cheating someone financially—this idea came from the collections that Paul took. Paul had to clear his name in a sense because he did not wrong the church in any way. He asked the church to be open with him.
    The tearful letter—which was a letter “written out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears…to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything” (TTP, pg. 144). It had the intentions of putting the Corinthians in their place. Unfortunately, Paul was concerned that the tearful letter ended up causing a problem between himself and the church.
    Making room in our hearts is something that I feel is still necessary today in our relationship with fellow followers of Christ and with our relationship with the Lord. Often receiving tough love from a fellow believer is not always easy to hear, but we need to have an open heart when receiving this information that they are sharing to help our relationship with the Lord grow.

  5. It is obious that Paul does not want to shine as being above these Corinth people at all. It shows in the passage that he wanted to humble himself to being brothers and sisters in Christ with these people. We see Paul getting defensive in this passage claming that he harmed no one. It might be getting to him the fact that the Corinth people are being harsh on him and he might be second guessing himself a little bit. Paul gets stern though according to (Longnecker 2014) “Paul implies that the Corinthians themselves should take disciplinary measures towards anyone who challenges Paul’s apostolic authority”(p.147). Paul may have second guessed himself, but surely does stay rooted in what he knows is true and trusts in his relationship with God.

  6. I think that given Paul’s journey of coming to Christ it makes sense that he became defensive in his response to the church’s reaction to his openness. Paul’s love for the people and his gift for ministry led him to strive for a level of connectivity with the people. Paul’s ultimate goal of bringing people to Christ motivates him to speak out and have people see their sins and deal with them in the right way. I think that if Paul would have used something other than a letter maybe he would have had a different reaction from the church. As Professor Long stated, it is hard to tell emotion through writing. In today’s world, we experience the same situations all of the time through text. When I confront someone over text I try to be mindful that what I am texting can be portrayed exactly as I intend it to on the other side. I don’t think there is a way to make a confrontation over text sound joyful. Paul’s response to the church was definitely defensive and he emphasized his love for them. He did a great job of making it known that he wasn’t condemning, rather he was being bold and looking out for their best interest. Overall, I think his method of delivery wasn’t the most effective, but his recovery really helped to set the sturdy foundation of love and pride. Now when the church referred back to the tearful letter they would know Paul’s heart and where he was coming from.

  7. Paul sets an example of dealing with conflict and being in relation with people. There seems to be a miscommunication between what Paul did and what the church in Corinth thinks he did. Paul goes on to defend himself saying he has done nothing wrong. He then asks for the church to “make room for us in your hearts” (2 Corinthians 7:2). He wants the people to see that he has done nothing wrong and be open to being in relationship with him. “Since he has behaved properly toward the church, Paul asks the church to open up to him so that he may be reconciled with the church” (Long, 2019). He wants to be back in relationship with the church after the misconceptions about him. We see that Paul took this first step with confronting the church of Corinth about their sins and what to do about them (Long, 2019). Now, Paul asks the people would do the same for him. Paul also mentions how his advice and instruction was not out of an offensive or condemning nature, but out of love (2 Corinthians 7:3-4). It is important to see this response in a way we can apply it to our lives. We are able to speak in a way that tells others that they might not be doing the best thing for themselves because we love and care about them, not because we condemn them or judge them.

  8. What Long said about Paul being defensive, he actually was defensive about it. It also sounds to me that he is trying to control people. At the same time, I understand he is openhearted caring for people which is good. Jeusu cares for His people. Paul asked the church to open up to him and be honest. Whatever the church has to say to him, Paul is willing to make changes or pray about it. “Paul has opened his heart and confronted them about their sin and what they need to do to deal with their sin (Long, 2019). To this day pastors and leaders would do the same thing in the churches to have everyone respect and be kind to one another. Although there are some churches that would act differently like leaders who show an example of how to be kind to others or show generosity then later they will not be kind. For example, when I was young there was this church I used to go to with my parents. My pastor was giving a sermon about how we should be generous, openhearted and be kind to one another. After he was done talking, a leader gave an example of showing us how to be generous by giving. Back in my mind is that the leaders were not to the people at church. You reach out to the brothers and sisters in Christ of any situation you want to share,to be openhearted about their sins, some leaders will talk and pray for the person or will say something but not help them.

  9. Miscommunication. It happens now, and it happened back then. I find it so ironic that an issue prevalent in so many of our lives also existed two thousand years ago, and likely before too. You mention that “tone is almost impossible to convey in writing,” and that his previous visit to the church would’ve set the tone when they received this second letter. Therefore, he references it on two occasions that he had “much affliction and anguish” and felt sad that it “brought sorrow” to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 2:4, 7:8). He addresses many other things in this letter, but without reconciling himself to a congregation that may feel personally attacked, led astray, or taken advantage of, then he would have no impact with the letter at all. There is no doubt to us, a modern audience that can look at the context to this passage from a distance, that Paul loves the people of Corinth, but to they may have seen things differently. In order to make things right, and also uphold the authority of this letter, Paul uses verse 3 to help reassure them that they “are in [Paul’s] heart” and he is willing “to live or die together with [them].”
    I think we can look at this passage, not only as a preface before Paul’s main message, applying only to the Corinthians, but as a glimpse into his character. Paul says in his first letter, “Follow me, as I follow Christ” (11:1), and here we see him expressing his love and sorrow for the Corinthians who just recently were questioning him and his authority. The fact that he is able to address them out of love and pleads for them to reconcile shows us that we can also address those around us when we face similar situations.

  10. It is amazing how communication can be interpreted in a multitude of ways, Paul attempts to present himself and his message with love but many took it in a poor way. Personally, I feel love can be one of the most difficult emotions to show and pick up on. Trying to find the right words to say can be tough and you do not always know what others want to hear, especially in a loving way. I have definitely ran into this in my own life, this may be why I do not have a girlfriend lol.

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