1 For I made up my mind not to make you another painful visit. 2 For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? 3 And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all. 4 For I wrote 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.

5 But if any one has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure --not to put it too severely -- to you all. 6 For such a one this punishment by the majority is enough; 7 so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. 9 For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. 10 Any one whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, 11 to keep Satan from gaining the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his designs.

12 When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, a door was opened for me in the Lord; 13 but my mind could not rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia.

14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 17 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.  Version: New Revised Standard Version



  • Just as there was an intermediate letter between 1 and 2 Corinthians (see 2:3; 7:8), Paul also made an intermediate visit to Corinth (v.1).
  • Paul expected his letter to elicit repentance (v.3).
    • He wrote not only to elicit a response, but because he deeply cared for them (v.4).
    • He wrote out of anguish and with tears. The intellectual apostle Paul had a heart of flesh. He loved others with all his heart, just as he loved the Lord.
  • Here was the situation (vv.3-11):
    • A man within the Corinthian community had challenged Paul's apostolic authority.
    • Paul's letter had led to the intended response: community (censure) action against the offender.
    • Yet the Corinthians had acted too severely in their discipline of the offending individual.
    • Repentant, he was also overwhelmed—crushed. This was not healthy.
    • For this reason Paul asks the church to reaffirm their love for him. After all, Paul has forgiven the man.
    • Satan plays on our tendency to refuse to forgive, or to let things go. Dividing relationships is one of his common strategic ploys, and we mustn't let the adversary get the upper hand!
  • Returning to his discussion of missionary plans (chapter 1), Paul shares that even though Troas seemed like a good place to work, because he sorely missed a dear brother (Titus), he went on to Macedonia (vv.12-13).
    • Yet despite the change of plans, the word was proclaimed (v.14ff). Wherever Christians go, even when plans are changed, there are great opportunities for the gospel to be preached!
    • It is a win/win situation, a triumphal procession, as God spreads the truth through us.
      • To some the gospel is the fragrance of life -- welcome news.
      • To others it is highly unpleasant -- most unwelcome news.
  • Paul didn't simply miss Titus (v.13); he was on tenterhooks waiting to hear from Titus, who carried the "painful letter," to the Corinthians, about the Corinthians' response.
  • Paul is no peddler (v.17; 4:2). See also 1 Thess 2:5. His appeal to the Corinthians is not hypocritical or mercenary in any way.


  • Troas (Acts 16:8,11; 20:5,6; 2 Timothy 4:13) is not ancient Troy (of Homeric fame). This town was, however, not far away from Troy.
  • Interestingly, though Paul admits God had opened a door (v.12), he chose not to go through it. (Compare 1 Corinthians 16:9.) Even when the Lord is moving and creating opportunities, we still have a choice.
  • From verse 12, after what seems to be a lengthy disgression, the thread continues in 7:6. For this reason some scholars opine that 2 Corinthians is a composite document. While this is possible, such a conclusion seems unnecessary.
  • Titus (2:13; 7:6,13,14; 8:6,16,23; 12:18) was Paul's intimate coworker, also mentioned in Galatians 2:1,3; 2 Timothy 4:10; Titus 1:4.

Thought questions:

  • If I consider myself intellectual, loving the Lord with all my mind, does my heart follow suit? Do others know how much I care for them?
  • If someone tracked and observed my daily routine, how many times would he see me sharing the good news?
  • When I do share, is it in the expectation of some reward, or do I share out of love for the lost as well as a sense of being commissioned by God?
  • Am I realistic in my expectations, knowing that some will accept the message, while others will reject it?