2 Corinthians 2:3–17 (NKJV)
3 And I wrote this very thing to you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow over those from whom I ought to have joy, having confidence in you all that my joy is the joy of you all. 4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you.2 Corinthians 2:3-11
5 But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent—not to be too severe. 6 This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, 7 so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. 8 Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. 9 For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. 10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.
Paul further explains his concern over sorrow at his next visit to Corinth. One individual, unidentified, opposed Paul and was subjected to discipline by the body. Many of the congregation supported Paul in his action toward the man, but a few disagreed. Paul points out that when someone acts in a way that is contrary to proper discipline and order, contrary to Godly and Biblical practices, then he or she must be disciplined. This is the case here. Paul further describes the communal aspect of the church, saying that when one suffers or sorrows, it is a sorrow to the entire body. Therefore, the goal is unity, empathy, and compassion in all things. In light of these thoughts, and in light of the assumed contrition on the part of the man who had sinned, Paul instructs the church to reach out to him and restore him to their fellowship. He can find his place in the church, and the rift can be healed, and the church church’s unity will be complete. Paul forgave the offender, and he instructs all the church to forgive him as well. Restoration is the goal of church discipline, not simply vengeance or punishment.
12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord, 13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia.2 Corinthians 2:12-17
14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.
Paul then shifts his attention to the work of the gospel. He is restless in that he does not know the whereabouts of Titus, who was to meet him in Troas. There was a great opportunity for the gospel in Troas, but Paul instead shipped out to Macedonia, perhaps in search of Titus. In spite of his concern for his colleague and partner in ministry, Paul moves on to an ode to God and His leading His people in triumph. In spite of the problems, in spite of the stress, the Christian witness goes forth as a diffuse fragrance into the communities in which it is delivered. To those who accept it, it is a fragrance of life. To those who reject it, it is the aroma of impending death. This is a new way of characterizing the gospel, but it is true that those who reject the gospel are accepting death, so it is fitting. Paul identifies a less legitimate group that may peddle the gospel, or preach it for gain. However, Paul points out that his motivation is simply to sincerely speak the word of God for the sake of those lost that they may be saved. This is the goal of the gospel: to sooth sorrow, elicit joy, and heal broken people and circumstances. The gospel carries the power to do all of this and more!