Notes on 2 Corinthians 1-7 "Be Ye Reconciled to God", CFM study for Sept. 9 - 15
About 2 Corinthians
- It's called Second Corinthians but it's not the second, or even the third letter Paul wrote to the Corinthians, just as First Corinthians wasn't the first letter. Paul wrote it with Timothy, his young missionary companion. Paul has three missionary journeys covered in Acts. After 1 Corinthians was written, between 53 and 54 A.D., according to Wayment, "Paul then visited Corinth in person during what is known as his third missionary journey. That visit constituted his second visit to Corinth and may have been what Paul referred to as his painful visit (2 Corinthians 2:1). Following that visit, Paul wrote a letter of rebutke (2:3-4; 7:9) that Titus carried (7:5-8). After writing that letter of rebuke, which has not survived, Paul left Ephesus for Macedonia (Acts 20:1) and planned to meet Titus (2 Corinthians 2:12-13). Paul eventually met up with Titus and after hearing his report of the situation in Corinth (7:6-16), Paul wrote 2 Corinthians."
- Lynne Wilson says, "After three years in Ephesus, Paul ended his mission by traveling farther west across northern Greece. There Titus met up with Paul and shared the news that the Corinthian disciples had humbly and meekly received his chastisement (2 Corinthians 7:5–9). Overjoyed with the news, he immediately wrote to thank them and notify them that he would indeed spend the winter with them in Corinth. Paul sent this letter with Timothy, and Erastus went with Titus back to Corinth to make the needed preparations (Acts 19:21–22)."
- Having quoted that, it's helpful to remember that there's a lot of history between Paul and 2 Corinthians and we don't have a lot of it in the New Testament. So we will see references to incidents and correspondence that Paul and the Corinthian saints experienced together and we have to piece together and guess at some of the missing pieces.
Opening Address and Comfort in Trials, 2 Corinthians 1:1-14
- This letter includes a lot of references to persecution and trial, presumably because both Paul and the Corinthians are experiencing it. I love verse 4-5, "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ."
- From this verse we learn that one purpose of trials is to allow us to learn how to comfort others experiencing trials. Haven't we all had painful experiences that then helped us bear the burdens of others later on? When I had a miscarriage while my husband was out of town, it was other moms who had experienced that same loss and physical pain who showed up for me in a big way. My neighbor brought me a smoothie. Another friend came over and said simply, "Yea, it sucks," and since she had experienced several of her own, those words carried comfort. Our experiences, painful as they are, bring us closer to God and more in tune with the needs of those around us.
- I love this quote "Elder Orson F. Whitney (1855–1931) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “To whom do we look, in days of grief and disaster, for help and consolation? … [We look to] men and women who have suffered, and out of their experience in suffering they bring forth the riches of their sympathy and condolences as a blessing to those now in need. Could they do this had they not suffered themselves?
“… Is not this God’s purpose in causing his children to suffer? He wants them to become more like himself. God has suffered far more than man ever did or ever will, and is therefore the great source of sympathy and consolation” (Institute Student Manual)
- Paul writes of the trials he had in Asia, "that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:" (v. 8) and had a death sentence on them (v. 9) but were delivered. Paul thanks the saints for their prayers. Praying for others in need is a great service.
Paul's Intended Visit, 2 Corinthians 1:15-2:4
- It seems Paul's critics made a lot of the fact that he had promised to come but hadn't. You can almost hear them say, "See? He doesn't really care about you or he would have come when he said," or "He can't really be an apostle if he didn't follow through with his intention. If he said he was going to come and then he didn't, he's a false prophet." What similarities do you see with critics of the Apostles today?
- "Some said he could not be trusted—one day he said “yea” (yes, I am coming), but the next day he said “nay” (no, I am not coming). Paul’s critics seemed to imply, “If we cannot trust Paul, how can we trust what he taught us about God?” In response to this allegation, Paul declared that the message he and his companions taught was true and that God and Jesus are trustworthy and do not vary. Jesus is always “yea”—the fulfillment or “amen” to all God’s promises." (Institute Student Manual)
- It seems that people of Paul's day, like today, expect perfection from their leaders. As Jeffrey R. Holland says, "So be kind regarding human frailty—your own as well as that of those who serve with you in a Church led by volunteer, mortal men and women. Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we. And when you see imperfection, remember that the limitation is not in the divinity of the work. As one gifted writer has suggested, when the infinite fulness is poured forth, it is not the oil’s fault if there is some loss because finite vessels can’t quite contain it all. Those finite vessels include you and me, so be patient and kind and forgiving."
- Don't you love verse 22, that tells us that the God has given us the "earnest of the Spirit in our hearts?" "According to the Bible Dictionary, the word earnest means “a pledge or security. The word thus translated is a commercial term denoting the deposit paid by a buyer on entering into an agreement for the purchase of anything. As used by Paul (2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 1:14) it means that the Lord gives us His Holy Spirit in this life as a foretaste of the joy of eternal life. The Spirit is also the Lord’s surety that He will fulfill His promise to give eternal life to the faithful” (Bible Dictionary, “Earnest”; see also 1 John 4:13; D&C 88:3–5; the commentaries for Romans 8:14–16 and for Ephesians 1:13–14). When we feel the Spirit of the Lord, we can know that we are accepted of the Lord and that His promises are in effect in our lives." (Institute Student Manual).
- Just as you give the seller of a house earnest money along with an offer to buy the home, God gives us a taste of the wonderful blessings to come one day if we give our whole souls to Him in our covenant relationship. The gift of a member of the Godhead as our constant companion, which we accept after our baptism, is an incredible peek into the light, peace, knowledge, and truth that will be ours in the life to come. If what we feel here is just the "earnest money," then the inheritance to follow must be incredible!
- I love the imagery in verse 21 of God having anointed and sealed the saints. "The anointing could have referred to an anointing with oil, similar to that received by kings, priests, and prophets in the Old Testament, setting them apart for their divinely ordained work (see Exodus 29:7; 1 Kings 1:34, 39; 19:15–16). But the word may simply mean that God had given Paul the Holy Spirit, with the abundant blessings that accompany that gift. That meaning seems to fit Paul’s reference to the Spirit in 2 Corinthians 1:22. The Greek word Paul used to indicate being “sealed” by God means that God had placed His stamp of ownership upon him." (Institute Student Manual)
- Paul then reminds the saints in verse 24 that he and his companions are "fellow workers" with them (Wayment) or "helpers of your joy" (KJV). How can we be "helpers of joy" to those we serve and those we serve with?
Forgiving Others, 2 Corinthians 2:5-11
- Paul writes of a man who was presumably excommunicated for his transgressions. This could have been the man from 1 Corinthians who had been sleeping with his mother-in-law or it could have been another transgressor. In any case, Paul says the punishment inflicted is sufficient and encourages forgiveness and giving comfort to the man now, "Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices." Satan wins when we allow grudges to dominate and when we continue to contend. I pointed out to my kids that this is a good example of what forgiveness is and is not. Paul didn't tell the saints not to hold the man accountable or that they were wrong to impose the punishment. But he did enjoin love and forgiveness on a man who was also being held accountable for his actions. As Elder David E. Sorensen has said, "I would like to make it clear that forgiveness of sins should not be confused with tolerating evil. In fact, in the Joseph Smith Translation, the Lord said, “Judge righteous judgment.” The Savior asks us to forsake and combat evil in all its forms, and although we must forgive a neighbor who injures us, we should still work constructively to prevent that injury from being repeated. A woman who is abused should not seek revenge, but neither should she feel that she cannot take steps to prevent further abuse. A businessperson treated unfairly in a transaction should not hate the person who was dishonest but could take appropriate steps to remedy the wrong. Forgiveness does not require us to accept or tolerate evil. It does not require us to ignore the wrong that we see in the world around us or in our own lives. But as we fight against sin, we must not allow hatred or anger to control our thoughts or actions."
- "Paul knew that if the Corinthian Saints failed to forgive the man who had received Church disciplinary action, there would be increased discord among them (see 2 Corinthians 2:11). Satan had gained one victory when the man sinned. If the Saints failed to forgive the repentant man, Satan would have another victory. Paul was teaching the Saints how to avoid allowing Satan to “get an advantage of us” (2 Corinthians 2:11). One of the ways we receive strength to overcome Satan is to understand the ways he seeks to mislead the children of men. President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency said: “Satan’s most strenuous opposition is directed at whatever is most important to the Father’s plan. Satan seeks to discredit the Savior and divine authority, to nullify the effects of the Atonement, to counterfeit revelation, to lead people away from the truth, to contradict individual accountability, to confuse gender, to undermine marriage, and to discourage childbearing (especially by parents who will raise children in righteousness)” (“The Great Plan of Happiness,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 72). (Institute Student Manual)
A Sweet Savour, 2 Corinthians 2:12-17
- Paul uses the image of a sweet smell, savour or fragrance, which "may allude to the use of incense in sacrifice or the sacrifice itself." (Wayment). To those who are willing to be saved, it is a sweet smell but to those who are not, it is the "savour of death."
- He declared that God would always support His Saints, causing them “to triumph in Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:14). He then drew upon the imagery of sacrifices and incense burned in the temple when he said that the Saints are “unto God a sweet savour of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:15). The smoke of temple offerings was described as a sweet savor to God (see Exodus 29:18; Leviticus 1:9, 13, 17; Numbers 15:7). (Institute Student Manual)
- Paul may have been thinking about those who misunderstand the gospel when he talks about the "many [who] corrupt the word of God in verse 17. "The word corrupt, as used in 2 Corinthians 2:17, is taken from the Greek word for a peddler; it referred specifically to persons who sold impure or adulterated goods. As an Apostle of Jesus Christ, Paul did not preach the gospel for money nor adulterate its message as some were doing in Corinth at that time." (Institute Student Manual) The Wayment translates this passage more clearly as, "For we are not like so many others, merchants of the word of God for financial gain, but . . ."
- How do we avoid falling prey to those who want to enrich themselves by preaching some philosophy or another, mingled with the word of God? How do we make sure we ourselves have pure motives?
The New Covenant, 2 Corinthians 3:1-18
- Apparently, some of these false teachers who are setting themselves up to profit are also claiming Paul doesn't have the right credentials, or letters of recommendation (presumably they do?). Paul decrys that idea, saying to the people, "Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart." (v. 2-3)
- A letter, or an epistle, carries a message from one person to another. It is often "sealed" by the sender. How are we like letters from Christ to others? Do we carry the message through our changed lives and our compassion? Will others see Christ in our conduct, words, and way of life?
- Paul then reminds the people that it is God who makes the missionaries adequate to the message they bring, not their own merits.
- "The Greek word diathēkēs, translated in 2 Corinthians 3:6 and 14 as “testament,” carries the primary meaning of “covenant.” Thus, when Paul used this word, he was not referring specifically to the New Testament but to the new covenant of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When Paul referred to “the reading of the old testament” (2 Corinthians 3:14), he was referring to the old covenant—the Mosaic law contained in the pages of what Christians call the Old Testament.
When Paul taught that the new covenant would be written on people’s hearts (see 2 Corinthians 3:3), he was pointing to the fulfillment of a prophecy of Jeremiah: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel. … I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31:31, 33). Paul also drew upon Old Testament imagery when discussing a “veil” over Moses’s face and a “veil” over the hearts of the people when they read from the scriptures (2 Corinthians 3:13–16; see also Exodus 34:29–35). Paul was teaching that in his day, Israel was “blinded” in its understanding of the law of Moses (2 Corinthians 3:14; see also Romans 11:7, 25). " (Institute Student Manual)
- In Exodus, we learn that when Moses came down from speaking with the Lord, his face shown so brightly that the people could hardly look upon it. So he veiled his face. The veil here represents the separation of the people from the glory that Moses was trying to bring to them. They could not yet handle it or perhaps they didn't try. Paul says that same veil is on the people in his day who don't understand how the old testament was meant to point them to Christ and prepare their hearts to accept the great and last sacrifice of the Son of God. It is Christ who is able to take away the veil of blindness and misunderstanding (v. 14) when people turn to Him (v. 16). How have you felt the light and glory of God as you have turned to him?
- Not only does the veil get taken away, but in that further light that we are enveloped in, we also find that "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." (v. 17) and we ourselves are changed into beings full of the light of God, growing from "one state of glory to another glory." (v. 18, Wayment translation). How do we grow in that light and that understanding?
- "The Apostle Paul wrote that as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we “are changed into the same image” as the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18) and we grow closer to Him. The word “changed” (metamorphoō) in 2 Corinthians 3:18 is the same word translated as “transfigured” in Matthew 17:2 and Mark 9:2 and as “transformed” in Romans 12:2. It indicates a dramatic, fundamental transformation—a metamorphosis. The Spirit is the means by which God gradually transforms us into glorious beings like Him. Alma similarly taught that when we are spiritually born of God, we receive His image in our countenances (see Alma 5:14; the commentary for Romans 8:29).
The phrase “glory to glory” could also be translated “with increasing glory” or “to higher degrees of glory,” thus suggesting man’s potential to gradually become like Heavenly Father.
Furthermore, when we become the children of Christ we begin to take on the image, countenance, and characteristics of our spiritual Father, Jesus Christ (see Mosiah 5:7)." (Institute Student Manual)
Let the Light Shine Out of Darkness, 2 Corinthians 4:1-6
- Paul continues with the light and veil imagery in the first part of chapter 4, where he says that the "the god of this world [Satan] hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." (v. 4). That veil of separation and darkness is upon those who are not changed by the light of Christ. "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (v. 6).
A Treasure in Clay Jars, 2 Corinthians 4:7-15
- "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." (v. 6-7). Paul says that the reason God has given his treasure to these earthen vessels (or simple clay pots) is so that the contrast between the humble missionaries and the light they carry will make it so that people have no doubt it is Christ doing the work and not these weak vessels. I've often felt that the work I've been given is too big for me to handle, and then I've been blessed beyond my meager efforts. How have you felt God work through your weakness to do His great work?
- I love what Elder Henry B. Eyring says about how the Lord magnifies those He calls to do His work, "There will be times when you will feel overwhelmed. One of the ways you will be attacked is with the feeling that you are inadequate. Well, you are inadequate to answer a call to represent God with only your own powers. But you have access to more than your natural capacities, and you do not work alone. The Lord will magnify what you say and what you do in the eyes of the people you serve. He will send the Holy Ghost to manifest to them that what you spoke was true. What you say and do will carry hope and give direction to people far beyond your natural abilities and your own understanding. That miracle has been a mark of the Lord’s Church in every dispensation. It is so much a part of your call that you may begin to take it for granted."
The Inner Self, 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10
- Paul says, "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;" (v. 8-9).
- I like the imagery of verse 10, where Paul says they are "always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body." What reminders do we carry with us always to remind us of Christ? One way that Latter-day Saints who have been through the temple remember Jesus is through wearing our temple garments, thus "always bearing about in the body" the promises that bind us to God through Christ's Atonement.
- Paul says that "outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;"
- Elder Paul J. Johnson points out, "It is interesting that Paul uses the term “light affliction.” This comes from a person who was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, imprisoned, and who experienced many other trials. I doubt many of us would label our afflictions light. Yet in comparison to the blessings and growth we ultimately receive, both in this life and in eternity, our afflictions truly are light." (Institute Student Manual)
Clothed upon and Reconciled to God, 2 Corinthians 5:11-21
- Paul knows that his earthly house, like a tent or tabernacle, is temporary, but that God will give us an eternal house in the heavens. He earnestly desires to be "clothed upon" with this earthly house, or exalted body, and uses imagery that hearkens back to the garden, saying, "If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked." (v. 3) He wants his mortality to be swallowed up by eternal life. This eternal life, with a perfected, exalted body, is what the "earnest of the Spirit" promises us. It is the glory that we will one day be given us if we are able to hold on through those "light" afflictions. Can we, too, look on our afflictions as light and receive through the Spirit the promise that one day our afflictions will be swallowed up in this greater glory of the world to come?
- Paul says that while we are "at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord." (v. 6) This mortal life and the fall brought us separation from God. We have to walk by faith and not by sight, but someday we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, where we will "receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (v. 10). As in other places, here Paul teaches that the kind of glory we receive will be the kind we lived worthy of in this life. As the Lion Aslan says of the evil witch in The Magician's Nephew, "Things always work according to their nature. She has won her heart's desire; she has unwearying strength and endless days like a goddess. But length of days with an evil heart is only length of misery and already she begins to know it. All get what they want; they do not always like it."
- Or in the words of Elder Neal A. Maxwell, "Therefore, what we insistently desire, over time, is what we will eventually become and what we will receive in eternity. . . To reach this equitable end, God’s canopy of mercy is stretched out, including “all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of [the gospel], who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom;“For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts” (D&C 137:8–9).
God thus takes into merciful account not only our desires and our performance, but also the degrees of difficulty which our varied circumstances impose upon us."
- Verses 17-19 tell us how this is all made possible, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation."
- Of these verses, Lynne Wilson says, "In these two verses there are four forms of the word “reconcile/ katallagé/restoration to favor, adjustment of a difference, restore.” This is the same Greek word translated as, “atonement,” in Romans 5:11. Heavenly Father reconciled His plan through the Savior, Jesus of Nazareth in order to satisfy the demands of justice. Jesus’ atoning sacrifice has “reconciled us to” God the Father. Our trespasses need not hold us back any longer (Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:20)."
- Wayment says of verse 19, "The implication of this verse is that God was not occupying himself with reckoning sin but rather in working toward the salvation of humanity." God the Father sent His Son to bring about this reconciliation. I was speaking to someone recently who had committed sins in the past but had through a series of miracles, been brought to believe in God, to repent and be forgiven. She said something like, "I always pictured God as this mean person who hated me for my sins, but I came to realize that He loved me and wanted me." No matter how distant you feel yourself from God, He is reaching out to you. In the words of Truman Madsen, "I bear testimony that you cannot sink farther than the light and sweeping intelligence of Jesus Christ can reach. I bear testimony that as long as there is one spark of the will to repent and to reach, he is there. He did not just descend to your condition; he descended below it, ‘that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth.’ [Doctrine and Covenants 88:6.]”
- Of verse 21, the student manual points out, "There are only a few biblical verses that explicitly state that Jesus Christ was completely without sin; 2 Corinthians 5:21 is one of them (see also Hebrews 4:14–15; 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5). Verse 21 is also one of the clearest scriptural statements on the purpose of the Atonement and the way we are reconciled to God. Paul taught, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). In other words, as a result of His Atonement, Jesus Christ can say to us, “I will take your sins and I will give you my righteousness.” Jesus Christ became a vicarious sacrifice for our sins, meaning that all of our sins were laid upon Him and He bore them, even though He had never sinned. Because of this great sacrifice, upon condition of our repentance, we can share in the Savior’s righteousness." (Institute Student Manual)
Workers Together with God, 2 Corinthians 6:1-13
- Paul says the saints are "workers together with him" (v. 1) and enjoins them to give no offense in anything, "that the ministry be not blamed" (v. 3). Knowing who and what a disciple of Christ represents can be sobering. And it might mean dealing patiently with the trials listed in verses 4-10, that even went we receive dishonor, stripes and persecution, we act "By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned," (v. 6).
- Verses 11-13 are confusing in the KJV: "Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged." This is where another translation can be so helpful: "There is no limit to our compassion for you, but there is in yours for us. In return (I am speaking as to a child), open your hearts also."
Being Unequally Yoked, 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1
- Wayment notes of these verses that "Many scholars have questioned the originiality of these verses because they appear to disrupt the logical flow of the letter and contain several terms not used elsewhere in Paul's letters." If you skip straight to 7:2, it's easy to see how scholars could decide these are out of place because the narrative is very smooth if you skip these. Lynne Wilson says, "Most biblical scholars agree these verses are “disruptive.”16 They may have been cut and pasted from another Pauline letter, or are not Pauline at all. Eight words are never used elsewhere in the New Testament. And the content contradicts Paul’s earlier advice to the Corinthians to work out marriage differences if possible and remain together to bless one’s unbelieving spouse and keep the children holy (1 Corinthians 7:10–14). However, the advice may refer specifically to the unmarried people who are seeking a spouse. Without more context, it appears to stick out like a sore thumb."
- The imagery used has reference to the law of Moses. "Paul used the image of animals yoked together as he discouraged Church members from being “yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14). The law of Moses forbade the yoking of an ox and an ass together (see Deuteronomy 22:10) so that the weaker animal would not hold the stronger one back and the stronger animal would not inflict pain or discomfort on the weaker one." (Institute Student Manual).
- Whether or not this was original to the letter or a later insertion, it does give good practical advice about being careful to yoke yourself to others who share your values. This definitely has application to those considering marriage. Elder Robert D. Hales has said of dating and marriage, "When you date, learn everything you can about each other. Get to know each other’s families when possible. Are your goals compatible? Do you share the same feelings about the commandments, the Savior, the priesthood, the temple, parenting, callings in the Church, and serving others? Have you observed one another under stress, responding to success and failure, resisting anger, and dealing with setbacks? Does the person you are dating tear others down or build them up? Is his or her attitude and language and conduct what you would like to live with every day?
That said, none of us marry perfection; we marry potential. The right marriage is not only about what I want; it’s also about what she [or he] —who’s going to be my companion—wants and needs me to be."
The Comfort of Fellowship and Godly Sorrow, 2 Corinthians 7:5-16
- Paul explains how he finally met up with Titus during his tribulations and how God "comforted us by the coming of Titus" (v. 6) and the news he bore about the "earnest desire," "mourning" and "fervant mind toward" Paul that the Corinthians had experienced in response to his earlier letter of rebuke. Titus' spirit "was refreshed by you all," (v. 13) he tells them.
- Paul says the reason for his comfort was their sincere repentance that followed after his rebuke. "Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death." (vs. 9-10)
- The video below illustrates this portion of the letter.
- Of the need for godly sorry, Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, "In this rigorous process, so much clearly depends upon meekness. Pride keeps repentance from even starting or continuing. Some fail because they are more concerned with the preservation of their public image than with having Christ’s image in their countenances! (Alma 5:14.) Pride prefers cheap repentance, paid for with shallow sorrow. Unsurprisingly, seekers after cheap repentance also search for superficial forgiveness instead of real reconciliation. Thus, real repentance goes far beyond simply saying, “I’m sorry.”
In the anguishing process of repentance, we may sometimes feel God has deserted us. The reality is that our behavior has isolated us from Him. Thus, while we are turning away from evil but have not yet turned fully to God, we are especially vulnerable. Yet we must not give up, but, instead, reach out to God’s awaiting arm of mercy, which is outstretched “all the day long.” (Jacob 5:47; Jacob 6:4; 2 Ne. 28:32; Morm. 5:11.) Unlike us, God has no restrictive office hours."