“For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” (2 Corinthians 7:11, KJV)
There is an illustration of repentance that I heard one time. A group was heading down the Amazon River. They were in two canoes. One was in the lead and the other one trailing. As they journeyed down the river, suddenly, there was a whirlpool which swallowed the first canoe and everyone in it. What do you think the people in the trailing canoe did? They turned that canoe around and paddled as hard as they could in the opposite direction.
Several things happened to the men in the second canoe. They saw the danger ahead. They had a change in mind regarding the wisdom in carrying on in the same direction. They changed their direction of travel. They demonstrated what happens when one repents.
The church at Corinth had experienced the godly sorrow that leads to repentance and life. In this verse, Paul described several things that resulted from their repentance. The first is “carefulness,” spooude, which comes from a verb to speed and implies eagerness, earnestness (Strong G4710). This refers to the quick way they carefully dealt with the issue at hand. Repentance should not delay corrective action. There must be a quick and correct resolution.
Second, Paul stated, “what clearing of yourselves.” The word “clearing,” apologia, refers to a plea, a clearing of self, a defense (Strong G627). It is not that they were arguing their case but that by resolving the problem they had cleared themselves and were seen as having rectified the issue. Repentance results in being cleared of the transgression in the eyes of the observers.
Third, repentance results in “indignation.” This refers to the displeasure they had in regards to transgression. Those who repent have a distaste for unrighteousness.
Fourth, repentance results in “fear.” While fear, phobos, refers to dread or terror, in the Scriptures it also refers to reverence for God (Thayer 199). Repentance demonstrates that believers are in awe of God and that they have the highest regard for His word.
Fifth, repentance results in the restoration of relationships. Paul wrote, “what vehement desire.” The phrase is translated from epipothesis, meaning a longing or earnest desire (Strong G1972). Here it was that they longed for their relationship with Paul to be restored. When believers turn from transgression, they experience restoration with others in the body of Christ.
Sixth, repentance results in a zeal for holiness. In this, believers will passionately turn from the wrong path and diligently pursue the path of holiness.
Seventh, Paul wrote, “what revenge.” Revenge, ekdikesis, refers to vindication, retribution, and punishment (Strong G1557). Here it is the thought of ensuring justice prevailed. They would ensure that things were dealt as prescribed in God’s word. Any discipline would not go beyond that which the Scriptures decreed and restoration would be made for the repentant one (Matt 18:15-17; Gal 6:1).
(To be continued.)