To whom you forgive anything, I forgive also: for if I forgave anything, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes I forgave it in the person of Christ;
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Paul is practicing what he preaches. He has the right to give orders, but he cannot refuse to do himself what he is asking others to do. In the first letter he condemned this man’s crime, in the hope that everyone would loathe him for it, but now he wants him to be received back and prays that they will no longer show any anger toward him. The Corinthians evidently did not have the apostle’s wisdom and did not understand that this ought to be done immediately. Commentary on Paul’s Epistles.
To whom ye forgive anything, I forgive also. You have asked through Titus that he may be forgiven, and I make the same request of you. So Theodoret explains these words. Cf. also chap. vii7. It is clear from ver7 that this forgiveness had not yet taken place, and the meaning therefore is: As, when you were gathered together and my spirit I excommunicated him ( 1 Corinthians 5), so now do I join with you in forgiving him, as you will forgive him at my exhortation.
Observe against Luther that this Epistle was written to the rulers of the Church, or rather to the Church itself, that it might exercise this power of absolving, not corporately, but by the prelates. Yet out of courtesy he wishes even the laity to co-operate in the absolution, and by their consent, prayers, desire, and compassion to forgive this scandal which had been given to them and the Church, and to remit the due canonical penance or punishment. Cf. 1 Corinthians 5:4. Hence he goes on to say, "For your sakes forgave I i...
Privilege with God, if they should be seized with any misfortune and peril of sickness, should, without waiting for my presence, before any presbyter who might be present, or if a presbyter should not be found and death begins to be imminent, before even a deacon, be able to make confession of their sin, that, with the imposition of hands upon them for repentance, they should come to the Lord with the peace which the martyrs have desired, by their letters to us, to be granted to them.
Even those things which are committed against God I do not investigate with the full judgment of religion. I almost sin myself, in remitting sins.
Also in the same place of this very matter: "But if ye have forgiven anything to any one, I also forgive him; for I also forgave what I have forgiven for your sakes in the person of Christ, that we may not be circumvented by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his wiles."
I also. The apostle here granted an indulgence, or pardon, in the person, and by the authority of Christ, to the incestuous Corinthian, whom before he had put under penance: which pardon consisted in a releasing of part of the temporal punishment due to his sin. (Challoner)
Now as you have pardoned him by my instructions, and have received him again into your communion, I also pardon him, and confirm what you have done, for your sake, as well as for his, and dispense with any further severities of a longer penance, which he deserved. (St. Chrysostom) And I do this in the person of Christ, by that power and authority derived from Christ, which he left to his apostles, when he said, (Matthew xviii. 18.) whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed in heaven not only in the sight of men, says St. Chrysostom, but in the sight of God, who hath given us this power. (Witham)
Paul lets the Corinthians take the lead and tells them that he will follow. This is the best way to soften an exasperated and contentious spirit. Then, lest he should make them careless and they should refuse forgiveness, he again constrains them by saying that he himself has already forgiven the man.
Do you see how again he assigns the second part to himself, showing them as beginning, himself following. This is the way to soften an exasperated, to compose a contentious spirit. Then lest he should make them careless, as though they were arbiters, and they should refuse forgiveness; he again constrains them unto this, saying, that himself also had forgiven him.
For what I also have forgiven, if I have forgiven any thing, for your sakes have I forgiven it. For, this very thing I have done for your sakes, he says. And as when he commanded them to cut him off, he left not with them the power to forgive, saying, I have judged already to deliver such an one unto Satan, 1 Corinthians 5:3-5 and again made them partners in his decision saying, ye being gathered together to deliver him, (ib. 4, 5.) (thereby securing two most important things, viz., that the sentence should be passed; yet not without their consent, lest herein he might seem to hurt them;) and neither himself alone pronounc...