Verse 16. "I have confidence in you, in all things." - It appears that the apostle was now fully persuaded, from the accounts given by Titus, that every scandal had been put away from this Church; that the faction which had long distracted and divided them was nearly broken; that all was on the eve of being restored to its primitive purity and excellence; and that their character was now so firmly fixed, that there was no reason to apprehend that they should be again tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine.
1. THUS a happy termination was put to an affair that seemed likely to ruin the Christian Church, not only at Corinth, but through all Greece; for, if this bad man, who had been chief in opposing the apostle's authority, bringing in licentious doctrines, and denying the resurrection of the dead, had ultimately succeeded at Corinth, his doctrine and influence might soon have extended over Greece and Asia Minor, and the great work of God which had been wrought in those parts would have been totally destroyed.
This one consideration is sufficient to account for the apostle's great anxiety and distress on account of the divisions and heresies at Corinth.
He knew it was a most pernicious leaven; and, unless destroyed, must destroy the work of God. The loss of the affections of the Church at Corinth, however much it might affect the tender, fatherly heart of the apostle, cannot account for the awful apprehensions, poignant distress, and deep anguish, which he, in different parts of these epistles, so feelingly describes; and which he describes as having been invariably his portion from the time that he heard of their perversion, till he was assured of their restoration by the account brought by Titus.
2. A scandal or heresy in the Church of God is ruinous at all times, but particularly so when the cause is in its infancy; and therefore the messengers of God cannot be too careful to lay the foundation well in doctrine, to establish the strictest discipline, and to be very cautious whom they admit and accredit as members of the Church of Christ. It is certain that the door should be opened wide to admit penitent sinners; but the watchman should ever stand by, to see that no improper person enter in. Christian prudence should ever be connected with Christian zeal. It is a great work to bring sinners to Christ; it is a greater work to preserve them in the faith; and it requires much grace and much wisdom to keep the Church of Christ pure, not only by not permitting the unholy to enter, but by casting out those who apostatize or work iniquity. Slackness in discipline generally precedes corruption of doctrine; the former generating the latter.