1 But I determined this within myself, that I would not come again to you in sorrow. 2 For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me?
The first four verses of chapter 2 belong to chapter 1.
In the first four verses of chapter 2, Paul explains why he did not come to Corinth when he said he would. He said that he did not come “to spare” them from discipline (2 Co 1:23-24).
But I determined this within myself,
Paul changed his plans about going to Corinth because of a spiritual issue in the church. He visited Corinth after writing 1 Corinthians, but it did not go well. You would think the church would be loyal toward Paul, but they were fickle. A critic in the church assaulted the apostle and his team. The Corinthian church needed correction for this attitude (2 Co 2:5-11; 7:9, 12, 10:10). Because of this, he abandoned his plans for his previously announced second visit.
that I would not come again to you in sorrow [pain].
Paul did not want the Corinthians to be discouraged by his next visit, where he would have to rebuke and discipline them. His primary concern was their welfare.
For if I [emphatic] make you sorrowful,
The word “sorrowful” means painful. Paul’s pain related to the idea that the Corinthian church had bought into the notion of super-apostles who had visited them, and he would have to discipline them for it.
then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me?
Paul changed his plans to go to Corinth for his own sake, along with other reasons. If he pained the church further, no one could encourage him.
Paul faced a dilemma. If he went to Corinth with the necessary rebuke that they needed, then that would result in deeper conflict with the church. If he stayed away, then the doctrinal problem would intensify. If Paul was the one who caused them pain, then they would react to him personally and subjectively, rather than objectively, to deal with their problem.
Church discipline is necessary even at personal cost.
There are times when a pastor needs to make tough decisions as a leader. He must place truth over personal relationships. His primary responsibility is to the Word of God above all else. There are times when he cannot avoid confrontation (2 Co 12:19-13:3).
Some people in the congregation are fickle toward their pastor. They lack the loyalty they should have toward their leader. A congregation cannot be what it should be without trust in its leader. In any case, criticism is part of leadership. If a person cannot take the heat, then he should get out of ministry.