2 Corinthians 2 opens with Paul taking up the matter first mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5, namely the withdrawal by the church from the man who had his father’s wife, sometimes described in theological circles as “church discipline.”
The primary purpose of church discipline is the purify and purge the church of sin (cf 1 Cor 5:6-8). In this respect, the practice of church discipline is always successful. The secondary purpose of church discipline is to convert the sinner from the error of his way (cf 1 Cor 5:4-5; 2 Thes 3:6, 14). And in the case of 1 Corinthians 5, the action of the church had accomplished its intended effect.
However, the church was unsure what to do with the penitent brother. Paul urged the church to forgive and comfort the wayward one who had come to his senses and come home (2 Cor 2:7). Moreover, they were to confirm their love for the brother as well. To do otherwise would be to deny the spirit of Christ and the command to forgive. Those who refuse to forgive cannot be forgiven (cf Matt 6:14-15). This is why Paul warned the brethren not to withhold their love and forgiveness, lest they fall prey to Satan’s devices (vv 10-11).
All discipline, when done properly, is an action of love and affirmation. It says to the offender, “Your actions are intolerable. We love you and know you are capable of better. When you see fit to return to the Lord, we will welcome you with joy and open arms.”
Finally, Paul revealed that the things he had written to the church were given to “put you to the test, whether you would be obedient in all things” (v 9).
Churches that practice church discipline are rare as hen’s teeth. How can we claim to be faithful followers of the Lord Jesus Christ when we are remiss in this most basic and essential of matters? There is far more Bible on church discipline than the Lord’s Supper, yet the latter is treated with far more gravity than the former.
The result of our failure in this thing is clearly seen. The average church member, having no regard for or fear of discipline, has no real motivation to pursue a life of holiness as we are repeatedly commanded in Scripture (Heb 12:14; 1 Pet 1:15-16).
Where there is no discipline, sin runs roughshod and rampant through the church.