Confessions from a former Sunday School student


Well, it's time to confess to some (fallacious) Sunday School tradition that's currently being uprooted from my mind. The text is 2 Cor 7.10.

For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.

That's the NASB. The version I always read growing up, and since then, seem to have failed to come across again in different versions.

To me, and how I always heard this explained, was that "Godly sorrow" leads to repentance, and that this particular type of sorrow (opposed to "worldly sorrow") does not. No fault here.

Similarly, I was taught that when you have Godly sorrow you also don't have any regret—because, I guess the reasoning goes, you know that you are forgiven (I John 1.9). Now while this may be true, I've recently come to find (and yes, I'm probably slow to realizing this!): this is not what 2 Cor 7.10 is saying. 

Nope. Paul's not talking about that right now. Instead, he's kind of being goofy (i.e. over-the-top) in asserting that when your (Godly) sorrow leads you back to him, you will have a deliverance from sin that you won't regret!

Well no-duh, Paul. Do I want worldly sorrow and end up like Judas—no! (Thanks for pointing out this comparison Lenksi [ISPFSEC: Logos edition]). I want the kind I won't regret—the kind that leads to complete deliverance, through real repentance.

A translation that gets it right, I think, is something like the LEB:

For grief according to the will of God brings about a repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted, but worldly grief brings about death.

So am I the only one? Or have you too been the victim of faulty exegesis in this particular text? Because I don't know about you, but when I repent, I may receive forgiveness, but I sure as hell also deal with regret for what I've done. Yes, eventually that regret gives way as the reality of forgiveness becomes stronger, but do I still regret certain acts even days and weeks later? Of course! And I hope to continue to hate sin, and those which I commit, even more in the days to come!