2 Corinthians 7:10
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
Explanation and Commentary on 2 Corinthians 7:10
It is sadness for offending God that leads to changing one’s wicked ways and being reconciled with God. Sadness over earthly troubles leads to suicide and Hell.
God is able to use our sadness over offending Him to help us become morally better people. Through, with and in God, Christians can find the strength to stay strong in the face of worldly troubles. Paul was persecuted constantly after his conversion to Christianity but preached that he still did not despair and was not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8). We are not to be troubled or afraid despite our difficulties in this life (John 14:27), or anxious because Jesus will guard our hearts and minds (Philippians 4:6-7).
Breaking Down the Key Parts of 2 Corinthians 7:10
#1: “Godly sorrow…”
This is sadness that comes because someone has sinned against God. This is not a sadness that comes because of a feared consequence from that sin, such as reputational damage, financial penalty, jail, or going to Hell. Rather, this is a sadness that comes because of hurting God and our desire to please Him.
#2: “…brings repentance…”
This kind of sadness permanently changes one’s soul. It leads the person to stop committing that sin and become a morally better person.
#3: “…that leads to salvation…”
Christians who sin must repent to be in a saved condition, and thus in good standing for salvation.
#4: “…and leaves no regret…”
The person is not going to second guess that they were sad because they hurt God, and changed their ways. They are not going to regret becoming a stronger Christian and getting closer to God.
#5: “…but worldly sorrow…”
“Worldly sorrow” has two meanings. The first meaning is sadness over things that happen on earth that are not related to our relationship with God, for example, the loss of some sort of advantage, financial troubles, loss of friends, or loss of a job promotion. It is a sadness related to the pleasures and desires of this life in this world before we die and are reunited with Jesus in Heaven.
The second meaning is sadness for the sin we committed because we are afraid of the consequence of sin, as opposed to sadness because we have hurt God.
#6: “…brings death.”
Worldly sadness leads to distress and misery, break one’s spirit, and tend to take one’s focus off of the goodness of God and our ultimate ascent into Heaven. It does not lead to changing our minds and souls and helping us become morally better people. When we are not looking to God for our joy and seeking His help, our distress and misery over the troubles of this world can easily lead us in a downward spiral and ultimately the loss of true eternal life.
Cain is one Biblical example of someone who did not feel sadness over a terrible sin against God: the killing of his brother Able. He was instead full of self-pity and concerned about being punished (Genesis 4:8-14).
Someone in a downward spiral that does not feel the love of God and hope in God may also be more prone to suicide. Some commentators think that an example of this is when Judas Iscariot hanged himself after he betrayed Jesus to the Sanhedrin in the Garden of Gethsemane. A stronger example is Ahithophel, who was a counselor to King David but deserted him to join Absolom’s revolt against him. After Ahithophel’s advice about the revolt was not accepted and thinking the revolt would fail, he got his worldly affairs in order and then hanged himself.
Bible Study on 2 Corinthians 7:10
Expert Overview of 2 Corinthians
Biblical Translations of 2 Corinthians 7:10
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.