2 Corinthians 6:1. . . .: and working together (that is, with God, as is plain from chap. 2 Corinthians 5:20, and also in connexion with 1 Corinthians 3:9; cf.Acts 15:4), we, sc., I, Paul, entreat also (cf. chap. 2 Corinthians 5:20, ) that ye receive not the grace of God (a general phrase, frequently used by St. Paul to express the favours and privileges offered to the members of the Church of Christ, not to be limited to grace given at any special moment, as, e.g., at baptism) in vain (see reff. and cf.Hebrews 12:15). Note that “the grace of God” may be “received” in vain; it is offered, independently of man’s faith and obedience, but it will not profit without these. The choice in the Anglican Liturgy of 2 Corinthians 6:1-10 as the epistle for the First Sunday in Lent, when the Ember Collect is said on behalf of those to be ordained in the next week, is especially happy; the magnificent description of the characteristics and the conditions of a faithful Christian ministry (2 Corinthians 6:4-10) being prefaced by the solemn warning of 2 Corinthians 6:1-3.
2 Corinthians 6:2. , . . .: for He, sc., God, saith (cf.Romans 9:15, Galatians 3:16), “At an acceptable time I hearkene to thee, and in a day of salvation did I succour thee” (Isaiah 49:8). The whole verse is parenthetical, and is introduced to remind the Corinthians that the present dispensation is that dispensation of grace of which the prophet speaks; tanley pointed out that of ver. may well have suggested , which in its turn suggested the quotation. The words in their original context are addressed by Jehovah to His Servant, while St. Paul takes them as addressed by God to His people; but, inasmuch as the Servant in the latter portion of Isaiah is the Representative of Israel, the application made by the Apostle is easily explicable.— . . .: behold now is the “Acceptable Time,” behold now is the “Day of Salvation”. This is St. Paul’s comment. Observe that he does not say (cf.Hebrews 3:7 ff.), but —not “to-day,” but “the present dispensation”. His point here is not (as it is often represented) that the only day of grace which we can reckon on is the present (gravely true though this is), but that the Christian dispensation is the one spoken of by the O.T. prophet in familiar words. It will be remembered that Christ applied to Himself and His ministry in like manner the words of Isaiah 61:2, (Luke 4:19). We are not to draw any distinction here between and ; the latter is the usual word in secular authors, and (see reff.) is always used by St. Paul, except (Philippians 4:18) in a quotation from the LXX.
2 Corinthians 6:3. . . .: giving no occasion of stumbling (see reff.; Alford aptly quotes Polybius, xxvii., 6, 10, ) in anything, that our ministration be not blamed. The clause is parallel with 2 Corinthians 6:1, corresponding to , both being descriptive of the way in which , etc.; cf., for like sentiments, 1 Corinthians 8:13; 1 Corinthians 9:12; 1 Corinthians 9:22; 1 Corinthians 10:33. We have ’ rather than ’ , as it is the thought or intention of the preacher which is the point to be brought out.
2 Corinthians 6:4. . . .: but in everything (the details being given in the following verses) commending ourselves (see note on 2 Corinthians 3:1) as God’s ministers do. We now come to the description of the conditions under which and the means by which God’s minister commends himself to those to whom his message is addressed. The description naturally divides itself into four sections: he commends himself (i.) in outward hardships, 2 Corinthians 6:4 b, 5, (ii.) in inward graces, 2 Corinthians 6:6-7 a, (iii.) by the armour of righteousness, whether he be well or evil spoken of, 2 Corinthians 6:7 b, 8ab, (iv.) having indeed a character the reverse of that ascribed to him by his opponents, 2 Corinthians 6:8 c–10.
(i.) The general description here is : in much patience (see note on 2 Corinthians 1:6 and cf.2 Corinthians 12:12); and this is further amplified and explained in the three triplets which follow. (a) , , : in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses (see reff. and cf.Acts 9:16), i.e., such trials as sickness (see 2 Corinthians 1:6, 2 Corinthians 12:7), or loss of friends (2 Timothy 4:10), or perplexity (2 Corinthians 4:8, where see note), or any of the thousand chances (as we call them) of a troubled and anxious life. “The prevailing idea is that of pressure and confinement: each stage narrower than the one before, so that no room is left for movement or escape” (Stanley).
2 Corinthians 6:4-10. THE CONDITIONS AND THE CHARACTERISTICS OF HIS APOSTOLIC MINISTRY. We have in this noble description of his service a characteristic outburst of impassioned eloquence on a topic in which the Apostle felt an intense personal interest. But its fervour has not been permitted to interfere with the careful choice of words: the balanced antitheses, the rhythmical cadences and assonances, which abound throughout, betray the literary training of the writer, and recall at once such passages as Romans 8:31-39, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. Indeed many of the phrases which follow suggest an acquaintance with the Stoic paradoxes expressive of the of the ideal sage. Compare also chap. 2 Corinthians 11:22-28, where he recounts in more detail the trials of his Apostolic ministry.
2 Corinthians 6:5. (b) These outward hardships are next more definitely exemplified from the opposition and persecution which St. Paul encountered from opponents during his missionary experiences. , , : in stripes (see reff. and cf.Acts 22:24), in imprisonments (see on 2 Corinthians 11:23), in tumults (cf.Acts 13:50; Acts 14:5; Acts 14:19; Acts 16:22; Acts 17:5; Acts 18:12; Acts 19:29; Acts 21:30). might mean inward disorder, rather than external tumult (see reff., LXX, and cf.1 Corinthians 4:11), but the latter meaning best suits the context here. (c) Next the Apostle enumerates the bodily hardships, voluntarily undertaken, which his work made it necessary to endure.— , , : in labours, sc., probably his labours in preaching the Gospel (see reff., but cf.1 Thessalonians 2:9, 2 Thessalonians 3:8, where is used of the manual labour he underwent in working for a livelihood; see also 1 Corinthians 4:11 ), in watchings, sc., in nights rendered wakeful by anxiety or press of work (Acts 20:31) or urgency of prayer (Acts 16:25 and cf.Ephesians 6:18 ), in fastings. Some expositors explain these as the voluntary fastings of religion (so Hooker, Eccl. Pol., v., lxxii., 8; and cf.Acts 13:2-3). And it is true that (see reff.) and are always (outside this Epistle) used of fasting as a devotional observance. But in the parallel passage 2 Corinthians 11:27 is clearly used of involuntary abstinences from food; and this meaning seems better to suit the context here also (cf.1 Corinthians 4:11, Philippians 4:12) (§ 23). The triplet (c), then, means “in toil, in sleeplessness, in hunger”.
2 Corinthians 6:6-7. (ii.) The inward gifts and qualities by the display of which the Christian minister commends himself are now enumerated. (a) We have, first, four graces, each described by a single word: , , , : in pureness, sc., not only chastity, but purity of intention and thought in general (cf. chap. 2 Corinthians 7:11, James 3:17, 1 John 3:3), in knowledge, sc., of Divine things (the is one of the gifts of the Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:8), in long-suffering (a grace specially needful for a Christian missionary; in Romans 2:4; Romans 9:22, 1 Timothy 1:16, St. Paul speaks of God’s , but generally he applies it to man; see Proverbs 25:15), in kindness (see reff.; it is a Divine attribute in Romans 2:4; Romans 11:22, Ephesians 2:7, Titus 3:4; cf.Matthew 11:30).—(b) We have next four qualifications, each described in two words: , , , : in the Holy Spirit (this ought to stand at the head of the list, but the order in which the various graces are mentioned is determined rather by sound and rhythm than by strictly logical considerations), in love unfeigned, sc., love to man, not love to God (see note on chap. 2 Corinthians 5:14 and cf. , Romans 12:9), in the Word of Truth, sc., the message of the Gospel (see reff. and cf. chap. 2 Corinthians 2:17, 2 Corinthians 4:2), in the Power of God, which (Romans 1:16, 1 Corinthians 1:18) he declares the Gospel itself to be. This, of course, is not the force of the phrase here; nor are we to think solely of “miraculous” powers (Acts 8:10, 1 Corinthians 2:5), which were “signs of an Apostle” (Romans 15:19, chap. 2 Corinthians 12:12), but of the Divine grace given him for his special work (see reff.). “In verbo veritatis, in virtute Dei” may still stand for the watchword of Christian preaching.—(iii.) We have now three clauses beginning with ; the preposition in the first of them being instrumental, in the other two expressing a state or condition.—(a) : by the weapons of Righteousness on the right hand and on the left, sc., both offensive and defensive armour—the sword on the right and the shield on the left. See Ephesians 6:11, 1 Thessalonians 5:8 for St. Paul’s more detailed description of “the panoply of God”; the idea being apparently taken from Wisdom of Solomon 5:18 ff.; cf. for Romans 6:13.
2 Corinthians 6:8. (b) , : by glory (cf.John 5:41) and dishonour, by evil report and good report. To misrepresentation and slander St. Paul was much exposed, and he evidently felt it deeply (cf.1 Corinthians 4:12).—(iv.) Finally, he proceeds to specify the charges made against him by his opponents; he can afford to neglect them, inasmuch as in each case they are quite opposed to the real facts. Towards the close he adds one or two antitheses to the list, which may not have been directly suggested by the current calumnies about him, but which are yet quite in keeping with the rest. There are seven antitheses in all.— : as deceivers (so his opponents said of him, as it was formerly said of his Master, John 7:12; cf. chap. 2 Corinthians 2:17, 2 Corinthians 4:2) and yet true. In the Clementines St. Paul is expressly described by his adversaries as and as disseminating deceit ( ).
2 Corinthians 6:9. : as unknown, sc., an obscure person without proper credentials (cf.2 Corinthians 3:2, 2 Corinthians 10:10), and yet well known (cf.2 Corinthians 11:6).— : as dying (as was doubtless often reported when he was ill; see on 2 Corinthians 1:8 above, and cf.2 Corinthians 11:23, where he speaks of the continual hazards of his life), and behold we live (cf.2 Corinthians 4:10, where the death of the body is contrasted with the daily manifestation of the true life).— : as chastened, sc., as a punishment for his sins, which had very probably been said of him when the news of his grievous sickness (2 Corinthians 1:8, etc.) reached his foes at Corinth, but not killed. He does not deny that he has been “chastened” (see reff. and cf. chap. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9), but he recalls in thankfulness the words of Ps. 117:18, , .
2 Corinthians 6:10. , : as sorrowful (this charge in one sense was no doubt quite true), yet alway rejoicing. This, which is frequently spoken of by the Apostle as a Christian duty (see reff.), is specially prominent in this Epistle; cf. chap. 2 Corinthians 1:24, 2 Corinthians 7:4, and the note on 2 Corinthians 2:2-3. St. Paul’s words are an echo of the farewell words of Christ (John 16:22), ’ .— , : as poor, sc., as a pauper—the word is stronger than (the taunt seems to have been thrown at him; cf.Philippians 4:12 and chap. 2 Corinthians 11:7), and yet making many rich, sc., in the heavenly riches; cf.1 Corinthians 1:5, Matthew 5:3, and esp. Proverbs 13:7 (a passage which seems to have been in the Apostle’s mind), , .— : as having nothing and yet possessing all things; cf.1 Corinthians 3:22, “all things are yours”. (see reff.) is a stronger word than ; it is “to hold fast” or “to possess,” as, e.g., the land of promise (Joshua 1:11).
2 Corinthians 6:11. . . .: our mouth is open ( = , as often in later Greek; observe its present signification, as at 1 Corinthians 16:9) unto you, O Corinthians, i.e., I am speaking quite candidly and freely to you (see reff.). Only here and at Galatians 3:1, Philippians 4:15, does St. Paul call his correspondents by name; here it emphasises the affectionate nature of his appeal, and it singles out the Corinthians from the wider circle to whom the letter was addressed (2 Corinthians 1:1).— . . .: our heart is enlarged, which is indeed the reason of his freedom of speech, for (Matthew 12:34). By enlargement of heart is meant here a widening of sympathy, and not the expansiveness of joy (Isaiah 60:5) or an in crease in intelligence and wisdom (1 Kings 4:29).
2 Corinthians 6:11-13. AFFECTIONATE DECLARATION OF HIS FRANKNESS AND SYMPATHY, AND AN APPEAL THAT THE CORINTHIANS SHOULD SHOW THE SAME.
2 Corinthians 6:12. . . .: ye are not straitened in us (this carries on the metaphor of ), but ye are straitened in your own affections; i.e., his adversaries at Corinth may have said that he was a man of narrow sympathies, and that there was no room in his heart for his Corinthian converts, but, in fact, the lack of sympathy was on their side—it is they that are “narrow-minded”. = the upper viscera, i.e., the heart, lungs and liver, the vital parts, and so may be rendered “the affections”.
2 Corinthians 6:13. . . .: now for a recompense in like kind (an accus. abs.)—I speak as unto children, sc., who should respect and imitate their parents (cf.1 Corinthians 4:14)—be ye also enlarged, sc., in heart.
2 Corinthians 6:14 to 2 Corinthians 7:1. PARENTHETICAL.—HE WARNS THEM AGAINST TOO FAMILIAR ASSOCIATION WITH THEIR HEATHEN NEIGHBOURS. These verses are somewhat perplexing, inasmuch as they seem to interrupt the appeal of 2 Corinthians 6:11-13 by the introduction of an irrelevant warning. If they be omitted, the argument is quite consecutive, 2 Corinthians 7:2 f. being in close and evident connexion with 2 Corinthians 6:11-13. And it has been supposed that the whole section is an interpolation either (a) added by St. Paul after the arrival of Titus, in consequence of the news he had received as to the state of the Corinthian Church; or (b) belonging to another Pauline letter (possibly the Lost Epistle of 1 Corinthians 5:9), and inserted here at a later date when a collection of Pauline letters began to be made; or (c) it has been regarded (e.g., by Heinrici) as a fragment of an ancient homily, not by St. Paul, which has found a resting place here. It is urged in favour of the non-Pauline authorship of the section that ( ) it contains a considerable number of words which do not occur elsewhere in St. Paul. To this it may be replied that and have their origin in O.T. phraseology, while is a LXX word (see reff.); and that, as to the words , , , it is not surprising that some of the synonyms which are found in this section should be comparatively rare. It is not easy to find (as has here been done, with no small skill) five distinct terms to convey almost the same idea. ( ) Schmiedel urges that the phrase (2 Corinthians 7:1) is quite un-Pauline, and that it is inconsistent with St. Paul’s psychology to speak of being “cleansed” from it, inasmuch as for him the is always tainted by sin. But there is no thought here of the taint of sin which remains in fallen man; is always used in the LXX (see reff.) of a too intimate association of the chosen people with heathen nations, and such “contamination” is exactly what it stands for in this place. As an argument on the other side, there occur in this section several quite common Pauline ideas and phrases, e.g., the contrast of Christianity and heathendom as light and darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14), the description of Christians as God’s temple (2 Corinthians 6:16), the phrases “the living God” (2 Corinthians 6:16) and “the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1), the introduction of the term (2 Corinthians 7:1), etc. We regard, therefore, the section as undoubtedly Pauline; and, further, its connexion with what precedes reveals itself on a close inspection of the phraseology. The Apostle has bidden the Corinthians “Be ye enlarged in heart”. But he is reminded that this phrase has a bad meaning in the Law (Deuteronomy 11:16; see Chase, Classical Review, 1890, p. 151), where it is applied to that excessive tolerance which should permit the worship of other gods beside Jehovah; and so he hastens to give a warning (parenthetically introduced) to the Corinthians that he does not mean by enlargement of heart any undue tolerance of or contaminating association with their heathen neighbours (see on 2 Corinthians 4:4 above for ).
2 Corinthians 6:14. . . .: be not (mark that the pres. tense indicates the beginning of a state, sc., “do not become”) unequally yoked with unbelievers, the constr. being “be not unequally yoked, as you would be if you were yoked with unbelievers”. The most obvious application of such a prohibition would be to intermarriage with the heathen, which was continually forbidden to the chosen people (see Deuteronomy 7:3, Joshua 23:12, Ezra 9:2, Nehemiah 13:25), and this is probably the main thought here (see ref. Lev. for ); but to indulge in any excessive familiarity of intercourse would be “to be enlarged in heart” in a way which the Apostle strongly deprecates (cf.1 Maccabees 1:15). He enforces this by five contrasts which illustrate the incongruity between Christianity and heathendom.— . . .: for what fellowship have righteousness and lawlessness? or what communion has light with darkness? Cf.Ephesians 5:7, · , , and cf., for the same image, Acts 26:18, Romans 13:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:5 and chap. 2 Corinthians 4:6, 2 Corinthians 11:14.
2 Corinthians 6:15. . . .: and what concord has Christ with Belial? or what portion has a believer, sc., a Christian (see Acts 16:1, Ephesians 1:1, Colossians 1:2, etc.), with an unbeliever, sc., a heathen (see on 2 Corinthians 4:4 above)? = worthlessness is frequently rendered (Deuteronomy 13:13, 1 Kings 20:13) or (Psalms 17:5) by the LXX; they never treat it as a proper name, although Theodotion does so at Judges 19:22, and it is so regarded in later literature (e.g., Test. XII. Patriarch. and Orac. Sibyll., iii., 63, 73). Here it is the personification of , just as Christ is the personification of ; the contrast is that between Christ and Satan (cf.1 Corinthians 10:21). See Charles’ Ascension of Isaiah, pp. lv. ff., for the identification of Beliar with Satan. The Hebrew form, Belial, with a substitution of r for l, is written in the best Greek MSS. (see crit. note).
2 Corinthians 6:16. . . .: and what agreement has the Temple of God with idols? It is quite unnecessary to mark the absence of the article by translating “a temple of God”: has become anarthrous, as a quasi-technical phrase, and in the Apostle’s thought there is only one such Temple, which is built up by the whole body of believers (see reff.).— . . .: for we are the Temple of a God who is alive (see reff.); note that as the emphatic word is placed last.— . . .: as God said, “I will dwell in them (these words are only a paraphrase of Leviticus 26:11; the quotation begins with 2 Corinthians 6:12) and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (cf.Exodus 6:7, Jeremiah 31:33, Ezekiel 11:20, Zechariah 8:8; Zechariah 13:9, etc., where the promise is reiterated). Several passages of the O.T., viz., Leviticus 26:12, Isaiah 52:11, Ezekiel 20:34 and 2 Samuel 7:14 are here combined; and it is worth noticing that the first, second and fourth of these are marked as distinct quotations by the introductory formulæ which precede them in the O.T. in each case, viz., from Leviticus 26:12, from Isaiah 52:5 (or Ezekiel 20:33), and from 2 Samuel 7:8.
2 Corinthians 6:17. . . .: wherefore, “Come out from among them and be separate” saith the Lord, “and touch not an unclean thing and I will receive you.” So, too, the Heavenly Voice of the Apocalypse cried “Come out of her” to those who were in danger of contamination with the sins of pagan Rome (Revelation 18:4). But the command must not be misapplied. St. Peter was wrong in “separating” himself from his Gentile brethren (Galatians 2:12), as he was wrong in calling that “unclean” which God had cleansed (Acts 10:14). And St. Paul never counsels any at Corinth to “separate” himself from the body of his fellow Christians on account of their sinful lives. (1 Corinthians 5:13 is a direction to the Church to excommunicate a sinful member, a quite different thing.) To the Apostle separation from heathendom was imperative, but separation from the Christian Church was a schism and a sin.
2 Corinthians 6:18. . . .: and “I will be to you a Father, and ye shall be to Me sons and daughters,” saith the Lord Almighty. The ideal relation of Israel to Jehovah was that of a son to a father (Exodus 4:22, Jeremiah 31:9, Hosea 1:10); but the full meaning of such words was reserved for Him to teach who came to reveal the Father (Matthew 11:27), as their full blessedness can be realised only by the heir of the Father’s kingdom who “overcomes” at last (Revelation 21:7).
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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 6". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week after Epiphany