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XI.—THE APOSTLE’S APPEAL IN AN ETHICAL POINT OF VIEW. HIS CONDUCT IN RELATION TO IT
2 Corinthians 6:1-10
1 1We then, [om. We then] as workers together with him, [then, we also] beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. 2 2(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted [well accepted, εὐπρόσδεκτος] time; behold, now is the day of salvation). 3 3Giving no offence [occasion for stumbling, προσκοπή] in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: 4 4But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, [as the ministers of God, commending ourselves] in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses [in straits, στενοχωρίαις], 5in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults 6[tossings to and fro, ἀκαταστασίαις], in labours, in watchings, in fastings; by [in] pureness, by [in] knowledge, by [in] long suffering, by [in] kindness, by [in] the Holy 7Ghost, by [in] love unfeigned, by [in] the word of truth, by [in] the power of God, 8by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honour [glory, δόξης] and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet [om. yet] true; 9as unknown, and yet [om. yet] well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 10as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet [om. yet] possessing all things.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
2 Corinthians 6:1-2.—We then, as workers together with Him, also exhort you that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.—Connected with the exhortation and entreaty (2 Corinthians 5:20) in which he had spoken of an interest in God’s work of reconciliation by Christ, was another consideration with respect to their continuance in the grace thus attained. There is no indication that σύν in συνεργοῦντες has reference to the church of Corinth (comp. 2 Corinthians 1:24); for had such been the Apostle’s idea, ὑμῖν would have been inserted; still less can it be referred to the Apostle’s associates in the ministry; and least of all can the whole word be made equivalent to ἕργω̣ συμπράττοντες with reference to 2 Corinthians 6:3 ff. in contrast with the λόγος in 2 Corinthians 5:20. The only doubt is whether it implies a coöperation with God or with Christ. If ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ in 2 Co 6:20 signifies in behalf of Christ, and not in the place of Christ; then the preceding passage in which all things had been traced to the hand of God, and especially the phrase, as though God were beseeching by us (2 Corinthians 5:20), would be in favor of referring it to God, comp. also 1 Corinthians 3:9. In the admonition itself, the whole stress must be laid upon the words, not in vain, inasmuch as these stand at the commencement of the sentence. They here signify to be without fruits, as in Galatians 2:2; Philippians 2:16;1 Thessalonians 3:5. The word receive (δέξασθαι) is to be taken not in a preterite (as if it meant that ye will not have received), but in a present signification, in accordance with the uniform usage. We have here the moral side of the exhortation, which he had said (2 Corinthians 5:20) the ministry were urging, viz., Be reconciled to God. God’s work of reconciliation would be in vain to them, if in receiving it they did not become new men. The grace of God is the grace which had been shown in the work of reconciliation, for God had exhibited in that work special love to sinners. He gives a reason also for his admonition in a parenthetical form in 2 Corinthians 6:2 (for 2 Corinthians 6:3 is grammatically connected with παρακαλοῦμεν), by introducing a prophetical expression (Isaiah 49:8, in the words of the LXX.), which he implies had a fulfilment while he was writing—for he says: In an accepted time I heard thee, and in a day of salvation I succored thee: behold, now is the well accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.—God must be regarded as the speaker in this quotation. In the original passage God was addressing the servant of the Lord, and through him as their head the whole people of God. Bengel: The Father speaks to the Messiah, in whom are included all believers. The hearing which was indicated by the succor, the prophet implies was to be shown in the deliverance of the people from the calamities into which they had fallen (Isaiah 49:7); but it is here made to refer to the salvation which God gives by Christ, and which the Apostle exhorts the Corinthians not to receive in vain. The accepted time (καιρὸς δεκτός, Heb. עֵת רָצוֹן), is a time of favor, (the grace); the same as the “day of salvation” (the time for the communication of salvation to Israel (Mark 1:15; Galatians 4:4). It becomes accepted, in consideration of the impression it made upon the people. The same idea is intended, only more forcibly expressed, in the words, well accepted (εὐπρόσδεκτος, used in 2 Corinthians 8:12; Romans 15:16; Romans 15:31). The phrases, I heard thee and I succored thee, imply that when God was making this promise, He looked upon the future as already past. In Paul’s application of the passage, the words, Behold, now, (ἰδοὺ νῦν), present the reason for the admonition in 2 Corinthians 6:1, q. d.: let not the opportunity pass unimproved; for if ye allow the grace now given you to be in vain, there are no other means of salvation for you (comp. Hebrews 3:13 ff.; Luke 19:42). The word, now, embraced the brief period until the second coming of Christ (Meyer). A paronomasia is perceptible in the use of δέξασθαι and δεκτός [Hodge: “The Scriptures contain abundant evidence that inspiration did not interfere with the natural play of the powers of the sacred writers. Although they spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, yet they were probably in most cases unconscious of His influence, and acted as spontaneously as the believer does under the power of the Spirit in all His holy exercises. Hence we find that the sacred writings are constructed according to the ordinary laws of mind, and that the writers pass from subject to subject by the usual process of suggestion and association. So here the use of the word δέξασθαι brought up to the Apostle’s mind the word δεκτῷ, as it occurs in the Greek version of the beautiful passage in Isaiah 49:8.” Stanley: “Let not your receiving of the favor of God be in vain; for the language of God in the prophet is true: ‘In a time which I receive I heard thee.’ This view is confirmed by the stress the Apostle lays on the word δεκτός, carrying it out and amplifying it in his own comment which follows: God has so spoken, and look! (ἰδοὺ) the present is the time which He so receives. You ought to receive Him, for He has received you. Εὐπρόσδεκτος is a favorite word of the Apostle; and as such, and also as being more emphatic, is substituted for the less familiar and less expressive term of the Sept.”]. With reference to ἰδοὺ, consult the notes on 2 Corinthians 5:17. [Trench remarks (Synn. P. II. § 7) that “καιρός signifies time (χρόνος) bringing forth its several births, the critical epoch-making periods when all that has been slowly ripening through long ages is mature and comes to the birth in grand decisive events, which constitute at once the close of one period and the commencement of another. It is the nick of time; but whether, as such, to make or to mar, effectually to help or to hinder, the word by itself does not determine.” According to this, the καιρός of which both the prophet and the Apostle spoke was an epoch of great importance in consequence of the great events transpiring, but rendered favorable and acceptable (δεκτός) by the turning of the people to the Lord. (See also Webster’s Synonymns, p. 215)].
2 Corinthians 6:3-10. Giving no occasion for stumbling in any thing, that the ministration have not a reproach cast upon it.—Luther incorrectly regards this participial sentence as a part of the Apostle’s admonition or entreaty to the Corinthians; as if he was exhorting them not to receive the grace in vain, and to give no offence lest, etc. But had such been the Apostle’s mind he would have written διδόντας instead of διδόντες. This word is rather to be connected directly with παρακαλοῦμενbefore the parenthesis, and it shows how the conduct of the admonishers corresponded with and gave force to the admonition. In this verse he resumes his apology for himself. The words ἐν μηδενί (in nothing) are neuter like ἐν παντί in 2 Corinthians 6:4. Μή is not here in the place of οὐ [for it implies the intention and desire of the writer]. Comp. 1 Corinthians 10:33. Προσκοπή is used only here in the New Testament, but it is equivalent to πρόσκομμα 1 Corinthians 8:8. It implies that Paul and his companions would do nothing to lead others into error, or to impair the proper effect of their work or of their admonition, and so they would give no occasion for unbelief and unchristian conduct. (Meyer). In saying that the ministration have not a reproach cast upon it, he intended to say that they subjected themselves to so much pains, in order that their efforts as Apostles to reconcile men to God, might be saved from bitter reproaches (for μωμηθῆ implies that he had in his mind no common or slight reproaches). Probably he had reference to those opponents who were inclined to make, or perhaps had already indulged in such reproaches.—But in all things, as the ministers of God, commending ourselves in much patience, (2 Corinthians 6:4). In συνιστάντες (2 Corinthians 3:1), we have the positive side in contrast with the negative side, which had been given in 2 Corinthians 6:3, and it is placed before ἐαυτοὺς because it contains the emphatic point (Meyer). The idea is not that they were commending themselves as ministers [as our English A. V. may be understood and is usually punctuated] for then the expression would have been ὡς θεοῦ διακόνους, but we commend ourselves as the ministers of God commend themselves; or, as is appropriate for such ministers. [Alford: “When these words signify to recommend ourselves in a bad sense (2 Corinthians 3:1; 2 Corinthians 5:12), ἐαυτοὺς precedes the verb; but here and in 2 Corinthians 4:2, where used in a good sense and without any stress on ἐαυτοὺς, it follows the verb. This is only one of many continually occurring instances of the importance of the collocation of words with regard to the emphasis.”] The points on which they commended themselves, are introduced by ἐν. They are, in the first place, Christian virtues, such as patient endurance (ὑπομονή, 2 Corinthians 6:4)—pureness (ἁγνότης κ. τ. λ., 2 Corinthians 6:6). In connection with patience (perseverance, steadfastness, in contrast with despondency and reluctance) he mentions a variety of states in which he had exhibited much patience, such as in affliction, etc. Augustine quotes 2 Corinthians 10:4-12, to show that Paul possessed those qualities which Cicero makes necessary to an orator, viz., magna granditer et ornate loquendi. In proof of what he had said he now adduces principally the trichotomy contained in 2 Corinthians 6:4-5, in which he specifies how he had exhibited patience in three triplets of conditions. Bengel says the first triplet of trials, afflictions, necessities and distresses (straits) were general; the second, stripes, imprisonments, and tumults were specific; the third, the labors, watchings, and fastings were voluntary. These evils consist of oppressive, hampering circumstances in general, such as drove him into straits; and they are probably mentioned in the order of a climax. [Stanley divides the Apostle’s enumeration into four clauses, all amplifying ἐν παντι. The first is an expansion of ἐν ὑπομ. πολλῇ. The second enumerates the virtues which accompanied these outward hardships, arranged in two divisions, not so much by the meaning as by the form of the words, the first consisting of one, the latter of two words. In the third the words are held together merely by the word διά, and by their antithetical form. The fourth expands the words, through evil report into a long list of the contrasts between his alleged and his real character, at once showing his difficulties and his triumphs. The first section gives three triplets of evils, each growing out of the last word of the other. The first describes his hardships generally. In crushing afflictions (θλίψεσιν) in pressure of difficulties (ἀνάγκαις), in narrow straits (στενοχωρίαις). The prevailing idea is of pressure and confinement: each stage narrower than the one before, so that no room is left for movement or escape].—In afflictions, in necessities, in straits. —Στενοχωρίαι are mentioned also in 2 Corinthians 12:10, and are the highest degree of θλίψεις. Comp. 2 Corinthians 4:8. Ἀνάγκαι are necessities, calamities of various kinds, and also mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12:10 and in 1 Corinthians 7:26. (Some interpret the word as referring to want, poverty). [“The three words here used are cognate in derivation, θλίβω to press, squeeze; ἄγχω to press tight; στένος strait, angustus. The θλίψ. is the tribulation itself of whatever kind it may be, ἀνάγκ. is the result in circumstances, and στενοχ. (as used by Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:12; 2 Corinthians 4:8; and Romans 2:9) the result in feeling or apprehension.” Webster and Wilkinson.—“The idea of ‘narrow straits’ suggests the thought of actual persecutions, of which he gives the three to which he was most frequently exposed.” (Stanley), viz.].—in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults.—On the word πληγᾶις (stripes) comp. 2 Corinthians 11:23; Acts 16:23 f. Ἀκαταστασία according to the prevailing usage in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 12:20; 1 Corinthians 14:32; James 3:16), has the sense of disorder, or in particular, tumults, insurrections. (Luke 21:9). With respect to such things in Paul’s life, comp. Acts 13:50; Acts 14:19; Acts 16:19 f.; Acts 19:23 ff. Others interpret the word of expulsions from society, restless wanderings from place to place, comp. ἀστατεῖν in 1 Corinthians 4:11.—In labors, in watchings, in fastings.—The labors here mentioned relate, not at least exclusively, to labors for his own support (1 Corinthians 4:12), but to the cares and toils of his Apostleship, 2 Corinthians 11:23; 2 Corinthians 11:27; 1Co 3:8; 1 Corinthians 15:58. In like manner on watchings, comp. chap, 2 Corinthians 11:27; Acts 20:31. Others, however, think that this word has reference to his sleepless cares and anxieties for the churches. More particularly it refers to his public teachings, journeyings, meditations and prayers (the whole frame of his mind). Fastings also include not those which his circumstances rendered unavoidable (1 Corinthians 4:11; Philippians 4:12), and which he especially distinguishes from fastings under the name of hunger and thirst in 2 Corinthians 11:27, but those fastings which were voluntarily endured and connected with prayer, (comp. Acts 14:23; Acts 13:2 f. 2 Corinthians 9:9). There is no reason, however, to regard these as ascetic acts of self-righteousness. In 2 Corinthians 6:6 additional items of moral qualifications for his office are given, viz.—in pureness, in knowledge, in long suffering, in kindness, in the Holy Ghost, in love unfeigned, in the word of truth, in the power of God.—[“There is no reason for exchanging the in, in, etc., before each of these expressions for by, by, etc., as is done in our English A. V., inasmuch as the same preposition is used from ἐν ὑπομ to ἐν δυνάμει implying not the instrument but the sphere or element in which his ministry moved.” Fausset. It is rendered by the English word in in Wiclif’s, Tyndale’s, Cranmer’s, and the Rhemish versions, and in the translation of the American Bible Union]. At the head of the series in this second section stands ἁγνότης, moral purity (comp. Php 4:8; 1 Timothy 5:22; 1 John 3:3), or chastity in a more special sense. It would, however, be too confined a signification to restrict the word to the sexual passion, and above all to the opposite of avarice or a love of gain. W. F. Besser says: “As patience had been shown in the nine proofs which had already been mentioned, so purity (in heart and intention, as a cardinal virtue) runs through the eight virtues and gifts which are now to be specified.” Γνῶσις is either that practical knowledge which quickly recognizes the Divine will, i. e., true Christian wisdom (comp. 1 Peter 3:7), or evangelical knowledge, i. e., a vivid perception of Divine truth. The latter corresponds best with the prevailing usage in Paul’s writings. Besser: “Not intellectual learning is here meant, but that sagacity of the heart with respect to Divine truth, which enables a minister in all cases to bring out that mind of the Spirit which is best suited to the wants of his hearers (Philippians 1:9); and especially that casuistic wisdom which is so indispensable to the cure of souls.” This knowledge has also an ethical aspect, and includes that faith which surrenders entirely to the truth of God. Μακροθυμία and χρηστότης are virtues which belong to the sphere of love (comp. 1 Corinthians 13:4). The former signifies that long endurance or perseverance which is exercised under griefs or mortifications; the latter is the same as gentleness or kindness in social life and the pastoral work. Trench (Synn. P. II. § 3) makes μακροθ, a long holding out of the mind before it gives room to action or passion (generally anger) against persons ὑπομόνη, 2 Corinthians 6:4, being the same self-restraint with respect to things. The Rhemish renders μακρ. by longanimity, a word which even Taylor’s and Archbishop Whately’s authority has not been sufficient to naturalize in our language. Χρηστότης is rendered by Wycliffe, in Galatians 5:22, benignity, and by the Rhemish in our passage, “sweetness.” Trench, P. II. § 13]. Before the Apostle speaks of the original grace of love itself, he refers to the source of all moral excellence, the Holy Ghost, with Which this fundamental virtue is appropriately connected as its source. This πν. ἅγιον should be regarded, not merely as a charism, but as a power always dwelling and acting in the Christian, and manifesting itself in all his conduct. Ἀνυπόκριτη (unfeigned) occurs also in Romans 12:9, as an attribute of love. In 2 Corinthians 6:7 he passes on to notice his work as a minister, and that which commended him to his hearers. As in the words, love unfeigned, he probably had some reference to his insincere opponents who affected the appearance of much love, so in the word of truth he had a similar reference to impurity of doctrine, (comp. 2 Corinthians 2:17; 2 Corinthians 4:2). The want of the article shows that he must have
meant, not as in Colossians 1:5. and other places, the Gospel objectively considered, but subjectively that which was spoken or proposed to men, the substance of which was truth. The power of God in like manner is not to be limited here to the working of miracles, but referred to the Divine power which was seen in all his discourses, and proved that God was with him. (comp. 2Co 4:7; 1 Corinthians 2:4 f.; 2 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 1:24).—By the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report—We have here a change in the preposition (διὰ) in conformity with the ὅπλα with which it is connected. The Apostle now takes up the figure of a conflict, and hence ὅπλα must mean not any instruments in general by which one is aided or protected, but, strictly speaking, weapons. Αιὰ τῶν ὅπλων here stands independently, like all the other clauses introduced by διά, and is not subordinate to ἐν δυν. θεοῦ, as if it implied that the power of God was furnishing all these weapons (“Dei virtute nobis arma subministrante.” Grotius). The armor of righteousness means not merely such weapons as are lawful for a righteous man to use, or still less, good works (in the Roman Catholic sense); but such weapons as are given a man by his righteousness. Neander: “’weapons which would bo useful to a good man.” Among these we may understand either moral blamelessness (Billroth), or the righteousness of faith which makes a man strong and triumphant against all opposition in attack or defence, comp. Romans 8:31-39 (Meyer); or that righteousness of our daily life which proceeds from faith. Its weapons are, the spirit of confidence, a joyful consciousness that our prayers are heard, the strength of a pacified and assured conscience, the unanswerable testimony of a holy life, a delightful enjoyment and power in every work, etc. (Osiander). Or, as the Apostle had just been speaking of the power of God, perhaps he was here thinking of God’s righteousness operating through him, giving him weapons for every conflict, and directed especially to the establishment and development of good order in the world. The object of this Divine power was, on the one hand, to preserve in action all that was originally beneficial, and on the other to destroy all that was injurious; and especially in the department of redemption to preserve and develop all that new life which corresponded to the Divine will, and to remove all which was in opposition to it. (comp. Beck Chr. Lehrw. pp. 551 ff.). In this way probably δικαιοσύνη is used in Romans 6:13; Romans 6:18 ff. In respect to ὅπλα comp. Ephesians 6:11 ff.; 1 Thessalonians 5:8. The Apostle, however, speaks of two kinds of these weapons: those on the right hand and those on the left. The former were for assault (sword, lance) and the latter for defence and protection (shield). [Alford thinks this would have required τῶν δεξ. καὶ τῶν .: whereas now no article being inserted before ἀριστ., it is implied that the panoply (τὰ ὅπλα) is on both sides of the person. But even without such a specification by the article the complete armor for the whole person might yet imply that he had the sword and spear (ξὶφος καὶ δόρυ) in the right, and the shield (ἀσπὶς) on the left hand, so that he was called ἀμφιδέξιος]. Both imposed upon the Apostle as the organ through which God’s righteousness acted among men the duty of contending against all forms of error and immorality which were so injurious to good order, and of repelling every kind of assault which might be made upon such order and upon himself as its representative, (comp. 2 Corinthians 10:4). As he commended himself to men by his use of these weapons, and of all the means supplied by God’s righteousness for the advancement of God’s cause in the world, the result was of course that he had to pass through glory and dishonor. (2 Corinthians 6:8, διὰ δόξης καὶ , etc.). At this point he proceeds to mention the opposite judgments which were passed upon his conduct in these struggles. Δόξα is the glory or honor which was awarded him by the friends, and ἀτιμία the dishonor awarded him by the enemies, of God’s cause. The latter as well as the former, and not merely his conduct under both, were naturally the means of commending him to those who had spiritual discernment. (comp. Matthew 5:11; Luke 6:22; 1 Peter 4:14). Διά stands here in a different position from that in which it stood before τῶν ὅπλων, and means passing through honor and dishonor, i. e., in the midst of honor and disgrace. (comp. Meyer; the remarks of Osiander in opposition to this do not seem appropriate). The same is true with respect to διὰ before δυσφημίας καὶ εὐφημίας (through evil report and good report). [Alford: “Once adopted by the Apostle the διὰ was kept for the sake of the parallelism, though with various shades of meaning. I would understand it in ὅιὰ δοξ., etc., as in διὰ πολλῶν δακρύων (2 Corinthians 2:4) as pointing out the medium through which. Thus understood these two pairs in 2 Corinthians 6:8 will form an easy transition from the instrumental, through the medial to the passive characteristics which follow.”]—As deceivers and true, as unknown and well known,.—These two clauses are connected with the two immediately preceding, and not with συνιστάν. ἐαυτοὺς ὡς θεοῦ διάκονοι [i. e., the author means, it was as deceivers and true, that they went through evil report and good report (2 Corinthians 6:8), and not that they commended themselves (2 Corinthians 6:4)]. We may notice, however, that what is detrimental is mentioned in the first part of each couplet, as it had been in some of the preceding clauses (δυσφημίας, εὐφημίας). As deceivers (ὡς πλάνοι) expresses what was the nature of the dishonorable reports respecting him, the false estimate placed upon him (comp. Matthew 27:63; John 7:12; 1 Timothy 4:1). And true (καὶ ), on the other hand, expresses what was the tenor of the good reports respecting him, and at the same time what was the actual state of the case. But καὶ has not, therefore, the meaning of, and yet [as in the English A. V.], for ὡς qualifies both words in each clause, and the two have reference to εὐφημία (and δόξα).—In 2 Corinthians 6:9 ἀγνοούμενοι has the sense of, obscure people, persons whom no one knows [Bloomfield: “obscure nobodies”], and not those who are misunderstood. or for whom no one cares. In contrast with it stands ἐπιγινωσκόμενοι: those who are well known, those who have the good report. It refers, therefore, to the knowledge of men, and not of God (as in 1 Corinthians 13:12), to the knowledge which true believers had of him in opposition the judgment of opponents who undervalued him.—As dying and behold we live, as chastened and not killed.—In the first members of the several antitheses which he is about to enumerate, he properly refers still to the evil report and dishonor of which he had just spoken; and in the second he brings forward the actual state of the case, having reference to the glory and good report of the earlier clauses. It is for this reason that he indulges in a greater freedom of expression, as when he says, and behold, we live. His opponents had passed a contemptuous judgment upon him, and upon the constant danger of death in which he was said to stand; they say we are dying, and that we are near our last (ὡς , but he describes the case very differently when he gives his own view of it, 2 Corinthians 4:10 f.; 1 Corinthians 15:31), “and behold we live.” This last is said in a tone of triumph in opposition to the depreciation of his opponents. Contrary to all their expectations God’s wondrously saving power brings us out of our most imminent perils, not only uninjured, but with ever renewed powers of life (2Co 1:10; 2 Corinthians 4:10 f.). The phrase as chastened (ὡς παιδευόμενοι) does not mean that he was actually purified by this discipline. On the other hand, as Neander says: Paul confesses that he was always needing a chastening discipline. The putative meaning of ὡς is still to be retained. It was one part of the evil report through which the afflicted Apostle passed, that he was always looked upon as one punished or chastened of God (comp. Isaiah 53:4). As to the mode in which this was accomplished, we need not imagine that it was by a literal scourging. And not hilled (καὶ μὴ θανατούμενοι) means that he was not so severely chastened as to be slain.” The discipline was never carried to an extreme (comp. Psalms 118:18).—As sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing, and possessing all things (2 Corinthians 6:10). In this verse ὡς λνπούμενοι signifies, we are looked upon as afflicted and sorrowful, and hence as men of a melancholy temperament; but in contrast with this distorted judgment, he declares that they were in reality always rejoicing and happy (comp. Philippians 4:4; Romans 5:3; Romans 12:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:6). The last sentence refers to the contrast between their poverty and their wealth. In the wealthy city of Corinth, it was a very uncommon thing to find a Christian possessed of riches (1 Corinthians 11:21). We are commonly looked upon as poor, and yet we make many rich; as men who have nothing, and yet we have all things. When he says that they were rich and had all things, we need not suppose he had reference to the collections by means of which he had at his disposal all the wealth of the Christian community, but we must understand it of those spiritual blessings to which he had already referred when he said that they were always rejoicing (comp. 2Co 8:7; 2 Corinthians 8:9; 1 Corinthians 1:5; Romans 1:11; Romans 15:29). Having nothing (comp. Matthew 8:20) indicates a high degree of the previously mentioned poverty (πτωχοί), and it alludes to the fact that Paul was sustained by the labor of his own hands. [Wordsworth: “κατὰ in κατέχοντες adds strength to the meaning of the latter.” See 1 Corinthians 7:31. Though we have nothing, we have firm possession of an eternal inheritance, yea, of “all things.” Stanley: “ἔχοντες” is simply “having,” κατέχοντες is “having to the full”]. This having all things and being rich must also be understood of spiritual possessions, and not of earthly property in addition, nor probably of the everlasting inheritance (κληρονομία). He speaks in a similar, though not in precisely the same, manner in 1 Corinthians 3:22. Neander says: “The whole world belongs to the Christian, because the principle which now governs him is one day to control everything on earth. What the Stoics once said of their wise men, was never completely true except of the Christian; for they alone have that true greatness which is founded upon humility, and they can never be overcome, for they are always in harmony with the will of God.”
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The more exalted the benefits of the atonement, the more important is it that we should not receive them merely as something brought to us by force to pacify our conscience; but without a sincere repentance and a thorough renovation of our own hearts. Such a participation in God’s greatest gift throws upon us a tremendous responsibility; for if we abuse it we bring upon ourselves an irreparable injury, since we not merely lose the opportunity of a great salvation, but we can hope for no other means of deliverance. Hence those who commend the atonement should earnestly invite those who hear them, not only to accept of it, but to bring forth all the appropriate fruits of such amazing grace. They should be exceedingly active in offering God’s mercy to men, and as fellow-laborers with God, earnestly beseech men not to receive the grace of God in vain, but diligently to bring forth and present to God the fruits of righteousness.
2. But to this word of exhortation, all that we are and do should correspond and give power. God’s ministers should not only give no such offence, that those who hate their work, may take occasion to insult and reproach it; but conduct themselves so as to gain the approbation of all well disposed persons. They should never become weary, hesitating, indolent, or desponding in their work; but under every discouragement and opposition, even under personal abuse, tumults, and loss of liberty, they should remain patient and undismayed. For the sake of such a work they should be willing to renounce with cheerfulness those conveniences and enjoyments which would otherwise be lawful to them. But whatever may be their exertions or endurances, they should maintain that purity of heart which longs for and thinks of nothing but the honor and glory of God: that familiarity with the economy of grace which readily and clearly discerns the Divine purposes and ways for saving men; and that forbearance and kindness, which can be learned and enjoyed only in the school of the Friend of Sinners. In all their course they should be controlled by the Holy Spirit shedding continually into their hearts that love of God, which produces and maintains a sincere love to men. Whatever they propose to their fellowmen will then bear the stamp of truth; and whatever they do will be accompanied by tokens of Divine power. In this manner they will prove themselves true champions of the Lord, boldly using the weapons of righteousness, now fearlessly assailing whatever opposes Christ’s cause, and now rigorously defending the truth and laws of God against every form of sin and error. Everything will then also become subservient to their cause, and will more and more compel men to confess that they are from God. Honor and dishonor, good and evil report, will be equally in their favor. If they are sometimes represented as deceivers, it will not be hard to prove themselves true men. If their adversaries disparage them as unknown, (obscure) they will soon prove themselves well known. If they are vilified as sinking, and devoted to death and ruin, they will ere long show themselves living monuments of saving and glorious grace. If they are pointed at as guilty objects of God’s frowns, they will soon prove that their chastisement was not unto death. If they are sometimes looked upon with pretended sympathy, as men overwhelmed with sorrow, poor wretches, who can only starve for want of the necessities of life, they will soon show that they are not merely joyful in themselves, and rich in spiritual blessings, but able also to enrich all their fellow men.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
2 Corinthians 6:1. Since God has chosen ministers to be his helpers in the work of the Gosepl, let no one think himself too well taught and holy to need the services of those who seem to be inferior in endowments, for he can never know what instrument, or slight occasion God may have chosen for a work of grace in his heart.—Hedinger:—Make use of the time you have, for the brief hour will soon be past. Whoever thrusts aside God’s grace, or loses it to secure some worldly advantage, draws down upon himself the severest judgments of God (Hebrews 2:3; Hebrews 12:15).—Spener:
2 Corinthians 6:2. God sometimes plentifully dispenses to men a grace, which will soon give place to wrath, if they fail to recognize and improve the time of their gracious visitation (Luke 19:42; Luke 19:44.) Thoughtless persons say: “We shall have time enough to-morrow, and we can turn to God even in death;” but are they sure that God will then give them true repentance; that He will accept of the forced repentance of a dying hour; or that he will ever permit them to see another day?
2 Corinthians 6:4. A minister’s whole life should be a practical illustration of what he enjoins upon others. (Titus 2:7 f.) He who preaches to others that they must enter the kingdom of heaven only through much tribulation, must not expect to go before them upon roses. An effeminate weakling who can bear no trouble is not fit to serve Christ. In Christ’s service we shall be called upon to endure hardness and to stand by Christ and His word, under all the assaults of the devil and the world. But although such things are sometimes hard to bear, with Divine grace they become light. (2 Corinthians 4:8).
2 Corinthians 6:5. Blessed are the peacemakers; cursed all rebels. Every hour has its work: God’s word is to be searched; our own house is to be built, the sick are to be visited, and earnest prayer is to be offered for ourselves, and for all the world! Think you this will disturb your peace ? Never fear. For God the Lord will be thy rest and thy strength.
2 Corinthians 6:6. A minister must cleanse himself from all filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit (2 Corinthians 6:1.) or he will pull down rather than build up. He who would teach others must know God, and be well acquainted with himself and his people (John 10:3; John 10:14.)—A patient spirit is the inward light, and kindliness the outward beams of this sun.
2 Corinthians 6:7. Behold, the true way to have the power, and the near presence of God: It is to be so familiar with His word, that it shall become thoroughly implanted in our hearts, and engrafted into our spiritual life (James 1:21.) As a well-armed warrior carries weapons in both hands, is watchful on every side, and uses his weapons against every assault, we should bring our spiritual weapons to bear against every kind of temptation (from Satan or the world; from the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life; from fears, tribulations, persecution). Where Christ is, God’s power is; and with this we can triumph over all things. Through God we shall do valiantly (Psalms 60:12; Psalms 108:13).
2 Corinthians 6:8. Stand firmly in God’s grace when men revile and seek to injure thee, and they will soon find that they dishonor themselves more than thee.
2 Corinthians 6:9. In severe sickness men will say, “He is dying,” but with God’s help we cry, “Behold I live!” Look well, that you may be able to say, “Christ liveth in me,” etc. (Galatians 2:20.)—Hedinger, 2 Corinthians 6:10. God’s people have reason to mourn over their sins, their sufferings, the buffetings of their deadly enemy, their fellowmen, the abominable crimes of their day, the perdition of thousands, and the general blindness and hardness of men’s hearts. But they can always rejoice in the Spirit, in God and in Christ, in a blessed hope, in foretastes of future glory, and that their names are written in heaven (Luke 10:10.) While we continue in God’s grace, we always truly participate in, though we may not always be equally conscious of, its consolations. These, however, may always be increased by constant prayer. They are spiritual, pure, uninterrupted, and the offspring of the spirit of God through spiritual graces. If they are sometimes connected with visible things, they are never dependent upon these, but are intended to lead us directly to God. It is for this reason that the enjoyment of them is so sanctifying. God’s true ministers, as spiritual fathers, enrich their people by their instructions, their example, their prayers, and their admonitions to good works and liberality (comp. 1 Timothy 6:17 f.). He who has God has everything, for God will provide every needful temporal blessing.
2 Corinthians 6:1. A man must make a holy use of that grace by means of which he is first anointed with the Holy Spirit, justified, sanctified and turned to God: for if he makes it subservient to his fleshly lusts, or to his security in sin, and perverts it to his own pride and self-righteousness, instead of using it for his growth in grace and especially for being born into the kingdom of God, even that which he has already received will be withdrawn.
2 Corinthians 6:2. The only proper result of grace already received is the hearing of our prayers, the healing of our back-slidings and the salvation of our souls. When Satan is most aroused, then is the time for plucking souls from his grasp.—There are times in which God sees fit to give us more than common manifestations of His grace. Great will be our blessedness if we make a wise improvement of such seasons.—The deeper our impressions are, the greater the injury, if they are despised and resisted, and so our hearts are hardened against God. Every one should observe whether, and in what way Divine grace is acting upon his heart. If we walk not in the light while it is yet day, darkness will come upon us, and our perverted hearts will lead us to ruin.—When Satan can find an occasion for reproaching God’s children, and especially those who have the care of souls, he will be sure to make a mountain of it, and will corrupt the work of God. But never is he more insulting than when he finds them feeble and dispirited. Then he points to them and cries: “These are the Lord’s heroes!” An occasion for offence is thus given, not merely when we commit some great crime, but when we make no advances, when we are slothful, cold-hearted, and indolent, and when the people do not see us in earnest.
2 Corinthians 6:4 f. Where Christians are really zealous, they must expect to suffer. They must then beseech God for patience, and their prayers will keep them from falling.—God’s true messengers, and even Christians in general, may be distinguished from the world by their sufferings, and by their being looked upon by those who are esteemed in society, as the offscouring of all things and as a curse. There is no way in which they will not be assailed, in mind and body, in reputation or in property. They will be perplexed, crushed and beaten (afflictions).—Circumstances will arise when the servant of God will be in extreme distress, that as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, he may be an example to others of a firm trust in God.—Whoever is preparing for the pastoral office, must make it his first object to attain a degree of patience, which nothing but Divine power can give him.—Many have found evangelical fasting, when entered upon voluntarily at suitable times, and without affectation, very profitable, but any other will be found quite useless.—To abstain from an improper use of even those things which belong to us, will be an excellent means of purifying and disciplining us.
2 Corinthians 6:6. The best protection against impure thoughts and desires, is to give ourselves thoroughly up to our ordinary employments. Those who have once known how pleasant a holy life is, must have an insatiable hungering after purity of heart. The best way to know and properly appreciate all things around us, is to gain such a familiarity with them as God gives us in the midst of Christian activity, and the trials and temptations to which it subjects us.—He is truly kind who is willing to give up himself when occasion calls for it, and to renounce his own enjoyments at the call of distress and love. This can be done, in a pure and blameless manner, when the heart has been thoroughly awakened and renewed so as to be holy before God, angels and men (by the Holy Ghost).—Many a thing comes to us under the semblance of love. But the Apostolic spirit was in truth also. The very nature of love is such that it makes brethren speak the truth.
2 Corinthians 6:7. Truth must be defective if love is wanting. Where a man is actuated by love, he will honestly speak the truth, and of course will neither flatter nor needlessly offend or injure any one.—If a man faithfully pursues his calling, thoroughly renounces the world, and by the aid of the Holy Spirit gives no offence, is sincere, pure, chaste, kind and true, he will possess power, (“by the power of God”) which no one can resist, and his faith will be the victory which overcomes the world. No one can do this who does not make good use of the weapons of righteousness. With these he can defend himself against all mischief from within or from without. God is wonderful in His resources!
2 Corinthians 6:8. In itself it is a matter of indifference to a Christian, whether men receive or reject him, if he only has the testimony of a good conscience, and has grace always to own his Lord.
2 Corinthians 6:9. The dealings of God with His people are so fatherly, that, with all the humiliations and chastisements to which He subjects them, they are never given over to death. 2 Corinthians 6:10. Christians are not without tender feelings when they are in affliction, but they are so refreshed by supplies of grace that they can endure with cheerfulness.—None can understand how wonderful God’s goodness is but those who seek for and love Him; but so abundant will be the riches of knowledge which He gives, that many besides their possessors will be enriched. To have nothing, neither gold, nor possessions, etc., and yet to have all things so as to be unwilling to exchange conditions with the wealthiest of this world, are things so hard to be united, that nothing but Divine power can combine them together.
2 Corinthians 6:1 f. If thou hast besought men to be reconciled to God, fail not to admonish them also, for even those who have been brought nigh to God by the word of reconciliation are still in danger. How often is grace obstructed, and the heart hardened rather than benefited.—“I have heard thee,” etc. Such a promise was not for our great High Priest alone during the single hour of His soul’s travail (Isaiah 49:8), but for those of every age and condition in whose behalf he then acted. His prayer for His disciples and for all who should afterwards believe on Him through their word, has been heard. The present, therefore, is an acceptable time, etc.
2 Corinthians 6:3. Men are ingenious in contriving pretexts for receiving the grace of God in vain, especially if they can detect something in those who preach the Gospel inconsistent with their messages.—The minister of Christ must not expect entirely to escape scandal; but when the conscience of a hearer has been offended, so that the Gospel has no power over him, the cause is not unfrequently one which could and ought to have been avoided. The minister’s work should be to him as the very apple of his eye, to be kept most delicately from every contact with vice. Many of the judicial proceedings of the present day fail of success on both sides on account of the contempt and reproach which rests upon the ministerial character (Malachi 2:7-9). The salt which has lost its savor will be sure to be crushed under the feet of men. But even those who thus tread upon it must one day answer for being so easily deprived of that which might and ought to have been salt to them, and for being so speedily reduced to a carcass of corruption in God’s sight.
2 Corinthians 6:4 The best eye for judging all we do is acquired by having a desire in all things to act worthy of a servant of God.—A stupid, hesitating and timid spirit knows nothing of real patience. None but those who fear no terrors can maintain such a spirit under severe trials.
2 Corinthians 6:1. To receive the grace of God (i. e., all that could save us) in vain, is the surest way to injure ourselves and to lose what we have. What an honor and blessedness to be God’s helpers, and to give Him back the tongues and powers he gave us!
2 Corinthians 6:2. The acceptable time is the whole period of the Christian dispensation, for salvation is now free to all, especially all who hear the Gospel in its clearness and power. For every one it is now a day of salvation. Luther:—“The word of God moves along like a passing shower; wherever it comes it must be received at once, or it will be gone.”—How soon a man’s “not now” becomes a “never. How many are lost because they put off the day of their conversion!
2 Corinthians 6:3. Christianity has always been much dishonored by the unfaithfulness and faults of some ministers whose scandalous walk pulls down faster than their preaching builds up. Most carefully, therefore, should they guard their conduct, for every defect in this will surely be noticed. No wonder, therefore, that the world is full of objections to those who preach the Gospel.
2 Corinthians 6:4-5. In performing the duties of your office, seek not to please yourself or the world, but God. Faithfulness to Him will be seen principally in the patient and persevering performance of the difficult duties you have to do. Nothing is more indispensable to a minister of God, driven as he often must be into straits and with none to counsel him, than patience.
2 Corinthians 6:6. The severer the opposition, the more honorable the virtues which are shown in encountering it: such as purity of heart, the ready tact and familiarity with Divine things which always hits upon the right thing; the good will and courage which perseveres even when the results do not correspond to our expectations; the unwearied earnestness to benefit those who make no returns of gratitude and continually thwart our pains; the kindness (the outward form of love) which endeavors to win all to Christ; the holy zeal which remains at all times equally constant, and has a heart for God’s work and man’s salvation; and the sincere love to all men which is the soul of all our graces.
2 Corinthians 6:8. The equanimity of the Christian under the ever varying judgments of the world.—Honors do not dazzle him, dishonors do not trouble him.
2 Corinthians 6:9. To be known by a few faithful friends, is better than to have a name with the multitude.
2 Corinthians 6:10. The Christian, though poor in the eye of the world, has an inexhaustible treasure to dispense. With no earthly house or grounds, or possessions, he has a rich inheritance in heaven. With rapture he can cry: “My heart leaps!” etc. (Luke 4:23).
W. F. Besser:
2 Corinthians 6:1. God has seen fit to communicate to men the blessing of reconciliation through the medium of His word and the preaching of the Gospel. Though He alone can impart the spirit of faith, and so work upon the heart that we shall come to Christ and find justification and salvation, He dispenses His gifts and influences in connection with the outward word, and calls those who preach it His helpers or fellow-laborers (1 Corinthians 3:9).
2 Corinthians 6:2. When Paul exclaims: “Behold, now,” etc., he must be understood as saying: “Open your eyes and behold that Gospel which has filled the world with the precious assurance that God is no more angry or punishing men, but is gracious and ready to save them; for our Lord Jesus, who has conquered all our enemies, and now intercedes for us, has purchased us for Himself, and entreats us to be reconciled to God.” The whole period of the New Testament is an acceptable time (Luke 4:19); when the buds of promise are bursting, and every day is a day of salvation. We are continually receiving and appropriating the results of our Saviour’s sufferings and victories. Every Christian may therefore apply to himself the prophetic word, “I have heard thee;” for if one is heard for all, then all are heard; and if one is succored for all, then all are succored.
2 Corinthians 6:6. Among the virtues and gifts which distinguish God’s servants, we ought especially to remark the Holy Spirit. From this Source flow the streams of life, of virtues and of gifts both backward and forward in our text. He it is who washes the soul from every defilement, and then it begins to shine with intelligence, long suffering and kindness, and He it is who crowns these virtues with martial glories and entwines them together in a bond of peace.
2 Corinthians 6:7. One part of the work to be accomplished by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, is to strip from us the motley garment of our own righteousness, and triumphantly to maintain the genuineness and everlasting suitableness of the beautiful and glorious garment of Christ’s righteousness.
2 Corinthians 6:9. When it is objected against the servants of Christ that they are obscure and insignificant, that they have no place among the wise, and no reputation or power in the world (1 Corinthians 1:26-28), they are more than compensated by being well known in heaven (Luke 10:20; Philippians 4:3; Hebrews 12:23) and in the Church below by all whom they have served with patience and with the humble graces of the Holy Spirit.
2 Corinthians 6:10. Every thing on earth is subservient to the welfare of God’s servants; and the future dignities of the meek who inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5) may be traced even in this life, when heaven and earth are nothing but a vast storehouse, the key to whose treasures is continually given to faith by prayer. Away with pride and vanity! Let us dread poison when pious people praise us, and learn to find honey among the nettles of calumny and lies; for we have the assurance (Matthew 5:11-12).
2 Corinthians 6:1-10 (Pericope on Invocavit Sunday):—The Lord glorified by His Apostles: 1, by their blameless deportment (2 Corinthians 6:1-4); 2, by their patience in sufferings (2 Corinthians 6:4-5); 3, by their holy walk (2 Corinthians 6:6-7); 4, by the benefits they confer.—The Apostles are like their Lord: 1, in their work as preachers and their holy walk: 2, in sufferings, not only under positive inflictions, but under privations; 3, in their excellent influence, inasmuch as they make use of none but honorable means.—A season of Fasting a time of salvation: 1. For we should regard it as a time: a. to awake to the reception of God’s grace, as we contemplate the story of Christ’s sufferings (2 Corinthians 6:1-2); b. to become more holy in our daily lives (2 Corinthians 6:3-4); c. to make use of the trials of life, for the exercise of every Christian virtue (2 Corinthians 6:4-6); d. to receive the spiritual aids which are offered us. 2. Beneficial influence of the truths then contemplated: a. for our amendment of life and our confirmation in holiness; b. for our real comfort and peace; c. for the increase of our influence among our fellow-men.—Our whole life on earth is a season of fasting; for it is a time: 1, of suffering; 2, of many privations; 3, of discipline in holiness; 4, of preparation for the great Easter, when we shall be raised from the dead and saved forever (Heubner).
L. Hofacker (pp. 80 ff.):—In the midst of all their outward afflictions, their insignificance and their vileness in the eye of the world, those who follow Christ and labor in His vineyard must expect to be reviled; but in spite of all their sufferings and shame, a Divine greatness and majesty will break forth from them, amply sufficient to prove the reality of the kingdom for which they are contending.—The hidden glories of God’s kingdom: 1. That kingdom has a glory. 2. But it is now concealed: a. in Christ Himself; b. in His Church.
[1 2 Corinthians 6:1.—D. (1st cor.) omits ὐμᾶς, and C. and Sinait. (1st cor.) substitute for it ἡμᾶς.
2 Corinthians 6:2; 2 Corinthians 6:2.—F. and G. have δεκτός instead of εὐπρόσδεκτος. Their authority, however, is not great.
2 Corinthians 6:3; 2 Corinthians 6:3.—After ἡ διακονία, D. E. F. G. and two other MSS., the Ital., some copies of the Vulgate, the Gothic and Syriac versions, many Greek and the Latin Fathers insert ἡμῶν.
2 Corinthians 6:4; 2 Corinthians 6:4.—Rec. has συνιστῶντες on the authority of D. (3d cor.). E. K. L. Sin. (3d cor.), with Chrys. Theodt. Damasc. and others, Lachm. Tisch. and Alford (with C. D. (1st Cor.) F. G. and Sin.), have συνιστάντες. B. with two cursives and one MS. of Damasc. have συνιστανόντες. This text is in nearly the same state as 2 Corinthians 3:1, which see.]
12.—AN EARNEST APPEAL TO THE CORINTHIANS; APPLICATION OF THE EXHORTATION IN VER. 1
2 Corinthians 6:11-17, 2 Corinthians 7:1
11O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our5 heart is [has become] enlarged. 12Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. 13Now for a recompense in the same [by way of recompense in the same kind, τὴν δὲ αὐτήν ] (I speak as unto my children), be ye also enlarged. 14Be ye not unequally yoked together [become not united as in a strange yoke, μὴ γίνεσθε ἑτεροζυγοῦντες] with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? 15and [or]6 what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ7with Belial [Beliar]?8 or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel 16[unbeliever]? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye [we]9 are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [among] them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my10 people.17Wherefore come out11 from among them, and be ye separate [separated] saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing [anything unclean]; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my [to me for, μοι εἰς] sons and daughters saith the Lord Almighty.
2 Corinthians 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness [every defilement] of the [om. the] flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
2 Corinthians 6:11-13. Our mouth is open toward you, O Corinthians, our hearts are enlarged.—Before particularly applying to the Corinthians in their various relations (2 Corinthians 6:14 ff) the admonition he had given them in ver. I f., the Apostle pauses to pour forth to them the feelings which had been rising in his heart. We have first a continued expression of the emotions called forth by the preceding representation, and then the earnest exhortation which commences with 2 Corinthians 6:14. The words to open the mouth, signify properly, to begin to speak, but they are here especially emphatic (in consequence of their connection with what had been said in 2 Corinthians 6:3 ff. and what follows regarding the enlargement of his heart). The idea thus becomes, to speak openly and without reserve (comp. Ephesians 6:19 and Sir 22:22). [Chrysostom: “we cannot be silent; we long to be continually speaking and conversing with you”]. By such language, he shows how confiding was his love towards them. A similar thought is expressed when he adds, our heart is enlarged. [Chrysostom: “As that which warms is wont to dilate, so also to enlarge the heart is the work of love. It opens the mouth and enlarges the heart, for he loved not with the heart only, but with the heart in unison. He says with great emphasis, we have not only room for you all, but with such largeness of room, as he that is beloved walketh with great unrestraint within the heart of him that loveth”]. As Paul had been opening his inmost soul to his brethren in the free and confiding manner of the last few sentences he had himself become conscious of the extent of his affection for them (Meyer, comp. Osiander). This is the reason that, no γάρ was needed in the second sentence. The words should not be understood to mean simply (comp. 2 Corinthians 6:12 f.) that he felt happy and comfortable, or that he had now disclosed his whole heart and unbosomed himself to them.—The special address to them (κορίνθιοι), without either article or adjective, is a mode of speaking which occurs only in one passage beside (Philippians 4:15), and indicates the profound sincerity of the speaker.—The same idea is presented in a negative form in 2 Corinthians 6:12, and so makes the contrast on the part of the Corinthians more striking—ye are not straitened in us but ye are straitened in your own bowels (2 Corinthians 6:12).—The οὐ shows that the verb cannot be taken as an imperative even in the first clause. [Webster (p. 138): “οὐ conveys a direct and absolute, μὴ a subjective and conditional, denial.” Winer, § 59, 1]. It is not of anxiety or sadness, the reason of which is in themselves, that he is speaking. The meaning of ‘straitened’ is determined by its connection with the subsequent idea of enlargement: ye are not straitened, i. e. ye have no contracted space in our hearts; but in your hearts it is not so with respect to us; i. e. ye have no small room in us, but ye have very small room for us in yourselves. While our hearts are enlarged in love for you, it is very different with you, in respect to us. [Chrysostom: “This reproof is administered with forbearance, as is the manner of very great love. He does not say, ‘ye do not love us,’ but ‘not in the same measure,’ for he does not wish to touch them too sensibly. He implies that they have some affection for him, that he may win them to more. Ye are straitened while I am enlarged. Ye barely receive one and even him with small space, but I a whole city, and with abundance of freedom.”] Σπλὰγχνα (bowels) is here used, as in 2 Corinthians 7:15; Philippians 1:8; Philippians 2:1, and even in classical writers, in the sense of καρδία (heart), for the seat of the emotions, such as love, sympathy, etc. [The Apostle in this passage uses both words, καρδία and σπλάγχνα for the affections. In modern languages the latter word has been entirely superseded by the former. Among ancient nations, however, it expressed the whole interior structure of man, including especially the heart and liver as opposed to what are now technically called the bowels (ἔντερα, Stanley). In classical Greek the word is used for the feelings generally, and in Hebrew the corresponding רָחֲסִים was used to designate the seat of the gentler emotions and affections. The name itself in Hebrew was derived from a root which signifies to love. Comp. Stanley].—Now by way of recompense in the same (I speak as unto my children), be ye also enlarged (2 Corinthians 6:13).—In close connection with what he had just said, he now proceeds to demand of them that their hearts should also be enlarged, that they should “open widely their hearts in love and confidence for him as he had opened his for them. The motive for this he derives from the nature of children, when he adds, I speak as unto children (comp. 1 Corinthians 4:14); inasmuch as children are bound to make a return of love for a father’s love (comp. 1 Timothy 5:4). This idea is more distinctly brought out when he directly calls upon them for their love as an appropriate recompense (ἀντιμισθία, comp. Romans 1:27; but in our passage the word is strengthened by the use of τὴν αὐτήν). The construction is here abrupt (Meyer calls it a rhetorical anacoluthon [Kühner § 347, 5, Winer § 64, II. note]). In order to fill out the expression, however, we must supply neither ἔχοντεζ, nor εἰσενέγκατε; nor must we connect the words together by λέγω (q. d. I am speaking for an adequate recompense), but we must regard it as an Accus. absol., an anacoluthon, occasioned by the parenthesis in which he had paused to say he was speaking as to children. Others regard it as the Accusative of the remote effect: that by which ye should make recompense. In τὴν αὐτὴν the two ideas of the same thing (τὸ αὐτὸ) and of remuneration (ἀντιμισθία) are blended together by way of attraction. They may be separated thus: τὸ αὐτὸ (ὡσαύτως), ὅ ἐστιν [Fritzsche: “With his accustomed celerity of thought Paul says, τὴν δὲ αὐτὴν instead of τὸ δὲ αὐτὸ, ὄ ἐστιν , πλατύνθητε, enlarge your minds to the same remuneration, instead of, to the same thing (love) in which a remuneration might be found.” Comp. Jelf, Gram. § 581, 1, § 700, Obs. 1 and 2].
2 Corinthians 6:14-18. [An admonition to separate themselves from unbelievers. Stanley calls this passage a remarkable dislocation of the train of argument. On the one hand, the passionate appeal begun in 2 Corinthians 6:11-13 is continued without even the appearance of an interruption in 2 Corinthians 7:2, where the words χωρήσατε ἡμᾶς (make room for us) are evidently the prolongation of the metaphor expressed in 2 Corinthians 6:12-13, by στενοχ. and πλατύνθητε. On the other hand, the intervening passage (2 Corinthians 6:14 to 2 Corinthians 7:1), while it coheres perfectly with itself, has no connection with the immediate context either before or after. Such an introduction of an earnest warning in the midst of an affectionate entreaty, need not, however, suggest the idea of an interpolation of some passage from one of Paul’s lost Epistles, or by some other hand; for it is the very nature of a love so ardent, so aroused at the moment, and now touched with some jealousy, to make sudden transitions, and to draw towards itself by warnings of danger as well as by expressions of endearment,]. Probably not without reference to his demand that they should be enlarged toward him (2 Corinthians 6:13), the Apostle now proceeds earnestly to warn them against a kind of false enlargement of heart which had been shown in an improper fellowship with Gentiles, and in consenting to heathenish customs.—Become not united heterogeneously with unbelievers.—It is possible that he had reference especially to sacrificial festivals and to mixed marriages. Ἑτεροζυγεῖν implies unquestionably a communion (it is joined therefore with the dative); but it involves also the idea of an unequal union. It is taken from the figure, not of a balance, where there is an inclination toward one side, representing a disposition favorable to unbelievers (Theophylact, et al.), nor of oars which are not paired or properly mated, but of a yoke in which animals are intended to draw together. Comp. ἑτερόζυγα in the Sept. of Leviticus 19:19; Deuteronomy 22:10. Two animals of a different nature, harnessed together in the same yoke, are a type of Christians having fellowship with heathen. W. F. Besser says that Paul here derives a spiritual lesson from the legal precept which prohibits the putting of clean and unclean animals in the same team, to the effect that Christians should not be joined with others. The ἕτερον however, should not be made to refer to the yoke itself, as if it meant “put not on a foreign yoke, one which unbelievers have put on, and therefore one which does not belong to Christians” (Meyer). The admonition evidently points to something habitual, and probably was intended to imply that their conduct had tendencies in that direction. Neander says that “Paul evidently would not have spoken in this way of that unavoidable intercourse with the heathen which only served to make Christianity better known to them; but he referred merely to a participation with them in social usages and excesses. Nothing in this text confines the application of it to marriages with the heathen.”—The Apostle now proceeds to justify his admonition by a series of five questions, in which he endeavors to convince his brethren of the incompatibility of the Christian and heathenish systems. Such an accumulation of questions is very emphatic and impressive. In the first place, he inquires—For what participation hath righteousness with unrighteousness?—He thus characterizes these systems by the opposite words, righteousness and unrighteousness (δικαιοσύνη and ἀνομία). The former signifies, not the righteousness of faith in the theological sense of the expression, but the active disposition to a Divine life which springs from a vital union by faith with Christ; and the latter signifies that complete want of such a righteousness which is seen in the heathen world, where the living God is unknown, and where there is no Divine life. The same idea is expressed figuratively in the second question—What communication hath light with darkness?—in which φῶζ and σκότοζ are contrasted. Comp. Ephesians 5:8. W. F. Besser: “These five casuistic questions are so arranged that the two first relate to the separation between salvation and destruction, the third to the separation between the Saviour and the destroyer, and the two last to the separation between the saved and the destroyed.” Light is the figurative expression for truth and purity (the intellectual and the moral element united); and darkness, is the common metaphor for error and wrong conduct (Greg. Naz. makes φῶς γνῶσις καὶ βίος ἔνθεος, σκότοζ ἄγνοια καὶ ἁμαρτία). Μετοχή has the same meaning as κοινωνία (Luther translates it Geniess=Genossenschaft, i. e., enjoyment in the sense of fellowship. [Stanley: “Of the five words used to express the idea of union, μετοχὴ, κοινωνία, σνμφώνησις, μερὶς, συγκατάθεσις,only the third and fifth have any special appropriateness, and those chiefly by their etymology; συμφώνησις, ‘harmony of voice,’ is appropriate to persons, and συγκατάθεσις, ‘unity of composition,’ to buildings. The multiplication of synonyms implies a greater copiousness of Greek than we should expect from the Apostle’s usual language. Webster and Wilkinson: “Believers are here spoken of, first in the abstract (light, righteousness, Ephesians 5:8), then in their Head, then individually, then as a community (ναός). The use of καὶ represents the act of communication as mutual, of πρὸς as offering a connection, of μετὰ as accepting it”]. For the meaning of κοινωνία by classical writers and by Philo, consult Meyer.—And what concord hath Christ with Beliar? (2 Corinthians 6:15). This question, which follows the first pair, is introduced by a δέ, which shows that it is an emphatic continuance of what had gone before it. [Alford: “After a question beginning with πῶς, τίς, and the like, a second question is regularly introduced by a δέ”]. We here rise to the two great chiefs of the opposing departments (comp. 1 Corinthians 10:20; Ephesians 2:2).—Βελίαρ is the same as Satan, by which word the Peschito translates it; the same also as πονηρόζ Heb. בְּלִיַּעַל, worthlesness, wickedness. Even in the Sibylline books and in the Apocryphal writings of the Old Testament it was used as one of Satan’s names. In the common Hellenistic dialect, in the “Test. of the Twelve Patriarchs,” and in the writings of the Eccles. Fathers the letters λ and ρ were frequently interchanged. [Jerome derives the word from “בְּלִי=non, and עוֹל=jugum, i. e., absque jugo, quod de collo suo Dei abjecerit servitutem.” It is, however, more generally derived from the former word, and יַעַל= usefulness, i. e., without usefulness, and hence, wickedness. Jerome’s derivation of the word may account for Paul’s use of it in connection with ἑτεροζυγοῦντες. But with the other derivation we have a still better connection. On the stand-point of the Jews and the N. T., idolatry was a worship of demons (1 Corinthians 10:20), and the name Beliar, both on its negative and positive side, fits this view, inasmuch as an idol was a dead and useless thing, and the system of idolatry was the concentrated effect of the devil’s art and power. Bengel thinks that Paul here calls Satan Beliar, but that Satan, as opposed to Christ, denotes all kinds of antichristian uncleanness (omnem colluviem antichristianam)]. Συμφώνησις occurs only here in the N. T., and never in the Septuagint. In the classical authors it has the form of συμφωνία πρός. It has the meaning here of, agreement together, accordance of sentiment and feeling, harmony in opinions and efforts.—Or what part hath he that believeth with an unbeliever, and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?—In this last pair of questions the Apostle comes down from the heads of these two great departments to those connected respectively with them, and assumes that one who has faith in Christ can have no part (μερίς) with such as have no such faith. Μερίς here, as in Acts 8:21, has the sense of share, portion or property. The two parties have no common advantages; one has nothing in common with the other, and their possessions are entirely different, the one from the other. In 2 Corinthians 6:16, however, a question is asked which sets in the clearest possible light the holiness of Christianity in contrast with the impurities of heathenism. The Christian community is there represented as a temple of God, and surely there could be no agreement between it and idols! Such a contradiction was there between them, that all fellowship would seem impossible and all contact a desecration. Συγκατάθεσις has generally the meaning of assent, acquiescence, but here it has the more particular signification of agreement. Comp. συγκατατίθεσθαι μετά in Exodus 23:1; Luke 23:51. With respect to the temple of God, comp. 1 Corinthians 3:16. It is certainly most natural to make this passage refer to such participations in idolatrous customs as are censured in 1 Corinthians 8:10. Christians should as soon think of allowing idols to be set up in the sanctuary of God, as to permit such things among those who had been consecrated to the Lord. These should be looked upon as profanations like some which took place during the most corrupt periods of the Old Testament.—For we are the temple of the living God.—From the figures he had employed, and from the language used in the Scriptures, it was evident that believers were a temple of God. Neander remarks that “The particular, external relations of the Old Testament are here applied in a spiritual manner to each Christian.” The γάρ implies that the admonition involved in this question (τίς δὲ συγκατάθεσις etc.) is applicable to us; for we are indeed the temples, etc. Φεοῦ ζῶντος is a designation of the true God who will in contrast with dead and powerless idols be always truly active to vindicate the honor of His sanctuary and to communicate living power to all His people (comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:9.) The same expression occurs also in 2 Corinthians 3:3; Hebrews 3:12; Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 10:31, et al.—As God said, I will dwell in them, and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be to me a people.—The Apostle here shows that his representation of the Church as a temple of God was justified by a passage in Levit. 36:11 f. (comp. Ezekiel 37:27), which is here cited freely from memory. He uses the word ἡμεῖς very naturally in the most enlarged sense, and we find nothing strange in the fact that he should address them in the parenthetic clause before he communicates the instruction). The Apostle considers the idea of a temple involved in the expression, I will dwell (have a habitation, ἐνοικήσω ἐν αὐτοῖς) in them. In the Sept. the passage reads: θήσω τὴν σκηνήν μου ἐν ὑμῖν Although ἐν has primarily the sense of: among, in the midst of, as it afterwards has in ἐμπεριπατήσω, the Apostle probably had reference to the presence of God in the individual believer (comp. John 14:23), inasmuch as the idea of ναὸς θεοῦ was in his mind, and the word ἕνοικεῖν most naturally implies this. The word ἐμπεριπατεῖν which was at first used to describe the movements of God’s residence (the sacred tabernacle) among the Israelites, is here probably applied to the presence of God Himself in His Church in all parts of the world (comp. Revelation 2:1). The promise contained in this quotation contains the sum of God’s covenant with His people, comp. Exodus 6:7; Jeremiah 24:7; Jeremiah 30:22; Jeremiah 31:1; Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10; Revelation 21:3; Revelation 21:7. On God’s part there is the communication of Himself and the benefits of His salvation; and on the part of the people there is fellowship with God and the enjoyment of His blessing. W. F. Besser remarks that “God dwells in His Church when He fills it with His Spirit, through the instrumentality of His word and Sacraments; and as He thus finds an acceptable rest among them (Psalms 132:14), their spiritual influence proves that He is present in their midst and acknowledges as His own all who are reconciled to Him by Christ’s blood. God walks in His Church when He acts there as its God through the gifts, offices and powers which He bestows upon it; and when he receives His people into living fellowship and applies to them all the benefits of His gracious covenant.” In Leviticus 26:0 this promise is conditional and even here the admonition is itself a hint that their safety depended upon their fidelity, and especially upon their separation from ungodly persons and all impure practices; 2 Corinthians 6:17, comp. 2 Corinthians 6:14. This admonition He expresses in a free quotation of a passage in Isaiah 52:11, in which the people were commanded to leave Babylon.—Wherefore come out from among them, and be separated, saith the Lord, and touch not any thing unclean.—W. F. Besser says that “The departure of the Israelites from Babylon was a redemption, a type (like that of the departure out of Egypt) of the great redemption of which the Apostle speaks (Galatians 1:4), when he says that Christ gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world.” The admonition here is that they should come out in the most decided manner from the whole sphere of heathenish worldly life, should separate themselves in spirit from their heathen neighbors, should avoid all heathenish practices which might defile men consecrated to God, and especially should abstain from all idolatrous festivals.—And I will receive you.—This is an obvious reminiscence of Ezekiel 20:34; Zechariah 10:8 (not a free quotation of καὶ ὁ ἑπισυνάγων ὑμᾶς κύριος Isaiah 52:12), and has reference to the adoption, of which he is about to speak further in 2 Corinthians 6:18. Bengel makes it a correlative to εξέλθετε those who should come out would be received as if into a new family or home.—And I will be for a Father unto you, and ye shall be sons and daughters unto me saith the Lord Almighty (2 Corinthians 6:18).—This is probably a free and amplified quotation of 2 Samuel 7:14 (hardly of Jeremiah 31:9, and still less of Isaiah 43:6). The words sons and daughters are a hint at the religious equality of the sexes under the reign of Christianity. Grotius thinks that these words (2 Corinthians 6:16-18) are taken from some hymn. The whole citation is solemnly closed with the affirmation, saith the Lord Almighty (λέγει κύριος ὁ παντοκράτωρ), taken from the Sept of 2 Samuel 7:8. The expression occurs frequently in the Apocalypse, but only here in the writings of Paul; and it corresponds in the Septuagint to the Heb. יְתוָֹה צִבַאוֹת, the Lord of Hosts.
[“The concluding verses of this chapter are an instructive illustration of the way in which the New Testament writers quote the Old. 1. They often quote a translation which does not strictly adhere to the original. 2. They often quote according to the sense, and not according to the letter. 3. They often blend together different passages of Scripture, so as to give the sense, not of any one passage, but the combined sense of several. 4. They sometimes give the sense, not of any particular passage or passages, but, so to speak, the general sense of Scripture. There is no such passage in the Old Testament, for example, as that contained in this last verse, but the sentiment is often and clearly expressed. 5. They never quote as of authority any but the canonical books of the Old Testament” Hodge].
2 Corinthians 7:1.—Having therefore these promises, let us purify ourselves from every defilement of flesh and spirit.—In this passage the Apostle, in a more conciliatory tone (and with the Corinthians associated with himself as brethren in the first person plural) connects with the promises he had quoted in 2 Corinthians 6:16-18, an earnest exhortation that they would aim at a course of conduct worthy of such exalted promises. [The inference he thus makes is applicable not merely to some part of God’s people which had become involved in unhallowed associations, but to all; and hence he includes even himself in the exhortation. He introduces also a word of endearment (ἀγαπητοί), which perceptibly indicates that he was subsiding into his usual calmness of spirit]. The promises to which he had been speaking had been given to the whole body of the Church; and as members of that Church they already possessed them (present ἔχοντες) by faith, inasmuch as even those which referred to the future were really as certain as those which were already realized. The main substance of them related to a personal communion with a God of absolute purity. A full realization of them would require on man’s part a complete renunciation of every thing inconsistent with the Divine nature, and an earnest pursuit after perfect holiness. Καθαρίζειν signifies, not, to remain free from contamination after having once been purified (Olshausen), but, as the uniform usage of the N. T. shows, to purify. [For the original idea involved in καθαρὸς comp. Trench. Synn. p. 175]. The object of this purification, which could never be accomplished without the aid of an indwelling Divine Spirit (comp. Romans 8:13; comp. 2 Corinthians 7:9; Galatians 5:16; Philippians 2:13), was, every defilement of the outer and inner man. The former includes every kind of voluptuousness, intemperance, etc., by means of which the body would be corrupted; and the latter includes thoughts, desires, affections (anger, pride, etc.) by means of which the human spirit (πνεῦμα) is defiled. In actual life these, two classes of defilements are never separated, for as the mental very easily become the fleshly, the seeds of the fleshly are found originally in the mental. He uses the word σαρκός, and not σώματος, because it is only as σάρξ that the body is the sedes et fomes, the seat and the igniter of sin, and hence the flesh (σάρξ) is that to which every bodily defilement ethically adheres (Meyer). The spirit (πνεῦμα) as we have often seen in 1Cor., denotes that spiritual nature which is kindred with God, and which in Christians is under the influence of, and is more or less directed by, the Holy Ghost. But as the action of this spirit may be much impeded or arrested by the defilements here spoken of, the work of purification was rendered continually necessary by the perpetual presence of the flesh, and any want of earnestness in the work of purification was an urgent reason for admonition (Osiander). Ancient as well as modern commentators (even Osiander) assume that the Apostle had a particular reference to crimes of which the Corinthians had been actually guilty (comp. 2 Corinthians 6:14 f.; 2 Corinthians 12:20 f.; 1 Corinthians 5:6). In this case the pollutions of the flesh would refer to unchastity, and those of the spirit to connections with idolatry. Both of these were intimately related (comp. Acts 15:29), and in fact may be referred to idolatry, which is so often named in the Old Testament spiritual harlotry. But not only the addition of παντός but the positive contrast implied, induces us to adopt the more general application; though we do not deny that the Apostle may have had some reference to the particular sins to which this interpretation alludes. The positive part of the exhortation is—perfecting holiness in the fear of God.—Ἁγιωσύνη (holiness) is here, as in Rom 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 3:13, and in the Sept. of Psalms 96:6; Psalms 97:12, the same as ἁγιασμός (comp. on 1 Corinthians 1:30); with the sense of the quality, and not merely the action, of holiness. [Webster: “ἁγιοσύνη differs but little from ἁγιότης (2 Corinthians 1:12; Hebrews 12:10), except perhaps it represents more the condition than the abstract quality; while ἁγιαςμός (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4; 1 Peter 1:2) points primarily to the process and thence, with the gradual approach of the termination in–μός to that–σύνη which is so characteristic of the N. T., the state, frame of mind, or holy disposition, in which the action of the verb is evinced or exemplified”]. The great moral business of the Christian (comp. Romans 6:22) is to complete (ἐπιτελεῖν 2 Corinthians 8:6) the work of holiness or consecration to God which was begun in faith as its principle, and must be actualized, developed and perfected during the whole life. The correlative of this is the Divine perfection which is referred to in Philippians 1:6. This perfecting of holiness is the attainment of complete holiness, and is a work of the whole life which we live in the flesh (Galatians 2:20); and can never reach an absolute completion until the close of life. It must, however, be accomplished in the fear of God. The spiritual ground of all this moral activity, this earnest pursuit of holiness on which depends all fellowship with God, is a profound veneration or reverence for that Holy One who is continually present with us, and from whom nothing is concealed. “This,” as Meyer says, “is the ethical and holy sphere within which righteousness is perfected.”
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
The absolute purity of that God who enters into such intimate relationships with his people that he completely belongs to them, walks among them, is a Father to each one of them, and will regard them all as his sons and daughters, requires that they should be unreservedly consecrated to Him. By their very connection with Him they must continually receive a stream of influences by which the grossest or the slightest impurities whether of the flesh or Spirit must be washed away. Those who have entered into the great scheme of God’s mercy, should therefore have no part with those who entirely reject or practically abjure it. They have covenanted to walk with a God who is nothing but light, and they should have no fellowship with darkness, i. e. with the corrupt practices of men estranged from the life of God. They belong to Christ, and they should abhor and renounce every thing which looks like partnership with the Belial who is the very ideal of all worthlessness and vileness. They in whom God condescends to dwell should have no semblance of harmony with the world’s idolatry. Every attempt to unite together what is so unlike is an abomination to God and hurtful to souls. Under no circumstances can it really promote the cause of God, for it tends always to obliterate the distinction which God has taken pains to make prominent, and to make the requirement of a renovation of heart seem needless. How could those who are in the broad road be alarmed, if they were to see that believers had the same spirit with themselves. The work of God would thus be hindered by a false liberality. Let any one on the other hand consider what God is doing for the welfare of His people, and what an exalted thing it is to have fellowship with God, and he will have such a sense of God’s holy presence and of the gracious privileges of adoption, that he will carefully abstain from everything inconsistent with this sacred relationship. If he should at any time contract external or internal defilement, he will strive by every means to purify himself from it, and to bring his entire heart and life into conformity with his true dignity as a follower of Christ. Never will such a one remit his efforts to attain perfect holiness until he shall become a complete man after the likeness of Him who could say, “I do always those things which please the Father” (John 8:29).
[Nothing in this section should be used, as it often is, to justify or require a separation from those portions of the visible church in which some degree of corruption is found to prevail. The Apostle had reference only to communities which were essentially unchristian, yea, as opposite to Christianity as light is to darkness, idolatry to the true religion. He would never have sanctioned any separation from the visible church (1 Corinthians 1:10; 1 Corinthians 3:3; 1 Corinthians 12:25), but that which was involuntary as e. g. when one had no access to her pale, or when she exacted as a term of membership something in faith or practice which a Christian could not yield with a good and enlightened conscience. In this latter case, whatever guilt there is belongs to the portion of the church which made such a term of communion (3 John 1:10). In such a way Rome is responsible for much of the present division in the ecclesiastical world. But we find nothing in our section or in other portions of the Scriptures to justify any increase of this division by a state of voluntary isolation or withdrawal from any established branch of the church on account of minor imperfections. “It only justifieth our withdrawing our communion from idolaters, and from notorious scandalous sinners in such duties and actions, or in such degrees, as we are under no obligation to have fellowship and communion with them in.” Poole’s Annotations].
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
2 Corinthians 7:11. We here see the source and nature of a true and ready eloquence: a living faith and a friendly confidence in those whom we address.
2 Corinthians 7:12. Comp. 2 Corinthians 12:15. Alas! we have many ministers with hearts open and enlarged enough to embrace all their hearers, but their hearers have hearts which are too generally closed and too narrow to admit them and their messages (Isaiah 51:1; Psalms 109:4).
2 Corinthians 7:14. Hedinger:—Who can love a society which costs him the love of God?—Let us have God, our God, God in us and with us, and all else may go! Little then, O world, do we care for your company or your friendship (James 4:4)!
2 Corinthians 7:15. In Christianity we have the mind and the likeness of Christ; can we think of having these along with our carnal lusts? There can be no agreement between Christ and Belial, for the great, object of this unclean spirit is to ruin men, but Christ’s object is to destroy the works of the devil and to raise men to heaven.
2 Corinthians 7:16. God’s holy and good spirit, and the spirit of uncleanness and wickedness, can never dwell at once in the same heart (Matthew 6:24). No one can be a temple of the living God, until the living God gives him spiritual life.
2 Co 7:17. Sins and vices of all kinds are impurities in God’s sight, and all Christians, as God’s spiritual priests, should be without blemish.
2 Co 7:18. What can be more comforting than to have God for a Father, and to be in Christ His beloved sons and daughters? Not only will such be filled with joy and peace, but they will endeavor to walk worthy of their high vocation and to be truly devout in all their intercourse with God (Genesis 17:1).
2 Corinthians 7:1. We become pure only as we exercise true repentance and are renewed day by day; and this can be only as we allow the Holy Spirit to accomplish in our hearts without obstruction his proper work of purification (John 15:2), and as we use every possible means for putting off old corruptions (Ephesians 4:22; Galatians 5:24), and to exercise ourselves unto godliness (1 Timothy 4:7; Colossians 3:10-12).—From the garment of the old man, one piece after another has to be gradually taken or rather torn off (Spener). The renewed man must therefore: 1. Examine himself in every way to find what sins most easily beset him, and when they are most dangerous; 2. Guard against them us much as possible; 3. Observe carefully what states of mind usually precede his besetting sins, that he may in due time suppress the evil desire before it has acquired ascendancy; 4. Resist every evil passion and overcome it with the weapons of faith, prayer, and clear representations of his duty and of his baptismal vows; 5. Continue to smite the enemy even when he seems slain, etc.—The fear of God should make us diligent in the pursuit of holiness, for we should remember that only thus can we please Him whose eye is never off from us.—Hedinger:—The Gospel should make us never inactive but always vigorous and lively to advance in godliness. The pure and thriving are the only ones who persevere. And why should anyone stand still?—Are these our thanks for such precious promises?
2 Corinthians 7:11. The love of God and of our neighbor, mercy, hope and joy, wonderfully enlarge our hearts; and since the Lord, who makes a man His habitation, fills immensity, and knows no limits, He must of course expand the contracted heart and give it some degree of susceptibility.
2 Corinthians 7:14. Animals of a different nature were not allowed to draw in the same yoke; and Christians should abstain from all companions who will not work in Christ’s yoke. No heart can be at the same time darkened, ensnared and polluted by sin, and enlightened, emancipated and purified by Christ. Darkness hates the light and flees before it.
2 Corinthians 7:16. Whoever is not a temple of God must be a temple of idols and of Satan. Surely no one can be a temple of God who makes an idol of the world, and seeks his profit, honor and pleasure in the world. To be the Lord’s and to be His sanctuary involves the possession of a divine life and a direct fellowship with God. God is willing to rest, rule and walk in the heart. Turn to Him with all thine heart and thou shalt know what this is by experience.
2 Co 7:17, 18. No self-denial can be acceptable to God, if it is merely external and not in the heart. And yet by these external acts we give practical evidence to the world that its own works are evil, and that we have no communion with the works of darkness but rather reprove them. The separations which have always taken place under the preaching of the Gospel have been produced, not from a factious spirit on the part of God’s people, not because they despised their fellow-men, not because they fancied they were better than others, but simply because they were anxious to avoid what is wrong. God is willing to dwell in His people, and if they would dwell in Him, they must continue steadfast and touch no unclean thing. If we desire to be children of God, we must completely separate ourselves from everything opposed Him. And yet, unless we intend that the world shall have equal power over us, we must cast ourselves wholly upon the help of the Almighty.
2 Corinthians 7:1. The power by which our hearts are renewed is principally derived from God’s own precious promises. These are an essential part of God’s covenant with us, but He demands that we also should heartily observe the conditions of the covenant (Jeremiah 7:3-10). We are continually assailed by evil, and yet we are required at all times to be pure. This we ought to be and have power to be, but not by any strength of our own, but by the aid of our risen Saviour. It is important to bo freed not merely from gross vices, but from those spiritual wickednesses with which the foul spirit sometimes besmears the soul (covetousness, arrogance, envy, anger, etc.); and the more spiritual these are the more abominable are they in God’s sight. Indeed, unless the work of purification extends to the most secret thought (Hebrews 4:12), we shall cherish something which will be false, selfish and impure in His eyes. It is the great business of the new life to be continually becoming pearls of the purest lustre. If we follow as God leads us, and as he gives us power to walk; if we submit cheerfully to His discipline, we shall doubtless reach at least the complete maturity of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).
2 Corinthians 7:11 ff. No minister should hope to win the hearts of men by the esteem and the respect which he commands in society, if he does not also freely open his heart to them in love.
2 Corinthians 7:14 ff. Whatever may be the consequences to ourselves, we should never think lightly of the separation from a world lying in wickedness and the superiority to it which faith in Christ and the possession of God’s Spirit gives us. Unless we receive in vain the grace of our high calling, we shall find connected with it the largest promises. Compared with these, what has the world to offer?—2 Corinthians 7:1. Why is it that some times it takes a long time to fix and tranquilize our hearts, or to become calm after the excitement which some arrogant treatment or some offence has awakened in our bosom? How much prayer has thus been hindered? How many hours, which might have been spent in a Divine peace, have been spoiled by the torment of our own thoughts? All this comes from that filthiness of the flesh and spirit which we still allow to remain in us. Sanctification begins by forsaking the promiscuous multitude, by drawing near to God and by giving ourselves to His service. But it must be continued and completed. The fear of God is our strong fortress and security; let us see to it that we do not presumptuously venture away from it!
2 Corinthians 7:11. It is not like a Christian to maintain a perpetual reserve toward those around him, for by his renewed nature he must long to open his heart to those he loves. Between friends there must necessarily be a freedom of expression, and one of the benefits of those associations into which only a few are admitted is, that the heart may be more freely exposed there.
2 Corinthians 7:12. The enlarged and full heart of a Christian must not unfrequently experience much sorrow when it is misunderstood and not appreciated by those in whom it confides.
2 Corinthians 7:13. The love which never gives by halves demands the whole heart in return.
2 Corinthians 7:14-15. Christianity claims that our hearts should be shared by nothing else, and that not only the desires but the whole mind and heart should be pure. It calls for the expulsion of all foreign elements from our natures, and insists upon an absolute intolerance of everything inconsistent with its principles and the word of God. Distinguish here between that disposition to live peaceably with others, which springs from benevolence, and that which accommodates itself to them, approves of their course and imitates their conduct from fear. Whoever joins with others in what is sinful, from a love of their society, accepts the yoke which they received from a love of sin. See the diametrical opposition between truth and error, goodness and wickedness. Impure and weak men would gladly unite these together, but Christianity says to them: Either receive the good as a whole, or decline it altogether: there must be no mingling of them together. Christ is determined to be our only Master; He calls for the whole heart or none of it. To receive the maxims and customs of the unbelieving world is the same thing as to pay court to Satan. The Christian is always at open war with everything not of God, and there must be no temporizing, no yielding. Keep thyself pure!
2 Corinthians 7:16. When a man yields up his heart to sin, he sets up an idol there. But God can have possession only where nothing else is tolerated.—If God dwells in us, it is by the continual influence of His Spirit producing an inward life which is entirely Divine. If God walks among us there will be a common form of life in which the mind of the Spirit will be clearly expressed, and an impression will be made upon others that God is in the midst of us. Whoever enters such a community will feel the animation of a Divine breath, and will be moved to spiritual activity.
2 Co 7:17. Though we were born and grew up in the world, and though we have caught much of its spirit, the moment we forsake it we forsake it entirely, and henceforth feel a contempt for everything in it, in which God has no part. This is a separation of which all must approve. In such a world we may be looked upon as exiled from God, but in leaving it we find in Him our Father.
2 Co 7:18. The whole Christian world ought to be one holy, divine family. Oh, how far is it from being so now!—2 Corinthians 7:1. The sanctifying power of God’s promises (1 John 3:3). Great promises, great demands; great expectations, great warnings! Every sin is a vile spot upon a Christian, whose whole body and soul ought to be a pure temple of God. Sanctification begins with conversion, but it continues through the whole life. God is determined to make something of us, but not all at once. To the accomplishment of His purpose it is indispensable that we should cherish for Him a holy reverence (1 Peter 1:17).
W. F. Besser:
2 Corinthians 7:13. Christians have the warmest love and regard for us when they admonish us not to receive the grace of God in vain by a careless association with those who despise religion.
2 Corinthians 7:14. The yoke in which unbelievers toil is that of carnal will, carnal reason, carnal inclinations; in a word, everything dear to the natural heart. But to the believer this is a foreign yoke (Matthew 11:29). Righteousness is the Christian’s royal badge (Matthew 6:33), the richest of all his possessions (Matthew 6:21); but unrighteousness is the greatest reproach, the greatest injury and the greatest guilt of the ungodly man, however splendid may be his worldly virtues. To be truly righteous is to be truly saved, for life and bliss must be where forgiveness of sin is. On the other hand, to be truly unrighteous is to be really lost, for he is condemned already on whom lies the imputation of sin. Righteousness must therefore be forever separate from unrighteousness, in doctrine as well as in practice!
2 Corinthians 7:15. It would keep us from intermingling our thoughts and efforts with those of unbelievers if we would think much of the mighty chasm which there is between heaven and hell. Labor not in the same yoke with men, unless you would be willing to remain with them forever. The very heart of all idola try is a disposition to glorify man, and the prime article of the unbeliever’s creed is to make a god of the creature, and to exalt the flesh to honor.
2 Corinthians 7:16. The temple of the living God is a Church of living saints, a spiritual house pervaded by the life of the Triune God, and composed of living stones (1 Peter 2:5). This inscription: “The Temple of the living God,” should call us away from the disorders of an idolatry which conceals a real death under the appearance of life, and from the discord of a heathenism which is cut up into a thousand forms of worship, to a Christian unity whose best representation is that of a spiritual temple (Ephesians 2:21).
2 Co 7:17, 18. Christians are no longer the mere bearers of the Lord’s vessels, as were the priests and Levites of an earlier day, but they are themselves the Lord’s vessels; their bodies and souls belong to Him, and they are sanctified by the Holy Spirit as members of the body of Christ. Of course, then, it would be unbecoming for such vessels to remain in a world lying in wickedness. The union of pure and impure doctrine is the very worst kind of desecration. Our Father, the Lord Almighty, has assured us that we shall always possess abundant satisfaction all along the way of self-denial and suffering; but he has also wisely provided that we should be pervaded by a holy fear of offending Him (1 Peter 1:17; comp. 1 Corinthians 10:22).—2 Corinthians 7:1. Even though we have been partially cleansed from sin, the grace will not continue with us unless we remain united with Christ by a true faith, and separate ourselves from sin. The Christian, is called continually to aim at perfect sanctification, though he daily finds that he comes short of it (Philippians 3:12). He must, therefore, persevere in this effort until he shall reach the rest which God has prepared for them that love Him. That fear of God which urges him forward is not one which is cast out by love and has torment (1 John 4:18), but one which love itself inspires, because it dreads the torment of a defiled conscience.
[F. W. Robertson, on the whole section:—We have here—1. The exuberance of the Apostle’s affection (2 Corinthians 7:11). He had received a multitude of provocations from the Corinthians, and yet his love was deep; our heart is enlarged. It was partly compassion for them as his children, for whom he had suffered; and it was partly from a regard to them as immortal beings, who should be, and who might become, exceedingly eminent. Then he was eloquent, his mouth was open to them. He might have shut his lips and in dignified pride have refused to plead his cause. But he speaks freely, not even cautiously, but like a man who has nothing to conceal or to fear. 2. The recompense he desired. This was, first, unworldliness, or separation from the world. Independent of the impossibility of agreeing in the deepest sympathies, and of there being no identity of tastes or antipathies, the first ground was immorality, unrighteousness, profligacy, and the second was irreligion, unbelief. This separateness, however is not merely outward, but in spirit. It was, secondly, Personal purification (2 Corinthians 7:1). The ground on which this request was made was “these promises (the indwelling of God, his free reception of us, and His Fatherhood and our sonship, 2 Corinthians 6:16-18); the request itself was for personal purity; and the means were, the “fear of God,” realizing the promises and perfecting holiness.—Lectt. XLIX. and L., abridged].
[1 2 Corinthians 6:11.—For the second ἡμῶν B. has ὑμῶν. Tisch. in his Cod. sin. gives ἠμῶν in the text, but ν̔μῶν as a var. lect.].
2 Corinthians 6:14; 2 Corinthians 6:14—Rec. has τίς δὲ, but ἤ τίς has stronger support [B. C. D. E. F. G. L. Sin. with the majority of versions and Fathers]. The δέ being more usual was probably a correction.
2 Corinthians 6:15; 2 Corinthians 6:15.—Rec. has χριστῷ, but it was probably a correction to conform to φωτὶ and the other datives in the connection. B. C. et al [Sinait. D. L. the Vulg., and Copt. the Latin fathers] have χριστοῦ. [Lachm., Tisch., Meyer, and Alford also adopt it; but Bloomfield inclines to χριστῷ under an impression that the other was suggested by the Latin copies or to facilitate construction].
2 Corinthians 6:15; 2 Corinthians 6:15.—The best authenticated form of this word is βελίαρ; but some copies have βελίαν and βελίαβ. The βελ̓ίαλ of the Rec. is feebly sustained. [It has no MSS. and little more than the Vulgate, which adopted it from the original Hebrew form. All Greek MSS. of importance have βελίαρ. Sept. treated the word as a common noun and translated it. The Vulgate and our English version sometimes give it as a proper noun, but they often translate it by the word wicked, or some equivalent term. The Hellenistic Jews often changed λ into ρ as in the Doric φαῦρος for φαῦλος The fromβελίαρoften occurs in the Test. of the 12 Patriarchs, in the interpolated Ignatius, in the Apost. Canons, and in the Greek Fathers generally. As the Greeks never ended their proper names in ρ, they were not likely to change βελίαl into βελίαρ, while the Latins were quite likely to conform the βελίαρ to their Vulgate].
2 Corinthians 6:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16.—The Rec. has ὑμεῖς—ἐστε instead of ἡμεῖς—ἐσμεν. It was probably a reminiscence of 1 Corinthians 3:16, and an attempt to conform to 2 Corinthians 6:14; 2 Corinthians 6:17. The authorities, however, are about equally balanced. [B. D. L. Sin. and some versions and Fathers have the Rec. but C. D. (3d Cor.) E. F. G. K. the Vulg. Syr. Goth, verss. and most of the Greek Fathers have the other. No reason can be imagined for changing the ν̔μεις into ἡμεῖς equally strong with that which has above been suggested for the opposite course].
2 Corinthians 6:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16.—Rec. has μοι, Lachm. has μου. The testimony for the latter is not strong, and it is probably an attempt to conform the text to the preceding αὐτῶν. [And yet B. C. and Sin. have μου, while D. F. K. L. with the verss. and most Fathers have μοι].
2 Corinthians 6:17; 2 Corinthians 6:17—Rec. has ἐξέλθετε but εξελθατε is better suited to the sense and is more strongly sustained. [The former is better conformed to linguistic usage, but the latter was for this very reason less likely to be altered to it. it is better sustained by the best MSS. of the Sept., has B. C. F. G. Sin. and Damasc. in its favor, and has the sanction of Lachm., Tisch. and Alford].
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 6". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29