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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 6

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New TestamentSchaff's NT Commentary

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Verse 1

2 Corinthians 6:1. And working together with him, we entreat also that ye receive not the grace of God compare Acts 24:24, “the gospel of the grace of God,” and Acts 13:42, “persuaded them to continue in the grace of God,” in vain: ‘Having pleaded with the unreconciled, as though God were pleading by us, no longer to resist the yearning desire and the gracious provision of God in Christ for their reconciliation, we now turn to you, already reconciled, and, in the same capacity of “workers together with Him,” entreat you to turn that grace to practical account, by “walking worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.”’

Verse 2

2 Corinthians 6:2. (for he saith (Isaiah 49:8), At an acceptable [1] time I hearkened unto thee, and in the day of salvation I succoured thee. The whole strain of prophecy from which these words are quoted is brightly Messianic, and the words quoted were addressed by Jehovah to “His Servant” the Messiah, assuring Him that He is fully alive to His rightful claims, that He “hearkens to Him at the choice time” (‘the tense is the prophetic perfect’ [2] ); for Jehovah had said, “Ask of me, and I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession” (Psalms 2:8), and when “the day of salvation” arrives He will not fail to make His promise good. Well, says our apostle here, behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation): ‘Do ye, Gentile converts, therefore, make this good in your own case, shewing, by what the Gospel has made you to be, that this is no name but a glorious reality.’

[1] The verbal association of ideas here in δέξασθαι (2 Corinthians 6:1) and δεκτ ῷ (2 Corinthians 6:2) should be noticed by the student of the original.

[2] Cheyne’s Isaiah, ii. p. 1

Ver. 2. giving, etc. The connexion is with the opening words of the chapter, As “working together with God,” and . . . giving no occasion of stumbling in any thing, that our ministration be not blamed. How far the opposite of this was the uniform procedure of the apostle, he protests in the remarkable and glowing verses that follow.

Verse 4

2 Corinthians 6:4. but in everything commending ourselves as (beseems) ministers of God particularly in patience . . . distresses four forms of trial of a personal nature;

Verse 5

2 Corinthians 6:5. in stripes . . . tumults from without, arising from opposition to his ministry; in labours . . . fastings undergone as a self-denying Christian and minister of Christ;

Verse 6

2 Corinthians 6:6. in pureness... in the Holy Ghost probably such manifestations of the power of the truth as left no room for doubt that it was the Holy Ghost “giving testimony to the word of His grace.”

Verse 7

2 Corinthians 6:7. in the word of truth ... by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left by our conscious rectitude, which, amid all attacks both from open and concealed enemies, is our defence wherever we turn. So we take these words (with Calvin). To understand it of the “righteousness which is of faith” (as Meyer does, and Alford after him), seems here out of place.

Verse 8

2 Corinthians 6:8. . . . as deceivers in the account of our enemies, and yet true in reality;

Verse 9

2 Corinthians 6:9. as unknown by the great indifferent world, and yet well known by all who take the trouble to hear us, and specially by all who have felt the quickening power of our preaching (chap. 2 Corinthians 3:2, 2 Corinthians 4:2). We can say of ourselves as our Master said to the high priest, “We ever speak openly to the world; in secret have we said nothing” (John 18:20); as dying, and behold, we live ‘We seem to “die daily” in our Master’s service (see on chap. 2 Corinthians 4:10-12); but lo! despite all this, through that spring of new life which is in us and the power of Christ resting on us, here we still are;’ as chastened, and not killed. The words are taken from Psalms 118:18 (LXX.), “The Lord hath chastened me sore, but He hath not given me over unto death.” Probably the thing here meant is simply that in all he had to endure as a minister of Christ, however unjust on the part of others, he experienced a chastening effect from the Divine hand, keeping him down and mellowing his character. The next words seem to confirm this:

Verse 10

2 Corinthians 6:10. as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing “sowing in tears, yet reaping in joy;” a paradox to which no true servant of Christ, who “watches for souls as one that shall give account,” is quite a stranger; as poor in this world’s goods, yet making many rich putting them in possession of “the true riches” (Luke 16:1), “a treasure in the heavens that faileth not” (Luke 12:33). See chap. 2 Corinthians 8:9; James 2:5; Hebrews 11:26; Hebrews 11:26; as having nothing (earthly), and yet possessing all things for “all things are ours” (1 Corinthians 3:21). Perhaps, however, all needful temporal supplies may also be in view; for, writing to the Philippians, when depending from day to day on what his converts might thoughtfully send him, he expatiates with a touching gratitude on their considerate attention to his wants, and ends with these words, “But I have all, and abound” (Philippians 4:10-19).

Thus ends this noble strain! But it is only to pass into an equally impassioned strain of entreaty, to those who were the fruits of so self-consuming a ministry of reconciliation, to manifest the grand design of it the calling out of an unbelieving and unholy world a people who should shine, by their Christian example, “as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life.”

Verses 11-12

2 Corinthians 6:11-12. Our month is open unto you, O Corinthians, our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own affections ‘If there is any want of openness between us, it is not on our part, but all on your own; injurious thoughts of us, bred of unworthy suspicion of our motives, have haply chilled your feelings, cooled your love; as for our feelings towards you, they are the same as ever.’

Verse 13

2 Corinthians 6:13. Now for a recompense in like kind (I speak as unto my children), be ye also enlarged ‘As a spiritual father to his children in the faith, let me ask you to open your hearts frankly to me, as mine is opened to you, and suffer me now freely to counsel you.’

Verse 14

2 Corinthians 6:14. Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers. The figure is drawn from the heterogeneous yoking of animals in a team (compare Deuteronomy 22:10, “Thou shalt not plough with an ox and an ass together;” and see Leviticus 19:19); and though the more immediate reference probably is to too intimate association with their unconverted fellow-citizens at feasts, and especially to intermarriage with heathens, it is doubtless meant to embrace all entangling association with those whose close fellowship would have a deadening effect on their religious life,

for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity? On the meaning of “righteousness” here, see on 2 Corinthians 6:7,

or what communion hath light with dark-ness? Compare Luke 16:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5; Amos 3:5; Ephesians 5:7-8; 1 John 1:6-7.

Verse 15

2 Corinthians 6:15. And what concord hath Christ with Belial? From the use of this proper name, and the antithesis with Christ, it evidently is meant (like Beelzebub in Matthew 12:24) as a synonym for Satan (Stanley),

or what portion hath a believer with an unbeliever? It is not their having different speculative opinions about religion that makes intimate fellowship between them impracticable; it is that a “believer” is supposed to breathe a different atmosphere, to live for fundamentally different ends, and to have entirely different interests and tastes and modes of action, from an “unbeliever.” (See on chap. 2 Corinthians 5:16-17.)

Verse 16

2 Corinthians 6:16. And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for we [1] are the temple of the living God- not only in contrast with the dead idols in the heathen temples, but to express the living character of the temple itself (1 Peter 2:5);

[1] The first person plural, not the second, is the true reading here.

even as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. The quotation is from Leviticus 26:12 (as in LXX.), save the first words, ‘I will dwell in them,’ which seem to be a combination of Psalms 68:18 (LXX.) and of the import of several other passages. No language, surely, could more emphatically express the radical contrast between “believers” and “unbelievers” than this.

Verse 17

2 Corinthians 6:17. Wherefore, come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch no unclean thing. We have here another quotation, from Isaiah 52:11, in which Israel is prophetically summoned to shake off the defilement they contracted by their long residence among the idolaters of Babylon, by finally quitting it;

and I will receive you a reminiscence from Ezekiel 20:34, as rendered in the LXX.,

and will be to you a Father, and ye shall be to me sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. This is a free combination of various passages in the Old Testament such as Jeremiah 31:9, Isaiah 43:6; and as the word “Almighty” occurs nowhere in the Old Testament save in the LXX. of 2 Samuel 7:8, it is possible that 2 Corinthians 6:14 of that chapter may have come under the apostle’s eye while writing (or dictating) this sentence. The spirit of these concluding words may be thus expressed: ‘Hard duty this (ye will say) in such a case as ours; for if we are to “come out from among” all unbelievers, all idolaters, all the unclean, we shall have to come out from all our nearest and dearest relatives, even fathers and mothers.’ ‘Perhaps so (replies the apostle), but even then ye will find One who will be to you what all the parents in the world cannot be, and ye will be to Him sons and daughters in a sense unutterable and eternally enduring.’ (Compare Psalms 27:10.) And here there seems, too, a touching reminiscence of our Lord’s own words to Peter when he said, “Lo, we have left all and have followed Thee:” “Verily I say unto you, there is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or mother, or father, or children, or hinds for my sake and for the Gospel’s sake, but he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brethren, and sisters and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life” (Mark 10:28-30), and our Lord Himself was the first to exemplify, in His own case, this re-construction of all the relationships and affections of life, on the basis of a deeper and more enduring tie, after they have been sacrificed in their natural form on the altar of lofty principle (see Matthew 12:46-50).

Note. Though “unequal yoking” here seems to have no special reference to marriages of this character, yet, as a fact, greater and more varied evils, from the very earliest period and in every age, have sprung from this cause than can well be described. It was the immediate cause of that frightful wickedness that brought the flood upon the old world (Genesis 6:1-7). Against this snare the Israelites were repeatedly warned in view of their entrance into the Promised Land (Exodus 34:16; Deuteronomy 7:3-4, etc.). Into this pit Samson fell to his cost (Judges 14:3); and Solomon (1 Kings 11:1-10); and on account of the extent to which marriage with strange wives had been carried during the captivity, Ezra ordered a national humiliation, which was followed by a formal undoing of the unlawful connexion (Ezra 9:10). Of course, by how much the Christian calling is higher, and the consecration it implies more sacred, than that which preceded it, the more glaring is the inconsistency, and the greater the loss incurred. The result on a principle obvious enough is, not that the “righteousness” of the one party dissolves the “unrighteousness” of the other, but that the lower drags down the higher (see 1 Corinthians 15:33).

Bibliographical Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 6". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/scn/2-corinthians-6.html. 1879-90.
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