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2 Corinthians 6:1. We then, as workers together with him— As the joint-labourers of God. Doddridge. As instruments employed by God. Heylin. See 1 Corinthians 3:9. Receiving the grace of God in vain, is the same with believing in vain, 1 Corinthians 15:2. That is, receiving the doctrine of the gospel for truth, and professing Christianity, without experiencing its power, and performing what the gospel requires.
2 Corinthians 6:2. For he saith— See on Isaiah 49:8. The Apostle's reasoning is, God, addressing himself in the passage produced from Isaiah to the Messiah, speaks of a limited time, in which the Messiah's petition, speaking more humano, after the manner of men, was welcome to him, and in which he was ready to grant salvation; and behold, now is the accepted time,—now is the precious season, when, by the wonderful favour and goodness of God, complete forgiveness and eternal felicity are freely offered. This verse should be read in a parenthesis. See the introduction to the chapter.
2 Corinthians 6:4. In affliction, &c.— Dr. Whitby thinks that the first word Θλιψις, signifies affliction in general; the second, 'Αναγκη, more grievous and unavoidable troubles; and the third, στενοχωρια, such pressures as reduce us to the greatest straits. See on ch. 2 Corinthians 4:8. The compound sense, therefore, on the whole, is, "We are, as it were, hemmed in with inevitable, and, humanly speaking, inextricable calamities on every side." Beza interprets the word ακαταστασιαις, rendered tumults in the next verse, of "such attacks as a man cannot stand against; but which bear him hither and thither with violence." He would render it in Latin by the word exagitationibu
2 Corinthians 6:6. By pureness, by knowledge, &c.— By purity, or chastity. Heylin. "By knowledge of those divine truths which it is our great business to teach others; and by the due exercise of that knowledge, through the power of grace, in a constant command over our passions." Dr. Scott by knowledge understands Christian prudence.
2 Corinthians 6:7. By the armour of righteousness— "While our enemies assault on every side, it is our care still to be clothed and girded about with the armour of righteousness, both on the right hand and on the left; well knowing that armour to be impenetrable." On the right hand, and on the left, means on every side;—perfectly and entirely. Some refer it to the Christian's being armed, through grace, against the temptations of prosperity and adversity. Mr. Locke's paraphrase is, "By uprightness of mind, wherewith I am armed at all points, both to do and to suffer." It is scarcely necessary to observe to the reader, how extremely sublime and pathetic this whole passage is. Comp Php 4:18. 1 Timothy 6:17. Ephesians 1:3.Revelation 21:7; Revelation 21:7. 1 Corinthians 3:21-23.
2 Corinthians 6:11. O ye Corinthians,— Another argument made use of by St. Paul, to justify and excuse his plainness of speech to the Corinthians, is the great affection that he has for them; into an expression whereof he here breaks out in a very pathetic manner. This, with an exhortation to separate themselves from idolaters and unbelievers, is what he insists upon from this place to ch. 2 Corinthians 7:16. "O ye Corinthians! my mouth is open to you; my heart is enlarged to you: my affection, my tenderness for you is not strait or narrow. It is your own narrowness makes you uneasy. Let me speak to you, as a father to his children: in return, do you likewise enlarge your affections to me: be ye not associated with unbelievers, (2 Corinthians 6:14.) have nothing to do with them in their vices or worship, or by uniting yourselves in marriage to them; for what fellowship hath righteousness," &c. See ch. 2 Corinthians 7:1.
2 Corinthians 6:12. Ye are not straitened, &c.— "There is no want of kindness in our souls toward you; but, alas! there is reason to fear, concerning some of you at least, that yourown hearts are too much shut up, through the workings of unbelief, carnality, and coolness of affection, against us, and against the consolations which are in Christ for you, which suit your circumstances, and of whichwe would fain have you partakers."
2 Corinthians 6:14. Be ye not unequally yoked, &c.— "Be not associates in marriage, in worship, or in any thing with infidels; for what union can there be," &c. See on 2 Corinthians 6:11.
2 Corinthians 6:15. Hath he that believeth, &c.— Or, hath a believer, &c.
2 Corinthians 6:16. The temple of God;— There seems a peculiar strength in this interrogation; "If God would not endure idols in any part of the land in which he dwelt, how much less would he endure them under his own roof?" No words in our language can equal the force of the Greek, which we render, I will dwell in them;— ενοικησω εν αυτοις,— "I will take up my indwelling in them." This was a promise made to the Jews on their being converted; and consequentlyrefers to their privileges, as members of the Christian church; which shews the propriety of the application, Jeremiah 31:33; Jeremiah 32:37-38.
2 Corinthians 6:17-18. And be ye separate, saith the Lord,— As God's promises of dwelling in a peculiar manner among the Jews obliged them to separate themselves from the converse of their heathen neighbours, that they might not be ensnared with their superstitions; much more are Christians obliged, by that peculiar gracious presence of God which they enjoy, to separate themselves from all impure and idolatrous worship. It has been questioned whence this quotation is taken. Some say from Jeremiah 31:1. &c. but that does not sufficiently express the paternal relation,—I will be a Father, &c. Others refer it to 2 Samuel 7:8; 2Sa 7:14 which may be applied to Christ, and in him to believers. Comp. Hebrews 1:4-5. Some think it is not expressly to be found any where, and that it refers to all the scriptures, where God calls his people by the title of children.
Inferences.—What an honour and encouragement is it to the faithful servants of Christ, that God and they, in a proper order, are embarked and employed in the same glorious cause, which is founded on Christ's acceptance with the Father, that sinners might be accepted through him! The day of gospel grace is the only day for finding acceptance with God; and therefore every one should see to it, that he receive it without delay, and do not hear of its glad tidings in vain. But how careful should ministers be, to behave in so unblameable a manner, as not to disgrace their sacred office, nor prejudice their hearers against the doctrines they preach! They are to approve themselves faithful, by their purity and knowledge, patience, kindness, and unfeigned love, in all their sufferings, trials, and labours, by the assistance of the Holy Ghost; by a right use of the word of truth and the armour of righteousness, to guard them against temptations on every side, even such as arise from honour and dishonour, from evil report and good report: and they should labour, by divine grace, to behave as true and faithful persons, and to be made manifest as such, in the consciences and esteem of real Christians, while they are traduced as deceivers, or are treated as mean and insignificant wretches, by others. In this way of acquitting themselves, behold how signally God appears for them. How much soever they may be chastened, they are wonderfully kept alive, till their Lord has done his work by them: how sad soever their outward condition may seem to be, they are filled with all joy and peace in believing: and how poor soever they be in this world, they possess all things in Christ, their Head, and are instruments of making many rich toward God. O how freely and affectionately are their hearts and mouths open to their flocks; and what a reasonable return is it, that their people's hearts should be enlarged in like love to them! For they are neither straitened in the love of their pastors, nor in their ministrations of the promises; but all their straitness lies within themselves, in their own carnality and unbelief. And how concerned should believers be for grace, to enable them to live answerable to the exalted privileges by which God has honoured and distinguished them; to abstain from every thing, that has the least aspect of falling in with any corruptions that lie in opposition to the purity of their faith, worship, and obedience; and to take heed that they be not unequally yoked with unbelievers in any relation, or in any sense, that tends to ensnare and defile them. For they can no more, as believers, have Christian fellowship with others in sinful, superstitious, and idolatrous customs, than righteousness and unrighteousness, light and darkness, Christ and Belial, or the temple of God and idols can be reconciled and harmonize. And, to encourage the people of God to separate from every thing polluting, and offensive to him, he, who is the Lord Almighty, has promised that, in their relinquishing such things, they shall be no losers; but that he will dwell in them, and commune with them; will receive them into his special care and protection; and will be the best of Fathers to them, and treat them as his sons and daughters.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, We have an account,
1. Of the general exhortation which, as ambassadors for Christ, St. Paul and his fellow-labourers addressed to all their hearers. We then as workers together with him, as the instruments that he employs in calling lost sinners to a state of reconciliation with God, beseech you also, among others to whom we are sent, that ye receive not the grace of God in vain, nor slight his Gospel, remaining empty professors, instead of actual possessors, of the power and life of godliness. For he saith, addressing his Son, the Messiah, Isaiah 49:4-6. I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee; answering his prayers, as most acceptable before him, and supplying him with the needful strength to finish the great atonement, and to carry on the work of salvation in his faithful saints: behold, now is the accepted time, when the sinners of every nation are invited to partake of the blessings and privileges of the Gospel, and are sure of acceptance with God through his dear Son, if they accept of the invitation: behold, now is the day of salvation; seize therefore the present moment, and fly for refuge to Jesus, the hope set before you. Note; (1.) To-day God invites, to-day we should hear and obey; no moment is to be trifled with; every breath that we draw is precarious; to-morrow may not belong to time, but to eternity. What an awakening consideration! How are we called to improve the present NOW! (2.) Ministers must with importunity and eagerness urge upon dying men the necessity of attending instantly to the things of their everlasting peace, before they be hid from their eyes.
2. Of their carefulness to avoid every occasion of offence. Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed; behaving so discreetly, both among Jews and Gentiles, as to give no ground of prejudice against that gospel which we preach, but in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, becoming the character that we bear; in much patience, meekly resigned, and steadily persevering; in afflictions, of various kinds, which we suffer for our work's sake; in necessities, wanting even food and raiment; in distresses, from which we see no human way to extricate ourselves; in stripes, beaten both in the synagogues and before the heathen tribunals; in imprisonments, cast into dungeons; in tumults, from outrageous mobs; in labours, unceasing; in watchings, in fastings, having our rest broken, and our provision scanty; and sometimes voluntarily denying ourselves food and sleep on a religious account. And in these sufferings we are supported by pureness, acting with the greatest simplicity of intention, and integrity of conduct; by knowledge, fully acquainted with the truths which we deliver; by long suffering, bearing with the perverseness and provocations of opposers; by kindness, in temper and manners gentle, and courteous; by the Holy Ghost, of whose gifts, graces, and consolations we abundantly partake; by love unfeigned to God and man; by the word of truth, which unadulterated we deliver; by the power of God, whose everlasting arms are under us, and who, in the miracles that he enables us to work, bears testimony to our doctrine; by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, furnished out of the armoury of God with every thing necessary for our spiritual warfare; by honour and dishonour, not elated with the high esteem of some, nor discouraged by the insolent contempt of others; by evil report, and good report, mentioned with great commendation by our friends, and branded with the most infamous slanders by our enemies; as deceivers, so treated by many, and yet true, proved and found faithful to Christ, and the souls of men; as unknown, represented as men of no figure and despicable, and yet well known; those who are best acquainted with us, are sensible of our real characters, of our importance and usefulness; as dying, and every hour in jeopardy, and behold we live, amidst all our dangers; as chastened from the Lord, and by the hands of men, and not killed, immortal till our work is done; as sorrowful, under manifold temptations, yet alway rejoicing in a sense of the divine love and favour; as poor in this world, yet making many rich, with the unsearchable riches of Christ; as having nothing, which we can call our own, dependent on Providence for daily bread; and yet possessing all things, having a present fulness in the contentment that we enjoy, and blessed with all the internal riches of grace.
2nd, The Apostle's heart glowed with warm affection, and he cannot but unbosom himself. O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged; we speak with the greatest freedom, and long for your salvation. Ye are not straitened in us; we love you ardently; we would keep back nothing from you that could promote your spiritual and eternal interests; but ye are straitened in your own bowels, and fail to make the suitable returns of gratitude, or to receive fully the blessings which we communicate. Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children from whom I may justly expect the strongest filial regard) be ye also enlarged, in mutual love toward us your faithful ministers, and in your cordial reception of that blessed Gospel, with all its precious doctrines and inestimable privileges, which we declare unto you. As a father then I admonish you, for the credit of your profession, and for the good of your own souls, be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers, intermarrying with the unconverted heathen, or otherwise entering into near and close connections with them, particularly not joining in any of their religious services: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? What holy friendship can subsist between a renewed and an unrenewed soul? And what communion, in society and converse, hath the enlightened Christian with the unawakened sinner, any more than light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? What harmony can subsist between the members of Christ and the children of the wicked one? Or what part or lot hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? How can the worshippers of the true Jehovah, and who are themselves his living temple, join with heathens in their idolatrous worship? How absurd is it, and incongruous? For ye are the temple of the living God, where his divine Spirit is pleased to take up his abode; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them, in a nobler sense than he ever was in his temple of old, blessing them with his presence and abiding communion; and I will be their God, united to them in love, and making them partakers of my Divine Nature; and they shall be my people, yielding to me a holy and willing obedience. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate from all unnecessary intercourse and familiarity with the surrounding heathen, saith the Lord; and touch not the unclean thing; keep at the greatest possible distance from idolatry and every abomination; and I will receive you as my peculiar people, and will be a Father unto you, shewing you the most endeared affection; and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty, admitted to that high dignity and most inestimable privilege. Note; (1.) A child of God must separate himself from the ways and manners of a world that lieth in wickedness. (2.) God cannot bear a rival in our hearts; no idols must be harboured there.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 6". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29