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Bible Commentaries

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
2 Corinthians 6

 

 

Verses 1-13

7. The Example of the Apostle Paul; His Testings and Trials.

CHAPTER 6:1-13

He beseeches the Corinthians as coworkers, in view of the ministry of reconciliation, not to receive this grace of God in vain. This is not a contradiction of the doctrine of the security of a true believer. The apostle evidently was uneasy about some of these Corinthian Christians and feared that some had not received the grace of God in their hearts. Their conduct led him to this questioning. If the grace of God comes to man it may be received in vain and lead not to the blessed results in quickening power and real salvation for which it is given. “The security of His children is unquestionable, not so much through their perseverance, as men say, but by His power through faith; but the Corinthians needed and received faithful entreaty, for their ways were not such as became the gospel. They were compromising His glory, who had called them to the fellowship of His Son; and the apostle instead of comforting them with the blessed assurance of the close of Romans 8:1-39, would here exercise conscience as well as affection in presence of God’s grace” (William Kelly).

Interesting is the quotation from Isaiah 49:1-26. A careful examination of Isaiah 49:4-8 is suggested. It is a prophecy concerning the Messiah. His rejection by Israel is there predicted, and the words of the eighth verse, quoted here, “I have heard thee in a time accepted and in the day of salvation I have succored thee” are addressed to Christ, whom Israel rejected. God raised Him from the dead, and though Israel is not gathered, He becomes the power of salvation for the Gentiles. This is the meaning of “behold now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation.” “Now” means this present dispensation when salvation is offered to the Gentiles. But grace rejected, neglected or perverted, as it is the case in this age in which grace reigns through righteousness, will bring judgment, followed by the blessings for Israel and the earth.

The apostle speaks once more of himself and describes negatively and positively the moral features which he manifested in his life as a true minister of God. He knew nothing of inconsistency in life, which is so detrimental to the ministry of the Word. “Giving no offence in anything that the ministry be not blamed.” Well has it been said, “Christianity is real and living, not dogmatic only, still less official, else it becomes of all things the most contemptible.” The apostle’s life in every detail was a comment on his ministry. He practiced what he preached, The opposite undermines any preaching or teaching. “But in everything commending ourselves as the ministers of God.” There was more than the avoidance of offence; in anything, in all conditions and under all circumstances he behaved himself as becomes the minister of God, the ambassador of Christ. In much patience, never impatient, but always enduring in afflictions of various kinds when the world and the god of this age pressed him hard; in necessities and straits, when there seemed to be no escape. Then there were sufferings: in stripes, in prisons, in tumults. Of these we read more in chapter 11. Then there are named things he took upon himself willingly and gladly as the minister of God, namely: labors, watchings and fastings. By these he manifested his devotedness. Well may we ponder over each as they are given in 2 Corinthians 6:6-7. Then follows a series of contrasts. By glory and dishonor. He experienced these opposite extremes, both among the Saints, and also in the world. He was shamefully entreated and also revered. He was beloved and honored by God’s people and dishonored by the slandering tongue of false teachers. But throughout he proved himself as the minister of God. By evil report and good report, as deceivers and yet true. “Woe unto you if all men speak well of you.” If the servant of Christ follows Him, the world will hate him and brand him a deceiver as it was done with the Lord (Matthew 27:63). It would take many pages to follow the paradoxes as given by this model and master servant. Nothing more beautiful and attractive than 2 Corinthians 6:10, “As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing all things.” Oh, blessed life! May God’s grace and God’s Spirit enable us to manifest Christ as this servant of Christ did.


Verses 14-16

8. The Apostle’s Exhortations and Rejoicings.

CHAPTER 6:14-7

1. His Exhortations. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 2 Corinthians 7:1.)

2. His Rejoicing and Confidence. (2 Corinthians 7:2-16.)

The first exhortation is to separation from evil, without which no true fellowship with God can be enjoyed. It is one of the most important exhortations in the Pauline epistles, and greatly needed in our days of laxity and worldliness among Christians. God calls His people to holiness. “But as He who hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” He has separated us from the world which lieth in the wicked one and separated us in Christ to Himself. Believers are not of the world as He is not of the world (John 17:14). The cross of Christ makes us dead to the world and the world dead unto us (Galatians 6:14). Furthermore God’s Word tells us not to love the world, neither the things that are in the world (1 John 2:15), and “that the friendship of the world is enmity with God; whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). And the world is that great system over which Satan domineers, built up and developed by him, to give the natural man a sphere of enjoyment. True faith not only joins the believer to the Lord, but also separates him in heart and practice from the world which crucified the Lord and still rejects Him.

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” is often quoted as a prohibition of a mixed marriage. This is no doubt included, but the exhortation means more and includes every form of alliance with the world and ungodly principles. It also includes the so-called “religious world” with its unscriptural practices and denials of the truth. The apostle shows that the believer going along with unbelievers and the world, is indeed in an unequal, a strange, yoke. What fellowship can there be between righteousness and unrighteousness? What fellowship hath light with darkness? Each has a different head; Christ is over His people, they belong to Him; Belial is the head of those who believe not. What could there be for a believer to enjoy with an unbeliever? And believers are the temple of God. How then is association with idols possible? “For ye are the temple of the living God; 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.” Blessed statement! But God’s presence demands holiness, separation from evil. Fellowship with evil shuts out God in His gracious manifestations. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate saith the Lord and touch not the unclean thing.”

“God must have His own holy, for He is holy; and this not only in an inward way, without which all would be hypocrisy, but in outward ways also to His own glory, unless He would be a partner with us to His own dishonor. He will have us clear from associations which are worldly and defiling; He will exercise our souls in order to free, them from all that denies or despises His will. He commands those that believe to come out from those that believe not, and to be separated. Indeed the union of the two is so monstrous that it never could be defended for a moment by a true heart. It is only when selfish interests or strong prejudices work, that men gradually accustom and harden themselves to disobedience so flagrant and in every way disastrous. For as the man of the world cannot rise to the level of Christ to be together with His own, the Christian must descend to the level of the world. God is thus and ever more and more put to shame in what claims to be His house, with a loudness proportioned to its departure from His Word” (William Kelly).

And in connection with this exhortation to separation from unbelievers the Lord declares His relationship to us. Interesting is the use of the name Lord Almighty in 2 Corinthians 6:18. “And I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” In the Greek the definite article before “Lord” is missing. It is simply “Kyrios,” Lord. It is the same as “Jehovah.” By that name He revealed Himself to Israel. To Abraham he spoke as the El Shaddai, the Almighty. The Lord who revealed Himself to Abraham, called Him to separation, “Get thee out from thy country.” To Israel God spoke as Jehovah and they became His people, separated by Him and to Him. And the same Jehovah-Shaddai declares now a new relationship, He will be a Father and we His sons and daughters. In Christ we know God as our Father; “we are all the sons of God by faith in Jesus Christ.” But to enjoy this relationship practically is only possible if the believer walks in separation. Real communion with God as Father without separating from evil is an impossibility.

“God will not have worldlings in relation with Himself as sons and daughters; they have not entered into this position with regard to Him. Nor will He recognize those who remain identified with the world, as having this position; for the world has rejected His Son, and the friendship of the world is enmity against God, and he who is the friend of the world is the enemy of God. It is not being His child in a practical sense. God says, therefore, “Come out from among them, and be separate, and ye shall be to me for sons and daughters” (Synopsis).

May we heed these important truths. God cannot compromise His own holy and righteous character. His demands upon His people are the demands of separation. And, as we are obedient, we enjoy in faith the blessed relationship into which His grace has brought us.

The second exhortation is closely linked with this. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Holiness in our walk is God’s demand. God looks for practical holiness in His people. If we walk thus, habitually cleansing ourselves from all defilement of the flesh and spirit, we perfect holiness, a practical, daily separation, in the fear of God. While we are, as born again, “clean every whit” (John 13:10), our calling is equally to purify ourselves as He is pure. The defilements of the flesh are the things mentioned in Colossians 3:5, Galatians 5:19, and elsewhere. What are the defilements of the spirit? It means the license of the natural mind, the whole sphere of thought and will, when unregulated by the truth and fear of God. Read 2 Corinthians 10:5. Every thought must be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

The words which follow tell us again of the affectionate concern which the apostle had for the Corinthians! How he loved them and how considerate he was. His whole soul yearned for them. He had wronged no one, nor had he corrupted any, nor did he make personal gain through them. He was filled with comfort. He had fightings without and fears within, but now all was changed. He had met Titus in Macedonia, and through his report and the encouraging news he brought from Corinth, God had comforted him. He knew his former letter (the first epistle) had grieved them, but it had worked for them the godly sorrow which was the aim of the messages sent to them through his inspired pen. “Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance, for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that in nothing ye might be injured by us.” But he also states that for a moment at least he regretted that he had written his first epistle of rebuke (2 Corinthians 6:8). But was not that letter inspired? The power behind his pen was the Holy Spirit, yet he regretted for a time that he had written. How is this to be understood? It shows the difference between the individuality of the apostle and divine inspiration.

His heart was filled with so much love, that it obscured his spiritual discernment and he forgot for a moment the character of his epistle, that not he was responsible for what he had written, but that the Spirit of God was the author. The regret was an evidence of weakness at the time when no tidings reached him from Corinth and when his loving heart was so burdened for the Corinthians. (The same weakness is manifested in his journey to Jerusalem. He loved Jerusalem and Israel in such a way that he went there even against the solemn warnings given by the Holy Spirit.) And what he writes now is a loving apology and great joy over what the epistle had wrought, an earnestness to clear themselves of the reproach, indignation on account of sin permitted, yea, zeal for God, and what revenge (or vengeance--righteous wrath)! And so he rejoiced therefore that his confidence had been restored in them in all things.

 


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Bibliography Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 6:4". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gab/2-corinthians-6.html. 1913-1922.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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