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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
2 Corinthians 6

 

 

Verses 1-18

2 Corinthians 6:1. We then as workers together with the Lord, who has by himself purged our sins, and reconciled all things to himself on the cross, and has commissioned us to continue the ministry of reconciliation — we beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. That is, the unspeakable gift of Christ, and his gospel, “the grace of God which brings salvation to all men,” and which demands corresponding returns of repentance, faith, and holiness. For if this gospel do not bring a full salvation by faith, but on the contrary if there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, it will prove the ministry of death to the unbelieving and disobedient.

2 Corinthians 6:2. For he saith, on promising the gentile nations to the Saviour, Isaiah 49:8, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance. The time accepted is called by the prophets “the last days, or the acceptable year of the Lord;” or the fulness of time appointed of the Father to turn the nations from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. On applying this passage to the Greeks, Paul says, “Behold now is the accepted time,” for the nations to rush into the kingdom of God. In him they find the great salvation from all their sins, and a renovation of the life and image of God.

2 Corinthians 6:3. Giving no offence, that the ministry be not blamed. Christ and his ambassadors form but one court, and one church. A minister captivated by concupiscence, operating in any ignoble passion, dishonours the gospel, as a gospel that cannot save, and by inference dishonours the Lord. Ministers must be what they are called, the glory of Christ, and the stars in his right hand.

2 Corinthians 6:4. Approving ourselves as the ministers of God. This epistle was primarily addressed to the preachers at Corinth, and through them to the people. This part seems wholly to belong to ministers, who are expected to shine with a constellation of passive and active graces. Thirty of those virtues are named here, and all the other adornings of the sanctuary are understood.

In much patience, a passive grace, nourished by the love of God, and the hope of glory, to endure all things for the elect’s sake, and in the hope of an encreasing number of converts. In afflictions, both of body and mind, arising from the opposition of wicked men, and from griefs and troubles in the infant church. In necessities and distresses, arising from want of food and raiment; not so much in Corinth, as in going through the provinces.

2 Corinthians 6:5. In stripes, castigations in the synagogues; from the beatings of rioters, and the rod of the magistrates, connected with frequent imprisonments. In watchings, in fastings, when we, or our brethren are suffering under the bonds of cruel afflictions. Acts 12:5.

2 Corinthians 6:6. By pureness of conscience. By knowledge of the holy scriptures, of human nature, and all associate elements of science. A bishop must not be a novice, but an ornament to religion, and the joy of the church. By longsuffering, cultivating a lenient and parental temper. By kindness, like the lovingkindness of the Lord, reigning in all the brotherhood of the church. By the Holy Ghost, in the special exercise of charity, or the love of God. This divine influence is the source of all moral excellence, and communicates its fragrance to all around.

2 Corinthians 6:7. By the word of truth, the gospel of God, which is by way of eminence the truth, the substance of all the promises. By the power of God, the warmth and fervour of preaching, and the unction of the Spirit, which accompanies the word. By the armour of righteousness, having the sword in the right hand, and the shield in the left, as described in the sixth of Ephesians. What is the world around us but columns of hostile foes, that must be vanquished and overcome.

2 Corinthians 6:11. Oh ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you. While writing, a vista of divine light opened on the apostle’s mind; and the exuberance of his thoughts clothed themselves in that figure of rhetoric, called the antithesis; yea, a climax of of antitheses, forming a beauty in eloquence not equalled by any heathen writer.

2 Corinthians 6:14-16. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers, which is so strongly prohibited by the law of Moses. Deuteronomy 7:2-6. “Thou shalt make no covenant with them — they will turn away thy son from following me.” The questions are all cogent, and convey an illustration like the powerful shades of the pencil. Righteousness can have no fellowship with unrighteousness, which is hostile to order and law. Light and joy can have no communion with darkness, essential evil which shuns the light. Christ and Belial can never be seated on the same throne. Equally so is intimate associations with the infidel world, whose presence and breath is a deleterious poison to the soul of a believer. Neither can we go to the temple of idolatry, nor to the balls and theatres of the wicked, for the idol worshipped is the god of this world.

REFLECTIONS.

The subject of the ministry is here continued. The ambassadors of Christ, succeeding the Lord in the sanctuary, are fellow-workers with him. They entreated the wicked to be reconciled to God, and here they press the point to an immediate issue, that they should not receive the grace of God or his gospel in vain. Ministers should learn hence to come to a full close with their hearers, and urge a present salvation. God always hears his Anointed for his members, as well as for himself during his passion; therefore all believers and seekers of salvation should be encouraged to expect help and comfort in all their troubles of mind, before they leave the house of God. Every blessing they need is now ready in Christ; and the Lord will not be more gracious to-morrow than he is today. And sinners are not the better, but the worse for delay. Perhaps, at a future time, they will be less disposed for salvation than now. Besides, they are saved, not by works which require time, but by faith which realizes a present God, and awaits his present aid. Add to this, that the psalms in many places, and other parts of the sacred writings, represent penitents as coming in distress to God, and returning happy and full of comfort. So the homilies of Macarius, and the uniform experience of the saints. It is the glory of the christian ministry to say, Behold, now is the day of salvation. If we said, to-morrow God will bless and save you, we should dishonour our Master, and perhaps some of our hearers might not live till to-morrow. Behold, said he, I do cures to- day. It is Satan who says to-morrow, at another time, and when there is a convenient season. To-day is God’s time, and a lively expectation animates an audience to devotion.

The doctrine of a present salvation is followed by a torrent of simple and sublime eloquence on the glory of the christian ministry. Here we may in some sort challenge all the classics of Greece and Rome for a passage of equal eloquence. This fortitude in suffering, this purity of heart, this divine knowledge, this love unfeigned, and this invincible patience, discover the image and life of God in regenerate men. The wicked saw it, and dropped their countenance; vice retired to its haunts, idolatry was troubled, and affected concealment, mystery and antiquity. In short, the world was conquered, and so must every rebellious man who will read the new testament with prayer and sincere enquiries after truth.

The charge not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers in habits of friendship, and most of all in matrimonial ties, is supported with equal force of argument and weight of promises. In the moral world, what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? In the natural world, what communion hath light with darkness? In the spiritual world, what concord hath Christ with Belial? See 19:22. In the religious world, what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And in the sanctuary, what agreement then can the temple of God have with the temples of idolatry? Can a christian leave this glorious Mediator, these illustrious ministers, and all those blessings of our adoption, for the lying vanities of the world? No Lord: thou hast the words of eternal life.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 6:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/2-corinthians-6.html. 1835.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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