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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
2 Corinthians 6

 

 

Verse 1

PART SECOND.

THE EXHORTATION — TO UNITE IN HIS COLLECTIONS FOR JERUSALEM, 2 Corinthians 6:11 to 2 Corinthians 9:15.

1. Direct exhortation to largeness, separateness, and sanctification, 2 Corinthians 6:11 to 2 Corinthians 7:1.

With a soul swelling with his survey of the gospel of reconciliation as given in 2 Corinthians 5:13 to 2 Corinthians 6:2, and of his recital of the history of his struggles to bring that gospel to them, Paul calls upon his Corinthians to fall back upon the grandeur and purity of that gospel. His special assailants are out of view. He addresses the Corinthians as being the unit he had once left them, and seeks to rally them back to first principles.

He conjures them to as large a heart as his own, 2 Corinthians 6:11-13; to separate from all their old unrighteous associations, and to become, according to the blessed promise, the true sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; nay, to claim the higher promises, and rise to a perfected holiness, 2 Corinthians 7:1.

Corinthians—An emphatic and joyous vocative. By pronouncing their name he would aim to reach their hearts. Twice elsewhere Paul thus calls, out of the regular address, his audience by name, the Galatians indignantly, the Philippians affectionately. Galatians 3:1; Philippians 4:15.

Mouth… open—Being filled by the fulness of our heart. In the recital of our sufferings in your behalf we are aroused to a freedom of boundless utterance to your very souls.

Heart is enlarged—Is broadened in its area, so as to admit you through its wide doors into its roomy home.


Verse 2

2. HeGod, in the previous verse, who offers the grace.

Saith—In Isaiah 49:8; nearly according to the Septuagint. It is in Isaiah a clearly Messianic passage; but the thee addressed by Jehovah is the Messiah himself. God promises him (by a Hebraism in the past tense) an accepted day for the work of redemption. Paul quotes it to his readers as proof that the day, the now, is the time for them to avail themselves of that redemption.

Heard thee—See John 11:41-42, with notes.

Day of salvation—The period when, redemption’s work being wrought, it is offered to men.

Behold—The apostle’s earnest comment repeated, calling attention to the fact that the offer is but for a period, and that period now. Not, as Meyer, that the period is brief by the supposed immediate advent to judgment; but that during this our Messianic age each man’s share of the acceptable period is short—but a day.

Accepted—The above word accepted, repeated with a strengthening prefix, well-accepted.

Accepted—That is, by God himself as the time of mercy-giving.


Verse 3

6. Such appeals to men for reconciliation are sustained by a living example of purity amid calumny, 2 Corinthians 6:3-10.

3. Giving—Overleaping verse second as parenthetic, this participle coordinates with beseech in 2 Corinthians 6:1, and 2 Corinthians 5:20.

The ministry—The preacher’s rank and office. Care less for the men than for the saving power of their apostleship.


Verse 4

4. Ministers—In the nominative. As ministers approving ourselves. This passage, in parallelism with 2 Corinthians 4:8-12, and 2 Corinthians 11:23-27, furnishes strikingly detailed pictures of apostolic sufferings, more or less applicable to St. Paul and his personal coadjutors, exhibited either as single points, or still more, doubled in contrasts. Paul’s pre-eminence, as stated in the latest of the three, is his certificate of apostleship. The present list is a fervent climax, beginning in particulars, and rising until it bursts forth in the apostrophe of 2 Corinthians 6:11, which becomes a turning point in the epistle. The climax is also a triad. First, a list of external endurances, 2 Corinthians 6:4-5; then a series of internal traits and endowments, 2 Corinthians 6:6-7; finally, antithetic contrasts of depreciations and excellences meeting in the apostolic characters, 2 Corinthians 6:8-10, and rising in fervour of description.

Much patience—Much endurance, much firm undergoing,

Afflictions—By persecution and oppression.

Necessities— Compulsions against will.

Distresses—Compressions into narrownesses and straits. The tenor of this list, thus far, is that of hard pressures. The following are of more active sufferings.


Verse 5

5. Stripes—See note 2 Corinthians 11:24.

Imprisonments—As at Philippi; narrated in Acts. Alford says: “He may have been imprisoned in Antioch in Pisidia, Acts 13:50; and at Lystra, Acts 14:19; and at Corinth, Acts 18:12; Acts 18:14; and we cannot tell what may have befallen him during his journeys, Acts 15:41; Acts 16:6; Acts 18:23.”

Tumults—Excitements and mobs raised against him. Luke’s history in Acts abounds with narratives of such movements wherever Paul went.

Labours—The travellings, the toils for self-support, and the arduous preachings and cares for the Churches.

Watchings—Sleeplessnesses.

Fastings—Not voluntary religious fastings—for he is here enumerating severities necessarily suffered—but compulsory hungers. The thus far enumerated sufferings Alford holds to be properly embraced under the term patience, or endurance, with which the catalogue commences.


Verse 6

6. The high qualities of the men who thus suffer, by which they entitle themselves to acceptance, are now enumerated.

Pureness—From all false deeds or motives.

Knowledge—Full possession of the Christ-history, with all the truths embraced in it.

Holy Ghost—Whose indwelling is manifested by our sanctity of spirit. With this verse closes the list of subjective traits. Next comes a manifestive list.


Verse 7

7. Word preached, of gospel truth.

Power of God—Supernatural efficiency both in word and deed; prophecy and miracle.

In the two following verses (8, 9) we have the contradictions, meeting in the persons of the apostles, between the views taken by their enemies and the views taken by their own self-knowledge. In 2 Corinthians 6:10 we have the opposite sides as truly seen by themselves.


Verse 8

8. By honour—From God and the Christian world.

And dishonour— From heathendom, Judaism, and Jewish Christianity.


Verse 9

9. As unknown—Ignored and un-recognised.

Yet well known—To those who have accepted the gospel, and every-where spoken against by those who ignore us.

Behold, we live—A triumphant retort; we are not so dead as you think us.

Chastened—Chastised; whipped, but not to death.


Verse 10

10. Sorrowful… rejoicing—An antithesis true on both sides. Poor in pennies; making… rich in something better than money. Having nothing for this world; possessing all things for the world to come. As the climax of this description, stroke after stroke, rises, the glow of the apostle’s feeling rises, and his heart, and mouth too, being full to overflowing, he breaks out in the following apostrophe, and that starts an entire new strain of the epistle.


Verse 12

12. Straitened—Narrowed; as being closely squeezed by a narrow entrance or small apartment.

In us—In our hearts. The Corinthians were tightened, but not by or in the narrowness of the apostolic soul.

Straitened in your own bowels—Narrowed and contracted in your own affections. The apostle is, indeed, aroused to free, bold, copious plainness of declaration.

Bowels—The inwards or intestines, which, being often excited by aroused feeling, become the physical term for the feeling or its abode.


Verse 13

13. A recompense in the same—A reciprocity in the largeness of affection. I speak of mutuality in love as unto my children—As a parent claims the natural love of its child, so I claim your Christian love.

Be… enlarged—Let a richer Christian love expand your hearts, so as to return to your founder-apostle a recompense of equal love. Let large, full heart, flow out to large, full heart.


Verse 14

14. St. Paul trusts now, by warming the affections of his Corinthians, first to draw them into separation from sin, 2 Corinthians 6:14 to 2 Corinthians 7:1, and to bring them to an acceptance of himself, 2 Corinthians 7:2.

Be ye not— The richer your Christian affections the easier your separation from a wicked world. As Christ, his gospel, his Church, his apostles, and holy happiness, fill your hearts with abounding satisfaction, withdrawal from earthly idols becomes spontaneous.

Unequally yoked—An allusion, doubtless, to Deuteronomy 22:10, where an ox and an ass are forbidden to be yoked together. To be unequally yoked is, therefore, to be connected with an unfitting associate. There will be pulling different ways, and danger for a Christian to be pulled into danger and ruin. This unequal yoking, this binding of the Christian with the loose thinker and free liver, is a source of myriads of apostasies and destructions. Marriage is not specially indicated, but it is eminently included as the most striking instance of yoking in life. A false marriage of Christian with unbeliever is often a disaster for eternity.

Righteousness with unrighteousness—This antithesis is truly, if seen with a true eye, the greatest possible contrast in the universe. There are many opposites known or conceivable, but the greatest possible of all oppositions is that between absolute right and absolute wrong. But as the eye of the ethical man is apt to be dim and dull, Paul immediately addresses another contrast, the most powerful conceivable, to the bodily eye—light with darkness. This image is known among all religions which in any degree inculcate the idea of holiness.

In a series of intense questions, five in number, St. Paul arrays before the minds of the Corinthians a series of images to impress them with a vivid sense of the absolute contrariety between a pure Christianity and a world of wickedness. The images are drawn from ethics, from nature, from the antithesis of Christ and Belial, from faith, and from the sanctity of God’s temple. it is, doubtless, by a summary rehearsal of those lessons of holiness with which his preaching had often impressed these converts from heathenism, that he is here recalling them to first principles.

In the five words used to designate the denied connexion between the contracted objects, namely, fellowship, communion, concord, part, agreement, Meyer sees proof of Paul’s command of copious Greek. But Stanley remarks that there is no special fitness of each to its own place; they might be interchanged.


Verse 15

15. Christ with Belial—The contrast presented in its living representatives, the heads of the kingdom of light and of darkness.

Belial—Used in Judges 19:22; Judges 20:13; and 1 Samuel 25:25, where see notes. It there signifies worthlessness; but in later literature came to be an appellative for Satan. Bloomfield says: “Like the Hebrew בלי יעל, who will-do-no-one-any-good; that is, who will do evil to any one, the author of all evil, the evil spirit, the devil.”

Believeth… infidel—From the head personages the contrast is now brought down to the human individuals. The great boundary line between the good and bad in the universe, between light and darkness, between Christ and Satan, cuts relentlessly between the Christian and the unchristian.


Verse 16

16. Temple… idols—The contrast embraces the Church collectively, of which the temple is the structural image. St. Paul does not present the contrast as between a temple of the true God and one of idolatry; but of a holy temple with an unholy idol in it. The Jews preferred to rebel against the power of imperial Rome rather than to allow an ensign of paganism to be brought into the temple.

Ye are the temple—Thus bringing emphatically home the force of the illustration.

Living God—In contrast with all other temples, which are of gods that do not live.

God hath said—We have the word of the very living God himself for it, as recorded in the Old Testament. In accordance with Jewish modes of quoting the Old Testament, St. Paul blends together the tenor of a number of different passages, like a painter forming a picture by dipping his brush in his colours to finish with a variety of touches.

I will dwell—In this verse we have the promise; in the next, the command finishing off with promises, carried into the final verse. The words of this verse refer to Leviticus 26:11-12, with a fragment of Ezekiel 37:26. It is the promise of God to be present with his faithful Church.


Verse 17

17. Wherefore—In order to secure the fulfilment of these promises they must be a faithful and not an apostate Church.

Come out—The earnest warning of Jehovah (to his people to come out from Babylon) applied to the Christian Church to come out from the uncleanness of an unregenerate world. This injunction requires not hatred against the wicked as men, but avoidance of participation in their works as sinners, or in such associations with them as imply a countenancing of their sins.

The unclean thing—The thing defiled with sin, by whose touch you would yourself be defiled.

I will receive you—Namely, into favour and fellowship with myself, and to all the joys of my salvation.


Verse 18

18. A Father—Such a fatherhood as is conditioned upon our regenerate sonship. 2 Samuel 7:14. The quotation applies the promise to David— to all the people of God.

DaughtersIsaiah 43:6.

Saith the Lord Almighty—In the Hebrew, 2 Samuel 7:14, it is the Lord of Hosts. On these promises St. Paul grounds his exhortation to a completed holiness in the first verse of the following chapter.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 6:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-corinthians-6.html. 1874-1909.

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