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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Corinthians 6:17

"Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate ," says the Lord. " And do not touch what is unclean ; And I will welcome you.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Adoption;   Communion;   Company;   Fellowship;   Holiness;   Quotations and Allusions;   Salvation;   Scofield Reference Index - Separation;   Summary;   World-System;   Thompson Chain Reference - Association-Separation;   Contact;   Evil;   Fellowship, Divine;   Separation;   Touch Not;   World, the;   The Topic Concordance - Children;   Family;   Separation;   Yoke;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Adoption;   Alliance and Society with the Enemies of God;   Communion of Saints;   Holiness;   Nazarites;   Sanctification;  
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Church;   Quotations;   Temple;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Corinthians, First and Second, Theology of;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Adoption;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Ahab;   Corinth;   Eliashib;   Eliezer;   Jehoshaphat;   Jeroboam;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Revelation, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Excommunication;   Isaiah ;   Lord;   Old Testament;   Quotations;   Scripture;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Play;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Unclean;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Church;   Millenarians;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Church;   Pauline Theology;  
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for December 24;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Verse 17. Wherefore come out from among them — Is it not plain from this and the following verse that God would be their God only on the ground of their taking him for such, and that this depended on their being separated from the works and workers of iniquity? for God could not inhabit in them if they had concord with Belial, a portion with infidels; c. Those who will have the promises of God fulfilled to them must come under the conditions of these promises: if they are not separate-if they touch the unclean thing, God will not receive them and therefore will not be their God, nor shall they be his people.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 6:17". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary


The Christian in ungodly society (6:14-7:1)

Apparently the Corinthians still misunderstood what Paul was trying to teach them about relationships with unbelievers (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:9-11). Previously they thought it meant cutting themselves off from unbelievers completely. Now they go to the other extreme and think their relationships can be as close as they like, even to marriage. Not so, says Paul. There must be no permanent and binding relations with unbelievers. The new life of Christians is as different from the life of non-Christians as light is from darkness or as Christ is from Satan (14-15).

The church is the temple of God, and so is the individual Christian (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19). God dwells within his people, and his dwelling place must be holy. Being united with idol worshippers is the same as bringing a heathen idol into God’s temple (16). Christians can have no part in the ungodliness of the sinful society in which they live. They are now members of the family of God, and their relationship with their heavenly Father is more important than all their physical and earthly relationships (17-18). In view of this, they must make sure they are cleansed from the impurities of the ungodly world, so that they might be holy before God (7:1).

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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 6:17". "Brideway Bible Commentary". 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, And touch no unclean thing; And I will receive you. And will be to you a Father, And ye shall be to me sons and daughters, saith the Almighty.

Many have spoken of the fact that Paul here combined the thought of several Old Testament passages, even adding some words of his own (i.e. daughters); but it seems best to view this passage not as a blundering effort of the apostle to quote the Old Testament, but as his own inspired words, which quite naturally, of course, used some of the terminology of previous holy writings.

Come ye out ... touch no unclean thing ...; Isaiah 52:11 has this:

Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.

However, as cited above, Paul was not "quoting Scripture" here; he was WRITING SCRIPTURE. The difference is apparent in the formula by which he introduced this paragraph. He did not say, "Thus it is written," but "Thus saith the Lord" the magnificent formula used a thousand times by the holy prophets of the Old Testament, and here used by the blessed Paul, and for exactly the same purpose! It is from this evident truth that we feel compelled to reject as irreverent and inaccurate such a comment as the following:

Paul quoted from memory, and so long as he got the substance right he did not worry about the actual wording. It was not the letter of the Scripture but the message of the scripture which mattered to Paul[19]

The denial of any validity to such a view is implicit in the fact that nobody ever got the message of the scripture without getting it from the words of scripture. As further proof that Paul was writing, and not merely quoting God's word, the mention of "daughters" must be considered conclusive. That did not come out of any of the passages suggested by Paul's words here, but it was a brand new revelation by the Spirit of God through the apostle Paul. Concerning this inclusion of the word "daughters," David Lipscomb said:

It is characteristic of Christianity that it was the first system that ever recognized the dignity of women and raised them generally to the same moral and spiritual level with men. This was very suitable at Corinth, where above all other places in the world, women were lured to their ruin by organized immoralities under the cloak of religion.[20]

Regarding the application of this paragraph, which is actually concluded in 2 Corinthians 7:1, it must be said that the same principles are binding today. It is true that paganism has lost its old forms; but no person in his right mind can be unaware of the neo-paganism which today threatens to engulf the world. All of the old essentials of paganism are still operative. The deification of humanity, the gross emphasis upon the secular, the material, the sensual and devilish are still struggling to dominate the minds of mankind. The so-called sex liberation, the abandonment of ancient moral values, and the encroaching dishonesty, selfishness and libertinism even in the highest echelons of government - all of these and many other things proclaim in tones of thunder that paganism is still around.

[19] William Barclay, op. cit., p. 249.

[20] David Lipscomb, Second Corinthians (Nashville: The Gospel Advocate Company), p. 97.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 6:17". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Wherefore - Since you are a special people. Since God, the holy and blessed God, dwells with you and among you.

Come out from among them - That is, from among idolaters and unbelievers; from a frivolous and vicious world. These words are taken, by a slight change, from Isaiah 3:11. They are there applied to the Jews in Babylon, and are a solemn call which God makes on them to leave the place of their exile, to come out from among the idolaters of that city and return to their own land; see my note on that place. Babylon, in the Scriptures, is the emblem of whatever is proud, arrogant, wicked, and opposed to God; and Paul, therefore, applies the words here with great beauty and force to illustrate the duty of Christians in separating themselves from a vain, idolatrous, and wicked world.

And be ye separate - Separate from the world, and all its corrupting influences.

Saith the Lord - see Isaiah 3:11. Paul does not use this language as if it had original reference to Christians, but he applies it as containing an important principle that was applicable to the case which he was considering, or as language that would appropriately express the idea which he wished to convey. The language of the Old Testament is often used in this manner by the writers of the New.

And touch not the unclean thing - In Isaiah, “touch no unclean thing;” that is, they were to be pure, and to have no connection with idolatry in any of its forms. So Christians were to avoid all unholy contact with a vain and polluted world. The sense is, “Have no close connection with an idolater, or an unholy person. Be pure; and feel that you belong to a community that is under its own laws, and that is to be distinguished in moral purity from all the rest of the world.”

And I will receive you - That is, I will receive and recognize you as my friends and my adopted children. This could not be done until they were separated from an idolatrous and wicked world. The fact of their being received by God, and recognized as his children, depended on their coming out from the world. These words with the verses following, though used evidently somewhat in the form of a quotation, yet are not to be found in any single place in the Old Testament In 2 Samuel 7:14, God says of Solomon, “I will be his Father, and he shall be my son.” In Jeremiah 31:9, God says, “For I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is my first-born.” It is probable that Paul had such passages in his eye, yet he doubtless designed rather to express the general sense of the promises of the Old Testament than to quote any single passage. Or why may it not be that we should regard Paul here himself as speaking as an inspired man directly, and making a promise then first communicated immediately from the Lord? Paul was inspired as well as the prophets; and it may be that he meant to communicate a promise directly from God. Grotius supposes that it was not taken from any particular place in the Old Testament, but was a part of a hymn that was in use among the Hebrews.

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These files are public domain.
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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 6:17". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

17. Wherefore come out from the midst of them. This exhortation is taken from Isaiah 52:11, where the Prophet, when foretelling the deliverance, at length addresses the priests in these terms. For he makes use of a circumlocution to describe the priests, when he says, Ye that bear the vessels of the Lord, inasmuch as they had the charge of the vessels, by means of which the sacrifices, and other parts of divine worship, were performed. There can be no doubt that his design is to admonish them, that, while eagerly desirous to come forth, (621) they should be on their guard against any contamination from the many pollutions with which the country (622) was overrun. Now this is no less applicable to us, than to the ancient Levites, for if so much purity is required on the part of the keepers of the vessels, how much more in the vessels themselves! (623) Now all our members are vessels, set apart for the spiritual worship of God; we are also a royal priesthood. (1 Peter 2:9.) Hence, as we are redeemed by the grace of God, it is befitting that we keep ourselves undefiled in respect of all uncleanness, that we may not pollute the sanctuary of God. As, however, while remaining in this world, we are nevertheless redeemed, and rescued, from the pollutions of the world, so we are not to quit life with the view of departing from all uncleanness, but must simply avoid all participation. The sum is this. “If with a true affection of the heart, we aim at the benefit of redemption, we must beware of defiling ourselves by any contamination from its pollutions.”

(621) “ Cependant qu’ils sont attendans auec ardent desir le iour de deliuerance;” — “While they are waiting with eager desire for the day of deliverance.”

(622) “ O — ils estoyent;” — “Where they were.”

(623) Diodati, in his Annotations, explains the expression ye that bear the vessels of the Lord, (Isaiah 52:11,) to mean — “You sacred officers, to whom only it belongeth to carry the vessels and ornaments of the temple; and thereby are spiritually meant all believers, whereof every one beareth a vessel sacred to the Lord, viz., himself.” — Ed.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 6:17". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

We then, as workers together with him ( 2 Corinthians 6:1 ),

And what a glorious way to view the ministry. I'm working with Jesus, working together with Him.

[We] beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee: [but Paul adds] behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) Giving no offense in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed ( 2 Corinthians 6:1-3 ):

And so, Paul again goes back to the subject of his ministry, his ministry for Jesus Christ. He views it as being a worker together with Him. And as such, beseeching them in his . . . that they would "not receive this grace of God in vain," but would accept the salvation today. Don't turn aside God's offers to you. The grace of God, receive it. Today is the day of salvation. And so Paul said, "I seek not to bring any offense to man in anything, because I don't want the ministry to be blamed."

But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God ( 2 Corinthians 6:4 ),

Seeking to prove that my ministry really is of God, first of all, in the physical sense.

in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in fastings ( 2 Corinthians 6:4-5 );

The preposition in talking about the physical suffering and hardships that Paul endured as a minister of Jesus Christ. Things by which he proved his ministry. And then changing to the word by, he speaks of the mental things that he endured:

By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned ( 2 Corinthians 6:6 ),

And then going into the spiritual things:

By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left ( 2 Corinthians 6:7 ),

So the ministry, the proof of the ministry. The characteristics of the minister. God give us such ministers today who will so serve the Lord and man.

By honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things ( 2 Corinthians 6:8-10 ).

So, these interesting contrasts that take place within the ministry. "Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, yet I possess everything." Because I possess Christ.

O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is [expanded or] enlarged ( 2 Corinthians 6:11 ).

"I'm expressing myself to you. My heart is just enlarged for your sakes."

Ye are not straitened in us ( 2 Corinthians 6:12 ),

This word straitened literally means a narrow place. It came to me being pressed into a narrow place. Being pressed so hard into a narrow place that it straightens out all the kinks. And so, the idea of straiten is that the crookedness or whatever, you know, if you press hard enough on you, it just flattens you out. You become straightened. And so, being put in pressure in a narrow place, being squeezed in causes this straightening. And the word anguish then developed out of this Greek word. The anguish of being pressed into a narrow place.

Now Paul said to the Corinthians, "You haven't been put in a narrow place because of me."

but ye are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompense in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged ( 2 Corinthians 6:12-13 ).

"You've been put in this pressure. You've been put in anguish, in this narrow place. But my heart is enlarged towards you. Now I pray that you'll be enlarged. Your heart will be enlarged. You'll be freed from this pressure, from this narrow place."

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship [communion, oneness] hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? ( 2 Corinthians 6:14 )

There are many people who believe that theirs is a special case not really covered by the scripture, and thus, they can do what they please because it really doesn't apply to their situation. God doesn't, God wasn't really thinking of their situation when He gave the rule. And thus, there are many people who enter into unequal yokes with unbelievers, believing and hoping that things are going to equal out, that God will take care of it.

There is an old Greek saying: "The dice of the gods are loaded." That is, you cannot go against God and win. You cannot go against the word of God and win. Over the years of pastoring, I've had so many young people come in. Oh, they are so in love. Oh, he's the man of their dreams. There's only one thing wrong: he isn't a Christian. "But I know that as I live the life of Christ before him and I walk in love and in meekness and all, I know he'll come to Jesus." And I said, "Yes, but the scripture says, 'Be not unequally yoked with an unbeliever.'" "Oh, but you know, we love each other. And I know he's going to change." And they are determined to marry in spite of the counsel of the word of God otherwise. And in scores of case after case after case after case after case, a year, two years down the road, I sit with the same young lady who is completely torn up. "Oh, I wish I had listened to you. I'm living in a hell. I don't think I ever really loved him. Oh, this is horrible. Do I have to stay in this state?" And their lives messed up because they thought that they could go against God's command and win and come out ahead. "Be not unequally yoked together with an unbeliever."

Now, this does not and is not limited to just marriage. This goes to many different types of yokes where you are brought together with an unbeliever, and you are always in an unequal situation. Watch it. You're always in an unequal situation if you're yoked with an unbeliever. You see, they don't follow the same rules that you follow. They don't live by the same ethic that you live by. And to lie won't bother them. To cheat won't bother them. To fudge won't bother them; but it will you.

And I've had so many businessmen who have come to me bemoaning the fact that their partner wants to do that which is illegal. "They don't want to report all of the profits. They want to keep a double set of books. What shall I do?" They've entered into an unequal yoke. "What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? What communion hath light with darkness?"

And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? ( 2 Corinthians 6:15 )

You're trying to bring together unequal things. The results are always disastrous.

And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God ( 2 Corinthians 6:16 );

This old tent is nonetheless "the temple of the living God." "What?" Paul said, "Know ye not that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you? You are not your own; you've been bought with a price" ( 1 Corinthians 6:19 ). What relationship can there possibly be with the temple of God and with idols?

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. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty ( 2 Corinthians 6:16-18 ).

So, God's call for His people to separation. You are to be different from the world. You cannot have real communion with the world. You have no common ground of meeting. You're trying to bring two diverse situations together. You're trying to join together the life of the flesh with the life of the Spirit. They cannot co-mingle. It's an unequal yoke. So, God's call for you is to come apart. "Be separate, saith the Lord. Don't touch the unclean thing. And God said, I will be a Father, and ye will be my sons and daughters."

As a child of God, you do live different than a person who is not a child of God. You're expected to live differently. Living by different standards, living for different purposes. "If you only love those that love you, what do ye more than others? Even the publicans do the same. But love those that hate you, do good unto those that despitefully use you, pray for those that persecute you; And so shall ye be the children of the Father" ( Matthew 5:44-46 ).

You see, Jesus is declaring, "You're to be different. You're a new creation." "The old things have passed away; everything is become new" ( 2 Corinthians 5:17 ). And God now lays claim to you as His son, as His daughter.

"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. For he that hath the love of the world in his heart hath not the love of the Father" ( 1 John 2:15 ). The cry of the Spirit, "Be ye reconciled to God." The ministry of reconciliation. You can only be reconciled to God as you come into the life of the Spirit, denying the flesh, denying yourself, the self-centered life. And taking up your cross to follow Him. And that's the challenge of the Spirit of God to our hearts tonight. May we respond in Jesus' name.

Father, we thank You for Your word. And may Thy Spirit take Thy word tonight as a sharp, two-edged sword and may He cut deep into our hearts to expose those things that are there, in order that He might heal. Heal our relationship with You that we might be reconciled unto God through Jesus our Lord. Bless Thy word now, may it take root and may it grow forth and bring forth fruit unto Thy glory. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

And now, "be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For he who hears the word of God, and does not do it, is like unto a man who is looking into a mirror: And sees the truth about himself, but as soon as he walks away, he forgets what he saw" ( James 1:22-24 ). How easy that is, isn't it? We have an image of ourselves. We look in a mirror many times and we're shocked at the truth. But as soon as we walk away, we embrace our image again. We forget what we saw.

I don't want to acknowledge what I saw. I like my image of myself better than I like the reality of myself. In my image of myself, I'm still in shape. Far from reality. So is the man who hears the word of God, acknowledges the ideal, but then doesn't live by it. He's deceived. He's living in a delusion, a dangerous delusion. So with the psalmist may we pray, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there is a way of wickedness in me, and God, lead me in the way everlasting" ( Psalms 139:23-24 ). In Jesus' name. "

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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 6:17". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Third, Paul quoted from Isaiah 52:11 where God called His people to separate (depart) from Babylon and its idolatry. He applied this to the Corinthian situation in which unbelievers practiced idolatry. The contexts both in Isaiah and here have nothing to do with separation because of doctrinal differences between Christians. Both passages are speaking about pagan idolatry. The promise of fellowship with Himself for separation (Ezekiel 20:34; Ezekiel 20:41) should motivate us to be obedient.

"There was a grave danger that, through carelessness and compromise, the Corinthian believers would be carried away, as it were, into a Babylonian captivity of the soul." [Note: Ibid., p. 256.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 6:17". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Wherefore come out from among them,.... Since they were the temple of the living God, built up an habitation for the Most High; since he resided among them, took his walks in the midst of them, was their God, and they were his people. These words are taken out of Isaiah 52:11 where the several phrases here used may be observed. They seem to be directed to the Israelites, and particularly to the priests and Levites, who bore the vessels of the Lord; and are fitly applied to believers under the Gospel dispensation, who are by Christ made priests unto God. They are usually interpreted by the Jewish writers, as a call to the Jews to come out of captivity, to quit Babylon and Persia, and the several cities and countries where they were; and are applied in Revelation 18:4 to mystical Babylon, the church of Rome, as a call to God's people, to leave the superstitions and idolatries of that church, lest they be partakers of her plagues; and here, by the apostle, as an exhortation to believers in general, to forsake the company and conversation of the men of the world: who may be said to come out from among them at first conversion, when they are called to forsake their own people, and their Father's house, to leave their native country, and seek an heavenly one; and when, in consequence of effectual calling grace, their conversations are different from what they were before, and from other Gentiles; when they dislike their former companions, abhor their sinful conversation, abstain from it, keep out of it, as being infectious, hurtful, and detrimental to them; when they have no fellowship with the workers of iniquity, but reprove them both by words and deeds, which is their incumbent duty: the phrase in Isaiah is, "go ye out from the midst of her"; which Kimchi interprets, "out of the midst of every city in which thou art"; that is, in which idolaters lived; and well agrees with

εκ μεσου αυτων here, "out of the midst of them":

and be ye separate, saith the Lord; this phrase is not to be met with expressly in our version of the above text in Isaiah, but is signified by several expressions in it; the words rendered "depart ye, depart ye", are by the Targum, or Chaldee paraphrase on the place, expressed by אתפרשו אתפרשו, "be ye separate, be ye separate", which are the very words of the apostle here; and the phrase, "touch no unclean thing", is explained by R. Aben Ezra, מאומות העולם

שיבדלו, "that they might be separate from the nations of the world" and another word, הברו, "be ye clean", signifies such a purgation as is made by separation, by removing the clean from the unclean, by separating the wheat from the chaff. The people of God are a separate people in election, redemption, and the effectual calling, and ought to be so in their conduct and conversation; they ought to separate themselves from all superstition and will worship in religious matters, and from the evil customs and manners of the world, though they are sure to become a prey, and to expose themselves to the contempt and rage of it:

and touch not the unclean thing. The allusion is to several laws under the former dispensation, which forbid touching many things which were accounted unclean, whereby pollution was contracted, and the persons were obliged to a ceremonial cleansing; see Leviticus 5:2

Numbers 19:11. It has no regard to touching, tasting, and eating any sort of food, which was forbid as unclean by the ceremonial law; for the difference between meats clean and unclean was now removed; but if anything is particularly designed by the unclean thing, it seems to be idolatry, and to be a prohibition of joining with worshippers of idols in their idolatrous practices, whereby a moral pollution is contracted; since in the beginning of the former verse it is said, "what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?" though it is rather intended in general, to forbid all communion and fellowship with unclean persons and things, not to touch them, to come nigh them, or have anything to do with them:

and I will receive you; this, and what follows in the next verse, are said to encourage believers to keep at a distance from wicked and immoral persons, whose company and conversation are dishonourable, ensnaring, and defiling. These persons had been already received into the love of God, his best and strongest affections, from which there can be no separation; and in the covenant of grace, which as it cannot be removed, so neither could they be removed out of that; they were received into the church of Christ, and had a place and a name in it, better than that of sons and daughters; and as they had been received by Christ, when they came to him as poor perishing sinners without him, so they were still received graciously, notwithstanding their many backslidings: neither of these therefore is the sense of this passage: but, that whereas by quitting society with carnal men, they would expose themselves to their resentments; the Lord here promises, that he would take them under the wings of his protection; he would take care of them and preserve them, keep them as the apple of his eye, and be a wall of fire round about them, whilst in this world; and when he had guided them by his counsel here, would "receive" them "to glory": this clause seems to be taken from the latter part of

Isaiah 52:12 which may be rendered, "the God of Israel will gather you"; i.e. to himself, and protect them.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 6:17". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Cautions against Mingling with Unbelievers. A. D. 57.

      11 O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.   12 Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels.   13 Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.   14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?   15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?   16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? 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.   17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,   18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

      The apostle proceeds to address himself more particularly to the Corinthians, and cautions them against mingling with unbelievers. Here observe,

      I. How the caution is introduced with a profession, in a very pathetic manner, of the most tender affection to them, even like that of a father to his children,2 Corinthians 6:11-13; 2 Corinthians 6:11-13. Though the apostle was happy in a great fluency of expressions, yet he seemed to want words to express the warm affections he had for these Corinthians. As if he had said, "O ye Corinthians, to whom I am now writing, I would fain convince you how well I love you: we are desirous to promote the spiritual and eternal welfare of all to whom we preach, yet our mouth is open unto you, and our heart is enlarged unto you, in a special manner." And, because his heart was thus enlarged with love to them, therefore he opened his mouth so freely to them in kind admonitions and exhortations: "You are not," says he, "straitened in us; we would gladly do you all the service we can, and promote your comfort, as helpers of your faith and your joy; and, if it be otherwise, the fault is in yourselves; it is because you are straitened in yourselves, and fail in suitable returns to us, through some misapprehensions concerning us; and all we desire as a recompense is only that you would be proportionably affected towards us, as children should love their father." Note, It is desirable that there should be a mutual good affection between ministers and their people, and this would greatly tend to their mutual comfort and advantage.

      II. The caution or exhortation itself, not to mingle with unbelievers, not to be unequally yoked with them, 2 Corinthians 6:14; 2 Corinthians 6:14. Either,

      1. In stated relations. It is wrong for good people to join in affinity with the wicked and profane; these will draw different ways, and that will be galling and grievous. Those relations that are our choice must be chosen by rule; and it is good for those who are themselves the children of God to join with those who are so likewise; for there is more danger that the bad will damage the good than hope that the good will benefit the bad.

      2. In common conversation. We should not yoke ourselves in friendship and acquaintance with wicked men and unbelievers. Though we cannot wholly avoid seeing, and hearing, and being with such, yet we should never choose them for our bosom-friends.

      3. Much less should we join in religious communion with them; we must not join with them in their idolatrous services, nor concur with them in their false worship, nor any abominations; we must not confound together the table of the Lord and the table of devils, the house of God and the house of Rimmon. The apostle gives several good reasons against this corrupt mixture. (1.) It is a very great absurdity, 2 Corinthians 6:14; 2 Corinthians 6:15. It is an unequal yoking of things together that will not agree together; as bad as for the Jews to have ploughed with an ox and an ass or to have sown divers sorts of grain intermixed. What an absurdity is it to think of joining righteousness and unrighteousness, or mingling light and darkness, fire and water, together! Believers are, and should be, righteous; but unbelievers are unrighteous. Believers are made light in the Lord, but unbelievers are in darkness; and what comfortable communion can these have together? Christ and Belial are contrary one to the other; they have opposite interests and designs, so that it is impossible there should be any concord or agreement between them. It is absurd, therefore, to think of enlisting under both; and, if the believer has part with an infidel, he does what in him lies to bring Christ and Belial together. (2.) It is a dishonour to the Christian's profession (2 Corinthians 6:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16); for Christians are by profession, and should be in reality, the temples of the living God--dedicated to, and employed for, the service of God, who has promised to reside in them, to dwell and walk in them, to stand in a special relation to them, and take a special care of them, that he will be their God and they shall be his people. Now there can be no agreement between the temple of God and idols. Idols are rivals with God for his honour, and God is a jealous God, and will not give his glory to another. (3.) There is a great deal of danger in communicating with unbelievers and idolators, danger of being defiled and of being rejected; therefore the exhortation is (2 Corinthians 6:17; 2 Corinthians 6:17) to come out from among them, and keep at a due distance, to be separate, as one would avoid the society of those who have the leprosy or the plague, for fear of taking infection, and not to touch the unclean thing, lest we be defiled. Who can touch pitch, and not be defiled by it? We must take care not to defile ourselves by converse with those who defile themselves with sin; so is the will of God, as we ever hope to be received, and not rejected, by him. (4.) It is base ingratitude to God for all the favours he has bestowed upon believers and promised to them, 2 Corinthians 6:18; 2 Corinthians 6:18. God has promised to be a Father to them, and that they shall be his sons and his daughters; and is there a greater honour or happiness than this? How ungrateful a thing then must it be if those who have this dignity and felicity should degrade and debase themselves by mingling with unbelievers! Do we thus requite the Lord, O foolish and unwise?

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on 2 Corinthians 6:17". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.