The apostle, with others, proved themselves faithful ministers of Christ, by their unblamable life and behaviour. (1-10) By affection for them, And by earnest concern, that they might have no fellowship with unbelievers and idolaters. (11-18)
Verses 1-10 The gospel is a word of grace sounding in our ears. The gospel day is a day of salvation, the means of grace the means of salvation, the offers of the gospel the offers of salvation, and the present time the proper time to accept these offers. The morrow is none of ours: we know not what will be on the morrow, nor where we shall be. We now enjoy a day of grace; then let all be careful not to neglect it. Ministers of the gospel should look upon themselves as God's servants, and act in every thing suitably to that character. The apostle did so, by much patience in afflictions, by acting from good principles, and by due temper and behaviour. Believers, in this world, need the grace of God, to arm them against temptations, so as to bear the good report of men without pride; and so as to bear their reproaches with patience. They have nothing in themselves, but possess all things in Christ. Of such differences is a Christian's life made up, and through such a variety of conditions and reports, is our way to heaven; and we should be careful in all things to approve ourselves to God. The gospel, when faithfully preached, and fully received, betters the condition even of the poorest. They save what before they riotously spent, and diligently employ their time to useful purposes. They save and gain by religion, and thus are made rich, both for the world to come and for this, when compared with their sinful, profligate state, before they received the gospel.
Verses 11-18 It is wrong for believers to join with the wicked and profane. The word unbeliever applies to all destitute of true faith. True pastors will caution their beloved children in the gospel, not to be unequally yoked. The fatal effects of neglecting Scripture precepts as to marriages clearly appear. Instead of a help meet, the union brings a snare. Those whose cross it is to be unequally united, without their wilful fault, may expect consolation under it; but when believers enter into such unions, against the express warnings of God's word, they must expect must distress. The caution also extends to common conversation. We should not join 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 friends. We must not defile ourselves by converse with those who defile themselves with sin. Come out from the workers of iniquity, and separate from their vain and sinful pleasures and pursuits; from all conformity to the corruptions of this present evil world. If it be an envied privilege to be the son or daughter of an earthly prince, who can express the dignity and happiness of being sons and daughters of the Almighty?
2 Corinthians 6:1-18 . HIS APOSTOLIC MINISTRY IS APPROVED BY FAITHFULNESS IN EXHORTATION, IN SUFFERINGS, IN EXHIBITION OF THE FRUITS OF THE HOLY GHOST: HIS LARGENESS OF HEART TO THEM CALLS FOR ENLARGEMENT OF THEIR HEART TO HIM. EXHORTATIONS TO SEPARATION FROM POLLUTION.
1. workers together--with God ( Acts 15:4 , 1 Corinthians 3:9 ). Not only as "ambassadors."
beseech--entreat ( 2 Corinthians 5:20 ). He is describing his ministry, not exhorting directly.
you also--rather, "WE ALSO (as well as God, 2 Corinthians 5:20 ) beseech" or "entreat you": 2 Corinthians 6:14 2 Corinthians 6:15 , on to 2 Corinthians 7:1 , is part of this entreaty or exhortation.
in vain--by making the grace of God a ground for continuance in sin ( 2 Corinthians 6:3 ). By a life of sin, showing that the word of reconciliation has been in vain, so far as you are concerned ( Hebrews 12:15 , Jude 1:4 ). "The grace of God" here, is "the reconciliation" provided by God's love ( 2 Corinthians 5:18 2 Corinthians 5:19 ; compare Galatians 2:2 ).
2. For--God's own promise is the ground of our exhortation.
he saith--God the Father saith to God the Son, and so to all believers who are regarded as one with Him.
heard thee--In the eternal purposes of my love I have hearkened to thy prayer for the salvation of thy people (compare John 17:9 John 17:15 John 17:20 John 17:24 ).
accepted . . . accepted--The Greek of the latter is more emphatic, "well-accepted." What was "an accepted time" in the prophecy ( Isaiah 49:8 , Hebrew, "in the season of grace") becomes "the well-accepted time" in the fulfilment (compare Psalms 69:13 ). As it is God's time of receiving sinners, receive ye His grace: accept ( 2 Corinthians 6:1 ) the word of reconciliation in His accepted time.
in the day of salvation--"in a day of salvation" ( Luke 4:18 Luke 4:19 Luke 4:21 , 19:42 , Hebrews 3:7 ).
3. Resuming the connection with 2 Corinthians 6:1 , interrupted by the parenthetical 2 Corinthians 6:2 . "Giving no offense" (compare 1 Corinthians 10:33 ), "approving ourselves," and all the other participles down to 2 Corinthians 6:10 , are nominatives to "we also entreat you" ( 2 Corinthians 6:1 ), to show the pains he took to enforce his exhortation by example, as well as precept [ALFORD]. "Offense" would be given, if we were without "patience" and the other qualifications which he therefore subjoins (compare Romans 14:13 ).
4. Translate, to mark the true order of the Greek words, "in everything, as God's ministers recommending ourselves," that is, that our hearers may give our message a favorable hearing, through our consistency in every respect, not that they may glorify us. Alluding to 2 Corinthians 3:1 , he implies, We commend ourselves, not like them by word, but by deed.
patience--( 2 Corinthians 12:12 ). Put first. "Pure-minded" follows ( 2 Corinthians 6:6 ). Three triplets of trials exercising the "patience" (patient endurance) follow: Afflictions (or "tribulations"), necessities, distresses (or "straits"); stripes, imprisonments, tumults; labors, watchings, fastings. The first triplet expresses afflictions generally; the second, those in particular arising from the violence of men; the third, those which he brought on himself directly or indirectly.
5. stripes--( 2 Corinthians 11:23 2 Corinthians 11:24 , Acts 16:23 ).
imprisonments--( 2 Corinthians 11:23 ). He had been, doubtless, elsewhere imprisoned besides at Philippi when he wrote this Epistle.
tumults--( Acts 13:50 , Acts 14:5 Acts 14:19 , 16:22 ; and recently Acts 19:23-41 ).
labours--in the cause of Christ ( 2 Corinthians 11:23 , Romans 16:12 ).
watchings--( 2 Corinthians 11:27 ). Sleepless nights.
fastings--The context here refers to his trials, rather than devotional exercises (compare 2 Corinthians 11:27 ). Thus "foodlessness" would seem to be the sense (compare 1 Corinthians 4:11 , Philippians 4:12 ). But the usual sense of the Greek is fasts, in the strict sense; and in 2 Corinthians 11:27 it is spoken of independently of "hunger and thirst." (Compare Luke 2:37 , Acts 10:30 , 14:23 ). However, Matthew 15:32 , 8:3 , justify the sense, more favored by the context, foodlessness, though a rare use of the word. GAUSSEN remarks "The apostles combine the highest offices with the humblest exterior: as everything in the Church was to be cast in the mould of death and resurrection, the cardinal principle throughout Christianity."
6. By . . . by, &c.--rather, as Greek, "In . . . in," implying not the instrument, but the sphere or element in which his ministry moved.
knowledge--spiritual: in Gospel mysteries, unattainable by mere reason ( 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 , 2 Corinthians 3:6 2 Corinthians 3:17 2 Corinthians 3:18 ).
long-suffering . . . kindness--associated with "charity" or "love" ( 1 Corinthians 13:4 ), as here.
by the Holy Ghost--in virtue of His influences which produce these graces, and other gifts, "love unfeigned" being the foremost of them.
7. By the word of truth, by the power of God--rather, "IN . . . in," &c. As to "the word of truth" (compare 2 Corinthians 4:2 , Colossians 1:5 ), and "the (miraculous) power of God" ( 2 Corinthians 4:7 ); 1 Corinthians 2:4 , "in demonstration of the Spirit and of power."
by the armour--Greek, "through" or "by means of the armor." "Righteousness," which is the breastplate alone in Ephesians 6:13-17 , here is made the whole Christian panoply (compare 2 Corinthians 10:4 ).
on . . . right . . . and . . . left--that is, guarding on every side.
8. Translate, "Through glory and dishonor (disgrace)," namely, from those in authority, and accruing to us present. "By," or "through evil report and good report," from the multitude, and affecting us absent [BENGEL]. Regarded "as deceivers" by those who, not knowing ( 2 Corinthians 6:9 ), dishonor and give us an evil report; "as true," by those who "know" ( 2 Corinthians 6:9 ) us in the real "glory" of our ministry. In proportion as one has more or less of glory and good report, in that degree has he more or less of dishonor and evil report.
9. unknown . . . yet well known--"unknown" in our true character to those who "evil report" of us, "well known" to those who hold us in "good report" ( 2 Corinthians 6:8 ). CONYBEARE explains, "Unknown by men, yet acknowledged by God" ( 1 Corinthians 13:12 ). Perhaps both God and men (believers) are intended as knowing him ( 2 Corinthians 5:11 , 11:6 ).
dying . . . live--( 2 Corinthians 1:9 , 2 Corinthians 4:10 2 Corinthians 4:11 , 11:23 ). Compare GAUSSEN'S remark, something beyond all expectation.
chastened . . . not killed--realizing Psalms 118:18 .
10. The "as" no longer is used to express the opinion of his adversaries, but the real state of him and his fellow laborers.
making many rich--Spiritually ( 1 Corinthians 1:5 ), after the example of our Lord, who "by His poverty made many rich" ( 2 Corinthians 8:9 ).
having nothing--Whatever of earthly goods we have, and these are few, we have as though we had not; as tenants removable at will, not owners ( 1 Corinthians 7:30 ).
possessing all things--The Greek implies firm possession, holding fast in possession (compare 1 Corinthians 3:21 1 Corinthians 3:22 ). The things both of the present and of the future are, in the truest sense, the believer's in possession, for he possesses them all in Christ, his lasting possession, though the full fruition of them is reserved for the future eternity.
11. mouth . . . open unto you--I use no concealment, such as some at Corinth have insinuated ( 2 Corinthians 4:2 ). I use all freedom and openness of speech to you as to beloved friends. Hence he introduces here, "O Corinthians" (compare Philippians 4:15 ). The enlargement of his heart towards them ( 2 Corinthians 7:3 ) produced his openness of mouth, that is, his unreserved expression of his inmost feelings. As an unloving man is narrow in heart, so the apostle's heart is enlarged by love, so as to take in his converts at Corinth, not only with their graces, but with their many shortcomings (compare 1 Kings 4:29 , Psalms 119:32 , Isaiah 60:5 ).
12. Any constraint ye feel towards me, or narrowness of heart, is not from want of largeness of heart on my part towards you, but from want of it on your part towards me.
bowels--that is, affections (compare 2 Corinthians 12:15 ).
not straitened in us--that is, for want of room in our hearts to take you in.
13. Translate, "As a recompense in the same kind . . . be enlarged also yourselves" [ELLICOTT]. "In the same way" as my heart is enlarged towards you ( 2 Corinthians 6:11 ), and "as a recompense" for it ( Galatians 4:12 ).
I speak as unto my children--as children would naturally be expected to recompense their parents' love with similar love.
14. Be not--Greek, "Become not."
unequally yoked--"yoked with one alien in spirit." The image is from the symbolical precept of the law ( Leviticus 19:19 ), "Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind"; or the precept ( Deuteronomy 22:10 ), "Thou shalt not plough with an ox and an ass together." Compare Deuteronomy 7:3 , forbidding marriages with the heathen; also 1 Corinthians 7:39 . The believer and unbeliever are utterly heterogeneous. Too close intercourse with unbelievers in other relations also is included ( 2 Corinthians 6:16 , 1 Corinthians 8:10 , 10:14 ).
fellowship--literally, "share," or "participation."
righteousness--the state of the believer, justified by faith.
unrighteousness--rather, as always translated elsewhere, "iniquity"; the state of the unbeliever, the fruit of unbelief.
light--of which believers are the children ( 1 Thessalonians 5:5 ).
15. Belial--Hebrew, "worthlessness, unprofitableness, wickedness." As Satan is opposed to God, and Antichrist to Christ; Belial being here opposed to Christ, must denounce all manner of Antichristian uncleanness [BENGEL].
he that believeth with an infidel--Translate, "a believer with an unbeliever."
16. agreement--accordance of sentiments (compare 1 Kings 18:21 , Ephesians 5:7 Ephesians 5:11 ).
the temple of God--that is, you believers ( 1 Corinthians 3:16 , 6:19 ).
with idols--Compare Dagon before the ark ( 1 Samuel 5:2-4 ).
as--"even as God said." Quotation from Leviticus 26:12 , Jeremiah 31:33 , 32:38 , Ezekiel 37:26 Ezekiel 37:27 ; compare Matthew 28:20 , John 14:23 .
walk in them--rather, "among them." As "dwell" implies the divine presence, so "walk," the divine operation. God's dwelling in the body and soul of saints may be illustrated by its opposite, demoniacal possession of body and soul.
my people--rather, "they shall be to me a people."
17. Quoted from Isaiah 52:11 , with the freedom of one inspired, who gives variations sanctioned by the Holy Spirit.
be ye separate--"be separated" ( Hosea 4:17 ).
touch not the unclean thing--rather, "anything unclean" ( 2 Corinthians 7:1 , Micah 2:10 ). Touching is more polluting, as implying participation, than seeing.
receive you--The Greek implies, "to myself"; as persons heretofore out of doors, but now admitted within ( 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 ). With this accords the clause, "Come out from among them," namely, so as to be received to me. So Ezekiel 20:41 , "I will accept you"; and Zephaniah 3:19 , "gather her that was driven out." "The intercourse of believers with the world should resemble that of angels, who, when they have been sent a message from heaven, discharge their office with the utmost promptness, and joyfully fly back home to the presence of God" ( 1 Corinthians 7:31 , 1 Corinthians 5:9 1 Corinthians 5:10 ).
18. Translate, "I will be to you in the relation of a Father, and ye shall be to me in the relation of sons and daughters." This is a still more endearing relation than ( 2 Corinthians 6:16 ), "I will be their God, and they . . . My people." Compare the promise to Solomon ( 1 Chronicles 28:6 , Isaiah 43:6 , Revelation 21:3 Revelation 21:7 , Jeremiah 31:1 Jeremiah 31:9 ).
Lord Almighty--The Lord the Universal Ruler: nowhere else found but in Revelation. The greatness of the Promiser enhances the greatness of the promises.