Lectionary Calendar
Friday, December 1st, 2023
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 6

McGarvey's Commentaries on Selected BooksMcGarvey'S Commentaries

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Verse 1

And working together with him we entreat also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain

Verse 2

(for he saith, At an acceptable time I hearkened unto thee, And in a day of salvation did I succor thee: behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation) [The apostle here begins to give a warning which is fully set forth later (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). Before giving the warning he pauses to establish his character, influence and authority among them, that his warning may have weight. This establishment of his authority, etc., fills up the intervening space (2 Corinthians 6:3-13). These two verses of introduction will be considered together with the warning itself]:

Verse 3

giving no occasion of stumbling in anything, that our ministration be not blamed [The participle "giving" co-ordinates with "entreats" found in verse 1. To give force and effect to his entreaty, Paul conducted himself in the manner described in this and the following verses. It is a well-recognized fact that whenever blame attaches to a minister, his ministry will be weakened, if not neutralized. Without the confidence of the people the minister possesses little power, no matter how extraordinary his talent. Therefore, before proceeding to fully express the matter of his beseeching, the apostle pauses to fully set forth all the pains, cares, suffering, etc., which he had habitually undergone in order to make his beseeching effective];

Verse 4

but in everything commending ourselves, as ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,

Verse 5

in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in fastings [Instead of weakening his ministry by making it blameworthy, Paul had striven to make it commendable by the patient endurance of all manner of trials. Had he shrunk from enduring these trials, he would have been ill qualified to prescribe for others those rules of duty which called for self-sacrifice, one of which rules he is about to lay down for the Corinthians. Paul specifies three classes of sufferings which he endured, and each class contained three members. In the first three the idea of hindrance predominates, and in the second that of violent opposition, and in the third that of hardship. For a sample of Paul’s afflictions see 2 Corinthians 1:4-11 . For necessities arising from his poverty, etc., see Acts 20:34; and compare with incidents in his later life; as, Philippians 4:12 and 2 Timothy 4:13 . The word "distresses," which forms the climax of the first triplet, means "extreme pressure" and is used to describe one who is jammed in a corner, or so pressed upon by the multitude that he can not move: it is found at 2 Corinthians 4:8 . For the "stripes" see 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 . The only instance of imprisonment of which Luke tells us is found at Acts 16:24 . The imprisonments at Jerusalem, Cæsarea and Rome took place after this was written. As to the tumults, they were the normal incidents of Paul’s daily life (Acts 13:50; Acts 14:19; Acts 26:22; Acts 17:4-5; Acts 18:12; Acts 19:28; Acts 19:29; Acts 21:27-39; Acts 22:22-23; Acts 23:9-10; Acts 27:42; etc.). As to Paul’s wasting labors, see 2 Corinthians 11:28; 1 Corinthians 4:12; 1 Corinthians 15:10; Acts 20:34; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8; Romans 16:12 . We may well imagine that so many tumults and such incessant labor would result in many sleepless nights or painful watchings (2 Corinthians 11:27); but Paul also labored at night (Acts 20:31; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; etc.). The fastings mentioned were not voluntary, but indicate the unavoidable hunger which came upon him by reason of his incessant ministry. Having rehearsed the sufferings which he endured, the apostle next names six especial gifts or virtues which he manifested while thus enduring];

Verse 6

in pureness [he had lived a holy and chaste life], in knowledge [His sufferings had not perverted his understanding of the gospel, or of God’s plan. As he had endured all temptations to self-indulgence, so had he likewise withstood all those whisperings of Satan which bade him make life easier by compromising the truth which he knew], in longsuffering, in kindness [If he had been loyal in the sight of God, in that he had abstained from self-indulgence and heresy, so he had been faithful toward men in patiently enduring their misconstructions and insults, and in constantly returning good for evil], in the Holy Spirit, in love unfeigned [If Paul’s sufferings had given an appearance of weakness to his life, the Holy Spirit had given it unquestioned power and had crowned his ministry with success (1 Thessalonians 1:5; Romans 15:18-19). And if the Spirit had thus sanctioned his work by outward conquests, he had likewise sanctioned it by inward victories, so that Paul had risen to that love unfeigned which is the supreme gift of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 8:1; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; Romans 12:9-21; 2 Corinthians 12:15; 1 Peter 1:22; 2 Peter 1:5-8). From those traits and gifts which were more passive, Paul now turns to enumerate those which were more active],

Verse 7

in the word of truth, in the power of God [If Paul had kept his private life in fit condition for the ministry, he had likewise demeaned himself publicly as a true apostle. If he had kept his heart loyal to the truth, he had likewise kept his tongue faithful to the proclamation of it. In exercising discipline he had manifested the fullness of the power of God which was in him-- 2 Corinthians 4:7; 1 Corinthians 2:4-5; 1 Corinthians 4:19-21; Acts 13:9-12]; by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left [The armor of the right hand was offensive, and that of the left was defensive. As a true minister of Christ engaged in the Christian warfare, Paul knew how to strike so as to discipline all real offenders, and he also was well able to defend himself against the attacks of unchristian Jews, etc., and false brethren, who assailed his character as they had here at Corinth],

Verse 8

by glory and dishonor [When present in such cities as Philippi, Thessalonica and Corinth, etc., Paul had been held in glory and honor by the converts of his ministry, but had been dishonored by heathens, Jews and Judaizing Christians], by evil report and good report [in his absence those who honored him spoke well of him, and those who dishonored him gave him an evil report]; as deceivers, and yet true [regarded by some as a deliberate cheat and a misleading impostor, yet approved of God and his own conscience as a true apostle];

Verse 9

as unknown, and yet well known [ignored and unrecognized by the rulers and the general public, yet well known by all those in any way interested in the gospel of Christ, either as friends or enemies]; as dying, and behold, we live [the life of the apostle was constantly exposed to death and just as constantly delivered and preserved]; as chastened, and not killed [Paul was being continually schooled and educated by suffering and yet the suffering was not more than he could bear-- Psalms 118:18; Hebrews 12:5-10];

Verse 10

as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing [having abundant sorrow as to this present life, yet boundless rejoicing in contemplation of the life to come]; as poor, yet making many rich [being penniless indeed in worldly goods, yet able to enrich all men with the knowledge of the grace of God, and the heavenly blessings and benefits resulting and to result from that grace]; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. [As having sacrificed all things for Christ and his gospel (Philippians 3:7-8), and yet sensible of having lost nothing by the exchange, but of having made infinite gain thereby (Matthew 16:25; 1 Corinthians 3:21-22). Such had been the ministry of the apostle on behalf of the Corinthians, and therefore in the next three verses the apostle appeals to them to show to him an affection like that which he has bestowed upon them.]

Verse 11

Our mouth is open unto you, O Corinthians, our heart is enlarged.

Verse 12

Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own affections.

Verse 13

Now for a recompense in like kind (I speak as unto my children), be ye also enlarged. [When Paul had written his former letter his heart had been narrowed by his suspicious as to the loyalty of the Corinthians, and he had spoken to them as with compressed and guarded lips, weighing not only his words, but mindful, as it were, of the tone in which he uttered them. But by their obedience to the instructions which he gave them his confidence in them had been restored, his heart had dilated to its former largeness and wealth of affection toward them, and his mouth had been set free to speak to them unreservedly and openly. If any strained or straitened relations existed between them, they arose from the hearts of the Corinthians themselves. Paul therefore beseeches them to recompense his love with their love, his largeheartedness with corresponding largeness of heart on their part, and he does this in the spirit and with the expectation which a father has when talking with his children. Thus, after the long parenthetical digression which began at verse 3, the apostle comes back to the subject-matter of verses 1 and 2. Having put himself in a proper position to give an admonition, and the Corinthians in the right attitude to receive it, he imparts the warning which he began to introduce in [2 Corinthians 6:1]

Verse 14

Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers [a figure drawn from the law-- Deuteronomy 22:9-11]: for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity? or what communion hath light with darkness?

Verse 15

And what concord hath Christ with Belial? [Literally, "worthlessness," "depravity." The term is here used as a synonym for Satan, Who is the impersonation of impurity] or what portion hath a believer with an unbeliever?

Verse 16

And what agreement hath a temple of God with idols? for we are a temple of the living God; even as God said [Leviticus 26:12; Exodus 29:45; Ezekiel 37:27; Jeremiah 31:1], I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. [In the first epistle to the Corinthians the apostle had reasoned with the church, giving it instruction as to marriage ties between pagans and believers, and as to the social and other fellowships which tempted the Corinthians to take part in idol feasts. In all this his language had been careful and guarded, and he had recognized to the full every principle of Christian liberty involved in these questions. He now lays aside the argumentative reserve which characterized his first letter and tells them plainly that by thus going to the extreme limits of their liberty they are liable to make the grace of God in vain as to them. That life is a brief day of probation wherein they should not hazard their salvation. Then, by a series of short, terse questions he shows the utter folly, the inconsistency and incongruity of every form of alliance which entangles the children of God with the children of the devil. The world has not so improved, and Satan has not so repented, as to in any way nullify, or even weaken, the weight and applicability of this apostolic warning.]

Verse 17

Wherefore Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord [Isaiah 52:11], And touch no unclean thing; And I will receive you,

Verse 18

And will be to you a Father, And ye shall be to me sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. [Hosea 1:10; Isaiah 43:6]

Bibliographical Information
McGarvey, J. W. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 6". "J. W. McGarvey's Original Commentary on Acts". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/oca/2-corinthians-6.html. Transylvania Printing and Publishing Co. Lexington, KY. 1872.
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