2 Corinthians 6:1
We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that you receive not the grace of God in vain.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
VI.

(1) We then, as workers together with him, beseech you . . .—The thought of the marvel of the atoning love fills the heart of St. Paul with an almost passionate desire to see its purpose realised in those whom he has taught; and so, “as a fellow-worker with Him”—the pronoun may be referred grammatically either to God or Christ, but the general tone of the context, and St. Paul’s language elsewhere (1Corinthians 12:6; Ephesians 1:11; Ephesians 1:20; Philippians 2:13), are decisive in favour of the former—he renews his entreaty. The language in which he does so is every way significant. Those to whom he wrote had believed and been baptised, and so they had “received the grace;” but the freedom of the will to choose good or evil remained, and if they chose evil they would frustrate the end which the grace was intended to work out. (Comp. the language of 1Corinthians 9:27; 1Corinthians 15:10.)

2 Corinthians 6:1-2. We then, as workers together with him — Being employed by God in such an important embassy, we prosecute it, and beseech you that ye receive not the gospel of the grace of God — Which announces such glad tidings of salvation; or the free, unmerited favour and Spirit of God, offered and pressed upon you in the gospel; in vain — Which they do in whom this divine grace does not answer the end for which it was designed; does not render them godly and righteous, wise, good, and holy, in this present world, Titus 2:11-13. For he saith — (Isaiah 49:8,) where God the Father speaks to the Messiah, and engages to give him the Gentiles as an accession to his church, and a reward of his mediatorial undertaking; I have heard — Or, I will hear thee, in the days of thy flesh, when thou shalt offer up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears, (Hebrews 5:7,) though not so as to deliver thee from death, yet so as to support thee under thy sufferings, and give a blessed success to thy labours. And in the day of salvation — In the time which I have appointed for effecting man’s redemption and salvation; have I succoured — Or, will I succour and assist thee in thy work. Thus the Messiah says, (Isaiah 50:7,) The Lord God will help me, therefore shall I not be confounded. Behold now, says the apostle, is the accepted time — There spoken of, wherein such a rich treasure of saving grace is dispensed to the church, whether consisting of Jews or Gentiles, and offered to all: therefore, as if he had said, Lose not this gracious season, but improve it by accepting the offered blessings, and using them to the glory of the great and glorious Giver. This verse must be read as a parenthesis, the next being connected with the first.6:1-10 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.We then, as workers together with him - On the meaning of this expression, see the note, 1 Corinthians 3:9. The Greek here is (συνεργοῦντες sunergountes) "working together," and may mean either that the apostles and ministers to whom Paul refers were joint-laborers in entreating them not to receive the grace of God in vain; or it may mean that they cooperated with God, or were engaged with him in endeavoring to secure the reconciliation of the world to himself. Tyndale renders it: "we as helpers." Doddridge, "we then as the joint-laborers of God." Most expositors have concurred in this interpretation. The word properly means, to work together; to cooperate in producing any result. Macknight supposes that the word here is in the vocative, and is an address to the fellow-laborers of Paul, entreating them not to receive the grace of God in vain. In this opinion he is probably alone, and has manifestly departed from the scope and design of the passage. Probably the most obvious meaning is that of our translators, who regard it as teaching that Paul was a joint-worker with God in securing the salvation of people.

That ye receive not the grace of God in vain - The "grace of God" here means evidently the gracious offer of reconciliation and pardon. And the sense is, "We entreat you not to neglect or slight this offer of pardon, so as to lose the benefit of it, and be lost. It is offered freely and fully. It may be partaken of by all, and all may be saved. But it may also be slighted, and all the benefits of it will then be lost." The sense is, that it was possible that this offer might be made to them, they might hear of a Saviour, be told of the plan of reconciliation and have the offers of mercy pressed on their attention and acceptance, and yet all be in vain. They might notwithstanding all this be lost, for simply to hear of the plan of salvation or the offers of mercy, will no more save a sinner than to hear of medicine will save the sick. It must be embraced and applied, or it will be in vain. It is true that Paul probably addressed this to those who were professors of religion; and the sense is, that they should use all possible care and anxiety lest these offers should have been made in vain. They should examine their own hearts; they should inquire into their own condition; they should guard against self-deception. The same persons 2 Corinthians 5:20 Paul had exhorted also to be reconciled to God; and the idea is, that he would earnestly entreat even professors of religion to give all diligence to secure an interest in the saving mercy of the gospel, and to guard against the possibility of being self-deceived and ruined.

CHAPTER 6

2Co 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 (Ac 15:4; 1Co 3:9). Not only as "ambassadors."

beseech—entreat (2Co 5:20). He is describing his ministry, not exhorting directly.

you also—rather, "WE ALSO (as well as God, 2Co 5:20) beseech" or "entreat you": 2Co 6:14, 15, on to 2Co 7:1, is part of this entreaty or exhortation.

in vain—by making the grace of God a ground for continuance in sin (2Co 6:3). By a life of sin, showing that the word of reconciliation has been in vain, so far as you are concerned (Heb 12:15; Jude 4). "The grace of God" here, is "the reconciliation" provided by God's love (2Co 5:18, 19; compare Ga 2:2).2 Corinthians 6:1,2 Paul entreateth the Corinthians not to frustrate God’s grace,

2 Corinthians 6:3-10 setting forth his own inoffensive, painful, and

patient demeanour in the discharge of his ministry,

2 Corinthians 6:11,12 of which he telleth them he spake more freely out of

the great love he bare them,

2 Corinthians 6:13 challenging the like affection from them in return.

2 Corinthians 6:14,15 He dissuadeth from any intimate connections with unbelievers,

2 Corinthians 6:16-18 Christians are the temples of the living God.

We then, as workers together with him: ministers of the gospel are fellow workers together with Christ; though but as instruments, serving him as the principal Agent, and efficient Cause: he trod the wine press of his Father’s wrath alone, and had no partner in the purchase of man’s salvation; but in the application of the purchased salvation, he admits of fellow workers. Though the internal work be his alone, and the effects of his Spirit upon the souls of those whose hearts are changed; yet there is a ministerial part, which lieth in exhortation and argument, by the ear conveyed to the soul; thus ministers work together with Christ. And without him they can do nothing: they are workers, but they must have Christ work with them, or they will find that they labour in vain.

Beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain: grace signifieth any free gift; and it is in the New Testament variously applied; but here it signifies, the doctrine of the gospel, held forth in the preaching of it, which these Corinthians had received with the ears of their bodies. And this was Paul’s, and should be every godly minister’s, work, not with roughness, but with all mildness and gentleness, to beseech those to whom they preach the gospel, that they would believe and embrace it, and live up to the holy rules of it; without which, (as to their souls’ benefit), all the kindness of God, in affording them the gospel and means of grace, is in vain, and lost: though God yet hath his end, and his ministers shall he a sweet savour to God, as well with, reference to them that perish, as those who shall be saved. For the effectual grace of God in the heart, that cannot be received in vain; nor is that here spoken of.

We then, as workers together with him,.... The ministers of the Gospel are workers or labourers; their ministry is a work, and a very laborious one, which none have strength equal to, and are sufficient for; of themselves: it is a work that requires faithfulness and diligence, is honourable; and those who perform it aright deserve respect. These do not work alone: according to our version, they are "workers together with him"; meaning either God or Christ, not as co-ordinate with him, but as subordinate to him: he is the chief shepherd, they under ones; he is the chief master builder, they under workers; but inasmuch as he is with them, and they with him, he is over them, and stands by them, great honour is done them; they have encouragement to work; and hence it is that their work is successful. Though the phrase, "with him", is not in the original text, where only one word, is used, and may be rendered "fellow workers", or "fellow labourers", meaning with one another: and since therefore reconciliation was made by Christ, and the ministry of it was committed to them, and they were appointed ambassadors for him, and were in his stead, therefore, say they,

we beseech you also; you ministers also; as we have entreated the members of the church, to be reconciled to the order of the Gospel, and the laws of Christ in his house, so as fellow labourers with you, and jointly concerned in the same embassy of peace, we beseech you the ministers of the word in this church,

that ye receive not the grace of God in vain: by "the grace of God", is not meant the grace of God in regeneration, and effectual calling, which can never be received in vain; for the grace of God never fails of producing a thorough work of conversion; nor is it ever lost, but is strictly connected with eternal, glory: but by it is meant either the doctrine of grace, the Gospel of Christ, so called, because it is a declaration of the love and grace of God to sinners, ascribes salvation in part, and in whole, to the free grace of God, and is a means of implanting and increasing grace in the hearts of men. Now this may be received in vain by ministers and people, when it is but notionally received, or received in word only: when it is abused and perverted to vile purposes, and when men drop, deny it, and fall off from it; or else by the grace of God may be designed gifts of grace, qualifying for ministerial service; and the sense of the exhortation be, that they be careful that the gifts bestowed on them might not be neglected by them, but be used and improved to the advantage of the church, and the glory of Christ; by giving up themselves to study, meditation, and prayer, by labouring constantly in the word and doctrine, and by having a strict regard to their lives and conversations, "that the ministry be not blamed"; which exhortation he pursues in, and by his own example and others, in some following verses, the next being included in a "parenthesis".

We {1} then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

(1) Men do not only need the ministry of the Gospel before they have received grace, in order that they may be partakers of the Gospel, but also after they have received grace they need to continue in it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 6:1. Connection and meaning: “We do not, however, let the matter rest merely with that entreaty on Christ’s behalf: be ye reconciled to God, but, since we are His fellow-workers, and there is thus more laid on us to do than that entreaty on Christ’s behalf, we also exhort that ye lose not again the grace of God which you have received (2 Corinthians 5:21), that ye do not frustrate it in your case by an unchristian life.”

συνεργοῦντες] The συν finds its contextual reference not in the subject of 2 Corinthians 5:21, where there is only an auxiliary clause assigning a reason, nor yet in ὡς τοῦ θεοῦ παρακαλ. διʼ ἡμῶν, 2 Corinthians 5:20, in which there was given only a modal definition of the πρεσβεύειν ὑπὲρ Χ., but in ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ, 2 Corinthians 5:20 : as working together with Christ. It cannot, therefore, apply to God (Oecumenius, Lyra, Beza, Calvin, Cajetanus, Vorstius, Estius, Grotius, Calovius, and others, including Rückert, de Wette, Osiander, Hofmann, in accordance with 1 Corinthians 3:9), or to the fellow-apostles (Heumann, Leun), or to the Corinthian teachers (Schulz, Bolten), or to the Corinthians in general (Chrysostom, Theodoret, Pelagius, Bengel, Billroth, Olshausen[246]), or to the exhortations, with which his own example co-operates (Michaelis, Emmerling, Flatt). The apostles are fellow-workers with Christ just in this, that they are ambassadors ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ, and as such have to represent His cause and prosecute His wor.

μὴ εἰς κενὸν κ.τ.λ.] ἐπάγει ταῦτα τὴν περὶ τὸν βίον σπουδὴν ἀπαιτῶν, Chrysostom. For if he that is reconciled through faith leads an unchristian life, the reconciliation is in his case frustrated. See Romans 6; Romans 8:12-13, al.

εἰς κενόν] incassum, of no effect, Galatians 2:2; Php 2:16; 1 Thessalonians 3:5; Diod. xix. 9; Heliod. x. 30; Jacobs, ad Anthol. VII. p. 328.

δέξασθαι] is to be explained as recipiatis. So Vulgate, Luther, and others, including Rückert, Ewald, Osiander, Hofmann. Those, namely, who, like the readers (ὑμᾶς), have become partakers of the reconciliation through compliance with the entreaty in 2 Corinthians 5:20, are placed now under the divine grace (comp. Romans 6:14 f.). And this they are not to reject, but to receive and accept (δέξασθαι), and that not ΕἸς ΚΕΝΌΝ, i.e. not without the corresponding moral results, which would be wanting if one reconciled and justified by faith were not to follow the drawing of grace and the will of the Spirit and to walk in the καινότης τῆς ζωῆς (Romans 6:4) as a new creature, etc. Comp. Theodoret. Pelagius also is right: “in vacuum gratiam Dei recipit, qui in novo testamento non novus est.” Hence it is not (not even in Romans 15:9) to be taken in the sense of the praeterite, as many of the more recent commentators (even de Wette) take it, contrary to usage, following Erasmus: “ne committatis, ut, semel gratis a peccatis exemti, in pristinam vitam relabentes in vanum receperitis gratiam Dei.”

ὑμᾶς] is now, after the apostolic calling has been expressed at 2 Corinthians 5:20 in its general bearing, added and placed at the end for emphasis, because now the discourse passes into the direct exhortation to the readers, that they receive not without effect, etc. If in their case that apostolic entreaty for reconciliation had not passed without compliance, they are now also to accept and act on the grace under which they have been placed.

[246] Billroth says: “he does not simply preach the gospel and leave the Corinthians then to stand alone, but he at the same time busies himself with them for their salvation, inasmuch as he stands by their side with his exhortations as their instructor. “Olshausen: “condescendingly Paul does not place himself over the Corinthians; he wishes only to be their fellow-labourer, to exhort them in such wise as they ought to exhort one another.” In that case Paul ought to have written συνεργοῦντες δὲ ὑμῖν, in order to be understood.2 Corinthians 6:1. συνεργοῦντες δὲ καὶ παρακαλοῦμεν κ.τ.λ.: and working together (that is, with God, as is plain from chap. 2 Corinthians 5:20, and also in connexion with 1 Corinthians 3:9; cf. Acts 15:4), we, sc., I, Paul, entreat also (cf. chap. 2 Corinthians 5:20, Θεοῦ παρακαλοῦντος διʼ ἡμῶν) that ye receive not the grace of God (a general phrase, frequently used by St. Paul to express the favours and privileges offered to the members of the Church of Christ, not to be limited to grace given at any special moment, as, e.g., at baptism) in vain (see reff. and cf. Hebrews 12:15). Note that “the grace of God” may be “received” in vain; it is offered, independently of man’s faith and obedience, but it will not profit without these. The choice in the Anglican Liturgy of 2 Corinthians 6:1-10 as the epistle for the First Sunday in Lent, when the Ember Collect is said on behalf of those to be ordained in the next week, is especially happy; the magnificent description of the characteristics and the conditions of a faithful Christian ministry (2 Corinthians 6:4-10) being prefaced by the solemn warning of 2 Corinthians 6:1-3.Ch. 2 Corinthians 6:1-10. How God’s Ministers carry on this Work of Reconciliation

1. We then, as workers together with him] Cf. 1 Corinthians 3:9, which, together with the context here, shews that our translators, following the Geneva Version, rightly supply ‘with Him’ here. The earlier translations render more literally. Wiclif, helpinge. Tyndale, as helpers.

beseech you] Better with the earlier versions exhort (monesten, Wiclif). See note on ch. 2 Corinthians 1:3, 2 Corinthians 5:20.

that ye receive not the grace of God in vain] i.e. that ye make not His kindness in being reconciled to you through Jesus Christ useless by neglecting to walk according to the new life He hath given you in Him (ch. 2 Corinthians 5:17). That even the new life itself may be so received as to make its reception useless is clear from the words ‘Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away.’ John 15:2. “For lest they should think that believing on Him that calleth is itself reconciliation, he adds these words, requiring the earnestness which respects the life.” Chrysostom.2 Corinthians 6:1. Συνεργοῦντες, workers together) Not only as the ambassadors of God, or on the other hand, as beseeching, we deal with you; but also, as your friends, we co-operate with you for your salvation. [This is the medium between the dignity of ambassadors and the humility of beseeching, ch. 2 Corinthians 5:20. That is, we try all means.—Not. Crit.] For you ought to work out your own salvation, Php 2:12. The working together with them is described, 2 Corinthians 6:3-4; the exhortation, 2 Corinthians 6:2; 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 [as far as ch. 2 Corinthians 7:1.—V. g.] He strongly dissuades them from Judaism, as an ambassador, and by beseeching; as working together with them, he strongly dissuades them from heathenism. None but a holy [ch. 2 Corinthians 7:1] minister of the Gospel can turn himself into all forms of this sort.—καὶ, also).—τὴν χάριν, the grace) of which ch. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 treats, [and ch. 2 Corinthians 6:2; 2 Corinthians 6:17-18.—V. g.]—δέξασθαι) This word is drawn from the δεκτῷ of 2 Corinthians 6:2 [receive—For this is God’s season of receiving sinners]. Divine grace offers itself: human faith and obedience avail themselves of the offer.Verse 1. - We then, as fellow workers. Continuing the entreaty of 2 Corinthians 5:20, he adds, "But as [his] fellow workers we also exhort you." The "also" shows that he does not rest content with merely entreating them (δεόμεθα), but adds to the entreaty an exhortation emphasized by a self-sacrificing ministry. "Fellow workers with God" (1 Corinthians 3:9). Beseech. The word is the same as that rendered "beseech" by the Authorized Version in 2 Corinthians 5:20, and it should be rendered "exhort:" "God exhorts you by our means; we therefore entreat you to be reconciled to God; yes, and as Christ's fellow workers we exhort you." That ye receive not. The word means both passively to receive and actively to accept as a personal boon. The grace of God. To announce this is the chief aim of the gospel (Acts 13:43; Acts 20:24). In vain; that is, "without effect." You must not only accept the teaching of God's Word, but must see that it produces adequate moral results. It must not, so to speak, fall "into a vacuum (εἰς κενόν)." "He," says Pelagius, "receives the grace of God in vain who, in the new covenant, is not himself new." If you really are in Christ you must show that you have thereby become "a new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17). The branches of the true Vine must bear fruit. (For the phrase, "in vain," see Galatians 2:2; Philippians 2:16.) What the grace of God is meant to effect is sketched in Titus 2:11, 12. As workers together with Him (συνεργοῦντες)

Lit., working together. With Him is implied in the compounded ούν with. That it refers to God, not to the fellow-Christians, is evident from the parallel 1 Corinthians 3:9, laborers together with God, and because the act of exhortation or entreaty in which the fellowship is exhibited is ascribed to God in 2 Corinthians 5:20. The phrase Θεοῦ πάρεδροι assessors of God, occurs in Ignatius' letter to Polycarp. Compare Mark 16:20.

In vain (εἰς κενὸν)

Lit., to what is vain. Equivalent to the phrase to no purpose.

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