2 Corinthians 6:2
(For he said, I have heard you in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored you: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
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(2) I have heard thee in a time accepted . . .—Better, perhaps, acceptable. The meaning of the pronoun “He,” as referring to God, is determined by the preceding verse. The tense of the Greek is better expressed by, I heard thee . . . I succoured thee. As with other citations, it is a natural inference that St. Paul had the context, as well as the words actually cited, in his mind, and it is interesting, accordingly, to remember that context. The words (Isaiah 49:8) are among those addressed at first to the servant of Jehovah, as “the light of the Gentiles;” then, apparently, in His name, as the Holy One, and in that of Jehovah, to Israel as a nation. In God’s dealings with His people through Christ the Apostle saw the true fulfilment of Isaiah’s words. Never, in spite of all outward calamities, had there been a time so acceptable, a day so full of deliverance.

Behold, now is the accepted time . . .—The word for “accepted” is much stronger than in the previous clause. Entirely acceptable is, perhaps, its best equivalent. The solemnity of the words was, it may be, intensified in St. Paul’s thoughts by what seemed to him the nearness of the impending judgment. Opportunities, as we should say, were offered which might never again recur. But the prolonged experience of the longsuffering of God has given to the words a yet more profound significance. There is, so to speak, a “now” running through the ages. For each church and nation, for each individual soul, there is a golden present which may never again recur, and in which lie boundless possibilities for the future. The words of the Apostle are, as it were, the transfigured expression of the generalisation of a wide experience which tells us that—

“There is a tide in the affairs of men

Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune:

Omitted, all the voyage of their life

Is bound in shallows and in miseries.”

—Shakespeare, Julius Cœsar, iv. 3.

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.For he saith - see Isaiah 49:8. In that passage the declaration refers to the Messiah, and the design is there to show that God would be favorable to him; that he would hear him when he prayed, and would make him the medium of establishing a covenant with his own people, and of spreading the true religion around the earth; see my note on that place. Paul quotes the passage here not as affirming that he used it in exactly the sense, or with reference to the same design for which it was originally spoken, but as expressing the idea which he wished to convey, or in accordance with the general principle implied in its use in Isaiah. The general idea there, or the principle involved, was, that under the Messiah God would be willing to hear; that is, that he would be disposed to show mercy to the Jew and to the Gentile. This is the main idea of the passage as used by Paul. Under the Messiah, it is said by Isaiah, God would be willing to show mercy. That would be an acceptable time. That time says Paul, has arrived. The Messiah has come, and now God is willing to pardon and save. And the doctrine in this verse is, that under the Messiah, or in the time of Christ, God is willing to show mercy to people. In him alone is the throne of grace accessible, and now that he has come, God is willing to pardon, and people should avail themselves of the offers of mercy.

I have heard thee - The Messiah. I have listened to thy prayer for the salvation of the pagan world. The promise to the Messiah was, that the pagan world should be given to him; but it was a promise that it should be in answer to his prayers and intercessions. "Ask of me, and I shall give thee the pagan for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession;" Psalm 2:8. The salvation of the pagan world, and of all who are saved, is to be in answer to the prevalent intercession of the Lord Jesus.

In a time accepted - In Isaiah, "in an acceptable time." The idea is, that he had prayed in a time when God was disposed to show mercy; the time when in his wise arrangements he had designed that his salvation should be extended to the world. It is a time which he had fixed as the appropriate period for extending the knowledge of his truth and his salvation; and it proves that there was to be a period which was the favorable period of salvation, that is, which God esteemed to be the proper period for making his salvation known to people. At such a period the Messiah would pray, and the prayer would be answered.

In the day of salvation - In the time when I am disposed to show salvation.

Have I succored thee - The Messiah. I have sustained thee, that is, in the effort to make salvation known. God here speaks of there being an accepted time, a limited period, in which petitions in favor of the world would be acceptable to him. That time Paul says had come; and the idea which he urges is, that people should avail themselves of that, and embrace now the offers of mercy.

Behold, now is the accepted time ... - The meaning of this passage is, the "Messiah is come. The time referred to by Isaiah has arrived. It is now a time when God is ready to show compassion, to hear prayer, and to have mercy on mankind. Only through the Messiah, the Lord Jesus, does he show mercy, and people should therefore now embrace the offers of pardon." The doctrine taught here, therefore. is, that through the Lord Jesus, and where he is preached, God is willing to pardon and save people; and this is true wherever he is preached, and as long as people live under the sound of the gospel. The world is under a dispensation of mercy, and God is willing to show compassion, and while this exists, that is, while people live, the offers of salvation are to he freely made to them. The time will come when it will not be an acceptable time with God. The day of mercy will be closed; the period of trial will be ended; and people will be removed to a world where no mercy is shown, and where compassion is unknown. This verse, which should be read as a parenthesis, is designed to be connected with the argument which the apostle is urging, and which he presented in the previous chapter. The general doctrine is, that people should seek reconciliation with God. To enforce that, he here says, that it was now the acceptable time, the time when God was willing to be reconciled to human beings. The general sentiment of this passage may be thus expressed:

(1) Under the gospel it is an acceptable time, a day of mercy, a time when God is willing to show mercy to people.

(2) there may be special seasons which may be especially called the acceptable, or accepted time:

(a) When the gospel is pressed on the attention by the faithful preaching of his servants, or by the urgent entreaties of friends;

(b) When it is brought to our attention by any striking dispensation of Providence;

(c) When the Spirit of God strives with us, and brings us to deep reflection, or to conviction for sin;

(d) In a revival of religion, when many are pressing into the kingdom - it is at all such seasons an accepted time, a day of salvation. a day which we should improve. It is "now" such a season, because:

(i) The time of mercy will pass by, and God will not be willing to pardon the sinner who goes unprepared to eternity.

(ii) Because we cannot calculate on the future. We have no assurance, no evidence that we shall live another day, or hour.


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 Joh 17:9, 15, 20, 24).

accepted … accepted—The Greek of the latter is more emphatic, "well-accepted." What was "an accepted time" in the prophecy (Isa 49:8, Hebrew, "in the season of grace") becomes "the well-accepted time" in the fulfilment (compare Ps 69:13). As it is God's time of receiving sinners, receive ye His grace: accept (2Co 6:1) the word of reconciliation in His accepted time.

in the day of salvation—"in a day of salvation" (Lu 4:18, 19, 21; 19:42; Heb 3:7).

For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: the words here quoted, are taken out of the prophet Isaiah, Isaiah 49:8, according to the Septuagint’s translation. Though some think, that the apostle here doth but accommodate to the spiritual salvation brought in by Christ, a temporal salvation mentioned, and primarily intended; yet the most and best interpreters rather judge that whole chapter in Isaiah to refer to Christ, and that the salvation there mentioned, is to be understood of the spiritual salvation of the gospel; of which also the apostle speaketh here, and maketh these words (as in the prophet) the words of God the Father to Christ his Son; testifying both his assistance of him in the accomplishment of the work of man’s redemption, and his acceptance of him; according to which sense, the accepted time is the same with what the apostle calls, the fulness of time, Galatians 4:4; (though it may also be so called in the same sense that the apostle calleth the gospel a faithful saying, worthy of all acceptation, 1 Timothy 1:15) in which sense the gospel time was prophesied of as an acceptable time, Genesis 49:10 Haggai 1:8.

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation; now is that accepted or acceptable time, now is that day of salvation, spoken of by the prophet; therefore you are concerned to receive this grace of the gospel, and to live up to the rule of it. For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted,.... These words are a citation from Isaiah 49:8 and are spoken by the Father to Christ, declaring he had heard him, as he always did. He heard him when he put up that prayer to him, recorded John 17:1 for the glorification of himself, by strengthening him as man in his work, by raising him from the dead, setting him at his own right hand, and giving him the glory he had with him before the world was; for the good of his people, the preservation of those that were called, the conversion of them that are called, and the glorification of all the Father had given him: he heard him in the garden, and answered him; the will of God was done according to his desire, and his will was conformed to the will of his Father, and he was delivered from the fear of death; his ends in his prayer there were answered, which were to show the greatness of his sufferings, the impossibility of man's salvation in any other way, and that there could be no alteration made in the methods of obtaining it. He heard him on the cross with respect to the deliverance of him from man, with regard to his being forsaken by God, and for the forgiveness of his enemies. Now this period of time in which he was heard on account of these several things, is called a time accepted; or, as in the Hebrew text, , "a time of good will, or acceptance"; a season in which God expressed good will to the sons of men, by sending his own Son to work out salvation for them; this was good will to men, and not to angels, to such as were ungodly, enemies, sinners, and the worst of sinners: it was a time very grateful to him; it was "the accepted year of the Lord"; the sufferings, sacrifice, satisfaction, and righteousness of his Son were well pleasing to him; because his purposes, promises, and covenant transactions had their accomplishment, his perfections were glorified, and his people saved. And it was a time of acceptance, or an acceptable time to men, since it was the day of their salvation, and therefore must be exceedingly agreeable to all such who see their need of it, know the worth of it, and are sensible that there is no other way of salvation than by him.

And in the day of salvation have I succoured thee. These words are still spoken to Christ, who whilst he was in human nature, working out the salvation of his people, by his obedience, sufferings, and death, was succoured, or helped by his Father. This help was promised to him as man, and he expected it, and exercised faith on God for it, and which was actually and punctually given him; and which is no instance of weakness in Christ, who is the mighty God, and was mighty to save; but an indication of the Father's regard to the human nature of Christ, and of his concern for the salvation of men; and also shows what power and strength were necessary to accomplish it.

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. These are the words of the apostle, applying the former to the present Gospel dispensation; which he introduces with prefixing a "behold" to each sentence, in order to raise both attention to, and admiration at what is delivered:

now is the accepted time; not that the Gospel dispensation is a milder dispensation of things, in which God will accept of an imperfect sincere obedience to his law, in the room of a perfect one; or in which Christ is now offered to sinners, and it is left to them whether they will accept of him or not: but it is so called, because God and Christ now testify their good will to the sons of men, and are ready to accept of, and embrace poor sensible sinners coming to them; and because the Gospel publishes salvation by Christ, which, as it is worthy of their acceptation, cannot but be acceptable to them: now is the day of salvation: now is salvation preached, as being done, already obtained by Christ for sinners, the chief of sinners; it is now brought home to their souls by the ministration of the Gospel under the influence of the Spirit of God; now sinners are convinced of their need of it, and that it cannot be had elsewhere; now they are made to submit to Christ, to be saved by him, and him alone, are encouraged to believe in him, and are by him actually possessed of it. "Now" is, and not yesterday was, the day of salvation; and "now", and that for ever, that is, as long as the Gospel dispensation continues; for it will be always now till all the elect of God are gathered in. This day of grace and salvation will never be over till that time comes; it is still "now is the day of salvation": though men may have long withstood the ministration of the Gospel, and notwithstanding their manifold sins and transgressions. There is no withstanding the "now" of grace when it comes with the power of the Holy Ghost.

{2} (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time {a} accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

(2) In that grace is offered, it is by the grace of God, who has appointed times and seasons to all things, that we may take occasion when it is offered.

(a) Which I of my free mercy and love towards you liked and appointed. And at this time God poured out his marvellous love upon us.

does not assign the reason why Paul is concerned about his official action, because, namely, now is the time in which God would have the world helped (Hofmann), but gives, as the context requires by the exhortation brought in at 2 Corinthians 6:1, a parenthetic urgent inducement for complying with this exhortation without delay

2 Corinthians 6:2 does not assign the reason why Paul is concerned about his official action, because, namely, now is the time in which God would have the world helped (Hofmann), but gives, as the context requires by the exhortation brought in at 2 Corinthians 6:1, a parenthetic urgent inducement for complying with this exhortation without delay.

λέγει γάρ] sc. ὁ θεός, from what precedes. The passage is Isaiah 49:8, exactly according to the LXX. The person addressed is the עבד יהוה, whose idea is realized in Christ. He is regarded as the head of the true people of God; He is listened to, and He is helped, when the grace of God conveyed through Him is not received without result. Such is the Messianic fulfilment of that, which in Isaiah is promised to the servant of God regarding the deliverance and salvation of the unfortunate peopl.

καιρῷ δεκτῷ] Thus the LXX. translate בְּעֶת רָצוֹן, at a time of favour. Paul was able to retain the expression of the LXX. all the more, that in the fulfilment of the prophetic word the acceptableness (δεκτῷ) of the καιρός for the people of God consists in this, that it is the point of time for the display of divine favour and grace. Chrysostom well says: καιρὸςὁ τῆς δωρεᾶς, ὁ τῆς χάριτος, ὅτε οὐκ ἔστις εὐθύνας ἀπαιτηθῆναι τῶν ἁμαρτημάτων, οὔτε δἰκην δοῦναι, ἀλλὰ μετὰ τῆς ἀπαλλαγῆς καὶ μυρίων ἀπολαῦσαι ἀγαθῶν, δικαιοσύνης, ἁγιασμοῦ, τῶν ἄλλων ἁπάντων. In substance the same thing is indicated by ἐν ἡμέρᾳ σωτηρίας, on the day of deliverance. If καιρὸς δεκτός is taken as the time pleasing to God (Hofmann),[247] it is less in keeping with the parallel “day of salvation.” The aorists are neither of a future (Menochius) nor of a present character (Flatt), but the Deity speaking sees the future as having already happened. See on Luke 1:51.

In the commentary which Paul adds: ἰδοὺ, νῦν κ.τ.λ., he discloses the element of that utterance of God, which moves to the use of this welcome salvation-bringing time. Behold, now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day of deliverance, which the prophet has foretold; now or never may you be successful in obtaining salvation through a fruitful acceptance and apprehension of the divine grace! If the νῦν is past, and you have frustrated in your case the grace received, then the hearing and help promised by the prophet are no longer possible! The duration of this νῦν was in Paul’s view the brief interval before the near-approaching Parousia. The stronger εὐπρόσδεκτος (2 Corinthians 8:12; Romans 15:16; Romans 15:31; Plut. Mor. p. 801 C), which he has used instead of the simple form, has proceeded involuntarily from his deep and earnest feeling on the subject.

[247] Comp. Calvin, who understands by it the “tempus plenitudinis” of Galatians 4:4.2 Corinthians 6:2. λέγει γὰρ, Καιρῷ δεκτῷ κ.τ.λ.: for He, sc., God, saith (cf. Romans 9:15, Galatians 3:16), “At an acceptable time I hearkene to thee, and in a day of salvation did I succour thee” (Isaiah 49:8). The whole verse is parenthetical, and is introduced to remind the Corinthians that the present dispensation is that dispensation of grace of which the prophet speaks; tanley pointed out that δέξασθαι of ver. may well have suggested δεκτός, which in its turn suggested the quotation. The words in their original context are addressed by Jehovah to His Servant, while St. Paul takes them as addressed by God to His people; but, inasmuch as the Servant in the latter portion of Isaiah is the Representative of Israel, the application made by the Apostle is easily explicable.—ἰδοὺ νῦν καιρὸς εὐπρόσδεκτος κ.τ.λ.: behold now is the “Acceptable Time,” behold now is the “Day of Salvation”. This is St. Paul’s comment. Observe that he does not say σήμερον (cf. Hebrews 3:7 ff.), but νῦν—not “to-day,” but “the present dispensation”. His point here is not (as it is often represented) that the only day of grace which we can reckon on is the present (gravely true though this is), but that the Christian dispensation is the one spoken of by the O.T. prophet in familiar words. It will be remembered that Christ applied to Himself and His ministry in like manner the words of Isaiah 61:2, καλέσαι ἐνιαυτὸν Κυρίου δεκτόν (Luke 4:19). We are not to draw any distinction here between δεκτός and εὐπρόσδεκτος; the latter is the usual word in secular authors, and (see reff.) is always used by St. Paul, except (Php 4:18) in a quotation from the LXX.2. For he saith] In Isaiah 49:8. The passage follows the LXX. translation.

I have heard thee in a time accepted] The words in the original refer to Christ. Here, however, they are applied to His Covenant people, united to Him by faith and the communication of His Nature, and therefore naturally entitled to expect the fulfilment of the promises made to Him. “We know,” says Calvin, “what is the relation between the Head and the members.”

behold, now is the accepted time] The word in the Greek is stronger than before; ‘the time of favourable acceptance.’ Our translation is due to Cranmer. Tyndale marks the distinction by translating accepted above, and well accepted in this place. The Vulgate renders by accepto and acceptabile. The life of the Christian is a continual acknowledgment in life and conduct of the ‘word of reconciliation’ he has received. The ‘time of favourable acceptance,’ therefore, the ‘day of salvation,’ is ever, not in the past, but in the present.2 Corinthians 6:2. Λέγει, He saith) The Father to Messiah, Isaiah 49:8, embracing in Him all believers.—γὰρ, for) He is describing grace.—δεκτῷ, accepted) the acceptable time of the good pleasure of God. Hence Paul presently after infers its correlative, εὐπρόσδεκτος, well-accepted, that it may be also agreeable to us.[33]—ἘΠΉΚΟΥΣΆ ΣΟΥ) I have heard thee, viz. praying.—ἐν ἡμέρᾳ, in a day) Luke 19:42; Hebrews 3:7.—ἰδοὺ νῦν, behold now) The summing up of the exhortation, 2 Corinthians 6:1; set before us in the way of a supposed dialogue.[34]

[33] The present time is δεκτὸς to God: let it be also εὐπρόσδεκτος to us.—ED.

[34] Or introduction of an imaginary speaker. See Append. on Sermocinatio.—ED.Verse 2. - For he saith; that is, "God saith." The nominative is involved in the "fellow workers,"so that this is hardly to be classed with those rabbinic methods of citation found also in Philo, which deliberately omit the word "God" as the speaker, and use "He" by preference. I have heard thee, etc. The quotation is from the LXX. of Isaiah 49:8, and is meant to express the necessity for receiving the grace of God, not only efficaciously, but at once. The "thee" in Isaiah is the Servant of Jehovah, the type primarily of Christ, and then of all who are "in Christ." In a time accepted; literally, in the Hebrew, in a time of favour. It is the season of grace, before grace has been wilfully rejected, and the time for judgment begins (Proverbs 1:24-28). The accepted time; literally, the well-accepted opportunity. St. Paul in his earnestness strengthens the force of the adjective. The same word occurs in 2 Corinthians 8:12; Romans 15:16, 31.

"There is a deep nick in Time's restless wheel
For each man's good."

(Chapman.) Now. No doubt St. Paul meant that, as long as life lasts, the door of repentance is never absolutely closed; but it is probable that he had specially in view the nearness of the advent of Christ. Compare the stress laid upon the word "today" in Hebrews 3:7, 8, and "at least in this thy day" (Luke 19:42). He saith, etc.

From Isaiah 49:8, after Septuagint. The Hebrew is: "In the time of favor I answer thee, and in the day of salvation I succor thee." The words are addressed to the servant of Jehovah, promising to invest him with spiritual power, that he may be a light to Israel and to others. Paul, taking the words in their messianic sense, urges that now is the time when God thus dispenses His favor to Christ, and through Him to men. The application turns on the words acceptable time; a time in which God receives. As He receives, receive ye Him.

The accepted time (καιρὸς εὐπρόσδεκτος)

Rev., acceptable. Paul uses for the simple adjective of the Septuagint a compound "well-received," which is stronger, and which occurs mostly in his own writings. See Romans 15:16, Romans 15:31; 1 Peter 2:5; and compare acceptable year, Luke 4:19.

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