2 Corinthians 6:6
By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,
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(6) By pureness . . .—The word may possibly mean “purity of motive” in its widest sense, but the use of the corresponding adjective in 2Corinthians 11:2; 1Timothy 5:22; Titus 2:3; 1Peter 3:2, and, indeed, its general sense elsewhere, is decisive in favour of “purity from sensual sin”—personal chastity. In the general state of morals throughout the empire, and especially in writing to such a city as Corinth, it was natural to dwell on this aspect of the Christian character. (Comp. 1Corinthians 7:7.) The “knowledge” is obviously not that of earthly things, but of the mysteries of God (Ephesians 3:4). In “kindness” we trace the consciousness of an effort to reproduce the graciousness which he looked on as a characteristic attribute of God and Christ (Ephesians 2:7; Titus 3:4). In the “Holy Ghost” we may see a reference both to spiritual gifts, such as those of tongues and prophecy (1Corinthians 14:18-19), and to the impulses and promptings in which he traced the general guidance of the Spirit (Acts 16:6-7). “Love unfeigned” (i.e., without hypocrisy) presents the same combination as in Romans 12:9 (“without dissimulation” in the English version).

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.By pureness - Paul, having in the previous verses, grouped together some of the sufferings which he endured and by which he had endeavored to commend and extend the true religion, proceeds here to group together certain other influences by which he had sought the same object. The substance of what he here says is, that it had not only been done by sufferings and trials, but by a holy life, and by entire consecration to the great cause to which he had devoted himself. He begins by stating that it was by pureness, that is, by integrity, sanctity, a holy and pure life. All preaching, and all labors would have been in vain without this; and Paul well knew that if he succeeded in the ministry, he must be a good man. The same is true in all other professions. One of the essential requisites of an orator, according to Quintilian, is, that he must be a good man; and no man may expect ultimately to succeed in any calling of life unless he is pure. But however this may be in other callings, no one will doubt it in regard to the ministry of the gospel.

By knowledge - Interpreters have differed much in the interpretation of this. Rosenmuller and Schleusner understand by it prudence. Grotius interprets it as meaning a knowledge of the Law. Doddridge supposes that it refers to a solicitude to improve in the knowledge of those truths which they were called to communicate to others. Probably the idea is a very simple one. Paul is showing how he endeavored to commend the gospel to others, 2 Corinthians 6:4. He says, therefore, that one way was by communicating knowledge, true knowledge. He proclaimed that which was true, and which was real knowledge, in opposition to the false science of the Greeks, and in opposition to those who would substitute declamation for argument, and the mere ornaments of rhetoric for truth. The idea is, that the ministry should not be ignorant, but that if they wished to commend their office, they should be well informed, and should be people of good sense. Paul had no belief that an ignorant ministry was preferable to one that was characterized by true knowledge; and he felt that if he was to be useful it was to be by his imparting to others truth that would be useful. "The priest's lips should keep knowledge;" Malachi 2:7.

By long-suffering - By patience in our trials, and in the provocations which we meet with. We endeavor to obtain and keep a control over our passions, and to keep them in subjection. See this word explained in the notes on 1 Corinthians 13:4.

By kindness - see the note, 1 Corinthians 13:4. By gentleness of manner, of temper, and of spirit. By endeavoring to evince this spirit to all, whatever may be their treatment of us, and whatever may be our provocations. Paul felt that if a minister would do good he must be kind, and gentle to all.

By the Holy Ghost - By the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit. By those graces and virtues which it is his office especially to produce in the heart; compare Galatians 5:22-23. Paul here evidently refers not to the miraculous agency of the Holy Spirit, but he is referring to the Spirit which he and his fellow-ministers manifested, and means here, doubtless, that they evinced such feelings as the Holy Spirit produced in the hearts of the children of God.

By love unfeigned - Sincere, true, ardent love to all. By undissembled, pure, and genuine affection for the souls of people. What good can a minister do if he does not love his people, and the souls of people? The prominent characteristic in the life of the Redeemer was love - love to all. So if we are like him, and if we do any good, we shall have love to people. No man is useful without it; and ministers, in general, are useful just in proportion as they have it. It will prompt to labor, self-denial, and toil; it will make them patient, ardent, kind; it will give them zeal, and will give them access to the heart; it will accomplish what no eloquence, labor, or learning will do without it. He who shows that he loves me has access at once to my heart; he who does not, cannot make a way there by any argument, eloquence, denunciation, or learning. No minister is useful without it; no one with it can be otherwise than useful.

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 (1Co 2:6-16; 2Co 3:6, 17, 18).

long-suffering … kindness—associated with "charity" or "love" (1Co 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.

By pureness: as the apostle in the former words had declared the patience of his conversation, in the enduring of the afflictions of the gospel; so in this verse he declares the more internal holiness of it, under the general notion of pureness; showed in his knowledge, faith, gentleness, kindness, or goodness towards all men. The word translated pureness, signifieth rather the universal rectitude of his heart and ways, than (as some think) the habit or exercise of any particular virtue. In or by knowledge; a right understanding and notion of spiritual things; if it doth not here signify faith, which is a superstructure on this foundation, and that habit which hath a special influence upon purifying the heart, Acts 15:9. Without knowledge there can be no purity, Proverbs 19:2.

By long-suffering; the apostle means, not being easily provoked by such as had offended him, or done him wrong.

By kindness; the word translated kindness, signifies generally any goodness by which a man may show himself either sweet and pleasant, or useful and profitable, unto his neighbour.

By the Holy Ghost: thus the apostle showeth how he behaved himself; but not through his own strength, but through the influence and assistance of the Holy Ghost.

By love unfeigned; the love unfeigned here mentioned, is a general term, signifying that habit of grace wrought in his soul by the Holy Spirit of God, which was the principle of the long-suffering and kindness before mentioned.

By pureness,.... The apostle having observed how he, and other ministers of God, showed themselves to be such by patiently bearing everything that was afflictive and distressing to the outward man, proceeds to show how they approved themselves in other respects; and which more chiefly regard the inward man, the exercise of grace, and a spiritual behaviour: "by pureness"; of doctrine and conversation, chastity of body and mind, sincerity of heart, and integrity of life:

by knowledge; of the Scriptures of truth, the mysteries of grace; or by a prudent conduct, a walking in wisdom with caution and circumspection:

by longsuffering: not easily provoked to wrath, but bearing with patience every indignity and affront:

by kindness; gentleness, sweetness of temper and manners, affability and courteousness:

by the Holy Ghost; influencing and assisting in the exercise of every grace, and the discharge of every duty, or by the gifts of the Holy Ghost, ordinary and extraordinary:

by love unfeigned; without dissimulation, being not in word only, but in deed and in truth towards the brethren, and to all men.

{5} By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,

(5) Secondly he reckons up such virtues as are necessary, and ought alway be in them, and by which as by good armour, all pitfalls and hindrances may be overcome.

2 Corinthians 6:6-7. (ii.) The inward gifts and qualities by the display of which the Christian minister commends himself are now enumerated. (a) We have, first, four graces, each described by a single word: ἐν ἁγνότητι, ἐν γνώσει, ἐν μακροθυμία, ἐν χρηστότητι: in pureness, sc., not only chastity, but purity of intention and thought in general (cf. chap. 2 Corinthians 7:11, Jam 3:17, 1 John 3:3), in knowledge, sc., of Divine things (the λόγος γνώσεως is one of the gifts of the Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:8), in long-suffering (a grace specially needful for a Christian missionary; in Romans 2:4; Romans 9:22, 1 Timothy 1:16, St. Paul speaks of God’s μακροθυμία, but generally he applies it to man; see Proverbs 25:15), in kindness (see reff.; it is a Divine attribute in Romans 2:4; Romans 11:22, Ephesians 2:7, Titus 3:4; cf. Matthew 11:30).—(b) We have next four qualifications, each described in two words: ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ, ἐν ἀγάπῃ ἀνυποκρίτῳ, ἐν λόγῳ ἀληθείας, ἐν δυνάμει Θεοῦ: in the Holy Spirit (this ought to stand at the head of the list, but the order in which the various graces are mentioned is determined rather by sound and rhythm than by strictly logical considerations), in love unfeigned, sc., love to man, not love to God (see note on chap. 2 Corinthians 5:14 and cf. ἡ ἀγάπη ἀνυπόκριτος, Romans 12:9), in the Word of Truth, sc., the message of the Gospel (see reff. and cf. chap. 2 Corinthians 2:17, 2 Corinthians 4:2), in the Power of God, which (Romans 1:16, 1 Corinthians 1:18) he declares the Gospel itself to be. This, of course, is not the force of the phrase here; nor are we to think solely of “miraculous” powers (Acts 8:10, 1 Corinthians 2:5), which were “signs of an Apostle” (Romans 15:19, chap. 2 Corinthians 12:12), but of the Divine grace given him for his special work (see reff.). “In verbo veritatis, in virtute Dei” may still stand for the watchword of Christian preaching.—(iii.) We have now three clauses beginning with διά; the preposition in the first of them being instrumental, in the other two expressing a state or condition.—(a) διὰ τῶν ὅπλων τῆς δικαιοσύνης τῶν δεξιῶν καὶ ἀριστερῶν: by the weapons of Righteousness on the right hand and on the left, sc., both offensive and defensive armour—the sword on the right and the shield on the left. See Ephesians 6:11, 1 Thessalonians 5:8 for St. Paul’s more detailed description of “the panoply of God”; the idea being apparently taken from Wis 5:18 ff.; cf. for ὅπλα δικαιοσύνης Romans 6:13.

6. by pureness] The preposition in the Greek is not changed here, though the Apostle turns from outward to inward signs of his sincerity, a change marked in our version by the use of ‘by’ for ‘in.’ Wiclif and the Rhemish, following the Vulgate, give the more restricted sense chastity here. But see 1 Timothy 5:22; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:3.

by the Holy Ghost] i.e. by Whom we are inspired in our whole mind and conduct. Cf. Romans 8:4-5; Galatians 5:16; Galatians 5:25.

unfeigned] Love might easily enough be feigned for selfish purposes. St Paul could appeal to his own career to shew that his love was as real as its expression was ardent. Cf. 2 Corinthians 6:11 and note. Also Romans 12:9, where the Greek is the same as here.

2 Corinthians 6:6. Ἐν γνώσει) γνῶσις often means leniency [æquitas], which inclines to and admits of putting favourable constructions on things somewhat harsh; and this interpretation is consonant with the phrase, in long-suffering, which follows; comp. 2 Peter 1:5; 1 Peter 3:7, note.—ἐν μακροθυμίᾳ, ἐν χρηστότητι, in long-suffering, in kindness) These words are also joined together in 1 Corinthians 13:4 under the name of one virtue [charity].—ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ, in the Holy Spirit) That we may always have the Holy Spirit present, that we may always be active, as also in the putting forth into exercise miraculous gifts, 1 Thessalonians 1:5. There immediately follows, in love, which is the principal fruit of the Spirit, and which regulates the use of spiritual gifts.

Verse 6. - By pureness; rather, in pureness, as the preposition is the same. He now gives six instances of special gifts and virtues. The "pureness" is not only "chastity," but absolute sincerity (1 John 3:3; 2 Corinthians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:10). By knowledge. The knowledge is the true knowledge of the gospel in its fulness (Ephesians 3:4). In his depth of insight into the truth St. Paul was specially gifted. The word gnosis had not yet acquired the fatal connotations which afterwards discredited it. By long suffering (2 Timothy 3:10; 2 Timothy 4:2). The patient endurance of insults, of which St. Paul shows a practical specimen in this Epistle, and still more in Philippians 1:15-18. By kindness. "Love suffereth long, and is kind" (1 Corinthians 13:4); "Long suffering, kindness" (Galatians 5:22). By the Holy Ghost. To the special gift of the Spirit St. Paul attributed all his success (1 Thessalonians 1:5; Romans 15:18, 19). By love unfeigned; which is the surest fruit of the Spirit, and the best of all spiritual gifts (2 Corinthians 12:15; 1 Corinthians 8:1; 1 Corinthians 13; Romans 12:9, etc.). 2 Corinthians 6:6
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