2 Corinthians 6
Benson Commentary
We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.
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.

(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:
2 Corinthians 6:3-7. Giving, as far as in us lies, no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed — On our account. But in all things — Or in every respect; approving ourselves — To our Divine Master and his church; as the ministers of God, in much patience — Shown, 1st, In afflictions, necessities, distresses — All which are general terms. 2d, In stripes, imprisonments, tumults — Which are particular sorts of affliction, necessity, distress. 3d, In labours, watchings, fastings — Voluntarily endured. All these are expressed in the plural number, to denote a variety of them. The first word, θλιψεις, Dr. Whitby understands to mean affliction in general: the second, αναγκαι, necessities, as signifying more grievous and unavoidable troubles; the third, στενοχωριαι, distresses, such pressures as reduce us to the greatest straits. In the first, several ways to escape may appear, though none without difficulty: in the second, one way only, and that a difficult one: in the last, none at all appears. In tumults — The Greek word, ακαταστασιαι, implies such attacks as a man cannot stand against; but which bear him hither and thither by violence. In labours — Incessantly pursued, either in our ministerial work, or in those secular callings by which we are often obliged to earn our daily bread. In watchings — When, in the prosecution of our various employments, the hours of the night are added to those of the day: in fastings — To which, besides those which devotion chooses, we are often obliged to submit, for want of proper supplies of food. By pureness — Of conduct, and by keeping ourselves unspotted from the world; or by purity of the motives which animate us. By knowledge — Of those divine truths, which it is our great business to teach others. Or, as some render the expression, by prudence; namely, that which is spiritual and divine: not that which the world terms so. Worldly prudence is the practical use of worldly wisdom: divine prudence, of spiritual understanding. By long-suffering — Under affronts and injuries from the people of the world, and amid the weaknesses, failings, and faults of the people of God. By kindness — Χρηστοτητι, gentleness, or goodness of disposition. By the Holy Ghost — Directing, strengthening, supporting, as well as sanctifying us, and by the exercise of his miraculous gifts. By love unfeigned — To God and man, manifested in all our words and actions. By the word of truth — That sword of the Spirit, whereby we repel the tempter; or by preaching the gospel faithfully and zealously. By the power of God — Attesting that word by divers miraculous operations, and rendering it effectual to the conviction and conversion of sinners; and which we know will render it finally victorious over all opposition. By the armour of righteousness — The shield of faith, the helmet of hope, as well as the breastplate of righteousness; on the right hand and on the left — On all sides; the panoply, or whole armour of God, even all Christian virtues. This is said in allusion to the armour of the ancients. For soldiers carried bucklers in their left hands, and swords and javelins in their right. The former were their defensive, the latter their offensive arms. Wherefore the apostle’s expression denotes all the branches of righteousness whereby, in those difficult times, the ministers of the gospel were as effectually enabled to defend themselves, and overcome their enemies, as soldiers were to defend their bodies, and vanquish their foes, by the offensive and defensive armour which they wore.

But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;
By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,
By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;
2 Corinthians 6:8-10. By honour and dishonour — When we are present; by evil report and good report — When we are absent. Who could bear honour and good report, were they not balanced by dishonour and evil report? As deceivers — Artful, designing men. So the world represents all true ministers of Christ; yet true — Upright, sincere, in the sight of God. As unknown — For the world knoweth us not, as it knew him not: yet well known — To God, and to those who are the seals of our ministry. As dying, yet behold — Suddenly, unexpectedly, God interposes, and we live — Seeing the apostle, in this description of the behaviour proper to ministers of the gospel, in the various circumstances in which they may be placed, and under the various sufferings to which they may be exposed, doubtless included himself, we may suppose that he here alludes partly to his being stoned to death at Lystra, and his afterward reviving and walking into the city. Acts 14:20. As sorrowful — For our manifold imperfections, and for the sins and sufferings of mankind, especially of our brethren in Christ; yet always rejoicing — In present peace, love, and power over sin; in assurances of the divine favour, and a lively hope of future eternal glory. As poor — In this world, having neither silver nor gold, nor houses nor lands; yet making many rich — With treasures which they would not part with for all the revenues of princes and kings; as having nothing — That we can call our own; and yet possessing all things — For all are ours if we are Christ’s.

As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;
As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.
2 Corinthians 6:11-13. From the praise of the Christian ministry, which he began chapter 2 Corinthians 2:14, he now draws his affectionate exhortation. O ye Corinthians — He seldom uses this appellation; but it has here a peculiar force. Our mouth is opened unto you — With uncommon freedom, because our heart is enlarged — In tenderness, which neither words nor tears can sufficiently express. Ye are not straitened in us — Our heart is wide enough to receive you all; and all that we can do for your comfort and happiness ye may safely promise yourselves. But ye are straitened in your own bowels

Your hearts are contracted and shut up, and so not capable of receiving the blessings ye might enjoy. Now, for a recompense of the same — Of my paternal tenderness; (I speak as to my children — I ask nothing hard or grievous;) be ye also enlarged — Open your hearts first to God, and then to us, (see 2 Corinthians 8:5,) that God may dwell in you, (2 Corinthians 6:16; 2 Corinthians 7:1,) and that ye may receive us, 2 Corinthians 7:2.

Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels.
Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
2 Corinthians 6:14-16. Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers — Christians with Jews or heathen, godly persons with the ungodly, spiritual with such as are carnal. The apostle particularly speaks of marriage; but the reasons he urges equally hold against any needless intimacy or society with them. Of the five questions that follow, the three former contain the argument, the two latter the conclusion. For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness — The righteous can have no profitable, agreeable, or comfortable society or converse with the unrighteous. What communion hath light — That is, the state of light and knowledge, into which you are brought by divine mercy; with darkness — That deplorable state of ignorance and folly, vice and misery, in which they continue to be lost? And what concord hath Christ — Whom you serve; with Belial — To whom they belong, and who reigns in all the children of disobedience? Or what part — In time or in eternity; hath he that believeth — In Christ and his gospel, and who is a true, genuine disciple of Christ; with an infidel

Or an infidel with a believer? The union is surely, at the first view of it, too unnatural to be either agreeable, safe, or lasting. And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols — Which would by this means be, as it were, erected in it? If God would not endure idols in any part of the land where he dwelt, how much less under his own roof? He does not say, with the temple of idols; for idols do not dwell in their worshippers. This is a proper question, and a just view in which to place the matter; for ye — As a church, and as individuals; are the temple of the living God. See on Romans 8:9. As God hath said — To his ancient Church, and in them to all his Israel, in all ages; I will dwell in them — The force of the original expression cannot easily be equalled in any translation; ενοικησω εν αυτοις. The words, I will inhabit in them, or I will take up my indwelling in them, would nearly, though inelegantly, express the sense: and walk in them — The former expression signifies his perpetual presence; this latter, his operation. And I will be their God — In the fullest sense; manifesting my favour to them, communicating my Spirit, stamping them with mine image, and vouchsafing them communion with myself, in time and in eternity. And they shall be my people — Whom I will direct and govern, protect and save, here and hereafter. The sum this of the whole gospel covenant.

And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
2 Corinthians 6:17-18. Wherefore — Encouraged by this gracious promise, and that you may obtain the fulfilment of it; come out from among them — Withdraw yourselves from all intimate society with them; and be ye separate — As God’s promise of dwelling in a peculiar manner among the Israelites, obliged them to separate themselves from the converse of their heathen neighbours, that they might not be insnared with their superstitions; much more are Christians obliged, by that peculiar gracious presence of God which they enjoy, or may enjoy, to separate themselves from the society of the ungodly, and from all their sinful practices, customs, and habits. And touch not the unclean thing — Keep at the utmost distance from every person and thing whereby you might be drawn into evil, and contract guilt. And I will receive you — Into my house and family. And will be a father unto you — Will stand to you in the near relation of a father; loving you, caring and providing for you; allowing you near access to, and close intimacy with, myself. And ye shall be my sons and daughters — And therefore mine heirs, and joint-heirs with my only- begotten and beloved Son; saith the Lord Almighty — That infinitely great and omnipotent Being, who is the maker and upholder, the author and end of all things. This promise made to Solomon, (1 Chronicles 28:6,) is here applied to all believers; as the promise made particularly to Joshua is applied to them, Hebrews 13:5. Who can express the worth, who can conceive the dignity of this divine adoption? Yet it belongs to all who believe the gospel with a living, operative faith; to all who so receive Christ in his sundry offices as to be born of God, John 1:12-13. They have access to the Almighty; such free and welcome access as a beloved child to an indulgent father. To him they may flee for aid in every difficulty, and from him obtain a supply of all their wants.

And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
Benson Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

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