Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.
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).
(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.)
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).
Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:
3. Resuming the connection with 2Co 6:1, interrupted by the parenthetical 2Co 6:2. "Giving no offense" (compare 1Co 10:33), "approving ourselves," and all the other participles down to 2Co 6:10, are nominatives to "we also entreat you" (2Co 6:1), to show the pains he took to enforce his exhortation by example, as well as precept [Alford]. "Offense" would be given, if we were without "patience" and the other qualifications which he therefore subjoins (compare Ro 14:13).
But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
4. Translate, to mark the true order of the Greek words, "in everything, as God's ministers recommending ourselves," that is, that our hearers may give our message a favorable hearing, through our consistency in every respect, not that they may glorify us. Alluding to 2Co 3:1, he implies, We commend ourselves, not like them by word, but by deed.
patience—(2Co 12:12). Put first. "Pure-minded" follows (2Co 6:6). Three triplets of trials exercising the "patience" (patient endurance) follow: Afflictions (or "tribulations"), necessities, distresses (or "straits"); stripes, imprisonments, tumults; labors, watchings, fastings. The first triplet expresses afflictions generally; the second, those in particular arising from the violence of men; the third, those which he brought on himself directly or indirectly.
In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;
5. stripes—(2Co 11:23, 24; Ac 16:23).
imprisonments—(2Co 11:23). He had been, doubtless, elsewhere imprisoned besides at Philippi when he wrote this Epistle.
tumults—(Ac 13:50; 14:5, 19; 16:22; and recently Ac 19:23-41).
labours—in the cause of Christ (2Co 11:23; Ro 16:12).
watchings—(2Co 11:27). Sleepless nights.
fastings—The context here refers to his trials, rather than devotional exercises (compare 2Co 11:27). Thus "foodlessness" would seem to be the sense (compare 1Co 4:11; Php 4:12). But the usual sense of the Greek is fasts, in the strict sense; and in 2Co 11:27 it is spoken of independently of "hunger and thirst." (Compare Lu 2:37; Ac 10:30; 14:23). However, Mt 15:32; Mr 8:3, justify the sense, more favored by the context, foodlessness, though a rare use of the word. Gaussen remarks "The apostles combine the highest offices with the humblest exterior: as everything in the Church was to be cast in the mould of death and resurrection, the cardinal principle throughout Christianity."
By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,
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 the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
7. By the word of truth, by the power of God—rather, "In … in," &c. As to "the word of truth" (compare 2Co 4:2; Col 1:5), and "the (miraculous) power of God" (2Co 4:7); 1Co 2:4, "in demonstration of the Spirit and of power."
by the armour—Greek, "through" or "by means of the armor." "Righteousness," which is the breastplate alone in Eph 6:13-17, here is made the whole Christian panoply (compare 2Co 10:4).
on … right … and … left—that is, guarding on every side.
By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;
8. Translate, "Through glory and dishonor (disgrace)," namely, from those in authority, and accruing to us present. "By," or "through evil report and good report," from the multitude, and affecting us absent [Bengel]. Regarded "as deceivers" by those who, not knowing (2Co 6:9), dishonor and give us an evil report; "as true," by those who "know" (2Co 6:9) us in the real "glory" of our ministry. In proportion as one has more or less of glory and good report, in that degree has he more or less of dishonor and evil report.
As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;
9. unknown … yet well known—"unknown" in our true character to those who "evil report" of us, "well known" to those who hold us in "good report" (2Co 6:8). Conybeare explains, "Unknown by men, yet acknowledged by God" (1Co 13:12). Perhaps both God and men (believers) are intended as knowing him (2Co 5:11; 11:6).
dying … live—(2Co 1:9; 4:10, 11; 11:23). Compare Gaussen's remark, see on 2Co 6:5. "Behold" calls attention to the fact as something beyond all expectation.
chastened … not killed—realizing Ps 118:18.
As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
10. The "as" no longer is used to express the opinion of his adversaries, but the real state of him and his fellow laborers.
making many rich—Spiritually (1Co 1:5), after the example of our Lord, who "by His poverty made many rich" (2Co 8:9).
having nothing—Whatever of earthly goods we have, and these are few, we have as though we had not; as tenants removable at will, not owners (1Co 7:30).
possessing all things—The Greek implies firm possession, holding fast in possession (compare 1Co 3:21, 22). The things both of the present and of the future are, in the truest sense, the believer's in possession, for he possesses them all in Christ, his lasting possession, though the full fruition of them is reserved for the future eternity.
O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.
11. mouth … open unto you—I use no concealment, such as some at Corinth have insinuated (2Co 4:2). I use all freedom and openness of speech to you as to beloved friends. Hence he introduces here, "O Corinthians" (compare Php 4:15). The enlargement of his heart towards them (2Co 7:3) produced his openness of mouth, that is, his unreserved expression of his inmost feelings. As an unloving man is narrow in heart, so the apostle's heart is enlarged by love, so as to take in his converts at Corinth, not only with their graces, but with their many shortcomings (compare 1Ki 4:29; Ps 119:32; Isa 60:5).
Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels.
12. Any constraint ye feel towards me, or narrowness of heart, is not from want of largeness of heart on my part towards you, but from want of it on your part towards me.
bowels—that is, affections (compare 2Co 12:15).
not straitened in us—that is, for want of room in our hearts to take you in.
Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.
13. Translate, "As a recompense in the same kind … be enlarged also yourselves" [Ellicott]. "In the same way" as my heart is enlarged towards you (2Co 6:11), and "as a recompense" for it (Ga 4:12).
I speak as unto my children—as children would naturally be expected to recompense their parents' love with similar love.
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
14. Be not—Greek, "Become not."
unequally yoked—"yoked with one alien in spirit." The image is from the symbolical precept of the law (Le 19:19), "Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind"; or the precept (De 22:10), "Thou shalt not plough with an ox and an ass together." Compare De 7:3, forbidding marriages with the heathen; also 1Co 7:39. The believer and unbeliever are utterly heterogeneous. Too close intercourse with unbelievers in other relations also is included (2Co 6:16; 1Co 8:10; 10:14).
fellowship—literally, "share," or "participation."
righteousness—the state of the believer, justified by faith.
unrighteousness—rather, as always translated elsewhere, "iniquity"; the state of the unbeliever, the fruit of unbelief.
light—of which believers are the children (1Th 5:5).
And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
15. Belial—Hebrew, "worthlessness, unprofitableness, wickedness." As Satan is opposed to God, and Antichrist to Christ; Belial being here opposed to Christ, must denounce all manner of Antichristian uncleanness [Bengel].
he that believeth with an infidel—Translate, "a believer with an unbeliever."
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.
16. agreement—accordance of sentiments (compare 1Ki 18:21; Eph 5:7, 11).
the temple of God—that is, you believers (1Co 3:16; 6:19).
with idols—Compare Dagon before the ark (1Sa 5:2-4).
as—"even as God said." Quotation from Le 26:12; Jer 31:33; 32:38; Eze 37:26, 27; compare Mt 28:20; Joh 14:23.
walk in them—rather, "among them." As "dwell" implies the divine presence, so "walk," the divine operation. God's dwelling in the body and soul of saints may be illustrated by its opposite, demoniacal possession of body and soul.
my people—rather, "they shall be to me a 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,
17. Quoted from Isa 52:11, with the freedom of one inspired, who gives variations sanctioned by the Holy Spirit.
be ye separate—"be separated" (Ho 4:17).
touch not the unclean thing—rather, "anything unclean" (2Co 7:1; Mic 2:10). Touching is more polluting, as implying participation, than seeing.
receive you—The Greek implies, "to myself"; as persons heretofore out of doors, but now admitted within (2Co 5:1-10). With this accords the clause, "Come out from among them," namely, so as to be received to me. So Eze 20:41, "I will accept you"; and Zep 3:19, "gather her that was driven out." "The intercourse of believers with the world should resemble that of angels, who, when they have been sent a message from heaven, discharge their office with the utmost promptness, and joyfully fly back home to the presence of God" (1Co 7:31; 5:9, 10).
And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
18. Translate, "I will be to you in the relation of a Father, and ye shall be to me in the relation of sons and daughters." This is a still more endearing relation than (2Co 6:16), "I will be their God, and they … My people." Compare the promise to Solomon (1Ch 28:6; Isa 43:6; Re 21:3, 7; Jer 31:1, 9).
Lord Almighty—The Lord the Universal Ruler: nowhere else found but in Revelation. The greatness of the Promiser enhances the greatness of the promises.