2 Corinthians 6
In this chapter the apostle gives an account of his general errand to
all to whom he preached; with the several arguments and methods he used,
2 Corinthians 6:1-10.
Then he addresses himself particularly to the Corinthians, giving them
good cautions with great affection and strong arguments,
2 Corinthians 6:11-18.
|Ministry of the Apostles.
||A. D. 57.|
1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also
that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.
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.)
3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not
4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of
God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in
5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in
watchings, in fastings;
6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by
the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,
7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of
righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as
deceivers, and yet true;
9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we
live; as chastened, and not killed;
10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many
rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
In these verses we have an account of the apostle's general errand and
exhortation to all to whom he preached in every place where he came,
with the several arguments and methods he used. Observe,
I. The errand or exhortation itself, namely, to comply with the gospel
offers of reconciliation--that, being favoured with the gospel, they
would not receive this grace of God in vain,
2 Corinthians 6:1.
The gospel is a word of grace sounding in our ears; but it will be in
vain for us to hear it, unless we believe it, and comply with the end
and design of it. And as it is the duty of the ministers of the gospel
to exhort and persuade their hearers to accept of grace and mercy which
are offered to them, so they are honoured with this high title of
co-workers with God. Note,
1. They must work; and must work for God and his glory, for souls and
their good: and they are workers with God, yet under him, as
instruments only; however, if they be faithful, they may hope to find
God working with them, and their labour will be effectual.
2. Observe the language and way of the spirit of the gospel: it is not
with roughness and severity, but with all mildness and gentleness, to
beseech and entreat, to use exhortations and arguments, in order to
prevail with sinners and overcome their natural unwillingness to be
reconciled to God and to be happy for ever.
II. The arguments and method which the apostle used. And here he tells
1. The present time is the only proper season to accept of the grace
that is offered, and improve that grace which is afforded:
NOW is the accepted time,
NOW is the day of salvation,
2 Corinthians 6:2.
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 only proper time to accept of these offers: To-day,
while it is called to-day. The morrow is none of ours: we know not
what will be on the morrow, nor where we shall be; and we should
remember that present seasons of grace are short and uncertain, and
cannot be recalled when they are past. It is therefore our duty and
interest to improve them while we have them, and no less than our
salvation depends upon our so doing.
2. What caution they used not to give offence that might hinder the
success of their preaching: Giving no offence in any thing,
2 Corinthians 6:3.
The apostle had great difficulty to behave prudently and inoffensively
towards the Jews and Gentiles, for many of both sorts watched for his
halting, and sought occasion to blame him and his ministry, or his
conversation; therefore he was very cautious not to give offence to
those who were so apt to take offence, that he might not offend the
Jews by unnecessary zeal against the law, nor the Gentiles by
unnecessary compliances with such as were zealous for the law. He was
careful, in all his words and actions, not to give offence, or occasion
of guilt or grief. Note, When others are too apt to take offence, we
should be cautious lest we give offence; and ministers especially
should be careful lest they do any thing that may bring blame on their
ministry or render that unsuccessful.
3. Their constant aim and endeavor in all things to approve themselves
faithful, as became the ministers of God,
2 Corinthians 6:4.
We see how much stress the apostle upon all occasions lays on fidelity
in our work, because much of our success depends upon that. His eye
was single, and his heart upright, in all his ministrations; and his
great desire was to be the servant of God, and to approve himself so.
Note, Ministers of the gospel should look upon themselves as God's
servants or ministers, and act in every thing suitably to that
character. So did the apostle,
(1.) By much patience in afflictions. He was a great sufferer, and met
with many afflictions, was often in necessities, and wanted the
conveniences, if not the necessaries, of life; in distresses, being
straitened on every side, hardly knowing what to do; in stripes often
(2 Corinthians 11:24);
in imprisonments; in tumults raised by the Jews and Gentiles against
him; in labours, not only in preaching the gospel, but in travelling
from place to place for that end, and working with his hands to supply
his necessities; in watchings and in fastings, either voluntary or upon
a religious account, or involuntary for the sake of religion: but he
exercised much patience in all,
2 Corinthians 6:4,5.
[1.] It is the lot of faithful ministers often to be reduced to great
difficulties, and to stand in need of much patience.
[2.] Those who would approve themselves to God must approve themselves
faithful in trouble as well as in peace, not only in doing the work of
God diligently, but also in bearing the will of God patiently.
(2.) By acting from good principles. The apostle went by a good
principle in all he did, and tells them what his principles were
(2 Corinthians 6:6,7);
namely, pureness; and there is no piety without purity. A care to keep
ourselves unspotted from the world is necessary in order to our
acceptance with God. Knowledge was another principle; and zeal without
this is but madness. He also acted with long-suffering and
kindness, being not easily provoked, but bearing with the hardness
of men's hearts, and hard treatment from their hands, to whom he kindly
endeavoured to do good. He acted under the influence of the Holy Ghost,
from the noble principle of unfeigned love, according to the rule of
the word of truth, under the supports and assistances of the power of
God, having on the armour of righteousness (a consciousness of
universal righteousness and holiness), which is the best defence
against the temptations of prosperity on the right hand, and of
adversity on the left.
(3.) By a due temper and behaviour under all the variety of conditions
in this world,
2 Corinthians 6:8-10.
We must expect to meet with many alterations of our circumstances and
conditions in this world; and it will be a great evidence of our
integrity if we preserve a right temper of mind, and duly behave
ourselves, under them all. The apostles met with honour and dishonour,
good report and evil report: good men in this world must expect to meet
with some dishonour and reproaches, to balance their honour and esteem;
and we stand in need of the grace of God to arm us against the
temptations of honour on the one hand, so as to bear good report
without pride, and of dishonour on the other hand, so as to bear
reproaches without impatience or recrimination. It should seem that
persons differently represented the apostles in their reports; that
some represented them as the best, and others as the worst, of men: by
some they were counted deceivers, and run down as such; by others as
true, preaching the gospel of truth, and men who were true to the trust
reposed in them. They were slighted by the men of the world as unknown,
men of no figure or account, not worth taking notice of; yet in all the
churches of Christ they were well known, and of great account: they
were looked upon as dying, being killed all the day long, and their
interest was thought to be a dying interest; "and yet behold," says the
apostle, "we live, and live comfortably, and bear up cheerfully under
all our hardships, and go on conquering and to conquer." They were
chastened, and often fell under the lash of the law, yet not killed:
and though it was thought that they were sorrowful, a company of mopish
and melancholy men, always sighing and mourning, yet they were always
rejoicing in God, and had the greatest reason to rejoice always. They
were despised as poor, upon the account of their poverty in this world;
and yet they made many rich, by preaching the unsearchable riches of
Christ. They were thought to have nothing, and silver and gold they had
none, houses and lands they had none; yet they possessed all things:
they had nothing in this world, but they had a treasure in heaven.
Their effects lay in another country, in another world. They had
nothing in themselves, but possessed all things in Christ. Such a
paradox is a Christian's life, and through such a variety of conditions
and reports lies our way to heaven; and we should be careful in all
these things to approve ourselves to God.
|Cautions against Mingling with Unbelievers.
||A. D. 57.|
11 O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is
12 Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your
13 Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my
children,) be ye also enlarged.
14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for
what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what
communion hath light with darkness?
15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath
he that believeth with an infidel?
16 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.
17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate,
saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will
18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and
daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
The apostle proceeds to address himself more particularly to the
Corinthians, and cautions them against mingling with unbelievers. Here
I. How the caution is introduced with a profession, in a very pathetic
manner, of the most tender affection to them, even like that of a
father to his children,
2 Corinthians 6:11-13.
Though the apostle was happy in a great fluency of expressions, yet he
seemed to want words to express the warm affections he had for these
Corinthians. As if he had said, "O ye Corinthians, to whom I am now
writing, I would fain convince you how well I love you: we are desirous
to promote the spiritual and eternal welfare of all to whom we preach,
yet our mouth is open unto you, and our heart is enlarged unto
you, in a special manner." And, because his heart was thus enlarged
with love to them, therefore he opened his mouth so freely to them in
kind admonitions and exhortations: "You are not," says he,
"straitened in us; we would gladly do you all the service we
can, and promote your comfort, as helpers of your faith and your joy;
and, if it be otherwise, the fault is in yourselves; it is because you
are straitened in yourselves, and fail in suitable returns to us,
through some misapprehensions concerning us; and all we desire as a
recompense is only that you would be proportionably affected towards
us, as children should love their father." Note, It is desirable that
there should be a mutual good affection between ministers and their
people, and this would greatly tend to their mutual comfort and
II. The caution or exhortation itself, not to mingle with unbelievers,
not to be unequally yoked with them,
2 Corinthians 6:14.
1. In stated relations. It is wrong for good people to join in affinity
with the wicked and profane; these will draw different ways, and that
will be galling and grievous. Those relations that are our choice must
be chosen by rule; and it is good for those who are themselves the
children of God to join with those who are so likewise; for there is
more danger that the bad will damage the good than hope that the good
will benefit the bad.
2. In common conversation. We should not yoke ourselves in friendship
and acquaintance with wicked men and unbelievers. Though we cannot
wholly avoid seeing, and hearing, and being with such, yet we should
never choose them for our bosom-friends.
3. Much less should we join in religious communion with them; we must
not join with them in their idolatrous services, nor concur with them
in their false worship, nor any abominations; we must not confound
together the table of the Lord and the table of devils, the house of
God and the house of Rimmon. The apostle gives several good reasons
against this corrupt mixture.
(1.) It is a very great absurdity,
2 Corinthians 6:14,15.
It is an unequal yoking of things together that will not agree
together; as bad as for the Jews to have ploughed with an ox and an ass
or to have sown divers sorts of grain intermixed. What an absurdity is
it to think of joining righteousness and unrighteousness, or mingling
light and darkness, fire and water, together! Believers are, and should
be, righteous; but unbelievers are unrighteous. Believers are made
light in the Lord, but unbelievers are in darkness; and what
comfortable communion can these have together? Christ and Belial are
contrary one to the other; they have opposite interests and designs, so
that it is impossible there should be any concord or agreement between
them. It is absurd, therefore, to think of enlisting under both; and,
if the believer has part with an infidel, he does what in him lies to
bring Christ and Belial together.
(2.) It is a dishonour to the Christian's profession
(2 Corinthians 6:16);
for Christians are by profession, and should be in reality, the
temples of the living God--dedicated to, and employed for, the
service of God, who has promised to reside in them, to dwell and
walk in them, to stand in a special relation to them, and take a
special care of them, that he will be their God and they shall be his
people. Now there can be no agreement between the temple of God and
idols. Idols are rivals with God for his honour, and God is a
jealous God, and will not give his glory to another.
(3.) There is a great deal of danger in communicating with unbelievers
and idolators, danger of being defiled and of being rejected; therefore
the exhortation is
(2 Corinthians 6:17)
to come out from among them, and keep at a due distance, to
be separate, as one would avoid the society of those who have the
leprosy or the plague, for fear of taking infection, and not to
touch the unclean thing, lest we be defiled. Who can touch pitch,
and not be defiled by it? We must take care not to defile ourselves by
converse with those who defile themselves with sin; so is the will of
God, as we ever hope to be received, and not rejected, by him.
(4.) It is base ingratitude to God for all the favours he has bestowed
upon believers and promised to them,
2 Corinthians 6:18.
God has promised to be a Father to them, and that they shall be his
sons and his daughters; and is there a greater honour or happiness than
this? How ungrateful a thing then must it be if those who have this
dignity and felicity should degrade and debase themselves by mingling
with unbelievers! Do we thus requite the Lord, O foolish and