2Corinthians 6 - Outline of 2Corinthians (MENU page)
II. The Characteristics of Paul's Ministry. 1:8- 7:16
A. Comforted and Comforting. 1:8- 2:14
B. Triumphant. 2:14-17
C. Accredited. 3:1-5
D. Spiritual & Glorious - Not Legal. 3:6-18
E. Honest. 4:1-7
F. Suffering but Sustained. 4:8- 6:10
     1. Exposed to death, revealing Life to others. 4:8-12
     2. Believing God's promise of resurrection. 4:13-18
     3. Confident of future joy in the Lord's presence. 5:1-8
     4. Conscious of the Judgment Seat of Christ. 5:9-13
     5. Constrained by the Love of Christ. 5:14-21
     6. Co-laboring to declare God's grace, by His grace, in all circumstances. 6:1-10
 
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
{ie., helped} thee:
behold, now [is] the accepted time;
behold, now [is] the day of salvation.)
{quoted from Isa 49:8}
These two verses have dual significance.
  1. 'Co-laborers with God' press the urgent invitation, to the unsaved:
    Be reconciled to God (2Cor 5:20,21).
    Do not ignore the Grace of God who has provided salvation (Titus 2:11; Heb 2:3).
    Today is the day to trust the Savior. Tomorrow may be too late (Joh 3:36; Heb 9:27).
  2. 'Co-laborers in the ministry of reconciliation' must fulfill the grace committed to us.
    In v.1, the words 'with him' are in brackets, because they are absent in the Greek text.
    The context of Isa 49:8 (quoted in v.2) concerns the Messiah {Christ}, the Holy One, Israel's Redeemer, who would accomplish the salvation of His people in the appointed day (see Isa 49:1-9).
       Now that Jesus Christ has accomplished the work of reconciliation, God has graciously entrusted believers with the proclamation of the Gospel (2Cor 5:18-21). In v.1, Paul implores the Corinthian church (and us) to participate (with him and the other apostles) in the ministry of reconciliation which God has given us. 'Now' is the time for us to be faithful in this ministry (1Pet 4:10; Col 4:5).
       The Father fulfilled His promise to the Son, and answered His sacrifice and prayer by providing salvation for all who will receive it (Isa 49:8). In like manner, He assures those to whom He has entrusted the ministry of reconciliation, that their toil, though difficult, is not in vain (1Cor 15:58), for He also sees their sacrifices and hears their prayers (v.3-10).
3 Giving no offence {occasion for stumbling} in any thing,
that the ministry be not blamed
{discredited}: {cp. 1Cor 10:32,33; 2Cor 1:12}
4 But in all [things] approving
{commending} ourselves as the ministers of God,
{ie., in every circumstance exhibiting characteristics which mark us as God's servants, cp. 2Cor 4:2}
in much patience {great endurance}, in afflictions {persecutions},
in necessities
{hardships}, in distresses {the anguish of tight situations},
5 In stripes
{beatings, scourgings}, in imprisonments, in tumults {riots},
in labours
{wearying toil}, in watchings {sleepless nights}, in fastings {hunger};
How do God's servants handle and respond to such adversity and animosity?
6 By pureness, {eg., 1The 2:10}
by knowledge,
{eg., 2Cor 4:6}
by longsuffering, by kindness,
{1Cor 13:4}
by the Holy Ghost,
{Gal 5:22,23}
by love unfeigned,
{1Pet 1:22; 1Joh 3:18}
7 By the word of truth,
{2Cor 1:18-20; 4:2; Eph 1:13}
by the power of God,
{1Cor 2:4,5; 2Cor 10:4,5}
by the armour of righteousness
{eg., Eph 6:11-20; 1Joh 3:7-10}
on the right hand and on the left,
{ie., 'righteousness' in every area of life.}
By such enablements, God's servants stand true, regardless of what men think of them:
8 By {GK=dia, through} honour and dishonour, {eg., Acts 5:40,41; 1Cor 4:10-13}
by
{through} evil report and good report: {Mat 5:11,12; 1Pet 4:14}
as deceivers, and [yet] true;
{Joh 7:12,16-18}
9 As unknown, and [yet] well known;
{Gal 1:22-24; 2Tim 2:19}
as dying, and, behold, we live;
{2Cor 4:10,11}
as chastened
{punished}, and not killed; {Psa 118:17,18; Acts 14:19,20; 2Cor 1:8-10}
10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing;
{Joh 16:33; 1Pet 1:6-8}
as poor, yet making many rich;
{Jam 2:5; Rev 2:9}
as having nothing, and [yet] possessing all things.
{Mat 6:19,20; Rev 21:7}
 
II. The Characteristics of Paul's Ministry. 1:8- 7:16
F. Suffering but Sustained. 4:8- 6:10
G. Calling for separation and cleansing. 6:11- 7:1
11. O [ye] Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you,
our heart is enlarged.
12 Ye are not straitened in us,
but ye are straitened in your own bowels.
13 Now for a recompence in the same,
(I speak as unto [my] children,) be ye also enlarged.
Paul (with his co-workers) had spoken candidly to the Corinthians, explaining the cause of his postponed visit, the difficulties of ministry, his single-minded service to His Lord, and expressing deep love for his spiritual children. Paul's affections toward them were not in any way restrained or restricted (2Cor 2:4; cp. Php 1:8). But there was something hindering the affections of the Corinthian believers toward Paul. In exchange for Paul's openness, he asked them, likewise, to make room in their hearts toward him (cp. 1Cor 4:14-16). [In that day, the 'bowels' (rather than the 'heart') were considered the seat of affections (v.12).]
     Were their affections waning toward Paul, their spiritual father, due to the seductive attractions of the ungodly world? Concerned of that possibility, the apostle reminds them that believers, having been separated unto Christ out of the world, must maintain that separation. (This issue was addressed in Paul's previous letter to the Corinthian church. See the references with the Bible text, below.)
14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: {1Cor 5:9-11; 7:39; 15:33}
for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?
and what communion hath light with darkness?
{1Cor 10:21; Eph 5:8-14}
15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial
{ie., Satan}? {1Cor 10:20}
or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel
{an unbeliever}? {1Cor 16:22}
16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?
for ye are the temple of the living God;
{1Cor 3:16,17; 6:19,20}
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.
{Jer 31:33; 1Cor 11:25}
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers...
This phrase alludes to the OT prohibition against plowing with an ox and an ass yoked together (Deu 22:10). These animals are incompatible in size, strength and stride. But more importantly, the ox was a clean animal, which could be used for food or offered in sacrifice to God. The ass, being unclean, could not be assimilated into one's body or worship.
     The text (v.14-16) and related references (above) apply this principle to forbid incompatible partnership between saved and unsaved people in all walks of life (eg., partnerships in business, marriage, and ministry).
Verse 16 describes the New Covenant relationship, established in Christ's blood. Born-again believers are distinct from the world and its idols, because they are in vital union with Christ, through His indwelling Spirit, who is progressively transforming them into His likeness, as they focus on the glory of the Lord. 2Cor 3:6,17-18
Have you lost sight of Him?
Then, refocus and cut-off ungodly and distracting influences.
6:17 Wherefore come out from among them,
and be ye separate
{GK=aphorizo, set off by a boundary}, saith the Lord,
and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you,
{cp. Isa 52:11}
6:18 And will be a Father unto you,
{cp. Jer 31:1,9}
and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
7:1. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved,
let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit,
perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters...
'These promises' rest on the New Covenant (v.16b), by which we become the children of God. Through faith in Christ, God has become the believer's Father (eg., Joh 1:12,13; 20:17).
     However, sin, in the life of God's child, hinders or breaks his fellowship with his Father (1Joh 1:3-7; cp. v.14 above). The 'darkness' may be a hidden hypocrisy, like the 'accursed thing,' which Achan buried under his tent (Josh 7:1-f). Although no one else knew, God was unable to bless until the matter was resolved to satisfy true righteousness.
     In v.16-18, Paul quotes or alludes to a few OT passages to illustrate how God's children can maintain fellowship with their Father. cp. 1Joh 3:1-3
...let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness {every pollution} of the flesh and spirit. (7:1)
  • Filthiness of the flesh relates to sins and lusts of our bodies.
    By God's grace, many of us, who once indulged in such sins, have been saved and set free (eg. 1Cor 6:9-11). However, our sanctification is not yet complete. As long as we are 'in the flesh,' we remain susceptible to fleshly temptations (1Cor 10:13).
  • Filthiness of the spirit relates to worldly thinking and imaginations (Eph 2:3).
    (Here, in 7:1, 'spirit' refers to the spirit of man, rather than the Holy Spirit.)
    The lusts of the flesh which arise within our hearts, often produce sinful actions (Mat 15:19). But the thoughts and intents of our hearts may be filthy, even without overt action (eg., Mat 5:27,28).
       The human spirit is, by nature, in conflict with the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:17). That verse also indicates that the old fleshly nature (which cannot please God) is in conflict with the believer's new spiritual nature (which wants to please God).
       The 'works of the flesh' include both overt sins and hidden wickedness within the mind (see Gal 5:19-21). As long as we are 'in the flesh,' our minds remain vulnerable to seducing spirits and false teachings (heresies), and capable of harboring impure thoughts, hatred toward others, prideful self-focus, and unbelief toward God. Therefore, we need frequent cleansing.
  • We (believers) have need to 'cleanse' {GK=katharizo, purify, purge} ourselves.
    But this is a cooperative effort.
       It is your responsibility to eschew {shun, avoid} evil (which includes separation from evil influences, v.17; 1Cor 6:18-20; 1Pet 3:10-12). It is also your responsibility to confess known sin as you become aware of it (1Joh 1:8,9).
       It is the Lord Himself who not only forgives, but cleanses us from all unrighteousness, on the basis of Christ's blood shed for our sins (1Joh 1:7-10), and by the Holy Spirit's progressive work of sanctification within you (2Cor 3:18; 1The 5:23).
...perfecting holiness {ie., bringing holiness to completion} in the fear of God. 1The 3:13; Heb 12:13,14; 1Pet 1:15,16
 
The following note is quoted from the Scofield Reference Bible, at 2Corinthians 6:17.
Separation, Summary:
(1) Separation in Scripture is twofold: "from" whatever is contrary to the mind of God; and "unto" God Himself. The underlying principle is that in a moral universe it is impossible for God to fully bless and use His children who are in compromise or complicity with evil. The unequal yoke is anything which unites a child of God and an unbeliever in a common purpose (Deut. 22:10).
 
(2) Separation from evil implies (a) separation in desire, motive, and act, from the world, in the ethically bad sense of this present world-system... and (b) separation from believers, especially false teachers, who are "vessels unto dishonour" (2Tim. 2:20,21; 2John 1:9-11).
 
(3) Separation is not from contact with evil in the world or the church, but from complicity with and conformity to it (John 17:15; 2Cor. 6:14-18; Gal. 6:1).
 
(4) The reward of separation is the full manifestation of the divine fatherhood (2Cor 6:17,18); unhindered communion and worship (Heb. 13:13-15) and fruitful service (2Tim. 2:21), as world-conformity involves the loss of these, though not of salvation. Here, as in all else, Christ is the model. He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners" (Heb. 7:26) and yet in such contact with them for their salvation that the Pharisees, who illustrate the mechanical and ascetic conception of separation..., judged Him as having lost His Nazarite character (Luke 7:39; Cf. 1Cor. 9:19-23; 10:27).
[The above 'summary' note is quoted from ScofRB.]

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