Study Notes on 2 Corinthians 6
Updated: May 22
2 Corinthians 6
This chapter gives a description of Paul's ministry, and also is a strong encouragement to walk with Christ and live for Him separate from worldly things.
1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.
Workers together with God. We labor in the power of God.
There's at least a couple ways to take this verse and the next verse. Either he's talking to the Corinthians here and encouraging them to not be unfruitful (in vain). Or this is a continuation of the salvation message he's been describing that he and his companions frequently deliver.
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.)
This is a quote from Isaiah 49:8, and that's a pretty interesting chapter in Isaiah where God the Father is talking to God the Son who will come in the world to offer salvation as He did.
I love the urgency in this quote that is applied here towards giving the gospel. What day should you get saved? Maybe next week or tomorrow? Nope, now is the day of salvation.
This reminds me of the parable in Luke 12:16-20 that ends with, "...Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee..." We never know when our last day will be. NOW is the time to get saved.
This verse also shows that salvation isn't any kind of a process like various cults believe. It happens in a moment.
3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:
To give "no offense" here means to create a stumbling block to others. This verse and the next one are powerful practical instructions for the importance of right living in order to properly give the gospel.
By improper actions we can put a stumbling block in the way of someone getting saved. Whether it's logical or not, people will look at your life, and if it looks like everyone else's life they often won't see the point in getting saved. Remember that we are ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) and shouldn't give anyone a reason to vilify the gospel.
4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
In all things and in all ways they endeavored to live appropriately as ministers of God. And this should be done with patience in every situation. We are not saved by how we live, but how we live can definitely have an impact on people getting saved or not.
See Matthew 5:14-16.
5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;
A lot of this has been recorded in Acts. Stripes means lashes; tumults refers to uprisings against them; watchings means sleep-deprived nights; fastings could be voluntary for the Lord or without food due to a lack of food.
And how are they able to go through these things? See next two verses...
6 By pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,
These are tools God gives us to live a proper Christian life.
Don't skip over these descriptions and instructions. Apply them to your life. Many of the verses in this chapter and throughout the bible are very easy to understand, but to change our life based off of them is another matter.
7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
We have Scripture, the power of God, the armor of God (See Ephesians 6).
8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;
Starting here through verse 10 we see examples of what the Apostles went through, and yet "Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed" (v. 3).
We don't need to endure false accusations to respond in a way that could damage the ministry. We can also respond in an inappropriate way to praise.
See Philippians 4:11-13.
9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;
Unknown or ignored by many people, yet known of God. They faced death often yet were spared (2 Corinthians 1:9).
10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
This is a beautiful verse. In a time of sorrow we can always be rejoicing because of the Lord. For the Christian, our circumstances should not take away our joy. We have the comfort of God (2 Corinthians 1:3).
Job 1:21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.
We might be poor in this world but rich in Christ and able to make others rich in the same way by sharing the gospel. Makes you wonder about the millionaire pastors and how different they are compared to the Apostles.
C.S. Lewis said, "He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only."
1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
See James 2:5-6 & Revelation 3:17.
11 O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.
John Gill writes, "our mouth is open to you; to speak our minds freely to you; we shall hide and conceal nothing from you, we shall deal with you with all plainness and faithfulness. This seems to refer unto, and pave the way for what he afterwards says about their unequal fellowship with unbelievers."
Our heart is enlarged meaning they have a love and care for them. This seems to be a calming preface to what is about to be said.
12 Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels.
In other words, you guys don't hold a narrow, or tight space in our hearts. We gladly do anything for you. However, the Corinthians were confined or limited in their affection for him by their own doing, their own hardness.
He's likely referring to the fact that the Corinthians had allowed deceivers and troublemakers into their congregation who boasted in their appearance and spoke evil against Paul (2 Corinthians 5:12).
2 Corinthians 12:15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.
13 Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.
Paul is asking his children in the faith (1 Corinthians 4:14-15) that they would enlarge their hearts to him and he has done to them (v. 11). He's requesting the same treatment and affection from them as he shows them.
This section here at the end is similar to 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12.
14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
In what way can the Corinthians reciprocate Paul's love? By separating themselves from being yoked with unbelievers.
This is a beautiful illustration and a great show of love going from verse 13 to 14: As a father in the faith to these people he reconciled to God with the gospel, he shows them a great deal of love. What does he want in return? What would a biological father with pure love desire for his children? Not material gifts, not adoration, not service. He's asking for them to show their love for him by being obedient to the Lord. It's all a father wants from his children is that they love the Lord.
The church should allow non-believers to visit but it should be composed of saved people that have been baptized into the body, the local church.
Garner-Howes, "No covenant attachment is to be entered between the saved and unsaved, the profane and the holy; such brings discord, disharmony."
See Ephesians 5:6-11.
15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
What concord, or what unison. Belial means wickedness or worthlessness and such is the nature of sin. The meaning and intent of these verses is pretty clear.
John Gill writes, "the believer's part and portion are God, Christ, and an eternal inheritance; the unbeliever's part and portion will be in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone; and therefore what part, society, or communion, can they have with one another?"
So why do we care so much about the opinions of people who will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire? We shouldn't. In this chapter alone there is a strong encouragement or command to win the lost to Christ and also command to not fellowship with them.
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.
The temple of God should have nothing to do with idolatry because it was built for worshipping the living God! Now in the New Covenant every believer is a temple of God because the Holy Spirit dwells in us. So why should this temple of our body have any agreement with idols or worshippers of idols? See 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.
This verse quotes a mix of verses Exodus 29:45 & Leviticus 26:12.
Albert Barnes writes, "The idea is, that as God dwells with his people, they ought to be separated from a sinful and polluted world."
1 Corinthians 10:21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils.
17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.
Look back at all the warnings and different ways it is being said here that believers should live separate from the unbelieving world. Also, when we share agreement or have covenants with worldly people or worldly things, we allow the ministry to be blamed (v. 3) and create a barrier in the way of salvation for others.
Touching unclean things under the law is now likened to close association between believers and unbelievers. It shouldn't occur.
This verse is quoted from Isaiah 52:11 where it would be primarily directed towards the priests who were in charge of the gold and silver and vessels of the house of the Lord, and now is applied to believers who are priests unto God.
The Pulpit Commentaries notes, "These promises to Israel are naturally transferred to the ideal Israel, the Christian Church."
18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
This is said to Solomon in 2 Samuel 7:14 and promised to Israel in Jeremiah 31:1, 9. Now it is applied to us as well.
God desires our separation from worldly things, and He will guide us, instruct us, discipline us, as a loving Father. The first verse of the next chapter really sums this section up.