2 Corinthians 6-7
2 Corinthians 6
Paul's Company Had Endured in Love
Paul's Appeal to Receive Grace (1-2)
Because God is reconciling the world in Jesus and through the gospel and because Paul's apostolic team has been working together with God on this objective, Paul makes an appeal to the Corinthians not to receive the God’s grace in vain (1). Paul makes his appeal from Isaiah 49:8 where Isaiah prophesies to those who were to be in exile, telling them God in the "time of His favor" would respond to their cries and would save them from exile in Babylon. Paul takes up the emphasis of God's timing in Isaiah's prophesy saying "now" is the time when God has heard the cry of humanity for freedom and has sent Jesus. So "now is the day of salvation; now is the day when God's grace through Jesus is being offered to all.” Paul is pleading, “Don't let His message be in vain in your ears" (2).
Paul's Apostolic Company Had Been Offense-Free (3-13)
Paul is quick to point out concerning his apostolic company that they had created no offense but had come among the Corinthians as servants so as not to allow their ministry to be able to be blamed for taking advantage of anyone (3).
1. To make his point, Paul is going to list out those situations they endured while at the same time keeping with their assignment.
a) In painful times
b) in difficult moments (4)
c) in beatings
d) in false imprisonment
e) in the face of anarchy against God
f) in hard labor
g) in insomnia
h) in hunger (5)
2. To further make his point, Paul lists out the kind of character they continued to display as they were suffering want, all the while staying with their assignment.
a) in purity of heart
b) in clear-headed thinking
c) in being steady under pressure
d) in being kind to all when suffering so
e) in being holy or Holy Spirit-like
f) in being truly loving (6)
g) in speaking truth
h) in showing God's power
i) in using both hands for battling with God righteous weapons (7)
3. Paul finishes his point by listing out paradoxes they endured as they were suffering and while they remained with their God-assigned task.
a) they served whether honored or despised
b) they served whether slandered or praised
c) they served whether distrusted or considered honest (8)
d) they served whether ignored or recognized
e) they served whether they were rumored to be dead or technically alive
f) they served whether beaten to an inch of their lives yet refusing to die (9)
g) they served whether crying their eyes out or giddy with joy
h) they served whether living on hand-outs or had the funds to make others wealthy
i) they served whether impoverished or possessing more than they could ever consume (10)
Paul had given these three open-hearted and frank lists to appeal to the affections of the Corinthians. He wanted the Corinthians to know his apostolic team was not indifferent as others had charged. Instead, they were the kind of leaders who would never restrict the Corinthians. However, Paul had noticed the Corinthians had become restricted by their own affection and honor of those who truly loved them and sacrificed themselves for them. Paul appeals to the Corinthians to widen their hearts for Paul's apostolic company and in so doing they would find their hearts open in many other ways to many other people as well (11-13).
Paul Admonishes the Corinthians to Be Exclusively Separated to Christ (14-18)
Usually this passage is associated with marriage and business partnerships, but Paul had something else in mind. Paul here is calling for the Corinthians to not be "yoked" or mismatched with anyone who could use the depth of connection and bonding to interrupt their affectionate worship for Christ. The Corinthians were not to team up with anyone in any way who would threaten their fidelity to Christ.
Paul poses five contrasts to make his point:
a) Those who long to be like God have nothing in common with those who are seeking to get away from God.
b) Those who seek to be honest have nothing in common with those who lead a secret hidden life (14).
c) Christ and the Devil do not take have meals together.
d) How can trust and mistrust ever divide up the same share? (15)
e) How could anyone think of setting up idols in God's Temple?
Paul then reminds the Corinthians they are God's temple, created as a place where God dwells, quoting Exodus 25:8 and 29:45 and claiming Christ's church is where God dwells, walks, and makes His claim as being their God and they being His people (16).
So Paul calls the Corinthians to come out from among the worship practices and the religious philosophies of their world and to touch nothing (in this case, committed relationships) which would defile their exclusive and devoted affection for Christ (17). As they do keep their lives separated to God, they will experience the reality of what Christ has done: restored their relationship to God as their Father and Yahweh as their Almighty Dad (18).
2 Corinthians 7
An Appeal for Full Relationship
Paul Completes His Thoughts on Worship (1)
Because Paul called the Corinthians to separate their lives from any relationship which would have the potential to interrupt their purity of worship to Christ, he follows up and encourages them to cleanse themselves of any lust which could also defile their purity of worship (1).
Paul Seeks to End the Residual Estrangement with the Corinthian Church (2-4)
The Corinthians had read Paul's "severe" letter and had repented—Titus witnessed the whole thing—but Paul is seeking to appeal to the Corinthians to end the leftover relational awkwardness that had resulted from the former offense.
Paul’s Four Appeals (2-11)
Paul makes four appeals to the Corinthians, seeking to demonstrate how much he loved them and how deeply he desired a genuine, heart-felt relationship with them.
1. The Letter (2-3)
First, Paul was seeking for the Corinthians to make room and receive the apostolic team from their heart. He affirms that when he wrote the letter he was not seeking to harm, corrupt, or take advantage of them in any way (2). Paul further affirms that his light rebuke did not come from a desire to condemn. The Corinthians meant so much to him (3) that he even rejoiced when he was able to suffer for them (4).
2. The Trip (5-7)
Second, Paul reminds them that he had sent Titus to Corinth while the apostolic company went into Macedonia. While Titus was in Corinth seeking their repentance, the apostolic company was in Macedonia suffering the twin problems of conflict on the outside and fears on the inside (5). However, in the middle of their trouble, God brought them comfort by having Titus show up (6), telling the apostolic company of the Corinthians' repentance and turn of heart toward them (7).
3. The Grief the Letter Caused (8-9)
Third, Paul put the "severe letter" in perspective. It was not written to bring them grief, even though he did not ultimately mind the fact that the letter did grieve them but it was not his goal (8). Paul's goal in writing was to produce repentance. Paul is quick to point out that the grief did not end up hurting them in any way (9).
4. The Differences Between Grief (10-11)
Fourth, Paul tells the Corinthians that there were two kinds of grief: godly grief or the grief one has when they realize their actions have not been pleasing to God. Such grief would lead people to change the way they think, and changing the way they think led them to a salvation which caused them not to regret at all the original grief.
On the other hand, worldly grief, making people just feel bad for who they are, always leads to death (10). Paul then asks the Corinthians to consider what godly grief produces.
a) It prompted them to get closer to God.
b) It motivated in them a concern to restore themselves.
c) It created within them a repulsion of their former actions.
d) It stirred within them such an alarm for what they had done.
e) It made them aware of their desire for a right response.
f) It led them to be all the more devoted.
g) It gave them a heart to see justice done.
And in their repentance, Paul noticed they had become altogether innocent of the original offense (11).
What Paul Had Hoped the Letter Would Do (12-16)
Paul then makes it clear that he had been hoping all along that the "severe letter" would restore the same sense of passionate love they once had in the sight of God (12). As it turns out, Paul is beside himself with comfort, especially to see Titus so enthusiastic about how deep and complete the repentance had been (13).
Paul then let the Corinthians know that he expected them to respond the way they did. He even had boasted to Titus before he left about how certain he was of the Corinthians' right response. As it ended up, Paul was not shamed for expecting the right response, for they proved him right (14).
Paul then tells them that Titus was still on a high from remembering their response and the depth of their love for him (15). Paul concludes by telling the Corinthians that he is completely confident that all the residual awkwardness between them will come to an end (16).