RPM, Volume 18, Number 31, July 24 to July 30, 2016

Barnes' New Testament Notes

Notes on the New Testament
Explanatory and Practical
Part 64

By Albert Barnes



Continuation of Notes on 2 Co 5:21

(14.) We should act feeling that we are in the immediate presence of God, and so as to meet his acceptance and approbation, whether we remain on earth, or whether we are removed to eternity, 2 Co 5:9. The prospect of being with him, and the consciousness that his eye is fixed upon us, should make us diligent, humble, and laborious. It should be the great purpose of our lives to secure his favour, and meet with his acceptance; and it should make no difference with us, in this respect, where we are—whether on earth or in heaven; with the prospect of long life, or of an early death, in society or in solitude; at home or abroad; on the land or on the deep; in sickness or in health; in prosperity or in adversity, it should be our great aim so to live as to be "accepted of him." And the Christian will so act. To act in this manner is the very nature of true piety; and where this desire does not exist, there can be no true religion.

(15.) We must appear before the judgment-seat, 2 Co 5:10. We must all appear there. This is inevitable. There is not one of the human family that can escape. Old and young; rich and poor; bond and free; all classes, all conditions, all nations must stand there, and give an account for all the deeds done in the body, and receive their eternal doom. How solemn is the thought of being arraigned! How deeply affecting the idea that on the issue of that one trial will depend our eternal weal or woe! How overwhelming the reflection that from that sentence there can be no appeal; no power of reversing it; no possibility of afterwards changing our destiny!

(16.) We shall soon be there, 2 Co 5:10. No one knows when he is to die; and death, when it comes, will remove us at once to the judgment-seat. A disease that may carry us off in a few hours may take us there; or death that may come in an instant shall bear us to that awful bar. How many are stricken down in a moment; how many are hurried without any warning to the solemnities, of the eternal world! So we may die. No one can insure our lives; no one can guard us from the approach of the invisible king of terrors.

(17.) We should be ready to depart. If we must stand at that awful bar; and if we may be summoned there any moment, assuredly we should lose no time in being ready to go. It is our great business in life; and it should claim our first attention, and all other things should be postponed that we may be ready to die. It should be the first inquiry every morning, and the last subject of thought every evening— for who knows when he rises in the morning but that before night he may stand at the judgment-seat! Who, when he lies down on his bed at night, knows but that in the silence of the night-watches he may be summoned to go alone—-to leave his family and friends, his home and his bed, to answer for all the deeds done in the body?

(18.) We should endeavour to save others from eternal death, 2 Co 5:11. If we have ourselves any just views of the awful terrors of the day of judgment, and if we have any just views of the wrath of God, we should endeavour "to persuade" others to flee from the wrath to come. We should plead with them; we should entreat them; we should weep over them; we should pray for them, that they may be saved from going up to meet the awful wrath of God. If our friends are unprepared to meet God; if they are living in impenitence and sin, and if we have any influence over others in any way, we should exert it all to induce them to come to Christ, and to save themselves from the awful terrors of that day. Paul deemed no self-denial and no sacrifice too great, if he might persuade them to come to God, and to save their souls. And who that has any just views of the awful terrors of the day of judgment, of the woes of an eternal hell, and of the glories of an eternal heaven, can deem that labour too great which shall be the means of saving immortal souls! Not to frighten them should we labour; not to alarm them merely should we plead with them; but we should endeavour by all means to persuade them to come to the Redeemer. We should not use tones of harshness and denunciation; we should not speak of hell as if we would rejoice to execute the sentence; but we should speak with tenderness, earnestness, and with tears, (comp. Ac 20:31,) that we may induce our friends and fellow-sinners to be reconciled to God.

(19.) We should not deem it strange or remarkable if we are charged with being deranged for being active and zealous in the subject of religion, 2 Co 5:13. There will always be enough, both in the church and out of it, to charge us with over-heated zeal; with want of prudence; or with decided mental alienation. But we are not to forget that Paul was accused of being—"mad;" and even the Redeemer was thought to be "beside himself." "It is sufficient for the disciple that he be as his Master, and the servant as his Lord;" and ff the Redeemer was charged with derangement on account of his peculiar views and his zeal, we should not suppose that any strange thing had happened to us if we are accused in like manner.

(20.) The gospel should be offered to all men, 2 Co 5:14. If Christ died for all, then salvation is provided for all; and then it should be offered to all freely and fully. It should be done without any mental reservation, for God has no such mental reservation; without any hesitation or misgiving; without any statements that would break the force, or weaken the power of such an offer on the consciences of men. If they reject it, they should be left to see that they reject that which is in good faith offered to them, and that for this they must give an account to God. Every man who preaches the gospel should feel that he is not only permitted but REQUIRED to preach the gospel "to every creature;" nor should he embrace any opinion whatever which will, in form or in fact, cramp him or restrain him in thus offering salvation to all mankind. The fact that Christ died for all, and that all may be saved, should be a fixed and standing point in all systems of theology, and should be allowed to shape every other opinion, and to shed its influence over every other view of truth.

(21.) All men by nature are dead in sins, 2 Co 5:14. They are insensible to their own good; to the appeals of God; to the glories of heaven, and to the terrors of hell. They do not act for eternity; they are without concern in regard to their everlasting destiny. They are as insensible to all these things, until aroused by the Spirit of God, as a dead man in his grave is to surrounding objects. And there is nothing that ever did arouse such a man, or ever could, but the same power that made the world, and the same voice that raised Lazarus from his grave. This melancholy fact strikes us everywhere; and we should be deeply humbled that it is our condition by nature, and should mourn that it is the condition of our fellow-men everywhere.

(22.) We should form our estimate of objects, and of their respective value and importance, by other considerations than those which are derived from their temporal nature, 2 Co 5:16. It should not be simply according to the flesh. It should not be as they estimate them who are living for this world. It should not be by their rank, their splendour, or their fashion. It should be by their reference to eternity, and their bearing on the state of things there.

(23.) It should be with us a very serious inquiry whether our views of Christ are such as they have who are living after the flesh, or such only as the unrenewed mind takes, 2 Co 5:16. The carnal mind has no just views of the Redeemer. To every impenitent sinner he is "a root out of a dry ground." There is no beauty in him. And to every hypocrite, and every deceived professor of religion, there is really no beauty seen in him. There is no spontaneous, elevated, glowing attachment to him. It is all forced and unnatural. But to the true Christian there is a beauty seen in his character that is not seen in any other; and the whole soul loves him, and embraces him. His character is seen to be most pure and lovely; his benevolence boundless; his ability and willingness to save infinite. The renewed soul desires no other Saviour; and rejoices that he is just what he is—rejoices in his humiliation as well as his exaltation; in his poverty as well as his glory; rejoices in the privilege of being saved by him who was spit upon, and mocked, and crucified, as well as by him who is at the right hand of God. One thing is certain, unless we have just views of Christ we can never be saved.

(24.) The new birth is a great and most important change, 2 Co 5:17. It is not in name or in profession merely, but it is a deep and radical change of the heart. It is so great that it may be said of each one, that he is a new creation of God; and in relation to each one, that old things are passed away, and all things are become new. How important it is that we examine our hearts and see whether this change has taken place, or whether we are still living without God and without hope. It is indispensable that we be born again, Joh 3. If we are not born again, and if we are not new creatures in Christ, we must perish for ever. No matter what our wealth, talent, learning, accomplishment, reputation, or morality, unless we have been so changed that it may be said, and that we can say, "old things are passed away, and all things are become new," we must perish for ever. There is no power in the universe that can save a man who is not born again.

(25.) The gospel ministry is a most responsible and important work, 2 Co 5:18,19. There is no other office of the same importance; there is no situation in which man can be placed more solemn than that of making known the terms on which God is willing to bestow favour on apostate man.

(26.) How amazing is the Divine condescension, that God should have ever proposed such a plan of reconciliation, 2 Co 5:20,21. That he should not only have been willing to be reconciled, but that he should have sought, and have been so anxious for it as to be willing to send his own Son to die to secure it! It was pure, rich, infinite benevolence. God was not to be benefited by it. He was infinitely blessed and happy, even though man should have been lost. He was pure, and just, and holy, and it was not necessary to resort to this in order to vindicate his own character, he had done man no wrong; and if man had perished in his sins, the throne of God would have been pure and spotless. It was love—mere love. It was pure, holy, disinterested, infinite benevolence. It was worthy of God; and it has a claim to the deepest gratitude of man. Let us then, in view of this whole chapter, seek to be reconciled to God. Let us lay aside all our opposition to him. Let us embrace his plans. Let us be willing to submit to him, and to become his ETERNAL FRIENDS. Let us seek that heaven to which he would raise us; and though our earthly house of this tabernacle must be dissolved, let us be prepared, as we may be, for that eternal habitation which he has fitted up for all who love him in the heavens.

INTRODUCTION To 2nd Corinthians Chapter 6

THIS chapter, closely connected in sense with the preceding, is designed as an address to the Corinthian Christians, exhorting them to act worthily of their calling, and of their situation under such a ministry as they had enjoyed. In the previous chapters, Paul had discoursed at length of the design and of the labours of the ministry. The main drift of all this was to show them the nature of reconciliation and the obligation to turn to God, and to live to him. This idea is pursued in this chapter; and in view of the labours and self- denials of the ministry, Paul urges on the Corinthian Christians the duty of coming out from the world, and of separating themselves entirely from all evil. The chapter may be conveniently contemplated in the following parts:—

I. Paul states that he and his associates were fellow-labourers with God, and he exhorts the Corinthians not to receive the grace of God in vain. To induce them to make a wise improvement of the privileges which they enjoyed, he quotes a passage from Isaiah, and applies it as meaning that it was then an acceptable time, and that they might avail themselves of mercy, 1 Co 6:1,2.

II. He enumerates the labours and self-denials of the ministry. He refers to their sincerity, zeal, and honesty of life. He shows how much they had been willing to endure in order to convey the gospel to others, and how much they had in fact endured, and how much they had-benefited others. He speaks of their afflictions in a most tender and beautiful manner, and of the happy results which had followed from their self-denying labours, 2 Co 6:3-10. The design of this is, evidently, to remind them of what their religion had cost, and to appeal to them in view of all this to lead holy and pure lives.

III. Paul expresses his ardent attachment for them, and says that if they were straitened, if they did not live as they should do, it was not because he and his fellow-labourers had not loved them, and sought their welfare, but from a defect in themselves, 2 Co 6:11,12.

IV. As a reward for all that he had done and suffered for them, he now asked only that they should live as became Christians, 2 Co 6:13-18. He sought not silver, or gold, or apparel. He had not laboured as he had done with any view to a temporal reward. And he now asked simply that they should come out from the world, and be dissociated from everything that was evil. He demanded that they should be separate from all idolatry, and idolatrous practices; assures them that there can be no union between light and darkness; righteousness and unrighteousness; Christ and Belial; that there can be no agreement between the temple of God and idols; reminds them of the fact that they are the temple of God; and encourages them to do this by the assurance that God would be their God, and that they should be his adopted sons and daughters. The chapter is one of great beauty; and the argument for a holy life among Christians is one that is exceedingly forcible and tender.

Verse 1. We then, as workers together with him. On the meaning of this expression, See Barnes "1 Co 3:9".

The Greek here is, sunergountev "working together;" and may mean either-that the apostles and ministers to whom Paul refers were joint labourers in entreating them not to receive the grace of God in vain, or it may mean that they co-operated with God, or were engaged with him in endeavouring to secure the reconciliation of the world to himself. Tindal renders it, "we as helpers." Doddridge, "we then as the joint-labourers of God." Most expositors have concurred in this interpretation. The word properly means, to work together; to co-operate in producing any result. Macknight supposes that the word here is in the vocative, and is an address to the fellow-labourers of Paul, entreating them not to receive the grace of God in vain. In this opinion he is probably alone, and has manifestly departed from the scope and design of the passage. Probably the most obvious meaning is that of our translators, who regard it as teaching that Paul was a joint-worker with God in securing the salvation of men.

That ye receive not the grace of God in vain. The "grace of God" here means evidently the gracious offer of reconciliation and pardon. And the sense is, "We entreat you not to neglect or slight this offer of pardon, so as to lose the benefit of it, and be lost. It is offered freely and fully. It may be partaken of by all, and all may be saved. But it may also be slighted, and all the benefits of it will then be lost." The sense is, that it was possible that this offer might be made to them, they might hear of a Saviour, be told of the plan of reconciliation, and have the offers of mercy pressed on their attention and acceptance, and yet all be in vain. They might, not-withstanding all this, be lost; for simply to hear of the plan of salvation or the offers of mercy, will no more save a sinner than to hear of medicine will save the sick. It must be embraced and applied, or it will be in vain. It is true that Paul probably addressed this to those who were professors of religion; and the sense is, that they should use all possible care and anxiety lest these offers should have been made in vain. They should examine their own hearts; they should inquire into their own condition; they should guard against self-deception. The same persons (2 Co 5:20) Paul had exhorted also to be reconciled to God; and the idea is, that he would earnestly entreat even professors of religion to give all diligence to secure an interest in the saving mercy of the gospel, and to guard against the possibility of being self-deceived and ruined.

{a} "workers together" 2 Co 5:21

{b} "in vain" Heb 12:15


Verse 2. For he saith. See Isa 49:8. In that passage the declaration refers to the Messiah, and the design is there to show that God would be favourable to him; that he would hear him when he prayed, and would make him the medium of establishing a covenant with his own people, and of spreading the true religion around the earth. See my Note on that place. Paul quotes the passage here, not as affirming that he used it in exactly the sense, or with reference to the same design for which it was originally spoken, but as expressing the idea which he wished to convey, or in accordance with the general principle implied in its use in Isaiah. The general idea there, or the principle involved was, that under the Messiah God would be willing to hear; that is, that he would be disposed to show mercy to the Jew and to the Gentile. This is the main idea of the passage as used by Paul. Under the Messiah, it is said by Isaiah, God would be willing to show mercy. That would be an acceptable time. That time, says Paul, has arrived. The Messiah has come, and now God is willing to pardon and save. And the doctrine in this verse is, that under the Messiah, or in the time of Christ, God is willing to show mercy unto men. In him alone is the throne of grace accessible; and now that he has come, God is willing to pardon, and men should avail themselves of the offers of mercy.

I have heard thee. The Messiah. I have listened to thy prayer for the salvation of the heathen world. The promise to the Messiah was, that the heathen world should be given to him; but it was a promise that it should be in answer to his prayers and intercessions: "Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession," Ps 2:8. The salvation of the heathen world, and of all who are saved, is to be in answer to the prevalent intercession of the Lord Jesus.

In a time accepted. In Isaiah, "in an acceptable time." The idea is, that he had prayed in a time when God was disposed to show mercy; the time when in his wise arrangements he had designed that his salvation should be extended to the world. It is a time which he had fixed as the appropriate period for extending the knowledge of his truth and his salvation; and it proves that there was to be a period which was the favourable period of salvation, that is, which God esteemed to be the proper period for making his salvation known to men. At such a period the Messiah would pray, and the prayer would be answered.

In the day of salvation. In the time when I am disposed to show salvation.

Have I succoured thee. The Messiah. I have sustained thee, that is, in the effort to make salvation known. God here speaks of there being an accepted time, a limited period, in which petitions in favour of the world would be acceptable to him. That time Paul says had come; and the idea which he urges is, that men should avail themselves of that, and embrace now the offers of mercy.

Behold now is the accepted time, etc. The meaning of this passage is, "The Messiah is come. The time referred to by Isaiah has arrived. It is now a time when God is ready to show compassion, to hear prayer, and to have mercy on mankind. Only through the Messiah, the Lord Jesus, does he show mercy, and men should therefore now embrace the offers of pardon." The doctrine taught here therefore is, that through the Lord Jesus, and where he is preached, God is willing to pardon and save men; and this is true wherever he is preached, and as long as men live under the sound of the gospel. The world is under a dispensation of mercy, and God is willing to show compassion; and while this exists, that is, while men live, the offers of salvation are to be freely made to them. The time will come when it will not be an acceptable time with God. The day of mercy will be closed; the period of trial will be ended; and men will be removed to a world where no mercy is shown, and where compassion is unknown. This verse, which should be read as a parenthesis, is designed to be connected with the argument which the apostle is urging, and which he presented in the previous chapter. The general doctrine is, that men should seek reconciliation with God. To enforce that, he here says, that it was now the acceptable time, the time when God was willing to be reconciled to men. The general sentiment of this passage may be thus expressed:

(1.) Under the gospel it is an acceptable time, a day of mercy, a time when God is willing to show mercy to men.

(2.) There may be special seasons which may be peculiarly called the acceptable or accepted time.

(a.) When the gospel is pressed on the attention by the faithful preaching of his servants, or by the urgent entreaties of friends;

(b.) when it is brought to our attention by any striking dispensation of Providence;

(c.) when the Spirit of God strives with us, and brings us to deep reflection, or to conviction for sin;

(d.) in a revival of religion, when many are pressing into the kingdom: it is at all such seasons an accepted time, a day of salvation, a day which we should improve. It is "NOW" such a season, because

(1.) the time of mercy will pass by, and God will not be willing to pardon the sinner who goes unprepared to eternity.

(2.) Because we cannot calculate on the future. We have no assurance, no evidence that we shall live another day or hour.

(3.) It is taught here, that the time will come when it will not be an accepted time. Now Is the accepted time; at some future period it will NOT be. If men grieve away the Holy Spirit; if they continue to reject the gospel; if they go unprepared to eternity, no mercy can be found. God does not design to pardon beyond the grave. He has made no provision for forgiveness there; and they who are not pardoned in this life must be unpardoned for ever.

{c} "I have heard" Isa 49:8


Verse 3. Giving no offence in any thing. We the ministers of God, 2 Co 6:1. The word rendered offence means, properly, stumbling; then offence, or cause of offence, a falling into sin. The meaning here is, "giving no occasion for contemning or rejecting the gospel; and the idea of Paul is, that he and his fellow-apostles so laboured as that no one who saw or knew them should have occasion to reproach the ministry, or the religion which they preached; but so that in their pure and self-denying lives, the strongest argument should be seen for embracing it. Comp. Mt 10:16; 1 Co 8:13; 10:32,33.

See Barnes "Php 2:16" See Barnes "1 Th 2:10, See Barnes "1 Th 5:22".

How they conducted [themselves] so as to give no offence he states in the following verses.

That the ministry be not blamed. The phrase, "the ministry," refers here not merely to the ministry of Paul, that is, it does not mean merely that he would be subject to blame and reproach, but that the ministry itself which the Lord Jesus had established would be blamed, or would be reproached by the improper conduct of any one who was engaged in that work. The idea is, that the misconduct of one minister of the gospel would bring a reproach upon the profession itself, and would prevent the usefulness and success of others, just as the misconduct of a physician exposes the profession to reproach, or the bad conduct of a lawyer reflects itself in some degree on the entire profession. And it is so everywhere. The errors, follies, misconduct, or bad example of one minister of the gospel brings a reproach upon the sacred calling itself, and prevents the usefulness of many others. Ministers do not stand alone. And though no one can be responsible for the errors and failings of others, yet no one can avoid suffering in regard to his usefulness by the sins of others. Not only, therefore, from a regard to his personal usefulness should every minister be circumspect in his walk, but from respect to the usefulness of all others who sustain the office of the ministry, and from respect to the success of religion all over the world. Paul made it one of the principles of his conduct so to act that no man should have cause to speak reproachfully of the ministry on his account. In order to this, he felt it to be necessary not only to claim and assert honour for the ministry, but to lead such a life as should deserve the respect of men. If a man wishes to secure respect for his calling, it must be by living in the manner which that calling demands, and then respect and honour will follow as a matter of course. See Calvin.

{d} "no offense" 1 Co 10:32


Verse 4. But in all things. In every respect. In all that we do. In every way, both by words and deeds. How this was done, Paul proceeds to state in the following verses.

Approving ourselves as the ministers of God. Marg., "Commending." Tindal renders it, "In all things let us behave ourselves as the ministers of God." The idea is, that Paul and his fellow-labourers endeavoured to live as became the ministers of God, and so as to commend the ministry to the confidence and affection of men. They endeavoured to live as was appropriate to those who were the ministers of God, and so that the world would be disposed to do honour to the ministry.

In much patience. In the patient endurance of afflictions of all kinds. Some of his trials he proceeds to enumerate. The idea is, that a minister of God, in order to do good and to commend his ministry, should set an example of patience. He preaches this as a duty to others; and if, when he is poor, persecuted, oppressed, calumniated, or imprisoned, he should murmur, or be insubmissive, the consequence would be that he would do little good by all his Preaching. And no one can doubt that God often places his ministers in circumstances of peculiar trial, among other reasons, in order that they may illustrate their own precepts by their example and show to their people with what temper and spirit they may and ought to suffer. Ministers often do a great deal more good by their example in suffering than they do in their preaching. It is easy to preach to others; it is not so easy to manifest just the right spirit in time of persecution and trial. Men too can resist preaching, but they cannot resist the effect and power of a good example in times of suffering. In regard to the manner in which Paul says that the ministry may commend itself, it may be observed, that he groups several things together; or mentions several classes of influences or means. In this and the next verse he refers to various kinds of afflictions. In the following verses he groups several things together, pertaining to a holy life and a pure conversation.

In afflictions. In all our afflictions; referring to all the afflictions and trials which they were called to bear. The following words, in the manner of a climax, specify more particularly the kinds of trials which they were called to endure.

In necessities. This is a stronger term than afflictions, and denotes the distress which arose from want. He everywhere endured adversity. It denotes unavoidable distress and calamity.

In distresses. The word here used (stenocwria) denotes, properly, straitness of place, want of room; then straits, distress, anguish. It is a stronger word than either of those which he had before used. See it explained See Barnes "Ro 2:9".

Paul means that in all these circumstances he had evinced patience, and had endeavoured to act as became a minister of God.

{a} "ministers of God" 1 Co 4:1


Verse 5. In stripes. In this verse, Paul proceeds to specifications of what he had been called to endure. In the previous verse, he had spoken of his afflictions in general terms. In this expression, he refers to the fact that he and his fellow-labourers were scourged in the synagogues and cities as if they had been the worst of men. In 2 Co 11:23-25, Paul says that he had been scourged five times by the Jews, and had been thrice beaten with rods. See Barnes "2 Co 11:23".

In imprisonments. As at Philippi, Ac 16:24, seq. It was no uncommon thing for the early preachers of Christianity to be imprisoned.

In tumults. Marg., Tossings to and fro. The Greek word (akatastasia) denotes, properly, instability; thence disorder, tumult, commotion, here it means they in the various tumults and commotions which were produced by the preaching of the gospel, Paul endeavoured to act as became a minister of God. Such tumults were excited at Corinth, (Ac 18:6;) at Philippi, (Ac 16:19,20;) at Lystra and Derbe, (Ac 14:19;) at Ephesus, (Ac 19;) and in various other places. The idea is, that if the ministers of religion are assailed by a lawless mob, they are to endeavour to show the spirit of Christ there, and to evince all patience, and to do good even in such a scene. Patience and the Christian spirit may often do more good in such scenes than much preaching would do elsewhere.

In labours. Referring probably to the labours of the ministry, and its incessant duties, and perhaps also to the labours which they performed for their own support, as it is well known that Paul, and probably also the other apostles, laboured often to support themselves.

In watchings. In wakefulness, or want of sleep. He probably refers to the fact that in these arduous duties, and in his travels, and in anxious cares for the churches, and for the advancement of religion, he was often deprived of his ordinary rest. He refers to this again in 2 Co 11:27.

In fastings. Referring probably not only to the somewhat frequent fasts to which he voluntarily submitted as acts of devotion, but also to the fact that in his travels, when abroad and among strangers, he was often destitute of food. To such trials, those who travelled as Paul did, among strangers, and without property, would be often compelled to submit; and such trials, almost without number, the religion which we now enjoy has cost. It at first cost the painful life, the toils, the anxieties, and the sufferings of the Redeemer; and it has been propagated and perpetuated amidst the deep sorrows, the sacrifices, and the tears and blood of those who have contributed to perpetuate it on earth. For such a religion—originated, extended, and preserved in such a manner—we can never express suitable gratitude to God. Such a religion we cannot over-estimate in value; and for the extension and perpetuity of such a religion, we also should be willing to practise unwearied self-denial.

{b} "in imprisonments" 2 Co 11:23

{2} "in tumults" "in tossings to and fro"


Verse 6. By pureness. Paul, having in the previous verses grouped together some of the sufferings which he endured, and by which he had endeavoured to commend and extend the true religion, proceeds here to group together certain other influences by which he had sought the same object. The substance of what he here says is, that it had not only been done by sufferings and trials, but by a holy life, and by entire consecration to the great cause to which he had devoted himself, he begins by stating that it was by pureness, that is, by integrity, sanctity, a holy and pure life. All preaching and all labours would have been in vain without this; and Paul well knew that if he succeeded in the ministry, he must be a good man. The same is true in all other professions. One of the essential requisites of an orator, according to Quintilian, is, that he must be a good man; and no man may expect ultimately to succeed in any calling of life unless he is pure. But however this may be in other callings, no one will doubt it in regard to the ministry of the gospel.

By knowledge. Interpreters have differed much in the interpretation of this. Rosenmuller and Schleusner understand by it prudence. Grotius interprets it as meaning a knowledge of the law. Doddridge supposes that it refers to a solicitude to improve in the knowledge of those truths which they were called to communicate to others. Probably the idea is a very simple one. Paul is showing how he endeavoured to commend the gospel to others, 2 Co 6:4. He says, therefore, that one way was by communicating knowledge, true knowledge. He proclaimed that which was true, and which was real knowledge, in opposition to the false science of the Greeks, and in opposition to those who would substitute declamation for argument, and the mere ornaments of rhetoric for truth. The idea is, that the ministry should not be ignorant; but that if they wished to commend their office, they should be well-informed, and should be men of good sense. Paul had no belief that an ignorant ministry was preferable to one that was characterized by true knowledge; and he felt that if he was to be useful, it was to be by his imparting to others truth that would be useful. "The priest's lips should keep knowledge," Mal 2:7.

By long-suffering. By patience in our trials, and in the provocations which we meet with. We endeavour to obtain and keep a control over our passions, and to keep them in subjection. See this word explained See Barnes "1 Co 13:4".

By kindness. See Barnes "1 Co 13:4".

By gentleness of manner, of temper, and of spirit. By endeavouring to evince this spirit to all, whatever may be their treatment of us, and whatever may be our provocations. Paul felt that if a minister would do good, he must be kind and gentle to all.

By the Holy Ghost. By the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit. By those graces and virtues which it is his office peculiarly to produce in the heart. Comp. Ga 5:22,23. Paul here evidently refers not to the miraculous agency of the Holy Spirit, but he is referring to the Spirit which he and his fellow-ministers manifested—and means here, doubtless, that they evinced such feelings as the Holy Spirit produced in the hearts of the children of God.

By love unfeigned. Sincere, true, ardent love to all. By undissembled, pure, and genuine affection for the souls of men. What good can a minister do, if he does not love his people and the souls of men? The prominent characteristic in the life of the Redeemer was love—love to all. So if we are like him, and if we do any good, we shall have love to men. No man is useful without it; and ministers, in general, are useful just in proportion as they have it. It will prompt to labour, self- denial, and toil; it will make them patient, ardent, kind; it will give them zeal, and will give them access to the heart; it will accomplish what no eloquence, labour, or learning will do without it. He who shows that he loves me has access at once to my heart; he who does not, cannot make a way there by any argument, eloquence, denunciation, or learning. No minister is useful without it; no one with it can be otherwise than useful.


Verse 7. By the word of truth. That is, by making known the truths of the gospel. It was his object to make known the simple truth. He did not corrupt it by false mixtures of philosophy and human wisdom, but communicated it as it had been revealed to him. The object of the appointment of the Christian ministry is to make known the truth; and when that is done, it cannot but be that they will commend their office and work to the favourable regards of men.

By the power of God. By the Divine power which attended the preaching of the gospel. Most of the ancient commentators explain this of the power of working miracles.—Bloomfield. But it probably includes all the displays of Divine power which attended the propagation of the gospel, whether in the working of miracles, or in the conversion of men. If it be asked how Paul used this power so as to give no offence in the work of the ministry, it may be replied, that the miraculous endowments bestowed upon the apostles, the power of speaking foreign languages, etc., seem to have been bestowed upon them to be employed in the same way as were their natural faculties. See Barnes "1 Co 14:32".

The idea here is, that they used the great powers intrusted to them by God, not as impostors would have done, for the purposes of gain and ambition, or for vain display, but solely for the furtherance of the true religion, and the salvation of men. They thus showed that they were sent from God, as well by the nature of the powers with which they were intrusted, as by the manner in which they used them.

By the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left. Interpreters have varied much in the exposition of this passage; and many have run into utter wildness. Grotius says that it refers to the manner in which the ancient soldiers were armed. They bore a spear in their right hand, and a shield in the left. With the former they attacked their foes, with the latter they made defence. Some have supposed that it refers to the fact that they were taught to use the sword with the left hand as well as with the right. The simple idea is, that they were completely armed. To be armed on the right hand and on the left, is to be well armed, or entirely equipped. They went forth to conflict. They met persecution, opposition, and slander. As the soldier went well armed to battle, so did they. But the armour with which they met their foes, and which constituted their entire panoply, was a holy life. With that they met all the assaults of their enemies; with that all slander and persecution. That was their defence, and by that they hoped and expected to achieve their conquests. They had no swords, and spears, and helmets, and shields; no carnal weapons of offence and defence; but they expected to meet all their assaults, and to gain all their victories, by an upright and holy life.

{a} "word of truth" 2 Co 4:2

{b} "power of God" 1 Co 2:4

{c} "armour of righteousness" Eph 6:11


Verse 8. By honour and dishonour. The apostle is still illustrating the proposition that he and his fellow-labourers endeavoured to give no offence, (2 Co 6:3,) and to commend themselves as the ministers of God, 2 Co 6:4. He here (2 Co 6:8-10) introduces another group of particulars in which it was done. The main idea is, that they endeavoured to act in a manner so as to commend the ministry and the gospel, whether they were in circumstances of honour or dishonour, whether lauded or despised by the world. The word rendered "by" (dia) does not here denote the means by which they commended the gospel, but the medium. In the midst of honour and dishonour, whatever might be the esteem in which they were held by the world, they gave no offence. The first is, "by honour." They were not everywhere honoured, or treated with respect. Yet they were sometimes honoured by men. The churches which they founded would honour them, and as the ministers of religion they would be by them treated with respect. Perhaps occasionally also they might be treated with great attention and regard by the men of the world on account of their miraculous powers. Comp. Ac 28:7. So now, ministers of the gospel are often treated with great respect and honour. They are beloved and venerated, caressed and flattered, by the people of their charge. As ministers of God, as exercising a holy function, their office is often treated with great respect by the World. If they are eloquent or learned, or if they are eminently successful, they are often highly esteemed and loved. It is difficult in such circumstances to "commend themselves as the ministers of God." Few are the men who are not injured by honour; few who are not corrupted by flattery. Few are the ministers who are proof against this influence, and who in such circumstances can honour the ministry. If done, it is by showing that they regard such things as of little moment; by showing that they are influenced by higher considerations than the love of praise; by not allowing this to interfere with their duties, or to make them less faithful and laborious; but rather by making this the occasion of increased fidelity and increased zeal in their Master's cause. Most ministers do more to "give offence" in times when they are greatly honoured by the world than when they are despised. Yet it is possible for a minister who is greatly honoured to make it the occasion of commending himself more and more as a minister of God. And he should do it; as Paul said he did. The other situation was "in dishonour." It is needless to say, that the apostles were often in situations where they had opportunity thus to commend themselves as the ministers of God. If sometimes honoured, they were often dishonoured. If the world sometimes flattered and caressed them, it often despised' them, and cast out their names as evil. See Barnes "1 Co 4:13".

And perhaps it is so substantially now with those who are faithful. In such circumstances, also, Paul sought to commend himself as a minister of God. It was by receiving all expressions of contempt with meekness; by not suffering them to interfere with the faithful discharge of his duties; by rising above them, and showing the power of religion to sustain him; and by returning good for evil, prayers for maledictions, blessings for curses, and by seeking to save, not injure and destroy, those who thus sought to overwhelm him with disgrace. It may be difficult to do this, but it can be done; and when done, a man always does good.

By evil report. The word here used (dusfhmia) means, properly, ill-omened language, malediction, reproach, contumely. It refers to the fact that they were often slandered and calumniated. Their motives were called in question, and their names aspersed. They were represented as deceivers and impostors, etc. The statement here is, that in such circumstances, and when thus assailed and reproached, they endeavoured to commend themselves as the ministers of God. Evidently they endeavoured to do this by not slandering or reviling in return; by manifesting a Christian spirit; by living down the slanderous accusation, and by doing good, if possible, even to their calumniators. It is more difficult, says Chrysostom, to bear such reports than it is pain of body; and it is consequently more difficult to evince a Christian spirit then. To human nature it is trying to have the name slandered and cast out as evil when we are conscious only of a desire to do good. But it is sufficient for the disciple that he be as his Master; and if they called the Master of the house Beelzebub, we must expect they will also those of his household. It is a fine field for a Christian minister, or any other Christian, to do good when his name is unjustly slandered. It gives him an opportunity of showing the true excellency of the Christian spirit; and it gives him the inexpressible privilege of being like Christ—like him in his suffering and in the moral excellence of character. A man should be willing to be anything if it will make him like the Redeemer— whether it be in suffering or in glory. See Php 3:10; 1 Pe 4:13.

And good report. When men speak well of us; when we are commended, praised, or honoured. To honour the gospel then, and to commend the ministry, is

(1.) to show that the earth is not set on this, and does not seek it;(2.) to keep the heart from being puffed up with pride and self-estimation;

(3.) not to suffer it to interfere with our fidelity to others, and with our faithfully presenting to them the truth. Satan often attempts to bribe men by praise, and to neutralize the influence of ministers by flattery. It seems hard to go and proclaim to men painful truths, who are causing the incense of praise to ascend around us. And it is commonly much easier for a minister of the gospel to commend himself as a minister, of God when he is slandered than when he is praised; when his name is cast out as evil, than when the breezes of popular favour are wafted upon him. Few men can withstand the influence of flattery, but many men can meet persecution with a proper spirit; few men comparatively can always evince Christian fidelity to others when they live always amidst the influence of "good report," but there are many who can be faithful when they are poor, and despised, and reviled. Hence it has happened, that God has so ordered it that his faithful servants have had but little of the "good report" which this world can furnish, but that they have been generally. subjected to persecution and slander.

As deceivers. That is, we are regarded and treated as if we were deceivers, and as if we were practicing an imposition on mankind, and as if we would advance our cause by any trick or fraud that would be possible. We are regarded and treated as deceivers. Perhaps this refers to some charges which had been brought against them by the opposing faction at Corinth, (Locke,) or perhaps to the opinion which the Jewish priests and heathen philosophers entertained of them. The idea is, that though they were extensively regarded and treated as impostors, yet they endeavoured to live as became the ministers of God. They bore the imputation with patience, and they applied themselves diligently to the work of saving souls. Paul seldom turned aside to vindicate himself from such charges, but pursued his Master's work, and evidently felt that if he had a reputation that was worth anything, or deserved any reputation, God would take care of it. Comp. Ps 37:1-4. A man, especially a minister, who is constantly endeavouring to vindicate his own reputation, usually has a reputation which is not worth vindicating. A man who deserves a reputation will ultimately obtain just as much as is good for him, and as will advance the cause in which he is embarked.

And yet true. We are not deceivers and impostors. Though we are regarded as such, yet we show ourselves to be true and faithful ministers of Christ.

{d} "yet true" Joh 7:12,17


Verse 9. As unknown. As those who are deemed to be of an obscure and ignoble rank in life, unknown to the great, unknown to fame. The idea, I think, is, that they went as strangers, as persons unknown, in preaching the gospel. Yet, though thus unknown, they endeavoured to commend themselves as the ministers of God. Though among strangers; though having no introduction from the great and the noble, yet they endeavoured so to act as to convince the world that they were the ministers of God. This could be done only by a holy life, and by the evidence of the Divine approbation which would attend them in their work. And by this the ministers of religion, if they are faithful, may make themselves known even among those who were strangers, and may live so as to "give no offence." Every minister and every Christian, even when they are "unknown," and when among strangers, should remember their high character as the servants of God and should so live as to commend the religion which they profess to love, or which they are called on to preach. And yet how often is it that ministers, when among strangers, seem to feel themselves at liberty to lay aside their ministerial character, and to engage in conversation, and even partake of amusements, which they themselves would regard as wholly improper if it were known that they were the ambassadors of God! And how often is it the case that professing Christians when travelling, when among strangers, when in foreign lands, forget their high calling, and conduct [themselves] in a manner wholly different from what they did when surrounded by Christians, and when restrained by the sentiments and by the eyes of a Christian community!

And yet well known. Our sentiments and our principles are well known. We have no concealments to make. We practice no disguise. We attempt to impose on no one. Though obscure in our origin; though without rank, or wealth, or power, or patronage, to commend ourselves to favour, yet we have succeeded in making ourselves known to the world. Though obscure in our origin, we are not obscure now. Though suspected of dark designs, yet our principles are all well known to the world. No men of the same obscurity of birth ever succeeded in making themselves more extensively known than did the apostles. The world at large became acquainted with them; and by their self-denial, zeal, and success, they extended their reputation around the globe.

As dying. That is, regarded by others as dying. As condemned often to death; exposed to death; in the midst of trials that expose us to death, and that are ordinarily followed by death. See Barnes "1 Co 15:31, on the phrase, "I die daily." They passed through so many trials, that it might be said that they were constantly dying.

And, behold, we live. Strange as it may seem, we still survive. Through all our trials we are preserved; and, though often exposed to death, yet we still live. The idea here is, that in all these trials, and in these exposures to death, they endeavoured to commend themselves as the ministers of God. They bore their trials with patience; submitted to these exposures without a murmur; and ascribed their preservation to the interposition of God.

As chastened. The word chastened (paideuomenoi) means corrected, chastised. It is applied to the chastening which God causes by affliction and calamities, 1 Co 11:32; Re 3:19 Heb 12:6. It refers here, not to the scourgings to which they were subjected in the synagogues and elsewhere, but to the chastisements which God inflicted, the trials to which he subjected them. And the idea is, that in the midst of these trials they endeavoured to act as became the ministers of God. They bore them with patience. They submitted to them as coming from his hand. They felt that they were right, and they submitted without a murmur.

And not killed. Though severely chastened, yet we are not put to death. We survive them—preserved by the interposition of God.

{a} "as unknown" 1 Co 4:9

{b} "as chastened" Ps 118:18


Verse 10. As sorrowful, lupoumenoi. Grieving, afflicted, troubled, sad. Under these sufferings we seem always to be cast down and sad. We endure afflictions that usually lead to the deepest expressions of grief. If the world looks only upon our trials, we must be regarded as always suffering, and always sad. The world will suppose that we have cause for continued lamentation, (Doddridge,) and they will regard us as among the most unhappy of mortals. Such, perhaps, is the estimate which the world usually affixes to the Christian life. They regard it as a life of sadness and of gloom—of trial and of melancholy. They see little in it that is cheerful, and they suppose that a heavy burden presses constantly on the heart of the Christian. Joy they think pertains to the gaieties and pleasures of this life; sadness to religion. And perhaps a more comprehensive statement of the feelings with which the gay people of the world regard Christians cannot be found than in this expression, "as sorrowful." True, they are not free from sorrow. They are tried like others. They have peculiar trials arising from persecution; opposition, contempt, and from the conscious and deep-felt depravity of their hearts. They ARE serious; and their seriousness is often interpreted as gloom. But there is another side to this picture; and there is much in the Christian character and feelings unseen or unappreciated by the world. For they are

Alway rejoicing. So Paul was, notwithstanding the fact that he always appeared to have occasion for grief. Religion had a power not only to sustain the soul in trial, but to fill it with positive joy. The sources of his joy were doubtless the assurances of the Divine favour, and the hopes of eternal glory. And the same is true of religion always. There is an internal peace and joy which the world may not see or appreciate, but which is far more than a compensation for all the trials which the Christian endures.

As poor. The idea is, we are poor, yet in our poverty we endeavour "to give no offence, and to commend ourselves as the ministers of God." This would be done by their patience and resignation; by their entire freedom from everything dishonest and dishonourable; and by their readiness, when necessary, to labour for their own support. There is no doubt that the apostles were poor. Comp. Ac 3:6. The little property which some of them had, had all been forsaken in order that they might follow the Saviour, and go and preach his gospel. And there is as little doubt that the mass of ministers are still poor, and that God designs and desires that they should be. It is in such circumstances that he designs they should illustrate the beauty and the sustaining power of religion, and be examples to the world.

Yet making many rich. On the meaning of the word rich, See Barnes "Ro 2:4".

Here the apostle means that he and his fellow-labourers, though poor themselves, were the instruments of conferring durable and most valuable possessions on many persons. They had bestowed on them the true riches. They had been the means of investing them with treasures infinitely more valuable than any which kings and princes could bestow. They to whom they ministered were made partakers of the treasure where the moth doth not corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.

As having nothing. Being utterly destitute. Having no property. This was true, doubtless, in a literal sense, of most of the apostles.

And yet possessing all things. That is,

(1.) possessing a portion of all things that may be necessary for our welfare, as far as our heavenly Father shall deem to be necessary for us.

(2.) Possessing an interest in all things, so that we can enjoy them. We can derive pleasure from the works of God—the heavens, the earth, the hills, the streams, the cattle on the mountains or in the vales, as the works of God. We have a possession in them so that we can enjoy them as his works, and can say, "Our Father made them all." They are given to man to enjoy. They are a part of the inheritance of man. And though we cannot call them our own in the legal sense, yet we can call them ours in the sense that we can derive pleasure from their contemplation, and see in them the proofs of the wisdom and the goodness of God. The child of God that looks upon the hills and vales, upon an extensive and beautiful farm or landscape, may derive more pleasure from the contemplation of them as the work of God, and his gift to men, than the real owner does, if irreligious, from contemplating all this as his own. And so far as mere happiness is concerned, the friend of God who sees in all this the proofs of God's beneficence and wisdom, may have a more valuable possession in those things than he who holds the title-deeds.

(3.) Heirs of all things. We have a title to immortal life—a promised part in all that the universe can furnish that can make us happy.

(4.) In the possession of pardon and peace, of the friendship of God and the knowledge of the Redeemer, we have the possession of all things. This comprises all. He that has this, what need has he of more? This meets all the desires; satisfies the soul; makes the man happy and blessed. He that has God for his portion may be said to have all things, for he is "all in all." He that has the Redeemer for his Friend has all things that he needs, for "he that spared not his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" Ro 8:32.

{c} "possessing all things" Ps 84:11


Verse 11. O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you. We speak freely and fully. This is an affectionate address to them, and has reference to what he had just said. It means, that when the heart was full on the subject, words would flow freely, and that he had given vent to the fervid language which he had just used because his heart was full. He loved them; he felt deeply; and he spoke to them with the utmost freedom of what he had thought, and purposed, and done.

Our heart is enlarged. We have deep feelings, which naturally vent themselves in fervent and glowing language. The main idea here is, that he had a strong affection for them; a heart which embraced and loved them all, and which expressed itself in the language of deep emotion, he had loved them so that he was willing to be reproached, and to be persecuted, and to be poor, and to have his name cast out as evil. "I cannot be silent. I conceal or dissemble nothing. I am full of ardent attachment, and that naturally vents itself in the strong language which I have used." True attachment will find means of expressing itself. A heart full of love will give vent to its feelings. There will be no dissembling and hypocrisy there. And if a minister loves the souls of his people, he will pour out the affections of his heart in strong and glowing language.


Verse 12. Ye are not straitened in us. That is, you do not possess a narrow or contracted place in our affections. We love you fully, ardently, and are ready to do all that can be done for your welfare. There is no want of room in our affections towards you. It is not narrow, confined, pent up. It is ample and free.

But ye are straitened in your own bowels. That is, in the affections of your hearts. The word here used (splagcnoiv) commonly means, in the Bible, the tender affections. The Greek word properly denotes the upper viscera; the heart, the lungs, the liver. It is applied by Greek writers to denote those parts of victims which were eaten during or after the sacrifice.—Robinson, (Lex.) Hence it is applied to the heart, as the seat of the emotions and passions; and especially the gentler emotions, the tender affections—compassion, pity, love, etc. Our word "bowels" is applied usually to the lower viscera, and by no means expresses the idea of the word which is used in Greek. The idea here is, that they were straitened or were confined in their affections for him. It is the language of reproof, meaning that he had not received from them the demonstrations of attachment which he had a right to expect, and which was a fair and proportionate return for the love bestowed on them. Probably he refers to the fact that they had formed parties; had admitted false teachers; and had not received his instructions as implicitly and as kindly as they ought to have done.


Verse 13. Now for a recompence, in the same. "By way of recompense, open your hearts m the same manner towards me as I have done toward you. It is all the reward or compensation which I ask of you; all the return which I desire. I do not ask silver or gold, or any earthly possessions. I ask only a return of love, and a devotedness to the cause which I love, and which I endeavour to promote."

I speak as unto my children. I speak as a parent addressing children. I sustain toward you the relation of a spiritual father, and I have a right to require and expect a return of affection.

Be also enlarged. Be not straitened in your affections. Love me as I love you. Give to me the same proofs of attachment which I have given you. The idea in this verse is, that the only compensation or remuneration which he expected for all the love which he had shown them, and for all his toils and self-denials in their behalf, (2 Co 6:4,5,) was, that they would love him, and yield obedience to the laws of the gospel requiring them to be separate from the world, (2 Co 6:14-18.) One ground of the claim which he had to their affection was, that he sustained toward them the relation of a father, and that he had a right to require and to expect such a return of love. The Syriac renders it well, "Enlarge your love towards me." Tindal renders it, "I speak unto you as unto children, which have like reward with us; stretch yourselves therefore out; bear not the yoke with unbelievers."


Verse 14. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers. This is closely connected in sense with the previous verse. The apostle is there stating the nature of the remuneration or recompense which he asks for all the love which he had shown to them, He here says, that one mode of remuneration would be to yield obedience to his commands, and to separate themselves from all improper alliance with unbelievers. "Make me this return for my love. Love me also; and as a proof of your affection, be not improperly united with unbelievers. Listen to me as a father addressing his children, and secure your own happiness and piety by not being unequally yoked with those who are not Christians." The word which is here used (eterozugew) means, properly, to bear a different yoke, to be yoked heterogeneously.—Robinson, (Lex.) It is applied to the custom of yoking animals of different kinds together, (Passow;) and as used here means not to mingle together, or be united with unbelievers. It is implied in the use of the word that there is a dissimilarity between believers and unbelievers so great, that it is as improper for them to mingle together as it is to yoke animals of different kinds and species. The ground of the injunction is, that there is a difference between Christians and those who are not so great as to render such unions improper and injurious. The direction here refers, doubtless, to all kinds of improper connexions with those who were unbelievers. It has been usually supposed by commentators to refer particularly to marriage. But there is no reason for confining it to marriage. It doubtless includes that; but it may as well refer to any other intimate connexion, or to intimate friendships, or to participation in their amusements and employments, as to marriage. The radical idea is, that they were to abstain from all connexions with unbelievers—with infidels, and heathens, and those who were not Christians—-which would identify them with them; or they were to have no connexion with them in anything as unbelievers, heathens, or infidels; they were to partake with them in nothing that was peculiar to them as such. They were to have no part with them in their heathenism, unbelief, and idolatry, and infidelity; they were not to be united with them in any way or sense where it would necessarily be understood that they were partakers with them in those things. This is evidently the principle here laid down, and this principle is as applicable now as it was then. In the remainder of this verse and the following verses, (2 Co 6:15,16,) he states reasons why they should have no such intercourse. There is no principle of Christianity that is more important than that which is here stated by the apostle; and none in which Christians are more in danger of erring, or in which they have more difficulty in determining the exact rule which they are to follow. The questions which arise are very important. Are we to have no intercourse with the people of the world? Are we cut loose from all our friends who are not Christians? Are we to become monks, and live a recluse and unsocial life? Are we never to mingle with the people of the world in business, in innocent recreation, or in the duties of citizens, and as neighbours and friends? It is important, therefore, in the highest degree, to endeavour to ascertain what are the principles on which the New Testament requires us to act in this matter. And in order to a correct understanding of this, the following principles may be suggested:

I. There is a large field of action, pursuit, principle, and thought, over which infidelity, sin, heathenism, and the world as such, have the entire control. It is wholly without the range of Christian law, and stands opposed to Christian law. It pertains to a different kingdom; is conducted by different principles; and tends to destroy and annihilate the kingdom of Christ. It cannot be reconciled with Christian principle, and cannot be conformed to but in entire violation of the influence of religion. Here the prohibition of the New Testament is absolute and entire. Christians are not to mingle with the people of the world in these things; and are not to partake of them. This prohibition, it is supposed, extends to the following, among other things:

(1.) To idolatry. This was plain. On no account or pretence were the early Christians to partake of that, or to countenance it. In primitive times, during the Roman persecutions, all that was asked was that they should cast a little incense on the altar of a heathen god. They refused to do it; and because they refused to do it, thousands perished as martyrs. They judged rightly; and the world has approved their cause.

(2.) Sins vice, licentiousness. This is also plain. Christians are in no way to patronize them, or to lend their influence to them, or to promote them by their name, their presence, or their property. "Neither be partaker of other men's sins," 1 Ti 5:22; 2 Jo 1:11.

(3.) Arts and acts of dishonesty, deception, and fraud, in traffic and trade, Here the prohibition also must be absolute. No Christian can have a right to enter into partnership with another where the business is to be conducted on dishonest and unchristian principles, or where it shall lead to the violation of any of the laws of God. If it involves deception and fraud in the principles on which it is conducted; if it spreads ruin and poverty—as the distilling and vending of ardent spirits does; if it leads to the necessary violation of the Christian Sabbath, then the case is plain. A Christian is to have no "fellowship with such unfruitful works of darkness, but is rather to reprove them," Eph 5:11.

(4.) The amusements and pleasures that are entirely worldly, and sinful in their nature; that are wholly under worldly influence, and which cannot be brought under Christian principles. Nearly all amusements are of this description. The rate principle here seems to be, that if a Christian. in such a place is expected to lay aside his Christian principles, and if it would be deemed indecorous and improper for him to introduce the subject of religion, or if religion would be regarded as entirely inconsistent with the nature of the amusement, then he is not to be found there, The world reigns there; and if the principles of his Lord and Master would be excluded, he should not be there. This applies of course to the theatre, the circus, the ball-room, and to large and splendid parties of pleasure. We are not to associate with idolaters in their idolatry; nor with the licentious in their licentiousness; nor with the infidel in his infidelity; nor with the proud in their pride; nor with the gay in their gaiety; nor with the friends of the theatre, or the ball-room, or the circus, in their attachment to these places and pursuits. And whatever other connexion we are to have with them as neighbours, citizens, or members of our families, we are not to participate with them IN these things. Thus far all seems to be clear; and this rule is a plain one, whether it applies to marriage, or to business, or to religion, or to pleasure. Comp. See Barnes "1 Co 5:10".

II. There is a large field of action, thought, and plan, which may be said to be common with the Christian and the world; that is, where the Christian is not expected to abandon his own principles, and where there will be, or need be, no compromise of the sternest views of truth, or the most upright, serious, and holy conduct. He may carry his principles with him; may always manifest them if necessary; and may even commend them to others. A few of these may be referred to.

(1.) Commercial transactions and professional engagements that are conducted on honest and upright principles, even when those with whom we act are not Christians.

(2.) Literary and scientific pursuits, which never, when pursued with a right spirit, interfere with the principles of Christianity, and never are contrary to it.

(3.) The love and affection which are due to relatives and friends. Nothing in the Bible assuredly will prohibit a pious son from uniting with one who is not pious in supporting an aged and infirm parent, or a much loved and affectionate sister. The same remark is true also respecting the duty which a wife owes to a husband, a husband to a wife, or a parent to a child, though one of them should not be a Christian. And the same observation is true also of neighbours, who are not to be prohibited from uniting as neighbours in social intercourse, and in acts of common kindness and charity, though all are not Christians.

(4.) As citizens. We owe duties to our country; and a Christian need not refuse to act with others in the elective franchise, or in making or administering the laws. Here, however, it is clear that he is not at liberty to violate the laws and the principles of the Bible. He cannot be at liberty to unite with them in political schemes that are contrary to the law of God, or in elevating to office men whom he cannot vote for with a good conscience as qualified for the station.

(5.) In plans of public improvement; in schemes that go to the advancement of the public welfare, when the schemes do not violate the laws of God. But if they involve the necessity of violating the Sabbath, or any of the laws of God, assuredly he cannot consistently participate in them.

(6.) In doing good to others. So the Saviour was with sinners; so he ate, and drank, and conversed with them: So we may mingle with them, without partaking of their wicked feelings and plans, so far as we can do them good, and exert over them a holy and saving influence. In all the situations here referred to, and in all the duties growing out of them the Christian may maintain his principles, and may preserve a good conscience. Indeed, the Saviour evidently contemplated that his people would have such intercourse with the world, and that in it they would do good. But in none of these is there to be any compromise of principle; in none to be any yielding to the opinions and practices that are contrary to the laws of God.

III. There is a large field of action, conduct, and plan, where Christians only will act together. These relate to the peculiar duties of religion—to prayer, Christian fellowship, the ordinances of the gospel, and most of the plans of Christian beneficence. Here the world will not intrude; and here assuredly there will be no necessity of any compromise of Christian principle.

For what fellowship. Paul proceeds here to state reasons why there should be no such improper connexion with the world. The main reason, though under various forms, is, that there can be no fellowship, no communion, nothing in common between them; and that therefore they should be separate. The word fellowship (metoch) means partnership, participation. What is there in common? or how can the one partake with the other? The interrogative form here is designed to be emphatic, and to declare, in the strongest terms, that there can be no such partnership.

Righteousness. Such as you Christians are required to practise; implying that all were to be governed by the stern and uncompromising principles of honesty and justice.

With unrighteousness. Dishonesty, injustice, sin; implying that the world is governed by such principles.

And what communion, koinwnia. Participation, communion—that which is in common. What is there in common between light and darkness? What common principle is there of which they both partake? There is none. There is a total and eternal separation.

Light. The emblem of truth, virtue, holiness. See Barnes "Mt 4:16" See Barnes "Joh 5:16"

See Barnes "Joh 1:4; See Barnes "Rom 2:19"

See Barnes "2 Co 4:4,6".

It is implied here that Christians are enlightened, and walk in the light. Their principles are pure and holy— principles of which light is the proper emblem.

Darkness. The emblem of sin, corruption, ignorance; implying that the world to which Paul refers was governed and influenced by these. The idea is, that as there is an entire separation between light and darkness in their nature—as they have nothing in common—so it is and should be between Christians and sinners. There should be a separation. There can be nothing in common between holiness and sin; and Christians should have nothing to do "with the unfruitful works of darkness," Eph 5:11.

{b} "Be ye not" De 7:2,3; 1 Co 7:29


Verse 15. And what concord. Sumfwnhsiv. Sympathy; unison. This word refers, properly, to the unison or harmony produced by musical instruments, where there is a chord. What accordance, what unison is there; what strings are there which being struck will produce a chord of harmony? The idea is, then, there is as much that is discordant between Christ and Belial as there is between instruments of music that produce only discordant and jarring sounds.

. What is there in common between Christ and Belial, implying that Christians are governed by the principles, and that they follow the example of Christ.

Belial. Belial, or beliar, as it is found in some of the late editions. The form Beliar is Syriac. The Hebrew word means, literally, without profit; worthlessness; wickedness. It is here evidently applied to Satan. The Syriac translates it "Satan." The idea is, that the persons to whom Paul referred, the heathen wicked unbelieving world, were governed by the principles of Satan, and were "taken captive by him at his will. (2 Ti 2:26; comp. Joh 8:44); and that Christians should be separate from the wicked world, as Christ was separate from all the feelings, purposes, and plans of Satan. He had no participation in them; he formed no union with them; and so it should be with the followers of the one in relation to the followers of the other.

Or what part. Meriv. Portion, share, participation, fellowship. This word refers usually to a division of an estate, Lu 10:42; See Barnes "Ac 8:21" See Barnes "Col 1:12".

There is no participation; nothing in common.

He that believeth. A Christian; a man the characteristic of whom it is that he believes on the Lord Jesus.

With an infidel. A man who does not believe—whether a heathen idolater, a profane man, a scoffer, a philosopher, a man of science, a moral man, or a son or daughter of gaiety. The idea is, that on the subject of religion there is no union; nothing in common; no participation. They are governed by different principles; have different feelings; are looking to different rewards; and are tending to a different destiny. The believer, therefore, should not select his partner in life and his chosen companions and friends from this class, but from those with whom he has sympathy, and with whom he has common feelings and hopes.

{*} "infidel" "unbeliever"


Verse 16. And what agreement. Sugkatayesiv. Assent, accord, agreement; what putting or laying down together is there? What is there in one that resembles the other?

The temple of God. What has a temple of God to do with idol worship? It is erected for a different purpose, and the worship of idols in it would not be tolerated. It is implied here that Christians are themselves the temple of God—a fact which Paul proceeds immediately to illustrate; and that it is as absurd for them to mingle with the infidel world, as it would be to erect the image of a heathen god in the temple of JEHOVAH. This is strong language; and we cannot but admire the energy and copiousness of the expressions used by Paul, "which cannot," says Bloomfield, "be easily paralleled in the best classical writers."

With idols. Those objects which God hates, and on which he cannot look but with abhorrence. The sense is, that for Christians to mingle with the sinful world—to partake of their pleasures, pursuits, and follies—is as detestable and hateful in the sight of God, as if his temple were profaned by erecting a deformed, and shapeless, and senseless block in it as an object of worship. And assuredly, if Christians had such a sense of the abomination of mingling with the world, they would feel the obligation to be separate and pure.

For ye are the temple of the living God. See this explained See Barnes "1 Co 3:16, See Barnes "1 Co 3:17"

The idea is, that as God dwells with his people, they ought to be separated from a sinful and polluted world.

As God hath said. The words here quoted are taken substantially from Ex 29:45; Le 26:12; Eze 37:27.

They are not literally quoted, but Paul has thrown together the substance of what occurs in several places. The sense, however, is the same as occurs in the places referred to.

I will dwell in them. enoikhsw. I will take up my indwelling in them. There is an allusion, doubtless, to the fact that he would be present among his people by the Shechinah, or the visible symbol of his presence. See Barnes "1 Co 3:16, See Barnes "1 Co 3:17".

It implies, when used with reference to Christians, that the Holy Spirit would abide with them, and that the blessing of God would attend them. See Ro 8; Col 3:16; 2 Ti 1:14.

And walk in them. That is, I will walk among them. I will be one of their number. He was present among the Jews by the public manifestation of his presence by a symbol; he is present with Christians by the presence and guidance of his Holy Spirit.

And I will be their God. Not only the God whom they worship, but the God who will protect and bless them. I will take them under my peculiar protection, and they shall enjoy my favour. This is certainly as true of Christians as it was of the Jews, and Paul has not departed from the spirit of the promise in applying it to the Christian character. His object in quoting these passages is to impress on Christians the solemnity and importance of the truth that God dwelt among them and with them; that they were under his care and protection; that they belonged to him, and that they therefore should be separate from the world.

{a} "ye are the temple" 1 Co 3:16,17; 6:19; Eph 2:21,22

{b} "I will dwell " Ex 29:45; Le 26:12; Jer 31:1,33; 32:38; Eze 11:20; Eze 36:28; 27:26,27; Zec 8:8

{**} "in" "among"


Verse 17. Wherefore. Since you are a peculiar people. Since God, the holy and blessed God, dwells with you and among you.

Come out from among them. That is, from among idolaters and unbelievers; from a gay and vicious world. These words are taken, by a slight change, from Isa 52:11. They are there applied to the Jews in Babylon, and are a solemn call which God makes on them to leave the place of their exile, to come out from among the idolaters of that city, and return to their own land. See Barnes "Isa 52:11".

Babylon, in the Scriptures, is the emblem of whatever is proud, arrogant, wicked, and opposed to God; and Paul, therefore, applies the words here with great beauty and force to illustrate the duty of Christians in separating themselves from a vain, idolatrous, and wicked world.

And be ye separate. Separate from the world, and all its corrupting influences.

Saith the Lord. See Isa 52:11. Paul does not use this language as if it had original reference to Christians, but he applies it as containing an important principle that was applicable to the case which he was considering, or as language that would appropriately express the idea which he wished to convey. The language of the Old Testament is often used in this manner by the writers of the New.

And touch not the unclean thing. In Isaiah, "touch no unclean thing;" that is, they were to be pure, and to have no connexion with idolatry in any of its forms. So Christians were to avoid all unholy contact with a vain and polluted world. The sense is, "Have no close connexion with an idolater, or an unholy person. Be pure; and feel that you belong to a community that is under its own laws, and that is to be distinguished in moral purity from all the rest of the world."

And I will receive you. That is, I will receive and recognize you as my friends and my adopted children. This could not be done until they were separated from an idolatrous and wicked world. The fact of their being received by God, and recognized as his children, depended on their coming out from the world. These words, with the verse following, though used evidently somewhat in the form of a quotation, yet are not to be found in any single place in the Old Testament. In 2 Sa 7:14, God says of Solomon, "I will be his Father, and he shall be my son." In Jer 31:9, God says, "For I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is my first-born." It is probable that Paul had such passages in his eye, yet he doubtless designed rather to express the general sense of the promises of the Old Testament than to quote any single passage. Or why may it not be that we should regard Paul here himself as speaking as an inspired man directly, and making a promise then first communicated immediately from the Lord? Paul was inspired as well as the prophets; and it may be that he meant to communicate a promise directly from God. Grotius supposes that it was not taken from any particular place in the Old Testament, but was a part of a hymn that was in use among the Hebrews.

{c} "come out from" Isa 52:11; 2 Co 7:1; Re 18:4


Verse 18. And will be a Father unto you. A father is the protector, counsellor, and guide of his children, he instructs them, provides for them, and counsels them in time of perplexity. No relation is more tender than this. In accordance with this, God says, that he will be to his people their Protector, Counsellor, Guide, and Friend. He will cherish towards them the feelings of a father; he will provide for them, he will acknowledge them as his children. No higher honour can be conferred on mortals than to be adopted into the family of God, and to be permitted to call the Most High our Father. No rank is so elevated as that of being the sons and the daughters of the Lord Almighty. Yet this is the common appellation by which God addresses his people; and the most humble in rank, the most poor and ignorant of his friends on earth, the most despised among men, may reflect that they are the children of the ever-living God, and have the Maker of the heavens and the earth as their Father and their eternal Friend. How poor are all the honours of the world compared with this!

The Lord Almighty. The word here used (pantokratwr) occurs nowhere except in this place and in the book of Revelation, Re 1:8; 4:8; Re 11:17; 15:3; 16:7,14; 19:6,15; 21:22.

It means one who has all power; and is applied to God in contradistinction from idols that are weak and powerless. God is able to protect his people, and they who put their trust in him shall never be confounded. What has he to fear who has a Friend of almighty power?

{d} "will be a Father" Jer 31:1,9; Re 21:7



Introduction to 2nd Corinthians Chapter 7

THE first verse of this chapter properly belongs to the previous chapter, and should have been attached to that. It is an exhortation made in view of the promises there referred to, to make every effort to obtain perfect purity, and to become entirely holy.

In 2 Co 7:2,3, he entreats the Corinthians, in accordance with the wish which he had expressed in 2 Co 6:13, to receive him as a teacher and a spiritual father; as a faithful apostle of the Lord Jesus. To induce them to do this, he assures them that he had given them, at no time, any occasion of offence. He had injured no man; he had wronged no man. Possibly some might suppose that he had injured them by the sternness of his requirements in forbidding them to contract friendships and alliances with infidels; or in the case of discipline in regard to the incestuous person. But he assures them that all his commands had been the fruit of most tender love for them, and that he was ready to live and die with them.

The remainder of the chapter (2 Co 7:4-15) is occupied mainly in stating the joy which he had at the evidence which they had given that they were ready to obey his commands. He says, therefore, (2 Co 7:4,) that he was full of comfort and joy; and that in all his tribulation, the evidence of their obedience had given him great and unfeigned satisfaction. In order to show them the extent of his joy, he gives a pathetic description of the anxiety of mind which he had on the subject; his troubles in Macedonia, and particularly his distress on not meeting with Titus as he had expected, 2 Co 7:5. But this distress had been relieved by his coming, and by the evidence which was furnished through him that they were ready to yield obedience to his commands, 2 Co 7:6,7. This joy was greatly increased by his hearing from Titus the effect which his former epistle to them had produced, 2 Co 7:8-13. He had felt deep anxiety in regard to that. He had even regretted, it would seem, (2 Co 7:8,) that he had sent it. He had been deeply pained at the necessity of giving them pain, 2 Co 7:8. But the effect had been all that he had desired; and when he learned from Titus the effect which it had produced—the deep repentance which they had evinced, and the thorough reformation which had occurred, (2 Co 7:9-11,) he had great occasion to rejoice that he had sent the epistle to them. This new and distinguished instance of their obedience had given him great joy, and confirmed him in the proof that they were truly attached to him. The apostle adds, in the conclusion of the chapter, that his joy was greatly increased by the joy which Titus manifested, and his entire satisfaction in the conduct of the Corinthians, and the treatment which he had received from them, 2 Co 7:13 so that though he Paul, had often had occasion to speak in the kindest terms of the Corinthians, all that he had ever said in their favour Titus had realized in his own case 2 Co 7:14 and the affection of Titus for them had been greatly increased by his visit to them, 2 Co 7:15. The whole chapter, therefore, is eminently adapted to produce good feeling in the minds of the Corinthians toward the apostle, and to strengthen the bonds of their mutual attachment.

Verse 1. Having therefore these promises. The promises referred to in 2 Co 6:17,18; the promise that God would be a Father, a Protector, and a Friend. The idea is, that as we have a promise that God would dwell in us, that he would be our God, that he would be to us a Father, we should remove from us whatever is offensive in his sight, and become perfectly holy.

Let us cleanse ourselves. Let us purify ourselves. Paul was not afraid to bring into view the agency of Christians themselves in the work of salvation. He therefore says, "let us purify ourselves," as if Christians had much to do; as if their own agency was to be employed; and as if their purifying was dependent on their own efforts. While it is true that all purifying influence and all holiness proceed from God, it is also true that the effect of all the influences of the Holy Spirit is to excite us to diligence, to purify our own hearts, and to urge us to make strenuous efforts to overcome our own sins. He who expects to be made pure without any effort of his own, will never become pure; and he who ever becomes holy, will become so in consequence of strenuous efforts to resist the evil of his own heart, and to become like God. The argument here is, that we have the promises of God to aid us. We do not go about the work in our own strength. It is not a work in which we are to have no aid. But it is a work which God desires, and where he will give us all the aid which we need.

From all filthiness of the flesh. The noun here used (molusmou) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. The verb occurs in 1 Co 8:7; Re 3:4; 14:4; and means to stain, defile, pollute, as a garment; and the word here used means a soiling, hence defilement, pollution, and refers to the defiling and corrupting influence of fleshly desires and carnal appetites. The filthiness of the flesh here denotes, evidently, the gross and corrupt appetites and passions of the body, including all such actions of all kinds as are inconsistent with the virtue and purity with which the body, regarded as the temple of the Holy Ghost, should be kept holy—all such passions and appetites as the Holy Spirit of God would not produce.

And spirit. By "filthiness of the spirit," the apostle means, probably, all the thoughts or mental associations that defile the man. Thus the Saviour (Mt 15:19) speaks of evil thoughts, etc., that proceed out of the heart, and that pollute the man. And probably Paul here includes all the sins and passions which appertain particularly to mind or to the soul rather than to carnal appetites—such as the desire of revenge, pride, avarice, ambition, etc. These are in themselves as polluting and defiling as the gross sensual pleasures. They stand as much in the way of sanctification, they are as offensive to God, and they prove as certainly that the heart is depraved, as the grossest sensual passions. The main difference is, that they are more decent in the external appearance; they can be better concealed; they are usually indulged by a more elevated class in society; but they are not the less offensive to God. It may be added, also, that they are often conjoined in the same person; and that the man who is defiled in his "spirit"is often a man most corrupt and sensual in his "flesh." Sin sweeps with a desolating influence through the whole frame; and it usually leaves no part unaffected, though some part may be more deeply corrupted than others.

Perfecting. This word (epitelountev) means, properly, to bring to an end, to finish, complete. The idea here is, that of carrying it out to the completion. Holiness had been commenced in the heart; and the exhortation of the apostle is, that they should make every effort that it might be complete in all its parts. He does not say that this work of perfection had ever been accomplished—nor does he say that it had not been. He only urges the obligation to make an effort to be entirely holy; and this obligation is not affected by the inquiry whether any one has been or has not been perfect. It is an obligation which results from the nature of the law of God, and his unchangeable claims on the soul. The fact that no one has been perfect does not relax the claim; the fact that no one will be in this life, does not weaken the obligation. It proves only the deep and dreadful depravity of the human heart, and should humble us under the stubbornness of guilt. The obligation to be perfect is one that is unchangeable and eternal. See Mt 5:48; 1 Pe 1:15. Tindal renders this, "And grow up to full holiness in the fear of God." The unceasing and steady aim of every Christian should be perfection—perfection in all things—in the love of God, of Christ, of man; perfection of heart, and feeling, and emotion; perfection in his words, and plans, and dealings with men; perfection in his prayers, and in his submission to the will of God. No man can be a Christian who does not sincerely desire it, and who does not constantly aim at it. No man is a friend of God who can acquiesce in a state of sin, and who is satisfied and contented that he is not as holy as God is holy. And any man who has no desire to be perfect as God is, and who does not make it his daily and constant aim to be as perfect as God, may set it down as demonstrably certain that he has no true religion, How can a man be a Christian who is willing to acquiesce in a state of sin, and who does not desire to be just like his Master and Lord? In the fear of God. Out of fear and reverence of God. From a regard to his commands, and a reverence for his name. The idea seems to be, that we are always in the presence of God; we are professedly under his law; and we should be awed and restrained by a sense of his presence from the commission of sin, and from indulgence in the pollutions of the flesh and spirit. There are many sins that the presence of a child will restrain a man from committing; and how should the conscious presence of a holy God keep us from sin! If the fear of a man or of a child will restrain us, and make us attempt to be holy and pure, how should the fear of the all-present and the all-seeing God keep us, not only from outward sins, but from polluted thoughts and unholy desires!

{a} "these promises" 2 Co 6:17,18; 1 Jo 3:3

{b} "filthiness" Ps 51:10; Eze 36:25,26; 1 Jo 1:7,9

{*} "filthiness" "defilement"


Verse 2. Receive us. Tindal renders this, "understand us." The word here used (cwrhsate) means, properly, give space, place, or room; and it means here, evidently, make place or room for us in your affections; that is, admit or receive us as your friends. It is an earnest entreaty that they would do what he had exhorted them to do in 2 Co 6:13. See Barnes "2 Co 6:13".

From that he had digressed in the close of the last chapter. He here returns to the subject, and asks an interest in their affections and their love.

We have wronged no man. We have done injustice to no man. This is given as a reason why they should admit him to their full confidence and affection. It.is not improbable that he had been charged with injuring the incestuous person by the severe discipline which he having found it necessary to inflict on him. See Barnes "1 Co 5:5".

This charge would not improbably be brought against him by the false teachers in Corinth. But Paul here says, that whatever was the severity of the discipline, he was conscious of having done injury to no member of that church. It is possible, however, that he does not here refer to any such charge, but that he says in general that he had done no injury, and that there was no reason why they should not receive him to their entire confidence. It argues great consciousness of integrity when a man who has spent a considerable time, as Paul had, with others, is able to say that he had wronged no man in any way. Paul could not have made this solemn declaration unless he w as certain he had lived a very blameless life. Comp. Ac 20:33.

We have corrupted no man. This means that he had corrupted no man in his morals, either by his precept or by his example. The word (fyeirw) means, in general, to bring into a worse state or condition, and is very often applied to morals. The idea is, here, that Paul had not, by his precept or example, made any man the worse. He had not corrupted his principles or his habits, or led him into sin.

We have defrauded no man. We have taken no man's property, by cunning, by trick, or by deception. The word pleonektew means, literally, to have more than another; and then to take advantage, to seek unlawful gain, to circumvent, defraud, deceive. The idea is that Paul had taken advantage of no circumstances to extort money from them, to overreach them, or to cheat them. It is the conviction of a man who was conscious that he had lived honestly, and who could appeal to them all as full proof that his life among them had been blameless.

{a} "we have defrauded no man" 1 Sa 12:3,4; Ac 20:33; 2 Co 12:17


Verse 3. I speak not this to condemn you. I do not speak this with any desire to reproach you. I do not complain of you for the purpose of condemning, or because I have a desire to find fault, though I am competed to speak, in some respect of your want of affection and liberality towards me. It is not because I have no love for you, and wish to have occasion to use words implying complaint and condemnation.

For I have said before. 2 Co 7:11,12.

That ye are in our hearts. That is, we are so much attached to you; or you have such a place in our affections.

To die and live with you. If it were the will of God, we would be glad to spend our lives among you, and to die with you: an expression denoting most tender attachment. A similar well-known expression occurs in Horace:

Tecum vivere amem, teeurn obeam l ibens. Odes, B. III. IX. 24

With the world I live, with the world I die.

This was an expression of the tenderest attachment. It was true that the Corinthians had not shown themselves remarkably worthy of the affections of Paul, but from the beginning he had felt towards them the tenderest attachment. And if it had been the will of God that he should cease to travel, and to expose himself to perils by sea and land to spread the knowledge of the Saviour, he would gladly have confined his labours to them, and there have ended his days.

{b} "said before" 2 Co 6:11,12


Verse 4. Great is my boldness of speech toward you. This verse seems designed to soften the apparent harshness of what he had said, (2 Co 6:12,) when he intimated that there was a want of love in them towards him, (Bloomfield,) as well as to refer to the plainness which he had used all along in his letters to them. He says, therefore, that he speaks freely; he speaks as a friend; he speaks with the utmost openness and frankness; he conceals nothing from them. tie speaks freely of their faults, and he speaks freely of his love to them; and he as frankly commends them and praises them. It is the open, undisguised language of a friend, when he throws open his whole soul and conceals nothing.

Great is my glorying of you. I have great occasion to commend and praise you, and I do it freely. He refers here to the fact that he had boasted of their liberality in regard to the proposed collection for the poor saints of Judea, 2 Co 9:4; that he had formerly boasted much of them to Titus, and of their readiness to obey his commands, 2 Co 7:14; and that now he had had abundant evidence, by what he had heard from Titus, (2 Co 7:5, seq.,) that they were disposed to yield to his commands, and obey his injunctions. He had probably often had occasion to boast of their favourable regard for him.

I am filled with comfort. That is, by the evidence which I have received of your readiness to obey me.

I am exceeding joyful. I am overjoyed. The word here used occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, except in Ro 5:20. It is not found in the classic writers; and is a word which Paul evidently compounded, (from uper and perisseuw,) and means to superabound over, to superabound greatly or exceedingly. It is a word which would be used only when the heart was full, and when it would be difficult to find words to express its conceptions. Paul's heart was full of joy; and he pours forth his feelings in the most fervid and glowing language. I have joy which cannot be expressed.

In all our tribulation. See Barnes "2 Co 1:4".

{c} "is my glorying" 1 Co 1:4

{d} "joyful in all our tribulations" Php 2:17; Col 1:24


Verse 5. For, when we were come into Macedonia. For the reasons which induced Paul to go into Macedonia, See Barnes "2 Co 1:16".

Comp. See Barnes "2 Co 2:12" See Barnes "2 Co 2:13".

Our flesh had no rest. We were exceedingly distressed and agitated. We had no rest. The causes of his distress he immediately states.

But we were troubled on every side. In every way. We had no rest in any quarter. We were obliged to enter into harassing labours and strifes there, and we were full of anxiety in regard to you.

Without were fightings. Probably he here refers to fierce opposition, which he met with in prosecuting his work of preaching the gospel. He met there, as he did everywhere, with opposition from pagans, Jews, and false brethren. Tumults were usually excited wherever he went; and he preached the gospel commonly amidst violent opposition.

Within were fears, Referring probably to the anxiety which he had in regard to the success of the epistle which he had sent to the church at Corinth. He felt great solicitude on the subject. He had sent Titus there to see what was the state of the church, and to witness the effect of his instructions. Titus had not come to him as he had expected, at Troas, (2 Co 2:13,) and he felt the deepest anxiety in regard to him and the success of his epistle. His fears were probably that they would be indisposed to exercise the discipline on the offender; or lest the severity of the discipline required should alienate them from him; or lest the party under the influence of the false teachers should prevail. All was uncertainty, and his mind was filled with the deepest apprehension.

{e} "were fightings" De 32:25


Verse 6. God that comforteth those that are cast down. Whose characteristic is, that he gives consolation to those who are anxious and depressed. All his consolation was in God; and by whatever instrumentality comfort was administered, he regarded and acknowledged God as the Author. See Barnes "2 Co 1:4".

By the coming of Titus. To Macedonia. He rejoiced not only in again seeing him, but especially in the intelligence which he brought respecting the success of his epistle, and the conduct of the church at Corinth.


Verse 7. And not by his coming only. Not merely by the fact that he was restored to me, and that my anxieties in regard to him were now dissipated. It is evident that Paul, not having met with Titus as he had expected, at Troas, had felt much anxiety on his account, perhaps apprehending that he was sick, or that he had died.

But by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you. Titus was satisfied and delighted with his interview with you. He had been kindly treated, and he had seen all the effect produced by the letter which he had desired, he had, therefore, been much comforted by his visit to Corinth; and this was a source of additional joy to Paul. He rejoiced at what he had witnessed among you, and he imparted the same joy to me also. The joy of one friend will diffuse itself through the heart of another. Joy is diffusive; and one Christian cannot well be happy without making others happy also.

When he told us your earnest desire. Either to rectify what was amiss, (Doddridge, Clarke;) or to see me, (Macknight: Rosenmuller, Bloomfield.) It seems to me that the connexion requires us to understand it of their desire, their anxiety to comply with his commands, and to reform the abuses which existed in the church, and which had given him so much pain.

Your mourning. Produced by the epistle. Your deep repentance over the sins which had prevailed in the church.

Your fervent mind toward me. Greek, "Your zeal for me." It denotes that they evinced great ardour of attachment to him, and an earnest desire to comply with his wishes.

So that I rejoiced the more. I not only rejoiced at his coming, but I rejoiced the more at what he told me of you. Under any circumstances the coming of Titus would have been an occasion of joy; but it was especially so from the account which he gave me of you.


Verse 8. For though I made you sorry, etc. That is, in the first epistle which he had sent to them. In that epistle he had felt it necessary to reprove them for their dissensions and other disorders which had occurred, and which were tolerated in the church. That epistle was fitted to produce pain in them—as severe and just reproof always does; and Paul felt very anxious about its effect on them. It was painful to him to write it, and he was well aware that it must cause deep distress among them to be thus reproved.

I do not repent. I have seen such happy effects produced by it; it has so completely answered the end which I had in view; it was so kindly received, that I do not regret now that I wrote it. It gives me no pain the recollection, but I have occasion to rejoice that it was done.

Though I did repent. Doddridge renders this, "however anxious I may have been." The word here used does not denote repentance in the sense in which that word is commonly understood, as if any wrong had been done. It is not the language of remorse. It can denote here nothing more than "that uneasiness which a good man feels, not from the consciousness of having done wrong, but from a tenderness for others, and a fear lest that which, prompted by duty, he had said, should have too strong an effect upon them."—Campbell, diss. vi. part iii. & 9. See the meaning of the word further illustrated in the same dissertation. The word (metamelomai) denotes, properly, to change one's purpose or mind after having done anything, (Robinson;) or an uneasy feeling of regret for what has been done, without regard either to duration or effects.—Campbell. Here it is not to be understood that Paul meant to say he had done anything wrong. He was an inspired man, and what he had said was proper and right. But he was a man of deep feeling, and of tender affections. He was pained at the necessity of giving reproof. And there is no improbability in supposing that after the letter had been sent off, and he reflected on its nature and on the pain which it would cause to those whom he tenderly loved, there might be some misgiving of heart about it, and the deepest anxiety and regret at the necessity of doing it. What parent is there who has not had the same feeling as this? He has felt it necessary to correct a beloved child, and has formed the purpose, and has executed it. But is there no misgiving of heart? No question asked whether it might not have been dispensed with? No internal struggle; no sorrow?; no emotion which may be called regret at the resolution which has been taken? Yet there is no repentance as if the parent had done wrong, he feels that he has done what was right and necessary. He approves his own course, and has occasion of rejoicing at the good effects Which follow. Such appears to have been the situation of the apostle Paul in this case; and it shows that he had a tender heart, that he did not delight in giving pain, and that he had no desire to overwhelm them with grief. When the effect was seen, he was not unwilling that they should be apprized of the pain which it had cost him. When a parent has corrected a child, no injury is done if the child becomes acquainted with the strugglings which it has cost him, and the deep pain and anxiety caused by the necessity of resorting to chastisement.

For I perceive, etc. I perceive the good effect of the epistle. I perceive that it produced the kind of sorrow in you which I desired. I see that it has produced permanent good results. The sorrow, which it caused in you is only for a season; the good effects will be abiding. I have, therefore, great occasion to rejoice that I sent the epistle. It produced permanent repentance and reformation, (2 Co 7:9,) and thus accomplished all that I wished or desired.

{*} "sorry" "grieved you"

{b} "I did repent" 2 Co 2:4

{+} "season" "For a short time only"


Verse 9. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, etc. I have no pleasure in giving pain to any one, or in witnessing the distress of any. When men are brought to repentance under the preaching of the gospel, the ministers of the gospel do not find pleasure in their grief as such. They are not desirous of making men unhappy by calling them to repentance, and they have no pleasure in the deep distress of mind which is often produced by their preaching, in itself considered. It is only because such sorrow is an indication of their return to God, and will be followed by happiness and by the fruits of good living, that they find any pleasure in it, or that they seek to produce it.

But that ye sorrowed to repentance: It was not mere grief; it was not sorrow producing melancholy, gloom, or despair; it was not sorrow which led you to be angry at him who had reproved you for your errors—as is sometimes the case with the sorrow that is produced by reproof; but it was sorrow that led to a change and reformation. It was sorrow that was followed by a putting away of the evil for the existence of which there had been occasion to reprove you. The word here rendered "repentance" (metanoian) is a different word from that which, in 2 Co 7:8, is rendered, "I did repent," and indicates a different state of mind. It properly means a change of mind or purpose. Comp. Heb 12:17. It denotes a change for the better; a change of mind that is durable and productive in its consequences; a change which amounts to a permanent reformation. See Campbell's Diss. ut supra. The sense here is, that it produced a change, a reformation. It was such sorrow for their sin as to lead them to reform, and to put away the evils which had existed among them. It was this fact, and not that they had been made sorry, that led Paul to rejoice.

After a godly manner. Marg., "According to God." See Barnes "2 Co 7:10".

That ye might receive damage by us in nothing. The Greek word rendered "receive damage" (zhmiwyhte) means, properly, to bring loss upon any one; to receive loss or detriment. See Barnes "1 Co 3:15".

Comp. Php 3:8. The sense here seems to be, "So that on the whole no real injury was done you in any respect by me. You were indeed put to pain and grief by my reproof. You sorrowed. But it has done you no injury on the whole. It has been a benefit to you. If you had not reformed; if you had been pained without putting away the sins for which the reproof was administered; if it had been mere grief without any proper fruit, you might have said that you would have suffered a loss of happiness, or you might have given me occasion to inflict severer discipline. But now you are gainers in happiness by all the sorrow which I have caused. Sinners are gainers in happiness, in the end, by all the pain of repentance produced by the preaching of the gospel. No man suffers loss by being told of his faults if he repents; and men are under the highest obligations to those faithful ministers and other friends who tell them of their errors, and who are the means of bringing them to true repentance.

{*} "sorry" "grieved you"

{1} "after a godly manner" "For a short time only"


Verse 10. For godly sorrow. "Sorrow according, to God," (h gar kata yeon luph) That is, such sorrow as has respect to God, or is according to his will, or as leads the soul to him. This is a very important expression in regard to true repentance, and shows the exact nature of that sorrow which is connected with a return to God. The phrase may be regarded as implying the following things:

(1.) Such sorrow as God approves, or such as is suitable to, or conformable to his will and desires., It cannot mean that it is such sorrow or grief as God has, for he has none; but such as shall be in accordance with what God demands in a return to him. It is a sorrow which his truth is fitted to produce on the heart; such a sorrow as shall appropriately arise from viewing sin as God views it; such sorrow as exists in the mind when our views accord with his in regard to the existence, the extent, the nature, and the ill-desert of sin. Such views will lead to sorrow that it has ever been committed; and such views will be "according to God."

(2.) Such sorrow as shall be exercised towards God in view of sin; which shall arise from a view of the evil of sin as committed against a holy God. It is not mainly that it will lead to pain; that it will overwhelm the soul in disgrace; that it will forfeit the favour or lead to the contempt of man; or that it will lead to an eternal hell; but, it is such as arises from a view of the evil of sin as committed against a holy and just God. It is not mainly from the fact that it is an offence against his infinite majesty. Such sorrow David had (Ps 51:4) when he said, "Against thee, thee only have I sinned;" when the offence regarded as committed against man, enormous as it was, was lost and absorbed in its greater evil when regarded as committed against God. So all true and genuine repentance is that which regards sin as deriving its main evil from the fact that it is committed against God.

(3.) That which leads to God. It leads to God to obtain forgiveness —to seek for consolation. A heart truly contrite and penitent seeks God, and implores pardon from him. Other sorrow in view of sin than that which is genuine repentance, leads the person away from God. He seeks consolation in the world; he endeavours to drive away his serious impressions, or to drown them in the pleasures and the cares of life. But genuine sorrow for sin leads the soul to God, and conducts the sinner, through the Redeemer, to him to obtain the pardon and peace which he only can give to a wounded spirit. In God alone can pardon and true peace be found; and godly sorrow for sin will seek them there.

Worketh repentance. Produces a change that shall be permanent; a reformation. It is not mere regret; it does not soon pass away in its effects, but it produces permanent and abiding changes. A man who mourns over sin as committed against God, and who seeks to God for pardon, will reform his life, and truly repent. He who has grief for sin only because it will lead to disgrace or shame, or because it will lead to poverty or pain, will not necessarily break off from it and reform. It is only when it is seen that sin is committed against God, and is evil in his sight, that it leads to a change of life.

Not to be repented of. Ametamelhton See Barnes "2 Co 7:8".

Not to be regretted. It is permanent and abiding. There is no occasion to mourn over such repentance and change of life. It is that which the mind approves, and which it will always approve. There will be no reason for regretting it, and it will never be regretted. And it is so. Who ever yet repented of having truly repented of sin? Who is there, who has there ever been, who became a true penitent, and a true Christian, who ever regretted it? Not an individual has ever been known who regretted his having become a Christian. Not one who regretted that he had become one too soon in life, or that he had served the Lord Jesus too faithfully or too long.

But the sorrow of the world. All sorrow which is not toward God, and which does not arise from just views of sin as committed, against God, or lead to God. Probably Paul refers here to the sorrow which arises from worldly causes, and which does not lead to God for consolation. Such may be the sorrow which arises from the loss of friends or property; from disappointment, or, from shame and disgrace. Perhaps it may include the following things:

(1.) Sorrow arising from losses of property and friends, and from disappointment.

(2.) Sorrow for sin or vice when it overwhelms the mind with the consciousness of guilt, and when it does not lead to God, and when there is no contrition of soul from viewing it as an offence against God. Thus a female who has wandered from the paths of virtue, and involved her family and herself in disgrace; or a man who has been guilty of forgery, or perjury, or any other disgraceful crime, and who is detected; a man who has violated the laws of the land, and who has involved himself and family in disgrace, will often feel regret, and sorrow, and remorse, but it arises wholly from worldly considerations, and does not lead to God.

(3.) When the sorrow arises from a view of worldly consequences merely, and when there is no looking to God for pardon and consolation. Thus men, when they lose their property or friends, often pine in grief without looking to God. Thus when they have wandered from the path of virtue, and have fallen into sin, they often look merely to the disgrace among men, and see their names blasted, and their comforts gone, and pine away in grief. There is no looking to God for pardon or for consolation. The sorrow arises from this world, and it terminates there. It is the loss of what they valued pertaining to this world, and it is all which they had, and it produces death. It is sorrow such as the men of this World have—begins with this world, and terminates with this world.

Worketh death. Tends to death, spiritual, temporal, and eternal. It does not tend to life.

(1.) It produces distress only. It is attended with no consolation.

(2.) It tends to break the spirit, to destroy the peace, and to mar the happiness.

(3.) It often leads to death itself. The spirit is broken, and the heart pines away under the influence of the unalleviated sorrow; or under its influence men often lay violent hands on themselves, and take their lives. Life is often closed under the influence of such sorrow.

(4.) It tends to eternal death. There is no looking to God; no looking for pardon. It produces murmuring, repining, complaining, fretfulness against God, and thus leads to his displeasure, and to the condemnation and ruin of the soul.

{a} "sorrow worketh repentance" Jer 31:9; Eze 7:16

{b} "sorrow of the world" Pr 17:22


Verse 11. For behold this self-same thing. For see in your own case the happy effects of godly sorrow. See the effects which it produced; see an illustration of what it is fitted to produce. The construction is, "For, lo! this very thing, to wit, your sorrowing after a godly manner, wrought carefulness, clearing of yourselves," etc. The object of Paul is to illustrate the effects of godly sorrow, to which he had referred in 2 Co 7:10. He appeals, therefore, to their own case, and says that it was beautifully illustrated among themselves.

What carefulness. Spoudhn. This word properly denotes speed, haste; then diligence, earnest effort, forwardness. Here it, is evidently used to denote the diligence and the great anxiety which they manifested to remove the evils which existed among them. They went to work to remove them. They did not sit down to mourn over them merely, nor did they wait for God to remove them, nor did they plead that they could do nothing; but they set about the work as though they believed it might be done. When men are thoroughly convinced of sin, they will set about removing it with the utmost diligence. They will feel that this can be done, and must be done, or that the soul will be lost.

What clearing of yourselves, apologian. Apology. This word properly means a plea or defence before a tribunal or elsewhere, Ac 22:1; 2 Ti 4:16. Tindal renders it, "Yea, it caused you to clear yourselves." The word here properly means apology for what had been done; and it probably refers here to the effort which would be made by the sounder part of the church to clear themselves from blame in what had occurred. It does not mean that the guilty, when convicted of sin, will attempt to vindicate themselves, and to apologize to God for what they have done; but it means that the church at Corinth were anxious to state to Titus all the mitigating circumstances of the case; they showed great solicitude to free themselves, as far as could be done, from blame; they were anxious, as far as could be, to show that they had not; approved of what had occurred, and perhaps that it had occurred only because it could not have been prevented. We are not to suppose that all the things here referred to occurred in the same individual, and that the same persons precisely evinced diligence, and made the apology, etc. It was done by the church; all evinced deep feeling; but some manifested it in one way, and some in another. The whole church was roused; and all felt, and all endeavoured, in the proper way, to free themselves from the blame, and to remove the evil from among them.

Yea, what indignation. Indignation against the sin, and perhaps against the persons who had drawn down the censure of the apostle. One effect of true repentance is to produce decided hatred of sin. It is not mere regret, or sorrow; it is positive hatred. There is a deep indignation against it as an evil and a bitter thing.

Yea, what fear. Fear lest the thing should be repeated. Fear lest it should not be entirely removed. Or it may possibly mean fear of the displeasure of Paul, and of the punishment which would be inflicted if the evil were not removed. But it more probably refers to the anxious state of mind that the whole evil might be corrected, and to the dread of having any vestige of the evil remaining among them.

Yea, what vehement desire. This may either mean their fervent wish to remove the cause of complaint, or their anxious desire to see the apostle. It is used in the latter sense in 2 Co 7:7, and according to Doddridge and Bloomfield this is the meaning here. Locke renders it, "desire of satisfying me." It seems to me more probable that Paul refers to their anxious wish to remove the sin, since this is the topic under consideration. The point of his remarks in this verse is not so much their affection for him, as their indignation against their sin, and their deep grief that sin had existed and had been tolerated among them.

Yea, what zeal. Zeal to remove the sin, and to show your attachment to me. They set about the work of reformation in great earnest.

Yea, what revenge! Tindal renders this, "it caused punishment." The idea is, that they immediately set about the work of inflicting punishment on the offender. The word here used (ekdikhsin) properly denotes maintenance of right, protection; then it is used in the sense of avengement, or vengeance; and then of penal retribution or punishment. See Lu 21:22; 2 Th 1:8; 1 Pe 2:14.

In all things, etc. The sense of this is, "You have entirely acquitted yourselves of blame in this business." The apostle does not mean that none of them had been to blame, or that the church had been free from fault, for a large part of his former epistle is occupied in reproving them for their faults in this business; but he means that, by their zeal and their readiness to take away the cause of complaint, they had removed all necessity of further blame, and had pursued such a course as entirely to meet his approbation. They had cleared themselves of any further blame in this business, and had become, so far as this was concerned, "clear," (agnouv,) or pure.

{c} "godly sort" Isa 66:2

{d} "carefulness it wrought" Tit 3:8

{e} "clearing of yourselves" Eph 5:11

{f} "indignation" Eph 4:26

{g} "fear" Heb 4:1

{a} "yea, what zeal" Ps 52:1; 130:6

{b} "zeal" Re 3:19

{c} "revenge" Mt 5:29,30

{d} "to be clear" Ro 14:18


Verse 12. Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, etc. In this verse Paul states the main reason why he had written to them on the subject. It was not principally on account of the man who had done the wrong, or of him who had been injured; but it was from tender anxiety for the whole church, and in order to show the deep interest which he had in their welfare.

Not for his cause that had done the wrong. Not mainly or principally on account of the incestuous person, 1 Co 5:1. It was not primarily with reference to him as an individual that I wrote, but from a regard to the whole church.

Nor for his cause that suffered wrong. Not merely that the wrong which he had suffered might be rectified, and that his rights might be restored, valuable and desirable as was that object. The offence was, that a man had taken his father's wife as his own, (1 Co 5:1;) and the person injured, therefore, was his father. It is evident from this passage, I think, that the father was living at the time when Paul wrote this epistle.

But that our care, etc. I wrote mainly that I might show the deep interest which I had in the church at large, and my anxiety that it might not suffer by the misconduct of any of its members. It is from a regard to the welfare of the whole church that discipline should be administered, and not simply with reference to an individual who has done wrong, or an individual who is injured. In church discipline, such private interests are absorbed in the general interest of the church at large.

{e} "our care for you" 2 Co 2:4


Verse 13. Therefore we were comforted in your comfort. The phrase, "your comfort," here seems to mean the happiness which they had, or might reasonably be expected to have, in obeying the directions of Paul, and in abe repentance which they had manifested. Paul had spoken of no other consolation or comfort than this; and the idea seems to be, that they were a happy people, and would be happy by obeying the commands of God. This fact gave Paul additional joy; and he could not but rejoice that they had removed the cause of the offence, and that they would not thus be exposed to the displeasure of God. Had they not repented and put away the evil, the consequences to them must have been deep distress. As it was, they would be blessed and happy.

And exceedingly the more, etc. Titus had been kindly received, and hospitably entertained, and had become much attached to them. This was to Paul an additional occasion of joy. See 2 Co 7:7.

{f} "refreshed by you all" Ro 15:32


Verse 14. For if I have boasted any thing to him, etc. This seems to imply that Paul had spoken most favourably to Titus of the Corinthians before he went among them. He had probably expressed his belief that he would be kindly received; that they would be disposed to listen to him, and to comply with the directions of the apostle; perhaps he had spoken to him of what he anticipated would be their liberality in regard to the collection which he was about to make for the poor saints at Jerusalem.

I am not ashamed. It has all turned out to be true. He has found it as I said it would be. All my expectations are realized; and you have been as kind, and hospitable, and benevolent as I assured him you would be.

As we spake all things to you in truth. Everything which I said to you was said in truth. All my promises to you, and all my commands, and all my reasonable expectations expressed to you, were sincere. I practised no disguise, and all that I have said thus far turned out to be true.

Even so our boasting, etc. My boasting of your character, and of your disposition to do right, which I made before Titus, has turned out to be true. It was as I said it would be. I did not commend you too highly to him, as I did not overstate the matter to you in my epistle.

{*} "boasted" "gloried"

{+} "boasting" "glorying"


Verse 15. And his inward affection, etc. He has become deeply and tenderly attached to you. His affectionate regard for you has been greatly increased by his visit. On the meaning of the word here rendered "inward affection," (splagcna, Marg., bowels,) See Barnes "2 Co 6:12".

It denotes here deep, tender attachment, or love.

How with fear and trembling ye received him. With fear of offending, and with deep apprehension of the consequences of remaining in sin. He saw what a fear there was of doing wrong, and what evidence there was, therefore, that you were solicitous to do right.

{1} "inward affections" "bowels"

{g} "fear" Php 2:12


Verse 16. I rejoice, therefore, that I have confidence, etc. I have had the most ample proof that you are disposed to obey God, and to put away everything that is offensive to him. The address of this part of the epistle, says Doddridge, is wonderful. It is designed, evidently, not merely to commend them for what they had done, and to show them the deep attachment which he had for them, but in a special manner to prepare them for what he was about to say in the following chapter respecting the collection which he had so much at heart for the poor saints at Jerusalem. What he here says was admirably adapted to introduce that subject. They had thus far showed the deepest regard for him. They had complied with all his directions. All that he had said of them had proved to be true. And as he had boasted of them to Titus, (2 Co 7:14,) and expressed his entire confidence that they would comply with his requisitions, so he had also boasted of them to the churches of Macedonia, and expressed the utmost confidence that they would be liberal in their benefactions, 2 Co 9:2. All that Paul here says in their favour, therefore, was eminently adapted to excite them to liberality, and to prepare them to comply with his wishes in regard to that contribution.

{h} "confidence in you" 2 Th 3:4; Phm 8:21

REMARKS on 2nd Corinthians Chapter 7

(1.) Christians are bound, by every solemn and sacred consideration, to endeavour to purify themselves, 2 Co 7:1. They who have the promises of eternal life, and the assurance that God will be to them a Father, and evidence that they are his sons and daughters, should not indulge in the filthiness of the flesh and spirit.

(2.) Every true Christian will aim at perfection, 2 Co 7:1. He will desire to be perfect; he will strive for it; he will make it a subject of unceasing and constant prayer. No man can be a Christian to whom it would not be a pleasure to be at once as perfect as God. And if any man is conscious that the idea of being made at once perfectly holy would be unpleasant or painful, he may set it down as certain evidence that he is a stranger to religion.

(3.) No man can be a Christian who voluntarily indulges m sin, or in what he knows to be wrong, 2 Co 7:1. A man who does that, cannot be aiming at perfection. A man who does that, shows that he has no real desire to be perfect.

(4.) How blessed will be heaven! 2 Co 7:1. There we shall be perfect. And the crowning glory of heaven is not that we shall be happy, but that we shall be holy. Whatever there is in the heart that is good, shall there be perfectly developed; whatever there is that is evil shall be removed, and the whole soul will be like God. The Christian desires heaven, because he will be there perfect. He desires no other heaven. He could be induced to accept no other if it were offered to him. He blesses God day by day that there is such a heaven, and that there is no other—that there is one world which sin does not enter, and where evil shall be unknown.

(5.) What a change will take place at death! 2 Co 7:1. The Christian will be there made perfect. How this change will be there produced we do not know. Whether it will be by some extraordinary influence of the Spirit of God on the heart, or by the mere removal from the body, and from a sinful world to a world of glory, we know not. The fact seems to be clear, that at death the Christian will be made at once as holy as God is holy, and that he will ever continue to be in the future world.

(6.) What a desirable thing it is to die! 2 Co 7:1. Here, should we attain to the age of the patriarchs, like them we should continue to be imperfect. Death only will secure our perfection; and death, therefore, is a desirable event. The perfection of our being could not be attained but for death; and every Christian should rejoice that he is to die. It is better to be in heaven than on earth; better to be with God than to be away from him; better to be made perfect than to be contending here with internal corruption, and to struggle with our sins. "I would not live always," was the language of holy Job; "I desire to depart, and to be with Christ," was the language of holy Paul.

(7.) It is often painful to be compelled to use the language of reproof, 2 Co 7:8. Paul deeply regretted the necessity of doing it in the case of the Corinthians, and expressed the deepest anxiety in regard to it. No man, no minister, parent, or friend can use it but with deep regret that it is necessary. But the painfulness of it ahould not prevent our doing it. It should be done tenderly, but faithfully. If done with the deep feeling, with the tender affection of Paul, it will be done right; and when so done, it will produce the desired effect, and do good. No man should use the language of reproof with a hard heart, or with severity of feeling. If he is, like Paul, ready to weep when he does it, it will do good. If he does it because he delights in it, it will do evil.

(8.) It is a subject of rejoicing where a people exercise repentance, 2 Co 7:8. A minister has pleasure not in the pain which his reproofs cause; not in the deep anxiety and distress of the sinner; and not in the pain which Christians feel under his reproofs; but he has joy in the happy results or the fruits which follow from it. It is only from the belief that those tears will produce abundant joy that he has pleasure in causing them, or in witnessing them.

(9.) The way to bring men to repentance, is to present to them the simple and unvarnished truth, 2 Co 7:8,9. Paul stated simple and plain truths to the Corinthians. He did not abuse them; he did not censure them in general terms; he stated things just as they were, and specified the things on account of which there was occasion for repentance. So if ministers wish to excite repentance in others, they must specify the sins over which others should weep; if we wish, as individuals, to feel regret for our sins, and to have true repentance toward God, we must dwell on those particular sins which we have committed, and should endeavour so to reflect on them that they may make an appropriate impression on the heart. No man will truly repent by general reflections on his sin; no one who does not endeavour so to dwell on his sins as that they shall make the proper impression, which each one is fitted to produce on the soul. Repentance is that state of mind which a view of the truth in regard to our own depravity is fitted to produce.

(10.) There is a great difference between godly sorrow and the sorrow of the world, 2 Co 7:10. All men feel sorrow. All men, at some period of their lives, grieve over their past conduct. Some in their sorrow are pained because they have offended God, and go to God, and find pardon and peace in him. That sorrow is unto salvation. But the mass do not look to God. They turn away from him even in their disappointments, and in their sorrows, and in the bitter consciousness of sin. They seek to alleviate their sorrows in worldly company, in pleasure, in the intoxicating bowl; and such sorrow works death. It produces additional distress, and deeper gloom here, and eternal woe hereafter.

(11.) We may learn what constitutes true repentance, 2 Co 7:11. There should be, and there will be, deep feeling. There will be "carefulness" deep anxiety to be freed from the sin; there will be a desire to remove it; "indignation" against it; "fear" of offending God; "earnest desire" that all that has been wrong should be corrected; "zeal" that the reformation should be entire; and a wish that the appropriate "revenge" or expression of displeasure should be excited against it. The true penitent hates nothing so cordially as he does his sin. He hates nothing but sin. And his warfare with that is decided, uncompromising, inexorable, and eternal.

(12.) It is an evidence of mercy and goodness in God that the sorrow which is felt about sin may be made to terminate in our good, and to promote our salvation, 2 Co 7:10,11. If sorrow for sin had been suffered to take its own course, and had proceeded unchecked, it would in all cases have produced death. If it had not been for the merciful interposition of Christianity, by which even sorrow might be turned to joy, this world would have been everywhere a world of sadness and of death, Man would have suffered. Sin always produces, sooner or later, woe. Christianity has done nothing to make men wretched, but it has done everything to bind up broken hearts. It has revealed a way by which sorrow may be turned into joy, and the bitterness of grief may be followed by the sweet calm and sunshine of peace.

(13.) The great purpose of Christian discipline is to benefit the whole church, 2 Co 7:12. It is not merely on account of the offender, nor is it merely that the injured may receive a just recompense. It is primarily that the church may be pure, and that the cause of religion may not be dishonoured. When the work of discipline is entered on from any private and personal motives, it is usually attended with bad feeling, and usually results in evil. When it is entered on with a desire to honour God, and to promote the purity of the church; when the whole aim is to deliver the church from opprobrium and scandal, and to have just such a church as Jesus Christ desires, then it will be prosecuted with good temper, and with right feeling, and then it will lead to happy results. Let no man institute a process of discipline on an offending brother from private, personal, and revengeful feelings. Let him first examine his own heart, and let him be sure that his aim is solely the glory of Christ, before he attempts to draw down the censure of the church on an offending brother. How many cases of church discipline would be arrested if this simple rule were observed! And while the case before us shows that it is important in the highest degree that discipline should be exercised on an offending member of the church; while no consideration should prevent us from exercising that discipline; and while every man should feel desirous that the offending brother should be reproved or punished, yet this case also shows that it should be done with the utmost tenderness, the most strict regard to justice, and the deepest anxiety that the general interests of religion should not suffer by the manifestation of an improper-spirit, or by improper motives in inflicting punishment on an offending brother.

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