2 Corinthians 6:1
And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain—
(a) The grace of God refers to the goodwill, lovingkindness, and favor of God that is freely given to us so that we may partake in his divine life. See entry for Grace of God.
(b) In vain. To hear about the grace of God but not receive it with faith is to receive it in vain.
The grace of God has appeared to all, but only those who receive it by faith are saved (Eph. 2:8).
“We have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith” (Heb. 4:2).
Paul preached for a verdict. He did not proclaim the gospel without urging his hearers to repent and turn to God (Acts 26:20). The urgency of his gospel is clear in the next verse.
2 Corinthians 6:2
for He says,
“AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU,
AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.”
Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION”—
(a) I helped you. God is our very great Helper who rides across the heavens to help us (Deu 33:26). He is our very present help in times of trouble (Ps. 46:1). One of the ways God helps us is by revealing his love and saving power through his Son.
See entry for Heb. 13:6.
(b) Behold, now… Behold, now. Act now. Why spend one more day in the prison of sin than you have to? Why linger on death row when your pardon has been secured and new life awaits?
In the old covenant, people looked forward to the coming Messiah. For them, salvation was tomorrow. But for us, salvation is today. The shackles that bound you and the charges that condemned you were dealt with at the cross. Because of Jesus, you can be free now.
(c) Salvation. The original word for salvation means deliverance or rescue. Jesus is the great Deliverer who rescues us from our enemies (Luke 1:71). See entry for Salvation.
2 Corinthians 6:7
in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left,
(a) The weapons of righteousness. Walking in our God-given righteousness is how we win our spiritual battles.
The gift of God’s righteousness lies at the heart of the gospel message (Rom. 1:17). When we receive his righteousness, we reign in life (Rom. 5:17). But we will never reign or overcome unless we learn how to win our battles.
These weapons of righteousness are not for attacking people, but are for pulling down strongholds or mindsets that are opposed to God (2 Cor. 10:4). For example, if the enemy should tell you that you are a reprobate sinner who needs to earn God’s approval by engaging in dead works, a good response is to remind yourself that you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21). God the Righteous Judge justifies you (Rom. 8:33). You have nothing to prove.
(b) For the right hand and the left implies a sword in one hand and a shield in the other. God’s righteous weapons are for defense and attack.
2 Corinthians 6:16
Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,
“I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM;
AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.
We are the temple of the living God. The Church is God’s permanent abode. The Most High does not dwell in a temple made with human hands (Acts 7:48), but he dwells within the body of believers (1 Cor. 3:16).
Spiritual union is such an alien concept to the natural mind that the Bible provides many pictures to help us grasp it. In the New Testament, our union with the Lord is portrayed as a vine and its branches (John 15:5), a building or temple (1 Cor. 3:9, 2 Cor. 6:16, Heb. 3:6), a treasure in a jar of clay (2 Cor. 4:7), a new man (Eph. 2:15), a marriage (Eph. 5:23, Rev. 19:7, 21:19, 22:17), a city (Heb. 11:10, 12:22, 13:14, Rev 3:12, 21:2), and a family or household (Matt. 12:50, Mark 3:35, John 11:52, 2 Cor. 6:18, Eph. 2:19, Gal. 3:26, 6:10, 1 Pet. 4:17). But the metaphor which appears most often in the New Testament is that of the body of Christ of which every believer is a member (see entry for 1 Cor. 12:27).
Union with Christ is the number one reason why we have it better than those who lived before the cross. Back then they wrote love songs about yearning and absence. “I opened to my beloved, but my beloved was gone” (Song of Solomon 5:6) “As the deer pants for the water, so my soul pants for you, O God” (Psalms 42:1). “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life” (Ps. 27:4). That you may dwell in the house of the Lord? You are the house of the Lord. You can dwell in the house of the Lord as long as you like. It’s going to be quite impossible for you to dwell anywhere else.
See entry for Union.
2 Corinthians 6:17-18
“Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord.
“AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty.
(a) Come out … be separate. You are holy, so act holy.
Under the old covenant, the Israelites were commanded to avoid unclean things and to distinguish between the holy and the profane (Lev. 10:10, Eze. 20:7, 22:26). This gives the impression that we have to separate ourselves sinners and withdraw from the world. Imagine if Jesus had done that.
Jesus, the Holy One, was undefiled by sin but he was also the friend of sinners (Matt. 11:19). He touched them, laid hands on them, and ate with them. Jesus didn’t pray that we would be taken out of the world but that we would be sanctified in it (John 17:15-18). True holiness runs from nothing.
(b) I will be a father to you. This passage sounds like conditional acceptance, as though we have to purify ourselves before we can come to God. “You have to separate yourself from the pollution of the world before God will accept you. You have to watch how you live or your Father may reject you.” Which is a wicked thing to say to the dearly-loved children of God.
If Paul is preaching conditional acceptance, he is contradicting himself when he preaches unconditional acceptance in Romans 15:7. The good news is that Christ accepts you just as you are. Christian, you are a dearly-loved child of God (Rom. 8:15-16).
Paul is quoting Old Testament scriptures to make a new covenant point, which is this: We don’t purify ourselves to become God’s children. Rather, we purify ourselves because we are his children. Like the other New Testament writers, Paul encourages us to be holy because in Christ we are holy (1 Pet. 1:15, 1 John 3:2-3). He’s saying, “Be who you truly are. You are God’s dearly-loved children, so act like it.”
Further reading: “Conditional acceptance?”
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