8. Hardships, Holiness, and Joy (2 Corinthians 6:3-7:16)

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Audio (37:51)

In this lesson we'll cover a lot of ground, two chapters. But you'll find that most of chapter 7 is narrative, rather than teaching, so we'll go over most of that rather quickly. In this lesson I've included three topics:

  1. God's help in spite of intense hardships (6:3-13)
  2. Personal holiness, separation from sinful practices (6:14-7:1)
  3. Paul's joy due to Titus' encouraging report (7:2-16)

We'll begin with Paul's account of his extreme hardships. He's not bragging. Rather he is bringing some reality to his claim to be the founding apostle of the Corinthian church. At present, some "super-apostles" are seeking to discredit him and slander him so people will follow them instead. In his defense, Paul talks about the weakness and suffering he's experienced and how they bolster his claim to authenticity.

A No-Stumbling-Blocks Policy (6:3)

"We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited."[223] (6:3)

There are some leaders who have quirks or prejudices that are hard to get used to. I'm sure Paul had his own idiosyncrasies, but he did his level best to remove any obstacle[224] that would keep people from coming to know the Lord. He had a no-stumbling-blocks policy so that his message would have the widest possible appeal. He even refused to let the church support him so that money wouldn't be an obstacle to anyone. If his audience was Jewish, he would speak like a Jew. If his hearers were Gentiles, he would keep his Jewishness in the background. In an earlier letter to the Corinthians he said:

"I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some." (1 Corinthians 9:22b)

In the verses that follow, we begin to see what this policy cost him in sheer pain.

Commended by Hardships (6:4-5)

"4 Rather, as servants of God we commend[225] ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger...." (6:3-5)

Let's look at some of these more closely.

"Endurance" (NIV, NRSV), "patience" (KJV) is "the capacity to hold out or bear up in the face of difficulty."[226] It can be translated as "patience, endurance, fortitude, steadfastness, perseverance." Paul didn't quit.

"Troubles" (NIV), "afflictions" (NRSV, KJV) comes from the root idea of "pressing, pressure." Here it is used in the metaphorical sense: "trouble that inflicts distress, oppression, affliction, tribulation."[227] Have you ever been under extreme pressure for a long period of time? Then you know what Paul experienced.

"Distresses" (NIV, KJV), "calamities" (NRSV) expresses the idea of "narrowness." Here it means, "a set of stressful circumstances, distress, difficulty, anguish, trouble."[228] If you've ever felt boxed in, confined, then you've experienced distress.

"Beatings" (NIV, NRSV), "stripes" (KJV) is "a sudden hard stroke with some instrument, blow, stroke."[229] Perhaps you've experienced beatings as a child or as a spouse. Then you know.

"Imprisonments"[230] " in Paul's case, false imprisonment, is part of the cost of preaching the gospel when it is unpopular. Some of our brothers and sisters in the Muslim countries and China have experienced this.

"Riots" (NIV, NRSV), "tumults" (KJV) refers to an "unsettled state of affairs, disturbance, tumult," probably of mob action in Paul's case.[231] Paul didn't hide in a corner; sometimes his opponents started riots to try to get him run out of town.

"Hard work" (NIV), "labors" (NRSV, KJV). Paul had to earn his own living by the sweat of his brow making tents out of goatskins. He would work long hours, then preach in the evening until he was dead tired.

"Sleepless nights" (NIV, NRSV), "watchings" (KJV).[232] You've experienced sleeplessness because of pressure you were experiencing. Paul was often awake at night.

"Hunger" (NIV, NRSV), "fastings" (KJV)[233] was common. When he was travelling, there may have been no place to stop for a meal. He may also have experienced hunger because he didn't have enough money to purchase food and no friends in the city who would invite him in.

Sometimes we put Bible characters on an unreal kind of pedestal, as if they weren't made of flesh and blood. Yes, they had hardships, we think, but angels were always around to ease their discomfort. After all, they were holy men and women. But the truth is that holy men and women, particularly those who will not be deterred from their mission, undergo a great deal of suffering so that they can be faithful to their call. What are you willing to endure to do Christ's will?

Commended by a Godly Character and Spiritual Ministry (6:6-7)

Paul reviewed the sufferings that authenticated his apostleship. Now he talks about character.

"6 ... In purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left...." (6:6-7)

 "Purity/pureness" can be seen as "uprightness of life,"[234] moral purity. If we don't live holy lives, people, especially unbelievers that we want to witness to, won't take us seriously. Purity of thought and life is a clear objective for us.

"Understanding" (NIV), "knowledge" (NRSV, KJV) is "comprehension or intellectual grasp of something, knowledge."[235] This knowledge also spills over into knowing God himself, not just facts or wisdom.

"Patience" (NIV, NRSV), "longsuffering" (KJV) refers to the "state of being able to bear up under provocation, forbearance, patience toward others."[236] Does your patience give others confidence in your faith?

"Kindness" is "the quality of being helpful or beneficial, goodness, kindness, generosity," also, "readily generous in disposition."[237]

"Sincere/genuine love" (NIV, NRSV), "love unfeigned" (KJV) is two words, agapē, "self-giving love" and anypokritos, "pertaining to being without pretense, genuine, sincere," literally, "without play-acting."[238] 

"Weapons" (NIV, NRSV), "armour" (KJV) refers to "an instrument designed to make ready for military engagement, weapon." The sword would normally be in the right hand, with the shield in the left, so "weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left" refer to "the weapons of righteousness for offense and defense."[239]

 How does your character recommend you to the people you're trying to reach for Christ? Is your character strong and pure, or does it need some work?

Commended through Paradoxical Ministry (6:8-10)

Next, Paul introduces a series of word pairs that are paradoxical. As the list continues, he shares what he is accused of vs. the opposite, which is the actual truth.

"8 ... Through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything." (6:8-10)

Glory and dishonor. Sometimes Paul has been honored, but just as often he has experienced "a state of dishonor or disrespect."[240]

Bad report and good report. "Bad report" (NIV) refers to "the act of detracting from or damaging another's reputation, defamation, slander, calumny."[241] "Good report" (NIV) is the opposite: a "favorable expression about something, good report, good repute."[242] Paul has been the victim of slander as well as praise. Realize that not everything you hear about a Christian leader is necessarily true, or false. Be careful how you form opinions about others.

As impostors, and yet are true (NRSV).[243] Back in Corinth, his opponents had undermined and trashed his reputation, yet he was the genuine apostle and they were the impostors.

Known, yet regarded as unknown. Paul continues with the irony. He is known throughout Christendom as an apostle, yet in Corinth, his opponents seek to portray him as a nobody.

Dying, and yet we live on. Paul had been left for dead (Acts 14:19), but he lived.

Beaten, and yet not killed. Paul tells us in 11:23-25 that he was flogged, lashed, and beaten with rods time after time. Yet he lived to tell the story.

Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.[244] Paul had his ups and downs, his share of sorrows, yet he chose to rejoice in spite of his troubles. He practiced what he preached:

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4)

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Poor, yet making many rich. Paul wasn't a rich man or independently wealthy, though a great deal of money passed through his hands through the course of his ministry. But he enriched others spiritually and helped them enjoy the true riches.[245] This reminds me of John Wesley (1703-1791), founder of Methodism, who, though he received a huge income later in life, severely limited his expenditures and gave away nearly everything to the poor, living extremely modestly himself. He had discovered the joy of making others rich. He had nothing to prove to himself or anyone else.

Having nothing, and yet possessing[246] everything. Paul was like Jesus who had "no place to lay his head" (Luke 9:58b). Yet he was heir to his Father's entire estate!

"We are heirs, heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ." (Romans 8:17)

"All things are yours." (1 Corinthians 3:21-23)

Open Wide Your Hearts (6:11-13)

Finally, after sharing this list, Paul appeals to the Corinthians to open their hearts to him once more.

"11 We have spoken freely[247] to you, Corinthians, and opened wide[248] our hearts[249] to you. 12 We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding[250] yours from us. 13 As a fair exchange, I speak as to my children, open wide your hearts also." (6:11-13).

Q1. (2 Corinthians 6:3-13) Why do you think Paul shares so much about his various struggles with the Corinthians? How does this help them accept his apostleship as authentic? Have you ever complained about what you've had to put up with in your ministry? How does it compare to what Paul faced?

Don't Yoke Yourselves to Unbelievers (6:14-16)

Paul has just shared insights into his life and character. Now he calls on the Cor­inthians to guard their own character.

As I've mentioned before, Corinth had an international reputation for sexual immorality. In Corinth's Temple of Aphrodite were 1,000 female prostitutes. The coined Greek word "to Corinthianize" meant to practice immorality; the phrase "Corinthian girl" designated a prostitute. The Corinthian believers, both male and female, faced powerful sexual temptations. Late in this letter Paul expresses grief over

"... many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged." (12:21)

So Paul begins this section with a command:

"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers." (6:14a)

Verse 14a is often quoted as teaching that believers should not marry unbelievers. But is that what it means? Let's look carefully, then come to a conclusion at the end of the passage.

"Yoked together" (NIV), "mismatched" (NRSV), "unequally yoked" (KJV) is heterozygeō, referring to draft animals that need different kinds of yokes, because they are of different species such as an ox and a donkey (Leviticus 19:19). The word means, "be unevenly yoked, be mismated with someone."[251] You believers need to be careful that you're not too closely tied to unbelievers, Paul says.

"14b For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God." (6:14-16a)

Paul uses five words to describe a close relationship, a closeness that can hurt the believers.

  1. "In common" (NIV), "partnership" (NRSV), "fellowship" (KJV) has the basic idea of "sharing, participation."[252]
  2. "Fellowship" (NIV, NRSV), "communion" (KJV) is koinōnia, "close association involving mutual interests and sharing, association, communion, fellowship, close relationship."[253] This refers to a relationship built upon common interests.
  3. "Harmony" (NIV), "agreement" (NRSV), "concord" (KJV) is symphōnēsis (from which get our word "symphony") "a state of shared interests, agreement."[254]
  4. "In common" (NIV), "share" (NRSV), "part" (KJV) is meris, "share, portion."[255] 
  5. "Agreement" is from a word that originally meant "a putting together or joint deposit (of votes)," hence, "approval, assent, agreement."[256]

Paul's argument is that believers and unbelievers really don't have so much in common any more. He contrasts word pairs here, too:

  1. Righteousness vs. wickedness
  2. Light vs. darkness
  3. Christ vs. Belial. (Belial is a name of Satan.)[257]
  4. Believer vs. unbeliever
  5. Temple of God vs. idols.

You Are the Temple of God (6:16a)

Now Paul makes an astounding statement: "For we are the temple of the living God" (6:16a). Because of the Corinthians' strong ties with unbelievers, they had been flirting with idol worship and its related sexual temptations, especially prominent in Corinth.

 So Paul reminds them that the temple they should be concerned about is not the fancy temples of Corinth, but God himself: "For we are the temple of the living God" (16:16a). This is not a new concept to the Corinthians, for in his first letter Paul compared both individuals and the church itself to a temple:

"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16, reference to the church)

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?" (1 Corinthians 6:19, a reference to an individual's physical body in relationship to prostitutes)

Old Testament Promises (6:16b-18)

In what sense are believers like temples of God? Paul explains by quoting three Old Testament passages.

  1. God walks among believers (16:16b)

"I will live with them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they will be my people."
(6:16b; adapted from Leviticus 26:12; Jeremiah 32:38; Ezekiel 37:27)

  1. Believers are holy themselves (6:17)

"Therefore come out[258] from them[259] and be separate,[260] says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." (6:17; quoting Isaiah 52:11)

  1. Believers are God's own special children (6:18)

"I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters." (6:18, adapted from 1 Samuel 7:14)

If you'll recall, throughout the Old Testament, God's people struggled with the idolatry of the peoples of the lands where they lived. Baal worship enticed many into both idolatry and the sexual immorality that accompanied this false religion. Ashtoreth poles prompted goddess worship. Again and again the prophets called the people from this to a worship of the true God, Yahweh.

The Christians in Corinth had similar temptations, and similar promises from God.

Q2. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18) What are the reasons Paul gives us, both in his letter and by quoting Old Testament scriptures, that we should live holy lives? What kinds of temptations did the Corinthians face in their notorious city.

Let Us Purify Ourselves (7:1a)

In light of the Old Testament promises that Paul has just quoted, he calls the Corinthians to holiness:

"Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." (7:1)

The phrase translated, "everything that contaminates" (NIV), "defilement" (NRSV), "filthiness" (KJV) is a strong word from a root meaning "to stain, sully, defile, debauch."[261]

Notice that the contamination is to both body[262] and spirit, indicating that both idolatry, and the sexual sins that accompany it, take what is white and pure and clean and defile it. The only remedy is deep cleansing[263] as well as separation from the contaminants.

Perfecting Holiness (7:1b)

The goal of this purification is "perfecting holiness out of reverence for God" (7:1b).   

"Perfecting" (NIV, KJV), "making perfect" (NRSV) is epiteleō, "to bring about a result according to plan or objective, complete, accomplish, perform, bring about."[264] Paul is seeking a maturing or perfecting of their faith, not wanting to see them continually dragged down into a pit of degradation by their adolescent behavior.

"Holiness" is a state of separation to God, being separated from what is common and unclean. Those who are bought by God and are God's possessions are set apart for his use and pleasure exclusively. The Corinthians have remained entangled in activities and allegiances that are absolutely contrary to God's nature. They are unholy! Paul calls them to perfect holiness.

One of the chief motivators to holiness should be "the fear[265] of God." This involves both a fear of punishment as well as a reverence and respect for God that keeps a person from entanglement with sin. Holiness is one of the major themes in both the Old and New Testaments. Holiness is our purpose and destiny.

"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight." (Ephesians 1:4)

 "May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones." (1 Thessalonians 3:13)

"For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life." (1 Thessalonians 4:7, in the context of immoral sexual behavior)

"Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord." (Hebrews 12:14)

"As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.'" (1 Peter 1:14-16)

What Kind of Separation Is Required?

A misunderstanding of this command, "Come out from them and be separate," has spawned (6:17a) a kind of holier-than-thou brand of separatism in certain sectors of the Christian church. Let me clarify what this command does not mean and what it does mean.

First, our passage isn't talking about separation from believers, but about separation from the idolatry and sexual immorality of the pagans in Corinth. There is a time, of course, to separate from believers. In an earlier letter to the Corinthian church, Paul clarified his teaching:

"9 I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people, 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.

11 But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat." (1 Corinthians 5:9-11)

In the 1 Corinthians 5 passage, Paul says clearly that we aren't to associate with believers who continue to practice immorality. Elsewhere, the New Testament teaches to separate ourselves from divisive people (Romans 16:17), idle brothers (2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14), and false teachers (2 John 10).

Some Christians are so separatist that they refuse to associate with Billy Graham because he cooperated with liberal Christian churches. This is known as "second-degree separation", that is, separation from anyone who will not separate from the things we believe are wrong. Dear friends, this kind of militant separatism breaks the primary law of "love one another." It is judgmental and exactly the kind of separatism practiced by the Pharisees in Jesus' day.

Again, our passage in 2 Corinthians does not teach separation from believers (though there's a time for that). Separation from believers is not the point or the purpose of this passage.

Notice in the passage quoted above from 1 Corinthians, Paul does not require separation from unbelievers. It isn't practical:

"In that case you would have to leave this world." (1 Corinthians 5:10b)

Indeed, we should retain friendships with unbelievers! Otherwise, we wouldn't be able to influence them for Christ.

Consider Jesus' example. He associated with the sinners of his day: tax collectors, prostitutes, and others. He went to their homes and enjoyed their parties. This passage doesn't teach us to separate from unbelievers per se.

But it does command us to separate ourselves from people and associations that will lead us into sin. Paul's concern was that the Corinthian Christians still participated in the pagan feasts and their attendant sexual immorality.

When we become Christians, we must cut ties with things that will lead us back into sin! Recently I observed a Christian outreach aimed at musicians. One of the leaders had been deeply involved in this culture " and the alcoholism and drug use and promiscuity that attended it. I'm afraid that this leader wasn't strong enough to influence his former friends; they influenced him and enticed him back!

If you've been involved in drinking and drug use with non-Christian friends, you can't be with them when they drink and use drugs! Why? Because the old associations are very likely to drag you down again. You can still be their friends, if they'll have you, but you can't be around them when they are sinning. You've got to separate yourself from sin and the people who would tempt you to fall back into sin! That's what Paul is talking about here.

To summarize, does being unequally yoked mean that we shouldn't marry an unbeliever? Paul teaches this elsewhere (1 Corinthians 7:39). But the context here is that we should separate ourselves from those who would lead us back into the sin and degradation of our former lives.

Q3. (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1) What kind of separation is Paul calling the Corinthians to? How can they strike a balance between separating themselves from sinful practices that mess up their spiritual lives while at the same time maintaining friendships with pagan neighbors and co-workers?

A Plea for Open Hearts (7:2)

Now Paul returns to his appeal to the Corinthians to reconcile with him and begin again the warm fellowship they had once experienced before his opponents had slandered and undermined his reputation.

"Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one." (7:2)

He lists three ways that his character testifies to his faithfulness. But he's obviously contrasting himself to his opponents who did exploit and take advantage of the Corinthians (12:17-18).

  1. "Wronged"[266] 
  2. "Corrupted"[267] 
  3. "Exploited" (NIV), "take advantage of" (NRSV), "defrauded" (KJV)[268] 

Paul Is Encouraged by the Corinthians (7:3-4)

Paul has asked them to open their hearts, but he doesn't want them to take this as a judgment on them, so he explains just how much he loves them.

"3 I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. 4 I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you. [269]I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds." (7:3-4)

Fightings Without and Fears Within (7:5)

Now he talks a bit about the struggles he has recently gone through.

"For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn, conflicts on the outside, fears within." (7:5)

These were both physical[270] and psychological struggles. He talks about being harassed,[271] as well as various conflicts[272] in Macedonia. This had gone on non-stop, without any rest.[273]

I think that it's interesting that Paul admits to fears[274] during this time. To hear some people teach, you'd think that real Christians don't experience fear, which is the opposite of faith. The reality is that we often experience fear. Fear is a reaction to danger that is hard-wired into our human bodies to pour adrenaline into our bloodstream to prepare us to defend ourselves. But fear can also continue on, eating into our confidence, if we let it. Praise God, through faith we face our fears, take courage, and don't allow our fears to control us. Paul didn't.

Q4. (2 Corinthians 7:5) What are the distinctions between fear, faith, and courage? Why is being honest about our fears better than pretending we don't have any fears? How did Paul deal with his fears?

The Comfort of Titus' Coming (7:6-7)

You see a little bit of Paul's humanity in the next couple of verses. Paul has been struggling, but the presence of his co-worker, who has just returned from Corinth, brings tremendous encouragement to him.

"6 But God, who comforts the downcast,[275] comforted us by the coming of Titus, 7 and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing[276] for me, your deep sorrow,[277] your ardent concern[278] for me, so that my joy was greater than ever." (7:6-7)

Paul alluded to this comfort he had received at the beginning of the letter:

"Praise be to ... the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." (1:3-4)

Part of that comfort was learning that the Corinthians still loved and appreciated him (7:7). Paul refers to their positive reaction to his "severe letter" again in verse 11.

Sorrow that Leads to Repentance (7:8-10)

Now he discusses this "severe letter" and its results.

"8 Even if I caused you sorrow[279] by my letter, I do not regret[280] it. Though I did regret it, I see that my letter hurt[281] you, but only for a little while, 9 yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed[282] in any way by us. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death." (7:8-10)

Paul is sorry that he had to be so strong in this letter, but it had the desired fruit: godly repentance,[283] a change of mind and heart in Corinth.

Sometimes parents need to be harsh when their children are rebellious in order to correct them. Love that is gentle is possible when it is reciprocated. But sometimes "tough love" is called for. It's not fun for the parent, pastor, or apostle, but can bring about the desired repentance when administered consistently and with the right motive.

Eagerness to Clear their Name (7:11-13a)

Now Paul describes the reaction to his letter. The Corinthians bent over backwards to clear themselves from any charge.

"11 See what this godly sorrow[284] has produced in you: what earnestness,[285] what eagerness to clear yourselves,[286] what indignation,[287] what alarm,[288] what longing,[289] what concern,[290] what readiness to see justice done.[291] At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent[292] in this matter. 12 So even though I wrote to you, it was not on account of the one who did the wrong or of the injured party, but rather that before God you could see for yourselves how devoted to us you are. 13 By all this we are encouraged." (7:11-13a)

Titus' Good Report (7:13b-16)

Paul praises the Lord for the good news that Titus had brought, but also to see how blessed Titus was by this assignment, because it was quite sensitive and could have gone badly.

"13b In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit[293] has been refreshed[294] by all of you. 14 I had boasted to him about you, and you have not embarrassed me. But just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting about you to Titus has proved to be true as well. 15 And his affection for you is all the greater when he remembers that you were all obedient,[295] receiving him with fear and trembling. 16 I am glad I can have complete confidence in you." (7:13b-16)

What does it mean for the church to be "obedient"? It means that they had become responsive once again to Paul's ministry and to his apostolic authority and commands. I've seen churches that are rebellious to pastoral authority and I've seen obedient ones. Only obedient churches can be united and productive in ministry.

2 Corinthians: Discipleship Lessons, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Also available in e-book and paperback

In this lesson we've watched what Paul endured in spite of intense hardships. We've heard his plea for personal holiness, and we've seen his encouragement at Titus' report. In all of this he has sought to set before the Corinthians healthy examples of Christian leadership so they can become healthier as a church and in their own personal lives. Twenty centuries later, Paul's life is an example that brings conviction to our own lives as well. Thank you, Paul, for hanging in there, for Christ and for us.


Father, I pray that you'd put in my heart the same kind of courage that rose up in the heart of your apostle. Forgive me for complaining. Forgive me for sometimes blurring the lines between your holiness and the world I live in. Forgive me for giving into my fears when all along you were seeking to challenge me to faith. Forgive me and grow me into Christ's image. In His name, I pray. Amen.

Key Verses

"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers." (2 Corinthians 6:14)

"For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.'" (2 Corinthians 6:16)

"Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." (2 Corinthians 6:17)

"Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." (2 Corinthians 7:1)

End Notes

Chapter 8

[223] "Be discredited" (NIV), "find fault" (NRSV), "be blamed" (KJV) is mōmaomai, "find fault with, criticize, censure, blame," from mōmos, "blame" (BDAG 663).

[224] "Stumbling block" (NIV), "obstacle" (NRSV), "offence" (KJV) is proskopē, "an occasion for taking offense or for making a misstep" (BDAG 882). From proskoptō, literally "bruise as a result of stumbling."

[225] "Commended" (NIV, NRSV), "approving" (KJV) is synistēmi, "to provide evidence of a personal characteristic or claim through action, demonstrate, show, bring out something" (BDAG 793, 3).

[226] Hypomonē, BDAG 1039, 1.

[227] Thlipsis, BDAG 457, 1.

[228] Stenochōria, BDAG 943.

[229] Plēgē, BDAG 825, 1.

[230] "Imprisonments" is phylakē, "guarding," then, "the place where guarding is done, prison" (BDAG 1067, 3).

[231] Akatastasia, BDAG 35, 1.

[232] Agrypnia, "the state of remaining awake because one is unable to go to sleep, sleeplessness" (BDAG 16, 1), from a-, "not" + hypnos, "sleep."

[233] Nēsteia, "the experience of being without sufficient food, going hungry," generally, of hunger brought about by necessity, though in other contexts it refers to deliberately going without food, fasting (BDAG 673, 1).

[234] Hagnotēs, Thayer 54, "purity, sincerity," BDAG 13. The basic idea of the word is "what awakens awe" (F. Hauck, hagnos, ktl., TDNT 1:122-124).

[235] Gnōsis, BDAG 203, 1.

[236] Makrothymia, BDAG 612, 2a.

[237] Chrēstotēs, BDAG 1090, 2.

[238] Anypokritos, BDAG 91.

[239] Hoplon BDAG 716, 2a.

[240] Atimia, BDAG 149.

[241] Dysphēmia, BDAG 265. From the root phēmē, "report, news."

[242] Euphēmia, BDAG 414.

[243] "Impostors" (NIV, NRSV), "deceivers" (KJV), is the adjective planos, "pertaining to causing someone to be mistaken," here as a substantive, "deceiver, impostor" (BDAG 822, b).

[244] "Sorrowful" is lypeō, "be sad, be distressed, grieve" (BDAG 604, 2b). "Rejoicing" is chairō, "to be in a state of happiness and well-being, rejoice, be glad" (BDAG 1074, 1).

[245] "Making rich" is ploutizō, "to cause to be relatively high on a scale of opulence, make wealthy," here, "to cause to abound in something, make rich," in imagery, of spiritual riches (BDAG 832).

[246] "Possessing" is katechō, "to keep in one's possession, possess" (BDAG 533, 3).

[247] Anoigō, "open," here in the sense, "to be candid, be open" (BDAG 85, 7).

[248] "Opened wide" is platynō, "to cause something to be broad, make broad, enlarge," here, figuratively of warm affection (BDAG 823).

[249] Literally, "our mouth has opened to you."

[250] "Withholding" (NIV), "restricted" (NRSV), "straitened" (KJV) is stenochōreō, "to confine or restrict to a narrow space, crowd, cramp, confine, restrict" (BDAG 942).

[251] Heterozygeō, BDAG 399.

[252] Metochē, BDAG 643. From metechō, "to be or become partaker; to partake" (Thayer, 407).

[253] Koinōnia, BDAG 552, 1.

[254] Symphōnēsis, BDAG 963.

[255] Meris, BDAG 632, 2.

[256] Synkatathesis, Thayer 592. "Agreement, union" (BDAG 953).

[257] Belial is a transliteration of a Hebrew word meaning "worthlessness, wickedness" (Thayer 100).

[258] "Come out" is exerchomai, "come out," here in the sense of to discontinue an association, "depart," also at 1 John 2:19 (BDAG 348, 4).

[259] "Among" (KJV) is mesos, "midst," here, "pertaining to a position within a group, without focus on mediate position, among"(BDAG 635, 2b).

[260] "Be separate" is aphorizō, "to remove one party from other parties so as to discourage or eliminate contact, separate, take away" (BDAG 158, 1).

[261] Molysmos, "defilement," figuratively, in sacred and moral context (BDAG 657), from the verb molunō, meaning "to stain, sully, defile, debauch" (Liddell-Scott).

[262] "Body" (NIV, NRSV), "flesh" (KJV) is sarx, here, "the physical body as a functioning entity, body, physical body" (BDAG 915, 2a).

[263] "Purify" (NIV), "cleanse" (NRSV, KJV) is katharizō, here of moral and cultic cleansing, "cleanse, purify" from sin (BDAG 489, 3bα).

[264] Epiteleō, BDAG 383, 2.

[265] "Reverence" (NIV), "fear" (NRSV, KJV) is phobos, "fear," here in the sense of "reverence, respect" (BDAG 1062, 2bα).

[266] Adikeō, "do wrong to someone, treat someone unjustly" (BDAG 20, 1c).

[267] Phtheirō, "to cause harm to in a physical manner or in outward circumstances, destroy, ruin, corrupt, spoil," that is, to "ruin financially someone" or "ruin or corrupt someone," by erroneous teaching or immorality (BDAG 1054, 1a or 2a).

[268] Pleonekteō, "to take advantage of, exploit, outwit, defraud, cheat someone."BDAG 824, 1a. This word also occurs in 12:17-18.

[269] "Troubles" (NIV), "affliction" (NRSV), "tribulation" (KJV) is thlipsis, "trouble that inflicts distress, oppression, affliction, tribulation" (BDAG 457, 1). The word is common elsewhere in 2 Corinthians.

[270] "Body" (NIV, NRSV), "flesh" (KJV) is sarx, "the physical body as functioning entity, body, physical body" (BDAG 915, 2a).

[271] "Harassed" (NIV), "afflicted" (NRSV), "troubled" (KJV) is thlibō, "to make narrow," here, "to cause to be troubled, oppress, afflict someone" (BDAG 457, 3).

[272] "Conflicts" (NIV), "disputes" (NRSV), "fightings" (KJV) is machē, in the New Testament only in the plural and only of battles fought without actual weapons: "fighting, quarrels, strife, disputes" (BDAG 622).

[273] "Rest" (NIV) is anesis, "relief from something onerous or troublesome, rest, relaxation, relief" (BDAG 77, 2).

[274] "Fears" is phobos, "fear, alarm, fright" (BDAG 1062, 2aα).

[275] "Downcast" (NIV, NRSV), "those that are cast down" is tapeinos, with the basic meaning of "low," that is used figuratively here: "pertaining to being of low social status or to relative inability to cope, lowly, undistinguished, of no account" (BDAG 989, 1).

[276] "Longing" (NIV, NRSV), "earnest desire" (KJV) is epipothēsis, "yearning desire for, longing," here and at verse 11 (BDAG 372).

[277] "Deep sorrow" (NIV), "mourning" (NRSV, KJV) is odyrmos, "lamentation, mourning" (BDAG 692).

[278] "Ardent concern" (NIV), "zeal" (NRSV), "fervent mind" (KJV) is zēlos, "intense positive interest in something, zeal, ardor, marked by a sense of dedication," also at 9:2 (BDAG 427, 1).

[279] "Caused sorrow/made sorry" is lypeō, "to cause severe mental or emotional distress, vex, irritate, offend, insult someone" (BDAG 604, 1).

[280] "Regret" (NIV, NRSV), "repent" (KJV) is metamelomai, "to have regrets about something, in the sense that one wishes it could be undone, be very sorry, regret" (BDAG 639, 1), from meta-, "exchange, transfer, transmutation" + melomai, "be a cause of concern."

[281] "Hurt" (NIV), "grieved" (NRSV), "made sorry" (KJV) is lypeō.

[282] "Harmed" (NIV, NRSV), "receive damage" (KJV) is zēmioō, "to experience the loss of something," with implication of undergoing hardship or suffering, "suffer damage/loss, forfeit, sustain injury" (BDAG 428, 1).

[283] "Repentance" is metanoia, basically, "a change of mind," then "repentance, turning about, conversion" (BDAG 643).

[284] "Godly sorrow" is literally "sorrow (lypeō) according to God" using kata, here, "marker of norm of similarity or homogeneity, according to, in accordance with, in conformity with, according to," to introduce the norm that governs something, in this case, God (BDAG 512, 5aα).

[285] "Earnestness" (NIV, NRSV), "carefulness" (KJV) is spoudē, "earnest commitment in discharge of an obligation or experience of a relationship, eagerness, earnestness, diligence, willingness, zeal" (BDAG 939, 2).

[286] "Eagerness to clear yourselves" (NIV, NRSV) is apologia, "generally, of eagerness to defend oneself" (BDAG 117, 2b).

[287] Aganaktēsis, "indignation" (BDAG 5).

[288] "Alarm" (NIV, NRSV), "fear" (KJV) is phobos, "fear, alarm, fright" (BDAG 1062, 2aα).

[289] "Longing" (NIV, NRSV), "vehement desire" (KJV) is epipothēsis, "yearning desire for, longing" (BDAG 377).

[290] "Concern" (NIV), "zeal" (NRSV, KJV) is zēlos, "intense positive interest in something, zeal, ardor, marked by a sense of dedication" (BDAG 422, 1).

[291] "Readiness to see justice done" (NIV), "punishment" (NRSV), "revenge" (KJV) is ekdikēsis, "penalty inflicted on wrongdoers," absolutely, "punishment" (of Paul's opponent) (BDAG 302, 3).

[292] "Innocent" (NIV), "guiltless" (NRSV), "clear" (KJV) is hagnos, "pure, holy" (BDAG 13, a).

[293] "Spirit" (NIV, KJV), "mind" (NRSV) is pneuma.

[294] "Refreshed" (NIV, KJV), "set at rest" (NRSV) is anapauō, "to cause someone to gain relief from toil, cause to rest, give (someone) rest, refresh, revive" (BDAG 69, 1).

[295] "Obedient/obedience" is hypakoē, "a state of being in compliance, obedience," that is, one listens and follows instructions (BDAG 1028, 1b).

Copyright © 2024, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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