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1. We then not only beseech, but as fellow-labourers with you, who are working out your own salvation, do also exhort you, not to receive the grace of God - Which we have been now describing. In vain - We receive it by faith; and not in vain, if we add to this, persevering holiness.
2. For he saith - The sense is, As of old there was a particular time wherein God was pleased to pour out his peculiar blessing, so there is now. And this is the particular time: this is a time of peculiar blessing. Isaiah xlix, 8.
3. Giving, as far as in us lies, no offense, that the ministry be not blamed on our account.
4. But approving ourselves as the ministers of God - Such as his ministers ought to be. In much patience - Shown,
1. In afflictions, necessities, distresses - All which are general terms.
2. In stripes, imprisonments, tumults - Which are particular sorts of affliction, necessity, distress
3. In labours, watchings, fastings - Voluntarily endured. All these are expressed in the plural number, to denote a variety of them. In afflictions, several ways to escape may appear, though none without difficulty in necessities, one only, and that a difficult one; in distresses, none at all appears.
5. In tumults - The Greek word implies such attacks as a man cannot stand against, but which bear him hither and thither by violence.
6. By prudence - Spiritual divine; not what the world terms so. Worldly prudence is the practical use of worldly wisdom: divine prudence is the due exercise of grace, making spiritual understanding go as far as possible. By love unfeigned - The chief fruit of the Spirit.
7. By the convincing and converting power of God - Accompanying his word; and also attesting it by divers miracles. By the armour of righteousness on the right hand and the left - That is, on all sides; the panoply or whole armour of God.
8. By honour and dishonour - When we are present. By evil report and good report - When we are absent. Who could bear honour and good report, were it not balanced by dishonour? As deceivers - Artful, designing men. So the world represents all true ministers of Christ. Yet true - Upright, sincere, in the sight of God.
9. As unknown - For the world knoweth us not, as it knew him not. Yet well known - To God, and to those who are the seals of our ministry. As dying, yet behold - Suddenly, unexpectedly, God interposes, and we live.
10. As sorrowing - For our own manifold imperfections, and for the sins and sufferings of our brethren. Yet always rejoicing - In present peace, love, power, and a sure hope of future glory. As having nothing, yet possessing all things - For all things are ours, if we are Christ's. What a magnificence of thought is this!
11. From the praise of the Christian ministry, which he began chap. ii, 14, he now draws his affectionate exhortation. O ye Corinthians - He seldom uses this appellation. But it has here a peculiar force. Our mouth is opened toward you - With uncommon freedom, because our heart is enlarged - In tenderness.
12. Ye are not straitened in us - Our heart is wide enough to receive you all. But ye are straitened in your own bowels - Your hearts are shut up, and so not capable of the blessings ye might enjoy.
13. Now for a recompence of the same - Of my parental tenderness. I speak as to my children - I ask nothing hard or grievous. Be ye also enlarged - Open your hearts, first to God, and then to us, so chap. viii, 5, that God may "dwell in you," 2 Cor. vi, 16; vii, 1; and that ye may "receive us," chap. vii, 2.
14. Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers - Christians with Jews or heathens. The apostle particularly speaks of marriage. But the reasons he urges equally hold against any needless intimacy with them. Of the five questions that follow, the three former contain the argument; the two latter, the conclusion.
15. What concord hath Christ - Whom ye serve. With Belial - To whom they belong.
16. What agreement hath the temple of God with idols - If God would not endure idols in any part of the land wherein he dwelt, how much less, under his own roof! He does not say, with the temple of idols, for idols do not dwell in their worshippers. As God hath said - To his ancient church, and in them to all the Israel of God. I will dwell in them, and walk in them - The former signifying his perpetual presence; the latter, his operation. And I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people - The sum of the whole gospel covenant. Lev. xxvi, 11, &c.
18. And ye shall be to me for sons and for daughters, saith the Lord Almighty - The promise made to Solomon, 1 Chr. xxviii, 6, is here applied to all believers; as the promise made particularly to Josh. is applied to them, Heb. xiii, 5. Who can express the worth, who can conceive the dignity, of this divine adoption? Yet it belongs to all who believe the gospel, who have faith in Christ. They have access to the Almighty; such free and welcome access, as a beloved child to an indulgent father. To him they may fly for aid in every difficulty, and from him obtain a supply in all their wants. Isaiah xliii, 6.
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