Open Your Hearts
Hearts open to the message (II Corinthians 6:11-6:13)
Once again, Paul points out that he has been speaking freely and openly with the Corinthians. He cares deeply about them and has opened himself fully to them. Nothing has been hidden (II Corinthians 4:2). In this relationship, Paul has not restrained himself in giving his all. If there is any restraint it has been on the Corinthians’ part. There has not been equality of affection (II Corinthians 12:15). Speaking as a father gently reproving his children, Paul tells them they need to be as open with him as he is to them (I Corinthians 4:14).
No commonality with unbelievers (II Corinthians 6:14-16)
There ought to be an equality of binding love and concern between brethren. But Paul is concerned that the Corinthians are giving more of themselves to unbelievers and thus are becoming unequally yoked with them. The concept comes from the Old Testament law, which required that oxen and donkeys not be yoked together (Deuteronomy 22:10).
Some immediately see Paul’s warning as it applies to marriage, but Paul has far more things in mind than just marriage (Ephesians 5:7,11; I Corinthians 15:33; I Timothy 5:22). There is no commonality between believers and unbelievers. Our views are just too different (I Thessalonians 5:5).
To prove his point, Paul lists things that have no common ground:
- Righteousness and lawlessness
- Light and darkness
- Christ and Satan
- Believers and unbelievers
- The Temple of God and idolatry
The word “Belial” is the transliteration of a Hebrew word for “worthless” or “unprofitable” and is one of the names for Satan.
Literary Device: Lists with Synonyms
Lists can be dry, but when the action word has a number of synonyms, varying the verb gives more interest and gives greater meaning. Paul talks about being
- Unequally yoked
- Common portion
Each word is talking about the same thing. Each could have been used in any of the pairs. But by distributing them, they each add to the idea being expressed.
- In what ways can Christians tie themselves up with unbelievers?
- Should Christians have no connections with unbelievers?
- If separation is needed in general, what does that say about marriages with unbelievers?
- Is this forbidding marriages with unbelievers? (Review I Corinthians 7:12-17).
Fellowship with God (II Corinthians 6:16-7:1)
Latching on to the last idea, Paul reminds the Corinthians once again that they are the Temple of God (I Corinthians 3:16; 6:19). The Jews understood the need to keep the things belonging to God holy. Paul gives a blended quote found repeatedly in the Old Testament (Exodus 29:45; Leviticus 26:12; Jeremiah 31:33; 32:38; Ezekiel 11:20; 37:26-27; Zechariah 8:8). We often think it an honor to be able to be among the rich and powerful. God is offering the ultimate honor. If we keep ourselves pure, He will live with us and walk through life with us.
With such a promise, Paul alludes to another quote from Isaiah 52:11 to urge Christians to separate themselves from those who are unclean in their living (Revelation 18:4). Paul gave a similar warning in Ephesians 5:1-14. In separating ourselves from the wicked influences of the world, God offers us the ultimate in relationships: to be a Father to us (Galatians 3:26; 4:5-7; Ephesians 1:5; I John 3:1-2). This harkens back to God’s promise to David concerning Solomon (II Samuel 7:14).
Therefore, having such great promises, Paul urges everyone to remove sin from their lives and perfect holiness (I Peter 1:13-17).
Fellowship with Paul (II Corinthians 7:2-4)
Returning to his prior point (II Corinthians 6:11-13), Paul asks the Corinthians to open their hearts to him and the other preachers; that is, to find a place for affection for them in their hearts. There was no need for hostility seeing that they had harmed, corrupted, or cheated no one (Acts 20:33; II Corinthians 12:17).
Paul is not making this plea as a way to condemn the Corinthians; his plea is borne from a desire for them. He holds them affectionately in his heart, and he would like them to reciprocate. And problems in fellowship is definitely not on his account. He lives and is willing to die for them (John 15:13). This is particularly interesting as the Corinthians’ behavior has not been particularly lovable to most people. Paul expressed similar affection for the Philippians (Philippians 1:7, 20, 24; 2:17-18) and the Thessalonians (I Thessalonians 2:8).
He has been speaking plainly to them because he is treating them as dear friends (some versions translate this as confidence). Paul takes pride in the Corinthians (I Corinthians 1:4; II Corinthians 1:14; 9:4). He gains comfort from them and he overflows with joy, even in his sufferings (Philippians 2:17; Colossians 1:24).