Thursday, May 6, 2010

Suffering And Separating For God's Glory: 2 Corinthians 6:1-18

Text: 2 Corinthians 6:1-18

Theme: Glory in Christ, not the flesh

1. By enduring weakness
     H. Suffering commends God's servants (6:1-13)

2. By separating from unbelievers (6:14 - 7:16)

False teachers apparently labeled Paul's message and ministry "weak", thereby estranging the Corinthians from both. Paul's main concern was that they not receive the gospel of grace in vain. To this end, chapter 6 shows how outward weakness commends a minister as a servant of God (1-13), and calls upon believers to separate from unbelievers (14-18).

Suffering commends God's servants (1-13). Paul urged the Corinthians not to receive the grace of God in vain (1). If the false teachers were Judaizers, they taught a gospel of salvation at least partly through human strength or merit. If the Corinthians thought Paul's suffering meant his message of salvation by grace apart from works was weak, they were in danger of believing a "vain" or empty gospel, since adding a single human merit to that of faith dooms one to hell (Galatians 1:9). Thus, Paul showed how "afflictions", "hardships, distresses" (as well as other "weaknesses") and virtues (such as "purity" and "patience") characterize a true servant of Christ. Suffering commends God's servants, and the message of salvation by grace apart from human strength or merit.

Believers should separate from unbelievers (14-18). 1 Corinthians chapter 5 clarifies that believers do not have to avoid all association with immoral people of this world, "for then you would have to go out of the world" (10). Rather, they were to avoid partnership with them in immorality (cf. Ephesians 4-5), association with "so called believers" who practiced immorality, and, as the context of 2 Cor. 6 seems to indicate, separate from anyone who taught a gospel of salvation through human strength or merit.

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