The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 15, 2013


A Summary of 2 Corinthians 6:1-10~In verse 20 of the preceding chapter St. Paul had exhorted the Corinthians, especially those who were not yet Christians, to be reconciled to God. He now extends that exhortation directly to the faithful who, while they have received God’s friendship, must be careful not to lose it, if they wish to be saved. They have before them the life of the Apostles, who, in their way of living, in the virtues they practice, and in the vicissitudes they encounter, never allow themselves to be disturbed or moved from their faithfulness.

2 Cor 6:1. And we helping do exhort you, that you receive not the grace of God in vain.

And we helping, etc. Better, “But we co-operating” (συνεργουντες δε = synergountes de), i.e., we Apostles, working together with God (cf. 2 Cor 5:20), do exhort, i.e., do entreat, that you remember your obligation of being faithful to the grace which God has given you in converting you from paganism to Christianity.

2 Cor 6:2. For he saith: In an accepted time have I heard thee; and in the day of salvation have I helped thee. Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

This verse is parenthetical. Citing the LXX of Isaiah 49:8 the Apostle now gives a reason why the Corinthians should heed his exhortation without delay.

For he saith, i.e., God says in Isaiah, etc. The Prophet represents God as addressing His Servant, the Messiah, and through Him His people, assuring Him that His prayers and labors for the salvation of mankind have been heard. Commenting briefly on the words quoted, the Apostle says that the Messianic time spoken of by the Prophet has come, and that therefore everyone should profit by the graces now given, because, if they are abused, there will be no hope of salvation, since another Messiah shall not come. “We must labor now, while still the eleventh hour is left” (St. Chrys.).

2 Cor 6:3. Giving no offence to any man, that our ministry be not blamed:

After the parenthesis in verse 2 the thought goes back to verse 1, and giving no offence, etc., follows immediately upon we helping, etc. (verse 1). Hence the sense is: The Apostles, St. Paul and his companions, give no offence in anything (εν μηδενι = en medeni), i.e., they avoid everything in the exercise of their ministry, and in their dealings with men, that might bring any blemish on their profession and thus keep people from the Gospel. If a preacher of the Gospel leads a life that is out of harmony with his preaching, he gives occasion to men of despising the sacred ministry.

That our ministry. Better, “That the ministry,” etc.

The nemini of the Vulgate should be in nullo.

2 Cor 6:4. But in all things let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in tribulations, in necessities, in distresses,
2 Cor 6:5. In stripes, in prisons, in seditions, in labours, in watchings, in fastings,

But in all things let us exhibit, etc., should be, according to the Greek: “But in everything commending ourselves,” etc. St. Paul is continuing the description of the Apostles’ conduct, as in verses 1 and 3.

Ministers (Vulg., ministros) is nominative in Greek (διακονια), agreeing with the subject of the clause, (we) commending, etc., and the sense is: The Apostles, as ministers of God, commending themselves in much patience, etc.

In much patience, etc., i.e., by much patience, the preposition  εν (“in”) being used to indicate instrumentality. Nine classes of things which tried the patience of the Apostles are now mentioned in these two verses; the first three are general, the others particular. Of the last six, three came unsought from without, three are voluntarily assumed.

Tribulations . . . necessities . . . distresses, i.e., a gradation of evils, increasing in pressure.

Stripes refers to the scourgings or beatings of 2 Cor 11:23-25; Acts 16:23.

Prisons. We are told of only one imprisonment of St. Paul previous to this letter, and that was at Philippi, but there must have been others (2 Cor 11:23).

In seditions, i.e., in tumults (Acts 19:23 ff.).

In labours, etc. The Apostle now mentions three classes of troubles which were voluntarily undertaken. Labours, i.e., things that cause weariness and fatigue; watchings, i.e., things interfering with sleep, such as traveling, praying, anxiety and the like; fastings, i.e., voluntary abstinences from food and drink. For other New Testament references to fasting and its lawfulness, see 2 Cor 11:27; Matt 4:2; Matt 9:15; Acts 13:3; Acts 14:22.

2 Cor 6:6. In chastity, in knowledge, in long-suffering, in sweetness, in the Holy Ghost, in charity unfeigned,
2 Cor 6:7. In the word of truth, in the power of God; by the armour of justice on the right hand and on the left;

From the ways in which patience was especially exercised the Apostle now passes to nine other practices by which he and his companions commended themselves and their ministry.

In chastity, i.e., in general purity of soul and holiness of life.

In knowledge, i.e., in the wisdom of the Gospel, or in the practice of religious truth, or in prudence.

In long-suffering, i.e., in forebearance of injuries.

In sweetness, i.e., in kindness towards others.

In the Holy Ghost. This likely means that the Holy Spirit is the source of the foregoing virtues, and He is mentioned, like the “power of God” below, as the closing member of a series.

The word of truth perhaps does not refer to the Gospel, but to the general sincerity of the Apostles’ utterances.

The power of God, i.e., the special divine assistance which accompanied the whole Apostolic ministry, and which was particularly manifested in the miracles of the Apostles.

By the armour of justice, etc. The preposition changes here from εν (“in”) to δια (“by”). The Apostle probably means that he and his companions made use of all the weapons of justice, or of righteousness, having on the right hand weapons of offence, i.e., virtues by which justice is promoted, and on the left weapons of defense, i.e., virtues by which justice is maintained.

2 Cor 6:8. By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet known;
2 Cor 6:9. As dying, and behold we live; as chastised, and not killed;
2 Cor 6:10. As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as needy, yet enriching many; as having nothing, and possessing all things.

In a series of antitheses St. Paul now shows how, under all conditions of life, he and his companions conducted themselves as became their high office and ministry. No external condition could make them unfaithful to their duty. When they were honored by God, they were not puffed up; when dishonored by their enemies, they were not discouraged. In their practice of virtue they were not influenced by reports bad or good. Although called deceivers by their enemies, they ever spoke the truth; although they were said to be unknown and insignificant teachers, they were known throughout the Church (1 Cor 13:12; 1 Cor 14:38). While they were always in a dying state, i.e., exposed to death (2 Cor 4:10-11), they were constantly being revived spiritually; while they were chastised, i.e., chastened by God, they were preserved from death (iv. 8 ff.). Their enemies regarded them as sorrowful, but they were in reality filled with joy (Acts 5:41 ff.). They were derided as paupers and beggars, but they were all the while enriched with the treasures of grace (1 Cor 1:5; cf. Mark 10:27-30).


One Response to “Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 6:1-10”

  1. […] Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (2 Cor 6:1-10). […]

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