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 6:11-7:1

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 7, 2017


A Summary of 2 Corinthians 6:11-18~St. Paul now begs the Corinthians to exhibit towards him the great love which he has shown them. And since charity is proved by deeds, he admonishes them to shun the vices of paganism, so repugnant to the sanctity of Christianity. They who have God for their father ought to keep themselves clean from all defilement.

2 Cor 6:11. Our mouth is open to you, O ye Corinthians, our heart is enlarged.

Before giving the severe admonition that follows in verses 14-18, the Apostle explains (verses 11-13) why he has spoken so freely to the Corinthians (verses 3-10) of the labors and sufferings of himself and his companions. It is because he loves them. His heart is enlarged towards them, and he speaks freely and frankly, as a friend to a friend. In spite of their treatment of him, his heart goes out to them.

O ye Corinthians is simply “Corinthians” in Greek. This is the only place in which he addresses them by name (cf. Gal. 3:1; Phil 4:15).

2 Cor 6:12. You are not straitened in us, but in your own bowels you are straitened.

You are not straitened in us, but in your, etc., i.e., there is plenty of room for you in my big heart; but in your heart there is no room for me; you are too full of suspicion and resentment.

Bowels here includes the heart, lungs and liver, rather than the bowels proper. The expressions heart and bowels both meant the seat of the affections (Plum.).

2 Cor 6:13. But having the same recompense, (I speak as to my children), be you also enlarged.

Having is not in the Greek. The sense of the verse is: By way of exchange … let your heart also be enlarged, i.e., reciprocate my love for you.

My children. The term here employed, τέκνοις (=teknois), is more affectionate than υἱόί (= huioi). Children should love their parents. The Apostle now returns to the thought of verse 1, and he tells the Corinthians practically how they can prove their fidelity to God and their love towards himself.

In the Vulgate habentes should be omitted.

2 Cor 6:14. Bear not the yoke with unbelievers. For what participation hath justice with injustice? Or what fellowship hath light with darkness?

Verses 14-18-vii. 1 are regarded by some Rationalists as an interpolation, or as belonging to a lost letter of St. Paul’s. See Introduction, III.

Bear not the yoke. Rather, “Bear not unequal yoke” (ἑτεροζυγοῦντες = heterozygountes). There is an allusion here to Deut. 22:10, where it is forbidden to yoke animals of a different kind: “Thou shalt not plough with an ox and an ass together.” The Apostle means that believers and unbelievers belong to different classes, and should not, therefore, have fellowship, one with the other; that is, Christian justice, i.e., righteousness (δικαιοσύνῃ = dikaiosyne), should not be mingled with pagan injustice, i.e., iniquity or lawlessness (ἀνομίᾳ = anomia); neither should light, i.e., the teachings of Christianity, be joined to the darkness, i.e., the ignorance, of paganism.

In the Vulgate jugum should be modified by inaequale, to agree with the Greek.

2 Cor 6:15. And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath the faithful with the unbeliever?

Belial is usually read Beliar. It is a Hebrew word meaning, primarily, uselessness or worthlessness; its secondary meaning is extreme wickedness. Thus it was understood in the Old Testament (Deut. 13:13; Nahum 1:15; Job 34:18); but toward the dawn of the Christian era it came to be a designation for Satan. So the Fathers commonly interpret it.

2 Cor 6:16. And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God; as God saith : I will dwell in them, and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

The Apostle now says that Christians are the temple of God, and that they therefore should not suffer themselves to be profaned and desecrated by heathen vices and profanations.

You are the temple, etc., should be “We are the temple,” etc., according to the best MSS.

To prove that Christians are the temple of God St. Paul quotes the LXX of Lev. 26:12 with slight variation, and with a recollection of Ezek 37:27. The words quoted were originally spoken of God’s dwelling among the Israelites in the Tabernacle (Ex. 40:34), but the divine dwelling is far more perfect among Christians (1 Cor. iii. 16; vi. 19; Eph. ii. 21). The Apostle is emphasizing God’s fidelity to His Christian people.

The Vulgate vos estis should read nos sumus, in accordance with the best Greek.

2 Cor 6:17. Wherefore, Go out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing:

Wherefore, Go out, etc. The meaning is that Christians must be separated at once and decisively from the corrupt practices and lives of the heathen. The quotation is freely from the LXX of Isa 52:11, which literally was an exhortation to the Jews to leave Babylon as soon as the captivity was ended, and to hold themselves aloof from the contamination of paganism.

2 Cor 6:18. And I will receive you; and I will be a Father to you; and you shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

This verse appears to be a combination of several passages of the Old Testament. The substance of it is found in Jer. 32:37, 38; 31:9; Deut. 14:1, 2; 32:6, 9. The Apostle is pointing out God’s fatherly care of all the faithful. The mention of daughters shows how all- embracing is this divine solicitude, and is especially intended to give woman, so degraded at Corinth, her proper and dignified place in the Christian family.


2 Cor 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of the flesh and of the spirit, perfecting sanctification in the fear of God.

As heirs to the glorious promises just mentioned (2 Cor 6:16-18) Christians should cleanse themselves from every kind of defilement of the flesh and of the spirit, i.e., they should be free from all impurity, gluttony, pride, idolatry and the like (1 Cor. vii. 34), in order to perfect the sanctification begun in Baptism.

In the fear of God. Christians cannot avoid sins of the flesh and of the spirit, neither can they attain to perfect holiness of life, unless they have a salutary fear of God. “Love begets security, which sometimes causes negligence, but he who fears is always solicitous” (St. Thomas).


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