My Crude Notes on:
II Corinthians 6:11-7:1
We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. 13 In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also. 14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
17 Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
18 and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.” 7:1 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
As the Apostle Paul works his way into chapter six, he begins to defend or at least give credence to the legitimacy of his apostleship. He assures that in his affection, servant hood and apostleship he has never held back from the saints in Corinth, but he spoke freely (pointing back perhaps to places like II Cor. 4:2), we see this heart in Paul time and again through His ministry (Acts 20:19-21;24-27).
Paul showing in the first ten verses the depth of his care and affection goes on to basically say “Hey, I have done my part, how about a little love.” It doesn’t say, but perhaps the folks in Corinth were a little skeptical of Paul or perhaps a bit timid after the hard words that were dealt over the situation of immorality in I Corinthians. We don’t know, but it seems possible as later in chapter 7 he will go on to rejoice over their repentance. Whatever, the case Paul opens his arms and admonished them to not restrict their affections.
It is interesting that after saying this, in chapter seven Paul continues in sort of the same vein as the first part of chapter six, but before he continues he takes what appears to be a sudden detour. 6:13:7:2, appear to flow together, but perhaps remembering the carnality that the Corinthians struggled with urged Paul to insert a sincere caution to the church, lest they misunderstand the idea of throwing their arms and hearts wide open. Let take a look at that “detour” more closely and then we will open up for discussion.
Paul is very concerned about yoking or joining with unbelievers in the church and the defiling effect it would have on their hearts. He reminds them of the new covenant promises and the implication of them, that we are the temple of the living God. He instructs them, in light of these promises, in the pursuit of holiness so that they may endure.
Verse fourteen is an often quoted verse. The meaning of it and the following verses are something that there are various view points about. Within the community of people doing the work we are called to do in this part of the world there are often strong opinions about this verse, varying again in wide degrees of practical application. Whether these verses apply primarily to business or to marriage or to the local church and to what degree and combination of these and perhaps others. So we must seek to know from the word why Paul interjects into the flow of his letter, to speak these serious words.
For what it is worth; my application:
- This is not speaking about being removed from the world, as in insulating ourselves from the lost. For we know the opposite is true. Jesus said “You are the light of the world; a city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden”, “Let your let so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven”, “Go, therefore….” “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one…”. Jesus’ example of being a friend of sinners & the book of Acts, etc.
- I do not believe this is speaking directly to secular situations, such as being partnered with a Muslim to start a business in this part of the world. However, it could apply to this in essence if such a partnership would lead to sinful compromises, thus bringing shame to Christ and being counter-productive in our purpose to be light and to be messengers of the Gospel. We should “…not join them in the same flood of debauchery” as it says in 1 Peter 4:4.
- In the context and considering the history of the Corinthian church I believe this is speaking specifically in the context of the “ecclesia”, the local church. In the end of this letter, Paul instructs them to “exam themselves to see if they be in the faith”. In 1 Corinthians Paul had laid out for them the harsh degree to which sin should be dealt with in the church, though such harshness was (as we see in chapter seven) for the express purpose that God may bring about repentance in the heart of the one caught up in sin. Also, supporting this is that the passage is ended, not with a call to seek out those unbelievers that they were yoked with, but he says “let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of the body….”
- Finally, I believe this was placed here because unless sin is dealt with in the church and we partner ourselves in ministry with unbelievers, unity and the ability to have unrestricted affection will be impossible. For such unity and affection can only be of the Spirit and will not be found when the temple of the Spirit is defiled.