A. We Are the Temple of God (6:14–18)
1. God’s Commands and Promises (6:14–16)
a. The Command to Separate (v. 14–16a)
b. The Promise of Fellowship (v. 16b–16f)
2. Our Welcoming Father (6:17–18)
a. Leave (v. 17a-c)
b. Welcome Home (v. 17d–18)
B. Bringing Holiness to Completion (7:1)
2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1 comes at the end of a lengthy defense of Paul’s apostleship, stretching from 2:14–7:4.
- 6:14–7:1 is framed by two sections (6:11–13 and 7:2–4) which consist of Paul’s requests for the Corinthians to make room in their hearts for Paul and his associates (6:13; 7:2):
A 6.11–13, “widen your hearts”
A’ 7.2–4, “Make room in your hearts”
- In 7:5 Paul picks up where he left off in 2:13 about his uncomfortable travel plans and describes the joy and comfort he experienced when he met with Titus and heard the good news of the Corinthians’ repentance that came as a result of Paul’s previous tearful letter (2:1–4; 7:8).
- 2 Cor 8–9: Paul encourages the Corinthians to give to the Jerusalem church knowing that God will fill them with many blessings.
- 2 Cor 10-13: Paul pulls no punches combating the influence of the false teachers among the Corinthians. He shows Christ’s glory by explaining to the Corinthians that he has not been a burden to them out of love for them, nor has he harassed them or cheated them in anyway.
- Finally, in 13.10, if he must, when he arrives in Corinth for the third time, he will spare no one who rejects his God-given gospel and authority.1
How Does 6.14-7.1 Fit?
G. K. Beale keenly points out, “This is not a general exhortation to separate from the world; rather, Paul likely has in mind that the readers are to separate from the world by not evaluating Paul’s apostleship according to the unbelieving standards of the world, as the preceding context has also focused upon.” While the unbelieving world did remain outside of the church, Paul here “viewed it as a force within the church (cf. 13:5) against whose influence believers needed to be on guard.” Rather than being an interruption, 6:14-7:1 “anticipates the main opposition to be elaborated on in chapters 10–13.” “Paul shows that the situation is so serious that their very salvation is at stake.”2
Some scholars don’t think Paul wrote this section. One in particular (i.e., Mitzi Minor) leaves this section out of her commentary completely. If not Pauline, why comment on it at all? But, if it is Pauline, then we’re missing out on a lot of theology in this section. This is more than a simple, “Don’t be married to an unbelievers.” Paul has Christ’s bride in view!
1 In my paper, I didn’t have space to touch on arguments against Pauline authorship of 6:14–7:1. These arguments include the number of hapax legomena (terms which occur only once in the New Testament) Paul uses (ranging from six to nine) in this short passage, the amount of terms found in Qumran texts, and stylistic inconsistencies with Paul’s other letters. Pauline authorship will be argued for in the way I present how this section “hooks” with the rest of the letter.
2 Quotes from G. K Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, 716-717.