Tag Archives: 2 Corinthians

Separation Anxiety II

Detailed Outline

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)


Context

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”

B  6.14–7.1

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).
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  • 2 Cor 8–9: Paul encourages the Corinthians to give to the Jerusalem church knowing that God will fill them with many blessings.
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  • 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.
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  • 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!
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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.

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Separation Anxiety I

Last semester in my Biblical Hermeneutics class I had to choose a 10-15 verses from any part of the Bible and write a 10-15 page paper. I had to figure out the thesis, explain the meaning and form of the text, and why it’s important to us today. Having taught 2 Corinthians twice in Bible college, I knew immediately which I would choose: 2 Corinthians 6.14–7.1, a highly contested passage of Paul’s with a number of scholars believing that Paul didn’t write this section. Instead, they think it was written by another author later on (see below). I’m no scholar, but it’s incredible some of the things people come up with.

This passage is only six verses, and I ended up writing 18 pages. It was probably my favorite paper that I’ve ever had to write simply because it dealt with 2 Corinthians. Here is my broad outline. I’ll give another slightly-more-expanded one next time.

General Outline

A. We Are the Temple of God (6:14–18)

A. God’s Commands and Promises (6:14–16)

B. Our Welcoming Father (6:17–18)

B. Bringing Holiness to Completion (7:1)

One reason I enjoy 2 Corinthians so much is that it’s so different. Many of Paul’s letters are fairly straightforward, though nonetheless difficult (per 2 Pet 3.15–16). My first memory reading 2 Corinthians was in Bible College (I was a late bloomer). After I finished I was more confused and knew less about the book than I did before reading it. This began my gradual appreciation for Paul’s “weighty” letter. I hope some of what I have learned comes out in these posts. Enjoy.

The title for my paper Separation Anxiety actually came from an old Spiderman game I played as a kid. In this section of 2 Corinthians, Paul commands the Corinthian church to separate themselves from their beloved false teachers. This separation may include rejecting in their own homes churches who do not repent and who remain with the false teachers (6.14a). After giving reasons the church reasons to separate (6.14b–16a), Paul gives the ground for their need to separate, commands from God to separate, and ends with more promises that will accrue if they obey (6.16b–18). Because God is a Father who can be trusted, and because his promises are good, The Corinthians should cleanse themselves of all defilement and strive to live the life that is pleasing to their Father (7.1; cf. 5.9).

I haven’t figured out how long this series will go, but you can take it in bites while you munch on your cereal. It may not even have time to get soggy before you finish reading.


Introduction

In 2 Corinthians 5:13 the apostle Paul says, “For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.”1 Many scholars have taken Paul, or, rather, his second canonical letter to the Corinthians, to have been “beside itself,” having been written by different hands and compiled in a disoriented way.2 One can add to that some who do not believe 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1 was even authored by Paul, but instead was inserted at a later point.3 In my paper I will examine the text of 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1 and explain the original meaning of the text, draw literary and thematic connections from 6:14–7:1 and where it is situated in the letter, and build the reader’s confidence that this section was written to the Corinthian church by Paul, “an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God” (1:1).

After looking briefly at the context surrounding 6:14–7:1, I will examine Paul’s argument in three parts. In 6:14–16, because the Corinthians are God’s temple, they are not to be in fellowship with unbelievers, namely, the false teachers who oppose Paul and any who side with them. In 6:17–18, the Corinthian believers are to separate from the unclean knowing that God will welcome them as his sons and daughters. In 7:1, as a result of these promises, the Corinthians should cleanse themselves, be holy as God is holy, and fear and obey the Lord.


1According to Mark Seifrid, it would be as “if he spoke as one insane” (The Second Letter to the Corinthians [PNTC], 242).

2 See, for instance, Furnish, who provides a short overview of scholars and their arguments; Victor Paul Furnish, (II Corinthians. The Anchor Bible, 32–33).

3 Mitzi L. Minor (2 Corinthians [S&HBC], 132).

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The Closing of 2 Corinthians

“The fourth and final major section of Paul’s letters—the closing—is the ‘Rodney Dangerfield’ section of the apostle’s correspondence: it doesn’t get any respect,” says Jeffrey Weima in his new book Paul the Ancient Letter Writer (165). Perhaps it’s because pastors, church members, and daily devotional readers are just ready to finish the book by the time they get to the closing section that they don’t want to work at just how the closing section finishes off Paul’s letter. Perhaps.

As he does in the rest of his book, Weima “recognizes that the letter closing, like the other major sections of Paul’s letters, is a carefully and cleverly constructed unit” (165). The closing section intentionally recalls themes and echoes concerns from the letter as one last fitting reminder before Paul finishes his letter. “Consequently, the letter closing potentially has great interpretive value, providing important clues for understanding the key issues and themes addressed in the body of the letter, as well as our understanding of the apostle’s readers and their historical situation” (165).

2 Corinthians 13.11–14

11 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you.

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

v. 11

Finally, brothers, rejoice.

13.9a, “For we are glad [“we rejoice] when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for.”

Paul rejoices when the corinthians are strong, but this word also rehearses Paul’s earlier statements of joy over the Corinthians (1.24; 2.3; 6.10; 7. 4, 7, 9, 13, 16; 8.2).

Aim for restoration,

Paul prays that his divided congregation would be healed and made a unified community, something that has been a battle for a long time (1 Cor 1.10; 12-14; 2 Cor 5.12; 6.14).

Comfort one another,

This reiterates a host of Paul’s language all throughout the letter. His entire letter oozes of “comfort” and “encouragement” in the face of suffering. George Guthrie cites the following passages (1.37; 2.78; 5.20; 6.1; 7.413; 8.4, 6, 17; 9.5; 10.1; 12.8, 18; 13.11).

Agree with one another, live in peace;

These both repeat the command to “aim for restoration” only at different angles. Living in peace and unity has been almost impossible for the Corinthians, but these relate directly to Paul’s concerns over the “quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder” among them (12.20).

And the God of love and peace will be with you.

This line is Paul’s regular peace benediction (Rom 16.20; Gal 6.16; 2 Thess 3.16), only now he has included “love” into this benediction (the only other occurrence is in Eph 6.23). Weima says, “It can hardly be doubted that ‘love’ has been deliberately added to the peace benediction so that this closing formula better echoes and reinforces the [entire] letter’s appeal for love and harmony to characterize relations within this fractious church“ (192).

v. 12

Greet one another with a holy kiss.

This greeting, an actually kiss of some kind, was meant to challenge them to lower the defenses they have set up against each other, to remove any hostility, “and to exhibit the oneness that they share as fellow members of the body of Christ” (192).

v. 13

All the saints greet you.

Reminds the Corinthians one last time that they are not the only members of God’s family on the earth. They are not the solo church. They are only one part of Christ’s church. Paul began his letter by saying,
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1.1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia:

1.11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

9.1 Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints, 2 for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them.
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The Corinthian has a whole family surrounding them. The Corinthian church was an established church (though not without their major problems), and the surrounding churches were looking to them! Paul reminds them, “You’re not alone. Your character is seen by all. If you defect to the false teachers, you will not have these saints as your family (cf. 6.18).”

v. 14

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Weima, “These supplementary wishes of ‘love’ and ‘fellowship’ fit the thrust of the rest of the letter… peace and harmony must exist within the Corinthian church” (192). The repetition of “love,” “comfort,” encouragement,” and “fellowship” would be the final sounding of the gong  in their ears that has been echoing all throughout Paul’s letter.

Conclusion

Will the Corinthians reject Paul’s divisive opponents and seek reconciliation between their own? If they have fellowship with the Holy Spirit, and if it was “in one Spirit” that they “were all baptized into one body” (1 Cor 12.13), there should be harmony among them. But if they don’t separate from the false teachers, and if they have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality they have practiced, if they examine themselves and fail to meet the test, they will no longer have a Father who will welcome them (2 Cor 7.18) nor an apostle to weep for them (2.2, 4).

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