2 Corinthians 6:3-10

We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed.

But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses,

in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings;

by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love,

by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,

by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true;

as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed;

10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

Stam includes 18 pages of commentary on this passage (pgs 136-153). The following excerpts are from him. I only added a few words to make connections and altered the format some for consistency.

Verse 2 of chapter 6 is a parenthesis, hence verse 3 refers back to verse 1. He urges the unbelievers at the service: “Receive not the grace of God in vain,” i.e., “Do not let our words fall on deaf ears.” But he says this only to awaken them, not to “offend” them, for this would hardly speak well of his ministry. Indeed, in verse 4 he expresses his desire as to this: “in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God.”

Mark well that in verses 4-5 every phrase begins with the preposition “in”; in verses 6-8a every phrase begins with the preposition “by,” and in verses 8b-10 every phrase begins with the preposition “as.” These three different prepositions represent three different shades of meaning.

Before verse 6 the apostle deals with his personal circumstances in his service for Christ, while from verses 6-8 he explains how he copes with these circumstances. Then, in verses 9-10 he relates the blessed results!

in afflictionsActs 18:6-13

in distresses — The Greek [word] denotes “to be cramped in space, to feel pressure from every side.” Acts 19:23-41; 2 Corinthians 1:8

in stripes — We believe that this punishment was inflicted with a common whip, which left one sore or bloody stripe at each stroke. Some have interpreted the words “in stripes” to refer to beatings with rods. But then how shall we account for Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 11:24-25, where he distinguishes these “stripes” from the punishment inflicted by rods: “Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes, save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods … “

Why “forty stripes save one”? the answer is found in the Mosaic Law concerning such punishment: “And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number. Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee” (Deuteronomy 25:2-3). Thus the Law of Moses protected its criminals from being held in utter contempt, defending their human dignity as the image, albeit the fallen image, of God.

in imprisonments — Thus [Paul] was imprisoned more often, perhaps much more often, than appears in the record of Scripture.”

in tumults — uproars, riots. Without doubt the most notable of these was the uproar at Ephesus, which had taken place but recently [before he wrote this letter to the Corinthians]. He writes about this in 2 Corinthians 1:8, where he says: “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life.” See also Acts 19:23-41.

in labors — See 2 Thessalonians 3:8-9.

in fastings — It seems doubtful … that he would here be referring to any voluntary religious fast. He doubtless refers to the many times that he either forbore eating, perhaps for the sake of others, or lacked food.

In verse 6 through the words “good report” in verse 8 the subject is how [Paul] coped with these adverse circumstances. Paul is telling how he coped with the difficult circumstances in which he found himself.

How did Paul cope with his adversities?

by purity — both morally and physically

by knowledge — by intelligently proclaiming the Word

by longsuffering — both under provocation and with the behavior of others

by kindness — by a gentle temper

by the Holy Spirit — Paul often emphasizes this

by love unfeigned — love sincere and true, not superficial or a lack of love covered with a deceptive veneer

by the Word of truth — Often in Paul’s epistles we find the fact emphasized that the gospel and the Word of God are truth

by the power of God — for “the preaching of the cross [Paul’s gospel] is unto them that perish foolishness, but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18), “For … the gospel of Christ … is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth …” (Romans 1:16).

by the armor of righteousness, on the right hand and on the left — [perhaps referring to offensive and defensive weapons]

by honor and dishonor — whether he was praised and applauded or despised and belittled, he sought to use both for the glory of God.

by evil report and good report — whether falsely accused or justly dealt with, it was his great object that Christ be honored by his response.

Here (v.8b) the Greek preposition itself is changed, clearly indicating a change in subject, a change which demanded a consistent change in preposition. “As” describes the glorious results of the way in which [Paul] had coped with his afflictions, and “as” is a distinctly descriptive word. 

We should also observe that the connective, “and” appears in most of the pairs in this section, but for a very special reason. “And” can be used for simple addition, as in “Paul and Barnabas.” It can also be used for identification as in “God and our Father,” indicating that God is, or is also, “our Father.” In such cases it is sometimes rendered “God, even our Father.”

Finally, it can be used as here, for a sort of emphasis, as in “having nothing and possessing all things.” Some have supplied the word “yet,” or the phrase, “at the same time.” 

as deceivers and true — In 2 Corinthians 12:16 the apostle says to these same Corinthians, “Being crafty, I caught you with guile.” Ah but what honorable, loving “craft.” Indeed, in this same epistle, to these same people, he writes with deep sincerity: “[We] have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:2).

as being unknown and well-known — It was what [Paul] said that made him so well known.

as dying and behold we live — Paul had been written off many a time. “For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh” (2 Corinthians 4:11).

as chastened and not killed — Paul knew ” … whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.  … for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Hebrews 12:6-7).

as sorrowful, but always rejoicing — Certain it is that believers have gone through deep sorrow while at the same time experiencing an undercurrent of profound joy.

as poor, but many enriching — Contrasting the one man with nothing and “the many” he has made rich. See Colossians 1:27.

as having nothing, and yet possessing all things — Poor in this world’s goods, [and] at the same time, rich in spiritual assets.

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