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2Corinthians 6:1-13

Thursday Evening Bible Study

November 13, 2014


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid to die? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Target 3300 words

Paul had spent nearly three years in Ephesus, during which he wrote his first letter to the Corinthians.

Paul’s stay in Ephesus ended abruptly when a riot broke out in the city because of how the Christian revival was affecting the business of those who made idols.

After the riot, Paul headed up north to Macedonia.

The year is AD 56, almost a year after Paul had written his first letter to the Corinthians.

Paul ended the last chapter talking about reconciliation, in how God has made it possible that we could be made right with Him. On the cross, God took my sins, putting them on Jesus, and took Jesus’ righteousness, crediting it to my account.

6:1-10 Marks of Ministry

:1 We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain.

:1 workers togethersunergeo – to work together, help in work, be partner in labour

:1 not to receive the grace of God in vain

It is possible to be exposed to the kindness of God in providing forgiveness, and it not have any effect on you.

It happens when you say “no” to God.

:2 For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

:2 In an acceptable time I have heard you

Paul is moving from talking about being reconciled with God, to urging his readers to get right with God now.

Paul is quoting Isaiah 49:8

(Isaiah 49:8 NKJV) Thus says the Lord: “In an acceptable time I have heard You, And in the day of salvation I have helped You; I will preserve You and give You As a covenant to the people, To restore the earth, To cause them to inherit the desolate heritages;

acceptabledektos – accepted, acceptable

:2 now is the accepted time

acceptedeuprosdektos – well received, accepted, acceptable

It’s the same word as “acceptable” from the Isaiah quote, but it adds two prefixes (eu + pros).
When you add a prefix to a Greek word, it adds intensity to the word.
“Now is the extremely acceptable time” to say “yes” to God’s grace.

There is a sense of urgency to what Paul is saying.


Today is the day


Dwight L. Moody, by his own admission, made a mistake on the eighth of October 1871 -- a mistake he determined never to repeat.
He had been preaching in the city of Chicago. That particular night drew his largest audience yet. His message was "What will you do then with Jesus who is called the Christ?"
By the end of the service, he was tired. He concluded his message with a presentation of the gospel and a concluding statement: "Now I give you a week to think that over. And when we come together again, you will have opportunity to respond."
A soloist began to sing. But before the final note, the music was drowned out by clanging bells and wailing sirens screaming through the streets. The great Chicago Fire was blazing. In the ashen aftermath, hundreds were dead and over a hundred thousand were homeless.
Without a doubt, some who heard Moody's message had died in the fire. He reflected remorsefully that he would have given his right arm before he would ever give an audience another week to think over the message of the gospel.


There is an ancient story about three demons who were arguing over the best way to destroy the Christian mission in the world. The first demon says, “Let’s tell all the Christians there is no heaven. Take away the reward incentive and the mission will collapse.” The second demon says, “Let’s tell all the Christians there is no hell. Take away the fear of punishment and the mission will collapse.” The third demon says, “There is one better way. Let’s tell all the Christians that there is no hurry” and all three immediately say, “That’s it! All we have to do is tell them there’s no hurry and the whole Christian enterprise will collapse.”

Franklin Graham was recently (1/14/15) on a panel with Sean Hannity on Fox News answering questions about radical Islam. Listen to Franklin’s first words in his response…

Video: Franklin Graham speaking to Muslims

Today is the day. Take the opportunity to share today. We don’t know if there will be a tomorrow.

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

:3 We give no offense

offenseproskope an occasion of stumbling; to do something which causes others to stumble; i.e. leads them into error or sin

Paul wants to be careful not to do anything in his life that would cause people to walk away from God.

You do have to be careful with this though, because if you worry too much about “offending” others, your ministry will look like this:


The Perfect Preacher
After hundreds of years, one has been found! A model preacher preaches 20 minutes and sits down. He condemns sin but never hurts anyone’s feelings. He works from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. in every type of work from preaching to custodial service. He makes $60 a week, wears good clothes, buys good books regularly, has a nice family, drives a good car and gives $100 a week to the church. He also stands ready to contribute to every good work that comes along. He is 26 years old and has been preaching for 30 years. He is tall and short, thin and heavy-set. He has one brown eye, and one blue, and hair parted down the middle, left side dark and straight and the right brown and wavy. He has a burning desire to work with the teenagers, and spends all his time with the older folks. He smiles all the time with a straight face because he has a sense of humor that keeps him seriously dedicated to his work. He makes 15 calls a day on church members, spends all of his time evangelizing the unchurched, and is never out of his office.

:4 But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God

:4 we commend ourselves as ministers of God


Ministry qualifications

In some Christian circles, a person’s qualifications for ministry has to do with education.
What kind of degrees does this person have?
In other circles, a person is qualified by the size of the group they lead.
The bigger the group, the more great are their obvious qualifications.
To be honest, in some circles I get the idea that qualification for ministry has to do with a person’s looks and “coolness” factor.
If a person is handsome and somebody you want to dress like, they are qualified.
Paul’s list of qualifications look a little different.

:4 in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses,

:4 much patiencehupomone – to remain under; patient enduring, especially dealing with patience in tough times.

:4 tribulationsthlipsesin – pressure, affliction, distress

:4 needsanagkais – necessity, violence, hence pain, distress. Hardship.

Going without.

:4 distressesstenochoriais – narrowness of space, difficulty, distress. 

We might say, “between a rock and a hard place”.

These are “ministry qualifications”?

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

:5 stripesplegais – a blow, stripe, wound. 

Sometimes the blows are as much emotional and mental as physical.

:5 imprisonments

phulakais – a guarding; a prison.

Paul had several “prison ministries”.

:5 tumultsakatastasiais – instability; confusion, disorder

:5 laborskopois – a beating; laborious toil, trouble 

The emphasis in this word is on fatigue.

:5 sleeplessnessagrupniais – sleeplessness, watching

:5 fastingsnesteiais – fasting, a fast. 

Sometimes involuntarily.  Hunger.



When you get serious about serving God, you are going to find one thing out – it’s difficult.
You have to learn to keep going, through the good times and the bad.
Video:  Derrick Coleman Duracell

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

:6 purityhagnoteti – from hagnos (holy, pure, undefiled)

Ministry ought to be pure.  There should be no place for yucky motives.

:6 knowledge

gnosei – a seeking to know, investigation; knowledge

Especially of the knowledge of spiritual truth.

:6 longsufferingmakrothumia – patience, esp. patience with difficult people

:6 kindnesschrestoteti – goodness, excellence, uprightness; goodness of heart

:6 the Holy Spirit pneumati hagio – the Holy Spirit

Ministry ought to have evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit

:6 sincere love

agape anupokrito

love that is not hypocritical; not faked.


Like Jesus

I look at these qualities and I think about Jesus.
When we serve the Lord, people ought to get an idea of who Jesus is and what He’s like.]
(John 13:34–35 NKJV) —34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

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

:7 the word of truth

This is God’s Word

 logo aletheias – God's Word.

(2 Timothy 2:15 NKJV) Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

:7 the power of God

 dunamei theou

(1 Corinthians 2:1–5 NKJV) —1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

We don’t want God’s power at work in our lives so people will think we’re awesome, we want it so people will find help from God, not us.

:7 the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left



It’s a battle out there.
The word for “armor” (hoplos) could refer to offensive as well as defensive weapons.
Typically, the offensive weapons (like spears and swords) were held in the right hand, the defensive weapons (like shields) were held in the left.
Paul describes some of these spiritual weapons to the Ephesians.
(Ephesians 6:14–17 NLT) —14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Things like truth, righteousness, and faith are key elements of what ministry is all about.

This might be talking about having skill with spiritual weapons.
(1 Chronicles 12:1–2 NLT) —1 The following men joined David at Ziklag while he was hiding from Saul son of Kish. They were among the warriors who fought beside David in battle. 2 All of them were expert archers, and they could shoot arrows or sling stones with their left hand as well as their right. They were all relatives of Saul from the tribe of Benjamin.

These mighty men of David could fight with either their right or their left hands.  They were well trained, valuable men.

How skillful are you with God’s weapons?

In The Encourager, Charles Mylander writes: “Sunrise was dawning when Los Angeles motorcycle police officer Bob Vernon saw a red pickup truck speed through a stop sign. This guy must be late to work, he thought to himself. He turned on his emergency lights and radioed that he was in pursuit. The pickup pulled over, and the officer approached.
Meanwhile in the truck, the driver thought, “The cops already know!” He was scared. He rested his hand on the same gun he had used a few moments before to rob a twenty-four-hour market. The sack of stolen money was beside him on the seat.
The officer said, “Good morning, sir, may I see your …”
He never finished the sentence. The driver shoved his gun toward the policeman’s chest and fired from just inches away. The cop was knocked flat seven feet away.
A few seconds later, to the shock of the criminal, the officer stood up, pulled his service revolver, and fired twice. The first bullet went through the open window and smashed the windshield. The second tore through the door and ripped into the driver’s left leg.
“Don’t shoot!” the thief screamed, throwing the gun and sack of money out the pickup window.
What saved the policeman’s life was dozens of layers of Kevlar, the super strong fabric used for bulletproof vests. Only three-eighths of an inch thick, Kevlar can stop bullets cold.
We are in the middle of an invisible spiritual war.  The only way we survive is to learn to use the weapons God wants to equip us with.

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

:8 honor

doxa opinion; glory, honor. 

You can get a lot of attention when you serve the Lord.  God works, and sometimes you get the credit.

:8 dishonoratimia dishonor, disgrace 

If you think that ministry comes only with honor, you’re wrong.  There will be people who will dislike you.  Even in church.

:8 evil report and good report

When you serve the Lord, some people will pat you on the back, others will criticize you.

:8 deceivers and yet true

 planoi (wandering, vagabond, imposter), aletheis (true). 

Some people will think that you are a fake or a liar.  You can see it on their faces.  Nothing you can say will change their mind about you.  They’ll take everything you say wrong.

Others will know you are true.


One pastor writes,
While I conducted my usual Tuesday evening prison ministry, my wife decided to attend a local home sales party.  Our fifteen-year-old daughter, Faith, was at home and later told us about a call she had taken from one of our church members.  It went like this:
“Hello, is your father home?”
“No, he’s in jail,” Faith said.
“Well, then, is your mother home?”
“No, she’s at a party.”
The church member still reminds us of that call.

-- Richard R. Smith of Cottonwood Falls, Kansas, Christian Reader, January/February, 1997, p. 13.

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

:9 unknown …well known

Ministry is not for people who want to make a name for themselves.  Some people get a lot of glitz and glamor, but for most, it consists of doing things without any recognition, like a ninja.

It can get really confusing sometimes.  When you are at church, you can be seen as a “star”, as a “somebody”, as somebody with a “title”.

But when you step outside of your ministry area, you’re a nobody.
I remember once going to hear our pastor Franklin speak at a special gathering at another much larger Calvary Chapel.
As we were leaving, I was introduced to the pastor of that church, who has been on the radio for years, and his response to me was, “I didn’t know there was a Calvary Chapel in Fullerton.  How long have you been there?”
I have learned to just grin when people say things like that.


Not about me

Ministry is about serving Jesus.  It’s not about what I get out of it.

:9 dying … we live

Don’t forget that real “life” isn’t about how healthy your physical body is.

Real life is tied up in your relationship with Jesus.

(John 10:10 NKJV) The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

:9 chastened … not killed

Some people take a step into serving God, and then when they hit their first little road bump, they quit.  Not Paul.

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

:10 sorrowful … rejoicing

There are great sorrows in serving the Lord, yet also great times of joy.


“I am burning with a fever, and have a violent cold; but Christ's presence makes me smile at pain; and the fire of his love burns up all fevers whatsoever.”
-- George Whitefield. Christian History, Issue 38.

:10 as poor, yet making many rich

Sometimes we put just a little too much time into worrying about our possessions.

Video:  Dog Prized Possession
I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to have insurance, but if your whole life is wrapped up in things that can be taken from you, you are going to have “trouble”.

Paul did not see ministry as a way to become wealthy.

He might not have had a lot of money to his name, but the spiritual wealth he gave to others was great.

:10 having nothing, and yet possessing all things


While on a short-term missions trip, Pastor Jack Hinton was leading worship at a leper colony on the island of Tobago. A woman who had been facing away from the pulpit turned around.
“It was the most hideous face I had ever seen,” Hinton said. “The woman’s nose and ears were entirely gone. She lifted a fingerless hand in the air and asked, ‘Can we sing Count Your Many Blessings?’”
Overcome with emotion, Hinton left the service. He was followed by a team member who said, “I guess you’ll never be able to sing that song again.”
“Yes I will,” he replied, “but I’ll never sing it the same way.”
-- The Pastor's Update (5/96).  Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership.

6:11-13 Open and Closed

Throughout the letter, we’ve seen hints at how the Corinthians felt about Paul.

Some of them were outright challenging Paul’s authority over the church.

Even in 1Corinthians, there were different groups in the church and they each thought that their favorite preacher was better than the others.

I think Paul is now getting to one of the root problems in the church.

:11 O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open.

:12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections.

:13 Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.

:12 you are restricted by your own affections

Paul contrasts two ideas – being “opened” and being “restricted” or, “closed”.

Paul’s mouth was opened.

The phrase “spoken openly” means literally, “our mouths have been open”.
He wasn’t hiding any words.  He was speaking openly to them.

Paul’s heart was open.

:11 wide openplatuno – to make broad, enlarge; to welcome and embrace you in love

In contrast, the Corinthians were “closed” or “restricted” by their own affections.

:12 restrictedstenochoreo – to be in a narrow place; compress, cramp
:12 affectionssplagchnon – bowels, intestines, regarded as the seat of the emotions, “heart”


Irritable Bowels

Got your attention?
Paul was open and loving towards the Corinthians.
They were closed and critical to him.
Sometimes we are like Paul, open and loving towards others, while they are not that way towards us.
If you are like Paul, the problem is most likely not you.
The problem is in the other person’s “affections”, or in Bible-speak, their “bowels”.
I’ve had people come up after a message and give their critique on all the things I did wrong in the message.

I have to tell you that sometimes those critiques sting.

Sometimes the criticism is actually helpful, but an awful lot of the time I’ve come to realize that it’s the person that’s talking to me that actually has the problem.

And I’ve learned that until they’re willing to realize that they’re the one with the problem, arguing with them over their criticism isn’t going to help.

Sometimes we are more like the Corinthians, and we find ourselves angry, or critical of other people.
You might tell yourself that you have very good reasons to be angry.
But sometimes the problem is simply in your “bowels”, your emotions.
I know that sometimes I get critical of people myself, and to be honest, sometimes my bad “mood” really has nothing to do with the person I criticize, but the fact that something else has gone wrong in my life and I’m just taking it out on the person I’m criticizing.
Paul tells the Corinthians that his mouth and heart are “open” to them.  He encourages them to try to be “open” to him as well.