Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says,
“In a favorable time I listened to you,
and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.
We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.
- Paul is working with God.
- Paul did not want the Corinthians to receive the grace of God in vain.
- God says He listened and helped us when we needed it.
- Now is the time we need help.
- Now is the day we will be saved.
- Paul did not add any obstructions in anyone’s path to God.
- No fault could be found in Paul’s ministry.
- Paul was commended by
- Great endurance
- Holy Spirit
- Genuine love
- Truthful speech
- Power of God.
- With weapons of righteousness in both hands
- Honor and dishonor
- Slander and praise.
- Paul was treated as an imposter when he was the real deal.
- Paul was treated as unknown when he was well known.
- Paul was treated as dying but he lived.
- Paul was punished but not killed.
- Paul was treated as sorrowful but he always rejoiced.
- Paul was treated as poor but made many rich.
- Paul was treated as having nothing but he possessed everything.
- Paul spoke freely to the Corinthians.
- Paul’s heart was open to the Corinthians.
- Paul did not restrict the Corinthians.
- The Corinthians were restricted by what they loved.
- The Corinthians needed to widen their hearts
- Paul spoke to them simply as he would speak to a child.
The Corinthians had allowed “false apostles” into their mist. If they refused to do anything about these “false apostles” their church would be swept away. (11:13). They were faced with a choice. They could continue to follow these false teachers or cleanse themselves from “every defilement of body and spirit” (7:1). Unless they chose the latter their lives will glorify God less and less. And the gospel they heard will bear very little fruit.
Paul is teaching us that it is not enough simply to teach doctrine. We must labor so that the message of Christ is received by those who hear it. This is not accomplished by simply making the declaration of God’s grace once and moving on. It must be repeated again and again. Ministers have a particular duty in this regard. I have sat and spoken with a pastor in his study who actually said he could not preach the message of the gospel every Sunday. The people will tire of it. The fact of the matter is there is nothing else he should preach. Sinners, that include you and me, need to hear the gospel over and over again. The first duty of a minister is to make the offer of the God’s grace. The second is to strive not to offer it in vain. We are answerable to God, not the desires of congregation. Preach the gospel! Preach it repeatedly! Never Stop!
Paul says “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” It would appear from this passage that since a particular day of salvation is mentioned, the free offer of salvation is not made every day. “Now” in a broad sense refers to the gospel age. But it also refers to the time when an individual hears God’s offer of salvation. Respond now. Now is the time.
It is always wise to accept God’s grace immediately when it is offered. God specifies a particular time to show His grace. Therefore, it follows not all times are suitable for God to show His grace.
Further, this passage makes clear that salvation comes to us purely by the mercy of God. God is the source of our salvation. Therefore we must not search for the cause of salvation within ourselves as if we could produce God’s mercy or favor by what we do.
Paul goes on to claim, “We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry.” We too must be careful not to impede anyone entering the kingdom of God. The church has historically, but with good intentions, placing obstacles in people’s way by adding to the commands of God. Don’t smoke, drink, go to movies, etc. All these rules were made with the intention of helping people live a holy life. The reality is that preaching the gospel and that alone is all that is needed. Those who teach these extra biblical rules are the false apostles whom Paul was admonishing the Corinthians to rid themselves.
Adding to the commands of God is placing an obstacle before people.
Paul goes into a list, showing things he endured. Tests the Lord used to try and build his servants. Let’s not allow men like Joel Olsteen, Paul Crouch and others like them who claim that God only wants to bring blessings in our lives. According to that sort of message Paul was a horrible Christian because he suffered continually.
Truthfulness and purity of speech are hallmarks of a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, pure speech, pure conduct, pure motives, and deep love for people. While ministers are sinners, they are to live above reproach so that the name of Christ will not be blasphemed. Paul was unwilling to compromise the sanctity of the truth in order to accomplish a goal. The end did not justify the means.
Paul has opened himself up to the Corinthians. He spoke to them plainly and freely. He loved the Corinthians but he says it is not because of their poor judgment and sinfulness the things he tells them go in one ear and out the other. They hear but do not understand. God’s grace was received by then in vain.