What does 2 Corinthians chapter 6 mean?Paul is writing to people he cares deeply about. He helped to establish the church in Corinth and led many people there to faith in Christ. Now he seems concerned that some among them who have heard the clear message of the gospel from him have not come to full faith in Christ alone for their salvation. This may be based on continued association with idol worship, or false teachers among them distorting the gospel of Jesus and accusing Paul of being a false apostle.
This chapter appeals to those in Corinth not to receive God's grace in vain, insisting that the day of salvation has come. That "day," however, will not last forever. Eventually, Christ will return and the opportunity to receive God's free gift will pass (2 Corinthians 6:1–2).
Paul insists that he and those who work with him have not done or said anything that would keep anyone from believing in Jesus. He commends their ministry to the Corinthians, giving them evidence to present to anyone who would accuse Paul of being false or having a hidden and self-serving agenda (2 Corinthians 6:3).
This evidence included everything Paul and his co-workers for the gospel have suffered in order to proclaim the message of Jesus. These afflictions include beatings, imprisonments, attacks by angry mobs, exhausting work, sleepless nights, and going hungry. Their character, though, has remained Christlike and God's power has been clearly seen in and through them. No matter how they were treated, they have kept going, kept accomplishing God's mission through them. Paul puts it plainly: Their sacrifice is bringing the riches of eternal life to many people. He and his team continue to rejoice in this (2 Corinthians 6:4–10).
In other words, Paul says, they have done nothing to cause the Corinthians to have anything against them. He and his friends have wide open hearts toward everyone in Corinth. He asks them to open their hearts to him, as well, as children toward a father (2 Corinthians 6:11–13).
Next, Paul commands them clearly not to be "unequally yoked" with—or "harnessed to"—unbelievers. He seems to be referring to contracted relationships that would bind a Christian to a non-Christian in some formal way. That would certainly include marriage, as well as serious business or personal ties. This doesn't forbid believers from ever associating with unbelievers (1 Corinthians 5:10), but from participating in relationships that would obligate them to unbelievers, perhaps especially in areas involving idol worship.
He asks a series of questions to show how absurd such relationships are. Light and darkness cannot fellowship together. Christ and Satan don't work together. Everyone knows how terrible it would be for Jewish people to worship an idol in the Jewish temple. Christians are now God's temple, Paul writes. This is true because the Holy Spirit lives in them. These temples, then, must never be used for anything that is opposed to God.
Paul references several Old Testament Scriptures to illustrate that this was true of God's covenant relationship with Israel and is true of His covenant relationship with all who come to Him through faith in Christ. Because God lives in them, Christians must separate themselves from everything that does not please God. He is the believer's Father (2 Corinthians 6:14–18).