What does 2 Corinthians 6:4 mean?
ESV: but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities,
NIV: Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;
NASB: but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in difficulties,
CSB: Instead, as God's ministers, we commend ourselves in everything: by great endurance, by afflictions, by hardships, by difficulties,
NLT: In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind.
KJV: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
Verse Commentary:
Paul is demonstrating to the Corinthians that his gospel-preaching ministry has always been commendable. He hopes they will be convinced that he and his co-workers have always acted in integrity and in sincerity as they have represented Christ. He also wants to give those in Corinth who know him a way to defend him and his co-workers against the attacks of others.

First, Paul and his co-workers are servants of God. They do not serve themselves. The reason they operate with integrity in all things is because their first allegiance and responsibility are to God, not those they serve on His behalf.

Paul begins to list evidences of their integrity. The implied question is, "Why would we go through all of this if our motives weren't pure?" Paul states that he and his team have showed great endurance, meaning they have not given up or turned back in the face of suffering. That suffering has included afflictions, hardships, and calamities. These words express, generally, that Paul's ministry has required him to endure great difficulties. He is more specific about those difficulties in the following verses.
Verse Context:
Second Corinthians 6:1–13 contains Paul commendation of himself and his co-workers to the Corinthians. He offers evidence that they have not been false apostles. They have faithfully represented Christ through every kind of suffering and God's power has been obvious in and through them. He declares that they have been faultless and urges the Corinthians not to miss the day of God's salvation through faith in Christ. He states warmly that his heart remains wide open to the church in Corinth and asks them to open their hearts to him again.
Chapter Summary:
This passage appeals to the Corinthians not to miss the day of salvation. Paul insists that he and those who work with him have done nothing to keep anyone from believing in Christ. He points to the evidence that he has been a true apostle and representative of Christ and asks the Corinthians to open their hearts to him again. He commands them not to harness themselves to unbelievers since Christ can have nothing to do with Satan or darkness. God lives in them through the Holy Spirit, so they must separate from everything that is opposed to God.
Chapter Context:
Second Corinthians 6 is set up by the message of God's grace for sinners as spelled it out in the previous chapter. Paul begs the Corinthians not to receive it in vain. He declares that he and his team have done nothing to keep them from believing in Christ. Parallel to this, he commands the Corinthians not to be harnessed to unbelievers. This leads into a passionate discussion of affliction and comfort in chapter 7.
Book Summary:
Second Corinthians returns to similar themes as those Paul mentioned in his first letter to this church. Paul is glad to hear that the church in Corinth has heeded his advice. At the same time, it is necessary for Paul to counter criticisms about his personality and legitimacy. Most of this text involves that subject. The fifth chapter, in contrast, contains comforting words which Christians have quoted often in times of hardship. Paul also details his expectations that the church in Corinth will make good on their promise to contribute to the needs of suffering believers in Jerusalem.
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