2 Corinthians 6:7
By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) By the word of truth.—Both words are, in the Greek, without the article, and this throws a slight shade of doubt upon their meaning. With the article, the same combination occurs in Ephesians 1:13; 2Timothy 2:15; and there can be no doubt that there the sense is objective—“the word which conveys the truth of God to men.” Here a subjective meaning, “a word of truthfulness,” or “truthful word,” as distinct from insincerity of speech, is grammatically possible; but in James 1:18, where precisely the same combination occurs, we have ample warrant for retaining the objective meaning even here.

By the power of God.—Here, again, the words hover between a general and a specific sense. As distinguished from the “Holy Ghost” in 2Corinthians 6:6, and looking to the general use of the Greek word for “power,” it seems natural to refer the word here chiefly, though, perhaps, not exclusively, to the supernatural power given by God for working miracles. (Comp. especially 2Corinthians 12:12; 1Corinthians 2:5; 1Corinthians 12:10; 1Corinthians 12:28-29.)

By the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.—The thought is found in a more expanded form in Ephesians 6:11-17; 1Thessalonians 5:8. Its recurrence in 2Corinthians 10:4 shows how familiar it was to St. Paul’s mind. Here it is presented in a more condensed form, but its meaning is sufficiently obvious. The weapon of the right hand is “the sword of the Spirit,” aggressive in the conflict with evil (Ephesians 6:17). The armour for the left hand is defensive, the “shield of faith,” which is our defence against the fiery darts of the wicked (Ephesians 6:16). This gives, it is believed, a better meaning than the interpretation which translates the Greek word by “instruments,” as in Romans 6:13, and taking these as meaning opportunities for action, sees in the two adjectives the meaning which sometimes attaches to them in Greek authors, and was derived from the usages of Greek divination, as “favourable” and “unfavourable.” It has been urged that the absence of the Greek article before “weapons on the left” is against the distinction which has been drawn above, and therefore that the words refer to the breast-plate which encompasses both sides of the body; but this, though a tenable view grammatically, is somewhat over-subtle. A man dictating a letter under the influence of strong emotion is not always mindful of minute grammatical distinctions, such as that on which this last interpretation rests.

6:1-10 The gospel is a word of grace sounding in our ears. The gospel day is a day of salvation, the means of grace the means of salvation, the offers of the gospel the offers of salvation, and the present time the proper time to accept these offers. The morrow is none of ours: we know not what will be on the morrow, nor where we shall be. We now enjoy a day of grace; then let all be careful not to neglect it. Ministers of the gospel should look upon themselves as God's servants, and act in every thing suitably to that character. The apostle did so, by much patience in afflictions, by acting from good principles, and by due temper and behaviour. Believers, in this world, need the grace of God, to arm them against temptations, so as to bear the good report of men without pride; and so as to bear their reproaches with patience. They have nothing in themselves, but possess all things in Christ. Of such differences is a Christian's life made up, and through such a variety of conditions and reports, is our way to heaven; and we should be careful in all things to approve ourselves to God. The gospel, when faithfully preached, and fully received, betters the condition even of the poorest. They save what before they riotously spent, and diligently employ their time to useful purposes. They save and gain by religion, and thus are made rich, both for the world to come and for this, when compared with their sinful, profligate state, before they received the gospel.By the word of truth - That is, by making known the truths of the gospel. It was his object to make known the simple truth. He did not corrupt it by false mixtures of philosophy and human wisdom, but communicated it as it had been revealed to him. The object of the appointment of the Christian ministry is to make known the truth, and when that is done it cannot but be that they will commend their office and work to the favorable regards of people.

By the power of God - By the divine power which attended the preaching of the gospel. Most of the ancient commentators explain this of the power of working miracles - Bloomfield. But it probably includes all the displays of divine power which attended the propagation of the gospel, whether in the working of miracles, or in the conversion of people. If it be asked how Paul used this power so as to give no offence in the work of the ministry, it may be replied, that the miraculous endowments bestowed upon the apostles, the power of speaking foreign languages, etc., seem to have been bestowed upon them to be employed in the same way as were their natural faculties; see the notes on 1 Corinthians 14:32. The idea here is, that they used the great powers entrusted to them by God, not as impostors would have done, for the purposes of gain and ambition, or for vain display, but solely for the furtherance of the true religion, and the salvation of people. They thus showed that they were sent from God, as well by the nature of the powers with which they were entrusted, as by the manner in which they used them.

By the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left - Interpreters bare varied much in the exposition of this passage; and many have run into utter wildness. Grotius says, that it refers to the manner in which the ancient soldiers were armed. They bore a spear in their right hand, and a shield in the left. With the former they attacked their foes, with the later they made defense. Some have supposed that it refers to the fact that they were taught to use the sword with the left hand as well as with the right. The simple idea is, that they were completely armed. To be armed on the right hand and on the left is to be well armed, or entirely equipped. They went forth to conflict. They met persecution, opposition, and slander. As the soldier went well armed to battle, so did they. But the armor with which they met their foes, and which constituted their entire panoply, was a holy life. With that they met all the assaults of their enemies; with that all slander and persecution. That was their defense, and by that they hoped and expected to achieve their conquests. They had no swords, and spears, and helmets, and shields; no carnal weapons of offence and defense; but they expected to meet all their assaults, and to gain all their victories, by an upright and holy life.

7. By the word of truth, by the power of God—rather, "In … in," &c. As to "the word of truth" (compare 2Co 4:2; Col 1:5), and "the (miraculous) power of God" (2Co 4:7); 1Co 2:4, "in demonstration of the Spirit and of power."

by the armour—Greek, "through" or "by means of the armor." "Righteousness," which is the breastplate alone in Eph 6:13-17, here is made the whole Christian panoply (compare 2Co 10:4).

on … right … and … left—that is, guarding on every side.

By the word of truth; living up to and keeping our eye upon the word of God, which is the word of truth: this seems to be the sense, rather than speaking truth to every one, as some have thought.

By the power of God; by the efficacious working of the Spirit of God upon our hearts, enabling us to live up to the doctrine we preach. Some understand here, by the power of God, that extraordinary power of working miracles, which God gave the apostles; others, the gospel, which the apostle calls the power of God unto salvation, Romans 1:16. It may be understood of the first and the last joined together; for the gospel is no otherwise the power of God to salvation, than as it is attended to the souls of those to whom it is so made powerful, with the inward, powerful, efficacious working of the Holy Spirit.

By the armour of righteousness; he means a good conscience, (which cannot be without a universal rectitude, or uprightness of life), which is a defence against all temptations, either from prosperity or from adversity. In which sense that of Solomon is true: He that walketh uprightly, walketh surely, Proverbs 10:9: and David prayeth, Psalm 25:21: Let integrity and uprightness preserve me. By the word of truth,.... By preaching the Gospel, truly, sincerely, without any adulteration of it, which comes from the God of truth, has for its subject matter Christ, who is the truth, and into which ministers are guided by the Spirit of truth, and every doctrine of which is truth:

by the power of God; accompanying the word to the conversion and salvation of multitudes of souls; or by the signs, wonders, and miracles which were wrought for the confirmation of it:

by the armour of righteousness, on the right hand, and on the left: meaning, either the whole armour of God, with which a Christian is all over clothed from head to foot, and in the strength of Christ may engage any adversary without fear; or else particularly the sword of the Spirit in the right hand, and the shield of faith in the left, whereby both the offensive and defensive part may be acted; or, as others think, uprightness of conscience, and holiness of life and conversation; with which being blessed, though on the one hand he meets with prosperity, and on the other hand with adversity, he is not lifted up with the one, nor cast down with the other; he is moved by neither, but passes on unconcerned.

By the {d} word of truth, by the {e} power of God, by the {f} armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,

(d) Preaching of the Gospel.

(e) Power to work miracles, and to subdue the wicked.

(f) Uprightness.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 6:7. The enumerations hitherto made related generally to the conduct and character of God’s servants; now the stream, swelling ever more boldly, passes over to the province of the teacher’s work, and pours itself forth from 2 Corinthians 6:8 in a succession of contrasts between seeming and being, which are so many triumphs of the apostle’s clear self-assuranc.

ἐν λόγῳ ἀληθ.] through discourse of truth, i.e. through doctrine, the character of which is truth. Comp. 2 Corinthians 2:17, 2 Corinthians 4:2. It will not do to take, with Rückert, λόγ. ἀληθ. objectively, as equivalent to εὐαγγέλιον, because, as at Ephesians 1:13, Colossians 1:5, the article could not have been omitte.

ἐν δυνάμει θεοῦ] through power of God, which shows itself efficacious in our work of teaching, 2 Corinthians 4:7. Comp. 1 Corinthians 2:4; 1 Corinthians 4:20. The limitation to the miracles is arbitrary (Theophylact, comp. Emmerling and Flatt).

διὰ τῶν ὁπλῶν τῆς δικαιοσ. κ.τ.λ.] is by Grotius connected with what precedes (Dei virtute nobis arma subministrante, etc.); but seeing that other independent points are afterwards introduced by διά, we must suppose that Paul, who elsewhere without any special purpose varies in his use of equivalent prepositions, passes from the instrumental ἐν to the instrumental διά, so that we have here also a special point: through the weapons, which righteousness furnishes. The δικαιοσύνη is to be taken in the usual dogmatic sense. Comp. τὴν θώρακα τῆς δικαιοσ., Ephesians 6:15. It is the righteousness of faith which makes us strong and victorious in the way of assault or defence against all opposing powers. See the noble commentary of the apostle himself in Romans 8:31-39. It has been explained of moral integrity (comp. Romans 6:13; Romans 6:19; Ephesians 5:9; Ephesians 6:14), the genitive being taken either as ad justitiam implendam (Grotius), or as weapons, which the consciousness of integrity gives (Erasmus, Beza, Calvin, Billroth), or which are allowed to a moral man and are at his command (Rückert), or which minister to that which is of right (Hofmann), and the like; but the explanation has this against it, that the context contains absolutely nothing which leads us away from the habitual Pauline conception of δικαιοσύνη, as it was most definitely expressed even at 2 Corinthians 5:21, whereas the idea of δύναμις θεοῦ stands in quite a Pauline connection with that of δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ. See Romans 1:16-17. Hence there is no ground for uniting the two conceptions of δικαιοσύνη (Osiander), or for explaining it of righteousness as a quality of God which works through Paul (Kling). The explanation: arma justa, legitimate weapons (Flatt, following Heumann and Morus), is out of the questio.

τῶν δεξιῶν καὶ ἀριστ.] right-hand and left-hand arms, an apportioning specification of the whole armament. The former are the weapons of attack wielded with the right hand, the latter are the weapons of defence (shield); the warrior needs both together. Hence it was unsuitable to refer the former specially to res prosperas, the latter to res adversas (Erasmus, Estius, Grotius, Bengel, and others, following the Fathers): “ne prosperis elevemur, nec frangamur adversis,” Pelagius. Comp. rather, on the subject-matter, 2 Corinthians 10:4 f.7. by the word of truth] i.e. the Gospel of reconciliation, with which he was entrusted. Cf. Galatians 2:5; Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:21; Colossians 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:15; James 1:18.

by the power of God] This is an expression very common in the N.T.; and, as Acts 8:10 shews, was not confined to the Christian Church. See Matthew 22:29; Luke 9:43; Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 1:24, &c. Also 1 Corinthians 4:19-20; 1 Corinthians 5:4, and ch. 2 Corinthians 13:10.

by the armour of righteousness] Rather weapons (arma, Vulgate). The translation in the text—which we owe to Tyndale—is possibly suggested by passages such as Ephesians 6:11; Ephesians 6:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:8. Cf. ch. 2 Corinthians 10:4.

on the right hand and on the left] i.e. offensive and defensive, shield as well as spear.2 Corinthians 6:7. Δεξιῶν καὶ ἀριστερῶν) by offensive armour, when we are prospering; and defensive, when we are in difficulties. In the case of soldiers, κλίνειν, ἄγειν, ἐπιστρέφειν ἐπὶ δόρυ or ἐπὶ ξῖφος signifies towards the right hand; the ἐπὶ ἀσπίδα, ἐφʼ ἡνίαν or χαλινὸν, signifies, towards the left hand, just as the left hand is called by the French, the bridle hand (main de la bride), and the right hand is called the lance hand (main de la lance). Add the note to Chrysost. de Sacerd., p. 464. Paul has so placed these words, that they might at the same time form a transition; for he just now treated of the armour for the right hand, and he is forthwith about to treat of that for the left.Verse 7. - By the word of truth. St. Paul now passes to the more specific endowments of the true teacher (comp. 2 Corinthians 2:17; 2 Corinthians 4:2; 1 Corinthians 2:4; Galatians 2:5). By the power of God; literally, in power of God (2 Corinthians 4:7; 1 Corinthians 2:4; 1 Corinthians 4:20). "For the kingdom of God is not [only] in word, but in power." By the armour of righteousness. Here first the preposition "in" (ἐν) is changed for "through," "by means of" (διὰ). Armour; rather, arms. On the right hand and on the left. That is, both by offensive weapons and a defensive panoply (2 Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 6:11-17; 1 Thessalonians 5:8). Right - left

Right-hand and left-hand weapons. Offensive, as the sword, in the right hand, defensive, as the shield, in the left.

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