V55in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger,. We continue with the testing of your patience or endurance. We considered the first three tests. The following three also belong together. You recognize them easily: “In beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults.” These have to do with the body and they were inflicted by others on Paul. They were not trifles. In Acts 16 you read how he was beaten and thrown into prison (Acts 16:19-2419But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the market place before the authorities,20and when they had brought them to the chief magistrates, they said, “These men are throwing our city into confusion, being Jews,21and are proclaiming customs which it is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being Romans.”22The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order [them] to be beaten with rods.23When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely;24and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.). In Acts you also see how he was at the very center of tumultuous crowds (Acts 19:29-3129The city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed with one accord into the theater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia.30And when Paul wanted to go into the assembly, the disciples would not let him.31Also some of the Asiarchs who were friends of his sent to him and repeatedly urged him not to venture into the theater.; 21:27-3627When the seven days were almost over, the Jews from Asia, upon seeing him in the temple, [began] to stir up all the crowd and laid hands on him,28crying out, “Men of Israel, come to our aid! This is the man who preaches to all men everywhere against our people and the Law and this place; and besides he has even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.”29For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple.30Then all the city was provoked, and the people rushed together, and taking hold of Paul they dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the doors were shut.31While they were seeking to kill him, a report came up to the commander of the [Roman] cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion.32At once he took along [some] soldiers and centurions and ran down to them; and when they saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.33Then the commander came up and took hold of him, and ordered him to be bound with two chains; and he [began] asking who he was and what he had done.34But among the crowd some were shouting one thing [and] some another, and when he could not find out the facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks.35When he got to the stairs, he was carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob;36for the multitude of the people kept following them, shouting, “Away with him!”).
Then again follows a group of three which belong together: “In labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger [or: fastings].” However, there is a difference between this group and the previous ones. The previous tests were involuntary. A life which shows that one is a witness for the Lord Jesus often provokes a negative reaction from other people. However, labors, sleeplessness and hunger (or fastings) are situations the servants of the Lord expose themselves to voluntarily.
There are many Christians who are satisfied that they are saved from hell; but when it comes to ‘labor’ in living as a Christian they shun all inconveniences. The word ‘labor’ means strenuous work.
‘Sleeplessness’ or ‘watchfulness’ means that you must keep awake all the time and you cannot fall asleep because dangers are imminent. The spiritual application for you and me is to keep the eyes wide open and be on the alert for the lurking spiritual dangers which could in a jiffy put your Christian life on the back burner. All sorts of persuasive logics of people can’t lull you into thinking that all things will end well without you taking any pains in your spiritual walk.
The same goes for ‘fastings’. It primarily means that one does not take food. It also means that you voluntarily waive certain pleasures which are not wrong per se but which can disturb your life’s priorities. A bit of relaxation is not wrong. But it is certainly wrong to enjoy relaxation at the cost of your Christian obligations, for instance if you reject a call to preach the gospel.
You can by all means exonerate yourself from these three obligations. But a true servant of God will not do that because he is always conscious of his life as a servant.
V66in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love,. Verses 6-106in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love,7in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left,8by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; [regarded] as deceivers and yet true;9as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death,10as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things. list the characteristics God looks for in His servants, the characteristics which become predominantly visible in God’s servants as they go through circumstances mentioned previously.
1. The first is “purity”. Purity means you keep yourself unspotted from the world, and have no friendship with it.
2. This is followed by “knowledge”. Knowledge means you know God and know what He expects from you; for this you have the Bible.
3. “Patience” you have to show in your contacts.
4. By “kindness” you let others know something of the goodness of God.
5. The power to present yourself this way is not in you but it is “in the Holy Spirit”.
6. “Genuine love” is the unfeigned, not hypocritical love. Love is the nature of God and you must show it. That does not mean that you condone what is wrong or feign as though it is not there.
7. V77in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left,. That’s why the servant of God always must use “the word of truth” and apply it to all life’s situations.
8. “The power of God” will manifest itself when he uses the word of truth in dependence on God and not by human wisdom.
9. “The weapons of righteousness” refers to the practical life of the servant. When the servant cannot be accused of unrighteous practices, because he gives to everyone his right, then this is a weapon with which he can repel all the accusations leveled against him from all sides. For a servant is always subject to criticism both from the right and from the left side. That’s why he has to be balanced to be able to defend himself against both sides.
Criticism and opposition are things you must always expect when you live and work for the Lord. Not that you must feel exalted above all criticism, for that is arrogance.
10. V88by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; [regarded] as deceivers and yet true;. Here it is about a servant who wants to please his master in all things. In such cases you go through “glory and dishonor”. Sometimes you are hailed and at another time you are nailed.
11. The greater the servant, the more people talk about him, in a negative as well as in a positive sense. He goes through “evil report and good report”; one portrays him as a deceiver and another as a trustful one.
12. V99as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death,. In the world he is unknown, but with God he is well-known. As for the world he is as dying, useless for the world. The cause of that is that he lives for God and not for the world.
13. By all he experiences he feels “as punished” by the hand of God. Chastisement is not punishment and surely “not put to death” by it. Chastisement is always meant as education. For that education God uses all kinds of means, as for example you have read in verses 4-54but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses,5in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger,.
14. V1010as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.. Chastisement is not a pleasant experience; it certainly can make you “sorrowful”. But because you experience in it God’s love and care you can make others “rejoicing”.
15. A servant does not have riches in this world. In this respect he is “poor”. His real wealth is in Christ and with this wealth he can make “many rich”.
16. The end of verse 1010as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things. shows that he is “as having nothing” in this world. His real wealth is Christ and that’s why he is “possessing all things”, for all things are of Him.
It is not a small thing to say of yourself that you are a servant of God. When I say this I hope you will not be discouraged but conversely you will be encouraged. For this service incorporates a lot of rich promises.
V1111Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, our heart is opened wide.. Perhaps you can imagine a bit of what deep impression these verses would have made on the Corinthians. Paul opened his heart to them. He poured out his heart without reservation. They must know what is hidden in his heart. He loved them with all his heart. In order to bring the gospel to them he underwent all the experiences he talks of here in these verses.
Do you see how personally he addresses them as “Corinthians”? In two other letters he addresses the recipients of his letters in such very personal terms. He does so to the Galatians (Gal 3:11You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed [as] crucified?) and the Philippians (Phil 4:1515You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone;). In all these three letters he speaks from an overflowing heart.
V1212You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections.. Here in Corinth he wants to have in their hearts that special place which he had earlier. The problem is not that they had a restricted place in his heart. His heart was wide but they were restricted. They had very little room for Paul in their hearts. They could not reciprocate his appreciation of them.
V1313Now in a like exchange—I speak as to children—open wide [to us] also.. He appeals therefore that they open their hearts again for him and his ministry. He says that he deserves room in their hearts as recompense or as reward for all that he did for them. Did he not dedicate his whole life for them? Then should they not love him with a special love? They were his “children”, weren’t they?
You can notice how best he writes to win their hearts again. His yearning is that the relationship between him and the Corinthians would be restored and that they would again listen to his wise counsels. Paul’s prime concern was the honor of the Lord and the well-being of the believers.
Now read 2 Corinthians 6:5-13 again.
Reflection: What things that are listed in verses 4-104but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses,5in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger,6in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love,7in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left,8by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; [regarded] as deceivers and yet true;9as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death,10as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things. are found in your life?