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2 Corinthians 6:11–13

“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.”

Second Corinthians has been called the most emotional or heartfelt of Paul’s epistles, and it is not hard to see why. After all, it was written in the aftermath of a painful visit of Paul to Corinth during which he had faced opposition from a particular individual in the Corinthian church. That confrontation led him to change his travel plans and not immediately come back to Corinth as he had originally intended. This created a sensitive situation, and although the Corinthian church had since brought Paul’s opponent under discipline, complete reconciliation with the Apostle had not yet occurred. Furthermore, criticisms of Paul from false apostles threatened to undo any healing between Paul and the Corinthians that had occurred (2 Cor. 1:12–2:11; 10:1–12:10). All this introduced doubts into the Corinthian church regarding Paul’s love for the believers in Corinth and a hesitation to complete the process of reconciliation. We find evidence for this in today’s passage, where Paul says that the Corinthians have been restricted in their own affections for him (6:12).

Thus, Paul aims in 2 Corinthians 6:11–13 to get the Corinthians to be fully reconciled to him, pleading with them to respond to him in sincere love. We can feel the emotional pull of the Apostle’s words as he states that his heart is “wide open” to the Corinthians (v. 11). Paul did not relish being at odds with the Corinthian church. Indeed, he wanted a return to the warm fellowship he once enjoyed with them. His tender affection shines through as he speaks to them “as to children” (v. 13). As their spiritual father, Paul longed for his children in the faith to come home, as it were, and embrace him once more with the fullness of their affection.

This plea for the Corinthians to return Paul’s love helps us understand more specifically what Paul meant when he appealed to them earlier in the epistle to “be reconciled to God” (5:20). The Corinthians could not experience full reconciliation to the Lord without also being fully reconciled to the Apostle, for the Apostle was appointed by God to bring them the gospel and to minister the truth by which they are set right with the Lord. To continue listening to the false apostles would be to obey another message that could not reconcile them to the Creator. So, that they were paying attention at all to those teachers of errors put them in grave spiritual peril. This remains true for us. If we do not pay heed to the Apostles’ teaching but follow after others, we cannot be reconciled to God.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

We do not have the same personal contact with Paul that the Corinthians did, but our being reconciled to God also means being reconciled to Paul’s message. In other words, we cannot have Jesus unless we also believe the message of the Apostles, which is contained in the New Testament. We cannot separate what Jesus taught from what Apostles such as Peter, John, Paul, and James taught. It is all of a single piece.


For Further Study
  • Deuteronomy 18:15–22
  • Jeremiah 1:1–10
  • John 13:20
  • Galatians 1:11–12

The Consequences of Being Sent by God

Equal Yokes

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From the October 2021 Issue
Oct 2021 Issue