Summary: Apostle Paul has faced enemies in the Corinthian church that have damaged his relationship with them. He appeals to several things which serve to draw them together, if they will open their hearts to him once again.
What Draws Us Together
Paul faced opposition from one or more factions within the Corinthian church.
- His opponents claimed to be superior to him in knowledge (1 CO 8:1, 2).
- Some taught that immoral behavior was of no consequence (5:1, 2; 6:9–13).
- Some denied that God raises the dead (15:12).
- They denied Paul’s authority as an apostle (2 CO 6:8; 11:5; 12:11, 12).
- There were other matters but the truth is that there was a power struggle at Corinth.
When he wrote 2 Corinthians, it appears that he had largely succeeded in straightening out most of these problems. However, there still seems to be some reluctance to fully work with Paul.
- 2 Corinthians 6:12 We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us.
- Paul is appealing to them to reconcile fully as coworkers in the grace of God.
- This text suggests that there is a value and need to reconcile and repair damaged relationships in the church.
- What are the things that draw us together even after conflict?
1. We are Co-Workers (2 Co 6:1a As God’s co-workers…)
The work of the church requires teamwork - no one person can claim all the importance.
- 1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
- 1 Thessalonians 3:2 We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith.
Even though Paul had quite a personal experience with the Savior, an extensive education in the Hebrew Scriptures, and writes by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he still recognizes that his fellow Christians are co-workers in the Kingdom. Do we see ourselves as co-workers on a team? That will bring people together.
Another thing that will draw us together…
2. We have Received Grace (2 Co 6:1b-2 As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.)
Don’t receive God’s grace in vain. It would be an anti-grace move to accept grace on one hand and then deny it to someone else on the other. Grace becomes vain when we fail to be conduits of grace. 1 Peter 4:10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
If God heard us and helped us … we should hear and help one another. Today’s text comes just after a long segment on the subject of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11–21).
- 2 Corinthians 5:11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others.
- 2 Corinthians 5:16-19 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. … if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
The forgiveness of God compels us to forgive others. Things that draw us together: We are co-workers, We have received grace…
3. We Are Genuine (2 Co 6:3 We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.)
There are no intentional stumbling blocks in Paul’s ministry. He does not compromise the gospel. He conducts himself in a way that does not trip up the work for Christ.
"One of the greatest hindrances to the successful outreach of the gospel these days is the bad example of believers who do not live for the Lord....We all have to do what we can to examine ourselves to be sure we are not putting stumbling blocks in someone’s way." (Keith E. Eggert, Bible Expositor and Illuminator, Summer, 2014)
He has foregone some of his ‘rights’ so as not to distract the work. He did not accept payment, though he asserts he could have. He encouraged Corinthians to lay down their rights in pursuit of peace. More than anything he wants people to come to know Christ.
There is no such thing as reconciling after a conflict without giving up something of value out of love for the other person. The early church was observed selling land in order to help out those who were less able to care for themselves. Only a genuine commitment to Christ, receiving his grace, will allow us to demonstrate such.