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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : 2 Corinthians 7:1

Commentary On Corinthians Volume 2 by Jean Calvin

2 Corinthians 7:1

1. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

1. Has igitur promissiones quum habeamus, dilecti, mundemus nos ab omni inquinamento carnis et spiritus, sanctificationem perficientes in timore Dei.

1. These promises, therefore. God, it is true, anticipates us in his promises by his pure favor; but when he has, of his own accord, conferred upon us his favor, he immediately afterwards requires from us gratitude in return. Thus what he said to Abraham, I am thy God, (Genesis 17:7,) was an offer of his undeserved goodness, yet he at the same time added what he required from him -- Walk before me, and be thou perfect As, however, this second clause is not always expressed, Paul instructs us that in all the promises this condition is implied, that they must be incitements to us to promote the glory of God. For from what does he deduce an argument to stimulate us? It is from this, that God confers upon us such a distinguished honor. Such, then, is the nature of the promises, that they call us to sanctification, as if God had interposed by an implied agreement. We know, too, what the Scripture teaches in various passages in reference to the design of redemption, and the same thing must be viewed as applying to every token of his favor.

From all filthiness of flesh and spirit. Having already shown, that we are called to purity, he now adds, that it ought to be seen in the body, as well as in the soul; for that the term flesh is taken here to mean the body, and the term spirit to mean the soul, is manifest from this, that if the term spirit meant the grace of regeneration, Paul's statement in reference to the pollution of the spirit would be absurd. He would have us, therefore, pure from defilements, not merely inward, such as have God alone as their witness; but also outward, such as fall under the observation of men. |Let us not merely have chaste consciences in the sight of God. We must also consecrate to him our whole body and all its members, that no impurity may be seen in any part of us.|

Now if we consider what is the point that he handles, we shall readily perceive, that those act with excessive impudence, who excuse outward idolatry on I know not what pretexts. For as inward impiety, and superstition, of whatever kind, is a defilement of the spirit, what will they understand by defilement of the flesh, but an outward profession of impiety, whether it be pretended, or uttered from the heart? They boast of a pure conscience; that, indeed, is on false grounds, but granting them what they falsely boast of, they have only the half of what Paul requires from believers. Hence they have no ground to think, that they have given satisfaction to God by that half; for let a person show any appearance of idolatry at all, or any indication of it, or take part in wicked or superstitious rites, even though he were -- what he cannot be -- perfectly upright in his own mind, he would, nevertheless, not be exempt from the guilt of polluting his body.

Perfecting holiness. As the verb epitelein in Greek sometimes means, to perfect, and sometimes to perform sacred rites, it is elegantly made use of here by Paul in the former signification, which is the more frequent one -- in such a way, however, as to allude to sanctification, of which he is now treating. For while it denotes perfection, it seems to have been intentionally transferred to sacred offices, because there ought to be nothing defective in the service of God, but everything complete. Hence, in order that you may sanctify yourself to God aright, you must dedicate both body and soul entirely to him.

In the fear of God. For if the fear of God influences us, we will not be so much disposed to indulge ourselves, nor will there be a bursting forth of that audacity of wantonness, which showed itself among the Corinthians. For how does it happen, that many delight themselves so much in outward idolatry, and haughtily defend so gross a vice, unless it be, that they think that they mock God with impunity? If the fear of God had dominion over them, they would immediately, on the first moment, leave off all cavils, without requiring to be constrained to it by any disputations.

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