Paul's 2nd Letter to the Corinthians and Paul's Letter to the Ephesians

 July 16, 2014

Tom Lowe

The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians



               Lesson II.C.1.a: Sympathy Towards Paul. (6:11-13)


2nd Corinthians 6:11-13 (NKJV)

11 O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open.

12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections.

13 Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.







11 O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open.


O ye Corinthians

 “O ye Corinthians” is arare and very personal form of loving appeal, which occurs nowhere else in these Epistles. This passage is an affectionate declaration of his frankness and sympathy, and an appeal that the Corinthians should show the same.


There was clearly a pause here as the letter was dictated. The rush of thoughts had reached its highest level. He rests, and feels almost as if some apology were needed for such a fierce outpouring of emotion. And now he writes as if personally pleading with them. Nowhere else in the whole range of his Epistles do we find any parallel to this form of speech—this “O ye Corinthians.” He has to tell them that he speaks out of the fullness of his heart, that if his mouth has been opened with an unusual frankness it is because his heart has felt more than common sympathy for them.


We have spoken openly to you

O ye Corinthians, we have spoken with perfect frankness on all points, keeping nothing back, because we love you. This is an affectionate expression of his honesty when speaking or writing to them, and it has reference to what he had just said. It means that, when his heart was full on the subject, words would flow freely, and that he had given vent to the heated language which he had just used because his heart was full. He loved them, he wanted them to enjoy God’s blessings, and he spoke to them with the utmost freedom, saying what he thought, and what he planned for them, and what he had done; hence he tells them, we shall hide and conceal nothing from you, we shall deal with you with all frankness and faithfulness.


He seems to be paving the way for what he says afterwards about their unequal fellowship with unbelievers. And, at the same time he may have meant to contradict what some at Corinth had said about him—that he concealed certain things from them: “But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. (2 Co. 4:2).


Our heart is wide open

“Our heart is wide open” means we love to you, and have eager desires for your good, which naturally manifests itself in passionate and glowing language. The main idea here is that he had a strong affection for them; a heart which embraced and loved them all, and which expressed itself in the language of deep emotion. He loved them so much that he was willing to be rebuked, and to be persecuted, and to be poor, and to be accused of being evil. "I cannot be silent. I cannot conceal or mislead anyone. I am full of fervent affection, and that naturally vents itself in the strong language which I have used." True love will find a means of expressing itself. A heart full of love will give vent to its feelings. There will be no pretending and hypocrisy there. And if a minister loves his people he will pour out the affections of his heart in strong and glowing language. He felt this way in spite of all the wrongs which some of them had done him. Compare

  • 2 Corinthians 7:3: “I do not say this to condemn; for I have said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together.”
  • Matthew 12:34: “O generation of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
  • Romans 10:10: “For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.”


12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections.


You are not restricted by us

The meaning is the opposite of the previous verse. “You are not confined within narrow limits by us. You are not brought into difficulties by us; we do not afflict and distress you, or fill you with anguish and trouble. The word “restricted” presents a natural contrast to the expansion, the enlargement, of heart of the previous verse. There was no narrowness in him. In that large heart of his there was room for them and for a thousand others. It had, as it were, an infinite elasticity in its sympathies.


Any narrowness of heart you feel for me, is not from a lack of largeness of heart on my part towards you, but from lack of it on your part towards me. We love you fully, ardently, and are ready to do all that can be done for your welfare. There is no lack of room in our affections toward you. I have opened my whole heart to you; but you are inwardly narrow towards me.


But you are restricted by your own

“But you are restricted by your own” means that you are restricted because of your own mistakes and misapprehensions; therefore, you are wrong in your opinion of me, when you accuse me of misusing my apostolic office. Or the cause of your trouble and sorrow is within yourselves, because of your allowing the incestuous person, false teachers, and other scandalous persons, to remain in your fellowship; which was an error I could not help but notice and warn you of the consequences, because of the apostolic authority which God has committed to me.


You have room enough in our hearts, our hearts are so enlarged with love for you, that they are large enough to hold all of you; an expression of the great love, and strong affection the apostle felt for the Corinthians; when, on the other hand, they had but very little love for him comparatively; he had a heart enlarged enough to hold all of them with room to spare; but they could not find room enough in their hearts and affections for him.


13 Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.

Now in return for the same

   “Now in return for the same”expresses the idea of reciprocity; that their love for him may be in response to his love for them; that just as you have my heart, I may have yours, and that I have the same room in your heart, as you have in mine. The Vulgate Latin version reads, “having the same recompence”; and the Arabic version renders it, “grant to me the same recompence”; and the Syriac version, “recompense to me my usuries that are with you”; that is, repay (or, compensate) me with affection, let love be returned for love. He is saying, “By way of recompense, open your hearts in the same manner toward me as I have done toward you. It is all the reward or compensation which I ask from you; all the return which I desire. I do not ask for silver or gold, or any earthly possessions. I ask only a return of love, and a devotedness to the cause which I love, and which I endeavor to promote."


I speak as to children

They, the Corinthians, are his spiritual children—“For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (1 Corinthians 4:15). They might have had many tutors, who taught them as children, but Paul was their father who had begotten them in the gospel; that is, converted them. The relationship existing between them requires mutual affection; for as a father should love his children, so children should love their father. Paul uses the same metaphor in other places:

  • 1 Thessalonians 2:11: “as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children”Not only in an authoritative, but in an affectionate way, and also with solid wisdom and judgment; for in such a relationship, in a Spiritual sense, did the apostle and his fellow ministers substitute for their fathers. 
  • 1 Corinthians 4:15: “For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.”  I speak as a parent addressing his children. I maintain toward you the relationship of a spiritual father, and I have a right to require and expect a return of affection—children would naturally be expected to recompense their parents' love with similar love.


You also be open

What does he demand of them; that they should love him in return for his love? What they needed in their spiritual life was scope and expansiveness of affection. “Love me as I love you. Give to me the same proofs of affection which I have given you.” The idea in this verse is that the only compensation or remuneration which he expected for all the love which he had shown them, and for all his labor and self-denials in their behalf—“But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings” (2 Corinthians 6:4-5)—was, that they would love him, and be obedient to the laws of the Gospel requiring them to be separate from the world—“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.’ Therefore ‘Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.’ ‘I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty’” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). One ground of the claim which he had to their affection was, that he sustained toward them the relationship of a father, and that he had a right to require and to expect a return of  the love he had for them. Treat me as I have treated you: Be as I am, “Brethren, I urge you to become like me, for I became like you.” (Galatians 4:12).



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