Vol. 6, No. 2
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The beginning of 2 Corinthians 6:2 is a quotation from Isaiah 49:8. The phrase shows God's willingness to save all who will obey throughout all of time, past, present and future. The latter portion of 2 Corinthians 6:2 reads, "behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation." This phrase indicates the importance of salvation. Before studying the significance of "now" and "day" we need first understand salvation.
There are two questions one must answer to understand salvation. The first question is, "What is salvation?" The Greek word soteria is used, indicating "rescue or safety" (Strong). Salvation is a rescuing, but from what? From Hebrews 9:28 we find one who has salvation is one who is without sin. Salvation, therefore, is a rescuing from sin.
The second question regarding salvation is, "How do we obtain salvation?" Mark 16:16 tells us how to become saved, or obtain salvation. The passage reads, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." There is more to belief than acknowledging something true. When the Bible speaks of belief, or faith, it refers to an obedient faith. Consider the Book of Romans to emphasize this point. The beginning of the Book of Romans (1:5) speaks of "obedience to the faith." The end of the Book of Romans (16:26) speaks of an "obedience of faith." We then see from Romans 5:1 that we are "justified by faith." Since the beginning and end of the book both speak of an obedient faith, it can be concluded that the faith addressed in the middle of the book is an obedient faith as well. Hebrews 5:8-9 informs us why we must have an obedient faith, "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him."
Further, it must be noted that the Bible also uses belief as a euphemism for the entire "Plan of Salvation." This plan is not a manmade plan, but a divine plan. God first requires one to hear his Word (Romans 10:17), thus building faith, which is another requirement (John 8:24). That obedient faith then causes one to repent of sins (Acts 17:30), which involves a change of heart and actions. According to Romans 10:9-10, one must also confess Christ as the Son of God before being baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). It is after one has completed these "steps" that he has received salvation. The simple answer, then, for how we receive salvation is by following the God-designed "Plan of Salvation."
Since salvation is now understood, we can move to the significance of the word "now." Much is said with the use of this Greek word nun. Strong's considers it "a primary particle of present time." The emphasis is that present time is all we have. The past is gone and cannot be changed, while the future is uncertain. The finality of the past is evident in that we cannot return to it. Events of the past are, consequently, unchangeable. The uncertainty of the future is seen in James 4:14, "Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." Proverbs 27:1 and Matthew 6:34 also speak of the morrow in light of the fact that it is uncertain and we should not necessarily plan to experience it. For every second we live on this earth, we experience the present. For every new second that comes along, the present fades into the past while the future drifts into the present. The past is no more; the future is not yet; the present is. For this reason, we must use the time we now have as though it is all we have.
Second Corinthian 6:2 also uses the phrase "day of salvation" to emphasize the importance of the present. A "day of salvation" is not to say that salvation can only be achieved during a specific day. Matthew Henry writes, "The gospel day is a day of salvation, the means of grace the means of salvation, the offers of the gospel the offers of salvation, and the present time the only proper time to accept of these offers." The "day of salvation" is linked to a previous phrase in the text, "in a time accepted" (2 Corinthians 6:2). Both phrases indicate God has chosen a time when he is willing to offer the greatest form of salvation. This is a time God has "designed that his salvation should be extended to the world" (Barnes). Barnes further states it is a time "fixed as the appropriate period for extending the knowledge of his truth and his salvation," thus proving there was a "favorable period of salvation." This favorable period of salvation is the time God appointed that his salvation be made known to man.
When Paul used the phrase "day of salvation," he was referring to the era in which he was writing, the Christian Age. In times past, the Patriarchal Age and the Mosaic Age, God's plan for salvation was not yet complete. During the Christian Age, however, Christ completed the way for salvation. Paul is once again emphasizing the importance of taking advantage of the opportunity before us. During past ages, man did not have the completed way for salvation. Since the future is not known, the opportunity for salvation is there uncertain. This era, the Christian Age, is when man has the greatest opportunity for salvation.
"Now is the day of salvation" according to 2 Corinthians 6:2. Salvation is a rescue from sin. We must follow the God-ordained plan in order to receive this rescuing. Now, in the present, the Christian Era, is the appropriate time to follow God's commands and receive salvation. The past is forever lost, therefore unchangeable. The future is unknown and uncertain. Now, the present, is the only opportunity we are guaranteed we can act on God's saving grace. J.W. Shepherd writes, "There is a 'now' running through the ages. For each church and individual, there is a golden present which may never again recur, and in which lie boundless possibilities for the future" (85). Make good use of the opportunity you now have, as it may be your last.
Barnes, Albert. Barnes' Notes. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 1997.
Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition. CD-ROM. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1991.
Shepherd, J.W. Commentary on the Second Epistle to the Corinthians. Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1989.
Strong, John. Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, 1994.