Weapons Of Righteousness

2 Corinthians 6: 7

God is everwhereAlthough not indicated by the NIV’s punctuation nor by verse divisions, Paul now lists four more characteristics of his ministry. These are not so much moral qualities as they are foundational power which drives his ministry. These are anchored by the first reference to the Holy Spirit and the last reference to the power of God. Some contend that a reference to the Holy Spirit does not fit in this list of moral qualities and, therefore, suggest it means “spirit of holiness” as a moral quality. However, when viewed in conjunction with “the power of God,” the fourth in the list, it seems most apt to refer to the Holy Spirit. Besides that, the Holy Spirit is routinely linked to love by Paul (Rom 5:5; 15:30; Gal 5:22; Phil 2:1–2) just as truthful speech is linked to the power of God in the gospel (1 Cor 1:18; 1 Thess 1:5; Eph 1:13; Col 1:5).

After using the proposition “in” (ἐν, en) with 18 words in a row, Paul switches to “through” (διά, dia) for the hodgepodge of four contrasts which follow at this point. The contrast in this first set is between “the right” and “the left,” the preposition “in” not actually occurring in the Greek. Most likely these weapons refer to spears or swords which soldiers commonly held in their right hands and to shields which they held in their left hands. One was offensive, the other defensive; thus, Paul indicates that he has kept fully prepared to meet the onslaughts at every hand in ministry. This he has done with weapons he characterizes as having the quality of “righteousness” (δικαιοσύνη, dikaiosynē).

2corinthians214Does Paul have in mind personal moral qualities like the four listed in 6:6, or is he thinking of qualities associated with the gospel, more like the preceding four items? He uses the phrase “weapons of righteousness” the first way also in Rom 6:13 which influences many to that intention. The second way relates more to the classic “armor of God” passage in Eph 6:11–17, “righteousness” appearing in that list as the “breastplate.” Since the three contrasts which follow this one seem to assume an assault on his character, the balance tips toward displaying righteousness to all comers. However, it is possible that for Paul there is not much to separate his personal righteousness from that of the gospel. The credibility of the gospel rises and falls with his and vice versa.

Baker, W. R. (1999). 2 Corinthians (pp. 249–250). Joplin, MO: College Press Pub.