2 Corinthians 6:11
We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians. Our hearts are open wide.
A Christian Minister's AppealW. H. Stowell, D. D.2 Corinthians 6:11-13
Heart ExpansionCaleb Morris.2 Corinthians 6:11-13
Spiritual EnlargementCongregational Pulpit2 Corinthians 6:11-13
Tendency of the Gospel to Enlarge the HeartN. Emmons, D. D.2 Corinthians 6:11-13
The Apostle's Love and its Desired RecompenseF. W. Robertson, M. A.2 Corinthians 6:11-13
The Enlargement of Christian BenevolenceR. Hall, M. A.2 Corinthians 6:11-13
The Influence of Religion to Enlarge the MindJ. Lathrop, D. D.2 Corinthians 6:11-13
His Warmth of AffectionC. Lipscomb 2 Corinthians 6:11-18

The ruling thought of the chapter is twofold. St. Paul, the ambassador, is a fellow worker with God in Christ, and as such he is deeply concerned that the Church at Corinth should not fail to use its means and opportunity for salvation then within reach. A critical period had come in its history, and he saw it very clearly. What so sagacious as love? what love so abounding as his? "O ye Corinthians," out of the depths of my heart, the heart just described - out of its purity, knowledge, long-suffering; "O ye Corinthians," by my kindness, by the Spirit of God in me, by love unfeigned; "O ye Corinthians," amid my chastenings from God and my afflictions from men; - whom I have besought not to receive the grace of God in vain, once more I pray you hearken. "Our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged." Only a very large and roomy nature could have entertained the thoughts and feelings, could have suffered, could have passed through the experiences which had just been described; but various and multiplied as were that heart's burdens and tribulations, it had ample space for his brethren at Corinth. "Ye are not straitened in us [no narrow place you occupy in our affection], but ye are straitened in your own bowels [narrowness in your love for us]," the word "bowels" being used to express the seat of the feelings. "For a recompense [return of love]... be ye also enlarged," and he asks this as a father seeking affection from his children. A sudden break occurs in the movement of thought. Did the use of the word "children" quicken a feeling akin to parental solicitude? Or did the sorrows he was undergoing in behalf of this Church at Corinth, a moment before so vividly pictured, give him a new insight into the dangers surrounding its members? Or was he recalling the supreme truth in his theology, the atoning death of Christ, and the righteousness that came to us and became a part of us? One in whose mind associations gathered so very rapidly and suggestions arose with such spontaneous vigour would probably feel the sudden return of the ideas and images on which he had been dwelling. A peculiarity with him is this partial development of a thought on its first appearance in his intellect. A similar law is traceable in his emotional nature. There is a second production, and this "aftermath" is very valuable. The subject under consideration (vers. 14-18) had engaged attention in the First Epistle, and he now reverts to it under the apprehension that these Corinthians, who were particularly exposed to the "evil communications" that "corrupt good manners," might receive the grace of God in vain. If there had been a strong reaction against the Judaizing party in the Corinthian Church, that may have introduced unusual hazards as to Gentilism. Reactions, no matter how wise and truthful in themselves, always involve more or less danger. Facts are distorted, truths are mixed with prejudices, and the victory is our victory. Generally, indeed, only when time has befriended our infirmities and given us an opportunity to recover from reactions are we put in an attitude to see and judge with entire fairness. But, whatever the impulse at the moment on St. Paul's mind, his words are surcharged with energy. Question hastens after question. "Unequally yoked together with unbelievers" is the trumpet note of alarm. What the union was he does not specify. It may have been promiscuous intercourse with heathens, or participation in idol festivals, or mixed marriages. Whichever it was, it was unequal yoking, a very ill-devised union; and under how many aspects did it deserve condemnation? The heart of the evil is exposed; could righteousness have fellowship with unrighteousness, light commune with darkness, Christ have concord with Satan, believers have part with infidels, the temple of God agree with idols? Metaphors multiply, as they commonly do with him when excited. By their profession of Christ they were pledged to depart from all iniquity, especially all associations that might revive their former Gentile tastes and habits, most especially those social usages which identified them with idolatry. Quoting twice from the Old Testament (Leviticus and Isaiah), he shows what the true religion demanded of its subjects in its earlier stage under Moses and its later under the prophets, in both cases separation from a world given over to heathenism. Only by means of this line of demarcation between them and the corruptions of society would God acknowledge them as his people, walk in their midst, and be a Father unto them. "Touch not the unclean thing." It was the language of Judaism from her tabernacle in the wilderness, from her temple in Jerusalem, and now reaffirmed and emphasized anew and with most solemn intensity by Christianity. St. Paul saw that history repeats itself. Not otherwise were it history. The peril of the gospel was precisely that which had wrecked Judaism. From this point of view it is profitable to re-read this earnest chapter. Chrysostom and others have spoken of its lofty eloquence. Stanley, Robertson, Webster, and Wilkinson have taught us to appreciate the breadth of its ideas and the classical force of its diction. It is a chapter of warning from the memorials of the past, as that past demonstrates most signally the jealousy of God's rule over men. On the one hand, we have the terrible fascinations of that spirit of idolatry which in some form or other is the besetting sin of the human race, the innate disposition to supplant Jehovah, the fatal surrender to "the god of this world," never so blinding as when he makes men as gods unto themselves. On the other hand, we have the visible symbols of God's presence among his people in the temple and its institutions, and further, the proof of the Spirit's power in their hearts, his actual indwelling and sanctifying agency. Yet this grace may be received in vain. The higher the gift, the more freedom in its use. No sooner has the apostle set forth the fact that God was in Christ recovering the world unto himself, than the magnitude of the risk presses on his attention. The risk was altogether in man. It was a risk, moreover, in the Christian man who had received grace and might lose its influence. Law had been violated, but Christ, as the eternal Son of God, had expiated the guilt, and by faith we accepted him as the Divine Reconciler. Man's responsibility had utterly failed under Law; would it fail under grace? If it did, there was an end of hope, since there remaineth no other sacrifice for sin. St. Paul was aware of the local circumstances that enhanced the dangers of the Corinthians. The style of the appeal recognizes this fact. Let it not be forgotten, however, that, while men as men have these local surroundings, Christianity deals with man as man, and, accordingly, the warning is addressed to us not to receive the grace of God in vain. Our probation goes on in the midst of contingencies; temptation and trial are things most completely shut out from ordinary modes of calculation, and no prophetic eye reads our future. Yet this very sense of uncertainty is the most merciful of all providential arrangements. It is a source of great power. Except for its keen sensitiveness, our liability to evil would be far greater. Apprehension acts in two ways - it constantly reduces the amount of evil existing; and again, it fortifies us to resist the evil that remains. Now, Christianity operates in both these modes. With the latter only have we now to do. The problem forevery individual Christian is the efficiency of grace in his resistance to Satanic influence. So far as the Scriptures teach us on this subject, Jesus Christ had no temptations save those which Satan offered; and, while we have no warrant to say this of believers, we may safely affirm that it is the reconciled man in Christ, "made the righteousness of God in him," who is the object of Satan's sharpest assaults. To destroy the power of grace in the child of God is his unceasing effort. Now, this grace is received through two great channels - the conscience and the affections. St. Paul is referring continually to these organs of spiritual activity, and hence, we infer, that he would have his converts most earnest at these points. Conscience must be enlightened by the gospel and directed by the Spirit. It must be a conscience of that righteousness we have in Christ and through Christ, external to us as the ground of justification, internal to us as the regenerating and sanctifying work of the Holy Ghost. "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." But this sense of righteousness in the conscience must act likewise in the affections, or it cannot be "the law of the Spirit of life." If, then, St. Paul commended the gospel "to every man's conscience in the sight of God," was he content to rest here? "O ye Corinthians,... our heart is enlarged." Open your hearts, open them freely, open them as mine is opened unto you. If they would thus realize the righteousness of Christ, they could not receive the grace of God in vain. It is here, while speaking of the enlarged heart, that he appeals to them as his children. "Be ye also enlarged." Here we see how grace is lost; the heart, instead of expanding, is narrowed and cramped. Ministers must preach the gospel of love; and, to do this, they must be lovely in spirit and conduct. Christians must accept the grace of the gospel in hearts that enlarge, so that growth in loveliness may develop strength of character in its most enduring form. Just at this point backsliding sets in. No man's conscience begins to be blinded till his heart begins to be narrowed. Sympathy is checked; openness of feeling arrested; giving to charitable objects abated; cordiality of intercourse with ministers and members of the Church supplanted by fault finding, prejudice, and censoriousness; and then conscience becomes careless, then inert, then callous, and grace dies in the soul. The enlarging heart is the secret of growth. Nor is there any growth so beautiful as this in itself and so inspiriting as an example to others. Its fellowship is with souls that are its kindred in Christ; its communion with that wisdom and purity symbolized by light; its concord with him who took upon himself our nature that we might bear his image; its part or share is in the possession of holiness; and its capacity is a temple, or habitation, of which "God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them." - L.

O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.

1. It consists of a full exhibition to you of all the truths which the gospel teaches for your salvation.

2. It comprises an affectionate desire for your enjoyment of all the blessings which the gospel offers. This enjoyment —

(1)Comes from God.

(2)Is maintained by devout meditation and prayer.

(3)Is encouraged by examples.

(4)Expresses itself by earnestness of spirit in self-denying labours.


1. Take a firm and steady hold of the simple gospel, as divinely suited to the ends for which it has been given.

2. Meet the ministers of the gospel in the spirit in which they come to you.

3. Extend your own views, plans, and hopes in connection with the enlargement of the Church.

(1)What can you do?

(2)What is the wisest way of doing it?

(3)What are your encouragements and hopes?Address —

1. Those who have no disposition to respond to this appeal — why not?

2. Such as have.

3. Those confirmed by the meetings.

4. Those who are awakened.

(W. H. Stowell, D. D.)

I. THE APOSTLE'S AFFECTION overflows in an exuberant apostrophe (ver. 11). His love was deep, and this flow of eloquence arose out of the expansion of his heart.

1. "Our heart is enlarged." This remark is wonderful considering the provocations Paul had received. The Corinthians had denied the truthfulness of his ministry, charged him with interested motives, sneered at his manner, etc. In the face of this his heart expands! — partly with compassion. Their insults only impressed him with a sense of their need. How worthy a successor of his Master's spirit! And this is the true test of gracious charity. Does the heart expand or narrow as life goes on? If it narrows, ii misconception or opposition wither love, be sure that that love had no root. "If ye love them that love you, what reward have ye?, And this love is given to all, partly from looking on all as immortal souls in Christ. The everlasting principle within makes all the difference. Hold fast to love. If men wound your heart, let them not sour or embitter it; let them not shut up or narrow it; let them only expand it more and more, and be always able to say with Paul, "My heart is enlarged."

2. "Our mouth is open unto you." He might have shut his lips, and in dignified pride refused to plead his own cause. But instead he speaks his thoughts aloud, and, like Luther, lays his whole heart open to view. Paul had no afterthought, no reservation — he was a genuine man.


1. The enlargement of their heart towards him.

2. To be shown in their separation from the world and from all uncleanness. It was not simply affection towards himself that he desired, but devotion to God.

3. This is the only true recompense of ministerial work.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)


1. It is not mere mental expansion. History supplies too many examples of intellectual greatness associated with moral degradation.

2. It is not mere liberality of sentiment.

3. It consists in enlarged views of men as the subject of moral government, and enlarged desires for promoting their well-being. It is Christianity only that inspires those views and those feelings. It gives to man enlarged expectations, and teaches him the way to realise them.


1. Examine the present state of the heart.

2. Meditate upon the great evangelical facts. "God so loved the world," etc.

3. Commune with men of enlarged souls. He that walketh with wise men shall be wise, he that walketh with good souls may participate in their goodness.

4. Hold fellowship with the Son of God. Be much with Him, drink in His sentiments, imbibe His spirit.

III. THE NEED OF HEART EXPANSION. Why should we seek it?

1. The heart is capable of it. How the gospel makes little souls great!

2. We are representatives of Christ. How great in soul should Christians be who have to stand between the loving Son of God and the fallen world!

3. Enlargement of heart is essential to our usefulness. It is only the heart expanding with love that can turn time, talent, property, acquirements, to spiritual use.

4. We are responsible for the condition of the heart whether contracted or enlarged.

(Caleb Morris.)

The gospel had enlarged the heart of the apostle, and he supposed it had a tendency to enlarge the hearts of the Corinthians. His views and feelings were once confined to himself, and to objects connected with his personal interests. But after he had understood and loved the gospel his heart expanded, and he felt interested in everything comprised in the great and benevolent scheme of man's redemption.


1. The heart is something different from the faculties of the mind, and consists in free voluntary exercises, emotions, or affections.

2. Every moral agent has some supreme object in view. Self is the object in the unsanctified heart, but the renewed heart has a regard to the interest of others.

3. The heart is large or small in proportion to the largeness or smallness of the objects upon which ii terminates.

4. Men's hearts enlarge as their capacities, relations, connections, and spheres of action increase. When David was a shepherd his mind and heart were as small as his flock; when he became a general they were as large as his army; when he ascended the throne they were enlarged in proportion to the interests of the nation.

5. It is true, indeed, the heart does not always keep pace with the progress of capacity and knowledge. If a man's supreme object be mean or unimportant it will contract his mind and feelings. The man who makes property his supreme object sees nothing in the universe superior to property, and esteems nothing important but what tends to property. So with amusements, etc. As a man's heart is always where his treasure is, so his heart is as large and no larger than his supposed treasure.

II. THE GOSPEL HAS A DIRECT TENDENCY TO ENLARGE THE HEARTS OF THOSE WHO EMBRACE IT. The gospel comprises the highest good of the universe, and those who embrace it cordially approve of this design. They love the good that God loves, and desire to have it promoted in the way proposed in the gospel. As soon, therefore, as any become cordially united to Christ, the discovery of this great good immediately expands their hearts. The gospel tends to enlarge men's hearts —

1. Towards God. It gives the fullest and brightest display of His glory.

2. Towards Christ. The great and glorious Saviour is nowhere revealed but here. Nature discovers none such. As men's knowledge of the gospel therefore increases, their love, gratitude, and whole hearts are enlarged towards Christ.

3. Towards the Church of Christ.

4. Towards all mankind.

5. Towards all created beings, whether holy or unholy, and towards every living creature, from the highest angel to the smallest insect. These all belong to God, and are a part of tits interest.

6. To take an interest in all events. They all stand inseparably connected with the extensive design of the gospel, which assures believers that all things are theirs, whether past, present, or to come, and shall eventually work together for their good.If the gospel tends to enlarge the views and hearts of those who embrace it, then —

1. Unbelievers have no just ground to object to it as enfeebling the minds and contracting the hearts of men.

2. We see why the Scripture represents believers as far more amiable and excellent than unbelievers.

3. They sincerely desire that the gospel may be universally known and embraced.

4. They know by experience that they cannot serve God and mammon.

5. They ardently desire to know more and more about it.

6. It enables them to perform all the duties which it requires with great pleasure and delight. "I will run the way of Thy commandments when Thou shalt enlarge my heart."

(N. Emmons, D. D.)

Be ye also enlarged
Congregational Pulpit.
Consider the text —


1. In understanding and wisdom.

2. In the affections of the heart.

3. In the blessedness of the future. "Oh taste and see that the Lord is good."


1. Be ye also enlarged in the knowledge and love of Christ.

2. In prayer and holy effort.

III. AS IT REMINDS OF HEAVEN. Heaven will be an eternal enlargement, for —

1. There will be perfect comprehension. Nothing to perplex, nothing to obscure.

2. The soul will be released from its earthly prison-house.

3. The bliss of the redeemed will be ever increasing.

(Congregational Pulpit.)


1. Negatively.(1) Not in expansion of intellect, for there are many in whose character moral deficiencies form a striking contrast to brilliancy of intellect.(2) Others flatter themselves that they possess superior enlargement because they entertain an equal indifference to all the varieties of human opinion in religious subjects, and feel no regard for any sect or creed. This would, no doubt, be a very cheap and easy doctrine to embrace; by those who are indifferent concessions are easily made to almost any extent, and there can be no great liberality in sacrificing truth where no real attachment to truth is felt.

2. Positively it consists in a real benevolence to the whole Church of Christ, as opposed to any selfish views of our own salvation, or of our own Church, as exclusively concerned. There are some who live solely to themselves, others limit their benevolence to the circle of their own family or of their acquaintance, and others extend their benevolent interest to every case of distress that falls within their view. And this is the utmost extent of human benevolence, apart from the religion of Christ. The proud Roman confined all his benevolence to Rome. That all nations were of one blood never entered into the views of the most enlightened men in the pagan world. But suppose us enabled to open our eyes to a comprehensive view of mankind as one vast family; suppose God to have clearly discovered Himself as the universal Father, from whom all have alike departed by sin; suppose Him to have shown us that one great method of recovery has been provided for all, what should be the effect of such a revelation but first to attach us to God as our common centre, and then to the whole family of man as called to form the Church of God?


1. It is perfectly reasonable and in harmony with nature. We are so circumstanced that we are perpetually and inevitably led out of ourselves. There are natural emotions that are purely benevolent; pity, e.g., identifies us with others. In all our social affections, supposing them genuine, we act on the ground of a disinterested benevolence; it is their happiness, not our own, that we primarily seek.

2. It agrees with the genius of Christianity, the grand display of the Divine benevolence, "Herein is love," etc. Hence the apostle declares, "The love of Christ constrains us." Such an example of compassionate benevolence — of enlargement of heart — once perceived and felt absorbs the soul.

3. It is conducive to our own happiness. The more we identify ourselves with the interest of others the more we consult our own happiness. In the pursuit of any merely solitary schemes we shall reap only disappointment. When the barriers of selfishness are broken down, and the current of benevolence is suffered to flow generously abroad, and circulate far and near around, then we are in a capacity of the greatest and best enjoyment.

4. It tends to promote all public good.


1. Acquaintance with God. First draw near to the Father in that new and living way, for "whoso loveth Him that begot will also love all those that are begotten." Once taste for yourself that the Lord is gracious, and then you will find that you "cannot but speak of what you have seen and heard."

2. Prayer for the Holy Spirit's influence; by this alone can our hearts be truly enlarged in love to man.

3. Connection with great objects of beneficence. The mind takes a tincture from the objects it pursues. If you engage your attention in the concerns of Christian philanthropy your mind will be dilated in proportion to your ardour.

(R. Hall, M. A.)

Of this enlargedness of mind the apostle was an eminent example. All his worldly prospects he cheerfully relinquished for the service of Christ.

I. ITS NATURE AND OPERATIONS. The enlarged Christian —

1. Entertains comprehensive and connected ideas of the religion of the gospel, and regards the several parts of it according to their comparative usefulness and importance.(1) There are some who confine their zeal to certain favourite sentiments and usages, and these not the most important, like those primitive believers whose attachment to the rites and ceremonies almost excluded charity to their more liberal brethren.(2) The enlarged Christian imbibes his religious sentiments fresh and pure from the deep fountain of Divine truth, not from the shallow, variable stream of human opinion. Contemplating the perfect character of God, he concludes that all religion must consist in rectitude of heart and holiness of life; that love to Him and benevolence to men must be its leading principles.

2. Judges freely and independently in matters of religion. He will not receive doctrines as the commandments of men, nor, on the other hand, will he cavil and object against them to show his superiority to the opinions of men.

3. Yields an unreserved submission to the Divine government. To a contracted mind the ways of God are subjects of daily complaint, but the man of an enlarged heart contemplates the ways of God on a more extensive scale. He therefore acquiesces in all the allotments of providence, and rejoices that his interests are in better hands than his own.

4. Is of a humble mind. The man of a narrow heart thinks highly of his own worth, is tenacious of his own opinions, and devoted to his own interest; but the man of liberal sentiments thinks soberly, speaks modestly, and walks humbly. Influenced by this spirit, the Christian reveres the word of revelation, and receives its instructions with submission.

5. Has a benevolent heart. He whose feelings are contracted within himself views with indifference the misfortunes of a neighbour, or takes advantage from them. But the enlarged Christian considers all men as his brethren. He can sacrifice his own interest to the superior happiness of his fellow-men, like Paul, who sought not his own profit, but the profit of many, that they might be saved.


1. An intimate acquaintance with the Holy Scriptures. It is not any and every kind of knowledge that will enlarge the mind, but only-that which is great in its object and useful in its tendency.

2. Sub, mission to the power of the gospel. Knowledge is highly useful, but this alone will rather swell than enlarge the mind. It is charity which edifies.

3. Social inter. course, especially social worship.

4. Prayer.

(J. Lathrop, D. D.)

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