For he saith - see Isaiah 49:8. In that passage the declaration refers to the Messiah, and the design is there to show that God would be favorable to him; that he would hear him when he prayed, and would make him the medium of establishing a covenant with his own people, and of spreading the true religion around the earth; see my note on that place. Paul quotes the passage here not as affirming that he used it in exactly the sense, or with reference to the same design for which it was originally spoken, but as expressing the idea which he wished to convey, or in accordance with the general principle implied in its use in Isaiah. The general idea there, or the principle involved, was, that under the Messiah God would be willing to hear; that is, that he would be disposed to show mercy to the Jew and to the Gentile. This is the main idea of the passage as used by Paul. Under the Messiah, it is said by Isaiah, God would be willing to show mercy. That would be an acceptable time. That time says Paul, has arrived. The Messiah has come, and now God is willing to pardon and save. And the doctrine in this verse is, that under the Messiah, or in the time of Christ, God is willing to show mercy to people. In him alone is the throne of grace accessible, and now that he has come, God is willing to pardon, and people should avail themselves of the offers of mercy.
I have heard thee - The Messiah. I have listened to thy prayer for the salvation of the pagan world. The promise to the Messiah was, that the pagan world should be given to him; but it was a promise that it should be in answer to his prayers and intercessions. “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the pagan for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession;” Psalm 2:8. The salvation of the pagan world, and of all who are saved, is to be in answer to the prevalent intercession of the Lord Jesus.
In a time accepted - In Isaiah, “in an acceptable time.” The idea is, that he had prayed in a time when God was disposed to show mercy; the time when in his wise arrangements he had designed that his salvation should be extended to the world. It is a time which he had fixed as the appropriate period for extending the knowledge of his truth and his salvation; and it proves that there was to be a period which was the favorable period of salvation, that is, which God esteemed to be the proper period for making his salvation known to people. At such a period the Messiah would pray, and the prayer would be answered.
In the day of salvation - In the time when I am disposed to show salvation.
Have I succored thee - The Messiah. I have sustained thee, that is, in the effort to make salvation known. God here speaks of there being an accepted time, a limited period, in which petitions in favor of the world would be acceptable to him. That time Paul says had come; and the idea which he urges is, that people should avail themselves of that, and embrace now the offers of mercy.
Behold, now is the accepted time - The meaning of this passage is, the “Messiah is come. The time referred to by Isaiah has arrived. It is now a time when God is ready to show compassion, to hear prayer, and to have mercy on mankind. Only through the Messiah, the Lord Jesus, does he show mercy, and people should therefore now embrace the offers of pardon.” The doctrine taught here, therefore. is, that through the Lord Jesus, and where he is preached, God is willing to pardon and save people; and this is true wherever he is preached, and as long as people live under the sound of the gospel. The world is under a dispensation of mercy, and God is willing to show compassion, and while this exists, that is, while people live, the offers of salvation are to he freely made to them. The time will come when it will not be an acceptable time with God. The day of mercy will be closed; the period of trial will be ended; and people will be removed to a world where no mercy is shown, and where compassion is unknown. This verse, which should be read as a parenthesis, is designed to be connected with the argument which the apostle is urging, and which he presented in the previous chapter. The general doctrine is, that people should seek reconciliation with God. To enforce that, he here says, that it was now the acceptable time, the time when God was willing to be reconciled to human beings. The general sentiment of this passage may be thus expressed:
(1) Under the gospel it is an acceptable time, a day of mercy, a time when God is willing to show mercy to people.
(2) there may be special seasons which may be especially called the acceptable, or accepted time:
(a)When the gospel is pressed on the attention by the faithful preaching of his servants, or by the urgent entreaties of friends;
(b)When it is brought to our attention by any striking dispensation of Providence;
(c)When the Spirit of God strives with us, and brings us to deep reflection, or to conviction for sin;
(d)In a revival of religion, when many are pressing into the kingdom - it is at all such seasons an accepted time, a day of salvation. a day which we should improve. It is “now” such a season, because:
(i)The time of mercy will pass by, and God will not be willing to pardon the sinner who goes unprepared to eternity.
(ii)Because we cannot calculate on the future. We have no assurance, no evidence that we shall live another day, or hour.
(iii)It is taught here, that the time will come when it will not be an accepted time. Now is the accepted time; at some future period it will not be.
If people grieve away the Holy Spirit; if they continue to reject the gospel; if they go unprepared to eternity, no mercy can be found. God does not design to pardon beyond the grave. He has made no provision for forgiveness there; and they who are not pardoned in this life, must be unpardoned forever.
For he saith - That is, God hath said it, by the prophet Isaiah, Isaiah 49:8; which place the apostle quotes verbatim et literatim from the Septuagint. And from this we may at once see what is the accepted time, and what the day of salvation. The advent of the Messiah was the רצון עת eth ratson, the time of God's pleasure or benevolence, of which all the faithful were in expectation; and the day of salvation, שועה יום yom yeshuah, was the time in which this salvation should be manifested and applied. The apostle therefore informs them that this is the time predicted by the prophet; and the ministry of reconciliation being exercised in full force is a proof that the prophecy is fulfilled; and therefore the apostle confidently asserts, Behold, Now is this accepted time, Now the Messiah reigns, Now is the Gospel dispensation, and therefore Now is the day of salvation; that is, the very time in which the power of God is present to heal, and in which every sinner believing on the Lord Jesus may be saved.
I rather think that this second verse should be read immediately after the last verse of the preceding chapter; as where it now stands it greatly disturbs the connection between the first and the third verses. I will set down the whole in the order in which I think they should stand. 2 Corinthians 5:20; : Now then we are ambassadors for Christ; as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead, to be reconciled to God. For he hath made him a sin-offering for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him: for he saith, "I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee." Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. Immediately after this, the sixth chapter will very properly commence, and we shall see that the connection will be then undisturbed: -
We then, as fellow workers, beseech you also, that ye receive not this grace of God in vain, giving no offense in any thing, that this ministry be not blamed. This change of the place of the second verse, which every one allows must, if it stand here, be read in a parenthesis, preserves the whole connection of the apostle's discourse, and certainly sets his argument before us in a stronger light. Let us review the whole:
This view of the subject, if I mistake not, shows a beautiful consistency throughout the whole.
“Therefore thus saith the Lord God, ... Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.” Isaiah 28:16, 17. MB 151.1
But today mercy pleads with the sinner. “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?” Ezekiel 33:11. The voice that speaks to the impenitent today is the voice of Him who in heart anguish exclaimed as He beheld the city of His love: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her own brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” Luke 13:34, 35 , R.V. In Jerusalem, Jesus beheld a symbol of the world that had rejected and despised His grace. He was weeping, O stubborn heart, for you! Even when Jesus’ tears were shed upon the mount, Jerusalem might yet have repented, and escaped her doom. For a little space the Gift of heaven still waited her acceptance. So, O heart, to you Christ is still speaking in accents of love: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” Revelation 3:20; 2 Corinthians 6:2. MB 151.2
You who are resting your hope on self are building on the sand. But it is not yet too late to escape the impending ruin. Before the tempest breaks, flee to the sure foundation. “Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, of sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” “Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness.” “Ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.” Isaiah 28:16, R.V.; 45:22; 41:10; 45:17. MB 152.1Read in context »
My brethren and sisters, study your plans; grasp every opportunity of speaking to your neighbors and associates or of reading something to them from books that contain present truth. Show that you regard as of first importance the salvation of the souls for whom Christ has made so great a sacrifice. 9T 129.1
In working for perishing souls, you have the companionship of angels. Thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand angels are waiting to cooperate with members of our churches in communicating the light that God has generously given, that a people may be prepared for the coming of Christ. “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” Let every family seek the Lord in earnest prayer for help to do the work of God. 9T 129.2
Do not pass by the little things, and look for a large work. You might do successfully the small work, but fail utterly in attempting a large work and fall into discouragement. Take hold wherever you see that there is work to be done. Whether you are rich or poor, great or humble, God calls you into active service for Him. It will be by doing with your might what your hands find to do that you will develop talent and aptitude for the work. And it is by neglecting your daily opportunities that you become fruitless and withered. This is why there are so many fruitless trees in the garden of the Lord. 9T 129.3Read in context »