‘And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain– for He says, “At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you”; behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation” ‘ 2 Cor. 6:1 & 2
The quote by the apostle Paul above is from the inspired text of Isaiah the prophet, the Messianic prophet of the Old Testament.
The quote is taken from chapter forty-nine, verse eight which reads: ‘Thus says the LORD, “In a favorable time I have answered You, and in a day of salvation I have helped You; and I will keep You and give You for a covenant of the people, to restore the land, to make them inherit the desolate heritages” ‘ The above passage in Isaiah follows on the heels of the preceding context which has been talking extensively about the “Servant” (Christ Jesus) who was to serve God in bringing “Jacob back to Him, in order that Israel might be gathered to Him” (Isa. 49:5). Not only that, this Servant was going to be “a light of the nations” and salvation “to the end of the earth.” (Isa. 49:6) With general knowledge of the New Testament, it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out what the favorable time was when the LORD answered His Servant, and the day of salvation when He helped Him. It would only make sense that what Isaiah was foretelling was the resurrection of the Servant (Jesus) from the grave. Now as far as the LORD through Isaiah saying, “I will keep you and give you for a covenant to the people”, well, that’s answered pretty plainly for us in the book of Hebrews, chapter nine, concerning Jesus’ ascension to the throne room in heaven and the offering of His blood as the mediator and maker of the New Covenant. This also identifies for us that the land that was restored (some translations say “established”) was the land of the Messianic kingdom, located in heaven with her King (Eph. 2:6; Col 3:1), the true spiritual heritage intended for God’s people from the beginning. Oh, and by the way, by means of His resurrection, ascension and the offering of His blood, our Lord made sure it was fit for us by booting the Accuser of the brethren out of heaven. (Rev. 12:7-12) Now, one might ask, “Why then, does Paul quote this verse to the Corinthian brethren in his letter to them? Are they not saved already?” Let’s hearken back to the context of Isaiah 49 which precedes our verse we’ve been looking at that was quoted by Paul, particularly verse six. Did you know this verse in Isaiah is quoted twice in the New Testament in part? The first by Simeon, the old man to whom it had been revealed he wouldn’t die until he saw the LORD’s Christ, in Luke 2:32; and by the apostle Paul in Acts 13. This passage you must read again: ‘And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For thus the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have placed You as a light for the Gentiles, That You should bring salvation to the end of the earth.'” ‘ (Acts 13:46, 47) Did you notice Paul makes the association of Isaiah’s utterance to himself and Barnabas regarding taking the gospel message to the Gentiles? Here’s how this writer makes sense of it. The Corinthian church was in the throes of a power struggle between the truth of Paul’s apostolic teaching and those false apostles who were seeking to undermine him and his authority. Paul had just finished reminding the Corinthians of their ministry of reconciliation. He then reminded them that the day of salvation had come to them and that there were many who still needed to hear about the reconciliation to God available through Jesus Christ. What Paul is working on , via the help of the Holy Spirit, was the people’s perception of who they were and their purpose. They had been placed as a light (didn’t Jesus say as much?) for the Gentiles around them and they, as a part of Isaiah’s prophecy that was being fulfilled, were to take the message of salvation to them! This helps to explain the closing context of 2 Corinthians chapter six where the apostle exhorts them not to be bound to unbelievers (here alluding from the context of his letter to the false apostles). Brethren, understand that God has given us as a means of bringing salvation to lost people, restoring their desolate spiritual heritages!