What Does 2 Corinthians 6:2 Mean? Is today the Only Day of Salvation?


Many assume that mankind has to be saved “today”–in this day and age–and if they do not accept Christ “now,” they will be lost forever. But imagine what this would mean. Many have no understanding about Jesus Christ, and most do not even profess to be “Christians.” Are they all “condemned” and confined to “eternal hell fire”?

The Bible clearly rejects this view in its entirety. It teaches that only VERY FEW are called today for salvation, and that the overwhelming majority will be called at a much later time. Most will be given their opportunity to accept God’s way of life and Jesus Christ as their personal Savor in, what is called, the Second Resurrection or the Great White Throne Judgment. Then their eyes will be opened to the truth… not before then. You might want to read our free booklet,The Mystery of the Book of Revelation,” which explains this misunderstood truth in great detail.

What then is meant in 2 Corinthians 6:2, where we read in the New King James Bible: “For He says, ‘In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation'”?

Please note that Paul quotes from the Old Testament passage of Isaiah 49:8. In the New King James Bible, the passage in Isaiah reads exactly as quoted in 2 Corinthians 6:2, but when reviewing the rendition in the Authorized Version, we read the following regarding Isaiah 49:8: “Thus says the LORD: In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee…”

This distinction between “a” day of salvation and “the” day of salvation is significant, but why is there such disagreement as to how to translate Isaiah 49:8? In fact, as we will show now, there is also disagreement as to how to translate the entire passage in 2 Corinthians 6:2.

For instance, please note the following, mostly ancient, translations of 2 Corinthians 6:2:

The Wyclif’s Bible of 1395 reads:  “For he seith, In tyme wel plesinge Y haue herd thee, and in the dai of heelthe Y haue helpid thee. Lo! now a tyme acceptable, lo! now a dai of heelthe.”

The Calvin Bible of 1858 reads: “for he says, In an acceptable time I heard you, and in a day of salvation I helped you; behold, now is an acceptable time, behold, now is a day of salvation.”

A Bible with the name, “A Conservative Version,” states: “(for he says, At an acceptable time I heard thee, and in a day of salvation I helped thee. Behold, now is an acceptable time. Behold, now is a day of salvation).”

The Emphasized Bible reads: “For he saith – In an approved season, have I hearkened unto thee, and, in a day of salvation, have succoured thee; – Lo! now, a well-approved season, Lo! now, a day of salvation.”

The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary points out that the rendering of “the day of salvation” should be, “a day of salvation.”

The following was stated in an article from the Internet:

“Many people read into this verse more than is actually stated and also, many English translations add more than is actually in the original Greek. The first part of that verse is a quote from the first part of Isaiah 49:8 which reads in the KJV [Authorized Version]: ‘Thus saith the LORD, In AN acceptable time have I heard thee, and in A day of salvation have I helped thee’… the phrase in 2 Cor. 6:2 is:  ‘behold, now [is the] accepted time; behold, now [is the] day of salvation.’

“Notice that brackets have been put around two words ( [is the] ) above. These words are not in the original Greek. Some of our English translations such as the KJV and NASB, put some words in italics that are not in the original, but they also fail to do so in some instances. The KJV does put the ‘is’ in italics but fails to also put the ‘the’ in italics to show that it is not a word in the original Greek. This can be misleading… below is the way 2 Cor. 6:2 is translated in Young’s Literal Translation and by Darby’s translation…:  ‘for He saith, “In an acceptable time I did hear thee, and in a day of salvation I did help thee, lo, now [is] a well-accepted time; lo, now, a day of salvation”‘ — ‘(for he says, I have listened to thee in an accepted time, and I have helped thee in a day of salvation: behold, now [is the] well-accepted time; behold, now [the] day of salvation…”‘

“So, the thought given in this verse agrees with the Isaiah verse from which it is a quote that [it is] ‘an accepted time’ and ‘a day of salvation’, NOT ‘the accepted time’ and NOT ‘the day of salvation’. This means that now is an accepted time and now is a day of salvation but it IS NOT the ONLY accepted time and NOT the ONLY day of salvation…”

This has also been the explanation of the former Worldwide Church of God (a/k/a Radio Church of God) under its late human leader, Herbert W. Armstrong. The late Dr. C. Paul Meredith, evangelist in the Church and former director of the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course (from 1953 to 1968), wrote the following article which appeared in The Plain Truth in 1958:

“… some have been confused by II Corinthians 6:2, which seems to say that now is the ONLY day of salvation. But the word ‘the’ in the King James Version is actually misleading, because it is absent in both the Hebrew and the Greek. Actually, II Corinthians 6:2 was quoted by Paul from the Old Testament. Paul is quoting Isaiah 49:8. But the Hebrew text of Isaiah 49:8 does not have a definite article. Neither does the Greek text of II Corinthians 6:2. The first part of the verse is more correctly tendered as follows: ‘I have answered thy prayer, he says, in a [not the only one] time of pardon, I have brought thee help in a [not the only one] day of salvation’ (Knox translation).”

To reiterate, in the Greek text of 2 Corinthians 6:2, the literal translation is as follows:

“… for he says, In a time accepted I listened to thee, and in a day of salvation I helped thee; lo, now [the] time well-accepted; behold, now [the] day of salvation…”

We ask again: Why is there so much confusion as to the correct translation, and why do many Bibles render 2 Corinthians 6:2 as “now is THE accepted time… Now is THE day of salvation.”?

The answer lies in a peculiar phenomenon in the Hebrew and Greek languages, and the existence and non-existence of “definite” and “indefinite” articles in both languages.

The term definite article refers to the word “the”. In English we also have an indefinite article, “a” (or “an” before words beginning with vowels). There is a definite article in the Hebrew (“the”), but no indefinite article.  We either say, THE day or Day.

The same is true in Greek, which knows a definite, but not an indefinite article. You will have to allow the context to tell you whether or not to supply an indefinite article in your English translation.

It is pretty much agreed among scholars that in both the Hebrew text of Isaiah 49:8 and in the Greek text of 2 Corinthians 6:2, NO DEFINITE articles are used in reference to “acceptable time” and “day of salvation.”

The complication arises that even when the definite article is not used in the Greek, that does not mean that therefore an indefinite article must be used in English. For instance, John 1:1 contains an example of a time without an article in Greek, which is needed in English. It says, “en arche ‘en o logos…”; that is (literally), “In beginning was the Word.” Notice that there is no definite article before “arche” (“beginning”). But to leave out the definite article would cause confusion in English. To translate, “In a beginning was the Word…” would imply that there were multiple beginnings to the universe, but that is not what the Bible teaches.

Another critical example, which requires that the English translation must not use an indefinite article, even though the Greek does not use a definite article, is found in John 1:1, in regard to Jesus Christ. Commonly, that particular clause in John 1:1 is (correctly) translated as “… and the Word [Jesus Christ, the Logos or Spokesman, compare John 1:14] was God.” In the Greek, no definite article is used for “God,” but it is clear from the context of the Bible and from many other biblical passages that the translation, “the Word was a god,” is wrong (even though that is how the Jehovah’s Witnesses translate this verse incorrectly, thereby trying to deny that Jesus Christ was and is God–the second member of the GOD FAMILY.)

In returning to the passage in 2 Corinthians 6:2, we can understand why some translations added the word “the” in “day of salvation,” while others did not and chose to use the indefinite article, “a.” It is a matter of interpretation. But even when using the definite article (“THE day of salvation”), this would not mean that today is the only day of salvation for everybody.

In the above-mentioned article by Dr. C. Paul Meredith, the following was added:

“Certainly, this is the day of salvation for those who have been called and whose minds have been opened to the truth by God. Now is their chance — their opportunity to qualify for His Kingdom. This is the day of salvation for them. But it is not the day of salvation for the vast majority. They will receive their chance — their first and only chance — at a later time. It is a day of salvation, but not the only day of salvation.”

For those who ARE called today to God’s truth, this is in fact THEIR only day of salvation; and we should note that in 2 Corinthians 6:2, Paul is addressing Church members in Corinth. Paul stresses this important truth in other passages as well. He says in Hebrews 3:7, 13, again addressing Church members: “… ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion… but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin…”

We should take the admonition in Isaiah 55:6 very seriously, which reads: “Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; and to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.”

To conclude, while today is NOT the only day of salvation for the world—in fact, it is not even “a” day of salvation for the world, as their calling occurs later—it IS THE ONLY day of salvation for those who have been called by God in this day and age. Those who have received God’s Holy Spirit will not be given a second chance when they fall away (Hebrews 10:26-29; 6:4-8); their TIME to inherit salvation is now.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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