A reader says:
Thank you for your site and all the questions your team answers. I believe salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone. But I have a question. I learned that prayer wasn’t necessary for salvation as an adult. It’s the belief that does it. Someone was arguing this point and brought up 2 Corinthians 6:2, which says that “I have heard thee in a time accepted…now is the day of salvation.” Can you clear up the confusion? How or what does He hear?”
Basically, the issue here is twofold: 1) the salvation here is not salvation from eternal condemnation, but salvation from difficulties (Isa 49:8 is not about the new birth, and neither is 2 Cor 6:1ff), and 2) there is nothing here about praying for this salvation.
I should mention that many commentators do think that this verse refers to regeneration. However, that is missing the point of the passage in Isaiah and the context here as well.
Notice what Dwight Hunt wrote in our commentary on 2 Cor 6:2:
Here Paul quotes from Isa 49:8 as a reminder that God is wanting to help them. For He says, “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.” In Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, the word salvation refers to the condition believers will find themselves in when they stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 1:18; 3:15; 5:5). Future rewards are in view in the context of this salvation. By stating that behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation, Paul reveals a sense of urgency in preparing for that day now. When believers stand before the Lord, it will be too late to make sure they are ready. So believers at Corinth must not forfeit the benefits of this salvation by refusing to turn to God in repentance. Paul then explains how he himself operated in ministry as an example that they should follow (Vol 2, p. 789 in the first edition, which is what I have at home!).
Wiersbe has a similar understanding:
He [Paul] not only beseeches the sinners in 5:20, but he beseeches the saints in 6:1. How tragic it is when churches and Christians receive God’s grace in vain. The Corinthians were babes in Christ, immature saints, because they failed to grow in grace and knowledge. They had the greatest pastor available—Paul—and yet they failed to benefit from his ministry!(Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament, p. 491).
An important principle is evident here. When you see the words save and salvation in the OT—2 Cor 6:2 is a quote from the OT—it never refers to regeneration. Never. And in the NT, 7 times out of 10 it does not refer to being born again, either. Look at the context whenever you see these words. While 2 Cor 6:2 has often been used to tell people that they need to be born again today and not put it off, that is not at all what it is talking about.