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2 Corinthians 5

2 Corinthians 5:1-21 . THE HOPE ( 2 Corinthians 4:17 2 Corinthians 4:18 ) OF ETERNAL GLORY IN THE RESURRECTION BODY.

11. terror of the Lord--the coming judgment, so full of terrors to unbelievers [ESTIUS]. ELLICOTT and ALFORD, after GROTIUS and BENGEL, translate, "The fear of the Lord" ( 2 Corinthians 7:1 , Ecclesiastes 12:13 , Acts 9:31 , Romans 3:18 , Ephesians 5:21 ).
persuade--Ministers should use the terrors of the Lord to persuade men, not to rouse their enmity ( Jude 1:23 ). BENGEL, ESTIUS, and ALFORD explain: "Persuade men" (by our whole lives, 2 Corinthians 5:13 ), namely, of our integrity as ministers. But this would have been expressed after "persuade," had it been the sense. The connection seems as follows: He had been accused of seeking to please and win men, he therefore says (compare Galatians 1:10 ), "It is as knowing the terror (or fear) of the Lord that we persuade men; but (whether men who hear our preaching recognize our sincerity or not) we are made manifest unto God as acting on such motives ( 2 Corinthians 4:2 ); and I trust also in your consciences." Those so "manifested" need have no "terror" as to their being "manifested (English Version, 'appear') before the judgment-seat" ( 2 Corinthians 5:10 ).

12. For--the reason why he leaves the manifestation of his sincerity in preaching to their consciences ( 2 Corinthians 3:1 ), namely, his not wishing to "commend" himself again.
occasion to glory--( 2 Corinthians 1:14 ), namely, as to our sincerity.
in appearance--Greek, "face" (compare 1 Samuel 16:7 ). The false teachers gloried in their outward appearance, and in external recommendations ( 2 Corinthians 11:18 ) their learning, eloquence, wisdom, riches, not in vital religion in their heart. Their conscience does not attest their inward sincerity, as mine does ( 2 Corinthians 1:12 ).

13. be--rather as Greek, "have been." The contrast is between the single act implied by the past tense, "If we have ever been beside ourselves," and the habitual state implied by the present, "Or whether we be sober," that is, of sound mind. beside ourselves--The accusation brought by Festus against him ( Acts 26:24 ). The holy enthusiasm with which he spake of what God effected by His apostolic ministry, seemed to many to be boasting madness.
sober--humbling myself before you, and not using my apostolic power and privileges.
to God . . . for your cause--The glorifying of his office was not for his own, but for God's glory. The abasing of himself was in adaptation to their infirmity, to gain them to Christ ( 1 Corinthians 9:22 ).

14. For--Accounting for his being "beside himself" with enthusiasm: the love of Christ towards us (in His death for us, the highest proof of it, Romans 5:6-8 ), producing in turn love in us to Him, and not mere "terror" ( 2 Corinthians 5:11 ).
constraineth us--with irresistible power limits us to the one great object to the exclusion of other considerations. The Greek implies to compress forcibly the energies into one channel. Love is jealous of any rival object engrossing the soul ( 2 Corinthians 11:1-3 ).
because we thus judge--literally, "(as) having judged thus"; implying a judgment formed at conversion, and ever since regarded as a settled truth.
that if--that is, that since. But the oldest manuscripts omit "if." "That one died for all (Greek, 'in behalf of all')." Thus the following clause will be, "Therefore all (literally, 'the all,' namely, for whom He 'died') died." His dying is just the same as if they all died; and in their so dying, they died to sin and self, that they might live to God their Redeemer, whose henceforth they are ( Romans 6:2-11 Galatians 2:20 Colossians 3:3 1 Peter 4:1-3 ).

15. they which live--in the present life ( 2 Corinthians 4:11 , "we which live") [ALFORD]; or, they who are thus indebted to Him for life of soul as well as body [MENOCHIUS].
died for them--He does not add, "rose again for them," a phrase not found in Paul's language [BENGEL]. He died in their stead, He arose again for their good, "for (the effecting of) their justification" ( Romans 4:25 ), and that He might be their Lord ( Romans 14:7-9 ). ELLICOTT and ALFORD join "for them" with both "died" and "rose again"; as Christ's death is our death, so His resurrection is our resurrection; Greek, "Who for them died and rose again."
not henceforth--Greek, "no longer"; namely, now that His death for them has taken place, and that they know that His death saves them from death eternal, and His resurrection life brings spiritual and everlasting life to them.

16. Wherefore--because of our settled judgment ( 2 Corinthians 5:14 ),
henceforth--since our knowing Christ's constraining love in His death for us.
know we no man after the flesh--that is, according to his mere worldly and external relations ( 2 Corinthians 11:18 , John 8:15 , Philippians 3:4 ), as distinguished from what he is according to the Spirit, as a "new creature" ( 2 Corinthians 5:17 ). For instance, the outward distinctions of Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, slave or free, learned or unlearned, are lost sight of in the higher life of those who are dead in Christ's death, and alive with Him in the new life of His resurrection ( Galatians 2:6 , 3:28 ).
yea, though--The oldest manuscripts read, "if even."
known Christ after the flesh--Paul when a Jew had looked for a temporal reigning, not a spiritual, Messiah. (He says "Christ," not Jesus: for he had not known personally Jesus in the days of His flesh, but he had looked for Christ or the Messiah). When once he was converted he no longer "conferred with flesh and blood" ( Galatians 1:16 ). He had this advantage over the Twelve, that as one born out of due time he had never known Christ save in His heavenly life. To the Twelve it was "expedient that Christ should go away" that the Comforter should come, and so they might know Christ in the higher spiritual aspect and in His new life-giving power, and not merely "after the flesh," in the carnal aspect of Him ( Romans 6:9-11 , 1 Corinthians 15:45 , 1 Peter 3:18 , 1 Peter 4:1 1 Peter 4:2 ). Doubtless Judaizing Christians at Corinth prided themselves on the mere fleshly ( 2 Corinthians 11:18 ) advantage of their belonging to Israel, the nation of Christ, or on their having seen Him in the flesh, and thence claimed superiority over others as having a nearer connection with Him ( 2 Corinthians 5:12 , 2 Corinthians 10:7 ). Paul here shows the true aim should be to know Him spiritually as new creatures ( 2 Corinthians 5:15 2 Corinthians 5:17 ), and that outward relations towards Him profit nothing ( Luke 18:19-21 , John 16:7 John 16:22 , Philippians 3:3-10 ). This is at variance with both Romish Mariolatry and transubstantiation. Two distinct Greek verbs are used here for "know"; the first ("know we no man") means "to be personally acquainted with"; the latter ("known Christ . . . know . . . more") is to recognize, or estimate. Paul's estimate of Christ, or the expected Messiah, was carnal, but is so now no more.

17. Therefore--connected with the words in 2 Corinthians 5:16 , "We know Christ no more after the flesh." As Christ has entered on His new heavenly life by His resurrection and ascension, so all who are "in Christ" (that is, united to Him by faith as the branch is In the vine) are new creatures ( Romans 6:9-11 ). "New" in the Greek implies a new nature quite different from anything previously existing, not merely recent, which is expressed by a different Greek word ( Galatians 6:15 ).
creature--literally, "creation," and so the creature resulting from the creation (compare John 3:3 John 3:5 , Ephesians 2:10 , 4:23 , Colossians 3:10 Colossians 3:11 ). As we are "in Christ," so "God was in Christ" ( 2 Corinthians 5:19 ):hence He is Mediator between God and us.
old things--selfish, carnal views (compare 2 Corinthians 5:16 ) of ourselves, of other men, and of Christ.
passed away--spontaneously, like the snow of early spring [BENGEL] before the advancing sun.
behold--implying an allusion to Isaiah 43:19 , 65:17 .

18. all--Greek, "THE."
things--all our privileges in this new creation ( 2 Corinthians 5:14 2 Corinthians 5:15 ).
reconciled us--that is, restored us ("the world," 2 Corinthians 5:19 ) to His favor by satisfying the claims of justice against us. Our position judicially considered in the eye of the law is altered, not as though the mediation of Christ had made a change in God's character, nor as if the love of God was produced by the mediation of Christ; nay, the mediation and sacrifice of Christ was the provision of God's love, not its moving cause ( Romans 8:32 ). Christ's blood was the price paid at the expense of God Himself, and was required to reconcile the exercise of mercy with justice, not as separate, but as the eternally harmonious attributes in the one and the same God ( Romans 3:25 Romans 3:26 ). The Greek "reconcile" is reciprocally used as in the Hebrew Hithpahel conjugation, appease, obtain the favor of. Matthew 5:24 , "Be reconciled to thy brother"; that is, take measures that he be reconciled to thee, as well as thou to him, as the context proves. Diallagethi, however ( Matthew 5:24 ), implying mutual reconciliation, is distinct from Katallagethi here, the latter referring to the change of status wrought in one of the two parties. The manner of God reconciling the world to Himself is implied ( 2 Corinthians 5:19 ), namely, by His "not imputing their trespasses to them." God not merely, as subsequently, reconciles the world by inducing them to lay aside their enmity, but in the first instance, does so by satisfying His own justice and righteous enmity against sin ( Psalms 7:11 ). Compare 1 Samuel 29:4 , "Reconcile himself unto his master"; not remove his own anger against his master, but his master's against him [ARCHBISHOP MAGEE, Atonement]. The reconciling of men to God by their laying aside their enmity is the consequence of God laying aside His just enmity against their sin, and follows at 2 Corinthians 5:20 .
to us--ministers ( 2 Corinthians 5:19 2 Corinthians 5:20 ).

19. God was in Christ, reconciling--that is, God was BY Christ (in virtue of Christ's intervention) reconciling," &c. Was reconciling" implies the time when the act of reconciliation was being carried into effect ( 2 Corinthians 5:21 ), namely, when "God made Jesus, who knew no sin, to be sin for us." The compound of "was" and the participle "reconciling," instead of the imperfect (Greek), may also imply the continuous purpose of God, from before the foundation of the world, to reconcile man to Himself, whose fall was foreseen. The expression " IN Christ" for "by Christ" may be used to imply additionally that God was IN Christ ( John 10:38 , 14:10 ), and so by Christ (the God-man) was reconciling . . . The Greek for "by" or "through" Christ (the best manuscripts omit "Jesus"), 2 Corinthians 5:18 , is different. "In" must mean here in the person of Christ. The Greek Katallasson implies "changing" or altering the judicial status from one of condemnation to one of justification. The atonement (at-one-ment), or reconciliation, is the removal of the bar to peace and acceptance with a holy God, which His righteousness interposed against our sin. The first step towards restoring peace between us and God was on God's side ( John 3:16 ). The change therefore now to be effected must be on the part of offending man, God the offended One being already reconciled. It is man, not God, who now needs to be reconciled, and to lay aside his enmity against God ( Romans 5:10 Romans 5:11 ). ("We have received the atonement" [Greek, reconciliation], cannot mean "We have received the laying aside of our own enmity"). Compare Romans 3:24 Romans 3:25 .
the world--all men ( Colossians 1:20 , 1 John 2:2 ). The manner of the reconciling is by His "not imputing to men their trespasses," but imputing them to Christ the Sin-bearer. There is no incongruity that a father should be offended with that son whom he loveth, and at that time offended with him when he loveth him. So, though God loved men whom He created, yet He was offended with them when they sinned, and gave His Son to suffer for them, that through that Son's obedience He might be reconciled to them (reconcile them to Himself, that is, restore them WITH JUSTICE to His favor) [BISHOP PEARSON, Exposition of the Creed].
hath committed unto us--Greek, "hath put into our hands." "Us," that is, ministers.

20. for Christ . . . in Christ's stead--The Greek of both is the same: translate in both cases "on Christ's behalf."
beseech . . . pray--rather, "entreat [plead with you] . . . beseech." Such "beseeching" is uncommon in the case of "ambassadors," who generally stand on their dignity (compare 2 Corinthians 10:2 , 1 Thessalonians 2:6 1 Thessalonians 2:7 ).
be ye reconciled to God--English Version here inserts "ye," which is not in the original, and which gives the wrong impression, as if it were emphatic thus: God is reconciled to you, be ye reconciled to God. The Greek expresses rather, God was the RECONCILER in Christ . . . let this reconciliation then have its designed effect. Be reconciled to God, that is, let God reconcile you to Himself ( 2 Corinthians 5:18 2 Corinthians 5:19 ).

21. For--omitted in the oldest manuscripts. The grand reason why they should be reconciled to God, namely, the great atonement in Christ provided by God, is stated without the "for" as being part of the message of reconciliation ( 2 Corinthians 5:19 ).
sin--not a sin offering, which would destroy the antithesis to "righteousness," and would make "sin" be used in different senses in the same sentence: not a sinful person, which would be untrue, and would require in the antithesis "righteous men," not "righteousness"; but "sin," that is, the representative Sin-bearer (vicariously) of the aggregate sin of all men past, present, and future. The sin of the world is one, therefore the singular, not the plural, is used; though its manifestations are manifold ( John 1:29 ). "Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the SIN of the world." Compare "made a curse for us," Galatians 3:13 .
for us--Greek, "in our behalf." Compare John 3:14 , Christ being represented by the brazen serpent, the form, but not the substance, of the old serpent. At His death on the cross the sin-bearing for us was consummated.
knew no sin--by personal experience ( John 8:46 ) [ALFORD]. Hebrews 7:26 , 1 Peter 2:22 , 1 John 3:5 .
might be made--not the same Greek as the previous "made." Rather, "might become."
the righteousness of God--Not merely righteous, but righteousness itself; not merely righteousness, but the righteousness of God, because Christ is God, and what He is we are ( 1 John 4:17 ), and He is "made of God unto us righteousness." As our sin is made over to Him, so His righteousness to us (in His having fulfilled all the righteousness of the law for us all, as our representative, Jeremiah 23:6 , 1 Corinthians 1:30 ). The innocent was punished voluntarily as if guilty, that the guilty might be gratuitously rewarded as if innocent ( 1 Peter 2:24 ). "Such are we in the sight of God the Father, as is the very Son of God himself" [HOOKER].
in him--by virtue of our standing in Him, and in union with Him [ALFORD].

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