2 CORINTHIANS 5:9-21  


Verse 5:9

1. Therefore also: In the previous verses, Paul has established the fact that the believer has a destiny to live with Jesus for all eternity. When the believer dies, he will be face to face with the Lord and the reality of a physical resurrection will be accomplished in God's perfect timing (1 Cor. 15:20-23, 50-54).

2. we have as our ambition: The word, philotimeomai, means to have a rapport with and affection for a particular "value." Thus, the idea of holding onto something or some idea, as being most valuable in this life.

Because we are to live with Him throughout eternity, it is valuable to prepare for an "honorable" presentation before Him.

3. whether at home or absent: Home refers to being with the Lord and absent refers to being here on earth in our mortal physical body.

4. to be pleasing to Him: This is the goal. There is the possibility that the believer could stand before the Lord in shame and embarrassment because of failure to follow truth while here on earth. Paul teaches this at 1 Cor. 3:10-17, where we see the possibility that the believer could have no divine-good production that brings honor to the Lord. The passage views the principle from the standpoint of two extremes; that is, production vs. NO production. But in actuality, there are many different degrees of consistency and production and only God will be able to properly evaluate the quality of reward that will be assigned.


John describes this potential at 1 John 2:24-29. There we see the possibility that the believer will "shrink away from Him in shame at His coming." This is not an "everlasting" condition that the unfaithful Christian will live within, but an initial reaction to the Justice of God that evaluates our lives through the standards of God's perfect righteousness.

The standard for being "pleasing to Him" is conformity to the divine value system; knowing and using the truths and principles of God's word in order to fulfill the responsibility that we have as ambassadors for Christ here on earth. If we live in fellowship with God, then He is pleased, honored and glorified. If we live with the sin nature in control, then God is dishonored.


Verse 5:10

1. For: This explanatory, gar, tells us why it is important to live here on earth "pleasing to Him." The reason is because everything we do on this earth will be evaluated by Christ to see whether it is something that is "good" in God's eyes or "worthless" in God's eyes (emprosthen).

2. we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ:

A. It is necessary: dei - present indicative

B. For us all: the Context seems to indicate that Paul is thinking of believers only; all (pas) those who qualify under v. 5, those to whom God gave the Spirit as a pledge.

However, all unbelievers will also appear before God for an evaluation of their life to demonstrate in a "public" forum, that the person does not qualify for entrance into the eternal kingdom. This is called the great white throne, and there the unbeliever's works will be exposed as "worthless" toward gaining life with God, and it will be shown that he had not trusted in Christ during his life on earth. The result of both of these evaluations will be assignment to the lake of fire for all eternity (Rev. 20:11-15).

See Topic: The last judgment at great white throne

Accordingly, it is possible that Paul has in view the entire human race, especially in view of the following context, such as the generic use of "man" at verse 11, "we persuade men," which seems to be in contrast to the "you," which refers to the Corinthian believers. Also, the whole context of reconciliation is focused on the unbeliever, for it is the unbeliever who needs to be reconciled to God, which is the message of the gospel at verse 20, "be reconciled to God."

At the same time, the bible clearly distinguishes between the two judgments, indicating that they occur at different times and have a different focus. That is, the great white throne has its focus upon the unbeliever while the Reward Seat of Christ has its focus specifically on the works of the believer.

C. To appear: phaneroō, as an aorist passive infinitive, indicates this to be in the future and other passages indicate that it will be directly associated with Christ's return for his church.

D. before: emprosthen, before the face of (in front of)

E. the judgment seat: bāma, refers to a place where justice is administered.
Humanly speaking - a tribunal or judicial bench.
Mt. 27:19; Jn.19:13; Acts 12:21;18:12,16-17; 25:6, 10,17

F. Of Christ: The place where Divine justice is administered to the believer in the form of rewards based on his life on earth.

G. So that: hina + subjunctive mood indicates the purpose for appearing

H. each one: indicates an individual and personal responsibility, and once again refers to the ones who are believers in Christ.
However, as I have suggested, I believe we can find an intended secondary application to the unbeliever who will appear before the great white throne.

I. May be recompensed: komidzō, means to receive back upon self based upon some action. It occurs as an aorist middle subjunctive to indicate a certain "point-of-time" event at sometime in the future.

J. the things done: prasso, as an aorist active indicative, refers to what was done during a specific time span, which is identified as our life on earth by the use of the phrase, "through the body."

K. through the body: dia + sōma, refers to our physical "earthly" body which we possess only while living here on earth.

L. Whether good: agathos, indicates good of intrinsic value; that which lines up with God's standards of righteousness.

M. Or bad: phaulos, means useless, worthless or rotten. Not "evil" as such, and not "bad" as such, but all that was done independently from God. There are many "good" things (from a relative perspective) that are done here on earth, but they are done with wrong motives and without being in compliance with God's righteousness; that which is right and proper for interaction between God's creatures.

N. This Divine good can only be produced by the Holy Spirit as the believer maintains sinless consistency.

Rom. 8.8, they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
Gal. 5.16, walk in the Spirit
Rom. 14.18, acceptable to God;
Ps. 66.18, sin shuts down fellowship with God.

O. In reference to the unbeliever, there is only ONE good work that can be done for acceptance before God, and that is trust in Christ (John 6:29). If they do not trust in Christ, all the other "works" that are done in their life qualify as "bad" and are useless for establishing any kind of relationship with God.


Verse 5:11

1. Therefore knowing: This is a perfect active participle of oida, which is used to indicate the presence of divine viewpoint in the soul, which then becomes the basis for making proper evaluations and decisions in life.

2. the fear of the Lord: This does not refer to being "afraid" of God, but to having a proper reverential respect and submission to God. Paul says that BECAUSE we are reverentially submitted to God, and know the policy of God for the human race, we are diligent to function as faithful communicators of God's truth.


3. we persuade men: Persuade is a present active indicative of peitho. A negative form of this word (apeitheo) is used to indicate a failure to accept the gospel message and trust in Christ (John 3:36; Acts 19:9; 1 Pet. 2:8; 4:17). The idea with apeitheo is that the person is UN-PERSUADED and therefore does not make a positive decision to trust in Christ. The fact that he is "un-persuaded" is not the fault of the "preacher," for his message is accurate. Nor is it the fault of the Holy Spirit, for he convicts "the world of sin, righteousness and judgment," (John 16:8-11).

It is a simple value decision that a person makes based on what he deems most important in life. Paul can "persuade" and plea, "be reconciled to God," but ultimately the decision rests on the person himself (Acts 4:1-4; 14:1-2; 17:4-5; 17:11-12, 32-34; 18:5-8; 24:24-25; 26:28; 28:23-24).

4. but we are made manifest to God: The word is phaneroo to indicate an overt demonstration to another. In this case, Paul's faithfulness is clearly demonstrated to God. This is kind of like saying, "God knows the quality of my character."

5. and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences: Paul expresses confidence rather than a vague "hope" of some kind. The word, elpidzo (and the noun, elpis), has both a strong and a weak aspect to it. The strength of this word expresses a confident expectation rather than an uncertain feeling attended with doubt and fear. The "weak" expression, however, is still not equivalent to our doubtful, "I hope so" concept, but expresses an expectation of a reality, even though that expectation may not be an established certainty. So Paul is saying that, since he has been faithful in representing divine viewpoint to the Corinthians on a consistent basis, he "expects" that his character has been clearly manifested to them. The next verse explains that expectation as he clarifies that he is not trying to "toot his own horn."


Verse 5:12

1. We are not again commending ourselves to you:

The word, commend, is sunistāmi, which means to stand with or beside someone. It communicates the idea of placing something or someone at the side of another in order to "recommend" them as something to be especially valued. Paul is not trying to write in such a way that they will be obliged to accept his apostolic authority, but he is appealing to the content of the message, both in person and through his letter, as the basis for recognizing and accepting his authority as being from God.

2. but {are} giving you an occasion for a confident boasting in us:

Paul is trying to get them to see the validity of his apostolic authority and the reliability of his teaching. If they can truly accept that Paul is indeed a spokesperson for the Lord, then they can not only be confident within themselves (kauchāma) for themselves, but can also have a reply for those who do not accept Paul's authority.

3. that you may have {an answer}:

hina echo, makes up the purpose clause for Paul's teaching activity (persuading). The object of "have," is not indicated, but the context suggests that they would have an "answer" or a "reply" to those who have a human-viewpoint evaluation of Paul and boast in the "appearance" of the communicator rather than the content of his message.

However, in order to have an "answer" they need to hear and accept the teaching of the word of God, for only through the standards of the divine value system to we find the spiritual wisdom to answer ANY kind of attack on God's character, viewpoint and plan.

This same principle is taught at 1 Pet. 3:15.

"But set apart the Lord Christ (the standards of the divine value system as embodied in Christ's person and teachings) in your hearts, always prepared with a reply for everyone who asks you a word concerning the confidence that is in you, but do it with overt humility (gentleness) and respect," (BFT).


4. for those who confidently boast in appearance: The same word (verb form), kauchaomai, is used to indicate the source of confidence that these people have when it comes to accepting apostolic authority. They think that the reliability of the communicator is based on how he looks and not on the content of his message or his character (the heart).

5. and not in heart: This refers to one's character rather than one's physical appearance. The importance of "character" over appearance has always been an established spiritual principle for God's people. It is a lesson taught and highly honored in Israel's history as related at 1 Samuel 16:1-12, where David is chosen to be king out from the older and more "physically" mature of Jesse's sons because, "man looks at the outward appearance, but Yahweh looks at the heart."


Verse 5:13

1. For if we are beside ourselves: The verb is existāmi, which literally means, to stand outside, with the idea of standing outside of one's senses. It is used for any of the experiences that would be considered "out of the ordinary." Thus, it is used for the spiritual ecstasy of visions (Acts 10:10; 11:5; 22:17), for amazement or confusion (Mat 12:23; Luke 2:47; 8:56; Acts 2:7; 8:13), and even for insanity. It is the same word used at Mark 3:21, when the brothers of Jesus accused Him of being insane. In the opinion of those who reject Paul's apostolic authority, he is indeed, insane -- going to extremes and excesses in their opinion concerning the standards for living the Christian life. This, of course, would not be considered some kind of "mental" insanity, but rather a religious "mania" that is dogmatic and uncompromising in its religious views; a fanaticism that is viewed by others as being unreasonable and harmful.

2. it is for God: Paul says that if he appears to be "insane" by others, that zeal and intensity of ministry is TO and FOR God. He must answer to God for his zeal and not to the human perceptions of others.

3. if we are of sound mind: the verb here is, sophroneo, and means to have a mind that is functioning in a stabilized and rational manner. In contrast with the accusation brought by the religious "rebels," this means that Paul is operating with a stabilized mentality and representing the truth of God as it has been revealed to him.

4. it is for you: In this case, the communication of Paul is for the benefit of the Corinthian recipients, "according to the authority which the Lord gave me, for building up and not for tearing down," (2 Cor. 13:10).

What Paul is saying is that, in the sphere of his zeal, it is directed toward God -- as service to Him, and in the sphere of his content, it is directed toward the Corinthians -- for their benefit.

Verse 14, then begins with an explanatory "gar," to give the reason for his consistent zeal and his faithful communication of truth to "men."

Verse 5:14

1. For the love of Christ: This refers to the Love that Christ demonstrated when He gave Himself as "a ransom for many," (Mat. 10:20) by LIFTING up the sin of the world (John 1:29); the love of Christ who "loved me and gave Himself for me," (Gal. 2:20). It is the love that motivated Jesus to place Himself under the justice of God in order to become "a ransom for all," (1 Tim. 2:6) through paying the penalty for sin.

2. controls us: The verb, sunecho, means to press in upon something, or be pressured, even "pinched" by something. The kind of "pressure" in view is that which DEMANDS a response from the soul. Paul's understanding of Christ's sacrificial love is such that it weighs him down or presses in upon him, demanding a very intense intellectual and emotional response. It is this response that then motivates him to the degree of zeal that is misunderstood by the religious legalists as fanaticism. In the next verses, he explains the quality of Christ's love as that which expressed itself in dying for the sins of the whole world. It is thus, from the following words of Paul, as well as what is found in other passages, that we establish our soteriology (doctrine of salvation).

3. having concluded this: The verb, krino, means to evaluate and discern. It occurs as an aorist active participle to indicate an "understanding" that Paul reached about Christ's love, which then became the continuous (present tense) motivation for his spiritual service.

The principle that we all should learn from this, and which is confirmed many times throughout the pages of Scripture, is that proper motivation comes only from a comprehension and acceptance of divine truth. Before we can make decisions and function in life the way God wants us to, we must have knowledge about Him. Knowledge about God's character and plan is what begets faith and character transformation.

4. that one died for all: This is a clear statement of the substitutionary death of Christ for all people. The verb, apothnāsko, occurs in an aorist active indicative and indicates the specific point of time that Christ died on the cross for the sins of the human race. The preposition, huper, is the normal preposition for substitution -- that is, the taking of one and putting him in the place of another. Of course, the "normal" and "natural" understanding of the word, "all," is often rationalized away to apply somehow to "less" then what it says on the surface. Now granted, there are many times when the word, all, does not mean "every single one," but this is determined by context. Thus, it is only prudent that we see what both the immediate and overall context will provide concerning the proper interpretation of "all" in reference to the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross.

A. The first point of context is application of the "Golden Rule of Interpretation.

When the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning in the original languages, unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise.

The "primary, ordinary, usual and literal meaning" of ALL, is ALL.
There is no Scriptural basis for making "all" mean only the elect, or only those who trust in Christ. It is imperative then, that we let the rest of Scripture explain to us the extent of Christ's sacrifice on the cross and not "read into" the meaning of "all" other than what God's word states.

What then, is the evidence of Scripture?

1. John 1:29, Jesus "takes up the sin of the world."

2. 1 John 2:2, Jesus is the satisfying sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.

3. Heb. 2:9, Jesus tasted death for (huper, as a substitution for) everyone (Greek, pas = all).

4. 1 Tim. 2:6, Jesus gave himself a ransom for (huper) all (pas).

5. 2 Peter 2:1, Jesus bought (paid the penalty of sin) even those who deny him.

6. Romans 5:6, Jesus died for the ungodly. There are no restrictions; He died for all the ungodly.

7. Rom. 5:15, Jesus provided the gift of salvation for THE MANY -- the same MANY who in Adam, died spiritually to God. Every member of the human race in in view with the term, "the many."

8. Hebrews 9:28, Jesus was offered once (as a sacrifice for sins) "to bear the sins of many."

9. Mat. 20:28, Jesus gave his soul as a ransom for many, ie, every member of the human race.

10, Mat. 26:28, Jesus blood sacrifice is "for many for forgiveness of sins."

11. John 6:51, Jesus sacrificed himself for the life of the world. That is, he provided life to the (whole) world and any individual in the world, who "eats" (that is trusts in Him) shall have eternal life.

12. Rom. 5:18, Through Adam's one transgression there resulted death to ALL men and likewise, through Christ's one act of righteousness (his sacrificial death), there resulted justification leading to life FOR all men. This does not mean that ALL men are justified, but it means that all men CAN be justified -- if they trust in Jesus. Incidentally, "the many" of verse 19 refers to the entire human race and "will be made righteous," should probably be seen as the potential justification (made righteous) for all members of the human race. For the context of the rest of Scripture indicates that ALL "can be" justified, but only those who believe WILL be appointed righteous.

To further amplify, we need to also understand that when Christ died for all, He paid the divinely mandated penalty for the sins of mankind. That penalty is spiritual death which results from inherent sin (possession of a sin nature) and the evidence of inherent sin which is the many personal sins (mental, verbal and overt) that are committed throughout the life of each individual. When the New Testament discusses this sacrifice of Christ, we find two ideas related to sin.

1. Christ died to sin or in reference to sin, (the sin nature), and thus provided deliverance from the presence and effects of that sin nature.

See Topic: Sin Nature (OSN): Deliverance from

2. Christ also died for all the personal sins that would be produced in the life of the person both prior to and after his conversion.

a. Eph. 2:1, dead in trespasses and sin.

b. Col. 2:13, dead in your transgressions AND the uncircumcision of your flesh (the sin nature). . . having forgiven us ALL our transgressions (plural).

c. Eph. 1:7, redemption, (which is) the forgiveness of our trespasses

d. Heb. 9:15, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant. ."

e. Heb. 10:12-18, one sacrifice for sins . . . and their sins and lawless deeds I will remember no more . . Now where there is forgiveness of these things . . .

For an in depth discussion about this, see the article from Lewis Sperry Chafer, For Whom Did Christ Die.

B. The second point of context is the next phrase, which says, "therefore all died." It is suggested that this phrase mitigates against taking "all" as a reference to every member of the human race, because, it is claimed, not ALL died "with" Christ when He died, but only those who believe in Him are positionally identified with His death and life so as to be saved from the penalty of sin. And it is reasonable that we identify both "alls" as referring to the same group of people.

It is true that all believers are retroactively identified with Christ in His death on the cross, so that it can be said:

1. "I was crucified with Christ," Gal. 2:20

2. "We have died with Christ," Rom. 6:8

3. "We died with Him," 2 Tim. 2:11

But just because it is stated that all "believers" died with Christ, does that exclude "all" men from somehow having a part in that death? But to suggest that it does include "all" men is a "forced" interpretation that has no support in the rest of Scripture.
And although every single believer in Christ is described as having "died with Christ," we have no other passages that suggest that EVERY (all) member of the human race died WITH Christ. That's because it did not happen that way.

See Topic: POSITION in Union with Christ

No where in Scripture do we have the idea that "all" men died with Christ, but this statement does not say that "all" died WITH Christ, simply that all died. For amplification, the Greek verb here is apothnāskō, which means to die and not "to be dead," which would be nekroō, as the KJV translates it. It certainly would be easier to explain if we were able to translate it, "all were dead," (referring to spiritual death and to a time prior to the death of Christ on the cross). But apothnāskō definitely needs to be translated as "died."

This sometimes results in the forced interpretation that tries to find a meaning for this IDEA that all people died with Jesus on the cross. I will forego mentioning those forced interpretations because I don't hold to that view, and the alternative view is far more compelling and will stand on its own merits.
It has also been suggested that the two aorist tenses of the same verb, apothnāsk
ō, in the same sentence strongly SUGGESTS that we view the action related to both "alls" as occurring at the same point in time, namely at that moment when Christ sacrificed Himself on the cross.
But there is a wider context that allows for the second aorist to actually be referring to a DIFFERENT point of time than the death of Christ on the cross.

We know for a fact that ALL (every member of the human race) was (will be) born "dead in sin" (Eph. 2:1,5; Col. 2:13). These two passages use the verb of "being" (you were) plus the adjective, nekros - dead, which means to be in a condition of "dead." And in this case, specifically spiritual death.
However it has been properly pointed out that the verb at 2 Cor. 5:14 is apothnāskō, which means to die, or as in the aorist tense, "all died."
But the translators of the KJV recognized the intent of Paul in declaring that ALL were spiritually dead and accordingly, in need for Christ to die for all. Although the verb, apothnāskō does not support that KJV translation, it still refers to the fact that all are spiritually dead PRIOR to the death of Christ on the cross.

Rom. 5:12-21:
Verse 12
1. Through Adam's one transgression there resulted death to ALL men. Spiritual death (separation from God) is part two of the birth "curse" for everyone who is born into the world through normal procreation.
Part one of the birth "curse" is the sin nature. It is through Adam's act of sin that he acquired a sin nature and through procreation he passed a sin nature down to everyone of his descendants (all), and then because of that, "death spread to all men because all sinned."

That is, all "sinned" because they are born with a sin nature.
Both the sin nature and the fact of spiritual death entered the world through Adam's act of sin (disobedience). The word entered, is an aorist indicative of eiserchomai and indicates that specific point of time when Adam sinned and acquired both the sin nature and the consequences of having the sin nature; spiritual death.
When "all" or "the many" is the subject of the verb, entered, it refers to the point of time of physical birth when each person comes into the world with both parts of the birth "curse."
(Incidentally, Eve acquired both the sin nature and the condition of spiritual death at the very moment she ate of the fruit. But it is not HER ACT that causes sin and death to enter the human race, because both the sin nature and the fact of spiritual death are passed on to Adam's progeny through procreation, which requires BOTH parents to participate). It is thus, THROUGH Adam that the sin and the death entered into the HUMAN RACE.
So it can actually be said that "all are dead" or "all died" from the very moment in time of their physical birth.
Rom. 5:15, "for since by the transgression of one man the many died."
The verb here is apothnāskō as an aorist indicative, which is the exact same form at 2 Cor. 5:14, "therefore all died."
And there is no doubt that Romans 5:15 refers to the fact that ALL DIED spiritually simply because they are members of the human race.
Rom. 5:15, the many died: From the very moment of physical birth they are seen as spiritually dead.
2 Cor. 5:14, therefore all died: From the very moment of physical birth they are seen as spiritually dead.

2. And likewise, through Christ's one act of righteousness (his sacrificial death), there resulted justification leading to life FOR all men. This does not mean that ALL men are justified, but it means that all men CAN be justified -- if they trust in Jesus. Incidentally, "the many" of verse 19 refers to the entire human race and "will be made righteous," should probably be seen as the potential justification (made righteous) for all members of the human race. For the context of the rest of Scripture indicates that ALL "can be" justified, but only those who believe WILL be appointed righteous.


Since Jesus died FOR, as in substitution for, all members of the human race, then at that time of death, all members of the human race reaped the "judicial" benefits of that death. That is, God the Father recognized in the sacrificial death of Christ, the payment of the penalty of sin for all members of the human race. But the "judicial" benefit of Christ's death for any particular individual does not become a spiritual reality until that individual accepts Christ's payment on his behalf through total trust (faith) in the person and work of Christ.
That is why the gospel contains the message to the unbeliever that, "Christ died for you; He paid the penalty for your sins. Now all you need to do is believe." (1 Cor. 15:3; Acts 17:3; Acts 16:31) And in this very context, Paul relates the invitation that is extended to all members of the human race, "be reconciled to God."
This then results in the judicial imputation of God's righteousness to the believer which produces a total reconciliation of that person to God and provides the potential for fantastic blessings both here on earth and in eternity (Rom. 5:3-5; 17; 6:4; 2 Cor. 5:21).

Verse 5:15
In this verse we are taught that there are two categories of people.
1. and He died for all: The "all" refers to every member of the human race as previously established.

2. that they who live: The second category contains those who enter into life through Him by trusting in Him as Savior. The fact that Paul separates the "all" from "those who live" indicates that he views the sacrificial death of Christ as indeed extending to every member of the human race. In addition, the verb, live, is zao in the present active participle, which describes these as now residing in a "present" status of life that they did not have before.

This phrase begins with hina, which introduces a purpose clause to indicate God's plan for those who become believers.

3. should no longer live for themselves: These who have trusted in Christ as Savior are born "spiritually" into the family and kingdom of God, where they have family and kingdom responsibilities (Rom. 14:8, 17). To "live for themselves" refers to living under the controlling passion of the flesh (sin nature) as per Eph. 4:17-19.

4. but for Him: We are left here on earth after salvation to serve the Godhead; the Father, Son and Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20; 10:31; Phil. 2:21). The nature of that service revolves around evangelism (but is not limited to evangelism); giving the gospel message to others. That is the subject of verses 18-20, where it is called "the ministry (service, diakonia) of reconciliation" and the believer is designated as an "ambassador for Christ."

5. who died and rose again on their behalf: the fact that Christ died for them (those who live) does not deny the fact that Christ also died for all. If one insists that the phrase, "died on THEIR behalf" only refers to "those who live," then logically, one could insist that Paul's statement at Gal. 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ," means that ONLY Paul was crucified with Him.


Verses 5:16-21

This section deals with the function of the believer here on earth as he lives within the realm of his new spiritual life that was bestowed at the moment of time that he trusted in Christ.

Verse 16

1. Therefore: This introduces the new perspective that the believer has since he has been given spiritual life.

2. from now on: That is, now, during our life on earth.

3. we recognize no man according to the flesh: The word translated "recognize" here is, oida, and means to possess a knowledge or understanding based on standards in the soul. The standard form for this verb is the perfect tense, which simply emphasizes the new "knowledge" capacity available to the believer since he now has access to God's standards. The idea here is that we now view the human race from a spiritual perspective. We are not limited to simply "perceiving" human actions and events from the standpoint of human logic or emotion. We now have access to God's viewpoint so we can understand and relate to the physical world from the perspective of God's character and plan. However, this needs to be viewed as a "potential" experience in the life of the believer because it is based on that person's progress in spiritual growth. Although every believer has been born into God's family and has the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, the actual experience of being able to utilize the divine viewpoint of life depends on maintaining fellowship with God and learning about His character and plan.

See Topics: FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD and GROWTH: Spiritual growth

4. even though we have known Christ according to the flesh: Paul is quick to add that, although, when Christ was here on earth, the primary point of focus was "what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life" (1 John 1:1), we now have access to a higher level of perception based on the presence of the Holy Spirit (Jn 16:12-15) and the revelation of mystery doctrine (Eph. 3:1-11; Col. 1:25-27; 1 Cor. 2:6-10).

5. yet now we know {Him} {thus} no longer: Now, Christ is in resurrection body and seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven. He now relates to His people on a purely spiritual level through the presence of the Holy Spirit and His word. We relate to Christ based on our positional union with Him, which gives us access not only to the many positional blessings, but the experiential blessings of the abundant life as well.

Verse 5:17

1. Therefore if any man is in Christ:

This is the new position that results when a person trusts in Christ as savior. He is removed from his old position or standing "in darkness" (Acts 26:18; Col. 1:13) and placed into union with Christ. This is represented all through the New Testament by the phrase, "IN CHRIST."

Most of the time this refers to our positional relationship but sometimes based on the context, it simply has in view, "in the realm of Christianity." Because we are in union with Christ, we share what He has in his exaltation to the right hand of the Father. So it is said that we have been raised up (ascended) with Him and seated with Him in the heavenlies (Eph. 2:6). This union with Christ also extends "backwards" as it were, so that we are united with Him in His death, burial and resurrection as well (Rom. 6:3-6).

2. {he is} a new creature: The word is ktisis can be rendered either, creature or creation. I don't think that it matters which term is used as long it is recognized that the "change" is because of "position" not because of character. Our character does not change at the moment of salvation. It only changes through growth in grace and knowledge. But what does change is our old standing or position in Adam and all the "positional" effects of being in Adam.

Verse 17 literally says, "If any man is in Christ, there (or it, or he) is a new creation (creature). The old things have passed away (in a moment of time); behold, new things have come into being."

The "new things" that have come into being at the moment of time that you trusted in Christ and were placed into union with Him through the baptism of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13), refer to "everything" that the believer now has through his relationship with God. It can best be summed up by Eph. 1:3 which says that God "has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies IN CHRIST," but these "blessings" need to be identified and clarified as they are found on the pages of the New Testament.

See topic: 36 POSITIONAL BLESSINGS: Summary

3. the old things have passed away: The verb, parerchomai, as an aorist active indicative indicates a point of time removal of something based on union with Christ. The active voice indicates that these "old" things simply went away, or ceased from existence. The act of the Spirit, placing us into a "positional" union with Christ simply automatically displaces the old position.

4. behold, new things: notice the absence of the word, "all," which is present in the KJV translation. The Greek literally says, "new things have become." It does not say that ALL things have become new, for in fact, that is far from true. Our old habits remain, our old character flaws remain, the sin nature remains. So this is not saying that there is some kind of experiential change of character that takes place, but a change in our spiritual status, relationship and position. The subject of the verb is "new things" and it is these new things that have BECOME (ginomai) or "come into existence.

However, there is one experiential change that does take place when a person trusts in Christ. The transformation from being spiritually dead to possessing spiritual life is an experiential reality that gives us the capacity to perceive "spiritual" things and to "utilize" those spiritual things within our soul. Attendant with that new life is the "initial" desire to hunger after the things of God, which can bring about an experiential change of character through spiritual growth and the filling/control of the Holy Spirit. However, that initial "change" can be stifled if the believer fails to cultivate it through learning God's word.

5. have come: This is ginomai as a perfect active indicative, and indicates a complete and permanent change of status that places us into a new realm of existence with new capacities and new responsibilities.


2Cor. 5:18

1.Now all {these} things are from God: This simply states that the CHANGE is worked by God. It is God's doing, not man's. Man simply accepts by faith the offered gift of salvation, and then God does everything else.

1 Cor. 1:30, "But by HIS doing you are in Christ Jesus."

2. who reconciled us to Himself through Christ: This is the spiritual reality that emanates from the potential. Reconciliation means that the one who was previously an enemy of God is now at peace with God and God has embraced him into a family relationship.

See Topic: Reconciliation

3. and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: The responsibility that follows upon becoming a child of God is to function as message bearers for our Father.


2Cor. 5:19

1. namely: That is, this is the focal point of the message.

2. that God was in Christ: We know that the divine "word," (logos, John 1:1-14), who was (always was) God, became flesh; became man. Jesus said, "He who has seen Me, has seen the Father." and "the Father, abiding in Me, does His works," (John 14:9-10). Thus we see that the second member of the Godhead (The Word) became a man and that the first member of the Godhead (the Father) worked WITHIN Him to accomplish the manifestation and sacrifice of the Messiah-Savior.

3. reconciling the world to Himself: This again, refers to a judicial provision from God on behalf of the entire human race. Philip Hughes writes, "This should not be understood in the sense of an indiscriminate universalism, nor is it legitimate to interpret it narrowly, as Augustine does, as having reference only to the elect who have been predestined to salvation. The implication is, rather, that reconciliation is COSMIC in its effects: it is applied in the first place to mankind; but since man, as the crown of God's creation, in his fall brought a curse upon the subordinate realm also, so in man's restoration the whole created order (cosmos) will also be restored." (New International Commentary, Second Corinthians, page 208-209).

4. not counting their trespasses against them: The verb is logidzomai in the present middle participle to indicate a "present" effect that results from Christ's sacrifice. The verb means to add up the credits and debits and assign them to the person's account. It is used in this way at Romans 4:1-8, where we see the consequences to an individual who does not accept Christ's sacrificial provision on his behalf.

In the application of reconciliation, "in the first place to mankind," we see a universal PROVISION, but not a universal salvation (universalism). We see the judicial result of Christ dying for all. Since the death of Christ was not only "for all," but also for sins, those sins are not calculated to the account of the world. At 1 John 2:2, we find that, "Christ is the propitiation (satisfaction) . . . for the sins of the whole world." If God's justice has thus been satisfied in regard to SINS, there is no judicial basis for Him to hold those sins to the account of "all."

So, judicially, God is satisfied in reference to the sins of "all" and those "all" are judicially reconciled to Him. God says, I am satisfied, I do not require any further PAYMENT for sins (Heb. 10:14-18). He says, I accept you, you are "welcome to" Me, (Acts 10:35). But a volitional acceptance of God on the part of the individual is required in order to experience the spiritual reality of the "judicial" provision. Thus, as Paul invites at verse 20, "we beg you, be reconciled to God."

If the individual does not accept God's judicial provision for him, then he does not personally benefit from that provision, and as Jesus said, "you will die in your SIN," and "you will die in your SINS," (John 8:21, 24).

The failure to trust in Christ's provision says in effect, that "I am going to find my own spiritual reality on own my terms, through my own works." This is what Paul addresses at Rom. 4:1-8. The one who rejects, Reassumes the debt that was forgiven. Paul says:

A. "Now to the one who works: the one who places himself under a personal "works system" to find spiritual reality (salvation; life with God).

B. His wage: that is, the result of his endeavors

C. Is not calculated: logidzomai, added up and assigned to one's account.

D. According to GRACE: kata charis, indicates that what God offers to him based on the grace provision from Christ's sacrifice on the cross, does not result in benefit for him.

E. But according to debt: kata opheilāma, indicates what is DUE, what is OWED, and tells us that since the person has rejected the payment of the debt on his behalf, the debt remains in place and his WAGE will be the penalty of sin; the perpetuation of spiritual death beyond this physical life into the lake of fire.


5. and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation:

The service responsibility of the believer is to proclaim the message (logos) of reconciliation to the world since "God desires for all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth," (1 Tim. 2:4).

We find that "message" SUMMARIZED in verse 20, "be reconciled to God," and at Acts 16:31, "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved."


2Cor. 5:20

1.Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ: An ambassador represents the "constitution" of his country before the leaders and people of a foreign country. We as citizens of heaven are left here on earth, where we are now aliens, in order to represent the word of God to the people of this world.

2. as though God were entreating through us: God the Father is not here "personally" or physically on the earth, nor is Jesus Christ. He has left us here to be the instrument through which he pleads with man to embrace for themselves the saving work of Christ on the cross.

3. we beg you on behalf of Christ: the "begging" is the plea of the evangelist, and all believers have the responsibility of evangelistic activity (although not all have the spiritual GIFT of evangelism). This is an appeal to the soul of man who receives the gospel message and is drawn BY that message, to accept it. Jesus said that many are called (universal invitation to all humanity), but few are chosen (these are the ones who actually accept the "call" (the invitation) and express their trust in Christ as Savior.

4. be reconciled to God: This is the summary invitation. It follows ONLY after an accurate gospel message has been presented. The Holy Spirit's job is to convict the person of "sin, righteousness and judgment," after which God leaves it up to the individual to accept or reject the message proclaimed.

See Topic: Ambassadorship


2Cor. 5:21

This summarizes the fact that when a person trusts in Christ as Savior, they are "positionally" given the very righteousness of God. This is called justification or imputation. Justification is the biblical term that refers to the act of making someone righteous. Imputation is the theological term that describes that act of justification as an imputation or assignment of righteousness to someone's account. In this verse we also have statements that establish the sinlessness of Christ.

1. He: This refers to the Father, who as the author of the plan, administered His perfect justice upon the God-man, Jesus, in order to accomplish man's salvation.

2. made: The verb, poieo, as an aorist active indicative describes the "point-of-time" when judgment was placed upon Jesus for the sins of man.

3. Him, who knew no sin: Refers to Jesus as totally righteous and sinless.
1 Pet. 2:22; 1 John 2:1; Deut. 32:4

The purpose for mentioning this here, is to establish the qualifications of the Savior. First and foremost, the Savior needed to be free and sinless in order to save sinners. One who is spiritually dead cannot die for others -- he can only die for himself; ie, pay the penalty for his own sinfulness. Christ as a perfect, sinless human being, is qualified to pay the penalty for the sins of all members of the human race.

4. {to be} sin: This is the object of the verb, "made." The Father MADE Christ to be -- not only the substitution for the sinner, receiving the judgment that the sinner deserves, but actually a receptacle for sin and sins which were judged and rejected.

5. on our behalf: The preposition of substitution, huper, indicates that Jesus so completely took our place as the recipient of divine justice that the gate for access to the Father is now wide open and available for every member of the human race. The "our" is generic and refers to all members of the human race in general and not JUST to the elect.

6. that we might become: The purpose clause, introduced by hina and completed by an aorist middle subjunctive of ginomai, indicates the availability of justification for all people. The availability is universal, the realization is personal based on each individual's response to the instruction, "be reconciled to God."

7. the righteousness of God: This refers to the possession of God's righteousness credited to the spiritual "account" of the one who believes (Romans 3:22; 4:5; 5:1).

See Topic: Justification

8. in Him: the basis for our justification (possession of God's righteousness) is our positional union IN CHRIST.


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İRon Wallace, http://www.biblefragrances.com. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it,
but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's consent.


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