Thursday, 20 August 2015
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20
In the previous two verses, Paul has spoken of the “ministry of reconciliation” and the “word of reconciliation.” Now, he combines those thoughts into this verse. He begins with “Now then…” The Greek word for this is huper and it “is usually best translated ‘for the betterment (advantage) of,’ i.e. focusing on benefit” (M. Vincent). In other words, “Because of the ministry which we have been given, we now relay the following which is for your benefit…” With that understood, he says that “we are ambassadors for Christ.”
The word translated as “ambassadors” is used only twice in the New Testament, here and in Ephesians 6:20. It is presbeuó and it “means to act as an established statesman (diplomat) – a trusted, respected ambassador who is authorized to speak as God’s emissary (represent His kingdom)” (HELPS Word Studies). In essence, Paul is saying that the message he and the apostles carry is as if Christ were personally speaking it.
This is the job of an ambassador. They are to convey the desire and intent of the one they represent, speaking in the stead of the one who appointed them. In the case of the apostles, they spoke “as though God were pleading through us.” Without a doubt, and what can be taken in no other way based on his words here, is that there is nothing God needs to do concerning the matter which will be stated. Rather there is something that man must do. This is why Paul uses the term “pleading.” It is as if God’s hands were stretched out and asking for a response.
And the message that these ambassadors proclaim from God who is pleading through them is that “we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” If God need do nothing, and the burden is laid on the one being petitioned, then this verse shows with all certainty that the Calvinist doctrine of predestination and election is false. They teach that God predestines some for salvation and some for condemnation and that free-will is not involved in the process. Based on Paul’s words here, that is not only utterly ridiculous, it is dangerous.
Why would God “plead” through His ambassadors for man to be reconciled to Him if man was under no obligation to respond? Further, why would God plead this “on Christ’s behalf?” What would the point of saying this be if Christ’s work encompassed election apart from free-will? Such a doctrine does damage to the purpose of the cross of Christ which was to provide atonement for all people potentially, based on their choice of being reconciled. If they refuse His offer, the atonement that was offered is withheld; if they receive it, it is granted.
Life application: Paul’s words are clear and concise, and they are also consistent. Man has an obligation to respond to the gospel message of Christ. If he refuses the offer, there is no other way to be reconciled to God. Exercise your free will wisely. Choose Christ!
Heavenly Father, Your word says that the message of the apostles was spoken on Your behalf, as if You are pleading through them. It says that we have been implored, on Christ’s behalf, to be reconciled to You. What is plainly clear from this is that I have a choice. I can either receive Christ and be reconciled to You, or I can refuse Him and be separated from You. I choose Christ! I choose life! Thank You for my Lord through whom I am saved. Amen.