2 Corinthians 5:21


Friday, 21 August 2015

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21

From time to time, it is recommended by the commentator that a verse should be memorized and ready to be repeated at all times. This is one of them. In grasping the words of this verse, we find what the significance of the cross truly is. The order of the words in Greek show an emphasis which is lacking in our translations – “Him that knew no sin He made sin for us.”

God sent Jesus on a definite mission in order to redeem fallen man. He was born without inherited sin and He lived His life perfectly under the law, God’s standard for man. This is testified to on numerous occasions in the New Testament, such as John 8:46, John 14:30, Hebrews 7:26, 1 Peter 2:22, and etc. In being perfect and sinless, Jesus was thus qualified to become a sacrifice of atonement for those who otherwise had no hope.

It is important to note that the words “to be” are inserted by the translators, but are not in the Greek. Instead it says “He (has) made him sin.” Does this merely mean a sin-offering, or does it literally mean He was made sin? The answer is to be found in the Old Testament sacrificial system.

An innocent animal was brought before the Lord and the offender laid his hands on it and confessed over the animal. In this act, the sin was transferred to the animal. Thus the animal became not just the sin offering, but the sin itself. The transfer was made in accordance with the law and therefore God viewed the offender as having been purified and the animal as being sin-filled. The “sin-offering” does not mean that the sin was offered to God, but that the animal which was “the sin” was to be killed because “the wages of sin is death.” The life of the offender (the recipient of the transfer) was offered in order to remove the sin.

For this reason, the sin offering was to be wholly burnt; none of it was to be eaten. If the sin-offering was consumed, it would in essence be a “taking in again” of the sin which was transferred to the animal.

However, the book of Hebrews shows that this was only a picture of faith in the greater work of the Lord because, “…it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). These Old Testament sacrifices only looked forward to the work of Christ. And this is exactly what Christ did for them (looking forward), and for us (looking backward) on the cross.

God sent Him on this mission – perfect, pure, and spotless. He went to the cross bearing sin – our sin. The transfer is from the offender to the innocent and so He literally became sin. As the “wages of sin is death,” then He had to die in order for the sin which was transferred to Him to be removed. But, something more incredible occurred. Because He had no sin of His own, He died not “in” sin, but “for” sin. Without His own sin, it was not possible for Him to remain dead (Acts 2:24). Thus, He rose from the dead.

Therefore, sin was judged in Him – our sin. Once such a judgment is rendered, it can never be made again. And so an exchange was made at the cross. God made Him “sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” As our sin has been judged, then there is only righteousness left. In God’s eyes, our sin – past, present, and future – has been judged in Christ. Without any sin, we have become the righteousness of God in Christ.

This concept spoken of here is similar to that of Galatians 3:13 –

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”)…

The law stood against us and testified to our sinful state, but Christ who fulfilled the law condemned that sin through His marvelous work. Again, Paul speaks of this in Romans –

“For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh…” Romans 8:3

This “righteousness of God” is something that we cannot do without if we are to be reconciled to Him. Either we possess it, or we can never enter into His presence. As Charles Ellicott notes –

“The ‘righteousness of God,’ as in Romans 3:21-22, expresses not simply the righteousness which He gives, nor that which He requires, though neither of these meanings is excluded, but rather that which belongs to Him as His essential attribute.”

As incredible as it seems, Christ Jesus was seen as our sin there on Calvary’s cross. At the same time, we were (and are even now) viewed as Christ’s perfection. Because of His work, we take on a new nature in God’s eyes.

Life application: Because God views us as sinless, isn’t it right that we act as such? The cost of our sin was the life of our perfect, sinless Lord. As He died for us, let us endeavor to live for Him.

Heavenly Father, I cannot get my mind beyond the cross of Christ. Jesus went there for my sin, taking it upon Himself. And at the same time, I was given His righteousness. With that thought always before me, I would pray for the strength and the wisdom to live my life according to Your word, knowing that my coming judgment is not for salvation or condemnation, but for rewards based on my walk in Christ. As He died for me, help me to live for Him. This I pray that you will be glorified in this life I live. Amen.

2 Corinthians 5:20


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.


2 Corinthians 5:19


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

…that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:19

The words “that is” are used to further clarify what was just written concerning the “ministry of reconciliation.” This ministry involved a process which comes directly from the eternal and infinite mind of God. It is “that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.” Concerning the words “was” and “reconciling,” Vincent’s Word Studies notes that –

“These words are to be construed together; the participle with the finite verb marking the process of reconciliation. The emphasis is on the fact that God was reconciling, not on the fact that God was in Christ. God was all through and behind the process of reconciliation. The primary reference of the statement is, no doubt, to God’s reconciling manifestation in the incarnation and death of Christ; yet, as a fact, it includes much more. God was engaged in reconciling the world from the very beginning, and that in Christ.”

What Vincent says here shows the immense love of God for the objects of His affection. Despite His wrath at our sin, God looked beyond that and has worked since the very beginning of time to restore us to Himself. This is why all of the stories of the Bible are included. Each shows another step in the process of leading the world to Jesus. God has been reconciling us to Himself each step of the way.

Further, Paul explains that in this process, God has arranged these things for His people in a way that He is “not imputing their trespasses to them.” For those who have received His offering of peace, we are not to be punished as we justly deserve. Instead, God united with flesh in the Person of Jesus and took the punishment that we deserve upon Himself. Therefore, by this act, there is no longer an expectation of punishment and condemnation, but rather one of divine favor and reconciliation.

This also shows, quite clearly, why Jesus can claim that there is only one path to God and it is through Him (see John 14:6). If the vicarious offering is not accepted, then only an expectation of wrath and condemnation remains. “The world” in this verse is speaking of humanity, but more specifically those who have received Jesus. For this reason, Charles Ellicott gives the translation as, “How that it was God who was reconciling in Christ a world unto Himself.”

In other words, what God has done is for a group in this world who will become “a world unto Himself.” Those who are not in this group will not receive of this benefit. This is why there needs to be apostles, preachers, and teachers of this word. If all people were being reconciled to God, then there would be no need for “the word of reconciliation.” It would be a forgone conclusion that all were saved. But because there is a need for the word of reconciliation to be communicated, it shows that the communication of that word is a necessary part of the process. As Paul says in Romans 10:17, “…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

It is the transmission of this message which God committed to the apostles that is now contained in the pages of the Bible. For those faithful preachers and teachers who follow after them, there is the burden of properly passing this message of hope on to the world.

Life application: If you are feeling weighed down by the troubles of the world, just take time to contemplate the message found in today’s verse. God has been working on a plan since the very beginning of time in order to reconcile you to Himself. That plan included the ministry, suffering, and death of Christ. If God went through all of that for you, then your time of trial has a purpose in that plan, and it will have an end as well. Be of good cheer and stand strong in your faith in Christ.

Heavenly Father, there are times when I feel completely overwhelmed by the troubles I face. But in those times, I can look to the truth that You have been in the world, reconciling us to Yourself from the very beginning. And that plan included the suffering and death of Christ Jesus. If You were willing to give Your Son for me, then whatever I am facing must be a part of that plan. And even more, I know that it is a temporary part of it. The day is coming when these things will be behind me… all because of Jesus! Thank You for what You have done, O God! Amen.



2 Corinthians 5:18


Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 2 Corinthians 5:18

Bible scholar Charles Ellicott notes: “The presence of the article in the Greek indicates that he is speaking, not of the universe at large, but of the new things belonging to the new creation of which he had spoken in the previous verse.”

In other words, this verse cannot be used for the doctrine of “universal salvation” as if God has reconciled to Himself “all things” in the absolute sense. It is referring to “all things” that He has, in fact, reconciled which were mentioned in the previous verse. It is in this sense that God “has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ.”

The word “reconciled” is used in three different passages in the New Testament, but only here and in Romans 5 is it speaking of the reconciliation which occurs between God and man through the work of Christ. In Romans 5:10, he states –

“For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”

In this, God is the one who primarily moves the process which is done through Christ His Son. In other words, without Christ there could be no reconciliation. But God accomplished this of His own accord in the giving of His Son. This then excludes any works on our part in the process. We simply receive the work by faith and the reconciliation is accomplished.

And in order for this to come about, Paul continues with the words that God “has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” There is a difference in the use of the word “us” here. In the first use of it (…reconciled us to Himself) the word is in the accusative. Here (…given us the ministry) the word is in the dative. Again, Charles Ellicott provides clarity –

“It is obvious that the personal pronoun is used with a different extent in the two clauses: the first embracing, as the context shows, the whole race of mankind; the last limited to those who, like the Apostles, were preachers of the Word.”

The message of the work of Christ has been given to man to spread. What a responsibility!

Life application: We were fallen and at enmity with God and yet God reached out in love to reconcile us to Himself. When so reconciled, we are considered acceptable in God’s eyes to such an extent that we are granted the right to tell this saving message to others. Let us never fail to open our mouths and speak! God has offered to this world the chance to go from condemned to saved… if we will but open our mouths and share the good news.

Heavenly Father, I am so grateful that You loved us enough to send Jesus to reconcile us to You. You initiated, You accomplished, and You have offered! All we need to do is simply reach out by faith and receive. And then You have granted us the right to tell others of the marvelous deeds which saved us. Help us to not be silent, but instead to be willing to speak out concerning the great things You have done for us. This I pray that I will be an acceptable instrument for sharing the good news with others. Amen.

2 Corinthians 5:17


Monday, 17 August 2015

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore” builds upon the thought (which was also a “therefore”) from the previous verse. Paul continues to expand on the meaning of our new life in Christ. In order to do so, he says that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” Being “in” Christ comes by faith in Him. This is the thought of Romans 10:9. When we believe, we are saved. At that moment, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit according to Ephesians 1:13, 14. This is our “baptism of the Holy Spirit.” It is a one-time occurrence upon belief in Christ.

From that moment, we are “a new creation.” God positionally sets us in the heavenly places at that moment (as noted in Ephesians 2:6) showing that salvation is a “done deal.” The concept of eternal salvation permeates Scripture. Verses such as 2 Corinthians 5:7, when looked at objectively, can mean nothing other than this. To assume that we are a “new creation” and yet could suddenly become unsaved is unfathomable.

From the moment we are saved “old things have passed away.” In the Greek, there is an article in front of “old things” and so it should be rendered, “the old things.” The things that we were once identified with are no longer applicable to us. This does not mean that we have attained perfection or that many saved people won’t choose enormously bad paths to follow. Rather, this is speaking of how we are considered from God’s perspective.

In Him, “all things have become new.” This is a shadowy mirror of the words of Isaiah 43 –

“Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?” Isaiah 43:18, 19

Because Paul says here that we are “a new creation,” it is an act of God, not of man. Only God can create. Thus, what man does after this moment is irrelevant to the status of the person. He is created anew by God and therefore what man does no longer has any bearing on the new creation. Paul alludes to this in Galatians 6 –

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.” Galatians 6:15

It is God who makes new; it is God who seals His redeemed; and it is God who will continue to save them until they are brought into His presence. The finality of the decision is His and, once again, it shows quite clearly the doctrine of eternal salvation. As Solomon notes in Ecclesiastes 3 –

“I know that whatever God does,
It shall be forever.
Nothing can be added to it,
And nothing taken from it.
God does it, that men should fear before Him.” Ecclesiastes 3:14

Life application: By a simply act of faith in Jesus Christ, a person moves from Adam to Christ. We are saved by God and become a new creation. Concerning salvation, we cannot add to what He has done, nor will what He has done be taken from us. Therefore, let us live our lives for Him, knowing that our eternal rewards and losses are based on the lives we live from the moment of our salvation.

Heavenly Father, just as You created all things, You word says that when we receive Christ as Lord we become a new creation in Him. As only You can create, then this surely means that we are forever Yours because of His work. I cannot imagine the trade! All of my past life is washed away by the work of Another. I am new, pure, and undefiled in Your eyes because of Jesus. What a blessing to know that heaven isn’t up to me. I am saved, once and for all, by faith alone. Hallelujah and Amen.