2 Corinthians 5: Christ’s Love Compels Us

13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.


Awaiting the New Body

1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

The Ministry of Reconciliation

11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Chapter 5, Motivation

The confident expectation of success is a vital thing for all in new covenant ministry.  Paul now unveils the basis on which he is so sure that the Corinthians, and all believers, will experience that transformation toward Christlikeness the new covenant promises.

Ultimate Transformation Assured; 5;1-10.  Paul is sure that all believers will know full transformation under the new covenant.  He sees death as dismantling of a temporary tent, to be exchanged for a building constructed by God (1).  The Spirit’s presence is a guarantee of the splendor to be ours in the hereafter (2-5).  The future state is to be preferred, for then we will be with the Lord (6-8).  Being confident of our destiny, we can give full attention to living now to please God (9), sure that all our actions will be evaluated and rewards given “for things done while in the body” (10).  In this context the “judgment seat” or tribunal of Christ is not related to salvation, but to rewards (cf. 1 Cor. 3:10-15)

[The expression of “pleasing” someone gives a negative impression.  I wonder why…  Because it feels insincere.  I wonder we have been brainwashed to think that “pleasing” others is a bad thing with the underlying implication that you should “please yourselves only.”  Thus, encouraging self-love.

But thanks to Paul, I started to think about what he means by “pleasing” God a.k.a Christ.  It means to do things for Him to make him feel happy.  How can we possibly make him happy when he is God who has everything and has no needs?  I think it’s not what he needs but what he wants.  He wants reconciliation.  He wants us.  Not just me, but others too.  That is, he loves us.  He wants us to catch humans, his own creation, and bring them to him as his children.  Like parents, God awaits us, regardless of what we have become.  Because we are his.  He created us.

I thank Paul and Lawrence O. Richards for make me think about this important expression of “to please someone, pleasing someone.”]

13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.

Present Transformation Also Assured; 5:11-21.  Paul is deeply aware of his responsibility to encourage commitment by others to obedient new covenant life (11-13).  But he understands the principles on which his ministry must be based.  First, he must count on the fact that the Holy Spirit is truly present in the heart of the believer (12).  Second, he must realize that only love for Christ will stimulate a believer to the inner responsiveness so central to new covenant living (14a).  Third, he knows that the purpose of Jesus’ death was to work the inner transformation, moving believers to “live no longer for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (14, 15).

[You can love someone only when you know the person.  Thus, Bible is so important to find out about who Christ is.  With the Holy Spirit as our interpreter, we get to know Him as we read the Scripture and then gradually fall in love with Him.  Only then, we respond, I think.]

The practical implications are exciting.  Paul no longer looks at behavior or evidence of carnality in evaluating those he serve (16, 17).  Insipid he knows that “if anyone be in Christ, he is a new creation” (16,17).  Paul also realizes that his ministry is a ministry of reconciliation:  a ministry to bring the life of the believers he serves into harmony with the inner reality of Jesus in the heart.

How is the ministry of reconciliation accomplished?  The model is provided by Christ and involves “not counting men’s sins against them” (19).  Thus Paul will never use guilt or shame, or reminders of failure, in an attempt to motivate change.  Instead Paul will constantly assure those he serves of his and God’s unconditional love and forgiveness.  Paul will appeal and implore.  And Paul will communicate his own confidence, knowing that Jesus died that “we might become the righteousness of God” (21).  Christ has not died in vain!