2 Corinthians 5:16-19

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 17, 2024 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

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. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 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.
- 2 Corinthians 5:16-19

In the previous section of this letter, Paul discussed his motivation for being a servant of Jesus Christ – a reverent fear of God, a heart-centered faith, and the compelling love of Christ. Here, he elaborates on the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection and what it means for the lives of Christ's followers. Just before this, Paul emphasized Jesus’ death and resurrection, which are for everyone.

Verse 16 starts out with “so,” which could also be translated as “therefore;” this shows that Paul is building on his previous thoughts to make a point. His point is that because of the transformative power of Christ’s death and resurrection, we are to change the way we view others. He speaks against the worldly perspective, which often values people based on external factors such as status, wealth, or appearance. Instead, Paul calls for a spiritual perspective that sees people as new creations in Christ.

Paul admits that he once viewed Christ from a worldly point of view, likely referring to his time before conversion when he persecuted Christians. This acknowledgment serves as a powerful testimony of the transformative power of encountering Christ. Just as Paul's view of Christ changed, so should our view of others change. We are to see them through the lens of God's redemptive work in Christ, recognizing their potential for transformation and reconciliation.

Verse 17 is one of the most celebrated declarations in the New Testament. It explains the essence of what it means to be a Christian – being "in Christ" signifies a profound union with Him, resulting in a complete renewal of one's identity. The phrase "new creation" suggests a radical transformation that goes beyond mere moral improvement.

The old life, characterized by sin and separation from God, is gone. In its place, a new life has emerged, which is defined by the indwelling presence of Christ and the Holy Spirit. This transformation is not just an individual experience but also a communal reality. As members of the body of Christ, believers collectively embody this new creation, witnessing to the world the power of God's redemptive work

But it is important to keep reading into the next verse, where Paul emphasizes that this transformation and reconciliation are entirely God's work in verse 18. Human effort has no part in this divine act. God is the initiator and sustainer of the reconciliation process, and Christ is the means through which it is accomplished.

Having been reconciled to God, believers are now entrusted with the "ministry of reconciliation." This ministry involves more than just proclaiming the message of reconciliation; it also entails living out its reality in relationships with others. Christians are called to be agents of reconciliation in a broken and divided world, embodying the peace and unity that come from being reconciled with God.

In verse 19, Paul expands on the nature of God's reconciliation. Through Christ, God is reconciling the entire world to Himself. This global scope underscores the inclusivity of God's redemptive plan. The phrase "not counting people’s sins against them" highlights the gracious and merciful aspect of reconciliation. In Christ, God offers forgiveness and a fresh start, breaking the cycle of sin and condemnation.

The message of reconciliation is entrusted to believers, making us ambassadors of Christ. This responsibility involves proclaiming the good news of God's forgiveness and actively participating in the ministry of reconciliation. As bearers of this message, Christians are called to reflect God's love and grace in their interactions, helping others to understand and experience the reconciliation that God offers through Christ.

So what is this ministry of reconciliation? It is a divine calling to proclaim the message of God’s love, mercy, and grace to a world in need of redemption. We have broken our relationships with God and with others due to our sinfulness, and those relationships must be repaired. This ministry of reconciliation is based on God’s love and mercy to us; we do not deserve it, but He is merciful and shows us His love in this way. The message through which reconciliation happens is the gospel message of salvation through Jesus Christ. This reconciliation is not just about individuals being reconciled to God, but it is God’s desire to reconcile His relationship with all of humanity.

In this passage, we see the core message of the Christian faith. Through Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection, believers are reconciled to God and called to live transformed lives. This transformation involves a shift from self-centered living to Christ-centered living, viewing others through the lens of God’s redemptive work, and participating in the ministry of reconciliation.

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