2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 24, 2024 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

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. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.”
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
- 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2

Right before this, Paul wrote about how all of us as believers are part of the ministry of reconciliation and what that should look like in our lives. Here, he elaborates more on how to live that out by living our lives as Christ’s ambassadors.

In verse 20, Paul uses the metaphor of ambassadors to describe the role of believers. Ambassadors represent their home country in a foreign land, carrying the authority and message of their homeland. Similarly, Christians represent Christ in the world, carrying His message of reconciliation. This role is both a privilege and a responsibility. When you’re an ambassador, you’re not living in your homeland but rather in a foreign territory. Our true home is in heaven with God, but we are living in this sinful world that is not truly our home.

The authority to be an ambassador has to be given to you; it's not something we naturally have. We are given authority by our relationship with Christ, but we also have the responsibility to represent Him well. As ambassadors of Christ, the opportunities to show God's love are not always easy. He loves us even when we disobey Him, but that perfect love is not often easy for us to live out. God is going to send us into places as His ambassadors, to do His work, and to bring about reconciling the world to Himself.

The phrase "as though God were making his appeal through us" emphasizes the gravity and importance of this role as ambassadors. Believers are the means through which God communicates His message of reconciliation to the world. Paul’s plea of “Be reconciled to God” is urgent and heartfelt, reflecting the importance of this message. It is a call for everyone to accept the reconciliation that God offers through Christ.

Verse 21 encompasses the heart of the gospel message. Christ, who was sinless, took on the burden of our sins. The phrase “to be sin for us” signifies the depth of Christ’s sacrifice. He bore the penalty of sin, taking upon Himself the consequences that humanity deserved.

The purpose of this sacrificial act is “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” This statement highlights the transformative power of Christ’s work. Through His death and resurrection, believers are not only forgiven but also made righteous in God’s sight. This righteousness is not based on human effort but is a gift from God, received through faith in Christ.

This is where chapter 5 ends and chapter 6 begins in our English translations, but this is one of those times that it’s important to note that Paul did not include chapter and verse markings when he originally wrote this letter to the first-century church in Corinth. The ideas in the first two verses of chapter 6 fit well with this idea of ambassadors that Paul has been talking about.

Paul begins verse 1 with a powerful exhortation. As God’s co-workers, believers are partners in God’s mission. This partnership underscores the importance of active participation in God’s work. Paul’s plea is for the Corinthians not to receive God’s grace “in vain.” This phrase suggests the possibility of receiving God’s grace without allowing it to transform one’s life. To receive God’s grace in vain would mean to accept the gift of salvation but not to live out its implications. Paul urges the Corinthians to let God’s grace have its full effect on their lives, leading to transformation and active participation in the ministry of reconciliation.

Paul concludes this section in verse 2 with a quotation from Isaiah 49:8, emphasizing the urgency of responding to God’s grace. The time of my favor and the day of salvation refer to the present moment when God’s offer of reconciliation is available. Paul’s declaration that "now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation" underscores the immediacy and availability of God’s grace. This call to action reminds us that the opportunity for reconciliation and transformation is now. It is an invitation to respond to God’s grace without delay, embracing the new life that is available in Christ.

As ambassadors of Christ, believers carry the message of reconciliation to a broken and divided world, reflecting God’s love and grace in their interactions. The urgency of Paul’s plea reminds us that the time to respond to God’s grace is now. This passage challenges us to live out the implications of our reconciliation with God, embracing the new creation we are in Christ and actively participating in His mission of reconciliation.

May we as believers faithfully fulfill our role as His ambassadors, bringing the message of reconciliation to all who need to hear it!

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