2Corinthians 5:14-21

Sunday Evening Bible Study

June 18, 2000


Paul has been talking about going through hard times and how important it is to keep your eyes on what is really important. Temporal things will pass away, eternal things will last. We will one day be with Jesus, we will one day be judged by Jesus, and we need to be ready.

:14 For the love of Christ constraineth us;

constrainethsunechei – to hold together, to hem in, press on every side; to hold fast, (of a prisoner) to hold in charge, to constrain.

Christ's love for us is pressing in on us from all sides.


Motivated by Jesus’ love.

Jesus' love for Paul keeps him doing what Jesus asks him to do, no matter what people may say of him.

Revelation 2:1-5 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have [somewhat] against thee, left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

When we start out in the Lord, we are so overwhelmed with His love for us.

It's all we can do to serve him.

Here is a picture of a church that still was doing good things for Jesus, but their motivation had gotten off the mark. They no longer did works out because of love but out of duty.

Jesus' word is to remember, repent, redo the first works (those done out of love).

:14 because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

better translation,

"having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died;" (NAS)

The idea is that since Jesus died a substitutionary death for all of us, that means that there must be a sense in which we have all died.

All of us have died a spiritual death to our sin nature. When He died, we died with Him.

Paul wrote,

(Rom 6:3-7 KJV) Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? {4} Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. {5} For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: {6} Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. {7} For he that is dead is freed from sin.

And also,

(Gal 2:20 KJV) I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

This is a mysterious kind of thing. It is given by Paul several times as a statement of fact. It’s not something that you have to make yourself feel, it’s just the truth.

But it’s difficult because my sin nature doesn’t feel very dead.

:15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

One of the reasons that Jesus died for us is so that we would stop living for ourselves and start living for Him.

Futility comes when we live to please ourselves.

Fulfillment comes when we live to please God.


The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says "Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours."

-- C. S. Lewis

:16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh:

or, "we recognize no man according to the flesh"

God doesn't look on outward appearances. So ought we.

We need to stop looking at people and forming our initial opinions based on how they are dressed, what car they drive, or how they smell.

1Samuel 16:1-13 God choosing little David over his brothers.

(1 Sam 16:1-13 KJV) And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons. {2} And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the LORD said, Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the LORD. {3} And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show thee what thou shalt do: and thou shalt anoint unto me him whom I name unto thee. {4} And Samuel did that which the LORD spake, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Comest thou peaceably? {5} And he said, Peaceably: I am come to sacrifice unto the LORD: sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice. And he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice. {6} And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord's anointed is before him. {7} But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. {8} Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, Neither hath the LORD chosen this. {9} Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And he said, Neither hath the LORD chosen this. {10} Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The LORD hath not chosen these. {11} And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither. {12} And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he. {13} Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.

God looks at hearts, not at outward appearances.

:16 yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that Paul knew Jesus as a person before his conversion.

The idea is that Paul had looked at Jesus according to earthly, human standards, but now he no longer does.

:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

That's all that is important, whether or not a person is in Christ of not.

If any person accepts Jesus, they get a new start in life.

:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation…

reconciliationkatallasso – to change, exchange (as in exchanging coins); hence, of persons, to change from enmity to friendship, to reconcile, of the reconciliation of man to God, of a woman returning to her husband.

The act of reconciliation was accomplished by God. (vs.18)

We had nothing to do with the accomplishment of reconciliation. It was all done by God.

We used the illustration this morning of a great wall being between us and God, the wall of sin. We could do nothing to tear down the wall, we only make it bigger. But God took the wall down by Himself.

The method of reconciliation was in Jesus taking our sins upon himself.

Isaiah 53:4-6 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

The ministry of reconciliation is our task.

Now that reconciliation has been made possible, God has entrusted the message to us.

It is our job to take reach out to those people that are separated from God and let them know that God loves them and offers them forgiveness.

:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

imputinglogizomai – to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over

God has given us the word to make people right with Himself.

A.T. Robertson: "The task of winning the unreconciled to God is committed to us. It is a high and holy one, but supremely difficult, because the offending party (the guilty) is the hardest to win over. We must be loyal to God and yet win sinful men to him."

:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us:

ambassadorspresbeuo – to be older, prior by birth or in age; to be an ambassador, act as an ambassador

We are ambassadors, foreigners, people from another country. As ambassadors, we live abroad in a foreign country, representing our home country.

beseechparakaleo – to call to one’s side, call for, summon; to admonish, exhort; to beg, entreat, beseech

:20 we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

we pray youdeomai – to want, lack; to desire, long for; to ask, beg

There should be a sense of urgency in our message.


The term posthaste goes back to the time of Henry VIII. Postmasters were given relays of horses to carry messages for the king to important cities in England. Because some couriers were irresponsible and wasted time in taverns and inns on the way, a drastic law was put into effect demanding that every dispatch carrier should "ride for his life." The king’s edict meant that anyone caught delaying his messages would be publicly hanged. Often there was drawn upon important letters the figure of a man suspended from a gallows. Beneath was this ominous warning: "Haste, post, haste! Haste for thy life!" A number of men did suffer death because of their inefficiency, but in the 19th century the practice was discontinued. However, the old expression still remains as a reminder that the utmost speed and urgency is required when the king’s business is involved!

in Christ’s stead – on behalf of Christ, as though He were pleading through us …


In 1936 a radio broadcast was transmitted to America from England. Just before the voice of King Edward VIII was to be heard, someone stumbled over a wire in the control room of WJZ (now WABC, New York) and snapped the only line of communication between the two great countries. The engineers were frantic. Then, with only a few moments remaining before air time a quick-thinking apprentice grasped the two broken ends of the wire and bridged the gap. Seconds later the King addressed the nation. In a real sense, his words were being transmitted through the body of that man!

Our message is get right with God.

As ambassadors, as God speaks through us, our message is for people to "get right" with God.

:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

God took the punishment that was due us and put it on Jesus, even though He was completely sinless.

In addition, God took all the righteousness of Jesus and placed it upon us.

I remember John MacArthur raising the question, "Why did Jesus have to wait thirty-three years before dying on a cross?"

Couldn’t He have just made it a "weekend project"?

Why would He become a little baby, spend thirty years growing up, three more years in ministry, and then die on a cross?

When John the Baptist argued with Jesus and said that he wasn’t worthy to be baptizing Jesus, Jesus said,

(Mat 3:15 NKJV) But Jesus answered and said to him, "Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he allowed Him.

Jesus spent thirty-three years on planet earth living a life of righteousness, a life of doing the right things.

During that time, He healed people, raised the dead, fed the hungry, released the demon-possessed, and many, many other things. Those good deeds were His "righteousness".

Not only did God put the punishment for our sins upon Jesus, but God also took the credit for all the good things that Jesus ever did and gave the credit to us!