Paul's 2nd Letter to the Corinthians and Paul's Letter to the Ephesians

 

June 10, 2014

Tom Lowe

The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians

 


                                                                          

               Lesson II.B.6.a: Paul’s Motives. (5:11-15)

 

2nd Corinthians 5:11-15 (NKJV)

11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.

12 For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart.

13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you.

14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;

15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

 

 

 

Commentary

 

11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.

 

Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord

“The terror of the Lord” speaks of the Lord Jesus, who will be seated on the throne of judgment, and who will decide the destiny of all people. The apostle was speaking of the same thing that ended the previous lesson. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Co. 5:10). The implication is, that knowing how much the Lord is to be feared, what an occasion of terror and alarm it will be to stand at the judgment-seat; how fearful and awful will be the consequences of the trial of that day. The Lord Jesus will be an object of terror and alarm, or it will be a circumstance inspiring terror and alarm to stand there on that day, because:

  1. He has all power in heaven and on earth, and He has been appointed to execute judgment.
  2. All who appear there must give an exacting and true account of all that they have done.
  3. The wrath of God will be seen in the condemnation of the guilty.

 

It will be a day of awful wailing and terror when all the living and all the dead are arraigned and put on trial with their eternal destiny depending upon the outcome. On that day, multitudes of the guilty and unrepentant shall be thrust down to an eternal hell. Who can describe the incredible terror of the scene? Who can envision the horrors of the masses of the guilty and the wretched who shall hear that their doom is sealed to be fixed forever in a world of unspeakable despair? The influence of the knowledge of “the terror of the Lord” on the mind of the apostle seems to have been two-fold; first, an apprehension of it as a personal concern, and a desire to escape it, which led him to constant self-denial and toil; and secondly, a desire to save others from being overwhelmed in the wrath of that dreadful day.

 

This fear of Christ as our Judge is a healthy fear. The expression “the terror of the Lord” is particularly appropriate for one who had been suspected of double dealing and insincerity, as was Paul: he was inwardly conscious of the principle of the fear of God guiding and leading him.

 

But, “the terror of the Lord,” I think, is too harsh a translation, and “the fear of the Lord” would be better. This expression, “the fear of the Lord,” often signifies the worship of the Lord, or that religious reverence which we owe to Him. For example, there is Acts 9:31: “Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.” [Also seeRomans 3:1813:71 Peter 1:172:183:2.] The English word “terror” is unduly strong, and hinders the reader from seeing that what St. Paul speaks of is not mindless dread, but reverential awe, which had been described in the Old Testament as “the beginning of wisdom” (see Job 28:28Psalm 111:10).

 

How can a born again child of God have anything but a reverential “fear of the Lord,” when he comprehends the great love of God contained in John 3:16{1],and he realizes that God loves him and that Jesus died for him. He will not be judged for his sins because Jesus has already taken care of that at Calvary. The only judgment he will face concerns the rewards or crowns he will receive for the service he has rendered to the Lord. He knows that Jesus does everything for his good, and would never hurt him.

 
We persuade men

That is, we attempt or endeavor to persuade them to repent and believe the Gospel, so that, instead of being objects of the divine wrath, they may live and die happy in His favor.  We attempt to persuade them to flee from the wrath to come, to be prepared to stand before the judgment-seat, and to be fit to enter into heaven. Notice the uniqueness of the statement. He does not say, we drive people, or we endeavor to alarm people, or we frighten people, or we appeal merely to their fears, but it is, “we persuade people,” we endeavor to induce them by all means of persuasion and argument to flee from the wrath to come. The future judgment, and the scenes of future anguish, are not proper topics of friendly conversation, since it tends to drive people away. To proclaim merely hell-fire and damnation; to appeal merely to the fears of people, is not the way in which Paul and the Saviour preached the gospel. The knowledge that there would be a judgment, and that the wicked would be sent to hell, was a powerful motive for Paul to endeavor to "persuade" people to escape from wrath, and was a motive for the Saviour to weep over Jerusalem, and to grieve over its folly, and its doom—“Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it” (Luke 19:41). The “fire and brimstone” preaching of the past has been replaced by the “feel-good” preaching of today, which creates another set of problems. The effect that the Christian witness should endeavor to produce is tenderness, deep feeling, and love, and it should be stimulated by prayer and through the language of tender persuasion, to lead people to weep over dying sinners rather than to denounce them; to pray to God to have mercy on them rather than to use the language of severity.

 

Since we know what God requires of man, because He has revealed it to us in His Word, we persuade men to become Christians, and to labor to be acceptable to Him, because they must all stand before the judgment seat; and if they do not receive the grace of the Gospel here, they must appear there and give their accounts with sorrow and not with joy. In short, a man who is not saved from his sin in this life, will be separated from God and the glory of his power in the world to come. This is a powerful motive for us to persuade men to accept the salvation provided for them by Christ Jesus. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom; the terror of God confounds and overpowers the soul. We lead men to God through his fear and love, and with the fear of God the love of God is ever consistent; but where the “terror” of the Lord reigns there can neither be fear, faith, nor love; and there can be no hope either.

 

But we are well known to God,

The meaning of this is, probably, that God sees that we are sincere and upright in our aims and purposes. He is acquainted with our hearts. All our motives are known to him, and he sees that it is our aim to promote His glory, and to save the souls of people. This is probably said to counteract the charge which might have been brought against him by some of the disgruntled in Corinth, that he was influenced by improper motives and aims. To counter this, Paul says, that God knew that he was endeavoring to save souls, and that he was motivated by a sincere desire to rescue them from the impending terrors of the Day of Judgment. We have no need to persuade Him of our integrity, for He knows all things.

 

I will never cease to be astonished by the fact that God knows all about me, but loves me anyway!

 

And I also trust are well known in your consciences.

To paraphrase the apostle: “And I trust also you are convinced of our integrity and uprightness of purpose.” The same sentiment is expressed in different words in 2 Corinthians 4:2: “But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.” It is an appeal which he makes to them, and the expression of an earnest and confident assurance that they knew and felt that his goal was upright, and his purpose sincere.

 

 

12 For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart.

 

We do not commend ourselves again to you:

Was Paul just bragging?  Was he just trying to glorify himself before the Corinthians?  Not at all.  Though Paul has been glorying in his weakness, his trials, and his struggles, he is not doing it to brag before the Corinthian Christians. He did not “commend” (“praise”, or “brag about”) himself, for he presumed that he had already been made manifest (clearly perceived by their eye of understanding) to their consciences. I am already assured of your confidence, thereforeI am not commending myself in order to recommend myself to you. Paul had already addressed the charge made against him by the Judaizers that he was a braggart. In 2 Corinthians 3:1-3, we read, “Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you? You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.” And then, in the verse coming just prior to this one he said, “And I also trust are well known in your consciences.” It’s clear that he believed that the Corinthians knew him well enough, so he did not need to defend himself to them, but it is equally clear that there was a movement in the assembly to discredit him and his ministry.

 

But give you opportunity to boast on our behalf

Paul spoke of his weakness, his trials, and his struggles, because he wanted to give the Corinthian Christians the opportunity to be proud of him and to give them a starting point for something “to boast of on our behalf.” There is, however, some irony in Paul’s words, because the Corinthian Christians were not interested in glorying in Paul, or in seeing anything good in any of his trials.  They thought the trials made Paul less of an apostle and man of God, not more of an apostle and man of God, and they accused him of self-praise.  Paul knew this well, but he is happy to give them the opportunity to “boast on our behalf,” none the less! He hoped they would defend him from the accusations, scandals, and rebukes of his enemies; and give him the honor due for his faithful and sincere labors in planting and sustaining the Church. He has already said (2 Co. 1:4{2])that the teachers and the taught in their mutual affection ought to have some ground for “boasting” of each other. The Corinthians were being robbed of this by the lies of Paul's opponents, who thought only about outward appearances. This is why he has expressed to them the aim and glory of his ministry. Nothing could be more gentle and tolerant than such a mode of stating his object. Paul certainly didn’t hold back when it came to bragging about the Corinthians: “for I know your willingness, about which I boast of you to the Macedonians, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal has stirred up the majority. Yet I have sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this respect, that, as I said, you may be ready” (2 Co. 9:2-3; also see 4:7, 14; 8:24; 12:5).

 

That you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart.

 One problem with the Corinthian Christians is that they liked those who had an attractive appearance and not a lovely heart.  They preferred those who had no true inward cause for glorying, though they have reason to glory in outward appearance, and in respect to their riches, personality, wisdom, or the like. The apostle wanted to give them something to use to respond to the false claims made by those who looked down on Paul because his glory was not in appearance, only in heart.  By telling the Corinthian Christians how God is working through his struggles and trials, Paul has given them something to say in his defense. The object of their boasting was in the holiness, the zeal, the love, etc., which might be seen in a man’s presence, not what existed in the heart. Paul is contrasting those who are destitute of all of that which they boasted (hypocrites), and who put their confidence in their personal relationships, connections, influence, ancestors, and particularly their external relationship with Christ, with those who possess the only proper ground for boasting, that which is internal and noblest in man, that which God looks upon (1 Sam. 16:7{3]) as the seat of faith, the heart of a born again believer—not the face and physique. The grounds of their boasting, whatever they were, were superficial and external (2 Corinthians 10:7{4]), not deep and sincere. But those who would rightly judge Paul must look into his very heart, and not on his face.

 

Dear reader, if I may be so bold to ask, “What do you glory in?  Are you among those who glory in appearance and not in heart?”  Remember what the Lord said to Samuel: “The LORD does not see as a man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).  We are so easily impressed by a person’s image, we often do not see or care about their substance. It isn’t that appearance is completely unimportant, but compared to the heart it almost is.

 

 

13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you.

 

For if we are beside ourselves

The Holman Christian Standard Bible may add clarity to this verse: “For if we are out of our mind, it is for God; if we have a sound mind, it is for you.” Again, as with the previous verse, this is probably designed to meet some of the charges which the false teachers in Corinth brought against him, and to furnish his friends there with a ready answer, as well as to show them the true principles on which he acted, and his real love for them. It is very likely that he was charged with being “deranged” or “out of his mind.” There were many who boasted of good judgment, and attentiveness, and wisdom, who regarded the apostle as acting like a madman. It has not been uncommon, by any means, for the unkind and the short-sighted; for formal professors and for hypocrites to regard the warm-hearted and passionate friends of religion as maniacs. Festus thought Paul was deranged, when he said, "Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad" (Acts 26:24); and the Saviour himself was regarded by his immediate relatives and friends as beside himself: “But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, ‘He is out of His mind.” (Mark 3:21). And there have always been many, both in the church and out of it, who have regarded those who support revivals, and missions, and all those who have displayed an extraordinary interest in religion, as deranged. Paul had in mind here to show the real principles which motivated him, regardless of whatever might be the appearance or the assessment which they affixed to his conduct. These principles were zeal for God, love for the church, and the compelling influences of the love of Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:14-15). The word rendered here as “beside ourselves” sometimes means to put out of place; and then to be put out of oneself, to astonish (Luke 24:22; Acts 8:9, Acts 8:11), to fill with wonder; and then, as it is used here, to be out of one's mind, to be deranged. Here it means that they were charged with being deranged, or that others esteemed, or professed to regard Paul and his fellow-laborers deranged.

 

It is to God

That is, it is in the cause of God, and out of love for Him. It is such a zeal for Him; such an absorbing interest in his cause; such love prompting to such great self-denial, and teaching us to act so much unlike other people as to lead them to think that we are deranged. The doctrine here is that there may be such a zeal for the glory of God, such an active and fervent desire to promote his honor, as to lead others to charge us with being a fanatic and thus deranged. It does not prove however that a man is deranged on the subject of religion simply because he is unlike others, or because he pursues a course of life that differs substantially from that of other professors of religion, and from the man of the world. He may be the truly sane man after all; and all the madness that may exist may be where there is a profession of religion without zeal; a professed belief in the existence of God and in the realities of eternity, that produces no difference in the conduct between the professor and other people; or an utter unconcern about eternal realities when a man is walking on the brink of death and of hell. There are a few people that become deranged by religion; there are millions who have no religion who act as madmen. And the highest instances of madness in the world are those who walk over an eternal hell without apprehension or alarm.

 

Or if we are of sound mind, it is for you

The sense seems to be, "if we are esteemed to be sane, and sober-minded, as we trust you will admit us to be, it is for your sake. Whatever may be the opinion which others have of us, we are influenced by our love for God, and our love for man. Therefore, we cannot help but show the zeal and self-denial which may expose us to the charge of mental derangement; but still we trust that by you we shall be regarded as being of sound mind. We seek your welfare. We labor for you. And we trust that you will appreciate our motives, and regard us as truly rational and sensible."

 

 

14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;

 

For the love of Christ

In this verse, Paul brings to the forefront the principle which motivated him; the reason for his extraordinary zeal. That is, that he was influenced by the love which Christ had shown in dying for all people, and by the perspective which was provided by that death with regard to the actual character and condition of man; and of the obligation of those who professed to be His true friends (v. 15).  The phrase “the love of Christ” may denote either the love which Christ has for us, and which he has manifested in his sacrificial death, or our love for Him. In the former sense the phrase “the love of God” is used in Romans 5:8{5]and 2 Corinthians 13:13-14{6], and the phrase “love of Christ” in Ephesians 3:19{7].The phrase is used in the latter sense in John 15:9-10{8], and Romans 8:35{9]. It is impossible to determine the sense in which it is used here with certainty, and it is only through the perspective which one has of Christ’s death and man’s need that we shall in any way determine the meaning. Expositors differ in regard to it. It seems to me that the phrase here means the love which Christ had toward us. Paul speaks of His dying for all as the reason why he was compelled to continue to follow the course of self-denial which he exhibited. Christ died for all. All were dead. Christ showed his great love for us, and for all, by giving himself to die a most horrible death; and it was this love which Christ had shown that impelled Paul to his own acts of love and self-denial. He gave himself to his great work compelled by that love which Christ had shown, and by the view of the ruined condition of man which showed how very necessary that work was; and by a desire to emulate the Redeemer, and to possess the same spirit which he manifested.

 

Compels us

Compel means to force or drive, especially to a course of action; also to press on, urge, impel, or excite. Here it means, that the impelling, or exciting motive behind the hard work and self-denial of Paul, was the love of Christ—the love which he had showed to men. Christ so loved the world that He gave Himself for it. His love for the world was proof that people were dead in sins. And we, being urged by the same love, are prompted to do similar acts of zeal and self-denial to save the world from ruin.

 

Because we judge thus

Having well weighed, and maturely considered the facts in the matter, “we judge thus” that is, we have determined in our own minds, or we have decided; or this is our firm conviction and belief—we come to this conclusion.

 

That if one died for all

Paul is saying, “Taking it for granted, or supposing, that one died for all, then it follows that all were dead.” The "One" who “died for all” is undoubtedly the Lord Jesus. The Greek word rendered "for" means in the place of, instead of. It means that Christ took the place of sinners, and died in their stead; that he endured what was equivalent to all the punishment which would be inflicted if they were to personally suffer the full penalty of the Law. If this was done, of course, the guilty could be pardoned and saved, since all the objectives which could be accomplished by their destruction have been accomplished by the substituted sufferings of the Lord Jesus (Rom. 3:25-26{10]).

 

The phrase "for all," obviously means for all mankind; for every man. This is an extremely important expression in regard to the extent of the atonement which the Lord Jesus made, and while it proves that his death was vicarious, that is, in the place of others, and for their sakes, it demonstrates also that the atonement was universal and had no limitations with regard to class or condition of people; and was not more applicable to one class more than to another. Paul maintains, in this verse that the merits of that death were sufficient to save everyone. The argument in favor of the general atonement, found in this passage, consists of the following points:

  1. That Paul assumes that this principle was well known, indisputable, and universally accepted, that Christ died for all. He did not believe it was necessary to enter into the argument to prove it, or even to state it formally. It was so well known, and so universally accepted that he made it an elementary perception—a precept on which to base another important doctrine—namely, that all were dead. It was a point which he assumed that no one would call into question.
  2. That it is the clear and obvious meaning of the expression—the opinion which is held by everyone, unless they have some theory to support the opposing opinion; and it requires all the inventiveness which people can ever command to make it appear even plausible, that this is consistent with the doctrine of a limited atonement, and that the apostle doesn’t really mean “all.” If a man is told that all the passengers on board a cruise ship were drowned, the obvious interpretation is, that every individual was drowned. Such a view would be taken by 999 persons out of 1,000, if told that Christ died for all; nor could they conceive how this could be consistent with the statement that he died only for the elect, and that the elect was only a small part of the human family.
  3. This interpretation is consistent with all the revealed and expressed declarations relating to the death of the Redeemer; some of which are shown below:
  • Hebrews 2:9—“that he, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man.”
  • John 3:16—“God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
  • 1 Timothy 2:6—“who gave himself a ransom for all.”
  • Matthew 20:28—“The Son of man came to give his life a ransom for many.”
  • 1 John 2:2,--“and he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world”
  1. The fact that on the ground of the atonement made by the Redeemer, salvation is offered to all people by God, is a proof that he died for all. The apostles were directed to go “into all the world and to preach the gospel to every creature,” with the assurance that “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;” (Mark 16:15-16); and everywhere in the Bible the most full and free offers of salvation are made to all mankind; compare the following verses:
  • Isaiah 55:1—“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters . . .”
  • John 7:37—“On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.”
  • Revelation 22:17—“And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.”

 

These offers are made on the ground that the Lord Jesus died for people (John 3:16{1]). They are offers of salvation through the gospel, of the pardon of sin, and of eternal life to be made "to every creature." But if Christ died only for a part, if there is a large portion of the human family for whom he did not die in any sense whatever; if there is no provision of any kind made for them, then God must know this, and then the offers cannot be made with sincerity, and God is enticing them with offers that He doesn’t intend to keep, and which he knows does not exist. It is of no use here to say that the preacher does not know who the elect are, and that he is obliged to make the offer to all in order that the elect may be reached. For it is not the preacher only who offers the gospel. It is God who does it, and he knows who the elect are, and yet he offers salvation to all. And if there is no salvation provided for all, and no possibility that all to whom the offer comes could be saved, then God is insincere; and there is no possible way to vindicate his character.

  1. If this interpretation is not correct, and if Christ did not die for all, then the argument of Paul here is a non sequitur (a statement containing an illogical conclusion.), and is worthless. The proof that all are dead, according to him is, that Christ died for all. But suppose that he meant, or that he knew, that Christ died only for a part, for the elect, then how could the argument stand, and what weight would the argument have? Imagine, if you will, that Paul had said the following:
  • "Christ died only for a portion of the human race, therefore all are sinners.
  • Medicine is provided only for a part of mankind, therefore all are sick.
  • Pardon is offered to part only, therefore all are guilty."

 

But Paul never reasoned in this way. He believed that Christ died for all mankind, and on the ground of that opinion he inferred that all needed such an atonement; that all were sinners, and that all were exposed to the wrath of God. And the argument is in this way, and in this way only, sound. But still it may be asked, “What is the force of this argument? How does the fact that Christ died for all, prove that all were sinners, or dead in sin?” The answer is clearly stated in the following points:

  1. In the same way that to provide medicine for all, proves that all are sick, or liable to be sick; and to offer pardon to all who are in a prison, proves that all there are guilty. What an insult it would be to offer medicine to a healthy man; or pardon to a man who has violated no law! And there would be the same insult in offering salvation to a man who was not a sinner, and who did not need forgiveness.
  2. The dignity of the Sufferer, who was none other than the Son of God, and the extent of His sufferings, prove that all were under a deep and dreadful load of guilt. Such a being would not have come to die unless the race had been apostate; nor would he have endured such great sorrows unless a deep and dreadful malady had spread over the world. The deep anxiety; the tears; the toil; the sufferings, and the groans of the Redeemer, show what his sense of the condition of man was, and prove that he regarded them as degraded, fallen, and lost. And if the Son of God, who knows all hearts, regarded them as lost, they are lost. He was not mistaken in regard to the character of man, and he did not lay down his life under the influence of delusion and error. If the objection to the view which has been taken of this important passage is that the work of the atonement must have been to a large extent in vain; that it has actually been applied to a comparatively small portion of the human family, and that it is unreasonable to suppose that God would endure such suffering and great sorrows for nothing, we may reply:

i)       That it may not have been in vain, though it may have been rejected by a large portion of mankind. There may have been other purposes accomplished by it besides the direct salvation of people. It was important that it has been rendered consistent with God’s nature to offer salvation to all; it is significant that God could be seen to be just and yet pardoning the sinner; it was meaningful when his determined hatred of sin, and His purpose to honor His Law, was revealed; and in regard to the benevolence and justice of God, it is significant that, though most of the human race had rejected the plan and been lost, the plan was not in vain, and the sufferings of the Redeemer were not for nothing.

ii)    It is in accordance with what we see everywhere, when much that God does seems to our eyes, though not to His, to be in vain. How much rain falls on sterile sands or on barren rocks, to our eyes in vain! What floods of light are poured each day on barren wastes, or untraversed oceans, to our eyes in vain! How many flowers shed forth their fragrance in the wilderness, and 'waste their sweetness on the desert air," to us apparently for nothing! How many pearls lie useless in the ocean; how much gold and silver in the earth; how many diamonds amidst rocks to us unknown, and apparently in vain! How many lofty trees rear their heads in the untraversed wilderness, and after standing for centuries fall on the earth and decay, to our eyes in vain! And how much medicinal virtue is created by God each year in the vegetable world that is unknown to man, and that decays and is lost without removing any disease, and that seems to be created in vain! And how long has it been before the most valuable medicines have been found out, and applied to alleviating pain, or removing disease! Year after year, and age after age, they existed in a suffering world, and people died perhaps within a few yards of the medicine which would have relieved or saved them, but it was unknown, or if known disregarded. But times were coming when their value would he appreciated, and when they would be applied to benefit the sufferer. So it is with the plan of salvation. It may be rejected, and the sufferings of the Redeemer may seem to have been for nothing. But they will yet be of value to mankind; and when the time shall come for the whole world to embrace the Saviour, there will be found no lack of sufficiency in the plan of redemption, and in the merits of the Redeemer to save all the race.

 

A legitimate question at this point is “Who are the elect?” or “How do I know if I am one of God’s elect?” My answer is simply this, “If you are saved, then you are one of His elect. If you are not saved, you may or may not be one of His elect. But if you desire to be saved, as Cornelius did, you are probably His elect and the Holy Spirit will eventually bring you to have faith in Him, and you will rejoice, and I will join you, and the angels in heaven will rejoice.

 

Then all died

All were dead in sin; that is, all were sinners. The fact that he died for all proves that all were transgressors. The word "dead" is frequently used in the Scriptures to denote the condition of sinners. “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). It doesn’t mean that sinners are in all senses, and in all respects like a lifeless corpse, for they are not. They are still moral agents, and have a conscience, and are capable of thinking, and speaking, and acting. It does not mean that they have no more power than one in the grave, for they have plenty of power. But it means that there is a striking similarity, in some respects, between one who is dead and a sinner. That similarity does not extend to everything, but in many respects it is very striking, as shown by the following points:

(1)   The sinner is as oblivious to the glories of the heavenly world, and the appeals of the gospel, as a corpse is to what is going on around or above it. The body that lies in the grave is unaware of the voice of friendship, and the mesmerizing effect of music, and the hum of business, and the plans of affluence and ambition; and so the sinner is insensitive to all the glories of the heavenly world, and to all the appeals that are made to him, and to all the warnings of God. He lives as though there is no heaven and no hell; no God and no Saviour.

(2)  There is need of the same divine power to convert a sinner which is needful to raise up the dead. However, the same cause does not exist, therefore, the existence of that power is unnecessary, but it is a fact that a sinner will no more be converted by his own power than a dead man will rise from the grave by his own power. No man has ever been converted without direct divine intervention, any more than Lazarus was raised without the direct command of Christ. And there is no more just or sad description which can be given to a man, than to say that he is dead in sins. He is insensitive to all the appeals that God makes to him; he is insensitive to all the sufferings of the Saviour, and to all the glories of heaven; he lives as though these did not exist, or as though he is not at all concerned about them; his eyes see no more beauty in them than the sightless eyeballs of the dead do in the material world; his ear is as inattentive to the calls of God and the gospel as the ear of the dead is to the voice of friendship or the charms of music; and in a world that is full of God, and that might be full of hope, he is living without God and without hope.

 

 

 

 

 

15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

 

And He died for all

This verse is aimed at explaining the reasons for the apostle’s conduct. He had not lived for himself. He had not lived to amass wealth, or to enjoy pleasure, or to obtain a reputation. He had lived a life of self-denial, and of toil; and he here states the reason why he had done it. It was because he felt that the great purpose of the death of the Redeemer was to obtain this result. To that Saviour, therefore, who died for all, he consecrated his talents and his time, and sought in every way possible to promote His glory.

 

That those who live

“That those who live” are true Christians, who are made alive unto God as the result of the dying love of the Redeemer. Sinners are dead in sins. Christians are alive to the worth of the soul, the presence of God, the importance of religion, and the reality of eternity; that is, they act and feel as if these things had a real existence and as if they should exert a constant influence upon the heart and life.

 

This spiritual life, no doubt, implies that a man is alive to the worth of the soul, the presence of God, etc.; but it intimates something deeper too, which is the foundation of those things, and without which they could not exist. Scott paraphrases thus, "were quickened and pardoned, and so passed from death to life;" and Guyse still more explicitly, "were made supernaturally alive by his quickening spirit and by faith in him." This is the root; the cause. Everything else mentioned is only the effects.

 

It is obvious that Paul makes a distinction here between those for whom Christ died and those who actually “live,” thus demonstrating that there may be many for whom He died who do not live to God, or who are not saved by His death. The atonement was for all, but only a part are actually made alive to God. Multitudes reject it; but the fact that He died for all; that He tasted death for every man, that He not only died for the elect but for all others, that His compassion was so great as to embrace the whole human family in the design of His death, is a reason why they who are actually made alive to God should consecrate themselves entirely to His service. The fact that He died for all showed such unbounded and infinite love that it should induce us who are actually profited by His death, and who have any sensible views of it, to devote all that we have to His service.

 

Should live no longer for themselves

The idea here is that we should not seek our own comfort and pleasure; should not make it our great object to promote our own interest, but should make it the grand purpose of our lives to promote His honor, and to advance His cause. This is a vital principle in religion, and it is extremely important to know what is meant by living for ourselves, and whether we do it. It is done in the following ways, and perhaps in some other ways:

 

  1. When people seek pleasure, gain, or reputation as the controlling principle of their lives.
  2. When, regardless of the rights of others, people sacrifice all the claims which others have on them in order to secure the advancement of their own purposes and ends.
  3. When, without any regard for the needs of others, people turn a deaf ear to all the appeals which charity makes to them, and have no time to give to serve them, and no money to spare to alleviate their needs; and especially when they turn a deaf ear to the appeals which are made for the dissemination of the gospel to the unenlightened and perishing.
  4. When their main purpose is the enrichment of their own families, for their families are only a reflection of self.
  5. When they seek their own salvation only from selfish motives, and not from a desire to honor God. Multitudes are selfish even in their religion; and the main purpose which they have in view, is to promote themselves, and not to honor the Master whom they profess to serve. They seek and profess religion only because they desire to escape from wrath, and to obtain the happiness of heaven, and not from any love for the Redeemer or any desire to honor Him, Or they seek to build up the interests of their own church and party, and all their zeal is expended on that and that alone, without any real desire to honor the Savior. And, in the church, they are still selfish, and live entirely for themselves. They live for luxury, for gain, for reputation. They practice no self-denial; they make no effort; to advance the cause of God the Savior.

 

But for Him who died for them and rose again

To live for Him is the opposite of living for ourselves. It means to seek His honor, to feel that we belong to Him; that all our time and talents, all our strength of intellect and body, and all the benefits of our skill and toil belong to Him, and should be employed in his service. If we have talents by which we can influence other minds, they should be employed to honor the Savior. If we have skill, or strength to labor by which we can make money, we should feel that it all belongs to Him, and should be employed in His service. If we have property, we should feel that it is His, and that He has a claim upon it all, and that it should be honestly consecrated to His cause. And if we are endowed with a spirit of missions, and are suited by nature to encounter perils in distant and barbarous places, as Paul was, we should feel like him that we are bound to devote it all entirely to His service, and to the promotion of His cause.

 

A servant, and a slave, does not live for himself but for his master. His person, his time, his limbs, his talents, and the rewards of his hard work are not regarded as his own. He is judged incapable of holding any property which is not at the disposal of his master. If he has strength, it is his master's. If he has skill, the benefits of it are his master's. If he is an ingenious mechanic, or labors in any field; if he is friendly, kind, gentle, and faithful, and fit to be useful in an eminent degree, it is regarded as all the property of his master. He is bound to go where his master chooses; to execute the task which he assigns; to deny himself at his master's will; and to come and lay the gains from all his toil and skill at his master's feet. He is regarded as having been purchased with money; and the purchase money is supposed to give his master a right to his time, his talents, his services, and his soul. Such as the slave is supposed to become by purchase, and by the operation of human laws, the Christian becomes by the purchase of the Son of God, and by the voluntary recognition of Him as the master, and as having a right to all that we have and are. It all belongs to Him; and all of it should be employed in endeavoring to promote his glory, and in advancing his cause.

 

 

Scripture reference and special notes

 

{1] (John 3:16) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

 

{2] (2 Co. 1:4) who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

 

{3] (1 Sam. 16:7) But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

 

{4] (2 Co. 10:7) Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ's, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ's, even so we are Christ's.

 

{5] (Rom. 5:8) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

{6] (2 Co. 13:13, 14) All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

 

{7] (Eph. 3:19) to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God

 

{8] (John 15:9-10) "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.

 

{9] (Rom. 8:35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

 

{10] (Rom. 3:26-26) whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

 

 

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