2 Corinthians 5:20
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be you reconciled to God.
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(20) Now then we are ambassadors for Christ—The preposition “for” implies the same representative character as in 2Corinthians 5:14-15. The preachers of the Word were acting on behalf of Christ; they were acting also in His stead. The thought or word meets us again in Ephesians 6:20. “I am an ambassador in bonds.” The earlier versions (Tyndale, Geneva, Cranmer) give “messengers,” the Rhemish “legates.” “Ambassadors,” which may be noted as singularly felicitous, first appears in the version of 1611. The word, derived from the mediæval Latin ambasciator, and first becoming popular in the Romance languages, is found in Shakespeare, and appears to have come into prominence through the intercourse with France and Spain in the reign of Elizabeth.

We pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.—It will be seen, in this conclusion of the language of St. Paul as to the atonement, how entirely, on the one hand, he recognises the representative and vicarious character of the redeeming work of Christ; how entirely, on the other, he stands aloof from the speculative theories on that work which have sometimes been built upon his teaching. He does not present, as the system-builders of theology have too often done, the picture of the wrath of the Father averted by the compassion of the Son, or satisfied by the infliction upon Him of a penalty which is a quantitative equivalent for that due to the sins of mankind. The whole work, from his point of view, originates in the love of the Father, sending His Son to manifest that love in its highest and noblest form. He does not need to be reconciled to man. He sends His Son, and His Son sends His ministers to entreat them to be reconciled to Him, to accept the pardon which is freely offered. In the background there lies the thought that the death of Christ was in some way, as the highest act of Divine love, connected with the work of reconciliation; but the mode in which it was effective, is, as Butler says (Analogy, 2:5), “mysterious, and left, in part at least, unrevealed,” and it is not wise to “endeavour to explain the efficacy of what Christ has done and suffered for us beyond what the Scripture has authorised.”

2 Corinthians


2 Corinthians 5:20

These are wonderful and bold words, not so much because of what they claim for the servants as because of what they reveal of the Lord. That thought, ‘as though God did beseech,’ seems to me to be the one deserving of our attention now, far rather than any inferences which may be drawn from the words as to the relation of preachers of the Gospel to man and to God. I wish, therefore, to try to set forth the wonderfulness of this mystery of a beseeching God, and to put by the side of it the other wonder and mystery of men refusing the divine beseechings.

Before doing so, however, I remark that the supplement which stands in our Authorised Version in this text is a misleading and unfortunate one. ‘As though God did beseech you’ and ‘we pray you’ unduly narrow the scope of the Apostolic message, and confuse the whole course of the Apostolic reasoning here. For he has been speaking of a world which is reconciled to God, and he finds a consequence of that reconciliation of the world in the fact that he and his fellow-preachers are entrusted with the word of reconciliation. The scope of their message, then, can be no narrower than the scope of the reconciliation; and inasmuch as that is world-wide the beseeching must be co-extensive therewith, and must cover the whole ground of humanity. It is a universal message that is set forth here. The Corinthians, to whom Paul was speaking, are, by his hypothesis, already reconciled to God, and the message which he has in trust for them is given in the subsequent words: ‘We then, as workers together with God, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.’ But the message, the pleading of the divine heart, ‘be ye reconciled to God,’ is a pleading that reaches over the whole range of a reconciled world. I take then, just these two thoughts, God beseeching man, and man refusing God.

I. God beseeching man.

Now notice how, in my text, there alternates, as if substantially the same idea, the thoughts that Christ and that God pray men to be reconciled. ‘We are ambassadors on Christ’s behalf, as though God did beseech you by us, we pray on Christ’s behalf.’ So you see, first, Christ the Pleader, then God beseeching, then Christ again entreating and praying. Could any man have so spoken, passing instinctively from the one thought to the other, unless he had believed that whatsoever things the Father doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise; and that Jesus Christ is the Representative of the whole Deity for mankind, so as that when He pleads God pleads, and God pleads through Him. I do not dwell upon this, but I simply wish to mark it in passing as one of the innumerable strong and irrefragable testimonies to the familiarity and firmness with which that thought of the divinity of Jesus Christ, and the full revelation of the Father by Him, was grasped by the Apostle, and was believed by the people to whom he spoke. God pleads, therefore Christ pleads, Christ pleads, therefore God pleads; and these Two are One in their beseechings, and the voice of the Father echoes to us in the tenderness of the Son.

So, then, let us think of that pleading. To sue for love, to beg that an enemy will put away his enmity is the part of the inferior rather than of the superior; is the part of the offender rather than of the offended; is the part of the vanquished rather than of the victor; is the part surely not of the king but of the rebel. And yet here, in the sublime transcending of all human precedent and pattern which characterises the divine dealing, we have the place of the suppliant and of the supplicated inverted, and Love upon the Throne bends down to ask of the rebel that lies powerless and sullen at His feet, and yet is not conquered until his heart be won, though his limbs be manacled, that he would put away all the bitterness out of his heart, and come back to the love and the grace which are ready to pour over him. ‘He that might the vengeance best have taken, finds out the remedy.’ He against whom we have transgressed prays us to be reconciled; and the Infinite Love lowers Himself in that lowering which is, in another aspect, the climax of His exaltation, to pray the rebels to accept His amnesty.

Oh, dear brethren! this is no mere piece of rhetoric. What facts in the divine heart does it represent? What facts in the divine conduct does it represent? It represents these facts in the divine heart, that there is in it an infinite longing for the creature’s love, an infinite desire for unity between Him and us.

There are wonderful significance and beauty in the language of my text which are lost in the Authorised Version; but are preserved in the Revised. ‘We are ambassadors’ not only ‘for Christ,’ but ‘on Christ’s behalf.’ And the same proposition is repeated in the subsequent clause. ‘We pray you,’ not merely ‘in Christ’s stead,’ though that is much, but ‘on His account,’ which is more-as if it lay very near His heart that we should put away our enmity; and as if in some transcendent and wonderful manner the all-perfect, self-sufficing God was made glad, and the Master, who is His image for us, ‘saw of the travail of His soul, and,’ in regard to one man, ‘was satisfied,’ when the man lets the warmth of God’s love in Christ thaw away the coldness out of his heart, and kindle there an answering flame. An old divine says, ‘We cannot do God a greater pleasure or more oblige His very heart, than to trust in Him as a God of love.’ He is ready to stoop to any humiliation to effect that purpose. So intense is the divine desire to win the world to His love, that He will stoop to sue for it rather than lose it. Such is at least part of the fact in the divine heart, which is shadowed forth for us by that wonderful thought of the beseeching God.

And what facts in the divine conduct does this great word represent? A God that beseeches. Well, think of the tears of imploring love which fell from Christ’s eyes as He looked across the valley from Olivet, and saw the Temple glittering in the early sunshine. Think of ‘O Jerusalem! Jerusalem! . . . how often would I have gathered thy children together . . . and ye would not.’ And are we not to see in the Christ who wept in the earnestness of His desire, and in the pain of its disappointment, the very revelation of the Father’s heart and the very action of the Father’s arm? ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ That is Christ beseeching and God beseeching in Him. Need I quote other words, gentle, winning, loving? Do we not feel, when looking upon Christ, as if the secret of His whole life was the stretching out imploring and welcoming hands to men, and praying them to grasp His hands, and be saved? But, oh, brethren! the fact that towers above all others, which explains the whole procedure of divinity, and is the keystone of the whole arch of revelation; the fact which reveals in one triple beam of light, God, man, and sin in the clearest illumination, is the Cross of Jesus Christ. And if that be not the very sublime of entreaty; and if any voice can be conceived, human or divine, that shall reach men’s hearts with a more piercing note of pathetic invitation than sounds from that Cross, I know not where it is. Christ that dies, in His dying breath calls to us, and ‘the blood of sprinkling speaketh better things than that of Abel’; inasmuch as its voice is, ‘Come unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.’

Not only in the divine facts of the life and death of Jesus Christ, but in all the appeals of that great revelation which lies before us in Scripture; and may I say, in the poor, broken utterances of men whose harsh, thin voices try to set themselves, in some measure, to the sweetness and the fulness of His beseeching tones-does God call upon you to draw close to Him, and put away your enmity. And not only by His Word written or ministered from human lips, but also by the patient providences of His love He calls and prays you to come. A mother will sometimes, in foolish fondness, coax her sullen child by injudicious kindness, or, in wise patience, will seek to draw the little heart away from the faults that she desires not to notice, by redoubled ingenuity of tenderness and of care. And so God does with us. When you and I, who deserve-oh! so different treatment-get, as we do get, daily care and providential blessings from Him, is not that His saying to us, ‘I beseech you to cherish no alienation, enmity, indifference, but to come back and live in the love’ ? When He draws near to us in these outward gifts of His mercy, is He not doing Himself what He has bid us to do; and what He never could have bid us to do, nor our hearts have recognised to be the highest strain of human virtue to do, unless He Himself were doing it first? ‘If thine enemy hunger, feed him. If he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head.’

Not only by the great demonstration of His stooping and infinite desire for our love which lies in the life and death of Jesus Christ, nor only by His outward work, nor by His providence, but by many an inward touch on our spirits, by many a prick of conscience, by many a strange longing that has swept across our souls, sudden as some perfumed air in the scentless atmosphere; by many an inward voice, coming we know not whence, that has spoken to us of Him, of His love, of our duty; by many a drawing which has brought us nearer to the Cross of Jesus Christ, only, alas! in some cases that we might recoil further from it,-has He been beseeching, beseeching us all.

Brethren! God pleads with you. He pleads with you because there is nothing in His heart to any of you but love, and a desire to bless you; He pleads with you because, unless you will let Him, He cannot lavish upon you His richest gifts and His highest blessings. He pleads with you, bowing to the level, and beneath the level, of your alienation and reluctance. And the sum and substance of all His dealings with every soul is, ‘My son! give Me thy heart.’ ‘Be ye reconciled to God.’

II. And now turn, very briefly, to the next suggestion arising from this text, the terrible obverse, so to speak, of the coin: Man refusing a beseeching God.

That is the great paradox and mystery. Nobody has ever fathomed that yet, and nobody will. How it comes, how it is possible, there is no need for us to inquire. It is an awful and a solemn power that every poor little speck of humanity has, to lift itself up in God’s face, and say, in answer to all His pleadings, ‘I will not!’ as if the dwellers in some little island, a mere pin-point of black, barren rock, jutting up at sea, were to declare war against a kingdom that stretched through twenty degrees of longitude on the mainland. So we, on our little bit of island, our pin-point of rock in the great waste ocean, we can separate ourselves from the great Continent; or, rather, God has, in a fashion, made us separate in order that we may either unite ourselves with Him, by our willing yielding, or wrench ourselves away from Him by our antagonism and rebellion. God beseeches because God has so settled the relations between Him and us, that that is what He has to do in order to get men to love Him. He cannot force them. He cannot prise open a man’s heart with a crowbar, as it were, and force Himself inside. The door opens from within. ‘Behold! I stand at the door and knock.’ There is an ‘if.’ ‘If any man open I will come in.’ Hence the beseeching, hence the wail of wisdom that cries aloud and no man regards it; of love that stands at the entering in of the city, and pleads in vain, and says, ‘I have called, and ye have refused. . .. How often would I have gathered . . . and ye would not.’ Oh, brethren! it is an awful responsibility, a mysterious prerogative, which each one of us, whether consciously or no, has to exercise, to accept or to refuse the pleadings of an entreating Christ.

And let me remind you that the act of refusal is a very simple one. Not to accept is to reject; not to yield is to rebel. You have only to do nothing, to do it all. There are dozens of people in our churches and chapels listening with self-satisfied unconcern, who have all their lives been refusing a beseeching God. And they do not know that they ever did it! They say, ‘Oh! I will be a Christian some time or other.’ They cherish vague ideas that, somehow or other, they are so already. They have done nothing at all, they have simply been absolutely indifferent and passive. Some of you have heard sermons like this so often that they produce no effect. ‘It is the right kind of thing to say. It is the thing we have heard a hundred times.’ Perhaps you wonder why I should be so much in earnest about the matter, and then you go outside, and discuss me or the weather, and forget all about the sermon.

And thus, once more, you reject Christ. It is done without knowing it; done simply by doing nothing. My brother! do not stop your ears any more against that tender, imploring love.

Then let me remind you that this refusing the beseeching of God is the climax of all folly. For consider what it is,-a man refusing his highest good and choosing his certain ruin. I am afraid that people have been arguing and fighting so much of late years over disputable points in reference to the doctrine of future retribution that the indisputable fact of such retribution has lost much of its solemn power.

I pray you, brethren, to ask yourselves one question: Is there anything, in the present or in the future condition of a man that is not reconciled to God, which explains God’s beseeching urgency? Why this energy and intensity of divine desire? Why this which, if it were human only, would be called passionate entreaty? Why was it needful for Jesus Christ to die? Why was it worth His while to bear the punishment of man’s sin? Why should God and Christ, through all the ages, plead with unintermittent voice? There must be some explanation of it all, and here is the explanation, ‘They that hate Me love death.’ ‘Be ye reconciled to God,’ for enmity is ruin and destruction.

And finally, dear friends, this turning away from Him that speaketh from Heaven, of which some of you have all your lives been guilty, is not only supreme folly, but it is the climax of all guilt. For there can be nothing worse, darker, arguing a nature more averse or indifferent to the highest good, than that God should plead, and I should steel my heart and deafen mine ear against His voice. The crown of a man’s sin, because it is the disclosure of the secrets of his deepest heart as loving darkness rather than light, is turning away from the divine voice that woos us to love and to God.

Oh! there are some of you that have heard that Voice too often to be much touched by it. There are some of you too busy to attend to it, who hear it not because of the clatter of the streets and the whir of the spindles. There are some of you that are seeking to drown it in the shouts of mirth and revelry. There are some of you to whom it comes muffled in the mists of doubt; but I beseech you all, look at the Cross, look at the Cross! and hear Him that hangs there pleading with you.

Before the battle there comes out the captain of the twenty thousand to the King with the ten thousand, who in His loftiness is not afraid to stoop to sue for peace from the weaker power. My brother! the moment is precious; the white flag may never be waved before your eyes again. Do not; do not refuse! or the next instant the clarion of the assault may sound, and where will you be then?

It is vain for thee to rush against the thick bosses of the Almighty buckler. ‘We beseech, in Christ’s behalf, be ye reconciled with God.’

5:16-21 The renewed man acts upon new principles, by new rules, with new ends, and in new company. The believer is created anew; his heart is not merely set right, but a new heart is given him. He is the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Though the same as a man, he is changed in his character and conduct. These words must and do mean more than an outward reformation. The man who formerly saw no beauty in the Saviour that he should desire him, now loves him above all things. The heart of the unregenerate is filled with enmity against God, and God is justly offended with him. Yet there may be reconciliation. Our offended God has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ. By the inspiration of God, the Scriptures were written, which are the word of reconciliation; showing that peace has been made by the cross, and how we may be interested therein. Though God cannot lose by the quarrel, nor gain by the peace, yet he beseeches sinners to lay aside their enmity, and accept the salvation he offers. Christ knew no sin. He was made Sin; not a sinner, but Sin, a Sin-offering, a Sacrifice for sin. The end and design of all this was, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him, might be justified freely by the grace of God through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. Can any lose, labour, or suffer too much for Him, who gave his beloved Son to be the Sacrifice for their sins, that they might be made the righteousness of God in him?Now then we are ambassadors for Christ - We are the ambassadors whom Christ has sent forth to negotiate with people in regard to their reconciliation to God, Tyndale renders this: "Now then are we messengers in the room of Christ." The word used here πρεσβεύομεν presbeuomen, from πρέσβυς presbus an aged man, an elder, and then an ambassador) means to act as an ambassador, or sometimes merely to deliver a message for another, without being empowered to do any thing more than to explain or enforce it - Bloomfield. See Thucydides 7, 9. An ambassador is a minister of the highest rank, employed by one prince or state at the court of another, to manage the concerns of his own prince or state, and representing the dignity and power of his sovereign - Webster. He is sent to do what the sovereign would himself do were he present. They are sent to make known the will of the sovereign, and to negotiate matters of commerce, of war, or of peace, and in general everything affecting the interests of the sovereign among the people to whom they are sent.

At all times, and in all countries, an ambassador is a sacred character, and his person is regarded as inviolable. He is bound implicitly to obey the instructions of his sovereign, and as far as possible to do only what the sovereign would do were he himself present. Ministers are ambassadors for Christ, as they are sent to do what he would do were he personally present. They are to make known, and to explain, and enforce the terms on which God is willing to be reconciled to people. They are not to negotiate on any new terms, nor to change those which God has proposed, nor to follow their own plans or devices, but they are simply to urge, explain, state, and enforce the terms on which God is willing to be reconciled. Of course they are to seek the honor of the sovereign who has sent them forth, and to seek to do only his will. They go not to promote their own welfare; not to seek honor, dignity, or emolument; but they go to transact the business which the Son of God would engage in were he again personally on the earth. It follows that their office is one of great dignity, and great responsibility, and that respect should be showed them as the ambassadors of the King of kings.

As though God did beseech you by us - Our message is to be regarded as the message of God. It is God who speaks. What we say to you is said in his name and on his authority, and should be received with the respect which is due to a message directly from God. The gospel message is God speaking to people through the ministry, and entreating them to be reconciled. This invests the message which the ministers of religion bear with infinite dignity and solemnity; and it makes it a fearful and awful thing to reject it.

We pray you in Christ's stead - (ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ huper Christou). In the place of Christ; or doing what he did when on earth, and what he would do were he where we are.

Be ye reconciled to God - This is the sum and burden of the message which the ministers of the gospel bear to their fellow-men; see the note on 2 Corinthians 5:19. It implies that man has something to do in this work. He is to be reconciled to God. He is to give up his opposition. He is to submit to the terms of mercy. All the change in the case is to be in him, for God cannot change. God has removed all the obstacles to reconciliation which existed on his part. He has done all that he will do, all that needed to be done, in order to render reconciliation easy as possible. And now it remains that man should lay aside his hostility, abandon his sins, embrace the terms of mercy, and become in fact reconciled to God. And the great object of the ministers of reconciliation is to urge this duty on their fellow-men. They are to do it in the name of Christ. They are to do it as if Christ were himself present, and were himself urging the message. They are to use the arguments which he would use; evince the zeal which he would show; and present the motives which he would present to induce a dying world to become in fact reconciled to God.

20. for Christ … in Christ's stead—The Greek of both is the same: translate in both cases "on Christ's behalf."

beseech … pray—rather, "entreat [plead with you] … beseech." Such "beseeching" is uncommon in the case of "ambassadors," who generally stand on their dignity (compare 2Co 10:2; 1Th 2:6, 7).

be ye reconciled to God—English Version here inserts "ye," which is not in the original, and which gives the wrong impression, as if it were emphatic thus: God is reconciled to you, be ye reconciled to God. The Greek expresses rather, God was the RECONCILER in Christ … let this reconciliation then have its designed effect. Be reconciled to God, that is, let God reconcile you to Himself (2Co 5:18, 19).

The apostle here giveth us a true notion, not only of apostles, which were the first and principal ministers of the gospel, but of all other ministers; teaching us what all ministers should be, and what all true ministers of the gospel are. They

are ambassadors for Christ. There is by nature an enmity between the creature and God; he naturally hateth God, and God is angry with him. Those that were sometime alienated, and enemies in their minds by wicked works, Christ hath reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, Colossians 1:21,22; he hath purchased a reconciliation for them. But yet, till they have received Christ as their Lord and Saviour, they are not actually recovered to God by him. God does by men, as great princes do by such as they are at enmity with; he sends his ministers to them, who are his ambassadors; and as all ambassadors represent the person of him whose ambassadors they are, and speak in his name, and as in his stead, persuading to peace; so these speak as in Christ’s name, and in God’s stead; their business is to beseech men to be reconciled unto God, to lay down their arms, and to accept of the terms of the gospel for peace and reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ,.... Since God has made reconciliation by Christ, and the ministry of it is committed to us, we are ambassadors for him; we come with full powers from him, not to propose terms of peace, to treat with men about it, to offer it to them, but to publish and proclaim it as made by him: we represent him, and God who made it by him,

as though God did beseech you by us; to regard this embassy and message of peace, which we bring from him; to consider from whence it takes its rise, what methods have been used to effect it, and how it is accomplished; which should oblige to say and sing with the angels, "glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, and good will towards men"; and to behave in peaceable manner to all men, and one another:

we pray you in Christ's stead; representing him as if he was present before you:

be ye reconciled to God; you, who are new creatures, for whom Christ has died, and peace is made; you, the members of the church at Corinth, who upon a profession of faith have been taken into such a relation; be ye reconciled to all the dispensations of divine Providence towards you; let your wills bow, and be resigned to his, since he is the God of peace to you; and as you are reconciled by Christ as a priest, be reconciled to him as your King, and your God; to all his ordinances and appointments; to all the orders and laws of his house; conform in all things to his will and pleasure, which we, as his ambassadors, in his name and stead, have made known unto you. You ought to be all obedience to him, and never dispute anything he says or orders.

Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:20. For Christ, therefore, we administer the office of ambassador, just as if God exhorted through us. This double element of the dignity of the high calling follows from the previous θέμενος ἐν ἡμῖν τ. λόγ. τῆς καταλλ. If, namely, it is the word of reconciliation which is committed to us, then in our embassy we conduct Christ’s cause (ὑπὲρ Χ. πρεσβ.), seeing that the reconciliation has taken place through Christ; and because God has entrusted to us this work, our exhortation is to be regarded as taking place by God through us (ὡς τ. θ. παρακαλ. διʼ ἡμ.). On ὑπέρ with πρεσβ. in the sense specified, comp. Ephesians 6:20 and the passages in Wetstein and Kypke. The opposite: πρεσβ. κατά τινος, Dem. 400, 12. The usual interpretation, vice et loco Christi, which is rightly abandoned even by Hofmann, and is defended on the part of Baur by mere subtlety, runs counter to the context; for this sense must have followed (οὖν) from what precedes, which, however, is not the case. If the notion of representation were to be inferred from what precedes, it could only furnish us with a ὑπὲρ θεοῦ.

Observe the parallel correlation of Christ and God in the two parts of the verse. The connecting of ὡς τοῦ θεοῦ παρακ. διʼ ἡμ. with δεόμεθα ὑπὲρ Χ. (Hofmann) would only disturb this symmetry without due groun.

δεόμεθα ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ κ.τ.λ.] specification of the contents of the πρεσβεία, and that in the form of apostolic humility and love: we pray for Christ, in His interest, in order that we may not, in your case, miss the aim of His divine work of reconciliation: be ye reconciled to God; do not, by refusing faith, frustrate the work of reconciliation in your case, but through your faith bring about that the objectively accomplished reconciliation may be accomplished subjectively in you. Rückert wrongly holds[240] that the second aorist passive cannot have a passive meaning and signifies only to reconcile oneself (see, on the contrary, Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:21); that Paul demands the putting away of the φρόνημα τῆς σαρκός, and the putting on of the φρόνημα τοῦ πνεύματος; and that so man reconciles himself with God. In this view, the moral immediate consequence of the appropriation of the reconciliation through faith is confounded with this appropriation itself. The reconciliation is necessarily passive; man cannot reconcile himself, but is able only to become by means of faith a partaker of the reconciliation which has been effected on the divine side; he can only become reconciled, which on his side cannot take place without faith, but is experienced in faith. This also in opposition to Hofmann, who says that they are to make their peace with God, in which case what the person so summoned has to do is made to consist in this, that he complies with the summons and prays God to extend to him also the effect, which the mediation constituted by God Himself exercises on the relation of sinful man toward Him.

The subject of καταλλάγητε is all those, to whom the loving summons of the gospel goes forth; consequently those not yet reconciled, i.e. the unbelieving, who, however, are to be brought, through Christ’s ambassadors, to appropriate the reconciliation. The quotidiana remissio which is promised to Christians (Calvin) is not meant, but the καταλλάγητε is fulfilled by those who, hitherto still standing aloof from the reconciliation, believingly accept the λόγος τ. καταλλαγῆς sent to them.[241]

[240] See against this, also Weber, v. Zorne Gottes, p. 302 f.

[241] Thereby is completed in their case the task of the apostolic ministry, which is contained in the μαθητεύσατε, Matthew 28:19.2 Corinthians 5:20. ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ οὖν πρεσβεύομεν κ.τ.λ.: we are ambassadors therefore, sc., because to us has been committed the Ministry of Reconciliation, on behalf of Christ, as Christ’s representative (see on 2 Corinthians 5:15 above for the force of ὑπέρ), as though God were entreating by us (cf. 2 Corinthians 6:1 and see on 2 Corinthians 1:4). The construction of ὡς followed by a genitive absolute is found also at 1 Corinthians 4:18, 2 Peter 1:3.—δεόμεθα ὑπέρ Χρ. κ.τ.λ.: we beseech you on behalf of Christ, Be ye reconciled to God. The imperative καταλλάγητε is much more emphatic than the infinitive καταλλαγῆναι (see crit. note) would be; all through we perceive the Apostle’s anxiety that the Corinthians should turn from the sin which beset them, whatever it might be in any individual case (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:16, 2 Corinthians 4:1, 2 Corinthians 6:1, 2 Corinthians 11:3). Note that the appeal, “Be ye reconciled to God,” is based on the fact (2 Corinthians 5:18) that God has already “reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ”.

2 Corinthians 5:20 to 2 Corinthians 6:3. AS CHRIST’S AMBASSADOR HE ENTREATS THE CORINTHIANS TO BE RECONCILED TO GOD.20. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ] Literally, we undertake an embassy (legatione fungimur, Vulgate; usen message, Wiclif). Tyndale, followed by Cranmer and the Geneva Version, render, are messengers in the roume of. The Rhemish characteristically renders by legates. The signification ‘in the room of,’ for ὑπέρ, is doubtful. It is perhaps better to render ‘for’ with the A.V. (Vulgate, pro). Cf. Ephesians 6:20. An ambassador represents the monarch from whom he is sent, in all matters relating to his mission. What the nature of the mission was, and what the powers of the ambassadors, is stated in the remaining words of the verse.

as though God did beseech you by us] See notes on ch. 2 Corinthians 1:3. God may be said rather to exhort or encourage than to beseech (as if God monestith bi us, Wiclif). This, then, was the object for which the full powers of the ambassadors were given, an object still more clearly defined in what follows. Cf. Malachi 2:7; Galatians 4:14.

we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God] Rather, we intreat on behalf of Christ (sec above). First there was the encouraging tidings that there was ‘henceforth no condemnation’ to those who accepted the reconciliation offered through Christ (or perhaps the exhortation to accept it, see last note), and next the still more urgent entreaty on Christ’s behalf that they would accept it.2 Corinthians 5:20. Ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ, for Christ) Christ the foundation of the embassy sent from God.—πρεσβεύομεν· δεόμεθα, we are ambassadors, [we pray], we beseech) two extremes, as it were, put in antithesis to each other, which relate to the words we have acted without moderation [whether we be beside ourselves, 2 Corinthians 5:13]. In antithesis to these, the mean between those extremes is, we exhort [παρακαλοῦμεν, not as Engl. Vers., We beseech], ch. 2 Corinthians 6:1, 2 Corinthians 10:1, which appertains to the σωφρονοῦμεν, we act with moderation [whether we be sober, 2 Corinthians 5:13]. Therefore the discourse of the apostle generally παρακαλεῖ, exhorts; since the expression, πρεσβεύομεν, we are ambassadors, implies majesty, the expression δεόμεθα, we beseech, intimates a submission, which is not of daily occurrence; ch. 2 Corinthians 10:2, [comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:6-7]. In both expressions Paul indicates not so much what he is now doing, as what he is doing in the discharge of all the duties of his office. Ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ, for Christ, is placed before the former verb [though after the latter verb], for the sake of emphasis; comp. the preceding verses. Presently after, the latter verb is placed first for the same reason.—καταλλάγητε, be ye reconciled).Verse 20. - Now then. It is, then, on Christ's behalf that we are ambassadors. This excludes all secondary aims. St. Paul uses the same expression in Ephesians 6:20, adding with fine contrast that he is "an ambassador in fetters." As though God did beseech you by us; rather, as if God were exhorting you by our means. In Christ's stead; rather, we, on Christ's behalf, beseech you. Be ye reconciled to God. This is the sense of the embassy. The aorist implies an immediate acceptance of the offer of reconciliation. We are ambassadors (πρεσβεύομεν)

Only here and Ephesians 6:10.

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