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The Ministry of Reconciliation January 7, 2012

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on 2 Corinthians 5:11-6:2.

Summary: Paul begins by noting that as he earnestly desires the approval of Christ, he aims to convince others of his integrity; God knows his true character, and he hopes that the Corinthians are also convinced in that regard. Yet he does not want to praise himself; he wants the Corinthians to vindicate him by defending him against the charges of his opponents. Whether Paul acts extravagantly or discreetly, he aims to glorify God and build up the Corinthians. Indeed, his life is governed by his love of Christ, as he is sure that Christ died for those who would accept Him as their Savior – and His death is their death. Moreover, those who would accept Him as their Savior do not live for themselves; they devote themselves to Him, as He is their risen Savior.

Given this awesome reality, Paul does not judge people based on their external circumstances; he formerly viewed Jesus in that light, but he now knows Him as the Son of God. Moreover, anyone who is united with Christ is radically changed by Him; their old way of life has been replaced by a new way of life. Indeed, God has brought about this radical change by removing the hostility between Himself and mankind via the death of Christ, and He has called the apostles to announce this great news. God atoned for the sins of mankind by the death of Christ; He has forgiven their sins and has commissioned the apostles to preach this awesome reality. The apostles represent Christ and speak for God in appealing to men to receive His forgiveness; they exhort men to receive God’s offer of reconciliation. This stems from the fact that God regarded Christ as a sinner in the place of all believers so that by being united with Christ, all believers are regarded by God as being righteous.

Now as a fellow worker with God, Paul exhorts the Corinthians to not reject His offer of reconciliation. He concludes by quoting from Isaiah 49:8 to express the idea that God has ordained a time for revealing His plan of salvation for mankind, and He has now revealed that plan.

Thoughts: Verse 21 is probably familiar to many Christians, as it comprises the first verse of Jesus Messiah by Chris Tomlin. This got me thinking about how it is disturbingly simple to sing a worship song and not think about its lyrics – or even consider that the lyrics may be based on a specific Biblical passage. Unfortunately I fall into that trap on a regular basis; when I sang “Jesus Messiah” on several occasions, I did not recognize the critical role that verse 21 plays in that song. I am convinced that as believers become more well-versed in Scripture, their praise/worship experiences will be enhanced. Of course, Christian recording artists are not immune to the problem of misinterpreting Scripture when they craft their songs, but that’s a topic for another day.

In verse 2, Paul draws on Isaiah 49:8 to illustrate his point that God revealed His plan of salvation to mankind at a certain point in time. Hodge offers some interesting thoughts:

Isaiah 49, from which this passage is taken, is addressed to the Messiah…we may assume, in strict accordance with scriptural usage, that the apostle employs the language of the Old Testament to express his own ideas, without regard to its original application…He might have expressed it in other equivalent terms. But the language of the passage in Isaiah being brought to his mind by association, he adopts the form given there, without any suggestion, expressed or implied, that the passage had a different application originally.

Hodge’s quote implies that New Testament writers could be led by the Holy Spirit to liberally quote from the Old Testament in order to reinforce some of their points. As these writers were divinely inspired, it follows that modern readers should perceive the quoted Old Testament passages as having two interpretations:

  • that which arises from their original application
  • that which is intended by the New Testament writer in question

An interesting question, then, is whether these two interpretations always complement each other, or if they are occasionally orthogonal. In particular, can the New Testament interpretation completely overshadow the original interpretation?

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Comments»

1. liveandlaughwithjesus - January 7, 2012

Hi please read my blog! let me know waht you think!

2. Unity in the Body of Christ « Ringing In - May 12, 2012

[…] is just one of many examples of the issues that one must address when interpreting Old Testament quotations that arise in the […]


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