2 Corinthians 7:5-8

For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears.

Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus,

and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was comforted in you, when he told us of your earnest desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more.

For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while.

For even after we came into Macedonia our frail humanity experienced no relaxing from the oppression and tension of tribulation, but I was having pressure brought to bear upon me from every side, on the outside, contentions [with adversaries], within, fears. Nevertheless, He who encourages those who are downcast, encouraged us, our God, in the coming and personal presence of Titus, and not only in his coming and personal presence but also by the encouragement with which he was encouraged over you, bringing back tidings to us of your longing [to see me], your mourning [at the rebuke I sent you], your zeal on my behalf, so that I rejoiced yet more; for though I caused you grief by my letter, I do not regret it, though I did regret it, for I see that that letter caused you to grieve, though but for a season. — Wuest, pages 426-427.

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Titus was a buoyant, refreshing person, but in this case it was more than Titus’ appearance that encouraged Paul; it was the news that Titus brought from Corinth. When Paul had come into Macedonia and had failed to find Titus he was “troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears,” for the apostate Jews continued to hound him wherever he went. Ah, but finally Titus appeared and Paul was “comforted,” “not by his coming only” but by the news from Corinth. Their “earnest desire,” their “mourning” and their “fervent mind” toward him had caused his heart to rejoice. — Stam, page 165.

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What a difference between the repentance of the believer and the remorse of an unbeliever! Believers who have fallen into sin and have repented thereof have changed their attitude. This, indeed, is what the word “repentance” means. But the lost can only look back with guilty remorse at their sinful past. Thus Paul could say in effect, “I’m glad no damage was done by that letter of rebuke, it evidently did a great deal of good.” — Stam, page 165-166

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2 Corinthians 7:1-4

1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Open your hearts to us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have cheated no one.

I do not say this to condemn; for I have said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together.

Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation.

The “therefore” in verse one refers back to Paul’s instructions to be separated from the world in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. Chapter 7 should probably begin with verse 2.

these promises (v.1) — the promises from the OT quotes in 2 Corinthians 6:16-18.

spirit (v.1) — man’s spirit (not the Holy Spirit)

Holiness becomes the sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty. This holiness is both inward in the mind and outward in the body; for some sins are physical and some mental. Sanctification is progressive; hence the word “perfecting.” Justification is an accomplished fact and lies wholly in the activity of God. Christ is indeed the believer’s sanctification as well as his justification. The believer cannot grow in justification, but he is commanded to grow in sanctification and in grace and in knowledge.

The Christian is useless unless he is in the world, but if he lets the world into him he perishes—just as a ship is useless unless in the sea, but if the sea enters into it, it sinks. — Williams, page 903.

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The word “flesh”, here, does not refer to the body, but rather to the nature which man received from fallen Adam. Thus we are to cleanse ourselves from all “filthiness of the flesh [the old Adamic nature] and the spirit” that we may perfect our holiness, or complete our sanctification, to God.

Let us never forget that when we sin the spirit is defiled along with the “flesh.” The heart and mind, with their desires and thoughts and motives are, indeed, the cause of outward defilement. Recall our Lord’s words with regard to this in Matthew 15:18-20: “… Those things which proceed out of the mouth came forth from the heart, and they defile the man. For out of the heart [the inner man] proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man …” — Stam, pages 161-162

corrupted (v.2) = ruin, cause moral deterioration

cheated (v.2) = defrauded, taken advantage of, make a gain from

condemn (v.3) = censure

comfort (v.4) = encouragement

tribulation (v.4) — described in verse 5 and also earlier in 2 Corinthians 6:4-5.

When a person has a guilty conscience he is apt to blame others, even those who are trying to help him, for his troubles. It was so with the Corinthian Christians. Some of them actually found fault with Paul, as though he had wronged them! … After all his labors for them, after a multitude there had come to know the Lord through his ministry, a ministry that could well have cost him his life; after this they grew careless and disgraced themselves and the Lord, and now were offended that he should be concerned about their plight!

But he protests: “We have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man.” It was they who had wronged and defrauded others, especially God and Paul, letting the apostle labor for them in the face of the gravest dangers, without contributing even one small coin toward his meager needs. The apostle well knew what was behind their petty criticisms [see 2 Corinthians 12:17-18]…

The apostle does not protest here that he has not wronged them in order to condemn them, for he had already assured them: “Ye are in our hearts to die and live with you.”

He had been “very outspoken” to them; this was necessary, but he had also boasted to others about them, and was now “filled with comfort” and “exceeding joyful” that there appeared to be some change in their attitudes. And he experienced this comfort and joy in the midst of “all [his] tribulation.” — Stam, page 164.

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2 Corinthians 6:11-18

11 O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open.

12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections.

13 Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?

16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

17 Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.”

18 “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

restricted (v.12) = kept in a tight place, press upon, cramp, restrain

affections (v.12) = the capacity to feel deep emotions, the seat of feelings

open (v.13) = enlarge, broaden, (of the growth of tenderness and love)

Our mouth stands open to you [we speak freely to you, we keep nothing back]. O Corinthians, our hear is broadened and enlarged [widened in its sympathy towards you]. You are not compressed nor narrowed down in us [you have ample space in our heart; we hold you within a great love], but you are compressed and narrowed down in your affections [you have tightened up in your affection for me]. Now, as a return in kind for my affections toward you, as to children I am speaking to you, you also be enlarged [make a large place in your heart for me]. — Wuest, page 425.

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“Let’s balance this thing out,” [Paul] says. I have a large place in my heart for you, especially under these circumstances. My heart is enlarged toward you; now let yours be enlarged toward me.

This was an appropriate exhortation, for the love between Paul and the Corinthians believers had not been mutual. In 2 Corinthians 12:15 he had to write: “I will very gladly spend and be spent for you, though the more abundantly I love you the less I be loved.” —  Stam, page 155.

Belial (v.15) – Satan lit. “the one who is utterly worthless because vile”

The quote in verse 16 is from Ezekiel 37:26-27: Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

The quote in verse 17 is probably a loose quotation from Isaiah 52:11: Depart! Depart! Go out from there, touch no unclean thing; Go out from the midst of her, be clean, you who bear the vessels of the Lord. With perhaps a line tagged on from Ezekiel 20:34: I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out.

The quote in verse 18 is another collection of citations: “I will be a Father. . . .” from 2 Samuel 7:14; “Sons and daughters” from Isaiah 43:6; “Saith the Lord Almighty” from the Greek of 2 Samuel 7:8

Note carefully: Verse 16 does not say “What agreement hath the temple of God with the temple of Satan?” It says, “What agreement hath the temple of God with idols?” You can’t consistently have a pagan idol in the temple of god. How can God share His temple—”which temple ye are”—with an idol?

If God could not endure the presence of idols in the land he gave to Israel, how can we expect Him to tolerate the presence of idols in the believer’s heart and mind? — Stam, page 157.

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Separation, Summary: (1) Separation in Scripture is twofold: (a) from whatever is contrary to the mind of God; and (b) unto God Himself. The underlying principle is that in a moral universe it is impossible for God fully to bless and use His children who are in compromise or complicity with evil. (2) Separation from evil implies (1) separation in desire, motive, and act, from the world, in the ethically bad sense of this present world system; and (b) separation from false teachers, who are described as being “vessels … to dishonor” (2 Timothy 2:20-21). (3) Separation is not from contact with evil in the world or the church, but from complicity with and conformity to it (verses 14-18; cp. John 17:15; Galatians 6:1). and (4) the reward of separation is the full manifestation of the divine fatherhood (verses 17-18); unhindered communion and worship (Hebrews 13:13-15), and fruitful service (2 Timothy 2:21), as world conformity involves the loss of these, though not of salvation. Here, as in all else, Christ is the model. He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26), and yet He was in such contact with them for their salvation that the Pharisees, who illustrate the mechanical and ascetic conception of separation, judged Him as having lost His Nazirite character (Luke 7:39). —Scofield, page 1257.

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Lord Almighty (v.18) — This glorious title “Jehovah Shaddai” occurs only here and six times in the Revelation—seven times in all the N.T. The Hebrew word shad means a woman’s breast. the title Shaddai suggests love and unfailing benevolence. — Williams, page 903.

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2 Corinthians 6:3-10

We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed.

But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses,

in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings;

by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by [b]sincere love,

by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,

by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true;

as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed;

10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

Stam includes 18 pages of commentary on this passage (pgs 136-153). The following excerpts are from him. I only added a few words to make connections and altered the format some for consistency.

Verse 2 of chapter 6 is a parenthesis, hence verse 3 refers back to verse 1. He urges the unbelievers at the service: “Receive not the grace of God in vain,” i.e., “Do not let our words fall on deaf ears.” But he says this only to awaken them, not to “offend” them, for this would hardly speak well of his ministry. Indeed, in verse 4 he expresses his desire as to this: “in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God.”

Mark well that in verses 4-5 every phrase begins with the preposition “in”; in verses 6-8a every phrase begins with the preposition “by,” and in verses 8b-10 every phrase begins with the preposition “as.” These three different prepositions represent three different shades of meaning.

Before verse 6 the apostle deals with his personal circumstances in his service for Christ, while from verses 6-8 he explains how he copes with these circumstances. Then, in verses 9-10 he relates the blessed results!

in afflictionsActs 18:6-13

in distresses — The Greek [word] denotes “to be cramped in space, to feel pressure from every side.” Acts 19:23-41; 2 Corinthians 1:8

in stripes — We believe that this punishment was inflicted with a common whip, which left one sore or bloody stripe at each stroke. Some have interpreted the words “in stripes” to refer to beatings with rods. But then how shall we account for Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 11:24-25, where he distinguishes these “stripes” from the punishment inflicted by rods: “Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes, save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods … “

Why “forty stripes save one”? the answer is found in the Mosaic Law concerning such punishment: “And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number. Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then they brother should seem vile unto thee” (Deuteronomy 25:2-3). Thus the Law of Moses protected its criminals from being held in utter contempt, defending their human dignity as the image, albeit the fallen image, of God.

in imprisonments — Thus [Paul] was imprisoned more often, perhaps much more often, than appears in the record of Scripture.”

in tumults — uproars, riots. Without doubt the most notable of these was the uproar at Ephesus, which had taken place but recently [before he wrote this letter to the Corinthians]. He writes about this in 2 Corinthians 1:8, where he says: “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life.” See also Acts 19:23-41.

in labors — See 2 Thessalonians 3:8-9.

in fastings — It seems doubtful … that he would here be referring to any voluntary religious fast. He doubtless refers to the many times that he either forbore eating, perhaps for the sake of others, or lacked food.

In verse 6 through the words “good report” in verse 8 the subject is how [Paul] coped with these adverse circumstances. Paul is telling how he coped with the difficult circumstances in which he found himself.

How did Paul cope with his adversities?

by purity — both morally and physically

by knowledge — by intelligently proclaiming the Word

by longsuffering — both under provocation and with the behavior of others

by kindness — by a gentle temper

by the Holy Spirit — Paul often emphasizes this

by love unfeigned — love sincere and true, not superficial or a lack of love covered with a deceptive veneer

by the Word of truth — Often in Paul’s epistles we find the fact emphasized that the gospel and the Word of God are truth

by the power of God — for “the preaching of the cross [Paul’s gospel] is unto them that perish foolishness, but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18), “For … the gospel of Christ … is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth …” (Romans 1:16).

by the armor of righteousness, on the right hand and on the left — [perhaps referring to offensive and defensive weapons]

by honor and dishonor — whether he was praised and applauded or despised and belittled, he sought to use both for the glory of God.

by evil report and good report — whether falsely accused or justly dealt with, it was his great object that Christ by honored by his response.

Here (v.8b) the Greek preposition itself is changed, clearly indicating a change in subject, a change wich demanded a consistent change in preposition. “As” describes the glorious results of the way in which [Paul] had coped with his afflictions, and “as” is a distinctly descriptive word. 

We should also observe that the connective, “and,” appears in most of the pairs in this section, but for a very special reason. “And,” can be used for simple addition, as in “Paul and Barnabas.” It can also be used for identification as in “God and our Father,” indicating that God is, or is also, “our Father.” In such cases it is sometimes rendered “God, even our Father.”

Finally, it can be used as here, for a sort of emphasis, as in “having nothing and possessing all things.” Some have supplied the word “yet,” or the phrase, “at the same time.” 

as deceivers and true — In 2 Corinthians 12:16 the apostle says to these same Corinthians, “Being crafty, I caught you with guile. Ah but what honorable, loving “craft.” Indeed, in this same epistle, to these same people, he writes with deep sincerity: “[We] have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, 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” (2 Corinthians 4:2).

as being unknown and well-known — It was what [Paul] said that made him so well known.

as dying and behold we live — Paul had been written off many a time. “For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh” (2 Corinthians 4:11).

as chastened and not killed — Paul knew ” … whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.  … for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Hebrews 12:6-7).

as sorrowful, but always rejoicing — Certain it is that believers have gone through deep sorrow while at the same time experiencing an undercurrent of profound joy.

as poor, but many enriching — Contrasting the one man with nothing and “the many” he has made rich. See Colossians 1:27.

as having nothing, and yet possessing all things — Poor in this world’s goods, [and] at the same time, rich in spiritual assets.

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2 Corinthians 6:1-2

1 We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain.

For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Moreover also, we, working together with God, beg of you not to receive the grace of God without any salutary results, for He says, In an epochal, strategic season, propitious in character, I hearkened to you, and in a day of salvation I ran to your cry and brought you aid. Behold, now is a propitious, epochal season, behold, now is a day of salvation. — Wuest, page 425.

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The Apostle points out (v.2) that all Christians should engage in this activity of grace, for it was a time, or day of grace in which God was accepting sinners and saving them. It was a day of salvation because of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the force of the quotation from Isaiah 49:8, where God is heard speaking to His Beloved Son on the morning of the resurrection. he succored Him out of the abyss, and accepted Him and His atoning work—for the resurrection demonstrated that acceptance. The fruit of that succour and acceptance is for man’s enjoyment; and consequently, the present dispensation is for him a day of grace and acceptance; and all those who have experienced this grace should seek to make it known to others though it be at the cost of the shame and suffering described in verses 4-10. — Williams, pages 902-903.

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2 Corinthians 5:20-21

20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.

21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

implore (v.20) = having a deep personal need, to be in want, to make an urgent appeal

[The apostle] … besought men to be reconciled to God; and he told them that because the sinless Saviour was made to personate sin itself, and because He had offered up Himself as a sin-offering of infinite value, God was thereby reconciled, His justice vindicated, all the claims of His throne satisfied, and a spotless righteousness provided for guilty men. In that righteousness no flaw can be found. He has gone in to the very holiest , and has been accepted before the Throne of God. Christ is the Righteousness of God. In that righteousness God stands, and in that same righteousness the believer stands. God and the believer stand in the one and self-same righteousness. So the believer can say, “I have a righteousness in which no flaw can be found; it has preceded me into heaven and has been accepted there.”

The word “men” should be supplied in v.20 instead of the word “you,” for the Apostle was writing to persons who had already accepted the message of reconciliation. — Williams, page 902.

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Think of the poverty, the humiliation, and the persecution which the ambassadors of Christ have so often endured! Yet what should an ambassador expect who has been left in a nation which has declared war on his government? Surely he cannot expect cordial treatment. Rather he may look for suffering, imprisonment, and even death. …

Paul earnestly pleaded with the lost to be reconciled to God and for this he “suffered trouble as an evil-doer, even unto bonds” and was finally beheaded by the wicked Nero.

Paul was indeed earnest about his calling. “… as though God did beseech you by us,” he said, “we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”

Here surely we have the love of Christ “constraining” Paul. … “you would not have Christ,” he said, “but I am here in His stead.” As Christ represented Paul at Calvary, Paul now represented Christ in a Christ-rejecting world.” …

It may not be long before God recalls His ambassadors of reconciliation and declares war on His enemies. 1900 years ago man declared war on God. Both the Jews and the Gentiles arrayed themselves “against the Lord, and against His Anointed.” 

A counter-declaration was, of course, inevitable and was the very next number on the prophetic program (Read carefully Psalms 2:1-5; 110:1).

“But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign, through righteousness, unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:20-21).

But on what legitimate basis does grace now reign?

2 Corinthians 5:21 explains: God made Christ, who “knew no sin,” to be sin for us, that we, the sinners, “might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” At Calvary (as our blessed Representative) He became the very embodiment of sin, suffering its full penalty for us.

Yet, the dispensation will finally be brought to a close and the day of grace will give place to “the day of wrath.” — Stam, pages 131-133.

Verse 21 puts an end to any claim that we have to (or can) do anything toward the accomplishment of our salvation.

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2 Corinthians 5:17-19

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,

19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

So that, assuming that anyone is in Christ, he is a creation new in quality. The antiquated, out-of-date things [which do not belong to the new life in Christ Jesus] have passed away. Behold, all things have become new in quality. But the aforementioned all things are from God as a source, the One who reconciled us to Himself through the intermediate agency of Christ and gave to us the ministry whose work is that of proclaiming the message of this reconciliation, namely, that absolute deity in Christ was reconciling the world [of sinners] to Himself, not putting down on the liability side of their ledger their trespasses, and lodged in us the story of the reconciliation. — Wuest, page 424.

he is (v.17) — added by the translators. The original Greek reads “Therefore if anyone in Christ a new creation”

reconciled (v.18) = lit. “down to an exact point,” as when two parties reconcile when coming to the same position

imputing (v.19) = reckoning, charging with, taking into account

trespasses (v.19) = lit. “fall away after being close-beside,” lapse, slip, sin

Verse 17 is often interpreted to mean that at conversion to Christ a man becomes “a new creature,” and that for him “old things are passed away” and ‘behold, all things are become new.” But this is simply not true. … Those who interpret the verse in this way confuse the believer’s standing with his state. The apostle Paul illustrates this in two passages concerning the old man and the new. In Colossians 3:9-10 he says: “… ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man …” (this relates to our standing), but in Ephesians 4:22, 24 he exhorts us to “put off … the old man … and … put on the new man …” (this relates to our state). …

The believer is not a new creature (except in Christ) and his old temptations and sins have not all passed away. If only the translators had supplied the words “there is” rather than “he is.” The actual wording, especially in its dispensational context, lends itself far better to “there is” than to “he is.” …

Who can deny that with believers now given a place in Christ there is a new creation? And this truth is a natural continuation of the dispensationalism taught in verses 15-16.

Not the believer’s temptations and sins, but the old dispensation, the Law, with all its solemn rites, its stern commands, and its severe penalties, has given place to “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Ephesians 3:1-2), with all believers now seen “in Christ” and all “one body in Christ” (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:13). This is nothing less than “a new creation” as Paul calls it. — Stam, pages 127-128.

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All things in this new program are of God. He has reconciled us to Himself—by Jesus Christ; we had no part in it. “While we were sinners, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10).

As the enmity was entirely on our part, so the reconciling love of God is entirely His. It was we who needed to be reconciled to God, not God to us. And now He has given to us “the ministry of reconciliation.” We can understand it clearly and proclaim it in the power of the Spirit, only as we obey the divine imperative: study it dispensationally, “rightly dividing the Word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). — Stam, page 129.

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In verse 18 He declares that He has “given to us the ministry of reconciliation,” and in verse 19 He goes on to explain in the simplest language what this ministry consists of.

In this context “God was in Christ,” at Calvary of course, “reconciling the world (the world of people; He did not die for this world system) unto Himself” for, as we have seen, “When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10).

God does not impute our trespasses unto us; they were all imputed to Christ who, in mercy and grace, “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26), so that there need be no more fear of any believer ever standing before the Great White Throne. — Stam, page 130.

There are actually people out there who believe that after they became Christians they no longer sin. I can’t begin to imagine the mental gymnastics they have to perform every day to justify their frequent failings.

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2 Corinthians 5:14-16

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.

16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.

The love of Christ over-mastered [Paul]; and knowing that Christ’s death proved all men to be “dead,” he as a fellow worker with Him, besought men to be reconciled with God. Christ indeed died to save men from the doom of their sins, but that death also meant that they should no longer live unto themselves, i.e., His salvation is a salvation from sin and self. — Williams, page 902.

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The Greek sunecho is a strong word. It is used in Luke 8:45, where we find our Lord “thronged” and “pressed,” so that, humanly speaking, He could not leave the multitude. Paul was similarly constrained by love that swept him along as an ocean tide, not his love to Christ, but the love of Christ to him. Again and again circumstances were such that he must have been tempted to quit his strenuous ministry, but “the love of Christ,” so lavishly bestowed upon him, the chief of sinners, and so graciously proclaimed to all men, exerted a powerful, yes, an irresistible influence upon him. — Stam, page 116.

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What caused the love of Christ to bear Paul along like a resistless ocean tide? Not his emotions or feelings, but an intelligent conclusion: that “if Christ died for all” (Not as their substitute here, but as their representative. Representing them, He died their death.), then all were dead.”

He died our death, then arose again that we might have His life. Thus it is our responsibility—we who have life in Christ—to live, not unto ourselves, but unto Him who died for us and rose again. It is not our love to Christ but His to us that constrains us to live, not unto ourselves, but unto Christ and those for whom He died. — Stam, pages 121-122.

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Many passages of Scripture, indeed, the Scriptures as a whole, must be considered in the light of dispensational truth, but here, in 2 Corinthians 5:16-18, we come upon Dispensational Truth Proper, as the apostle begins to use dispensational phraseology in earnest: such phraseology as “henceforth [twice] … have known … yet now no more … a new creation … old things passed away, all things new ... ” and then introduces the glorious new message of reconciliation. — Stam, pages 125-126.

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The phrase “after the flesh,” is sometimes interpreted to mean “in a carnal or fleshly way,” but the context forbids this. The word “henceforth,” especially as it relates to Christ, indicates a change to take place “from now on.” Basically his argument is that we are no longer to view men as Jews or Gentiles. Believers among these two are now one in Christ, all one body, and every one members one of another (Galatians 3:28; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Romans 12:5), and unbelievers have no part in the Body of Christ. Thus we are to view men as “complete in Christ,” or completely out of Christ, having no part whatever in the riches of His grace. All, whether Jews or Gentiles, are either members of the One Body, or have no part in it.

That this is the correct interpretation of the words “after the flesh,” here, is confirmed by what the apostle goes on to say about the Lord Jesus Christ. “Though we have known Christ after the flesh,” he says, “yet now henceforth know we Him [i.e., “Christ after the flesh.”] no more” 

What a vast difference there is between our Lord as He walked this earth “in the flesh,” with “no place to lay His head,” and surrounded by trouble, sin and sorrow, and the same blessed Person as He came to be after His ascension to heaven. “At [God’s] own right hand in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:20). “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come” (Ephesians 1:21). “Head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:10). “Head over all things to the Church” (Ephesians 1:22). “Far above all heavens” (Ephesians 4:10).

And these are only five of the hundreds of Scripture passages that relate to the exaltation and glory of our blessed Lord. And this is how we are to know Him. And we can know Him thus, for not only have we been exalted with Him, not only do we have a position in heaven in Christ, but in our present state here on earth we have been given “access by faith into this grace wherein we stand” (Romans 5:2). Indeed, the same chapter in Ephesians that has so much to say about our position in Christ, also states that “through Him [the Lord Jesus Christ] we both [believing Jews and Gentiles] have access by one Spirit into the Father” (Ephesians 2:18). 

Ah, thus are we to know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, not still taken up with “the Babe in the manger,” “the lowly Jesus,” “the man of Galilee,” or “the carpenter of Nazareth.” — Stam, pages 126-127.

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2 Corinthians 5:11-13

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.

terror (v.11) = fear, reverence, respect

commend (v.12) = lit. “stand together,” referring to facts “lining up” with each other to support something

boast (v.12) = glory, the grounds for glorying

appearance (v.12) = surface

beside ourselves (v.13) = astonished, amazed, overwhelmed, lit. to “displace”

Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord, we are persuading men [of our sincerity and integrity], but to God we have been openly shown [as to our character], and I am hoping that we have been openly shown to be what we are in your consciences. We are not again commending ourselves to you, but [are writing these things] as giving you a base of operations from which to glory about us, in order that you may be having this matter of glorying with which to answer those who are glorying in outward appearance and not in the heart [the inner man]. For, whether we were out of our mind, it was with respect to God; whether we are of sober mind, it is with respect to you. — Wuest, pages 423-424.

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The Apostle knew that the purity of his doctrine and of his motives were manifest to God, and he hoped that they were manifest also to the Corinthian conscience (v.11). he did not again commend himself to them but gave material to those in Corinth who were loyal to the Gospel that they might boast of him in opposition to those with whom carnal endowments were everything and sincerity of heart nothing (v.12). If he appeared to have been mad it was for God’s glory, but if now accounted to be in his right mind it was for their benefit (v.13). — Williams, page 902

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In the first chapters of 2 Corinthians Paul has been defending his God-given apostleship because some among them had questioned this. They had said in effect. “He’s not a legitimate apostle. Ask him if he is one of the twelve Christ named and see if he dares to answer that!” …

Again and again, Paul magnifies his office [for example, “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles; I magnify mine office” (Romans 11:13)], and this was necessary, lest the whole Church be plunged back into the bondage of legalistic religion. — Stam, page 112.

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[To understand 2 Corinthians 5:13, we must look at the context.]

  1. The Corinthians as a church were badly backslidden. This is evident, not only from verses 10-11, but from Paul’s first letter to them, for 1 Corinthians is an epistle of rebuke.

  2. They—Paul too—were “all to appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body … whether it be good or bad [Lit. worthless]”: a frightening prospect for backslidden believers.

  3. “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord,” he says, he “persuaded” men, realizing that he himself was “manifest unto God,” and trusting that he and his way of life would be “made manifest” to their consciences.

All this casts its light upon 2 Corinthians 5:13. Some might well have considered Paul, with all his warning, persuading, etc., to have been “beside himself,” but Paul replies in effect: “That is for God to say, not you,” or, “Leave that to God.” But if, on the other hand, you acknowledge me to be ‘sober,’ then remember: I have done all this intense warning and persuading for your sakes, that my words and ways might commend themselves to your consciences in the sight of God and that this might bear fruit in your lives.” — Stam, pages 113-114.

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2 Corinthians 5:9-10

Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.

10 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.

All Christians should be workers; and as such they will appear before the judgment seat of Christ where their work—but not their sins for they were eternally abolished at Calvary—will be tested, and if found comparable to gold, silver, and precious stones (1 Corinthians 3:12) it will be declared “good,” but if found to be wood, hay, and stubble it will be condemned as “worthless.” — Williams, page 901.

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[Paul said that we labor to be accepted of Christ.] Why this? Absent from Christ, as we are, we are still “accepted in the Beloved” as far as our position is concerned (Ephesians 1:6). Thus, when we have gone to be with Christ, finally without sin, will we not be “accepted of Him?” Ah, the reason why Paul strove—and why we should strive—to be “accepted of Him” whether present or absent, is explained in the next verse. …

Twice Paul forewarns believers that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (v.10, cf. Romans 14:10).

We must be careful, however, to distinguish between “the Judgment Seat of Christ” and “the Great White Throne,” where the final judgment of the unsaved will take place.

Every believer in Christ has already been judged for his sins at Calvary. We read in Hebrews 9:26 that Christ appeared “to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” “There is therefore now no condemnation [or judgment] to them that are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Since our Lord put away all our sins by paying for them Himself at Calvary, there are no more of these left to be dealt with. But here in 2 Corinthians 5:10 the apostle refers to a judgment of the believer’s life as a Christian. This is also true of Romans 14:10.

The Greek word for this judgment seat is bema, the dais upon which judges in court actions, or judges at sports events, stood or sat. The judges at the former, of course dealt out justice, while those at the latter dealt out rewards to those who excelled at sports events. the word bema is used ten times with respect to legal trials and two with respect to the giving out of awards as at sports events (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10). Apart from the word itself, however, the bema is often referred to in Paul’s epistles (e.g., 1 Corinthians 3:12-17; Ephesians 6:8; Colossians 3:24). The word is never used, however, in connection with God’s judgment of the unsaved. Believers have only the happier aspect of bema to face, with its rewards or loss of rewards, the latter of which an, however, be a most embarrassing and humiliating experience….

The apostle warns the permissive Corinthians that our conduct will be reviewed at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Every one who had tolerated immorality among them and every one in particular who had committed the immorality will stand before Him who shed His life’s blood to save the, “that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” “Bad,” here, is a negative word, meaning “not good” or “lacking good.” The thought is, “whether deserving rewards or not.” The vilest sins of these Corinthians had been paid for and “put away” by the death of Christ on the cross, but the question at the Judgment Seat of Christ will be: What about their lives as Christians? Will the results of this examination be mostly rewards or loss of rewards? …

This aspect of the bema is clearly outlined for us in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. There it is explained that while no man will lose his salvation at the bema, some will be “saved so as by fire” (v.15), i.e., like a man fleeing naked from his burning house with everything lost but his life. …

It should be carefully observed that the question in 1 Corinthians 3 is not one of conduct, but of service, indeed, of the kind of service rendered, or our workmanship. Hence the repeated use of the word “work”: “Every mans’ work shall be made manifest,” … “The fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is,” … “If any man’s work abide [i.e., abide the fire of the divine scrutiny] he shall receive a reward,” … “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss …” — Stam, pages 103-106

The clearly points out the flaw in the teaching that “We’re saved by faith, but if we don’t do good works, that proves we never had faith.” No, it proves that we still have a sin nature (see Romans 7:14-21). Right after Paul says that he continues to do what he doesn’t want to do and to not do what he wants to do, what does he say next? Does he say that his sin or his lack of works proves he’s not saved? No, he says “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of  God, but with the flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 7:248:1). He doesn’t ask “What should I do?” He asks, “Who will deliver me?” Notice also that while Paul himself—the real Paul—serves the law of God, his flesh (which he speaks of as something separate) serves the law of sin.

(Incidentally, the rest of Romans 8:1, which reads “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” isn’t in the original manuscripts. It was added, no doubt, by someone who couldn’t tolerate that thought that people who they didn’t think were good enough to go to heave might actually get there.)

We have no business judging whether someone is saved or not based on their works. God knows.

Faith alone in Christ’s death and resurrection, through God’s grace, saves us. Period. The Judgment Seat of Christ won’t eliminate anyone from heaven. It will, however, determine how many rewards we bring to heave with us.

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