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.
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.
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.
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.
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.