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The Message of Reconciliation

11 Since we are those who stand in holy awe of the Lord,[a] we make it our passion to persuade others to turn to him. We know that our lives are transparent before the God who knows us fully, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences. 12 Again, we are not taking an opportunity to brag, but giving you information that will enable you to be proud of us, and to answer those who esteem outward appearances while overlooking what is in the heart.

13 If we are out of our minds in a blissful, divine ecstasy,[b] it is for God, but if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. 14 For it is Christ’s love that fuels our passion and holds us tightly,[c] because we are convinced that he has given his life for all of us. This means all died with him, 15 so that those who live[d] should no longer live self-absorbed lives but lives that are poured out for him—the one who died for us and now lives again. 16 So, from now on, we refuse to evaluate people merely by their outward appearances. For that’s how we once viewed the Anointed One, but no longer do we see him with limited human insight.[e]

17 Now, if anyone is enfolded into Christ, he has become an entirely new person. All that is related to the old order has vanished.[f] Behold, everything is fresh and new.[g] 18 And God has made all things new,[h] and reconciled[i] us to himself, and given us the ministry of reconciling others to God. 19 In other words, it was through the Anointed One that God was shepherding the world,[j] not even keeping records of their transgressions, and he has entrusted to us the ministry of opening the door of reconciliation to God.[k] 20 We are ambassadors[l] of the Anointed One who carry the message of Christ to the world, as though God were tenderly pleading[m] with them directly through our lips. So we tenderly plead with you on Christ’s behalf, “Turn back to God and be reconciled to him.” 21 For God made[n] the only one who did not know sin to become sin for us,[o] so that we might become the righteousness of God through our union with him.[p]

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  1. 5:11 Although the Greek word phobos is usually associated with fear or dread, the classic use of the word is “deepest awe/respect.” See 1 John 4:18.
  2. 5:13 The Greek word existēmi means to be outside of one’s self in a state of blissful ecstasy and filled with pleasure. It is to come into another state of consciousness of being lost in wonder and amazement.
  3. 5:14 Paul uses the Greek word synechō (syn = “together with”; echō is where we get our English word echo), which is translated as “seize,” “compel,” “urge,” “control,” “lay hold of,” “overwhelm,” “to be held together,” “to grip tightly,” “completely dominate.” Paul is stating that the motivating passion of his life is Christ’s love filling his heart, leaving him no choice but to surrender everything to God. Paul gives us seven empowering motivations by which we are to live our lives: (1) the Holy Spirit—v. 5, (2) faith—v. 7, (3) a joyful confidence that we have new bodies waiting for us in heaven—v. 8, (4) our life’s passion to live for Christ—v. 9, (5) the knowledge of our appointment to stand before Christ—v. 10, (6) our holy awe of God—v. 11, (7) Christ’s endless love for us—v. 14.
  4. 5:15 Or “and he died for all so that those who live.” The repetitive phrase from v. 14 has been enfolded into the verse for the sake of English clarity.
  5. 5:16 From man’s point of view, Christ was a blasphemer and false teacher. Yet when we see him from the eyes of faith, we view him as the pure and holy one, God’s Son.
  6. 5:17 This would include our old identity, our life of sin, the power of Satan, the religious works of trying to please God, our old relationship with the world, and our old mind-sets. We are not reformed or simply refurbished, we are made completely new by our union with Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
  7. 5:17 Or “Behold, a new order has come!”
  8. 5:18 As translated from the Aramaic and implied in the Greek.
  9. 5:18 Or “who has restored us to friendship with God.”
  10. 5:19 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them.”
  11. 5:19 As translated from the Aramaic.
  12. 5:20 To be ambassadors for Christ means that we are his diplomatic agents of the highest rank sent to represent King Jesus and authorized to speak on his behalf. We are the voice of heaven to the earth, invested with royal power through the name of Jesus and authority of his blood.
  13. 5:20 Or “begging.”
  14. 5:21 The Greek word Paul uses is poieō, a verb that, when nominalized, is poiema (poem, or poetry). Christ is God’s poetic masterpiece who became the glorious sacrifice for sin. Though disturbing to the eyes of man, God saw the work of redemption culminated in the masterful poetry of his Son suspended on a cross to give us heaven’s righteousness. Read Isa. 52:10–53:12.
  15. 5:21 Or “the sin offering.” See Ex. 29:14; Lev. 4:3; Num. 8:8; Eph. 5:2.
  16. 5:21 This one verse is perhaps the greatest verse in the New Testament to describe our salvation through the sinless Savior and his substitutionary death on the cross. A wonderful divine exchange took place at the cross. All of our sins were left there, our guilt was removed and forever gone, and we walked away with all of God’s righteousness. What bliss is ours! Every believer today possesses the perfect and complete righteousness of Christ. We are seen by the Father as righteous as his Son.

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