2 Corinthians 5:20“Therefore, on behalf of Christ, we are ambassadors, as God is exhorting through us, we beseech on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

When we accept Christ and are found to be in Christ testified to by the presence of the Holy Spirit, we will naturally (as concerns our newly created actuality, rather than that of the old nature) have the desire to spread the gospel message of Christ, which amounts to a reconciliation between us and God. This desire and caring for the spiritual condition or well-being of others comes direct from the Holy Spirit. As I have mentioned before in other posts, “therefore” is a word that implies a direct conclusion. That which follows the word “therefore,” is the stated induced or deduced conclusion arrived at from the pre-stated premises or arguments which precede the word, “therefore.” We necessarily, then, arrive at the question, of which previous statements is Paul referring.

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The answer to this inquiry is 2 Corinthians verse 18-19 of chapter 5.

2 Corinthians 5:18-19, “And all this is a gift from God, who brought us back to Himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him. 19For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.”

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“On behalf of Christ,” according to the LITV, or Jay Green Sr.’s A Literal Translation of The Bible, is mentioned twice within the verse. The first instance modifies the statement immediately proceeding it, “We are ambassadors.” More or less, this reveals that “we are ambassadors for Christ.” The second instance, that we beseech on behalf of Christ, implies that we share the same message that Christ Himself shared, which is extant within the Scriptures and gospels.

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In addition, when the Word of God repeats itself, or seems redundant in repetition, it is truly not redundancy, but rather repetition is used for a means of emphasis. Therefore, Paul is emphasizing the fact that we are speaking on behalf of Christ, which means a number of things. Some of which will be explored in this blog post. A couple of the most basic though, are that it emphasizes that this message is not of human speech and motive alone, but rather a message preceding from the mouth of Jesus Christ Himself. Moreover, we share in Paul’s divine appointment, which will be discussed later, as will we discuss the great responsibility of such an appointment.

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The term “ambassadors” that is utilized is truly an important one. As The Life Application Study Bible says:

“An ambassador is an official representative of one country to another.” –Life Application Study Bible

William MacDonald in his Believer’s Bible Commentary says:

“An ambassador is a minister of state, representing his own ruler in a foreign land. Paul always speaks of the Christian ministry as an exalted and dignified calling. Here [in 2 Corinthians 5:20] [Paul] likens himself to an envoy sent by Christ to the world in which we live.” –William MacDonald

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Given this definition or usage of the word, “ambassadors,” we find that it is more than appropriate. Ellicott’s commentary gives us a little insight into the origins of the usage of the word in this particular verse.

“’Ambassadors,’ which may be noted as singularly felicitous, first appears in the version of 1611. The word, derived from the medieval 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.” –Charles John Ellicott

Prior to this the word used was “legates.” This word has a definition within both the Catholic and Roman traditions. The Catholic usage, is “a member of the clergy, especially a cardinal, representing the Pope.” However, because Paul was a contemporary of the Roman Empire, he obviously was using the word in the Roman context which meant, “the general or governor of an ancient Roman province, or their deputy.”

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Utilizing both “legates” and “ambassadors” we can reach several striking conclusions. The first concerns authority. By authority I mean that we are given a degree of this authority by Christ and His instruction to share this message of reconciliation. In addition, we are authoritative figures as we are both heirs to the Kingdom and beneficiaries of the glory of the Lord.

Romans 8:17, “And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering.”

Moreover, concerning this authority, the Christ Jesus says:

Luke 10:16, “Then He said to the disciples, ‘Anyone who accepts your message is also accepting Me. And anyone who rejects you is rejecting Me. And anyone who rejects Me is rejecting God, who sent Me.”

Furthermore, in John, Jesus tells His disciples:

John 20:21, “Again [Jesus] said, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.’”

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However, being an “ambassador” means we are subservient to a higher rule, which is the Lord Himself. Due to the fact we are subservient, our message must correspond with the message of the higher ruling Agent, which is that of Christ Jesus. In addition, we have a great responsibility in sharing this glory, authority and message of reconciliation. As the Life Application Study Bible states:

“An ambassador of reconciliation has an important responsibility. We dare not take it lightly.” –Life Application Study Bible

This authority and responsibility in sharing the message of reconciliation denotes a couple of things. First, and again, it is extremely important that our testimony, witness, or appeal unto others must be in complete correspondence with the ministry of reconciliation as revealed by Christ and the Scriptures. Second, we must be a living testimony and sacrifice that our behavior will not conflict with the ministry. Within us the ministry of truth must be apparent as well as expressed, for we discredit the message by not being in obedience to it. I believe this responsibility and the extreme duty we have to follow Christ’s commandments is expressed earlier in chapter 5 of 2 Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 5:11, “Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too.”

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If we are to be sincere and be fearful in our responsibility about this ministry of reconciliation, then it follows that not only will we preach the truth, but we will live according to it. Moreover, to some degree we can see how the two are mutually interconnected, so that if we cease to live by Christ’s expressed truth, the message we share with others will become distorted or open to falsehood. In addition, if we accept or let a false message creep into the message we share, how long before there is a concurrent output that becomes evident in our lives. Christians need to beware at making compromises or concessions to their faith based on sympathies or the ways and arguments of the world, for when we give these freedom or speak them, they will produce a harvest of falsity in our faith and detrimentally affect our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Rather, we are to be partners with the Lord and not oppose Him, basing our relationship with Him on invasive doctrines. Unfortunately, this is all too common, which Paul recognized as he said, stating both our responsibility and this danger:

2 Corinthians 6:1, “As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it.”

It is God Himself who enables us both to be in obedience and to be ambassadors to the Good News, thereby let us adhere to God’s ways, the ways of the Spirit, the commands of Christ.

2 Corinthians 3:6, “[God] has enabled us to be ministers of His new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.”

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This enabling by the Lord is perhaps nowhere seen more explicitly than in the example of Paul, who was chosen by the Lord, by grace and divine appointment, to spread the message of reconciliation unto the Gentiles. As Christ tells Saul at his conversion:

Acts 26:17-18, “And I will rescue you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in Me.”

Though we might have authority by being trusted with this ministry, it does not mean we share, at this time, in kingly comforts which the world might tend to bestow to those who have authoritative positions. It is Paul again who mentions himself as an ambassador even though he lay in chains.

Ephesians 6:20, “I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly as I should.”

These prayers were most certainly answered, for Paul becomes an example for Christians to follow as it applies to the ministry. Obviously our prime example is Jesus Christ, but the early church fathers do present examples of how should live and how we are to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. This concerns not only how they lived there lives in obedience to their faith, but also how they shared the message of reconciliation.

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The Christian cannot help but be impressed with the love of God. That the Lord implores, beseeches, and pleads with us to be reconciled to Him expresses this deep love. This love is manifest in both the Testaments. Some have the perception that the God of the Old Testament is entirely wrathful, while the God of the New Testament is entirely loving, yet the discerning Christian will realize that the Old Testament has attributes of love, while the New Testament speaks too of wrath. Yet, our Lord loves us and implores us not to come under this wrath. We live under two realities, we can either live under wrath, or we can live under grace and love. It is apparent, which one the Lord wants from us. Ezekiel (a rather wrathful book in itself) states God’s great love and desire to impart mercy.

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Ezekiel 18:31-32, “Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign LORD. Turn back and live!”

Concerning man’s rebellion, Matthew Henry exhorts us:

“Now man must lay down his arms of rebellion, must cease his stubborn revolt, and must be reconciled to God.” –William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary

This shows the Lord’s earnest pleading, and it is not because God is on some power trip or selfish, for what does our Lord have to gain or lose by us coming to Him or not coming to Him? Matthew Henry expounds on this point:

“Though God cannot lose by the quarrel [the enmity between God and man], nor gain by the peace, yet He beseeches sinners to lay aside their enmity, and accept the salvation He offers.” –Matthew Henry

Concerning this enmity, William MacDonald states matter-of-factly:

“If any enmity exists, it exists on man’s part.” –William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary

Paul implores, pleads, begs, and beseeches that we would be reconciled to God. Again, God Himself is doing this! The Creator of the universe is begging before the likes of man for us to be reconciled to Him. This speaks amazingly of God’s great love, and brings forth images of Christ washing the disciple’s feet. That the Lord of all, would be so humble as to implore us is almost beyond belief. Yet, I am not the only one to be struck by the reality of this and its implications.

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“[Beseeching] seems rather strange language to apply to an ambassador. Usually we do not think of an ambassador as pleading, but that is the story of the gospel, that, in it, God is actually on bended knee and with tear-dimmed eye begging men and women to be reconciled to Himself.” –William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary

Truly, it is an amazing God we serve, and we should do so, in full knowledge of God’s love, and our love for Him, in complete obedience and servitude for this is what He deserves. Further, this is the message that we should portray and share with others, that those we come into contact with may experience the love and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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