2 Cor. 5:14-15

Our passage, 2 Cor. 5:14-15, describes Paul’s motivation for following Christ. Back up to verse 13, where Paul poses the concept of insanity about his behavior. We know that the Corinthians act like new believers in that they still drank milk; they have not matured in Christ (1 Cor. 3:1-3). Perhaps this lack of growth in Christ caused them to think Paul had crazy new ideas, or his activities made little sense to them. Generally, the world’s (the Cosmos) thinks Christianity as out of touch with reality. Paul often shows disregard for himself: 1 Cor. 4:9-13, Acts 19:30, 21:35-40, 14:19-20. Paul has already established that spiritual matters are for believers (help1 Cor. 2:13-15). Verses 14 tells Paul's motivation for his confidence in dangerous situation: the love of Christ compels or controls believers so that they can overcome obstacles and appear insane.[1,2] Whatever Paul has done to expand the gospel, he does for God to the help of others (in this case, the Corinthians). [3]


What about you? Paul is willing to experience hardships (appearing insane to those around him) so that the known world had a chance to know who Jesus is and what He has done on our account. Satan has taken control of the legal system and forced believers to keep their faith to themselves. Most people are afraid to lose their earthly gains than risk bringing another to Christ. Are you stuck drinking milk and haven’t matured in a while and are swayed by the world? In that case, 1 Corinthians is for you to read and pray.


Let’s deal with the idea of “control” or “constrain” found in verse 14. The idea lies in the relationship with one party being able to exert power and influence on another. This force can also be in the form of guidance in conjunction with a willingness to serve. We consider this to be evil, but now when we speak of service to the Lord. Some uses of our word are:


  1. “To hold together”- for example, Jesus holds everything together. [4]

  2. “To enclose,” “lock-up,” prisoners are incarcerated, but also the skin encloses the inner body.[5]

  3. “To oppress,” “overpower,” “rule.” This sense develops out of b. “to enclose,” “hem in.”[6]

  4. “To provide an impulse for some activity, urge on, impel. [7]

  5. “To hold within bounds to manage or guide, direct, control.” [8]

The best application in this passage is a combination of “4” and “5.” The idea that we are robots or are being micro-managed does not square with the ‘freedom” we have in Christ; but, the Holy Spirit does give counsel. I wanted to be clear that Christ does not make us do anything; He does guide us into the direction that glorifies God. Paul is not insane, but fearless in the service of spreading the gospel on behalf of the Lord.


The basis for Paul’s conclusion is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The point of the OT Law was to show that nobody can carry out this for themselves. We cannot adopt ourselves into God’s family.


If you were curious about the direction of the “love” in this verse, it derives from Paul, and his object is Jesus Christ. Why? Because Christ died for everyone, whether they accept the invitation to salvation, to offer the opportunity to live for the one who died on the cross. Jesus died and rose on from the dead and is waiting to bring believers home.


Parallel Passages

Gal 2:20 – Paul states our calling to put away our old self because Jesus lives inside us. Jesus did for all humanity because He loves humans past, present, and future.


Rom. 5:8 – When Christ died for those still in sin, this is true love.


Rom. 8:35 – Paul gives extra information about the love Christ has shown us. Nothing on earth that can separate this love.


Rom. 5:15 – The event that separated humanity from God spiritually, caused to die physically. This gift that Jesus gives us propagates through humanity, yielding the salvation for believers.


Eph. 3:19 – We can’t know the dimensions of Christ’s love, but we can grow and know Him and continually grow.


2 Cor. 5:11 – We can know enough to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ ourselves. Paul adds that we should have a clean conscience about our service to the Lord.


Endnotes

  1. Lowery, D. K. (1985). 2 Corinthians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 567). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

  2. Garland, D. E. (1999). 2 Corinthians (Vol. 29, p. 274). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

  3. McGee, J. V. (1997). Thru the Bible commentary (electronic ed., Vol. 5, p. 110). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

  4. Köster, H. (1964–). συνέχω, συνοχή. G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley, & G. Friedrich (Eds.), Theological dictionary of the New Testament (electronic ed., Vol. 7, p. 877). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

  5. Köster, H. (1964–). συνέχω, συνοχή. G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley, & G. Friedrich (Eds.), Theological dictionary of the New Testament (electronic ed., Vol. 7, p. 878). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

  6. Köster, H. (1964–). συνέχω, συνοχή. G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley, & G. Friedrich (Eds.), Theological dictionary of the New Testament (electronic ed., Vol. 7, p. 878). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

  7. Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 971). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  8. Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 971). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


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