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The Epistles of Paul - 2 Corinthians Part 5: The Ministry of Reconciliation
In 2 Corinthians chapter 1 Paul had started the epistle off by writing about the sufferings and the consolation, or encouragement, which the children of Yahweh should expect to have for as long as they are in the flesh. Then while explaining the changes he had made in his own travel plans, since he was indeed on his way to visit the Corinthians, he talked about all the grief which had been caused within their assembly on account of a certain individual, who was with certainty that fornicator of his earlier epistle to the Corinthians, and whom he had addressed explicitly at 1 Corinthians chapter 5. During that discussion Paul had encouraged the Corinthians, since they chose to be forgiving of that individual, that their forgiveness be complete and that they should confirm their love for him, and also put an end to the grief which they had regarding his sin. Paul then continued to further discuss his travels, and the sufferings that Christians should expect to face in the flesh.
In chapter 3 of this epistle, Paul had asked quite rhetorically whether he should be reintroduced to the assembly at Corinth, an assembly which he himself had initiated and where he had spent over 18 months of his life. With that, in a rather esoteric manner he began to explain the differences between the Old and New Covenants, and that the Old Covenant was rendered idle in the New Covenant service of the spirit in Christ. From there he discussed the “treasure in earthen vessels” which is the spirit of the Adamic man, and the restoration of that spirit in the reconciliation to God which it has in Christ. With this Paul explained that it is the unseen rewards for which men should strive in their fleshly walk, or sojourn as he called it. Now Paul will come back around in a circle to allude to the fornicator once again, here in this latter half of 2 Corinthians chapter 5. Doing all of this, he is actually giving a quite lengthy lesson on why Christians should have forgiveness for their kindred Christians.
Paul accomplishes this beginning in verse 12 by denying that he should introduce himself anew to the assembly, which is evidently his way of saying that he himself has not changed, and that therefore a renewal of such introductions is not necessary. Then he informs the assembly that his attitude towards God has not changed either, and it is that position in regards to God which requires him to be temperate with the assembly. As we have seen earlier in these presentations, where Paul himself had explained it in 2 Corinthians chapter 2, although Paul had demanded that the assembly put out the man who had committed fornication with his father's wife, the assembly had instead chosen to forgive that man. Therefore Paul realized that if the assembly chose to be forgiving, then he must in turn accept that forgiveness, as he had explained where he said in chapter 2 verse 10 “Now to anyone whom you are obliging, likewise I am; and for my part whomever I oblige, if anyone I oblige, it is for your sakes, in the presence of Christ”. Here, without mentioning the fornicator explicitly, Paul explains why this must be so. Evidently, the people whom Paul said had inflated themselves and were boasting concerning this incident may not have been forgiving of this man, or were falling short of exhibiting Christian love in some other way, since it is apparent that Paul is writing to convince someone of the need for forgiveness.
Doing this, while to the casual reader it seems as though Paul has changed the topic several times during the course of this epistle, actually he has not changed the topic at all. In 2 Corinthians chapter 1 Paul discussed affliction and encouragement because the Adamic man in his fleshly nature is a creature afflicted from both within and without. Paul contrasted the Old Covenant service of death in letters to the New Covenant service of the spirit in Christ because the service of the spirit is one of mercy and forgiveness for sin, where the Old Covenant letter of the law had left men little room for such things so long as they were in the flesh. As the violation of the letter of the law in many cases required the death of the individual who committed certain sins there was no room for any benefit in repentance from sin while in the flesh, while in the New Covenant all men are urged to repent from sin on account of the revelation of the greater purpose of God which was revealed in Christ. Paul's discussion of the eternal spirit of man was made in part to illustrate the higher purpose for which the Adamic man was created, and now here in this latter half of chapter 5 Paul will illustrate that all men require the mercy of Christ in order to attain that purpose. As he had written some months later in his epistle to the Romans (3:23), all men have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. Christ not excluding any of the children of Israel from His plan for mercy, men should in turn have that same mercy upon their brethren, so long as they are repentant and willing to abide in Christ.
With this, we shall commence from 2 Corinthians chapter 5:
12 We do not again introduce ourselves to you, rather giving to you an occasion of boasting on our [P46, א, and B have “your”] behalf, in order that you should hold up against those boasting in appearance and not in heart.
Here Paul answers the rhetorical question which he had asked at the beginning of chapter 3 where he said “Do we begin anew to introduce ourselves? Or do we, as some, need letters of introduction to you, or from you?” This also helps to show that these are not disparate topics which he is discussing in this epistle, but that all of these different topics which he has presented are indeed related parts being interwoven for a greater purpose. If Paul has not changed, then a renewal of introductions between himself and the assembly at Corinth is not necessary, since he is asserting that he is one and the same Paul whom the assembly had come to know and love several years earlier when he was in Corinth.
As we saw from 1 Corinthians chapters 4 (verse 19) and 5 (verse 2), there were people among the assembly at Corinth who were inflated and had not mourned regarding the fornicator among them. These people were portrayed as having boasted, evidently vaunting themselves against the assembly. If Paul has not changed, then his steadfast attitude gives support to the assembly as a whole, which had chosen to forgive this fornicator. By that they are given a reason to boast, because they can support themselves with the assertion that Paul is in agreement with them. Seeing that this is the same Paul who had brought them the Gospel, Paul is agreeing with them in the spirit of the Gospel which he had at first brought to them. Paul substantiates this assessment in the next verse where he states:
13 For either we change our position with Yahweh, or we are temperate with you.
Paul must be temperate with the assembly because at the first his reaction to the fornicator was very stringent: he demanded that the sinner be expelled from the assembly. This is in accordance with the “service of death in letters” of the Old Covenant, which was the letter of the law which Paul contrasted to the service of the spirit of the New Covenant in chapter 3 of this epistle. Ostensibly, Paul must be temperate and accept the assembly's forgiveness of the fornicator, and if he fails to do so, then here in this passage he characterizes that failure as a deviation from his own gospel. This is in accordance with the spirit of the law written on the hearts of the children of Israel, which incorporates the opportunities for repentance and forgiveness which are in Christ, and that is the service of the spirit. Paul also substantiates this assessment with his statements in the verses which follow:
14 The love of the Christ constrains us, having decided this: since one [C and 048 have “that if one”] has been slain on behalf of all, then all have been slain; 15 and on behalf of all He has been slain, in order that those who are living would no longer live for themselves, but for He who had been slain on behalf of them, and has been raised.
In Isaiah chapter 53 Yahweh God announces the purpose of the passion of the Christ: “4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. [Notice that there are no stated exceptions.] 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed [proof that Yahshua is indeed Yahweh incarnate], he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
The promise of Yahweh to forgive all of the sins of the children of Israel where there are no stated exceptions, is found in Isaiah chapter 43: “25 I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. 26 Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified.” This promise is also found in Isaiah chapter 44, in direct connection with the prophesied redemption: “21 Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me. 22 I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.” It is also found in Isaiah chapter 45 where it promises: “ 17 But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end” and then it says “25 In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.”
The promise of Yahweh God to forgive all of the sins of the children of Israel, where no exceptions are made, is also found in Jeremiah chapter 31 in direct connection with the promised New Covenant where it states in part: “... for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Likewise, in Jeremiah chapter 50 the Word of Yahweh says “20 In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve.”
We see yet another prophecy of the cleansing of all the sins of Israel in Ezekiel chapter 37 where the prophet is told: “21 And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: 22 And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: 23 Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling-places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. 24 And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. 25 And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever.”
In the prophecy of the Messiah found in Daniel chapter 9 we see further the purpose of the Christ: “ 24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.”
There is a higher purpose for the creation of Adamic man which is reflected in both the prophets and in the Gospel of Christ. Paul explained this in part in Romans chapters 5 and 6. The children of Israel were cleansed of all their sins with the passion of the Christ because, as Paul explains in Romans chapter 7, the husband died in order to release the wife from the law of the husband. Yahweh God was married to the children of Israel as a nation, and when the children of Israel committed idolatry and joined themselves to other nations, they were found to be adulterers in the eyes of God. The penalty for adultery under the law is death, and the entire nation of the children of Israel were liable for that penalty. Therefore they are encouraged to pursue that higher purpose, as in Romans chapter 6 Paul had said “But now having been liberated from sin, and becoming bondmen to Yahweh, you have your profit in sanctification, and the result is life for eternity. ”
So in the Old Testament the disobedient children of Israel were described as having made a “covenant with death”, and on account of the unconditional promises which Yahweh had made with Abraham, their covenant with death would not be permitted to stand. The Word of Yahweh says in Isaiah chapter 28: “ 15 Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: 16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. 17 Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. 18 And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.”
Likewise, in conjunction with the promise of the New Covenant, where Yahweh says in Jeremiah chapter 31 that “31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah” He then says that “35 Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: 36 If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. 37 Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.” So the seed of Israel would live in spite of their own actions, which under the law had merited death.
Death was the penalty of the law, yet Yahweh had promised in these several places that Israel would live. In order to satisfy His Own law, He was incarnated and died as a man for the benefit of the children of Israel, so that they would be released from the law. Doing this, the letter of the law was satisfied and Yahweh God manifested His great love for His children, and also His Own will to abide by His law which Israel could not keep. Paul explains this in Romans chapter 7 where in part he says: “ 2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.”
This is foundational to understanding the New Testament, and it is a part of the milk of the Gospel. Yahweh promised to gather the dispersed of Israel in Christ, meaning those Israelites who were dispersed from the time of the captivity in Egypt unto the last of the Babylonian deportations. Yahweh promised to cleanse all of Israel and therefore in chapter 11 of the Gospel of John we read that Christ “51 … should die for that nation; 52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.” It is those scattered Israelites of whom Yahweh speaks when He tells Peter in Acts chapter 10 that “What God hath cleansed, make not thou common.” Peter's first epistle demonstrates his recognition of the fact.
Explaining that Christ had died on behalf of all, and with certainty meaning all of Israel in accordance with the promises in the prophets and his own explanations to these Corinthians that they are of the dispersed of Israel (in 1 Corinthians chapter 10), Paul asserts that Christ had even died on behalf of this fornicator. Since the assembly at Corinth had chosen to forgive the fornicator, ostensibly the fornicator must have been repentant of his sin. For the mercy and forgiveness of Christ in this life one must repent of one's sin, as it is illustrated throughout the Gospel, and without Christ the Israelite remains subject to the judgments of the law. Therefore even though Paul had formerly demanded that the fornicator be expelled from among them, which is in accordance with the law, now he sees that he must accept the forgiveness which the assembly has extended to the sinner. Therefore he wrote here “either we change our position with Yahweh, or we are temperate with you” as when Peter had asked “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?” then Christ Himself had answered “I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” Here Paul is making a lengthy and definitive example of the magnitude of the mercy for the children of Israel which is in Christ. Paul is explaining that he would no longer insist that the assembly should expel the fornicator but would instead be temperate, as in Christ we must all forgive our repentant brethren.
16 Consequently we from thereafter know no one in relation to flesh. Even if we had known Christ in relation to flesh, yet now we no longer know.
The second half of this verse, “even if we had known Christ in relation to flesh...” is only a rhetorical argument made to strengthen the point which Paul asserts in the first half, “consequently we from thereafter know no one in relation to flesh”. By “thereafter” Paul must mean to refer to the time at which “since one has been slain on behalf of all, then all have been slain”. Paul explains this in a different way in Romans chapter 6 where he wrote “1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection”.
Stating that “we from thereafter know no one in relation to flesh” in relation to the fact that Christ had died on behalf of all, to forgive the sins of all who turn to Christ, Paul is making an example that the Corinthians should follow. That Christians should not seek to know one another carnally, to be carnally minded, is something which Paul expounds upon in Romans chapter 8 where he wrote: “1 Now then, there is no condemnation to those among the number of Christ Yahshua. 2 Indeed the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Yahshua has liberated you from the law of sin and death. 3 The law is powerless, in that it has been weak over the flesh, Yahweh sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and amidst sin, condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the judgment of the law should be fulfilled among us, who walk not in accordance with the flesh, but in accordance with the Spirit. 5 For they who are in accordance with the flesh, strive after the things of the flesh; and they who are in accordance with the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 Indeed the purpose of the flesh is death, but the purpose of the Spirit, life and peace. 7 Because the purpose of the flesh is hostile to Yahweh, then to the law of Yahweh it is not obedient; neither is it able to be; 8 and they that are in the flesh are not able to satisfy Yahweh. 9 However you are not in the flesh, but in Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of Yahweh dwells in you; and if one has not the Spirit of Christ, he is not of Him: 10 but if Christ is in you, indeed the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit alive because of righteousness. 11 Moreover, if the Spirit of He who raised Yahshua from the dead dwells in you, He who raises the Anointed from the dead will also produce alive your mortal bodies through His Spirit that dwells in you. 12 So then, brethren, we are obligated not to the flesh, to live in accordance with the flesh; 13 for if in accordance with the flesh you live, you are about to die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
There is one further realization here which Christians should make. If Paul asserts that “we from thereafter know no one in relation to flesh” and then in Romans chapter 8 he said that “they who are in accordance with the flesh, strive after the things of the flesh”, then Christians should know not to ignore the failings of their brethren who remain carnally minded, but rather to disassociate themselves from them, at least until they also turn to Christ. Indeed, Paul shall exhibit this at length in his exhortation found later in this epistle, in 2 Corinthians chapter 6.
17 Therefore if one is among the number of Christ a new creation, the old things pass away. “Behold! New things have come!”
There are two variations of this last clause which are found in the Greek texts of many later manuscripts, either of which we may render in English as “Behold! All things have become new!” The King James Version has followed these later manuscripts, where the text of the Christogenea New Testament where it has “new things have come” follows the 3rd century P46 and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Vaticanus (B), Ephraemi Syri (C), Claromontanus (D) and Vaticanus Graecus 2061 (048). The Codex Alexandrinus (A) is not listed because it is wanting all of 2 Corinthians 4:14 through 12:6.
At Isaiah 43:19 where the King James Version has “Behold, I will do a new thing...”, the Septuagint Greek begins that verse with three (or in some manuscripts four) words: ἰδοὺ (ἐγώ) ποιῶ καινὰ, for which Brenton in his English version has written “Behold, I will do new things”, adding the word will which he placed in italics. In Revelation 21:5 this passage of Isaiah is evoked to again, and the text of the most ancient copies of the Greek manuscripts are consistent where they read ἰδοὺ καινὰ ποιῶ πάντα. For those words the King James Version has “Behold, I make all things new”, and the Christogenea New Testament agrees where it has "Behold! I shall make all new things!" But the text of Revelation in this instance may surely refer to something new, and not necessarily to the same things referred to in Isaiah.
The Revelation follows after Paul, and here Paul is interpreting the words of Isaiah 43:19. We say interpreting, because he is not quoting them directly, but rather he is treating them as an accomplished fact and professing their fulfillment. Here in this passage Paul's Greek words read ἰδοὺ γέγονεν καινά (according to the aforementioned manuscripts) and the verb is in the perfect tense, so we read “new things have come”. In order to understand what it is that Paul is referencing by citing this passage from Isaiah, we must go back and examine what it is that Isaiah was referring to. Reading Isaiah chapters 42 and 43, which Paul had cited here, we see that transition from one state to another is is a theme of Isaiah's prophecy of Yahweh's purpose concerning Israel.
The prophecy of Isaiah is a prophecy of captivity for Israel and Judah, which is already unfolding as Isaiah writes, since Israel is being taken away captive by the Assyrians. Yet the entire later portion of Isaiah, from chapter 41 onwards, is a message of encouragement to Israel in captivity. That Israel is the servant race of Yahweh even while the children of Israel are taken captive, is ascertained in Isaiah chapter 41 where He states: “8 But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend. 9 Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.” Yahweh was working with Israel even though Israel was being taken away into Assyrian captivity.
Therefore in Isaiah chapter 42 we also read: “1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Nations. 2 He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. 3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. 4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law. 5 Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: 6 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Nations; 7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. 8 I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. 9 Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them. 10 Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof.”
Now many universalists may want to stop here, and somehow imagine that nations of races other than the children of Israel could be included in these promises of these new things. However that is contrary to the other promises of God concerning the New Covenant, and it is certainly not the case when we read further in Isaiah: “13 The LORD shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies. 14 I have long time holden my peace; I have been still, and refrained myself: now will I cry like a travailing woman; I will destroy and devour at once. 15 I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbs; and I will make the rivers islands, and I will dry up the pools. 16 And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. [The blind are Yahweh's people Israel, the blind servant Jacob.] These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them. 17 They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye are our gods. 18 Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see. 19 Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the LORD'S servant? 20 Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not. 21 The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable. 22 But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore. 23 Who among you will give ear to this? who will hearken and hear for the time to come? 24 Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did not the LORD, he against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law. 25 Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart.” The other races and nations are described as robbers. Yahweh is working with Israel, and is using them only in the punishment of Israel.
This is the “new thing” which Yahweh declares as He states in Isaiah 42:9, and again as Paul cites in Isaiah 43:19. The former things which came to pass are the Old Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, which are now determined to be destroyed. The “new thing” is the judgment upon Israel, the destruction of the other nations which resulted from Israel's judgment, and the scattering of Israel that they may later be regathered in Christ. Therefore Yahweh says further of the captivity into which Israel would go forth, in Isaiah chapter 43: “1 But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. 2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. 3 For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. 4 Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. 5 Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; 6 I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; 7 Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him. 8 Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears. 9 Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled: who among them can declare this, and shew us former things? let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified: or let them hear, and say, It is truth. 10 Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. 11 I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. 12 I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God. 13 Yea, before the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it? 14 Thus saith the LORD, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; For your sake I have sent to Babylon, and have brought down all their nobles, and the Chaldeans, whose cry is in the ships. [This is stated in prophecy as fact before it is accomplished.] 15 I am the LORD, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King. 16 Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters; 17 Which bringeth forth the chariot and horse, the army and the power; they shall lie down together, they shall not rise: they are extinct, they are quenched as tow. 18 Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. [Israel in their captivity certainly forgot their former identity.] 19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” [The people who were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness, the woman with the twelve stars of Revelation chapter 12.]
These new things which Yahweh had promised to do are the things which He would do with the children of Israel as a matter of their punishment and promised future restoration. Therefore Paul of Tarsus will conclude what he says concerning these things here in this chapter of 2 Corinthians chapter 5 by referring to his ministry as a “ministry of reconciliation”. In Isaiah chapter 49, Yahweh once again affirms His relationship with the children of Israel where He states: “3 ... Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.... 5 And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength. [This is the message of reconciliation, “to bring Jacob again to him”, and none of the people of the ancient Assyrian deportations were ever known as “jews”.] 6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Nations, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. 7 Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee. [Abraham was promised that kings would come from his loins, and many nations from his seed. This is what Paul explains the fulfillment of in Romans chapter 4, and this is what kings and nations Isaiah refers to here, and it is still Israel who are the chosen.] 8 Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; [As we are about to see, Paul cites this very verse in 2 Corinthians chapter 6, in reference to its fulfillment! The children of Israel before 700 BC were prophesied to “establish the earth”. They did, as Scythians, Parthians, Kelts, Greeks and Romans.] 9 That thou mayest say to the prisoners [captive Israel], Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places. 10 They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them. [As we read in John 6:35: “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”] 11 And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted. 12 Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim [or the south]. 13 Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted. [This, in part, is the comfort and affliction Paul makes reference to in 2 Corinthians chapter 1.] 14 But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. 15 Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. 16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me. 17 Thy children shall make haste; thy destroyers and they that made thee waste shall go forth of thee. 18 Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to thee. As I live, saith the LORD, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee, as a bride doeth. 19 For thy waste and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruction, shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants, and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away. [Israel shall be given a new land, as it is also promised in Genesis and 2 Samuel 7:10.] 20 The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other, shall say again in thine ears, The place is too strait for me: give place to me that I may dwell. 21 Then shalt thou say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? and who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been? 22 Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Nations, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders. [In a new land, Israel would become as the sand of the sea, as it says in Hosea chapter 1: “ 9 Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God. 10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.”] 23 And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me. 24 Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? 25 But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children. 26 And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.”
The last few verses of Isaiah chapter 49 relate to Yahweh's vengeance against His enemies, and are not fulfilled until chapter 19 of the Revelation is fulfilled. However here in Isaiah 49 we see the children of Israel referred to as desolate, in verse 21, and of having many children although Israel as a people was put off from God not cognizant of them. This portrayal is also an allegory related to the blindness of Israel, that the people of Israel would not even know who they were in their captivity, as throughout these chapters of Isaiah Yahweh portrays Israel as being blind.
In Isaiah chapter 54 the children of Israel in their captivity are described as desolate once again, where we read: “1 Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD. [The desolate are Israel in captivity, the married wife refers to Israel within the Old Covenant prior to captivity. Israel would become more numerous in captivity than she ever was in the Old Kingdom.] 2 Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; 3 For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Nations, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited. 4 Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more. 5 For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.”
Yahweh shall be called the “God of the whole earth” because the children of Israel are destined to inherit the whole earth, which is yet to be fulfilled, as it says in Jeremiah chapter 30: “11 For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished.” In their punishment, the children of Israel would be spread throughout the whole earth. This was the purpose of Yahweh God as it has been stated here in these chapters of Isaiah, and it was already promised to the patriarchs of Israel in the promises to Abraham, the promises to Isaac and Jacob, and the blessings of the twelve tribes by Jacob and later by Moses: that the children of Israel would become many nations, companies of nations, and those nations and their kings would come out of the loins of those patriarchs. In their prophesied punishment, all of these promises to the children of Israel would be fulfilled in spite of their sins. In Romans chapter 4 as well as in 1 Corinthians chapter 10, Paul had expressed the fulfillment of these very things, and here again he alludes to them by citing these chapters of Isaiah. The “new creation” is the reformation of Israel which Yahweh God had also described in Jeremiah chapter 18, in the parable of the potter.
In verse 18 which follows, Paul qualifies his statement in verse 17 which states “Therefore if one is among the number of Christ a new creation, the old things pass away. Behold! New things have come!”:
18 But all things from Yahweh, who has reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and is giving the service of reconciliation to us.
The King James Version begins verse 18 with the statement “And all things are of God”, where the word are is in italics, indicating that the translators added it to the text. The reading is patently dishonest. The particle which stands at the beginning of the translations here is the adversative particle δέ (Strong's # 1161), and not the conjunctive particle καί (Strong's # 2532), which is usually translated as and in English. Joseph Thayer in his Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament says that δέ is “a particle adversative, distinctive, disjunctive” and defines it primarily as but or moreover. Liddell & Scott, in the large 9th edition of their Greek-English Lexicon, state that the particle is “adversative and copulative” (not “adversative or copulative”). Even if it is read in the copulative sense here, it is meant to distinguish what precedes, and to add the word are as if it were instead stating a fact by itself is a dishonest amendment of Paul's original intent. Liddell & Scott say that the particle is “adversative, expressing distinct opposition”, and then copulative in particular circumstances, such as in explanatory clauses where there is apposition, in answers, in questions with implied opposition, etc. In any event, δέ cannot be stripped of its adversative force. The word is not a mere conjunction.
The American Standard Version, the English Revised Version and the World English Bible all correctly render the particle δέ as but, however each of those versions also added the word are to the text. Paul is not stating that all things are of God. Rather, Paul is making a distinction to indicate that those new things which have come are come from God, and they are come for the purpose of reconciliation. Therefore, and especially since Paul's statement is a citation of the prophet, Christians should be obliged to look to the Word of God for what new things he had prophesied would come, because Paul is talking about these things in reference to reconciliation. That reconciliation is what we have just described from Isaiah where the Word of God prophesies those very same new things which would come, and Paul is describing their very fulfillment. The Gospel of the New Covenant in the New Testament scriptures cannot be separated from the promises of the New Covenant in the Old Testament scriptures.
There are clearly things in the world which are not from God. For instance, the apostle John warns his readers in chapter 4 of his firs epistle, “1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”
If there are spirits in the world which are not from God, then we must recognize a possibility that there may be other things in the world which are not from God. And indeed, in Matthew chapter 7 we read: “18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” If every tree were from God, how could there be bad trees which cannot possibly bring forth good fruit? In the Genesis creation account, everything which God created was good, and nothing was bad. Again, in the parable of the net in Matthew chapter 13 we read: “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: 48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.” So there are bad kinds of fish in the net which are not of God, and the fish allegorically represent people. Therefore there are people who even profess to be followers of Christ and who go so far as to profess that He is Lord, and who are nevertheless rejected, as we also read in Matthew chapter 7: “21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” If God never knew them, how could God have created them? The apostle John was not talking about disembodied spirits, but rather the was talking about embodied spirits which were not from God. Therefore God did not create them as they were.
19 How that Yahweh was within Christ reconciling the Society to Himself, not accounting their offenses to them, and placing in us the word [P46 has “gospel”, D “word of the gospel”] of that reconciliation.
If only Israel had the law, and if there is no sin without the law because sin is not imputed, then “world” is equivalent to the people Israel.
Yahweh was within Christ, as Christ was God incarnate, for which we may see John chapter 10: “ 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and my Father are one.” For a second witness, we may also see John chapter 14: “ 8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? 10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.” For this same reason, in Colossians 2:9 Paul said of Christ “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”
That the word rendered here as society is world in all other versions is immaterial. In Luke chapter 2 Caesar is said to have taxed “all the world”, and that was only the world which was subject to the Roman government. In Acts chapter 17 it is said that the apostles “turned the world upside down”, in reference to the effect of the Gospel on the world of the Greeks, which was that same world of Luke chapter 2 that Caesar had taxed. The “world” was not the planet and everyone upon it, but only the Greco-Roman world of which Judaea was a part. Israelites were scattered through that Greco-Roman world.
On the surface, scripture appears to be divided on this issue of the world. On one hand we have John chapter 3 where it says “16 For God so loved the Society, that He gave the most-beloved Son, in order that each who believes in Him would not be lost but would have eternal life. 17 Indeed, Yahweh has not sent the Son into the Society in order that He would condemn the Society, but in order that the Society would be saved through Him. ” In agreement with this we have 1 John chapter 2 where it says “2 And He is a propitiation on behalf of our errors; yet not for ours only but for the whole Society.” So here in 2 Corinthians we also see that “God was within Christ reconciling the Society to Himself”.
On the other hand, we read the words of Christ in John chapter 17: “9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.” Then in the first chapter of the epistle of James we read: “27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” Likewise we also read in chapter 4 of that epistle: “4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
If Christ came to save the world, how should Christians hate the world? So apparently there must be two worlds: there is the world which God created which requires salvation, and there is the world which is in enmity towards God. It is a Christian obligation to study the Scripture and to be able to distinguish between these, what things in the world are of the world, which are not from God, and what things are from God. In John chapter 1 we see “10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.” Then in Luke chapter 4: “5 And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.” Ostensibly, this is explained by John in his first epistle in chapter 5: “19 We know that we are from of God and the whole Society lies in the power of the Evil One.”
There are clearly men “of the world” who are not of God, whose destruction David seeks in the Psalms, here from Psalm 17: “13 Arise, O LORD, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword: 14 From men which are thy hand, O LORD, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life, and whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure: they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes. 15 As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” And here again from Psalm 18: “ 2 The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. 3 I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. 4 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid. 5 The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.... 16 He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters. 17 He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me. 18 They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay.”
This same theme persists in the New Testament, here from Luke chapter 1: “67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, 68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, 69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; 70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: 71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; [the Gospel must be referring to those same Psalms, at least in part] 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; 73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, 74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. 76 And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; 77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, 78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, 79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. 80 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.” As we have seen in Isaiah, it was the purpose of God to reconcile Israel to Himself, and this is the same purpose of the Gospel outlined in the words of Zacharias as they were recorded by Luke.
In Romans chapter 4 Paul explained that his ministry was to those of the faith of Abraham, which he defined as Abraham's belief that many nations would come from his loins, as Yahweh had promised. In 1 Corinthians chapter 10 Paul explained to them that they too were of those nations which had descended from ancient Israel, as also were others of the pagan nations of Europe engaged in idolatry, which Paul had described as “Israel according to the flesh”. Paul's ministry was to turn them from those idols and back to Yahweh their God through Christ, as Hananias was told of Paul's ministry by Christ Himself in Acts chapter 9: “15 ... 'Go! For he is a vessel chosen by Me who is to bear My Name before both the Nations and kings of the sons of Israel.'” By the time of Christ, the children of Israel had already become many nations and companies of nations in accordance with the Old Testament prophecies, and to these nations Paul was bringing the Gospel of Reconciliation, which describes the reconciliation of Israel to Yahweh their God.
We will continue with this same theme in the next segment of this presentation, where we may finally finish this chapter and present 2 Corinthians chapter 6, which beckons the call to come out from among them and be separate. “Them” whom Christians are to come out from among cannot be of the world which Yahweh created and which Christ came to preserve.