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2 Corinthians 5:17-20 meaning...

Paul begins, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation...", by emphasizing the transformative nature of being "in Christ." This union with Christ results in a profound change—the individual becomes a "new creation." This isn't a superficial makeover but a radical recreation, where the old, sinful nature is replaced with a new identity in Christ.

  • All Things Are of God: The Source of Transformation

"...But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ..."

The source of this transformation is God Himself. Through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, God initiates the process of reconciliation. The broken relationship between humanity and God is restored, and this restoration is entirely God's doing. The act of reconciliation springs from His love and grace.

  • Ministry of Reconciliation: A Shared Responsibility

"...and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation..."

While the initiative for reconciliation comes from God, believers are entrusted with a significant role—the ministry of reconciliation. This underscores the partnership between God and His people in the divine plan. Believers are called to actively participate in sharing the message of reconciliation with others.

  • God in Christ Reconciling the World: A Divine Act of Redemption

"...that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses..."

Paul unveils the mystery of God's redemptive plan. God, through Christ, took on the task of reconciling the world to Himself. This act involves not counting people's trespasses against them—an expression of divine mercy and forgiveness.

  • Ambassadors for Christ: The Christian's Identity and Mission

"We are therefore ambassadors on behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating by us..."

Paul paints a vivid picture of the Christian's identity and mission—they are ambassadors for Christ. As representatives of Christ, believers carry the message of reconciliation. The urgency in Paul's words conveys the gravity of this responsibility.

Theological Significance: The Mystery of Reconciliation Unveiled

  • God's Initiative in Reconciliation:

The passage emphasizes that the initiative for reconciliation comes from God. It is not a response to human merit but a demonstration of God's love and grace. This theological concept underscores the unmerited favor of God in bringing people back into relationship with Him.

  • The Ministry of Reconciliation:

The inclusion of believers in the ministry of reconciliation highlights the active involvement of Christians in God's redemptive plan. This ministry involves not only proclaiming the message but embodying the spirit of reconciliation in relationships and interactions.

  • Ambassadors for Christ:

The imagery of believers as ambassadors underscores the significance of their representation. Ambassadors represent the authority and character of the one who sends them. Believers, as ambassadors for Christ, carry the weight of representing the character and message of Jesus.

Practical Implications: Living Out Reconciliation

  • Active Participation in God's Plan:

Understanding that believers are partners in the ministry of reconciliation motivates active participation. This involves sharing the message of God's love, forgiveness, and reconciliation in both words and deeds.

  • Cultivating a Spirit of Reconciliation:

Being reconciled to God prompts believers to embody the spirit of reconciliation in their relationships. This includes forgiveness, humility, and a commitment to seek peace and restoration.

  • Urgency in Sharing the Gospel:

The urgency in Paul's plea reflects the critical nature of the message. Believers are urged to recognize the urgency of sharing the Gospel, knowing that through it, people can be reconciled to God.


Romans 5:10-11: "For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we will be saved by his life. Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation." This passage aligns with the theme of reconciliation, emphasizing its initiation through Christ's death and its ongoing impact in the believer's life.

Colossians 1:20-22: "...and through him to reconcile all things to himself, by him, whether things on the earth or things in the heavens, having made peace through the blood of his cross. You, being in past times alienated and enemies in your mind in your evil deeds, yet now he has reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and without blemish and blameless before him..." Colossians further explores the cosmic scope of reconciliation through Christ's sacrifice.

Conclusion - Agents of Reconciliation in Christ: 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 unveils a profound theological truth—that in Christ, we are not only transformed into new creations but also become active participants in God's plan of reconciliation. The mystery of God's initiative in reconciling the world is entrusted to those who, as ambassadors for Christ, carry the message of reconciliation to a broken and hurting world.

See also: vs 19-20

2 Corinthians 5:17-20. If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new. But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation; namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses, and having committed to us the word of reconciliation, we are therefore ambassadors on behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating by us: we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.


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