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THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 5 - Verse 11
Verse 11. Knowing therefore. We who are apostles, and who are appointed to preach the gospel, having the fullest assurance of the terrors of the day of judgment, and of the wrath of God, endeavour to persuade men to be prepared to meet Him, and to give up their account.
The terror of the Lord. That is, of the Lord Jesus, who will be seated on the throne of judgment, and who will decide the destiny of all men, 2 Co 5:10
The sense is, knowing how much the Lord is to be feared; what an object of terror and alarm it will be to stand at the judgment-seat; how fearful and awful will be the consequences of the trial of that day. The Lord Jesus will be an object of terror and alarm or it will be a subject inspiring terror and alarm to stand there on that day, because
(1.) he has all power, and is appointed to execute judgment;
(2.) because all must there give a strict and impartial account of all that they have done;
(3.) because the wrath of God will be shown in the condemnation of the guilty. It will be a day of awful wailing and alarm when all the living and the dead shall be arraigned on trial with reference to their eternal destiny; and when countless hosts of the guilty and impenitent shall be thrust down to an eternal hell. Who can describe the amazing terror of the scene? Who can fancy the horrors of the hosts of the guilty and the wretched who shall then hear that their doom is to be fixed for ever in a world of unspeakable woe? The influence of the knowledge of the terror of the Lord on the mind of the apostle'seems to have been two-fold: first, an apprehension of it as a personal concern, and a desire to escape it, which led him to constant self-denial and toil; and, secondly, a desire to save others from being overwhelmed in the wrath of that dreadful day.
We persuade men. We endeavour to persuade them to flee from the wrath to come; to be prepared to stand before the judgment-seat, and to be fitted to enter into heaven. Observe here the peculiarity of the statement. It is not, we drive men; or we endeavour to alarm men; or we frighten men; or we appeal merely to their fears; but it is, we PERSUADE men—we endeavour to induce them, by all the arts of persuasion and argument, to flee from the wrath to come. The future judgment, and the scenes of future woe, are not proper topics for mere declamation. To declaim constantly on hell-fire and perdition—to appeal merely to the fears of men—is not the way in which Paul and the Saviour preached the gospel. The knowledge that there would be a judgment, and that the wicked would be sent to hell, was a powerful motive for Paul to endeavour to "persuade" men to escape from wrath; and was a motive for the Saviour to weep over Jerusalem, and to lament its folly and its doom, Lu 19:41. But they who fill their sermons with the denunciations of wrath; who dwell on the words hell and damnation for the purpose of rhetoric or declamation, to round a period, or merely to excite alarm; and who "deal damnation around the land" as if they rejoiced that men were to be condemned, and in a tone and manner as if they would be pleased to execute it, have yet to learn the true nature of the way to win men to God, and the proper effect of those awful truths on the mind. The true effect is to produce tenderness, deep feeling, and love; to prompt to the language of persuasion and of tender entreaty; to lead men to weep over dying sinners rather than to denounce them; to pray to God to have mercy on them rather than to use the language of severity, or to assume tones as if they would be pleased to execute the awful wrath of God.
But we are made manifest unto God. The meaning of this is, probably, that God sees that we are sincere and upright in our aims and purposes. He is acquainted with our hearts. All our motives are known to him, and he sees that it is our aim to promote his glory, and to save the souls of men. This is probably said to counteract the charge which might have been brought against him by some of the disaffected in Corinth, that he was influenced by improper motives and guns. To meet this, Paul says that God knew that he was endeavouring to save souls, and that he was actuated by a sincere desire to rescue them from the impending terrors of the day of judgment.
And I trust also, etc. And I trust also you are convinced of our integrity and uprightness of aim. The same sentiment is expressed in other words in 2 Co 4:2. It is an appeal which he makes to them, and the expression of an earnest and confident assurance that they knew and felt that his aim was upright, and his purpose sincere.
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