II Corinthians 5:20, like John 18:36-37 and Philippians 3:20, defines our position by showing that we are not only citizens but also ambassadors of that heavenly Kingdom. We may love the nation we live in and be subject to its laws and authority, but we must reserve our fullest allegiance for God in heaven and His Kingdom. As ambassadors and sojourners, we do not have the legal authority to involve ourselves in the affairs of the human nation in which we reside.
The issue of war is not as complicated as it might first appear. The central fact is that God has said we must not kill. We will either be obedient to that or we will not. What determines our choice is the measure of our faith in the Bible's clear statements and examples. If we will obey God's commandments and exercise our faith in His promise, He will intervene to fight our battles for us. We never have to resort to killing.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sixth Commandment (Part 2): War! (1997)
The church developed, under the inspiration of Jesus Christ, an overall concept of time management unique to church members. It has its roots in the Old Testament: Isaiah 55:6 urges us to "seek the LORD while He may be found."
Why should we seek Him? Because He has the power and the willingness, if we will trust Him, to give us a completely new nature, breaking the vain, frustrating, repetitious cycle. Isaiah 61:1-2 adds helpful understanding:
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God.
This is a prophecy that Jesus partially quoted as He began His ministry in the synagogue in Nazareth where He grew up (Luke 4:18-19). These passages suggest an element of movement toward something soon to happen. Isaiah 55:6 suggests we seek Him urgently because the Lord is moving on, and if we do not seek Him now, it will be too late. Time and events within it are moving. Isaiah 61:1-2 is similar: Now is an acceptable day for those called of God. If we wait, the acceptable day will pass, and the day of vengeance, even now moving toward us, will be here. It will be too late to avoid its destructive powers!
In Solomon's complaint about time (Ecclesiastes 1:3-11), God was nowhere mentioned. Events just go around and around endlessly, effectively describing Solomon's frustration. However, in the prophet Isaiah's description, God is involved in the movement of events that impact directly on His people's lives.
II Corinthians 5:20—6:2 from the Revised English Bible helps us to see the sense of urgency in a New Testament setting:
We are therefore Christ's ambassadors. It is as if God were appealing to you through us: we implore you in Christ's name, be reconciled to God! Christ was innocent of sin, and yet for our sake God made him one with human sinfulness, so that in him we might be made one with the righteousness of God. Sharing in God's work, we make this appeal: you have received the grace of God; do not let it come to nothing. He has said: "In the hour of my favor I answered you; on the day of deliverance I came to your aid." This is the hour of favor, this the day of deliverance.
These admonitions to "seek God now," "now is an acceptable time," and "do not let it come to nothing," all indicate a passing opportunity. The Christian is dealing with a specific period during which events are working toward the culmination of some process, and if he does not take advantage of the present opportunity, it will never come again. The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins in Matthew 25:6-13 illustrates our need to make the most of this opportunity now. This parable's major lesson is that both life and time are moving. The precise time of Christ's return is unknown, so He urges us to take advantage of the knowledge and time we already have in hand. Those who reject His advice will find their way into the Kingdom blocked.
Recall that II Corinthians is written to Christians. Paul's message is a call to strike while the iron is hot! Both Jesus and Paul remind us that our calling is rife with possibilities, so much so that we can consider each moment as big as eternity. That is how important this "day of salvation" is to us! The New Testament's instruction to Christians is, "Now is the time!" Everything is in readiness for success. It is as though the New Testament writers are saying, "Don't be like the slave who refuses when presented with freedom, or the diseased person who rejects help when offered healing. God's door is open to us! Charge through it by cooperating with Him!"
John W. Ritenbaugh
Seeking God (Part Two): A Foundation
We play a part in making peace with God by choosing to be reconciled to Him. This is perhaps the first step in becoming a peacemaker.
Paul essentially refers to himself as the one to whom the word and ministry of reconciliation have been given as a portion of his function as an apostle of Jesus Christ. However, the thought does not end there because we are also being prepared to assist in causing the reconciliation of the world to God. This is a second major, time-consuming step toward being a peacemaker. The sanctification process of a Christian's conversion creates within us the ability to be a peacemaker in the godly mold.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part 7: Blessed Are the Peacemakers
In verse 18, Paul explains that he, and by implication other Christians, have a "ministry of reconciliation" to serve as "ambassadors for Christ" (verse 20). It is, the apostle continues in verse 20, as if God is "pleading through us" to "be reconciled to God." Jesus Christ brings this reconciliation about, and the new man is the result.
Choosing the New Man (Part Two)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing 2 Corinthians 5:20:
1 Corinthians 5:12-13
2 Corinthians 5:20
2 Corinthians :
2 Corinthians 6:1-2
2 Corinthians 6:1