To wit - (Greek, ̔ ̓́ Hōs oti ), namely This verse is designed further to state the nature of the plan of reconciliation, and of the message with which they were entrusted. It contains an abstract, or an epitome of the whole plan; and is one of those emphatic passages in which Paul compresses into a single sentence the substance of the whole plan of redemption.
That God was in Christ - That God was by Christ ( ̓ ͂ͅ en Christō ), by means of Christ; by the agency, or mediatorship of Christ. Or it may mean that God was united to Christ, and manifested himself by him. So Doddridge interprets it. Christ was the mediator by means of whom God designed to accomplish the great work of reconciliation.
Reconciling the world unto himself - The world here evidently means the human race generally, without distinction of nation, age, or rank. The whole world was alienated from him, and he sought to have it reconciled. This is one incidental proof that God designed that the plan of salvation should be adapted to all people; see the note on II Corinthians 5:14. It may be observed further, that God sought that the world should be reconciled. Man did not seek it. He had no plan for it, he did not desire it. He had no way to effect it. It was the offended party, not the offending, that sought to be reconciled; and this shows the strength of his love. It was love for enemies and alienated beings, and love evinced to them by a most earnest desire to become their friend, and to be at agreement with them; compare note on Romans 5:8. Tyndale renders this very accurately: "For God was in Christ, and made agreement between the world and himself, and imputed not their sins unto them."
Not imputing their trespasses - Not reckoning their transgressions to them; that is, forgiving them, pardoning them. On the meaning of the word impute, see the note, Romans 4:3. The idea here is, that God did not charge on them with inexorable severity and stern justice their offences, but graciously provided a plan of pardon, and offered to remit their sins on the conditions of the gospel. The plan of reconciliation demonstrated that he was not disposed to impute their sins to them, as he might have done, and to punish them with unmitigated severity for their crimes, but was more disposed to pardon and forgive. And it may be here asked, if God was not disposed to charge with unrelenting severity their own sins to their account, but was rather disposed to pardon them, can we believe that he is disposed to charge on them the sin of another? If he does not charge on them with inexorable and unmitigated severity their own transgressions, will he charge on them with unrelenting severity - or at all - the sin of Adam? see the note on Romans 5:19. The sentiment here is, that God is not disposed or inclined to charge the transgressions of people upon them; he has no pleasure in doing it; and therefore he has provided a plan by which they may be pardoned. At the same time it is true that unless their sins are pardoned, justice will charge or impute their sins to them, and will exact punishment to the uttermost.
And hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation - Margin," put in us." Tyndale renders this: "and hath committed unto us the preaching of the atonement." The meaning is, that the office of making known the nature of this plan, and the conditions on which God was willing to be reconciled to man, had been committed to the ministers of the gospel.
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing 2 Corinthians 5:19:
2 Corinthians 5:20
2 Corinthians 5:21
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