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)
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)
Though they live in a foreign nation, ambassadors take no part of their host nation's political or military institutions, yet the ambassador is expected to adhere to the laws of the foreign land. An American ambassador to China knows well that his host government is seriously opposed to his own. He does not serve the Chinese government, enter into its politics, try to eradicate the evils of its system, vote in its elections, join its army, or advocate for its causes. Yet he subjects himself to Chinese laws that concern him while there, endeavoring to behave in a way that will best represent the interests of the U.S. government.
In the same way, Christian's are ambassadors of the Kingdom of God. We are called to become part of a totally different society, and while living in this world, we must represent God and abide by His laws and standards, which supersede those of men when they conflict. Like the worldly ambassador, a Christian should not involve himself in the affairs of an opposing government but must abide by its rules as best he can. He must live as a citizen of heaven and an ambassador for Jesus Christ first and foremost.
Martin G. Collins
Would Jesus Christ Vote? (Part Three)
Of keen interest in this context is the term “new” in verse 17. Paul had his choice of either of two words, kainos or neos, but he chose the one best suited to God's purpose here. He chose kainos, indicating newness in the sense of fresh existence. Neos means newness in the sense of renovation, for example, repairing something that already exists. In this context, God is describing a transformation in the inner man from carnality to spiritual thought and conduct. The new creation is not merely a repair job of the old, existing, carnal nature. It is a complete change to a nature, a heart, that had not been there before conversion.
The apostle nudges our thoughts to a parallel incident, when God created Adam in Genesis 1. Adam was an entity who did not exist before God acted. In this creation described in II Corinthians 5, though, God is not exercising His divine powers by creating an entirely new person, but He is fashioning a new heart, a new nature, that will produce righteousness, in contrast to the old nature that produced self-centered sin.
One by one, God is calling people out of Satan's worldly system and creating a Family Kingdom described in multiple locations throughout His Word. We have all borne the physical and character image of the sinner Adam; we are now being created in the spiritual image of the holy, righteous, and sinless Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:48-49). But know this: The new creation does not end with the spiritual creation of the sons of God. It carries on to include even a New Heaven and a New Earth.
The new creation begun by God with repentant and converted human beings is just the beginning of a massive creation that will surely follow because God has willed it as part of His plan (Isaiah 55:11). His Word provides an idea of what it entails, alerting God's children of the new creation that has begun in them and will expand indefinitely.
Isaiah 42:9 reads, “Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” Isaiah 65:17 adds, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.” The prophet chose to use the Hebrew word hadas (“new”; Strong's 2319) that, as kainos in New Testament Greek, indicates “that which did not exist before.”
Isaiah 9:7 clinches the never-ending expansion of God's purpose:
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah 66:22-23 contains even more exciting news:
“For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the LORD, “so shall your descendants and your name remain. And it shall come to pass that from one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come before Me,” says the LORD.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Do Angels Live Forever?
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing 2 Corinthians 5:20:
2 Corinthians 6:1-2