English blog

from out of dread to motivate to having faith?

06-01-2014 - Posted by Andre Piet

images.12 In two well-known, English Bible translations, 2 Corinthians 5:11 seems to create the impression that Paul is trying to motivate people from out of dread to have faith.

KJV: Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men… NKJV: Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…

Both renditions tell us more about the theology of the translators, than about what Paul wrote (lit. translated):

Being aware, then, of the fear of the Lord, we are persuading men…

Paul is not writing here, about dread or terror. He uses the expression, “fear of the Lord” (as in Acts 9:31), a term that we know from the Hebrew Bible, especially from the book of Proverbs. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov.9:10). The expression refers to awe and reverence for GOD, not about terror of Him. He who loves God, can’t possibly be in dread of Him, because “love casts out all [negative] fear” (1John 4:18). In the preceding verse (1Cor.5:10), Paul had spoken of “the bêma of Christ,” before which all believers will appear. That bêma is not a “judgment seat”, as the translators have made of it, but a podium, a dais. The bêma is the podium where each will receive his praise (applause) from God (1Cor.4:5). It is an honor-podium. What will count there is the fear of the Lord. Not terror, but reverent awe for Him. In 2Corinthians 5:11, it does not say “trying to persuade men”. No, Paul did not attempt to persuade them; his evident attitude was to persuade them. It was not terror that drove Paul. What was it then? Let us permit Paul to answer the question, himself:

For the love of Christ is constraining us, judging this, that, if One died for the sake of all, consequently all died. -2Cor.5:14,15-

The world crucified Christ, that is to say, He was put to death by them. But what the world did not know and still does not know is that He died on behalf of all of them. How’s that? Three days later He was resurrected by God, as the Firstfruit, to guarantee life for all mankind (1Cor.15:22-28). That is the love of Christ! “The love of God in Christ Jesus” will give Life to all his enemies. That’s absolutely awesome! Thus, God reconciles a hostile world to Himself (2Cor.5:19).