2 Corinthians 5:21
21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Read that again…really slowly. Don’t miss each word and its doctrinal significance. As always let’s develop the context and then take a look at each words impact.
On Paul’s 2nd missionary journey (Acts 18:1-18) he spent 18 months in Corinth ministering. Upon leaving Paul heard of immorality in the Corinthian church and wrote to confront that sin (the letter was lost-1Cor 5:9). While ministering in Ephesus, Paul heard further reports of trouble and divisions in the Corinthian church (1Cor 1:11). As a result of this the Corinthians wrote to Paul for clarification (1Cor 7:1). Paul’s response to this letter and the Corinthian issues was the letter called 1st Corinthians. Paul planned to stay in Ephesus longer, so he sent Timothy to Corinth (1Cor4:17; 16:10-11). Paul also received word that false apostles were attempting to corrupt the Corinthian church. The false apostles attempt to persuade the Corinthians began with a platform undermining Paul’s character. Upon hearing this Paul returned to Corinth in what we know as his “painful visit” (2Cor 2:1). This visit was unsuccessful in Paul’s opinion but even though disappointed by the Corinthians lack of loyalty Paul returned to Ephesus. Paul then wrote the “severe letter” (2Cor 2:4) and sent it with Titus to Corinth (2Cor 7:5-16). Paul left Ephesus after Demetrius instigated a riot (Acts 19:23-20:1) and went to Troas to meet with Titus (2Cor 2:12-13). Since Titus had not arrived, Paul anxiously awaited the news of the letters impact, so he went to Macedonia to look for Titus (2Cor 2:13). Paul was overwhelmed with joy when he heard of the bulk of Corinthians repenting of their rebellion against Paul (2Cor 7:7). Knowing that the rebellion had not gone away totally, Paul wrote the letter we call 2nd Corinthians. In this letter Paul expressed his rejoicing at the repentance, (2Cor 7:8-16), exhorted the Corinthians to continue to resume collections for the poor at Jerusalem (2Cor 8-9) and defended his credentials to the false apostles (2Cor 10-13). This is all back drop for our memory verse.
Paul has established a lot of doctrine in getting to our memory verse in chapter 5. He has portrayed God the Father as a merciful comforter (1:3; 7:6) and Creator (4:6). The One who raised Jesus from the dead (4:14) will also raise us from the dead (4:14). He has maintained that we should not be outwitted by Satan’s schemes (2:11) but that “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers” (4:4). We respond to that by proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus sake (4:5). He has proven along with Galatians 3:2 and Ephesians 1:13 that God has given us His Holy Spirit so that while we are in these earthly tents we would be of good courage (5:6). He has developed that we are to walk by faith (5:7) because we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive what is due while done in the body (5:10). Then he starts getting down (in my estimation) to the nitty gritty. He explains that the love of Christ compels (literally controls him) him because all in him have died along with Him so that “those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (5:15). He has explained that if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. We are literally ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us (5:20). Since all this is true, Paul concludes with our memory verse for this week.
• For our sake-those who are new creations.
• he (God) made him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin-The sinless, perfect sacrifice, literally the propitiation for our sin (1Jn 2:2).
• WHY so that in him-remember apart from Him you can do … NOTHING.
• we might become the righteousness of God-we might reflect Him well, literally be His ambassadors to a dying world.
So are we being conformed to Christ likeness (Rom 8:29) in our sanctification process? Let’s reflect Him well!