The Divine Lamp

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Father Callan’s Commentay on 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 7, 2013

This post includes Fr, Callan’s brief summary of 2 Cor 5:14-21, followed by his notes on verses 17-21.


A Summary of 2 Corinthians 5:14-21~After saying that the Apostles direct all their actions to the glory of God and the good of souls, St. Paul indicates more specifically the moving power of the Apostolic life, namely, the love of Christ, who, by His example in dying for all men, invites all to embrace a new life, in which they shall live for Him alone who alone died for them. The Apostles are living this new life, and hence they now judge all things by the standard of faith. This grace they have received from the Father, who has not only reconciled them to Himself, but has also called them to the Apostolic ministry; they are ministers of Christ for the purpose of leading all men to Christ, who was made sin that we might be made just.

2 Cor 5:17. If then any be in Christ a new creature, the old things are passed away, behold all things are made new.

The change in the Apostles, which the preceding verse describes, is now extended to all Christians. If any man be in Christ, through Baptism, he has become a new creature, morally and spiritually (Rom 6:6; Eph 2:10, Eph 2:15; Col 3:9-10).

The old things, etc., i.e., unregenerate man with his perverse inclinations and sins, are passed away, i.e., no longer exist.

They are made new, i.e., the whole man belongs to a new order.

All things (Vulg., omnia) should be omitted, according to the best Greek.

2 Cor 5:18. But all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Christ; and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.

This great change and complete renovation is from God, the Father, who sent His Son into the world to redeem us Christians and reconcile us to Himself by means of the sacrifice of the cross, and who has given to us, i.e., to us Apostles, the appointment of continuing the work of Christ. That the first us of this verse refers to all men is clear from the world of verse 19; and that the second us means the Apostles is also clear from in us of verse 19.

2 Cor 5:19. For God indeed was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing to them their sins; and he hath placed in us the word of reconciliation.

The thought of the preceding verse is amplified and explained.

For God indeed. Better, “God, as it were” (ως οτι θεος). God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, i.e., through Christ, in virtue of Christ’s merits, (a) by wiping out men’s sins, for which Christ atoned (1 Cor 6:11; Col 1:14, Col 1:22), and (b) by confiding to the Apostles the office of preaching the Gospel, of administering the Sacraments, etc.

In the Vulgate quoniam quidem would better be ut quod (Estius).

2 Cor 5:20. For Christ therefore we are ambassadors, God as it were exhorting by us. For Christ, we beseech you, be reconciled to God.

In consequence of the ministry confided to the Apostles they were ambassadors of Christ, announcing in the name of Christ the message of the Father to the world.

We beseech you, etc., to be converted to God, implying that some of his readers were in need of reconciliation with God.

2 Cor 5:21. Him, who knew no sin, he hath made sin for us, that we might be made the justice of God in him.

To move those who were in need of repentance the Apostle recalls how much God has done for men. In order that we might be redeemed from our sins and justified, God hath made, etc., i.e., has treated His only Son, who was sinless, as if He were sin itself (Rom 8:3); “He suffered Him to be condemned as a sinner, and to die as one accursed” (St. Chrysostom). It is improbable that the meaning here is that Christ was made a victim for sin, as is clear from the antithesis between sin and justice; Christ was made a sinner as far as this was consistent with His entire sanctity, i.e., He took upon Himself our sins (Isa 53:6) and suffered for them (MacR.).

Be made the justice, i.e., be justified, in him, i.e., by reason of our union with Him, who is our head. Our sins were external to Christ, who nevertheless suffered for them; but the justice of God, i.e., real internal sanctity, is communicated to us through the merits of Christ (1 Cor 6:11; Col 1:14, Col 1:22).

One Response to “Father Callan’s Commentay on 2 Corinthians 5:17-21”

  1. […] Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:17-21. […]

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