Part 1

Section 40—2 Corinthians 5:19.

To wit that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.

This text is produced[1] to confirm the truth of. general redemption; and it is said. to do it beyond exception; which, whether it does or no, will better appear, when,

I. It is considered, that the word world cannot be understood of every man or woman that have been, are, or shall be in the world. For,

1. All and every one of these, are not reconciled to God. The text says, God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself; which must be understood of his doing it either intentionally, or actually; if intentionally only, that is, if he intended to reconcile the world to himself by Christ, and drew the scheme of reconciliation in him, can intentions be frustrated? Shall not his counsel stand? will he not do all his pleasure? shall a scheme so wisely laid by him in his Son, come to nothing; or at least, only in part be executed? which must be the case, if it was his design to reconcile every individual of mankind to himself, since a large number of them are not reconciled: but if the words are to be understood of an actual reconciliation by Christ, which is certainly the sense of the preceding verse, all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ; then it is beyond dispute, that the word world cannot be taken in so large a sense as to include every man and woman in the world; since there are multitudes who die in their sins, in a state of enmity to God and Christ, whose peace is not made with God, nor they reconciled to his way of salvation by his Son. It is indeed said,[2] that; "the import of these words is plainly this; he was offering through Christ a reconciliation to the world, and promising them who would believe in him, absolution from their past offenses." To which I answer; Admitting the ministry of the word is here designed, that is not an offer of reconciliation to the world; but a proclamation or declaration of peace, made by the blood of Jesus, of reconciliation by the death of the Son of God: nor is this ministry of reconciliation sent to all men; millions of people were dead and gone before and since the word of reconciliation was committed to the apostles, who never so much as heard of this ministry; nor did it reach to all that were alive at that present time. Besides, the text does not speak of what God did by the ministry of his apostles, but of what he himself had been doing in his Son, and which was antecedent, and gave rise unto, and was the foundation of their ministry. There was a scheme of reconciliation drawn in God's counsels before the world began, and an actual reconciliation by the death of Christ, which is published in the gospel by the ministers of it, and which is not published to all mankind; nor did the apostles entreat all men to whom they preached, to be reconciled to God; the exhortation in the following verse, be ye reconciled to God, is given not to all men, but to the believing Corinthians, for whom Christ was made sin, and they made the righteousness of God in him.

2. It cannot be said of every man and woman in the world, that God does not impute their trespasses to them; whereas this is said of the world here: Blessed indeed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin; but does this blessedness come upon all men? Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment and some they follow after (1 Tim. 5:24). To say[3] that God is here "promising to them who would believe in him, an absolution from past offenses," is putting a wrong construction on the words; which are not a promise of what God would do, did men believe, but a declaration of what he had been doing: besides, if only an absolution from past offenses is promised, what must be done with after ones? And after all, they who would or do believe, are not every man and woman in the world.

II. There is good reason to conclude, that the whole world, is to be restrained to the elect of God; since these are the persons whose peace Christ is, who are reconciled to God by his death, whose sins are not imputed to them, and against whom no charge of any avail can be laid; and perhaps the people of God among the Gentiles, may be more especially designed; since,

1. They are called by the world, who are said to be reconciled (Rom. 11:12, 15), yea, the whole world, for whose sins Christ is the propitiation (1 John 2:2). Nor was any thing more common among the Jews than to call the Gentiles µlw[j twmwa, the nations of the world. Dr. Hammond, by the world, in this place, understands the greater and worse part of it, the Gentiles.

2. This sense well agrees with the context. In verses 14, 15, the apostle asserts that Christ died for all, Gentiles as well as Jews, and adds, in verse 16, Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh. Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more; that is, we make no difference in our ministry, nor in our esteem, value, and affections for men, with respect to their carnal descent, whether they be born of Jewish or Gentile parents: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh; had a value for him, as a Jew, as one of our own country, entertained gross notions about him, and about a temporal deliverance from the Romans, and a temporal kingdom to be erected amongst us by him; yet now henceforth know we him no more; we have quitted our former carnal apprehensions of him, and only look upon him as a spiritual Savior of Jews and Gentiles; therefore, verse 17, if any man, Jew or Gentile, be in Christ, he is a new creature, or let him be a new creature; which is the main thing we regard; old things are passed away; the Old Testament economy is abolished; behold all things are become new, under the Gospel dispensation; hence now in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature; for this is the subject of our ministry, God was in Christ reconciling the world, Gentiles as well as Jews, unto himself.

3. That reconciliation was made for Gentiles as well as Jews, was not only a reason why the apostles, to whom the word of reconciliation was committed, carried it among the Gentiles, but was also a noble argument to engage the believing Gentiles at Corinth to regard the exhortation made unto them, verse 20, be ye reconciled to God, that is, to his providential dispensations towards them, to the order and ordinances of his house, to the form of discipline he had fixed in the church, and to all the laws of Christ, as King of saints, since he had been reconciling them to himself by his Son, the blessed effects of which they then enjoyed. This exhortation, was not made to unconverted sinners, much less to the non-elect;[4] but to the church of Christ, professing faith in him, and who were reconciled to God's way of salvation by him.


[1] Whitby, p. 129; ed. 2. 124.

[2] Ibid. p. 136; ed. 2. 133.

[3] Whitby, p. 136; ed. 2. 133.

[4] Whitby, p. 2, 6, 75; ed. 2. 2, 6, 74.

Gill Index