The Hearing of Faith
The Recovery Version of the New Testament concisely states that the subject of 2 Corinthians is the new covenant ministry and its ministers. This is a compound subject indicating that 2 Corinthians is a book concerned with the ministry of the new covenant and also with the ministers of the new covenant. In actuality, the ministry and the ministers are one. The new covenant ministry is the living of the new covenant ministers. We have pointed out elsewhere that the new covenant ministry is produced in the believers as they pass through consuming pressures under the cross and are brought into an experiential knowledge of God as the God of resurrection (1:8-9). This constitutes within them the ministry of the Spirit and the ministry of righteousness (3:8-9). This also makes them certain kinds of persons.
In actuality, the ministry and the ministers are one.
In 2 Corinthians we have ample testimony concerning the person of the new covenant ministers. We see in chapter two that they have been defeated and captured by Christ and are led by Him in His victorious train of vanquished foes (v. 14). In chapter three, they are mirrors beholding and reflecting the glory of the Lord as they are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory (v. 18). In chapter four, they are earthen vessels conscious of their innate weakness yet boasting not in themselves but in the glorious dynamic treasure that resides within them (v. 7). As such vessels, they do not preach themselves but Christ Jesus as Lord (v. 5). According to chapter five, these ministers of the new covenant are also God’s ambassadors, His representatives, who preach the high and complete word concerning reconciliation (v. 20). To unbelievers, these ministers announce the gospel that appeals to them to be reconciled to God by believing in the Christ who died for their sins (v. 18). These ministers of the new covenant, however, carry out their ministry not only to unbelievers but in a sense, even more, to the believers, the members of the church. Paul, as one of these ministers, knew well that the Corinthian believers still suffered from serious discrepancies and distance between them and God. On the one hand, they had been reconciled to God to a certain extent. On the other hand, they needed a further reconciliation to Him that they would be altogether one with Him for His corporate expression. For this reason, Paul spoke to the believers saying, “Be reconciled to God” (v. 20).
The ministers of the new covenant who carry out such a ministry and announce the word of reconciliation are themselves reconciled persons. This means they are one with God. They are in harmony with Him and live in the closest contact with Him in Christ as the Spirit. As we see in the picture of the tabernacle, these ministers no longer reside in the outer court nor even in the holy place. They have entered into the holy of holies and enjoy the Triune God in glory, being one with Him. From this position of oneness, harmony, and reconciliation with God, they appeal to us on behalf of Christ, “Be reconciled to God.” It is a testimony to the triumphant grace of God that we may experience, enjoy and participate in the unique ministry of the new covenant and become in Christ ministers of the new covenant.
From Issue No. 55, November 2002