The word of the day is “all.” Many say that Christ died “for me.” But that thought does not compel those who are assured that they are saved to seek salvation for anyone else. It is content with the conviction that the promise of eternal life is “for me.” But in our reading of 2 Corinthians 5:10-15, Paul writes, “We judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all (OSB vs. 14-15). Today we examine Paul’s motives for his zealous preaching of the Gospel. And we find that its root is his absolute certainty of the divine judgment to come and of the love of God who desires the salvation of all. We then will ask how we might attain this same conviction.
Why Paul is So Passionate about Proclaiming the Gospel
In today’s passage, St. Paul writes again about his aims and motives. He earnestly wants to persuade all people to accept the gracious offer of the Gospel. This goal consumes him for two reasons. First, he states, “We must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ” (vs. 10). St. Paul would save as many as possible from the “terror” of being convicted for their sinful deeds (vs. 10-11).
The second reason that St. Paul is driven to proclaim the Gospel is that he says, “For the love of Christ compels us”(vs. 14, OSB). Other translations put it, “… the love of Christ constrains us.” The Greek word encompasses both these meanings. Its basis is the thought of being seized or being held together with something (Strong’s #4912, 242). Thus, we can say that the self-giving love of God is the force that has grabbed ahold of St. Paul.
The love of God so captivates Paul that he has no choice but to proclaim the Gospel of the revelation of God’s self-giving love in Christ. The divine love that has taken hold of Paul is not a sentimental feeling. It is not an emotional affection that comes and goes.
Paul’s Motives Are Based on Deep Conviction
Rather, it is based on a deep conviction, an unshakeable certainty. Thus, the Apostle writes that he is persuaded of the truth that Jesus Christ has “died for all” (vs.11). If this is so, then, he says, “all have died.” Christ is the representative of the whole human race, offering the perfect sacrifice for all humanity. He has “once and for all” fulfilled the requirement of the Law that we could never satisfy. Therefore, all the children of Adam and Eve have a new standing before God. The result is that they have a new purpose for being. All human beings no longer need strive in vain to fulfill the Law. But they can dedicate their lives to their Redeemer who rose again that they too might rise again to eternal life.
For Reflection: How We Can Gain the Same Conviction as Paul
We have found that the basis of St. Paul’s passion for preaching the Gospel is his conviction of its truth, power, and promise. How can we gain that same confidence in the certainty of all that Christ is, does, and teaches? Conviction comes from experience. To obtain it, we must get to know Christ deeply and fully. We must hear His Word, obey His commandments, receive His Body and Blood, pray constantly and fervently to Him, take part in the fellowship of believers, and practice His presence in every moment of our lives. Then from all these encounters with Christ, we will grow in unwavering and resolute faith in Him who died and rose again for all.