2 Corinthians 5:11-13
Hebrews 12:28-29
“Knowing therefore the terror of
the Lord, we persuade men ...”
The “terror” (i.e. fear, phobos) of the Lord in 2 Corinthians 5:11 refers to a godly, reverential fear of God in the light of one’s knowledge of Him. It differs from the ungodly fear of the devils, for though the devils tremble before God (James 2:19), yet they continue in their rebellion against God. Similarly, ungodly fear leads the unrepentant to persist in their wicked ways in the hardness of their hearts despite trembling at their impending doom.
Godly fear, on the other hand, leads one to an appreciation, respect and loving submission to the Lord. There is an awareness that one day he must account for all his ways before a God who is his Master and King. “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb 12:28-29).
It is with this in mind that Paul seeks to “persuade men.” What is Paul trying to “persuade men” about? Some think that it refers to the gospel (Barnes). However, in the light of the context, it is likely to do with the integrity of Paul’s ministry. Paul was therefore claiming that he strove to be above board in everything that he did because he knew he was accountable to God.
Alas, there were those who claimed that Paul was beside himself (i.e. mad) in the ministry. This is the common accusation laid upon preachers when hearers take offence at the faithful preaching of God’s Word. Jesus testified that “a prophet hath no honour in his own country” (John 4:44). Are you guilty of the same?
Nevertheless, Paul in the integrity of his heart (cf. Psalm 78:72) declared that all he did was for God’s glory and the welfare of the saints. Godly men are often misunderstood. So long as our motive is pure, we need not be downhearted. Only fear God, not man.
THOUGHT: Fear God, not man.
PRAYER: Help me serve in godly fear of Thee, Father.