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Summary: “The fear of the Lord,” often signifies the worship of the Lord, or that religious reverence which we owe to Him.

June 10, 2014

Tom Lowe

The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians

Lesson II.B.6.a: Paul’s Motives. (5:11-15)

2nd Corinthians 5:11-15 (NKJV)

11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.

12 For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart.

13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you.

14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;

15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

Commentary

11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.

Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord

“The terror of the Lord” speaks of the Lord Jesus, who will be seated on the throne of judgment, and who will decide the destiny of all people. The apostle was speaking of the same thing that ended the previous lesson. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Co. 5:10). The implication is, that knowing how much the Lord is to be feared, what an occasion of terror and alarm it will be to stand at the judgment-seat; how fearful and awful will be the consequences of the trial of that day. The Lord Jesus will be an object of terror and alarm, or it will be a circumstance inspiring terror and alarm to stand there on that day, because:

1. He has all power in heaven and on earth, and He has been appointed to execute judgment.

2. All who appear there must give an exacting and true account of all that they have done.

3. The wrath of God will be seen in the condemnation of the guilty.

It will be a day of awful wailing and terror when all the living and all the dead are arraigned and put on trial with their eternal destiny depending upon the outcome. On that day, multitudes of the guilty and unrepentant shall be thrust down to an eternal hell. Who can describe the incredible terror of the scene? Who can envision the horrors of the masses of the guilty and the wretched who shall hear that their doom is sealed to be fixed forever in a world of unspeakable despair? The influence of the knowledge of “the terror of the Lord” on the mind of the apostle seems to have been two-fold; first, an apprehension of it as a personal concern, and a desire to escape it, which led him to constant self-denial and toil; and secondly, a desire to save others from being overwhelmed in the wrath of that dreadful day.

This fear of Christ as our Judge is a healthy fear. The expression “the terror of the Lord” is particularly appropriate for one who had been suspected of double dealing and insincerity, as was Paul: he was inwardly conscious of the principle of the fear of God guiding and leading him.

But, “the terror of the Lord,” I think, is too harsh a translation, and “the fear of the Lord” would be better. This expression, “the fear of the Lord,” often signifies the worship of the Lord, or that religious reverence which we owe to Him. For example, there is Acts 9:31: “Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.” [Also see Romans 3:18; 13:7; 1 Peter 1:17; 2:18; 3:2.] The English word “terror” is unduly strong, and hinders the reader from seeing that what St. Paul speaks of is not mindless dread, but reverential awe, which had been described in the Old Testament as “the beginning of wisdom” (see Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10).

How can a born again child of God have anything but a reverential “fear of the Lord,” when he comprehends the great love of God contained in John 3:16{1], and he realizes that God loves him and that Jesus died for him. He will not be judged for his sins because Jesus has already taken care of that at Calvary. The only judgment he will face concerns the rewards or crowns he will receive for the service he has rendered to the Lord. He knows that Jesus does everything for his good, and would never hurt him.

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