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2 Corinthians 5:11

The Terror of the Lord

11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.


Sinners and saints alike do not like to speak of the fear of the Lord and much less to use the words "terror of the Lord." They like to interpret the Greek word φόβος phobos (fob'-os) as "reverence and awe" of the Lord, but it means no such thing. It is the root of our English word, "phobia."

Paul was referring to the fact that all men will stand before the judgment of Christ (v.10). Those who have not received Him as their Lord and Savior will not stand before Him with only a sense of awe and reverence. They will be terrified. Consider Jesus' favorite way of describing the judgment, "The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear." (Matthew 13:41-43)

"Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men;.." Paul did not persuade men because he feared the Lord himself. He knew that his life was safe and secured in the hands of Christ. He knew the love that the Savior had for him and did not fear the judgment whatsoever. Otherwise, why would he rather be absent from the body and present with the Lord (5:8)? It was Paul who assured his fellow saints, saying, "And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life... There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." (Romans 5:16-18; 8:1)"

No, Paul is saying that since he knew the terror that the unconverted would face in the judgment, that they would be wailing and gnashing their teeth as they faced the outer darkness and the lake of fire, he had committed his life to persuading them to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ and be saved from that. If we do not persuade men first of the terror of the Lord's judgment, from what should we tell them that they can be saved? If we love our fellow man, why would we not want to warn them of the terror that they are facing without faith in Jesus Christ and to tell them how to be saved?

"...but we are made manifest unto God;.." He did not need to persuade God of anything. God knew his love for Christ, his love for others, and his sincerity in doing the work of the ministry. His whole life and being were manifested, openly revealed to his Creator at all times. God does not need to be persuaded of our righteousness, because that which we have is given to us by His grace.

"...and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences." He appealed also to the consciences of the Corinthian saints. They had seen him work, had known him intimately and could judge his sincerity. The Greek word συνείδησις suneidesis (soon-ei'-day-sis) means, "co-perception." Paul trusted that they would see, along with God, his heart and mind in these matters.

Before The Throne:

Do you know the terror that the sinner will face in the judgment? If you do not know, you should study about it and be certain that you are fully persuaded yourself that Christ is your only hope. If you do know, ask the Lord to show you how you can warn others of the horrors of judgment. Pray that He will keep the fear of judgment before you, not that you should have to fear, being in Christ, but that you should never miss an opportunity to warn others. Thank Him for the righteousness that He has bestowed upon you through His dear Son Jesus Christ.

For Further Study:

(v.11)
** the terror. Gen 35:5; Job 6:4; Job 18:11; Job 31:23; Ps 73:19; Ps 76:7; Ps 88:15- 16; Ps 90:11; Isa 33:14; Nah 1:6; Matt 10:28; Matt 25:46; Mark 8:35-38; Mark 9:43-50; Luke 12:5; Heb 10:31; Jude 1:23; Rev 20:15; ** we persuade. 2Cor 5:20; 2Cor 6:1; Luke 16:31; Acts 13:43; Acts 18:4, 13; Acts 19:26; Acts 20:18-27; Acts 26:26; Acts 28:23; Gal 1:10; Col 1:28-29; 2Tim 2:24-26; ** but 2Cor 1:12-14; 2Cor 2:17; 2Cor 4:1-2, 4-5; 1Thess 2:3-12;

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