Convinced- 2 Corinthians 5:14

As we continue in our study of 2 Corinthians 5, we discover that the love of Christ compels us to love others because we are “convinced” of something. We have seen, in previous posts on this chapter, that Paul was compelled by the love of Christ, and that his compulsion did not consist of any type of possession, but caused him to love others out of a clear-minded devotion to the one who loved him. Paul, through a clear-minded encounter with the Scriptures and the person of Jesus, came to more fully understand and experience the love which Christ had for him, and this understanding of and experience with this love led to his expressing a clear-minded love for others, a love guided by the truth of the Scriptures. We then discover why Paul was so compelled by this love, for he tells us in the second part of verse 14. The entire verse reads as follows: “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died”. The word “because” does not appear in the Greek text, but is added by the translators in order to capture the causal nature of the relationship between the compulsion and the conviction. Is this a proper thing for them to be doing, are they “adding to” the Word of God? To borrow one of Paul’s favorite expressions “By no means”. What occurs here in the Greek grammar is that the word “convinced” is the aorist active participle of the Greek word krino, from a root meaning to “cut or separate”. A participle is a form of speech which modifies (tells something about) a verb, much like an adjective (red) modifies a noun (car). The participle form of krino here functions as an adverb, which modifies (tells us something about) the main verb, which is “compels” in this sentence. The participle krino is telling us something about the compulsion. One of the primary functions of the adverbial participle in the Greek language is to tell us the cause of or reason for the action of the main verb, and this is what it does here, telling us that the conviction was the cause of the compulsion. It should also be noted here that the participle gives us not the absolute time of the action, but rather the relative time of the action. An aorist participle tells us that the action referred to by the participle took place prior to the action referred to by the main verb, or that in our sentence here, the conviction took place before the compulsion. All of the above is why the NIV translators added the word “because” here, and they are completely justified and absolutely correct in doing so. If they had not done so, one would read this in English and completely miss the connection present here between the conviction and the compulsion. The reason, then, for this grammatical excursion is to demonstrate the fact that the conviction and the compulsion are directly connected to one another in a cause and effect relationship. The level of one’s conviction will directly determine the level of their compulsion. So what does Paul mean by “conviction”? We have already seen that the Greek word krino literally means to cut or separate. As it developed in usage in the Greek language, it came to refer primarily to the decision making process, it referred to the how and why of decision making. In fact, the noun form krisis, from which we get the English word crisis, refers to a situation which forces or compels a decision. Paul here, when faced with a moment of crisis, has made a decision, he has become convinced once and for all of the fact that Jesus died for him, which was the ultimate expression of love (Romans 5:8). As Paul grew to experience and understand more fully how “wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:19), he became more “convinced” of Christ’s love for him, and this conviction of the fact that Christ loved him compelled him to love others. So what we find as relevant to believers today is that we need not spend our time trying to learn to love others, but rather to spend our time growing to know intellectually (through a study of Scripture) and experientially (by living in His love for us) the love of Christ for us, for it is as we grow to know more fully His love for us that we will be more fully compelled to love others. It is as we become more convinced of His love for us that we will be compelled by His love for us.

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