Exegesis of 2 Corinthians 5:18-20


Purpose and Overview

This document anticipates arriving at a rational and coherent understanding of the definition of 2 Corinthians 5:18-20. Its study takes place via the exegesis of the above mentioned scriptural passage. For clear highlights and explanations of the term under review, an exegesis is a process that consists of deriving meaning from or drawing out of a given passage of scripture by analogous perceptions from two different groups of people at separate period of a given time: the time of the inspired author or the prophet as well as the time of the modern reader. In this deliberation, we anticipate exploring what the passage meant for the original recipient in its historical context and discover what the text means to the reader of today. While the book of 2 Corinthians was written to a select group of people in antiquity of time, exegesis extends the message beyond a limited few to person in our generation.

As this research paper gives an exegesis of the scriptural texts, it narrows to the subject of counseling under the umbrella phrase, “The Ministry of Reconciliation” discussing various words or phrases such as the ministry, reconciliation, word of reconciliation, and the ministry of reconciliation under the basis definition of Biblical counseling. The paper uses scholarly articles to explain, to clarify, or to prove various quotes used in the body of the paper.

Sources and Methodologies

            Since this paper concerns a passage of scriptural texts, it is preferably expedient to exegete various phrases, keywords, or comparisons used in the texts as to give significant of definitions to the wordings, phrases, or comparisons. Meanwhile, in an attempt to achieve this goal, concordances, dictionaries, commentaries, scriptural references, the Greek language, and articles have been utilized. The Greek text and the English text have been placed side by side using underlining notation to place emphasis on the words or phrases being discussed. Quotes from articles have been second-handed to elucidate, to prove, or to apply the statement or statements being used in the body of the paper.


            In order to give delineation of the below phrases from the Greek and the English texts as listed below, it is expedient to list the two texts side by side to enable the reader comprehend these phrases in regard to the subject (Ministry of Reconciliation) under discussion. Listing the texts side by side could build curiosity and minimize ambiguity in the mind of the non-Greek reader thereby building interest. The underlined phrases from the Greek and the English texts are textually elucidated to give full meaning of the texts using various sources mentioned above to determine what the Spirit of God was speaking to the prophets of antiquity which is now applicable to the present audience hermeutically and homiletically speaking; meanwhile, the document anticipates to build the bridge from the ancient ears (premodernism) to the present audience (postmodernism) capitalizing on Biblical counseling. To achieve this goal of how counseling is related to the scriptural texts discussed on the preceding pages of this paper, the phrases or wordings are discussed generally and then narrowed to the subject of counseling since Biblical counseling entails the task of defining, the task of edifying, and the task of evangelizing which must be biblically based, biblically accurate, and biblically appropriate. The phrases or wordings related to counseling are discussed on the preceding subheading of the contextual counseling approach.

The Greek Text (II Corinthians 5:17-21)

“17 ὥστε εἴ τις ἐν Χριστῷ, καινὴ κτίσις· τὰ ἀρχαῖα παρῆλθεν, ἰδοὺ γέγονεν καινά· 18τὰ δὲ πάντα ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ καταλλάξαντος ἡμᾶς ἑαυτῷ διὰ Χριστοῦ καὶ δόντος ἡμῖν τὴν διακονίαν τῆς καταλλαγῆς, 19ὡς ὅτι θεὸς ἦν ἐν Χριστῷ κόσμον καταλλάσσων ἑαυτῷ, μὴ λογιζόμενος αὐτοῖς τὰ παραπτώματα αὐτῶν, καὶ θέμενος ἐν ἡμῖν τὸν λόγον τῆς καταλλαγῆς. 20Ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ οὖν πρεσβεύομεν ὡς τοῦ θεοῦ παρακαλοῦντος δι’ ἡμῶν· δεόμεθα ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ, καταλλάγητε τῷ θεῷ. 21τὸν μὴ γνόντα ἁμαρτίαν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἁμαρτίαν ἐποίησεν, ἵνα ἡμεῖς γενώμεθα δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ.”

The English Text (II Corinthians 5:17-21)

“17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new. 18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”

Keywords, Phrases, and Comparisons

The Ministry (τὴν διακονίαν)

            The Greek word mentioned above according to the Strong’s Concordance means waiting at table, service, and ministration. Its lexicon form is διακονία, ας, ἡ. It is a feminine noun in Greek representing a service one performs in various areas of work context. It is an active service done with the willing attitude without expectation of a service reward in any form.[1] According to the NAS Exhaustive Concordance, it is defined as ministry, mission, preparations, serve, service, support, and ministration.[2] According to the Thayer’s Greek lexicon, it means service, ministering, especially of those who execute the commands of others. It is the office of deacons in the primitive church (see διάκονος, Romans 12:7) and the service of those who prepare and present food: (Luke 10:40.)[3] Finally, according to the Strong Exhaustive Concordance, it means attendance as a servant, aid, official service performed especially of a Christian teacher or technically as a diaconate.[4]

Reconciliation (τῆς καταλλαγῆς)

            According to the Strong’s Concordance, the Greek lexicon form καταλλαγή, ῆς, ἡ is a feminine noun which means reconciliation or restoration of favor. It is the reconciliation as the resulting of Christ exactly or precisely exchanging His righteousness (blood) for our guilt.[5] According to the NAS Exhaustive Concordance, it means reconciliation.[6] The Thayer’s Greek lexicon defines καταλλαγή. as the exchange; of the business of money-changers, exchanging equivalent values ((Aristotle, others)), adjustment of a difference, reconciliation, restoration to favor, (from Aeschylus on); in the N. T., of the restoration of the favor of God to sinners that repent and put their trust in the expiatory death of Christ(2 Corinthians 5:18f); with the genitive of the one received into favor, τοῦκόσμου (opposed), and to ἀποβολή), Romans 11:15;καταλλαγήνἐλάβομεν, we received the blessing of the recovered favor of God, Romans 5:11; with the genitive of him whose favor is recovered, 2 Macc. 5:20. (Cf. Trench, § lxxvii.).[7] It is the restoration of the divine favor of God and atonement according to the Strong Exhaustive Concordance.

Ministry of Reconciliation ((τῆς διακονίαν τῆς καταλλαγῆς)

            Christians have the general call to avail themselves as instrument used in the service to restore broken relationship between God and humanity, to enable counselees identify self-change through the power God, and to proactively respond to reactive changes in a realistic counseling situation. The ministry of reconciliation is being mentioned in various texts varying with versions of the Bible. Primarily, according to the Englishman’s Concordance in Romans 5:11, the Greek version says νῦν τὴν καταλλαγὴν ἐλάβομεν, the NAS: received the reconciliation, the KJV: now received the atonement, and the INT: now the reconciliation we receive. In Romans 11:15, the Greek version says ἀποβολὴ αὐτῶν καταλλαγὴ κόσμου τίς, the NAS: their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, the KJV: of them [be] the reconciling of the world, and the INT: casting away of them [be the] reconciliation of

world. In 2 Corinthians 5:18, the Greek version says διακονίαν τῆς καταλλαγῆς, the NAS: use the ministry of reconciliation, the KJV: to us the ministry of reconciliation, and the INT: ministry of reconciliation[8]. We are not only being committed to the ministry (service) of reconciliation, but we are also be given the word of reconciliation (evangelization). Both Christian counselors alike and Christians are called

to the service and to the preaching of God’s word to reach humanity who suffers from emotional, spiritual, and psychological problems.

The word of Reconciliation (ton λόγον τῆς καταλλαγῆς)

            As stated above, we have been given the word of reconciliation to reach lost souls for Christ. In 2 Corinthians 5:19, the Greek version says ton λόγον τῆς καταλλαγῆς, the NAS: to us the word of reconciliation, the KJV: us the word of reconciliation, and the INT the word of reconciliation.[9] The ministry of reconciliation and the word of reconciliation are inseparable and both simultaneously occur. The Christian counselors use the word of God while rendering services to humanity in the counseling situation.


            The authorship of 2 Corinthians is accredited and stamped with the style of Apostle Paul and this book contains more autobiographical materials as compared to any of his writings[10]. This book was written A.D 55 before the onset of late spring just after the completion of 1 Corinthians in Ephesus prior to Paul’s departure to pay a visit in Corinth to address a situation pertaining to the false apostles who challenged his integrity and apostleship[11]. Paul addressed this letter to the Christians in Corinth and the Christians in Achaia, the province of the Roman Greece, south of Macedonia[12]. While in Macedonia to meet Titus whom he did not see in Troas, he wrote this letter in response from the good report he received from Titus concerning how the Christians in Corinth had favorably responded to his letter. The writing of 2 Corinthians concerning the severe letter was a remedial approach to follow up his initial visit which did not produce fruition to misalign and counteract the heresies propagated by the false apostles. He scribed this letter to preplan and to prepare his impeding third visit to Corinth; even though, some reasons include the following: To express comfort and joy (1:3-4, 7:8-9, 12:13), to explain his trouble (1:8-11), to explain why he changes his travel plan (1:12-2:4), to ask them to forgive offending party (2:5-11), to discourage them to associate with unbelievers (6:14-7:1),  to teach them about grace and giving (chaps 8-9), and to deal with minority opposition(chaps 10-13) in the church group. If Paul discourages divisions and encourages forgiveness among the Christians in Corinth; then, the ministry of reconciliation as commended in scriptures is universal and should be the primary task Christians are called and mandated to execute.


            While this paper attempts to give the critical analysis (exegesis) of 2 Corinthians 5:18 -20, its purpose is encapsulated and goaled in explaining how this text is directly associated and related to Biblical counseling. This counseling is the spiritual model approach in which the Bible is used as the guide to counseling clients wherein God becomes the center of the counseling, the counselee is committed to God through prayer, sin becomes the issues referenced, the Bible becomes the answer to the vulnerable, and righteous living before God is emphasized and encouraged. To embody the scriptural text (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) with relative to Biblical counseling, this paper explains the task of defining, the task of edifying, and the task of evangelizing in connection to the ministry of reconciliation.

Task of Defining: In order to fully understand what the Biblical counseling entails, those things that embody the counseling process should be divine associated instead of human such as psychology. God must be the center of the counseling, commitment to God must be emphasized, sin should be pointed out, the Gospel of Jesus should be the solution to the problem, and God’s characters should be emphasized. It is impossible to minister to patient effectively when God is taken out of the photo as to implore human wisdom that leads to no fruition. While Christian counselors are called into the ministry of waiting at table, they are encouraged to understand the task of defining. It is crucial to an effective counseling ministry knowing that in counseling, the counselee is the goal and not the counselor. The counselor must understand this task and apply it in Biblical counseling in order to have a positive result.

Task of Edifying: This means that the counselor must implore activities to heal the souls. These activities must use the Bible as the basic such as involving the person to pray and encouraging the individual to rely on God’s source of help. The counselor should show love, teach faith, and instill hope in the counselee. In doing this, the counselor is restoring God’s recovered favor (reconciliation) to the counselee through the explanation of the scriptural texts. Counseling is the act of encouraging the grief person and healing wounds. How would you relate to a grieving situation of a family member who has lost everything including loved ones?

Arville and Sheila Earl write,” He sat outside the refugee tent, his head resting in his hands, and wept. His wife of more than fifty years sat beside him in silence. She had no words with which to comfort him. Just three days before, they had watched as their four sons were killed and as their home burned to the ground. Uncharacteristic of an Albanian man, he was openly crying. The tears flowed because of his immense loss. At a time in his life when he should have been taken care of by his family, he now had no sons to fulfill that responsibility.”[13]

            Grieving is the process and the duration of grief varies with individual resistance and characteristics (age, cultural, individualism). I can record that at the age of seven years old, my mother passed away (died) and it toke me 16 years of grieving. For some people, it takes longer especially children who are still developing and while some people, it takes shorter. All depend on the gravity of the situation. How can one imagine the situation of this Albanian man whose sons are all dead and who is left with no one to take care of him as he ages. Pastoral counselors are often examples of what they see happening in the lives of those they meet to counsel; therefore, they are exact characteristics and experiences sometimes of the various situations people face in lives. You can not adequately meet someone’s needs if you have not experienced or tasted of the same. Jesus is the exact replica of our experiences according to Hebrews 4:16[14].

Wilczak writes,” From my perspective the minister is a symbolic generative man. In human maturity the minister has attained the strength of life characteristic of the seventh stage of human development.1 such a person has overcome stagnation through generativity; he or she has chosen care over self-absorption. The virtue of care thus details an interpersonal relationship. In brief, the minister’s pastoral care evokes fidelity from those cared for in ministry.”[15]

            In some instances, counselors have encountered problems as their counselees have; therefore, counselors should be mindful of self-disclosure when counseling people. Too much revealing counselors’ past problems to the counselees makes them sympathizers of their problems thereby paying less attention to their present problem. Remember that the counselee is the goal and not the counselor; therefore, minimize self-disclosing your past or present problems to the counselee. It is by virtue of the characteristic of resilient that God has called the counselor into the office placing special grace on him or her.

Task of Evangelizing: This means that during the counseling, the counselor uses this time to witness to the individual who is involved in the counseling process while at the same time; the person’s problem is the focus of the discussion. It will be impossible to make the person understand the spiritual side of his or her problem if God is not being honored in his or her life; therefore, giving Christ to the client is paramount to enhance the counseling process thereby taking the person into the camp of healing for God’s glory. It will be impossible to minister healing to the person if the person has not accepted the healer in his or her life. Witnessing to the person and telling the truth about the Savior will bring healing. You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.[16]

Rice writes,” For us, “telling the truth” had come to mean telling the church and each other how they needed to change. But now we saw that the greatest truth was telling and showing each other how much God loves us. Our paradigm for daily life had shifted to John’s mantra: “Caring for each other, forgiving each other, and keeping the dishes washed. We are forgiven. All the rest is details.”[17]

            The Christian counselor should share the love of God with the counselee in the process of counseling to get the individual saved. Salvation itself is the package which contains healing (spiritual, emotional, psychological, physical etc), deliverance, and provision.


            The ministry of reconciliation in the context of Biblical Counseling as defined from chapter five of 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 exegetically is the act of the task of defining which must be biblically based, the task of edifying which must be biblically accurate, and the task of evangelizing which must be biblically appropriate toward ministering to the counselee emotional, spiritual, psychological, cognitive, and physical well-being.


Arville, Earl; & Sheila, Earl. Committed to the Ministry of Reconciliation: Moving Beyond Conflict in the Balkans (Database: ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials), 104 no 3 Sum 2007

Rice, Chris. Born Again. In my ministry of racial reconciliation, I had to move from a culture of effort to a culture of grace (, Database: ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials), Mar 2010

Wilczak, Paul F. The Pastoral Care of Families: A Ministry of Reconciliation (Database: ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials), 39 no 2 Spr 1978


The Thayer’s Greek Lexicon

The Strong’s Concordance

The NAS Exhaustive Concordance

The Strong Exhaustive Concordance










[10]II Corinthians 1:1; 10:1;

[11]I Corinthians 16:5-8

[12]II Corinthians 2:13; 7:5

[13]Earl, Arville; Earl, Sheila, Committed to the Ministry of Reconciliation: Moving Beyond Conflict in the Balkans (Database: ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials), 104 no 3 Sum 2007, p 603-621.

[14]Hebrews 4:16

[15] Paul Wilczak F, The Pastoral Care of Families: A Ministry of Reconciliation (Database: ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials), 39 no 2 Spr 1978, p 175-188.

[16]John 8:32

[17]Chris Rice, Born Again. In my ministry of racial reconciliation, I had to move from a culture of effort to a culture of grace (, Database: ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials), Mar 2010, p 34-37.