Life-Study of 2 Corinthiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In 5:16-21 we see that the apostles have been commissioned with the ministry of reconciliation for the Lord’s new creation. After speaking concerning the qualifications of the ministers of the new covenant in chapters three and four, Paul tells us of his longing to be raptured and of his ambition to please the Lord, not by working for Him but simply by living to Him. Spontaneously such persons have a ministry to bring others fully back to the Lord. This is the ministry of reconciliation.
According to the context, the ministry of reconciliation was a commission given to the apostles. As those who were mature and ready to be raptured, the apostles were commissioned by the Lord to bring others back to God in full. This is complete and thorough reconciliation.
In 2 Corinthians 5 we see that reconciliation has two steps. Fallen human beings cannot be fully brought back to God simply by the first step. The second step is necessary. As Paul speaks of his ministry of bringing others back to God, he spontaneously presents a clear view of the two steps of reconciliation.
These steps are typified by the two veils in the tabernacle. There was a veil separating the Holy Place in the tabernacle from the Holy of Holies. There was another veil, called the first veil in Hebrews 9, at the entrance to the tabernacle. In our translation of Exodus, we speak of this first veil as the screen. The function of a screen is to keep out negative things (such as insects) and to allow the positive things to come in. The second veil, the veil separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies, is called a veil, not a screen. The area outside the tabernacle was the outer court. According to typology, the outer court typifies the world. Hence, the tabernacle in the outer court signifies God’s dwelling place in the world. In the world there is a place where God dwells, and that place is the tabernacle.
The entire human race is in the world, outside the tabernacle. But whenever a person repents and desires to return to God, he comes to the altar. The altar signifies the cross, where Christ died for our redemption. In the Old Testament, sacrifices were offered to God for atonement. But in the New Testament Christ died on the cross for redemption. In the typology of the Old Testament there was atonement, but in the fulfillment in the New Testament there is redemption. In the outer court there was also a laver, with water used for washing. Once a person had repented, had been redeemed, and had experienced the washing, he could enter the Holy Place. This is to be reconciled to God. Therefore, passing through the first veil signifies the first step of a sinner and a rebel being brought back to God and being reconciled to Him.
The believers at Corinth once were sinners and rebels, but they had been reconciled to God. However, they were still in the Holy Place, not in the Holy of Holies. Paul’s purpose in 1 and 2 Corinthians was to bring these believers into the Holy of Holies.
In The Economy of God I pointed out that the outer court corresponds to Egypt, that the wilderness corresponds to the Holy Place, and that the good land, the land of Canaan, corresponds to the Holy of Holies. For the children of Israel to come out of Egypt and enter into the wilderness is equal to leaving the outer court and coming into the Holy Place. This was precisely the situation of the Corinthian believers. As the children of Israel were wandering in the wilderness, so these believers were wandering in the soul, in particular in the mind. Because they were wandering in the Holy Place of the soul, Paul wrote these two Epistles for the purpose of bringing them into the spirit, where Christ is. The spirit is also related to the good land and the Holy of Holies.
The believers at Corinth had experienced the first step of reconciliation, but they had not experienced the second. They had not been reconciled to God in full. As there was a veil between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, so a veil still remained between the Corinthians and God. According to Hebrews 10:20, this veil is the flesh. The flesh was the veil that kept the Corinthian believers away from the direct presence of God in the Holy of Holies.
Paul and the other ministers of the new covenant, those who had been constituted of the processed Triune God and who were mature in life, were no doubt in the Holy of Holies. They lived in the spirit, and they were ripe, ready to be raptured. Their only goal was to please the Lord by living to Him. Spontaneously, being such persons, they were able to bring others thoroughly back to God. For this reason, at the end of chapter five Paul indicates that they, the ministers of the new covenant, are those who seek not only to reconcile sinners to God, but also to reconcile the believers to God in full. These ministers of the new covenant were qualified to bring back to God anyone who had not been fully reconciled to Him.
As long as we have not been brought back to God fully, we need someone like the apostles to bring us back to Him. It does not matter whether the distance between us and God is great or small. We need to be reconciled to God entirely. The ministry of the new covenant is to bring people back to God in a full and thorough way; it is to reconcile us to God entirely and completely.
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