For the love of the Christ constrains us, having judged this: that one died for all, then all have died; 2 Cor 5:14 Darby
The word in this passage that jumps out at me the most is the word ‘constrains.’ Different translations of the bible translate the greek word differently. The New King James translates it ‘compels’ and other modern translations translate it ‘controls.’ Since the New Testament of the Bible was written in Greek, I like to go through the bible to see how that same greek word is used in other passages of the bible. Thanks to modern computer software this is now really easy to do.
The greek word that is translated ‘constrains’ is the word ‘συνέχω (pronounced ‘synechō’ ).’ It is used a total of 13 times in the New Testament. Most of the time the word is used to denote bondage to sickness. For example in Matthew 4:24:
they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments – KJV
The phrase ‘that were taken with’ is translated from the one greek word that was translated ‘constrains’ in 2 Cor 5:14.
The word is also used in the arrest of Jesus in Lk 22:63
And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him.
The phrase ‘that held’ is translated from the same greek word that we have been talking about.
So we can see that this word means to be held and kept in constraints by something. Whether that something be sickness, literal chains, or the love of Christ. So why was Paul ‘constrained’ by the Love of Christ? It was because he came to the conclusion that if Christ died for all, then all have died. He uses a little bit of reverse reasoning here. Usually we will say that all men have died, so Christ came to die for them. But instead of trying to wrap your brain around the fact that all men are sinners, and that there is ‘none righteous, no not one,’ Paul simplifies it by saying it this way: “If God sent Jesus to die for everyone, then it is obvious that everyone needs it or He wouldn’t have done it for everyone.”
This is an amazing passage of scripture and it teaches us many things. First of all it helps us to understand how that God needs men to get His will accomplished on this earth. For why would Christ need to constrain Paul with His love if he could save mankind without him? Second of all it teaches us our motivation for reaching a lost world. The motivation is God’s love. We are not motivated by money or fame, we are motivated because we love others with the love that God first loved us with and that love has been put into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who lives within us (Rom 5:5).
This passage also alludes to how we are to receive motivation when we lack it. I remember reading a Charles Finney book where he talked about how our desire to reach the lost may be increased. Charles Finney, in my humble opinion, was one of the greatest evangelists that ever lived. He was a great man of prayer who would go from town to town and quite literally turn the whole town to Jesus Christ. He had a formula for revival that it would be wise for us to follow: Pray, preach, visit people in their homes. Those who wouldn’t come to hear him preach, he would visit in their homes to talk to them about the condition if their souls. He said that he would meditate on two things to increase his desire for the lost. He would meditate on the grave condition of the sinner’s soul and their future without Christ, and he would meditate on the great love that Christ has for them. Isn’t this remarkably similar to 2 Co 5:14? It is! No wonder Charles Finney was such a great evangelist. He and Paul the apostle shared the same secret of divine motivation.
How much does God love the world? God wanted to show the world that he loved them so much that He wanted to use the greatest expression of love possible to demonstrate it. Maybe God mused and thought about it before He said, “There is no greater love than when one lays down his life for another.” So God came to earth in the form of a son of man to die for the sin’s of mankind. I’m sure He could have done it a different way, but He wanted there to be no mistake that His love for us is extremely abundant.
So let us meditate on this love. And let us meditate on the lost condition of our fellow citizens of earth. Let Christ’s love constrain you to do His calling. Let His love hold you to the mission that His has ordained for you. Let Christ’s love take you where your flesh would not want to go, so that many will be saved and brought into the perfection that God has his people.