2 Corinthians 5:11
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.
Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord,.... Or the fear of the Lord; by which is meant either the grace of the fear of the Lord, implanted in the hearts of the apostles, and in which they acted in their ministry, faithfully dispensing to men the mysteries of grace; from which they could by no means be moved, because the fear of God was before their eyes, and upon their hearts; or rather the terror of the Lord in the last judgment, which will be very great, considering the awfulness of the summons, arise ye dead, and come to judgment; the appearance of the Judge, which will be sudden, surprising, and glorious; the placing of the thrones, the opening of the books, the position of the wicked, the dreadful sentence pronounced on them, and the immediate execution of it; all which the ministers of the word know from the Scriptures of truth; they know the Judge, that there will be a general judgment, and that the day is fixed for it, though they know not the exact time: and therefore
persuade men; not that their state is good because of a little outside morality, nor to make their peace with God, or get an interest in Christ, or to convert themselves, neither of which are in the power of men to do; but they endeavour to persuade them by the best arguments they are masters of, taken from the word of God, and their own experience, that they are in a dangerous state and condition, walking in a way that leads to destruction; that they are liable to the curses of the law, the wrath of God, and everlasting ruin; that present duties of religion will not make amends for past sins, nor can their tears atone for their crimes, or any works of righteousness done by them justify them before God; and that salvation is only by Christ, who is both able and willing to save the chief of sinners: and they endeavour to persuade and encourage poor sensible sinners to venture on Christ, and believe in him to the saving of their souls. So the Arabic version reads it, "we persuade men to believe"; though when they have done all they can, these persuasions of theirs are ineffectual, without the powerful and efficacious grace of the Spirit of God; however, in so doing they discharge a good conscience, and act the faithful part to God and men:
but we are made manifest unto God; who searches the heart, and tries the reins, who knows all actions, and the secret springs of them; to him the sincerity of our hearts, and the integrity of our conduct, are fully manifest; we can appeal to him that it is his glory, and the good of souls, we have in view in all our ministrations:
and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences; that you also can bear witness to our faithfulness and honesty, to the unwearied pains we have taken, and the hearty concern we have shown for the welfare of the souls of men. One of Stephens's copies reads, "and we trust"; which agrees with the apostle's speaking in the first person plural in this, and the preceding verses.