God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ’s death and resurrection, freeing those in Christ to be reconciled to God and one another in the present time.
For PaulA Christian missionary who once persecuted the church More, the death and resurrection of Christ has signaled the beginning of a new age. In this passage, Paul offers a kind of “before and after” look at everything and everyone. In 2 Corinthians 5:16, to see “before” is to see people “after the flesh” (KJV) or “from a human point of view” (NRSV). To see “after”-that is, when one is “in Christ”-is to see a whole new world: “everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Paul goes on to describe the particulars of this newness in terms of reconciliation: “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us” (2 Corinthians 5:19). Since reconciliation is at the center of the gospel, it is especially tragic that Paul and the Corinthians are experiencing such profound distrust and brokenness in their relationship to each other. In an attempt to urge the Corinthians to recognize the gift of reconciliation to God and to embody that reconciliation in their relationship with him, Paul quotes IsaiahIsaiah, son of Amoz, who prophesied in Jerusalem, is included among the prophets of the eighth century B.C.E. (along with Amos, Hosea, and Micah)--preachers who boldly proclaimed God's word of judgment against the economic, social, and religious disorders of their time. More 49:8, and then announces, “See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvationSalvation can mean saved from something (deliverance) or for something (redemption). Paul preached that salvation comes through the death of Christ on the cross which redeemed sinners from death and for a grace-filled life. More!” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
From other parts of Paul’s writing, it is clear that he understands salvation to be not only a present but also a future reality. For example, in Romans Paul writes, “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life” (Romans 5:10). Nonetheless, here Paul tries to convince the Corinthians that the reconciliation that will characterize salvation from God’s wrath is presently available to them and to him.