Apostle Paul’s Motivation

My posting on Wednesday about “motivation” was sort of a trick question in itself. And I’ll explain why by showing you what I think Apostle Paul’s motivation is.

2 Corinthians 5:10-18a is a passage where Paul talks about what the motivation is behind his ministry of reconciling man to God. What’s interesting is both “positive” and “negative” aspects are presented (although “positive” and “negative” are not exactly the right words to describe this), but there’s more.

In verse 9, Paul says we must be pleasing to God. And why? Because of the fear of God:

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men…” (vv 10-11a)

But Paul is also “controlled” by the love of God:

“For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” (vv 14-15)

This concept of being “controlled” is important. In a way, this flows naturally not from doing, but from being. We are who we are if we are in Christ and are changed by Him:

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God…” (vv 17-18a)

So Paul’s motivation is beyond the category of “positive” vs. “negative.” It’s less important to consider what your motivation is. It’s more important to consider who your Motivator is.


6 thoughts on “Apostle Paul’s Motivation

  1. v.18 really reminds me of Ephesians 2:8-9 and especially Ephesians 2:10. Paul sounds so monergistic when he talks about our present life. We may in fact find it odd from time to time. We continue to think about what we need to do but Paul’s stress is on what God has done for us.

    Also, your point about “being” is also interesting. We may think we can actually “become” better ourselves as a person but Paul goes so far as to say that we “might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

    These are the benefits we have in Christ and it really worth out time to meditate on them.

  2. Actually, if you can find a copy of McNeill and Battles’ translation of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, look up the biblical references on this passage and you will see how Calvin refers to this passage repeatedly and especially in Book III where the emphasis is our union with Christ. His works have the resources to take us away from the me-centered culture so that we may understand Christ anew. The current issue of Modern Reformation titled Christless Christianity is also interesting to read.

  3. Wow… big word… “monergistic”… coming from someone with seminary background… and I’m learning something new every day.

    I happen to have the Beveridge translation of Calvin’s Institutes… it doesn’t have a very good Scripture index.

  4. Beveridge’s is available for free (or very low price) for it is a 19th century translation….Battles’ has a few very useful indices and reads better. :) One should read the Institutes not as a theology textbook but as a summary of headings in the Bible. Calvin’s biblical theology is rich, and he wrote it alongside this extensive exegetical works, i.e. his 35 volume commentaries. See C. Matthew McMahon’s condensed summary of the Institutes and you will have some ideas about the work’s development.

  5. Ultimately, it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.(Php 2:13) If a person was to be motivated toward good, it is God who did it since the heart of men is dead.
    As for what type of motivations to use to spur one on toward God, pure scripture is the best type–any other type would not be 100% truth. In the bible, God did everything for his own glory, meaning God’s own motivation is always his own glory. He would want us to be similary motivated, and He will make sure it happens (primarily through his words with the assistance of the Holy Spirit). His glory will prevail. At the name of Jesus, every knee should bow … and every tongue confess that Christ is Lord, TO THE GLORY OF GOD THE FATHER. (Php 2:10-11)

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