What Does This Mean?

What does this mean?

           “For the love of Christ constraineth us…”

                                           2 Corinthians 5:14a KJV

I see no etymological reason to translate the Greek word synecho as “compels”(see NKJV and NIV).  It is much better translated “constrains” or “controls” (see ESV, RSV and NASB)

We are constrained or controlled by the love of Christ.

What does this mean?

One of the meanings of synecho is to “press in on every side” For example:

1)      of a besieged city

2)      of a strait, that forces a ship into a narrow channel

3)      of a cattle squeeze, that pushing in on each side, forcing the beast into a position where it cannot move so the farmer can administer medication

So, what does it mean to be constrained or controlled by the love of Christ?  In each of the examples above certain behavior is being forced.  Living within the bounds and constrictions of the love of Christ forces certain behavior.  The legalist interprets this as a list of things we cannot do.  The followers of Jesus see this as how they will (must) behave toward others as they are controlled by his life.  They are controlled not by their flesh but by the love of Christ.  His love controls their view and behavior toward others.

Imagine a growing number of Jesuses being reproduced and living out his life in their neighborhoods, communities and villages.  They work together to encourage one another to follow Jesus and allow his life to be repeated.  This would require a conspiracy!  Yes, it would.  It would require a Divine conspiracy. 

So, what do you think it means to be constrained by the love of Christ?


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