11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.
In verses 11-15, Paul wanted the Corinthians to know what motivated him in ministry. He wanted them to know his heart or integrity (2 Co 5:12). His opponents called his principles of ministry into question, but in the next verses he made his integrity in service to the Lord abundantly clear.
There is knowledge that has implications obtained from awareness concerning the Judgment Seat of Christ. The gospel team knew that the Lord would assess their ministry one day.
The “therefore” draws an implication from verse 10. Because Christ will evaluate the believer for rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Co 5:10), this has implications on the imperative of evangelism.
the terror [reverence] of the Lord,
The motivation of ministry for Paul’s team was reverence toward Christ’s evaluation of them. “Terror” here is reverence or awe, not dread or slavish fear of the Judgment Seat of Christ. It is wholesome respect for His majesty, immutability, and veracity in assessing the fairness of reward. The idea is not that we cower before Him like a whipped dog. It is healthy awe of His evenhandedness (Prov 1:7).
Awe of God is a motivation for evangelism.
Essential for ministry is a healthy reverence for God, not an unhealthy cowering before Him as if He were out of touch in connecting with us.
The reverence of the Lord refers to the idea that we will all stand before Christ at the Judgment Seat to give account for what we have thought, said, and done. It is our sense of awe about that day that should direct our lives.
Motive for ministry should not be out of blind fear in response to a tyrant-type god but the response to God who judges all things right. The apprehension of the consequence of a misspent life is valid. All of us should have a sense of awe about the Lord’s accounting at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Due regard for Christ puts us in awe of what we do with our lives. The point here is not an unhealthy fear of God. It will be an awesome thing for the team to meet the Lord one day to receive His evaluation of their ministries (2 Co 5:10).
The reverence here is not that the Lord would examine the team’s sins, but that He would evaluate their works. He will display what we did for Him, not our sins. He paid for our sins—past, present, and future. Our Lord will not judge us for our sin but our service.