(18) All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
(19) that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:18–19, NIV
Lord our God, our Father in heaven, we come to you as your children. Bless us, we pray. Bless us especially in days when fear tries to take hold of us. Let your help come down to us as you have promised, the great help in Jesus Christ, who shall come to redeem the whole world. Bless us through your Word. Renew us again and again to stand firm and true to you, for you are our help for redemption and reconciliation through Jesus Christ. Amen.
The context of the words of 2 Corinthians 5:18–19, NIV
Second Corinthians 5:11–21 describes an appeal to those in Corinth who know Paul. It's important they understand he is not crazy for continuing to preach the gospel, even though it leads to so much suffering for him. Christ's love compels Paul to continue to tell all people that they be reconciled to God through faith in Christ, just as he was. In Christ, God is not counting people's sins against them, but instead giving them credit for Christ's righteous life. As Christ's ambassador, Paul begged all people to be reconciled to God through faith in Christ.
Why does Paul endure so much suffering for preaching about Christ? He continues here his discussion of eternity, comparing our earthly bodies to living in a tent. Paul would rather live in the eternal body God has prepared for those who trust in Christ, free from the groaning and burden that afflicts everyone here. With that to look forward to, he preaches with courage that all in Christ are new creations. In Christ, God is reconciling people to Himself, not counting their sin against them. Paul implores everyone to be reconciled to God in this way through faith in Christ.
Meaning of the words
"All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation"
Previous verses explained why Paul no longer sees people as he once did. When his understanding of who Christ is changed, his understanding of everyone else did, as well. Once Paul understood that Christ, the Son of God, died to pay for human sin, Paul saw that those who are "in Christ" are entirely new creatures. This happens only when someone comes to Christ through faith and by God's grace (Ephesians 2:8–9). The old, sinful version of those people is over. It's gone. The new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).
In fact, a new way in which God will reconcile people to Himself has come. Through faith in Christ, any person can be reconciled to God. By using the word reconciled, Paul means our separation from God caused by sin can be removed, once and for all. Forgiven for all their sin, a person can become fully welcomed into a relationship with God.
Paul insists that's exactly what happened to him and his friends. God reconciled them to Himself through faith in Christ. He made them new in Christ. He gave them a permanent and eternal place with Him in His glory through Christ. Once God had done that for them, Paul adds, He immediately gave to them the "ministry of reconciliation." By this, Paul means that God gave them the mission of carrying the gospel, the message of this reconciliation with God, to as many people as possible.
"That God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation"
In describing and defending his ministry to the Corinthians, Paul is describing God's new work in the world. The old has gone, Paul has written. The new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). That "new" is Christ. More specifically, all who trust in Christ's death in their place, for their sin, will be given a gift of God's grace: credit for Jesus' righteous life. Being "in Christ" in this way will cause the old separation between themselves and God to be removed. They will be reconciled to Him.
Paul wrote in the previous verse that God reconciled Paul and his co-workers to Himself in Christ in this way and then immediately gave them the ministry of telling others about it. For Paul, this happened when Christ called his name while he was on the road to Damascus (Acts 9).
What is the "message of reconciliation" that Paul and his co-workers had been entrusted with by God? Put most simply, it is this: God is not counting the sins of those who are "in Christ" against them. Those sins once stood between every person and God as an obstacle that could not be moved (Romans 3:23). Christ removed the obstacle by paying the price for each believer's sin with His death. It is unnecessary for us to suffer death for our own sin, or to be permanently separated from God (Romans 6:23). Now all who trust in Christ can be reconciled to God. Paul understood his mission in life to be delivering this message to everyone he could.