“Why does Paul beseech the Corinthians to be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20) if they were already justified ‘saints’ (1 Cor. 1:2; 6:11)?”
“…be ye reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20).
In this verse, Paul is not telling the Corinthians to be reconciled to God, he is telling them what to tell unbelievers.
If we back up to verse 18, we see Paul tell the believers in Corinth that God “hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.” He then goes on to define the ministry of reconciliation when he begins the very next verse with the words “to wit.” Those words mean “namely” or “that is to say.” So Paul is telling believers what to say to unsaved people when they go forth with the ministry of reconciliation. We might paraphrase him to say:
“God has given us the ministry of reconciliation, so go out and tell the lost, ‘God was in Christ as He hung on the cross, imputing your trespasses to Him and not to you. He then committed this message of reconciliation to us believers, and now we are His ambassadors. If He were here, He’d be begging you to be reconciled to Him, but He’s not, we’re here in His stead.’”
The Corinthians were already righteous (1 Cor. 1:30), so we know Paul was telling them to tell unsaved people that they “might” be made righteous (2 Cor. 5:20) by believing the gospel.
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.