ARE ALL CHRISTIANS “AMBASSADORS,” OR JUST PAUL AND HIS MINISTRY COMPANIONS?
by Shawn Brasseaux
“In 2 Corinthians 5:20, ‘We are ambassadors for Christ,’ is Paul saying that only he and his helpers are ‘ambassadors’ or are all believers ‘ambassadors?’”
Thank you for your question. Some etymology will help us here. Our English term “ambassador” comes from Middle English ambassadour, Anglo-French ambassateur, and is ultimately of Germanic origin; it is related to the Old High German ambaht, “service.”
An “ambassador” is one who serves. When 2 Corinthians 5:20 says, “We are ambassadors for Christ,” that would apply to all Christians—Paul, his ministry companions, and all us Christians today. All Christians are servants of the God of the Bible. As lost people, we served sin. As saved people, “Now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, [we] have [our] fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life” (Romans 6:22). Just as Paul and his ministry companions shared the Gospel of God’s Grace with the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 5:18-19), all Christians are to be God’s mouthpiece in sharing with this lost and dying world the message of His grace to us in Jesus Christ.
We can grasp more fully the doctrine of Christian ambassadorship by considering Philippians 3:20-21: “ For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ;  Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working in whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”
Philippi was a Roman outpost (“colony;” Acts 16:12) in the midst of a Greek culture. These Philippians, although surrounded by Greeks, were in fact Romans. They behaved like Romans not Greeks. They knew what it was like to “live in a foreign land” (ambassadors). When Paul talked about them representing here on Earth the citizenship they really had in heaven, it made even more sense to them. Remember, he urged them, “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).
The Philippians were instructed to have lifestyles (“conversations”) that fit, or reflected, their spiritual heritage. They were not to act like their lost, pagan Romans neighbors or their lost, pagan Greeks neighbors. They were to be living in accordance with the grace doctrines Jesus Christ had given them through the Apostle Paul (and found in his epistle to Philippi). They were to act like Christians. They were Christian ambassadors really belonging to heaven, so on Earth, they were strangers living in a foreign land. The same is true of us.
Ephesians 2:19 affirms that we are, “fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” Because we are citizens of heaven, because we really belong in heaven (and we will get there one day), our “conversation” (lifestyle) should reflect that status. Not only should we be studying and memorizing Bible verses, not only should we be sharing those Scriptural truths with others, we are to have lives in accordance with those verses. Again, all Christians are thus ambassadors.
Other than through the written Word, the Holy Bible, God works in the world by using the Church the Body of Christ. Remember, if God were to remove all members of the Body of Christ from planet Earth, there would be no one left here to be His mouthpiece. There would still be the Bible, but there would be no living, flesh-and-blood testimony of His grace to us in Jesus Christ. Christians commonly say, “I want to leave this place and go to heaven! Things are getting so bad in this world and I want out! I want to go meet my loved ones who have died in Christ!” Yet, beloved, we must not be selfish.
While this Dispensation of Grace is operating, God needs spokespeople on Earth, and He has chosen the Church the Body of Christ for that role. As we continue in this Christian ambassadorship, as we continuing representing our heavenly homeland, let us live with the mentality that Jesus Christ will come for us one day!
When 2 Corinthians 5:20 says, “We are ambassadors for Christ,” that would apply to all Christians—Paul and his ministry companions, and all us Christians today. Paul and his companions are long gone, but God still has representatives here on Earth. An “ambassador” is someone who represents his homeland in a foreign territory. We have taken the place of the saints of old. Our godly lifestyle reflects our heavenly citizenship (Philippians 3:20-21 and Ephesians 2:19)—this concept of “ambassadorship” would apply to all Christians throughout the last 2,000 years.
In the secular world, an ambassador is one who lives in a foreign territory as a representative of his home country. He is an example of his native country to the foreign country in which he lives. Just before war, a country will call its ambassadors back home. One day, at the end of this the Dispensation of Grace, commonly called “the Rapture,” Jesus Christ will return to take away His Church the Body of Christ. There will no longer be a time of peace. There will be no more “Christian ambassadorship” on Earth. We will have moved on to work in the heavenly places. Saints, keep looking up!