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Bible Commentaries

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

2 Corinthians 5

Verses 1-10

Confidence and courage (5:1-10)

Christians receive further encouragement amid daily trials through the knowledge that the present body is only temporary. It is like a tent in which a person lives for a short time, whereas what God has prepared for the future life is a permanent home (5:1). Another illustration likens the present body to clothes that cover a person. Again this is only temporary. One day all that is earthly and temporary will be replaced by that which is spiritual and eternal (2-4). The indwelling Holy Spirit is the guarantee that one day believers will enjoy the fulness of life for which God is at present preparing them (5).
At present believers are physically separated from Christ, but the desire to be with him is a continual source of encouragement. They do not at present see Christ, but live by faith in him (6-8). They are further reminded of the need to live faithfully when they realize that being with Christ will bring not only glory, but also judgment. Their life will be examined and they will receive what Christ considers is due to them, whether for better or for worse (9-10).

Verses 11-21

The power of love (5:11-6:13)

Because Paul knows that he is accountable to Christ, he knows what it means to fear the Lord, and this makes him more diligent in his service. God knows that his motives are pure and he trusts that the Corinthians know also (11).
In making these statements, Paul is not trying to write a recommendation for himself. He is trying to give his supporters reason to be bold in defending him against those who criticize him (12). They may have seen him display his feelings in different ways at various times, but they know he never acted out of self-interest (13). His constant awareness of Christ’s love was the inner spiritual power that guided his actions. Christ died the death that sinners should have died, firstly to bear the penalty of their sins, and secondly to put an end to living for self. From now on they should live for him (14-15).
Before he became a Christian, Paul had judged Jesus by the standards of the ordinary person of the world, and in so doing had judged him wrongly. Now he no longer judges Jesus, or anyone else, from a merely human standpoint, because in Christ he sees everything in a new light. Old attitudes go and new attitudes replace them (16-17).
This changing from the old to the new is done by God through Jesus Christ. It is part of the total work that God does as he reconciles people to himself, and turns sinners into his friends. Having reconciled them, God then sends them out to preach the message of reconciliation to others, so that other sinners might be brought to God (18-20). The basis of this message is the death of Christ. Through the judgment of sin in Christ, God is able to forgive repentant sinners and give them a righteous standing before him (21).
Some at Corinth had heard this message but not responded to it. They were still spiritually dead. Paul therefore offers salvation to them once again, and they must decide whether to accept it or reject it (6:1-2). They are not to make excuses by trying to find fault with Paul, for he has never given anyone grounds for rejecting the gospel (3). He has had all kinds of difficult experiences (4-5), but through them all he has proved his genuineness by the spiritual quality of his life and the truth and power of his message (6-7). Some people have honoured him, others insulted him, but in all circumstances he has shown by his consistent behaviour that he is a true servant of God (8-10).
The Corinthians have not returned to Paul the open-hearted love that he has shown them. He has room in his heart for them, but they have no room in their hearts for him (11-12). He appeals to them to return his love (13).

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Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5". "Brideway Bible Commentary". 2005.