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2 Corinthians 5

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Verses 1-99

5:1-5. Here again, as between i and ii, and between iii and iv, the division of chapters is not well made. There is no clear break at this point, and vv. 1-5, or indeed vv. 1-10, have a closer connexion with what precedes than with what follows them. In vv. 1-5 the subject of the sufferings and compensations of Christ’s servants in reference to the hope of the Resurrection is continued.

The opening words show that once more we have an explanation of what has just been stated, especially οὐκ ἐγκακοῦμεν. Οἴδαμεν γάρ here is equivalent to εἰδότες in 4:14, ‘because we know, fide magna (Beng.). In both cases St Paul goes far beyond human experience, and yet he says, ‘we know.’ He could say that experience had taught him that the Lord Jesus had been raised from the dead, and that he himself had been often rescued from imminent death. But experience had not taught him that God will raise us from the dead, if we die before the Lord comes; or that He will supply us with spiritual bodies, in exchange for our material bodies, if we are still alive when He comes. Yet he has a sureness of conviction which we may perhaps call a Divine intuition. He is confident that in these matters he possesses knowledge which transcends experience, and with the inspiration of a Prophet he declares what has been revealed to him. See on 1 Corinthians 15:20 and 51. For some there will be a resurrection: for others there will be a transformation; for all there will be a spiritual body suitable to the new state of existence. The contrast between material bodies which are daily being wasted and spirits which are daily being renewed, will not continue much longer. Cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:15.


Men of science have contended that in this last point St Paul is confirmed by science; “The same principles which guide us from the continuous existence of the outer world to acknowledge an Unseen, lead us, on the assumption of our own existence after death, to acknowledge a spiritual body. … We certainly hold that, if we are to accept scientific principles, one of the necessary conditions of immortality is a spiritual body, but we as resolutely maintain that of the nature of this spiritual body we are and must probably remain profoundly ignorant” (The Unseen Universe, by Balfour Stewart and P. G. Tait, 4th ed. PP. 7, 8; see also p. 203).

1. οἴδαμεν γάρ. St Paul frequently uses this verb of things which are known by experience and which any Christian may come to know (1 Corinthians 8:1, 1 Corinthians 8:4; Romans 2:2, Romans 2:3:19, Romans 2:8:28; etc.), although for such knowledge γινώσκειν would be the more suitable word. But here οἴδαμεν is used of intuitive knowledge. Haec scientia non est humani ingenii, sed ex Spiritus sancti revelatione manat (Calvin). Comp. the οἶδα γάρ of Job 19:25, Job 19:27, where there is much which resembles this passage, and see on 1 Corinthians 15:51. Bousset thinks that St Paul is appealing to apocalyptic traditions known to him and the Corinthians, but no longer known to us.*


ὅτι ἐάν. ‘That if our earthly tent-dwelling were taken down.’ There is no καί, and we must not translate ‘that even if, etc.’ He is merely taking the case of those who do not live to see the Lord’s return, which he still thinks will be exceptional; most people will live to see it.

ἡ ἐπίγειος ἡμῶν οἰκία τοῦ σκήνους. ‘The earthly house of our tabernacle.’ Vulg. is interesting, but not accurate; Scimus enim quoniam si terrestris domus nostra hujus habitationis dissolvatur, quod aedificationem ex Deo habeamus. Here ὅτι is translated twice, by quoniam, and then superfluously by θυοδ. Hujus is also superfluous, but it is meant to represent τοῦ. In 1 Corinthians 1:20, ὁ κόσμος is rendered hoc seculum, and in 3:19, 4:13, 5:10, 14:10, hic mundus.† Habitatio is trebly unsatisfactory. (1) It makes no sufficient contrast to aedificatio, the one being temporary and fragile, the other permanent and solid. (2) In v. 2, habitatio is used to translate the permanent οἰκητήριον. (3) In v. 4, σκῆνος is rendered tabernaculum. The metaphor of a tent to indicate the human body would readily occur to a σκηνοποιός (Acts 18:3), but St Paul employs it only this once, and it is common enough in literature, although not in N.T. (cf. John 1:14; 2 Peter 1:13, 2 Peter 1:14) or in O.T. (cf. Isaiah 38:12). Modern writers may have had this passage in their minds, as in J. Montgomery’s well-known verse;


Here in the body pent

Absent from Him I roam,

Yet nightly pitch my moving tent

A day’s march nearer home.

Ἐπίγειος certainly means ‘earthly’ and not ‘earthy’ or ‘earthen’; it is opposed to ἐπουράνιος (1 Corinthians 15:40; Philippians 2:10; John 3:12), and denotes what exists on earth and is connected with this world. Vulg. commonly renders it terrestris, which likewise cannot mean ‘earthen,’ but in Philippians 2:10 and James 3:15 has terrenus, which might mean that. Clem. Alex. (Strom. v. 14, p. 703, ed. Potter) says that Plato called man’s body γήινον σκῆνος, and in Wisd. 9:15 we have τὸ γεῶδες σκῆνος, but in neither case does the epithet seem to be quite congruous. It is probable that St Paul knew Wisdom, and that here and elsewhere that book has influenced his language, if not his thought; the verse runs φθαρτὸν γὰρ σῶμα βαρύνει ψυχὴν καὶ βρίθει τὸ γεῶνος σκῆνος νοῦν πολυφρόντιδα. With this passage comp. Wisd. 3:1-4, and see Sanday and Headlam, Romans, pp. 51, 52, 267. In Job 4:19, οἰκίας πηλίνας, ‘houses of clay,’ there is no incongruity, and there the reference to the material of which man was made is expressed; ἐξ ὧν καὶ αὐτοὶ ἐκ τοῦ αὐτοῦ πηλοῦ ἐσμεν. There is no doubt that ἡ ἐπίγειος οἰκία τοῦ σκήνους means the body, but some understand ἐπίγειος of the earth on which we dwell. The genitive is one of apposition, a house that is a tent, a ‘tabernacle-house’ or ‘tent-dwelling.’

Field thinks that the use of σκῆνος for the human body comes from Pythagorean philosophy. In this he follows Wetstein, who says that the Pythagoreans compared man’s skin to the skins of which tents were made. Wetstein gives abundant quotations in which the body is called σκῆνος. Hippocrates, “the Father of Medicine,” has�Philippians 1:23. The general meaning is that life here is only a pilgrimage. Christians are citizens of a realm that is in heaven, and on earth they are only sojourners; see Hort on πάροικος and παρεπίδημος in 1 Peter 2:2.


The idea that life in this world is only a pilgrimage towards a better and permanent abode is not peculiar to Christianity. Cicero has it often. He says that animos, cum e corporibus excesserint, in caelum, quasi in domicilium serum, pervenire (Tusc. 1. xi. 24); and again, that the soul is in the body as in a house that does not belong to it, aliena domus; heaven is its home (Tusc. I. xxii. 51).* Again, Ex vita ita discedo tanquam ex hospitio, non tanquam e domo; commorandi enim natura diversorium nobis, non habitandi, dedit (De Sen. xxiii. 84). And Pope (Essay on Man, i. 97) follows him.

The soul, uneasy and confined from home,

Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

So also in the well-known lines of the Emperor Hadrian, who, however, is doubtful about the future home; Animula, vagula, blandula, hospis comesque corporis, quae nunc abibis in loca, Pallidula, rigida, nudula? See the account which Josephus (B.J. ii. viii. 11) gives of the creed of the Essenes; the freed souls are borne aloft, μετεώρους φέρεσθαι.

Two genitives, depending in different relations on the same substantive, ἡμῶν οἰκία τοῦ σκήνους, are not rare either in Greek or Latin, the most common instances being, as here, where one is of a person, the other of a thing; Philippians 2:30; 2 Peter 3:2; Hebrews 13:7. Cicero (Tusc. 1. xv. 35) defines labor as functio quaedam vel animi vel corporis gravioris operis.

καταλύθῃ. ‘Dissolved’ (AV, RV), ‘destroyed’ (Tyn. Cran. Genevan). Neither houses nor tents are ‘dissolved,’ although the human body may be. ‘Pulled down’ would apply to both houses and tents, and would not be inappropriate to our bodily frames. Bengel calls καταλύθῃ mite verbum, but in the case of buildings it commonly implies destruction (Matthew 24:2; Mark 14:58; Luke 21:26; Acts 6:14), being the opposite of οἰκοδομεῖν (Galatians 2:18).

οἰκοδομὴν ἐκ Θεοῦ ἔχομεν. If ἐκ Θεοῦ belonged to ἔχομεν, it would have been placed first or last. It belongs to οἰκοδομήν, ‘a building proceeding from God as Builder.’ In 1 Corinthians 3:9 (see note there), οἰκοδομή is the building process, which results in an edifice. Here we seem to be half-way between the process and the result, ‘a building in course of erection,’ the result being οἰκίαν, a word in which there is no intimation of a process. The inner man is being renewed day by day, and the production of the spiritual body is connected with that. The shade of difference between the words is well preserved in AV and RV. by ‘building’ for οἰκοδομήν and ‘house’ for οἰκίαν, as in Vulg. by aedificatio and domus. In N.T., οἰκοδομή is almost peculiar to Paul (15/3), and chiefly in 1 and 2 Cor. (9/6). See Lightfoot on 1 Corinthians 3:9 and J. A. Robinson on Ephesians 2:21. By ἔχομεν is meant ‘we come into possession of.’

ἐκ Θεοῦ. Cf. 1 Corinthians 1:30, 1 Corinthians 8:6, 1 Corinthians 11:12. It is true that the σκῆνος, the material body, proceeds from God (see on 1 Corinthians 12:18, 1 Corinthians 12:24), but man takes part in the production of it. The spiritual body is wholly His creation (see on 1 Corinthians 15:38).

Lietzmann, A. Sabatier, and Bousset would press ἔχομεν to mean that the spiritual bodies of those who are still in the flesh on earth are awaiting them in heaven, “created perhaps from all eternity.” It is not necessary to believe that this is the Apostle’s meaning. The present tense is often used of a future which is absolutely certain. The spiritual body is so certain to take the place of the material frame when the latter is pulled down, that we may be said to have it already. See on 1 John 5:15. The idea of a disembodied spirit was abhorrent to both Jew and Gentile. A spirit which survives death must have a body of some kind, and it is this spiritual body which is raised. Its relation to the material body is real, but it cannot be defined.*

οἰκίαν�Hebrews 9:11, Hebrews 9:24. The human body is not made with hands, but it is natural and material. The difference is that between πνευματικός and ψυχικός (see on 1 Corinthians 15:44). In LXX χειροποίητα is used of idols.

αἰώνιον. Here, as in 4:18, the idea may be that of indefinite durability rather than of timelessness; cf. Luke 16:9.


ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς. It is in heaven that this supernatural habitation has its proper environment, but heaven is not the habitation. We often think of heaven as the home of departed spirits; but St Paul thinks of each departed spirit as having an οἰκία of its own, the site of which is in heaven. The three attributes,�

2. καὶ γὰρ ἐν τούτῳ. AV ignores the καί—‘For in this.’ The καί is either intensive, ‘For verily’ (RV), ‘For in fact,’ ‘For indeed,’ introducing some important reason; or argumentative, ‘For also,’ ‘For moreover,’ introducing an additional reason. Either of these makes good sense. Again, ἐν τούτῳ may be either ‘in this tent-dwelling’ (v. 1), or ‘hereby,’ or ‘herein,’ lit. ‘in this fact’; John 15:8; 1 John 2:3, 1 John 2:5; see on 1 Corinthians 4:4. The last meaning is specially freq. in the Johannine writings, where it commonly points forward to what is about to be stated. The first meaning is simplest here; ‘For truly in this tabernacle-house we groan.’* The words which immediately follow (τὸ οἰκητήριον κ.τ.λ.) seem to show that St Paul is still thinking of the σκῆνος when he says ἐν τούτῳ. Comp. Romans 8:12, Romans 8:13 and 18-23. But ‘herein’ makes good sense, looking forward to ἐπιποθοῦντες.

τὸ οἰκητήριον … ἐπιποθοῦντες. The participle explains and gives the reason for στενάζομεν: ‘we groan, because we yearn.’ St Paul has ἐπιποθεῖν in all four groups (1 Thessalonians 3:6; Romans 1:11; Philippians 1:8, Philippians 1:2:26; 2 Timothy 1:4). Elsewhere in N.T., James 4:5 and 1 Peter 2:2, where see Hort. Everywhere else in Paul it expresses the longing for absent friends, to which the longing for a permanent and glorious home is analogous. He regards this yearning as evidence of the reality of the thing yearned for: si desiderium naturae non est frustra, multo minus desiderium gratiae frustra est (Aquinas). In late Greek, compounds take the place of simple verbs without much increase of meaning, and in N.T. ποθεῖν does not occur. The ἐπι- may indicate direction; cf. ἐπιπόθησις (7:7, 11). In LXX ποθεῖν is rare, except in Wisdom. See Index. IV.

τὸ οἰκητήριον. Not a diminutive; it denotes a permanent abode or home (Jude 1:6); cf. λογιζόμενος τὴν πόλιν Ἕλλησιν οἰκητήριον ποιήσειν (2 Macc. 11:2). The difference between οἰκία and οἰκητήριον is that the latter implies an οἰκητήρ, an inhabitant, while the former does not.

ἐπενδύσασθαι. A double compound which is not found elsewhere in N.T. or LXX. Cf. ἐπενδύτης (John 21:7; Leviticus 8:7; the A text of 1 Samuel 18:4). The body may be regarded either as a dwelling or as a garment, and here we have the two ideas combined; ‘longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven.’ The more permanent dwelling is to be drawn over the less permanent one, as one garment is drawn over another, and is to take its place. In some way not described, the now useless σκῆνος is destroyed, without being dissolved in the grave, as in the case of those who die before the Lord comes. The change from the carnal to the spiritual body is regarded as instantaneous (1 Corinthians 15:52), and the change is longed for.

We may therefore be content to adopt as the more probable rendering; ‘For indeed, in this tent-dwelling we groan, because we long to put on over it our true habitation, which comes to us from heaven.’ This last point is a repetition of ἐκ Θεοῦ in v. 1. In all cases it is God who furnishes the spiritual body, through Christ (Philippians 3:21), but the method differs: the dead receive their spiritual body through resurrection, the living through transfiguration (1 Corinthians 15:38, 1 Corinthians 15:51), and it is the living who are described here. Comp. μετασχηματιζόμενος εἰς�


We may set aside as improbable, if not impossible, the suggestion that στενάζομεν ἐπιποθοῦντες is to be treated as equivalent to ἐπιποθοῦμεν στενάζοντες, the main idea being in the participle, and not in the finite verb. It is doubtful whether any such usage is found in N.T. Nor is it likely that the ἐπί in ἐπενδύσασθαι indicates mere succession; that the clothing with the οἰκητήριον comes after the clothing with the σκῆνος. The context, especially v. 4, shows that the former comes over the latter and extinguishes or absorbs it. It is probable that fondness for alliteration has led to the juxtaposition of the two compounds, ἐπενδύσασθαι ἐπιποθοῦντες.

It is not easy to decide how far this idea of clothing living Christians with spiritual bodies is to be identified with that of the bright robes which adorn the saints in glory. In some passages the two seem to be identical, while in others the identification is doubtful. In Revelation 3:5, Revelation 3:18, Revelation 3:4:4, the saints have ἱμάτια λευκά, in 6:11, 7:9, 13, στολαὶ λευκαί: in 2 (4) Esdr. 2:39, splendidae tunicae: in Herm. Sim. 8:2, ἱματισμὸς λευκός. These “garments of glory,” and “garments of life,” which will not grow old (Enoch 62:15, 16) are a frequent feature in Jewish apocalypses, and in some of them we have an approach to what is stated here. In 2 (4) Esdr. 2:45, Hi sunt qui mortalem tunicam deposuerunt, et immortalem sumpserunt, et confessi sunt nomen Dei; modo coronantur, et accipiunt palmas. In the Book of the Secrets of Enoch 22:8, “And the Lord said to Michael, Go and take from Enoch his earthly robe, and anoint him with My holy oil, and clothe him with the raiment of My glory.” In the Ascension of Isaiah 9:16 this raiment is said to be stored in heaven; “But the saints shall come with the Lord, with their garments which are laid up on high (supra repositae sunt) in the seventh heaven; with the Lord they shall come, those whose spirits are reclothed, they shall descend and shall be in the world (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17); and He will confirm (?) those who shall be found in the flesh with the saints, in the garments of the saints, and the Lord will serve those who shall have watched in this world (Luke 12:37; cf. John 13:4). And after that, they shall be changed in their garments [from] on high, and their flesh shall be left in the world.” Again, 9:9, “I saw those who had put off their garments of flesh and were now in garments from on high (exutos stolis carnalibus et existentes in stolis excelsis), and they were as angels”; and 9:17, “Then shall there ascend with Him many of the just, whose souls have not received their garments until the Lord Christ is ascended and they have ascended with Him”; and 11:40 we have the final charge; “And do you watch in the Holy Spirit, to receive your garments, thrones, and crowns of glory, which are laid up in the seventh heaven.”


AV places a full stop at the end of v. 2, RV. a colon: a comma is all that is needed.

3. εἴ γε καὶ ἐνδυσάμενοι. Here the metaphor of the garment becomes more distinct; ‘if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked,’ i.e. without either a material or a spiritual body.* This possibility is excluded by the fact that the heavenly οἰκητήριον envelops the earthly σκῆνος, which is not destroyed until it is replaced by something very much better. The force of the καί is to strengthen the doubt expressed by εἴ γε, and this may be done by emphasizing the ‘if.’ Comp. Xen. Mem. III. vi. 13, Λέγεις παμμέγαθες πρᾶγμα, εἴ γε καὶ τῶν τοιούτων ἐπιμελεῖσθαι δεήσει. ‘Of course, on the supposition that,’ is the meaning. The ἐνδυσάμενοι refers to the same fact as ἐπενδύσασθαι, for here the simple verb suffices, and its relation to εὑρησόμεθα shows that it refers to some future clothing, which, when it takes place, will prevent the calamity of being found γυμνοί, like the souls in Sheol, without form, and void of all power of activity.† Some would place a comma after ἐνδυσάμενοι, and treat ἐνδυσάμενοι, οὐ γυμνοί as a case of asyndeton, like γάλα, οὐ βρῶπα (1 Corinthians 3:2), προσώπῳ, οὐ καρδιᾳ (1 Thessalonians 2:17); ‘on the supposition that we shall be found clothed, not naked.’ The construction is not admissible, and the instances quoted in support of it are not parallel to it, being both of them pairs of substantives, not an aorist participle with an adjective. Others would understand some such word as ‘wondering’ or ‘doubting’ before εἴ γε, which might be implied in στεν. ἐπιποθοῦντες, ‘we groan, wondering whether we really shall be found clothed, not naked.’


The sentence is a kind of afterthought, added to v. 2, as if to anticipate a misgiving, or objection. Some might suggest that our στενάζομεν ἑπιποθοῦντες proves no more than that we have a strong desire to be freed from the suffering body; it gives no security for the acquisition of a better body. Such an objection might easily be felt by those Corinthians who doubted about a resurrection. The Apostle rejects it with decision. No one yearns for the γυμνότης of being a bodiless spirit, and God has better things in store for us.



εἵ γε (א C K L P) is perhaps to be preferred to εἵπερ (B D F G 17). ἐνδυσάμενοι (א B C D3 E K L P, Vulg. Syrr. Copt. Arm. Aeth. Goth.) is certainly to be preferred to ἐκδυσάμενοι (D* F G, d e g, Tert.), which is an early alteration to avoid apparent tautology. Pseudo-Primasius adopts the Vulg. vestiti and yet explains expoliati corpore.

4. καὶ γὰρ οἱ ὄντες ἐν τῷ σκήνει. ‘For verily we that are still in the tent’—the tent-dwelling mentioned in v. 1; ‘we who are in no immediate danger of being separated from our mortal body by death.’ After the supplementary remark in v. 3, he returns to the contents of v. 2, viz. our present deplorable condition; and here the plur. seems to mean all Christians.

στενάζομεν βαροὺμενοι. Not a mere repetition of στενάζομεν ἐπιποθοῦντες. In the one case groaning is caused by a feeling of intense longing, in the other by a feeling of intense depression. At first sight this seems to mean, ‘we groan because we are oppressed by the sufferings of the body.’ But these sufferings would lead to a desire to be rid of the body,* and what follows shows that there is no such desire. The groaning is caused by the oppressive thought that death may come before the Lord returns, and may leave us γυμνοί, without any bodies at all. The use of βαρούμενοι here looks like another reminiscence of Wisd. 9:15; see on v. 1 and 2:6 (ἐπιτιμία). Aug., after quoting these verses, remarks that “the cause of the burdensomeness is not the nature and substance of the body, but its corruptible character. We do not desire to be deprived of the body, but to be clothed with its immortality. For then also there will be a body, but it will no longer be a burden, being no longer corruptible” (De Civ. Dei, 14. 3). For καὶ γάρ, Vulg. has Nam et in both v. 2 and v. 4; Aug. is more accurate with etenim, which serves to subjoin a corroborative clause, ‘For verily’; a freq. use in Cicero.

ἐφʼ ᾧ. This may mean either ‘wherefore’ (Lightfoot on Philippians 3:12) or ‘because,’ ἐπὶ τούτῳ ὃτι, propterea quod (Romans 5:12). The latter is better here. ‘We feel oppressed, because we do not wish to be unclothed, i.e. to be divested of our body by death’; in other words, ‘because we shrink from the idea of being left without a body.’† AV and RV. transpose the negative, in order to smooth the construction, ‘not for that we would be unclothed’; but the smoothness weakens the sense. The οὐ belongs to θέλω, and, as in the case of οὐ θέλω ὐμᾶς�


ἀλλʼ ἐπενδύσασθαι. ‘But (we wish) to be clothed upon,’ to be invested with the heavenly body before the earthly one is taken away, so that there may be no interval of separation between soul and body.

ἵνα καταποθῇ ‘In order that the mortality of the one may be swallowed up by the immortal life of the other.’ In Irenaeus (IV. xxxvi. 6) we have Nolumus exspoliari, sed superindui, uti absorbeatur mortale ab immortalitate; and (v. xiii. 3) ut absorbeatur mortale a vita. Only what is mortal perishes; the personality, consisting of soul and body, survives. The Apostle again seems to have Isaiah 25:8 in his mind; see on 1 Corinthians 15:54. Theodoret says that the imperishable life makes corruption to vanish in much the same way as the entrance of light counteracts darkness. Conversely, Chrys. says that corruption can no more conquer incorruption than wax can conquer fire.


After σκήνει, D E F G, Syrr. Copt. Aeth. Goth. add τούῳ. א B C K L P, Vulg. Arm. omit. For ἐθʼ ᾦ (all uncials) a few cursives have ἐπειδή.

5. ὁ δὲ κατεργασάμενος ἡμᾶς. Both AV and RV have ‘Now’ for δέ, yet it seems to imply a certain amount of contrast; ‘You may think that this is fanciful, and that our feelings of longing or of horror prove nothing as to the reality of what is desired or dreaded; but He who wrought us out for this very thing, viz. to expect that our mortal garb will be absorbed by a heavenly one, is God.’ As in 1:21, Θεός comes at the close with great emphasis; cf. Hebrews 3:4 and see Westcott’s additional note on 1 John 4:12. Chrys. refers κατεργασάμενος to the creation; it refers rather to the καινὴ κτίσις, to our regeneration, as what follows shows. The Latins vary between operari, facere, perficere, efficere, and consummare for κατεργάζεσθαι, and Vulg. has all five in different places, e.g. 4:17, 12:12; Romans 7:18; 2 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Peter 4:3, operari being the usual translation, e.g. 4:17, 7:10, 11, 9:11; etc. But nowhere does instruere, praeparare, disponere, concinnare or elaborare seem to be used. The fact that no less than five different translations have been allowed to remain is further evidence that Jerome’s revision of the Epistles was somewhat perfunctory. In the Gospels κατεργάζεσθαι does not occur. See Index IV. and footnote on v. 1.


ὁ δοὺς ἡμῖν. This explains how God prepared us for this sure hope of receiving a spiritual body; ‘He gave us the earnest of the Spirit.’ That implies that He has placed Himself in the position of a debtor who has paid an instalment; and He is a debtor who is sure to pay the remainder in full. The Spirit inspires the longing and is the security that our longing for the spiritual body, the σῶμα τῆς δόζης (Cf. 3:18, 4:17), will be satisfied. See on 1:22 for the doctrine that the Spirit is given to us as an instalment. On this difficult verse see Salmond, Christian Doctrine of Immortality, pp. 565-575: also Briggs, The Messiah of the Apostles, p. 130, who takes a different view.

ὁ δούς (א* B C D* G P 67*, Vulg. Syr-Pesh. Copt. Arm. Aeth.) rather than ὁ καὶ δούς (אc D2 and 3 E K L, Syr-Hark. Goth.).

6-8. ‘Confident, therefore, at all times, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are in exile from the Lord,—for we walk by means of faith and not by means of what we can see,—we are confident, I say, and are well pleased to go into exile from the body and to go home unto the Lord.’ The construction of v. 6 is broken by the parenthetical v. 7, and then a new construction is started in v. 8.

St Paul does not mean that while we are in the body we are absent from the Lord; our union with Him both in life and in death is one of his leading doctrines (4:10, 11; 1 Thessalonians 5:10). He is speaking relatively. The life of faith is less close and intimate than the life of sight and converse. The passage assumes that the dead are conscious, conscious of the Lord (Philippians 1:20-23; Luke 23:43; Acts 7:59); otherwise departure from the body would be a worse condition, with regard to Him, than being in the body. In agreement with this, Polycarp (Phil. 9), following Clement of Rome (Cor. 5), says that St Paul and other Apostles εἰς τὸν ὀφειλόμενον αὐτοῖς τόπον εἰσὶν παρὰ τῷ Κυρίῳ. See on 3:2.

6. θαρροῦντες οὖν πάντοτε. Both in LXX (Proverbs 1:21) and in N.T. (7:16, 10:1, 2; Hebrews 13:6) θαρρεῖν is rare, θαρσεῖν being the common form. Vulg. varies between audere (here and 10:2) and confidere (7:16 and 10:1). Confidere would be better here, for the notion of ‘daring’ is foreign to the passage. Θαρρεῖν is a favourite word with the Stoics. See Epictetus, Dis. ii. 1, where he shows in what sense we can be both confident and cautious. The οὖν means, ‘because we have God as our security’ (v. 5), and πάντοτε (2:14, 4:10, 9:8) means that ‘in every event,’ whether we die soon or live till the Lord returns, we have this confidence. It is worth while to distinguish between πάντοτε and�


καὶ εἰδότες. Co-ordinately with θαρροῦντες, εἰδότες looks onwards to εὐδοκοῦμεν.

ἐνδημοῦντες… ἐκδημοῦμεν. Neither verb is found in LXX, and neither occurs in N.T. except in these verses.* Tertullian has immorari and peregrinari throughout. Vulg. varies the translation of both verbs capriciously; dum sumus in corpore peregrinamur a Domino (6); peregrinari a corpore et praesentes esse ad Deum (8); sive absentes sive praesentes (9). Domi esse and exsulare would express the respective meanings better. Quamdiu domi sumus in hoc corporis habitaculo is the paraphrase of Erasmus; and it is evident that St Paul is thinking of the house in which we dwell rather than of the city or country in which we dwell. But ἐκδημ is a great deal more than ‘out of the house’; it means ‘away from home.’ The true home is with the Lord; nam peregrinator patriam habet, sive cito sive tardius eo perventurus (Beng.). In papyri we have both ἐκδημεῖν and�

ἀπὸ τοῦ Κυρίου. ‘Separate from the Lord’; cf. Romans 9:3. This is true, in spite of His constant presence (Matthew 28:20) and of our union with Him (1 Corinthians 6:15, 1 Corinthians 12:27); quia non exhibet se coram videndum, quia adhuc exulamus ab ejus regno, et beata immortalitate, qua fruuntur angeli qui cum eo sunt, adhuc caremus (Calvin).


For ἐνδημοῦντες, D G have ἐπιδημοῦντες, and for ἐκοσημοῦμεν, D E G have�

7. διὰ πίστεως γὰρ κ.τ.λ. The Apostle seems to feel that ἐκδημ.�Numbers 12:8 ); τὸ δὲ εἶδος τῆς δόξης Κυρίου (Exodus 24:17), species gloriae Domini. Haec erit species, Augustine says, quando faciet quod dixit, Ostendam me ipsum illi. And again, Neque enim jam fides erit qua credantur quae non videantur, sed species, qua videantur quae credebantur (De Trin. xiv. 2). There is a slight change from διὰ πίστεως to διὰ εἴδους, the former being subjective and the latter objective, but it causes no difficulty. In this world the Christian is under the condition of belief in Christ, not under the condition of His visible form. Here we have faith only; hereafter both faith and sight.* Faith is a virtue which ‘abideth’; see on 1 Corinthians 13:13.


8. θαρροῦμεν δὲ καὶ εὐδοκοῦμεν. After the parenthetical explanation in v. 7 the θαρροῦντες of v. 6. is taken up again by the δέ, for which ‘I say’ (AV, RV) is a good equivalent. Without the injected explanation the sentence would have run θαρροῦντες … εὐδοκοῦμεν, but in his emotion at the thought the Apostle forgets the original construction and resumes with θαρροῦμεν καὶ εὐδοκοῦμεν, ‘we are confident and are well pleased.’ The emphatic word, as is shown in both places by its position and here by its repetition, is θαρρεῖν. It takes the place of στενάζειν in vv. 4 and 6. The thought which there suggested sighing and groaning, now that it is further considered, suggests confidence. Even the possibility of being left γυμνός for a time loses its terrors, when it is remembered that getting away from the temporary shelter furnished by the body means getting home to closer converse with the Lord.† The change from presents (ἐνδημοῦντες, ἐκδημοῦμεν) to aorists (ἐκδημῆσαι, ἐνδημῆσαι) must be observed, and the force of the aorists may be expressed by ‘getting.’ With ἐκδημῆσαι comp. ‘He has got away,’ which in the North of England is a common expression for ‘He is dead’; and with ἐνδημῆσαι comp. the German heimgegangen.

εὐδοκοῦμεν. ‘We are well pleased, ’ as both AV and RV in Matthew 3:17, Matthew 3:12:18, Matthew 3:17:5; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22; 1 Corinthians 10:5; 2 Peter 1:17; and as RV. in 1 Thessalonians 2:8. The verb is used both of God and of men. When used of men (12:10; Romans 15:26, Romans 15:27; 1 Thessalonians 2:8, 1 Thessalonians 2:3:1; 2 Thessalonians 2:12), it expresses hearty goodwill and perfect contentment, and it is often used of giving consent, especially in legal transactions. This goodwill and contentment is not quite the same as θέλομεν (v. 4) or ἐπιπθοῦντες (v. 2). It is possible to long for one thing, and yet be content with, or even prefer, another, because one knows that the latter is well worth having, and perhaps better for one. St Paul longed to have a spiritual body, in exchange for his material body, without dying: but rather than remain in his material body he was quite ready to die. It was better to see the Lord than to be deprived of this bliss through being in the body: and to be sure of seeing Him robbed death of its terrors. Comp. Proinde intrepidus horam illam decretoriam prospice: non est animo suprema, sed corpori. Quidquid circa te jacet rerum, tanquam hospitalis loci sarcinas specta: transeundum est. Detrahetur tibi haec circumjecta, novissimum velamentum tui cutis: detrahetur caro et suffusus sanguis. Dies iste, quem tanquam extremum reformidas aeterni natalis est (Seneca, Ep. ciii. 24, 25).

Perhaps in no other case is the caprice of the Vulg. so conspicuous as in the translation of εὐδοκεῖν. The verb occurs fifteen times in the Epistles, and it is translated in ten different ways;— bonam voluntatem habemus (here), placeo mihi (12:10), placuit with a dat. (1 Corinthians 1:21; Romans 15:27; Galatians 1:15; 1 Thessalonians 3:1; Hebrews 10:6, Hebrews 10:38), beneplacitum est Deo (1 Corinthians 10:5), probaverunt (Romans 15:26), complacuit (Colossians 1:19), cupide volebamus (1 Thessalonians 2:8), consensuerunt (2 Thessalonians 2:12), placita sunt tibi (Hebrews 10:8), mihi complacui (2 Peter 1:17). And in this case the Gospels are not more uniform than the Epistles. The verb occurs six times in them, and it is translated in five different ways, three of which differ from all the renderings in the Epistles; mihi complacui (Matthew 3:17), bene placuit animae meae (Matthew 12:18), mihi bene complacui (Matthew 17:5), complacui (Mark 1:11), complacuit with a dat. (Luke 3:22, Luke 12:32).

πρὸς τὸν Κύριον. Here, as in Philippians 1:23-25, his reason for wishing to depart from the body is the same, viz. to be with the Lord, σὺν χριστῷ εἶναι· πολλῷ μᾶλλον κρεῖσσον. But his reasons for wishing to remain in the body differ. There it is for the sake of others, because his beloved Philippians still need him. Here it is for his own sake, because he desires to be alive when the Lord comes, and thus to escape dying. In both passages he implies that at death there is immediate entrance into closer fellowship with Christ. Comp. Seneca, Ep. cii. 22; Cum venerit dies ille qui mixtum hoc divini humanique secernat, corpus hoc, ubi inveni, relinquam: ipse me diis reddam. Nec nunc sine illis, sum, sed terreno detineor carcere.


Once more Plato (Apol. 40, 41), followed by Cicero (Tusc. 1. xli. 98), to some extent anticipates Christian thought. “If indeed when the pilgrim arrives in the world below, he finds sons of God who were righteous in their own life, that pilgrimage will be worth making. What would not a man give if he might converse with Orpheus and Musaeus and Hesiod and Homer? What infinite delight would there be in conversing with them and asking them questions!” Still more closely Philo (Leg. Alleg. 3:14), “It is not possible for one who is dwelling in the body, in a race that is mortal, to hold communion with God, but God floods one who is free from the prison.” And again (De Migr. Abr. § 34, 466 Mang.); “Rouse yourselves and seek for that migration hence which proclaims to us, not death, but deathlessness.” Non est vivere, sed valere, vita (Mart. vi. lxx. 15).

For θαρροῦμεν, א 17, Orig. Tert. have θαρροῦντες. For Κύριον, D* 17, Vulg. have θεόν.

9. διὸ καὶ φιλοτιμούμεθα. ‘Wherefore also we make it our aim.’ Both διό, which looks back to εὐδοκοῦμεν, and καί, which adds something to it, show that a new section does not begin here, as Calvin and Bachmann suppose. The verb may in this place retain its classical meaning (Haec una ambitio legitima, as Beng. says); but in late Greek (1 Thessalonians 4:11; Romans 15:20) it need not mean more than ‘desire earnestly,’ or ‘make it one’s aim’ (RV), which is probably right here. Xenophon and Plato seem sometimes to use it in this sense, followed, as here, by an infinitive. In meaning and construction it is thus equivalent to σπουδάζειν (1 Thessalonians 2:17; Galatians 2:10; Ephesians 4:3; 2 Timothy 2:15). ‘We make it a point of honour,’ wir setzen unsre Ehre darein (Bousset, Bachmann), is a translation which looks neat, but is not preferable to ‘desire earnestly’ or ‘make it our aim.’


εἴτε ἐνδημοῦντες εἴτε ἐκδημοῦντες. Two questions have been much discussed with regard to these two participles. (1) How are they to be understood? (2) Do they belong to φιλοτιμούμεθα or to εὐάρεστοι αὐτῷ εἶναι? The answer to the second question depends upon the answer to the first.

(1) As to the meaning of the participles there are three suggestions. (α) They refer to one’s place of abode in this world; ‘whether we are at home or away from home.’ This interpretation may be safely rejected as having no point and as unworthy of the dignity of the passage. (β) They refer to the communion with Christ just mentioned, πρὸς τὸν Κύριον being understood with ἐνδημοῦντες and�

εὐάρεστοι. ‘Acceptable.’ RV. has ‘well-pleasing,’ which is right in meaning, but cannot well be used by those who translate εὐδοκοῦμεν ‘we are well pleased.’ The word is late Greek; only twice in LXX (Wisd. 4:10, 9:10), although εὐαρεστεῖν is common. See Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 214. Excepting Hebrews 10:6, the word in N.T. is exclusively Pauline, eight times in all, and in all groups, except Thessalonians. Cf. Ephesians 5:10; Colossians 3:20; Philippians 4:18. In nearly all places it is used of what is acceptable to God or to Christ. So also in Wisd. 4:10, 9:10, from which book St Paul may have got the word; see on ἐπίγειος in v. 1. Vulg. varies between placens (Romans 12:1, Romans 12:2), beneplacitum (Ephesians 5:10), placitum (Col 3:26), and placere (here).


f g and Syr-Pesh. have the order εἴτε ἐκδημοῦντες εἴτε ἐνδημοῦντες: see above, p. 154 sub fin.

10. τοὺς γὰρ πάντας ἡμᾶς. ‘We have good reason for making this our aim, for every one of us, whether in the body or out of it, must be made manifest (1 Corinthians 4:5) before the judgment-seat of Christ.’ A desire to be persons who are acceptable to Him must abide in us, when we remember that our whole life will be laid open before Him and judged according to its exact deserts. All Christians, without exception, are summed up under τοὺς πάντας ήμᾶς. And they have not only to ‘appear’ (φαίνεσθαι), but to have their whole character ‘made manifest’ (φανερωθῆναι). It is probable that, as in the Parables of the Talents and of the Sheep and the Goats, being made manifest to one’s own conscience and to other persons is included; * but it is manifestation to the Judge whose approval is desired that is specially meant. See on 1 Corinthians 4:4, 1 Corinthians 4:5. He reminds the Corinthians, who are so prone to criticize, that a time is coming when they themselves will be laid bare to the most searching criticism. ‘Appear’ (AV) is inadequate.


δεῖ. By Divine decree which cannot be evaded.

ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ βήματος τοῦ χριστοῦ. Cf. 2 Timothy 4:1. In Romans 14:10 it is ‘the judgment-seat of God,’ God being said to do Himself what He does through His Son (John 5:22). In the Gospels, as here, Christ is the Judge. In the Apocalypse it is ‘He that sitteth upon the throne,’ i.e. the Almighty Father, who judges (Swete on Revelation 20:11). Polycarp (Phil. 6) combines our verse with Romans 14:10; πάντας δεῖ παραστῆναι τῷ βήματι τοῦ Χριστοῦ, καὶ ἕκαστον ὑπὲρ ἑαντοῦ λόγον δοῦναι. See on 3:2.

The βῆμα is the tribunal, whether in a basilica for the praetor in a court of justice, † or in a camp for the commander to administer discipline and address the troops. In either case the tribunal was a platform on which the seat (sella) of the presiding officer was placed. In LXX, βῆμα commonly means a platform or scaffold rather than a seat (Nehemiah 8:4; Neh_1 Esdr. 9:42; 2 Macc. 13:26). In N.T. it seems generally to mean the seat (Matthew 27:19; John 19:13; Acts 18:12, Acts 25:6, etc. Seven times in Acts in this sense). But in some of these passages it may mean the platform on which the seat was placed. On Areopagus the βῆμα was a stone platform; ὅστις κρατεῖ νῦν τοῦ λίθου τοῦ ʼν τῇ Πυκνί (Aristoph. Pax, 680): cf. Xen. Mem. III. vi. 1. Fond as St Paul is of military metaphors, and of comparing the Christian life to warfare, he is not likely to be thinking of a military tribunal here. Other N.T. writers speak of the Divine judgment-seat as a θρόνος (Matthew 19:28, Matthew 19:25:31; Revelation 20:11; cf. Daniel 7:9, Daniel 7:10). The idea of a judgment-seat is frequent in the Book of Enoch, and it is the ‘Elect One’ or the ‘Son of Man’ who sits on the throne of His glory to judge (45:3, 55:4, 62:3, 5). He has been placed thereon by the Lord of Spirits and all judgment has been committed to Him (61:3, 62:2, 69:27, 29). See Charles on 45:3. In the Assumption of Moses the Eternal God rises from His royal throne and goes forth to judge and punish (10:3, 7). Though nearer in date to St Paul (perhaps a.d. 20), this is further from him in thought.

ἵνα κομίσηται ἕκαστος τὰ διὰ τοῦ σώματος. ‘In order that each one may receive as his due the things done by means of his body.’ This corrects the false inference which might be drawn from τοὺς πάντας ἡμᾶς. We shall not be judged en masse, or in classes, but one by one, in accordance with individual merit. “St Paul does not say merely that he shall receive according to what he has done in the body, but that he shall receive the things done—the very selfsame things he did; they are to be his punishment” (F. W. Robertson, Lectures on the Epp. to the Corinthians, p. 377). Chrys. points out that men are not much influenced by the prospect of losing possible blessings; the dread of possible pains is more influential. But present gains and losses are the most influential of all. Cf. εἰδότες ὅτι ἕκαστος, ἐάν τι ποιήσͅ�Ephesians 6:8), and ὁ γὰρ�Colossians 3:25). In all three passages, κομίζεσθαι, ‘to get what is one’s own,’ comes to mean ‘to get as an equivalent,’ ‘to be requited.’ Hort (on 1 Peter 1:9) says that κομίζεσθαι “always in N.T. means not simply to receive but to receive back, to get what has belonged to oneself but has been lost, or promised but kept back, or what has come to be one’s own by earning.” This use is freq. in LXX also; Genesis 38:20, κομίσασθαι τὸν�Leviticus 20:17, ἁμαρτίαν κομιοῦνται: Psalms 40:15; Ecclus. 29:6; 2 Macc. 8:33, 13:8; etc. De Wette points out that the metonymy by which we are said to receive back what we have done is not a mere idiom, but “lies deeper in the identity of the deed and its requital.” In papyri we find the same usage. This is not always brought out in Vulg., which again varies greatly in its renderings. In the eleven passages in which κομίζεσθαι occurs it uses five different words, some of which do not bear this meaning; referre (here), percipere (Ephesians 6:8; 1 Peter 5:4; 2 Peter 2:13), recipere (Colossians 3:25; Matthew 25:27), reportare (Hebrews 10:36; 1 Peter 1:9), and accipere (Hebrews 11:13, Hebrews 11:19, Hebrews 11:39). The words from which this shade of meaning is absent are those which are most frequently employed. The renderings of this clause in Tertullian, Cyprian, and the Vulgate are worth comparing. Tert. (Adv. Marc. v. 12) ut recipiat unusquisque quae per corpus admisit, sive bonum sive malum; (De Res. Carn. 43) uti unusquisque reportet quae per corpus secundum quae gessit, bonum sive malum; (ibid. 60) ut quis referat per corpus prout gessit, where quis is probably a slip for quisque. Cypr. (Test. ii. 28 and iii. 56) ut reportet unusquisque sui corporis propria secundum quae egit sine bona sine mala. Vulg. ut referat unusquisque propria corporis prout gessit, sive bonum sive malum, where referat, grout gessit, bonum, malum agree with Tertullian, propria corporis with Cyprian. The latter expression points to a reading ἴδια for διά, a reading which is attested also by d e f g Goth. Arm., Ambrst., and several of the Fathers. In the Pelagian controversy it came to the front, because infants have no ἴδια sins, and could not be supposed to be justly liable to punishment.


τὰ διὰ τοῦ σώματος. ‘Done by means of the body,’ and therefore, as Herveius points out, dum in corpore fuit; and these include words and thoughts as well as deeds, for the tongue and the brain are instruments in producing them. In Plato we have ὁ μηδὲν φροντίζων τῶν ἡδονῶν αἵ διὰ τοῦ σώματός εἰσιν (Phaedo, 65); and again, ὄψις ἡμῖν ὀξντάτη τῶν διὰ τοῦ σώματος ἔρχεται αισθήσεων, ἧ φρόνησις οὐχ ὁρᾶται (Phaedr. 250): cf. αἱ κατὰ τὸ σῶμα ἡδοναὶ�

πρὸς ἃ ἕπραξεν. Works are needed as well as faith, and it is habitual moral action (πράσσειν), rather than mere performance and production (ποιεῖν), that has weight. Cf. 12:21; 1 Corinthians 5:2; Romans 2:1, Romans 2:2, Romans 2:7:15, Romans 2:19, Romans 2:13:4, where πράσσειν is used of doing what is morally evil; 1 Corinthians 9:17; Philippians 4:9, of what is morally good; and Romans 9:11, as here, of both: see on Romans 1:32, Romans 1:7:15, Romans 1:19, Romans 1:13:4; John 3:20, John 3:21, John 3:5:29, where both verbs occur. Vulg. distinguishes with ago for πράσσω and facio for ποιέω. Although this cannot be pressed, for the difference between the two verbs is often very slight, yet πράσσειν is more appropriate here. With regard to both verb and preposition comp. ὁ μὴ ποιήσας πρὸς τὸ θέλημα αὐτοῦ (Luke 12:29). Noble ancestors, even righteous ancestors, says Chrys., will not count. Only a man’s own deeds will be of any value; and, as Thdrt. adds, there will be exact correspondence between action and requital (καταλλήλους τὰς�Romans 2:6; Romans 2:23, Romans 2:20:12). See on 11:15.

εἴτε�Luke 10:25), but τί με δεῖ ποιεῖν; (Acts 16:30). It is habitual action that will be judged. And this explains the aorist; it is what he did during his lifetime that is summed up and estimated as a total. Human tribunals deal with crime; they have punishments, but no rewards. The Divine tribunal has both. See on 1 Corinthians 3:13 and 4:5.

There are two things about which the Apostle is silent. He does not say when the φανερωθῆναι will take place, whether at death or at the Second Advent, but he seems to imply that the requital will follow immediately upon the manifestation. Moreover, while he states that the period spent in the body is a time of probation, and that there will be a scale of requitals proportionate to our conduct here (cf. 9:6), he says nothing about the possibility of further probation hereafter, and he seems to imply that there will be no further opportunity. But it is going beyond what is written to say that the idea of a ‘second chance’ is contrary to what St Paul asserts here. Here, as elsewhere in Scripture, that possibility is veiled. See on 1 Corinthians 10:22.


Here again we have Pauline doctrine partly anticipated on philosophical grounds by Plato (Gorgias, 523, 524). After telling the story how Zeus was led to decree that men must not be judged till after death, “because there are many who have evil souls clad in comely bodies,” and that they must be stripped of these misleading coverings in order to be fairly judged, Socrates continues; “This story, Callicles, I have heard and believe to be true, and from it I think that some such inference as this may be drawn. Death, it seems to me, is nothing else than the separation of two things from one another, the soul and the body. And when they are separated from one another, each of them has pretty much the same character which it had when the man was alive. If he was tall, fat, long-haired, scarred, misshapen, the same characteristics are found on the dead body, either all of them, or most of them, for some time. The very same thing, it seems to me, Callicles, holds good of the soul. When the soul is stripped of the body, all its natural qualities and all those which the man acquired through his devotion to this or that pursuit, are laid bare to view. And when the souls come to the judge, he takes that of some potentate, whose soul is full of the prints and scars of perjuries and crimes with which his conduct has marked it, and has many crooked places, because of lying and vanity, and has no straightness, because he lived without truth. This soul the judge looks at and sends away to a place where it must undergo the treatment which it requires.”

There is no doubt that ἔπραξεν, not κομίσηται, is to be understood with εἴτε�1 Corinthians 3:12), without being so evil as to exclude from the Kingdom. It may be doubted whether the Apostle is here taking account of those who are excluded; if so, they are quite in the background. Excepting John 5:29 there is perhaps no passage in N.T. in which a resurrection of the wicked is clearly indicated. St Paul seems to regard it as a blessing reserved for members of Christ. Here it is genuine Christians, τοὺς πάντας ἡμᾶς, of whom he is speaking. All their shortcomings and failures will one day be exposed, and therefore they ‘make it their aim’ to avoid such defects.

Both Orig. and Thdrt. seem to have known the reading τά ἴδια τοῦ σώματος, but it is found in no Greek MS. L omits τὰ διὰ τ. σωμ., and Balion would bracket the words as a gloss. D G have ἅ διὰ τοῦ σώματος ἔπραξεν. It is difficult to decide between φαῦλον (א C 17 and other cursives) and κακόν (B D F G K L P); but it is more probable that κακόν, as the usual antithesis to�Romans 9:11. The word occurs in four other passages in N.T., always of what is morally bad (John 3:20, John 3:5:29; Titus 2:8; James 3:16); Aristotle has it often in this sense. Only in James 3:16 does Vulg. distinguish φαῦλον from κακόν: there it has pravum, elsewhere malum. In Ecclesiastes 12:14 we have σύμπαν τὸ ποίημα ὁ Θεὸς ἄξει ἐν κρίσει ἐὰν�


ADDITIONAL NOTE ON 5:1-10

Two questions have been discussed, with a minuteness and fulness out of proportion to their importance; and conclusions respecting them have been asserted, with a positiveness which is not warranted by the evidence which is at our disposal. Can what is stated here be reconciled with what is stated in 1 Corinthians 15:20-55? If not, are we to suppose that the painful experiences which troubled the Apostle in the brief interval between the writing of the two Epistles caused him to modify his beliefs respecting the Resurrection, the Parousia, and the Judgment? Or it is possible that further acquaintance with Alexandrian ideas, which he may have obtained through Apollos, led him to change his views? Again, can what is said in 5:6-10 be reconciled with what is said in v. 5:1-5? If not, how can we account for the Apostle’s uttering two discordant views almost in the same breath?


It is to be remembered that in dealing with death, the condition of the departed, resurrection, and judgment, the language, not only of St Paul, but of Scripture generally, is highly symbolical, and that it is impossible to find symbols that are in all respects harmonious. Moreover, it is not justifiable to draw inferences from metaphors and treat the inferences as original statements. Thirdly, we are not to suppose that St Paul had a clearly defined theory respecting these mysterious topics, and that he kept this theory in mind and was careful to make all his statements respecting these topics in a form which would harmonize with the preconceived theory. He was fully convinced of the truth and importance of certain things. e.g. that Christ died and has been raised, that Christians who die will be raised, that they will be requited in accordance with their conduct in this life, and that neither in life nor in death are they separated from Christ; and each time that he has to handle any of these subjects he states his conviction in words which at the time seem to be forcible and fitting. The Epistles to the Corinthians are written in the glow of intense feeling, which varies according to the subject; and it is unreasonable to interpret them as if they were parts of a carefully elaborated system of theology.

“The man who wrote the great Resurrection-chapter in 1 Corinthians,” says Wernle, “did not possess the capacity for altering his opinions which belongs to the modern theologian. For him, his hope, which he there expresses, is a truth for which he is willing to live and die. … The yearning to die and to be with Christ is for him the same thing as the hope of resurrection. His yearning overleaps all between death and resurrection, and hurries to its goal for reunion with Jesus” (H. A. A. Kennedy, St Paul’s Conception of the Last Things, p. 272). That is the reasonable explanation of the apparent difference between this passage and 1Co_15. There he is dealing with those who rejected the Resurrection because it was incredible that the material body will be resuscitated. He assures these sceptics that the resurrection-body will be something quite different from the material body. The material body will be destroyed. Here he is dealing with the contrast between the Christian’s sufferings in this life and his hope of future glory. The latter is so strong that it far outweighs the sufferings, and even drives away the natural horror of leaving the material body. In 1Co_15. the argument is directed against an error which assumed an interval between death and resurrection. Here no such interval comes into view; it is neither assumed nor denied. Those who live to see the Parousia will have their material bodies changed to spiritual bodies. Those who die before the Parousia will be better off than they were in this life, for they will be nearer to Christ. Whether there will be an interval between death and the reception of a body suitable to the new conditions of life is lost sight of.* To one who believed that the Lord was near at hand, and that at His Coming all would receive spiritual bodies, the condition of those who died before His Coming was not a matter of much interest, and he tells us only one thing respecting their condition. They are happier, because they are in closer communion with Christ, than they were when they were in the body. This implies that they are conscious; they are not, in any literal sense, asleep: see on 1 Corinthians 11:30.


Jewish thought on the subject seems to have gone through several stages, which were not always logically consecutive. They may be stated roughly in some such way as this.

In Jeremiah 51:57 the sleep is not only said to be perpetual (αἰώνιος), but one from which the sleepers shall not wake (μὴ ἐξεγερθῶσιν). All rewards and penalties are given in this life; good and bad alike go to Sheol, which is almost equivalent to annihilation.


In Isa_26. and Enoch 83-90. there is to be a resurrection of the righteous Israelites.


In Dan_12. there is to be a resurrection of the exceptionally righteous and the exceptionally wicked among the Israelites, but resurrection is of the spirit only, not of the body. This implies that Sheol is only a temporary abode for those who are to be raised, which leads to a division of Sheol.


In 2 Macc. and Enoch 37-70 there is to be a bodily resurrection of the righteous, and perhaps of all Israelites. Part of Sheol is Paradise, and part is Gehenna.

In 2 (4) Esdras and the Apocalypse of Baruch there is to be a bodily resurrection of both righteous and wicked; but retribution begins immediately after death.

With regard to bodily resurrection there are two views; (1) that the material body would be resuscitated; (2) that there would be a transfigured body. It is with this latter view that St Paul has sympathy.

But throughout his Epistles, wherever he touches upon this subject, he seems to be thinking almost (if not quite) exclusively of the resurrection of believers, of genuine, Christians. It is not easy to decide whether he expected a general resurrection. If retribution begins immediately after death, there is no necessity for a resurrection of the wicked; and if resurrection depends upon union with Christ, there is no possibility of it. St Paul says little about it. Cf. 2 (4) Esdras 8:38, 39; ‘For indeed I will not think on the fashioning of them which have sinned, or their death, their judgment, or their destruction: but I will rejoice over the framing of the righteous, their pilgrimage also, and the salvation, and the reward, that they shall have’ where AV is seriously misleading. St Paul held that all men, whether believers or not, would be judged; but it does not follow from this that he looked forward to a general resurrection.

The apparent want of harmony between the first five verses of this chapter and the next five verses lies in this, that in vv. 1-5 he seems to contemplate an immediate passage from life in the mortal body to life in an immortal body, and to have a horror of physical death, which might leave him without a body of any kind; whereas in vv. 6-10 he says that all believers must be judged before entering upon immortal life, and that it is well worth while to migrate from the mortal body. On neither point is there any real contradiction. He does not speak of a great assize in which all souls will come up simultaneously for judgment. What he is concerned to insist upon is that every individual soul will be judged; none can escape. Whether multitudes are before the judgment-seat together, and whether there is an interval between death and judgment, are questions which are not raised. They do not affect the main issue. On the other point he encourages himself and others to conquer the natural fear of death by remembering that parting from the mortal body means entering upon closer union with the Lord. On the passage generally the following remarks are worthy of consideration.

“Questions about the How of the future life, about the conditions of existence between death and the resurrection, about the process of the resurrection itself, or about the nature of the resurrection body, have little place in Paul’s doctrine. His concern is much more with the fact than with the mode of the resurrection. He suggests that there may be preservation of identity along with far-reaching change of form. Theologians have asked, What is it that makes identity? How is the new body to be provided? Out of what material shall it grow? What shall be its relation to the present body? How shall it preserve its sameness together with a difference which seems essential?

St Paul gives us to understand that the new body will be our body, related to the former body, but superior to it in incorruptibility, in power, in ability to discharge its function. He states the broad principle that ‘God gives to each its own body.’ And for his last answer he refers us to his great word ‘in Christ.’ Our union with Christ is his final solution of all difficulties, his final reason for the certain hope of a resurrection.

The doctrine of the resurrection is in essential harmony with Hebrew faith and Hebrew hope, and in essential distinction from Greek thought and Greek surmise. It is in the Pauline writings that the Biblical doctrine of a future life is seen in its sharpest contrasts with the Hellenic, which regarded the life of mind as the only real life and made man himself ultimately only a soul. It stands absolutely apart from the speculations of the great Greek sages and from the teaching of thinkers like Philo, in whom Hebrew thought was sunk in the wisdom of the Greek schools.

Paul never bases the hope of a hereafter for man on psychological considerations. He never contemplates a simple immortality of the soul. He proceeds on the O.T. view of man as a being made in God’s image, a free personality destined for life. The Pauline hope is not the Platonist hope of a release from the shackle And sepulchre of the body, not the hope of the survival of an immortal principle in man, but the hope of the endurance of the man himself. Its kinship is with the O.T. doctrine of the unity of man’s nature, the royalty of his being, his affinity with God. It reveals a consummation which is to be realized in his elevation to a condition of existence in which he shall live in the full integrity of his being, and his body, transformed and glorified, shall be the perfect instrument of a perfect life” (Abbreviated from S. D. F. Salmond, The Christian Doctrine of Immortality, pp. 570-577. See also ‘Eschatology’ in Hastings, DB., and in Enc. Bibl., and the literature there mentioned; J. A. Beet, The Last Things, 1897 and 1905; H. A. A. Kennedy, St Paul’s Conceptions of the Last Things, 1904; J. R. Cohu, S. Paul in the Light of Modern Research, 1911).

5:11-6:10. The Life of an Apostle.

I re-assert my sincerity, and 1 do so to enable you to answer those who question it. You can show them that for one’s work as an Apostle one has a high motive, a sure basis, and full credentials.

11With the thought of the Judgment in our minds, and knowing from experience what the fear of Christ as Judge means, we endeavour to convince men that they have good security against any insincerity on our part. To God, who has no prejudices against us, we have all along been laid as open as we shall be at the judgment; and I trust that to the conscience of each one of you also our characters have been equally transparent. 12Do not misunderstand me; I am not beginning again to praise myself, as some persons say that I am so fond of doing. What I am doing is giving you an opportunity of saying a word on our behalf by glorying in your own experience of us. I want you to have an opportunity of answering our opponents, who constantly boast of their superficial advantages, because they have no reality of character to boast of. 13That I am not a selfish impostor is clear from this, that when I was beside myself, as these men say, it was with zeal for God, and now when I am sane and sober, I am working for you. There is no room for selfishness in either case. 14I must be devoted to God and to you, for Christ’s love keeps me from all selfish motives. 15Long ago I came to the following conclusion. The Representative of the human race died for the sake of us all, and so His death was ours. Why did He die for all? In order that the living, now that they know that they died in Christ, should never again live for themselves, but should henceforth live for Him who for their sakes died and was raised again. There you have our motive.

16 This being understood, whatever our opponents or other people may do, we ministers of Christ, from the time that we came to this conclusion, value no one because of his external qualities. Even if there was a time when we appreciated Christ in this way, yet, since we have been united with Christ, this has quite ceased to be true, and it is futile to recall it. 17This also follows;—if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old condition of things passed away when he entered into that relation, and a new condition took its place. 18But all these new conditions come from God; they are His creation. Because of the Death and Resurrection of Christ He regarded us as reconciled to Himself (we ministers needed that as much as other men) and commissioned us to make this offer of reconciliation to others. 19We are to tell them that, from the first, God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, namely, by forbearing to count against men their transgressions, and by depositing with us His message of reconciliation.

20 It is on behalf of Christ, therefore, that we are acting as ambassadors, seeing that it is God who entreats through us. We beseech on Christ’s behalf, Become reconciled to God. 21Do you ask how this is possible? Him who never became acquainted with sin, God for our sakes made to be sin, in order that we might become God’s righteousness by being merged in Him.

6. 1But I have more to say than this. We are fellow workers with God in the work of converting the world. God has given His grace; our part is to entreat you not to fail in profiting by it. 2(For He says, ‘In a season of acceptance, I gave ear to thee; on a day of deliverance I succoured thee.’ I tell you, the season of acceptance is come; we are now at the day of deliverance.) 3In all that we do in conjunction with Him, we strive to put no cause of stumbling in anybody’s way, so that no one may have a handle for ridiculing or reviling the ministry. 4On the contrary, in everything we endeavour so to frame our conduct that it may commend itself in a way that is worthy of God’s ministers.

The evidence that we are God’s ministers may be seen

In our abundant and varied endurance,

Amid afflictions, necessities, and straits,

scourgings, imprisonments, and riots,

toilsome days, sleepless nights, foodless times;

In innocence of life, and in knowledge of the truth,

in patient long-suffering, and in kindliness of heart,

in a spirit that is holy, and in love that is unfeigned,

in a teaching that is true, and in a power that is Divine;

Through weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left,

through repute and disesteem,

through ill and good report;

As impostors, and yet truthful,

as nobodies to these, and celebrities to those,

as ever at death’s door, and yet behold! we live on,

as chastened for our sins, yet never killed by chastisement.

as sorrowing much, but always full of joy,

as paupers ourselves, but able to enrich thousands,

as having nothing, yet holding the whole world in possession.

It is difficult to summarize this section (5:11-6:10) as a whole, and the connexion between portions of it is sometimes obscure. On the whole, as distinct from the sufferings and supports of one who has the responsibilities of an Apostle, this section re-asserts St Paul’s sincerity, and gives further explanations of his conduct. This is done, not so much in order to convince the Corinthians that they do well in admitting his Apostolic authority, as to supply them with sound answers to give to those who question it and accuse him of being a selfadvertising impostor. He points to three things which characterize his work as a preacher. The motive of it is the fear of Christ as our Judge and Christ’s love for us as our Redeemer (11-15). The basis of it is the creation of new conditions and the reconciliation won for us by Christ (16-19). The credentials which attest its authority are his having been made an ambassador of Christ and a minister of God (5:20-6:10). With these facts his personal sincerity and his Apostolic position can be made as evident to men as they are to God.

It is strange that anyone should suppose that in 6:3-10 St Paul is maintaining that, not only he himself, but all Christians, are free from sin. With regard to Christians in general, it is enough to point to the stern reproofs and warnings which he at times administers to his converts (12:20, 21; 1 Corinthians 1:11, 1 Corinthians 1:3:3, 1 Corinthians 1:5:1, 1 Corinthians 1:5:11, 1 Corinthians 1:8:11, 1 Corinthians 1:10:14, 1 Corinthians 1:11:30; Galatians 3:1; etc.) : he knows well that Christians do sometimes sin grievously. With regard to himself, he says that acquittal by his own conscience proves nothing as to his innocence (1 Corinthians 4:4); therefore for him to claim to be sinless, because his conscience did not reprove him, would be vain; and the vivid picture which he draws of the inward struggle between right and wrong (Romans 7:17-25) is evidently drawn from tortures which he had himself experienced. And how unreal would be the appeal to a future judgment (5:10; Romans 4:10), if he felt sure that he had no sins to answer for!


In 6:3-10 he is sketching the Apostolic ideal which he has set before himself, and which their knowledge of him can tell that he is trying to realize. There is enough of these features in his life for them to be able to assure others that he is really an ambassador and minister of God. Teachers who have none of these features cannot be recognized as such. Tria ergo hic agit Paulus: docet quae sint virtutes, quibus censeri debent Evangelici doctores: deinde his virtutibus se praeditum esse demonstrat: tertio admonet Corinthios, ne pro Christi servis agnoscant, qui se aliter gerunt (Calv.). In his own day the error about him was somewhat different.

It is strange that one who was so conspicuously self-sacrificing as St Paul should be charged with self-seeking and self-praise. But his opponents’ fanatical hatred of his teaching distorted their judgment and depraved their consciences. They misinterpreted all that he said and did, and they thought that in such a conflict all weapons were lawful, including insinuation, slander, and abuse.

11. Εἰδότες οὖν. ‘Therefore, because we are conscious of,’ ‘because we feel the influence of’; an appeal to actual experience. ‘We know what the fear of the Lord means.’ The οὖν refers to the contents of v. 10. Bachmann gives illustrations from papyri of this use of εἰδώς.

τὸν φόβον τοῦ Κυρίου. The fear excited by the thought of standing before the judgment-seat of Christ and having one’s whole life exposed and estimated. In O.T., ‘the fear of the Lord’ or ‘the fear of God’ is the whole of piety. It is ‘wisdom’ (Job 28:28) and ‘the whole duty of man’ (Ecclesiastes 12:13); cf. Deuteronomy 10:12; Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 9:10, Proverbs 16:6. St Paul makes ‘the fear of Christ’ a principle of conduct (Ephesians 5:21), and here he states that he knows that his own actions are guided by it. It is the fear which he feels (7:1; Romans 3:18), not ‘the terror’ (AV) which Christ inspires, terrorem illum Domini (Beza), τὸ φοβερόν (Hebrews 10:27, Hebrews 10:31, Hebrews 10:12:21) τοῦ Κυρίου (Chrys.), that is meant. Vulg. is right with timorem Domini. To translate, ‘We persuade men as to the fear of the Lord,’ i.e. teach them to fear Him, is perverse misconstruction.


ἀνθρώπους πείθομεν, Θεῷ δὲ πεφανερώμεθα. ‘We persuade men, but we are made manifest to God.’ The AV loses the antithesis by separating the second clause from the first and attaching it to what follows; ‘We persuade men; but we are made manifest to God, and I trust also, etc.’ The antithesis is effective and ought to be preserved; ‘God knows all about us through and through, but we have to persuade men to believe in our sincerity’ ;τοὺς περὶ ἡμῶν ψευδεῖς ἔχοντας δόξας ἐπανορθοῦν πειρώμεθα (Thdrt.). The omission of μέν after�

Galatians 1:10 should be compared; ἄρτι γάρ�


Others interpret, ‘We persuade men that we strive to please Christ who is to be our Judge.’ This is not very different from ‘we persuade men that we are sincere.’ Chrys. points out that it is a duty to remove unjust suspicions from ourselves. A minister is hindered in his work by being credited with misdeeds of which he is innocent.

It is not likely that�

After ἐλπίζω we commonly have the aor. infin. (1 Corinthians 16:7; Philippians 2:19, Philippians 2:23; 1 Timothy 3:14), but here the previous perf. determines the case, the meaning in both cases being the same, —that his character has been, and still is, laid bare. Blass (§ 61 note) says that ‘hope’ here means ‘think’ (as often in English) and hence the perf.

ταῖς συνειδήσεσιν ὑμῶν. Their consciences, rather than their intellects, on which they prided themselves: conscientia enim longius penetrat quam carnis judicium; conscience goes deeper than criticism (Calv.). St Paul says ‘consciences’ and not ‘conscience,’ because he appeals to the individual conscience of each of them: pluralis habet gravitatem (Beng.). Nowhere else in Biblical Greek does the plural occur; contrast 1:12; 1 Timothy 3:9, 1 Timothy 3:4:2; etc.


12. οὐ πάλιν ἑαυτοὺς συνιστάνομεν ὑμῖν. ‘ Do not think that we are again commending ourselves to you.’ The remark has the same relation to v. 11 as 3:1 to 2:17. He sees that what he has just stated gives a handle to those who said that he was always praising himself, and he hastens to show that he has no such aim. He is not commending himself to them; if the hope just expressed is correct, there is no need for him to do that; he is helping them to answer the cavils of his opponents. The accusations against him, sometimes very plausible, were a great hindrance to his work, and he constantly takes opportunity to answer them. Often, although we feel that he is referring to some objection, our ignorance of the nature of the objection renders his words obscure. Here we can see our way fairly clearly. See on 3:1.

ἀλλὰ�Luke 11:54,�Romans 7:8, Romans 7:11; Galatians 5:13; 1 Timothy 5:14, as here, with διδόναι). It means ‘a basis of operations,’ ‘a place to start from,’ and hence ‘good grounds’: argumenta vobis praebemus gloriandi de nostra integritate; tantum abest ut demum opus esse commendations nostri putem (Beng.). In 3 Macc. 3:2,�1 Corinthians 5:6, καύχημα does not mean materies gloriandi (Meyer), but gloriatio (Beng.), i.e. glorying uttered. Cf. 9:3, and see T. S. Evans on 1 Corinthians 5:6.

ἵνα ἔχητε πρός τούς κ.τ.λ. ‘That ye may have (it ready) against those who, etc.’ Something is to be understood after ἔχητε, either τι or τι λέγειν, or better, either καύχημα or�Romans 4:2 and Galatians 6:4 we have καύχημα ἔχειν, and nothing to the point that in Romans 7:8, Romans 7:11 we have�

τοὺς ἐν προσώπῳ καυχωμένους καὶ μὴ ἐν καρδίᾳ. The resemblance to 1 Thessalonians 2:17 is verbal only. There the antithesis means that out of sight is not out of mind. Here it means that what men see is not what God sees; ἄνθρωπος ὄψεται εἰς πρόσωπον, ὁ δὲ Θεὸς ὄψεται εἰς καρδίαν (1 Samuel 16:7). The Judaizers gloried in what was patent to the world, the superficial advantages which made an outward show, such as their descent from Abraham, their exclusiveness, their scrupulous keeping of the Law, perhaps also their intimacy with James, the Lord’s brother. What were all these external characteristics compared with a good conscience and the fear of God? Paul had the latter, as the Corinthians knew, for it was out of the goodness of his heart that light and truth had come to their consciences; whereas the Judaizers had given them no evidence of their possessing these spiritual characteristics. As usual in N.T., we have ἐν after καυχᾶσθαι, and μή with the participle. In LXX, ἐν is usual, but ἐπί some-times occurs. Here many texts have οὐ instead of μή.

Three other ways of interpreting the opposition between πρόσωπον and καρδία are suggested. (1) ‘Who glorify me to my face, but not in their hearts.’ This is inadmissible, for τ.καυχωμένους cannot mean ‘those who glorify me’; it means ‘those who glory,’ ‘those who glorify themselves.’ (2) ‘Who boast in the presence of other people, but not in their own hearts.’ This also is inadmissible, for the πρόσωπον and the καρδία belong to the same persons, viz. those who boast, an objection which holds good against (1) also. (3) ‘Whose boasting is seen in their faces, but is not felt in their hearts.’ This is possible, but it is not probable. In N.T., as in LXX, ἐν after καυχᾶσθαι introduces that in which people glory (10:15-17, 11:12, 12:9; 1 Corinthians 1:31; etc.).* The more probable meaning is, ‘Who glory in external privileges, not in internal worth’; welche sich äusserer Dinge und nicht der rechten Herzensverfassung rühmen (Bousset). But (3), with emendation, may be right; ‘Who glory in what is seen in their faces, but not in what exists in their hearts’; i.e. they hypocritically profess a satisfaction which they do not feel, or they wear a look of apostolic virtue which they do not possess.


οὐ πάλιν (א B C D * G 67 **, e Vulg. Syrr. Goth. Copt. Arm.) rather than οὐ γὰρ πάλιν (D3 E K L). For ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν, א B 17, Aeth. have ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν, a common confusion. καὶ μή א B 17 and other cursives, Thdrt.) is probably to be preferred to καὶ οὐ C D3 E K K L P) or καὶ οὐκ D * F G), ἐν καρδίᾳ (א B Ap.D; * F G 17, 37, Latt.) rather than καρδίᾳ C D3 E K L P).

13. εἴτε γὰρ ἐξέστημεν, Θεῷ εἴτε σωφρονοῦμεν, ὑμῖν. ‘I do not commend myself; indeed I do nothing on my own account; for when I was beside myself, it was on God’s account, and when I am sane, it is on yours.’ The selection of this surprising alternative of ἐκστῆναι and σωφρονεῖν was probably caused by the declaration of some of his opponents that he was not only paradoxical and obscure (4:3), but quite crazy. Jews thought that Paul went mad when he was converted on the road to Damascus, and ἐξέστημεν might refer to that. Festus had impulsively said that he was mad (Acts 26:24), and his Judaizing critics had brought the same charge (11:1, 16), as the Jewish critics of his Master had done in His case (Mark 3:21; John 7:48). The Judaizers’ charge against the Apostle was not pure invention. He claimed to have been ‘caught up even to the third heaven’ (12:2), to ‘speak with Tongues more than all’ of them (1 Corinthians 14:18), in which condition he spoke ‘not to men but to God’ (14:2), and his ‘understanding was unfruitful’ (14:14). Speaking with Tongues easily led to the charge of being mad (14:23), and it may have done so in the case of one who was so frequently ecstatic as St Paul. If, as is probable, the ‘stake for the flesh’ from which he suffered was epilepsy, this again would cause his sanity to be questioned. The reply here is pointed and tactful. ‘My ecstasies concerned only God and myself; my normal condition is always at your service. The two together sum up my life, which accordingly is devoted either to God or to you.’ De nobis potestis gloriari, quia quidquid agimus, vel honor Dei est, vel utilitas proximi (Herveius).

Augustine several times refers to this passage, and he always takes ἐξέστημεν (mente excessimus) as meaning ecstasy; but it may refer to other features in the Apostle’s life, as suggested above. In Isaiah 28:7, ἐξέστησαν is used of prophets beside themselves with strong drink. It is not certain that ἐξέστησεν refers to past time; it may be a timeless aorist; RV has ‘are’ in the text and ‘were’ in the margin. Cf. ἐξέστη, ‘He is beside Himself’ (Mark 3:21). Winer, p. 346; Blass, § 59. 3; J. H. Moulton, p. 134; and see Hort on 1 Peter 1:24. For the datives comp. Romans 14:4, and see Blass, § 37:2.

Some think that both alternatives refer to a definite accusation, one that he was mad, the other that he was worldly wise; but σωφρονεῖν never means the latter. A more reasonable suggestion is that ἐξέστημεν refers to his self-commendation, which his critics said amounted to a mania. Cf. τὸ καυχᾶσθαι παρὰ καιρὸν μανίαισιν ὑποκρέκει, “To glory out of season is to sound the same note as madness” (Pind. Ol. ix. 39). Thdrt. adopts this interpretation. Other suggestions are: (1) Ἐξέστημεν refers to the vigour with which the Apostle followed his own advice of being ‘instant εὐκαίρως,�2 Timothy 4:2) in proclaiming the word. But his preaching was ὑμῖν as well as Θεῷ. (2) He is referring to the comments made on the letter which he sent between 1 Corinthians and this Epistle,—the severe letter, about the effects of which he was so anxious. If 10-13. formed part of that letter, some Corinthians might easily say, “The man must be mad”; and he himself foresaw the possibility (11:1, 16, 12:6). Herveius seems to agree with Augustine in restricting the reference to ecstasy; sive enim mente omnia temporalia excedimus, ut contemplemur aeterna, Deo id facimus, sive ab illa mentis ebrietate ad communem sensum redimus, hoc fit in vestram utilitatem, ut vos nimirum docere possimus. All that is certain is that ἐξέστημεν refers to exceptional, and σωφρονοῦμεν to ordinary conditions, and that these two cover the whole of his behaviour, which, therefore, is never selfseeking.

14. ἡ γὰρ�Galatians 2:20) keeps us back from all self-seeking, and confines our aims to the service of God and of our fellow-men.’ In the Pauline Epp., the genitive of the person after�2 Thessalonians 3:5; Ephesians 2:4; etc.), and in them�Philippians 1:23; see Lightfoot). ‘The love of Christ constraineth us’ (AV, RV) is doubly ambiguous; it may mean ‘our love for Christ urges us on.’ ‘Our love for Christ’ is certainly wrong, as v. 15 shows; and ‘urges us on’ is probably wrong, although Chrys. takes it so, as does Vulg., urget nos. The verb implies the pressure which confines and restricts (Luke 8:45, Luke 8:12:50, Luke 8:19:43; Acts 18:5). It is true that restriction may lead to concentration, which may produce an increase of activity. Nevertheless, restricting men is opposed to pushing them on, and here ‘restrains us from self-seeking’ rather than ‘urges us on to service’ seems to be the meaning. “Urges us on to avoid self-seeking’ is a curious way of adopting one translation and keeping the meaning of the other. Bousset makes συνέχει refer to ἐξέοτημεν, ‘restrains us from madness and extravagance,’ ‘keeps us sane and sober’; hält uns bei Sinnen. It is more probable that it refers to ἑαυτοὺς συνιστάνομεν, ‘restrains us from self-praise.’ Papyri give no help; they merely repeat the usages found in N.T.

15. κρίναντας τοῦτο. ‘Having reached this decision’; judicio verissimo. Amor et judicium non obstant inter se apud spirituales (Beng.). He probably refers to the period of reflexion between his conversion and his missionary activity (Galatians 1:17, Galatians 1:18). Both AV and RV (‘because we thus judge’), as also Aug. (judicantes) and Vulg. (aestimantes) treat the aor. part. as a present. Some editors assign this clause to v. 14.

ὅτι εἷς ὑπὲρ πάντων�Mark 10:45 = Matthew 20:28): cf.�1 Timothy 2:6). For ὑπέρ see Romans 8:32; Galatians 1:4, Galatians 1:2:20, Galatians 1:3:13; Ephesians 5:2; Titus 2:14. But the ideas of representation and of substitution easily run into one another, as in ἵνα ὕπερ σοῦ μοι διακονῇ (Philemon 1:13), and in the formula, which is freq. in papyri, ἔγραψα (or ἔγραψεν) ὑπὲρ αὐτοῦ, the nominative to the verb being the name of the scribe who wrote the letter for some person who was unable to write. For examples see Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, pp. 341, 335.

ἄρα οἱ πάντες�Romans 6:2 and Colossians 3:3. ‘Therefore all must die’ is equally erroneous and misleading. Seeing that the Representative of the whole race died, His death was their death; and they all died in Him in the sense that His supreme act of love extinguished in them the old life of worldly interests in which the centre of gravity was self.* Although there is a vast difference between their death and His, yet there is this similarity. In each case there is the dying to the old self in order to rise again to something far higher; in His case a dying to the life of suffering to rise to the life of glory; in their case a dying to the life of sin to rise to the life of righteousness (Romans 6:6-11; Colossians 3:3). The life of love, inherent in Him, was kindled in them. This was the Apostle’s own experience. Saul the persecutor was filled with consuming indignation, when he saw that one who had died the most shameful of all deaths was being proclaimed as the Messiah, When the risen Jesus appeared to him and convinced him that He was the Messiah, he was filled with consuming love and gratitude towards a Messiah who, for the sake of mankind, had submitted to such a death. “The mixture of love and gratitude forms one of the strongest passions which can dominate the heart of man,” and the Apostle never wearies of declaring how Christ’s immense love for us calls for a generous return (Romans 5:15-21, Romans 5:8:35; Galatians 2:20, Galatians 2:5:24, Galatians 2:6:14; Ephesians 3:19, Ephesians 3:5:2, 25; Titus 2:14). See P. Gardner, The Religious Experience of St Paul, p. 188. In N.T. ἄρα is sometimes placed first in a sentence (7:12; Romans 10:17; Galatians 5:11; etc.); rarely in LXX (Psalms 123:2, Psalms 123:3, Psalms 123:4, 138:11; Wisd. 5:6); never in class. Grk. See on 7:12.

ἵνα οἱ ζῶντες μηκέτι ἑαυτοῖς ζῶσιν. ‘In order that those who live should no longer (now that they know that they died in Christ) live to themselves.’ How can those for whom Christ died go on living for themselves and not for Him? Romans 14:7-9. Does οἱ ζῶντες mean those who are alive in the body and are still in this world, or those who have died to their old selves and are spiritually alive in Christ? The context favours the former meaning, and this is confirmed by 4:17. It is not true that ‘those who are still alive in the world’ is superfluous and pointless here. The ζῶσιν which follows gives point; ‘that the living should never again live to themselves.’


τῷ ὑπὲρ πάντων. These words probably belong to both participles; and, as it cannot be said that Christ was raised instead of us, therefore ὑπὲρ πάντων does not mean ‘instead of all’ but ‘on behalf of all,’ as ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν in v. 12 means ‘on our behalf.’ Nevertheless, it is possible to translate ‘for Him who died for the sake of all, and was raised,’ or ‘who died instead of all, and was raised.’

AV has ‘if one died for all,’ following the reading of א3 C*, f Vulg. Copt. Arm., ὅτι εἰ εἷς. The εἰ might accidentally be either lost in the εἷς or produced by reduplication from it. Probably it was inserted for smooth-ness to anticipate ἄρα, as in 1 Corinthians 15:14, 1 Corinthians 15:17; cf. 2 Corinthians 7:12.Romans 5:10, Romans 5:15, Romans 5:17 might be in the copyist’s mind. Here the insertion of εἰ weakens the terseness of what is overwhelmingly attested as the original reading (א* B C2 D E F G K L P, d e g Syrr. Aeth. Goth. RV). AV and RV assign κρίναντας τοῦτο …�


16-19. Having stated the motive of his work as a preacher, the Apostle now goes on to show the basis of it in the new conditions produced by being in Christ and in the reconciliation brought about for us by Him.

16. The verse is one of those parenthetical remarks which are so characteristic of St Paul, and so natural in one who dictated his letters; cf. v. 7; 1 Corinthians 15:56; Rom. 5:25. There is no need to conjecture that he inserted it afterwards; still less that a copyist inserted it. A copyist would have inserted something much more simple, and no copy exists without it. Verse 15 would easily suggest it, * and v. 17 is parallel to it. The parenthesis is quite in place. Christ died for all in order that all should cease to live for themselves, and should live for Him and for others in Him. That implies that our estimate of others must be based, not on the πρόσωπον, but on the καρδία, not on the external circumstances which the world values, but on the character and the inner life.


The details of this difficult verse are very variously explained, and it would be tedious, and not very profitable, to quote all the variations. What follows is offered as a tenable interpretation, and a few that seem to be less tenable are added.

ὥστε ἡμεῖς�

οἴδαμεν. The verb is used in the same sense as in 1 Thessalonians 5:12, ‘we appreciate, we value.’ ‘Agnoscere’ hic significat Habere rationem aut respectum is Calvin’s remark. In 1 Corinthians 16:18, ἐπιγινώσκετε is used in much the same sense; see note there and comp. καλῶς ἔχει Θεὸν καὶ ἐπίσκοπον εἰδὲ́αι (Ign. Smyr. 9). ‘We value no one because of his external attributes.’ The differences between king and clown, rich and poor, master and slave, genius and dunce, do not come into the estimate; what counts is the person’s character as a Christian.


κατὰ σάρκα. Secundum statum veterem, ex nobilitate, divitiis, opibus, sapientia (Beng.). ‘In the world’s way,’ ‘by human standards,’ ‘as men know one another’ are not accurate renderings. They make κατὰ σάρκα subjective, qualifying the view of the person who estimates; whereas κατὰ σάρκα is objective, qualifying the aspect of the person who is estimated, ‘according to external distinctions,’ ‘by what he is in the flesh.’

εἱ καὶ ἐγνώκαμεν κατὰ σάρκα χριστόν. ‘Even though we have appreciated Christ after the flesh.’ The change from εἰδέναι to γινώσκειν is of little moment here: it is the change of tense that matters. A perfect is wanted, and, as εἰδέναι has no perfect, a change of verb becomes necessary. As usual, εἰ καί concedes the point which is stated hypothetically. St Paul seems to be referring to some charge which had been made against him, that he had known Christ according to the flesh, and he admits that at one time this was true. Then what does St Paul mean when he admits that he once knew Christ κατὰ σάρκα?. The phrase κατὰ σάρκα occurs often, in very different contexts, and no explanation of it will suit them all. In each case the context must decide (1:17, 10:2, 3; 1 Corinthians 1:26, 1 Corinthians 1:10:18; Galatians 4:23; Romans 4:1, Romans 4:8:4, Romans 4:5, Romans 4:12, Romans 4:9:3, Romans 4:5; etc.). Our answer to the question will depend upon the period in St Paul’s career at which this erroneous appreciation of Christ is placed.


Almost certainly he is alluding to some time previous to his conversion. On that hypothesis various explanations have been suggested. (1) At that time he knew Christ as an heretical and turbulent teacher, who was justly condemned by the Sanhedrin and crucified by the Romans. Consequently, he persecuted His adherents and caused them to be imprisoned and slain. This explanation seems to be the best. * (2) At that time he had the very carnal idea that the Messiah must be an earthly potentate who would conquer the Romans and set Israel free. But the passage implies, and the next verse shows, that it is the actual Christ, and not the Jewish idea of the Messiah, that the Apostle admits that he knew, and knew superficially and wrongly. (3) At that time he had seen Christ at Jerusalem or elsewhere. But would St Paul lay any weight on the fact (if it was a fact) that he had once known Christ by sight? And what meaning, in that case, could�

There are some, however, who think it more probable that St Paul is referring to a time subsequent to his conversion. (5) He is confessing that at an immature stage of his ministry he still retained some of the low ideas about Christ which he had inherited from Judaism. Jowett (Introduction to Thessalonians, pp. 8-12) strongly advocates this view. He says that St Paul “acknowledged a time when he had more nearly approximated to their (his opponents’) Judaizing tenets, or in other words, had known Christ after the flesh. Whatever softening the skill of interpreters may introduce into these latter words, they must have a meaning; that meaning is that there was something which the Apostle had left behind him, which he had once thought, and no longer thought, to be a part of the faith of Christ” (p. 9). This view has also been held by Baur, Holsten, and others. The objection to it is that no trace of it is to be found in any of the Epistles. St Paul admits more than once that he had been a persecuting Jew (1 Corinthians 15:19; 1 Timothy 1:13), and seems to allude to it elsewhere. But he nowhere confesses that he had once preached a Judaizing Gospel: in Galatians 2:15-19 he declares that he had done the opposite. For Beyschlag’s criticism of this interpretation, and for other interpretations, see Knowling, The Witness of the Epistles, Philippians 2:3. Kirsopp Lake, who places the time in which St Paul knew Christ after the flesh in the period before his conversion, remarks that the Apostle “had once been an anti-Christian Jew; but when had he ever been a Judaizing Christian?” (Earlier Epistles of St Paul, p. 224). * It is possible to take this last view also on the same lines as (4) in reference to (3). We may say, (6) St Paul is admitting this merely for the sake of argument. ‘Let us grant, if you like, that at one time I preached much the same unspiritual Gospel that my Judaizing opponents do. I certainly do nothing of the kind now, and therefore it is idle to reproach me with it. Am I right, or are they right, now? That is the only question.’ But it is difficult to believe that his opponents had asserted that at one time he had agreed with them about the Gospel. And, unless they had done so, why should he, even hypothetically, concede that he might have agreed with them? Their view of him was that he had gone mad from the first.


We must be content to leave the exact meaning of the words in uncertainty; but this much is fairly clear. The Apostle is alluding to some charge which had been made against him, and he admits that at one time it was true; but he declares that there is no truth in it now. This excludes the (on other grounds) improbable view that (7) seeing Christ on the road to Damascus was knowing Him after the flesh.

See the fine comment of Aug. (De Doc. Chris. i. 38), to the effect that this passage teaches us not to cling to the details of Christ’s earthly life, although they were done for our salvation, but pass over them quickly, in order to reach Christ Himself, who has freed our nature from earthly things and placed it at the right hand of God.

ἀλλὰ νῦν οὐκέτι γινώσκομεν. He might have said οἴδαμεν, and it is perhaps excess of accuracy to make in this place any difference between οἴδαμεν, ‘we know,’ and γινώσκομεν, ‘we come to know.’ St Paul wants the present once more, and he naturally takes the present of ἐγνώκαμεν. The important thing in translation is to distinguish the perfect from the present on each side of it. This the Vulg. does with novimus, cognovimus, novimus. The νῦν means from the moment of his conversion.

εἰ καί (א * B D* 17, Arm.) rather than καὶ εἰ (F G, Latt. Syr-Pesh.), or εἰ δὲ καί (א 3 C 2 D 2 and 3 L P), or εἰ δέ (K, Copt.) D E G add κατὰ σάρκα after γινώσκομεν.

17. ὥστε εἴ τις ἐν χριστῷ,καινὴ κτίσις· τὰ�Galatians 6:15), with much the same meaning. By ‘is in Christ’ is meant ‘has become a Christian, has become a member of Christ.’ St Paul is not thinking of the Christ-party and hinting at the difference between being Χριστοῦ (10:7; 1 Corinthians 1:12) and ἐν Χριστῷ. It is gratuitous to introduce that difference here.

Vulg. and some Latin authorities greatly weaken the force of the passage by making καινὴ κτίσις the subject of a protasis, of which τὰ�Isaiah 43:18, Isaiah 43:19, Isaiah 65:17, Isaiah 66:22. But it may be doubted whether the Apostle has any of these passages in his mind. In LXX there is resemblance in the words used, but there is not much affinity in the meaning. Wetstein, ad loc., and Schöttgen, i. p. 704, show that καινὴ κτίσις was a common Rabbinical term for a Gentile brought to the knowledge of the true God (Lightfoot on Galatians 6:15). It is a stronger expression than μεταμορφούμεθα (3:18; Romans 12:2) or παλιγγενεσία (Titus 3:5), though it means much the same as the latter; and Titus 3:5 should be compared.

τὰ�1 Corinthians 15:45 and on Romans 5:12-19). The Apostle calls to mind that the narrowness and exclusiveness of Judaism, the intolerable burden of the Law, and the still more intolerable burden of sin, have passed away from those who believe in Christ, and that a dispensation of comprehension, freedom, and peace has taken their place. This is no longer the hope of a prophet, or the guess of an apocalyptic dreamer, but an abiding fact.

It is a needless narrowing of the Apostle’s meaning to confine it, as Thdrt., to getting free from the old Nessus-garment of sin, τὸ τῆς�Philippians 3:7. Chrys. narrows the meaning in another direction when he analyses it thus; instead of the Law, the Gospel; instead of circumcision, baptism; instead of Jerusalem, heaven; and so forth. The very essence of the new creation is that it is moral and spiritual, not, as is often pictured in prophetic and apocalyptic literature, an actual new heaven and new earth. It is a merit of the Book of Jubilees that it recognizes this. “And after this they will turn to Me in all uprightness and with all heart and soul, and I will create in them a holy spirit, and I will cleanse them, so that they shall not turn away from Me from that day unto eternity” (1:23). “Mount Zion will be sanctified in the new creation for a sanctification of the earth; through it will the earth be sanctified from all guilt and uncleanness throughout the generations of the world” (4:26). “And He made for all His works a new and righteous nature, so that they should not sin in their whole nature for ever, but should be all righteous each in his kind alway” (5:12). See also 23:26-31.


D2 and 3 E K L P, Syr-Hark. Goth. AV Tert. have καινὰ τὰ πάντα: א B C D * F G 67 * *, Vulg. Copt. RV. omit τὰ πάντα.

18. τὰ δὲ πάντα ἐκ τροῦ Θεοῦ. ‘But all these new things come from God.’*They are His creation. The καινὴ κτίσις is no spontaneous development, and it is not man’s own work on himself; Apostles do not claim to be the cause of it. It is wholly ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ (v. 5, 1:21,2:14, 4:6; 1 Corinthians 8:6, 1 Corinthians 8:9:12; Romans 11:36). In the same breath in which he declares this, St Paul goes on to explain how it is that God brings this about.

τοῦ καταλλάξαντος ἡμᾶς ἑαυτῷ διὰ χριστοῦ. ‘Who reconciled us to Himself through Christ.’ This is the usual language of N.T., in which the change which brings about the reconciliation between God and men is regarded as taking place in them rather than in Him. Greeks thought of God as estranged from men, and it was He who needed to be won over. Jews thought rather that it was men who by their sins were estranged from God, and the sins had to be ‘cleansed,’ or ‘purged,’ or ‘covered,’ in order to bring about reconciliation (see on 1 John 2:2).† St Paul follows Jewish rather than Hellenic thought. It is man who is reconciled to God, rather than God to man; οὐ γὰρ αὐτὸς ἡμῖν κατηλλάγη,�Colossians 1:21, and by Westcott in his additional note on 1 John 2:10, p. 85, also on Hebrews 10:10, p. 347. It is well to be reminded that God is not a man that He should repent or change His mind, and that His unchanging love is always waiting for the penitent sinner. But in order to get another side of this vast truth we are obliged to use language which involves us in a seeming contradiction. Scripture speaks of God being angry with impenitent sinners and ceasing to be angry with those who are penitent. Scripture also speaks of ‘propitiation’ as a means to reconciliation (1 John 2:2, 1 John 2:4:10; cf. Romans 3:25; Luke 18:13), and in this relation it is God and not man who is propitiated. In both cases we have to affirm or imply change in One who was before said to be incapable of change. As so often, in trying to express deep spiritual truths, we have got down to “the bed-rock of a contradiction.” See additional note on Romans 5:10, the only other passage in N.T. in which καταλλάσσειν occurs of this relation between God and man. It can be used either of one of the two estranged parties reconciling the other, or of a third reconciling them both; cf. συαλλάσσειν (Acts 7:26). St Paul also uses�Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 1:20, Colossians 1:21) and καταλλαγή (Romans 5:2, Romans 11:15), but not ίλάσκεσθαι (Hebrews 2:17; Luke 18:13) or ἱλασμός (1 John 2:2, 1 John 4:10).


καἱ δόντος ἡμῖν τἡν διακονίαν τῆς καταλλαγῆς. This is the climax. One who persecuted. His Son and the Church, God has not only reconciled to Himself through His Son, but has committed to him the ministry of reconciliation for the benefit of the Church.

The rapidity with which St Paul makes changes between the 1st pers. plur. and 1st pers. sing. has been pointed out (vv. 11, 12), and some see rapid changes in the meaning of ἡμεῖς here. In v. 16, ἡμεῖς is ‘we ministers’; in v. 18, ἡμᾶς seems to be ‘us Christians’ and to be equivalent to κόσμον in v. 19, while ἡμῖν is certainly ‘to us ministers,’ as διακονίαν in v. 18 and ἐν ἡμῖν (not ἑν αὐτοῖς) in v. 19 show. But it is not certain that ἡμᾶς in v. 18 = κόσμον in v. 19 = ‘us Christians.’ St Paul may be continuing to think only of himself and his colleagues, and in that case all runs smoothly. He is deeply conscious, and is anxious to avow, that an Apostle has as much need as anyone of the reconciliation which was effected through Christ. Not till v. 19 does his thought go beyond the circle of preachers, and then he shows how they share in making the reconciliation of the human race, which has been won by Christ, effectual to individual souls.

The use of διακονία of Apostles (here, 4:1, 6:3; Romans 11:13; 1 Timothy 1:12; and often in Acts) shows that they are not regarded as αὑθένται. They do not act on their own independent authority, but are commissioned by God to continue Christ’s διακονία of reconciliation. The word is found in all groups of the Pauline Epistles, except Thessalonians, and it evidently has no fixed application to any particular kind of ministry. The renderings in AV and RV. vary greatly; ‘ministry,’ ‘ministering,’ ‘ministration,’ ‘administration,’ ‘serving,’ ‘service,’ and ‘relief.’


D 3 E K L, AV have Ἰησοῦ before χριστοῦ: א B C D * F G P, Latt. Syrr. Copt. RV. omit.

19. ὡς ὅτι Θεὸς ἧν ἑν χριστῷ κόσμον καταλλάσσων ἑαυτῷ. The exact force of ὡς ὅτι is not clear. Greek commentators substitute καὶ γάρ and the Latins render it quoniam quidem. We may analyse it, ‘as was the case, because,’ or ‘how that,’ or ‘namely, that,’ which is much the same as ‘to wit, that’ (AV, RV).* Of the four possible constructions, (1) that of AV, which agrees with Luther, Calvin, Beza, and Bengel, is to be rejected; ‘God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself.’ Almost certainly, ἐν Χριστῷ belongs to καταλλάσσων, being parallel to διὰ Χριστοῦ in v. 18. The same objection holds good against (2) ‘was reconciling to Himself the world that is in Christ,’ i.e. those that are His members. This would require τὸν ἐν χριστῷ κόσμον. And do those who are already in Christ need reconciliation? (3) ‘There was God, in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.’ This is Theodoret’s rendering, reading ὁ Θεός. It is awkward, but it puts ἐν χριστῷ in the right place. (4) Almost. certainly, ἦν καταλλάσσων is the analytical imperfect of which Lk. is so fond (1:21, 2:51, 4:20, 5:116, 18, etc.). This periphrastic tense expresses, more decidedly than the simple imperfect, the duration of the action. There was a lasting process of reconciliation; ‘God in Christ was reconciling the world to Himself.’ The ‘world’ means all mankind. God did all that on His side is necessary for their being reconciled to Him; but not all men do what is necessary on their side. Aug. (In Joann. Tract. lxxxvii. 2, 3, cx. 4) characteristically explains mundus as meaning only those who are predestined to salvation, the Church of the elect gathered out of the world.

For κόσμος without the art. comp. Romans 4:13; Galatians 6:14: ἑν κόσμῳ (1 Corinthians 8:4, 1 Corinthians 14:10) is not quite parallel, because there was a tendency, which appears in papyri, to omit the art. after a preposition; J.H. Moulton, p. 82.

μὴ λογιζόμενος … καὶ θεμενος. Just as τοῦ καταλλάξαντος ἡμᾶς explains how God brought about the new conditions, so these two participles explain how He brings about the reconciliation; ‘viz. by not reckoning to men their trespasses, and by having deposited with His ministers the message of reconciliation.’ Note the change from pres. part., of a process that is going on, to aor., of one that is complete. Although the μὴ λογιζόμενος (Romans 4:7, Romans 4:8; Colossians 1:14) is free and universal, yet it has to be made known to individuals, in order that they may appropriate it; hence the θέμενος ἑν ἡμῖν. By μὴ λογιζόμενος He does His part, and by θέμενος Κ.Τ.Λ. He aids men to do their part, in the work of reconciliation.

Both λογίζεσθαι and παράπτωμα are favourite words with Paul, especially the former. Παράπτωμα is a lapse from righteousness, and it sometimes indicates an offence that is less serious than ἁμαρτία, as perhaps in Galatians 6:1, and more clearly in Psalms 18:13, Psalms 18:14; but this occasional distinction cannot be pressed. Comp. Ephesians 1:7, Ephesians 1:2:1, Ephesians 1:5 and Colossians 2:13, which are parallel in sense to this passage; and see Westcott, Ephesians, p. 166; Trench, Syn. § lxvi. For παράπτωμα in the Gospels, Vulg. always has peccatum; in the Epistles, always delictum, except Ephesians 1:7, Ephesians 2:5, where it has peccatum.

τὸν λόγον τῆς καταλλαγῆς. Cf. τ. λόγον τῆς�Ephesians 1:13; Colossians 1:5), λόγον ζωῆς (Philippians 2:16), ὁ λόγος τῆς σωτηρίας (Acts 13:26). “In determining the meaning of λόγος in Paul one must always keep in mind 1 Corinthians 2:12; ‘ I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified’” (Harnack, The Constitution and Law of the Church, p. 341).


Before τ. λόγον τ. καταλλαγῆς, D* E G, g insert (τοῦ) εὐαγγελίου.

5:20-6:10. From teh declaration that he is one of those to whom God has committed the word of reconciliation the Apostle goes on to show his credentials as a preacher of the Gospel. He is God’s ambassador, fellow-worker, and minister, and as such has had to suffer a great deal. This again is some evidence of his sincerity.

20 Ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ οὖν πρεσβεύομεν. ‘On behalf of Christ., therefore, we are acting as ambassadors.’ * Cf. ὑπὲρ οὖ πρεσβεύω ἐν ᾶλύσει (Ephesians 6:20), and seen on Philemon 1:9. Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, p. 379) points out that these “proud words of St Paul stand in quite different relief when we know that πρεσβεύς and πρεσβευτής were the proper words in the Greek East for the Emperor’s Legate.” Both verb and substantive are found in this sense in inscriptions, the latter very frequently. The dignity of an Apostle comes once more to the front. He is the representative of Christ the Reconciler, and behind Christ is God. As in 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:16, he holds his office, not from any human being however distinguished, but from the Father. It is a high position, and it involves a great responsibility. “The ambassador, before acting, receives a commission from the power for whom he acts. The ambassador, while acting, acts not only as an agent, but as a representative of his sovereign. Lastly, the ambassador’s duty is not merely to deliver a definite message, to carry out a definite policy; but he is obliged to watch opportunities, to study characters, to cast about for expedients, so that he may place it before his hearers in its most attractive form. He is a diplomatist” (Lightfoot, Ordination Addresses, p. 48). This is what St Paul means when he says that he becomes all things to all men, that he may by all means save some (1 Cor. 9:32).

ὡς τοῦ Θεοῦ παρακαλοῦντος. Neither ‘as though God did beseech’ (AV), nor ‘as though God were entreating’ (RV), is quite exact; better, ‘seeing that God is entreating.’ The force of ὡς with a genitive absolute is not always the same. The ὡς always gives a subjective view of what is stated by the gen. abs., but that subjective view may be shown by the context to be either right or wrong. When it is given as right, as in 2 Peter 1:3, ὡς may be rendered ‘seeing that,’ which RV. has in that place. Where the subjective view is given as wrong, ὡς = ‘as though,’ which RV. correctly has in 1 Corinthians 4:18; 1 Peter 4:12; Acts 27:30, following the Vulg. tamquam, Here it is manifest that God’s entreating is given as a fact, yet AV and RV. have ‘as though,’ and Vulg. has tamquam. Here Schmiedel rightly condemns als ob, and with Lietzmann adopts indem. Bachmann agrees, with indem ia. The fact that ‘God is entreating by us’ is a momentous one, and the declaration of it is analogous to the formula of the Hebrew Prophet, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’

διʼ ἡμῶν. Cf. 1:23. The acc. after παρακαλοῦντος The acc. after is omitted, as also after because he, is thinking of a wider field than Corinth. He is an Apostle to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 4:2), but to many others besides, and so both verbs are left as general as possible in their scope. The second half of the verse is addressed urbi et orbi.

δεόμεθα ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ, καταλλάγητε τῷ Θεῷ ‘We beseech on Christ’s behalf, Become reconciled to God.’ “He said not, Reconcile God to yourselves, for it is not He that bears enmity but you; for God never bears enmity” (Chrys.). In RV. the reader naturally puts an emphasis on ‘ye’; ‘Be ye reconciled to God’; and there should be no emphasis, for ὑμεῖς is not expressed. It is better, therefore, to omit it in translation. ‘Become reconciled,’ efficite ut Deo reconclliemini, effects this and does justice to the tense. ‘In Christ’s stead’ (AV) is probably wrong; see on ὑπὲρ πάντων and ὑπὲρ αὐτῶν in vv. 14, 15. Chrys. expands ὑπὲρ χριστοῦ thus; ‘Do not think that it is we who are asking you; it is Christ Himself who asks you, it is the Father Himself who entreats you, through us. What can be compared with such love? God’s innumerable benefits have been treated with contumely, and He not only exacted no penalty, but even gave His Son, that we might be reconciled. And when those to whom He was first sent were not reconciled to Him, but put Him to death, He has again sent other messengers, and it is by sending them that He is asking you.’ By the repeated ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ St Paul is characterizing the authority of an Apostle; it is of the highest, but it is official, not personal. An Apostle does not exhort in his own name or on his own behalf; he acts for Christ. On the other hand, those whom they exhort do not work out their reconciliation by themselves; they receive it (Romans 5:11). Their part in the process lies in their appreciating and appropriating it.


For δεόμεθα, D * F G, d e g, Hil. Ambrst. have δεόμενοι, and for καταλλάγητε, D * F G, d e g Goth. have καταλλαγῆναι. Both changes weaken the forcible independent clauses of the original text.

21. τὸν μὴ γνόντα ἁμαρτίαν. ‘Him who came to no acquaintance with sin.’ Aug. (Con. duas epp. Pelag. i. 23) compares our Lord’s words to the wicked, ‘I know you not’ (Matthew 7:23), “although, beyond a doubt, nothing is hidden from Him.” The asyndeton makes the announcement of this amazing paradox all the more impressive, a fact which was not felt by the copyists who inserted γάρ. The Apostle anticipates the question which his urgent καταλλάγητε is sure to provoke; How is it possible for sinners such as we are to become reconciled to God? His reply is as epigrammatic as it is startling.

We cannot press the classical force of μή as necessarily indicating a subjective view, because in N.T. μή with participles is the usual construction, although οὐ still survives; see on 1 Corinthians 9:26. But here μή is probably subjective, and if so, it is God’s view that is meant; ‘Him who in God’s sight came to no knowledge of sin.’ These opening words of the paradox have parallels enough in Scripture (1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5; Hebrews 4:15, Hebrews 7:26); and in the front of them we may place Christ’s own challenge to His opponents, that none had ever convicted Him of sin (John 8:46). So far from knowing sin, He was, as Chrys. says, Αὐτοδικαιοσύνη, Righteousness itself. He had known sin in others, had Himself been tempted to it, but His conscience had never accused Him of having yielded. The commandments never roused in Him, as they did in His Apostle (Romans 7:7-11), the consciousness that He had transgressed in act or will.

With the very doubtful exception of 2 Thessalonians 2:3, ἁμαρτία in the sing. is not found in any other group of the Pauline Epistles. In this group it is found in all four Epistles (11:7; 1 Corinthians 15:56; Galatians 2:17, Galatians 2:3:22; Rom. 3-8. often, 14:23). The plur. is found in all four groups. St Paul rarely uses ἁμάρτημα (1 Corinthians 6:18; Romans 3:25; elsewhere only Mk. and 2 Pet.). Westcott, Ephesians, p. 165.


Note the chiasmus between τὸν μὴ γνόντα ἁμαρτίαν and ἁμαρτίαν ἐποίησεν, and comp. 4:3, 4:8, 9:6, 10:11, 13:3.

ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἁμαρτίαν ἐποίησεν. ‘On our behalf He made to be sin.’ Quis auderet sic loqui, nisi Paulus praeiret (Beng.). The nearest approach to this startling utterance comes also from St Paul, when he speaks of Christ as γενόμενος ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν κατάρα (Galatians 3:13). Both passages are probably influenced by the language of LXX respecting the sin-offering and the guilt-offering in Lev. 4., and respecting the scape-goat in Lev_16. The authority of Augustine, who states the view repeatedly, especially in his anti-Pelagian treatises, has caused many to solve the difficulty of ‘made him to be ἁμαρτία’ by supposing that ἁμαρτία, peccatum, here means ‘sin-offering.’ Leviticus 4:25, Leviticus 4:29 perhaps may be quoted in support of this; but no support for it can be found in N.T., and it cannot stand here, because of ἁμαρτίαν in the previous clause, where it must mean ‘sin.’ Nor can the other suggestion of Aug. be accepted, that ἁμαρτία may mean human nature, as being liable to suffering and death, which are the penalties of sin; so that ἁμαρτίαν ἐποίησεν means that God made Christ assume human nature. This is improbable enough in itself; and, as before, the previous ἁμαρτίαν forbids it. * We must face the plain meaning of the Apostle’s strong words. In some sense which we cannot fathom, God is said to have identified Christ with man’s sin, in order that man might be identified with God’s own righteousness. The relationship expressed by ‘Christ in us and we in Him’ is part of the solution. It is by union of Christ with man that Christ is identified with human sin, and it is by union of man with Christ that man is identified with Divine righteousness. No explanation of these mysterious words satisfies us. They are a bold attempt to express what cannot even be grasped in human thought, still less be expressed in human language; and it is rash to put our own interpretation on the verse, build a theory of the Atonement upon that interpretation, and then claim for the theory the authority of St Paul. St Paul is giving a courageous answer to a difficult question; he is not starting or summarizing a systematized doctrine of reconciliation. In his answer he has given a striking illustration of the truth of J. H. Newman’s words, made so famous by Charles Kingsley; “It is not more than an hyperbole to say, that, in certain cases, a lie is the nearest approach to the truth.” St Paul’s words here cannot be true, and yet it is possible that they are the best way of stating what is true. We have once more got down to “the bed-rock of a contradiction.” “But it raises one’s opinion of the extraordinary sanity of Paul’s judgment, and his insight, that he could be so near to the substitutionary view of the Atonement without accepting it. He was in fact kept from accepting it by his view of the nature of faith, which was of an extremely practical kind. He regarded salvation as consisting in the continuing of the life of Christ and sharing His obedience, but not in being merely justified, as in a law-court, by a fictitious claim to merit which one did not possess” (P. Gardner, The Religious Experience of St Paul, p. 195).


ἵνα ἡμεῖς γενώμεθα. ‘In order that we might become.’ It is for our gain, not His; the whole process is ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν. For ἡμεῖς he might have said οἱ μὴ γνόντες δικαιοσύνην.

δικαιοσύνη Θεοῦ. It is God’s, not ours (Romans 10:3); it is the righteousness which characterizes Him and which He imparts as a grace to man (Romans 5:17). See on Romans 1:17; also Briggs, The Messiah of the Apostles, pp. 123-126; Bruce, St Paul’s Conception of Christianity, p. 176.

ἐν αὐτῷ. It is in Christ, i.e. through our union with Him and our sharing in the outcome of His Death and Resurrection, and not in our own right, that we become righteous in God’s sight. Ἐν αὐτῷ in this clause corresponds to ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν in the previous clause; but the same preposition could not be used in both places. St Paul could not have said that Christ was made to be sin ‘in us’; still less that we become righteous ‘on Christ’s behalf.’ See on Romans 3:26.


For numerous theories of the Atonement see Ritschl, justification and Reconciliation, 2nd ed. 1902; H. N. Oxenham, The Catholic Doctrine of the Atonement, 1881; Dale, The Doctrine of the Atonement, 1875; A. Lyttelton in Lux Mundi, 1889; Westcott, The Victory of the Cross, 1889; J. M. Wilson, Hulsean Lectures, 1899; G. B. Stevens, Christian Doctrine of Salvation, 1905; R. C. Moberly, Atonement and Personality, 1907.

א3 D3 E K L P, Syrr. Arm. Aeth. Goth. AV insert γάρ after τόν: א * B C D * F G 17, 67 * *, Latt. Copt. RV. omit. Aug. (Enchir. 41) knew of a text in quibusdam mendosis codicibus which had ὁ μὴ γνοὺς ἁμαρτίαν, is qui non noverat peccatum, pro nobis peccaium fecit, “as if,” says Augustine, “for our sakes Christ committed sin!”









* It is hardly necessary to point out that there is no warrant for limiting the ‘we’ in this section (1-10) to the Apostle, as if he expected to be made an exception to belivers in general.

† See alos Romans 5:12. In the early versions, hic often represents the Greek article, and Jerome has allowed this to stand in various places in the Epistles which he seems to have revised much less carefully than the Gospels. In the Gospels he has not allowed hic mundus to stand for ὁ κόσμος.


* Cicero suggests that it is because corpses are buried in the ground, that people believe that the life of the dead is spent under the earth; quam opinionem magni errores consecuti sunt (Tusc. I. xvi. 36; see also De Rep. vi. 6:15, 26, 29).

* Spenser seems to have that the form of the natural body is derived from the soul. In his Hymne in Honour of Beutie he says; “For of the soule the bodies forme doth take; For soule is forme, and doth the bodie make.” Philo thought otherwise; ὀ ημέτερος νοῦς οὐ δεδημιούργηκε τὸσῶμα,�

Romans 15:4, προεγράφη is repeated as ἐγράφη, Ephesians 6:13,�1 Peter 1:10, ἐξηραύνησαν as ἐραυνῶντες (J. H. Moulton, p. 115).


אԠא (Fourth century). Codex Sinaiticus; now at Petrograd, the only uncial MS. containing the whole N.T.

C C (Fifth century). Codex Ephraemi, a Palimpsest; now at Paris, very defective. Of 2 Corinthians all from 10:8 onwards is wanting.

K K (Ninth century). Codex Mosquensis; now at Moscow.

L L (Ninth century). Codex Angelicus; now in the Angelica Library at Rome.

P P (Ninth century). Codex Porfirianus Chiovensis, formerly possessed by Bishop Porfiri of Kiev, and now at Petrograd.

B B (Fourth century). Codex Vaticanus.

17 17. (Evan. 33, Act_13. Ninth century). Now at paris. “The queen of the cursives” and the best for the Pauline Epistles; more than any other it preserves Pre-Syrian readings and agrees with B D L.


* information respecting the commentator is to be found in the volume on the First Epistle, pp. lxvi f.

d d The Latin companion of D

e d The Latin companion of E

g d The Latin companion of G

* This desire is frequently expressed by philosophers, especially of the Platonic and Neo-Platonic School, but it is not expressed here. The Jewish belief was that the soul, furnished with a body, contitutes a man.

† “The common ἐφʼ ᾧ c. fut. indic., ‘on condition that,’ does not appear in the N.T.” (J H. Moulton, p. 107).

67 67. (Eleventh century). At Vienna. Has valuable marginal readings (67 * *) akin to B and M; these readings must have been copied from an ancient MS., but not from the Codex Ruber itself.

* In the Testament of Abraham 15 (p. 95, ed. James), ὁ�

* In Xen. Hellers. III. ii. 4, the MSS. have είπὼγ ὡς ὃτι ὄκνοίη, but editors reject the ὄτι. In late Greek ὡς ὅτι seems to be used as equivalent to ὅτι. See Milligan on 2 Thessalonians 2:2.


* Klöpper points out that ὺπὲρ χρ. cannot mean ‘in Christ’s stead,’ which is not given in vv. 18, 19; it means ‘in Christ’s interest,’ Chrisli causam agens. The Apostle is God’s ambassador to further the cause of Christ.

* Gregory of Nyssa, who quotes the statement several times, would make ‘sin’ mean ‘flesh,’ the seat of sin.

Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5". International Critical Commentary NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/2-corinthians-5.html. 1896-1924.
 
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