free while helping to build churches and support pastors in Uganda.
Click here to learn more!
IX.—THE WORTHLESS AND FEEBLE APPEARANCE OF MINISTERS. CONFIDENCE IN VIEW OF THE GLORIOUS RESULT OF THEIR AFFLICTIONS
2 Corinthians 4:7 to 2 Corinthians 5:10
7But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency [exceeding greatness] 8of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side [In every way we are hard pressed], yet not distressed [inextricably straitened]; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord [om. the Lord]8 Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 11For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be 12made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then [that]9 death worketh in us, but life in you. 13We [But] having the same Spirit of faith, according as it is written, “I believe, and 14[om. and]10 therefore have I spoken;” we also believe, and therefore speak; knowing that he which raised up the Lord11 Jesus shall raise up us also by [with]12 Jesus, and shall present us with you. 15For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound [that the grace, becoming more abundant in consequence of the greater number, might multiply (περισσεύσῃ) the thanksgiving] to the glory of God. 16For which cause we faint not13; but though our outward man perish [is wasting away, διαφθείρεται], yet the [our] inward14 man is renewed day by day. 17For our light affliction, which is but for a moment15, worketh for us a far more exceeding and [om. and] eternal weight of glory; 18while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal [temporary, πρόσκαιρα], but the things which are not seen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 5:1. For we know that, if our earthly house of this tabernacle [tent-dwelling] were dissolved, we have [in the heavens] a building of [from, ἐκ] God, a house not made with hands, eternal [,] in the heavens [om. in the heavens]. 2For in this [also] we groan, earnestly 3desiringto be clothed upon with [to put on over this] our house which is from 4heaven: if so be that [since indeed, εἵγε καὶ]16 being clothed17 we shall not be found naked. For [even] we that are in this [the]18 tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, [because we are not willing to be unclothed], but clothed upon, 5that mortality [our mortal part] might be swallowed up of [by] life. Now [But] he that hath wrought us [out] for the self-same thing is God, who also [om. also]19 hath6given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are [Being] always confident, 7knowing that, whilst we are at [in our] home in the body, we are absent from [our home in] the Lord: for we walk by faith, not by sight [appearance]: 8we are confident, 9I say, and willing [well pleased] rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore [also] we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of [acceptable to] him. 10For we must all appear [be made manifest] before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in [through] his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be [were] good or bad.20
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
2 Corinthians 4:7. [This glorious ministry was intrusted to weak and decaying vessels. “As the Apostle had spoken many and great things of the indescribable glory, there was danger that some would say, ‘How can those who have such glory continue in these mortal bodies?’ He, therefore, says that this is indeed a matter of chief surprise, and a remarkable instance of Divine power, that an earthen vessel should be able to endure such extreme splendor, and to hold in custody so great a treasure.” Chrysostom. He insensibly passes to the Divine supports which he experienced under the weaknesses of his body and the difficulties of his work].—But we have this treasure in earthen vessels.—The δέ leads us on to the exhibition of the contrast between the glory of which he had just been speaking, and the infirmity and afflicted state of those who were its possessors. We can hardly suppose that he is here directly defending himself against objections which had been formally arrayed against him (see Meyer); and yet he doubtless had his eye on those opponents who had endured much less for Christ’s cause. (comp. 2 Corinthians 11:23 ff.).—The word treasure indicates the great value of the Divine illumination (2 Corinthians 4:6), and of course implies the importance of the office which is directed to the diffusion of the light of the knowledge, etc. In contrast with this is the ὀστράκινα σκεύη, clayey vessel, which is of a cheap and fragile nature. We naturally expect that a valuable possession will be deposited in precious and valuable vessels. In this he has no reference to some special insignificance or weakness of his person, or to some peculiar sickliness of his bodily frame, nor indeed to himself exclusively (σκεύεσιν, καρδίαις, 2 Corinthians 4:6), but according to his usage, to the general state of the human body, perishable as it always is, and destined to dissolution. (comp. 2Co 4:16; 2 Corinthians 5:1 ff.).—[The word σκεῦος, as applied to the human body, had almost lost its metaphorical character among the Greeks. (comp. Romans 9:22-23; 1 Peter 3:7; 2 Timothy 2:21). The Platonists spoke of two bodies; one (ὅχημα ψυχῆς) was the external chariot or vehicle of the soul, and the other (ὅστράκινον σκεῦος) was the frail body which the soul inhabits as the testacea do their shell. The substantive ὅστρακον signifies either burnt clay, with any thing made of it, a piece of tile, and especially the tablet used in voting (hence ostracise), or the hard shell of the testacea. The latter seems to have been the most ancient meaning, and the two significations are connected, perhaps because shells were at first used as vessels, or were the material from which vessels were made. Chrysostom: “Our mortal nature is nothing better constituted than earthen ware; for it is soon damaged, and by death and disease, and variations of temperature and ten thousand other things, easily dissolved.” Dr. Hodge, Neander and Billroth think that earthen vessels here signify not the frail bodies merely, but the whole human nature of ministers since it is not solely on account of their corporeal frailty that they are incompetent to produce the effects which flow from their ministrations. But though the fact here assumed is true, the mind of the Apostle was evidently here fixed upon the body alone; as is clear from the usage of ὀστράκινον σκεῦος, and from the equivalent phrases (our outward man, and our earthly tent in which we dwell) in 2 Corinthians 4:16 and 2 Corinthians 5:1.]. In the apparent unsuitableness of such an arrangement, he discovered a Divine purpose of an exalted character.—That the exceeding greatness of the power may be seen to be God’s and not ours.—[On the telic and not ecbatic signification of ἵνα consult Winer § 57, p. 355]. The exceeding greatness of the power (ὑπερβολὴ (found also in 2 Corinthians 12:7) τῆς δυνάμεως) signifies the power which was so triumphant in the whole sphere of the Apostolic ministry to convert and enlighten men, notwithstanding the afflictions, persecutions, difficulties and conflicts which had to be endured. (comp. 2 Corinthians 4:8 ff.). It was in these very circumstances that its superiority to every other agency had been shown (δύναμις 1 Corinthians 4:20).—The ῇ like γένηται in Romans 7:13, and εἷναι in Romans 3:26, has the logical import of φανῇ or εὑρηθῇ οὗσα [i. e., may appear to be.]. The genitive θεοῦ has the force of, belonging to God; and it is contrasted with ἐξ ἡμων: going out from us.
2 Corinthians 4:8-10. [All the sentences in this passage are participial, and yet they are not inappropriately rendered in our A. V. in the first person of the present Indicative. “In each of these pairs of antitheses the signification of the second is cognate to that of the first; in those in 2 Corinthians 6:9-10, contrary: each second is also here the extreme of the first.” Webster & Wilkinson]. They are connected in signification with the preceding verse, in which had been announced the design or end God had in view. He thus asserts that the superabundant power which was exhibited in his Apostolical work belonged entirely to that God who helped him and carried him through all his distresses and infirmities.—We are pressed in every way but not straitened.—̓Εν παντὶ signifies here, not in all places, but in every way and on every occasion, as in 2 Corinthians 7:5. [Dr. Hodge also suggests that the words belong to all the following clauses, and not merely to the first]. Στενοχωρεῖσθαι signifies to be hemmed in a narrow space from which there is no exit. [Stanley: pressed for room, but still having room]. The noun occurs in 2 Corinthians 6:4; 2 Corinthians 12:10. As οὐ στενοχωρούμενοι, in which God’s power is displayed, is related to θλιβόμενοι, so is οὐκ ἐξαπορούμενοι to ἀπορούμενοι:—perplexed but not despairing.—The word ἀπορούμενοι signifies, to come into perplexities and ἐξαπορ. to come into such extreme despair, that one knows not what to do or where to look for help. [Stanley: losing our way, but not entirely; bewildered, but not benighted]. There is probably in this antithesis an allusion, not merely to his external, but to his internal state; for under distressing and straitened circumstances, under fatigue and hostile assaults, the mind becomes oppressed, and hence perplexed and in despair. In such a condition God’s power had been revealed, so that in the midst of his human infirmities, he had not been reduced to extremity, nor been without counsel or hope.—Persecuted, but not forsaken (2 Corinthians 4:9).—He here begins to speak of outward circumstances. In διωκόμενοι and ἐγκαταλειπόμενοι the metaphor is not that of a foot-race [pursued, but not left behind, (Olshausen, Stanley,) for the Apostle is speaking, not of rivalry from those who as runners had the same end in view, but of troubles and persecutions” Alford]; for διώκεσθαι, as in 1 Corinthians 4:12, signifies to be persecuted (so διωγμοί in 2 Corinthians 12:10), and ἐγκαταλείπεσθαι, to be left under persecutions, to be abandoned without help (see Meyer). The word occurs also in 2 Timothy 4:16. The figure of a conflict runs through both clauses of the verse:—cast down, but not destroyed; καταβαλλόμενοι is an advance beyond the meaning of διωκόμενοι, for it asserts that he was not only chased, but pulled or stricken down to the ground. Neander: “We have here the comparison of a combatant who is indeed thrown down by his antagonist in the conflict, and is awaiting his death blow, but who, after all, succeeds in rising again.” The Catholic interpretation is: “one who is seized in his flight, and is prostrated, but not slain.” Not being destroyed was the consequence of not being forsaken. In 2 Corinthians 4:10 the apostolic sufferings are set forth in their highest degree of intensity, as an extreme peril of life itself, a perpetual hanging in suspense:—always bearing about in our body the dying of Jesus.(comp. 1 Corinthians 15:31; Romans 8:36).—Νέκρωσις is a killing, or putting to death, but it has also an intransitive signification, a dying; here in a physical and not an ethical sense. (comp. 2 Corinthians 4:11). The dying of Jesus is represented as permanently connected with his body in such a way that he was never without it, and always carried it with him. [It was a perpetual νέκρωσις, a dying, but never a θάνατος, death]. It was something which attached to him in consequence of his common fellowship with Jesus in his mode of life and his office, and accompanied him wherever he was. [Chrysostom: we are shown every day dying, that we may also be seen every day rising again]. Those explanations miss the true sense of the Apostle, which describe it as a violent death from wounds (Galatians 6:17), or a sickness which contained the seeds of death (Rückert). The antithesis is introduced in the following final sentence—that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our body—where we are told the purpose or design which God had in view when He permitted such sufferings (comp. 2 Corinthians 4:7). The life of Jesus. the ζωὴ, contrasted with the νέκρωσις, signifies that life which is the triumphant result of the death of Jesus, viz: the life which He had in His resurrection. Its manifestation in the body of the Apostle was probably nothing but the fact that although he was always in danger of death, he always came forth alive out of his deadly perils. The idea is that of unity with Christ or resemblance to Christ in His life, as before in His dying. The context and the contrast suggest this. Though Jesus or the life of Jesus may have been the source of this life, such is not the assertion of the text, and such an assertion would not be suitable to the context. If we attempt to unite the two ideas in one explanation, we only mingle together two distinct representations (life in its unity and resemblance, and life in its energy). In a subsequent part of the Apostle’s discourse (2 Corinthians 4:14 ff.) the glorification of the body in the resurrection is perhaps a topic of consideration, but no allusion is made to it here. Still less is there any reference to a spiritual or moral influence, as though the Apostle would assert that the same living power through which Christ was raised and now lives, might be seen in the invincible energy of soul which he exhibited in the midst of all his adversities (de Wette). It is inconsistent with such a view that he uses the phrase, in our body (ἐν τῷ σώματι ἡμῶν), and the corresponding expression, in our mortal flesh (ἐν τῇ θνῃτῇσαρκί ἡμῶν, 2 Corinthians 4:11, comp. also 2 Corinthians 6:9); and it is not a sufficient explanation of this idea to say, that his official influence is conceived of in its outward manifestation, in connection with and acting through the feeble members of his body (Osiander). [It is, however, against this wholly natural view of the life of Jesus acting in Paul’s body that, in 2 Corinthians 4:12, he speaks of it as acting through him upon the Corinthians, and in them producing spiritual effects (comp. Alford. But see notes on that ver.). “Perhaps Paul does not refer to any single thing in the life of the Lord Jesus, but means that he did this in order that in all things the same life, the same kind of living which characterized the Lord Jesus might be manifested in him; so that he resembled Him in his sufferings and trials, in order that in all things he might have the same life in his body.”—Barnes].
2 Corinthians 4:11. For we which live are ever delivered unto death.—This is an explanation and a confirmation of what had been said in 2 Corinthians 4:10. Corresponding with the bearing about the dying of Jesus in the body, we have here a being delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake. And yet it does not follow that the dying of Jesus was precisely the same as the dying for Jesus’ sake. The thought (2 Corinthians 4:10) of the identity of the dying (in behalf of the same cause) is modified in 2 Corinthians 4:11 by becoming a deliverance unto death for Jesus’ sake. Both ideas, however, are fundamentally the same, so far as the cause of God’s kingdom, for which both Jesus and His Apostle endured such deadly sufferings, and the person and name of Jesus himself, were essentially connected. In διὰ Ἰησοῦν, here rendered, for Jesus’ sake, διά indicates the true reason but not the object had in view (to glorify Jesus), although the cause and the design are closely united. Much less does this preposition mean the same thing as: auctoritate Jesu, for it cannot have reference to the motive of the action, inasmuch as the deliverance (παραδιδόμεθα) is passive, and can have no allusion to the voluntariness of the subject of the action. The being delivered to death (εἰς θάν. παδιδ.) is intensified by the contrast implied in, we who are alive (ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες.), as if they were delivered up to death in full life. Neander: “Now we seem in the midst of life and a moment afterwards we are given up to death.” This is neither an anticipation of what is said in the succeeding final sentence (as if the Apostle had intended to say: we who are kept alive), nor is it the same as to say: “as long as we live;” nor is it a feeble expression by which he would inform us: we who are still alive while so many of our fellow-Christians are dead; nor, moreover, is it to be taken as an emphatic description of the spiritual life (Osiander, Bisping); those in whom Jesus’ life acts to make them His organs of communication with men must have life through the spirit and power of faith (John 3:36; John 11:25; Galatians 2:20). Such a view as is contained in this last mode of interpretation could derive support only from the final sentence in 2 Corinthians 4:10, as it is explained by de Wette. The deliverance to death was accomplished through the agency of men, but it must be referred ultimately to God (ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ), inasmuch as the final sentence indicates that there was a Divine purpose in the case.—that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.—In the inference which is drawn in this final sentence, the words, in our mortal flesh (ἐν τῆ θνητῇ σαρκῖ ἡμῶν), are emphatic, and are an augmentation of the thought expressed in 2 Corinthians 4:10 respecting the manifestation in our body (ἐν τῷ σώματι); or perhaps they are a stronger expression to bring into more striking contrast the revelation of Jesus’ life, inasmuch as this life must become more manifest in the midst of this weakness and frailty of the body.
2 Corinthians 4:12. So then death worketh in as but life in you.—We have here the result of what he had just described, and its relation to the Corinthian Church. We should naturally have expected in such an expression ὁ μὲν θάνατος (lect. rec.), but the particle was probably left out by the Apostle intentionally, that the contrast might be the more striking. Death and life were both active powers (as in every other part of the New Testament ἐνεργεῖται must be taken in an active and not in a passive signification.) Death was working in the Apostle, inasmuch as he was always exposed to death (2 Corinthians 4:10-11), but life was working in the Corinthians. But in what sense was this true of the Corinthians? Not directly but mediately, in the degree in which Jesus’ life was revealed in the Apostle’s body. The connection with 2 Corinthians 4:10-11 seems to demand this. It was by the Apostle’s dangers that he came into just the position to exert his apostolic powers for their good. While, therefore, he felt the continual influence of death, they were receiving a perpetual stream of quickening energies from his death. We are neither compelled to understand (with de Wette and Osiander) the life (ζωή) here spoken of as meaning the higher spiritual life, the Divine power which was glorified in the Apostle’s sufferings and its working (ἐνεργεῖται), as expressing the beneficial influence of his ministry in implanting and strengthening their faith, nor would we be justified in giving such a turn to the thought. [On the other hand Alford contends that the idea of Christ’s natural life acting upon the Corinthians through Paul, is much forced. “In Romans 8:10 f., the vivifying influence of His Spirit, who raised Jesus from the dead is spoken of as extending to the body also; here the upholding influence of Him who delivers and preserves the body is spoken of as vivifying the whole man: life, in both places, being the higher and spiritual life, including the lower and natural. ‘And in our relative positions—ye are examples of this life since ye are a church of believers, alive to God through Christ in your various vocations, and not called upon to be θεατριζόμενοι as we are, who are (not indeed excluded from that life—nay, it flows from us to you—but are) more especially examples of conformity to the death of our common Lord, in whom death works.” “Death and life are personified, and the one is operative in Paul and the other in the Corinthians.”—Hodge]. Entirely unsuitable to the whole tenor of the Epistle and of this particular section would be the supposition of an irony in which the Apostle contrasts his own extreme perils with the peace and prosperity of the Corinthians. Comp. 1 Corinthians 4:8 (Chrysostom, Calvin).
2 Corinthians 4:13-14.—But having the same spirit of faith (as it is written, I believed, therefore I spoke).—The Apostle now passes on to the spiritual side of the description he was giving of the Divine power in him (2 Corinthians 4:7). [But though you might think this working of death discouraging to us, it is not so in fact; for we are animated by two great principles: first, an assured faith that we shall participate with you in the benefits of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:13-16), and secondly, a confident hope of a glorious renovation (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Our version omits the connecting particle δέ which expresses the contrast between what follows and what precedes: death worketh indeed in us, but] the same spirit of faith impels us to speak to our fellow-men and to make known the Gospel, which had been expressed in that passage of Scripture, in which it is said: I believed, therefore I spoke. The δέ also introduces an additional point in the discourse. The Spirit of faith denotes, not the spirit or disposition of faith, but the Spirit of God, which produced faith in the heart, the Spirit which he had received, which dwelt in him, and whose organ he was in the ministration of the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:8; comp. the spirit of meekness in 1 Corinthians 4:21; Galatians 6:1, et al. Neander: “the Apostle is here speaking of that peculiar influence of the Holy Spirit by which he acquired a confirmed confidence in God that he would come forth triumphant over all death, and that every thing would promote the welfare of himself and of the whole Church.” Τὸ αὐτό refers not to the faith of the Corinthians (the same which ye have), for the context suggests nothing of this kind, and the Apostle is speaking of the Corinthians only as the receivers or objects of his beneficial agency, but to the τὸ γεγραμμένον with its contents: the same spirit of confidence in God which is expressed in the following passage of the Scriptures. The passage is found in Psalms 116:10, though it is taken from the LXX., and does not give us the precise translation of the original Heb. תֶאֱמַנְתִי כִי אֲדַבֵּר,” believed, for I spoke.” [Comp. Hengstenberg on the Psalms.]. This, however, conducts us essentially to the same idea, for the speech, the discourse of the psalmist, expressive of prayerful submission, thankfulness and hope (2 Corinthians 4:1-9), is something in which faith is shown, and must have proceeded from faith. Bengel says: “No sooner does faith exist than she begins to speak to others, and while speaking recognizes herself and grows in power.”—Like the Psalmist, we also believe and therefore speak.—The believing of the Apostle, like that of the Psalmist, was a firm assurance that the quickening power of the Lord would help him through, and deliver him out of all his distresses. From this proceeds a spirit of praise for the deliverance given him; for in his preaching and in his testimony before the Church, his great object was to glorify God.—But the faith which moved him to speak involved also a confident hope that the power of God would ever afterwards be manifested in him, 2 Corinthians 4:14 :—Knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus.—We have εἰδότες in like manner in 1 Corinthians 15:58. The basis of this hope was the Divine fact on which all his faith and his salvation rested, 1 Corinthians 15:13 ff.; Romans 8:11, et al. The substance of this confidence was, that he who had raised up the Lord Jesus, will raise up us also with Jesus.—The most natural and probably the correct view of this passage leads our thoughts to the general resurrection. The fact that in other passages Paul holds before himself and his fellow-believers of that period the possibility that they might be changed without dying (1Co 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:15 f.), does not militate against such a view, for he also intimates (2 Corinthians 5:8) that they miht possibly be called to die, and we may include under the general idea of being raised up, the more special one of a simple change (comp. on 1 Corinthians 6:14). Instead of σύν one would more naturally have expected διὰ or ἐν, 1 Corinthians 15:21-22. But just as in ἅξει σὺν αὐτῷ 1 Thessalonians 4:14, the fellowship with him into which they were to be introduced, was pointed out, so the resurrection with Jesus in this place is a pattern which, in like manner, is founded upon a fellowship with Him, and is its highest realization and glorification, Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 2:12; Colossians 3:1. Of a resurrection with Jesus, in some other sense than that of a bodily resurrection, the Apostle never speaks, except in the past tense. No intimation is given of a deliverance from the peril of death (Meyer), and the words, with Jesus, are at least no more fitted to such an idea than they are to ἐγείρειν in the sense of a literal resurrection of the dead. If the former is a common fellowship in the lot of the risen Jesus, the latter is still more so. It is for this reason that he immediately adds:—and will present us with you.—This must refer to a presentation before the judgment seat of Christ for the reception of the great prize (2 Corinthians 1:14; 2 Corinthians 5:10; comp. 2 Timothy 4:8; 2 Timothy 2:0 Thess. 2:19), or, which comes to the same result, a presentation of them as the companions of Christ in His kingdom. [This presentation by Christ is not the same with standing before His bar for judgment. The Apostle has here no allusion to the more awful scenes of the last judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10) but only to the more animating presentation with Christ and by Christ for final acceptance by the Father].
2 Corinthians 4:15. For all things are for your sakes.—This is immediately connected with the preceding phrase, in which he had declared that he would have fellowship with them in the future glory. The all things has reference to what he had said of his afflictions and his deliverances, of his faith and its fruits, and of his speaking and witnessing for the truth in the power of faith. In 2 Corinthians 4:12 he had said that life was energizing in them, and he now declares that all things he had mentioned (τὰ πάντα), would turn out for their good. (comp. 2 Corinthians 1:6; Philippians 1:25; 2 Timothy 2:10). He will present us with you, for all these things take place for your sakes. In the final sentence he tells them of the ultimate result to which all things would be conducted:—in order that the grace which abounds through many, might multiply thanksgivings to the glory of God.—The grace (χάρις) is here not the whole salvation sealed by the resurrection of Christ, for such an idea would not be expressed by a phrase like τὰπάντα, but the gracious assistance of which he had just spoken. (2 Corinthians 4:10 ff.). Πλεονάσασα διὰτῶν πλειόνων signifies that the grace was increased or enlarged by the greater number of those who participate in it, or to whom it is extended. The persons here spoken of are not those who would become interested in the blessing in consequence of the Corinthians’ intercessions in his behalf, for his subject did not call for such an allusion (as in 2 Corinthians 1:11). The same general sense of the passage would be gained if we should connect διὰ τῶν πλειόνων with the following περισσεύσῃ):—that the abounding grace might multiply the thanksgivings by means of many.—In this case the increased number, who participated in the blessing, were those through whom the grace, extended or enlarged by their participation, would be the means of a more abundant thanksgiving. This is certainly better than passing over the intervening τῶν πλειόνων, to govern τήν ἐυχαριστίαν by διά(in which case the genitive would have been more grammatical; comp. 2 Corinthians 9:12), and to take περισσεύσῃ in an intransitive sense. The word, however, is frequently used in either a transitive or an intransitive signification; comp. 2Co 9:8; 2 Corinthians 9:12. On the phrase, to the glory of God, comp. 1 Corinthians 10:31. [Alford presents us with four ways of translating this clause: 1.“that grace having abounded by means of the greater number (who have received it), may multiply the thanksgiving to the glory of God;” 2. “that grace having abounded, may, on account of the thanksgiving of the greater number, be multiplied to the glory of God.” (Luther, Bengel, etc.); 3. “that grace having abounded, may, by means of the greater number, multiply the thanksgiving to the glory of God.” (De Wette); 4. “that grace having multiplied by means of the greater number, the thanksgiving may abound to the glory of God.” (Proposed as possible, but not adopted by himself). He prefers the first as “most agreeable to the position of the words and to the emphasis.”]
2 Corinthians 4:16-18. For which cause we faint not.—Διό refers back to 2 Corinthians 4:14. (2 Corinthians 4:15 was only an explanation of 2 Corinthians 4:14). We faint not (οὐκ ἐκκακοῦμεν) occurs here in the same sense as in 2 Corinthians 4:1. In positive contrast with this, he says:—but even if our outward man is wasted away, our inward (man) is nevertheless renewed day by day.—The outward man (‘ο ἕξω ἅνθρωπος), is an expression found only in this place, and it denotes the whole personal existence, so far as it is embodied in nature and the laws of the external common life. On the other hand, ὁ ἕσωθεν ἅνθρ denotes the same personal existence, so far as it is determined by the Divine law, and participates in the fulness of the Divine life. Comp. Romans 7:22; comp. 23 (where νοῦς is an equivalent word): Ephesians 3:16 comp. 19. (Beck, Seelenl., 68 f. comp. 42, 37). Meyer thinks the former expression denotes that which is visible in us, i.e., our corporeal nature, and the latter, our intellectual, rational and moral selves. Osiander understands by the latter term, the essential nature of man, kindred with God and capable of regeneration. [Hodge: “man’s higher nature—his soul as the subject of the Divine life.”] Comp. Delitzsch, Bibl. Psychol., pp. 145 f. 331, 333. [Alford, Stanley, Barnes and Bloomfield understand by it simply the soul in distinction from the body]. The doctrine of Collenbusch and Menken, that the inner man is an invisible body, existing in some concealed form within us, cannot be sustained by any natural exegesis, or by the plain meaning of these words. The attempt which Osiander has made to devise an intermediate doctrine according to which the inner man is the sphere of the higher spiritual life, which, however, communicates itself to the whole man by perpetually acting in an outward direction, and which, therefore, contains the germ of a higher bodily life and of a corporeal resurrection, is certainly problematical. The wasting away (διαφθείρεσθαι) of our outer man, i. e., the destruction of the outer man by the consuming, fretting, and disintegrating conflicts which his sufferings involved, is here alluded to as an actual process in the εἰ καί (which cannot mean: even supposing that. Rückert), and was an actual fact of the Apostle’s experience, notwithstanding the salvation asserted in 2 Corinthians 4:10 f. In contrast with this perishing of the outer, he now places the renewal (ἀνακαινοῦσθαι) of the inner man. Neander: “the ἀνά presupposes an original image of God in man.” Both processes are represented as perpetually going on, but the inward man is said to be continually endued with new power, i. e., to be renewed, and sustained by the quickening Spirit (πνεῦμα ζωοποιοῦν) which came to him from Christ. (2 Corinthians 3:17 f. and 2 Corinthians 4:6). ̔Ημέρᾳ καὶ ἡμέρᾳ is like the Hebr. יוֹם יוֹם, Psalms 68:20; Genesis 39:10; Esther 3:4). The second ἀλλά is equivalent to: yet, nevertheless, as is frequently the case in hypothetical conclusions in which the apodosis contains a contrast to the protasis. (comp. 2 Corinthians 5:16; 2 Corinthians 9:6; 2Co 13:4; 1 Corinthians 4:15; 1 Corinthians 9:2).—For our light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh for us exceeding abundantly, an eternal weight of glory. (2 Corinthians 4:17).—He here notices what it was which gave such continual refreshment to his inward man, under the exhausting influence of his sufferings. It was the hope of glory with which the Spirit of Christ had inspired him, and which showed him that these suffering were only the momentary and slight inconveniences of a transition state, and the necessary means of attaining a state of glory. (Comp. 2 Corinthians 4:14; Romans 5:6; Romans 8:17 ff.). Inasmuch as this view of his sufferings contained the reason for the renewal of which he had spoken (ἀνακαίνωσις), he introduces it with a γάρ The verse contains a sharp antithesis. There is on the one hand τὸ παραυταίκα ἐλαφρὸν τῆς θλίψεως,the momentary21 (coming and going in a moment) lightness (in respect to weight and therefore easily to be borne) of the affliction (an oxymoron, since θλῖψις, oppression, implies something heavy), and on the other, the eternal weight of glory (τὸ αἰώνιον βάρος δόξης). Βάρος signifies weight, and therefore pressure, and would seem more appropriately connected with the affliction (θλῖψις), but is here applied to the glory (δόξα) on account of the great extent or high degree of the glory. The meaning is: the affliction is soon over and light, while the glory is everlasting and weighty. Possibly the affliction was called momentary on account of the nearness of Christ’s second coming, i. e. the Parousia (Meyer). Certainly the everlasting duration and the magnitude of the glory, when contemplated by a steady eye of faith, would make afflictions seem but momentary and light.—But we must understand the Apostle as implying that the afflictions are the actual cause of the glory. The θλῖψις is the means of producing and bringing to pass the δόξα, i. e. the glory of the heavenly kingdom. This is a consequence of that. What is represented in other passages as a reward (com. Matthew 5:10; Luke 16:25; Rom 8:27; 2 Timothy 2:12; Romans 5:2-5), is here represented as a natural result. The affliction so exercises and purifies the believer, that he is qualified to enjoy the glory, or, it promotes the sanctification of both soul and body. Nothing is said, however, to imply that the sufferings have any merit in themselves, or have any intrinsic value in the matter of our justification.—The qualification καθ ̓ ὐπερβολήν εἰς ὑπερβολήν does not seem applicable to αἰώνιον, and it must therefore be connected with κατεργάζεται; they work in a superabundant manner, even to a superfluity. Meyer explains it as: the measureless energy and the measureless results of the working (κατεργάζεται, comp. 2Co 1:8; 2 Corinthians 10:15; 1 Corinthians 12:31; Galatians 1:13; Romans 7:13, et al.). It may then be indirectly connected with the δόξα (Osiander). A separation of the words so as to make the first καθ ̓ ὑπερβ, have reference to τῆς θλίψεως (the exceedingly intense affliction), and the second εἰς ὑπερβ. to the δόξαν (Bengel) is not sustained by grammatical usage.—Such an accumulation of epithets indicates the highest possible degree, but not a development of the glory from one super-eminent position of glory to another still higher. In 2 Corinthians 4:18 he notices still further the subjective reason for such a result: while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. To take this in the sense of something which must be presupposed is a condition to what had just been said, is not called for, since the Apostle in the context is not exhorting his readers, but is simply describing a fact, and ἡμῶν can be taken only by way of application to a more extensive class (to believers generally). Σκοπεῖν is: to take in sight, particularly to look upon the object of our exertion, as in Philippians 2:4. The things which are seen (τὰ βλεπόμενα) are the blessings of the αἰὼν ον̓͂τος, the things we perceive by our senses; the things not seen (τὰ μὴ βλεπόμενα) are those of the άιυν μέλλων, things which are beyond the perception of our senses, and yet not precisely the same as the ἀόρατα (invisible things). Bengel says: “many things which are at present unseen, will be visible when faith’s journey is accomplished.” The μὴ in connection with μὴ σκοπούντων ἡμῶν describes the subjective position in which believers are supposed to be (Winer 22).—For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).—He here gives the reason for the not looking at, etc., πρόςκαιρα (temporary), is applicable to a definite period of time, that which continues only for a limited season, and hence means not so much temporal as transitory. It occurs also in Matthew 13:21; Mark 4:17; Hebrews 9:25.
2 Corinthians 5:1. For we know that if the earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved.—We have here the reasons assigned for what had been said in 2 Corinthians 4:17 : “We have said that our temporal afflictions worked for us an eternal weight of glory, and the reason is, we know,” etc. Or, it will come to the same end, if we take the idea thus: Our afflictions accomplish the result we have mentioned; for we have, as we know, etc. Οἵδαμεν, “we,” i. e., the Apostle and his companions “know,” for there is no appeal here to the general consciousness of men, as in some other places. ̓Εάν expresses the possible occurrence of an event, the actual occurrence of which he leaves to the future to determine. This event is his not living until the Parousia, the second coming of Christ. It was the death of his present body, here figuratively called the destruction of his earthly tabernacle. Τοῦ σκήνους is here the genitive of apposition, for the house was the same as the (well-known) tabernacle. The body is thus described as a dwelling of the spirit which is easily broken up. There is no allusion, however, to the tent habitations of the Israelites in the wilderness, or the tabernacle of witness there. In the same way we have σκήνωμα in 2 Peter 1:13 f. The word σκῆνος (tent) was frequently used among the Greeks for the earthly habitation or covering of the soul, but invariably with reference to the earthly body, and always with some allusion to the fundamental notion of a temporary tent. (Meyer).1 ̓Επιγέιος, as in 1 Corinthians 15:40, means that which is on earth. [Stanley: “ἐπὶ not of but upon the earth (comp. 1 Corinthians 15:40), opposed to ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς and εξοὐρανοῦ”]. In case this earthly habitation, which was given him only for a time, should be destroyed, he expresses his certain assurance that we have a building (which is) from God—a dwelling not made by hands, eternal, in the heavens.—The words ἐκ θεοῦ are not to be joined with ἔχομεν, as if we received it from God, and yet the dwelling was said to be of a directly Divine origin. This is said in the highest sense, as if it were the result of an immediate Divine agency ( 1 Corinthians 15:38); and was not like the present body, merely of a general Divine origin (1 Corinthians 12:18-24). In this respect it was like the heavenly city of which it is said that its builder and maker is God. Hebrews 11:10. But this building (οἰκοδομή) is not the city of God nor the house of the Father, John 14:3 (in which case the phrase: our earthly dwelling of this tabernacle, would imply that the earth itself is a transient place of residence), but the resurrection body, the result of a new Divine creation. This is still further defined as an house not made by hands (οἰκία ). In this expression, the lower human origin is denied, but in a way corresponding to the figure and not to the thing spoken of. It is not needful here to recur to the original formation of the body in Genesis 2:7-21. Neander: “He is here speaking of a higher heavenly organ to contain the soul, instead of the earthly body.” [“The use of αἰώνιος (comp. 2 Corinthians 4:1 ff.) forbids us to understand by the οἰκία, a temporary lodgment of the soul, to be succeeded by the glorified body at the resurrection. It must mean a permanent spiritual corporeity (so to speak) capable of coexisting with the body of the resurrection. It is something which is not the soul, but essential to its perfect consciousness of personality and identity. The human being, it is probable, cannot exist as pure spirit. A vehicle or form, perhaps an organization, may be necessary to its action. (See Taylor’s Physical Theory of Another Life, chap. 1.). Hence the use of the varied terms οἰκοδομὴ, οἰκία, οἰκητήριον, also the expressions ἐπενδύσ. ἐνδυσάμ. and the deprecatory language of 2 Corinthians 5:3, and ἐπειδὴ—ἐπενδ. 2 Corinthians 5:4.”—Webster and Wilkinson]. But this dwelling is said to be eternal in contrast with the dwelling of this tabernacle. [In our English version a comma should separate “eternal” and “in the heavens.” Fausset]. The last qualification, ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς (opp. ἐπίγειος) should be joined with ἕχομεν so as to say that we have this dwelling in the heavens. But how is this to be understood? The present tense would seem to refer to some period immediately after death. But if the soul is to have a body corresponding to its condition at that time (of which, to say the least, the Scriptures distinctly say nothing), then the dwelling here mentioned cannot be eternal. Nor would what is said in 2 Corinthians 5:2 of our house which is from heaven, agree very well with such an assertion. Comp. Delitzsch, Psychol. p. 374 ff. It is possible indeed that ἕχομεν refers to a mere reversion or expectancy, i. e., to an ideal possession like that which is spoken of when it is said: Thou shalt have treasure in heaven (Luke 18:22). In such a case the dwelling would merely be secured for believers, just as the life mentioned in Colossians 3:3 (comp. 2 Corinthians 1:5, and the crown of righteousness in 2 Timothy 4:8) is said to be. Or it may be alleged that the intermediate state between death and the resurrection is entirely lost sight of in the Apostle’s mind, inasmuch as we know that he looked upon it as altogether temporary, and hence that the perfection to be attained after the resurrection was the absorbing object of his attention in this passage (Osiander). It is hardly probable that such a man would have changed his mind so soon after writing the fifteenth chapter of his former Epistle to the Corinthians, and so should now have believed that he was to pass immediately at death into the blessedness of the resurrection body. And yet how can we reconcile what is here said with what is said in that chapter respecting the development of the resurrection body out of the earthly? It was doubtless his deliberate conviction that in the Parousia, when our Lord shall return, the heavenly bodies prepared for all who belong to Christ, shall be brought down to this earth, and a power shall be imparted to those then alive of changing, and to those then deceased of uniting with, the essential germs of their bodies, and that these shall thus attain their proper fulness and form. Neander: “There is certainly a marked distinction between what Paul here says and what he had taught in his earlier Epistles. During that earlier period his most ardent thoughts had been directed to the second coming of Christ. Now, however, when he was oppressed by apprehensions of death (2 Corinthians 4:10-12), his mind was more impressed with the feeling that he might not live to see this second coming of Christ. In this state of mind he had new and additional discoveries of Divine truth on this subject, either by means of his own reflections under the direction of the Holy Ghost, or by means of direct revelations from heaven. from the promises of Christ, and from the very nature of fellowship with Christ, he was now satisfied that death would be only a progress toward a higher state of existence, and this thought had been developed into a conviction that the soul must come into possession of an organ adapted to the active conscious life immediately after death.”2
2 Corinthians 5:2-4.—For in this also we groan—earnestly desiring to put on over it our house which is from heaven:—We have here one proof or sign that what he had asserted in 2 Corinthians 5:1 was a reality. This proof was the fact that even while we remain in our earthly bodies we have an intense longing for a house from heaven. ̓Εν τούτῷ has here not the sense of therefore, on this account, as in John 16:30, as if the succeeding participial sentence were merely an exposition of the previous verse; nor is its object simply to explain what was meant in 2 Corinthians 5:1 by the dissolution of the earthly habitation. It rather refers (comp. 2 Corinthians 5:4, we who are in this tabernacle) to the tabernacle (σκῆνος) of 2 Corinthians 5:1, and presents a contrast to the supposition there made that it might be dissolved. The accent, therefore, should be placed upon ἐν; and καὶ should be looked upon as belonging to it. The sense would then be: we know this to be so, and the proof of it is in the fact, that even now in these bodies also we show our longings after the object of that confidence by our sighs.—A similar style of argument may be found in Romans 8:22 f. The earnest desire here spoken of gives us the true reason for the sighing. That which he had called in 2 Corinthians 5:1 a building from God, a house which we have in heaven, he here calls a habitation from heaven (οἰκητήριον ἐξ οὐρανοῦ) not merely on account of its origin, but because it was actually to come down from heaven to earth. Οἰκία is somewhat more absolute, whereas οἰκητήριον, a domicile, expresses its proper relation to the inhabitant (Bengel).—̓Επενδύσασθαι (to superimpose, to put on over, in which he passes to the figure of a garment) is not a putting on of one garment after another has been laid aside, but a putting on of one garment over another, comp. 2 Corinthians 5:4. The longing is for a transformation in which the earthly body will not be laid aside (in death), but the heavenly will be thrown over it. The idea is that of a new embodiment without a destruction of the corporeal system which had been possessed on earth. [“ The expression τὸ ἐξ οὐρ. compared with ἐκ θεοῦ ἕχομεν and ἐν τοῖς οὐρ. sufficiently distinguishes the οἰκητήριον spoken of from the resuscitated body.” Web. and Wilk.]—Since, in fact being clothed, we shall not be found naked. (2 Corinthians 5:3). We have here a crux interpretum. If we adopt the two readings, εἵπερ—ἐκδυσαμενοι, we shall have a natural meaning by giving to εἴπερ the sense of: although, albeit; in which case the idea would be: although we may be unclothed, (dead), we shall not be found naked, i. e., without a body; for we shall be clothed with a resurrection body. With the reading ἐνδυσάμενοι we obtain the same general idea, if we contrast that word with ἐπενδύσασθαι, and regard it as the putting on of the resurrection body: If indeed we shall be found clothed and not naked (Flatt). Such a method, however, would be of very doubtful propriety. But it would be quite unallowable to interpret ἔιγε as a concessive particle, or to concede no force to the γε, as if the word were equivalent to εἰ καί. Fritzsche regards ἐνδυσάμενοι as having the same force as ἐπενδυσ., and εἵγε the sense of quandoquidem, and he then looks upon this verse as giving a reason for the longing mentioned in 2 Corinthians 5:2 : since we shall attain the possession of our imperishable bodies just as well by putting on our immortal bodies when we shall be alive, as by putting them on after we have laid aside our earthly bodies (i. e., in consequence of death and the resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15:52). Such an announcement would be grammatically appropriate, but 1, such a use of ἐνθυσάμενοι in connection with ἐπενδύσασθαι before and after it, 2 Corinthians 5:2; 2 Corinthians 5:4, is not very probable; and 2, the remark itself seems so self-evident and trivial, that it would be unworthy of the Apostle. But Rückert’s interpretation. “as it is certain that we shall not be without a body (ἐκδυσάμενοι) after death,” breaks up the logical train of thought, and with many the assertion thus made would not be looked upon as quite certain from the Scriptures. Meyer (who adopts the readings of the Rec. ἕιγε—ἐνδυς.) thinks that the Apostle has reference occasionally in this argument to those who denied a future resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:0.), for otherwise he cannot account for the insertion of 2 Corinthians 5:3. He thinks the Apostle intends to assert here his belief, his absolute certainty (εἴγε) that not only those Christians who shall finally be changed, but those who shall then be raised from the dead, shall meet the Lord at His second coming not destitute of bodies (γυμνοί), but provided with corporeal coverings: “we have these longings (i. e., for the ἐπενδυσασθαι, 2 Corinthians 5:2) on the presumption that, being clothed, we shall not be found naked (ἔιγε has the sense of: if indeed, or if so be, implying a certainty, not by the force of the particle itself, but in consequence of the connection of the idea and the tenor of Paul’s discourse). Και would also have in this case the sense of: “truly.”3 Ἐνδυσάμενοι would denote an act which had taken place before the εὑρεθησόμεθα and it is therefore an aorist participle. Such an interpretation has nothing grammatically against it. But a reference to the deniers of the doctrine of the resurrection cannot be presupposed without a high degree of improbability, and as the whole interpretation becomes feeble and forced without such a reference, it must therefore be considered very doubtful. It is still more difficult to agree with de Wette, who thinks the idea of the passage is: as we confidently expect that our heavenly house will also be a body. For it is evident from the words themselves that those who are ἐνδυσάμενοι are not γυμνοί; but if the idea of the body had been prominent, γυμνοί would have been followed by σώματος. Neander: “We take these words in connection with those which precede them as merely an incidental expression: we are passing on with believing confidence to a higher state of being, for we shall in no event be destitute of a higher organ when we lay aside our earthly body; and it is only to this necessity of laying aside our earthly body that our natures now feel such a repugnance.”—As the participle is really in the aorist and yet must in such a case have the sense of the perfect ἐνδεδυμένοι there are strong reasons against referring ἐνδυσάμενοι and οὐ γυμνοί exclusively to those who shall be alive and clothed in earthly bodies when Christ shall appear in the Parousia (Grotius: if we shall be found among the changed, and not among the dead). Finding all these interpretations unsatisfactory, Osiander gives in his adherence to the figurative meaning which had been proposed by many ancient and some modern commentators. Thus Chrysostom et al. have γυμνοί δόξης: Usteri: “under the presumption that we are clothed, we shall not be found naked in a different sense, i. e., without the crown for which we have struggled.” Ewald: “criminally naked, as Adam and Eve were” (Genesis 3:11). Others make out a similar meaning by taking οὐ γυμνοί as explanatory or epexegetical of ἐνδυσάμενοι and referring both words to Christ or the garment of his righteousness—an idea which Hoffmann (Schriftbeweis), following Anselm, understands of an ethical application of Christ. But neither the authorities which have been adduced for this, nor the arguments by which it has been supported (as e.g. that it is an allusion to the secret Divine reasons or conditions in 2 Corinthians 4:14 ff., and an introduction to the mysteries of faith in 2 Corinthians 5:14 ff.) are sufficient to warrant such an explanation of ἐνδυσάμενοι and οὐ γυμνοί in this connection (where the figure of a garment is used in application to a new heavenly body), without the express addition of some such word as Χριστοῦ or δόξης. We would prefer either to accede to Meyer’s interpretation, or to adopt the very well sustained and ancient reading εἴπερ—ἐκδυσάμευοι, giving ἕιπερ the sense of: although [ i.e.., we earnestly desire to be clothed with our house from heaven, even if (or although) being unclothed we shall not be found naked], (comp. 1 Corinthians 8:5). Here, if anywhere in the explanation of the Scriptures, we may be allowed to say: Non liquet.—In 2 Corinthians 5:4 the assertion in 2 Corinthians 5:2 is again taken up, and is more particularly defined, and confirmed by reasons:—For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened.—The words οἱ ὅντες, being put at the head of the sentence for the sake of emphasis, have the meaning of: we who are in earthly bodies, i. e., while we are yet in them. The word βαρούμενοι, oppressed, feeling ourselves burdened, gives a reason for the groaning. Bengel: “a burden forces out sighs and groans.” This is to be referred partly to the oppressions caused by our earthly bodies (comp. Sir 9:15), and probably also partly to the sufferings which we have to endure while we are in them (but of which no mention is made in the context). ̓Εφ̓ ᾧ would then have to bear the meaning of: wherefore (quare), and perhaps be equivalent to ἐπὶ τούτῳ ὅ—we sigh over that which, etc. This, however, could hardly be allowed, inasmuch as the earthly body would not then be the object which was to be clothed upon (ἐπενδύσασθαι).—Since we do not desire to be unclothed, but (we desire) to be clothed upon.—We may find a partial interpretation of this expression in what follows, which would incline us to make ἐφ̓ ᾧ equivalent to because that (propterea quod), as in Romans 5:12 (not: in which, or although), and to refer it to the oppression which produces sighs on account of the dread of death. And yet this natural horror which all men feel in prospect of being unclothed, must be carefully distinguished from an unmanly fear of death, which would be unbecoming to the Apostle. The phrase οὐ θέλειν ἐκδύσασθαι in the sense of: not wishing to die, is the more intelligible, since the Apostle, perhaps, supposed that he might live till the time of Christ’s coming, and hence he might easily think of being spared the pains of death. (The word ἐκδύεσθαι occurs in profane authors as a figurative expression for death. Comp. Wetstein on the passage). The reason why the Apostle wished to be clothed upon, is given in the final sentence:—that what is mortal might be swallowed up by life.—That which in 1 Corinthians 15:54 is expressed by a putting on of immortality and a swallowing up of death, is here called a swallowing up of all that is mortal in us in the life, i. e., in the new imperishable life which becomes manifest when the body is changed, and its mortality is forever abolished. The earnest desire expressed in 2 Corinthians 5:2 is again alluded to when it is said that they did not desire to be unclothed; but when it is said that they were burdened (βαρούμενοι), the Apostle shows that a feeling of oppression is connected with it, inasmuch as they might be called to encounter the dreaded process of being unclothed (ἐκδύσασθαι). And yet another way of construing it in which ἐφ̓ ᾧ is taken in the sense of since, deserves the preference, inasmuch as it is not easy to see how the oppression caused by our present bodies, so much disturbed by sin and the many evils of our present lot, should make us long not to die, but to be changed. If it be said that it is precisely in death that the oppression of the tabernacle is the greatest, inasmuch as it is then as it were breaking down over the head of the inhabitant (Osiander), we reply that the expression: we that are in this tabernacle, seems to refer rather to troubles to be encountered in the midst of our present earthly life.
2 Corinthians 5:5. Now he who has completely wrought us out for this self same thing is God.—[The δέ here is transitional. The exalted expressions he had used were not made because of any thing in himself, or without a deep foundation being laid in his renewed nature]. He traces all those things of which he had been speaking to a Divine origin. The self same thing (αὐτὸ τοῦτο) of which he speaks, was not the groaning of the previous verse (comp. Romans 8:23), as Bengel and Hoffmann contend it was, for this would compel us to distort the signification of κατεργάζεσθαι so as to make it mean to impair by severe labor (to wear down), to break down the spirits and so to make one sigh over his bodily state and its troubles; the words rather refer to what he had just said about being clothed upon, that our mortal part might be swallowed up by the life. The meaning of the Apostle is: this longing to be clothed upon is not exclusively from an internal source, for it has a profound Divine origin. Κατεργάζεσθαι means to work out, to finish, and so to make ready. [The preposition κατὰ in composition often introduces the idea of completeness, as in καταρτίζω in 1 Peter 5:10. Our word also implies a powerful effort as if against opposition]. In no other place in the New Testament is it used with a personal object. It has reference not to the first or natural creation, but as the further qualifying expression (who hath given us the Spirit) teaches us, to the Divine agency in man’s redemption; and it comprehends that whole process of renovation and sanctification through which we attain and enjoy everlasting glory. But the actual entrance into this everlasting glory, the glorification itself, is accomplished, as the context informs us, by means of a transformation.—Who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.—If we adopt the reading of ὁ καὶ δόυς in the following clause, the καὶ will introduce another qualification, i. e. the warrant on which we expect a state of glorious perfection in the future world. But if we accept the reading ὁ δόυς merely, the sentence becomes an additional point, in the description of Him who had wrought them; i. e. “who has given us the Spirit as an earnest.” The condition for which God had wrought them out, had already been described as one which was not in fact permanent. This temporary character is more distinctly brought forward in the word earnest (ἀῤῥαβῶνα comp. on 2 Corinthians 1:22). But the Spirit itself is the Divine principle by which they were thus wrought and prepared—the Divine Spirit who by the word and all means of grace enables us to attain everlasting glory (comp. 2Co 4:6; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18; Ephesians 1:13-14; Ephesians 4:30-31).
2 Corinthians 5:6-8. Therefore being always confident, and knowing whilst in our home in the body we are absent from our home in the Lord.—We have here an inference (οὗν) from what has been said in 2 Corinthians 5:5, in reference especially to his disposition or frame of mind. He was always confident (2 Corinthians 5:6), and he was willing to be absent from the body (2 Corinthians 5:8). In consequence of this well-founded expectation that we shall be so gloriously perfected, we are willing, in spite of our reluctance to be unclothed, to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). This desire or willingness, however, is founded not merely upon the cheerful confidence in such a prospect, but also upon the knowledge which is expressed in 2 Corinthians 5:6, viz., that while we are in our home, etc.). But as this knowledge was itself founded upon a peculiar faith, the Apostle leaves the construction which he had commenced, that he might give the reason for this knowledge in an independent sentence (2 Corinthians 5:7). The assertion of his confidence (θαῤῥεῖν) is. repeated in a new sentence, but not in a participial form, but in the first person of the Indicative. Originally he was ready to write: being therefore confident and knowing, etc., we are willing to be absent from the body, etc., but he was diverted from his train of thought by his desire to give a reason for this knowledge (2 Corinthians 5:7), so that the original sentence was left unfinished. The passage is therefore anacoluthic; and 2 Corinthians 5:7 is not a parenthesis (still less are 2 Corinthians 5:7-8), but indispensable to the argument. [Being therefore (in consequence of having the earnest of the Spirit) always confident, and knowing by our walk of faith and not of sight, that while we are here in the body we must be absent from the Lord, we are well content to be absent from the body that we may be present with the Lord]. The word θαῤῥεῖν in its various forms occurs frequently in our Epistle, and is used also in Hebrews 13:6; but the older form which predominates in the Gospels and the Acts is θαρσεῖν. It has the sense of, to be full of confidence and courage, to be cheerful and undismayed under disheartening circumstances (comp. 2Co 4:8 ff; 2 Corinthians 6:9-10; 2 Corinthians 12:10). [Tyndale translates it: we are always of good cheere]. The word always (πάντοτε) does not exclude a variety of feelings in the frame of our minds, but only signifies that confidence is always predominant in our hearts (comp. Osiander). The phrase καὶ κἰδότες is not of the same signification as καίπερ εἰδότες [even if, or although we know, etc.], nor should the sentence it introduces be understood as assigning a reason for the courage just expressed, but simply as introducing an additional thought. The substance of this knowledge was that their being at home in the body was the same thing as an absence from the Lord. He returns to the metaphor of a habitation. The first expression (ἐνδημεῖν, etc.) was the same as to say: we are at home in our native place; the other was the same as, to tarry in a strange land, to be in a foreign country. To be at home in the body is to be abroad, or away from home with respect to the Lord. The words ἀπὸ τοῦ κυρίου are a pregnant expression for being away from the Lord. Or, as long as we have our home in the body, we cannot be with the Lord. The same general idea is brought out in Philippians 1:23; Philippians 3:20, and 1 Thessalonians 4:17 (comp. Hebrews 9:13; Hebrews 13:14). He explains himself more fully [with respect to the nature of this ἐκδημοῦμεν] in 2 Corinthians 5:7.—for we walk by faith and not by appearance.—The spheres in which we move are, that of faith (πίστις) on the one hand, and that of sight (εἷδος) on the other. In that faith we have fellowship with the Lord (comp. Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 3:17), but it is a veiled fellowship, in which Christ is beheld not immediately, but concealed in His heavenly glory. In another state of existence our Lord will permit His people to behold Him without obstruction, they shall be at home with Him, and they will participate in His glory (Rom 8:17; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; John 17:24; Colossians 3:3-4). The preposition διὰ directs to the means: we walk by means of faith, Neander. [It generally denotes any attending circumstance or quality, particularly in a state of transition (Webster). Here the states themselves are named those of faith and appearance, because these are the prevailing guides, and we are passing through them]. The life on earth is a walk διὰ πίστεως, inasmuch as Christ having entered into His heavenly glory, is invisible to His people, their corporeal natures prevent them from beholding directly His heavenly form, and they know the fact that he is glorified only by means of His word and their spiritual enjoyment of His power in their hearts (comp. Colossians 3:3; 1 Peter 1:8; Romans 10:14). ̓Εἷδος does not signify either in classical or sacred writers (Luke 3:22; Luke 9:29; John 5:27; and often in the Old Testament) the act of seeing or looking, but the form or prospect beheld (Hebr. &מַּרְאֶה תֹּאַר,)the meaning is: we are moving in the sphere of visible objects, where our senses have no perception of the form, or the actual appearance of Christ’s person. The general sense, however, of Luther’s translation, “ein schauen,” [and of the authorized English version, “by sight,”] is correct. With reference to the contrast here, comp. 1 Corinthians 13:12 f. (where it is implied that the faith will, in a certain sense, continue even after the seeing has commenced). The interpretation which represents 2 Corinthians 5:7 as intended to give a reason for the confidence (θαῤῥεῖν), and which regards faith here as the certainty itself which we have with regard to the future and the supernatural world, and sight as the phenomenal world, i. e. those things which are present to our senses and are empirically perceived, is certainly in opposition to grammatical usage and to the spirit of the context (comp. on the other hand Meyer and Osiander). Inasmuch as this concealment of our Lord within His glory, and His consequent withdrawal from their immediate possession and enjoyment, might produce despondency on the part of His people, the Apostle proceeds in 2 Corinthians 5:8 to say:—But (δέ is adversative) we are confident and are willing rather to leave our home in the body and to come to our home in the Lord.—The reason for this cheerful confidence is the same as that which had been assigned in 2 Corinthians 5:6. But then from this confidence also, and from the consciousness of the insufficiency of the present life to afford us what we consider our supreme good, there springs up what he here connects with θαῤῥοῦμεν δε viz., the willingness rather to be from home, etc. Εὐδοκεῖν occurs also in 1 Corinthians 1:21, and here means, to be satisfied that something should take place, and hence to wish, to long for it. The μᾶλλον (rather) should be connected with his absence, etc., so as to mean that he was willing rather to be absent, etc. The desire which he had expressed in 2 Corinthians 5:4, had implied that he would prefer to remain in the body (until the Parousia) rather than to be separated from it. In view of the confidence just expressed, and the consciousness that if he were present in the body he must be absent from the Lord, he now changes this desire into a longing (no longer a groaning and being burdened) rather to depart from the body, and hence to die (ἐκδύεσθαι, 2 Corinthians 5:4), and to be present with the Lord. Ἐκδημεῖν is the opposite of ἐνδημεῖν (2 Corinthians 5:6), and hence is not merely a change of the body (2 Corinthians 5:4), but death. The words to be present with the Lord, have the same meaning as to be with Christ in Philippians 1:23, for there also it was necessary to die (ἀναλῦσαι) before he could be with Christ. Πρὸς τὸν κύριον is, in relation to the Lord, a pregnant expression, and it signifies: to depart, to go to another country, in order to be with Christ. He entertained the hope that immediately after death he would be in heaven with Christ. Such was the happy state which he expected in its perfection at the approaching Parousia.
2 Corinthians 5:9-10.—Wherefore we make it our ambition that whether at home or absent from home we may be acceptable to Him.—The particle διό (wherefore) should be connected back with 2 Corinthians 5:8 (εὐδοκοῦμεν). Wherefore, since we have such a desire, and in order that we may realize such a desire, we, etc. The verb φιλοτιμεῖσθαι signifies properly to love and seek for honor, to be ambitious; and with an infinitive, to strive after what one regards as his honor or reputation, and to give one’s self much trouble about it. It is used in the same way in Romans 15:20 and 1 Thessalonians 4:11. If in the phrases εἵτε ἐνδημοῦντες, εἵτε ἐκδημοῦντες, any thing is to be supplied, the two participles should be made to refer to the same noun; and of course this should be either the body (σῶμα), or the Lord (κύριος). The latter seems the most natural from the connection, but the former is probably allowable. As he had last spoken of an absence from the body, it is rather easiest to refer the absence here mentioned to the same object, and such a reference would control also the object of ἐνδημ. The reason that ἐνδημοῦντες is mentioned first is most naturally explained by the fact that being acceptable to the Lord would of course be first thought of when speaking of one who was alive on earth, and would therefore be first sought after by such a one (provided the participles are connected with the finite verb φιλοτιμ., i. e., we strive, whether in or out of the body, etc.). But it must be remembered that ἐκδημ. from its peculiar signification (to leave a country, to set out on a journey) must refer not to the state after death, but to the very process of dying. And we may very well conceive that the Apostle might speak of a laboring to be acceptable to Christ, even in this act of dying, since the mind of a believer is supposed then to be active and to be striving to maintain its hold on Christ and to avoid whatever might displease Him. The idea is furthermore an important and an appropriate one; and we shall find it essentially the same, whether the participles are connected with φιλοτιμ (see above), or with the infinitive sentence (i. e., we strive to be acceptable, whether we are in or out of the body.) [The sense of the passage is in fact virtually the same, whether these participles be joined with the body or with the Lord; for the Apostle assumes that an absence from the one involves a presence with the other. Alford’s objection that we cannot be supposed to labor to be acceptable to Christ after or in death, since we are then saved, is of no great force, inasmuch as the labor is present in this life, that we may be acceptable after this life is closed]. In this way we are not obliged to depart from the meaning which ἐνδημεῖν and ἐκδημεῖν has borne throughout this connection (together signifying the same as πάντως or διὰ πάντος: wherever we may be, without regard to place), and with Meyer to take these words in their original meaning (analogous to that which they bear in 1 Corinthians 5:10; comp. 2 Corinthians 5:6-7), without supplying any thing as understood. In 2 Corinthians 5:10 the Apostle sets forth also the objective side of what he had said in 2 Corinthians 5:9 :—for we must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ:—i. e., the reason why he so earnestly endeavored to please the Lord, was because he regarded this as his highest honor; or, (if we prefer to go further back), he shows how the effort to please the Lord would spring from his desire to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). In other words, he here shows that such a desire could only be fulfilled by his being found approved at that tribunal where he and his fellow believers were shortly to appear. The whole connection shows that by τοὺς πάντας ἡμᾶς he means not all mankind, but only all Christians. He enlarges upon this point, probably to excite his readers to diligence and to impress upon their minds the importance of laboring to be acceptable to Christ (2 Corinthians 5:9). Τοὺς πάντας makes the subject apply to the whole body of Christians. Neander: “This is said with special emphasis in relation to the Corinthians, who were disposed to give judgment arrogantly against their fellow men, without remembering how bad their own case was.” To be manifested (φανερωθῆναι) is not precisely equivalent to παραστῆναι (to be presented, Romans 14:10), for it looks to a complete manifestation of all that transpired within us or in the external life (comp. 1 Corinthians 4:5). Our Lord will show that He looks through every individual part as well as the whole body of His people. The words ἕμπροσθεν τοῦ βήματος (as in Romans 14:10), are a solemn expression, and have a real significance; for if we ought not to make the tribunal of Christ merely a cloud, it certainly implies something more than a judicial inquiry with respect to each man immediately after death (Flatt), respecting which we have no intimation elsewhere in Paul’s writings. [In classical Greek, βῆμα always signified, not a judgment seat, but the raised place or step from which public speakers addressed the people at the great πανήγυρεις or other popular assemblies and courts of law. In the Sept. it still retained this signification (Nehemiah 8:4; 2Ma 13:26). In Roman usage it passed from the tribune of the orator to the tribunal of the judge, which was an elevated seat on a lofty platform at one end of the Basilica in the forum. In the New Testament it always means (except in Acts 8:5, where Luke gives it a meaning something like that of the classic Greek), a judgment seat where a formal trial is held. See Stanley’s note]. In 1 Corinthians 4:5 also, it is said that Christ will be our Judge, and in Romans 14:10 [where the true reading is τοῦ θεοῦ] nothing inconsistent with this is necessarily implied, inasmuch as Christ is described as the representative or the organ of the Father (comp. 5:22, 27; Acts 10:42; Acts 17:31; Romans 2:16). But the judicial office of Christ is perfectly consistent with His being the absolute revelation of God and the Redeemer of men.—The necessity of this judgment on the part of God is expressed by δεῖ the only way to secure such a righteous retribution as would be honorable to God, is to have such a revelation of the hearts and conduct of us all. The object of this general manifestation was that all who were thus judged might be properly rewarded, and now in accordance with such a view he points each individual to his own particular interest in such a judgment (comp. Romans 14:12):—that each one may receive the things done in his body.—The meaning of κομίζεσθαι is, to bear away, to receive; also, to bring back (for himself), to receive again; and thus it signifies a reward or recompense. The moral actions of a man are something laid up with God in heaven, and must be received again in a corresponding retribution. Comp. Ephesians 6:8; Colossians 3:25. A similar idea is expressed by the figure of the sowing and reaping in Galatians 6:7, and of the θησαυρίζειν in Matthew 6:20 and 1 Timothy 6:19. A fuller expression may be found in 1 Peter 1:9; 1 Peter 5:4; 2 Peter 2:13.—The things given in this recompense are said to be to τὰ διὰ τοῦ σώματος. The body to be received in the resurrection cannot be the one here intended [as if the Apostle would say: that each one may receive back through or by means of his (resurrection) body according to the things which he did. This view was much favored by some ancient expositors (the Syrian, Tertullian, Theodoret, Chrysostom and Oecumenius). It must be conceded that such a construction avoids some harshness, and Osiander seems inclined to favor it. He, however, concedes that it is difficult to believe that the new body should be designated by the simple word σῶμα] for that word is throughout our passage used for the earthly body. The word to be supplied is not exactly πραχθέντα although this would be consistent with the proper sense of the passage, but ὅντα: that which took place by means of the body as an organ (comp. Plato: ἡδονῶν, αἱ̔ διὰ τοῦ σώματός εἰσιν). Neander: while in this body. The reading of the Italic, the Vulgate and some other versions [:τὰ ἴ δια τοῦ σώματος, propria etc.] may have originated in a mistake, or τὰ διὰ τ. σ. may have seemed difficult of construction. Certainly τὰ διὰ is critically well authenticated—according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.—In this sentence πρός has reference to the rule or standard according to which the reward is given. The ellipsis in εἴτε—κακόν must be supplied by a word from the relative sentence, viz., ἕπραξεν.—If the Apostle had his eye on some mongrel kind of Christianity, κομίσηται might imply that those who adhered to it would be excluded from the kingdom of God. But on the supposition that he was speaking of real Christians in the restricted sense, he must have been distinguishing between different degrees in their rewards according to the different degrees of fidelity on earth. Such distinctions are not inconsistent with the idea of a justification and salvation by grace; for in the economy of grace the law of righteousness prevails. Even if the atonement by Christ extends to the whole life of those who believe in Him, its influence upon individuals must be exerted by means of a progressive repentance (μετάνοια); and though they may be secured against condemnation, and though they may actually be saved, they may yet have their gracious reward diminished in proportion to their want of faithfulness. Such a humiliation will be as nothing in comparison with the gratitude they will feel for a salvation which will be greater in proportion as they recognize it as a free gift of grace (comp. Meyer and Osiander on 2 Corinthians 5:10).
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. It is a fundamental law of the Divine kingdom and the leading aim of the faith by which it is implanted in the heart, that man the creature should be seen and known as the feeble and powerless, and God as the only mighty one. Hence it is that those whom God makes use of for the advancement of His kingdom and His cause must sometimes experience much infirmity of body and of spirit, that all may see that God alone is strong, faithful and wise, and that He will help through every trial, and never will forsake his people. He brings salvation and deliverance when all hope has failed; He manifests the power of a divine life when nothing but death is anticipated, because while death with its distresses and infirmities is seen working in them, that life exhibits all its energies in those who receive it. Thus while the work of grace is witnessed in many and is accomplished in many by such means, abundant thanksgivings redound to that God who achieves such results. In this way they are never left without courage under the greatest difficulties, for though the outward man may waste away, the inward spirit is endowed with ever freshening energies. Then while their eye is directed steadily to the things which are unseen and eternal, and to those heavenly glories which God has promised His people, they are taught by the spirit of humble faith to speak and to confess Christ before men with cheerfulness, and to regard their trials in a very different light from that in which the eye of sense perceives them. Those trials seem exceedingly light and transitory compared with the eternal weight of glory, for which God is preparing them even by such means, and for which no suffering can be properly endured here without fruit there, (comp. Hebrews 12:11).
2. The sure hope of eternal life and the expectation of a perfect bodily nature, must make the Christian breathe forth many a longing sigh while he remains in this mortal body; and the horror which nature feels in prospect of the violent dissolution of its corporeal life, must awaken in him a desire to escape the dying process and to be clothed with a glorious life by an immediate transformation; but such a hope will teach him also to be of good courage under all his trials. Yet this courage arising from the hope’ of future glory on the one hand, and the consciousness that he must be, during his present pilgrimage, without a complete and an immediate fellowship with his Lord on the other, will finally change all such longings (after such a superimposed body) into a single great desire to leave this state of alienation in a foreign land, and to be at home with the Lord. Though in this life we have many animating experiences of Christ’s gracious nearness, and have access by faith to His throne of grace, we have nevertheless to encounter many hinderances in consequence of our life in the flesh (Galatians 2:20) and we cannot behold our Lord in His essential glory. But when a desire for a higher life has been awakened, we shall make the most earnest efforts, in every possible way, to please the Lord. Indeed every thing which is an essential condition to the enjoyment of our future glory will give intensity to such efforts, for every one, without distinction, must expect a full revelation before the judgment seat of Christ. Every action, even of God’s children, during their bodily life, must there be judged according to the law of strict righteousness, and each believer must be rewarded according to his good or evil conduct.
3. Though our passage does not say that “holy obedience is our only title to eternal life” (Emmons), it does distinctly assert that believers are to be fully “manifested” at the judgment seat of Christ, and that the reward of grace will be proportioned exactly to that which they did in (διὰ) the earthly body. These “things done in the body” are neither expressly nor impliedly confined to any period of life after justification, whether this be placed in conversion or baptism].
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Starke, 2Co 2 Corinthians 4:7 :—If God had set angels or glorified men to preach the Gospel, we should easily have been astonished at such instruments, and have ascribed the power to such glorious personages. But now when so much is accomplished by poor and feeble men, the honor must be the Lord’s alone, (comp. 1 Corinthians 2:5).
2 Corinthians 4:8. Enlightened souls are full of courage, and know how to accommodate themselves to crosses, Psalms 3:7 f. Psalms 27:1. If afflictions arise, they suffer not themselves to be overcome nor to cast away their confidence. If they become involved in dangerous circumstances, so that they know not how to extricate themselves, their courage will not fail, for they know that when all human aid is farthest, God’s hand is nearest
2 Corinthians 4:9. God often protects his servants and his children in a wonderful manner, and helps them by means of other men. This is especially accomplished by means of those believers who pray for them (Acts 12:5), minister to their temporal necessities (Philippians 4:14-20), and afford them the means of safety (2 Corinthians 11:33), but it is not unfrequently accomplished also even by means of unbelievers (Acts 21:31 f.).—Observe the blessed fellowship of the members with their head! Christ’s life was nothing but a series of sufferings, a perpetual dying, for he was poor, despised and pained both in body and soul. His followers meet with the same trials, and they get no release but with their lives. Yet he preserves them, makes them joyful, often plucks them from danger as if by miracle, and thus proves that he is indeed alive.
2 Corinthians 4:12. Hedinger:—Faith seeks not concealment, for it speaks, teaches and warns. The nearer we are to death, the more diligent we should be in our callings and our work. Hearers are strengthened and confirmed in their spiritual life by witnessing the sufferings and death of those preachers who steadfastly hold to the Gospel in all their trials.
2 Corinthians 4:13. Faith gives us the right discourse, and therefore the best liberty in speaking. Many speak much, but they will endure nothing in behalf of what they say, for they speak not as they should, and never speak from faith. (Galatians 6:12).
2 Corinthians 4:14. Since Jesus is the head of all true believers, they can no more remain dead than a member can remain separate from the head.—What a joy, when we shall all be presented before Christ and be forever in his society!
2 Corinthians 4:15. Where much suffering, and much consolation and help are experienced, thanksgivings will also abound to the praise of God.
2 Corinthians 4:17. In thy distress thou sayest, Ah! Lord, how long! But it is not long. It is only in thine infirmity that it seems long. What is time to eternity?—Hedinger:—Light, light indeed, is the cross! Thou sayest No, it is heavy. Lift up thine eyes to the glory. What sayest thou now!—The more suffering on earth, the more joy in heaven; and yet all this is of grace and not of works, Romans 6:23. We deserve as little for our sufferings as for our works. God makes use of them as of a file to rasp away all that is useless in us. They are His blessing to make the good seed germinate within us and grow up into glory. Our earth has many beautiful things to the praise of its Creator, but in heaven are things a thousand times more beautiful. Let the believer see and admire the earthly beauty, but let him believe and rejoice in the heavenly far more, for he will possess and refresh himself with them forever and ever. Are all visible things only temporal? then give thy heart to no creature. So use everything you have that it shall fix your heart more on God; and be able and willing to let it go when He shall see fit to remove it. The children of this world seek satisfaction, only in what is visible, in money and property, and reputation and worldly pleasures, but our spiritual natures can never be satisfied with such things. If the Divine light of faith has risen within us, we shall turn our thoughts to our spiritual welfare; we shall be more concerned that we may be sanctified and properly adorned in God’s sight, and that we may have the heavenly joy and glory he has promised; and hence we shall choose a higher and better portion.
2 Corinthians 5:1. We have here a salutary lesson for those who have health, that they may not calculate with confidence upon their health, but frequently think of their perishable tabernacles, and may be always ready for a blessed departure. Equally salutary is it for the sick, that as their tabernacle begins to break up, they may by faith lay hold upon the dwelling God has built for them in heaven, and joyfully be invested with it.
2 Corinthians 5:4. A man must be a great hero who feels no terror at death; and although the saints have overcome it, they are not altogether free from apprehensions.
2 Corinthians 5:5. All do not die happy, because they are not all prepared, and some have not the earnest of the Spirit.—Hedinger:—Heaven will be glorious! Have we the seal and the letter for it? This is the Holy Spirit who convinces us of the truth, and so sweetens the bitterness of death.
2 Corinthians 5:6. Although Christ is every day with his people (Matthew 28:20), and they live in communion with the Father, Son and Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14), they are not yet where they can behold his glory, and are only aliens so far as relates to such a revelation of God.—Hedinger:—Wilt thou not go home, my child? Away, for the danger is pressing! Go home to God and get out of trouble! Array thyself in such garments as will please the Lord! Get ready, O Pilgrim, for thine eternal home! Hebrews 13:14.
2 Corinthians 5:7. To walk by faith is not a perfect life, but it is essentially a great and glorious thing; for whoever desires it must be born of God and be united with him. In the future life of spiritual vision, the brightest object will be the Son of God, in whose glorified humanity we shall behold not only the majesty of his eternal Godhead, but also the Father and the Holy Spirit.
2 Corinthians 5:8. Our home is where the place of blessedness is, where all believers have their home, where our Father, (James 1:18) our mother (Galatians 4:26), our brethren, Christ, and those who have entered into glory are (Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 12:22 f.); and there is our habitation, for we shall remain in it forever (Hebrews 11:14), and it is our inheritance (1 Peter 1:4).—Rightly to wish for death is a mark of one who belongs to God and is ready for his departure to a blessed eternity (Philippians 1:23). Try thyself by this! Whoever gives all his time and attention to the body, and so thinks nothing of his soul, how can he have pleasure in the thought that he is to journey forth from the body (Romans 13:14)?
2 Corinthians 5:9. Only when we are by faith in Christ, and all our works are from Him, can our walk be pleasing to God. The best evidence that we are entirely acceptable to God is, that we are striving in all things to please Him; and that we are displeased with our own imperfections, and so are always humble.
2 Corinthians 5:10. We are even now perfectly manifest at all times before the Lord, but we need to become manifest hereafter, that the whole world may see what we have been, whether we were good or bad. Many can now play the rogue under their disguises, but in due time every thing shall be revealed before the eyes of angels and the whole world. Without fault of thine own thou mayest suffer, but God sees it, and he will surely bring thine innocence to light. Ye unjust judges who turn aside the righteous cause, and ye Epicurean worldlings who live without shame, and sport yourselves in sin, how will it be when you stand before Christ’s judgment seat? Turn or tremble (2 Chronicles 19:6 f.; 1 Peter 4:5)! In this world it is often with the godly as if they were ungodly, and with the ungodly as if they were godly (Ecclesiastes 9:2 f.). Should not the leaf some day be turned? God is righteous; and He must have a judgment day to give each one his due reward (Romans 2:6-9).
Berlenb. Bible, 2 Corinthians 4:7 :—We need to be convinced of our inability, that grace may shine the brighter, and that we may not confound the creature with the Creator and nature with grace. God is not a God for seasons of prosperity or court favor merely, but a God of patience. We should bless Him for such methods with us as are indicated in Matthew 12:20.
2 Corinthians 4:8. A genuine triumphal song. Let no one ever despair; only be faithful. Though God never overburdens His children, they must expect sometimes to be in perplexity. But when our passions cease to boil, the impurities which might otherwise become sedentary, are driven off. Anxiety and doubt will retire before the spirit of faith.
2 Corinthians 4:9. We must often be thrown like a ball hither and thither, but we need fear no evil for we have a Lord who delivers from death.
2 Corinthians 4:10. We must not be ashamed of a sanctified cross-bearing. But first we must take up the cross, have fellowship in the death of Christ daily, and never shake off from our necks what God lays upon them.—Death before life! such is God’s inviolable law.—Our fallen nature cannot receive the blessed life of God in Christ, until we have given up our own mind and will to God.—Reason Says: “What to me is a life which can be gained only by death?” and it praises the scorner who merrily enjoys the world. Others despise the idea as a vain fancy. But the believer knows better whom he has believed, and by what power it is that he must live.—Unless thou holdest before the eye of thy heart every day, hour and moment, as thy only true glass, the despised cross of Jesus, and His perpetual renunciation of Himself, no permanent rest canst thou know, and the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of Christ and not of the world, can never dwell with thee.
2 Corinthians 4:11. Thou art no longer in the state in which God made thee, but thou must be cured of disease before thou canst be blessed. Blame not God then and call Him cruel when He is carrying thee through this process. He never makes us experience the power of this death, until He bestows upon us a power to live a spiritual life. Christ therefore gains over our wills that He may subdue them in spite of the opposition of the flesh. But a Christian always soars in spirit to the eternal and heavenly world, and thence derives strength for a new and secret life.
2 Corinthians 4:12. God allows the Christian, on his first conversion, to enjoy much spiritual delight, that he may perceive the advantages he has gained, and may be encouraged to go forward in face of death.—It often seems a great mystery when the watchman suffers for those committed to his trust (Colossians 1:24). And yet a good shepherd is willing to give his life for the sheep (John 10:12), not indeed to redeem them, for Christ alone can do that, but because He is stronger and must go before them that are weak.
2 Corinthians 4:13. Faith in Christ gives the believer a new life, for it draws down living and active energies from God; and while it allows Him no rest but in God, it gives him true rest there, with life and strength, victory and complete salvation. No one must attempt to live without this Spirit, for nothing else can give us the beams of Divine light and cheer our souls, with the radiancy of a heavenly life. Where this exists deeply in the heart, it will find expression in the lips. It will take away all our timidity, and make us willing not only to confess Christ for ourselves, but to carry the Gospel to our fellow-men.
2 Corinthians 4:14. He who raised up Jesus from the dead, imparts to all who put faith in Him, the confident assurance and lively feeling that they too shall not be left in the grave.—Christ has acquired the right to represent and introduce His members wherever He is Himself. He will hereafter bestow upon us blessings, far surpassing what the Gospel now gives us, for as yet we have had to endure very much of the shame of the cross.
2 Corinthians 4:15. Ministers should strive to make all their sufferings as well as their labors a means of edification to all around them.—In no way is God more glorified than when man gives up himself in his utmost glory as nothing, that he may be made what infinite wisdom and love may think best.
2 Corinthians 4:16. A Christian should not voluntarily bring troubles upon himself, for a false nature may of its own choice involve itself in difficulties, and then make a martyrdom out of it. If our heavenly Father is pleased to let our outward man, in connection with which God has in His wisdom decreed that all our spiritual and corporeal troubles shall take place, fall into decay and perish, His will be done. The renewal of the inner, the hidden man of the heart (1 Peter 3:4), is usually in connection with the decay of the outward man. In proportion as we are daily melted in the fire of affliction, we grow in the kingdom of God. According to the crucifixion of our flesh will be the activity of the spirit and the life of the man in Christ.—Nothing more promotes the daily renovation of even the converted man, than the cross.—Every pain, sorrow and trouble is a needful birth pang, for the production of a new life and for its healthful growth.
2 Corinthians 4:17. The fear of the cross, which young converts and many who are patiently pressing on in the Divine life, are accustomed to feel, outweighs all they can endure in this world, and is not worthy of mention if they think of making a merit or a matter of importance of their afflictions. However long or severe any trial may be, it sinks to nothing, the moment we catch a reflection of the future glory. Our choleric tempers cannot long bear the fire of affliction. The suffering will seem intolerable because our sense and reason cannot get beyond the eternal and temporal.—You who complain so much of the weight of our sufferings, can yet bear very well the weight of glory which is to be found under the cross—Rejoice rather, for death, pain, sickness, and loss of honor, of property, of friends and of comforts, if for conscience’s sake, are nothing but gain. The moment we begin to enjoy the fruits of our sufferings, we see the cross in a new light and are ashamed that we were not always faithful. Indeed, it ought to have been glory enough to bear reproach with the Son of God. But who can tell the glory which in another life follow these brief sufferings? Even a foretaste of these has often been sufficient to carry God’s people altogether beyond themselves, and to cause them to break out into the highest strains of exultation.
2 Corinthians 4:18. We must get accustomed to raise our thoughts above our outward state and seek in God, where our treasure and best portion are, the motives of our daily life, our consolation, our counsel and our peace. Our troubles will then seem very insignificant. As when a man is on a high tower or mountain, objects far below him seem very small and even invisible, so to a mind in communion with God, all temporal things and all sufferings of course will seem small indeed. We very soon find, when our carnal minds try to make something interesting of the things that are seen, that they are indeed fleeting and vain. How easy then to use such things as a test whether we have true faith or not (Hebrews 11:1).
2 Corinthians 5:1. How will it be with us when our present mortal bodies are dissolved ? We say indeed, we hope for the best. But what reason for hope have we ? Those who in this life have been dead to sin, have put off the old man with its affections and lusts, when they come to die, give honor to Him who in His death gave them life; they have put on a new man, which after this life shall be invested with another body, a habitation in the Jerusalem which is above, an angelic body, formed indeed from this earthly one, but endowed with such heavenly attributes that it shall never be destroyed. He who is unwilling to have his old house demolished may well tremble when his Lord shall come, and after all shall break it up against his will.
2 Corinthians 5:2. Our sighs, which seem now so painful, are nevertheless longings which spring from a sight of something better and can be satisfied with nothing here. They are a kind of necessity for man; for after all, a great treasure, something supernatural, is concealed under them. Eternity is thus at work in our souls, for its eternal longings have taken possession of them. These may be faint and confused at first, and hence they must be directed and brought to distinctness. The longings have reference to the great end of our existence, but the sighs to our present condition along the way.
2 Corinthians 5:3. The spirit of man appears to be by itself naked, as it were unclothed. It is therefore incomplete before God until it is invested with a new body of spiritual powers and light. Those who desire to enter the New Jerusalem must have within themselves that spiritual building which belongs to the new creation, viz: the character and image of God, by which this mother can recognize her child.
2 Corinthians 5:4. Our mortality is now a burden, but God so changes its nature that when it is assailed we think of something very different. It is natural for us to wish we could avoid the separation of our souls from our bodies, and by an instantaneous change (1 Corinthians 15:51 f.) be with Christ in the resurrection state. But ere this can be we must be unclothed. The mortal must be dried up, but life must enter its remains. It is right to love life, but we may hasten too, fast, or go in the wrong direction in pursuit of it. Here it is that sense is likely to intermeddle and do mischief. But Christ took upon Himself even this fleshly nature, though without sin. It is no evil in itself, but only a token that a man has life in himself. Christ assumed it not that He might retain it forever, but that he might in due time lay it aside. “Not my will,” He said, “as far as it is a human will, but Thy Divine will.” In that great conflict He maintained His ground, and His success should be our encouragement. We may, indeed, see in Him what it costs to bring the will into its proper state. But just as He overcame, by subjecting the lower to the higher nature, so must we.
2 Corinthians 5:5. God does not abandon His work, and His spirit puts His seal upon our hearts that we may have, what we very much need, a certainty for the future.
2 Corinthians 5:6. Just as far as we succeed in making the present world our home, we shall be absent from the Lord, and without the complete enjoyment of Him.
2 Corinthians 5:7. Faith unites us with God and gives us as high a knowledge of Him as is possible in the present life. But clear as this faith is in itself, it is in fact dark to us. We do not behold the face of God with an unobstructed vision. And yet this obscure faith gives us a far brighter light than can ever be attained by seeking to find out God by the highest exercise of merely human reason.
2 Corinthians 5:8. Though we are yet far from our native land, we are full of cheerful confidence. We are citizens of it still (Ephesians 2:19; Philippians 3:20), and in some respects are already there (Hebrews 12:22).
2 Corinthians 5:9. Wherever we may be, our only honors are in another world; let us, then, for the present be satisfied with God’s allotments, and give ourselves completely up to be led as He pleases.
2 Corinthians 5:10. This is a stimulus which the believer always needs, for he has always some remnants of an evil nature.—Everything which is now concealed must one day come to light, and be either condemned or approved. It is surely a righteous thing that God should recompense to every man what he has thought, spoken, or done, according to all that he has done by means of the body. Everything which men have done—all the evil which the redeemed as well as the good, which the lost have done, will be investigated and scrutinized with the strictest justice.—Blessed, indeed, will they be whose works shall be found right. And yet those in whom Christ Jesus lives, reigns and works will own Him as the source of all their goodness. Such a blessedness and dignity will be of the most exalted nature. No works will then be recognized or accepted before God except those which belong to believers justified by faith, and saved by grace; for all others will be traced to some false principle.
2 Corinthians 4:7. God conceals His choicest instruments under the lowliness of the Cross—not that they may be undervalued, but that they may show their unshaken dependence upon the Lord Jesus.—The ability and disposition to undertake the work of the ministry, the knowledge of Christ by means of a Divine enlightenment, the honesty not to seek our own selves, the willingness to spend and be spent in the service of another, the courage never to be ashamed of any of Christ’s words, the good conscience which nevertheless avoids all private dishonor, the sincerity which never corrupts God’s word, and the untiring patience which never gives out—all this treasure Christ’s servants have in a frail outward man (2 Corinthians 4:16) in an earthly tabernacle which is liable to be broken up at any moment (2 Corinthians 5:1). Such an earthly vessel may have a special fragility of its own (comp. 2 Corinthians 10:10) in addition to the general weakness of its kind. If we are never weary, if our spirit and power is demonstrated in the consciences of other men, and if we are sufficient for all our duties, it is because we continually receive from God a stream of influences which keeps us in dependence upon Him and sustains our inward life. Thus our weakness and the Divine support are always seen in mutual relations.
2 Corinthians 4:8 ff. As the Apostle repeats his “not, not,” we not only see the encouragement which faith supplies and the victory he gained over his own natural feelings, but the happy issue of each trial tends to bring to light and to refute those secret objections which other men are apt to feel with respect to the humiliations of the Cross.
2 Corinthians 4:10 f. The infirmities which our Lord Jesus took upon Himself, and which continued with Him until death, the purpose never to use His Divine powers for His personal relief, whatever contempt might be heaped upon Him on this account by carnal-minded men, are now the proper medium through which we have fellowship with Him in His life, and we must now bear them about with us, and never intentionally conceal them.
2 Corinthians 4:12. It is in Christ’s ministers that we may most impressively see the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings and the likeness of His death; but in the conversion of souls, in the powerful effects of the Gospel, in the awakening life and flourishing condition of the Church, we have a proportionate proof of His life.
2 Corinthians 4:13. Those who openly confess the truth and cheerfully suffer for it, must have a believing spirit and a firm hold upon invisible realities.
2 Corinthians 4:14. Faith always finds access to God only through Christ. The resurrection and glorification of Jesus is the true ground for hoping that God will raise up and present us also. Only in this light shall we be able to estimate what each one gains or loses under the sufferings or unclothings of our present state.
2 Corinthians 4:15. Every thing we ministers acquire by our spiritual treasures is intended to win, to confirm, and to relieve, as much as possible, you the people. The more, then, you observe how this abounding grace of God sustains us under our trials, the more you have reason to give God thanks.
2 Corinthians 4:16. Our bodies, lives, health, strength, comforts, prospects and all that we have on earth, may be gradually wasted in consequence of our fellowship with Christ’s sufferings; but the heart, the spirit which animates us in it, and the willingness to spend every thing in the service of God, will never be changed, because it is always enlivened by hope.
2 Corinthians 4:17. According to the great principle of the Divine kingdom: “Through suffering to glory,” every trouble we have gives us a pledge of the glory, a salutary foretaste of the powers of the world to come, such as we could never obtain without the decay of our outward man.
2 Corinthians 4:18. Every moment, in all our public discourses, testimonies, ministerial work, and intercourse with our people, we are making our choice and laying hold upon and aiming at either the temporal or the eternal.
2 Corinthians 5:1. The word of God and the spirit of faith which it produces tends uniformly to humility, but never to feebleness of spirit; and it teaches men to think but little, but not contemptuously, of the body. Inasmuch as houses, tents, clothing, are very necessary and very convenient, we should learn that our bodies are not to be hated. But as such things can be laid aside and be changed without tearing away any portion of our hearts, we should learn that our bodies ought not to be over-valued.—The house which is from heaven, that portion of the heavenly glory which every believer will have for an ornament and a covering, and the residence in which the inward life of his spirit manifests itself to others and receives from them its highest enjoyments, is not given him until the earthly tabernacle falls off; for it has been prepared, designed and promised only for that occasion. As this is of heavenly origin, it will never be dissolved, and can perceive heavenly things.
2 Corinthians 5:2-4. Our heavenly calling gives us the hope of a house above, while we are enduring the oppression of our earthly tabernacle, that we may under both influences sigh to be clothed upon by the higher house.—Our spiritual nature has always abundant reason to long for a deliverance from our present bodies. Great as our enjoyments may be on earth, we cannot but sigh for something better. Our reluctance to be unclothed may therefore be beneficial in moderating and purifying our longings for deliverance.
2 Corinthians 5:5. By faith and the dealings of His providence, God is always preparing us for this glory, always cherishing our hopes and longings for it, and always chastening and purifying the expression of our desires. Oh, how wisely has God combined together in our worldly and spiritual experience these after throes of our troublesome life and these longings for future glory!
2 Corinthians 5:6-8. True faith prepares us for either alternative; whether to remain in the flesh, or to lay aside our present tabernacles.—We walk by faith, and we are therefore cheerful during our pilgrimage; but the feeling that our Lord is not in sight often makes us forlorn and desolate when we are in trouble.—Nothing that we can do or enjoy on earth can be compared with being absent from the body and at home with the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:9 f. The effort to be, and the consciousness that we are, accepted of the Lord, is our strength along the way, and will be our satisfaction when we reach our home.—This Divine approbation will be publicly awarded when we stand at the judgment seat of Christ.—Great power of faith, which makes us joyful even in the day of judgment!
Heubner:—2 Corinthians 4:7. In these dying bodies great and glorious treasures are hidden. We are never perfectly pure and true, except when we ascribe every thing good to God.
2 Corinthians 4:8. The Christian’s superiority to the world and his peculiar skill are owing to his watchfulness, steadfastness of purpose, cheerfulness and calmness of mind.
2 Corinthians 4:9. The more persecution and ill-will we receive from our fellow-men, the more cheering is God’s favor, and the nearer is His aid. When the danger is most imminent, His servants may feel sure of a speedy deliverance.
2 Corinthians 4:10 f. The death and the life of Christ should be revealed in every Christian by a continual self-sacrifice for others, and by a power to overcome all temporal sufferings.
2 Corinthians 4:12. The more a man sacrifices himself, the more power he has over others. In this case life comes from death.
2 Corinthians 4:13. When faith urges thee on, let not thy mouth keep thee back. But without faith, thy speech will displease God and have no blessing. Without faith no one can give a true testimony for God; but with faith no one can refrain from it.
2 Corinthians 4:14. The hope of an eternal life makes us strong to give up a temporal.
2 Corinthians 4:15. The reason that pious men are kept in the world is that they may bring the wandering to the path of safety. God’s grace should be celebrated by well-filled choirs. It is sad to hear His praises from such feeble choirs on earth. Thank God, it will not be so in heaven!
2 Corinthians 4:16. The more our life of sense is renounced, the purer, the stronger and the more triumphant will be the life of the spirit. Piety always rejuvenates the inner man (Isaiah 40:30 f.).
2 Corinthians 4:17-18. Troubles are light when they come from men, and affect only the outward man. All that earth can do is as nothing to him who has God’s grace; but God’s wrath is terrible indeed! Our indemnification for all sufferings and sacrifices is infinitely greater than our pains, our reproaches, and the loss of all earthly things could be; for God gives us everlasting joy and honor. The only condition is a heavenly mind, directed to the eternal world as the needle to the pole. We should see no reality any where else.
2 Corinthians 5:1. The hope of a glorified body comforts the sick and holds the spirit as if it were a foreigner in the (earthly) body.
2 Corinthians 5:2. The worldly man is terrified at the thought of losing his body, and he wishes it might be his home forever; but the Christian sighs for its dissolution. A truly pious longing to die is the Christian’s home-sickness, but the desire which many have to die is only a desire to be free from trouble.
2 Corinthians 5:3. A body is necessary to the soul, and the resurrection of the body will bring an inconceivable augmentation to our bliss. 2 Corinthians 5:4. Nearly all the troubles and oppressions which we experience during our earthly life spring from the body. 2 Corinthians 5:5. God has reserved to man a better portion than this world can give. The Holy Spirit, by a celestial birth, makes us children of God, and, of course, immortal. Whoever knows by experience this Divine life, can never think of its interruption or cessation. A Divine life must be an eternal life.
2 Corinthians 5:6. Our earthly life of care is only a brief pilgrimage.
2 Corinthians 5:7. Our only fellowship with the Lord must be by faith; On earth we cannot behold Him immediately, nor hold direct intercourse with Him through any of our senses. None but a fanatic will think of a visible intuitive enjoyment of Him here.
2 Corinthians 5:8. The Christian’s home-sickness never paralyzes, enfeebles or effeminates him, as a natural home-sickness frequently does the worldly man; but it rather sanctifies and strengthens him.
2 Corinthians 5:9. The assurance of being united to Christ makes the believer long more earnestly to please the Lord. This will not leave him even in the future world, for even there shall he remain in the service of the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:10. 2 Corinthians 5:1. We must all stand before Him, for none can escape Him. Whoever is inclined to call this right of Christ in question will surely experience its terror in his own heart. 2. The thought that thy heart will be revealed is either joyful and comforting or terrible (John 5:24. We read elsewhere of a condemning, but here of a revealing judgment. The latter is rather a Christian glorification).
W. F. Besser:
2 Corinthians 4:7. The transcendent power which triumphs over all earthly things, which makes the ministers of Christ superior to all suffering, and which sometimes is communicated from him to others, is owing not to the excellence of the vessel, but to the preciousness of the treasure it contains; not to the person of the preacher, but to the name he proclaims; not to the natural ability of man, but to God’s grace and word of power. The saying the Apostle uses respecting the treasure in earthern vessels is true in general of all Christians who possess the precious pearl, Christ Jesus, in the shell of this natural life.
2 Corinthians 4:8-10. “I shall never die,” says the Church, as she bears forth the treasures of Christ’s kingdom, “but live to make the Lord’s work known to all men” (Psalms 118:17).
2 Corinthians 4:13-14. Though much distress may follow her confession, faith can never withhold the confession itself (Romans 10:10), and in making it she becomes conscious of herself and grows.
2 Corinthians 4:15. The more thanksgiving, the more grace (Psalms 50:23).
2 Corinthians 4:16. At no time do the energies of a new life stream forth so freshly and with such quickening power upon the heart of the Christian as when he is in the vale of adversity. “Day by day!” Paul was not “already perfect.”
2 Corinthians 4:17. In God’s hand is a pair of balances; one scale of which is called Time and the other Eternity. In the former are weighed earthly afflictions, and in the other future glory.
2 Corinthians 5:1. Christ gives Himself to His people, even in this life, in such a way that they may be one spirit and one body with Him spiritually, and also sacramentally by faith; but when we behold Him in our spiritual bodies, He will prove Himself to be that perfect Love which communicates its whole self to its loved ones!
2 Corinthians 5:3. We need to be clothed and covered in this life, or we can never be clothed upon with our house from heaven in the day of the Lord. We must put on the Lord Jesus Christ, as He gives Himself now for a spriritual clothing to all who receive Him by faith through the word and sacraments (Galatians 3:27; Romans 13:14). Only thus shall we be able, in the day of final visitation, to put on the same Christ in His glory (Romans 8:30), over our present mortal nature, whose original nakedness will be covered by grace and so will be capable of the further investiture of a glorious immortality (Romans 3:18).
2 Corinthians 5:4. As in Spring the green branches and leaves are thrown over the trees and transform the rigid mourning habiliments of Winter into the fresh garments of Spring, so will the Lord Jesus Christ, our life from heaven (Colossians 3:4), triumphantly lay hold upon all that is mortal in us and abolish it in an immortal nature (1 Corinthians 15:54 f.).
2 Corinthians 5:6-8. The native citizens of heaven are foreigners on earth, just as the heirs of the promised land were wanderers without a home in the wilderness (Hebrews 11:13-16). Our residence in earthly bodies necessarily implies that we should have possession of and perceive our Saviour in no other way than by faith. Sense and reason cannot apprehend Him; only faith, the new sense which God gives to the new man, and which is conversant with things unseen, can discover or receive Him as He is presented in the Gospel.
2 Corinthians 5:10. Just as in this life our body is the vessel and instrument for all that we have and do by faith, so in another life will the body be the vessel and instrument for possessing and enjoying by means of direct vision. Gloriously will the blessedness of these bodies be manifested, when those features of sorrow which have been imprinted upon our mortal bodies, so as to make us like Christ here, shall be brightened up in our risen bodies with the reflected radiance of our Lord’s glorified body (Romans 8:29).
[Stanley suggests that the mingling of the metaphors of a tent and a garment may have been caused by Paul’s familiarity with the Cilician materials used in tent making. Sometimes these were of skins, which Wetstein thinks were suggestive also of the human body, often called by the Greeks a tent; and sometimes they were of hair cloth, which was almost equally suggestive of a habitation and of a vesture. When such tents were separated into their parts (καταλυθῇ), if they were not strictly dissolved (Stanley), they were at least taken down and made away with (Alford). Chrysostom says that “by these means Paul shows how superior future things were to the present. For to the ἐπίγειον he opposes the οὐρανίαν. and to the οἰκίαν τοῦσκηνους, which was easy to be dissolved and was made for the present occasion, he opposes the αἰώνιαν; for the name of tent often indicated something only for a special emergency; hence John 14:2.”]
[Dr. Hodge has recently very elaborately defended the interpretation which makes the house not made with hands to be heaven itself. In this he agrees substantially with Anselm, Aquinas and Rosenmueller. His arguments are (1), the frequent Scriptural comparison of heaven to a house in which are many mansions (John 14:2), a city in which are many houses (Hebrews 11:10; Hebrews 11:14; Hebrews 13:14; Revelation 21:10), or more generally a habitation (Luke 16:9); (2), the appropriateness of the metaphor; (3). the agreement of the description here given with other descriptions of heaven. Hebrews 11:10 (comp. Hebrews 9:11), et. al.; (4), any body after death or in the resurrection could not be spoken of as at present in the heavens, or as to be received from heaven: whereas Christ expressly authorizes such language respecting the mansions He is preparing; (5), the building here spoken of is evidently to be entered upon at death. When Paul died this was to save him from being found naked, and this could not be at the final resurrection; (6), believers are said to pass immediately into glory at death (Matthew 22:32; Luke 16:22; Luke 23:43; Philippians 1:22 f.; Hebrews 12:23). In favor of the common view, which makes the house not made by hands the same as the body to be received at the general resurrection, it is alleged (1), that as the earthly house of this tabernacle is a body, the heavenly house must be a body also. Paul’s object was not to inform his readers that he expected a new place of residence or to be in heaven, but that he looked for something in the place of his present corporeal tenement; (2), the building was not to be heaven, but it was then in the heavens, and was to be received from heaven; (3), the reason why the Apostle did not especially refer to the intermediate state between death and the Parousia, was that he had yet received no revelation on the point whether he and his fellow-Christians of that age would live until the Parousia, and so whether there should be any such state to those of whom he was speaking; (4), in contrast with ἐνδύω in this conection ἐπενδύω must have a special meaning which it need not have in 1 Corinthians 15:53 f. for it seems to have the idea of an investiture over the whole person and state of the individual, and not that of a general inhabitation of a people. In spite of the obvious difficulty that Paul seems to speak of receiving the investiture at death, or at least to regard it as ideally at hand when he should die, we cannot but regard these arguments as conclusive in favor of the common interpretation. Neither Calvin nor Olshausen advocated the idea (sometimes imputed to them and here avowed by Neander.) of a body prepared for the soul at death and to be inhabited until the Parousia. The spiritual interpretation that the building to be received from heaven is the glory of Christ’s righteousness, needs no refutation. It cannot be denied that Paul was familiar with the Rabbinic fancy, that “Adam lost the image of God by his fall, and so became naked.” In the Synop. Sohar, it is said that “when the time draws near in which man is to depart from this world, the angel of death takes off this mortal garment and clothes him with one from Paradise.” We cannot, however suppose that Paul was much influenced by such prevalent opinions.]
[Hermann (ad Viger. p. 834) expounds the difference between the two particles thus: “Εἵπερ corresponds to the Germ. wenn anders (provided that) and εἵγε to the Germ. wenn denn (since). The former is used of a thing which is assumed to be, but the writer leaves it in uncertainty whether it is so or not, while the latter, on the other hand, is used of that which is correctly assumed to be.” Neander says that “in the later Greek this distinction was not always observed, since the words were not unfrequently used in each other’s place.” For Paul’s disregard of the distinction, Dr. Hodge appeals to 1 Corinthians 8:5; Galatians 3:4; Colossians 1:23; 2 Thessalonians 1:6. The Apostle had no doubt about his ἐνδυσασθαι) and we therefore incline to think he must have used εἵγε. This suits the general tone of confidence which runs through the passage. If the other word was used, it must have been because he conceded something either ironically or for the argument’s sake at the time. και connects with the previous clause, and may be rendered with either of the particles, “if in fact,” or “since in fact,” as in 2 Corinthians 3:6, and in 2 Corinthians 5:5. A specimen of the same half doubt on a matter really certain to his own mind may be seen in Philippians 3:11.]
2 Corinthians 4:10; 2 Corinthians 4:10.—Rec. has τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ in opposition to the best authorities [viz.: A. B. C. D. E. F. G. Sin. et al. It is sustained only by K. L. and some versions and three of the best Greek fathers. Sin. has τοῖς σώμασιν instead of the second τῷ σώματι.]
2 Corinthians 4:12; 2 Corinthians 4:12.—Rec. has ὁ μέν θάνατος, but it is feebly sustained. [Alford thinks it was “inserted to correspond to δἐ below.”]
2 Corinthians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 4:13.—Sin. alone has καί after the first δὶο. After γεγραμ. of 2 Corinthians 4:13, the Cod. Alex. (A.) is entirely lost until 2 Corinthians 12:7.]
2 Corinthians 4:14; 2 Corinthians 4:14.—Without sufficient authority, Lachm. has thrown out τὸν κύριον.
2 Corinthians 4:14; 2 Corinthians 4:14.—The διὰ of the Rec. is not as well sustained as σὺν before Ἰησοῦ. It was intended probably for a correction [Alford: “on account of the difficulty found in σὺν Ἰησοῦ being joined to a future verb, his resurrection being past.” Σὺν is given in B. C. D. F. Sin. (1st cor.).]
2 Corinthians 4:16; 2 Corinthians 4:16.—As in 2 Corinthians 4:1, ἐκκακοῦμεν is preferable to ἐγκακοῦμεν, and for reasons similar to those there given.
2 Corinthians 4:16; 2 Corinthians 4:16.—Lachm. has good authorities for his reading: ὸ ἕσω ἡμῶν, and yet his reading is probably not genuine, but arose from an attempt to make it correspond with ὁ ἕξω ἡμῶν [The same reason probably produced the reading ἕξωθεν instead of ἕξω, i. e., to make it correspond with ὁ ἕσωθεν after the latter had been accepted as the true reading. But even ἕσωθεν is not satisfactorily sustained. Ἡμῶν is also inserted by high authority (B. C. D. E. F. Sin.) after ἕσω. Tisch. and Rec. omit it after ἕσωθεν. Alford (but with a doubt) and Stanley insert it with ἕσω. Meyer suggests that it was inserted for uniformity.]
2 Corinthians 4:17; 2 Corinthians 4:17.—Before ἐλαφρὸν D. (1st cor.) E. F. G., the Vulg. Syr. and Goth, versions, and some of the Latin fathers read πρόσκαιρον καὶ, but it was probably a gloss upon παραυτίκα. Comp. διὰ τοῦ παραυτίκα ἕδειξε τὸ βραχύ τε καὶ πρόσκαιρον in Theodt.]
2 Corinthians 5:3; 2 Corinthians 5:3.—Lach. has εἴπερ, Rec. has εἴγε. The latter is sustained by the testimony only of C. K. L., but by the strong authority of nearly all the cursives and all the Greek fathers. Meyer, however, thinks it an arbitrary change by some transcriber. [Sinaiticus has since given its testimony for εἴγε. The great majority of the recent critical editions now adopt εἴγε.]
2 Corinthians 5:3; 2 Corinthians 5:3.—Rec. and Lach. have ἐνδυσάμενοι instead of ἐκδυσάμενοι. Both readings are well supported. See Exeget. Notes.
2 Corinthians 5:4; 2 Corinthians 5:4.—After σκήνει Lachmann inserts τούτῳ; the evidence is not decisive. Meyer thinks it was added more clearly to define σκήνει.
2 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 5:5.—Excellent authorities are in favor of ὁ δούς.—Rec. and Tisch. have ὁ κὰι δούς with equally good authority.
2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10.—Rec. and Lachm. have κᾶκόν. Tisch. has φαῦλον, but without sufficient authority.[B. D. E. F. G. K. L. favor κακόν, and C. and Sin. favor φαῦλον. The Greek and cursives are divided nearly equally.
[Bloomfield notices that the natural meaning of παραυτίκα (παρ’ at, and αὐτἰκα present) is “at present,” and that the Syriac translators and most recent commentators therefore assign to the passage the sense of: “our present light affliction.” But the ancients generally, and almost all the earlier moderns took παραυτίκα to mean momentary. The idea, “for the present,” readily suggests the notion of what is temporary, and such a version seems required by the antithetical αἰώνιον. Chrysostom’s observations on this passage are admirable: “The Apostle opposes things present to things future: a moment to eternity; lightness to weight; affliction to glory. Nor is he satisfied with this, but he adds another word and doubles it, saying, καθ̓ ὑπερβ. εἰς ὑπερβ. This is a magnitude excessively exceeding. The repetition is intensive, after the Heb. בִמְאֹד מְאֹד exceedingly.” Dr. A. Clarke says: “it is every where visible what influence St. Paul’s Hebrew had on his Greek: כָּבַד signifies to be heavy and to be glorious: the Apostle in his Greek unites these two significations, and says, “weight of glory.” Comp. Hodge. Barrow has two passages finely illustrating this favorite text of his, in Sermm. 4th and 40th (Works by Hamilton Vol. I. pp. 38 and 384). Also Bp. J. Taylor, Contemp. on the State of Man, Lib. 2.Chap. 1.].
[What the author alludes to here is expressed in Winer (Gram. § 59, Andover ed. p. 366): “Of the negative particles οὐ stands when the intention is to represent something exactly and directly (as a reality), μὴ stands where something is only conceived of (according to the idea) in the mind; the former is the objective, the latter the subjective negation. This usage, he thinks, is uniform, especially in the New Testament. Thus he points out that in our passage τὰ μὴ βλεπ. signifies the mere idea of what cannot be seen, while in Hebrews 11:1, τἀ οὐ βλεπ. signifies what actually is not seen. (Idd. p. 370), Stanley, on the other hand, thinks that the only reason why μὴ is used in this passage and οἰ in Hebrews 11:1, is “merely from the Greek usage, which requires μὴ after the article, and οὐ where the article is not used.“ Alford thinks that μὴ is used here only to express what is hypothetical: “on the supposition that,” etc. There can be no question that in these two passages Winer’s view throws light and beauty over the thought. Faith (in Hebrews 11:1) looks to that which is beyond the reach of bodily sight and (in 2 Corinthians 4:18) turns away so as not to look upon what might be seen.]
X.—FURTHER ASSERTION OF THE PURITY OF HIS CONDUCT AND OF ITS PROFOUNDER REASONS. THESE DEPEND UPON HIS RELATION TO CHRIST AND HIS SPECIAL WORK TO MAKE KNOWN GOD’S METHOD OF RECONCILIATION BY CHRIST
2 Corinthians 5:11-21
11Knowing therefore the terror [fear] of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in four consciences. 12For [om. For]4 we commend not ourselves again unto you, but [we say this to] give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance [in face, ἐν προσώπῳ], and not in5 heart. 13For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to [for] God: or whether we be sober [of sound mind], it is for your cause. 14For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge [judged], 15that if [om. if]6 one died for all, then [therefore] were all dead [all died]: And that [om. that] he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them [om. for them] and rose again [for them]. 16Wherefore henceforth know we no man after [according to] the flesh: yea [om. yea]7 though [and if] we have known Christ after [according to] the flesh, yet now hence-forth 17know we him no more [so no longer]. Therefore [so that, ὥστε] if any man be in Christ he is new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things [they]8 are become new. 18And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus [om. Jesus]9 Christ, and hath given [gave] to us the ministry of reconciliation;19To wit, that [because, ὡς ὅτι] God was in Christ, reconciling the [a] world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you [om. you] by us: we pray you [om. you] in Christ’s stead, be ye [om. ye] 21reconciled to God. For [om. For]10 he hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin; that we might be made [become]11 the righteousness of God in him.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
2 Corinthians 5:11-12. Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord.—This is probably an inference from vv.9 and 10, but doubts have been raised respecting not only that inference but the interpretation of the individual sentences and their relation to one another. Some take τοῦ κυρίου as the genitive of the subject, i. e. since we know the terror of the Lord, and are acquainted with the fear which it inspires, or since we are not ignorant of the fearful things we must meet when we stand before Christ’s judgment seat, and behold His awful majesty. In this case our minds are turned to the fearful judgment which is to reveal all things and to arraign all who have done evil (2 Corinthians 5:10). It must be conceded that the expression never has such a meaning any where else in the New Testament and especially in Paul’s writings, where it evidently signifies the fear we have for God. And yet with this latter meaning εἰδότες—[which always refers to beholding (or knowing in consequence of beholding) what is visible to the external sense]—does not seem to correspond; we should rather have had ἕχοντες. Rückert’s explanation, knowing the true fear of the Lord, i. e. in what it consists, introduces something new, for in the context we have had no reference to any false fear to which this would be opposed. But the interpretation proposed by Meyer et al. viz. ‘since we are no strangers to the feeling of a holy reverence for Christ as our Judge;’ has no grammatical objection to it, for the perf. εἰδέναι may have the sense of not only a practical (to understand something), but a theoretical knowledge (comp. Philippians 4:12) [especially when it is derived from an intercourse with the things known]. Neander paraphrases the sentence thus: “we know what the fear of the Lord (Christ) requires of a man; for it will make him act under a sense of his responsibility.”—we convince men.—The same words in Galatians 1:10, have the sense of: to win over to our side by arguments (comp. Acts 12:20). The idea of something immoral is connected with it there, on account of the context; and hence some regard it here, either as a question, (do we persuade men?) which is hardly allowable, or as an indicative sentence expressing a bare possibility: “even if I could deceive men (craftily persuade, or draw over by talking) I should nevertheless be manifest to God.” The mere indicative, however, could not be made to express this, and an arbitrary interpolation of some clause like: “as our opponents say,” would become necessary. But even if the word is taken in the sense of: to convince, we are led to inquire, of what? Some reply: ‘that we know the fear of the Lord,’ or, ‘that we fear the Lord.’ But this is not very agreeable to the relations of the sentence. Others say: ‘that we are earnestly endeavoring to be acceptable to God’ (2 Corinthians 5:9), and hence “that we are sincere in our work.” This seems to us most natural; and Neander thus paraphrases it: ‘we are called upon to prove what our disposition is;’ this can be manifest only to God, for man can take cognizance of no such matter. We therefore endeavor to convince men that they do us injustice (by their objections), and that we are actuated by a true Christian spirit. Certainly the subject of discussion in the connection was the person and the ministry of the Apostle; and nothing leads us to think of a persuasion of the general truth of Christianity, as if a motive for the better performance of his work was to be drawn from what is mentioned in 2 Corinthians 5:10. Such a construction would essentially destroy the idea of any thing to be gained for Christianity.—We now come to the contrast:—but to God we have been already manifested,—and the sentence connected with it:—and I hope also we have been manifested in your consciences,—in which we have an obvious reference to 2 Corinthians 4:2 where he had spoken of commending themselves to the conscience of every man (συνιστάντες ἑαυτοὺς πρὸς πᾶσαν συνείδησιν ). Even this, however, refers probably to the manner in which he had discharged his Apostolic duties, and to the honest and sincere efforts he had made to please only God. He knew he was without concealment in the presence of the Omniscient, whose perfect light will reveal not him alone, but all things before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). He also hoped that he was made manifest in the consciousness, or the conscience of the Corinthians among whom the Divine light had shone so brightly, and among whom he had given so many impressive proofs of his spirit. Ἐλπίζειν is here expressive of an opinion that something was true, and the confident expectation that it would turn out to be so. Observe the transition to the first pers. sing. on the introduction of a matter so purely personal. From a point which God had so distinctly revealed that it needed no more attention to secure a favorable judgment, the Apostle turns to convince those who could not see his heart and who were too easily influenced by false appearances and the unfavorable remarks of others, that he was not actuated in what he was saying by an idle vanity of which God would disapprove, but by a pious regard for the great day of final revelation. In this conviction is involved also the consequences to himself after all the gain, the confidence and the esteem he might acquire, and of course the opposite prejudices he might have to meet, should be set aside. The object of the sentence, however, is not precisely to assign the motive of his conduct (ἐιδότες), as if he had said: “Since we know” (a form which would best suit Luther’s translation: “So fahren wir schön mit den Leuten,” [also Tyndale’s and Cranmer’s English version: “we fare fayre wyth men], i. e., we do not tyrannize over and drive the people by excommunications, etc., but we teach them by gentle means, etc.; a translation and an interpretation which is opposed to the grammatical sense); but it is to define more particularly the πείθομεν, and to show that it was done in a pious spirit. So far as relates to the essential meaning, it comes to the same result whether τοῦ κυρίου be taken as the genitive of the object or the genitive of the subject. In either case the Apostle intended to assure them in the participial sentence (2 Corinthians 5:11) that he acted under a reverential sense of the Divine presence and with reference to that tribunal before which all things were to be revealed. We may, perhaps, explain it thus: we act in full view of the awful things connected with the Judge, or under the reverential fear which the thought of him, i. e., the terror of the Lord the Judge, awakens. The common usage of the language would probably decide us in favor of the former view.—We are not again commending ourselves unto you.—The γὰρ, which some important manuscripts insert after οὐ, has induced some commentators to look for an intimate connection with 2 Corinthians 5:11. The Apostle has been made to say: ‘we hope we have been manifest in your consciences, for we are not commending ourselves, etc. He did not commend himself, for he presupposed that he had already been made manifest to their consciences. I am already assured of your confidence, for I am not thus commending myself in order to recommend myself to you, but it is to give you, etc. But as the best critical authorities are not in favor of the γάρ, a very good connection is made out, by supposing that he is here meeting a possible misconstruction of the confidence he had expressed, or rather of the whole vindication he had made of himself in 2 Corinthians 5:11, comp. on 2 Corinthians 3:1.—But we say these things to give you an occasion for boasting on our behalf.—From the words ἑαυτοὺς συνιστάνομεν, we conclude that λέγομεν ταῦτα (not ἐσμέν) must be supplied before ἀλλὰ—διδόντες. The word ἀφορμή occurs also in 2 Corinthians 11:12; Galatians 5:13; Romans 7:8; Romans 7:11; 1 Timothy 5:14. It properly signifies the point from which an undertaking takes its start, a point of support, a holding point; hence the necessary means for doing or attaining any thing, the materials or means which give occasion for it. In connection with this, καύχημα must mean, not the matter respecting which one glories, but only the honor or glory which is the result of the glorying. The words ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν signify, in our favor, for our advantage, as in 2 Corinthians 7:4; 2 Corinthians 7:14; 2Co 8:24; 2 Corinthians 9:2-3; 2 Corinthians 12:5 (giving him the honor due for his faithful and sincere labors in planting and sustaining the Church). This idea is carried out in the final sentence:—that ye may have an answer against those who boast in appearance (face) and not in heart.—After ἵνα ἔχητε, either τί or λέγειν τί must be understood. The sense of ἔχειν here is: to have in readiness (1 Corinthians 14:26), and πρός must signify: against. They should have something with which they might meet the Apostle’s opponents, with whom they had become so captivated that they needed to have such an occasion given them by him. We have here a delicate reference to the way in which they had been turned against him by the influence of such men. Those against, whom the Corinthians ought to have boasted in his behalf, he calls in an antithetical sentence, men who boasted ἐν προσώπῳ καὶ οὐ καρδίᾳ. By ἐν προσώπω he must have meant either: in the sight of men, in contrast with those who had a true approbation of their own consciences before God, or (in better correspondence with usage in other places 1 Corinthians 3:21, et al.): what was visible in the sight of men. In the latter case, πρόσωπῳ and καρδίᾳ would stand in contrast with one another, as the external and the internal. Πρόσωπον would be equivalent to the face or countenance, and the object of their boasting would be the holiness, the zeal, the love, etc., which might be seen in a man’s presence, not what existed in the heart. The hearts of those to whom he here alluded, he implies were destitute of all that of which they boasted. He designates their act not according to its intention, but according to the fact. (Meyer). Or πρόσωπον may be taken as equivalent to the person (whether it were a man’s own or other people’s person), personal relations, connections, leaders, ancestors, and particularly his external relations to Christ (2 Corinthians 5:16; 2 Corinthians 11:18 f.; 1 Corinthians 1:12); and καρδία, in this case, would signify that which is internal and noblest in man, that which God looks upon (1 Samuel 16:7) as the seat of faith, the proper ground of all true boasting. (Osiander). As πρόσωπον almost uniformly bears in other places the sense of the face, the first interpretation is probably to be preferred. The sense will then be: those who boast not so much of the heart as of the face, and whose piety, therefore, is seen entirely in the countenance, etc. The reference, therefore, is to hypocrites. [Chrysostom: “He does not bid them glory on his account absolutely, i.e., when no cause existed, and they had no occasion, but when his adversaries began to extol themselves. In all things he looks out for a fitting occasion. His object was not to induce them to make him illustrious, but to silence those who improperly commended themselves to the injury of others. Such gloried in what is seen for display. They did all things out of a love of honor, and they wore an aspect of piety and venerability, while they were empty inwardly and destitute of good works.”]
2 Corinthians 5:13-15. For whether we have been beside ourselves it is for God.—He now shows them that they had good reason for boasting of him rather than of those who depreciated him, for if he was to be judged by what he had done among them, they could not doubt his sincerity. Two different judgments might be passed upon him, and are pointed out in εἴτε ἐξέστημεν and εἴτε σωφρονοῦμεν. [They referred to his former (ἐξέστημεν) and to his present (σωφρονοῦμεν) state of mind. In his former course (either when ho was at Corinth, or when in some part of his epistles he had commended himself), he might have seemed to some beside himself with zeal and earnestness, but more recently he might have seemed to the same persons unduly reserved and sober. In both cases he may have been charged with acting an interested and artful part; whereas he maintains that he was governed by higher motives, which prompted him to adapt himself to varying circumstances]. The first, however, may have been more especially the judgment of his opponents, and showed the low estimate they had formed of him. It was not that he had overacted his part (Luther: done too much, dealt sharply with the people), nor merely that he had been foolish or had acted foolishly. Nor do we understand by the word here used that he was charged with going beyond the limits either of ordinary intelligence (mysterious contemplations), or of intelligent consciousness (ecstasy); for neither of these things are hinted at in the context. Nor does the extravagance alluded to seem to have been a transgression of propriety by an excessive self-glorification (Schott), nor an immodesty of deportment (R. Cath.). The idea intended is rather that of losing one’s senses, an insanity in contrast with being of good mind, reasonable (σωφρονεῖν). In like manner ἐξέστη is used in Mark 3:21, and μαίνεσθαι in Acts 26:25. The objection to him was not that he had commended himself, as in 2 Corinthians 11:17 f.), in which case σωφρονεῖν would signify, to be diffident in this respect; to God would then signify, for the honor of God; and for your sake would mean simply as a salutary example or as an instance of condescension for you. Such a sentiment would not have been needful after what he had said in 2 Corinthians 5:12. He probably had before his mind the whole course of his action, for this had probably seemed to his opponents as madness. In contrast with the Judaizers especially, he had shown a burning zeal for the advancement of the pure Gospel, for the conversion of souls and for the perseverance and progress of those who had been converted. Did he then have reference to his personal experiences, such as his sudden conversion or his ecstatic state? The contrast as well as the following sentence seem to favor the allusion rather to his whole conduct, his general activity. But even on the supposition that his opponents were right, he suggests that the madness they imputed to him was an extreme devotion to God, in the service of his Lord, and therefore worthy of esteem. But he adds—whether we are now sober minded, it is for you.—If any one saw his conduct in an opposite light, or thought he acted in a reasonable and wise manner, he assured them it was all for their welfare. This explanation, according to which the Apostle speaks of his conduct as it appeared to others and was judged by them, seems to us much more simple and more eligible than that which Osiander defends; according to which he speaks on the one hand of his actual deportment, of his transcendant style of doctrine and practice, and of his highly exalted spiritual life, which he however contends actually redounded to the glory of God; and on the other hand of his more tranquil and judicious manner of action, which was better understood and more generally useful. Had such been the Apostle’s meaning he makes use in the first clause of an ambiguous expression, an amphiboly, in which he refers ironically to his opponents’ insinuation, that he had been enthusiastically extravagant. The signification of ἐξέστη, adopted by Hofmann (Schrigtbew, II. p. 323): “to be in an exalted state of inspiration” is not favored by the common usage of the words.—For the love of Christ constraineth us (2 Corinthians 5:14).—He here gives a reason not for what he had said in the first half of 2 Corinthians 5:13, but for his assertion that his course of action had been sincere, and that whatever might be its appearance before men, it was for the service of God and for the welfare of his brethren. In this sentence the words τοῦ Χριστοῦ are in the genitive of the subject according to the prevalent usage of Paul with respect to this phrase; comp. 2Co 8:24; 2 Corinthians 13:13; Romans 5:5; Romans 5:8; Romans 8:35; Romans 8:39; Ephesians 2:4; Ephesians 3:19; Philippians 1:9 et al. (The personal object of the ἀγάπη is introduced by εἰς in Colossians 1:4 and 1 Thessalonians 3:12). In what follows also it is evident that the object is to point out the highest manifestation of Christ’s love. Although this love of Christ is a power which produces love to Christ, we are not to suppose both points embraced in the expression here. The verb συνέχει means either, it presses, it drives, or, it holds together. The pronoun ἡμᾶς, however, cannot mean here, you and me (to hold us together in friendship), but, as the context shows, only me. This holding together must be the opposite of those separations which selfishness is apt to produce or occasion. Calvin says: constrains our hearts or affections; Meyer: holds us that we may not pass beyond the limits which are required by a regard for God’s honor and your welfare (θεῷ and ὑμῖν). The former interpretation seems indeed contrary to usage, since everywhere else the word has the meaning of, to press hard, or to afflict; but never, to urge or to impel; only in the passive is it used of the affections by which one is ruled. But why can not the active be used according to the analogy of the passive, of an affection which directly and thoroughly controls a man? With such a meaning the idea becomes more expressive. When the Apostle adds—we having formed this judgment—he introduces the subjective cause of that influence which the love of Christ had over him. That love had led him to form this judgment, i. e., had brought him to this conclusion, to this conviction. Whether this judgment was reached at the time of his conversion (Meyer), or whether the whole meaning of the death of Christ became thus clear to his apprehension at some later period of his life (Osiander), may be left undetermined. Neander remarks that “the aorist was here used because Paul intended to speak of something which happened once upon a time. He means, that ever since he became conscious of the saving love of Christ, a new principle of conduct had entered his heart.” The substance of this conviction, or rather of the judgment then formed was:—that one died for all, and so all died.—If we accept of the reading of the Receptus, which gives us εἰ after ὅτι, we must regard ὅτι ἄρα—ἀπέθανον as belonging together: that (if one died for all) then all died. The hypothetical sentence, however, could have been only formally problematical, since what is there expressed must have been really certain to the Apostle. But if εἰ be left out, ὅτι is either equivalent to: because, and so introduces the antecedent of a proposition (Meyer); or, it is in this instance equivalent to: that, and both clauses depend upon it, i. e., we have judged that one died for all and that all died. (Osiander). Τοῦτο appears to favor this latter supposition (we judged this that, etc.). One thing, however, which would go far to determine us in favor of the causal signification is, that it brings out more prominently the οἱ πάντες as the proper substance of the judgment to which the Apostle says in the context he had come (we judged this, that one died for all and so all died). And yet the whole force of the sentence seems to require that ὅτι in the sense of that should be made to govern both clauses of it. This logical relation, however, would be destroyed if we thus bring in an independent conclusion by means of ἄρα. The inference which the Apostle makes from the proposition that one died for all, argues strongly in favor of its judicially vicarious signification. One was in the place of all, therefore all must be looked upon as dead; one has made expiation, for the offence of all, therefore all are to be looked upon as having suffered punishment. This usage, by which ὑπέρ indicates that something was done or suffered in the name of some one, in consequence of which the latter is regarded as doing or suffering the same thing, prevailed even among classic writers; but among later authors the usage was extended until the word was introduced in connections in which a purer style would have required ἀντί. (Passow s. v. ὑπέρ, A. II. 1. p. 2064 a. b.), [Stanley contends that although ὑπὲρ πάντων has the same ambiguity as the English “for,” ‘in behalf of,’ the idea of service and protection always predominates. Wherever, in speaking of the death of Christ, the idea of substitution is intended, it is under the figure of a ransom, in which case it is expressed by ἀντί. (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45). Wherever the idea of covering or forgiving sins is intended, it is under the figure of a sin-offering, in which case the word used is περὶ ἁμαρτίας or ἁμαρτιῶν, as in Romans 8:3; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10. The preposition περί, as thus used, has partly the sense of “on account of,” but chiefly the sense of “covering,” as if it were, he threw his death “over” or “around our sins.” Such generalizations contain a truth deserving notice, but we may doubt whether the usage was so strictly conformed to the etymological law. In the actual interpretation of our passage Stanley is compelled to confess that there would be no force to the Apostle’s inference that all were dead because Christ died, except on the idea of Christ’s representing or standing in the place of those who died with Him. See some excellent remarks of Trench (Synn. 2 Series, pp. 163–166) and Tischendorf, Doctr. Pauli de vi mor. Chr.]. But as in the final sentence (2 Corinthians 5:15) ὑπὲρ πάντων would belong also to ἐγερθέντι, such a meaning would not seem appropriate to the connection, for we should be compelled to understand the resurrection for all in a sense like that which is expressed in Ephesians 2:5 (comp. Colossians 2:11; Colossians 3:1), i. e., Christ’s resurrection would be regarded as the resurrection of all. Not only the final sentence (2 Corinthians 5:15) but that from which the whole reflection is derived (“the love of Christ constrains us”) would probably bring us to the conclusion that the main idea of the passage is, Love is for love, i. e., corresponding to the love which sacrifices itself for the salvation of all, is a love which renounces all selfish motives and devotes itself to the great purpose of the other love. In such a connection the phrase all died would denote a moral death. The Apostle implies that an essential object aimed at in the sacrifice of one for the redemption of all, was that the latter might forsake the fleshly life of sin which was opposed to this work of love, and which by its very nature was a life of selfishness, having self for its central aim, and in direct contradiction to this self-sacrificing and diffusive love. Olshausen says: that death of Christ for all is the principle or reason for the death of all for Him. But when any have fellowship with Christ this is effected by a faith in which His death for their sakes becomes actually beneficial to them, and they cease to live for themselves. This is what the Apostle means in other places, when he says, we are crucified with Christ, Galatians 2:19; comp. Colossians 3:3; Colossians 2:12; Romans 6:4. The Apostle speaks of believers who in the very act of faith have entered into the fellowship of Christ’s death, and hence are dead with Him, and are in the sphere of His death, because they have the essential principle of that death in a love which surrenders its personal life of selfishness. (comp. Meyer). We would not be understood as defending that interpretation, which combines and mingles together the subjective ethical and the objective judicial signification of Christ’s atoning death, or which makes out that all are both morally and legally dead by virtue and in consequence of Christ’s death. (Osiander). The only explanation which seems to us correct, and to which the whole connection (2 Corinthians 5:13-15) conducts us, is that which represents the death of Christ, which brings salvation to all, as set forth in this passage, according to its ethical meaning, but as a result of love in Him and as a reason for love in men. Neander says: The article before πάντες implies that precisely the all for whom Christ died must have died in Him. That which had been assumed as a principle in 2 Corinthians 5:14 (the all died), is presented in 2 Corinthians 5:15 as a purpose or aim. [It should, however, be remarked that the purpose is limited to those who live (οἱ ζῶντες), whereas no limitation is put to the all (οἱ πάντες) for whom Christ died, and who died in Him. See below]. The Apostle speaks of this living of some as a moral result flowing from the death of Christ for all:—that they who live should no longer live for themselves.—He here resumes the thought involved in the being dead. In that dying the fleshly life of sin had ceased, the man no more lived to himself, the object of all his action was no longer a life of sense in the service of self alone. The positive side in contrast with this is given when the Apostle adds—but to him who died and rose again for them—i. e., Christ who had died and risen again for their salvation (Romans 4:25) should now become the object of all their efforts. But the subjects of what is here spoken of are said to be οί ζῶντες. These are such as have entered into the fellowship of Christ’s death; but, as the invariable consequence, are also in the fellowship of his new life: ἐκ νεκρῶν ζῶντες. Comp. Romans 6:4 ff. Romans 6:13. We regard as defective not only the interpretation which renders ὁι ζῶντες as long as they live (for the article forbids such a rendering), but also that which regards it as meaning those who are alive i. e., those who are conceived of as a part of the same general multitude who had been redeemed and were dead. [It is precisely on account of the article before ζῶντες that we think the Apostle intended to emphasize and distinguish the living here from the more general mass for whom Christ died. Those who make the living in Christ as extensive and the same as those for whom He died, are obliged to take the word died (ἀποθανεῖν) in 2 Corinthians 5:15 in two different significations, one judicial or literal, and the other moral. If on the other hand we make the death in 2 Corinthians 5:15 in each case to mean a legal death, then the living signifies the opposite justification; or if we make it signify a physical death, then the living must be such as partake in His resurrection and are alive in Him who rose again (ἀποθαν. κ. ἐγερθέντι). We may also ask, how it follows from Christ’s dying in any sense, that all or any would die in a moral sense ? Is not this making the Apostle assert a mere assumption? Our English A. V. makes the Apostle to have judged, that if one died for all, then all must have been dead. This is contrary to the aorist tense of ἀπέθανον which signifies literally they died. Even with the sense that His death proved that all were dying creatures, we cannot see how such an argument was pertinent to the Apostle’s line of thought. His object was not to refer to the original state of man without redemption, but to the obligations which that redemption imposed on him. Even those who deny that the dying of all men in consequence of Christ’s death was merely by imputation (Webster and Wilkinson), acknowledge that His death indicated what was due to them, and condemned them unto death; and that the interest of the ὁι ζῶντες extended to the resurrection, as well as to the death of Christ. Comp. Stanley].
2 Corinthians 5:16-17.—So that we from this time know no man according to the flesh.—An inference is here drawn from what had just been said. Inasmuch as Christ has died for all, and so their selfish life of sense, with its exclusiveness, narrowness, etc., has been abolished; and inasmuch as believers are dead with Him who has died for them, and their new life should be entirely devoted to Him and His cause; henceforth we must be expected to know no one, whoever he may be, according to the flesh (κατὰ σάρκα). The σάρξ is precisely that in relation to which believers were said in 2 Corinthians 5:14 to be dead. To know according to the flesh, may be taken either subjectively, as defining the knowledge of those here spoken of (as a knowledge merely human without spiritual enlightenment, comp. 2Co 1:17; 1 Corinthians 1:26, as things appear to the sinful natural man); or objectively (as in 2 Corinthians 11:18; Philippians 3:4; John 8:15), the object itself supplying the rule for the knowledge; in this case the merely human, the natural in all its narrowness and exclusiveness as it is found in those who are known; hence any natural qualities which have no connection with Christ, such as advantages of Jewish birth, wealth, refinement or outward circumstances, comp. Galatians 3:28. Neander says: “If we confine our thoughts to those things which Paul had in his mind, and was opposing, we shall probably find that he meant to say: it is nothing henceforth to me whether a man is by birth a Jew or a Gentile; whether he observes the Mosaic law or not; whether he is connected externally with those Apostles who were appointed by Christ during His life on earth or not.” The knowing (εἰδέναι) here spoken of must, however, include a critical discernment. Before deciding how much it thus involves, we must refer to what the Apostle further says respecting the knowing of Christ—even if we have known Christ according to the flesh, nevertheless now know we Him (according to the flesh) no longer.—In the protasis εἰ καί is used by way of concession, and in the apodosisἀλλά has the sense of nevertheless, as in 2 Corinthians 4:16. He acknowledges he had once had a knowledge of Christ according to the flesh (the emphasis should be placed upon the praeterite ἐγνώκαμεν, which on this account is placed first in the sentence); but he asserts that for the present, now νῦν, comp. ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν in the preceding clause), he knew Christ thus (i.e., κατὰ σάρκα) no longer. The emphasis cannot be laid upon Χριστόν on account of its position and the relation between the protasis and the apodosis in the sentence. [In such a case χριστόν should have stood before κατὰ σάρκα]. But κατὰ σάρκα, taken objectively, refers to the merely human personality, that which made its appearance on earth. This defines what kind of knowledge he referred to, and consequently also the judgment regarding Christ which was included in it, viz., that which had preceded his conversion and enlightenment when he first learned to recognize Christ (Χριστόν here used as a proper noun, and not as an appellative) as the risen Messiah and the Son of God (Galatians 1:16; Romans 1:4). Gerlach: “That he might say the more forcibly that he knew no man after the flesh, he applies what he had said to Christ Himself. He says that he had known Christ after the flesh, i. e., as a natural earthly man, just as the inhabitants of Nazareth (Matthew 13:55) knew him only too well, viz., as his enemies and judges.” To the same result would also the subjective acceptation of κατὰ σάρκα bring us. [Although the word ἐγνωκέναι signifies to know by a personal experience] it does not necessarily imply that Paul had seen Christ with his bodily eyes. [It may simply mean here a personal acquaintance with the outward relations of Christ, or that Paul had contemplated Christ only in his outward condition. A different word and one much more comprehensive of all kinds of knowing (οἴδαμεν) had been used when he spoke of knowing no man after the flesh. It is, however, difficult to see any important difference in the moaning of the two words here]. Νῦν describes his present position as a Christian, commencing with his conversion: ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν signifies from that time onwards. With respect to the objective or subjective acceptation of κατὰ σάρκα, the want of the article (2 Corinthians 11:18) is by no means decisive against the former. Though both agree together very well in sense, or come essentially to the same thing, they cannot be made to harmonize exegetically. If in the second half we should suppose a reference to a false apprehension of Christ, it could be only in a low Ebionite sense. Comp. the Introd. to the Epp. to the Corr. § 2. With that which he had inferred in 2 Corinthians 5:16 from the preceding argument principally with respect to himself and his way of viewing and judging, the Apostle now connects in 2 Corinthians 5:17 another general conclusion: So that if any man be in Christ he is a new creature (ἕι τις ἐν Χριστῷ, καινὴ κτίσις). Since the flesh is no more to determine the nature of a believer’s knowledge or judgments, it follows that if any man is in Christ, i.e., is in the sphere of Christ’s life, a new creation must have taken place; or such a man must be a new creature (for the sense of these expressions is the same). In other words, the man is altogether a different person from what he was before, and we need have no reference to what he was before he became a Christian (subjectively or objectively). The phrase, a new creature, occurs again in Galatians 6:15. In relation to the thing itself comp. Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 4:21; Colossians 3:9 f.; Romans 6:6. The new birth is spoken of in Titus 3:5; John 3:3; James 1:18. Kτίσις designates not only a Divine act (creation), but also the product of such an act (creature). The latter is the ordinary meaning in the New Testament (comp. Romans 1:25; Romans 8:19 ff Romans 8:39 et al). The expression was also used by the Rabbins with respect to a conversion to Judaism. The idea of a new creature is carried out in an antithetic form in the following sentence—Old things have passed away—that is, with respect to those who are in Christ. The old things refer to the disposition and (theoretically) the way of thinking which one had before he became a Christian. Both constitute the whole mental state of the man, and are comprised in all things, [τὰ are the things which belonged to us from the beginning. Trench, Synn., 2d Ser., pp. 81 ff.]. Osiander comprehensively observes: “All that the man had and purposed before he knew Christ, while he was out of Christ, and when he was not born of the Spirit, all that seemed valuable to him in his natural state completely lost its influence and authority over him as soon as he believed on Christ, and gave way to the overpowering energy of a new, better and permanent spirit.” Bengel expresses this passing away by likening it to the vanishing of the snow in the early spring; a comparison like that used in Isaiah 43:18. [The Vulgate and some ancient expositors include καινὴ κτίσις in the antecedent portion of this sentence (si qua ergo in Christo nova creatura, i.e., if any man be a new creature in Christ), but such a construction makes the whole sentence tautological [inasmuch as the second or concluding member (vetera transierunt, i. e., old things have passed away) assert the same thing with the first]. The interjection (ἰδού) gives great animation to the discourse as in 1 Corinthians 15:51; Revelation 21:5. [“It transfers the reader as into the sudden sight of a picture. The moment a man is a Christian, a new creation rises up; the ancient world passes away as in the final dissolution of all things, and behold! a new scene is discovered, the whole world has in that instant become new.” Stanley]. If τὰ πάντα should be left out of the text, γέγονεν καινά must have its subject in τὰ (old things have passed away, they have become new); unless we translate it: a new thing has taken place. The expression: it (the old) has become new, implying a complete change of the previous state, is certainly a bold one. [The aorist (παρῆλθεν) indicates that the old things passed away at a particular time, while the perfect γέγονε describes the state which succeeded and still continues. Calvin has attempted to render the first member of the verse with a verb supplied in the imperative mood: if any man would be in Christ, let him become a new creature. He supposes that the Apostle is rebuking the ambition of false teachers and telling them that if they would be what they aspire to be, they must be much changed. The context, which has nothing of an ironical or hortatory character, is entirely opposed to this view. Comp. Hodge]. This great change the Apostle now proceeds to refer to its original principle. [Osiander: “he mounts from this idea of the new creation to God the source of all life, and traces the mental change of which he had been speaking to the great fundamental improvement of all human relations by the atonement of Christ”].
2 Corinthians 5:18-19. And all things [are] of God.—The “all things” of which he had just spoken, the whole state in which the old nature and life had passed away and every thing had become new, comes to us from God. The way, however, in which this occurs, is immediately described more definitely by directing our minds to the manner in which God effects such a change—who reconciled us to Himself by Christ—Καταλλάσσειν, according to one class of interpreters is simply the accomplishment in man’s disposition toward God, of a change in which he gives up his dislike and his distrust of God; but according to another class, it is a change in God’s treatment of men, in which He no longer regards them with disfavor, and causes His wrath (ὀργή) towards them to cease, and they become His beloved ones instead of enemies (comp. Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:20 f.). According to this latter view, it includes what is meant by showing favor to them (χαρίζεσθαι) and forgiveness of sins (ἀφιέναι τὰς ἁμαρτίας ); and the result is that man on his side returns to a state of friendship with God (comp. Romans 5:1 ff; Romans 6:1 ff; Romans 8:3 f.). Both of these views might, however, be embraced in the καταλλάξαι, so that the idea should be: the restoration of a state of friendship between God and men, but with the understanding that the manifestation of grace is first on the part of God. Thus Neander remarks: “Paul never speaks of God as man’s enemy, but only of man as God’s enemy. God is everlasting love and from Him can proceed nothing like enmity. That which separates man from God has its root entirely within himself, and must be taken away before he can receive the communications of Divine love in his heart. And yet this reconciliation of man to God is by no means confined to a subjective alteration of man’s disposition, for even this must be the result of an objective change in his relations to God. When Paul uses the word reconciliation he includes a reference to every thing which has taken place objectively in consequence of Christ’s work of redemption. The wrath of God (ὀργή θεοῦ) the check which has been given to man’s moral development in consequence of sin, cannot cease until it is removed by the redemption through Christ’s death.” [It may perhaps be conceded that in this whole passage (2 Corinthians 5:18-21) “not a word is given about God reconciling Himself to us, appeasing His anger, satisfying His justice, or expiating our sins.” (J. Young). And yet 2 Corinthians 5:21 involves an idea very similar, and implies that the ground on which this whole passage is based (for whether γὰρ is genuine or not, the verse itself is unquestionably a reason for the preceding argument) is that Christ has been made sin for us. The original meaning of καταλλάσσω was doubtless that of a mutual exchange, and hence a mutual reconciliation of hostile parties. Some passages in the New Testament (Romans 5:11, and all those which speak of this reconciliation as effected by the death of Christ) seem to hint also at this idea. And yet we see no injury but rather a great benefit to theological exegesis if καταλλαγή) could be uniformly distinguished from ἱλασμός and its kindred words, and confined to that part of the redeeming work by which man is reconciled (whatever may be the means, objective or subjective) to God. Olshausen on Romans 3:24; Stanley’s Obss. on the result of our passage; C. F. Schmid’s Bibl. Theol. Vol. II. p. 316 ff. Ebrard’s Chr. Dogm. § 406]. But the phrase by Christ refers to something which becomes more distinctly prominent in 2 Corinthians 5:21 (not by means of his doctrine or his example. Pelag). The pronoun us (ἡμᾶς) signifies not the Apostles exclusively, but believers generally; for there is no limitation implied until the nature of the subject calls for a limitation in the next sentence—and hath given to us the ministration of the reconciliation.—This ministration of the reconciliation is analogous to the ministration of righteousness, in 2 Corinthians 3:9. It is a ministry entirely devoted to the work of reconciliation, whose business it is to make known that reconciliation, and in consequence of which men believe in Christ. To define this ministry so as to make it include all believers (Olshausen) is contrary to the whole analogy of Paul’s representation. One might much rather take ἡμᾶς in a yet more limited sense (comp. 1 Corinthians 15:10; 1 Timothy 1:12 ff.); but such a construction is not necessary, nor would it be consistent with 2 Corinthians 5:19.—Because God was reconciling a world unto himself in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:19).—We have here an explanation and a reason for what had just been said. The word God (θεός) stands so emphatically at the head of the sentence as to indicate a Divine agency in all this preparatory work, and a special prominence of it. Shall we now take the words God was in Christ, as if they constituted a sentence by itself, and regard the whole verse as asserting that the work of atonement was accomplished by the Divine being in Christ, or by the Godhead of Christ (comp. Colossians 1:19 ff.) in opposition to a lower Christological view? In this case God would signify the Father (others make it mean the λόγος, and still others the Triune God), and εῖ̓ναι ἐν would designate an habitual and substantial presence, and not merely a transient dynamic fellowship (Osiander). Or is ἦν καταλλάσσωνan emphatic periphrastic imperfect (as in Galatians 1:23), by which Paul wished to imform us in what things God was acting; viz., that God was when Christ died, reconciling the world unto Himself; i. e. God was in the work of Christ, in that series of acts by which the world was reconciled to God, and especially in that great event in which Christ died to atone for the world (the καταλλάξαι of 2 Corinthians 5:18, Meyer)? Our decision upon these questions must depend very much upon what we find in the succeeding context. According to Meyer, Paul is in that context assigning the reasons which had induced him to say that God was reconciling the world. These are given when it is said that God was not imputing to men their trespasses, and had committed to him and his fellow laborers the word of reconciliation; from both which it was evident that God was in Christ’s work engaged in a scheme to reconcile the whole world unto Himself. The words μὴ λογιζόμενος have the force of a verb in the present tense, for they assert that God is not reckoning unto men their trespasses. On the other hand the committing to us the work of reconciliation was what God did in applying that work to men, after it had been accomplished by Christ. Even Osiander concedes that these sentences are not to be coördinated with but subordinated to καταλλάσσων, etc., and that μἡ λογιζόμενος describes a result which is intimately connected and nearly coincident with the reconciliation. This is the remission of guilt, a benefit which individuals may receive through faith, and to communicate which is the object of the Divine institution of the ministry (καὶ θέμενος, etc.); and yet this result of the reconciling act, and the organ so indispensable to its realization in individuals, is not, according to him, an elementary part of it. It must, however, be conceded, that the way in which Meyer connects the participial sentence with ῆ̔ν καταλλάσσ. (“it is evident that God is reconciling the world unto Himself, inasmuch as He does not impute,” etc.), has something rather artificial about it. Such a connection of the words would have been proper only if the Apostle had said, God is reconciling the world, or if he had continued by saying, God did not impute (imperfect) to men their trespasses. On the whole we think it best with Meyer to take ῆ̓ν—καταλλάσσων together, but to regard the participial sentence as a more particular description of the way in which God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, “God was in Christ, (a phrase equivalent to by (διὰ) Jesus Christ in 2 Corinthians 5:18, but with the understanding that Christ and what He has done are the only basis on which the reconciliation is founded), bringing back the world to a state of friendship with Himself; for He imputed not men’s sins to them, and He has committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” Not imputing men’s trespasses to them is equivalent to the bestowal of forgiveness upon men, and implies that God was applying the benefits of salvation by Christ to individuals (αὐτοῖς). This is set forth by means of a present participle (imperf. Winer, § 46), because the act was continuously to be repeated, while the word describing the institution of the ministerial office (θέμενος), is an aorist participle, because the act was accomplished at a certain time. But the reconciliation, or the restoration of the happy relation, which was the consequence of this proceeding, is mentioned as a process commenced in Christ but not as yet concluded (ῆ̓ν—καταλλάσσων). As we do not think that this refers exclusively to the objective facts of the redeeming work, the objection which de Wette urges, that καὶ θέμενος, etc., is not an expression quite suitable to those facts [inasmuch as it implies that they were put into the mouth or heart (see below)] will not apply to us. Κόσμος, as in John 3:25 et al., signifies the human race; and as it is here without the article, it means perhaps “a whole world.” The word trespasses (παραπτώματα), as in Romans 3:25, signifies faults, sins, aberrations from the right way, from the truth, from rectitude, etc. [Trench, Synn. 2d ser. p. 76]. Hath committed to us the word of reconciliation signifies, according to some, that God had established and arranged the doctrines of the Christian faith in the Church, i. e., had promulgated the doctrine of reconciliation. But the unmistakable reference of this expression to what had been said in 2 Corinthians 5:18, respecting the giving of the ministry of reconciliation to the Apostle, induces us to understand the Apostles by ἡμῖν. [The use of the aorist participle δέμενος, here, is remarkable. We should have expected καὶ ἔθετο, and a slight anacoluthon cannot be denied (Olshausen). The word cannot be connected back with θεὸς ῆ̓ν, since such a connection of an aorist part, without an article and an imperfect verb, would be not only without an example but without an appropriate sense (God hath committed to us, or deposited in us, etc.). Our English version assumes that this phrase (θέμενος ἐν ἡμῖν) signifies, hath committed or intrusted to us, or laid upon us, the work of preaching the outward word of reconciliation. And yet the phrase is so peculiar that we cannot but look for an additional and a deeper meaning. Beza long ago finely remarked, that “among the Hebrews one was said to put words in the mouth of another who used his agency in making something known to others. But when this formula is applied to God it has a special emphasis, and signifies that the heart is impelled and the tongue is directed by the Lord to speak in a particular way, and that the person is chosen by God and authorized to speak in the name of God.” From the force of the middle voice, we infer that the Apostle speaks of the mental act or purpose of God, rather than of the external ordination of the Apostles (Jelf’s Gram. § 363, Winer, 39, 2); or as Wordsworth prefers to take it, in a more special sense reflexively: “having deposited for Himself the treasures of His grace in us, as in vessels chosen for that purpose, earthen and fragile though we be”]. The words δὲσθαι would then mean, to put into the mouth (Exodus 4:15), or to put within us, to inspire us that we may communicate it to others [not, however to the entire exclusion of the idea of a more external intrusting of the Gospel to us]. With respect to the impropriety, for grammatical reasons, of connecting θέμενος with ῆ̔ν, comp. Meyer. The word (λόγος) of reconciliation in this passage is similar to ὁ λὄγος τοῦ σταυροῦ (the word of the cross) in 1 Corinthians 1:18, and it signifies here the word, the substance of which is the reconciliation. The particles ὡς ὄτι are equivalent here to utpote quod (seeing that, because, for, in a very different connection from the same words in 2 Corinthians 11:21), and connect our passage with 2 Corinthians 1:18. Everything is represented as proceeding from God, “who has reconciled us to Himself by Christ.” For God in Christ has truly entered upon a process by which He is reconciling the world. He makes believers perceive in their own experience that God has reconciled them to Himself by Jesus Christ; He brings them into the state of reconciliation which He has established with the world.” The Apostle now proceeds to describe further the method in which this was effected, so far as relates to its general principles. Or, rather, he gives the reason for the assertion, that the change mentioned in 2 Corinthians 5:17 b, in which old things had passed away and all things had become new, was to be ascribed to God, who had reconciled believers to Himself through Christ. In this way he brings before us the vast extent of the Divine agency in saving men. Inasmuch as God in Christ exercised such a comprehensive agency, that great change must be referred to the same God who was reconciling us to Himself by Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:20-21.—In behalf of Christ then we are ambassadors, as though God were exhorting by us.—[“It is indeed doubtful whether γὰρ, for, belongs to the text, as it is omitted in many of the oldest manuscripts. Its omission only renders the transition more abrupt, for the relation of the passage remains the same.” Hodge]. The particle οῦ̔ν (then, therefore) refers to that which had been said in the preceding verse. [As God is reconciling men and hath committed to us the work of reconciling men, I turn to you Corinthians as a part of the community to whom I am sent, and as partially unrecovered or strayed from the right way, and I commence my work with you]. The words, we are ambassadors for Christ, imply as their logical antecedent that the ministry of reconciliation had been committed to them (2 Corinthians 5:18). The reconciliation (καταλλ.) was in fact communicated to men through Christ, and had its origin in Him (2 Corinthians 5:18 f.); and of course it was Christ’s cause which the Apostles represented among men. The verb πρεσβεύειν signifies to be a messenger (“sometimes merely to deliver a message to another without being empowered to do any thing more than to explain or enforce it.” Bloomfield). It is found also in Ephesians 6:20. The preposition ὑπερ signifies here, not instead of (Luther), but in the interest of another, and especially in behalf of Him who is the Mediator and Author of the reconciliation. It refers to those to whom the ministry of this reconciliation had been committed, and through whose agency this reconciliation was to be effected and Christ was to be glorified. From the same fact that it was God
who had committed unto the Apostles the word of reconciliation, it followed further that when those Apostles fulfilled their commission, it was as though God exhorted by means of them. [Chrysostom: “The Father sent the Son to beseech and be His Ambassador unto mankind. When then He was. slain and gone, we succeeded to the embassy, and in His stead and the Father’s we beseech you”]. It is implied here that in our work as messengers we stand in the place of God; our exhortation should be looked upon as given by God through us; or we perform the duties of our office with the feeling that it is God who addresses or admonishes men through us. This participial sentence, however, may be easily connected with what follows: as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you, etc. But as the complete sense of this participial expression can be understood only by means of ὑπεπ̔ χριστοῦ, it seems more appropriate to connect it with that which precedes it. But even then the idea of substitution is not the only one which is suitable. The prayer which the Apostle utters is presented in behalf of Christ in the sense just explained. We pray on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.—We pray (δεόμεθα) is the language of the most condescending love (Osiander). The tenor of the prayer is that they would be reconciled to God. This is a most urgent appeal to those who had not yet believed in Christ, or participated in the blessings of salvation (not to those who had already believed, and for the purpose of exciting them to continued advances in repentance and faith). [Dr. Hodge remarks that the word καταλλάγητε is in the passive voice, and cannot mean, ‘Reconcile yourselves; but, ‘Be reconciled, embrace the offer of the reconciliation.’ C. F. Schmid (Bibl. Theol. Vol. II., p. 318) notices that the word has here not a medial but a passive signification, implying that we have merely to accept an influence or act of God, under which we were originally passive. We were at first ἐχθροί and objects of the Divine ὀργή), and in ceasing to be these we become reconciled to God]. According to the way in which we translate the words, ‘Reconcile yourselves, or be ye reconciled (comp Romans 5:10), or, allow yourselves to be reconciled,’ the meaning must be, ‘Accept the reconciliation God has extended to you by Christ, accept what He presents to you, take the hand of reconciliation He reaches forth to you.’ The Apostle in this passage evidently had no thought of a reconciliation of themselves by laying aside the minding of the flesh and putting on the minding of the Spirit (Rückert). Such a process was looked upon by him as merely the necessary result of the reconciliation; or the application of the reconciliation by means of faith (comp. Meyer, Osiander).
Him who knew not sin He made to be sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). According to the true reading of the text, the Apostle here introduces without a connecting particle γάρ (asyndeton), a motive which should induce his readers to comply with his prayer or exhortation. This was the work which God’s holy love had accomplished in Christ for effecting reconciliation. Now enters the notion of the ἱλασμός, the propitiation. Comp. Romans 3:25; Romans 8:3; 1Jn 2:2; 1 John 4:10; Hebrews 2:17. By τὸν μὴ γνόντα ἁμαρτίαν he means Christ in His perfect sinlessness (what Chrysostom calls in the positive sense τὸν αὐτοδικαιοσύνην ὄντα), He who knows no sin, to whose internal nature or outward action all contradiction to God or departure from the Divine will was a complete stranger, altogether beyond His personal experience or consciousness. The μή is here required [instead of οὐ] not by the participle with the article (comp. 1 Peter 2:10; Ephesians 5:4), but it expresses the denial of the thing as it appears to the mind, i. e., in the representation of the mind itself. [Winer’s Gram., § 59, 3 b.]. This may be in the mind of men (i. e., in the minds of Christians); in which case it says of Christ that we Christians regard Him as One who knew no sin, or it may refer to the mind of God, and so it tells us how Christ appeared before the Divine mind. As God is here the subject of the Apostle’s remarks, the latter is undoubtedly the correct interpretation. Hofmann in his Schriftbeweis, Vol. II., 36, says: “God has made Him in His sinlessness to be sin. It is from this denial of sin in Christ according to the Divine judgment that we must explain the use of the relative negative particle.” When it is said that this sinless Being was made sin for us (ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἁμαρτίαν ἐποιήσεν), ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν stands first to give it more force; and it seems very natural to take the phrase in the sense of a substitution. And yet this is not absolutely necessary, nor does it seem quite appropriate in both instances in which the word is here used, since God could not make us sin at first, inasmuch as we were in our own selves sinners. The ύπὲρ is here therefore to be taken as equivalent to: for our good, and finds its explanation in the final sentence beginning with ἵνα. The idea expressed in making Him to be sin must be that God made Him the bearer of sin when He suffered, inasmuch as by His sufferings and death as a malefactor He was treated as a sinner (ἁμαρτωλὸς), or was given up to the fate of those who were sinners. The interpretation of ἁμαρτίαν as a sin offering is consistent neither with usage, with the context ( τὸν μὴ γνόντα ἁμαρτίαν) ), nor with the contrast (δικαιοσύνη). Comp. Hofmann, Schriftbew., II., p. 329. Sin becomes actualized in one in whom there is no sin, when he becomes a sinner in outward appearance, though he is not so in reality. God allows sin to become an actual experience to him who has never committed it in fact. So was it with Christ when God determined He should experience what befel Him. In like manner, Galatians 3:13. If Paul had intended to say that God designed to set forth Christ as one in whom sin is concentrated and represented in its completeness, and with whom it is in certain respects identified (Osiander), he could do no better than to say, “He made our sins to be His.” The idea expressed in ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν is further carried out when it is added: that we might become God’s righteousness in Him.—The righteousness of God is probably equivalent to being righteous with God (δίκαιοι παρὰ θεῷ); or, provided we take θεοῦ in the sense of ἐκ θεοῦ as in Philippians 3:9, it would have the meaning of being made righteous by God (δικαιωθέντες ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ). Ewald: “we thus become in Christ (to use the old sacrificial language) a legal offering before God and well pleasing in His sight; an expression much like what is used in 2 Corinthians 2:15.” From the nature of the case, a righteousness which came from God must be sufficient in His sight. Neander: “A perfect righteousness, the ideal of a holy life, like the sufferings in which this holy life was perfected, is given to our humanity. For all, and in the place of all, He has borne the burden of human guilt, and made this ideal a reality. All who enter into communion with Him appear in God’s sight δίκαιοι ἐν Χριστῷ; for their surrender into His hands is a pledge that this ideal of holiness will be actualized in them also.” [Chrysostom thinks that there was a profound reason for using the abstract for the concrete form here: “the word δικαιοσύνη expresses the unspeakable bounty of the gift; that God hath not given us only the operation or effect of His righteousness, but His very righteousness, His very self unto us. Paul does not say that God treated Christ as a sinner, but as sin, the quality itself; in order that we might become not merely righteous men, but the righteousness of God in Him. “TheReceptus which our English A. V. follows uses here the present (γινώμεθα) instead of the aorist (γενώμεθα)]. But as there is no reference to time in this place, and the object is to express the simple occurrence once for all time without regard to the instant of its accomplishment, the aorist was preferable. There were also internal reasons for using a tense applicable to all time. In ἐν αὐτῷ is expressed the fellowship with Christ which takes place by means of a faith which is by its nature a putting on of Christ. In fellowship with Him we become a righteousness of God, for whoever is in Christ is looked upon by God as righteous, or as possessed of a just title to life. Comp. on 1 Corinthians 1:30. The necessary fruit of this is holiness, but the two things are not to be confounded. (Hofmann, p. 230, says: “We become in Christ the righteousness of God, because we have it in His person. We need nothing else to make it ours than to share in His fellowship”).
[After all the efforts which have been made to show that this passage (τὸν μὴ γνόντα . ἐποίησεν) cannot mean that Christ bore the punishment of human sin, we cannot divest it of that essential signification. Granting that it does not mean strictly that Christ became an actual sinner, it surely signifies that He bore the consequences of sin, if not in the personal anger of God toward Himself, at least in being surrendered to the malice of evil beings, and to the endurance of those evils which God has decreed shall be the curse of actual sin. Why may we not then use the Scriptural language by saying He endures our curse, that is, the evils which are the ordinary curse of our sinful humanity? And why should we not say in strict accordance with our verse, that God’s object was that we might be delivered not only “from sin itself” (J. Young, Life and Light of Men, p. 309 and 335), but “from the punishment which is its necessary result;” yea, that we might be placed in the position of completely righteous persons, and not only “rightened in spirit,” but justified from all guilt and invested with all the benefits of righteousness? While with Billroth and Calvin, we may concede that ἁμαρτία cannot be strictly rendered a sin-offering (for which Paul gives us no example in his acknowledged writings), it is plain that the idea of an offering, whereby the wrath of God was turned away, lies at the foundation of all that Paul teaches concerning the reconciliation of God to men. Comp. 1 Corinthians 5:7; Ephesians 5:2 etc., with Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10 and Ephesians 2:3”].
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. It is a wonderful expedient of holy love that a sinless being should be given up to endure the fate of sinners, and so should bring about a Divine righteousness, a perfect Divine title to life for all sinners in fellowship with Him. Sin involves a desire to be as God in the way of self-exaltation, and it is a complete denial of God’s prerogatives. It necessarily provokes a reaction of these prerogatives. This reaction is the Divine ὀργή, which disowns the right which man in the image of God originally possessed to have fellowship in the Divine life, and gives him over to death. But as this reacting power is nothing but God’s eternal unchangeable love, which seeks to communicate itself to men, and knows how to bring all that opposes it into subserviency to its purposes, a restoration has been secured in which it will find complete satisfaction. Into that very world in which this Divine reaction against sin Was displayed One has been introduced, to whose nature all ungodly thoughts and purposes (sins) were completely foreign. In the bodily and mental sufferings which His holy love to God and men led Him to endure while He was in that state, He appeared to be just the reverse of what He really was. He appeared to be sin, and thus the reaction against sinners was in fact abolished. God Himself thus brought it to an end by means of that Son who is essentially one with Himself. In accordance with His righteous will, that Son denied Himself, completely entered our sinful humanity affected as it was by that reaction, and as the Son of man, as another Adam, suffered death for the benefit of all our race. This abolished the influence which denied the title of all men to life, or rather restored it to them altogether. Now every one who enters into fellowship with that Sinless One, who has thus been made sin, (i. e. whoever believes in Him) becomes possessed of this Divine title. When we are in Christ, i. e., in fellowship with this Sinless One whom God has made sin for this very purpose, we affirm or justify that reaction which fell upon Him who deserved it not, that it might not fall upon us who deserved it (γνόντας ἁμαρτίαν). We justify God in His opposition to us, condemn ourselves, confess our absolute unworthiness and Christ’s perfect worthiness; and we present for acceptance before God nothing in ourselves but only what there is in Christ. Such is the work of holy love by whose efficacy our restoration has become possible.
2. It is therefore in the work of expiation which God’s holy love has devised and accomplished, that we must find the basis of the work of reconciliation. This reconciliation is simply a restoration of the friendship which once existed between God and our race (the world) perverted from Him by sin and lying under His wrath. It is a work which must be ascribed entirely to God. He it was who reconciled the world unto himself, and two things may be especially remarked in what He is doing for its accomplishment: 1. He imputes not to men their sins, He blots out the record of them in His book; 2. He has committed to the hearts and lips of those who are called to the ministry, the word of reconciliation (comp. Colossians 2:13 f.; Ephesians 2:17; Romans 10:14 f.). These messengers in God’s name, with great earnestness make known the Gospel to men, that they may procure for Christ the best reward for all His suffering, as they urgently press those for whom He died to accept the reconciliation He has provided, to be reconciled to that God who has bestowed such great things (2 Corinthians 5:21), and with full confidence in Him to renounce every thing inconsistent with His will.
3. The proper fruit of all this must be a complete change and renewal. The love of Christ giving Himself up to atone for sin, swallows up the individual life of all in His own death for them. The selfishness which made its own gratification the only end and centre of all its efforts, is exchanged for a life devoted to Christ. In the eyes of His followers Christ will be surrounded with a glorious radiance. Every unworthy thought of Him will be renounced, He will be glorified by the Divine Spirit in our hearts, and He will be acknowledged to be exceeding great, their all in all. Another result of His influence will be that each of these followers will regard his brethren and his fellowmen, whoever they may be, in an entirely new light, not according to their natural and external relations, but according to what they are or should be in Christ, i. e. what they are in consequence of His redeeming work and the fellowship of His general mercy. Their hearts will be thus greatly expanded and strengthened in love, selfish passions will be restrained and overcome by the love of Christ and a burning zeal, for the cause of God (which will probably seem like insanity to those who know not the love of Christ), or, if the salvation of souls demand it, a wise moderation and a prudent circumspection will be manifested in all their conduct.
4. Augustine:—“Behold our Mediator! Not God without humanity, nor man without divinity; but intermediate between mere Deity and mere humanity, he is a human divinity, and a divine humanity” (2 Corinthians 5:19).
[5. The whole scheme of salvation is the offspring of Divine love. No one should imagine the absurdity that God has changed and become any more merciful and loving in Himself since Christ has interposed for our salvation than He was before. That scheme and Christ’s work only removed obstructions to the manifestation of a love which was forever the same. By what Christ does for man and in man, He makes it consistent for God to pardon and have fellowship with men. And on the ground of such a manifestation of love, we have a right, and we who have heard of it are bound to call on every human being, in every possible condition, to be reconciled to God. To all who reject this scheme of mercy it is right to proclaim the terrors of the Lord still, for there remaineth no other sacrifice and no power in the universe to save a man who neglects so great a salvation. Comp. Barnes Observv. on the whole chapter].
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
2 Corinthians 5:11. (On Luther’s translation: schön fahren). Christ ought to be preached in a way which is attractive and appropriate to the nature of the Gospel, but so that men may be truly converted. Happy is it for that preacher who in all his duties and aims is so manifest to God that he can humbly and truly enjoy a good conscience. A faithful pastor will so walk that the consciences of all who hear him will be deeply impressed with a conviction of his ability, his fidelity, and his uprightness.
2 Corinthians 5:12. If a faithful minister is bound to convince his hearers of his uprightness, they are equally bound to defend him against every attempt to destroy his reputation (2 Corinthians 12:11).
Ver 13. Hedinger:—When a man is grieved by the severity of his minister, he should remember that it was done on God’s behalf, and if God was pleased, why should he find fault and be angry? Jeremiah 6:27. of all persons in the world the minister of Christ should see that he is both loving and severe in due moderation (2 Timothy 2:24 f.).
2 Corinthians 5:14. In His incarnation and in all He did and suffered, our Lord acted as a Mediator for the whole human race. In God’s sight we are all dead and risen with Him. It is a glorious mark of a true servant of God when the love of Christ is the moving principle of all his duties and his zeal. Such a one cannot but be truly simple and sincere (2 Corinthians 2:17). The hireling, on the other hand, who loves only himself and the world, will be silent when he ought to speak and speak when he ought to be silent.
2 Corinthians 5:15. If sanctification is taken away from redemption, grace is turned into licentiousness; but if redemption is taken away from sanctification, Christianity becomes difficult, yea, impracticable. By a believing application to ourselves of redemption by Christ, we are delivered from the guilt and punishment, but by sanctification, its fruit, we are delivered from the dominion of sin. Justification and sanctification are always to be united. The purer and the richer the appropriation of mercy the easier and more perfect the performance of duties. When faith receives the mercy, it sets the heart to work by love. Thus the whole of Christianity consists in faith receiving and love giving. Whoever receives much has much to give. To receive much and give nothing proves that you do not properly receive, and to give without receiving proves that you do not properly give. You receive not, and you give not, from God.
2 Corinthians 5:16. Hedinger:—Christians should esteem one another in proportion as they discover upon each other the tokens of the Spirit’s presence and of a new creation. All else is of no importance (Matthew 12:46 f.).—Hedinger:—Let it be your first object to know whether a man is in and through Christ a new creature. That, and that alone, is what God looks at.
2 Corinthians 5:17. Everything depends upon the new man in Christ, upon regeneration and an active faith (Galatians 5:6). We may apply to the kingdom of grace what our Lord says of the kingdom of glory (Revelation 21:5). Hedinger:—How often we hear of old usages! In Christ everything is new and is renewed day by day. What is old in opposition to the Scriptures, old without growth is good for nothing. Hedinger:—Golden truth! God is reconciled, peace proclaimed, Christ a sinner for us, and we righteous and holy in Him. The curse, sin and death, what harm can they do to one who is in Christ (Ephesians 2:5 f.; Romans 8:1) ? The principal point for those who give instruction under the New Testament is, in what way reconciliation with God takes place, and how each of us can have part in it ? But he who is himself unreconciled to God, and especially with his neighbor, dispenses to others what he rejects for himself.
2 Corinthians 5:19. Hedinger:—There are two kinds of non-imputation: 1, When God lays upon His Son the sins of the world (Isaiah 63:5 f.), that all men may be freed from the necessity of satisfying God’s Law, either by perfect obedience or by punishment. This is the general grace which is prepared for all, but is not actually imparted to all. But when faith appropriates our Lord’s merits, there immediately follows another and truer kind of non-imputation; 2, When the sinner is justified, i. e., is absolved from all guilt and becomes a partaker in all Christ’s benefits, yea, in Christ Himself and everything that belongs to Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:20. Spener:—If one had committed an offence against a great sovereign, and had forfeited his life, it would be looked upon as a great matter if that sovereign condescended to give him mercy when he humbled himself to ask for it. But what would be said if that sovereign should send messengers and entreat him to be reconciled? And yet God has done this, and shown a love beyond all comprehension. Always present God’s word in such simplicity and purity that all shall see and feel that it is God who teaches, exhorts and comforts through thee. When listening to God’s ministering servant remember that it is God’s voice you hear, and that it is with God you have to do.
2 Corinthians 5:21. Spener:—As God made Christ to be sin, who had no sin in Himself, and hence divine justice saw none of his own righteousness, but only imputed sin in Him, so God makes us who are in Christ to be righteousness, and henceforth He beholds no more the sins which are in us and have been forgiven, but only righteousness. We thus become righteousness; not in appearance or in imagination merely, but in deed and in truth. Oh, the depth of God’s wisdom and love!
Berlenb Bible, 2 Corinthians 5:11 :—The fear of the Lord makes us anxious to possess those powers of persuasion which are so needful among men. Fear and love thus act together.
2 Corinthians 5:13. Not unfrequently what seems extravagant, and beyond all bounds of discretion, may be really right, and spring from the exceeding greatness of one’s love to God. A discreet gentleness is a truly divine gift, for which we have much reason to pray.
2 Corinthians 5:14. The love of Christ is a cordial affection which Christ has toward the new born soul, and which the soul has for Christ. The one highly esteems, properly recognizes, embraces and longs for; the other is willing to do any thing to please the beloved one; avoids everything which is likely to grieve, injure or displease him; adapts himself honestly to his wishes; endeavors to unite with him more and more, and has a complete fellowship with him in all things. It makes each Christian careful and quick to understand the will of his beloved Lord, and to know what will be agreeable or disagreeable to Christ, what will be injurious or beneficial to Christ’s kingdom, and what will be disgraceful or honorable to Christ’s cause. It makes him compliant and submissive to his Lord’s will; it frees him from the necessity of pleasing the world, and takes away all fear when he is called to testify against prevailing corruption. Ministers especially should allow nothing but this love to control them in their preaching and in their lives. The surest sign that we have it is, when it urges us to a loving obedience, to fidelity, truth and uprightness, to love our neighbor and even our enemies, to be merciful and forbearing toward those who are in trouble, to help those who are oppressed, and to give counsel and assistance to all who stand in need. Those who hunger for Christ’s love, have already begun to love Him, and the more this desire is awakened, the more will their love increase, until it will become strong enough to overcome all earthly love. And yet this love is of a delicate nature and habit, for it can easily be injured and lost. (Revelation 2:4). The enemy can never bear to have a soul know, and hear, and speak only of the love of Christ. Even well-meaning persons often think that such a one does too much. (Martha, Mary). The whole of Christianity springs from the death and life of Christ as our Saviour and our Head. The ministry of the Gospel is therefore a ministry of death and life.
Ver 15. It is by a profound consideration of the death and resurrection of Christ that we are brought most effectually to deny ourselves, and to renounce what we before loved. The love which led Jesus to suffer and die for us will so affect our hearts, and His resurrection will awaken in us a love so peculiar, that we shall live for Him, depend upon Him, eat and drink for Him, sleep and awake for Him, walk in and with Him, and find every thing sanctified and sweetened by His love. What a wild fancy to think of having part in Christ and in His glory while we continue in sin! Accursed delusion, to make the infinitely Holy One a minister of sin! To live wholly for ourselves is to live far from God and in corruption. It is nothing but hell and death for a man to consult only his own interest, to think of, to love and to have others love no one but himself, and to make a god of himself. Christ’s death should draw us off from all such wretched idolatry as this. Self-denial takes from us nothing, but it restores us much which we had lost.
2 Corinthians 5:16. They who die with Christ for all, can never more know or depend upon man according to the flesh. (Deuteronomy 33:9). They love even their own children only in and for God. The more we are devoted to God, the more acceptable and the nearer we are to Him. Childhood must give way to youth and manhood. We must not always remain satisfied with Christ’s humanity, but venture to be familiar with His Divinity. For the very idea of the sons of God implies that those who have been alienated from God are reunited with Him in spiritual friendship.
2 Corinthians 5:17. The new creation is the life of Jesus in us, it is being born of God, it is a holy life. In it the old must completely pass away; and henceforth we must never creep back, but be ever pressing forward. We live among shadows no longer, but with Christ Himself. (Colossians 2:17).
2 Corinthians 5:18. God’s eternal love has given us all things and has found means of restoring peace and friendship between us and Him by Jesus Christ (1 John 2:2 f.) whom He has therefore exalted above all things. (Hebrews 1:3).
2 Corinthians 5:19. God has committed all things to Christ; it is with Him, therefore, that we have to do, and to Him we must apply. The world had to be reconciled to God, for His wrath was upon it. He was not, indeed, our enemy, for then He would have sent His wrath upon us; but He loved us even when we were His enemies. Had he not extended mercy to us we should never have turned to Him. The whole world has now a right to mercy. Christ has acquired for all men a non-imputation of those sins which they had committed in the days of their ignorance; for He has taken them upon Himself and offered a sacrifice for them, so that God can now be gracious and extend mercy to sinners. He has thus become a Christ for us. The Holy Spirit may now lay hold upon those sins which reign in our hearts, expose them, and make them so painful and grievous to us, that we shall be willing to renounce them. They are eradicated from our souls, and we are freed from their power. Not imputing our trespasses unto us will not therefore make us feel secure in sin, but drive us in our extremity to exclaim, Who is a God like unto Thee, etc. (Micah 7:18)? The work of preaching the Gospel is the most exalted of all employments, and yet never exalts the preacher. As he must always be entreating and enduring the wrath of his fellowmen, and as he is perpetually dealing with the miserable, he must surely find enough to smother a spirit of pride. The creative word by which all things came into being, is the same word which reconciles and reunites the creature with the Creator, and which so sanctifies and justifies all who receive it, that they become meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.
2 Corinthians 5:20. God’s reconciliation reaches not only to the world in general, but to each one of our race in particular. Jesus Christ offers each man abundant means of acquiring an interest in His blood. Those who are sent to us with the Gospel, entreat us to allow the work of salvation in our hearts, to put ourselves in the way of reconciliation, and to accept of its conditions, in order that our disordered minds may have fellowship with God
2 Corinthians 5:21. When the great truth that a sinner may be looked upon in Christ as righteous, has once become established in the heart, every other essential truth of the Gospel must follow. Christ Himself enters the heart, and the sinner becomes righteous even as He is righteous. (1 John 3:7).
2 Corinthians 5:11. Whoever lives habitually in the light of that day (2 Corinthians 5:10), will do those things from the fear of God which will gain the confidence of his fellow-men. He feels constantly open to an inspection far more perfect than that which he looks for from men.
2 Corinthians 5:12. Many can so manage matters in the sight of men as to gain esteem for their doctrines and lives for a season; but not only does God know their hearts, but occasionally even a human eye penetrates this outward form, and discovers that such are not what they seem.
2 Corinthians 5:13. When we find those who are condemned for doing too much, and acting in an extravagant, unreasonable and irregular manner, if it is honestly done for God and His truth, we should bear with them, wait for more light, and rather leave the tares to grow than to root up the surrounding wheat. Let us only be careful that our forbearance springs from a good conscience, and not from that lukewarm spirit which our Lord has pronounced so loathsome.
2 Corinthians 5:14. Love to Christ should have reference to two very different aspects of His character. On the one hand we find that His zeal for His Father’s house made Him break through established usages, and expose Himself to the deadly malice of His enemies; and on the other He yielded much that He might spare the plants which His Father had planted. Christ bore us all upon His heart when He suffered unto death, and if we would share in His passion, we must not find our pleasure in ourselves and in external advantages, but strive to exhibit the proper fruit of His life and death by dying ourselves to sin and living unto righteousness.
2 Corinthians 5:16 f. Such a knowledge of Christ, when it has power in the heart, will never more allow us to judge of things according to the outward appearance, the opinions of the multitude or the prejudices of our own hearts. A thorough knowledge of Christ dying and rising again for us, will destroy confidence in every thing else, and make us glory only in His cross (we shall especially put no reliance upon our own personal intercourse with Jesus, etc.).
2 Corinthians 5:18. The doctrine of Christ dying and rising again, one for all, is doubtless far above human reason; and yet we soon learn from experience that it perfectly tallies with all that God’s law and grace utters in our consciences. The great work of reconciliation commenced in the bosom of God, when he pitied us in our apostasy, our enmity, and our utter inability to return to Him. And yet the actual work of reconciliation had to be accomplished by Jesus Christ, whose obedience, and sufferings, and death glorified God’s righteousness, and implanted a permanent hatred to sin in our hearts, without which we could never come to God. And yet with all this provision for our reconciliation on God’s part, much would have been wanting if there had been provided no means of actually implanting faith in our hearts; the work of love was, therefore, not complete until the ministry of reconciliation had been appointed and sent forth to proclaim what had been done, and to beseech men to be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:19 f. God has Himself provided the Lamb on which He has laid the iniquities of us all, and has determined that the Son whom He has sent to effect reconciliation must suffer for us; but He has promised and fulfilled the promise, that that Son should appear before God in the Holiest of all with an offering which is sufficient for the sins of the whole world, and should send forth messengers to preach forgiveness in His name to all who penitently believe on Him. Whoever now bears the burden of sin and is lost, it must be because he will not believe, but despises the offered reconciliation. This word of reconciliation is the very kernel and substance of God’s testimony in the Scriptures, and if we desire to promote His designs of mercy to men, we must seek to bring men to Him through faith in this word.
2 Corinthians 5:21. By the utter rending of the flesh of Christ, the innocent and spotless Lamb, the sin which has penetrated every part of our nature has been so condemned, that His righteousness may be imputed to us. He has become sin by the imputation of our sins, and by the imputation of His righteousness to us we have become the righteousness of God; and we now have a legal and unquestionable right to an access to God in His kingdom, and an heirship to all things like that which the Son of God Himself possesses. Hallelujah!
2 Corinthians 5:14. What an admirable universality ! ministers constrain, hearers are constrained, and both because Christ died for them!
2 Corinthians 5:11. The Christian not only loves but fears the Lord; and this fear is by no means a feeble power in his heart. Our conduct is known to man, our hearts to God. No one can have infallible knowledge of another’s heart; and yet we may see enough of a Christian brother to give him our unreserved confidence.
2 Corinthians 5:12. A minister’s reputation should be precious to his people, for it belongs to them; and they should be supplied with such materials as are necessary to maintain it.
2 Corinthians 5:13. A fervent Christian’s zeal is sure to seem like extravagance and enthusiasm in the eyes of the indolent and lukewarm.
2 Corinthians 5:15. The ultimate object of the atoning death of Jesus was a holy Church, thoroughly consecrated to His service. A real Christian therefore longs, and his constant prayer is, to be freed from self-will
2 Corinthians 5:16. Our relationship to Jesus is far higher than that of family or of country (Matthew 12:48 f.).
2 Corinthians 5:17. Christ has founded a new world in every respect; the world itself is to have a new form, and society new principles; and as to an individual man, when the spirit of Christ takes possession of his heart, he must become a new creature, his mind and heart must be completely changed, and all his springs of action must be renewed (a good text for a new year: Have we actually lived to see a new year)?
2 Corinthians 5:18. God is the original author of salvation, and the whole scheme was formed by Him, but Christ executed it. In Him God came down to man. Only by His incarnation could our freedom from sin become possible. The greater then the guilt of those who neglect so great a salvation! The ministerial office, through which the mediatorial work of Christ is itself mediated to man, must continually hold up the offer of reconciliation through Christ alone. This must be the salt of every sermon.
2 Corinthians 5:19. It is by Christ’s entrance into our humanity, His sufferings for sin and His fulfilment of all righteousness, that man can be absolved from condemnation and worthy of the Divine favor. God was not before our enemy, for He is nothing but Love; but only through Christ is it possible for Him to exercise complacency as well as benevolence toward man. Only in consequence of His blood can our sins be forgiven and we be redeemed from wrath (Matthew 20:28; Matthew 26:26; John 1:29; 1Jn 2:1-2; 1 John 4:10; 1 Thessalonians 1:10).—-2 Corinthians 5:20. Christ cannot in person come to each individual of our race; and hence he sends his messengers into all the world, to every creature. Their exhortations are, in fact, God’s; for as He speaks in God’s name, so must they. And yet the spirit in which they speak is not that of command but of entreaty. Their words are words of pleading love: “Be ye reconciled to God; accept the reconciliation He offers you in Christ; put confidence in God, that He loves you, and that He can and will forgive you.” Whoever thinks of preaching the Gospel, must present Christ as an atoning Saviour, and must himself know what it is to be reconciled to God. If you would be the trumpets of grace, yield yourselves entirely up to grace. If we would honor Christ Himself, we must honor this ministry.
2 Corinthians 5:21. Only He who was Himself guiltless, and could bear a guilt not His own, will be the destroyer of sin.
W. F. Besser:
2 Corinthians 5:11. If we have been redeemed from the wrath to come, we need not be tormented with fears of our future Judge; yet we should have a holy reverence for that glorious Being who will reward every man according to his works (1 Peter 1:17), and we should be watchful lest we displease Him by unfaithfulness to our vows and an unholy life.
2 Corinthians 5:14. One for all. Here we have the sweetest kernel and best sample of Christ’s love. Faith in one who died for me and in whom I died, can only come by hearing of this wonderful exhibition of His love. My faith creates no Saviour for me; it is only the act by which I receive a Saviour offering Himself to me.
2 Corinthians 5:17. Although those who know Christ by faith may endure many conflicts with the flesh, they are really new creatures, for the Holy Spirit will keep alive the spark of faith, even in the hearts of weak believers. The Apostle’s “Behold,” refers to every Christian, though he may be never so imperfect. For though our fleshly nature may retain much which is old, it is only what is dead and dying by a daily repentance; but the old guilt and the old dominion of sin is gone (Romans 8:1; Romans 8:12).
2 Corinthians 5:18. Everything in our salvation begins with God and nothing with us. It is of God, that he can now receive and love us (Titus 3:5; 1 John 4:10).
2 Corinthians 5:19. Christ’s death was an act of reconciliation, for it was in fact His own act.
2 Corinthians 5:20. As the king’s own majesty is supposed to accompany the ambassador by whom he is represented, so those who preach the Gospel have something of the dignity of Him who sends them.—God beseeches us! Such entreaties have power, because God lays aside all His wrath and cordially offers us all His treasures with a fatherly admonition, that we despise them not but truly accept of them, and turn to Him with a childlike spirit (Hebrews 12:25). He who prayed for us in the days of His flesh with many tears, since His ascension, as our merciful High Priest, to the right hand of God, directs His most affecting prayers now to us, as the voice of His blood comes through His messengers, crying: Be ye reconciled to God.
Ver 21. Nay, He says not: “Come and make reconciliation for yourselves! Bring something of your own!” Nothing of this. He demands nothing from us. Atonement, grace, and eternal life, are all prepared through the blood of the Lamb! Repentance, faith, life and all needed strength are given and effectually wrought within us by the quickening energy of that blood.
2 Corinthians 5:20. Think how needful it is to seek, how easy it is to find, and how blessed it will be to have, this reconciliation.
[We have in this passage: I. Man’s original condition. 1. He was sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), and lived after the flesh (2 Corinthians 5:10); 2. Was alienated from God, and an enemy of God (needing reconciliation); 3. Was under Divine wrath, although still loved and not abandoned by God (2 Corinthians 5:11). II. Man’s redemption by Christ. 1. This originated wholly in God’s love (2 Corinthians 5:18); 2. Christ was made sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21); 3. Man’s trespasses were not imputed to him (2 Corinthians 5:19); 4. He can be made the righteousness of God through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). III. Application of this redemption to man. 1. It must be made known to men through the ministry of Christ and His people (2 Corinthians 5:18-19); 2. Men must be persuaded (2 Corinthians 5:11), and be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20); 3. They must die in Christ, and live as new creatures unto Him who died for them (2 Corinthians 5:15-17).
F. C. Robertson:
2 Corinthians 5:18-21 (Abridged): I. The reconciliation of God to man. God needed a reconciliation, for there was wrath in Him towards sinners. This was shown in the punishment of sin, in the convictions of our own consciences, and in the anger which Christ showed toward sinners. God is indeed immutable, but when man changes, God’s relation to him changes. Love to good is hatred to evil. Distinguish the true from the false notion of the Atonement. II. The reconciliation of man to God. Here is first Christ’s priestly work, to which man can add nothing; and secondly, the work of the ministry, which consists in declaring God’s reconciliation to man, and in beseeching men by every variety of illustration and every degree of earnestness to be reconciled to God].
2 Corinthians 5:12; 2 Corinthians 5:12.—The testimony in behalf of γὰρ is not convincing; it is omitted by the best authorities [B. C. D. (1st Cor.) F. G. Sin., the Lat. Syr. and Copt. versions, Chrysost. and Theodoret et. al. Tisch. inserts it however, and thinks it betrays no evidence of being an emendation].
2 Corinthians 5:12; 2 Corinthians 5:12.—Lachmann has μὴ ἐν before καρδίᾳ [and he is sustained by B. and Sin. et. al.] but it is not sufficiently authenticated. It was probably an emendation to adapt the passage to the subjective explanation [Winer’s Gram, § 59,1. In D. (1st. Cor.) E. F. we have instead οὑκ έν].
2 Corinthians 5:15; 2 Corinthians 5:15.—The εἰ before εἷς is left out in the best MSS.; it was probably an interpolation to make out a better logical connection. De Wette thinks it was left out by a mistake of transcribers, or because a hypothetical form of expression seemed improper on such a subject [Tischendorf inserts εί, but acknowledges the high authority of B. and D. (to which must now be added Sinait.) against him. He was much influenced by the testimony of the Vulg. and Copt. versions and his favorite C. Alford and Meyer omit the word].
2 Corinthians 5:15; 2 Corinthians 5:15.—Δὲ after εἰ was probably inserted for the sake of the connection, but strong testimony is against it. Some MSS. have εἰ δὲ, and others καὶ εἰ. [Lachm. and Alford have εἰ καὶ; Rec. has εἰ δὲ καἰ].
2 Corinthians 5:17; 2 Corinthians 5:17—Lachm. throws out τὰ πάντα on the authority of B. C. et. al., and by others these words are placed before καινά. Meyer thinks that transcribers passed over them on account of the following τὰ δέ πάντα. [Tisch. agrees with the Rec. in inserting them, but Alford and Stanley (with B. C. D. (1st Cor.) F. and Sin. et al.) omit them].
[2 Corinthians 5:18.—Rec. has Ἰησοῦ before χριστοῦ, but the best MSS. B. C. D. (1st Cor.) F. and Sin., most of the versions and Chrysost.) omit it].
2 Corinthians 5:21; 2 Corinthians 5:21.—In the best MSS. γὰρ is wanting.
2 Corinthians 5:21; 2 Corinthians 5:21.—Authorities are decidedly in favor of γενώμεθα. Rec. has γινώμεθα, [Alford says, “with none of our MSS.; ” but it has many cursives to sustain it].
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany