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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 5

Wesley's Explanatory NotesWesley's Notes

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Verse 1

For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Our earthly house — Which is only a tabernacle, or tent, not designed for a lasting habitation.

Verse 2

For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:

Desiring to be clothed upon — This body, which is now covered with flesh and blood, with the glorious house which is from heaven. Instead of flesh and blood, which cannot enter heaven, the rising body will be clothed or covered with what is analogous thereto, but incorruptible and immortal. Macarius speaks largely of this.

Verse 3

If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.

If being clothed — That is, with the image of God, while we are in the body.

We shall not be found naked — Of the wedding garment.

Verse 4

For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

We groan being burdened — The apostle speaks with exact propriety. A burden naturally expresses groans. And we are here burdened with numberless afflictions, infirmities, temptations.

Not that we would be unclothed — Not that we desire to remain without a body. Faith does not understand that philosophical contempt of what the wise Creator has given.

But clothed upon — With the glorious, immortal, incorruptible, spiritual body.

That what is mortal — This present mortal body.

May be swallowed up of life — Covered with that which lives for ever.

Verse 5

Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.

Now he that hath wrought us to this very thing — This longing for immortality.

Is God — For none but God, none less than the Almighty, could have wrought this in us.

Verse 6

Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:

Therefore we behave undauntedly — But most of all when we have death in view; knowing that our greatest happiness lies beyond the grave.

Verse 7

(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

For we cannot clearly see him in this life, wherein we walk by faith only: an evidence, indeed, that necessarily implies a kind of "seeing him who is invisible;" yet as far beneath what we shall have in eternity, as it is above that of bare, unassisted reason.

Verse 8

We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

Present with the Lord — This demonstrates that the happiness of the saints is not deferred till the resurrection.

Verse 9

Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

Therefore we are ambitious — The only ambition which has place in a Christian.

Whether present — In the body.

Or absent — From it.

Verse 10

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

For we all — Apostles as well as other men, whether now present in the body, or absent from it.

Must appear — Openly, without covering, where all hidden things will be revealed; probably the sins, even of the faithful, which were forgiven long before. For many of their good works, as their repentance, their revenge against sin, cannot other wise appear. But this will be done at their own desire, without grief, and without shame.

According to what he hath done in the body, whether good or evil — In the body he did either good or evil; in the body he is recompensed accordingly.

Verse 11

Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we the more earnestly persuade men to seek his favour; and as God knoweth this, so, I trust, ye know it in your own consciences.

Verse 12

For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.

We do not say this, as if we thought there was any need of again recommending ourselves to you, but to give you an occasion of rejoicing and praising God, and to furnish you with an answer to those false apostles who glory in appearance, but not in heart, being condemned by their own conscience.

Verse 13

For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.

For if we are transported beyond ourselves — Or at least, appear so to others, treated of, 2 Corinthians 5:15-21, speaking or writing with uncommon vehemence.

It is to God — He understands (if men do not) the emotion which himself inspires.

If we be sober — Treated of, 2 Corinthians 6:1-10. If I proceed in a more calm, sedate manner.

It is for your sakes — Even good men bear this, rather than the other method, in their teachers. But these must obey God, whoever is offended by it.

Verse 14

For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

For the love of Christ — To us, and our love to him.

Constraineth us — Both to the one and the other; beareth us on with such a strong, steady, prevailing influence, as winds and tides exert when they waft the vessel to its destined harbour. While we thus judge, that if Christ died for all, then are all, even the best of men, naturally dead - In a state of spiritual death, and liable to death eternal. For had any man been otherwise, Christ had not needed to have died for him.

Verse 15

And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

And that he died for all — That all might be saved.

That they who live — That all who live upon the earth.

Should not henceforth — From the moment they know him.

Live unto themselves — Seek their own honour, profit, pleasure.

But unto him — In all righteousness and true holiness.

Verse 16

Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.

So that we from this time — That we knew the love of Christ.

Know no one — Neither ourselves, nor you, neither the rest of the apostles, Galatians 2:6, nor any other person.

After the flesh — According to his former state, country, descent, nobility, riches, power, wisdom. We fear not the great. We regard not the rich or wise. We account not the least less than ourselves. We consider all, only in order to save all. Who is he that thus knows no one after the flesh? ln what land do these Christians live? Yea, if we have known even Christ after the flesh - So as to love him barely with a natural love, so as to glory in having conversed with him on earth, so as to expect only temporal benefits from him.

Verse 17

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Therefore if any one be in Christ — A true believer in him.

There is a new creation — Only the power that makes a world can make a Christian. And when he is so created, the old things are passed away - Of their own accord, even as snow in spring.

Behold — The present, visible, undeniable change! All things are become new - He has new life, new senses, new faculties, new affections, new appetites, new ideas and conceptions. His whole tenor of action and conversation is new, and he lives, as it were, in a new world. God, men, the whole creation, heaven, earth, and all therein, appear in a new light, and stand related to him in a new manner, since he was created anew in Christ Jesus.

Verse 18

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

And all these new things are from God, considered under this very notion, as reconciling us - The world, 2 Corinthians 5:19, to himself.

Verse 19

To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

Namely — The sum of which is, God - The whole Godhead, but more eminently God the Father.

Was in Christ, reconciling the world — Which was before at enmity with God.

To himself — So taking away that enmity, which could no otherwise be removed than by the blood of the Son of God.

Verse 20

Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ-we beseech you in Christ’s stead — Herein the apostle might appear to some "transported beyond himself." In general he uses a more calm, sedate kind of exhortation, as in the beginning of the next chapter. What unparalleled condescension and divinely tender mercies are displayed in this verse! Did the judge ever beseech a condemned criminal to accept of pardon? Does the creditor ever beseech a ruined debtor to receive an acquittance in full? Yet our almighty Lord, and our eternal Judge, not only vouchsafes to offer these blessings, but invites us, entreats us, and, with the most tender importunity, solicits us, not to reject them.

Verse 21

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

He made him a sin offering, who knew no sin — A commendation peculiar to Christ.

For us — Who knew no righteousness, who were inwardly and outwardly nothing but sin; who must have been consumed by the divine justice, had not this atonement been made for our sins.

That we might be made the righteousness of God through him — Might through him be invested with that righteousness, first imputed to us, then implanted in us, which is in every sense the righteousness of God.

Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/wen/2-corinthians-5.html. 1765.
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