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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Corinthians 5:3

inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked.
New American Standard Version
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  1. Adam Clarke Commentary
  2. Abbott's Illustrated New Testament
  3. Bridgeway Bible Commentary
  4. Coffman Commentaries on the Bible
  5. Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible
  6. Charles Box's Commentaries on Selected Books of the Bible
  7. E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes
  8. Calvin's Commentary on the Bible
  9. Brian Bell Commentary on the Bible
  10. The Great Biblical Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide
  11. Chuck Smith Bible Commentary
  12. John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
  13. Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
  14. Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
  15. Darby's Synopsis of the New Testament
  16. Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
  17. Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
  18. The Expositor's Greek Testament
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  25. G. Campbell Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible
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  39. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
  40. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
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  51. Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
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  53. Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
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  55. People's New Testament
  56. Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
  57. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
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  66. Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
  67. Vincent's Word Studies
  68. Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament
  69. Wesley's Explanatory Notes
  70. Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Garment;   Man;   Resurrection;   Scofield Reference Index - Death;   Thompson Chain Reference - Unclothed;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Pilgrims and Strangers;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Death;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Body;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Baptism for the Dead;   Body;   Building;   Corinthians, First and Second, Theology of;   Feasts and Festivals of Israel;   Immortality;   Intermediate State;   Paradise;   Resurrection;   Spirit;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Baxterians;   Obedience;   CARM Theological Dictionary - Intermediate state;   Soul sleep;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Death;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Corinth;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Body;   Resurrection;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Kingdom of God;   Resurrection;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Body;   Clothes;   Evil;   Father's House ;   Flesh ;   Good;   Judgment Damnation;   Prisoner;   Resurrection of Christ;   Salvation Save Saviour;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Naked;   Unclothed,;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Wisdom, the, of Solomon,;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Name;  
Chip Shots from the Ruff of Life - Devotion for January 9;   Every Day Light - Devotion for November 21;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

If so be that being clothed - That is, fully prepared in this life for the glory of God;

We shall not be found naked - Destitute in that future state of that Divine image which shall render us capable of enjoying an endless glory.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

The meaning seems to be, if we shall be so happy as to be thus clothed and not left destitute and naked.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". 1878.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Confidence and courage (5:1-10)

Christians receive further encouragement amid daily trials through the knowledge that the present body is only temporary. It is like a tent in which a person lives for a short time, whereas what God has prepared for the future life is a permanent home (5:1). Another illustration likens the present body to clothes that cover a person. Again this is only temporary. One day all that is earthly and temporary will be replaced by that which is spiritual and eternal (2-4). The indwelling Holy Spirit is the guarantee that one day believers will enjoy the fulness of life for which God is at present preparing them (5).

At present believers are physically separated from Christ, but the desire to be with him is a continual source of encouragement. They do not at present see Christ, but live by faith in him (6-8). They are further reminded of the need to live faithfully when they realize that being with Christ will bring not only glory, but also judgment. Their life will be examined and they will receive what Christ considers is due to them, whether for better or for worse (9-10).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Brideway Bible Commentary". 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

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

Not be found naked ... It is a gross error to suppose that this has any reference to the notion of the ancient Greeks, to the effect that "disembodied spirits were under the earth and capable of taking part in life anywhere in the universe."[8] Paul had in mind here the sad truth that some who might expect to be clad with the glorious resurrection body in the final judgment will have no such thing, but be found naked instead. True Christians will be gloriously clothed in eternity; but for those lukewarm and self-satisfied Christians who think their "faith alone" is all they need, eternal nakedness shall be their disappointment. That is why the apostle John instructed that class of Christians to "Buy of me (the Lord) white garments that thou mayest clothe thyself, and that the shame of thy nakedness be not made manifest" (Revelation 3:18). Although salvation is of grace and of the free gift of God, there is a certain "clothing of oneself" that is required of all who would not be naked in eternity. However people may deny this, it is true, as Paul will state dogmatically a little later in 2 Corinthians 5:10.

Wesley's comment on "We shall not be found naked" is most perceptive, saying that it referred to one whose appearance in the presence of the King was without "the wedding garment."[9] The application of the man without the wedding garment to the "nakedness" in view here is perfect (Matthew 22:11). In the Saviour's parable, the naked one was indeed a guest; he had been invited, had answered the call, and had accepted the King's invitation, even sitting down at his table; but not having the wedding garment, he was "naked" in the eyes of the King and was cast into "the outer darkness." In exactly the same way, Christians who neglect or refuse to do the things Christians are commanded to do will appear "naked" in judgment. "Faith only" is nakedness in the eyes of God.

[8] Norman Hillyer, op. cit., p. 1079.

[9] John Wesley, op. cit., in loco.

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

If so be that being clothed - This passage has been interpreted in a great many different ways. The view of Locke is given above. Rosenmuller renders it, “For in the other life we shall not be wholly destitute of a body, but we shall have a body.” Tyndale renders it, “If it happen that we be found clothed, and not naked.” Doddridge supposes it to mean, “since being so clothed upon, we shall not be found naked, and exposed to any evil and inconvenience, how entirely soever we may be stripped of everything we can call our own here below.” Hammond explains it to mean, “If, indeed, we shall, happily, be among the number of those faithful Christians, who will be found clothed upon, not naked.” Various other expositions may be seen in the larger commentaries. The meaning is probably this:

(1) The word “clothed” refers to the future spiritual body of believers; the eternal habitation in which they shall reside.

(2) the expression implies an earnest desire of Paul to be thus invested with that body.

(3) it is the language of humility and of deep solicitude, as if it were possible that they might fail, and as if it demanded their utmost care and anxiety that they might thus be clothed with the spiritual body in heaven.

(4) it means that in that future state, the soul will not be naked; that is, destitute of any body, or covering. The present body will be laid aside. It will return to corruption, and the disembodied Spirit will ascend to God and to heaven. It will be disencumbered of the body with which it has been so long clothed. But we are not thence to infer that it will be destitute of a body; that it will remain a naked soul. It will be clothed there in its appropriate glorified body; and will have an appropriate habitation there. This does not imply, as Bloomfield supposes, that the souls of the wicked will be destitute of any such habitation as the glorified body of the saints; which may be true - but it means simply that the soul shall not be destitute of an appropriate body in heaven, but that the union of body and soul there shall be known as well as on earth.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Charles Box's Commentaries on Selected Books of the Bible

A house not made with hands - : Death will come to all because this life is only temporary. However, there will be happiness in eternity for those that will walk with God. Heaven is (1) A building of God, (2) A house not made with hands, (3) An eternal reward, and (4) A place of true life. Our Father"s house will be the eternal home of those that are faithful to God. "In My Father"s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." (John 14:2.) When our soul leaves this earthly tent it will return unto God who gave it. Those that have walked with God down here will dwell with Him in eternity. This body of flesh that we dwell in causes many burdens. God"s faithful servant is willing to die and be with Him in eternity instead of living on earth in the flesh. In the world to come God"s people will not be naked; they will be clothed in robes of righteousness. The present indwelling of the Spirit is an "earnest" of the everlasting reward in heaven.

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at Public Domain.
Bibliographical Information
Box, Charles. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Charles Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". 2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

If. App-, a.

being clothed. Greek. enduo, Compare 1 Corinthians 15:53, 1 Corinthians 15:54. Compare Job 10:11 (Septuagint)

not. App-105.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

3.Since clothed He restricts to believers, what he had stated respecting the certainty of a future life, as it is a thing peculiar to them. For the wicked, too, are stripped of the body, but as they bring nothing within the view of God, but a disgraceful nakedness, they are, consequently, not clothed with a glorious body. Believers, on the other hand, who appear in the view of God, clothed with Christ, and adorned with His image, receive the glorious robe of immortality. For I am inclined to take this view, rather than that of Chrysostom and others, who think that nothing new is here stated, but that Paul simply repeats here, what he had previously said as to putting on an eternal habitation. The Apostle, therefore, makes mention here of a twofold clothing, with which God invests us — the righteousness of Christ, and sanctification of the Spirit in this life; and, after death, immortality and glory. The first is the cause of the second, because

those whom God has determined to glorify, he first justifies. (Romans 8:30.)

This meaning, too, is elicited from the particle also, which is without doubt introduced for the purpose of amplifying — as if Paul had said, that a new robe will be prepared for believers after death, since they have been clothed in this life also.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

Brian Bell Commentary on the Bible

  1. Intro:
    1. Are you afraid to die? Do you have a fear of death? Are you afraid of death/afterlife or afraid of dying/i.e. the way you’ll die?
    2. Old Indian proverb says, "Life is a bridge. Cross over it, but build no house on it."
    3. Richard Baxter(Puritan) speaking of his constant sickness said, “(it) made me study and preach things necessary, and a little stirred up my sluggish heart to speak to sinners with some compassion, as a dying man to dying men.”
      1. He also said, “Man always knows his life will shortly cease, Yet madly lives as if he knew it not.”
      2. The 3 crosses behind me will always remind us that, “The bad thief is crucified, the repentant thief is crucified, and the Son of God is crucified.”
      3. Death is one thing that faces all men, “rich & poor, astronaut & prostitute, infant & teen, grandparents & parents, you & me”.
      4. Each one of us has been given “2 dates & 1 dash!” (1900-2001)
    4. Man has done everything to soften the impact of death…especially by coming up with different theories to either dismiss it entirely or at least soften its blow!
    5. The 3 most popular are:
      1. Reincarnation – is a new birth into another body.
        1. They believe we are recycled eternally. Reaching higher levels of happiness IF you’ve lived a good life, lower levels of misery IF you haven’t.
      2. Soul Sleep aka Intermediate sleep. They have no conscious existence from the time of physical death until the day of resurrection. A hibernation if you will.
        1. This leads to despair, or you develop the attitude of “Eat, drink, & be merry, for tomorrow you die!” [no, 2 Millennia of Siesta!]
      3. Purgatory – (root=purge) Means “a place of spiritual purging.”
        1. Basically, death moves into a temporary state where others can pray to free us from punishment.
        2. The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, defines it, “an intermediate place between heaven & hell, where the unfinished business of earth is settled.”
        3. This doctrine is built from 2 Maccabees 12:39-45 where it says, “thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be free from this sin.”
          1. There are definitely some contextual problems, & even my Catholic bible says in its foot notes & I quote, “His belief(Judas) was similar to, but not quite the same as, the Catholic doctrine of purgatory.”
          2. This is of course an apocryphal book ("hidden things") which we do not see as part of the Canon of scripture. [These books do not claim for themselves the same kind of authority as the OT writings; They was never part of the Hebrew bible; They are never quoted in the NT, nor by Jesus; They contain teachings inconsistent w/the rest of the bible]
          3. This was excepted into the canon in 1548 – The Catholics actually prefer Deutero-canonical (deutero = 2nd-cannon)
    6. Let’s answer 8 questions & we’ll start by launching from 2 words in 4:18...temporary & eternal.
      1. Remember, "Life is a bridge. Cross over it, but build no house on it."
    1. That’s what Job asked, If a man dies, shall he live again? Job 14:14a
      1. Then he answered himself, All the days of my hard service I will wait, Till my change comes. Job 14:14b
    2. The writer of Prov. 23:18 said, For surely there is a hereafter, And your hope will not be cut off.
    3. When it comes to theories about death you hear, “we think”; “we believe”; “we hope”; yet the bible says, We Know! See vs.1.
    4. Tents are fun to camp in…but they are not a home!
      1. A tent is only a temporary place! [Even Gods Tent/Tabernacle was Temporary, till Temple]
      2. We will one day set aside this Earthly Tent in exchange for Heaven’s Suit!
    1. For in this we groan - we groan because we are weary, rain-soaked campers longing for home.
    2. Do you get upset when the waitress takes away the 1st dish of a 7 course meal?
      1. No, because you know they are going to replace it with something better.
    1. ​​​​​​​No, there is no such things as ghosts! [or as Ray Parker Jr. Sang, I ain't afraid of no ghosts]
      1. Ghosts are defined in Webster’s as, The supposed disembodied spirit of a dead person.
        1. We will not be kicked out of this tent to roam homeless!
      2. (Lyrics) If there's something strange - in your neighborhood - Who ya gonna call? - GHOSTBUSTERS. No, don’t need to. No such thing as Ghosts. Demonic manifestations, yes. [Not going to call: Bill murray, Dan Aykroyd, nor Harold Ramis]
    1. ​​​​​​​Life not death swallows the believers up!
      1. 1 Cor.15:53,54 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."
    1. ​​​​​​​God has already placed a down payment on our eternal home.
      1. And if the H.S. is just a down payment imagine what the full payment will be?
      2. Story: A little girl was taking an evening walk with her father. Wonderingly, she looked up at the stars and exclaimed: "Oh, Daddy, if the wrong side of heaven is so beautiful, what must the right side be!"
  7. SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO? (6-8) [the Clash, English Punk Rock Band]
    1. Ever have a relationship from a distance? (Kelly, at San Diego State/dating/Train)
      1. Whether writing letters, calling them, emails, Facebook, sending each other digital pictures, or Skype…still nothing compares with being with them in person!
      2. Same with our relationship with our Lord!
    2. (7) Paul drops in a Parenthetical.
      1. This verse instructs us how to live in the meantime.
      2. Slide#14 Most Hindus have a desire to visit the city of Banares at least once in their lifetime. It’s also called Varanasi (on the banks of the Ganges/1 of the oldest cities of the world). It’s aholy city to them, with 1500 temples. The road encircling the city is 36 miles long. To walk all the way around the city with devotion is deemed a very holy thing!
        1. But we believe, that how you walk is far more important than where you walk.
    1. ​​​​​​​Our aim – our goal, our ambition?…to be well pleasing to Him!
      1. (LKGNT) “to devote one’s self zealously to a cause.”
      2. Remember the old game Trivial Pursuit? May that not be used to define your life.
      3. What’s your aim in this life? (Some set their sites on riches. Yet “riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven.”) 4. Is this your one passionate aim to please God wherever you’re at?
        1. Remember, we have dual citizenship!
        2. Paul determines to please God in both bodies!
    2. Pleasing –used in Titus 2:9 of slaves who give satisfaction to their master.
      1. Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back. Titus 2:9
    1. ​​​​​​​We must all not only appear, but have our whole character made manifest.
    2. Jesus will look beyond Quantity & inspect Quality!
      1. LAX Customs demands, “No bad/foreign fruit is welcome in our country”.
        1. They have specific trashcans with signs on them to dump the fruit before inspection.
          1. You might do the same. Go ahead & dump your bad fruit now!
    3. He’ll look at our deeds, both good or bad
      1. 1 Cor.3:13-15 each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
    4. He’ll look at our Motives
      1. ​​​​​​​1 Cor.4:4,5 For I know nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God.
        1. “We are making or marring a destiny, winning or losing a crown.”
    5. 3 Things in life are sure: [not death & taxes]
      1. Birth starts our life! (true both physically & spiritually)
        1. “You’re not ready to live until you’re ready to die.”
          1. And you’re not ready to die until you’ve been Born Again.
        2. You couldn’t do anything to prepare for your birth, but you have everything to do w/preparing to die!
        3. Are you prepared?
      2. Death ends our earthly life!
        1. Are you ready to die? Ready to meet your Maker?
        2. Have you made your reservations? No one can book the flight for you!
        3. Illustration: E-Tickets! - No paper tickets necessary now. No lines. Just a confirmation # is needed.
      3. Opportunity is limited to our life here!
        1. Purgatory, Reincarnation, & just Ceasing to Exist are not biblical options.
        2. There are no 2nd chances in the hereafter. Remember, it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.
        3. The impact we make here ripples through the hereafter.
          1. This is the testing ground for eternity! William Barclay
    6. So what is death like…does it hurt?
      1. ​​​​​​​Read quote from Catherine Marshall, “A Man Called Peter”.
    7. A Christian is of 2 worlds:
      1. We are not to despise this world; but instead find it shining from the reflection which is to come.
    8. Slide#18,19 "Life is a bridge. Cross over it, but build no house on it." To the unbeliever heaven is...Unbridgeable!
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Brian Bell Commentary". 2017.

The Great Biblical Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide



i. The Apostle goes on to remind the Corinthians of the glories of heaven, saying that in exile here and in the tabernacle of the flesh he longs for them, and wishes to be absent from the body and present with the Lord.

ii. He shows (ver9) that it is his endeavour to please not men but Christ alone, who shall come to judgment.

iii. He declares (ver14) that he is constrained to do this by the love of Christ, who has reconciled us by His death; and therefore that he no longer knows any one according to the flesh, but only him who is a new creature in Christ.

iv. He professes himself (ver18) to be a minister and ambassador of Christ, and he prays them to be reconciled to God for Christ"s sake.

Ver1.—For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved. If this mortal body, which is as it were a tent in which we tarry for a brief space while travelling here, be dissolved, we have a firm and lasting house in the glory of the soul and eternal life. This is the interpretation of Photius, Anselm, S. Thomas, Lyranus, and it is supported by vers6,8. From this and the explanation of the Fathers, and especially from ver8, we gather, against Tertullian, the Greeks, Armenians, Luther, and Calvin, that souls immediately at death are beatified, and do not sleep under the altar till the resurrection.

Secondly and more fitly we may say that this house is the body glorified by the resurrection, and this body we have, i.e., shall surely have at the resurrection. And this meaning is more in harmony with ver4and the last chapter; for the Apostle is urging them to endure, in hope of the resurrection when we shall receive our glorified body, bodily mortification and suffering. So, in 1 Corinthians 15:43, he says that the body is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory, i.e., glorified. Such a body is properly the home of a beatified soul, as a mortal body is the home of a soul living and suffering here. So S. Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, Ambrose.

It may be said that the glory itself into which the beatified soul enters is the house of the soul, even as Christ says: "Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." I answer that "enter into joy" does not mean that that joy is a house into which the soul enters, as some seem to think, but by metonymy the place of joy is called joy, and the meaning is: "Enter into the heavenly nuptials, enter into heaven, where is the place of the most perfect joy for ever." It is less accurate to speak of that glory or joy as a house into which the Blessed shall enter.

Chrysostom (Hom5 in Ep. ad Heb.) says that "we ought to put off our body with as much ease as we should a coat, or as Joseph left his cloak with the Egyptian woman;" and Aloysius Gonzaga, on his death-bed, spoke of his death as a mere change from one house to another.

Ver2.—For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven. That is, (1.) we long to be free, as the Syriac takes it, from the earthly house of our natural body, and receive the heavenly home of our glorified body. (2.) But a better meaning is: We groan because of the death which must intervene between this life and the life of eternity; for death is a violence done to nature. We should wish to be clothed upon with glory, not to be deprived of life, as appears from ver4. S. Gregory (Morals, lib. xxxi. c26) says: "Lo! Paul longs to die and yet shrinks from death. Why is this? Because, though victory is for ever joyous, yet pain for the present is grievous. For, as a brave man who is girt ready for battle with one that is close at hand is both nervous and ardent, trembling and resolute; as his pallor betrays his fears, while his wrath urges him forward; so is a holy man, when he sees his suffering near, both distressed by the weakness of his nature and strengthened by the certainty of his hope: he trembles at the prospect of a speedy death, and yet rejoices that by dying he will more truly live. No one, however, can enter the Kingdom but through death, and, therefore, in all, confidence is mingled with wavering, and wavering with confidence; joy with fear, and fear with joy."

It may be asked how the metaphor of a house and tabernacle agrees with that of a garment which is put over all. I answer that the Apostle uses here two metaphors, one taken from a house, one from a garment. The Hebrews are wont, and in this they are here copied by S. Paul, to mingle many metaphors at once. We may see this repeatedly in the Prophecies and the Psalm, and also in the parables of Christ.

Ver3.—If so that being clothed we shall not be found naked. Instead of clothed, some read unclothed, through a difference of a letter in the Greek compound verb. This reading is followed by Augustine and Bede, Ambrose, Tertullian, and Paulinus; and Augustine thus gives the sense: "We shall be clothed upon with heavenly glory, when once we are stripped of this body and clothed with Christ."

We should observe that the Apostle here distinguishes three things, (1.) the being unclothed and naked, (2.) the being clothed, (3.) the being clothed upon. As in the last verse he called our heavenly glory a house, so here by another metaphor he calls it a robe. Now some explain this passage thus: We long to be clothed upon with our heavenly home, the heavenly and incorruptible body, in such a way, however, that we may be gifted with immortality and glory, and be found not bare, but clothed with glory. For, as the Apostle says in I Cor. xv51: "We shall all rise indeed to immortality, but we shall not all he changed into glory." But this is true of the reprobate alone. Although they will have an immortal body, yet it cannot be said that they will have a celestial body; this will be the endowment of the Blessed only. A celestial body, then, is one that is both immortal and glorious, and consequently they that have this are necessarily clothed and not found naked. This is the distinction pointed out here by the Apostle in the conditional statement, "If so be that, being clothed, we shall not be found naked."

Secondly, S. Chrysostom, Theophylact, Theodoret, Ambrose explain the passage differently. They say: This house, i.e., this celestial glory will be our portion if we be found worthy of it, and are placed among the elect and not the reprobate: in other words, if we are found clothed with grace, charity, and good works, and not naked without them. This is the sentence of S. Paulinus ( Ephesians 8 ad Sever. Sulpit.). He says: "If, when you are stripped of your body, you be not found naked of good works." If we be clothed with them, then God will super-clothe us with the new robe of eternal glory. But since in the next verse he explains this nakedness to be the separation of the soul from the body, in the words not for that we would be unclothed, i.e., of the body, so that the soul alone be beatified in nakedness, but clothed upon, it seems better, with Tertullian (de Resurr. Carnis, c42), to say that we are called naked and unclothed when we are dead, and when the soul has lost the body; and consequently that we are clothed when the soul regains the body, and puts it on as her robe, and are clothed upon when the body is clad and adorned with heavenly glory as its robe. As the soul"s dress will be the body, so the body"s will be glory; and thus the soul will be clothed with the body, and clothed upon with glory. Therefore, we long to be clothed upon with it, "if so be that, being clothed, we shall not be found naked."

We should notice again that the word if points to something that is peculiar and not common to all the elect, but proper to those only who shall be found at the end of the world alive and clothed with the body, and who so live, or so die, as quickly to rise again, and seem to be not dead but alive, clothed upon with immortality. As Cajetan rightly points out, the sense therefore is: It will not be our lot to be dissolved in death, from which we naturally shrink, and on account of which we groan, but to be clothed upon with glory, which we so ardently long for; that is to say, if at the end of the world we be found remaining and not yet dead, but clad with the body, and so not be made naked; or if so, at all events for so short a time that we may be said to pass from this life to eternity.

Ver4.—For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened. Being burdened, as the Syriac takes it, through the weight and load of the body. Yet we may say with S. Gregory Nazianzen: "Take from me, 0 Lord, this heavy robe" (this earthly, burdensome, and troublesome body), "but give me another, one that is lighter."

Not for that we would be unclothed but clothed upon. We would not be deprived of the body, but we would be clothed upon with glory, if nevertheless being clothed with a body of flesh we be not found stripped of it by death. The Apostle is in the habit of speaking of the resurrection and the day of judgment as if they were close at hand, and as if he with the others then alive would behold them. Cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Since the Apostle says that we would not be stripped of our body, Plato was wrong in identifying σω̃μα and ση̃μα, as though the body were a tomb. In this he was followed by Origen, who supposed souls to be enclosed in bodies as in prisons in punishment of their sins. But the soul does not long to be set free from the body, as it would if this theory were true. The body is therefore the friend, companion, and colleague of the soul, and the soul demands its body as form requires matter, and vice versâ. The Apostle would seem to be here condemning this error of Plato and his followers, which was commonly taught in the schools of Corinth.

That mortality might be swallowed up of life. Mortality by immortality.

Ver5.—Now He that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God. He that wrought, perfected, and formed us, i.e., (1.) He that created us for this eternal life of bliss, is God. (2.) He who by His eternal decree prepared and predestinated us for this same bliss, is God. (3.) Best of all, He who by His grace so forms and prepares the will and understanding of man and his whole nature, and who makes him so live as to be worthy of being beatified with this immortality, is God.

Who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. I.e., as Ambrose says, the Spirit Himself. God has not given us a pledge of gold or of silver, i.e., gold or silver as a pledge, but He has given us His Holy Spirit, inasmuch as He has infused into us His charity, and the virtues of the Spirit of holiness, whereby as sons we cry "Abba, Father," in full trust in God as our Father. For this Spirit is a pledge of our heavenly inheritance of glory laid up for us, and God has given us this Spirit to assure us through Him, as a pledge and earnest, that we shall attain our future inheritance if only we imitate our Father, and call upon Him as sons, and obey Him, and retain inviolate His Spirit as a pledge.

Ver6.—Therefore we are always confident. We confidently and boldly endure, nay, long for dangers and death for the sake of Christ and His Gospel. So Theophylact. The word, therefore, points to this daring confidence as the result of hope for this eternal inheritance, and of the possession of a pledge of it in the Holy Spirit.

Knowing that whilst we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. As long as we are in the body here, so long are we absent in banishment from the sight of the Lord God, our Father, and from our inheritance; we are living like foreigners in a strange land, as long as we are in this mortal body. Because we are enrolled as citizens of heaven and heirs of God, we are pilgrims here; therefore we hasten to be free from this pilgrimage and to attain our heavenly country, to enter into the inheritance of God, our Father. Therefore we boldly meet dangers and death, and enter upon them as the road to heaven. S. Bernard (de Prcep. et Dispens. c. xxvii.) says: "What is all care for the body but absence from the Lord? And what is absence but exile? Therefore we are in exile away from the Lord, and live in exile in the body, while our endeavour after God is hampered by the burdens laid upon it by the body, and while charity is wearied with its cares."

Ver7.—For we walk by faith, not by sight. For we do not yet behold the nature and beauty of God face to face. So Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, and Œcumenius. Therefore they are wrong, whoever they be, that say that the Blessed see God, not directly in His Essence, but by means of some appearance which represents His Essence, in the same way that the appearance of colour received on the retina represents to the eye the colour of the wall. It is no such kind of sight that the Apostle here means, but that by which an object is plainly seen in itself. For faith is opposed to sight; but by faith we do not see, but darkly believe what is future and absent.

Ver8.—Willing rather to be absent from the body. "Having a good will" (the Latin version); "greatly desiring" (the Syriac); "wishing with all our heart" (Chrysostom). We choose rather to be absent from the body, that we may come to appear before the presence of God and enjoy the sight of His countenance.

Hence it is proved that souls behold God immediately after death; for the reason given for preferring to be absent from the body is that we may be present with the Lord, or, as Erasmus and Vatablus rightly translate the words, "that we may be at home with the Lord." But if we shall be still exiles when separated from the body, and do not at once reach the home of our Father, but must still linger on the way and live still in exile, then we should not desire to be absent from the body, nay, we should prefer to spend our exile in it, as the natural abode of our soul, rather than in some unknown place.

Ver9.—Wherefore we labour. We vie with each other in our zeal, our ministry, our endeavours to please God; we strive not to be surpassed by any one in this contest

Whether present or absent. These are mutually opposed. If we are absent from God we are present with the body, and vice vers.

We should notice that the Greek word here used strictly means to live at home amongst one"s own people; and the opposite denotes living out of one"s country and in exile. Hence Erasmus and Vatablus translate, "whether present at home, or living in exile abroad." But the Apostle seems to use the words in a more extended sense; for he applies the words which we have translated "present or absent" to life in the body and also to life with God. But we cannot properly speaking be said both to be at home in the body, and, when separated from the body, with God; and, again, we cannot be said both to be in exile both in the body and with God; and, therefore, we take the meaning to be to dwell or to be present, and in the other case, to leave, to be absent. For as long as we live in this body we are absent from the Lord; and, on the other hand, as long as we inhabit heaven we are present with the Lord and absent from the body. But still there is no reason why the Apostle should not mean to be at home and to be in exile.

Observe that the Apostle said in ver1, that we have two houses, one earthly and the other heavenly, and that in both we are at home; for the body is our natural home, and heaven our supernatural. Consequently, our exile is two-fold. While in the body we are exiles from heaven, and, when separated by death from the body, we pass to another land and are exiles from the body. The Apostle"s meaning then is: In whatever state we may be, whether absent from God and present with the body, or vice vers, we endeavour to please God, that we may be able to appear before His presence and enjoy the light of His countenance. For unless we please God, neither shall we be able, while present in the body and absent from the Lord, to come into His presence, nor while absent from the body and present with the Lord, shall we be able to abide in His presence and enjoy it in bliss. We strive, then, while here to attain both; we endeavour both to come into His presence, and to merit to remain in it for ever. "He who pleases God here," say Ambrose and Anselm, "will not be displeasing to Him there."

Others take the clause to mean, "whether living here or departing from the body to go to the Lord," &c. In other words, we do all that we can to please God down to the very last breath of life, when the soul leaves the body. This is adopted by Tertullian (de Resurr. Carnis, c. xliii.); but since these words of the Apostle, as I have said, have a more extended meaning, the former sense is more probable. This last restricts them too closely to the body.

Ver10.—For we must all appear. The particle for gives the reason of what has just been said. We strive to please the Lord in all our works, in order that, at the tribunal of Christ, before which we all must stand, we may be gifted with a glorious body, and with the blissful presence of God and the Beatific Vision. We would not be deprived of it with those who, by their evil works, have displeased God.

Before the judgment seat of Christ. We must all be made manifest to Christ the Judge and to all men before the dread tribunal, that each may see the good and evil deeds of every one. Hence it follows that Paul and the other Apostles must also be judged, but in such a way that at the same time they may be judges of others, and condemn those who have refused to believe (S. Matthew 19:28).

That every one may receive the things done in his body, &c. Glory or punishment will be awarded in proportion to each one"s merits or demerits. Observe1. that the deeds of the body are also deeds of the soul; for the soul in this life does nothing and can do nothing without the body; so much so, that for thought itself it needs the help of images drawn from corporeal things. In this way what the soul does by the instrumentality of the body is done by the body.

2. Chrysostom points out that each one"s own deeds are here spoken of, because the merits of others, as, e.g., of our parents, will not avail us before the judgment-seat of Christ. Cf. Ezekiel 14:14, Ezekiel 14:20. If we would think of this tribunal when we are tempted by our companions, by lust, by pride, by gluttony, we should easily overcome them all, and should not suffer ourselves to be drawn away by fear or lust from obedience to the law of God. Cf. Chrysostom (Hom10 Moral.).

The Pelagians inferred from this verse that infants have no sin, and that there is no such thing as original sin; for it is said here that Christ, when He comes to judgment, will only call into question the sins that each has committed in his body. But infants have done nothing, nor could do anything of their own; and, therefore, they conclude that they have no sin on which Christ can pass judgment.

S. Augustine ( Ephesians 107) answers that this sentence of the Apostle"s reaches even to infants; for, he says, original sin as a habit is theirs individually and inheres in them, but the actual sin of Adam, viz., the eating of the forbidden fruit, which was his own and physically inherent in him, from which original sin as a habit was derived to every one born from him, may be said to morally belong to each infant, and be regarded as its own proper act; and in this sense they committed this sin, not directly but in Adam; for the will of Adam was regarded as the will of all his descendants, including even children.

But a better answer can be given, and one more in harmony with the Apostle"s meaning, viz., that the Apostle is not speaking of infants but of adults. For he is exhorting them to do all that they can to please God in all things, that each may receive a reward from God proportioned to their deeds. Infants, though they will have to appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, yet will not need to have their works examined nor their demerits, but will receive the punishment due to original sin, as S. Augustine says (Serm. de Omnibus Sanct.), and also Nazianzen (Orat60).

Ver11.—Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord. Knowing what I have just said of Christ"s judgment-seat, when each will receive the reward of his deeds; or, knowing that the Lord is to be feared as a Judge and Avenger, we therefore persuade men to fear Him also.

Fear has a twofold meaning—(1.) actively of the fear we feel because of the Lord; (2.) passively of that which the Lord is, viz., a terrible Judge. Jacob, e.g., calls God "the fear of his father Isaac," or the Object that Isaac feared ( Genesis 31:42). So here fear is put for the object of fear—a fearful thing, a terror. The meaning, therefore, is: Knowing that God is to be feared, we persuade men. Cf. Isaiah 8:13.

But we are made manifest unto God. God knows that I sincerely fear Him, and try to make others fear Him also. Paul, by speaking of this fear and desire of pleasing God, might seem to some, and especially to his rivals the false apostles; who were only too glad to find an occasion of reproach against him, to be praising himself as holy; hence by these words and what follows he clears himself from any charge of vainglory and love of praise.

Ver12.—That ye may have somewhat. Some occasion of glorying about me, some answer to give to my opponents.

Which glory in appearance and not in heart. Who boast of their piety, but know in their conscience that they are hypocrites and false apostles.

Ver13.—For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. The Greek verb translated beside ourselves denotes a rapt state, when the mind is carried out of itself, whether by some strong influence of nature, of disease, of melancholy, or of apprehension of new and unwonted objects; or when God throws it into deep contemplation and ecstasy, or when frenzy and insanity drive it into delirious folly. All these senses are applicable here; nay, the Syriac, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Vatablus, and Erasmus render it "whether we be mad." S. Paul opposes "whether we be beside ourselves" to "whether we be sober," as if he meant whether we be foolish or wise. The same contrast is found in Acts 26:25. The same word is applied by His relations to Christ in S. Mark 3:21.

Again, this rapture and folly may be understood either of self-praise or of the love and contemplation of God. The Apostle seems to be speaking primarily of self-praise, according to Ambrose and Chrysostom, and this is supported by what has just gone before. But since this praise has for its object the excellence of the ministry of the New Testament, and the height of love and clear knowledge of God attained under it, the word may be equally well referred to this latter. He seems indeed to be alluding to the vision of Moses, when he saw the glory of God on Mount Sinai at the reception of the law. Cf2Cor. iii7, 18, where a comparison is drawn between Moses and S. Paul. Hence, in chaps. iv. and v., S. Paul praises himself for the tribulations and labours he had undergone for the sake of the Gospel, by which he was striving after the glorious presence of God.

The meaning, therefore, is—(1.) If, forgetful of ourselves, we are carried away by the vehemence of our zeal, which the world regards as folly, so that, like fools, we give way to praising our ministry, and speak of ourselves too highly and too boastfully (for to praise one"s self, as S. Ambrose says, is pride, and boasting, and folly), it is to God"s glory that we do it. If we are sober in our words and praises of ourselves, it is to teach you modesty. Hence (2.) follows the explanation of S. Augustine, Anselm, Theophylact, and others. If we are hurried into excess or ecstasy of love, knowledge, and speech of God, as, e.g., in iii18, v8, 9, so that we seem to boast and sing our own praises, or, as Chrysostom renders it, if we seem drunken and foolish with love and contemplation (as in Acts 2:13; Acts 26:24), it is to God"s glory that we do it.

Plato in Phædrus says that frenzy or folly is fourfold—that of poets, of mystics, of seers, of lovers—and that the fourth is the best and most blessed. "Of Divine frenzy or madness there are," he says, "four kinds laid down, over which as many gods preside. The inspiration of the seer is attributed to Apollo, of the mystic to Liber, of the poet to the Muses, while the frenzy of lovers comes from Venus and Cupid. We hold that the last of these is the best and most excellent." Theophylact says that this last kind of frenzy was S. Paul"s, inasmuch as he was one who lived not in himself, but was carried out of himself and lost in Christ, his Beloved, and wished to be anathema from Christ for his brethren"s sake. The soul of one who loves is not where it lives but where it loves. Theophylact says: "If we are beside ourselves because of God, it is that we may bring you to Him. So S. Paul loved God with a lover"s frenzy, and lived for Him alone, and by Him he loved was carried out of himself and wholly given to God. The life that he lived was not his own but the life of Him that he loved, beloved and precious for His sake only."

But S. Augustine, Bede, and Anselm understand this verse, not of frenzy, but of S. Paul"s being carried up to the third heaven, and their explanation is this: "What is "that whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God," but seeing things which it is not lawful for a man to utter? What is that "whether we be sober, it is for your cause," but what he says elsewhere, "I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified?"" S. Augustine again (Enarr. in Ps. civ.) says: "What is meant by "whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God," but leaving all carnal things, and being unable to speak of what we have seen? What is meant by "whether we be sober, it is for your cause," but we speak so as you can understand? For Christ by His birth and Passion made Himself such that men might be able to speak of Him."

The being out of one"s mind is, says S. Anselm, the having it fixed on things above, so that things below slip from the memory. In this state were all the Saints to whom the secrets of God that pass this world"s understanding were revealed. So here the Apostle, being mentally set free from all human frailty and from all the perishing and changeable things of this world, lived in heart in an ineffable contemplation of those things, of which he says that he had heard unspeakable things which it was not lawful for a man to utter. But for the sake of others he descends, and says: "Whether we be sober, it is for your cause"—although we may contemplate high things, yet we speak soberly of them, that you may be able to take them in. This is Anselm"s explanation.

S. Bernard (de Nat. et Dignit. Amoris, c. iii.) describes beautifully this frenzy of S. Paul"s. He says: "Hear this holy frenzy: "Whetter we be beside ourselves, it is to God: whether we be sober, it is for your cause." Do you wish to hear further frenzy? "Yet now if thou wilt forgive their sin—and if not, blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy Book of Life." Do you wish for more? Listen to the Apostle himself: "I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren." Does not this sound like the wholesome frenzy of a mind well affected, viz., that he is firmly affected to what cannot possibly be effected, viz., to be anathema from Christ for Christ"s sake? This was the drunkenness of the Apostles at the coming of the Holy Ghost; this was the madness of Paul when Festus said to him: "Paul, thou art beside thyself." The reason follows: Was it wonderful that he should be pronounced mad, who, when in danger of death, was endeavouring to convert to Christ his judges, by whom he was being judged for Christ"s sake? It was nor much learning that gave this madness, as the king said, concealing the truth that he perceived; but, as was said, it was the Holy Spirit, with which he was drunken, who made him wish to make those who were judging him like himself in all things. And, to pass over all other instances, what greater madness could be conceived than that a man who had left world from an ardent desire to cling closely to Christ should again lay hold of the world at the call of obedience and brotherly love, and descend front the sky to the sty? I speak of our young friend, Benjamin, who in his madness thinks nothing of himself, but only of Him who has made him wholly beside himself. With this same madness were the martyrs afflicted who smiled amid their tortures. So do we delight to be beside ourselves."

Again (Serm85 in Cantic.) he says: "Perchance one may ask me what it is to enjoy the Word. Hear one who has had that experience, as he says, "Whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God, or whether we be sober, it is for your cause." By the mere will of God my relations with Him are one thing, my relations with you another. It was allowed me to experience that ecstasy but not to speak of it; in my soberness I so condescend to you that you may be able to understand what I say. Whoever thou art that art anxious to know what enjoyment of the Word is, prepare for It thy mind and not thy ear. It is taught by grace and not by the tongue. It is hidden from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes."

Ver14.—For the love of Christ constraineth us. This love of Christ by which He loved us, and gave Himself for us, compels us to follow His example, and give ourselves for all men to save them from death. And hence, as occasion requires, we are at one time beside ourselves, at another, sober. It is better to understand the love of Christ objectively, rather than subjectively.

That if one died for all then were all dead. The bearing of this verse is explained by the next, which also gives its connection with the preceding. So great was the love of Christ that He died for all. Hence it follows that we were dead, for He died to set us free (by taking it on Himself) from death, bodily and spiritual, which sin had brought on us. Hence plainly appears Christ"s compassion and love; and they constrain us to love Christ in return, and to work in every way for the salvation of our neighbour; to exclude no one, but to labour for all, whether rich or poor, even as Christ did. S. Thomas explains it otherwise. "All ought to be dead to the old life, and account themselves dead, that they may live, not to themselves, but to Christ." But this is somewhat obscure and far fetched, and is identical with what is said in the next verse, which yet is distinct from this.

Were all dead. Except, says S. Anselm, the Blessed Virgin, who never incurred original sin and spiritual death. Secondly and better, all died in Adam because in him all came under the necessity of sin and of death, even the Mother of God herself, so that she and all others without exception needed to be redeemed by the death of Christ. In Adam, therefore, the Blessed Virgin sinned and died, but in herself she incurred neither sin nor spiritual death, because she was kept from them by God"s prevenient grace, as was said in the notes to Romans 5:12.

Ver15.—And that He died for all, &c. We judge also that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live for their own glory, or pleasure, or their desires, but for Christ, who by right of redemption has made us His servants; and as a servant does not labour and live for himself but for his lord, so should each of us be able to say: "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me;" and, "My soul shall live to Him." Anselm says: "The soul of man should fail in itself to avail in Christ, who died that we should die to our sins, and who rose that we should rise to works of righteousness. What else is "living not for themselves but for Him," but living not according to the flesh in the hope of earthly vanities, but according to the Spirit, in hope of the resurrection which has already taken place in themselves in Christ?"

Ver16.—Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh. Because the love of Christ for us is so great, and constrains us, therefore we regard carnal things, that is things external and temporal, such as fame, health, friendships, kindred, of no account out of Christ. So Chrysostom takes no one to stand for "nothing," as does Vatablus; and S. Augustine (contra Faust. lib. ix. c7) takes it in the same way. But by the flesh he understands the corruption and mortality of the flesh to be meant; and the sense then would be: We no longer know this carnal and mortal life, because, filled with a sure hope, we meditate on and seek for a future life, that blissful spiritual life awaiting us after the resurrection, in which Christ is even now preparing us a place. This meaning is suitable but somewhat far-fetched, for the Apostle is here setting in opposition to the flesh, or the carnal man, the new creature which is in this life, and which lives through faith and grace in Christ; therefore he adds: "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature."

In the third place, then, we may more simply and properly explain the verse thus: We henceforth know none of those outward relation-ships of kindred, friendship, nationality, rank, breeding, or learning, for we are dead to these natural affections, and having been regenerated in Christ, we live to Him alone, and love Him alone, and all others in Him, according to the spirit of charity, and not according to the flesh. In other words, we seek not to please men, or the praise and glory of men, but of God only. S. Paul"s rivals, the Judaising false apostles, as we shall see in chap. xi., were wont to boast that they were Hebrews and of the seed of Abraham, and this boasting he calls, in xi18, "glorying after the flesh." Hence this verse is a tacit rebuke to them, where he says that he knows no one in the way of earthly love or boasting, or because of relationship and friendship according to the flesh, not even in Abraham himself. Similarly, in Philippians 3:3, he says, "We rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh;" i.e., we once rejoiced that we were Hebrews and nobly born according to the flesh, but now we are dead to those affections, for all our praise and rejoicing is Christ. So Gagneius.

Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh. If at any time we, whether I, Paul, myself, or the other Apostles, regarded and saw Christ present with us in a mortal body and subject, like us, to bodily sufferings, such as hunger and thirst and cold, now we know Him not save as immortal and passible. So Chrysostom, Theodoret, and the Seventh General Synod. This interpretation too is supported by what follows.

Secondly, and better, Gagneius takes the meaning to be: If we formerly knew, i.e., thought of great account, and made our boast of Christ after the flesh, that Christ by birth was a Jew and of our nation, so that we Hebrews were relations of Christ after the flesh, as the false apostles boast; and if we were proud of having lived with Christ on terms of intimacy, then are we now dead to all such feelings, and, being re-created by Christ, we think more highly of Him, and now know Him only according to the Spirit, i.e., as the God-man, the Redeemer of the world, our Teacher, the Author of grace and salvation; and as we live and labour for such an one, so do we preach Him throughout the whole world.

Thirdly, others with great probability think that Paul is referring to that time in his own life when he was a persecutor of Christ. Although once, he would seem to say, I had an unworthy opinion of Christ, thinking that He was to be a mere temporal king, such as the Jews expect the Messiah to be, yet I no longer know Him or regard Him as such.

Hence, fourthly, we may see the error of Faustus the Manichean, in explaining S. Paul to mean that in the beginning he thought Christ to have had a real body, but afterwards saw his error, and that he means the same in Philippians 2:7, when he says that Christ was made in the likeness of men, as if He had a fantastical and apparent body, but not one that was real and substantial. Eutyches again twisted this passage to suit his heresy. He said that "we know not Christ according to the flesh" means that, by the Incarnation the flesh and human nature of Christ were swallowed up by His Divinity; and he laid down that in Christ was one nature as well as one person, and that that one was Divine.

We may see here how heretics twist and wrest aside the Scripture to suit their own fancies, just as if it were a nose of wax. So did the Iconoclasts of olden times, and lately Calvin (de Reliquiis) twist these words of the Apostle against the veneration of relics and of images of Christ and the Saints, just as though the Apostle had said: Now after the resurrection we know not Christ after the flesh; whatever in Him was carnal must be consigned to oblivion and sent about its business, that we may devote all our energies to seeking Him and possessing Him according to the spirit. But it is most evident that this is not the Apostle"s meaning; for if it were, he would have us forget the flesh, the death, and Passion of Christ, and be unmindful of it and unthankful for it, the very opposite of which Christ commanded when He instituted the Eucharist as the perpetual memorial of His death. Whence S. Paul himself says ( 1 Corinthians 11:26): "As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup ye do show the Lord"s death till He come." Therefore the Apostle"s meaning here is not Calvin"s, but the one I have given above. Cf. Second Council of Nice, Acts 6, following Epiphanius and Cyril.

Ver17.—Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. If any one is with me regenerate in Christ, and recreated and changed, as it were, into a new creature, even as I am not what I was, Saul being changed into Paul, then the old rites of Judaism, the old former affections and judgments, such as knowing any one according to the flesh, have all passed away. In such an one all is made new: he has new affections, new thoughts about the realities and hopes of Christianity, a new life, a new hope of the resurrection, new grace, sanctification, and justification. On this newness, cf. S. Anselm and S. Augustine (de Cantic. Novo. vol. ix.).

S. Bernard (de Assumpt. B. Mari) assigns its cause He says: "All things are made new, i.e., the old fortress is overturned, a new one raised. Lust having been banished, the heart expands with a mighty longing; and after its arrival the mind yearns far more for heavenly things than it had ever before longed for earthly. Now is the wall of continence raised up, the bulwark of patience. But this work rises on the foundation of faith, and grows by1ove of one"s neighbour till it reaches even to the love of God."

Ver18.—And all things are of God. All these new things were created and given by the gift and grace of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation, in order that through our preaching we may persuade men to repent and receive the faith of Christ, that so we may reconcile them to God.

Ver19.—God was in Christ. I.e., as the Son by oneness of Essence. So Ambrose and Primasius. Hence S. Ambrose (de Fide ad Gratian, lib. iii. c5) says that God, i.e., everlasting Divinity, was in Christ, and Christ reconciled the world because He was God. Secondly, and better: "God was in Christ," i.e., through Christ, reconciling the world to Himself. Thirdly, Cajetan takes it: God reconciled to Himself the world in Christ, or the world that believes in Christ. But this seems forced and harsh.

Not imputing their trespasses unto them. Not imputing but freely forgiving their trespasses, not by imputation of the righteousness of Christ, as the heretics think, but by a real infusion of it. So Chrysostom and Anselm.

Observe the Hebraism. (1.) When the Scripture says that God imputes or does not impute sin, it does not mean that He acts against the reality of things, for so would God be false, but rather, since the judgment of God is most pure, He regards things and sins as they truly are. (2.) The same appears from the fact that the whole law, and consequently every sin against the law, depends on the judgment of God, i.e., on the eternal law which is in the Mind of God. (3.) And the chief reason is that all remission of sins depends on the forgiveness of God: but to forgive is not to impute; for sin, belonging to the sphere of morals as an offence against God, is removed by forgiveness, which equally belongs to the moral world. But the generous goodness of God infuses, together with this forgiveness, grace, charity, and all virtues, that we may be adorned with them as real gifts of God, may be justified and become worthy of the friendship of God.

And hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. He hath given us the duty of preaching the word of God, by which we are to reconcile men to God, as was said at the last verse. By metonymy, word may be put for the reality as sign for the thing signified. In this way the word of reconciliation would be reconciliation itself, or the power and ministry of reconciling men to God.

Ver20.—We pray you in Christ"s stead, be ye reconciled to God. As Christ"s ambassadors, even as if Christ were entreating you by us, we implore you to give up your wills to be reconciled to God. See what diligence, what energy, what zeal the Apostle displays in his endeavours to convert the Corinthians.

Ver21.—Him who knew no sin. Experimentally, says S. Thomas, Christ knew no sin, though by simple knowledge He did, for He did no sin.

Hath made Him to be sin for us. For us, says Illyricus, who were sin; because, he says, sin is the substance and form of our soul. But to say this of ourselves is folly, of Christ blasphemy. (1.) The meaning is that God made Christ to be the victim offered for our sin, to prevent us from atoning for our sins by eternal death and fire. The Apostle plays on the word sin, for when he says, "Him who knew no sin," he means sin strictly speaking; but when he says, "He made Him to be sin for us," he employs a metonymy. So Ambrose, Theophylact, and Anselm. In Psalm 40:12, Christ calls our sins His. (2.) Sin here denotes, says S. Thomas, the likeness of sinful flesh which He took, that He might be passible, just as sinners who are descended from Adam are liable to suffering. (3.) Sin, in the sense of being regarded by men as a noteworthy sinner, and being crucified as a malefactor. So the Greek Fathers.

Of these three interpretations the first is the more full, significant, and vigorous, and the one more consonant with the usage of Scripture, which frequently speaks of an expiatory victim as sin. Cf. Hosea 4:8; Leviticus 4:24 and Leviticus 4:21; Ezekiel 44:29. The reason of this metonymy is that all the punishment and guilt of the sin were transferred to the expiatory victim, and so the sin itself might seem to be also transferred to it. In token of this the priest was accustomed to lay his hands on the victim, and call down on it the sins of the people; for by the hands are signified sinful actions, which are for the most part executed by the hands, as Theodoret says in his notes on Leviticus i. Therefore the laying of hands on the victim was both a symbol of oblation and a testimony of the transference of guilt to the victim, showing that it was expiatory, and that it bore the sin itself, with all its burden of guilt and punishment. In this way the high-priest on the great Day of Atonement turned a goat into the wilderness, having imprecated on it the sins of the whole people. Cf. Leviticus 16:20.

That we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. (1.) That we might be made righteous before God, with the righteousness infused by God through the merits of Christ. So Chrysostom. He says righteousness and not righteous, says Theophylact, to signify the excellency of the grace, which effects that in the righteous there is no deformity, no stain of sin, but that there is complete grace and righteousness throughout. (2.) The righteousness of God was Christ made, in order that its effects, or the likeness of the uncreated righteousness of God, might be communicated to us by His created and infused righteousness. So Cyril (Thesaur. lib. xii. c3). (3.) Christ is so called because God owes not to us, but to Christ and His merits, the infusion of righteousness and the remission of our sins. Cf. Augustine (Enchirid. c41). Cf. also1Cor. i30. Heretics raise the objection that Christ was made for us sin, in the sense that our sin was imputed to Him and was punished in Him; therefore we are made the righteousness of God, because it is imputed to us. I answer that the two things are not parallel; for Christ could not really be a sinner as we can really be righteous, nor does the Apostle press the analogy. He only says that Christ bore our sins, that we through Him might be justified. Moreover, Christ actually was made sin, i.e., a victim for sin (this is the meaning of "sin" here), and therefore we truly become the righteousness of God. So easily and completely can we turn the tables on these Protestant objectors.

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Bibliographical Information
Lapide, Cornelius. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". The Great Biblical Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide. 1890.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

This time, let"s turn in our Bibles to II Corinthians, chapter five.

Paul talked about how he was constantly facing death for the cause of Jesus Christ. But though he was constantly facing death, various perils, it didn"t really trouble him, for he had a correct understanding of death. And I think that this is something that we as Christians need to have: a correct understanding of what death is for the child of God.

And it is because we often do not have a correct understanding, we hear such statements made when a person dies, "Oh, what a shame. He was so young. Oh, how tragic. He had his whole life before him." As though death is some tragedy for the child of God.

Paul faced death, but he didn"t worry about it because he knew,

For we know that, if our earthly house of this tabernacle [this tent] were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens ( 2 Corinthians 5:1 ).

So Paul realized that the real me is spiritual. I dwell in a body; the body isn"t me. It"s the house in which I live. And here, Paul reduces it from the house to the tent. Now, whenever you think about a tent, you don"t think about a permanent place to live. There"s always something very transient and temporary about a tent. And we should look at our bodies as tents; they are not permanent dwelling places for my spirit. My spirit is dwelling presently in this tent while my house is being prepared.

Now, you that have been around Calvary Chapel for any length of time know what it is to dwell in a tent while we"re waiting for the building to be prepared. We dwelt for two years in a tent while we were building this facility.

"We know that when this earthly tent is dissolved," when my body goes back to the dust, "that I have a building of God, it"s not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." And so your contrast, the tent which is always thought of in temporal terms, and the "building of God, not made with hands, which is eternal in the heavens."

This tent in which I presently live is a composite of the genes of my ancestry. And I have picked up certain brown-eyed genes and certain bald genes and the physical characteristics and so forth have been passed down to me from my parents and grandparents and all. So, I become an interesting composite of these combination of genes. But being passed down to me through the progression of generations back to Adam, back to Noah, back to Adam, Noah"s family back to Adam, I"ve received, of course, a lot of interesting type of characteristics, weaknesses and strengths. But flawed at the best, because it didn"t come to me directly from God. He wouldn"t make a mess like this.

But I do have a new building that I"m going to move into. It"s a building of God. It"s going to come to me directly from God. It"s not made with hands; it"s eternal, compared with the temporary, in the heavens. So for the child of God, death is moving out of the tent and, at this point I"d say the worn out tent, into the beautiful new house, building of God, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

You remember Jesus said to His disciples, "Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in Me. For in My Father"s house there are many mansions. And I"m going to prepare one for you" ( John 14:1, John 14:2 ). Now our minds immediately go to Beverly Hills, perhaps. And some of these beautiful estates, large column porches and all, and we think, "Oh my. The Lord"s going to take me by the hand and lead me up Glory Road, and we"ll turn left on Hallelujah Lane and halfway down the lane on the right-hand side, He"s going to show me this beautiful white home with these large columns in front and He"s going to say, "Chuck, that"s your new mansion."" Not so. Hate to disappoint you.

The new body that I"m going to get from God is not going to need sleep. So why would I need bedrooms? There are a lot of characteristics of this new body that I"m going to have that it won"t require a house to live in. The mansion that the Lord is talking about is the new body He"s got for me. I"m living in this tent, but one day I"m going to move into a mansion. And one of these days, should the Lord tarry, you no doubt will pick up your paper and read, "Chuck Smith died last night. Pastor of Calvary Chapel, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera." Don"t believe it. That"s poor reporting. If they"re going to tell the truth, they"re going to have to say, "Chuck Smith moved last night out of a decrepit old holy tent, leaky tent, into a beautiful new mansion." Hey, you don"t need to wait for me, because I moved out of the tent into the house, the building of God, not made with hands, you see. Death for the child of God.

And that"s why Paul said, "Hey, you think I"m worried about being bound for Christ? I"m ready to die for Christ." Because he understood what death was to the child of God. It is the moving from the tent into the house. Now he goes on to amplify that.

For in this we groan ( 2 Corinthians 5:2 ),

Or while we are still in these bodies, we groan.

earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven ( 2 Corinthians 5:2 ):

These bodies subject to weakness, subject to fatigue, subject to pain. In Romans, the eighth chapter, Paul talked about how we groan. And all of creation was groaning together with us as we were "waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God, to wit, the redemption of our bodies" ( Romans 8:23 ). That new body . . . I"m yearning, I"m desiring to have that new body, that building of God not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked ( 2 Corinthians 5:3 ).

Now, this completely eliminates any concept or thought of soul sleep. For Paul goes on to declare,

For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed ( 2 Corinthians 5:4 ),

I do not desire to be an unembodied spirit. Now, of course, the goal of the Buddhist is to someday progress into Nirvana. "For all of the problems come to us because of these bodies. And hopefully we will progress from one body into another, into a higher state, until finally we are freed from the body and we enter into that unity bliss of the eternal spirit, and we become an essence."

But that isn"t the hope of the Christian. We are going to move out of this old tent into the "building of God, the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." And my desire is not to be unclothed, not to be an unembodied spirit.

but [to be] clothed upon [with that new body], that mortality might be swallowed up of life ( 2 Corinthians 5:4 ).

Now, we have a lot of difficulty in understanding the state of the believer between now and the rapture of the church. Have their spirits gone to be with God, their bodies in the grave awaiting a renewing of that body? It is interesting that Paul the apostle, when he was talking about the resurrection in his first epistle, likened to it . . . likened the resurrection to a seed planted into the ground and dying. But then Paul made an interesting statement. He said that the body that comes forth from the ground is not the body that you planted, because all you planted was a bare grain. And God gave to it a body that pleased Him, so is the resurrection of the dead.

Now, there are a lot of people that are hoping for some kind of a resurrection of this body in which it"s presently living. I"m personally looking for a far superior model. Not a renewing or rejuvenating or whatever of this body. I"m ready to move out of the tent. I"m ready to move into the new house. The "building of God, not made with hands."

Couple of things. First Thessalonians, chapter four is one that people often question, because Paul there seems to be talking about the order of the resurrection. And there Paul declares, "For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with the voice of the archangel, the trump of God: the dead in Christ shall rise first: And we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with Him in the air, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" ( 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 1 Thessalonians 4:17 ). And so it brings confusion to them, thinking that somehow our spirits may be with God, but there will be a re-uniting of our bodies and our spirits at the time of the resurrection. Somehow this body is going to be rejuvenated.

Of course, there are some atheists that have really found some real problems with this. What about a person who has a heart transplant? In the resurrection, who gets the heart? These bodies are made up of chemicals, molecules, elements. The same seventeen elements in the dirt outside are the same seventeen elements that make up your body. And when your spirit moves out of this body, this body goes back to dust. "Dust thou art, and to dust thou shall return" ( Genesis 3:19 ). Spoken of the body, not of the spirit. As (what was it) Longfellow said,

Tell me not in mournful numbers. Life is but an empty dream. For the soul is dead that slumbers. Things are not what they seem. Life is real, life is earnest. The grave is not your goal. "Dust thou art, to dust returneth" was not spoken of the soul. Spoken of the body.

Now back in the days of the Wild West, when a man was buried where he was shot, the body was buried in the ground, decomposed, went back to dirt, went back to the basic chemical elements. Prairie grass grew. The roots went down. Took up some of the same chemicals that once made it up, a part of a person"s body. The cows graze. Took those chemicals into their systems. Created milk which was drank by others. And so, the chemicals that were once a part of another person"s body now become a part of my body as my body assimilates those chemicals and makes it a part of my body. So, who gets the chemicals in the resurrection? Which body do they get to go with?

And in reality, they say that you have a new body every seven years anyhow. You know, that through this process of rejuvenation of cells and so forth and the re-creating of the cells, that every seven years you actually go through a major change. You"re not the person you were seven years ago, chemically speaking. So, which of the bodies that I"ve dwelt in during the last fifty-plus years do I get? I would opt for one that I had back twenty-five or thirty years ago. In fact, I"d opt for the one that I had before I injured my knee in college football. That is, if I had to make a choice of this body. But thank God I don"t. I got a whole new building of God "not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."

Now the Thessalonian believers were troubled, because Paul had taught them the fact that Jesus was coming to establish His kingdom. But after Paul left, some of the believers there had died. And the rest of them were disappointed. They said, "Oh, what a shame. They died before Jesus came. They won"t have a chance to enjoy the kingdom now. How tragic. They can"t enjoy the kingdom of God because they died before Jesus came." So Paul was writing this section in chapter four as comfort to those who were concerned over their loved ones who had died before the Lord had come back for the church and established His kingdom.

"Now concerning those that have gone asleep in Christ, I"m going to write unto you that you sorrow not, as those who have no hope. For we know that if Jesus both died and rose again, so then those that are asleep in Christ shall He bring with Him at His coming." Now the Bible teaches that the Lord is coming for us in the clouds of the air. When He comes for us, those who were asleep in Christ will be coming with Him for "we who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord will not precede them which sleep" ( 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15 ). The word prevent there is a poor translation, really, as far as our present-day understanding of the word. The Greek word is precede. We are not going to precede those. They have preceded us. "For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first." That"s correct, they have risen first. We"re not going to precede them. "Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up when the Lord comes with them in the clouds of heaven to receive us, then we will be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord."

As Chuck Missler so ably points out on many occasions, God dwells outside of time. We dwell within the framework of time presently. But one of these days, I, too, will move outside of the time domain. I will no longer be bounded by time. For I will move, at death, into the eternal, which is outside of this time dimension. In the eternal, there is no past, present and future. In the eternal, there is only present. As God sought to describe it through His name, "I AM THAT I AM" ( Exodus 3:14 ). Now, our minds are so bound by the time dimensions that we cannot even think apart from time, apart from a beginning and an ending. My mind cannot even grasp or conceive the concept of timelessness. But I will as I enter into the eternal.

Now, being in the eternal where everything is now in the present, I am, all of time, then, is bound then in it. And you"d be able to look at the beginning and the ending of time at just one glance, one view, which God can do because He"s outside of time. And God proves that He can, because He tells you of these things that are going to be happening down here, though maybe we are only at this point. Yet God goes ahead and speaks of things that are going to be taking place out at this point, because He can see them as already existing. And God, oftentimes, speaks of things as existing, though they haven"t yet existed in the framework of time, because God knows they"re going to exist. And so He speaks of them, being God, as though they already existed.

God spoke of Isaac as existing before Isaac was ever born. But God can do that because outside of time, He looks down, and as far as God is concerned, Isaac was already born and had married Rebekah and the whole thing was all complete, as far as God was concerned, because He could see the whole thing. Of course, I"m sort of encouraged by that, because God, looking at the whole thing, speaks of me being glorified. Now, that hasn"t happened yet, but God spoke of it in the past tense because He"s outside of time and He can see that completion of my redemption through Jesus Christ, and I"ve been glorified together with Him. That"s comforting that God would speak with such assurance of my future. I"m comforted by that, because God knows it"s going to be.

Now when I die, I leave the time dimensions. I enter into the eternal where everything is now. So, anything that will ever be, is already. So you can"t say, "Well, in the future when the whole body is made up, then the Lord"s going to bring me into the heavenly scene." Because I"m into the heavenly scene, I"ve passed into the eternal. I"ve passed out of time. And so I"ve left this time zone thing, I"ve entered into the eternal the moment my spirit leaves this body. It is my body that holds me within the time framework in the time dimension. And so, those who are asleep in Christ have left the time dimension; they"ve entered into the eternal where the completion is already now. We"ll catch up with them when we leave the time zone, for we, too, will enter into the eternal.

Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God ( 2 Corinthians 5:5 ),

God is the One who has created me for this. He has purposed this for us.

who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit ( 2 Corinthians 5:5 ).

The down payment, so to speak. Or as they refer to earnest money. "Show me you really mean it. You want to buy my car? Look, I"ve got an ad in the paper, fellow, you say you"re going to come back in fifteen minutes, how do I know? What if someone calls me in five minutes, wants to buy the car, has the cash, you see. You really want to buy it? Give me some earnest money. Show your intentions."

God showed His intention of your full redemption by giving to you now the Holy Spirit. Of course, Paul refers to this also in the second chapter of Ephesians being "sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession" ( Ephesians 1:13, Ephesians 1:14 ).

Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) [But] we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord ( 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 ).

That"s what I really desire. Now I know that, as long as I am living in this body, I"m at home in this body or this body is my home, I"m absent from dwelling there in the kingdom of God. But I would rather, I"m willing rather to move out of this old body that I might be present with the Lord in His kingdom. So death releases me. It releases my spirit from this body that it might move into the new house, the building of God, where there I will dwell with the Lord forever.

Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him [well pleasing unto him] ( 2 Corinthians 5:9 ).

So, my desire is that my life might be pleasing to God, while I"m living in this body. And when I ultimately move out of the body, my chief desire is that my life be pleasing to God again, that Jesus might be able to say to me, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou has been faithful in the little things, now I will make thee ruler over many: enter into the glory of the Lord" ( Matthew 25:21 ). The desire, the real driving purpose behind my life is to be pleasing to God.

Paul, in writing to the Philippians, said, "That Christ might be glorified in my body, whether by life or by death, I really don"t care. I just want to be pleasing. I want the Lord to be glorified through me."

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 [which] he hath done, whether it be good or bad ( 2 Corinthians 5:10 ).

Now, this is not to be confused with the great white throne judgment of God in Revelation, chapter twenty, where the sinners will all appear before the judgment bar of God. That"s something entirely different than the believer"s coming before the bema seat of Christ. This bema seat of Christ is much like the Olympics judges" seat, where the participants in the various contests would come before the bema seat, and the judges would lay on their heads the wreaths, laurel or olive, to indicate their success in their particular event. Instead of the gold, silver, and bronze medals, they received something far more corruptible in those days of the Olympics. They received these wreaths made out of laurel or out of olive branches and all, and they were placed on their head.

And that"s what Paul was talking about: how that they train, they exercise, they discipline their bodies for a corruptible crown, but we are working for an incorruptible crown. But how they put us to shame in the discipline that they exercise for that corruptible crown, and how carelessly so often we run the race for the incorruptible crown.

The Bible teaches that our works are going to be judged by fire. And those works which are wood, hay, and stubble will be consumed. Those works of ours which can survive this fire we will then be rewarded for. A lot of things that are done in the name of Christ will receive no reward at all in heaven. Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, beginning the sixth chapter said, "Take heed to yourself that you do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of men: for I say unto you, you have your reward" ( Matthew 6:1, Matthew 6:2 ). Our works are to be judged what sort they are, or what the motive was behind them. And Jesus illustrated this principle in how we pray, how we give, how we mortify the flesh.

There are two ways of praying. One is to pray to be heard of men and to be known by men as a man of prayer. To receive the approval, favor, awe of men because I am a godly man of prayer. Or there are prayers that are unto God: prayers in the closet, the secret prayers, and I"m not really concerned about man hearing me pray, but about God.

Now, if I"m praying for the effect that it will have on men so men will say, "Oh my, what a wonderful man of prayer," then Jesus said, "You have your reward." Everybody knows what a wonderful man of prayer you are. But you should rather pray to your Father which sees in secret, and then your Father which sees in secret will reward you. Now, it all depends on where you want to get your perks. If you want to get them from man now, then you can go ahead and live your religious life in such a way that everyone can see and know what you"re doing and all acclaim what a marvelous, wonderful person you are.

You can do things in such a way as draw attention to yourself. Oh, there are several ways by which you may cleverly just call attention to people of the depth of your own devotional life. Even your tone of voice, even the way you sort of get in a sort of ethereal look on your face, sort of a saintly look, you know, as you begin to talk about things of the Spirit. You sort of sigh, you know, and "Lord," you know. And you can get the message across how close you walk with God, how deeply spiritual you really are. The body gestures and all. Subtle little ways by which I let people know how spiritual I really am.

But the problem is, as I am doing that, I"m really fouling up my future as far as the rewards from God are concerned. My works are going to be judged. I will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. There will be a fiery judgment, and those works coming from the wrong motivations will be burned. Those that endure the fire I"ll be rewarded for, as the Lord gives to me that crown of righteousness, and my position in the heavenly kingdom will be determined much by my faithfulness to the responsibilities that God has given to me now.

Now, do not confuse this with salvation. Salvation is God"s gift to you through your faith in Jesus Christ. "By grace are you saved through faith; that not of yourself: it is a gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" ( Ephesians 2:8, Ephesians 2:9 ). So don"t confuse this with your salvation, which many people do. There is nothing I can do of works to enhance my salvation. That"s complete. My righteousness is complete in Jesus Christ. And yet, my works are to be judged before the bema seat or the judgment seat of Christ, that I might receive the reward, or in some cases, the loss of reward because of the improper motivations behind the works.

So, those works which remain after the fiery judgment, they"re put in the crucible of fire and they"re determined what sort they are. Those gold and silver, refined, God will say, "Well done, blessed, you know, here"s your reward. Now you can have Hawaii." I"m hoping He doesn"t say Baghdad.

"We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive for the things that were done in his body, according to what he has done, whether it be good or bad," as far as my works for the Lord.

Knowing therefore the terror [fear] of the Lord ( 2 Corinthians 5:11 ),

And that word terror is an old English word which has lost its . . . it has come to a totally new meaning. The word is the fear of the Lord. And I don"t think that we really properly understand the fear of the Lord. You see, for many years, I feared that the Lord might hurt me because I had a wrong concept of God. Now I fear that I might hurt the Lord. And I think that that"s what the fear of the Lord really is. The fear that I might hurt Him by my failure to do what He wants me to do. My failure of living up to His expectations or desires. He doesn"t have expect . . . His desires for me. "Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord,"

we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. For we commend not ourselves again unto you ( 2 Corinthians 5:11-12 ),

Now, again, the false teachers that have followed Paul in Corinth, those Judaizers and others who were sort of speaking in a degrading way of the grace that Paul had taught. They also were putting down Paul himself as an authority. They had challenged his apostleship. "He"s just some renegade. He"s a Jimmy Jones." And they were saying mean things about Paul. But Paul said, "I don"t have to have letters of recommendation to you as others need letters of recommendation. You are my letters of recommendation. Your faith in Christ bears witness to the authenticity of my ministry. Your faith in Jesus really validates my apostleship. So, we are not commending ourselves again unto you."

but [we] give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart ( 2 Corinthians 5:12 ).

So for those who were loyal friends of Paul, Paul said, "Look, I"m writing these things, not that I"m commending myself to you, but when these guys come along and give their, you know, wild stories and reports about me, at least you"ll have something to answer them with." Those men who "glory in appearance." And there are, unfortunately, a lot of those people today who still "glory in appearance, and not in heart."

They"d accused Paul of being crazy. They said, "That guy is crazy." It"s interesting that Paul on other occasions is also thought to be crazy. You remember when Paul was making his defense before Agrippa. Festus finally cried out, "Paul you"re crazy. Your much learning has made you mad." And so, that was something that followed Paul around, because he was a radical and his detractors were saying, "Oh, the guy"s crazy." And so Paul said, "If I am crazy . . . " And that word beside ourselves is it means a person who is to the point of talking to himself. So I say, "Yes, I want to go there. Are you sure you want to go there? Yes, I want to go there. Well, why you want to go there? Well, I just want to go there, you know." And a guy gets to talking to himself. He"s beside himself, there"s two persons, you know. And so here I am, and here I am, and we"re having a conversation back and forth. And he"s beside himself. So Paul said,

For whether we be beside ourselves [if I"m beside myself], it is to God: or whether we be sober [I have a sound mind], it is for your cause ( 2 Corinthians 5:13 ).

So, Paul answering the detractors. But then he goes on to declare,

For the love of Christ constraineth us ( 2 Corinthians 5:14 );

Paul introduces here the subject of the love of Christ as a constraining force within his life. He"s not really talking here about motivations to ministry, though we so often hear this taught as motivation to ministry. Whenever Paul talked of the love of Christ, he was thinking of one thing: the cross of Jesus Christ. The only way God has ever sought to show or to prove that He loved you was by sending His Son to die for your sins. And whenever God wants to declare His love for you, He always declares it through the cross.

"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that God loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" ( 1 John 4:10 ). For God commended, or demonstrated His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly" ( Romans 5:8 ). "For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son" ( John 3:16 ). And always God"s love for you is tied up in the death of Jesus Christ for you. And they never thought of the love of God apart from the cross, because that is God"s demonstration, His supreme demonstration of His love. "Greater love has no man than this, that a man will lay down his life for his friends" ( John 15:13 ).

And so, as Paul says, "For the love of Christ constrains me," his mind is now taken to the death of Christ for mankind.

because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead ( 2 Corinthians 5:14 ):

The love of Christ forces me to this conclusion. The fact that He died for all indicates that all men then were dead. Paul said in Ephesians 2:1-22, "And you hath He made alive, who were dead as the result of your trespasses and sins" ( Ephesians 2:1 ). "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" ( Romans 3:23 ). "The soul that sinneth, it shall surely die" ( Ezekiel 18:4 ). If those scriptures both be correct, then the assumption must be made that all natural men are dead; that is, spiritually dead, which is the separation of a man"s consciousness from God.

Jesus said, "If you live and believe in me, you will never die" ( John 11:26 ). That"s why I say, "Don"t believe it if the papers write I"ve died." I cannot die. I will move, yes, thank God for that. But I won"t die. For I will never be separated from God, because of Jesus" death for me. Never for a moment will I be separated from Him. And that"s what real death is. Physical death, the separation of your consciousness from your body, you"re not to worry or be fearful about that. But what you really need to fear is the separation of your spirit from God for eternity, that"s what you ought to be concerned about. Now, it"s interesting that the opposite is true in most cases.

Most people are so concerned about their physical death, but think nothing of spiritual death. But Jesus said, "Don"t be afraid of those who can kill your body, and after that have no power. But rather fear Him who after the body is dead is able to cast both soul and spirit into Gehenna; I say unto you, fear ye Him" ( Luke 12:4, Luke 12:5 ). "So, we thus judge, we come to the logical conclusion if Jesus died for all men, then it must be that all men were dead."

And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves ( 2 Corinthians 5:15 ),

Now, that is the mark of the flesh life. Even as there is physical death and spiritual death, there is physical life and spiritual life. And we have passed from death into life through the work of the Holy Spirit and as the result of the work of Jesus Christ. And "you hath He made alive who were dead in your trespasses and sins."

Now having come into this new life, I now have a new center, and that is God. The old life of the flesh was centered around me. It was a self-centered life. But Christ died for me that I would no longer be living for myself. No longer living the self-centered life, only seeking to gratify the needs of my own body. And now living a God-centered life, the life of the Spirit in fellowship with God, I am living to satisfy and to please God. Before, I lived to satisfy and please myself. The life of the flesh.

The life of the flesh creates the mind of the flesh. If my body is ruling, if I am body, soul and spirit and the body is ruling, then my mind is under the control of my body and what I am thinking about is the body needs. That"s what occupies my thinking. What shall I eat? What shall I drink? What shall I wear?

If I am living the new life after the Spirit, a God-centered life, then I have the mind of the Spirit and I"m thinking about God and my relationship with Him. My love for Him, His love for me. Worshipping Him. Aware of Him. Conscious of Him. In all the little things around me, God-conscious. Oh, what glory it is to have a mind quickened by the Spirit of God. Heaven above, a deeper blue. Earth around, a deeper green. Something lives in every hue that Christ-less eyes have never seen. I never saw that before. The beauty of the flower. The glory of the colors. The fragrance.

The mind quickened by the Spirit, we become aware of God in just, all around us. As Paul declared ultimately, "In Him we live, we move, we have our being" ( Acts 17:28 ). And I begin to be aware of that, I"m surrounded by God. My heart living in worship and fellowship with Him day by day. The mind of the Spirit resulting from the life of the Spirit, a life that is controlled by the Spirit, a life that is a God-centered life.

Now, that"s why Christ died for you. That you might be freed from the bondage of corruption, the bondage of your flesh. That you might be able now to live a whole new life in a new dimension, in the dimension of the Spirit. "For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit is life and joy and peace" ( Romans 8:6 ).

Now for this cause, Jesus died, that we "should henceforth not live to ourselves,"

but unto him which died for them, and rose again. ( 2 Corinthians 5:15 ).

And so, as Paul the apostle said, "For me to live is Christ" ( Philippians 1:21 ). He said, "I"ve been crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; and yet it is not I, but Christ who is living in me. And the life that I now live I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and who gave Himself for me" ( Galatians 2:20 ). That we should no longer "live unto ourselves, but now live for him who died for us, and rose again."

Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh ( 2 Corinthians 5:16 ):

"From now on," Paul said, "I"m not concerned in the fleshly man. The exploits, whatever, I"m not concerned in knowing a man after the flesh." Though this is how, he said, "I once knew Christ." At one time, Jesus Christ was to Paul the apostle a heretic, a leader of a new sect that was a threat to Judaism. And he went about to stamp out this new sect. He once knew Christ after the flesh. But no more, he said. "That"s not the way I know Him now." He now knows Him after the Spirit, and he has received that life and power from Him.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature [or creation]: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new ( 2 Corinthians 5:17 ).

These are direct positive statements. Now, John tells us that many times a person can say something, but yet their life isn"t in harmony with what they"re saying. It is possible for a man to make glorious professions. And as you go through the first epistle of John, you"ll find over and over John says, "If a man says," "If a man says," "If a man says he abides in Him, then he ought to also walk, even as he walked" ( 1 John 2:6 ). If you"re abiding in Christ, you"re going to walk like Jesus walked. If you say you"re abiding in Christ and you"re walking after the flesh, you"re a liar. You"re deluded. You"re living in deception, self-deception.

"If a man says, I love God, oh, what a glorious thing to say. But if, at the same time, you hate your brother, you"re a liar. How can you love God whom you have not seen and yet hate your brother who was made in His image whom you have seen" ( 1 John 4:20 )? "If a man says, Hey, I have no sin, then you deceive yourself, the truth isn"t in you" ( 1 John 1:8 ). And so all the way through, John"s giving us little things that men profess. But he"s saying, "Hey, you"re only fooling yourself. You"re deceiving yourself." It isn"t what you profess; it"s what you are. And "if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: and the old things have passed away." And if the old things have not passed away, then you have no real proof that you"re in Christ, no matter what you say. Your professions are empty and false and deceptive, and the tragedy is, you"re the one who is deceived the most.

So many people in church are deceived into thinking that their attendance at church is going to buy them a place in the kingdom of God. Their giving to the church is going to secure their place in heaven. Their faithfulness to the church. Church attendance, church membership, church contributions cannot do anything towards your eternal life. And these things can be a deception.

"Oh well, I pray." Well, Isaiah said that "God"s hand is not short, that He cannot save; neither is His ear heavy, that He cannot hear: But your sins have separated you from God, and if you are regarding iniquity in your heart, the Lord doesn"t even hear you" ( Isaiah 59:1, Isaiah 59:2 ). It"s like cutting the telephone line that comes to your house, and then going in and dialing the number and talking to your sweetheart and telling her how much you love her and all the glorious things you think about her. Well, it"s not going anywhere; you got a broken connection. It"s going into the ground, the wire"s grounded outside. And no matter how beautiful or persuasive you may be expressing yourself, your heart, your love, it"s not doing anything, not getting any results.

And so prayer, if you"re regarding sin in your heart, sin breaks your connection with God, and prayer is meaningless. Oh, it"s worse than that. It"s deceptive, because you have a tendency to still rest on the fact, "Well, I pray, you know. I know I"m not doing what I should; I know I"m not living right, but I still pray." But prayer becomes, in that case, a deceptive thing. It"s the changed life. It"s the new life manifested by the fact that the old things are passed away. You cannot continue to live after the flesh and walk after the flesh. The life of the flesh and the life of the Spirit are mutually exclusive. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap. And if you sow to the flesh, of the flesh you"re going to reap; and if you sow to the Spirit, of the Spirit you will reap. But the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these" ( Galatians 6:7, Galatians 6:8 ). And Paul gives us that horrible list, the works of the flesh, of which, unfortunately, we are all too familiar. "Strife, envying, deceit, murders, lies, fornication, adultery." But Paul said, "Let no man think that if he is doing these things, he is going to inherit the kingdom of heaven" ( Galatians 5:19-21 ).

You better read that list over again. Read it prayerfully. And read Paul"s conclusive remarks. If you are living after the flesh, don"t think you"re going to inherit the spiritual kingdom of heaven. "If any man"s in Christ, he"s a creature: the old things have passed away." Have they? That"s the question. "Let a man examine himself," because you"re going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ and "if you will judge yourself now, then you will not be judged then" ( 1 Corinthians 11:28, 1 Corinthians 11:31 ).

How much time do you spend living after the Spirit, and how much time do you spend living after the flesh? He"s a new creature, the old things are passed away and behold, all things are become new.

And all things are [now] of God ( 2 Corinthians 5:18 ),

Not some of the things in my life. Well, God has His place. I believe that God should have the place in every man"s life and every man should have a place for God. No, He wants more than a place in your life. He wants the totality of your life. "All things are of God,"

who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 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. Now then we are ambassadors of Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ"s stead, be ye reconciled to God ( 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 ).

Now, some people talk about God being reconciled to us. Never. God didn"t leave us. God didn"t turn His back and go away from us. We are the ones that need to be reconciled to God. We are the ones that turned our back on Him and walked away from Him. We are the ones that need the reconciliation. And so Paul"s plea, and he said, "I"m doing it in Jesus" place, in His stead. As for God I"m doing it. I"m an ambassador, a representative of God. I"m speaking on His behalf, in His stead. Be ye reconciled unto God."

So this glorious work of reconciliation. God, in His love, created man; created man in His image, in His government of light and life. That man might live in fellowship with God and know the glory, the joy, the beauty of living in fellowship with God. But man turned from that. Turned his back on God. Walked away from God. And he began to experience the miseries of life without God. The emptiness, the hopelessness, the despair of life without God. And God so loved the world that He send His only begotten Son to die for man"s sins in order that through the death of Christ, man might be brought back to God or reconciled to God. And so Paul said, "I"m God"s ambassador, and I"m here representing Jesus Christ, and I"m saying for Him, "Be ye reconciled to God."" Come back into fellowship with God. Come back into the government of light and life. Know again the joy, the glory, the blessing of walking in the Spirit. The life of the Spirit. The life after the Spirit.

For he [God] hath made him [Jesus Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in [through] him ( 2 Corinthians 5:21 ).

Here is one of the most glorious scriptures in the New Testament, as we see what God has done for us in Christ in reconciling us to Himself. "All we like sheep have gone astray; we turned every one of us to our own ways; and God laid on Him the iniquities of us all" ( Isaiah 53:6 ). "God made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin."

I sometimes start to read in the paper some horrible, vicious crime that has been committed, and I just can"t read it. My being just revolts against it too strongly. I sometimes have been given reports from the social welfare department of child abuse, and some of the things that are done to these little one-, two-, three-year old babies. And when I read of some of the abuses of these little children, I have to quit reading. I can"t stand it. My system just won"t take it. I just have to set it aside; I get sick. I cannot conceive a person doing such horribly, ugly, vile thing. And my whole being just is revolted by it. And I"m not that righteous as a person. I have my own flaws. I"ve done some pretty terrible things myself.

Jesus knew no sin. Absolutely pure. Absolutely holy. Absolutely righteous. But God laid on Him every horrible, vile deed that has ever been done by perverted, fallen man. Now, can you imagine what a shock that must have been? No wonder He cried out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" ( Matthew 27:46 ) As He tasted of death for every man, that separation from God, that spiritual death. That cry that came from His lips upon the cross was made in order that you might not have to make it for eternity. There, as God laid upon Him our sins, He was reconciling man to God. And so He became what we were, in order that He might make us what He is.

Love divine, all loves excelling. The love of Jesus Christ, who was willing to take all of my ugliness, all of my sin and bear in His body, there on the cross, my sins. The love of God who was willing to allow His Son to become sin for us. He who knew no sin and die in our place. Now you see why the greatest sin that any man can ever commit is the sin of rejecting this love of God offered to him through Jesus Christ. You see, that"s the only sin for which a man will ever be judged.

You won"t have to face the great white throne judgment of God because you were a cheat, a thief, a liar, a prostitute, a murderer, an adulterer, fornicator. You"ll face the great white throne judgment of God if you have rejected the love of God offered to you through Jesus Christ. That"s the greatest sin.

Jesus said, "I didn"t come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Me might be saved. And he that believeth is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, seeing he has not believed on the only begotten Son of God. This is the condemnation, that light came into the world, but men would not come to the light" ( John 3:17-19 ). That"s what it"s going to be. God has offered salvation, but you didn"t take it. God has offered love, but you rejected it. No hope. For there remains no further or no other sacrifice. There"s nothing else you can do for the atoning of your sin, for being reconciled to God. No other way you can be reconciled to God.

That"s why Satan hates the cross. That"s why your cults hate the cross. That"s why the liberals hate the cross. The cross declares to mankind there is only one way by which you can be reconciled to God. And that"s through the cross and the death of Jesus Christ.

And if you reject that, there remains no other sacrifice, only the "fearful looking forward to of the fiery indignation of the wrath of God, which will devour His adversaries. For if they that despised Moses" law died because of the witness of two or three: Of how much worse punishment, suppose ye, he to be accounted worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of His covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite to the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who has said, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay," saith the Lord. And again, "It is a fearful thing to fall in the hands of a living God"" ( Hebrews 10:27-31 ).

I"ll tell you what, if I were God and did that much to redeem man, offering my son and giving my son and man would reject and cast him aside, and do despite to that spirit of grace, I would do as God does, and God will do. I would say, "You want to live in darkness? That shall be your sentence." And I would cast you into outer darkness throughout eternity, which God is going to do to the fearful and the unbelieving. Those who fail to receive His grace and offers of love through Jesus.

So in Christ"s stead, as ambassadors of Christ, we encourage you: Be reconciled to God. "

Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

The subject of 2 Corinthians 4 is continued. St. Paul has been pointing out that amid bodily weakness and decay he is encouraged by the thought that the temporal is transient, while the spiritual is eternal. He now goes on to speak more particularly of the great prospect that sustains him—the replacement of the earthly material body by an eternal heavenly one. He hopes to survive till Christ's coming, and receive the heavenly body without passing through the experience of death: but, if it should be ordered otherwise, he has no fear of being left by death in the disembodied condition so repugnant to the Hebrew mind, for the eternal, spiritual body will still be given him, in which he will be presented to the Lord.

1-5. Paraphrase. 'A further reason for my courage in presence of difficulty and affliction consists in my knowledge that if my body undergo the dissolution of death, I shall be endowed by God with an imperishable heavenly body. (2) My hope, however, and desire is that while still alive and in possession of this earthly body I may simply be transformed at the coming of the Lord, (3) since, if I receive it thus, I shall not be left a disembodied spirit in the state of death. (4) Our material body is a burden under which betimes we groan; but, however we may be called to part with it, we may confidently cherish the expectation of being endued with something better in its place, i.e. we may hope to be clothed with the heavenly, resurrection body, and not left naked spirits. (5) It is for this very purpose God has wrought in us: besides, He has given us His Spirit as the pledge and instalment of the resurrection life.'

1. For] introduces an additional reason for courage. Even if his earthly tent be taken down, if his body be broken up by death, God has prepared a heavenly mansion for him, a resurrection body which is eternal. Tabernacle] rather, 'tent.' Building] contrasted with the temporary tent to which the earthly body is compared. Of God] RV 'from God.'

2. In this] i.e. in this present body. Clothed upon] St. Paul's idea was that the heavenly body would be superimposed upon the earthly one, at the same time transforming it. Conybeare and Howson render thus: 'Desiring to cover my earthly raiment with the robes of my heavenly mansion': cp. 1 Corinthians 15:51-54.

3. If so be, etc.] This is a parenthesis explaining clothed upon in the previous verse. AV and RV are both rather obscure: better, 'Since, once this heavenly body is assumed, we shall be in no danger of being found disembodied by death.' Naked] i.e. disembodied spirits. The shrinking of the ancients, both Jews and Greeks, from the disembodied state as they conceived it, is well known from its expressions in their literature. See, for example, the dreariness of the spirit-world portrayed in the eleventh book of the 'Odyssey.'

4. Burdened] by the anxiety of uncertainty. Not.. unclothed] The Apostle's desire was to gain the resurrection life without dying. He looked on Christ's coming as comparatively near at hand: cp. 1 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:15.

5. He that hath wrought us] St. Paul here argues for immortality and the resurrection life from the instinctive longings of the human heart. God has planted these longings there; He has confirmed them by the pledge of His Spirit in conscience, aspiration, and all spiritual blessings; and He will not in the end disappoint us: cp. 'Thou wilt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption' (Psalms 16:10)—'Thou wilt not leave us in the dust:

Thou madest man, he knows not why:

He thinks he was not made to die; And Thou hast made him: Thou art just.' (Tennyson.)

6-8. Paraphrase. 'With this hope in our hearts we are always courageous. We know that while we live in this mortal body we are away from the Lord, and that when we put off this body we shall be in His presence; (7) (for we live in anticipation, not yet having realised the vision of Christ.) (8) We are courageous, I repeat; and are even ready to put off this mortal body and to be at home in the presence of the Lord.'

8. Absent from the body] St. Paul here grapples with the possibility of death before the second coming of Christ. To die was 'to be with Christ which is far better' (Philippians 1:23). Even death could not separate him from the love of Christ. If he did not then gain the full resurrection life, he would still be in Christ's presence. Perhaps his idea is that suggested in Revelation 6:9-11.

9. Present or absent] i.e. living or dead.

Accepted] RV 'well-pleasing.'

10. Appear] RV 'be made manifest'; our conduct and character being disclosed. Receive the things] i.e. the recompense of them: cp. Matthew 16:27; Revelation 22:12.

(iv) 5:11-19. The Love of Christ the Apostle's Inspiration

In the recollection of this judgment the Apostle preaches. His motive is wholly unselfish. It is the love of Christ which constrains him. For the love of Christ was shown in His dying for all men in order to transform them into a new life. If any man, therefore, be in Christ, he lives a new life through the mercy of God, who has reconciled us to Himself by sending His Son to be our Saviour, and has given to His Apostles the message of reconciliation.

11-15. Paraphrase. 'Seeing, then, that we realise the awe inspired by Christ our judge, we try to convince men of our faithfulness and unselfishness: to God, indeed, our sincerity is already manifest, and also, I trust, to you in your secret thoughts. (12) Do not think that this is mere self-commendation. Look upon it rather as suggesting the answer you may make to our enemies when they try to belittle our work and boast of their external advantages. (13) For if in our enthusiasm we are mad (as they say), it is for God's glory; or, if we are sensible, it is for your benefit. (14) For the love of Christ to men is our incentive; because we are convinced that in Christ's death for the sin of all we all received power to die to sin, (15) so that we should live a new and transformed life, thinking not of our own desires, but of His will who died for us and rose again.'

11. Terror] the reverence or fear inspired by the thought that Christ is judge (2 Corinthians 5:10).

We persuade men] i.e. of our sincerity, with a view to winning them. In your consciences] The Corinthians as a Church believed in the Apostle.

12. Glory in appearance] The false teachers boasted of external advantages (perhaps of having seen the Lord), which were no evidence of character and spiritual life.

13. Beside ourselves] His enemies declared that he was mad; probably owing to his enthusiasm and vehemence in preaching: cp. Acts 26:24.

14. The love of Christ] i.e. the love Christ has shown towards us. Judge] i.e. have come to this conclusion. One died for all] i.e. as the head and representative of the race. 'In Christ's saving death the moral transformation of all, which I may call death to sin, was included, and his saving death had this meaning and purpose; namely, that they who are quickened into a holy life in Him should not live selfishly, but should give themselves up to His service who died and rose to save them' (Stevens).

16-19. Paraphrase. 'Since, therefore, it is holiness alone that is of importance, we, unlike our opponents, pay no attention to men's outward appearance and circumstances; even in the case of Christ, though I once regarded Him as merely a man and a Jew, yet I look at Him in this way no longer, but rather as my Saviour and Risen Lord. (17) Whoever then knows Christ in this higher way is indeed a new man. He looks on life from a higher point of view. His ideals and aspirations have been transformed: all things are new to him. (18) And this change is due to God, who removed the barrier sin had made between Himself and us, and gave to us his Apostles the message of His saving grace. (19) And that message is this, that in Christ's life and work we see God casting down the barrier that divided us from Him, and proclaiming forgiveness and love to all mankind: and this is the message of reconciliation which He committed to us.'

16. After the flesh] i.e. have regard to what is outward rather than to what is inward, to circumstances and position rather than to character and personality. Known Christ after the flesh] St. Paul once looked for a Messiah as a Jewish conqueror, and in the light of this expectation regarded Jesus as (at best) a prophet who had made claims which he was unable to substantiate, and whose career had terminated (perhaps deservedly) at Calvary; but now he looks on Jesus in the light of His atoning death and glorious resurrection, and sees in Him the Christ of God.

17. A new creature] or, as we would say, a new man. He looks on things from a different standpoint, tries them by a different standard, because he is united to Christ in such a way that he lives always under Christ's indwelling, purifying, and transforming influence. Are become new] A new world opens to the new man.

18. All things] i.e. all these changes.

The ministry of reconciliation] the whole message of the gospel conveyed by preaching, teaching, the sacraments, and the example of Christians, assuring men of God's love and leading them to accept the will of God as revealed in Christ as their own.

19. God was in Christ, etc.] When we see Christ teaching, healing, forgiving, comforting, and dying for men, we are to see there the expression of God's love and deep desire. In this atoning work Christ was 'the express image of His Person.' Reconciling the world unto himself] The desire for reconciliation came from God.

(d) 5:20-7:1. Appeal for Purity of Life

As an ambassador of Christ St. Paul entreats them to be reconciled to God. And not only does he make this entreaty in words; he appeals to them by his life and conduct in all the varied experiences through which he has to pass. He asks them for greater affection towards himself, and reminding them of God's promises to the pure, bids them keep themselves 'unspotted from the world.'

20, 21. Paraphrase. 'We, then, are ambassadors in Christ's place, conveying to you God's message and desire; we ask you, speaking in Christ's name, to accept this great salvation. (21) It was to secure our salvation that God gave up His sinless Son to death, making Him bear the penalty of our guilt, that we might be made partakers of His divine nature by submitting ourselves wholly to Christ's transforming influence.

20. Be ye reconciled to God] It is not God who needs to be reconciled to man, but man who needs to be reconciled to God.

21. Made him to be sin for us] Christ had to bear not the guilt, but the burden of sin. He bore its penalty not as a punishment, but as the innocent suffers for the guilty; feeling all its shame and horror, but free from the sense of guilt and degradation. Hence St. Paul says not, 'He hath made Him to be a sinner,' but 'He hath made Him to be sin.' The spectacle of Christ thus bearing our penalty touches the heart and conscience, and makes us respond to the love wherewith He hath loved us: cp. Romans 8:3, Romans 8:4.

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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The contrast between our present and our future dwellings5:1-10

Paul continued to give reasons why we need not lose heart. The themes of life in the midst of death and glory following as a result of present suffering also continue.

"Few chapter divisions are more unfortunate than this one since what follows ( 2 Corinthians 5:1-10) details the thought expressed in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. Failure to appreciate this fact unduly complicates these already difficult verses by removing their contextual constraints." [Note: Lowery, p565.]

What about the believer who dies before he or she has followed God faithfully for very long? Will such a person experience no glory in the future? Paul explained that there are three bases for comfort in such a case. All Christians who die will receive an immortal body ( 2 Corinthians 5:1). This is by itself a substantial gift of glory. Second, all Christians, including those who die soon after becoming believers, presently possess the Holy Spirit who is God"s pledge of our future complete glorification ( 2 Corinthians 5:4-5). Third, death begins a new phase of existence for all believers that will be far superior to what we experience now ( 2 Corinthians 5:7-8).

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Paul changed his figure slightly. God will clothe us with a new and better garment. Until then we groan because we feel the pains associated with mortality, namely, our physical limitations, sickness, and the increasing disability that accompanies advancing age. This new covering apparently awaits us immediately after death and before our resurrection. It is therefore probably an intermediate body.

Even though there is no specific instruction concerning an intermediate body and its characteristics in Scripture, its existence seems beyond doubt. References to believers after death and before resurrection suggest that they have bodies (cf. Lazarus, Luke 16:19-25; Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration, Matthew 17:1-3, et al; the martyred dead in heaven, Revelation 6:9-11; Revelation 7:13-17). These bodies evidently will not be suitable for eternal existence since God will replace them with resurrection bodies. [Note: John F. Walvoord, ed, Lewis Sperry Chafer"s Systematic Theology, abridged ed, 2:506-7. See also Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, 4:414-15.] Another view sees this "building" or "dwelling" as our heavenly home. [Note: See Hodge, pp107-28; and Joe L. Wall, Going for the Gold, pp44-48.] God has also prepared a dwelling place for our resurrection bodies, but that does not seem to be in view here.

2 Corinthians 5:3 is parenthetic. Paul clarified that believers who die are not disembodied spirits until the resurrection of their bodies. Another interpretation sees believers as unclothed (without an intermediate body) between their death and resurrection. [Note: E.g, Barnett, pp262-63; and Martin, p106.] Those who hold this view understand Paul to be saying that he did not look forward to his disembodied condition. He anticipated the time when God would clothe him with an immortal body (at his resurrection).

"Greeks celebrated exercise in the nude, though even they regarded nakedness as shameful in some situations (Polybius14511). Although Romans favored nakedness less than Greeks (Juvenal Sat. 171), they had adopted the custom of nude bathing from Greeks (Plutarch Marcus Cato 205-6; Roman Q. 40, Mor. 274A), and Corinth had notable public baths (as well as public latrines). For most Jews, however, nudity remained scandalous." [Note: Keener, p180.]

I believe that one of the strongest arguments that we will never be disembodied spirits is that the Bible consistently views humans as unified beings. It does not describe the body as merely the house that the real person lives in. That is a Platonic concept that the early Gnostics and other anthropological dualists held. Rather, the Bible describes people as consisting of material and immaterial parts. If we were to lack material substance (either mortal or immortal), we would seemingly be less than human beings.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Darby's Synopsis of the New Testament

2 Corinthians Chapter 5

What then is the effect of the possession of life in Christ as applied to death and judgment, the two natural objects of men’s fears, the fruit of sin? If our bodies are not yet transformed; and if that which is mortal is not yet swallowed up, we are equally full of confidence, because, being formed for glory, and Christ (who has manifested the victorious power that opened the path of heaven to Him) being our life, if we should leave this tabernacle and be absent from the body before we are clothed upon with the glory, this life remains untouched; it has already in Jesus triumphed over all these effects of the power of death. We should be present with the Lord; for we walk by faith, not by the sight of these excellent things. Therefore we prefer to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. For this reason we seek to be well-pleasing to Him, whether we are found absent from this body, or present in this body, when Christ shall come to take us to Himself and make us share His glory.

And this leads on to the second point-judgment. For we must all be manifested before the tribunal of Christ, in order that each may receive according to that which he shall have done in the body, be it good or evil. A happy and precious thought, after all, solemn as it may be; for, if we have really understood grace, if we are standing in grace, if we know what God is, all love for us, all light for us, we shall like to be in the full light. It is a blessed deliverance to be in it. It is a burden, an encumbrance, to have anything concealed, and although we have had much sin in us that no one knows (perhaps even some that we have committed, and which it would be no profit for any one to know), it is a comfort-if we know the perfect love of God-that all should be in perfect light since He is there. This is the case by faith and for faith, wherever there is solid peace: we are before God as He is, and as we are-all sin in ourselves alas! except so far as He has wrought in us by quickening us; and He is all love in this light in which we are placed; for God is light, and He reveals Himself. Without the knowledge of grace, we fear the light: it cannot be otherwise. But knowing grace, knowing that sin has been put away as regards the glory of God, and that the offence is no longer before His eyes, we like to be in the light, it is joy to us, it is that which the heart needs, without which it cannot be satisfied, when there is the life of the new man. Its nature is to love the light, to love purity in all that perfection which does not admit the evil of darkness, which shuts out all that is not itself. Now to be thus in the light, and to be manifested, is the same thing, for the light makes everything manifest.

We are in the light by faith when the conscience is in the presence of God. We shall be according to the perfection of that light when we appear before the tribunal of Christ. I have said that it is a solemn thing-and so it is, for everything is judged according to that light; but it is that which the heart loves, because-thanks to our God!-we are light in Christ.

But there is more than this. When the Christian is thus manifested, he is already glorified, and, perfectly like Christ, has then no remains of the evil nature in which he sinned. And he now can look back at all the way God has led him in grace, helped, lifted up, kept from falling, not withdrawn His eyes from the righteous. He knows as he is known. What a tale of grace and mercy! If I look back now, my sins do not rest on my conscience; though I have horror of them, they are put away behind God’s back. I am the righteousness of God in Christ, but what a sense of love and patience, and goodness and grace! How much more perfect then, when all is before me! Surely there is great gain as to light and love, in giving an account of ourselves to God; and not a trace remains of the evil in us. We are like Christ. If a person fears to have all out thus before God, I do not believe he is free in soul as to righteousness-being the righteousness of God in Christ, not fully in the light. And we have not to be judged for anything: Christ has put it all away.

But there is another idea in the passage-retribution. The apostle does not speak of judgment on persons, because the saints are included, and Christ has stood in their place for all that regards the judgment of their persons: “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.” They do not come into judgment. But they shall be manifested before His tribunal, and receive that which they have done in the body. The good deserves nothing: they received that by which they have wrought what is good-grace produced it in them; nevertheless they shall receive its reward. What they have done is counted as their own act. If, by neglecting grace and the witness of the Spirit in them, the fruits which He would have produced have been turned aside, they will bear the consequences. It is not that, in this case, God will have forsaken them; it is not that the Holy Ghost will not act in them with regard to the condition they are in; but it will be in their conscience that He acts, judging the flesh which has prevented the man’s bearing the natural fruit of His presence and operation in the new man. So that the Holy Ghost will have done all that is necessary with respect to their state of heart; and the perfect counsel of God with regard to the person will have been accomplished, His patience manifested, His wisdom, His ways in governing, the care which He deigns to take of each one individually in His most condescending love. Each one will have his place, as it was prepared for him of the Father. But the natural fruit of the presence and operation of the Holy Ghost in a soul which has (or, according to the advantages it has enjoyed, ought to have had) a certain measure of light, will not have been produced. It will be seen what it was that prevented. It will judge, according to the judgment of God, all that was good and evil in itself, with a solemn reverence for that which God is, and a fervent adoration on account of what He has been for us. The perfect light will be appreciated; the ways of God known and understood in all their perfection, by the application of the perfect light to the whole course of our life and of His dealings with us, in which we shall thoroughly recognise that love-perfect, sovereign above all things-has reigned, with ineffable grace.

Thus the majesty of God will have been maintained by His judgment, at the same time that the perfection and tenderness of His dealings will be the eternal recollection of our souls. Light without cloud or darkness will be understood in its own perfection. To understand it is to be in it and to enjoy it. And light is God Himself. How wonderful to be thus manifested! What love is that which in its perfect wisdom, in its marvellous ways overruling all evil, could bring such beings as we are to enjoy this unclouded light-beings knowing good and evil (the natural prerogative of those only of whom God can say “one of us”), under the yoke of the evil which they knew, and driven out by a bad conscience from the presence of God, to whom that knowledge belonged, having testimony enough in their conscience as to the judgment of God, to make them avoid Him and be miserable, but nothing to draw them to Him who alone could find a remedy! What love and holy wisdom which could bring such to the source of good, of pure happiness, in whom the power of good repels absolutely the evil which it judges!

With regard to the unrighteous, at the judgment-day they will have to answer personally for their sins, under a responsibility which rests entirely on themselves.

However great the happiness of being in the perfect light (and this happiness is complete and divine in its character), it is on the side of conscience that the subject is here presented. God maintains His majesty by the judgment which He executes, as it is written, “The Lord is known by the judgment that he executeth”: there, in His government of the world; here, final, eternal, and personal judgment. And, for my part, I believe that it is very profitable for the soul to have the judgment of God present to our minds, and the sense of the unchangeable majesty of God maintained in the conscience by this means. If we were not under grace, it would be-it ought to be-insupportable; but the maintenance of this sentiment does not contradict grace. It is indeed only under grace that it can be maintained in its truth; for who otherwise could bear the thought, for an instant, of receiving that which he had done in the body? None but he who is completely blinded.

But the authority, the holy authority of God, which asserts itself in judgment, forms a part of our relationship with Him; the maintenance of this sentiment, associated with the full enjoyment of grace, a part of our holy spiritual affections. It is the fear of the Lord. It is in this sense, that “Happy is he who feareth always.” If this weakens the conviction that the love of God rests fully, eternally, upon us, then we get off the only possible ground of any relation whatever with God, unless perdition could be so called. But, in the sweet and peaceful atmosphere of grace, conscience maintains its rights and its authority against the subtle encroachments of the flesh, through the sense of God’s judgment, in virtue of a holiness which cannot be separated from the character of God without denying that there is a God: for if there is a God, He is holy. This sentiment engages the heart of the accepted believer, to endeavour to please the Lord in every way; and, in the sense of how solemn a thing it is for a sinner to appear before God, the love that necessarily accompanies it in a believer’s heart urges him to persuade men with a view to their salvation, while maintaining his own conscience in the light. And he who is now walking in the light, whose conscience reflects that light, will not fear it in the day when it shall appear in its glory. We must be manifested; but, walking in the light in the sense of the fear of God, realising His judgment of evil, we are already manifested to God: nothing hinders the sweet and assured flow of His love. Accordingly the walk of such a one justifies itself in the end to the consciences of others; one is manifested as walking in the light.

These are therefore the two great practical principles of the ministry: to walk in the light, in the sense of God’s solemn judgment for every one; and, the conscience being thus pure in the light, the sense of the judgment (which in this case cannot trouble the soul for itself, or obscure its view of the love of God) impels the heart to seek in love those who are in danger of this judgment. This connects itself with the doctrine of Christ, the Saviour, through His death upon the cross; and the love of Christ constrains us, because we see that, if one died for all, it is that all were dead. This was the universal condition of souls. The apostle seeks them in order that they may live unto God by Christ. But this goes farther. First, as regards fallen man’s lot, death is gain. The saint, if absent from the body, is present with the Lord. As to judgment, he owns the solemnity of it, but it does not make him tremble. He is in Christ-will be like Christ; and Christ, before whom he is to appear, has put away all the sins he had to be judged for. The effect is the sanctifying one of bringing him fully manifested into the presence of God now. But it stimulates his love as to others, nor is it only by fear of judgment to come for them; Christ’s love constrains him-love manifested in death. But this proves more than the acts of sin which bring judgment: Christ died because all were dead. The Spirit of God goes to the source and spring of their whole condition, their state, not merely the fruits of an evil nature-all were dead. We find the same important instruction in John 5:24, “He that heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment [that which applies to sins], but is passed from death unto life”; he has come out of the whole state and condition, as an already lost one, into another and different one in Christ. This is a very important aspect of the truth. And the distinction, largely developed in Romans, is found in many passages.

The work of manifestation before God in the light is already true, in so far as we have realised the light. Cannot I, being now in peace, look back at what I was before conversion, and at all my failures since my conversion, humbled but adoring the grace of God in all He has done for me, but without a thought of fear, or imputation of sin? Does not this awaken a very deep sense of all that God is in holy grace and love, in unbounded patience towards me, both keeping and helping and restoring? Such will be the case perfectly when we are manifested, when we shall know as we are known.

That this point may be still more clear, for it is an important one, let me add some further observations here. What we find in this passage is the perfect manifestation of all that a person is and has been before a throne characterised by judgment, without judgment as to the person in question being guilty. No doubt when the wicked receives the things done in the body, he is condemned. But it is not said “judged” here, because all then must be condemned. But this manifestation is exactly what brings all morally before the heart, when it is capable of judging evil for itself: were it under judgment, it could not. Freed from all fear, and in the perfect light and with the comfort of perfect love (for where we have the conscience of sin, and of its not being imputed, we have the sense, though in a humbling way, of perfect love), and at the same time the sense of authority and divine government fully made good in the soul, all is judged by the soul itself as God judges it, and communion with Himself entered into. This is exceedingly precious.

We have to remember that, at our appearing before the judgment-seat of Christ, we are already glorified. Christ has come Himself in perfect love to fetch us; and has changed our vile body according to the resemblance of His glorious body. We are glorified and like Christ before the judgment takes place. And mark the effect on Paul. Does the thought of being manifested awaken anxiety or dread? Not the least. He realises all the solemnity of such a process. He knows the terror of the Lord; he has it before his eyes; and what is the consequence? He sets about to persuade others who are in need of it.

There are, so to speak, two parts in God’s nature and character: His righteousness, which judges everything; and His perfect love. These are one for us in Christ, ours in Christ. If indeed we realise what God is, both will have their place: but the believer in Christ is the righteousness which God, from His very nature, must have before Him on His throne, if we are to be with Him and enjoy Him. But the Christ, in the judgment-seat, before whom we are, is our righteousness. He judges by the righteousness which He is; but we are that righteousness, the righteousness of God in Him. Hence this point can raise no question in the soul, will make us adore such grace, but can raise no question, only enhance the sense we have of grace ourselves, make us understand it, as suited to man as he is, and feel the solemn and awful consequences of not having part in it, since there is such a judgment. Hence that other and indeed essential part of the divine nature, love, will work in us towards others; and, knowing the terror of the Lord, we shall persuade men. Thus Paul (it is conscience in view of that most solemn moment) possessed the righteousness which he saw in the Judge, for that which judged was His righteousness; but then he consequently seeks others earnestly, according to the work which had thus brought him near to God, to which he then turns (2 Corinthians 5:13-14). But this view of judgment and our complete manifestation in that day, has a present effect on the saint according to its own nature. He realises it by faith. He is manifested. He does not fear being manifested. It will unfold all God’s past ways towards him when he is in glory; but he is manifested now to God, his conscience exercised in the light. It has thus a present sanctifying power.

Observe here the assemblage of powerful motives, of pre-eminently important principles; contradictory in appearance, but which, to a soul which walks in light, instead of clashing and destroying each other, unite to give its complete and thoroughly furnished character to the Christian minister and ministry.

First of all, the glory, in such a power of life, that he who realises it does not desire death, because he sees in the power of life in Christ that which can absorb whatever in him is mortal, and he sees it with the certainty of enjoying it-such a consciousness of possessing this life (God having formed him for it, and given him the earnest of the Spirit), that death if it arrive to him is but a happy absence from the body in order to be present with the Lord.

Now the thought of ascending to Christ gives the desire of being acceptable to Him, and presents Him (the second motive or principle that gives a form to this ministry) as the Judge who will render to every one that which he has done. The solemn thought of how much this judgment is to be feared takes possession of the apostle’s heart. What a difference between this thought and the “building of God,” for which he was waiting with certainty! Nevertheless this thought does not alarm him; but, in the solemn sense of the reality of that judgment, it impels him to persuade others.

But here a third principle comes in, the love of Christ with reference to the condition of those whom Paul sought to persuade. Since this love of Christ’s shews itself in His death, there is in it the witness that all were already dead and lost.

Thus we have here set before us glory, with the personal certainty of enjoying it, and death become the means of being present with the Lord; the tribunal of Christ, and the necessity of being manifested before it; and the love of Christ in His death, all being already dead. How are such diverse principles as these to be reconciled and arranged in the heart? It is that the apostle was manifested to God. Hence the thought of being manifested before the tribunal produced, along with the present sanctification, no other effect on him than that of solemnity, for he was not to come into judgment; but it became an urgent motive for preaching to others, according to the love which Christ had manifested in His death. The idea of the tribunal did not in the least weaken his certainty of glory. (5) His soul, in the full light of God, reflected what was in that light, namely, the glory of Christ ascended on high as man. And the love of this same Jesus was strengthened in its active operation in him by the sense of the tribunal which awaits all men.

What a marvellous combination of motives we find in this passage, to form a ministry characterised by the development of all that in which God reveals Himself, and by which He acts on the heart and conscience of man! And it is in a pure conscience that these things can have their force together. If the conscience were not pure, the tribunal would obscure the glory, at least as belonging to oneself, and weaken the sense of His love. At any rate one would be occupied with self in connection with these things, and ought to be so. But when pure before God, it only sees a tribunal which excites no sense of personal uneasiness, and therefore has all its true moral effect, as an additional motive for seriousness in our walk, and a solemn energy in the appeal which the known love of Jesus impels it to address to man.

As to how far our own relations with God enter into the service which we have to render to others, the apostle adds another thing that characterised his walk, and that was the result of the death and resurrection of Christ. He lived in an entirely new sphere, in a new creation, which had left behind, as in another world, all that belonged to a natural existence in the flesh here below. The proof that Christ had died for all proved that all were dead; and that He died for all in order that those who live should live no longer to themselves but to Him who died for them and rose again. They are in connection with this new order of things in which Christ exists as risen. Death is on everything else. Everything is shut up under death. If I live, I live in a new order of things, in a new creation, of which Christ is the type and the head. Christ, so far as in connection with this world below, is dead. He might have been known as the Messiah, living on the earth, and in connection with promises made to men living on the earth in the flesh. The apostle no longer knew Him thus. In fact Christ, as bearing that character, was dead; and now, being risen, He has taken a new and a heavenly character.

Therefore if any one is in Christ, he belongs to this new creation, he is of the new creation. He belongs no more at all to the former; the old things have passed away; all things are I become new. The system is not the fruit of human nature and of sin, like all that surrounds us here below, according to the I flesh. Already, looked at as a system existing morally before God, in this new creation, all things are of God. All that is found in it is of God, of Him who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ. We live in an order of things, a world, a new creation, entirely of God. We are there in peace, because God, who is its centre and its source, has reconciled us to Himself. We enjoy it, because we are new creatures in Christ; and everything in this new world is of Him, and corresponds with that new nature. He had also committed to the apostle a ministry of reconciliation, according to the order of things into which he had been himself introduced. Being reconciled, and knowing it by the revelation of God who had accomplished it for him, he proclaimed a reconciliation, the effect of which he was enjoying .

All this flowed from an immense and all-powerful truth. God was in Christ. But then, in order that others might have a part with him, and the apostle be the minister of this, it was also necessary that Christ should be made sin for us. One of these truths presents the character in which God has drawn nigh to us, the other, the efficacy of that which has been wrought for the believer.

Here is the first of these truths, in connection with the apostle’s ministry, which form the subject of these chapters. God was in Christ (that is to say, when Christ was on earth). The day of judgment had not been waited for. God had come down in love into the world alienated from Him. Such was Christ. Three things were connected with and characterised this great and essential truth: reconciling the world, not imputing transgression, and putting the word of reconciliation into the apostle. As the result of this third consequence of the incarnation, the apostle assumes the character of ambassador for Christ, as though God exhorted by his means, he besought men, in the name of Christ, to be reconciled to God. But such an embassy supposed the absence of Christ; His ambassador acted in His stead. It was in fact based upon another truth of immeasurable importance, namely, that God had made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, in order that we should be made the righteousness of God in Him. This was the true way to reconcile us, and that entirely, to God, according to the perfection of God fully revealed. For He had set His love upon us where we were, giving His Son, who was without spot or motion or principle of sin; and making Him (for He offered Himself to accomplish the will of God) sin for us, in order to make us in Him-who in that condition had perfectly glorified Him-the expression of His divine righteousness, before the heavenly principalities through all eternity; to make us His delight, as regards righteousness; “that we should be the righteousness of God in him.” Man has no righteousness for God: God has made the saints, in Jesus, His righteousness. It is in us that this divine righteousness is seen fully verified-of course in Christ first, in setting Him at His right hand, and in us as in Him. Marvellous truth! which, if its results in us cause thanksgiving and praise to resound when looking at Jesus, silences the heart, and bows it down in adoration, astonished at the sight of His wonderful acts in grace. (6)

Footnotes for 2 Corinthians Chapter 5

5: The truth is, the judgment-seat is what most brings out our assurance before God; for as He is, so are we in this world; and it is when Christ shall appear we shall be like Him.

6: It should be observed that, in2 Corinthians 5:20, the word “you” ought to be omitted. It was the way in which the apostle fulfilled his ministry to the world.

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Darby, John. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "John Darby's Synopsis of the New Testament". 1857-67.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(3) If so be that being clothed . . .—The Greek particles express rather more than the English phrase does, the truth of what follows. “If, as I believe . . .,” though not a translation, would be a fair paraphrase. The confident expectation thus expressed is that in the resurrection state the spirit will not be “naked,” will have, i.e., its appropriate garment, a body—clothing it with the attributes of distinct individuality. To the Greek, Hades was a world of shadows. Of Hades, as an intermediate state, St. Paul does not here speak, but he is sure that, in the state of glory which seemed to him so near, there will be nothing shadowy and unreal. The conviction is identical with that expressed in , against those who, admitting the immortality of the spirit, denied the resurrection of the body.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

2 Corinthians 5:10

Carts go along the streets; full of stript human corpses, thrown pell-mell; limbs sticking up:—seest thou that cold Hand sticking up, through the heaped embrace of brother corpses, in its yellow paleness, in its cold rigour; the palm opened towards Heaven, as if in dumb prayer, in expostulation de profundis, take pity on the Sons of men!—Mercier saw it, as he walked down "the Rue Saint-Jacques from Mont-rouge, on the morrow of the Massacres": but not a Hand; it was a Foot,—which he reckons still more significant, one understands not well why. Or was it as the Foot of one spurning Heaven? Rushing, like a wild diver, in disgust and despair, towards the depths of annihilation? Even there shall His hand find thee, and His right-hand hold thee,—surely for right not for wrong, for good not evil! "I saw that Foot," says Mercier; "I shall know it again at the great Day of Judgment, when the Eternal, throned on His thunders, shall judge both kings and Septemberers."

—Carlyle, The French Revolution, vol. III. bk. I. chap. VI.

2 Corinthians 5:10

The dying moment is the falling due of a bill. At this fatal instant one feels the coming home of a diffused responsibility. That which has been complicates that which will be. The past returns and enters into the future.

—Victor Hugo.

References.—V:10.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xviii. No1076. Bishop Gore, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvi. p406. C. Gutch, Sermons, p252. Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. p209; ibid. vol. iii. p274; ibid. vol. iv. pp61, 166; ibid. (6th Series), vol. x. p156. V:13, 14.—J. G. Rogers, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlv. p323. V:13-15.—Expositor (5th Series), vol. v. p135. V:13-17.—H. Smith, Preacher"s Magazine, vol. xix. p31. V:14.—H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. i. p349. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiv. No1411. M. G. Glazebrook, Prospice, p58. Bishop Westcott, Sermons, 1901-2, p5. T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. iii. p1. S. G. Maclennan, Christian World Pulpit, vol. li. p54. Griffith John, ibid. vol. liv. p392. Expositor (5th Series), vol. ix. p51. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture —Corinthians, p371. V:14, 15.—Bishop Gore, Christian World Pulpit, vol. li. p225. B. W. Noel, Penny Pulpit, No1657, p297.

He Died for All

2 Corinthians 5:15

The word "death" is a cardinal word in the New Testament Scriptures. It enshrines a primary fact, out of which a great Gospel is born. "Christ died for our sins." But what is meant by "to die"? Our conception is too commonly narrow and impoverished. Our emphasis is false, and false emphasis always means distorted truth.

I. We misinterpret death if we allow the body to determine our thought. Death is not primarily, but only very secondarily, an affair of the flesh. This is our Master"s teaching. What we ordinarily call death, our Master insisted upon calling sleep.

II. The Master repeatedly declares that He came to save us from that which He calls death. "If a man keep My word, he shall never see death." Insert the common interpretation of the word death in that phrase, and the sentence becomes a dark confusion. We shall all sleep, saints and sinners alike; but we shall not all die; for if any man keep the word of the Christ, he shall never see death; he is passed from death unto life; he abideth for ever.

III. But my text tells me that "Christ died". He did more than sleep; He died. What, then, was the Saviour"s death? Let us away into Gethsemane, at the midnight, that we may just touch the awful mystery. "He began to be sorrowful and very heavy." I think that marks the beginning of the dying. Go a little farther into the garden, and listen to the Master"s agonised speech. "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death;" exceeding desolate, "even unto death". He fears not the sleep, but, oh, He does shrink from the death! "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" That was death. What would follow would be only sleep. Christ Jesus walked that way of appalling darkness and alienation in place of His brethren.

IV. The Scriptures affirm that apart from Christ I am still under the dominion of "the law of sin and death"; sin and abandonment, sin and homelessness, sin and forsakenness and terrible night. But the Scriptures further affirm that in Christ Jesus I come under the dominion of another law—the "law of the Spirit of life"—and by this I am freed from the sovereignty of "the law of sin and death". Here, then, is the glory of the Gospel. It is declared that I, a poor struggling, self-wasted sinner, may by faith be so identified with Christ, that Christ and I become as "one man". This is the possible heritage of all men, made possible to all men by the Saviour"s atoning death.

—J. H. Jowett, Apostolic Optimism, p171.

2 Corinthians 5:15

Tennyson tells of his visit to Mr. Wildman at Mablethorpe. The host and hostess were described by the poet as "two perfectly honest Methodists". He continues: "When I came I asked her after the news, and she replied: "Why, Mr. Tennyson, there"s only one piece of news I know, that Christ died for all men"".

References.—V:15.—Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. p134; ibid. vol. vi. pp30, 347; ibid. vol. viii. p468; ibid. (6th Series), vol. ix. p45; ibid. vol. x. p31. V:15-17.—Ibid. vol. ii. p208. V:16.—R. W. Dale, Christian World Pulpit, vol1. p330. T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. i. p129. W. G. Horder, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lv. p196. J. N. Bennie, The Eternal Life, p190. R. W. Dale, Fellowship with Christ, p31. Expositor (4th Series), vol. ix. p92; ibid. (6th Series), vol. iv. p216; ibid. vol. vi. p192; ibid. (7th Series), vol. v. p207. V:17.—T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. i. p10. A. Bradley, Sermons Chiefly on Character, p77. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xv. No881; vol. xx. No1183, and vol. xxii. No1328. F. W. Farrar, Truths to Live By, p290. F. Ferguson, Peace With God, p191. T. V. Tymms, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lii. p187. H. Allen, Penny Pulpit, No1553, p61. H. Bonar, Short Sermons for Family Beading, p435. C. Perren, Revival Sermons in Outline, p263. W. Robertson Nicoll, Sunday Evening, p409. Expositor (7th Series), vol. v. p204. V:17, 18.—T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. iv. p274. G. W. Brameld, Practical Sermons (2Series), p279. V:18.—F. D. Maurice, Sermons, vol. i. p42. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vi. No318, and vol. xlix. No2837. H. P. Liddon, University Sermons (2Series), p183. Expositor (5th Series), vol. viii. p143. V:18-20.—Expositor (4th Series), vol. v. p435. V:18-21.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xix. No1124. C. Perren, Sermon Outlines, p291. T. Binney, King"s Weigh-House Chapel Sermons (2Series), p51.

Reconciliation in Christ

2 Corinthians 5:19

I. "God was in Christ." This truth, which the Apostle Paul profoundly believed, and which was the starting-point of all his thought upon the things of God, is supposed to be of all others the one peculiarly acceptable to religious minds today. From the first dawn of the Christian era each age has had its special theological fashion; for good or for evil, men have laid emphasis on some one side of Christian doctrine to the exclusion or the minimising of others. And these latter days have witnessed a widespread revival of belief in the Incarnation, as the most fundamental of all Christian verities. "That we only know God in Jesus Christ," "that Christ has for us the religious value of God," have become the new shibboleths of a great body of religious thinkers. We need not seriously object to this. The Incarnation, with its implications, is the very foundation of the edifice of Christian truth. Apart from it Christian revelation would be a mystery and almost a fraud. The coming of God in Christ to dwell with the children of men was in the fulness of the times. All investigations into the history of the times immediately preceding and following the birth of Jesus show how marvellously a place was made for Him, and how He fitted into the place that had been made. Just as we find in the physical world that an organism is prepared by slow microcosmic stages for the performance of some higher function and entrance into some higher plane of being, so men had by the word of God been prepared for the new and higher spiritual possibilities which were to be made actual in Jesus Christ. The word became flesh when the world was capable of receiving the message which the Incarnation involved. In Christ man became created anew, for he then entered into the larger inheritance which had been prepared for him, and which he was of an age to receive. That he did not enter upon it fully and at once was but of a piece with all God"s action in the past.

II. "Reconciling the world unto Himself." Then the world needed to be reconciled. It was estranged, alienated from God. It is so still, though the fact is not always acknowledged. And if it is Song of Solomon, why? Why the need for reconciliation? How did it come about, it is often objected, that God so mismanaged affairs that men did not know Him and serve Him instinctively and needed to be reconciled? These are some of the difficulties that the very use of the word "reconciliation" raises.

In the history of the race sin is independence of God. It has many forms, and manifests itself openly in a variety of ways. But in essence it is rebellion against God, impatience of His control, determination to be one"s own master and to go one"s own way. Sin may also be described as a disease—an unnatural and an unhealthy state that involves ceaseless and unavailing struggle. For this there can be no remedy save one which goes to the root of the mischief, and seeks to restore man once again to true and natural relations with God. This conclusion is confirmed not only by the history of Revelation, but by man"s own efforts to retrieve his position for himself.

III. We may say, in a word, that the supreme purpose of pre-Christian revelation is to vindicate the majesty of God"s law and prove man to be a transgressor. But a very little study of this revelation serves to bring out its great educational purpose. The law is ever a schoolmaster. It docs not exist for its own sake, nor is it an end in itself. It is the outcome of God"s love and pity for the weakness of man; it serves to vindicate His righteousness and to bring transgressors to a better mind. The new law in Jesus Christ was a means of grace such as the old could never be, because it lifted man at once on to a higher plane in his relation with God. And it was made necessary not only by the insufficiency of the old order, but by the blunders and impotence of man. While we believe profoundly that man was made in God"s image and has in him the spark of the Divine, we cannot but believe also in what theologians call his depravity. There is almost a perverse ingenuity in the way in which man has fallen short of his opportunities and wilfully turned light into darkness. The history of Revelation, while on one side it is the story of God"s love and willingness to save, is on the other a dismal tale of man"s hostility to God and peevish aversion from His will.

—W. B. Selbie, The Servant of God, p8.

Reference.—V:19.—Marcus Dods, Christ and Prayer of Manasseh, p140.

Reconciliation After Conversion

2 Corinthians 5:20

There are two reconciliations, if I may so put it, and I shall not be deterred by pedantry from so declaring my gospel. There is a reconciliation before conversion, necessary to conversion, and in itself a species of complete conversion; there is another reconciliation, which seems to me oftentimes to be harder, deeper, as it were more exacting; a never-ceasing reconciliation; a reconciliation of growth, progress, advancement, perfectness. We have all, it is but reasonable to suppose, passed the first conversion or the first reconciliation; we carry no arms against God, no gun, or sabre or sword or cruel spear; we do not dare the Almighty to battle. I hear, as it were, the clash of falling arms, which, being interpreted, means, We fight no longer against our God; we say to Christ, Galilean, Thou hast conquered. We are no more scoundrels, ruffians. We may have passed into a still more dangerous state, and it is that second reconciliation which unmans and overpowers me. Have we received the second reconciliation? Some Christians do not hesitate about talking concerning the second blessing. It is a richly evangelical term; we have no need to be ashamed of it or to apologise for it. I will venture to ask, Have we received the second reconciliation? are we far away from the gate of Damascus, where our wrath was hot against the Lord and against His Christ? and have we passed into serener conditions, into a nobler and ampler, a saintlier and tenderer manhood? "Be ye reconciled to God."

I. We are reconciled to God in the matter of sin, through our Lord Jesus Christ, but are we reconciled to God in the matter of providence?

II. We are reconciled to God in the rougher sins and the initial sins, but what about God"s discipline with our souls?

III. Are we reconciled to God in the distribution and in the allotment of talent and position and prize of a social kind? If Song of Solomon, we have got rid cf the devil jealousy, envy. Are we reconciled to God when we see that the man standing next us has got five talents, and we have got but two?

When we enter into this blessing and security of the second reconciliation we shall have peace, we shall know that it is all right because God did it.

When we enter into this second reconciliation we shall get the best out of life, and until we enter the second reconciliation we shall not get the best out of life; it will be a mere scramble for existence, it will be a misreading of the Divine purpose, and it will be a great heat and unrest and irreligious tumult, until we get to the centre of things and know that God is bringing us into the second reconciliation, so that in the presence of the wilderness and the serpent and the great sea and deep river we shall be able to say, I can do all things through Christ which enableth me.

—Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. II. p280.

References.—V:20.—J. Watson, Scottish Review, vol. iii. p440. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Corinthians, p380.

Ah, the Bitter Shame and Sorrow

2 Corinthians 5:20-21

There is a fine Welsh poem in which the poet imagines that the Sun, and all the attendant planets and satellites in his sphere, passed before the Great White Throne of the Creator; and as each passed, He smiled; but when Earth came in her turn, He blushed. There appear to be five reasons in this text why Prayer of Manasseh, the tenant of this world, may blush—why earth may blush—why we all, indeed, may blush.

I. Because we have never realised the awful character and nature of sin. That sin is heinous, black, and dreadful, we are all prepared to admit; but, probably, he who has most lamented sin has had but a very slight and superficial conception of its true nature and character. But after all, none could thoroughly understand how base and vile sin was until Jesus entered our world in the flesh, born of the pure Virgin. How often we only notice the real blackness of black when it is set against a white background; and we only know the real blackness of sin when we see it against the resplendent background of our Saviour"s perfect character.

II. Let us remember how much sin cost God. "God made Him to be sin." How the nature of Jesus Christ must have shrunk from contact with sin! Martin Luther says that, "For the time Jesus Christ was the greatest sinner that ever lived". But this statement needs qualification. Still, Jesus became so closely identified with the sin of the race, that He stood before the universe as though it had all met in Him: "He was made sin for us".

III. Let us confess, with shame, our reluctance to believe in God"s invitations. God beseeches men to be reconciled. The Greek word is most interesting. It might be rendered, God beseeches men to let His reconciliation have effect.

IV. God"s ambassadors are sadly slack in His work. Here, surely, there is cause for shame.

V. We may be ashamed that we have not availed ourselves of the blessedness of the Divine righteousness. If it be asked how we may attain to this most blessed state, we may answer, take ten looks at Christ for one at self.

—F. B. Meyer, In the Beginning God, p163.

References.—V:20, 21.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxii. No1910. J. Budgen, Parochial Sermons, vol. i. p222.


2 Corinthians 5:21

What is sin? Sin is the difference between what I was meant to be and what I am. What were we meant to be? This we gather from observing what Jesus Christ was. Evidently each human being was intended to live the life of God, to carry out His will. to love Him, and to obey Him. That is what you and I were meant to be. What we are, we ourselves and God alone can know. But it is not that. It is very different from that. And the whole margin, in some cases very broad, in other cases narrower, but to the best of men always seeming much broader than to the worst—the margin between the man you are now, and the man that God meant you to be, is sin. There is much sin in us for which we are not responsible; there is much also for which we are. That for which we are not responsible evokes the cry of horror; that for which we are, evokes the cry of guilt But we shall get a clearer notion of what sin is if we endeavour to distinguish it from some other common ideas with which it is frequently confused; ideas like Crime, Vice, Wickedness.

I. Crime, for instance, is a breach of a human law, a gross offence against the constitution of civil society. But as there may be a great divergence between the law of a given society and the law of God, it by no means follows that a crime must be a sin. A crime is a sin only when and in so far as the human law against which it is a trespass is identical with the Divine law.

II. Vice and Immorality, as the most obvious illustrations of sin, are frequently treated as if they were co-extensive with sin. But it must be remembered that the notion of vice, and even the notion of immorality, is largely determined by the customs and the accidents of human society. Neither notion is like that of sin, definite and absolute.

III. Wickedness, which is a very vague term, comes much nearer to the idea of sin, because in Scripture the terms "wicked" and "sinners" are used almost interchangeably. But we fling about the word wicked in a wild fashion, and often declare a man is wicked because he has offended us, while the proper meaning of wickedness is that it offends God. Let us note one or two of the characteristics of sin as it appears in the practice of life. For one thing, note how sin works like a disease. Can the irreparable be repaired? And if Song of Solomon, how? Nothing in this universe can ever be undone. The question is not so much, Can God forgive? God can do anything. But it is rather, Can you forgive yourself?

—R. F. Horton, Brief Sermons for Busy Men, p15.


2 Corinthians 5:21

If we would bear in mind the definition of sin as the difference between what men are and what they were meant to be, we should readily perceive that the remission of sin involves nothing short of making men what they were meant to be. A humanity fulfilling the intention of God in its creation, and every individual filling the appointed place in such a restored humanity; that is the sublime dream which is suggested by the destruction of sin in the light of the definition of sin which we have derived from the New Testament. That such a result could only be effected by the Omnipotence of God is evident; but in the historical manifestation of Jesus Christ the Apostles saw the demonstration that the Divine Power was set upon that result; they saw also, and inwardly experienced, the potency and the process by which the splendid purpose was to be achieved.

I. For the removal of sin men had to learn what they were meant to be. That is given to the world in the person of the Divine Prayer of Manasseh, Jesus Christ; and it is expounded to men in that body of teaching which is preserved for us in the Four Evangelists. "I am always amazed," said Tennyson, "when I read the New Testament, at the splendour of Christ"s purity and holiness, and at His infinite pity."

II. But the thought of what we should be only awakens us to a sense of our helplessness in the coils of sin which are round us from our birth. It was therefore the work of Christ to become the head of a new humanity, a second Adam, as St. Paul would say, or, in the simpler language of St John: "As many as received Him, to them gave He the power to become the children of God, to them that believe on His name, which were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of Prayer of Manasseh, but of God".

III. But when Christ came there were sinners inheriting the curse of nature and far gone in the corruption of the will, who needed to be Revelation -made if they were to be freed from sin. And, because the Church has so imperfectly understood the evangel of the New Humanity in Christ, by far the larger proportion of persons even in a Christian country go so far in sin that their deliverance is a question of Revelation -making. Jesus Christ announced the power which could thus Revelation -make man in the simple but exalted language of John.

IV. "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." It was Jesus "lifted up" that was to be to sinful men what the serpent had been to the diseased Israelites. He who knew no sin was made sin on our behalf. Made sin! Yes, indeed, made sin in such a way that the law which condemned sin was fulfilled, and the sin it condemned was abolished.

—R. F. Horton, Brief Sermons for Busy Men, p29.

References.—V:21.—R. J. Campbell, City Temple Sermons, p61. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iii. Nos141,142; and vol. vi. No310. R. J. Campbell, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liv. p209. J. D. Thompson, ibid. vol. xlviii. p42. R. J. Campbell, A Faith for Today, p255. W. L. Lee, British Congregationalist, 1st August, 1907, p93. Expositor (5th Series), vol. ii. p164; ibid. vol. vii. p281; ibid. (6th Series), vol. i. p376; ibid. vol. xi. p46. V:25.—R. J. Campbell, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvii. p20.

Copyright Statement
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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. 1910.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

2 Corinthians 5:1-5. His expectation of a Glorified Body hereafter; and his desire to survive until the Second Advent.



Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

2 Corinthians 5:2-3 and 2 Corinthians 5:4 form two parallel sentences, both introduced by , of which either may be used to elucidate the other. Both bring out the Apostle’s shrinking from death, i.e., the act of dying, and his half-expressed anxiety that he may survive until the Day of Christ (cf.1 Thessalonians 4:15).



Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

2 Corinthians 5:3. . . .: if so be that ( = siquidem; cf.Ephesians 3:2; Ephesians 4:21, Colossians 1:23) we shall be found also clothed, sc., with the heavenly body (note ., not ., which would only be appropriate of the body to be “superindued” in the case of one surviving to the Second Advent), not naked, sc., disembodied spirits at the Day of His Appearing, a condition from the thought of which he shrinks. was commonly used in this sense in Greek philosophy; Alford quotes Plato, Cratyl., p. 277 c., (see 1 Corinthians 15:37); cf. also Philo de Hum., 4, .



Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Naked; destitute of a glorified body.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.

F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary

THERE IS NO real break between chapters 4 and 5, for he passes on to show that if our outward man does perish, and so our earthly tabernacle house be dissolved, we are to have a house of another order which shall be eternal. The thought of what is eternal links these verses together. Eternal things are brought within the sight of our faith. An eternal weight of glory awaits us. And we shall need a resurrection body, which shall be eternal, in order to sustain that eternal weight of glory without being crushed by it. It is absolutely certain that such a resurrection body shall be ours. “We know,” he says. He had established that fact in the fifteenth chapter of his first epistle; so that they knew it as well as he.

Our bodies are spoken of as houses in which we dwell, and very appropriately so. Our present bodies are only “tabernacle” or “tent” houses, comparatively flimsy structures and easily taken down. Our future bodies in the resurrection world will be of a different order, as 1 Corinthians 15:1-58 has shown us. Here we learn that they will be “not made with hands;” that is, spiritual, and not of an earthly or human order. They will be eternal, for in them we shall enter into eternal scenes. Also they will be heavenly. Our present bodies are natural and earthly and abide but for a time.

In these opening verses of chapter 5 we read of being “clothed,” and being “unclothed;” of being “clothed upon,” and of being “naked.” We dwell at present in an earthly tent, clothed in bodies of humiliation. Presently we shall be clothed in glorified bodies of a spiritual, eternal and heavenly order. All the dead will be raised; even the wicked will appear before their Judge clothed in bodies. But though clothed they will be found spiritually naked before that great white throne. If we are true Christians we shall never be found naked thus, though we may be unclothed, for that word denotes the state of those saints who are “absent from the body” (verse 2 Corinthians 5:5) in the presence of the Lord. Paul himself, and myriads more beside, are unclothed at the present moment, but that unclothed state, blessed though it is, is not the great object of our desire. What we do long for, while we groan in our present weakness, is this clothing upon with our house from heaven.

All those who are raised will be “clothed,” but only the saints will be “clothed upon,” for the reference here is to that which will take place at the coming of the Lord. The term is perhaps particularly appropriate as regards those who are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord. Such will all be changed, and so enter the resurrection state. They will in the twinkling of an eye be invested with their glorified bodies, and so clothed upon with their house from heaven. Thus in a moment mortality—which is attached to our present bodies—will be swallowed up of life.

Let us not read the two expressions, “in the heavens,” and “from heaven,” in a materialistic sense, as some have done. We must not conceive of our future glorified bodies as though they were a new and improved suit of clothes, already existing somewhere in heaven, and coming to us straight out of heaven. So thinking, we should find ourselves in collision with 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, where a certain identity is preserved between the body of humiliation which is put down into the ground and the body of glory that is raised up. Those expressions indicate character rather than place. Heaven is our destiny, and we shall enter there in bodies which are heavenly in their origin and character.

We have the happy assurance of these things, and can say, “we know,” because God has spoken and revealed them to us. But not only so, He has acted in keeping with what He has revealed. He has already “wrought us” for this very thing. This alludes to that spiritual work wrought in us and with us by the Holy Ghost. God by His Spirit has been the Potter, and we have been the clay. This clothing upon, of which we have just been speaking, is described in Romans 8:1-39 as the quickening of our mortal bodies. Our mortal bodies shall be quickened, but already God has wrought a quickening work as regards our souls, and this present work is in anticipation of the work that is yet to be done as regards our bodies.

Moreover He has already given us His Spirit, as the Earnest of what is to come.

What God has wrought by His Spirit must be distinguished from the Spirit Himself, given to those who are subjects of His work. The order in this fifth verse is first, the work of the Spirit: second, the indwelling of the Spirit as the Earnest; the one preparatory to the other.

Hence the Apostle can say, “we are always confident.” How could it be otherwise? We have the plain revelation of God as to it. We have the work of God in keeping with it. We have the gift of God—even His Holy Spirit—as the pledge and foretaste of it. Could anything be more certain and secure? Difficulties may throng around us, as they did around Paul. We too may groan, as burdened in our mortal bodies. But that which lies before us in resurrection is perfectly clear and sure. We too may be always confident: as confident when our sky is filled with black thunder clouds as when it is for the moment wholly blue.

For the moment we are at home in the body and absent from the Lord, left here to walk not by sight but by faith. Paul’s confidence was such that he was willing—even more than willing, pleased—to be absent from the body and present with the Lord. This is his portion today, and the portion of all those who have died in the faith of Christ. They are absent from their bodies which have been laid in the grave, waiting the moment when they shall be clothed in bodies of glory. But even now they are present with the Lord, and in all the conscious blessedness of His presence, as the opening verses of 2 Corinthians 12:1-21 bear witness.

There are those who assert that assurance and confidence as to one’s future is bound to have a disastrous effect on one’s behaviour. That idea however is definitely negatived by verse 2 Corinthians 5:9. Were it a true idea we should read, “We are confident, I say... wherefore we”—take our ease and are indifferent and careless. The exact opposite is what it does say— “wherefore we labour...” The word here is not the usual one for “work.” It has the sense of “being zealous,” or even “ambitious.” The very confidence we have stirs us to an earnest zeal; and this is our ambition that come what may, whether life or death, we may be “accepted of Him,” or, “agreeable to Him.” We are “accepted in the Beloved” as Ephesians 1:1-23 tells us. Now we want to be agreeable, or well-pleasing, to Him.

This desire to please the Lord is surely an instinctive one in every heart that loves Him; yet all too often it does not burn as it should. So the Apostle now brings in another fact that is calculated to stir it to greater vehemence. When He comes Christ will set up His judgment seat. It will not be like a criminal court: that is reserved for the occasion when the great white throne is established, as we see in Revelation 20:1-15. It will be more like a naval prize court, when the judges sit to adjudicate as to captures during naval warfare, and the actions of officers and men come up for review, and prize money is awarded in many cases.

Before that judgment seat we must all appear; that is, we must all be manifested. Everything must come into the light in the presence of our Lord. Would we wish it to be otherwise? If there were left episodes of our lives, some of them marked by failure and shame, as to which the Lord had never had anything to say to us, would there not be a sense of reserve? Would not our otherwise bright eternity be clouded over in part by the feeling that some day they might be dragged into the light? Solemn though that judgment seat must be, it is yet a matter for rejoicing that it is to stand at the very threshold of the eternity of glory that awaits us. Before it we ourselves are to be manifested, and consequently all that we have been and done will come under the scrutiny of our Lord. That will mean seeing everything as through His eyes, and getting His verdict. It will mean the unravelling of every mysterious episode that has marked our way; the discovery of the why and wherefore of innumerable trying experiences; together with a full understanding of the amazing grace of our God, and the efficacy of the Priesthood and Advocacy of Christ.

It will also mean reward or loss, according to what has been done “in the body;” that is, in the whole of our lives of responsibility here. This is what we see also in 1 Corinthians 3:14, 1 Corinthians 3:15; only there it is distinctly a question of the character of our work as servants of the Lord. Here it is more general and comprehensive, being a question of all our actions and ways.

The thought of that judgment seat evidently carried the mind of the Apostle on to the fact that before the Lord Jesus ultimately all men will stand, whether saved or unsaved. And as he thought of these latter, and recognized what the terror of it would be for them, he was moved to warn and persuade them. He was moved also in another direction more personal to himself and the Corinthians: moved to live in such a way as to be manifested to God, and also in the consciences of his fellow-Christians.

The word for “manifest” really occurs three times in these two verses, but at the beginning of verse 2 Corinthians 5:10 it is translated, “appear.” Substitute “be manifested’, there, and the connection becomes plain. If we live our lives in the remembrance of the certainty of being manifested before the judgment seat, we shall be careful to maintain open, honest, manifested dealings with God now. When we sin we shall at once humble ourselves in confession before Him, and attempt to conceal or palliate nothing. Further we shall, like Paul, not attempt to appear other than we are in the eyes of our fellow-believers. We shall be open and transparent in all our dealings with them, and not desire or seek a cheap reputation for a devotedness or sanctity which we do not possess. There were some in Paul’s day who were doing this, as verse 2 Corinthians 5:12 bears witness.

Are we living in the light of the judgment seat? A great question this! Let each answer it in his own conscience before God. Depend upon it, if we are we shall be characterized by lives of devotedness, unworldliness and zeal. We shall be transparent before both God and man. And we shall be keen to persuade men as Paul was. We shall earnestly seek the salvation of souls to the glory of God.

The Apostle Paul was marked by a very fervent zeal. It produced within him a great desire to be acceptable to the Lord, to be open and transparent with his brethren, and to persuade men in view of the coming judgment. His zeal was such that sometimes it carried him clean outside himself, and men labelled him as fanatical, as Festus did when he called out, “Paul, thou are beside thyself.” But Paul was no fanatic, for when thus beside himself it was “to God;” that is, God was the Object before him; he was outside himself because God was so truly inside— “he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16).

We may find it difficult to understand this being “beside ourselves,” and still more difficult to explain it. That may be because it is an experience almost, if not entirely, unknown to us. Very possibly we move in circles where zeal of the Pauline stamp would be looked upon as fleshly energy from the spiritual standpoint, and quite bad form from the social point of view. How great then is our loss!

But Paul was not always in an ecstasy Godward. He also knew well how to look out with sober-minded wisdom upon the interests of his Lord. Then he cared in a calculating way for the people of God, the Corinthians among them. And in this, as much as in the other, the love of Christ was the power that wrought within him and constrained him. That love had been expressed in His death, and it exerted its pressure on Paul, both in his affections toward God and His saints, and also as guiding his judgment. Constrained by the love, he was able to judge aright as to the significance of the death in which the love was expressed.

Christ “died for all.” Here we have His death stated in its widest extent. He did not die for the Jew merely nor for any lesser circle than “all.” This is a fact in which we may well rejoice, but what does it imply? This, that all were in a state of spiritual death: all were but dead men before God. This was the implication of His death.

But what was the purpose of His death? Its purpose was to provide a way of life for at least some, and to alter the whole character of life for these living ones.

Verse 2 Corinthians 5:15, you notice, begins with His death and ends with His resurrection. The intervening words set forth the design and purpose connected with those two great facts. They were in order that those who have been quickened into life might find in the risen Christ the Object and End of the new life they live. In our unconverted days we each of us had ourselves as the object and end of our lives. Everything was made to revolve around and contribute to self. Now things are to be entirely different with us, and everything in life is to revolve around and contribute to the interest and glory of Christ. Such at least is the Divine purpose and intention for us.

Verse 2 Corinthians 5:16 springs out of this, as the first word, “Wherefore,” bears witness. Because Christ is no longer among us in the life of this world, and because we also now live in connection with Him, a new order of things has come in. Even Christ Himself is known by us in a new way. Paul had not been amongst those who knew Christ “according to flesh” in the days of His flesh. But even if he had been, he would have known Him thus no longer. But also we know no man after the flesh. That is not because men are not in the old condition according to flesh; for the great mass of them are. It is because of the subjective change wrought in ourselves. The Christian learns to look at men in a new way, not because of what has been wrought in them but because of what has been wrought in himself.

What has been wrought is stated in verse 2 Corinthians 5:17 —a work of new creation in Christ. As newly created in Christ we find ourselves in a new world. We are not there yet as regards our bodies. That awaits the coming of the Lord. But we are there as regards our minds and spirits. Even today our spirits move amid things totally new, things utterly unknown in our unconverted days; also even the old things of this present creation, amongst which we move, are viewed by us in a new way.

This truth needs to be thoroughly digested by all of us. How much difficulty arises amongst Christians because they know and have dealings with one another according to flesh, that is, on the old basis and after the manner of the world. Then it is the easiest and most natural thing possible to drop into parties and cliques, to have our likes and dislikes, to be tremendously friendly with this or that fellow-believer until some disagreement arises, when an equally tremendous antagonism breaks out. All that kind of thing, even the friendship and the pleasantry and the apparent concord, rests on a wrong basis. It is according to flesh, and not according to new creation and the Spirit of God. If all saints knew one another upon the new basis what a transformation would come over the aspect of things that at present prevails in the church of God.

Verse 2 Corinthians 5:18 adds a further fact. We are reconciled to God by Jesus Christ, as well as being a new creation in Christ. Now reconciliation involves the removal of all that is offensive to God in us and about us, including that enmity of heart that kept us away from Him. As the fruit of reconciliation God can look down upon us with joy and complacency, and we can look up to Him with confidence and responsive love.

When Christ was here, God was in Him with reconciliation in view for the whole world. He came to bring men to God, not to arraign them before God, bringing them to book as regards their sins. This we see strikingly exemplified in John 8:11. But God’s overtures to men in Christ, with reconciliation in view, were rejected and He was put to death. It is one of the chief wonders of the Gospel that notwithstanding this His death became the basis of the reconciliation that is being announced today.

We believers are now reconciled to God; and as reconciled ourselves we have a part in the ministry of reconciliation. When the Apostle wrote, “We are ambassadors for Christ,” he probably was thinking of himself and his fellow-labourers and the other apostles, for they were in a special sense put in trust with the Gospel; yet his words have an application to every believer. The church of God is like a divine embassy in the hostile world, and each of us has to remember that we are a part of that embassy, and that our attitude towards men has to be in keeping with the word of reconciliation that we carry. At the end of verse 2 Corinthians 5:20 we get as in a nutshell what the word of reconciliation is. The words, “you,” “you,” and “ye,” are not in the original. “God as it were beseeching by us, we entreat for Christ, Be reconciled to God” (N. Tr.).

And if, when we thus entreat men, they turn to us asking on what basis such a reconciliation is possible, we can answer in the words of the last verse. The basis lies in God’s own act, accomplished in the death of Christ.

There is a profound depth in verse 2 Corinthians 5:21 that defies all our feeble attempts at explanation. That God should make Christ to be a sacrifice for sin might be explained in terms of those Old Testament sacrifices that furnish a type of His sacrifice. But that God should make Him, who knew no sin, TO BE SIN for us baffles all explanation. Again, we might offer some explanation of how we are justified, of how righteousness is imputed to those who believe. But how we may in Him be MADE THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD is beyond us. Sin wholly characterized us, and all that we were He was made when He died on the cross. Righteousness wholly characterizes God, and that which He is we are made in Christ.

On the one hand then, all that we were is removed, and all that God is has been established, and we established in it. Here evidently is a perfect and unchallengeable basis for the reconciliation that we enjoy, and that we are privileged to proclaim to others.

Let us pause at this point to observe how the Apostle has been led through a considerable digression, from about 2 Corinthians 4:7, springing out of the reference there made to the circumstances pressing in upon himself as a minister of the new covenant and the vessel of the light. The digression is completed at the end of 2 Corinthians 5:1-21, and again we see him as a minister, but this time of the word of reconciliation. The word of reconciliation doubtless goes beyond the terms of the ministry of the new covenant, and it is helpful to distinguish the one from the other. Yet we must not divide them as though there were two gospels. The one gospel of God is so great and comprehensive that it may be considered in these varied ways.

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Hole, Frank Binford. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary". 1947.

F.B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary


2 Corinthians 5:1-10

This mortal life is a pilgrimage, and our body is a tent, so slight, so transitory, so easily taken down; but what does it matter, since there is awaiting us a mansion prepared by God? Often in this veil of flesh we groan. It cages us, anchors us down to earth, hampers us with its needs, obstructs our vision, and becomes the medium of temptation. How good it would be if our physical body could be suddenly transmuted into the glorified ethereal body which should be like the resurrection body of our Lord! It would be sweet to escape the wrench of death. But if not, then through death we shall carry with us the germ of the glorified body. That which shall be quickened will first die, but God will give it a body as it shall please Him.

The gate of death may look gloomy on this side, but on the other it is of burnished gold, and opens directly into the presence-chamber of Jesus. We long to see Him and to be with Him; and such desires are the work of the Holy Spirit and the first fruits of heaven. But remember that just inside the door there is Christ’s judgment seat, where He will adjudge our life and apportion our reward. Prepare, my soul, to give an account of thy talents!

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Meyer, Frederick Brotherton. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "F. B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary". 1914.

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible

6. Concerning the Future. The Ministry of Reconciliation.


1. The Earthly and the Heavenly House. (2 Corinthians 5:1-8.)

2. The Judgment Seat of Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:9-12.)

3. The Constraint of Love. (2 Corinthians 5:13-16.)

4. The Ministry of Reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21.)

The certainty of the future things is brought more fully in view. The apostle had given the great doctrines concerning the resurrection of the body, the coming of the Lord and the blessed hope in his first epistle (chapter 15). In the closing verses of the preceding chapter, he mentioned again the fact of the believer’s resurrection and presentation in the presence of the Lord (2 Corinthians 4:14) and spoke of the eternal things, the coming glory. And so he continues: “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.” The earthly house of this tabernacle is the body of the believer, the earthen vessel in the previous chapter. It is called a tabernacle (a tent) because it is only the temporary lodging of those who are by grace but strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Yet in this earthen vessel, this frail tabernacle, there is a divine indweller, the Holy Spirit. The apostle speaks of the dissolution of our earthly house, “if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved.” He does not say “when we die,” but only states the possibility that the tabernacle might be dissolved. The dissolution of the mortal body of the believer is not presented therefore by the apostle as a certainty, but only as a possibility. “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed” was the blessed mystery revealed through the apostle in his first epistle (1 Corinthians 15:51). The change of the body of the believer is the certainty, but its dissolution is not. But if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved “we know we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” What do these terms mean? What is the building of God, the eternal house in the heavens? Some have identified it with the Father’s house and its many mansions of which our Lord speaks. But this house of which the apostle writes cannot be heaven, the Father’s house, for it is said to be from heaven and in the heavens. Others have invented a temporary body. They teach that when the believer dies he gets at once a kind of an ethereal body which he will possess between death and resurrection. This is a speculation contradicted by the word “eternal.” Nowhere in the Word of God is it taught that the disembodied spirits of the redeemed are to be clothed with a body before resurrection takes place. The body of the believer in its present state is compared to a tabernacle; the building of God, the house not made with hands, refers to that which the believer shall possess in the future, no longer an earthly house, a tabernacle, but something permanent, of supernatural origin. It is quite evident that the apostle means by way of contrast the spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:44), which is in store for the believer. This fact is stated once more, but the purpose of these words is not to convey the thought that this house is to be possessed immediately after death: the emphasis is upon “we know” and “we have.” The Spirit of God assures us of the certainty of it. Thus positively every child of God can speak.

“For in this we groan, longing to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven.” The groaning is not on account of infirmities, hardship, privations or unsatisfied desires. It is deeper than that. It is the longing for the promised glorified condition with which we shall be invested. “It is the groaning not of a disappointed sinner, nor of an undelivered saint, but of those who, assured of life and victory in Christ, feel the wretched contrast of the present with the glory of the future.” If we, beloved fellow-believer, live close to God, enjoy the fellowship with His Son into which grace has called us, then even in the fairest scenes and in the most attractive earthly conditions, we shall know something of this groaning and longing to be clothed upon with that which is from above and which will fit us to be the vessels of the exceeding great and eternal weight of glory. (The knowledge that at any moment one may change the prison garments of mortality, and as a chosen companion of the King of Kings be found in the likeness of the Lord of Life, must generate a longing for that moment to arrive. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”)

“If so be that being clothed upon we shall not be found naked.” This again is another warning corresponding to the one at the close of 1 Corinthians 9:1-27. All human beings will be clothed upon with a body, for there is a resurrection of the bodies of the just and the unjust. The wicked dead, standing before the great white throne, will be clothed upon, but, not having Christ, they will be found naked for their eternal shame. And so the apostle warned of the possibility that even among the Corinthians there may be some who, destitute of Christ, only professing to be Christ’s, would then be found naked.

Then again the apostle speaks of the groaning in this tabernacle, the body of our humiliation. His desire is not to be unclothed, that is, unclothed in death, when the body is put into the grave; he desires to be clothed upon, to be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. For this the apostle groaned; and this is what we wait for and not for death. When the shout comes from the air and His voice opens the graves of His saints, we who are alive and remain shall be changed (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). No death then but mortality will be swallowed up of life. Then our mortal bodies will be quickened. And God has wrought us for this very thing; the evidence of it is the indwelling Spirit, who has made the body of the believer His temple. Then the apostle describes a twofold condition, “at home in the body (the tabernacle) we are absent from the Lord”; and “absent from the body, present with the Lord.” The latter statement is a complete refutation of that evil doctrine called “soul-sleep,” i.e., an unconscious state between death and resurrection. The believer who dies goes into the presence of the Lord and is consciously present there, waiting with the redeemed of all ages, “to be clothed upon with the house from heaven.”

Linked with all this blessed teaching is the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). All, whether saints or sinners, will have to appear before the judgment seat of Christ; certainly not at the same time. There is no universal judgment, when the righteous and the unrighteous appear together before the judgment seat of Christ taught in the Bible. The Saints of God will appear before the judgment seat of Christ, when He has taken them from earth to glory, not at death, but when He comes with the shout in the air. But for His blood-bought people, who constitute His body, who will then be clothed with the house from heaven (the glorified body), there is no more judgment in the sense of condemnation. His own blessed lips have given us the assurance of this. (See John 5:24 --that blessed word!) Nevertheless, there is a judgment seat of Christ for believers. The word “appear” in 2 Corinthians 5:10 is “manifested”. We must all be manifested before the judgment seat of Christ. Our works and our ways as Christians will then be brought fully into view; all will be brought into the light. Nothing can be concealed, and the believer receives the things done in the body.

“But there is more than this. when the Christian is thus manifested, he is already glorified, and, perfectly like Christ, has then no remains of the evil nature in which he sinned. And he now can look back at all the way God has led him in grace, helped, lifted up, kept from falling, not withdrawn His eyes from the righteous. He knows as he is known. What a tale of grace and mercy! If I look back now, my sins do not rest on my conscience; though I have horror of them, they are put away behind God’s back. I am the righteousness of God in Christ, but what a sense of love and patience, and goodness and grace! How much more perfect then, when all is before me! Surely there is great gain as to light and love, in giving an account of ourselves to God; and not a trace remains of the evil in us. We are like Christ. If a person fears to have all out thus before God, I do not believe he is free in soul as to righteousness--being the righteousness of God in Christ, not fully in the light. And we have not to be judged for anything: Christ has put it all away” (Synopsis).

And thus the believer has no more fear of death, for he knows what awaits him; and the judgment seat of Christ has also no terror for him. But the words of the apostle apply equally to unbelievers. The occupant of the great white throne (Revelation 20:1-15) before which the wicked dead appear and will be manifested, is the Lord Jesus Christ. They will be judged according to their works and condemned to eternal darkness and conscious punishment. In view of this the apostle states, “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.”

And how can we persuade men to flee the wrath to come, unless we preach the Gospel to them? Beautifully linked with this is the constraining power of the love of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14). In his ministry, service, walk and everything else, the great apostle knew this mighty constraint of love. And the cross and its glorious work looms up before his vision, in view of that love manifested there. In Him who, died and who liveth, we are called as well as equipped with power to live unto Him. In faith, as dead with Christ and risen with Him, we look to a risen and glorified Christ in whom we are a new creation, “old things have passed, behold all things are become new.”

Having reconciled us unto Himself by Jesus Christ, He has also given to us the ministry of reconciliation. Having brought us into this blessed position through grace, He calls us to make it known to others and lead others to Him. What we have received we are to use in our ministry. And every reconciled one is called into this service to exercise the ministry of reconciliation and be a soul-winner. “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. Him who knew no sin, He hath made sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” This is the great message of the true minister, and all believers can be true ministers and proclaim the message in Christ’s stead and point sinners to the cross, where He who knew no sin was made sin for us, where redemption full and free is offered to all.

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Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". 1913-1922.

G. Campbell Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible

The vision of the house of God, and the coming at last to the Lord, throws its light on, and explains the value of, the groaning and the burden of the tabernacle, of the period of absence from the Master. "Absent from the body," "at home with the Lord." This reveals the consciousness. No strangeness, no sense of having to keep up an appearance, "at home with the Lord." The passing of all that is strained, and the coming of the perfect ease of naturalness. Surely Paul was right. The affliction is light when placed in the balance against the weight of the glory.

The twofold impulse of the ministry is revealed, "the fear of the Lord" (verse 2 Corinthians 5:11 ), "the love of Christ" (verse 2 Corinthians 5:14). This fear of the Lord is the constant and passionate anxiety rightly to respond to the love of Christ which constraineth.

All this means that the ministry is the work of reconciliation, and its burden is summarized in the majestic and magnificent declaration, "God was in Christ, reconciling the word unto Himself." On the basis of this great declaration the apostle makes his first appeal, beseeching the Corinthians to be reconciled to God.

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Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "G. Campbell Morgan Exposition on the Bible". 1857-84.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

If so be that being clothed,.... This supposition is made with respect to the saints who shall be alive at Christ's second coming, who will not be stripped of their bodies, and so will "not be found naked", or disembodied, and shall have a glory at once put upon them, both soul and body; or these words are an inference from the saints' present clothing, to their future clothing, thus; "seeing we are clothed", have not only put on the new man, and are clothed and adorned with the graces of the Spirit, but are arrayed with the best robe, the wedding garment, the robe of Christ's righteousness,

we shall not be found naked; but shall be clothed upon with the heavenly glory, as soon as we are dismissed from hence. Some read these words as a wish, "O that we were clothed, that we might not be found naked!" and so is expressive of one of the sighs, and groans, and earnest desires of the saints in their present situation after the glories of another world.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament


2 Corinthians 5:1-9.

1. For we know that if our earthly house of the tabernacle be taken down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens.” The building here which is liable any time and destined very soon to be taken down, is this tenement of mortal clay. Paul triumphantly assures us that we have another house in Heaven that will never be taken down. It does not mean a mansion in Heaven. Those mansions are worlds innumerable which our Lord is fixing up for the eternal occupancy of His saints in glory. This earth is one of them, destined ere long to be redeemed, sanctified, renovated, celestialized and added back to the glorious retinue of unfallen celestial worlds where it sped its flight in first emanation from the omnific fiat. Paul means here none other than the glorified body which we will occupy and enjoy through all eternity.

2. For in this we groan, desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from Heaven.” In these mortal bodies we suffer constant humiliation, aches, pains, wounds, bruises, colds, fevers and a thousand ills incident to mortal probation. Besides, the very weight of the body holds us down here on the earth and keeps us out of Heaven. Again, much attention that we have to give the body is servile and humiliating. Hence we groan in anticipation of coming emancipation.

3. If indeed truly being clothed, we shall not be found naked.” Here we have another idea. While in these mortal bodies we groan and sigh and long for redemption, at the same time sweeping over the chasm of the disembodied state, we contemplate our house in Heaven, i. e., the glorified body, invested in which we will not be found naked.

4. For truly being in the tabernacle we groan, being burdened, not in that we wished to be unclothed, but clothed upon, in order that mortality may be swallowed up of life.” Here we see that Paul’s climacteric aspiration was not simply to get out of this body, which would be a glorious victory, but he had his eye on a vastly grander and more glorious enterprise, i. e., “that mortality may be swallowed up of life,” i. e., that he may be transfigured without ever seeing death. Hence we see in this passage, so vividly portrayed, the uniform Pauline aspiration, i. e., that the Lord may come and translate him to Heaven, so that he may never see death.

5. But He that wrought out us unto this same thing is God, who hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.” The wonderful spiritual work already enjoyed by Paul was a prelibation of coming glorification. So the blessed work of entire sanctification in the heart is an advanced payment on the illustrious glorification that awaits us. The same is true of the healing of the body, a blessed privilege in this life. As the perfect and final healing of the body will utterly and eternally take away mortality, of course we can never get it till the body is glorified. Hence all the bodily healing we receive is an earnest of coming glorification.

6. Therefore being always confident, and knowing that being present in the body we are absent from the Lord:

7. For we walk by faith, not by sight:

8. But we are confident and anxious rather to be absent from the body and be present with the Lord.

9. Therefore indeed we strive, whether being present or absent, to be well-pleasing unto Him.” Here we see the complexity of this attitude. His first choice and grandest aspiration is not to be “unclothed,” but to be “clothed upon” with the body which is from Heaven,” that mortality may be swallowed up of life.” Hence we see that the chief desideratum is that the Lord shall return, take up His saints and translate him. In that case he will never be unclothed, i. e., never evacuate his body, but remain in it and rise in his glorified body to meet the Lord in the air and ever be with Him. While that was his first choice (as well as yours and mine), he now expresses a second choice, i. e., to evacuate the body and go “unclothed” to the glorified presence. This he abundantly evinces in the statement that “to be present in the body is to be absent from the Lord.” Therefore, though he does not want to leave the body if he can take it with him, yet he prefers even to evacuate the body in order to go and be present with the Lord. This is his second choice. Then there is but one other alternative, and that is to remain in the body and be absent from the Lord. This is his last choice, and of course he is perfectly acquiescent in the will of God; e. g., first choice, to be translated and soul and body go together to the presence of God; secondly, to evacuate the body, go and leave it; and last of all, to abide in the body and still labor and suffer for the glory of God. So long as we remain in the body we “walk by faith and not by sight,” from the simple fact that we are still on probation and in this dark world, where we can not see God with the natural eye.

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Godbey, William. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament".

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books

Verse 3 Paul longed for the day of the Lord"s coming when he might lay aside this physical body and put on the spiritual.

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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". 2014.

Geneva Study Bible

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

(2) An exposition of the former saying: we do not without reason desire to be clad with the heavenly house, that is, with that everlasting and immortal glory, as with a garment. For when we depart from here we will not remain naked, having cast off the covering of this body, but we will take our bodies again, which will put on as it were another garment besides. And therefore we do not sigh because of the weariness of this life, but because of the desire of a better life. Neither is this desire in vain, for we are made to that life, the pledge of which we have, even the Spirit of adoption.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

1–10.] Further specification of the hope before spoken of, as consisting in anticipation of an eternity of glory after this life, in the resurrection-body: which leads him evermore to strive to be found well pleasing to the Lord at His coming: seeing that all shall then receive the things done in the body.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

3.] seeing that ( εἴ γε (see var. readd.) is used ‘de re, quæ jure sumta creditur:’ εἴπερ, when ‘in incerto relinquitur, utrum jure an injuria sumatur.’ Herm. ad Viger., p. 834. So Xen. Mem. ii. 17, ἀλλὰ γάρ, ὦ σ., οἱ εἰς τὴν βασιλικὴν τέχνην παιδευόμενοι, ἢν δοκεῖς μοι σὺ νομίζειν εὐδαιμονίαν εἶναι, τί διαφέρουσι τῶν ἐξ ἀνάγκης κακοπαθούντων, εἴ γε πεινήσουσι κ. διψή σουσι, κ. τ. λ.,—‘if they are to hunger and thirst, &c.’ and for εἴπερ, Æsch. Ag. 29 f. εἴπερ ἰλίου πόλις ἑάλωκεν, ὡς ὁ φρυκτὸς ἀγγέλλων πρέπει, ‘if, that is, the city, &c.’) we shall really ( καί, ‘in very truth:’ so Soph. Antig. 766, ἄμφω γὰρ αὐτὰ καὶ κατακτεῖναι νοεῖς; ‘dost thou intend verily to kill them both?’ and Æsch. Sept. Theb. 810, ἐκεῖθι κἦλθον; ‘have they really come to that?’ See more examples in Hartung, Partikellehre, i. 132) be found (shall prove to be) clothed (‘having put on clothing,’ viz. a body), not naked (without a body—“ ἐνδυς., οὐ γυμν., as γάλα, οὐ βρῶμα, 1 Corinthians 3:2 and often, cf. 2 Corinthians 5:7.” Meyer. See Stanley’s note). The verse asserts strongly, with a view to substantiate and explain 2 Corinthians 5:2, the truth of the resurrection or glorified body; and, with Meyer, I see in it a reference to the deniers of the resurrection, whom the Apostle combated in 1 Corinthians 15.: its sense being this: “For I do assert again, that we shall in that day prove to be clothed with a body, and not disembodied spirits.”

Several other renderings have been given:—(1) ‘Si nos iste dies deprehendet cum corpore, non exutos a corpore,—si erimus inter mutandos, non inter mortuos,’ Grot.: Estius, Bengel, Conyb., al. To this there are three objections,—that εἴ γε should be εἴ περ (the force of this objection is however much weakened by the amount of authority which can be adduced for εἴπερ),—that καί is not rendered at all,—and that ἐνδυσάμενοι, the aor. mid., should be ἐνδεδυμένοι, the perf. pass. (2) The same objections apply to Billroth’s rendering, ‘If we, having been once clothed (with the earthly body), shall not be found naked’ (without the body). (3) De Wette renders: ‘seeing that when we are also (really) clothed, we shall not be found naked:’ i.e. ‘setting down for certain as we do, that that heavenly dwelling will also be a body.’ To this Meyer rightly objects, that it is open to the difficulty of making ἔνδυσις and γυμνότης, and that in the very sense in which they are opposites, to co-exist;—no clothing but that of a body is thought of here, or else οὐ σώματος γυμνοί must have been expressed. (4) This latter objection applies to the rendering of Chrys., Theodoret, Theophyl., Œcum., al., who take ἐνδυσάμενοι = σῶμα ἄφθαρτον λαβόντες, and γυμνοί to mean γυμνοὶ δόξης. Similarly Anselm explains γυμνοί, ‘nudi Christo;’ Pelagius, Hunnius, and Baldwin, ‘vacui fide:’ Erasm. Paraphr. ‘si tamen hoc exuti corpore non omnino nudi reperiamur, sed ex bonæ vitæ fiducia spe immortalitatis amicti:’ in part too Calvin,—restricting it however to the faithful only,—‘if at least we, having put on Christ in this life, shall not be found naked then.’ Olshausen too takes οὐ γυμνοί as an expansion of ἐνδυσάμενοι, ‘provided that we shall be found clothed with the robe of righteousness, not denuded of it.’ Of all these we may say, that if the Apostle had meant by γυμνοί to hint at any other kind of γυμνότης than that which the similitude obviously implies, he would have certainly indicated it. (5) The rendering of εἰutinam,’ ‘utinam etiam induti, non nudi reperiamur!’ as Knatchbull and Homberg, need hardly be refuted. (6) Another class of renderings arise from the reading ἐκ δυσάμενοι in a few cursives, which in connexion with εἴπερ was evidently adopted in consequence of the views of expositors. It stood as a conditional sentence,—‘provided, that is, that’ … and in the idea that it referred to the time after putting off the mortal body, ἐν was altered to ἐκ.

For much of the reference to opinions in this note I am indebted to Meyer and De Wette.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary



Si tamen vestiti, non nudi inveniamur, Greek: eige kai endusamenoi: some read, Greek: ekdusamenoi. See St. John Chrysostom.

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Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

2 Corinthians 5:1-10. Still a continuation of what precedes (see on 2 Corinthians 4:7).

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Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

2 Corinthians 5:3. After 2 Corinthians 5:2 a comma only is to be placed, for 2 Corinthians 5:3 contains a supplementary definition to what precedes (comp. Hartung, Partikell. I. pp. 391, 395 f.), inasmuch as the presupposition is stated under which the ἐπενδύσασθαι ἐπιποθοῦμεν takes place: in the presupposition, namely, that we shall be found also clothed, not naked, i.e. that we shall be met with at the Parousia really clothed with a body, and not bodiless. The apostle’s view is that, while Christ at the Parousia descends from heaven, the Christians already dead first rise, then those still alive are transformed, whereupon both are then caught away into the higher region of the air ( εἰς ἀέρα) to meet the Lord, so that they thus at their meeting with the Lord shall be found not bodiless ( οὐ γυμνοί), but clothed with a corporeal covering(211) ( ἐνδυσάμενοι). See 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, and Lünemann’s note thereon. This belief is here laid down as certainty by εἴγε κ. τ. λ., and as such it conditions and justifies the longing desire expressed in 2 Corinthians 5:2, which, on the contrary, would be vain and empty dreaming, if that belief were erroneous, i.e. if we at the Parousia should be found as mere spirits without corporeality; so that thus those still living, instead of being transformed, would have to die, in order to appear as spirits before the descending Christ. We cannot fail to see in the words an incidental reference to those of the Corinthians who denied the resurrection, and without the thought of them Paul would have had no occasion for adding 2 Corinthians 5:3; but the reference is such, as takes for granted that the deniers are set aside and the denied fact is certain. As the whole of this explanation is quite in keeping with the context and the conceptions of the apostle, so is it with the words, regarding which, however, it is to be observed that the certainty of what is posited by εἴγε, if namely, is not implied in this particle by itself (in opposition to Hermann’s canon, ad Viger. p. 834), but in the connection of the conception and discourse. Comp. on Ephesians 3:2, Galatians 3:4, and Baeumlein, Partik. p. 64 f. On καί, also, in the sense of really, see Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 132; and on εἴ γε καί, comp. Xen. Mem. iii. 6. 13. The participle ἐνδυσάμενοι refers, however, to the act of clothing previous to the εὑρεθησόμεθα, so that the aorist is quite in its right place (in opposition to Hofmann’s objection, that the perfect is required); and finally, the asyndeton ἐνδυσάμ., οὐ γυμνοί makes the contrasts come into more vivid prominence, like γάλα, οὐ βρῶμα, 1 Corinthians 3:2; Romans 2:29; 1 Thessalonians 2:17, and often; comp. 2 Corinthians 5:7. See Kühner, II. p. 461; Fritzsche, ad Marc. p. 31; Hermann, ad Viger. p. 887.

The most current exposition on the part of others is: “Si nos iste dies deprehendet cum corpore, non exutos a corpore, si erimus inter mutandos, non inter mortuos,” Grotius. So, following Tertullian (de Resurr. 41, though he reads ἐκδυσ.), Cajetanus, Castalio, Estius, Wolf, Bengel, Mosheim, Emmerling, Schrader, Rinck, and others, and, in the main, Billroth also, who, however, decides in favour of the reading εἴπερ, and deletes the comma after ἐνδυσάμ.: “which (i.e. the being clothed upon) takes place, if we shall be found (on the day of the Lord) otherwise than already once clothed (with the earthly body), not naked (like the souls of the dead),” so that ἐνδυσάμ. οὐ γυμνοὶ εὑρ. together would be: utpote jam semel induti non nudi inveniemur. Against that common explanation, which J. Müller, von der Sünde, II. p. 422 f., ed. 5, also follows with the reading εἴπερ, the aorist participle is decisive (it must have been ἐνδεδυμένοι).(212) Billroth, however, quite arbitrarily imports the already once, and, what could be more unnecessary, nay, vapid, than to give a reason for οὐ γυμνοί by means of ἐνδυσάμ. in the assumed sense: since we indeed have already once received a body! which would mean nothing else than: since we indeed are not born bodiless. Against Billroth, besides, see Reiche, p. 357 f. According to Fritzsche, Diss. I. p. 55 ff., ἐνδυσάμ. is held to be in essential meaning equivalent to ἐπενδυσάμ.: “Superinduere (immortale corpus vivi ad nos recipere) volumus, quandoquidem (quod certo scimus et satis constat, εἴγε) etiam superinduti (immortali corpore) non nudi sc. hoc immortali corpore, sumus futuri h. e. quandoquidem vel sic ad regni Mess. ἀφθαρσίαν perveniemus.” But while the ἐπενδυσάμενοι may be included as a species among the ἐνδυσάμενοι, as opposed to the γυμνοί, they cannot be meant exclusively. Besides, the thought: “since we too clothed upon will not be without the immortal body,” would be without logical import, because the superinduere is just the assumption of the future body, with which we attain to the ἀφθαρσία of the Messianic kingdom. According to de Wette, Paul says: “if, namely, also (in reality) clothed, we shall be found not naked (bodiless), i.e. as we then certainly presuppose that that heavenly habitation will be also a body.” So, in the main, Lechler, Apost. u. nachapost. Zeitalt. p. 138 f., Ernesti, Urspr. d. Sünde, I. p. 118, the latter taking εἴγε καί as although indeed. But the whole explanation is absurd, since the ἔνδυσις could not at all be conceived as at the same time its opposite, as γυμνότης; and had Paul wished to lay emphasis on the fact that the clothing would be none other than with a body (which, however, was quite obvious of itself), he must have used not the simple γυμνοί (not the simple opposite of ἐνδυσάμ.), but along with it the more precise definition with which he was concerned, something, therefore, like οὐ σώματος γυμνοί (Plato, Crat. p. 403 B, and the passages in Wetstein and Loesner). According to Delitzsch, l.c. p. 436, εἰ καί is taken as although, and ἐνδυσάμ. as contrast of ἐπενδυσάμ., so that there results as the meaning: though, indeed, we too, having acquired the heavenly body by means of clothing (not clothing over), shall be found not naked. As if this were not quite obvious of itself! When clothed, one certainly is not naked! no matter whether we have drawn the robe on or o2Co 5:Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, and Oecumenius take ἐνδυσάμ. as equivalent to σῶμα ἄφθαρτον λαβόντες, but γυμνοί as equivalent to γυμνοὶ δόξης, for the resurrection is common to all, but not the δόξα. So also Usteri, Lehrbegr. p. 392 f.: “We long after being clothed upon, which event, however, is desirable for us only under the condition or presupposition that we, though clothed, shall not be found naked in another sense,” namely, denuded of the garland which we should have gained. Here also we may place Olshausen (comp. Pelagius, Anselm, Calvin, Calovius, and others), who takes οὐ γυμνοί as epexegetical of ἐνδυσάμ., and interprets the two thus: if we, namely, are found also clothed with the robe of righteousness, not denuded of it. Comp. also Osiander, who thinks of the spiritual ornament of justification and sanctification; further, Hofmann on the passage and in his Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 473, who, putting a comma after εἴγε (“if we, namely, in consequence of the fact that we also have put on, shall be found not naked”), understands ἐνδυσάμενοι as a designation of the Christian status (the having put on Christ), which one must have in order not to stand forth naked and, therefore, unfitted for being clothed o2Co 5:But where in the text is there any suggestion of a garland, a robe, an ornament of righteousness, a putting on of Christ (Galatians 3:27; Romans 13:14), or of the Christian status (1 Thessalonians 5:8; Ephesians 6:14; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10), or anything else, which does not mean simply the clothing with the future body? Olshausen, indeed, is of opinion that there lies in καί a hint of a transition to another figure; but without reason, as is at once shown by what follows; and with equal justice any change in the figure at our pleasure might be admitted! This also in opposition to Ewald’s interpretation: “if we at least being also clothed (after we have had ourselves clothed, i.e. raised again) be found not naked, namely, guilty, like Adam and Eve, Genesis 3:11.” This would point to the resurrection of the wicked, Revelation 20:12-15; if we belonged to these, we should certainly not have the putting on of glorification to hope for. But such a reference was just as remote from the mind of the apostle, who is speaking of himself and those like him, as the idea of Adam and Eve, of whom Beza also thinks in γυμνοί, must, in the absence of more precise indication, have remained utterly remote from the mind of the reader.


Whether the reading ἐχδυσ. or ἐνδυσ. be adopted, it is not to be explained of an interim body between death and resurrection (Flatt, p. 69; Schneckenburger, l.c. p. 130; Schott; Auberlen in the Stud. u. Krit. 1852, p. 709; Martensen, § 276; Nitzsch, Göschel, Rinck, and others, including Reiche,(213) l.c.), of which conception there is no trace in the New Testament;(214) but rather, since γυμνοί can only refer to the lack of a body: if we, namely, even in the case that we shall be unclothed (shall have died before the Parousia), shall be found not naked (bodiless), in which the idea would be implied: assuming, namely, that we in every case, even in the event of our having died before the Parousia, will not appear before Christ without a body; hence the wish of attaining the new body without previous death is all the better founded ( ἐπενδύσασθαι). Similarly Rückert. Kling (in the Stud. u. Krit. 1839, p. 511) takes it inaccurately: “although we, even if an unclothing has ensued, will not be found bare,” by which Paul is held to say: “even if the severing process of death has ensued, yet the believers will not appear bodiless on the day of the Lord, since God gives them the resurrection-body.”(215) The error of this view lies in although. No doubt Kling, with Lachmann, reads εἴπερ. But even this never means quamvis (not even in 1 Corinthians 8:5), and the Homeric use of εἴπερ in the sense: if also nevertheless, if even ever so much (Odyss. i. 167; Il. i. 81, and Nägelsbach’s note thereon, p. 43, ed. 3), especially with a negative apodosis (see Hartung, I. p. 339; Kühner, II. p. 562), passed neither into the Attic writers nor into the N. T.

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Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Absent from the body – present with the Lord

2 Corinthians 5:1-10

This chapter continues the subject dealt with in the closing verses of chapter 4. Two things support the believer under trial and suffering: seeing him who is invisible and seeing the glory which is to follow this brief life on earth. Our confident hope of an eternal, blessed life with Christ hereafter makes us indifferent to our temporary troubles and encourages us to seek our Lord's approval.

2 Corinthians 5:1. These are things which ‘we know.’ The body in which the soul dwells is an ‘earthly house’ because it is from the earth (Genesis 3:19) and shall return to the earth. It is called a ‘tabernacle’ or tent because of its frailty and short existence. It must soon wear out, be folded together and finally destroyed (Hebrews 9:27). When this comes to pass and the body is laid in the ground, the spirit returns to God (Luke 23:43; Philippians 1:23). We have ‘in the heavens’ a house, or habitation, or dwelling-place made by God, through the righteousness and death of Christ (John 14:1-3). It is a ‘building of God’ (worthy of its Author), ‘eternal’ (in that it shall never parish), and it will be enjoyed immediately after this tent is dissolved.

2 Corinthians 5:2. Two things are evident here.

1. The believer groans under the burdens of this life. He groans because of the nature and corruption of sin which remains in him (Romans 7:24-25).

2. The believer longs and desires to be free from all sin and to be like Christ (Psalms 17:15). He does not desire death just for the sake of being done with life's burdens and trials, but he desires to put on immortality and to enter into the eternal joys of his Lord.

2 Corinthians 5:3. We shall enter into the presence of the Lord clothed in the shining, pure and perfect robes of Christ's righteousness and shall not be ashamed (nor cast out) being naked (Matthew 22:11-13).

2 Corinthians 5:4. While we are still in this tent of flesh, ‘we do groan, being burdened’ with the body of flesh and sin and desiring to be with Christ, which is far better. It is not that we desire to cease to exist nor cease to live in God's universe and kingdom, but that we long to live truly in glory, holiness and immortality (1 Corinthians 15:51-54). There is death about us and in us, and we long to be done with it. Death is not to be desired for its own sake, but even in the flesh we rejoice in the Lord and in his good providence. But death is to be desired because it leads the believer to that glorious change into the image of Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:5. It is our sovereign Lord who has chosen, redeemed and called us to that glory and immortality (Romans 8:28-31). We can be sure of that inheritance, for God, in his unchangeable purpose (Malachi 3:6), has determined to populate the new heaven and new earth with a people like Christ. He gave his Son to redeem them and to provide for them a perfect righteousness, and he has given us his Holy Spirit as a pledge of that promise (Ephesians 1:13-14). Salvation is of the Lord in its plan, its execution, its application, its continuation and its ultimate perfection.

2 Corinthians 5:6. Because God has foreordained us unto eternal glory in, by and through Christ, and has given us the earnest of his Spirit, we are confident and assured that we shall enjoy those blessings. We know that while we are sojourners on earth in this natural body we are absent from the glorious presence of God and the full enjoyment of that for which we have been redeemed. We are not absent from his general presence, which is everywhere (and particularly with his people), but we have not yet entered into our inheritance (1 Peter 1:3-5).

2 Corinthians 5:7. Our lives, conduct and expectations are regulated by our firm conviction and belief concerning God's mercies and grace to us in Jesus Christ. We see nothing here (by the eye of sense) but misery, sin and death. Faith is spoken of as seeing. ‘He that seeth the Son...’ We see with the God-given eye of the soul which looks to Christ for all things.

2 Corinthians 5:8. ‘We are confident of our future happiness and quite willing to depart out of this world and to be present with the Lord’ (Philippians 1:23-24). Those who are born from above, whose hearts and treasures are above, whose affection is set on things above, inwardly desire to depart from this strange country and live above.

2 Corinthians 5:9. ‘We labour actively in the service and kingdom of the Lord preaching, witnessing and serving, and we labour passively, submitting to his divine providence, that whether living or dying, whether at home in the body or present with the Lord, we may be accepted in the Beloved.’ This is the one concern, the one desire of the renewed heart – to win Christ and be found in him (Philippians 3:8-11).

2 Corinthians 5:10. All sons of Adam must appear before the judgment seat of Christ (Hebrews 9:27). All judgment is committed to the Son (John 5:22). All judgment is relative to the Son (Romans 2:16). Men and women who have no interest in Christ, who have not the righteousness of Christ, shall give account of and stand responsible for every secret and open sin. Those who believe on Christ have no sin, therefore no condemnation (Romans 8:1). Our sins have been both judged and put away in our Lord's sacrifice (Hebrews 10:12-17).

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Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 2013.

The Bible Study New Testament

3. Without a body. Greek thought saw the immortal soul living forever without any body at all! Paul and the others proclaimed a raising from death which included a new body. Compare 2 Peter 3:13and notes.




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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

The State Of The Believer Between Death And Resurrection

2 Corinthians 5:1-8

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. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 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. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (for we walk by faith, not by sight:) we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (vv. 1-8)

In any discussion of the state of the believer between death and resurrection it is absolutely necessary, if we are to be at all intelligent as to it, to realize something of the truth of these verses. The first thing that we need to have clear in our minds is that there is an outward man and an inward man. The two are not to be confounded. There are materialists of different stripes who insist that the only man there is is the man that we can see from day to day, and that when death comes the entire man is laid away in the tomb, as some think, to remain in an unconscious sleep until the day of resurrection. But when we turn to the Word of God we do not find any such confusion of the outward with the inward man. The outward man is the physical man, the man that we see with the natural eye; the inward man is the man who dwells within this body, and that man we cannot see. I look over a great audience and I can see thousands of human forms, but I cannot see the inward man in any instance; I see only the outward. As you look up to the platform and see those of us standing or seated here, you are looking only at the tabernacles, the tabernacles of flesh in which we live.

You cannot really see us, for spirit is invisible to the natural eye. “The things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” God is Spirit, and yet God is real. He “maketh his angels spirits” (Psalms 104:4), and yet angels are real. God is a Person; angels are personalities, and you and I are spirit personalities living for a little while in mortal bodies. But now see what we are told in the opening verses of this fifth chapter.

“We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved [that is, if this tenement of clay, this physical body passes away, even though it goes back to its native element, as is so often the case after being put away in the grave, if that should take place], we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” Notice the distinction in every instance between ourselves and the houses in which we now live. Our earthly house is dissolving. Today I am looking into the faces of many who are growing old. It is a wonderful thing to grow old in Christ. Personally, I rejoice in every year that goes by. People say sometimes, “I don’t like getting old.” To be perfectly frank, I do, because I feel that every passing year is bringing me nearer the glory land, every passing year is bringing me nearer the time when I shall see the face of Him who loved me and gave Himself for me. Then too every passing year means just so much less conflict with the world, the flesh, and the Devil, and you know the Christian life is a conflict. How many temptations we have had to face! At times we have yielded, and other times through grace we have been enabled to overcome, but what a wonderful thing it will be when there is no more conflict, and no possibility of failure.

The old house is breaking down; with some of us the roof is thatched now with white hair, and we are reminded that day by day we shall soon move out unless Christ Himself returns. But we are not disheartened, we are not discouraged, for “though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” My hope is brighter now than it ever was; my joy in Christ is greater than it has ever been; the world means less to me today than it has ever meant, and the applause of men means less. But the approval of the Lord means more than it has ever meant. I do not feel that I am getting old, it is just the body, the outward man that is perishing, just the old house that is breaking down. I am just as certain that I “have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens,” awaiting me, as I am that I am living in this tenement of clay, and that body will be like the glorified body of the Lord Jesus Christ. I do not enter that new body the moment I die. Some have thought that this Scripture teaches that when we leave this world we find awaiting us in heaven a body that serves us between death and resurrection, and then in resurrection we shall have a glorified body that takes the place of this intermediate body. But the verse itself contradicts that thought. It says this house not made with hands abides “ eternal in the heavens.” Between death and resurrection we pass out of the body and our pure spirits enter into the presence of the Lord.

“In this we groan.” That is a Scripture I do not have to expound to you. You live it out; you know what it is to groan. There are many things to make us do so. Some of us used to groan in the bondage of sin, but though delivered from that, we are still groaning as we wait for a resurrection body. There are so many aches and pains and sorrows and sufferings. “In this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven.” That is, we are yearning for the time when we shall have our new body, we are looking forward to resurrection or change at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together unto Him.

But mark, even resurrection will not be a blessing if we are not robed in divine righteousness. And so the apostle puts in a word here lest people take it for granted that resurrection means salvation, for there shall be a “ resurrection…both of the just and unjust” (Acts 24:15). “They that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:29). And so he speaks of resurrection as a “clothing upon.” “If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.” Writing to the church at Laodicea, where a great many who professed the name of the Lord were not really born again, the Savior says, “Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). What a solemn thing it would be to stand before God as one risen from the dead and yet spiritually naked in His presence. You say, “Where can we find clothing suitable for the eyes of God?” It is that which He Himself provides. Isaiah says, “He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10). And so in that day when we are raised from the dead or are changed by power divine, if we live to greet Him when He returns, we who have trusted Christ shall not be found naked, we shall be clothed in the righteousness of God.

“We that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed,” we are not earnestly desiring to die, for that would not be a natural thing for any Christian. The Christian should not earnestly desire to die, and yet should be prepared for it, but he should also be prepared to live for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul says, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). And then he says that he would rather live to be a help and blessing to other people. And so we hope “not for that we would be unclothed,” but we do long to be “clothed upon.” That is, we would like to live to the second coming of our Lord Jesus to get our resurrection body in that wonderful hour of His triumph, “that mortality might be swallowed up of life.” And whether we live or die this is the final goal.

“Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.” It is a settled thing with God that someday we are going to have glorified bodies, and as proof of this He has already given us His blessed Holy Spirit to dwell within us, and He is the earnest of the joy that shall be ours by-and-by when we gather in His presence in the Father’s house. Because of this assurance, “We are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord.” We have no doubt as we think of any eventuality, whether living until Christ comes or dying. Notice that expression, “At home in the body.” I (the real I) am living in this body; the body is my house, my temporary house. I am at home in the body but I am absent from the Lord. He is up there in the glory. True, He has given me His Holy Spirit, as we have just seen, and by Him He dwells within me, but actually I am absent from the Lord. “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” We take His word for it-faith is taking God at His word. We are living in the body, and are absent from the Lord, but, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” It will be even more blessed for us to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Here then in one verse we have summed up for us the believer’s state between death and resurrection. When death comes for the Christian, in that moment the believer is absent from the body and at home with Christ.

Observe, he does not go to sleep in the body. The “soul-sleepers” insist that in the hour of death the believer becomes absolutely unconscious and knows nothing until the resurrection. You may ask, “But has he not Scripture for that? Does not the Bible speak of those that ‘sleep in Jesus?’ Does it not say, ‘We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed’ (1 Corinthians 15:51)? Is not sleep unconsciousness?” Yes, for the body; it is the body that sleeps; but you see, when my body falls asleep in Jesus, I leave the body. “Oh,” you say, “I cannot understand that.” “We walk by faith, not by sight.” Faith believes the Book, and it says, “Absent from the body, present with the Lord.” Notice how the apostle Paul speaks of this in the first chapter of Philippians. Here we see Paul in prison in Rome, waiting to be summoned before Nero, and he does not know what the outcome will be, whether he will be put to death or set free, and he writes to the Philippian friends and practically says, “Even if it were put up to me to choose, I do not know which I would desire, whether to die a martyr’s death or live a little longer”; but as he meditates upon it he says, “I really believe I would rather live a little longer and preach Christ to people.” “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death” (Philippians 1:20). Is not that a lovely expression? I want Christ to be made large in my life; I do not want people to think a great deal of Paul but of Christ. I want to be used of God to make Christ seem great in the eyes of men and women, that “Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.” If I can glorify Christ better by living I want to live; if I can glorify Him better by dying I want to die. The only thing is, I want Christ to loom large in the eyes of people for whom He died. “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (v. 21). There is only one reason to live, and that is to glorify Jesus, and then if I die I will go to be with Jesus, so that will be better. “But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you” (vv. 22-24). You cannot attach the thought of soul-sleep to that. If Paul thought of death as unconsciousness until the resurrection hour, he would have been in no dilemma. He would have said, “Since death is unconsciousness, I want to live as long as I can in order to preach Christ,” but he says, “No, it would be better to die because it would mean to be with Christ.”

How did he know it would be far better? Well, you say, he was an inspired apostle and the Lord revealed it to him. That is true, but there is more than that. The apostle Paul at one time had been permitted to have a certain experience which proved to him beyond the shadow of a doubt that it is far better to be with Christ in heaven than to live for Him on earth. People often say, “We do not know anything about heaven. Nobody has ever come back to tell us what it is like.” But they are overlooking something. Our Lord Jesus Christ came down from heaven, and He says, “In my Father’s house are many mansions [or abiding places].” Who are in those resting-places? All the saints who have gone on thus far. They are over yonder in the Father’s house. And then we have the testimony of this very man, the apostle Paul, for when we turn to the twelfth chapter of this epistle, we find him relating for us a most remarkable experience which he passed through. Wlien he went through this experience he was not conscious as to whether he was in the body or out of it. That is very interesting. Take our beloved friends who have died in Christ. We may sometimes think of them as in a very imperfect condition if their spirits are in heaven without the body, but Paul says, “If I was in the body I didn’t know it, and if I was out of it I didn’t miss it.” So our dear friends over yonder do not miss their bodies; they are perfectly intelligent and perfectly happy; they are really people even if out of the body. They are in heaven, in the royal garden, in paradise. They hear unspeakable things which it is not possible for a man to utter. Are they able to commune one with another? Oh, yes. Our blessed Lord has told us, even before the work of the cross was accomplished, of that rich man in hades, who looked across the great gulf and saw Lazarus and talked with Abraham, and among the lost the rich man was a personality, never to be rich again but to be poor. We read of “spirits of just men made perfect” (Hebrews 12:23). What communion they have with each other over there! But the best of all is that they are with Christ.




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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. 1914.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

2 Corinthians 5:3. εἴγε καὶ, if indeed even [if so be]) That, which is wished for, 2 Corinthians 5:2, has place [holds good] should the last day find us alive.— ἐνδυσάμενοι, being clothed) We are clothed with the body, 2 Corinthians 5:4, in the beginning.— οὐ γυμνοὶ) not naked, in respect to [not stripped of] this body, i.e. dead.— εὐρεθησόμεθα, we shall be found) by the day of the Lord.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

If so be, etc. — Our “desire” holds good, should the Lord‘s coming find us alive. Translate, “If so be that having ourselves clothed (with our natural body, compare 2 Corinthians 5:4) we shall not be found naked (stripped of our present body).”

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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

If so be ... [B Delta G read ei (Greek #1487) per (Greek #4007), provided that, if so be: 'Aleph (') C, ei-ge (Greek #1489), seeing that, since.] Our 'desire' holds good should Christ's coming find us alive. Translate, 'that is [ kai (Greek #2532)], if so be that having had ourselves (already) clothed (with our natural body, cf. 2 Corinthians 5:4), we shall not be found naked,' (stripped of it). Olshausen takes it improbably, 'having put on the robe of righteousness.'

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

Sustaining Truths

2 Corinthians 5

We need truths that can sustain us. Appearances are deceitful. Even in our most poetic moods, life is a struggle, a trial, a tragedy: even when we are in health we are not always just as well as we should like to be. There is a worm at the root of the flower: things do not fall squarely into place: we find in all the action of life a creaking and straining and groaning: nothing is harmonically complete. If that man were in another place the figure would be almost perfect, but he is not in another place; if that enemy were dead, we could carry on life to an easy and early victory, but he is not dead. We have to calculate with so much that is unseen and immeasurable, ghostly, imponderable, inevitable. Nothing can be handled altogether. We sow seed, and nothing comes of it; we have had all our ploughing to do over again, and the very earth seems to have conspired against us; it does not like the plough, it will not answer its well-intended rip. The very air is hostile at times; it is full of blackness, blight, coldness, mocking death. The child is ill; the bank is broken; trade is going down; those upon whom we leaned most squarely are getting tired of the pressure. This is one aspect of life. We tell the truth, and no man believes it; we persuade men to their salvation, and they mock us as though we were alluring them to their destruction: we mourn, and they do not lament; we pipe, and they do not dance; and all things are upside down. A man goes forth to do good, and he is treated as a felon; a Prayer of Manasseh, by the election and decree of God, is revealed to us as the Son of Prayer of Manasseh, and we give him five mortal wounds, and we shall know him for ever and ever by the scars we have made upon him. This is life in some of its multiplex aspects. What is to be done? Is there any bread? Is there any solid food? Is there any nourishment for the soul7 The old Puritans in reading these verses written by the hand of Paul called these comforts "sweetmeats." It was after the Puritanic fashion, not without quaint beauty, and much suggestiveness. But in very deed they are not sweetmeats, these are solid foods, this is none other than spring water, and this is none other than a banquet spread by the hands of God, of which if a man eat he shall kill lions, he shall lay his hand upon the cockatrice" den, and he shall know pain, fatigue, defeat no more.

What was it that sustained Paul—"in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings"? What kept him up? That is the penetrating and ennobling inquiry. There is not too much detail in Paul"s statement:—troubled, perplexed, persecuted, cast down; afflictions, necessities, distresses, stripes, imprisonments, tumults, labours, watchings, fastings. There are times when men find some degree of mournful satisfaction in going into the detail of their trouble—"it soothes poor misery hearkening to her tale." There is a system of spiritual evaporation, by which if a man shall submit his trouble to the pure noonday sunlight, the very action of the sun will cause a diminution in the trouble. It is easy for those who read the troubles of another man to say, He ought to have been more condensed in style. He was condensed enough in style; no man could put so much into a sentence as Paul: but when a man is subjected to the kind of discipline which fell to the lot of the Apostle, he is not magnifying himself but magnifying the Cross, as we shall see, when he details in painful minuteness all the sorrows which constituted his daily burden. If Paul had drawn up a mere catalogue of his own sufferings he would have been the victim of a species of egotism: we shall see that he only builds up the pillar of his endurances that he may make it burn with the glory of his Lord.

What comforted Paul under all these distresses? First of all he said, This is not all: if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, it matters nothing; in fact the sooner it is dissolved the better for us; it will be the opening of a prison-door, it will be the liberation from a painful school, we shall get home sooner. "We have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." Paul was a tent-maker; he takes his image from his tent-making—"If our earthly house of this tabernacle"—if this framework, this mere outline of a house be broken up, we shall not be left houseless, we have more houses than one; this is only the outside hut, this is the little place we commence in, this is the shell that encrusts us; when it falls off we shalt get our wings, all our faculties, and we shall fly away into the country of the sun. "If in this life only we have hope," said Paul, "we are of all men most miserable"; if you measure things by what can be seen and handled, then the Christian has nothing to say; he has chosen the Christ, he has chosen the economy of self-denial that shall end in self-obliteration. He will not take the wine as it is going, and there will be no wine to drink in the darkness into which he is about to fall. If in this life only we have hope, we are of all men the most disappointed; we have made a fatal miscalculation; we are not taking things in their real meaning, and devoting them to their real use; we are fools; we might have snatched something; when a weak man was putting the goblet to his lips we might have taken it from him and swallowed its contents ourselves; but, fool-like, we let him drain the goblet; we simply fall down dead, and have no home to go to, and no God to welcome us, and no King to say, Well done! exchange mortality for life. But, Paul said, "our conversation," literally, our citizenship, "is in heaven." Paul had only one foot upon the earth; all the rest of him was among the angels. He sustained himself in God.

The next sustaining thought that Paul received and lived upon was that what he already possessed was but an earnest, called in the fifth verse, "the earnest of the Spirit." What is the "earnest?" The first money, the money that means the promise. In the country fair the servant hires himself; so long as it is a mere word between two parties it amounts to nothing, but let an earnest pass, one little shilling, and the bond is sealed. That shilling means all the rest; holding that, you hold a bond that the law will not allow to be broken. So the Christian has the first money; that is to say, the first thought, the first comfort, the first pledge; and having the earnest he has the harvest; the first ear, nay the first blade that comes up above the ground, means the whole cornfield. There is no little blade that stands alone and says, I am the only thing you can see; if you do not take me, there is nothing else to take. No, the solar system never grew just simply one blade and no more; wherever there is a blade there is a harvest. Why not accept the teaching of this simple and tender thought, and live upon it? Have you any comfort, any noble impulse, any real consolation, any hold, how feeble soever upon spiritual things, eternal realities? That is enough; that is the earnest; the rest will come; meanwhile be faithful, be true, be simple-hearted, be frank-minded, be generous, be as Christ; for that one experience of joy means all heaven; heaven is nothing but that emotion made infinite. An earnest is a most important fact. The earnest once accepted cannot be thrown back again, without breaking law and bond and honour. Why not see the inner poetry and feel the higher music of things? Do not be felons in God"s great house, the world; taking earnests as if they had no further obligations and meanings attached to them; simply living upon your capital when you might say, As long as I have this impulse, this thought, this power of prayer, this faculty of vision, I hold heaven; my proof is in the earnest. An earnest is more than the firstfruits; an earnest is a pledge that the other and remaining larger sum will accrue and be realised if the proper service is willingly rendered. Is there a man who can stand up and say that he is a naked pauper in God"s universe? Not one. There are little hedge flowers, as well as garden floral pets; there are wild flowers as well as cultivated. You may have one little half-blade of grass; you could not take that out of a meadow which may be fenced and bounded and owned by somebody; such earnests grow in the open turnpike. There is no simply naked, absolutely destitute pauper in all God"s universe. Is there ever a tear of pity in your eye? That is an earnest; that means all the love of God. Is there ever a noble impulse in your thoughts? Do you ever say, even under the pinch of poverty and the clutch of crime, Yes, I will be better? That is prayer, the battle is won; it is no longer a fight, it is a victory. We cannot follow the earnest to its consummation:—"Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard neither hath entered into the heart of man to conceive what God hath prepared for them that love him." Yea, and though they are revealed to us by his Spirit, yet the Spirit never can reveal its whole self to us, any more than that the Atlantic can pour itself into a child"s thimble; it is a revelation that astounds or encourages or enlarges the soul; it is not a revelation in the sense of telling all that can be told; what ear of man can hold all the music of creation?

"Wherefore we labour, that, whether present, or absent, we may be accepted of him." That was the one grand purpose for which Paul lived, and that was his third sustaining thought. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ": literally, we must all be made manifest before the presence of Christ: every garment must be stripped off, every fold must be laid aside, every motive must be exposed; the whole soul must show itself to God"s noonday sun. That is a terror, and yet, on the other hand, it is a comfort. Many are first who shall be last, and many are last who shall be first, and many a great giver shall be proved to have given nothing, and many who have given out of their poverty shall hardly find throne enough in heaven worthy of the excellence which Christ shall impute to them. All-constraining love was the motive by which Paul accounted for his heroic patience, endurance, and sanctified suffering:—"The love of Christ constraineth us." You may take this passage in either of two ways: either Christ"s love for us, or our love for Christ; and they both come to the same thing in the end. When we think of Christ"s love for us we say,—

Besides all these thoughts, Paul refers to a new spiritual sense. He says, "We walk by faith, not by sight." Literally, we do not walk according to the appearance. "Sight" does not here mean the act of seeing; sight means the thing that is seen, the appearance, the shape; so that the godly man who is under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost says, That is a lie: That is a sophism: or, That is a snare: or, That is a temptation: the real meaning of things is behind them: take care that words do not muzzle your thoughts; let your words rather endeavour to express your thoughts. There is a way that seemeth good unto a Prayer of Manasseh, and even right, and the end thereof is death. Paul says: We do not walk according to appearances, according to "phenomena," according to things that can be seen with the eyes and handled with the hands: we have had enough of these lies: all such walking ends in darkness, if there be not another light and another faculty. Any man can wear out his body. You can make yourself blind by looking too much. You can be so grubbing amongst insects and specimens, flies and butterflies, and things that are picked up in out-of-the-way places, that at last no spectacles on earth will suit you. You should have looked otherwise. You might have looked for a few insects, and boxed them and classified them if you liked, but you lived for them. What have you got at the end? You are only yourself pinned into another case as a larger insect than any of the rest. But these men are called very scientific. It comes to nothing, if there be not above it another faculty, another power; then all other under-searching may be made most useful, contributive to what may amount to a revelation. We are dealing only now with those who are the victims of what they call phenomena. And yet no wonder they delight themselves; for, if you will read the life of Charles Darwin, you will be perfectly amazed at the names which innocent insects are made to bear. As some one said, he did not wonder at men knowing all about the stars, but wondered how they got to know their names. But certainly, if ever you saw poor little innocent insects maltreated, it would be under the enormous weight of Greek and Latin which they had to bear, without the slightest thought on their own part. You would not know your own garden, if you saw it in type after a real botanist had been in it. You would disown it; you would feel partially insulted, you would feel decidedly complicated,— to think that you had ever anything to do with all that sort of thing!—a kind of classical profanity! No, not you. But there are men who live in appearances, and men who hold conversations with one another when they have discovered a Latin name with three more syllables in it by which to distinguish a butterfly. Whether we may not live too much in appearances in what are called "phenomena," which is but another term for appearances, is a very serious question. We should live by faith, by imagination, by the highest poetry of the soul, by that Divine faculty of transubstantiation which makes the very stones memorials of God. There is no harm in searching into under-life, and all life; there is no harm in biology itself: the harm is in limiting knowledge to that which can be seen only with the bodily eye or handled only with the bodily hands. We rather believe with the Apostle that things, as seen, represent things not seen, and that things that are not seen are the real things, and the things that are seen are not realities. Your body is not yourself. Your friend is not dead. His body is in the pit called the grave, but his soul is marching on. "What," said some one, speaking about the Virgin Mary, "worship a dead woman!" There is no dead woman. It is a fool"s speech. The Virgin is not dead, but liveth. No creature that ever lived, in Christ"s sense of that term, can die. But because the poor framework, so many bones and so much sinew, flesh, and blood has been dissolved, we say, Our friend is dead. The term may be used for mere convenience; but as expressing a Christian thought it is a lie. Our friend was never so much alive as he is to-day, and when men come to see his poor dead flesh shrouded on the bed, say to those who look on, He is not here, he is risen! These were the thoughts that sustained the heroic Paul, and they will stand, and they will nourish the soul, when all the ignorance of impiety is forgotten like a nightmare.


Almighty God, our only confidence is in thee; in ourselves we have no trust, for we have proved ourselves, and know that in us—that Isaiah, in our flesh—there is no good thing. But thou wilt accomplish thine own work; we will not interfere with God, or seek to hinder him, or to counsel the omniscient; we will put ourselves into thine hands, saying only, Thy will be done. How thou art to make of us saints in Christ Jesus, we cannot tell; how thou art to work out the miracle of our perfect redemption, we know not: we fall back so much, we are so ignorant, so feeble, so inconstant, we cannot dream how wondrously thou shalt bring on the topstone; but thou wilt surely do Song of Solomon, thy work shall not be surrendered because of want of strength; thou dost not begin except that thou mayest conclude. Inasmuch as thou hast called us thou hast sanctified us: the call is the proof of the redemption; that we are at the altar at all is our confidence and our joy, that we shall ascend, little by little it may be, but with the certainty of thy decree, to all that is meant by heaven. Surely thou hast never forsaken us; we have not had one day"s experience of orphanhood; we have always known how near thou art and how good; if for a small moment thou didst seem to have forsaken us, we have lost the painful memory in the everlasting kindness with which thou hast gathered us. We will speak aloud of thy goodness; we shall not be ashamed of the Lord"s name; we shall ascribe unto thee honour and power and glory world without end; but, more than this, we shall ascribe to thee the glory of having redeemed us, though our unworthiness is unspeakable. All this thou hast done in thy Son Christ Jesus; without him is not anything done that is done: by him were all things made, and for him and to him shall be their final glory and their eternal praise. Such words thou hast taught us; such thoughts thou hast inspired in our minds; such visions thou hast spread out before our imagination. Enable us to walk according to thy law and commandment: may thy love not be a licence to us but a discipline; may the mercy of the Lord not encourage our presumption, but deepen our humility and our thankfulness! Let the Lord"s light be round about us like a blessing and delight. Let the Lord"s grace be in our hearts like the warmth of summer. Amen.

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Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. 1885-95.

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

2 Corinthians 5:1. We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God — eternal in the heavens. The contrast between a house made with hands, and a house made by Jehovah’s fiat, is very striking. But the assurance of it is more to be remarked. “We know” that if our bodies were dissolved, we have a mansion in the heavens. On the superior excellence of the ministry, and on the eternal weight of glory, our confidence is built, that whenever we shall be summoned away from this frail cottage, which may more appropriately be called a tent than a mansion, we have a celestial habitation, and therefore care the less about a mortal life, in hopeof a more glorious resurrection. Our hope is built upon the promises of God: on this hope Joseph gave commandment concerning his bones, and Abraham sought a better country. — We rely on the resurrection of Christ, as the firstfruits of them that slept. We are the more consoled in our hope, for having received the firstfruits of the Spirit, and now wait for the adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

2 Corinthians 5:2. Desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven. Many of the heathens had a notion that the souls of men were corporeal; and Tertullian seems to have embraced it, before he knew the gospel. They thought, as Thespesias, in Plutarch, is said to have returned from the dead, that souls retained the form and features of their bodies, and that the passions were to be traced on their countenance. Some critics also have conjectured that the soul receives a vehicle, an envelope, on leaving the body. But Beza, with many others, understand this passage, as in 1 Corinthians 15:53, of this mortal putting on immortality. Tirinus understands the soul to be clothed on leaving the body with a vestment of celestial glory. Chrysostom, Ambrose, and Theodoret understand it of a clothing of divine charity, justifying grace, and good works, implying all the fruits of the Spirit. And our wish not to be found naked, like Adam, certainly imports the being clothed with the glorious image of God.

2 Corinthians 5:3. That being clothed we shall not be found naked. Job says, I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my judgment was as a robe and a diadem: Job 29:14. The woman seen in a vision, is clothed with the sun. Revelation 12:1. The saints put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and are arrayed in the armour of light. When the Lord therefore shall come, they will not be found naked.

2 Corinthians 5:4. We that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened. This is the lot of the whole creation, but believers do not groan with impatience, having the fullest confidence in a Father’s love, and in that wisdom which cannot err. Nevertheless, we groan and sigh, that mortality may be swallowed up of life; that this mortal may put on immortality, and that we may be absorbed in the sunbeams of celestial glory. The soul disburdened of its load, exults in the Lord,

And swells unutterably full Of glory and of God.

2 Corinthians 5:6-8. Therefore we are always confident. Whatever be the storms and conflicts of life, we still press forward, and walk by faith. Confident, I say, that the issue shall be an eternal weight of glory, we would rather that the work and pilgrimage should be hastened, that we may follow the faithful armies, and be present with the Lord.

2 Corinthians 5:10. We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ. He will first of all, call his servants to give account of their time, their talents, and all the offices and trusts of life. Therefore, while we are absent in the body, we labour the more to be accepted of him. On the slothful servant, who has hid his Lord’s money, and wronged him of the good which might have been done, he will cast an eye of severe displeasure. On the prodigal, who has wasted all his substance in the circles of dissipation, who has robbed and ruined his friends, and ever revolted at correction, the final strokes will fall. On the effeminate, who have wasted their finest summer-mornings in chambering, while all the living beings of the earth were active, he will record the sentence, that they shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9. Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:15. The impartial Judge will so enlighten the conscience, that it shall ever have the presence of every crime; he will superadd the terrors of his high displeasure, and drive them to the congregation of the giants, as all the prophets have said. Job 26:4. Isaiah 14:9; Isaiah 14:20. Ezekiel 32:21.

2 Corinthians 5:11. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; not only by uplifting the veil of futurity, but by every persuasive argument suggested by the gospel, to flee from the wrath to come. In so doing, our real character is made manifest to God, and to the consciences of men, that we act in conformity to our mission. By spending our life in this way, I know the false apostles, those angels of light, put the worst construction on our best deeds, and attribute our conduct to derangement, and imbecility of mind.

2 Corinthians 5:13. But, whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God. We smile contemptuously at their feeble malice. They may not, or they will not know, that having entered into the wisdom of God in the redemption of the world, and seeing the whole human race lying in the arms of the wicked one, dead in trespasses and sins, we are constrained, we are urged and stimulated by the love of Christ to live as he lived, and preach as he preached. Therefore, we give you occasion to boast and glory in having apostles who live like their Master, and who put his death and resurrection in full power by causing the dry bones to revive, and live for him who died for them, and rose again.

2 Corinthians 5:16. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh. Though those false apostles come to you with mails and packets of letters, with all the honours that the rabbinical schools can confer, or all the powers with which the sanhedrim can invest them, we know them not. They are emissaries of darkness, transformed into angels of light. They come to beguile you, as the serpent beguiled Eve: 2 Corinthians 11:3; 2 Corinthians 11:14. — Nay more, we are not allowed now to dwell on the innocent infirmities of Christ, which were the most striking marks of his love to fallen man. We leave the unitarians to make a parade of his parentage, his hunger, his thirst, his weariness at the well; his soul sorrowful even unto death: all these are now swallowed up of life. Men may destroy their souls by looking at what is human, instead of looking only at the glory of Christ, the image of the invisible God. We do not forget the death of Robert Robinson, who, after making a shipwreck of faith in Birmingham on a Sunday, was found dead in his bed on the following Wednesday. The Lord cometh quickly, and his reward is with him.

2 Corinthians 5:17. Therefore, — just the reverse of those false apostles, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. The Spirit of regenerating grace produces by the word of truth, a new creation in his soul. Having seen the glory of Christ, and embraced him by faith, he becomes one spirit with the Lord. He is then in Christ as a branch is in the vine, as a stone is in the temple, as a member is in the body, as a child is in the family. This new birth is called the hidden man of the heart, which grows in knowledge and in grace, being nourished by the milk of the word. And if we may follow the allegory, the five senses of the body are all attributed to the new creature. He tastes, he sees that the Lord is good; he feels after God, he hears the Shepherd’s voice, and his soul inhales the sweet odour and fragrance of paradise. His life is equally new, for “old things are passed away, and all things are become new.”

2 Corinthians 5:18. All things are of God, in the work of our redemption, and he it is who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ. The entrance of sin into the world was followed with a breach between man and his Maker. Sin therefore must be expiated by an stoning sacrifice, prepared and approved of God, the law made honourable, the curse removed, death vanquished, and heaven and hope restored to man. The cross then became the grand theatre of reconciliation, and Satan was despoiled of all his glory. All other sacrifices were but shadows of this. Leviticus 16.

2 Corinthians 5:19. And hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. This is stated in the call of the holy prophets. Isaiah 6:8. Jeremiah 1:10. Ezekiel 3:17. Also in the call of the apostles. Matthew 10:7; Matthew 28:18-20. Ministers of Jesus, beware of lowering your credentials. Your ministry is not of men, nor by men, but by Jesus Christ. You watch as those that must give an account.

2 Corinthians 5:20. We are ambassadors for Christ. Plenipotentiaries, having full powers to preach righteousness, and promise salvation to all the rebels who turn from their foul revolt with contrite hearts, and embrace the Saviour. Here the grace is superabundant; instead of rebels suing for their life, it is God who sends to pray them to accept of mercy.

2 Corinthians 5:21. He hath made him to be sin for us. Sin is not here put in opposition to righteousness, but as a sin-offering, as often in the LXX. See Leviticus 4:3; Leviticus 29:5, 6. Psalms 40:7. In English, the word should be supplied, in Italics; and so St. Augustine reads: epis. 120. Hostiam pro peccato, a sacrifice for sin. The Chaldaic on Exodus 29:14 reads as Augustine. Then it follows, as he was made a sacrifice for sin on our account, we are made the righteousness of God in him, by the removal of guilt, and the gift of righteousness by faith. In the writings of Paul, salvation and righteousness are nearly synonymous terms. Romans 1:16-18. Christ becomes our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Glorious sacrifice — glorious ministry!


In the preseding chapter St. Paul had recited a sketch of his sufferings and support. Here he proceeds with the subject, and completes his triumph in the full assurance of faith. We know that if the earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God. Here the poor frail body is most aptly compared to a portable tabernacle or tent, easily removed from one place to another; an idea which best assorts with men who confess themselves to be strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Tents also are not of much value; they need frequent repairs, and they are soon worn out; in all these views it is the case with the body. But tents often contain great treasure, and are the abodes of princes and heroic men; and oh what a noble soul is sometimes discovered in a poor emaciated body, a soul groaning for immortality, and superior to the charms of worldly pomp.

Holy men have assurance of their portion in the life and immortality brought to light by the gospel. “We know” that we have a building of God, because their inward man is renewed day by day with foretastes and earnests of the heavenly inheritance. 2 Corinthians 4:17. Romans 8:10. And this assurance grows and encreases, as appears from 2 Timothy 4:7-8. Victory in conflicts, and patience in suffering, augment the consciousness of God’s favour, and convey a diversified knowledge of his ways. So the poet:

“The soul’s dark cottage, battered and decayed,

Lets in new light through chinks which time has made.”

Assurance is inseparable from aspirations after heaven. An earthly mind is a canker to our comforts, and fills us with anxiety and pain. And as we cannot go to heaven till our work is done, assurance is connected with sincere efforts to please and serve God. Whether present or absent, we labour to be accepted of him. Here is the grand duty of the saints, and the object of their utmost wish to be pleasing in heart and life to God. Then they need not be over solicitous of comforts, for while they endeavour to be holy, the Lord’s comforts, like showers and sunbeams, will follow of their own accord.

Assurance, so intimately connected with the love of God, is equally connected with the love of man. Knowing the terrors of the Lord, and the awful situation of the impenitent at his bar, we persuade men: we sacrifice all on earth, and risk life itself for their salvation. The world accounted this extraordinary zeal — fanaticism; but if the apostles were beside themselves, it was for the churches, and the objects which demand our zeal also.

To this divine service they were constrained by the redeeming love of Christ, but in a way perfectly consonant to sound reason. They judged, that if Christ died for all, then all must be dead in trespasses and sins. And he really did die for all, for God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, first by the satisfaction on the cross, as explained in Romans 3.; and next, he continued the act of reconciling them by conversion. This then was the embassy and mission of the apostles. Had their Master been on earth, he would still have gone about doing good, and have diversified his ministry in a thousand forms. He would have exercised patience with diligence, and strove to remove prejudice. He would have wept over the obstinate, as over Jerusalem. Therefore his servants venture with trembling to fill his place; and they can preach mercy by commission, and realize by example, God having pardoned their sins, and made them encouraging patterns to others. Surely argumentation was never more cogent, or conclusion more impressive.

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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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

Ver. 3. If so be that, &c.] q.d. Howbeit, I know not whether we shall be so clothed upon, that is, whether we that are now alive shall be found alive at Christ’s coming to judgment, whether we shall then be found clothed with our bodies, or naked, that is, stripped of our bodies.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

A Building from God

2Cor 5:1. This passage connects directly to the end of the previous chapter. There Paul says that he is not discouraged though his body had fallen into a state of exhaustion through suffering. Here he says why he is not discouraged. In chapter 4 he drew a comparison between our life on earth with all the troubles and difficulties with all that waits for us when we are with the Lord. What is waiting for us with the Lord? The answer is in 2Cor 5:1 "a building from God." For a Christian there is no uncertainty about it. That is why Paul says "for we know". This concise statement rules out any doubt.

Chapter 4 makes clear that "the earthly tent which is our house" – the body that we have now – "is torn down". Peter also calls his body a 'tent' (2Pet 1:13-14) with which he means that our body is a temporal home in which we will not dwell for eternity. A tent is also a mobile home which means that the earth is not our permanent residence.

So it is with your body. The body which you now have is not the body in which you will spend eternity, for our body shows too many marks of sin. Our body is called "the body our humble state" (Phil 3:21). God cannot be satisfied to have you with this body with Him in heaven. No, He has something far better for you.

He already has a building for you and this building is not made by human hands but He Himself designed it and built it. This building is not like your present body which is temporal and related to the earth. The building God has prepared for you is eternal and related to heaven. It also belongs to heaven. This building from God is the body you are going to receive when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to take you up.

2Cor 5:2. Now "we groan". I wonder if you know of this groaning. We groan because we experience the limitations of our body. Groaning is an expression of grief for which there are no words. We groan when we are depressed and when we come across things which we would like to be otherwise but we do not have the means or the way to change them. You have new life and you long to serve the Lord but you are facing hurdles. It is because you are living in a world which is absolutely against the will of God.

You experience discouragement when you share the gospel with people, for they either resist or ridicule. They scoff at God and persecute those who stand up for the Lord Jesus. Then you feel the urge to get released from that 'earthly tent' and be clothed with the "dwelling from heaven".

"To be clothed with" means that our body is a clothing over which another clothing will be pulled so that the clothing underneath will be completely hidden. With "clothed" is meant that our body will be changed at the coming of the Lord.

2Cor 5:3. At a first look this verse appears to be difficult. When you do not compare and collate it with the previous and following verses you could even think that there are certain ambiguities in this verse. If 2Cor 5:2 and 2Cor 5:4 are clear then you can understand this verse also.

In 2Cor 5:3 the matter is regarding being "clothed" in contrast to "not be found naked". To be clothed means to have a literal body. 'Naked' means to stand before God on your own account. Despite his apron made out of fig leaves Adam felt so when he stood before God after he sinned (Gen 3:7-10). He no longer felt this nakedness after God provided a covering for it. God used the skin of an animal for this. That means an animal was killed for this purpose. Adam's nudity was covered on the basis of the death of an innocent animal.

From this you learn that in order not to be found naked you must be clothed upon with a clothing that is provided by God himself. This clothing is the Lord Jesus. The one who does not have this clothing to cover his sins and stands naked before God cannot be clothed with the dwelling from heaven at the coming of the Lord Jesus. Only those who are clothed in the spiritual sense in Christ Jesus (cf. Rom 8:1) will be clothed with that dwelling from heaven.

Although this book has been written for believers perhaps there is someone among the readers of whom it has to be said that despite being clothed he will be found naked should the Lord come at the very moment when he reads this. Then I suggest that such a one should not read further, but go down on his knees and confess his sins to God. He will accept you when you come to Him just as you are.

When you truly repent for your sins, God forgives you on the basis of what the Lord Jesus did on the cross. A song which I often sing on the streets along with other believers says in essence that He still wants to forgive you whatever your sins are and when you hand over everything to Him you will be free immediately. This is a great invitation. Accept Him.

2Cor 5:4. Only believers will be "clothed" which means that their bodies will be transformed at the coming of the Lord Jesus. But the meaning is still stronger. In fact the under clothing not only completely disappears but it ceases to exist. The under clothing is swallowed up by the upper clothing and nothing is left. Thus the old is completely replaced by the new (cf. 1Cor 15:51-54).

What Paul writes becomes still clearer in that he says that he would rather prefer to be clothed than to be unclothed. When the body is compared to a clothing 'unclothed' then can only mean to die. To die is like putting off clothing. Paul would therefore rather prefer to experience to be caught up and transformed at the coming of the Lord than first to die and be raised at His coming. So strong was his desire for this house in heaven. Would you emulate him?

2Cor 5:5. The one who did this is eagerly waiting for the coming of the Lord Jesus and for all that is related to that event. Everything has been prepared by God and the beauty is that God not only prepared all things for you, but He also prepared you. The proof is that He has given you His Spirit as pledge (cf. 2Cor 1:22) once again to see what I have written about this pledge there.

We have already been given the Spirit Who gives us courage because we can look forward to the building from God. The Spirit Himself has come down from heaven and He sees to it that we do not feel at home on earth. But we know for sure that we have an eternal house in heaven.

Now read 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 again.

Reflection: Why do you or do you not long for heaven?

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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

Paul's Longing for the Future Glory.

Paul's expectation of a glorified body:

v. 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.

v. 2. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven,

v. 3. if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.

v. 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.

v. 5. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given us the earnest of the Spirit.

In comparing the afflictions of this present time with the future glory, chap. 4:17, Paul had declared the former to be light, insignificant, in comparison with the latter. And therefore he himself looks forward with the faith of hope to the realization of these glories in his own body: For we (Christians I know that if our earthly house of the tent dwelling be dissolved, we have a building from God. a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens. The apostle speaks of the bodies of the Christians as flimsy and unstable tents, sheltering the soul for a time, Isa_38:12. The time will come, and that very soon, when this tent, this mortal body, will be destroyed by physical death. But he has the firm assurance that it will be replaced by a solid building, by a real house, not built up by the natural processes of physical growth, but the direct gift of God. The new dwelling which he hopes to enter will not be rude and temporary, but it will be permanent, it will last forever; and instead of being in this world, with its illusions and vanity, it will be in the heavens, in the home of Christ and the Father, where the only true and lasting joys will be found. Our earthly, mortal body will be laid into the grave, to become a prey of worms, but the body which we shall receive at the hands of God, the body of the resurrection, will partake of the immortality of Christ Himself.

That this is the apostle's meaning appears plainly from the next statements: For indeed in this (tent-dwelling) we sigh, sincerely longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven. So long as a believer is still in the flesh of this life, he sighs and groans with longing for the time when the heavenly body which awaits him above will, as it were, be put on over the mortal flesh, like a garment which hides forever its perishable nature. Paul here expresses the same thought as in 1Co_15:52, where he speaks of a changing, by which our present vile body will become spiritual and immortal. The believers will, on the last day, "put on the lord's dress of their heavenly habitation over the servant's coat of the earthly hut, in the same manner as the human nature of Christ in the bosom of the Virgin Mary became the dwelling-place of eternal glory. " But the apostle adds a condition: If so be that we be found clothed, not naked. During their entire life on earth the believers put on Christ and the garment of His righteousness by means of the Word and the Sacraments, Gal_3:27 : Rom_13:14. Without this covering of the innocence and righteousness of Christ the shame of a person's nakedness will appear, Rev_3:18. and there will be no putting on of the garment of Christ's heavenly glory.

The reason for our sighing and groaning is given by the apostle: For we that are in the tent-dwelling sigh because we are burdened, not for that we want to be unclothed, but clothed upon, in order that the mortal may be swallowed up by the life. While we are here on earth, the mortal body with its many weaknesses and ailments is a burden for the soul. But what Paul desired with groaning was not to be freed from this burden by a taking off of its heavy garment by physical death, but that his mortal body might, without passing through death, be absorbed into the heavenly body which he knew was awaiting him. God had not revealed to him whether he would die or live to the great day of the final revelation of God's glory. He was also altogether willing to abide by God's decision in the matter; nevertheless his great wish was not to pass through death, but to participate in the wonderful change of the last day, by which his mortal body would be changed directly into the spiritual, heavenly body. In this way his mortal body would be swallowed up by the life of eternity. But whatever the manner by which he would enter into the state of immortality in heaven, Paul was confident of one thing: Now He that has perfected us, that has fully made us ready for this same thing is God, who gave to us the earnest money of the Spirit. The believers are prepared for that end, that is the purpose for which God has destined them through the work which He has spent on them: they should be kept unto eternal life, they should enjoy the bliss of heaven. Of this fact we have a guarantee in the form of the Holy Spirit, who was given to us in the means of grace and has wrought this certainty in our hearts. He it is that makes us sure and keeps us sure of our heritage in heaven. As surely as the Spirit in our hearts cannot lie, so surely will our longing for eternal life and for the glorious liberty of the children of God be satisfied at the time fixed by God.

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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". 1921-23.

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

Unquestioned certainty as to the future, and present confidence of faith are seen here further developed. "We know" is the proper language of Christianity. "The earthly house of this tabernacle" is of course what is called the "earthen vessel" and "outward man" in chapter 4: that is, our physical body as it is today. There is no cause for alarm if it is dissolved, for it is only intended to be temporary. In fact, it is said (though we are not in present possession of it) that "We have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens." That is, it is just as certain as though we were already inhabiting it. This is no doubt "the body that shall be," "a spiritual body," in contrast to that natural. For in resurrection the Lord Jesus shall change our body of humiliation, that it may be fashioned like unto His body of glory (Philippians 3:21). Our bodies then, in altered form, will be like that of the Lord Jesus. Meantime we groan, in desire to be clothed upon with that precious "house that is of heaven." It is not here "from heaven," as though this was its origin; but "of heaven," that is heavenly in character, suited to heavenly and spiritual conditions.

"If, at least, that being clothed, we shall not be found naked." From this viewpoint then it is possible to be clothed and yet naked. It is the unbeliever who will be found naked; so that, the resurrection body of the unbeliever, while clothing his soul and spirit, will not cover the shame of his nakedness. This verse then guards against unbelief assuming itself safe. True confidence is only for the child of faith.

Our present body, here called "this tabernacle," is one of humiliation, in which we groan, as does all creation today, having burdens and problems that never cease. Not however preferring to be unclothed, that is, in death, but clothed upon with the body of resurrection, "that mortality might be swallowed up of life." This is the normal, proper desire of the believing heart. If death is necessary on the way to obtaining this, the apostle is of course perfectly agreeable to passing through death; but with the assured future object of resurrection with Christ. It is God who has wrought within believers in view of this, and He has given them His Spirit as the earnest, that is the pledge and foretaste of this blessed end. He makes precious and real to us now the living power of such future glory.

"Therefore we are always confident." Whatever may transpire on earth, it cannot change this mighty working of God. The apostles rest upon His faithfulness. If now at home in the body, they are of course absent from the Lord, who is Himself in heaven. And since walking by faith, not by sight, they are fully confident and willing to be absent from the body, and at home with the Lord. This of course is not the full objective of being clothed upon, but the prospect of even this gives them not the slightest tremor of fear, for the eternal future is certain.

Paul's zeal in verse 9 is to be "agreeable" to the Lord, that is, to fully please the One in whom he has such confidence. For fullest manifestation of everything is to be made at the judgment seat of Christ. Every individual will be manifested there. For the believer, the judgment seat of Christ will be in heaven, after the rapture: for the unbeliever it will be the Great White Throne, where men are judged according to their works. The believer "shall not come into judgment" (John 5:24); but his works shall be judged, and he shall receive the things done in his body, whether good or worthless. All will be laid bare before the eyes of the Lord of glory: all that has been truly done for Him will receive a reward, all else burned up (1 Corinthians 3:14-15). It is no question of law, but rather of the measure in which grace has been responded to in the life of the believer. Yet all that is worthless will be rejected, and "the terror of the Lord" is an expression not to be lightly regarded.

For the terror of the Lord is against what is contrary to His character: nothing of this can stand before His presence. Knowing this, the apostles were diligent in persuading men to no longer fight against God, but to be reconciled. As to their relation to God, it was as being now made fully manifest, not merely leaving this till the future. And they trusted that the Corinthians too would recognize this open honesty in them. Certainly they ought to have, without Paul's writing to them; but he wrote, not to defend themselves, but for the sake of the Corinthians, who were being wrongly influenced by men whose appearance was impressive, but whose hearts were not true, very likely the "false apostles" of whom he speaks in chapter 11:13. What Paul writes would certainly furnish the Corinthians with good material for answering the proud assumptions of such men, by pointing to the willing self - humiliation of the apostles, in devotion to the Person of Christ. How much more convincing a proof of apostleship than the officious ways of ambitious men!

For if it seemed the apostles were "beside themselves," that is, consumed with burning zeal, yet God was the Object of this devotion; or if on the other hand they showed a sober spirit of genuine concern, it was for the sake of the true blessing of souls, the Corinthians and others too.

As in verse 11 the knowledge of the terror of the Lord moves them deeply, so in verse 14 does the love of Christ. For love deeply desires to deliver souls from the awful terror of the Lord against the evil that has taken them captive. Christ has in infinite love "died for all;" but this does not save all. It rather proves that all are under sentence of death, and makes available to all the salvation that is obtained by receiving Christ Himself as Saviour. The fact of Christ's death therefore is only death to the unbeliever. The believer however, receiving Christ, receives the life that results from His death, in fact resurrection life.

How right then that "they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again." Certainly He Himself is to be the Object of that new life which He has communicated. Self has no remaining claim whatever: death is its rightful portion. Christ alone is worthy of the entire devotion of the believer's life.

The death of Christ then has brought to an end all men according to flesh. Even though some had known Christ as Man on earth, in a body of flesh and blood, yet He can never be known in this way again. The relationship of Mary, His mother, to Him, can no longer be the same. She knows Him now in a higher, more vital relationship, which is shared by all true believers. In resurrection He is Head of a new creation, the first having been set aside by His death. On the old basis, Mary Magdalene could not touch Him, but she was to know Him as ascended to His Father and our Father, to His God and our God (John 20:16-17).

"In Christ" is new creation, a contrast to being "in Adam" (1 Corinthians 15:22) the head of the first creation. In new creation, "old things are passed away - all things are become new." He is not speaking of the experience of a believer, but of his new position. Some have been deeply frustrated in trying to apply this to daily experience, for manifestly our present body is still connected with Adam and the first creation, and the fleshly nature is still with us. But positionally we are now introduced permanently into this new creation by virtue of the death and resurrection of Christ, and this is henceforth our proper sphere of life - Christ Himself the Head, and therefore the Object to attract the heart. The circumstances into which I am introduced are those entirely new; and having a new nature as born of God, this is itself a vital connection with this blessed new creation.

"All things are of God." The first creation was corrupted by the introduction of Satan's lie and man's disobedience. But nothing can possibly mar the perfection of the new creation: nothing is conditional, as it was in the garden of Eden: all is the work of God alone, involving the complete settlement of the sin Adam introduced, and the marvellous reconciliation of those once enemies, by means of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, reconciliation "to Himself," the God of infinite grace.

And by grace too He has committed to His servants "the ministry of reconciliation." Marvellous is the reality and power of this, "that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." Adam was responsible for the guilt that has estranged man from God. We may say then that man was responsible to remedy this. But he could not: sin's enmity is too much for him. But God, who was not in any way responsible to do so, has in pure love and grace laid the perfect foundation of reconciliation for all the world, by the gift of His own Son. The only way by which our trespasses could be "not imputed" to us, was by means of the blessed sacrifice of Calvary, where they were imputed to Christ instead. Blessed basis for taking away man's enmity toward God! Indeed, in this we see how wrong we were in ever having been antagonistic to Him.

What a message then is that given to His servants! It is totally in contrast to that of asking something from man, but the declaring of the kindness of God in making full provision for man's reconciliation by pure grace. The apostles were in a special way "ambassadors for Christ," sent with the message of such love, the instruments through whom God Himself entreated mankind to be reconciled to Him. It would be more normal to expect that man would be earnestly entreating God to deal in mercy with him. But God rather urges man to accept now the mercy that He has so graciously proffered to all. So His love is seen, not only in the wonderful sacrifice of His own Son to bear our sins, but also in His patient grace and entreaty with men to receive His love.

In verse 21, as always everywhere, how careful is the Spirit of God to insist upon the spotless sinlessness of the nature of the Lord Jesus. Not only is it said, "Who did no sin" (1 Peter 2:22), but "in Him is no sin" (1 John 3:5), and here, "Who knew no sin." Sin is totally foreign to His nature: nothing in Him could possibly respond to its temptations. He "suffered, being tempted," the very opposite of any inclination to give way (Hebrews 2:18). Yet at Calvary God made Him to be sin for us, the only sacrifice possible. The wonder and the dreadful solemnity of this will never cease to engage the adoration and affections of our hearts for eternity. And in result God's righteousness is forever displayed in the saints and in their identification with Christ, their Representative.

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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. 1897-1910.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

The apostle in these verses pursues the argument of the former chapter, concerning the grounds of their courage and patience under afflictions. And,

I. He mentions their expectation, and desire, and assurance, of eternal happiness after death, 2 Corinthians 5:1-5. Observe particularly,

1. The believer's expectation of eternal happiness after death, 2 Corinthians 5:1. He does not only know, or is well assured by faith of the truth and reality of the thing itself - that there is another and a happy life after this present life is ended, but he has good hope through grace of his interest in that everlasting blessedness of the unseen world: ldblquote We know that we have a building of God, we have a firm and well-grounded expectation of the future felicity. dblquote Let us take notice, (1.) What heaven is in the eye and hope of a believer. He looks upon it as a house, or habitation, a dwelling-place, a resting-place, a hiding-place, our Father's house, where there are many mansions, and our everlasting home. It is a house in the heavens, in that high and holy place which as far excels all the palaces of this earth as the heavens are high above the earth. It is a building of God, whose builder and maker is God, and therefore is worthy of its author; the happiness of the future state is what God hath prepared for those that love him. It is eternal in the heavens, everlasting habitations, not like the earthly tabernacles, the poor cottages of clay in which our souls now dwell, which are mouldering and decaying, and whose foundations are in the dust. (2.) When it is expected this happiness shall be enjoyed - immediately after death, so soon as our house of this earthly tabernacle is dissolved. Note, [1.] That the body, this earthly house, is but a tabernacle, that must be dissolved shortly; the nails or pins will be drawn, and the cords be loosed, and then the body will return to dust as it was. [2.] When this comes to pass, then comes the house not made with hands. The spirit returns to God who gave it; and such as have walked with God here shall dwell with God for ever.

2. The believer's earnest desire after this future blessedness, which is expressed by this word, stenazomen - we groan, which denotes, (1.) A groaning of sorrow under a heavy load; so believers groan under the burden of life: In this we groan earnestly, 2 Corinthians 5:2. We that are in this tabernacle groan, being burdened, 2 Corinthians 5:4. The body of flesh is a heavy burden, the calamities of life are a heavy load. But believers groan because burdened with a body of sin, and the many corruptions that are still remaining and raging in them. This makes them complain, O wretched man that I am! Romans 7:24. (2.) There is a groaning of desire after the happiness of another life; and thus believers groan: Earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven (2 Corinthians 5:2), to obtain a blessed immortality, that mortality might be swallowed up of life (2 Corinthians 5:4), that being found clothed, we may not be naked (2 Corinthians 5:3), that, if it were the will of God, we might not sleep, but be changed; for it is not desirable in itself to be unclothed. Death considered merely as a separation of soul and body is not to be desired, but rather dreaded; but, considered as a passage to glory, the believer is willing rather to die than live, to be absent from the body, that he may be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:1), to leave this body that he may go to Christ, and to put off these rags of mortality that he may put on the robes of glory. Note, [1.] Death will strip us of the clothing of flesh, and all the comforts of life, as well as put an end to all our troubles here below. Naked we came into this world, and naked shall we go out of it. But, [2.] Gracious souls are not found naked in the other world; no, they are clothed with garments of praise, with robes of righteousness and glory. They shall be delivered out of all their troubles, and shall have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, Revelation 7:14.

7:14}.3. The believer's assurance of his interest in this future blessedness, on a double account: - (1.) From the experience of the grace of God, in preparing and making him meet for this blessedness. He that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God, 2 Corinthians 5:5. Note, All who are designed for heaven hereafter are wrought or prepared for heaven while they are here; the stones of that spiritual building and temple above are squared and fashioned here below. And he that hath wrought us for this is God, because nothing less than a divine power can make a soul partaker of a divine nature; no hand less than the hand of God can work us for this thing. A great deal is to be done to prepare our souls for heaven, and that preparation of the heart is from the Lord. (2.) The earnest of the Spirit gave them this assurance: for an earnest is part of payment, and secures the full payment. The present graces and comforts of the Spirit are earnests of everlasting grace and comfort.

II. The apostle deduces an inference for the comfort of believers in their present state and condition in this world, 2 Corinthians 5:6-8. Here observe, 1. What their present state or condition is: they are absent from the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6); they are pilgrims and strangers in this world; they do but sojourn here in their earthly home, or in this tabernacle; and though God is with us here, by his Spirit, and in his ordinances, yet we are not with him as we hope to be: we cannot see his face while we live: For we walk by faith, not by sight, 2 Corinthians 5:7. We have not the vision and fruition of God, as of an object that is present with us, and as we hope for hereafter, when we shall see as we are seen. Note, Faith is for this world, and sight is reserved for the other world: and it is our duty, and will be our interest, to walk by faith, till we come to live by sight. 2. How comfortable and courageous we ought to be in all the troubles of life, and in the hour of death: Therefore we are, or ought to be, always confident (2 Corinthians 5:6), and again (2 Corinthians 5:8), We are confident, and willing rather to be absent from the body. True Christians, if they duly considered the prospect faith gives them of another world, and the good reasons of their hope of blessedness after death, would be comforted under the troubles of life, and supported in the hour of death: they should take courage, when they are encountering the last enemy, and be willing rather to die than live, when it is the will of God that they should put off this tabernacle. Note, As those who are born from above long to be there, so it is but being absent from the body, and we shall very soon be present with the Lord - but to die, and be with Christ - but to close our eyes to all things in this world, and we shall open them in a world of glory. Faith will be turned into sight.

III. He proceeds to deduce an inference to excite and quicken himself and others to duty, 2 Corinthians 5:9-11. So it is that well-grounded hopes of heaven will be far from giving the least encouragement to sloth and sinful security; on the contrary, they should stir us up to use the greatest care and diligence in religion: Wherefore, or because we hope to be present with the Lord, we labour and take pains, 2 Corinthians 5:9. f3Philotimoumethacf0 - We are ambitious, and labour as industriously as the most ambitious men do to obtain what they aim at. Here observe, 1. What it was that the apostle was thus ambitious of - acceptance with God. We labour that, living and dying, whether present in the body or absent from the body, we may be accepted of him, the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:9), that we may please him who hath chosen us, that our great Lord may say to us, Well done. This they coveted as the greatest favour and the highest honour: it was the summit of their ambition. 2. What further quickening motives they had to excite their diligence, from the consideration of the judgment to come, 2 Corinthians 5:10, 2 Corinthians 5:11. There are many things relating to this great matter that should awe the best of men into the utmost care and diligence in religion; for example, the certainty of this judgment, for we must appear; the universality of it, for we must all appear; the great Judge before whose judgment-seat we must appear, the Lord Jesus Christ, who himself will appear in flaming fire; the recompence to be then received, for things done in the body, which will be very particular (unto every one), and very just, according to what we have done, whether good or bad. The apostle calls this awful judgment the terror of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:11), and, by the consideration thereof, was excited to persuade men to repent, and live a holy life, that, when Christ shall appear terribly, they may appear before him comfortably. And, concerning his fidelity and diligence, he comfortably appeals unto God, and the consciences of those he wrote to: We are made manifest unto God, and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. par

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Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

The believer not only is well assured by faith that there is another and a happy life after this is ended, but he has good hope, through grace, of heaven as a dwelling-place, a resting-place, a hiding-place. In our Father's house there are many mansions, whose Builder and Maker is God. The happiness of the future state is what God has prepared for those that love him: everlasting habitations, not like the earthly tabernacles, the poor cottages of clay, in which our souls now dwell; that are mouldering and decaying, whose foundations are in the dust. The body of flesh is a heavy burden, the calamities of life are a heavy load. But believers groan, being burdened with a body of sin, and because of the many corruptions remaining and raging within them. Death will strip us of the clothing of flesh, and all the comforts of life, as well as end all our troubles here below. But believing souls shall be clothed with garments of praise, with robes of righteousness and glory. The present graces and comforts of the Spirit are earnests of everlasting grace and comfort. And though God is with us here, by his Spirit, and in his ordinances, yet we are not with him as we hope to be. Faith is for this world, and sight is for the other world. It is our duty, and it will be our interest, to walk by faith, till we live by sight. This shows clearly the happiness to be enjoyed by the souls of believers when absent from the body, and where Jesus makes known his glorious presence. We are related to the body and to the Lord; each claims a part in us. But how much more powerfully the Lord pleads for having the soul of the believer closely united with himself! Thou art one of the souls I have loved and chosen; one of those given to me. What is death, as an object of fear, compared with being absent from the Lord!

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

on the Whole Bible". 1706.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Some make the clothing here spoken of different from the clothing before mentioned; and make this verse restrictive of what the apostle had before said, of the certainty which some have of being clothed upon with a glorious body.

If so be (saith the apostle) we shall not be found naked, but clothed, i.e. with the wedding garment of Christ’s righteousness; for concerning those that do not die in the Lord, that do not watch, and keep their garments, it is said, Revelation 16:15, they shall walk naked, and men shall see their shame. But considering the clothing before mentioned was not this clothing, but the superinducing of an immortal, incorruptible, glorious state of body, upon our mortal, corruptible state, some judicious interpreters think, that the clothing here mentioned is the clothing of the soul with the body. It is manifest that the apostles apprehended Christ’s second coming much nearer than it hath proved. Therefore he saith, 1 Thessalonians 4:15: We that are alive (supposing that generation might live) to Christ’s second coming; and 1 Corinthians 15:51: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. This some think (and that not improbably) is the cause of this passage; the sense of which they judge to be this: If so be that we be, at the resurrection, found in the flesh, clothed still with our bodies, and shall not be found naked, that is, stripped of our flesh, and dead before that time.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

The Reason Why They Are Setting Their Minds On Things Above (2 Corinthians 5:1-10)

The thought of looking at what is unseen, rather than at what is seen, now leads on to a consideration of the resurrection of the body. Paul visualises the glorious future that awaits all who are His. Not for the Christian the nakedness of death, but a renewed, spiritual, eternal body in the heavens.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". 2013.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘For verily in this we groan, longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven, if so be that (or ‘inasmuch as’) being clothed we shall not be found naked.

The contrast goes on. In our earthly tent we groan (or ‘in this situation we groan’), we are afflicted, we suffer hardship. We long to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven. The ‘longing for’ stresses that it is still future. That is not because we are sick of life but because amidst the toils of life we look forward to something far, far better. The Greeks who thought about it groaned because they wanted to get rid of their bodies. They wanted to be ‘free spirits’. They thought that getting rid of their bodies would solve their problems. But Paul groans because he wants the perfect heavenly body rather than his imperfect one. He wants to be transformed in himself. He does not want to be ‘naked’.

But then he enters a caveat lest any wrongly assume that such will automatically be theirs whatever the state of their hearts before God. ‘That is if we are one of those who will be so clothed, and not one of those who are found naked, that is without a resurrection body, because we are not in Christ.’ We can compare 1 Corinthians 9:27 for such a sudden application of the thought that none should be presumptious.

The thought of ‘nakedness’ appals Paul. It not only signifies being ‘without a body’, but also signifies ‘laid bare to God’ with no hope of mercy, and no means of atonement. They would be ‘found naked’ at the judgment, deeply and despairingly aware of their nakedness, and their sinful state, as Adam and Eve were in the Garden after they had sinned (Genesis 3:10). Babylon's punishment was to have its nakedness exposed and its shame uncovered (Isaiah 47:3), and fallen Israel’s judgment was that it would be left naked and bare, with its shame exposed to all (Ezekiel 23:29). Compare Isaiah 20:2-4; Ezekiel 16:7; Hosea 2:3. This is the fate of all who do not respond fully to Christ in faith and trust.

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Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

. Paul proceeds to expand the thought of 2 Corinthians 4:16, modifying the idea of an inner personality into that of a house or home for the soul prepared by God in heaven. The earthly frame in which we dwell here has its counterpart in a spiritual frame, the resurrection-body, which awaits us in heaven (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:38*, "God giveth it a body"). In 2 Corinthians 5:1 f. he speaks of this as a house which in contrast to the physical body is "eternal"; in the following verses under the figure of a robe. There has been much discussion as to the precise point at which Paul conceives of this enrobing with the spiritual body as taking place; whether immediately after death or only after the resurrection and judgment; also as to whether he conceives of the new spiritual body as taking the place of the old physical body, or as being super-indued over the physical body when it has been raised from the dead. It would be difficult to affirm, after comparing this passage with 1 Corinthians 15, that Paul was entirely consistent in his answer to these questions—if we admit that they had presented themselves to his mind. The probability is that they had not, and that what looks like inconsistency is really due to the fact that he had not carried out any analysis of the stages of post mortem experience. A spirit or soul without a "body," that is, a form, was for him inconceivable. And the conviction on which he enlarges, in which he finds comfort here, is that there is prepared by God for every believer, and waiting for him in heaven, a form or frame, a house or home, which is the spiritual counterpart of the physical form, but eternal; and this precludes the probability that even for a moment any believer should be "naked," i.e. a disembodied spirit, after life and consciousness have been restored through resurrection. What is here laid down does not preclude that interval of "sleep" which Paul predicates elsewhere (see S. D. F. Salmond, Christian Doctrine of Immortality4, p. 450ff.).

The yearning, therefore, of those who are still dwelling in the tent of a physical body is not a yearning for escape, heavy though the burden is, but for that which follows escape. And of that the Christian has a double pledge. It is God who has been at work, bringing men to this disposition of "earnest expectation," and He will not deceive them; and moreover He has given them in the Holy Spirit a pledge of this as well as of all else that is involved in "salvation."

So much of this, however, lies still in the future, that the governing condition of our moral life is not the faculty of sight but that of faith, by which we perceive, lay hold of, the unseen (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:18, Hebrews 11:1). And this faith inspires us with high courage even in the face of possible death, for death, we know, puts an end to that absence from the Lord which is involved in being still in the earthly tabernacle. If death comes, Paul will accept it (cf. Philippians 1:23). Meanwhile, whichever way he looks on his present condition, whether as being at home in the body or as absent from the Lord, he has but one ambition, to be well pleasing to Him. For (so far was Paul from the antinomianism with which he was charged) even the new standing of believers as "justified by faith" and the gift of the Spirit do not relieve Christians of the responsibility for their actions, which will be exposed for judgment before the judgment-seat of Christ.

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Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary


2Co .—Flow of thought quite continuous from 2Co 4:18. For (2Co 4:15).… For

(17).… For (2Co ).… For

(2).… For

(4).… For

(10), etc.; a chain of "fors." We know.—Partly from having seen the glorified Christ wearing His resurrection body; Paul and the other Apostolic "witnesses of the resurrection" (Act ) could on this ground all say "we." [Note how Peter is led from the "putting off" of his own "tabernacle" (cognate word) to the glorified body of Christ as seen on the Mount of Transfiguration (2Pe 1:13-18).] Earthly.—Belonging to, located upon this earth, contrasted with "in the heavens"; not "made of earth," earthen. If.—Must not be pressed, to carry an inference that Paul doubted whether he should die, and indeed hoped he should not. 2Th 2:3, written earlier than this, postpones into the far future the Day of the Lord; and must govern all exegesis of other passages relating to the time of the Parousia. Tabernacle.—Remember he was a tent-maker. The garment and the tent occur together in Psa 104:2. [In later (and medical) Greek commonly used for the human body.] The tabernacle is a temporary dwelling; the "building" is for a permanence; like "mansions" (= abiding dwellings) in Joh 14:2. Observe in "from God" ("an immediate outworking of His miraculous power"); and also the comma after "eternal"; "in the heavens" is not merely appended to "eternal," but is an additional predicate, parallel with "of God" and "eternal." Building.—Four current views of this:

(1) Heaven;

(2) the Resurrection Body;

(3) a supposed bodily organisation clothing the soul in the interval between death and the resurrection;

(4) a spiritual enduement with the image of God; this last a Rabbinical use of the idea of being clothed. Against

(3) remember that this would not be "eternal," and that Paul only knows of two kinds of body (1Co ). For

(4) is pleaded the simpler sense thus given to "not be found naked"; of. Psa . For

(1) such parallels are adduced as Heb, and the surface impression of the phrase, "in the heavens," coupled with Joh 14:2.

(2) now most in favour. Best explains "clothed," "clothed upon," "unclothed" (cf. "bare," 1Co ); better certainly than does

(1). Difficulty of

(2) is in "in the heavens." For this and "we have," choose between, e.g., Stanley: "The moment that our present house is destroyed, that very moment a new habitation awaits us in heaven"; and, e.g., Beet: "A secure place in which the dead have, though they do not yet wear, the resurrection body. Cf. Php ; 1Pe 1:4. It is practically in heaven; for the power which will raise it is there. When Christ appears from heaven we shall receive our permanent bodily abode. Hence it is … from heaven, 2Co 5:2."

2Co . For.—Argument of Rom 8:22 sqq. The groaning is wrought in us by God's Spirit, and is thus a ground for belief that there is awaiting us a real fulfilment of our desire. Groan.—"With numberless afflictions, infirmities, temptations" (Wesley).

2Co .—The nearest Paul's language brings us to a strong expression of hope that he should not know any "unclothed" interval of existence, but should put over him the new investment of his immaterial part, beneath which, as it were, the old should be stripped off or pass away. But perhaps desire rather than hope. The language is so guided by the Spirit that Paul's expression of personal feeling, whatever it imply, is universally suited to the longing of the Church, even where there is no expectation of survival to the Parousia.

2Co . Not for that.—Difficult to trace link of thought; hence alternative of margin. Stanley: "The groans … are uttered, not so much because of the oppression of this outward frame, not so much from a wish to be entirely freed from the mortal part of our nature, as from the hope that it will be absorbed into a better life." Swallowed up.—Recalls 1Co 15:54. Observe "what is mortal"; more exact than A.V.

2Co . This very thing.—Choose between

(1) the change just described;

(2) the yearning for it;

(3) the spiritual preparation for it.

(3) is true, but beside the mark here. Perhaps Paul's thought wavered between, or comprised, both

(1) and

(2). Earnest.—Rom ; Rom 5:5; Rom 8:11, are apposite, closely related, parallels to the argument here.

2Co .—Observe the broken construction: "Being of good courage … we are of good courage." [The fact of these Epistles having been dictated may (as Dean Vaughan suggests in his Romans) account for many of these breaks in grammatical sequence of clauses.] Of good courage.—"Though troubles assail and dangers affright;" though death be in prospect. Php 1:20-23 a good practical illustration.

2Co .—See Separate Homily. Here, morally, the nobler walk is that of faith; yet walking by sight will, intrinsically, be a nobler thing there.

2Co . Willing.—With an active desire. Present.—"At home," as in 2Co 5:5. "Absent" in Greek is also cognate in root; meaning "from home."

2Co . Labour.—"Make it a point of honour with ourselves to accomplish this, viz.," etc. Used in Rom 15:20; 1Th 4:11 ["Be ambitious to be unambitious"] "At home or from home;" in both their alternatives of meaning and relation. Observe, "well pleasing to Him," i.e. to Christ, before Whose judgment seat (Joh 5:22; Joh 5:27) "we must appear"; not only standing there as arraigned before Him, but as being read through and through by Him, and then being by His judgment exhibited in our true character; whether as better or worse than men thought us. Illustrate by 1Jn 2:28 to 1Jn 3:3. Receive.—"Reap the fruits of" (Stanley). In the body.—Observe margin. Not bodily sins only, the excesses of its appetites, or acts wrought by the aid of its members; but wrought during the occupation by the soul. Good or bad.—Future rewards, as well as future punishments, are part of the Christian doctrine of retribution. Judgment seat.—The thing is Roman, not Greek; in Greek the word meant the orator's pulpit. "The ‘Bema' was a lofty seat, raised on an elevated platform, usually at the end of the Basilica, so that the figure of the judge must have been seen towering above the crowd which thronged the long nave of the building" (Stanley). The Corinthians would remember Gallio.

2Co . Persuade.—"You say we do, in a bad sense [as Act 12:20, and Gal 1:10]. I say I do, in a true sense," viz. as 1Co 9:22; Rom 15:2. Terror.—"Fear" in, with many commentators. Yet even Stanley says: "Knowing that there is this fearful aspect of the Lord." At most, "conscious that we walk in the fear of the Lord" [in the Old Testament sense] is only half the meaning. "Remembering also what a terror to the ungodly will in that day be the Lord Whom now we reverently fear." I hope also.—As 2Co 1:14-15.

2Co . Commending ourselves.—"Ourselves" emphatic, q.d. as our enemies say we do, because we have no other letters of commendation (2Co 3:1; 2Co 4:2). "He assumes, with something of an ironical tone, that all they wished was to vindicate him" (Stanley).

2Co .—Takes up charges made by his enemies at Corinth. His "madness" was a fault to some; his "sobriety" to others. [Cf. the generation whom nothing could please (Mat 11:17).] The steadily-held middle course is often a rebuke, and often an offence, to the extremes on either side. Unto God.—Like a stream which moves unto Ocean but blesses all along its banks by the way, the Christian life is unto God, but on its way it is for man's cause. If not unto God, then, like stream ceasing to flow, it makes marsh and miasma.

2Co . The love of Christ.—Choose between

(1) His love to us;

(2) our love to Him;

(3) His love for men, found in us (cf. Php ). In fact,

(3) is uppermost, foremost, most apparent; but grows out of

(1) and

(2). As matter of experience the three are never dissociated. Constraineth.—"Christ's love left him no choice as to what he should live for, brought him under the control of an irresistible yet most gracious necessity, hedged him in on the right hand and on the left, controlled him with a constancy like that with which the great forces of the universe rule the planets, and determine the orbit in which every one of them must move" (Dale, Atonement, p. 260). Note the use of the same verb in Php ; and, most appositely, by Christ Himself (Luk 12:50). Judge.—In Rom 6:11, "reckon." Paul does here of himself and others what he there urges each to do in regard to himself. All died.—See Appended Note from Dale. All.—Not to be pressed, to prove universal, saving, efficacy for the death of Christ. Still, every man may by grace bring himself within the circle of the "all" who "died." Rom 6:1-11 compares throughout with this.

2Co . After the flesh.—As ordinary men do, in whom "the flesh" permits of no apprehension or understanding of anything but what is "natural." As His enemies knew Him; as even His earthly relatives knew Him, until the Spirit taught them more about Him; as the party "of Christ" at Corinth knew Him; as His very disciples knew Him before His resurrection (with such occasional flashes of a deeper insight as Mat 16:17, "Flesh … not revealed, … but.") The same expression used of the same opponents, 2Co 10:3; 2Co 11:18; Gal 6:12.

2Co .—See Homily. New creature.—In Gal 6:15 also. Common Rabbinical expression for the conversion of a proselyte. Observe the variant reading, which omits "all." Passed away.—Study with this Mat 24:35; 2Pe 3:10. Go back also to Isa 43:18-19, and its New Testament derivative, Rev 21:4-5.

2Co .—See Homilies. Reconciled us to Himself.—This English phrase, somewhat archaic in form, must not be pressed into the service of any "Theory of the Atonement" which minifies or denies any real "wrath" in God, and makes the aversion which needs removing in order to a state of reconciliation, only to exist in man.

1. The modern English equivalent for the thought of the older English phraseology would, indeed, be more nearly "Reconciled Himself to us."

The formula for our verse is A reconciles B to A

In 1Sa it is D reconciled D to S.

The aversion, the estrangement, which needs removing is, as we now oftener think of reconciliation, in the offended party, not in the offending one.

We should now rather say, C reconciles A to B, D reconciles S to D.

As between older and modern English the polarity of the word has got reversed.

2. So, again, the formula for 2Co is: Let B be reconciled to A. Just as for 1Co 7:11 it is, Let Wife be reconciled to Husband (see below). And for Mat 5:24, Let Offending brother be reconciled to Offended. Where again the polarity needs, to our habit of thought, reversing. A needs reconciling to B. Heathen Husband (unjustly) offended needs reconciling to Christian Wife. Offended (justly) needs reconciling to Offender.

3. Clearly, however, "Be reconciled" in these latter cases—perhaps in all—means hardly anything more precise than, "Take the steps needed on your side to seek and to enjoy a new, reconciled relation between yourself and the offended party." And, as clearly, the force of the Greek word, and not that of the English phrase, carries with it the final decision of interpretation. This (e.g. as Cremer, Lexicon, p. 91 sqq. shows) rather lays stress upon the reconciled, and now amicable, relations arrived at, than upon the process by which it has been reached, and, still less, upon the question which of the parties needed bringing to the other [or which of them made the first move towards a restored, happier relationship]. Of our text he says: "Neither the word, in and by itself, nor the grammatical connection can decide whether God is to be regarded as the antagonist of man or man of God." [On 1Co he thinks that the heathen husband has some cause of complaint that his Christian wife has left him.] "It is [in point of fact] God who forms the relation between Himself and humanity anew; the part of humanity is to accept this reinstatement (2Co 5:20).… It is a relation which is changed, which God changes, in that He desists from His claims."

2Co .—These verses expound the method of the reconciliation; both so far as depends upon God, and so far as depends on man.


Wishing and Working.

A. Looking into the Future (2Co ). Key words: "Clothed upon" (1-5); "At home, from home" (6-8); "Christ the Judge" (9, 10).

B. Labouring in the Present (2Co ).

A. I.

1. Often not a very profitable occupation.—The Present is our field, our life. "Do with thy might what thy hand findeth—close at hand—to do" is the first direction for all Christian activity. Dreaming over the Past—pleasurable, or mis-spent; peering into the Future—in hope, or fear, or curiosity; may be the idlest of occupations; fruitless, and diverting from the immediate fruit-bearing of to-day. "What shall this man do? What is that to thee? Follow thou Me." "Forgetting the things behind," is a good deal done towards securing "This one thing I do," with its strength—not of "narrowness," but—of concentration and of consequent intensity and force. The best life-builder lays to-day's "course" well and strongly, as the best security for the next, and the next, and all following "courses" in his work. Yet not without reference to the superposed "courses"; the design running through from foundation to topstone, will be traceable in to-day's work—continued from the lower, preparatory for the upper. The climber is helped to make firm the step he is actually taking, by looking upward. Living in the future is useless, mischievous, to the strength and activities of to-day. Living for the future is essential to a large life. Paul draws strength for bearing the "burdens" of the Present, from the hopes of the Future. Paul "labours" in the Present, with a prospect in the Future which—whether to incite or encourage—"keeps him up to the mark" for present duty.

2. Paul is a prophet.—His teaching, his visions, of the future have so become the commonplaces of Christian thought about it, that it is hard to realise what amazing disclosures they are. One value of classical, philosophical literature to our time is that there is recorded the utmost which man could do for himself in the way of purifying life and making it happy,—the experiment whose results stand recorded having been conducted by some of the noblest minds of the race, with all material advantages for the trial, and with the ability to record in the most perfect fashion their methods and results. So, too, in regard to the future, it records for us, in most perfect form, all the best hopes and arguments of the best types of mind and heart, at the very best of their powers, and the "results," such as they were, to which, under the most favourable conditions, they were able to arrive. And it is matter of common knowledge that not one ever got so far as to say, "We know that if," etc. The humblest Christian has in the fact of a Risen Christ an evidence for, and a sample and a pledge of, a future life such as non-Christian thinkers and inquirers, ancient or modern, have never attained. Yet Paul is not merely falling back upon History. He may have known all the little that we know about the Risen Life, and the Risen Body of the Lord Christ, during the Forty Days. The one certain fact for us, in regard to the "house not made with hands," is that His Body is the norm and pattern for ours. Yet we hardly assert even that much without questions arising, and qualifications accruing around our "certainty." We cannot, for example, be certain that the Body of the Forty Days has not undergone further change and increase of glory since it passed into "the heavens." On this bare fact alone can our hope or desire put its foot: Whatever His body in the heavenly places is to-day, that ours is to be by-and-by = "fashioned like unto the body of His glory" (Php ). Paul is, however, carried in his confidence beyond mere argument and inference. The link given in the text just quoted, is one that must have been supplied to him as part of his prophetic message. Matter of course as it almost seems to us, we could have had no assurance of that,—he could have had none, "except it were given him from above." With the facts of the Lord's Resurrection and Glorified Life; with Paul's revelations; with the assurance of our being "in Christ," and, in all the senses and degrees of which our human nature is capable, of becoming thus "partakers with Him"; the believer of to-day looks forward to the future and to death and judgment, saying—singing—"We know," etc. He works on "until the evening" (Psa 104:23), and then lies down for the long sleep, saying, "We know," etc.

3. Are we to say of His Pattern-Body that it is "not made with hands," "eternal" [happily, yes!] "in the heavens"? It is to "strive after wind" to attempt to fill out the hints of Scripture as to the nature of the "future house." It is to try to solve a problem, where there are hardly any data at all. It is to attempt to be certain, where the scanty materials available to us for consideration are themselves of uncertain significance. Not that there is gratuitous or arbitrary reserve. "I would have told you" is entirely the mind of One Who said the strongest things He could, and all He could—we may be sure—to comfort friends whose faces, as they gazed at Him in a silence, which only now and again ventured to give birth to a question, showed them nearly broken-hearted, stunned, at the certainty now forced upon their unwilling heart, that they were to lose their Friend. The reserve, the reticence, is unavoidable. We have no experiences, no things, to be the alphabet, or the vocabulary, of the language in which a Revealer of more would need to speak. It is easy to speculate upon a body in which every power now possessed by us will be enhanced, and to which new powers will perhaps be given; "percipient all over." It is much to know that the "groaning" will be done with; that the body will be no "burden" in itself, nor shall our life need to carry any "burden"; to live will be no "burden" then, as often, to very many, it is now. Tears gone; no pain, no death; all such hints full of sweetest suggestion to suffering, weeping, dying humanity. Here the very work of Christ overwhelms the servant of Christ with physical weariness, until he can only drop his unfinished task, too exhausted to collect his jaded mind for a word of prayer in which to commend himself to his Master. [Your strong arm and strong bow shoot its arrow up into the air; the perfected rifle may speed its bullet upward. Away they soar, as if they had done with earth altogether, and were never going to return. But gravitation has its grip upon them, and slowly, surely, asserts itself; they slacken, they stop, they are dragged down with accelerating speed. In the all eagerness of their upward rush, they still belonged to earth!] The body is made bitterly to feel the fetters of the gravitation earthward. But done with then! The very intensity of spiritual emotion cannot long be endured; body and mind would break down under long-continued afflux of large communications from God.

4. "In the heavens."—Not to be too precise in exposition. Even now "in the heavens"? In what sense? Anything more in the "we have" than the confident expectation which makes "things hoped for" to be substantial, dealt with as confidently in the business of life, wrought into all our calculations with as much security, as if they were the actualities of to-day instead of the possibilities of the morrow? Anything more than the faith which counts the reversionary interest present-day wealth, an arithmetic of faith which makes no abatement from the future Principal Sum, but reckons its Present Worth as equal to the full amount? To faith, God's bills of longest date are cash in hand without any discount. As in Hebrews 11 throughout, the heroes of faith accept and deal with the things unseen or future, on the assumption that they are as certainly assured realities as any most obviously real facts of the present and the seen. "We have" is faith's anticipation; overleaping the interval, thinking itself into the future, when literally we shall "have," and shall be wearing and using and enjoying. "We have" Him there, Whose body is the guarantee of our own. Ours is a certainty because His is a fact (2Co ).

5. This strengthens us for the burdens and the labour.—"We are saved by (our) hope." Hope gives a resilience to the spirit, so that when the burden is for the moment lifted off, the elasticity of vigorous life is found unimpaired; even whilst under the burden the spring is still elastic. The burdened Christian is not broken-spirited. "Cast down, but not destroyed." From the top of the occasional Delectable Mountains a descent must be made to the River; but the glimpse of the distance and its glory (in which the central figure is to Paul his Glorious Lord, robed in a glorified human nature) is a real force, sustaining and urging onward, as the travellers go down into the valley and plunge into the river. Or, as John (1Jn ; 1Jn 3:3) turns the truth, our hope is a purifying force. [As the boy at school in England is continually hearing from his father in India: "I am coming home" at such a date. "I want to find my son in education and manners and character worthy of me. I want to have joy in him when I see him again." And the boy responds: "Father is coming home" at such a time. "I must try and be just such as he would like me to be." ("Found of Him in peace, without spot and blameless," 2Pe 3:14).]

6. "Not for that we would be unclothed," etc.—This is not the heathen shrinking from the very conception of a disembodied spirit's condition, as Achilles scorned the idea of being a king amongst the "shades." [Hardly to be connected with the craving for embodiment, which Isaac Taylor, (Phys. Theory, chap. 17), sees suggested in the request of the demons, dispossessed from their human abode, to be allowed to enter into other bodies, though they were only those of swine.] Paul has grasped the New Testament—Christian—truth that the man is no complete man apart from his body. It is good to be "at home"—even whilst disembodied—"with the Lord." But the perfected fellowship of the man who is even now "in Christ" with that Risen, Glorified God-man, will only begin in the day of the Parousia and Resurrection. We shall only have our "perfect consummation and bliss" when it is both "in body and in soul."

7. The marvel of the revelation is that in the very "groaning" there is ground of hope. "He hath wrought us for the selfsame thing." [Developed in Rom ; where we have a groaning "creature"; a groaning Church, even though it is enriched with "the firstfruits," viz. "the Spirit"; indeed, the very "groanings" after full release and full felicity are the breathings of a groaning Holy Spirit within the "sons of God."] The "groaning" under the manifold burden—the flesh, the multiplied trials of the earthly lot, the burdensome conflict with the sin which the saved man hates—is no mere sigh of helpless oppression; it is a look, out, up, forward, toward the realised hope. What he is made to groan after, he is created to enjoy; and he is going to enjoy all that he is created to enjoy. His groans and his glory are "all of one piece"; they are parts of one whole scheme of a spiritual education of the children of God, Whose goal for the whole manhood—the body included—is anticipated and assured in the risen glory of the eternally embodied Christ, "eternal in the heavens."

II. "At home; from home."—["Where is your home, little one?" "Where mother lives." Not much help in the answer for one who sought to restore to its mother the lost child. But, for the child itself, the answer went to the root of the matter.]

1. The presence of Christ makes heaven real, and makes it dear to His people.—The son of an English family goes to India. All the family have learned the geography of India; what they were taught at school has been supplemented by newspapers and by general reading. The leading points are known. But the city to which his Government appointment takes the son of the house, if even "known," has only been a name on a map, until he goes there. Then it becomes real, for he is real; it is the material setting of his very "material" life. The streets are real, and the people, for he sees them; the houses real, for he lives in one; the village tank and temple,—they see them with his eyes. His letters and himself enable them almost to live there too. And interesting as well as real. If even it were real before, it had no real hold upon them; it mattered nothing to them, practically. Now every bit of news of it is noted. Even the commonest engraving of it has a value. The stranger who has seen it is almost a friend of the family. The youngest child of the house shyly "sidles up" to the visitor, with a half-opened atlas, abundantly rewarded if he can attract attention that he may show the map of India, and point to the strange-sounding name; "My brother lives there." So the visible, bodily departure—rather than a mere vanishing away, or a quitting of the disciples after some visit, never to return—has helped to make heaven real, and full of interest to the Christian. He loves his Elder Brother, and the place where He lives is dear for His sake. It is real, the real setting and environment of a tangible, visible Body, which, in full view, one fine May morning, went up into the heaven from the top of Olivet, and was not lost, but only hidden behind a veil of cloud. We hear the music with His ears; they are filled with its real melody. We see and deal with its very real inhabitants, for He very really sees and deals with them. His presence there locates "home" there.

2. "We," "we."—For the man of the world has no practical interest in, no sense of the reality of, any world but this. To the Christian man this is the way home; to the non-Christian this is home, so far as his life has any real home. "We are (only) journeying to the place.… Come with us" (Num ). There were Amalekites and other desert tribes, to whom the wilderness was home; to Israel it was a mere place of passing sojourn. Canaan was Rest. There has been exaggeration of this. Paul's feeling is the healthy one. If this world were wholly and merely evil, he would have been in no "strait betwixt two"; what to choose he would have known very well. He is in a difficulty just because, whilst that is "better," this is good. And to live in either is Christ; "labour" for Christ, and "fruit" for Christ, and help to his dear Philippians, if he remain here; "to be with Christ," if he go. Either way, "to live is Christ"; death only divides the one life in Christ into two sections (Php 1:21-24). The wise Christian man will "seek the peace of this (earthly) city," where for a while His Master wishes him to reside and do His work (Jer 29:7). Yet as real an exaggeration to ridicule the "unworldliness" or "other worldliness" of Christian men. They who rise highest in "conformity to the image of" Christ feel most keenly the profound cleavage between the very bases of their life and the bases of the world's life; they feel most sensitively the utter discrepancy of the whole direction of their life from, and its irreconcilableness with, that of the very men whose work they do, whose occupations they share. They often meet, as it were, at the same station, but are going in opposite directions; "up," and "down." As they many times stand side by side, their hands engaged in the same task, their faces are in opposite directions. The spirit of life is different. The saint cannot be entirely "at home" (in the homely sense of the phrase) with those to whom the Elder Brother is nothing, and whose interests and life are circumscribed by the horizon of time. The Christian man is a faithful servant of his generation (Act 13:36), or he is no true Christian. But he does not belong to it. [Cf. a German employé in a London business house. Faithful, competent, successful, taking a hearty interest in English life, having a home here. But "Where is home?" The eye kindles as you show him a photograph of his native place, or of the capital of the state to which he belongs, or of his Prince. He has a house in England, but Germany is "home."] Where Paul's Prince and Saviour and Elder Brother is, there is "home." The Christian man should be interested in, faithful to, busy for, this temporary dwelling-place of his; his Master puts him here for a while; but he must keep his spirit detached; not rooting here. At length he will be summoned to go and live "at home" "with the Lord."

3. Here again is "confidence." "We know."—In fact, to Paul, "walking not by sight" yet, "but by faith," this world, which imprisons the thought, and enslaves the heart, and absorbs all the energies of the man who belongs to it only, often becomes the unreal, "recedes and disappears" into shadowiness; the Eternal becomes the real, not only seen through, but hiding altogether, the world of passing interests and dying men. To him there stands in clear vision the One Man; the circle which contains his life is struck from that Centre. He can bear up under anything; he can go through with anything; when the best desire of his best life, to be at home with Him, is every moment being brought nearer to its realisation.

III. "Willing rather." And yet the first fact of the hereafter is to appear before Christ.—

1. Without discriminating between the successive incidents of the eschatological programme, extending from death to resurrection and judgment, it is to be remembered that a very real discrimination and pronouncement upon character, a real, immediate "judgment," takes place as often, and in so far, as a man is brought into contact with Christ. He is even now the supreme Test of character. The touchstone-question for an unsaved man is, "What thinkest thou of Christ; whose Son is He?" (Mat ). To the Christian man also is proposed, with perpetual, searching reiteration, the similar query, "Who say ye that I am?" Every man, saved and unsaved, is revealed,—perhaps to himself—certainly to observers "taught of God"—by the practical answer, as given and written out in his life. Every man who comes into contact with Christ is now in that very fact "judged." Not only is a very real decision being made, and a verdict being pronounced; not only does the man inevitably pass "right" or "left" of Christ; but a very real sentence is being executed. Every man receives already a very real blessedness or punishment, according to the attitude he takes up toward Christ. ["For judgment I am come," etc. (Joh 9:39).] Christ is even now the Test of character, the Norm of judgment, the Arbiter of destiny.

2. The first fact of the unseen world is the sight of Christ.—A man suddenly cut off in mid-career, falling shot in battle, dropping with heart-weakness upon the flagstones of the Exchange, in an instant steps out of the roar and rush of life's busy street into the hush and calm of the solemn presence-chamber where He sits, before Whom the first and supreme question for the new comer is, "What was your attitude toward Christ, what did you do for Him, outside there, in that busy world of so many interests?" Outside there men were classified according to all sorts of tests. Within, standing before Christ, one only basis of classification is known and brought into use: "How did you stand related to Christ?" Men are already being set on "His right hand" or on "His left." His final revelation is only the consummation of a judicial work which has been ever proceeding in the world. But further—

3. There is a Day of Judgment in which the Central Figure, the Judge, is Christ.—May strip away much as we will of the figurative, analogical dress of the truth; may acknowledge how often the continuous, present judgment, and the immediate judgment in the hour of death, and the final, open judgment, are hard to keep apart as matter of exegesis. Yet we cannot escape this irreducible minimum of fact. "Probation does not lead to probation, but to issues." "Devil and his angels have hitherto proved but indifferent reformers" (Edw. Irving, Oration, Judgment, 7). "The last function of mediatorial sway will be the final judgment, when the High Priest shall no longer intercede for the world, nor the Prophet teach mankind, but the Son of Man shall sit upon the throne of His glory … all nations; gathered for the first and last time that He may separate them again to be united no more" (Pope). This is no delegation of universal judgment to a creature. "If the Redeemer were appointed Judge as simply man, … His function would only be the visible accompaniment of the judgment and sentence of the invisible God; but that is not the style of Scripture." Yet we need the manhood. "In relation to no part of His office is the manhood of Christ more necessary to our failing hearts, and of no office is it more expressly declared.… Not of like passions with us, but flesh and blood. His experience of temptation—notwithstanding His necessary sinlessness—makes Him a sympathising High Priest and a merciful Judge, in whose Divine-human soul, now and ever, to the last extreme of what is consistent with inscrutable holiness and law, mercy rejoiceth against judgment." (Pope.) Would you not hear the sentence "Depart!" from the lips of anybody rather than of Christ? The Christ Who has "died in vain for you" (cf. Gal ; 1Co 8:11), Who for years lavished on you a grace you would not return or repay, etc. "The wrath of the Lamb—the Lamb"—is the crowning terror of that day (Rev 6:16). There is, even amongst men, no displeasure so terrible as that of justly offended, slighted, insulted goodness,—calm, judicial, pitiful, but inexorable, inflexible; not to be turned aside from executing the necessary sentence which it did not desire, and did its best to render unnecessary.

4. Those judged. "We all."—

(1) What an assemblage is suggested! Wonderful for size. The most impressive sight which London has to offer is a London crowd; the tens of thousands of orderly people in the streets, when some civic pageant or royal procession is passing. But no man ever saw all the inhabitants of London gathered together. Overwhelming; hard even to conceive five million people in one vast concourse. The mind is baffled as it tries to conceive of a thousand millions assembled, the present inhabitants of earth. Yet to realise this "all," there must be added all the millions of the generations of the past, all those of the future. Wonderful for composition. Stand with Addison in Westminster Abbey, and imagine the day when these buried dead that people nave, aisles, transepts, chapels, shall all stand together to be contemporaries through an eternal existence. Hardly a mean person among them. Kings, queens, many more of royal stock. The greater kings and nobility of science, art, literature—the "pick" of the greatest, wisest, most eloquent, most good—and the worst!—of this richly dowered England for a thousand years. In this "all" are not only the "pick," but the bulk, of not one nation only, but of a world, for all the ages since men were first found upon earth; not only the great, mighty, rich, learned, good, but the humble, poor, weak, ignorant, evil,—everybody. No escape possible. No personation possible. No obtaining a substitute. Writer, readers; preacher, hearers. Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth at the Abbey. Pilate, finding himself confronted with Jesus, and their relation reversed. [Men do not so easily wash their hands of wrong done to Christ.] Judas, to get a "look" far other than that with which the eye of Jesus broke the heart of Peter.

(2) "Every one." The judgment is individual as well as universal. It is "the only thing absolutely both individual and universal; not even sin and sorrow can compare with this." "It is hard to reconcile the infinite detail with the Divine dignity; but not harder to receive a special judgment than a special providence. Moreover, there is no common conscience; the conscience of every living man is the sure pledge and earnest of an individual judgment." (Pope.) "Thou art the man" is the word of Redemption, Providence, Mercy, Judgment. We are born alone, we are saved by a personal faith, "we die alone." There is no salvation en masse. [There was corporate redemption.] There is no judgment en masse.

(3) "Or bad" makes it clear that the "all" includes the wicked, who appear for punishment.The rebel citizens and the wicked servants (Luk ; Luk 19:22) are all to be there. Yet with an obvious distinction from the judgment of the "saved." It will not be true hereafter that the righteous shall "scarcely be saved" (Pope). Their ordeal will not then have in it anything of a doubtful issue; its peculiar severity and strictness belong only to the present life. The righteous "shall not come into condemnation" (Joh 5:24). The Judge is their Brother and Friend, Whom, when they awake from the dead, they shall find upon the throne of judgment. It is their glory that in that day judgment will to them be only the ratification and publication of a deliverance from curse and condemnation which long before, in the moment of their faith in Christ, was passed in the court of their consciousness. The real crisis, when they passed from condemnation to justification of life, is in their case behind them. [Just as, though they were long ago adopted, and received the Spirit of Adoption, they nevertheless "wait for the adoption," the publication in the Great Forum, in that Day, of a gracious act which the Father had long ago intended and accomplished, a holy secret of love between Him and their soul.] These appear before the "judgment seat of Christ" without fear; they shall "stand in the judgment"; these may "dwell with the devouring fire" of "the Day," which tests men and their work (Isa 33:14; 1Co 3:13). But, whether His people or His enemies, all "appear" therein, so to speak, transparent presence. An end of all hypocrisy, of all misconception and misjudgment and misrepresentation. An end of all self-deception. An end of all perplexity about the strange complex of one's own motives and character and status. Everything—every man—stands there, revealed to himself and to all standing around; known at last in the very character which God has all along known. The light of the real world, the light of eternity, is turned upon even the hidden things of the heart. How some cower away from the blinding, searching scrutiny of the light of the Presence of the Judge! How some guilty ones—their own judges—will shrink away from themselves as they there "appear"! How amazed some humble one to find himself there "appearing" in the judgment of His Lord nothing less than a "saint," a "good and faithful servant"!

4. Retribution follows; in both its phases, reward as well as penalty.—[Many tests of desert; many standards of reward; many aspects in which is presented the connection between the act and its recompense. Conscience and light; how much of the latter? How blessed with, how affected by, revealed truth? Faith. Works; these not as basis of merit, but as indications of character, and as measuring the amount of a reward which is all of grace.] "According to works," "By thy words," and the like expressions, all are distinct in idea from this of our paragraph: "Shall receive the things done." [Perhaps over-subtle to press this too much; yet in other places more is said than "shall receive for the things done"; more is apparently asserted here.] Men's reward does not only follow upon conduct, but is a harvest from seed which was sown by conduct, and springs out of conduct. Heaven and hell are life continued, and intensified, on lines essentially projected here, in position and direction, and only "produced" eternally there. Men are now making no small part of their own heaven and their own hell. Men do here literally often "receive the things done in the body." No worse specimens of misery than old sinners, past the possibility of gratifying sinful appetites, yet still cursed with them, clinging to them; squeezing the sucked orange, in hope of getting a drop of the old pleasant juice. "Filled with his own ways" (Pro ), abandoned to the curse of his own sins. Like, as Maclaren suggests, the man in Thalaba, who suffered the devil to kiss his shoulders, and from the kissed spot sprang serpents, fed by, and feeding upon, his very life. [Not the entire truth. There must be some form of punishment ab extra, or there is in no proper sense a pardon of sin. If the only hell is that which a sinner prepares for himself, within himself by his alienation of his heart and mind and will from God, and by the choosing and cherishing all things evil ("Myself am hell"), then the only pardon possible is through, if it is not itself, renewal and regeneration. The mere penalty of loss is a true penalty ab extra, whilst underneath all the symbolism and analogic language of judgment there is something beyond "loss."] "Always the dreadful burden is laid upon the sinner himself. He is viewed as the author of his own character, and as responsible for his own ruin. In the integrity of his body and soul he reaps the fruit of his own devices; part of his sin was the sensuous misuse of his body; part … the turning away of his spirit from God; in the reunion of body and soul he suffers the result.… The final condemnation is that of a nature now fitted for it [self-"fitted for destruction" (Rom 9:22)]. The harvest is the character formed by the seedtime.… Not that the Judge assigns eternal punishment for temporal sin; but that sin is taken confirmed into eternity.… Not because man has sinned only, but because his nature is turned away from God."

(1) [Pope, Compend. of Theol., . Remark the best reading in Mar 3:29, "eternal sin." Also, in connection with the question raised,—perhaps, too urgently pressing the grapes in the wine-press of exegesis,—à propos of the Unmerciful Servant (Mat 18:23-34, with its commentary "so," "thus," Mat 18:35), whether sins once pardoned return upon the forgiven man, if by new sin he fall away from his mercy; remark that men are not punished, merely or chiefly, for having done such and so many sins, but for their whole attitude towards God and His Son. They are, in each one single act, sinners. (I.e. they are so now by their own choice, as well as by inborn bias. It may be questioned whether sin as a birth-principle is ever punished, now that the race has been redeemed by Christ.)] Men have "treasured up for themselves wrath" [like a huge reservoir at the head of a valley, behind whose retaining dam is accumulating a mass of water which one day bursts the barrier and sweeps down, carrying everything before the rush of its irresistible flood]. "Their sin—itself—finds them out." On the other hand, a man's life and faithful service "returns into his bosom." "Their works do follow them." "They receive the things done;" which is according to many analogies of God's methods of reward and punishment on this side of death.

(2) It is also suggested that, whilst "done in the body" limits the matter of judicial inquiry to the actions of this earthly life, yet that these may be dealt with, not only in themselves, but, constructively, pregnantly; that, not the actions only, but their fruits, good or evil, in other characters and lives, reproductive also in successive generations, long after the actor himself is dead, are to be taken into account. The time occupied in committing a sin is in no sort of relation to the length of the punishment which it deserves. Yet if "an eternal penalty for a temporal sin" be a difficulty, this suggestion may perhaps lessen the difficulty. Certainly, to make new punishment continually accrue because of new sin committed in eternity, may be truth; but our passage limits the direct and immediate recompense of the Day of Christ's Judgment to the "deeds done in the body." And in any case the consummate reward is, to be "accepted of Him."

B. Labouring in the Present (2Co ).

I. A new man is labouring to bring other men into

II. A new relation to God, "reconciliation"; and this from

III. New motives and springs of action.

[In addition to the material given under Separate Homilies may be said:—]

I. The new creation of the individual is no isolated act of grace.—The Church is no aggregate of such individuals each of whom is a specimen of God's work, whose significance begins and ends with that particular instance. Each single conversion is part of a great plan. "What does it matter that I should get converted? What if I do not?" It matters this, that God is straightening out the sin-entangled course of human history, and that each single life is one of the threads. It must be made to lie even with the rest. The new direction given to the "new man's" life is but one of many lines, all convergent towards God's goal for humanity and the world. [Hence the Saviour justifies His act of healing at Bethesda, by paralleling it with God's incessant operativeness in the world which He has made, which Sin has marred, and He is making anew. God is spending the Sabbath of His rest from creation, in ceaseless recovery of man, soul and body, from the consequence and curse of the intruding Moral Evil in His world. The healing of the lame man was one act of the great Redeeming Activity, which reproduced in the physical sphere, and on a tiny scale, the great Work of God. Hence it was suitable work for the earthly Sabbath of the Son of God (Joh ).] When His voice sounds through "the new heaven and the new earth" the proclamation "I make all things new," these words will only be the latest, largest, grandest, of a series of such utterances. In every "new creature's" heart it will have been anticipated long before. The man "in Christ" was made "a new creature," that he might fall in with the march and movement of God's fulfilment of His Redeeming Purpose, whose climax and consummation and goal are a new earth, peopled by a new Human Race, headed up by a new Adam. Man and environment, by a convergence of many lines of restorative operation, then find themselves brought together, each perfectly fitted for the other and both for God.

II. Travelling backward, the first step of the recovery is reached.—"Be reconciled to God." Man's relation to God, his attitude toward God, is all awry and out of joint. But the Recovery really began farther back. God needed to make reconciliation on His own side. God's first advance needed making; now it needs meeting by a responsive advance by men. The balance of truth must be held even. A mechanical scheme—one which, at all events, became stiffened, hardened, into mechanical—may have set a wrathful God over against a merciful Son, in an exaggerated vividness of "dramatic" representation of a transaction between Father and Son re mankind. But all wrath must not be denied to God. The difficulty lies in adjusting what is true of the timeless being of God, to the historical sequence in the story of the world and in the life-story of the sinner. Historically we say that reconciliation was effected at Calvary; yet it was earlier proclaimed, in the Immanuel-Child of Bethlehem; and, as happy matter of fact, the fallen race has never had to do with a God out of—apart from—Christ. All His dealings with the race, all His dealings with the individual, have had reconciliation-grace as their background. Much "broad" theology, in endeavouring to find adequate expression for this truth, is apt to forget that this gracious leaning of God towards mankind, and towards the man, is from the first represented in Scripture as an altered relation. We cannot date the alteration by our chronology; it is certainly no later historically than the protevangelion of Gen . "Then all died." Who shall say, in the profoundest sense, when? But in speaking of God thus "reconciling the world to Himself," we look, naturally enough, to Calvary, but we hear—as not fathoming the meaning—of "a Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev 13:8). ["My blood boils when I see a Frenchman," said Nelson, a typical Englishman of his time in this. God is not Nelson; but the words illustrated and exhibited an antagonism not against the individual as such—the particular Frenchman was not in issue—but against the very nation and race of Frenchmen.] Conceivable—necessary as matter of clear thinking to conceive of—a wrath against the race as such, to which the individual was of necessity obnoxious and exposed. Not only conceivable, but certain, that now "in Christ" the world is so reconciled, that to be a man is no barrier to peace; there is no "wrath" against the race as such [the race are now "the men of God's good will"]; nor any against the individual, unless he awaken it by his personal sin and personal evil character. It is for him now to say whether there shall be "reconciliation." The ambassadors plead, "Be reconciled."

III. New motives actuate and urge them.—And all centre in, radiate from, converge towards, Christ. "Constrain them." The love of Christ constrains them. (See Critical Notes on this great word.) The "new man" now knows Christ in a new way. The very love of Christ is in him. Love understands love. And love begets an overmastering passion for saving men, and makes the plea "Be reconciled" intense in its earnestness of entreaty. "The terror of the Lord" rules them. No need to exclude either "fear" or "terror"; we want both, for faithful exegesis and for complete fact. "The Lord" is Christ. To the enemy His holiness is a terror, or should be. To the very reconciled man himself there is an awe, a reverence, a godly fear, in that same holiness, with all his love for his Master. He looks at himself who was once a rebel; he fears to grieve, or lose, the love which was, and is, such free grace. He looks at the rebel who will not "be reconciled"; and he trembles to think of the terror for him when, whether he will or no, he must come into contact—conflict—with the holiness of Christ the Judge. And he therefore persuades men; runs through all the gamut of a "changing voice" (Gal ), if he may win them to surrender and reconciliation. No motion lower than these, or less intense, will keep the evangelist-heart in perpetual vigour in the settled pastor. The new man must see men who are what he was, with the new eyes; must feel towards them with the new heart and the new passion, which are those of Christ Himself. No wonder that he tries to be "sober." Still less wonder if men call him "mad." Sober or mad, men are in view; God is in view; that God and those men are somehow, if he can compass it, to be brought together "reconciled." The Church, the world, the Redeeming Work of God, want a succession of such "madmen"!


A Man in Christ a New Man.—He has three things new.

I. A new imperial impulse.—Wonderful is the power of a strong passion over our natures. It fires the brain, stirs the blood, bends every energy to its own use. The love of Christ thus filled and fired, pressed, urged, overbore Paul. It carried him on like a resistless torrent. It was the regnant impulse—everything else was subject to it. ["It is impossible to read his Epistles without discovering that Christ's love had been so revealed to him that it had taken possession of his thought and of every active energy of his nature, and stirred the profoundest depths of his emotion. Sometimes in a long passage the name of Christ occurs in almost every alternate line; sometimes he breaks away from an argument at the bare mention of Christ's name, unable to govern the vehement impulse to dwell upon Christ's glory and grace; at other times just as a ship is gradually swept out of her course by a strong and silent current in the sea, St. Paul is gradually carried away from the point for which he seemed to be making, by the habitual drift of all his deepest affections towards Christ." (Dale, Atonement, pp. 260, 261.)] This is incomprehensible to those who have it not. The Apostle's contemporaries thought him, under its influence, to be "mad." They could have understood ambition. [Paul's only ambition was "to be accepted of Christ."] They could have understood avarice. [When Lord Macaulay went to India it was evident that he felt keenly the parting from England and his family circle. "The pains—acute enough sometimes, God knows—of banishment." But he went a vowedly to make a fortune—£10,000 a year; could save several thousands every year. Had hope of return at end of five or six years. "Comfortable, though modest, home; certain of a good fire, a good joint of meat, a good glass of wine, without incurring obligations to anybody, and perfectly indifferent—at least as far as our pecuniary interest is concerned—to the changes in the political world." Not a bad set-off to the pangs of parting! Yet with none of these prospects for his days of return, with only isolation in his work, and a status by no means too highly accounted of in India, many a missionary has cast away bright prospects in England or Scotland or the States, and buried himself in that same Indian land, because the Love of Christ—Christ's own love for souls—had got hold of him with a force the man of the world does not understand. See Trevelyan, Life of Macaulay.] A man must have this feeling to interpret it. This love alone understands itself. It arises from reflection upon the death of Christ. It is not an inbred passion or a blind impulse; it comes thus: "We thus judge," etc. "All." Take this away, and it is a mutilated Gospel. That all are not saved is no objection. In material nature much seems wasted. Rain and dew fall on the rock and on the desert sand. Light falls day after day, where no living thing seems to need or use it.

"Full many a gem of purest ray serene," etc.

—Gray's "Elegy."

Fruit ripens and falls and rots where there has never been a man. Wealth sufficient to enrich the millions who die in want is buried beneath the mountains or the seas. Medicine for half the ills of life is shut up in minerals and plants, whilst generations die without knowing of the remedy which nature has provided. [See this in Butler, Analogy, part ii., chap. 3.] There are men coming after us who will discover and enjoy these; and who will similarly avail themselves of the blessings of that atonement which generations have either ignorantly rejected or wickedly despised. This contemplation suggested two strong reasons why Paul should be so zealous in the cause of Christ. The whole world was in a ruined condition [see Critical Notes on this]. The principle of self-sacrifice is the binding principle of action. Selfishness is the death of the world. We are all "links in being's endless chain," and we cannot move without influencing others. Yet man seeks to do so, and this is his sin and ruin. He who would help the world must get this love of Christ, and work by it. No other labour is of any service. Love to Christ is the Christian's royal passion.

II. A new social standard.—The world has a variety of such standards—rank, wealth, social influence; by these canons it estimates and appraises men. Christianity regards such standards as false and evanescent. It estimates man by his righteousness, not by his rank; by his principles, not by his possessions. Paul once so knew men "after the flesh"; now he sees them all in the light of the Cross, as sinners dead in trespasses and sins. Let us try our own religion by this test. What kind of sympathy have we with Christ? There are views of His material condition adapted to awaken our mere natural sympathies. What kind of understanding of Him? There is no necessary religion in such sensuous sympathy with Him, and with the mere beauty of His human life and character. Our zeal for spreading Christianity will be regulated and guided by this new standard. Sufficient for us to know that men are men and morally dead; in any country, of any faith, in any social position. On this principle a Christian will form his friendships. Godly people rather than merely rich or influential or cultured people will be his choice for his own friends, for his children's friends, wives, husbands. Godliness and all these, if he can have them; but godliness first. By this new standard of valuation he will regulate his activities. Principles before persons; spiritual considerations before material ones. When we are ruled by considerations of worldly interest or by the opinions of men, merely because they have secular influence or authority, we "judge after the flesh." We should "know no man after the flesh" as authorities in creed or conduct; their spiritual excellence should alone influence us. [This wants guarding.]

III. A new spiritual history.—"A new creation."

1. Unlike the old in some respects. That was out of nothing; here conversion only turns the head of the same vessel round, and gives it a new direction—["converted to God"]. The same essential, neutral, natural manhood simply obeys the new law in all its faculties and their activities. The first creation presented no difficulties to the Creator. "Spake: done." In the moral change there are resisting forces; the material is refractory under the Creator's hand.

2. Yet like the old in some points. Something new is produced. This passion for Christ, for example, is a new thing in the universe. This new thing is produced by Divine agency. Man works with pre-existent materials; he rearranges in new order; makes ever new combinations. But in Nature, or in character, only God can create. Logic, eloquence, force of interest or will, can reform, rearrange a life, but not call forth a new one. This new something is produced according to a Divine Plan. In the moral creation we know not the plan, but all beings, under the Great Architect, are working for its accomplishment. [History for ages converged upon the Redemption of the world by Jesus Christ, and so really also upon the new creation of the individual Christian.] Heaven, earth, matter, mind, even hell unwittingly, working for it. This is for the Divine glory. To a gazing universe the new Race in Christ, and the new man "in Christ," are the most consummate exhibition of "the manifold wisdom of God" (Eph ; Eph 1:12, etc.). The new creation is the greatest marvel of all God's works. So then the things without do not change. Nature, society, events around,—these are only the setting of the man and of life; they may remain the same, but the change is within. He sees with a new eye, hears with a new ear, interprets all things with a new judgment. The moment we look at the universe through the new medium of love to Christ, it becomes new, the old universe passes away, a "new heavens and a new earth" appear. And all "very good."—Founded upon "Homilist," Third Series, vii. 362, with added material.


2Co . Faith v. Sight.

I. The world of "sight," of "appearances," revealed to sense, a very narrow one.—Taste knows nothing more distant than the tongue-tip. Touch only tells of a world whose radius is the reach of the arm. Hearing only widens it by the few thousand feet over which the vibrating air will still quiver with its message before trembling away into silence. Smell carries knowledge no farther than the winds may waft an odour. It may bring to a Columbus in mid-ocean tidings of a continent as yet below the horizon. Yet a narrow world, at its farthest. But sight, queen of the senses! It makes us free of worlds most distant, and puts us into communication with far depths in space which even the flashing light needs years to traverse. It can even carry us back into a world that is really past. Men have seen from earth the fires of a conflagration which perhaps long ages before destroyed a world. The rays of light have only just arrived at their eye, and make them, as it were, contemporary spectators of the climax of its history. In mere physical extent the world of the eye is widest, and wonderfully vast. Yet, how narrow! Within the sphere swept by sight how many things escape it. How many things, moreover, are hidden from each of the senses in turn, and known only to some other one of the five. And when man is armed with all five, and all at their best, they only tell him of the world of space and matter and time. There is a world close about him, of which these have nothing to say. Underneath the world of "appearances," there lies another world which does not appear. The whole world of mind is there. Sight shows one man a flower: "A primrose by the river's brim," etc. An ox sees that much. Another man sees it, and behind, beneath, within it, imagination reveals to him another world. He speaks of this in words taught him not by sense, and he is a poet. Two men look upon the same face. Rays of the same light trace the same [practically, not exactly] picture on the screen which we call the retina. One man sees, and can put upon the canvas his interpretation of what he sees; it is a likeness, and a character too, and a piece of true workmanship which will rank as one of the world's art treasures. Poet, painter, musician, mathematician, logician, all agree that not only the man who lives for eating and drinking and sleeping, having no higher pleasure in life than the satisfaction of a craving or the thrill of a nerve, but also that the man who knows nothing but of material interests, who never goes beyond immediate profit, and that expressible in "£ s. d.," is living in a narrow world.

2. But the Christian man thinks even the widest world of these men circumscribed. Even these, unless they be also Christians, miss a world lying all around them, revealed not to sense, nor to intellect, but to faith.

II. The Christian lives upon that supposition.—He is at the very opposite pole to the "secularist" who (teste nomine) says, "I know of no world but this, now or hereafter." Such a secularist lives expressly and professedly for this world, and for man, often spending life in a very noble endeavour to bring man to live his worthiest and to attain to his best for this, his "only" life. Man is to him the climax of creation, and this world is all. Paul says: "I know of a world above this, and outlasting this little life eternally. I know of One above me, to Whom every one of us must give account of himself." The Christian man shapes his course accordingly. It is not, e.g., a thing unknown that a Christian man should refuse further extension of what is already a prosperous business, and should say: "I cannot undertake more. I have now scanty leisure and energy for God and for my larger, eternal life." Not a mere idea, beautiful but chimerical, that a man, in life's prime, and riding upon the very flood of a springtide of prosperity, should say: "I have enough for the comfort of our later years. Enough to ensure my boys and girls against the paralysing fear of want, but not to exempt my sons from the ennobling discipline of work. Whilst strength and health are yet full, I will turn aside and do something directly and wholly for God." There are a few men who educate their sons and start them in life, there are mothers who train their daughters and mate them for life, regarding most the soul and its well-being, God and His claims; just in proportion as they are not "secularist" but Christian, "walking by faith, not by sight," and "looking not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen" (2Co ).

III. This gives a new standard of measurement.—Things are important or trivial according as they affect the life of God and of eternity. Whatever helps these is to be cherished. Whatever even threatens to hinder, is to be kept subordinate and secondary. Trials and sorrows get a new importance, a new interpretation. The man of "sight" sees the scale heaped up with these, and sometimes sees no counterweight. The man of faith sees them, but sees heaven and the compensations of grace and of fellowship with God even on earth. The balance is seen to be more than redressed. The "secular" temper in its dark hour says, "Not worth while to live!" The Christian temper endures, rejoices in, all (Rom ). "Our light affliction," etc. (2Co 4:17). Indeed, what a comment upon the whole section 2Co 4:16 to 2Co 6:10 is the whole practice of Paul. How the perspective of life is adjusted by the new standpoint. How the proportions of things are regulated. "At home with the Lord." Then this is not "home," except as the sojourner in some distant land may call his house for the time being his "home." The real home of Paul's heart is where his Lord dwells. Men judge him, misjudge him. But there is the judgment of another world: "We must all appear—be manifest—before," etc. (2Co 5:10). And he bears it, and goes on accordingly. Modern astronomy has long transferred the centre of things from the earth to the sun. Christianity transfers the centre of our life from earth to that world where Christ sits, the Centre of all life and love and labour. This short life, instead of being central, and all in all, takes its true place in the system of God's order, fulfilling its little round, rotating upon its own axis of interest, but revolving around God as its true centre, and having Eternity for the full compass of its orbit!

IV. The Christian knows of the truths which belong to this world, by faith.—

1. He is a believer. He walks through the midst of "appearances" with a vivid apprehension of the things unseen, by means of faith. Take faith away, the pole-star of his course is hidden; he steers in the dark. Take faith away, all landmarks are gone; he loses himself in a pathless world. Not simply his lantern is taken, but his eye. The very faculty for perceiving things unseen and spiritual is gone. He does make use of reason; he does not shut eyes and ears, and swallow down any marvel proposed to him. It is very reasonable to believe, on such evidence as the Christian has. In very weighty matters, and on the same kind of evidence, often with much less of it, do men act every day. But there is no demonstration, no such evidence as can compel assent. Euclid can; the man who refuses assent is not capable of the reasoning. From Book I., prop. 1, to Book XII., prop, last, is forged one long chain of demonstration. But in reasoning about Divine facts a link is often wanting. Faith puts it in. Or the chain is not long enough to reach to the conclusion we see clearly enough to be necessary and right. Faith must supply the wanting length. Our mind tries to bridge over by inquiry the gulf between known and unknown. There are gaps in the series of arches. Faith supplies those missing or broken. Perhaps the bridge of demonstration can only bring us in sight of the opposite shore, and faith must make a leap to her footing on the sure land of knowledge. The arches are not there. But it is reasonable enough to complete the series by putting them in. There is room for doubt. There is only "moral" certainty, exceedingly high probability, no demonstration.

2. "Moral evidence," "moral certainty," common phrases which tell how often believing or not believing depends more or less upon the heart and will of the man—upon his mood, or wish, or interests, or prepossessions. If there be a bias against the conclusion, no evidence is demonstrative. If there be an honest readiness to accept the consequences of truth, then far less abundant proof is enough. I believe in a God, and a future, a soul, a judgment. There is much evidence, but certainty involves faith.

3. Very often by ordinary, natural methods we can arrive at no knowledge at all. We cannot build our bridge, but must be lifted "clean over" to the far shore, must commit ourselves blindfold and helpless to One Whom we trust, and let Him lift us into knowledge. Many things of the world of Divine facts can never be known, unless we yield ourselves utterly and simply to be told and taught. But faith is then rewarded and crowned with knowledge. There is a "demonstration of the Spirit" (1Co, where see Separate Homily and Analysis) which excludes doubt, given to the man who has Him. "I believed to see" (Psa 27:13) is a rule of wider application than to Providential deliverances.

4. Prayer, Atonement, inspiration, a Saviour Who is God,—these are to us the bases of life, but every one of them is environed with mystery. [See the worshippers passing onward to an Egyptian temple, down an avenue of towering statues, in the mist and the dim light of very early morning. See the band of Christians making their way homeward, these great truths the way-marks of his path, on either hand ranged in their grandeur. To them it is dim twilight—morning twilight, but dim yet. Every Christian believes every truth to have a form of perfect beauty. But all eyes are not equally keen in the scanty light. The best eyes see most of the Divine beauty in each truth; many eyes see how they range themselves in harmony and order; a few give close and careful examination, and are repaid by fuller knowledge of their beauty and strength. But for very much all must wait until the day dawns. It is folly in the critics of the company, to cavil at the order, or to deny the beauty, and, above all, to refuse to avail themselves of their guidance, because they cannot see more. For the man who wants to walk by them there is light enough; he sees enough to walk by. He sees them dimly, but they guide him safely. He is content to believe for the rest, and to walk by faith.] [

5. Let the "bridge" rather be the narrow causeway, stretching away toward knowledge, between two unbounded deep seas of mystery. The waves of mystery often sweep across the very pathway. There are gaps broken in the causeway itself. But reason bids faith go forward. Faith makes her plunge from the last bit of clear foothold of knowledge to the next, seen afar off. The eye sees no path, but faith sometimes finds footing beneath the waters. Sometimes none; when she must swim for it, until her foot touches ground again, and so goes forward to knowledge.]

V. In regard to God's providence.—All know of the plunge from knowledge and certainty and clear walking, into dark waves of mysterious dealing which sweep over the path, and almost sweep them away also. Faith says: "Sight finds nothing, but I know the way lies right on. My Father's path never swerves. I follow straight forward. I may have to swim for it, but that way lies dry land!" The experience is repeated again and again, until one last step, one last plunge, of faith puts the foot on the shore where at last men do walk amongst the realities, by sight in the glorious and most worthy sense.] [Here the men of sight are inferior to the men of faith. There sight is the nobler, greater life.]

2Co . Knowing Christ after the Flesh

I. Manifold agencies now are at work for bringing men's minds into contact with Christ.—

1. His life is being studied as never before, with new earnestness, with new helps. Palestine is searched and surveyed from end to end, with the aid of the accumulated learning of eighteen centuries. The facts which bear upon His career are eagerly welcomed and at once widely published. That career is being studied from all points of view; by men actuated by the most widely differing motives; some defending, some attacking and destroying; with minds of every cast and calibre. Every doubter, every enemy, tries his hand on "Jesus of Nazareth." The Socialist endeavours to claim Him as the first and greatest exponent of his philanthropic aims and methods. [Said a French revolutionary, "Le bon sansculotte."] Everything conventional is at a discount, and the result is that we get a new, and often a more correct, idea of the externals of Jesus and His life than any preceding generation could obtain. Our time is full of "Lives" of Christ. Men full of learning, of poetical gifts, of philosophical power, are setting forth in new and beautiful lights His outward surroundings, and the influences which—at all events in the case of another, ordinary man—would influence and mould the inner life and character. His Galilæan home, the city of Jerusalem, His countrymen, their habits of thought and speech,—all are helping to make how He lived almost as familiar to our generation as how ourselves live. Pictorial illustration, accurate as never was possible before, is helping to bring all this vivid, realistic knowledge home to the simplest and the youngest of our people. And yet, with all this picturesque and novel setting of the history, with all the skilful dissection of motive and mental process, with all this appreciative study of His teaching, there is the possibility that men should only "know Him after the flesh." Some of the writers of even "Lives" of Christ have themselves avowedly only come into contact with a human teacher, a Jewish Rabbi of unique independence, and of great beauty of teaching and personal character, marvellously influential upon the world's history and thought. But to these He is at most the Greatest of the world's greatest men. With some of them He is not even the greatest, but an amiable, pleasant enthusiast, who could and did make mistakes; who was hurried on, spite of Himself, into unintended, unexpected developments of His action, and to an entirely inopportune and undesired issue on the cross. They see, and present vividly to their readers, a conception, more or less accurate, of a Man Jesus who lived and died in the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius. They aim at doing this, and so thoroughly succeed in many cases that their readers see no more. Writers and readers get back into the position of a Nicodemus or a Caiaphas, and see just what a worshipper in the synagogue of Capernaum or of Nazareth saw and knew; the brother whom "His brethren and sisters" lived and grew up with; the strange Man with whom Pilate was one Friday morning a good deal "bothered," until he "washed his hands" of the queer, dreamy, half-crazy peasant—"king," who was only too near entangling him in a quarrel with those uncertain-tempered Jewish authorities and people.

2. Such a success in realising the human aspects and historical setting of the Man Christ Jesus is apt to be too successful with many Christian readers. It is distinctly reversing a process whose results are a remarkable characteristic of all the earliest Christian teaching. Of our text Stanley says: "Startling as this declaration is, … it involved a general truth. It is the same profound instinct or feeling which penetrated, more or less, the whole Apostolical, and even the succeeding, age with regard to our Lord's earthly course. It is the same feeling which appears in the absence of local or personal traditions; no authentic or even pretended likeness of Christ has been handed down from the first century; the very site of His dwelling-place in Capernaum has been entirely obliterated from human memory; the very notion of seeking for relics of His life and death, though afterwards so abundant, did not begin till the age of Constantine." [No attempt or desire amongst the early Christians to identify or perpetuate the memory of any scene of His life. God "hid" the burial-place of Moses. The Christian Church, seeing so much more than the Jesus "after the flesh," let go the memory of birthplace and burial-place. (See Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, p. 471.) He also says: "Something akin to this feeling is that which is finally left on the mind after exploring the neighbourhood of Jerusalem. These localities have, indeed, no real connection with Him.… Their interest and instruction are secondary, not primary; their value is imaginative and historical, not religious.… He is not here, He is risen."] "It is the same feeling which is perpetuated in the fact that our name … is taken not from the Man ‘Jesus,' but from the Lord ‘Christ.' It is the same feeling which, in the Gospel narratives themselves, is expressed in the almost entire absence of precision as to time and place—in the emphatic separation of our Lord from His kinsmen after the flesh, even from His mother herself—in His own solemn warning, ‘What and if …, the flesh profiteth nothing' And this is the more observable when contrasted with the Apocryphal Gospels, which do to a great extent condescend to the natural, or Judaic, tendency, which the Gospels of the New Testament thus silently rebuke. There we find a ‘Gospel of the Infancy,' filled with the fleshly marvels that delighted afterwards the fleshly minds of the Bedouin Arabs; there first are mentioned the local traditions of the scene of the Annunciation, of the Nativity, of the abode in Egypt; there is to be found the story, on which so great a superstructure has been built in later ages, of the parents and birth of her whom the Gospel history calls ‘blessed,' but studiously conceals from view." (Corinthians, pp. 604, 605.)

3. "Too successful." For whilst the Humanity is precious, and necessary to the Christian scheme, the Divinity must not be obscured or forgotten. The Christ must be man, and born of our human stock, to be the Redeemer of man. His Jewish birth is an important link in the historical continuity and organic development of the Redemption and its story. His humanity assures all suffering lives of His sympathy. Because He is the Son of Man, He is to be the Judge of mankind. The Church or the Christian who knows the Christ of John and Paul, has always gladly [and with perfectly natural ease] combined with that conception of Him all the humanistic touches which (predominantly) characterise the portrait of the Synoptists. But it will be a difficulty, and even a disaster, if the very success in presenting with realistic fidelity and abundant "local colour" the Teacher of Galilee and Jerusalem, should issue in making it almost impossible to see in Him anything else. It would be to lead back the whole Christian world to the position of even the disciples before the Resurrection and Pentecost. It would go near to an undoing of the work of the Spirit, Who from the earliest days, with a wonderful rapidity of education, emancipated even the Apostolic company from the embarrassingly vivid memory of the dear personal friend, and enabled them to see a Person Whom they must trust and worship as God. After reading some vividly realistic "Life of Christ," the reader is apt to be thrust into as close contact with the Man, as was the crowd in the narrow street of Capernaum (Luk ), till the "flesh and blood" Christ is alone perceived or remembered. To know Christ too realistically as He was "according to the flesh" (Rom 1:3), and as men saw Him who knew no more of Him than "flesh and blood" (Mat 16:17)—ordinary human faculties, by ordinary observation and inference—could "reveal," is retrogression, not growth, in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. [An analogous difficulty is being created in regard to the Written Word. The close literary study of the Bible, its literary history, its literary component elements, the very helpful reading of the Bible "as if it were any other book," are making it a difficulty to read it as that Divine Book, in a category apart from all others, which, with abundant and often-repeated verification, the experiment of many centuries of Christian reading, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, has discovered it to be. The more appreciative historical study of the Bible is for many readers making more difficult the abundantly justified devotional reading of the Bible.]

4. The heart that is taught of the Spirit knows a Divine Christ. "No man can call Jesus ‘Lord' but by the Spirit of the Lord." The Divine Son [like the Inspired Written "Word of God"] is entirely a revelation. The tendency to a merely humanistic knowledge of the Saviour is betrayed in the growing habit of calling Him, in hymnology and devotional talk, "Jesus" rather than "Christ" and "Lord." The Church lives in, as the Epistles in their Christology belong to, a stage far ahead of Jewish neighbours, or even devout disciples, of "Jesus, the Prophet of Nazareth in Galilee." The Comforter is come, to take of the things of Christ and show them to His people. John arrived at the discovery that he had "seen and handled the Word of Life." The sinner who finds rest and life in Christ finds, as by a swift intuition, that he is trusting in One Who must be more than a "Christ after the flesh," to be to him and to do for him all he needs, and all Christ does and is. Whole generations of simple believers, with no knowledge of Christ except what the Bible, often in a translation, gave them, and that Bible read without any "historic," or literary, or antiquarian appreciation of it, or of the facts of the story of Christ, have more truly known Christ, than did not only Peter, or Nicodemus, or Caiaphas, in the days before Pentecost, but than does many an author of a brilliant "Life of Christ." The Church and the individual do not need to work their way up through the human to the Divine. Nor do they ordinarily do so. The Spirit brings them directly into contact with the Divine. The "little child" "knows Him that is true, and is in Him that is true" … "the true God and Eternal Life" (1Jn ). "From the time that we are created anew in Christ Jesus we do not think or speak or act with regard to our Lord as to a mere man. We do not now use any expression with relation to Christ which may not be applied to Him, not only as He is man, but as He is ‘God over all, blessed for ever.'" (Wesley, Works, vii. 291, 292.)

II. [Wesley also suggests another manifestation of the same humanistic feeling with regard to Christ.]

1. "Some of the hymns in [Watts'] Horœ Lyricœ, dedicated to Divine Love, are too amorous, and fitter to be addressed by a lover to his fellow-mortal, than by a sinner to the most high God. I doubt whether," he says, "there are not some other writers who, though they believe in the Godhead of Christ, yet speak in the same unguarded manner. Some will probably think that [in translating many Moravian Hymns] I have been overscrupulous with regard to one particular word, which I never use myself either in prose or verse, in praying or preaching, though it is very frequently used by modern Divines, both of the Romish and Reformed Churches. It is the word dear. Many of them frequently say … ‘Dear Lord,' ‘Dear Saviour'; and my brother used the same in many of his hymns, even as long as he lived. But may I not ask, Is not this using too much familiarity with the great Lord of heaven and earth? Is there any Scripture … which justifies this manner of speaking?… I cannot but advise all lovers of the Bible, if they use the expression at all, to use it very sparingly, seeing the Scripture affords neither command nor precedent for it." This quotation is of interest, not only as incidentally revealing the writer, but as a note of a peril always lying near to every devout, warm-hearted follower of Christ; a tendency and habit carried to excess in Mystic devotion in every century. Yet it is after all a question rather of sanctified good taste, or rather of an instinct, "taught of God" and yet not of necessity tracing in all cases the same line of division between seemly and unseemly; only worth discussion just so far as, like that spoken of in I., it is both a symptom of, and a help to confirm, a humanistic conception of Christ, which may obscure His Godhead or hide it from the worshipper as if behind a veil of flesh. The devotional language of the Pentecostal Church must not "put back the clock" of the development of Revelation to the days "after the flesh." A Divine Christ must be our norm. From the vantage-ground of the revelation of His Godhead, we may look back upon and incorporate with our knowledge, His manhood, with its sympathy and its capacity of an atoning death. We are arrived at St. John and St. Paul; we look back to, but do not go back to, Capernaum or Nazareth or even Bethlehem. At least, knowing Him now "after the Spirit," we do not dwell back in Nazareth. The heart "after the flesh" has its overstated Kenosis doctrine, as certainly as has the intellect of the theologian.

2. To quote Wesley again: "Are we not in private conversation especially apt to speak of Him as a mere man. Particularly when we are describing His sufferings, how easily do we slide into this! [Cf. Farrar's cautionary note to his vividly true description of crucifixion, Life of Christ, ii. 401.] We do well to be cautious in this matter. Here is room for indulging a warm imagination. I have sometimes almost scrupled singing (even in the midst of my brother's excellent hymns), ‘That dear disfigured face,' or that glowing expression, ‘Drop Thy warm blood upon my heart,' lest it should seem to imply the forgetting I am speaking of ‘the Man that is my Fellow, saith the Lord of Hosts.'" It is striking, undesigned illustration of the text, to note how little is made even in the Gospels of the actual crucifying. "And they crucified Him," is the brief, matter-of-fact record, without special comment, of (surely) an agonising experience to sympathetic onlookers. [When John does pause to comment, it is upon another, incidental, detail.] The Death of Christ, rather than the Crucifixion of Christ, is the central point of the developed Christian theology of the Spirit of God, and of His New Testament mediums of its communication. The details of the agony have some of them a value as connecting the history with prophecy; but for their own sake they are never dwelt upon or lingered over. [Similarly, it is a too urgent exegesis, in many cases, to press the details of crucifixion, e.g., in "I am crucified with Christ"; or, "Our old man is crucified with Him." Death with and in His death is the main point; as it happened, His was death by crucifixion. But it would be very unlike the habit of the post-Pentecostal thought of the New Testament to make that of any importance, as deciding between a gradual or an instantaneous death of sin, of self, in the believer. In many cases, probably in most, any definite allusion to crucifixion might be deleted, and the more general "dying" or "death" substituted, without any least injustice to the thought of Paul or Peter.] The man who is "a new creation" knows a new Christ, a Christ Who is one of the facts of that world of "spiritual" things to which his own life now belongs. He does not forget that Christ died. The Atonement made by His death is the foundation of his own hope, and the strong appeal with which he seeks to bring men to reconciliation with God. But he sees and knows and has continually to deal with a Christ who has no "local colour," Who belongs to the world of the universal, the world of all races, climes, ages, "the Son" (Hebrews 1). This Son once did, it is true, live, and move, and heal, and teach, as a peasant Rabbi of Galilee; but the man taught of the Spirit does not advert most to that. That Person did hang upon a cross, it is true. That is precious truth to him. He did once fill the manger of Bethlehem as babe. True; and he is grateful for the visible expression thus given to the truth in Immanuel. But as a "man in Christ" he knows and has to do with, he is joined to, and grafted into, a Christ Who is on the throne of heaven, the Lord. This knowledge is the starting-point of all his judgments upon the pre-Calvary Jesus; of all devotional language respecting Him; of all experiences of the Divine life in his soul. There is nothing in Paul which cannot be known by observation, inquiry, inference. The man "in Paul," is inconceivable. The man "in Christ" rates all that could be "known after the flesh" as the least part of his knowledge of Christ (Php ).

2Co . "A new creature [creation] in Christ Jesus."

I. A condition.

II. A consequence.

I. A condition: "If … in Christ."—

1. The phrase almost the peculiar property of Paul. Of all other New Testament writers Peter alone uses it, once. Paul's letters are thickly sown with the phrase. When it does not appear in English, it will often appear in the Greek. When the phrase does not occur, the thought does. It is interwoven most intimately with Paul's vocabulary of the Christian life. It lies at the foundation of all his thought about it. To be "in Christ" is almost exactly his definition of a Christian. When he desires to veil the personal reference—as John does with his phrase, "The disciple whom Jesus loved"—he says, not, "A Christian man whom I knew," but, "A man in Christ, whom I know, caught up," etc. (2Co ). The salutation chapter which closes the Epistle to the Romans is fairly studded with the equivalent phrases: "in the Lord," and "in Christ." Aquila and Priscilla are "helpers in Christ." Apollos is "approved in Christ,"—a character portrait in three strokes. And with a kind of holy envy he sends greetings to some who "were in Christ before" him, Christians of longer standing than even himself. Ask Paul, "What makes a Christian?" Baptism? True, that as between a Jewish child, or heathen, or Mahometan, and a "Christian," a very real, and a very blessed, distinction has been made in that water has been applied to this last in the name of the Trinity. The Lord's Supper? True, that it is the rallying place of all who "hold the Head" (Col 2:19), the spot where, in face of unbeliever and worldling, they avow their pledge to their Great, Divine Master, to hold Christian doctrine, and to live out the definitely Christian ethical code. All who gather there confess Christ. But the water may be applied and no inward washing take place. There may be fatal divorce between belief of doctrine and faith in the Divine Centre and Summary of doctrine. The font, and the table, and the creed do not alone make a Christian. Ask Paul. "To be in Christ" would be his unvaryingly consistent answer, the condition assumed in all his letters and talk.

2. How much is meant by the phrase?

(1) Men say of a David and Jonathan friendship, that each lives in the other. Indeed, "living in another" is one definition of Love. Take Jonathan from David, and to David it is all but death. Each fills the other's thoughts during their days of separation. David is in thought with Jonathan at court. Jonathan is ever picturing the life which his friend David is just at that given moment living, in the wilderness or the cave. All true of Christ and the man "in Christ." But is that all?

(2) Take two friends, of one of whom the whole temperament is to be dependent. He is distrustful of his own judgment, to a fault; it leads to indecision and inaction. He has that shrinking from conflict which some wrongly confound with cowardice; and is moreover conscious of his own want of strength for any struggle with opponents or difficulties of circumstance. But he has a friend who is, and has, all that his weakness needs. He is wise and bold and self-reliant, and on him he leans. With him near by to apply to for counsel, to decide for his indecision, to stand by him in conflict, he is another man. Now that he knows a stronger arm and a clearer judgment and a self-reliant sturdiness of character will be by him and behind him, to guide him, and to see him through, in his friend's company he will dare to attempt and will persistently and successfully carry through, even against the strongest opposition, what he would fear even to contemplate if he were alone. All blessedly true again of the believer and his Lord. But when he is exhorted to "be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might" (Eph ), or "to stand fast in the Lord," is that all?

(3) No. All this is true, because much more is true. There is a closer union than that of thought, sympathy, dependence. More than even the strong metaphor, "The soul of Jonathan was knit unto the soul of David" (1Sa ). No metaphorical union, no figurative oneness of life, but a unity, a unification, so real, so complete, that Paul exclaims: "I live no longer; Christ liveth in me." Paul is no independent, self-contained unit; he is but a member of the grand unit—"Christ." He keeps his individuality; that is abundantly clear. But Paul the member is merged in His life, Who is Head, and all in all. In fact, there is compressed into his phrase all the teaching of John 15 and 1 Corinthians 12 All the Lord's teaching about the Vine, all Paul's own teaching about the Body, are packed away into this binomial of his devotional and theological notation, "in Christ."

(4) Let Christians work up from the name Christian to the thought "in Christ." "Between Him yonder at court and you here in the wilderness, there is a close bond. But there is a closer. Between Him on the throne, and the humblest, weakest, most obscure Christian on earth, it is not simply association of the most intimate, it is union. Not the attachment of a follower; but the grafting of a branch. Not the approximation of a band of disciples gathered round the Master; each is one of many members living in Him, an active hand, a keen eye, a swift foot; strong, intelligent, laborious, in the strength of a life which is His as well as theirs. This Vine is not the Stem and Root alone, any more than it is Branches alone; but Stem, and Root, and Branches; this Body is not the Head alone, but Head and Members; so in a very real, almost bottomless sense, we say, ‘Ye are nothing apart from Him, and He is not complete without you. You, and your fellow-Christians, and your Christ, are the Church, the Christ.' All the rays of illustrative, of analogical, teaching are converged into a smaller but excessively brilliant focal spot: ‘In Christ.'

(5) Let believers think of it, for all hangs upon their faith. They ‘live in their faith in a Son of God who loved them,' etc. (Gal )." They did not simply believe Him, or in Him, or even on Him, with full recumbency of soul casting themselves upon His saving power. They believed unto and into Him (e.g. Joh 3:18; Joh 3:36). He accepted them, grafted them, into Himself. There is community of interests, of joys, sufferings, point of view and of judgment, because there is community of life. The life of the Spirit of Christ (1Co 3:17; Php 1:19), the very life of the corporate Christ Himself, stirs in them. So utterly new a thing is that, so entirely foreign to all the natural life and its possibilities, that if any man be thus in Christ he is a new creature.

II. The consequence: "Old things are passed away," "all become new," "all of God."—

1. The first phrase is pictorial. Winter-time. Earth wrapped in winter garment of snow. It lies stretching away mile after mile, rounding off all roughness into graceful curves; revealing, or concealing, the prominences of the surface beneath, just as the face-cloth half conceals, half reveals, the face of the dead beneath. That snow is a face-cloth laid over the face of a dead earth. Seeds are there, but dormant. No sap stirring in trees or hedgerows; buds waiting their time. Cold winds sweep howling over the open country, as if to bite back any too adventurous growth. Death reigns. Death, indeed, with the seed of life in its bosom, but potential rather than actual. But God's south wind blows. Men rise some morning, and the pall is gone from the face. The snow has passed away. Sun shines; God "sends forth His breath," and in a day or two the black soil of the ploughed fields shows a delicate green "down" upon its face. Sap stirring; buds swelling, bursting; every tree and hedgerow arraying itself in the first tender greenness of spring. Winter has passed away. Those are not last year's buds, or sap, or verdure. We call springtime a resurrection. Rather, a new creation. Finish the passage just quoted (Psa ): "they are created, and Thou renewest the face of the earth." Old things have passed away; all things have become new; there is a new creation.

2. No analogy holds good everywhere.—This holds fairly well; it is one of God's own. "Out of Christ" is death. Happily, death with the "seeds of life" in it. The grace of Christ has so far availed for all men, that the utter spiritual death of a devil, with no hope or possibility of life, has never—as an initial stage of man's life [it may be the final]—been more than a necessary theological conception. "In Christ was life, and that life was the light of men," light "that lighteth"—in some degree—"every man, coming into the world" (Joh ; Joh 1:9). And thus even before Christ, and without a preacher, in even heathen hearts is hidden what may develop into the new creation. Nature is death, utter, total; this potential life is grace, only grace. The "breath of life" goes forth from God; the Spirit of God calls forth a new creature. The new sap stirs in the system; the new buddings, from which will grow the developed "fruit of the Spirit" [N. B. "works of the flesh"; "fruit—not fruits—of the Spirit" (Gal 5:19; Gal 5:22)] begin to appear. There is life, new life, a new kind of life, everywhere and in everything. [Wife finds she has a new husband. The master a new servant. The man has new haunts, and pleasures, and company. New class of books and literature come upon the table. New point of view from which men and conduct are judged; new direction to his own life—Godward now—and a new way of looking at other men's lives. New view and estimate of Christ,—the point here. "If you don't believe I am converted, ask my wife!" Child, known to H. J. F., said, "Why, I feel as if I were somebody else!"]

3. Science creates nothing.—In nature God now ordinarily creates nothing. In His seventh day He rested from His work, and has probably since then only upheld and maintained the life and order then established. [This is a matter of evidence in any given case of an apparent miracle of creation. E.g. the multiplying of the bread for the five thousand.] The nearest approach to a true creation with which we are now made familiar is the bringing of a new, infant life into the world. The new-born babe is perhaps a now creation; its life ( ζωή) a real addition to the sum of existence. Certainly the new man "in Christ" is a new thing on the face of God's earth; a distinctly new product of God's own power. A Christian knows that no evolution-formula embraces all the facts of life. It is not true of his life "in Christ." There is more evolved than was even potentially contained in the old. In the man that came from fallen Adam, there was nothing from which the new man in the second Adam could be formed. New in time. New in kind.

4. Note, "new," not perfect or mature.—The Christian does not leap forth, Minerva-like, full-grown at the first instant. The members of the natural body possess from the first all their characteristic aptitudes and powers, but they need training. The eye needs to learn how to see, as certainly as foot or hand need to learn to do their work. The foot is made to support the body; it alone can do it; but it must learn to do it. The newly opened leaf lives, but must unfold into maturity and perfaction. Spring's new creation does not mean leaf or flower or fruit perfect at once. The analogy holds fairly well of the "new" life of the man "in Christ." Quickened into "newness of life" (Rom ), because the Holy Spirit has entered into and dwells in him. New powers, new faculties, suited to a new world (see on 1Co 2:12-16, Homiletic Analysis); new tastes, motives, work. All new, but with the weakness and inexperience of infancy, with only the tender strength of the natural growths of Spring.

5. What an illustration is Paul himself of all this.—His affections no longer those of the natural man.

(1) Joy is "in the Holy Ghost," or "in the Lord" (Rom ; Php 4:10). His love is no mere natural affection; but sublimated, spiritualised "love in the Spirit," a thing originating in God Himself (Col 1:8). He craves to see his Philippian friends, but with no merely natural longing; he "longs after them all in the bowels of Jesus Christ" (Php 1:18). It is Christ's own love for them stirring in Paul. The throbs of feeling which pulsate through his heart have their centre of origin in Christ Himself.

(2) The impulses and determinations of his will are the outflow of a force which originates in another. Plans, purposes,—none are independent of Christ. He "trusts in the Lord to send Timothy" (Php ).

(3) His intellect obeys new laws; he is "persuaded in the Lord Jesus," etc. (Rom ). He has not arrived at the conclusion by the exercise of unassisted human judgment. The indwelling life of Christ makes it Christ's judgment too.

(4) Even old points of character and conduct have now a new root and motive. We may suppose him to have been always truthful and honourable (Act ). But he does not speak "on his honour," or as a truthful man; he "speaks the truth in Christ" (Rom 9:1). As now a member of Him Who is the Truth, with Whom falsehood cannot even in thought be associated, Paul's word must now be the simple truth, the highest form of asseveration.

(5) This verse (2Co ) a case in point. Men accused Paul of want of straightforwardness; of mercenary motives; of blustering when absent, and speaking very humbly when present; of fearing to come to Corinth. The natural heart meets such charges with appeals to a man's honour, or with indignant or angry repudiation. He quietly says: "We are manifest to God. Other motives altogether now rule us. We do not now regard men, their threats, their favour, in that way. We live, judge, plan, feel, speak, as new creatures, because in Christ. Even our view and knowledge and estimate of Himself are now new." Between Saul of Tarsus and Paul the Apostle there lies an act of Divine power, there is a new creation. He is a new creature. His life is a new life in all its manifestations.] "… Those of us whose infancy was sheltered from contamination, whose childhood was nurtured in holy doctrine and encouraged by saintly and sweet example, whose youth was watched by a vigilant ministry of inspection and loving solicitude, and yet the evil of whose nature, and the ungodliness of whose bias, received no effectual check. We respected the restraints of authority and family honour, and, it may be, conveyed a mistaken impression of the moral side of our life. But we knew that in spite of home and Church the heart within us was unchanged; and when the change did come, it was not through any fact or word we did not know before, it was as if a new sense had been uncovered; God and Christ and heaven and hell, instead of being images flitting through the mind, were entities; we lived in a new world; we walked by faith, and not by sight; life and death, and duty had each a new meaning; and above all and beyond all other revelations there was an indwelling Christ, redeeming a condemned sinner from guilt and saving a struggling soul from defeat.… This change was no more wrought by man than the heavens were created by man." ["And all things are of God."]—From address by Rev. E. E. Jenkins, D.D.

2Co . "The ministry of reconciliation."

I. Must go to political world for illustration of The Arrangement, "We beseech you in Christ's stead."


(1) Queen frequently gives assent to bills by commission. Lord Chancellor, with other noble lords, in due form and state appear—as she would—and signify her assent—as she would,—the quaint Norman-French formula being used, just as if she were personally present and acting. The Lord Chancellor and his companion commissioners are, for the time and the special purpose, the Queen.

(2) In the old, picturesque days of English history there was a great officer of state, of much importance in the Government—the Lord High Treasurer. There has beer so Lord High Treasurer since Shrewsbury resigned his office at the accession of George I. The office is "in commission." The duties are discharged by commissioners: a First Lord of the Treasury and several Junior Lords They together are the Lord High Treasurer of olden days.

(3) William IV., as Duke of Clarence, was the last Lord High Admiral. The office is in commission. First Lord and Junior Lords of the Admiralty are in effect to-day the Lord High Admiral, holding his office, doing his work.

2. Once there dwelt on earth a Great Ambassador. He is back at Court to-day. His office has been in commission ever since He said, "Go ye; make disciples of all the nations." That was the issue of the patent, the writ, constituting the commissioners. Paul is (to speak in the political dialect) First Lord of the Ambassadorship. The ministry of the Churches are his fellow-commissioners for executing the office of the Great Ambassador. Paul and his colleagues and successors are together the Great Ambassador. In their collective voice His voice is heard. He pleads with men individually in them. "We pray you," yet not on our own account; on His—"in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled."


(1) Congregation may help ministers to remember this. For one thing, the ministry is recruited from the congregation; the sons will bring with them into the sacred office the habitual ideas, canons of judgment, whole estimate of the homes and circles from which they are drawn. Also, it is not unworthy of most faithful minister to feel that, if he knows that the ambassador's evangelical earnestness is expected, respected, by his people, he will find it easier to cultivate and show it. If he knows that they never pray for him as an ambassador from God to guilty, alienated men—that they are impatient, intolerant, of such zeal as becomes his office—he will still of course be faithful to his commission; but they will create an added difficulty, where already there are many attaching to fidelity and success. The people should pray for, listen to, him; should train children, not to criticise, but to pray for and listen to him; as one who is speaking and appealing only in the name of the Great Ambassador. With what earnestness would the Great Ambassador Himself plead!]

(2) Within the Church, ministers are "those who bear rule over you, who watch for your souls as those that must give an account" (Heb ); to the Flock they are "shepherds" (Eph 4:11). But to those outside the fold, the family, the kingdom, the Church, they are "ambassadors for Christ." Christ has given to them a ministry of discipline, of instruction; but, first in order, a "ministry of reconciliation."

II. "Reconciled."—

1. What is the matter between God and man? Do men misunderstand God? More. Indifferent to His love and claims? More. Alienated from Him? Yes. "The mind of the flesh is enmity against God" (Rom ). James says, bluntly, sternly, "Whosoever will be the friend of the world is the enemy of God" (Jas 4:4). Terrible words! And, on the other side, "the wrath of God." Often in so many words. But it lies in the gracious word "propitiation." A Propitiation is nothing but a gift which appeases and turns away displeasure. [David's Philistine comrades would not have him to go to battle with them to Gilboa (1Sa 29:4). They feared his treachery. "Where-with should he reconcile himself to his master, Saul? Should it not be with our heads?" With such slain trophies should he propitiate his king, and pave the way for reconciliation.] If "Propitiation be a true [though by no means the complete or only] representation of the meaning and effect of the death of Christ, there must have been that to turn away which is best expressed to us by the human word "wrath." "We ambassadors have peace with God." [Or, "Let us have" (Rom 5:1). In either case it is a peace of relation, not of feeling.] "When we were enemies, we were reconciled," etc. Then they who are not yet reconciled are—? Such words all speak of war, "enmity," antagonism.

2. The very ambassadors know, in themselves, that it is nature to sin, but grace to deny and crucify self and "the flesh"; that it is easy to drift from God, but means conflict and struggle to keep by His side; easier to be slack than diligent; easier—and quite natural—to be worldly than godly. Nothing more wonderful, or more significant, than to see with what terrible facility a once godly man may drop out from good ways and let go the religious habits of a lifetime; no long interval is required for a foremost, genuine "worker" to become a merely formal, perfunctory Church member; one day of careless walking will cost a Christian man what weeks of struggle and prayer will not recover for him. [No trouble to grow weeds; much pains to grow flowers or fruit. Natural facts illustrate the spiritual: get twice the distance from the centre of light and heat, and the light and heat are diminished fourfold; a falling body drops with rapidly accelerating velocity, in the second second covering three times the space covered in the first, in the third five times the distance, and so on. These are also rules obtaining when a soul departs from its Centre, or falls into sin.] Such facts mean that religion is not natural, but of grace. All disposition towards God has come from without. "We (ambassadors) were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest."

3. Men know themselves; that they do not love religion,—not merely this or that unfortunate presentation of it, in persons or Churches, but the abiding, constant life of fellowship with God; that there is a real aversion from God—latent, dormant, disguised, so long as no occasion for its awakening or display, but capable of being aroused; that prayer is really infrequent or uninviting, the Bible unattractive. Men know the significance of these facts: that the conversion of wife or son or daughter would not be most welcome news; that to have Christ and His claims pressed with any urgency, arouses resistance, or even a real anger which may sweep away all perfectly trained, native politeness. [Mr. Gladstone told Mr. Stead (Review of Reviews, April 1892): "Lord Melbourne was one day seen coming from church in the country in a mighty fume. Finding a friend, he exclaimed: ‘It is too bad. I have always been a supporter of the Church, and I have always upheld the clergy; but it is really too bad to have to listen to a sermon like that we have had this morning. Why, the preacher actually insisted upon applying religion to a man's private life.'"] [Two friends sitting silently smoking by the side of a Scotch burn, in the quiet evening, after a day's hard fishing. One breaks the silence: "Let us get up and go. I cannot stand this. It makes me think of God." (Case known to H. J. F.)] Friends may be of any creed, of any religion, except "spiritual" religion; such unwelcome. Between the pleasures men like, and the religion which claims the men, nobody more than the man of the world feels how deep a gulf is cleft. "Ni Dieu, ni maître," "Our enemy is God," are only extreme manifestations of what every man knows is a capability in himself. Think of the meaning of persecution, ecclesiastical or (not less significant) domestic. Good men know that there is no distance from God to which they might not go, no depth to which they might not sink, no enmity to Him of which they would not be capable, if the Spirit of God were withdrawn, and themselves left to the power of temptation. The relations between God and men out of joint. Men out of harmony with Him; He arrayed against them in holy "wrath." "Be ye reconciled."

III. "He [needed to be, and] is, reconciled."—

1. "God was in Christ reconciling," etc. Can date the death on Calvary; but cannot date the Reconciliation in Christ. Assumed and acted upon from Eden to Calvary, whilst as yet there was no Calvary; in the mind and heart of God "from times eternal." As such words are suggested, they lead to a point where we gaze out into hopeless depths of unfathomable mystery. [Revolt alleged against doctrine of "wrath of God" and the "total" ruin of "fallen man." Always has been something of such revolt. Further, if "Puritan" theology and preaching did draw portrait of an angry God and of guilty, helpless, God-hating, born sinner,—both in too hard lines,—let this extenuate their "fault": the holier a man grows, the more deeply he understands the intense antagonism between holiness and sin, God and a sinful heart; the more deeply does he realise that stern, active, almighty wrath against sin is a necessity of the very nature of a holy God; he reads Bible with the light gained in a lifetime, and with the instincts of a holy heart. Nobody sterner than was John in the ripeness of age, knowledge, character. It only needs that the Puritan portrait be (not essentially altered, but the hard lines) softened, and the whole suffused, with the tender glory of the redeeming grace of a God in Christ Who "reconciled the world to Himself."] As matter of happy fact there never has been a mere sinner; some good has been present from the first, because some grace has been given from the first. Happily, also, men never have to do with the mere wrath of God; never have known any God but the God of grace, on His part reconciled in Christ, and waiting for men to be reconciled. [Wellington and Soult fought at Toulouse (April 1814), in ignorance that an armistice had been signed at Paris. English sailors fought at New Orleans (January 1815), in ignorance that Treaty of Ghent had already been signed between England and United States. So] men are fighting on against a reconciled God, most of them in heart ignorance.

2Co . Reconciliation by the Sinless Substitute.

I. The Substitute.—No need to be ashamed of the doctrine of a vicarious Atonement. It has suffered much at the hands of its friends; it has been crudely presented, and in an untrue isolation of exhibition, without any suggestion of other complementary, guarding aspects of the meaning of the Death. In the endeavour to give it such clear, vivid exposition as may enable the untrained mind of the young, the ignorant, the heathen, to apprehend it for the comfort and rest of their heart and conscience, it has perhaps been almost caricatured. Yet granting true all the hardest things which have been said of it, and of those who preached it—they have not always been fair and true—yet there lies beneath it a deep-seated instinct of the human heart—the instinct of Atonement by Substitution. The doctrine has been ridiculed, but it has survived the ridicule; it has more than the proverbial "nine lives." It has been denounced as unreasonable, immoral. [Yet an ancient sage saw, "Volenti non fit injuria"; see also Appended Note.] If it has been deemed slain and cast out in argument, yet it has had a wonderful resurrection power. Its enemies have sealed the stone and set the watch, but it has always come forth in perennial life. The instinct of substitution is rooted in all hearts, in all ages, in all religions. Even the base Caiaphas could say, with selfish policy—though like other prophets, far better men, there was more in his words than he knew (1Pe ),—"It is expedient that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not" (Joh 11:50). It is not the result of a theological training, or even the formative influence of a Jewish sacrificial system, which makes Paul almost Christlike in his love for his nation, as in "great heaviness and continual sorrow of heart," he almost volunteers his own ruin, if only it might be accepted to avert the eternal fulfilment of the anathema which hung over the Israel which would not "love the Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom 9:2-3). "If my damnation would accomplish their salvation"; it is a daringly tremendous conception, but it is the instinct of a true human heart. He had been anticipated long before (Exo 32:32). Moses the Mediator begins to ask for pardon, but his sentence hangs in mid-utterance unfinished, as if the enormity of the people's guilt came upon him, choking back the request for pardon. And then, as the river is dammed up only to burst forward with redoubled volume and force, there breaks out from his heart a yet more daring request. He had halted in the very midst of his intercession a moment ago; now his instinct of self-sacrificing love for his people makes a bolder leap than before: "If not—if mere and simple forgiveness be not possible, blot me, I pray Thee, out," etc. It was the nearest approach any man ever made to Psa 40:7-8. The offer could not be accepted. It could have availed nothing if it had been accepted. Still, to Moses the Mediator belongs the honour of being in the ages before Christ the one man who had volunteered to die to save his brethren, the guilty Israel. But that honour was reserved for the One Mediator only. Let any man read these words to a dying man, who must have the Gospel in a small compass, and that quickly; let him "explain" them to a company of children, or to a group of degraded, drunken men or women;—they will feel, he will feel—perhaps in spite of theological predispositions—that no other thought than a substitution is here [as in Gal 3:13] natural. No other reading will be of any practical service to him, or of any ready practical help to the clamorous conscience and the burdened heart.

II. A Sinless Substitute.—

1. The sinlessness of Jesus makes Him solitary amongst His brethren whose humanity He wore. Yet apologists rightly urge the fact, and its forceful value, as leading up to a belief in His Godhead, that He alone of all the noblest moral leaders of our race, never betrays any consciousness of such internal discord as makes many noblest lives bitter almost beyond bearing; or of any such discrepancy between His own moral standard, as He sets it before Himself or exhibits it to others, and the fact of His life; he never seems to need to distinguish between the official utterance and the personal performance. His teaching is highest, and He apparently is all He teaches. He never, though His life is prayer, prays for forgiveness. Not a word of moral regret, not a moment's confession of the slightest moral failure, ever escapes Him or is volunteered. No suspicion of pride is possible, yet He moves in and out amongst His fellows, and lifts up His confident face to His father, without a trace of misgiving because of sin. No room to suspect any dulness of spiritual apprehension or perception; the sense of sin is always keenest in the holiest. There are no critics of themselves like the saints of God. [When the glare and glamour of the world are withdrawn, as in days of solitude, or of sanctified sickness or trouble, the soul's eye sees a whole firmamentful of sins, which were indeed there all the time, but unseen and unsuspected. And as the astronomer's eye grows more sensitive by practice, and sees what it could not when it began to observe, so is there no surer sign of growth in the grace of holiness than that the eye of the soul is becoming more sensitive to discover sin where in earlier days it condemned, because it saw—nothing.] The closer a man is drawn to God, the more intimate and habitual the fellowship which God vouchsafes to him, the keener the sense of unworthiness and imperfection.

"Eternal Light, Eternal Light,

How pure that soul must be

When, placed within Thy searching sight,

It shrinks not, but with calm delight

Can live and look on Thee."

So sang Thomas Binney. But can any soul? This One Soul did; the Sinless Substitute.

2. Scripture assumes this of Him.—Heb is typical in its pointed exception of Him. Peter had known Him as intimately as any one, except perhaps John. Our friends know us, and they know us not faultless. A sine quâ non of most friendship to choose not to see everything. Grace does produce noble characters. John Wesley wrote of John Fletcher: "I was intimately acquainted with him for above thirty years; I conversed with him morning, noon, and night, without the least reserve, during a journey of many hundred miles; and in all that time I never heard him speak one improper word, nor saw him do an improper action. Many exemplary men have I known, holy in heart and life within fourscore years, but one equal to him have I not known,—one so inwardly and outwardly devoted to God." (Wesley, Works, vii. 449.) Yet who does not feel, when Peter says, "Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth" (1Pe 2:22), that we have a testimony to a holiness of another order, and of a higher degree of completeness? It is not merely Peter's observation of the three memorable years of the ministry; it is the Spirit's witness for the three-and-thirty years of the incarnate life on earth. If to those who know us best our outward life seems blameless, in our heart we say, "They don't know me as I know myself." [The world does not understand this. Lady Huntingdon profusely, earnestly declared herself to Lord Chesterfield "a great sinner." Said he, with polished sarcasm, rising as if to leave the room, "Excuse me, madam, but I am not accustomed to keep such bad company."] [F. W. Newman's remarks in Liddon. See Appended Note.] We know little of James; what we know is saintly, of an ascetic pattern of saintliness. Yet no one would credit an assertion of sinlessness, if made concerning James. "No; he is only a man." Blamelessness is far less than Sinlessness, and blamelessness is a question of the human limitation of requirement and knowledge. Paul here much stronger: "Knew no sin." That man knows nothing of himself who does not know that he "knows sin." The ripening holiness of a Christian man passes through a stage when, though all torturing sense of guilt and fear is gone, there is an intense sensitiveness of pain at the cleaving, clinging, defiling presence of sin within. The loathing of himself by the man longing for holiness is very deep; a well-ascertained fact of universal religious experience. "Universal," but not including Him. He knew none. There came early to our race "a knowledge of good—and of evil." And men know it, as men know the very sphere within whose round and range their life is spent. But it had never included Him. The Tempter sought to avail himself of the natural, neutral, innocent hunger after a long fast, and of the neutral, innocent, useful instinct to avoid pain; there was nothing else he could appeal to. These, he found, were not in Christ under any law but that of the most perfect self-surrender to do the whole will of God His Father; and apart from these "he had nothing in" Christ on which to begin his evil work (Joh 14:30). One of the necessary preliminaries of the Passover Sacrifice in the time of Christ had become the presentation of the lambs for inspection by duly appointed Levitical officers. The Temple court was full of lambs and their offerers. One of the many suggestions of the Transfiguration scene takes up that point. It is plain that about that time the mind of the Saviour was full of Calvary and its sacrifice, some twelve months forward (Luk 9:31). Cæsarea Philippi was, in other senses as well as the geographical, the farthest limit of His journeyings. Literally, from that time onwards His life was one long "going up to Jerusalem." From that time God's Passover Lamb went slowly forward to death. And on the Mount the Father formally and solemnly inspected His "Lamb without blemish and without spot" (1Pe 1:19; Exo 12:5). It was faultless. "My beloved, … in Whom I am well pleased."

3. Thus then the Substitute stands forth "apart from sin," and apart from us; unique in an unapproachable holiness. In us holiness is induced; in Him inherent. In us all grace; in Him all nature. In us a deep moral discord and a paralysing moral schism; in Him peace. [Cf. "My peace I give unto you"; in its measure fulfilled in the Sanctifying work of the Spirit (Joh ). The "God of peace" is the Sanctifier to Whom Paul appeals (1Th 5:23).] His communion with God was with an unclouded vision; so may ours be, but with a difference. Behind Him is no memory of days when sin hid that Face. May it be said that the inscrutable anguish of a Father's hidden Face, upon the cross, was the harder to bear that He had never had even an instant's experience of interrupted communion until that moment? Our highest holiness is a repaired ruin; His never knew the beginning of a fault. [The priceless Portland Vase in the British Museum was once dashed into fragments by a madman. With great patience and skill, every fragment, down to the tiniest, was recovered and all were put together. The vase stands to-day complete; but, like our highest holiness, is with the completeness of a restoration.] His had always, and at Calvary, the completeness of what had never known a flaw, the completeness of an original unviolated, Divine integrity. His holiness is manifested in all ordinary forms of human life; but it is a Divine holiness which chooses those forms for its manifestation. Our holiness is relative, and we ourselves are accepted as holy, only according to a standard of requirement tempered by Evangelical grace; His holiness is absolute. Our strength for holy living and for victorious conflict with evil is outside ourselves—in Him; He bore Himself in the wilderness and the world with the calm of self-sufficing strength within. ["To serve the present age" a man must belong to it; yet he must be before it, above it, if he is to lift it. So] to save our race its Saviour must belong to it. He did "take hold on the seed of Abraham" (Hebrews 2). To save our race He must be above it. The uniqueness, the isolation, of the holiness of our Substitute is the very prime necessity of His work.

III. The salvation through Him.—

1. Two points of exposition to be noticed:

(1) "Sin," not "a sin offering"; a possible meaning indeed, favoured by Augustine, and from him downward; but not satisfying the antithesis to "righteousness." The abstract words are noteworthy. As though almost—for one thing—God were viewed as dealing with Qualities rather than with Personalities. The Substitute steps into the place of sinners, indeed; but also He is, as it were, made Sin Embodied. The holy wrath and necessary, active antagonism between His holiness and all moral evil is all converging upon one point. We—I—ought to have stood there, on that spot of terrible convergence. What does occupy the place? His Son? Yes. But going more deeply—"Sin." Our race, perhaps the other races of the universe, are seeing, in a fearful object-lesson, Holiness spending its stern strength upon Sin.

(2) Note the difference: "Made … for us," "Righteousness in Him." The forensic and the mystical theories of the Atoning work of Christ meet here. There is the honour done to the majesty, the supremacy, the very principle of moral Law, when He, Who is the Lawgiver, steps into the place of the lawbreakers, and outraged Law is avenged upon Him Who never broke it. There is the honour done to real Righteousness. The Salvation were not complete if only penalty were turned aside, law satisfied, the sinner suffered to go free. There is no real salvation which does not work out a real "righteousness," and that manifestly "of God." This also is given for His sake, certainly; but only in connection with that living, life-giving union which fills Paul's phrases "in Christ," "in the Lord." ["When St. Paul says that we might be made, etc., the word γινώμεθα means more than the non-imputation of sin which has been spoken of before. That we might become: our forensic justification being included of necessity, our moral conformity to the Divine righteousness cannot be excluded. Those closing words are a resumption, but in a more emphatic and enlarged form, of the preceding paragraph, which ended with in Christ … a new creature. The righteousness of God in Him is the full realisation of the new method of conforming us to His attribute of righteousness. It is impossible to establish the distinction between in Christ for external righteousness and Christ in us for righteousness internal. These are only different aspects of one and the same union with Christ. Still, the distinction may be used for illustration."]

2. Let it be remembered that this is God's way of "reconciliation"; that all God designed and desired is not accomplished when the Substitute has stood and suffered where the Sinner and his Son should have stood: to be "in Christ" is part of God's whole work and purpose. There is no true "salvation" unless there is a real righteousness flowing, growing, from a real union with Him. He cast in His lot with us; we must have a life grafted into His. Then at last the broken order is readjusted. Then indeed

"Peace on earth, and mercy mild,

God and sinners reconciled."

"Glory to God in the highest!"


2Co . Our Present and Future Houses.

I. The present house.—The physical structure. Mind occupies body. This house is:

1. Earthly. Consequently drags the tenant down to earth.

2. Movable. A tent, rather than a house. And how easily and quickly removable! How frail while it lasts!

3. Decaying. Gradually growing old, decomposing, ceaselessly returning to earth.

4. Inconvenient. "In it we groan, being burdened."

5. Inferior. Paul desires a better.

II. The future house.—The resurrection body. Described in 1 Corinthians 15 This house is:

1. Superhuman. "Not made with hands." Jehovah the Architect and Builder. So was this first, but it has evidently been tampered with; and was not meant for permanence.

2. Eternal.

3. Unexposed to the storms of earth. "In the heavens," where all will contribute to its constant preservation and increasing adornment.

4. Attractive. Paul craves this.

5. The tenant is being prepared for it. "Wrought for this selfsame thing."

6. He has the assurance of it. "The earnest of the Spirit." Have you such a house in prospect?—More fully in "Homilist," Third Series, iii. 33.

2Co . The Philosophy of True Courage.—Paul's courage is based on three convictions; that Death will not endanger—

I. The interests of being.

II. The great purpose of being.

III. The rewards of being.—Homilist, iv. 107.

2Co . Christ's Great Assize. Five watchwords sum up the principles of the Judgment.

I. Test; applied according to varying measures of probationary privilege.

II. Revelation of character.—["Appear" is not only comparaître, "present ourselves before." It is also be "made manifest." No man knows himself "as he is known," until that day.]

III. Separation of classes.

IV. Execution of the condemning sentence.—"There can be no doubt that the term ‘judgment' is most frequently connected with condemnation; this, in fact, is the more common meaning of κρίσις. Judgment determining the sentence; condemnation pronouncing it; execution administering it; are almost synonymous terms with regard to the wicked; in Scripture, as in the common language of human justice."

V. Confirmation or ratification of the acceptance of the saved.—See this suggestively filled up in Pope, "Compend. of Theol.," 416 sqq.

2Co . "The words are: ‘The love of Christ constrains us, because this is our interpretation of it: [Denny says, antea, p. 106, "The work of Christ in relation to sin is not a naked fact, an impenetrable unintelligible fact; it is in the New Testament a luminous, interpretable, and interpreted fact.… Says St. Paul, We thus judge; i.e.… we can and do put a certain intellectual construction upon it."] One died for all; so then all died.' Battles have been fought here over the preposition ‘for,' which is ὑπέρ, on behalf of, not ἀντί, instead of. This, it has been said, excludes the idea of substitution. This is a hasty inference. Paul might very well wish to say that Christ died on our behalf, without, so far as the preposition goes, thinking how it was that Christ's death was to be an advantage to us. But observe the inference he draws: One died for all; so then all died. That is to say, His death is as good as theirs. That is why His death is an advantage to them; that is what rationally connects it with their benefit: it is a death which is really theirs; it is their death which has been died by Him. If any one denies this, it rests with him to explain, in the first place, how Christ's death advantages us at all; and, in the second place, how Paul can draw from Christ's death the immediate inference, ‘so then all died.' We do not need to fight about the prepositions. Christ's death benefits us, we are all agreed, whatever be the preposition used to express its relation to us, or to our sins, or to our good; but there is no coherence between the Apostle's premises and his conclusion, except on the assumption that that death of Christ was really our death, which had come upon Him. It is on this deeper connection that all the advantages to us of that death depend. This interpretation is confirmed when we turn to the last verse of this chapter, which is virtually the Apostle's own comment on 2Co 5:14 : ‘Him that knew no sin God made sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.' We sometimes hear the New Testament doctrine of the atonement objected to, on the ground of the contradictions it involves. I do not think the objection is very serious. St. Paul, when he wrote this sentence, had them all in his mind, logical and ethical, in their acutest form. He probably felt, as most people feel when redemption from sin becomes a practical interest to them, that the point at which God comes into contact with sin, even as a Redeemer, must involve contradictions of every kind: for it means that God is taking part with us against Himself. That in the atoning work a sinless One is made sin, and sinful ones become the righteousness of God, is not a primâ facie objection to the work in question; it is the very condition under which alone the work can be carried through. Paul condenses in this proposition, not only the infinite difficulties of the question, but its adequate solution; it is in these sharp, undisguised contradictions—if you like to say so, it is in this tragic, appalling event, the sinless One made sin by God—that the condemned soul recognises the very stamp and seal of a real work of atonement. That meeting of contradictories, that union of logical and moral opposites, is here the very guarantee of truth.… The idea underlying [the passage] is plainly that of an interchange of states. Christ is the Person who knew no sin; i.e. to whose conscience and will, though He confronted it all His life, sin remained an absolutely alien thing. The negative μή means that this is conceived as the judgment of another upon Christ; it is conceived as the judgment of God. He it is to whom Christ is sinless. As He looks down from Heaven, He sees Him alone, among the children of men, free from evil, and therefore free from condemnation. He alone is absolutely good, the beloved with whom the Father is well pleased. Yet Him God made sin, that by so doing He might destroy sin, and have the good news of reconciliation to proclaim to men. What is it, then, that this making sin covers? What are we to understand by it? It means precisely what is meant in the verse already quoted: tha Christ died for us, died that death o ours which is the wages of sin. In His death, all sinless as He was, God's condemnation of our sin came upon Him; a Divine sentence was executed upon the sin of the world. It is all-important to observe that it was God who made Christ sin; the passage is habitually quoted ‘He became sin,' or, indefinitely, ‘He was made sin,' in a vague sense unconsciously willing to leave God out; and then the mind goes off at a tangent, and seeks moralising or rationalising senses in which such an expression might be used. But God is the subject of the sentence: it is God who is presented dealing in an awful way with the awful reality of sin, for its removal; and the way in which He removes it is to lay it on His Son. That is done, not in anything else, but in this alone, that Christ, by God's appointment, dies the sinner's death. The doom falls upon Him, and is exhausted there. The sense of the Apostle is given adequately in the well-known hymn:

"‘Bearing shame and scoffing rude,

In my place condemned He stood;

Scaled my pardon with His blood:


—Dr. Denny, "Studies in Theology," pp. 109-112.

2Co . May be crystallised around four, all true, ways of reading this gnomic sentence.

I. If in Christ, there must follow a new creation.

II. As soon as in Christ, there begins a new creation.

III. So long as in Christ, there abides, and develops, a new creation.

IV. Because there is manifestly a new creation, therefore certainly the man is in Christ.

N.B.—Nothing less than a new creation will do. The water may open the bud into flower, but it cannot form the bud. It can give culture, but not life.

N.B.—Case analogous as between Genesis 1. and this:

1. "In beginning God created," etc.

2. Spirit brooding.

3. Light.

4. Order.

5. Rest (Heb ).


2Co . "Then all died."—There is another way in which the Death of our Lord Jesus Christ is related to our redemption. I approach it with great hesitation, because it is involved in great obscurity.… These words (viz. 2Co 5:14), if they stood alone, might perhaps be fairly regarded as a strong rhetorical statement of the effect which ought to be produced upon our hearts by the infinite love of Christ in dying for us. It might be said that, since He died for us, the greatness of His love ought to dissolve all our relations to this present "evil world," and bind us in perfect and eternal loyalty to Himself; that we ought to live as though death had already separated us from the common excitements and sorrows and triumphs of mankind; for us old things should have passed away, and all things become new. But in several other of his Epistles he speaks of Christ's Death as though it were a real event in our own history. In the Epistle to the Romans (6, 7) he rests his elaborate arguments on what he takes for granted as known to those to whom he is writing,—the fact that Christ's death was in some sense their own death.… The conception … reappears … in St. Paul's writings … so frequently, and in such forms, that it cannot be treated as being nothing more than a rhetorical representation of the great moral effect which our belief in the Death of Christ ought to have on our spirit and character. It seems to have suggested the exhortation of St. Peter, to which it is difficult to give a very exact interpretation, "Forasmuch then," etc. (1Pe 4:1-2). In his Epistle to the Galatians St. Paul affirms that he himself had thus died in Christ (Gal 2:20). And many Christian persons have declared that they are conscious that in the Death of Christ their old and evil life perished. It is far less difficult to apprehend the fact that we live in the life of Christ than the fact that we died in His death; but the teaching of St. Paul seems to be explicit. The destruction of evil within us is the effect and fulfilment in ourselves of the mystery of Christ's Death, as the development of our positive holiness is of the power of His life. This is the Pauline doctrine, and I repeat that it has been verified in the consciousness of large numbers of Christian people. I accept this relation between the Death of Christ and the death of our own evil self as a fact, though I may be unable to offer any explanation of it. The fact, however inexplicable, is of great significance.… How many of us have cried, in the bitterness of our despair, "There is no redemption possible to us. We have waited for God, and He has not come to us.… Would to God that I could cease to be myself; that this evil nature of mine could be destroyed and leave nothing of itself behind; that I could die, if only I might have a new life, with better instincts, diviner impulses—that the passion, the sluggishness, the selfishness, the unbelief, which seem to constitute my very self, could be smitten with lightning from heaven, and perish—perish utterly, and perish for ever." … The prayer receives its answer in Christ; in His Death our sin dies, and in His life the very life of God is made our own. How the Death of Christ effects the destruction of our sin we may be unable to tell. Perhaps that great moral act by which Christ consented to lose the consciousness of the Father's presence and love—an act different in kind from any to which holy beings, in their normal relation to God, can be called—rendered it possible for us to sink to that complete renunciation of self which is the condition of the perfect Christian life; for that renunciation is also unique, and has no parallel in the normal development of a moral creature. But it is enough that we know the fact that in God's idea, and according to the law of the kingdom of heaven, we are crucified in Christ. Sometimes through our union with Him sin may seem to perish as by a sudden blow. More frequently it dies slowly—dies as those died who were put to death by crucifixion.… But it is actually crucified, if only our union with Christ is complete; and though it may still live, its power over us is gone.… [A] moral security for the disappearance of sin has been created by the sufferings of Christ on the cross. The Death of Christ is the death of sin.—Dale, "Atonement," pp. 425-430. Cf. also pp. 261, 262.

2Co . "Love of Christ constraineth me" [if regarded as equivalent to "Love to Christ"].—The Duke of Wellington regarded himself as a "retained servant of the monarch." A customary phrase of his was, "The King's government must be carried on." Hence he sank personal differences and served under Peel, when Peel changed re Corn Laws. "Government is of far greater importance than any party opinions whatever." So "Christ's government must be carried on"!

No lower, feebler motive is in long-run sufficient. Dr. Hessey (Boyle Lectures, Moral Difficulties of the Bible) tells of a young man, in a newly founded colony, who went to a Bishop for ordination, professedly from the highest motives. The Bishop knew the young man, and, suspecting an admixture of lower motives (albeit hardly known to the man), sent him to a school for native children, miles up-country, to teach them everything. The test did its work. In two months the young man returned, owning he did not know his own heart fully, and no longer deeming the ministry his life-work.

2Co . "A new creature."—If any man be in Christ, that is a new creation. That is enough. Let but this miracle be wrought, and the spirit has not missed the true rapture of life. The outward order may be wearily and monotonously the same. Reforms may be driven back; injustices may be perpetuated; the day of external deliverance may be far off. It is a small thing, if the soul is unchained. The slave who believed was still a slave to outward seeming. His bondage, it might well be, was to grow yet more stringent and cruel, and no help would reach him on this side of death. But he was a new creation. He beheld all things with new eyes, inhabited by a new spirit. He was no more the sport of a merciless master, but one of the children whom God gave to Christ. Though no arm of rebellion was lifted to overthrow the tyranny that crushed him, he was delivered from his heartbroken weariness, and he could do all things and bear all things through Christ that strengthened him.—Editorial, "British Weekly," October 19th, 1893.

2Co . "Who knew no sin."—Yet Jesus Christ never once confesses sin; He never once asks for pardon.… He never Himself lets fall a hint, He Himself never breathes a prayer, which implies any, the slightest, trace of a personal remorse. From no casual admission do we gather that any, the most venial, sin had ever been His Never for one moment does He associate Himself with any passing experience of that anxious dread of the penal future with which His own awful words must needs fill the sinner's heart. If His Soul is troubled, at least His moral sorrows are not His own; they are a burden laid on Him by His love for others. Nay, He challenges His enemies to convince Him of sin. He declares positively that He always does the will of the Father. Even when speaking of Himself as Man, He always refers to eternal life as His inalienable possession. It might, so perchance we think, be the illusion of a moral dulness, if only He did not penetrate the sin of others with such relentless analysis. It might, we imagine, be a subtle pride, if we did not know Him to be as unrivalled in His great humility. This consciousness of an absolute sinlessness in such a soul as that of Jesus Christ points to a moral elevation unknown to our human experience. It is, at the very least, suggestive of a relation to the Perfect Moral Being altogther unique in human history.—Liddon, "Bampton Lectures," iv. 1 (a). (The two paragraphs preceding, as well as the footnote from F. W. Newman, and Note C, will be full of serviceable suggestions to a homilist. Also if Luthardt, Fundamental Truths, be accessible, lect. x., pp. 311-313, is a good putting of the case.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

(1) For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (2) For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: (3) If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. (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. (5) Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.

The Apostle opens this Chapter with a beautiful similitude, in comparing the human body, to that of an house, in which the soul is supposed to reside. And, from a well-grounded confidence, of an interest in Christ, he contemplates the prospect of the dissolution of the body, as an object more to be desired, than dreaded; knowing, as he saith, that when absent from the body, he should be present, in spirit, with the Lord. There is also another subject to which it hath respect, in allusion to the Lord Jesus. For as the personal body of Christ, became the temple of the indwelling residence of his divine nature; so the bodies of God's people, are said to be the temple of the Holy Ghost, 2 Corinthians 6:16. When, therefore, the bodies of God's people are dissolved, that is, the earthly part returns to its original dust; there is still an union with Christ, both of soul, and body; and there is a portion, which death destroys not: for the saints of God, are said to sleep in Jesus, 1 Thessalonians 4:14. The voice from Heaven which John heard, declared them blessed which die in the Lord, Revelation 14:13. Death cannot dissolve this union. And it is remarkable, that God our Savior called himself the God of Abraham, many hundred years after his death. And Job speaks as from the grave, of being remembered by the Lord, Job 14:15; Matthew 22:32.

The groaning Paul speaks of, every regenerated child of God knows. For carrying about with us a body of sin and death, how is it possible but to groan, while the corrupt, and unrenewed nature of the body, is forever opposing the soul if the Reader would attend a spiritual anatomical lecture on the dissection of the human heart, he may do it by reading the seventh Chapter of the Epistle to the Romans (Ro 7); especially from the 7th verse (Romans 7:7) to the end: where the Apostle hath opened in his own history, a complete view, of the inward frames, and workings, of a child of God, when regenerated, and brought into an acquaintance with his own corrupt nature. From such a body of sin and death, when once a child of God is awakened, and regenerated; he groans to be delivered. Reader! do you know anything of this? Have you that self-loathing, that self-abhorrence, from a conscious corrupt, sensual, earthly-minded heart; that you look toward to the humiliation of the grave, as a period of privilege, and deliverance, peculiarly dear to a regenerated soul? This is a trying question. But sure I am, the soul, whom God the Spirit hath regenerated, and brought into an acquaintance with himself; and with Christ, will know how to answer it, will enter into my views, by his own. My Brother! (I would say to everyone of this description,) It is blessed, so to love Christ, as to loath self.

I admire the Apostle's referring all the work, as ultimately we shall all the glory, to God. He is indeed the Almighty Source, that causeth the whole change, from nature to grace; and maketh all that difference between the children of the kingdom, and the whole Adam-nature of darkness. It is God which worketh in us, both to will, and to do of his good pleasure. Reader! what a sweet thought! If you, or I, have our minds seasoned with grace: If God the Father from all eternity chose us in Christ: If Jesus the Son of God, betrothed our persons to himself before all worlds; and hath redeemed us in this time state of our nature: If God the Holy Ghost hath called us with an holy calling, and by his regenerating influence, hath made us new creatures in Christ: let us be always ready to ascribe all the glory to Him; for this is the earnest, and sure pledge of the Spirit!

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.

People's New Testament

For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle. Paul has spoken of looking for the things that are unseen and eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18). He now describes the body as only a tent dwelling, a temporary abode, in which we are camping during a journey. If death should come and the body be dissolved, there is another dwelling for the redeemed, "the spiritual body" described in 1 Corinthians 15:44, a heavenly and eternal body. To the saint, death is the exchange of the earthly tent dwelling for this eternal spiritual body.

For in this we groan. While in this fragile, suffering earthly body, Paul longed for the deliverance from it and "for the house not made with hands," the spiritual body.

Clothed upon. The thought is that when the spirit leaves the mortal clay, it lays off an old and worn-out clothing, and is to be clothed upon, or invested in, its divine clothing.

If so be that, being clothed, we shall not be found naked. This shall come to pass, provided the spirit is clothed with a spiritual body at the resurrection, and not disembodied or naked. This is an allusion to the errors so prevalent at Corinth which he had combated in 1 Cor. 15. It was a Greek theory that when the spirit left the mortal body that it remained without a body, but Paul says: "If we too, clothed upon, shall not be without an immortal body." See Meyer on this passage. Many hold that Paul's language is due to the belief that they would meet the Lord in the mortal body in that age at his speedy coming. This, I am sure, is a wrong interpretation.

For we that are in this tabernacle. This tent dwelling for the journey.

Do groan, being burdened. Groan for deliverance from it, because the burden is so heavy.

Not that we would be unclothed. It is not that we wish to be freed from a body, but we wish a better one; to lay off the old raiment that we may be clothed upon with the heavenly raiment, the spiritual body, in order that "this mortal shall put on immortality" (1 Corinthians 15:53).

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "People's New Testament". 1891.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

2 Corinthians 5:1-4. For we know — We pursue, not seen, but unseen things, and do not faint in our work, because we know that if our earthly house — Which is only a tabernacle or tent, a mere temporary habitation; were dissolved — Were mouldered back to the dust out of which it was formed; or if our zeal in the service of the gospel should expose us to martyrdom, which should destroy it before its time; we have — And should immediately enjoy; a building of God — A building of which he is the great architect and donor; a house not made with mortal hands — Nor to be compared with the most magnificent structure which hands ever raised, exceeding them all in its lustre, as much as in its duration, though that duration be eternal in the heavens — Placed far above either violence or decay. “Whether we consider this divine building as particularly signifying the body after the resurrection, in which sense Whitby takes it; or any vehicle with which the soul may be clothed during the intermediate state, considerable difficulties will arise.” “I therefore,” says Doddridge, “am inclinable rather to take it in a more general view, as referring to the whole provision God has made for the future happiness of his people, and which Christ represents as his Father’s house, in which there are many mansions.” For in this — While we are in this state of suffering, or while our soul sojourns in this mortal body; we groan earnestly — Eagerly long for that future state, and the felicity of it, and grieve that we do not yet enjoy it; desiring to be clothed upon — That is, upon this body, which is now covered with flesh and blood; with our house which is from heaven — To enter the heavenly mansion which God hath provided for us. To be clothed upon with a house, is a very strong figure; which yet the apostle uses here and in 2 Corinthians 5:4, having in his thoughts the glory which each should wear, instead of being clothed, as now, with that mortal flesh which he calls a tabernacle, as it is so mean, inconvenient, and precarious an abode. If so be that being clothed — With the image of God, while we are in the body; we shall not be found naked — Of the wedding garment. He seems to allude to Genesis 3:7; Exodus 32:25; our natural turpitude of sin being a nakedness abominable to God. See 1 Peter 5:5; Colossians 3:12, where the same metaphor of being clothed with divine graces is made use of. For we that are in this tabernacle — Who still dwell in these frail and corruptible tents; do groan, being burdened therewith. The apostle speaks with exact propriety, a burden naturally exciting groans: and we are here burdened with numberless afflictions, infirmities, and temptations. Not that we would be unclothed — Stripped of our bodies, for that is what we cannot consider as in itself desirable;.but rather, if it might be left to our choice, we would desire to pass into the immortal state without dying, or to be clothed upon with the heavenly glory, such as that which will invest the saints after the resurrection; that mortality, το θνητον, that which is mortal — Corruptible, and obnoxious to so many infirmities, disorders, burdens, and sorrows; might be swallowed up of life — As if it were annihilated by the divine power, which at the resurrection will exert itself in and upon us; namely, as the case was with Enoch and Elijah when they were translated, and as it shall be with the saints that are found alive at Christ’s second coming. The meaning of this and the following verses is evidently this; “That though it appeared most desirable of all to pass to future glory without dying, yet a state in which mortality should be swallowed up of life, was, at all events, desirable; and an absence from the body to be not only submitted to, but wished for, in a view of being so present with the Lord, as even in the intermediate state they expected to be.” — Doddridge.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Being clothed (ενδυσαμενοιendusamenoi). First aorist middle participle, having put on the garment.

Naked (γυμνοιgumnoi). That is, disembodied spirits, “like the souls in Sheol, without form, and void of all power of activity” (Plummer).

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

2 Corinthians 5:3. seeing that we shall indeed be found clothed, not naked. This rendering, though not so literal as the Authorised Version, seems necessary to convey in our language what is certainly meant; Rendered as in our Authorised Version, a shade of doubt is undoubtedly conveyed to every English ear; while full certainty as to his eternal future is, in every varied form, conveyed here in almost every verse down to the ninth. And though competent scholars question whether in Biblical Greek the same certainty is conveyed by the particle here used as in classical Greek, vet, since this is only doubted, while it is admitted that the context must be our chief guide, we seem shut up by the present context—in order to exclude that shade of doubt which the Authorised Version suggests—to render the words as we have done. As to the word “naked” here, it would be a mistake to refer it, as some do, to the spiritual ‘defencelessness’ in which the wicked will be found at the great day—an idea foreign to the passage, and particularly incongruous just after an assurance of the very opposite had just been expressed. Bengel’s idea, too, is equally alien from the manifest sense—‘if so be we shall be found not in the disembodied state of the deceased’ when Christ comes. The next verse points to the real allusion—to that notion (so natural to all thoughtful Pagans, who were strangers to the doctrine of a resurrection) that the body, in its very nature, is nothing better than a clog to the only real part of man, his soul, which will never be capable of full development till disengaged by death from that encumbrance. (In this the best interpreters agree.)

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae



2 Corinthians 5:1-5. 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. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven; if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 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. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.

IT has justly been said of Christians, that if in this life only they had hope, they would be of all men in the most pitiable condition; seeing that they renounce all the pleasures of sin, and are exposed to all manner of trials for their Lord’s sake. And certainly, if we consider the variety and greatness of St. Paul’s sufferings, this may be applied to him with more propriety than to any other of the children of men. But, notwithstanding he was “delivered daily unto death for Jesus’ sake, he was still cheerful and still happy: and, notwithstanding “his outward man decayed, his inward man was renewed day by day.” Do we seek the cause of this? he had his eye fixed on eternal things, and derived from thence a fund of consolation sufficient to bear him up above all his afflictions. Death had no terrors for him; because “he knew that, when his earthly tabernacle should be dissolved, he had a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

But, as this experience was not confined to him, we shall take occasion from the words which we have read to shew,

I. The Christian’s experience in the prospect of the eternal world—

He knows that there is a glorious mansion prepared for him—

[Here he dwells in a poor frail “tabernacle,” like the patriarchs of old [Note: Hebrews 11:9.], exposed to vicissitudes of every kind, and uncertain how soon he may be called to change his precarious abode. But he has a better tabernacle prepared for him, a house more glorious in its structure, and more lasting in its duration, even “a building of God, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” Nor is his speedy enjoyment of this house a matter of conjecture with him, nor even of hope; it is a certainty, of which he is assured: he “knows” that such a tabernacle is prepared, prepared for him too; and that, “as soon as his earthly tabernacle shall be dissolved,” he shall instantly be translated to it. It is the inheritance to which he has been born; and which is therefore “reserved for him,” as he also is for it; the very power which made it for him being pledged to put him into the possession of it [Note: 1 Peter 1:3-5.]. To it the patriarchs looked forward as the certain termination of their earthly pilgrimage [Note: Hebrews 11:10.]: and with still greater certainty does the Christian look forward to it, as being at this instant occupied by his forerunner, the Lord Jesus Christ, “who is gone before to prepare it for him, and is coming speedily to remove him to it [Note: John 14:2-3.].” Like Job, he can say, “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth, and mine eyes shall behold him [Note: Job 19:25-27.];” and with the same blessed assurance also he can add, “I shall be with him, and be like him,” for ever and ever [Note: 1 John 3:2.].]

In the prospect of this he longs for the period of his dissolution—

[In his present tabernacle he is laden with grievous corruptions, and beset with manifold temptations, and exposed to injuries on every side: and, from “his fightings without, and fears within,” his time is often spent in sighs and groans. Many, many times does he exclaim with St. Paul, “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me?” Notwithstanding “he has within himself the first-fruits of the Spirit, he groans within himself, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body [Note: Romans 8:23.].” Twice is this mentioned in our text, to certify us the more fully, that groans are the common language of the heaven-born soul; and that it is in that language more especially that “the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us [Note: Romans 8:26.].”

“To be delivered from the bondage of corruption,” is certainly one great object which the Christian panteth after: but he also longs, and “earnestly desires,” to be brought “into the glorious liberty of the children of God [Note: Romans 8:21.].” He knows that “when unclothed, as it respects his present tabernacle, he shall not be found naked” and destitute, seeing that a better habitation is ready for him; and it is his desire after this better habitation, that chiefly actuates him in his longings for the dissolution of his earthly tabernacle. It is “not merely to be unclothed,” and to get rid of his present troubles, but “to be clothed upon with his house from heaven,” and have “mortality swallowed up of life.” It is no disparagement to a godly soul to say, “O that I had wings like a dove [Note: Psalms 55:6.]! for then would I flee away and be at rest:” but it is a higher attainment to say, “I long to be dissolved, that I may be with Christ [Note: Philippians 1:21-23.].”

We are ready to imagine that there is a confusion of metaphor in this place, and that “to be clothed upon with a house,” is an absurd expression: but, if we advert to the circumstance, that that house is “a tabernacle,” and that a tabernacle is constructed with an awning or covering cast over it, the propriety, and indeed the beauty, of the expression will appear at once. And when it is considered that even the tabernacle of the Most High was not so far superior to the accommodation of the meanest Israelite, as the mansions prepared for us are above the tabernacle in which we now live, we shall not wonder, that the soul of the believer sighs and groans for his blest abode; his abode, the residence of angels, the habitation of his God. It was this consideration that made Paul so satisfied in the near prospect of martyrdom: “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand: but there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me [Note: 2 Timothy 4:7-8.].” It was the same, that rendered Peter also equally composed in the near approach of crucifixion. He designates even that cruel death by the gentle term of “putting off this tabernacle;” to which he was reconciled by the thought that an infinitely better mansion awaited him at his departure hence [Note: 2 Peter 1:13-14.]. But is it for Apostles only to enjoy this sweet assurance? Are they alone authorized to look forward with delight to the eternal world? No: this is the privilege of every saint. Heaven is the believer’s home: whilst he is here, he is a sojourner, in a state of exile from his Lord: and when he goes hence, he ceases from his pilgrimage, and goes home to the bosom of his God [Note: ver. 6, 8. See the Greek.]. If we are “walking by faith and not by sight,” that is, if we are true believers, that is our present portion, and “our eternal great reward.”]

But, whilst we assert that this is the Christian’s experience, it will be proper to shew,

II. How he attains to it—

It is wrought in him by his God—

[Man cannot work it in himself. Man may desire to get rid of his present trials, and in a fit of impatience may “choose strangling rather than life:” indeed it is but too common for those who are bowed down with a load of worldly troubles, to seek relief in suicide. But this is very different from the experience in our text, a principal ingredient in which is a desire after the glory and felicity of heaven. This no man can produce in his own soul. Man, of himself, has no conception of that blessedness, nor any taste for the enjoyment of it: much less has he such a view of it as will incline him to brave the most cruel death for the attainment of it. He who alone can work this in the soul of man, is God. He alone, who opened the eyes of Stephen to behold God, and Jesus Christ standing at the right hand of God, can give to any man a just apprehension of the heavenly glory, together with an assurance of his title to it, and his interest in it. He alone, who raised up the Lord Jesus from the dead, can so deliver us from the fear of death, that it shall appear to us a desirable acquisition. He alone, who has enabled us to say, “To me to live is Christ,” can enable us to add, “To me also it is gain to die.”

How God works this in the soul, it is not easy to state. We are but little acquainted with the workings of our own spirit, and still less with the operations of the Spirit of God. We know little of wind, but by its effects: as to the mode of its operation, we have but very indistinct notions about it: it is no wonder therefore that there should be many things relative to the operation of the Holy Spirit on our souls which we are not able clearly to define. But from the effects produced by him, we do assuredly collect his agency: and where we see an ardent desire after the heavenly glory, we do not hesitate to affirm, that the author of it is God; since none but He, who created the universe out of nothing, can create so blessed a disposition in the soul. This disposition is called “the earnest of the Spirit,” which God gives to his believing people. Now an earnest is, not merely a pledge of any thing, but a part of the thing itself, given as a pledge that the remainder shall be imparted in due time: and hence that which is called in our text “the earnest of the Spirit,” is in another place called “an earnest of our inheritance [Note: Ephesians 1:14.];” which being given to the soul by God, is to that soul a ground of the strongest assurance that the promised blessing shall in due time be communicated in all its fulness.]

It shall be wrought in all who heartily desire it—

[One of the most important lessons which the Gospel teaches us, is, that we should be ever “looking for that blessed hope, even the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ [Note: Titus 2:11-13.].” We should not only be looking for it, but “hasting unto it,” even “to the coming of the day of Christ [Note: 2 Peter 3:12.]:” and the character given to all Christians is, that they do thus “love his appearing [Note: 2 Timothy 4:8.].” But, if we have not a well-grounded hope of glory, how can we delight ourselves in the prospect of that day? It is our taste of the grapes of Eshcol that assures to us the full enjoyment of the promised land: and it is our partial entrance on our rest in this world, that assures to us the complete possession of “the rest that remaineth for us [Note: Hebrews 4:3; Hebrews 4:9.].” Let us therefore seek the first-fruits, and we need entertain no fears respecting the full harvest.]

From hence we may learn,

1. How desirable it is to have the evidences of our conversion clear—

[Though the earnest of the Spirit is itself both a seal and evidence of our conversion, it must not be found alone; much less must it be supposed to exist, where any habitual or allowed sin attests the contrary. The witness of the Spirit is in perfect harmony with the written word: and though it may for wise and gracious reasons be withheld from a person who is walking uprightly before God; (for a man may “fear the Lord, and yet walk in darkness and have no light [Note: Isaiah 50:10.];”) yet it never is vouchsafed to any one who is not serving God in sincerity and truth: and the man who imagines that he has the earnest of the Spirit, and the witness of the Spirit, whilst yet he is not unfeignedly and unreservedly devoted unto God, deceiveth his own soul. Some imagine that to speak of evidences is to encourage legality: but it is impossible to read the Epistles of St. John, and not to see, that he lays down, I had almost said, a system of evidences, whereby a man should try his state before God. Feelings, however strong, and whatever confidence they may generate in the soul, cannot be depended on, if separated from the dispositions and actions produced by them: and therefore I cannot but earnestly recommend every one to examine carefully the state of his own soul, lest he dream of heaven and awake in hell.”]

2. How light all trials should be to the believing soul—

[Well does the Apostle in the words before our text call them “light and momentary;” so light, as to be “lightness” itself [Note: 2 Corinthians 4:17. See the Greek.]. Of what moment are the accommodations of an inn, where the traveller stops an hour in his journey to his father’s house? Such travellers are we; and the period of our stay is at the utmost an hour, or rather, the twinkling of an eye. I may ask too, of what moment are his little inconveniences there, in comparison of the great and permanent felicity that awaits him? This is the true way to estimate our sufferings, of whatever kind they be [Note: Romans 8:18.]. You who are most tried, fix your eyes upon the glory that shall be revealed: think of “the grace that shall be given you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Think especially too of your trials as loosening the pins of your present tabernacle, and hastening forward your entrance into that tabernacle that is prepared for you: view them, I say, in this light, and you will be so far from complaining of them, that you will rejoice and glory in them as the wise appointments of a gracious God: and “the trial of your faith will be precious, because it will be found to his praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ [Note: 1 Peter 1:7.].”]

3. How blessed is the portion of every child of God—

[Inconvenient as his present abode is, and painful as his state at present is in some respects, he yet is truly blessed. Consider what prospects he enjoys, yea, what anticipations and foretastes of his future bliss; for by faith he has already as clear evidence of the future glory, as if he saw it with his bodily eyes; and as truly the substance of it, as if he had it already in his possession [Note: Hebrews 11:1.]. Tell me not of his trials; for I say, he is a truly blessed man: and our blessed Lord again and again declares him blessed [Note: Matthew 5:11-12.]. Then think of his state as soon as this earthly tabernacle is dissolved; think of him as clothed upon with his house from heaven, and mortality, with all its attendant pains, “as swallowed up of life.” Not an atom of his former troubles or weaknesses remains; all is swallowed up, and is as if it had never been. Read the account of him as dwelling in the tabernacle of his God [Note: Revelation 21:3-4.], and you will break forth into the most heart-felt congratulations, “Happy art thou, O Israel, O people saved by the Lord [Note: Deuteronomy 33:29.]!”]

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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

2 Corinthians 5:1-2. 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. For in this we groan, —

In this poor body it is our lot often to groan, but the groan is a hopeful one, for it is a birth-pang, and it will bring joy in due time: “For in this we groan,” —

2 Corinthians 5:2-6. Earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: if it be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 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. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, —

That is a blessed experience, “always confident.” There are some Christians who are never confident, and some who are afraid of being confident. I know some who, if they see this holy confidence in other Christians, begin to tremble for their eternal safety. Never mind about them, brother, if God gives you a holy confidence in him, hold fast to it, and do not let it go whatever anyone may say.

2 Corinthians 5:6-9. Knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: for we walk by faith, not by sight:) we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

That is our main business; whether we live or whether we die is of no consequence at all, but to be accepted of Christ, so to live is to be well pleasing to God. Be this our heavenly ambition, and may the Holy Spirit graciously enable us to attain to it!

This exposition consisted of readings from 2 Corinthians 4 and 2 Corinthians 5:1-9.

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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

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.

Is not this grand courage on the part of the apostle? With all the world against him, and himself “alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake,” he looks at the new body, the new house that God is making for him, and he reckons that, to shuffle off this mortal coil will be no loss to him, since, when he loses the tent in which he lives here, he will go to “a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

2-4. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, —

We are not impatient to enter the disembodied state, —

4-6. But clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, —

Note the ground of the apostle’s confidence. He is quite sure that, inasmuch as Christ rose from the dead, so all his followers must; and though they die in the Lord’s service, yet shall they not be losers thereby, but they shall the more speedily ascend to their reward. “We are always confident,” —

6-9. Knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (for we walk by faith, not by sight:) we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

To be well-pleasing to God everywhere, in everything that we do, should be the one aim of a Christian, whether he is in the body or out of the body.

10-13. 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, knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade them; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. 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. For whether we be beside ourselves, —

And men said that these apostles had gone out of their minds. Festus said to Paul, “thou art beside thyself, much learning doth make thee mad;” so Paul says, “Whether we be beside ourselves,” —

13. It is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.

“In either case, we have but one object, and that is, to glorify God through your salvation.”

14-15. For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 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.

The life of the saved man must never be lived for himself; he is false to his profession if it is so. He must henceforth live as earnestly for God as, aforetime in his unregeneracy, he lived for himself, for he now has a new life which is not his own, to do with it as he pleases, but it belongs entirely to him who purchased it with his own most precious blood.

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.

We do not see Christ with our natural eyes, we do not hear his voice with our natural ears, he is to us now a spiritual Personage, who communicates with our spirits through his own ever-blessed Spirit.

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

There could not be a greater change than that which is wrought by regeneration, it is a new creation, the passing away of the old, and the making of all things new.

18-21. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 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. 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. 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.

This exposition consisted of readings from Romans 5:1-10; and 2 Corinthians 4; and 2 Corinthians 5.

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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.

The Biblical Illustrator

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "2 Corinthians 5:3". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

The Biblical Illustrator

2 Corinthians 5:2-3

For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon.

A Christian’s uneasiness in the mortal body and desire of the heavenly happiness

I. We are to consider a Christian’s groans while he is in the body under present uneasiness. “In this we groan.” And “while we are in this tabernacle we groan, being burdened.”

1. As to what the body is the more immediate seat and subject of. Of this kind we may consider the following instances.

2. What the body may further occasion to the soul; and in several ways occasions uneasiness.

II. I am to consider a Christian’s desires of the heavenly happiness. He earnestly desires to be clothed upon with his house which is from heaven. There is the weight of their present burdens. They not only groan, but desire, and the groanings breed desires. Oppressed nature longs for rest. Besides, there is the excellency of the heavenly state, or the object of their desires. In 2 Corinthians 5:4 he speaks of being clothed upon, or covered all over with it, and mortality being swallowed up of life. Even the mortal part, or what was before mortal of us, will become immortal. He represents the future state by a presence with Christ. “Present with the Lord.” The peculiar temper of a Christian’s mind with reference to it.

1. He describes it by their faith of the heavenly blessedness. This he expresses in 2 Corinthians 5:1 by knowledge.

2. There is their preparation for it. This we have in 2 Corinthians 5:5 --“Now He who hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God, who hath also given to us the earnest of His Spirit.”

3. Their courage, or fortitude of mind. This is mentioned in 2 Corinthians 5:6 --“Therefore we are confident, knowing that, while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord.” In 2 Corinthians 5:8, “We are confident, I say.” We have bravery sufficient to support our minds in the prospects and conflicts with death; we dare to die rather than not be with the Lord.

4. Complacency, or willingness (2 Corinthians 5:8).

5. Their constant endeavours. This we find in 2 Corinthians 5:9 --“Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him.” His favour is our happiness living and dying, in this world and in the other. I shall only further observe that the word also imports ambition; and it is as if he had said, “This is the highest honour of which we are ambitious, and what we propose as the proper prize.”

III. I shall close this subject with two or three practical remarks.

1. We may learn from hence the nature of the present state. It is made up, according to this account of it, of groans and desires. The one is the fruit of fallen nature, the other of the renewed nature. The one is the effect of the curse, the other of Divine grace.

2. The difference between sincere Christians and other men. They groan under their present burdens indeed, and have sometimes a larger share than other men, but then they have their desires too. But now wicked men have groans without desires; they have no desires of the heavenly state.

3. We should look well to our interest in the heavenly glory.

4. The happiness of” departed saints. They have the full satisfaction of their highest desires, and the perfection of their felicity and joy. (W. Harris, D. D.)

The desire for immortality

I. The reasons for this groaning are--

1. The pressures and miseries of the present life (2 Corinthians 5:4). We are burdened--

(a) Manifold temptations from Satan (1 Peter 5:8-9).

(b) Persecutions from the world.

2. Our having had a taste of better things (Romans 8:23). The firstfruits show us what the harvest will be, and the taste what the feast will prove.

3. The excellency of this estate. It is great ingratitude and folly that, when Christ hath procured a state of blessedness for us at a very dear rate, we should value it no more.

4. The three theological graces.

6. All the ordinances of the gospel serve to awaken them. The Word is God’s testament, wherein such rich legacies are bequeathed to us that every time we read it, or hear it, or meditate upon it, we may get a step higher, and advance nearer heaven (1 Peter 5:4; Psalms 119:96). So for prayer--it is but to raise those heavenly desires. We long in the Lord’s Supper for new wine in our Father’s kingdom, to put an heavenly relish upon our hearts.

7. These desires are necessary because of their effect. What maketh the Christian so industrious, so patient, so self-denying, so watchful? Only because he breatheth after heaven with so much earnestness.

8. The state of the present world doth set the saints longing for heaven. For this world is vexatious, the pleasures of it are mere dreams, and the miseries of it are real, many, and grievous.

II. Objections met.

1. But how can Christians groan for their heavenly state, since there is no passage to it but by death, and it is unnatural to desire our own death?

2. But must all sincere Christians thus groan and long? Many groan at the least thought of death.

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "2 Corinthians 5:3". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

Expositor's Bible Commentary

Chapter 13


2 Corinthians 5:1-10 (R.V)

THAT outlook on the future, which at the close of 2 Corinthians 4:1-18. is presented in the most general terms, is here carried out by the Apostle into more definite detail. The passage is one of the most difficult in his writings, and has received the most various interpretations; yet the first impression it leaves on a simple reader is probably as near the truth as the subtlest ingenuity of exegesis. It is indeed to such first impressions that one often returns when the mind has ceased to sway this way and that under the impact of conflicting arguments.

The Apostle has been speaking about his life as a daily dying, and in the first verse of this chapter he looks at the possibility that this dying may be consummated in death. It is only a possibility, for to the end of his life it was always conceivable that Christ might come, and forestall the last enemy. Still, it is a possibility; the earthly house of our tabernacle may be dissolved; the tent in which we live may be taken down. With what hope does the Apostle confront such a contingency? "If this befall us," he says, "we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens." Every word here points the contrast between this new house and the old one, and points it in favor of the new. The old was a tent; the new is a building: the old, though not literally made with hands, had many of the qualities and defects of manufactured articles; the new is God’s work and God’s gift: the old was perishable; the new is eternal. When Paul says we have this house "in the heavens," it is plain that it is not heaven itself; it is a new body which replaces and surpasses the old. It is in the heavens in the sense that it is God’s gift; it is something which He has for us where He is, and which we shall wear there. "We have it" means "it is ours"; any more precise definition must be justified on grounds extraneous to the text.

The second verse [2 Corinthians 5:2] brings us to one of the ambiguities of the passage. "For verily," our R.V reads, "in this we groan, longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven." The meaning which the English reader finds in the words "in this we groan" is in all probability "in our present body we groan." This is also the meaning defended by Meyer, and by many scholars. But it cannot be denied that εν τουτω does not naturally refer to η επιγειος ημων οικια του σκηνους. If it means "in this body" it must be attached specially to σκηνους, and σκηνους is only a subordinate word in the clause. Elsewhere in the New Testament εν τουτω means "on this account," or "for this reason," (see 1 Corinthians 4:4; John 16:30 : έν τούτῳ πιστεύομεν ὃτι ἀπὸ θεοῦ έξῆλθες) and I prefer to take it in this sense here: "For this cause-i.e., because we are the heirs of such a hope - we groan, longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven." If Paul had no hope, he would not sigh for the future; but the very longing which pressed the sighs from his bosom became itself a witness to the glory which awaited him. The same argument, it has often been pointed out, is found in Romans 8:19 ff. The earnest expectation of the creation, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God, is evidence that this manifestation will in due time take place. The spiritual instincts are prophetic. They have not been implanted in the soul by God only to be disappointed. It is of the longing hope of immortality that very hope which is in question here-that Jesus says: "If it were not so, I would have told you."

The third verse [2 Corinthians 5:3] states the great gain which lies in the fulfillment of this hope: "Since, of course, being clothed [with this new body], we shall not be found naked [i.e., without any body]." I cannot think, especially looking on to 2 Corinthians 5:4, that these two verses (2 Corinthians 5:2-3) mean anything else than that Paul longs for Christ to come before death. If Christ comes first, the Apostle will receive the new body by the transformation, instead of the putting off, of the old; he will, so to speak, put it on above the old ( ἐπενδύσασθαι); he will be spared the shuddering fear of dying; he will not know what it is to have the old tent taken down, and to be left houseless and naked. We do not need to investigate the opinions of the Hebrews or the Greeks about the condition of souls in Hades in order to understand these words; the conception, figurative as it is, carries its own meaning and impression to every one. It is reiterated, rather than proved, in the fourth verse: "For we who are in the tabernacle groan also, being burdened, in that our will is not to be unclothed, but to be clothed upon, that what is mortal may be swallowed up of life." It is natural to take βαρουμενοι ("being burdened") as referring to the weight of care and suffering by which men are oppressed while in the body; but here also, as in the similar case of 2 Corinthians 5:2, the proper reference of the word is forward. What oppresses Paul, and makes him sigh, is the intensity of his desire to escape "being unclothed," his immense longing to see Jesus come, and, instead of passing through the terrible experience of death, to have the corruptible put on incorruption, and the mortal put on immortality, without that trial.

This seems plain enough, but we must remember that the confidence which Paul has been expressing in the first verse is meant to meet the very case in which this desire is not gratified, the case in which death has to be encountered, and the tabernacle taken down. "If this should befall us," he says, "we have another body awaiting us, far better than that which we leave, and hence we are confident." The confidence which this hope inspires would naturally, we think, be most perfect, if in the very act of dissolution the new body were assumed; if death were the initial stage in the transformation scene in which all that is mortal is swallowed up by life; if it were, not the ushering of the Christian into a condition of "nakedness," which, temporary though it be, is a mere blank to the mind and imagination, but his admission to celestial life; if "to be absent from the body" were immediately, and in the fullest sense of the words, the same thing as "to be at home with the Lord." This is, in point of fact, the sense in which the passage is understood by a good many scholars, and those who read it so find in it a decisive turning-point in the Apostle’s teaching on the last things. In the First Epistle to the Thessalonians, they say, and indeed in the First to the Corinthians also, Paul’s eschatology was still essentially Jewish. The Christian dead are οι κοιμωμενοι, or οι κοιμηθεντες ("those that sleep"); nothing definite is said of their condition; only it is implied that they do not get the incorruptible body till Jesus comes again and raises them from the dead. In other words, those who die before the Parousia have the soul-chilling prospect of an unknown term of "nakedness." Here this terror is dispelled by the new revelation made to the Apostle, or the new insight to which he has attained: there is no longer any such interval between death and glory; the heavenly body is assumed at once; the state called κοιμασθαι ("being asleep") vanishes from the future. Sabatier and Schmiedel, who adopt this view, draw extreme consequences from it. It marks an advance, according to Schmiedel, of the highest importance. The religious postulate of an uninterrupted communion of life with Christ, violated by the conception of a κοιμασθαι, or falling asleep, is satisfied; Christ’s descent from heaven, and a simultaneous resurrection and judgment, become superfluous; judgment is transferred to the moment of death, or rather to the process of development during life on earth; and, finally, the place of eternal blessedness passes from earth (the Jewish and early Christian opinion, probably shared by Paul, as he gives no indication of the contrary) to heaven. All this, it is further pointed out, is an approximation, more or less close, to the Greek doctrine of the immortality of the soul, and may even have been excogitated in part under its influence; and it is at the same time a half-way house between the Pharisaic eschatology of First Thessalonians and the perfected Christian doctrine of a passage like John 5:24 : "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth Him that sent Me, hath eternal life, and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life."

There is no objection to be made in principle to the idea that the Apostle’s outlook on the future was subject to modification-that he was capable of attaining, or even did attain, a deeper insight, with experience, into the connection between that which is and that which is to come. But it is surely somewhat against the above estimate of the alleged change here that Paul himself seems to have been quite unconscious of it. He was not a man whose mind wrought at unawares, and who passed unwittingly from one standpoint to another. He was nothing if not reflective. According to Sahatier and Schmiedel, he had made a revolutionary change in his opinions-a change so vast that on account of it Sabatier reckons this Epistle, and especially this passage, the most important in all his writings for the comprehension of his theological development; and yet, side by side with the new revolutionary ideas, uttered literally in the same breath with them, we find the old standing undisturbed. The simultaneous resurrection and judgment, according to Schmiedel, should be impossible now; but in 2 Corinthians 4:14 the resurrection appears precisely as in Thessalonians, and in 2 Corinthians 5:10 the judgment, precisely as in all his Epistles from the first to the last. As for the inconsistency between going to be at home with the Lord and the Lord’s coming, it also recurs in later years: Paul writes to the Philippians that he has a desire to depart and to be with Christ; and in the same letter that the Lord is at hand, and that we wait for the Savior from heaven. Probably the misleading idea in the study of the whole subject has been the assumption that the κοιμωμενοι -the dead in Christ- were in some dismal, dreary condition which could fairly be described as "nakedness." There is not a word in the New Testament which favors this idea. Where we see men die in faith, we see something quite different. "Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise." "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." "I saw the souls of them which had been slain for the Word of God and there was given them, to each one, a white robe." When Paul speaks of those who have fallen asleep, in First Thessalonians, it is with the express intention of showing that those who survive to the Parousia have no advantage over them. "Jesus Christ died for us," he writes, [1 Thessalonians 5:10] "that, whether we wake or sleep, we may live together with Him." And he uses one most expressive word in a similar connection: [1 Thessalonians 4:14] "Them also that sleep in Jesus will God bring [ αξει] with Him." Suave verbura, says Bengel: dicitur de viventibus. May we not say with equal cogency, not only "de viventibus," but "de viventibus cum lesu?" Those who are asleep are with Him; they are in blessedness with Him; what their mode of existence is it may be impossible for us to conceive, but it is certainly not a thing to shrink from with horror. The taking clown of the old tent in which we live here is a thing from which one cannot but shrink, and that is why Paul would rather have Christ come, and be saved the pain and fear of dying. With death in view he mentions the new body as the ground of his confidence, because it is the final realization of the Christian hope, the crown of redemption. [Romans 8:23] But he does not mean to say that, unless the new body were granted in the very instant of dying, death would usher him into an appalling void, and separate him from Christ. This assumption, on which the interpretation of Sabatier and Schmiedel rests, is entirely groundless, and therefore that interpretation, in spite of a superficial plausibility, is to be decidedly rejected. It is to be rejected all the more when we are invited to see the occasion which produced Paul’s supposed change of opinion in the danger which he had lately incurred in 2 Corinthians 1:8-10. Paul, we are to imagine, who had always been confident that he would live to see the Parousia, had come to very close quarters with death, and this experience constrained him to seek in his religion a hope and consolation more adequate to the terribleness of death than any he had yet conceived. Hence the mighty advance explained above. But is it not absurd to say that a man, whose life was constantly in peril, had never thought of death till this time? Can any one seriously believe that, as Sabatier puts it, "the image of death, with which the Apostle had not hitherto concerned himself, (here) enters for the first time within the scope of his doctrine?" Can any one who knows the kind of man Paul was deliberately suggest that fear and self-pity conferred on him an enlargement of spiritual vision which no sympathy for bereaved disciples, and no sense of fellowship with those who had fallen asleep in Jesus, availed to bestow? Believe this who will, it seems utterly incredible to me. The passage says nothing inconsistent with Thessalonians, or First Corinthians, or Philippians, or Second Timothy, about the last things: it expresses in a special situation the constant Christian faith and hope-"the redemption of the body"; that is the possession of the believer ( ἒχομεν); it is ours; and the Apostle is not concerned to fix the moment of time at which hope becomes sight. "Come what will," he says, "come death itself, this is ours; and because it is ours, though we dread the possible necessity of having to strip off the old body, and would fain escape it, we do not allow it to dismay us."

The Apostle cannot look to the end of the Christian hope without referring to its condition and guarantee. "He that wrought us for this very thing is God, who gave us the earnest of the Spirit." The future is never considered in the New Testament in a speculative fashion; nothing could be less like an apostle than to discuss the immortality of the soul. The question of life beyond death is for Paul not a metaphysical but a Christian question; the pledge of anything worth the name of life is not the inherent constitution of human nature, but the possession of the Divine Spirit. Without the Spirit, Paul could have had no such certainty, no such triumphant hope, as he had; without the Spirit there can be no such certainty yet. Hence it is idle to criticize the Christian hope on purely speculative grounds, and as idle to try on such grounds to establish it. That hope is of a piece with the experience which comes when the Spirit of Him who raised up Christ from the dead dwells in us, and apart from this experience it cannot even be understood. But to say that there is no eternal life except in Christ is not to accept what is called "conditional immortality"; it is only to accept conditional glory.

The fifth verse [2 Corinthians 5:5] marks a pause: in the three which follow Paul describes the mood in which, possessed of the Christian hope, he confronts all the conditions of the present and the alternatives of the future. "We are of good courage at all times," he says. "We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from home as far as the Lord is concerned-at a distance from Him," This does not mean that fellowship is broken, or that the soul is separated from the love of Christ: it only means that earth is not heaven, and that Paul is painfully conscious of the fact. This is what is proved by 2 Corinthians 5:7 : We are absent from the Lord, our true home, "for in this world we are walking through the realm of faith, not through that of actual appearance." There is a world, a mode of existence, to which Paul looks forward, which is one of actual appearance: he will be in Christ’s presence there, and see Him face to face. [1 Corinthians 13:12] But the world through which his course lies meanwhile is not that world of immediate presence and manifestation; on the contrary, it is a world of faith, which realizes that future world of manifestation only by a strong spiritual conviction; it is through a faith-land that Paul’s journey leads him. All along the way his faith keeps him in good heart; nay, when we think of all that it ensures, of all that is guaranteed by the Spirit, he is willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord.

"For, ah! the Master is so fair, His smile so sweet on banished men, That they who meet it unaware Can never turn to earth again; And they who see Him risen afar, At God’s right hand to welcome them, Forgetful stand of home and land Desiring fair Jerusalem."

If he had to make his choice, it would incline this way, rather than the other; but it is not his to make a choice, and so he does not express himself unconditionally. The whole tone of the passage anticipates that of Philippians 1:21 ff.: "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if to live in the flesh, -if this is the fruit of my work, then what I shall choose I wot not. But I am in a strait betwixt the two, having the desire to depart and to be with Christ; for it is very far better: yet to abide in the flesh is more needful for your sake." Nothing could be less like the Apostle than a monkish, unmanly wish to die. He exulted in his calling. It was a joy to him above all joys to speak to men of the love of God in Jesus Christ. But nothing, on the other hand, could be less like him than to lose sight of the future in the present, and to forget amid the service of men the glory which is to be revealed. He stood between two worlds; he felt the whole attraction of both; in the earnest of the Spirit he knew that he had an inheritance there as well as here. It is this consciousness of the dimensions of life that makes him so immensely interesting; he never wrote a dull word; his soul was stirred incessantly by impulses from earth and from heaven, swept by breezes from the dark and troubled sea of man’s life, touched by inspirations from the radiant heights where Christ dwelt. We do not need to be afraid of the reproach of "other worldliness" if we seek to live in this same spirit; the reproach is as false as it is threadbare. It would be an incalculable gain if we could recover the primitive hope in something like its primitive strength. It would not make us false to our duties in the world, but it would give us the victory over the world.

In bringing this subject to a close, the Apostle strikes a graver note. A certain moral, as well as a certain emotional temper, is evoked by the Christian hope. It fills men with courage, and with spiritual yearnings; it braces them also to moral earnestness and vigor. "Wherefore also we make it our aim"-literally, we are ambitious, the only lawful ambition-"whether at home or absent, to be well-pleasing unto Him." Modes of being are not of so much consequence. It may agree with a man’s feelings better to live till Christ comes, or to die before He comes, and go at once to be with Him; but the main thing is, in whatever mode of being, to be accepted in His sight. "For we must all be manifested before the judgment-seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad." The Christian hope is not clouded by the judgment-seat of Christ; it is sustained at the holy height which befits it. We are forbidden to count upon it lightly. "Every man," we are reminded, "that hath this hope, set on Him purifieth himself even as He is pure." It is not necessary for us to seek a formal reconciliation of this verse with Paul’s teaching that the faithful are accepted in Christ Jesus; we can feel that both must be true. And if the doctrine of justification freely, by God’s grace, is that which has to be preached to sinful men, the doctrine of exact retribution, taught in this passage, has its main interest and importance for Christians. It is Christians only who are in view here, and the law of requital is so exact that every one is said to get back, to carry off for himself, the very things done in the body. In this world, we have not seen the last of anything. We shall all be manifested before the judgment-seat of Christ; all that we have hidden shall be revealed. The books are shut now, but they will be opened then. The things we have done in the body will come back to us, whether good or bad. Every pious thought, and every thought of sin; every secret prayer, and every secret curse; every unknown deed of charity, and every hidden deed of selfishness: we will see them all again, and though we have not remembered them for years, and perhaps have forgotten them altogether, we shall have to acknowledge that they are our own, and take them to ourselves. Is not that a solemn thing to stand at the end of life? Is it not a true thing? Even those who can say with the Apostle, "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, and rejoice in hope of His glory," know how true it is. Nay, they most of all know, for they understand better than others the holiness of God, and they are especially addressed here. The moral consciousness is not maintained in its vigor and integrity if this doctrine of retribution disappears; and if we are called by a passage like this to encourage ourselves in the Lord, and in the hope which He has revealed, we are warned also that evil cannot dwell with God, and that He will by no means clear the guilty.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Expositor's Bible Commentary".

The Pulpit Commentaries


Continuation of the topic that hope is the chief support of the preacher of the gospel (2 Corinthians 5:1-10). Their self-sacrifice in preaching the gospel of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11-21).

2 Corinthians 5:1-10

The hope of the future rife is the great support of our efforts.

2 Corinthians 5:1

For. A further explanation of the hope expressed in 2 Corinthians 4:17. We know. This accent of certainty is found only in the Christian writers. Our earthly house. Not the "house of clay" (Job 4:19), but the house which serves us as the home of our souls on earth; as in 1 Corinthians 15:40. Of this tabernacle; literally, the house of the tent; i.e. the tent of our mortality, the mortal body. In 2 Peter 1:13, 2 Peter 1:14 it is called skenoma, and the expression, "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,"is literally, "he tabernacled among us"—he wore "a tent like ours and of the same material." The figure would be specially natural to one whose occupation was that of a tentmaker. Compare—

"Here in the body pent,

Afar from him I roam,

But nightly pitch my wandering tent

A day's march nearer home."

A very, similar expression occurs in Wis. 9:15, "The earthly tabernacle ( γεῶδες σκῆνος) weigheth down the mind." Be dissolved; rather, be taken to pieces. A building. Something more substantial than that moving tenement. Of God; literally, from God; namely, not one of the "many mansions" spoken of in John 14:2, but the resurrection body furnished to us by him. We have this building from God, for it exists now, and shall be ours at the same time that our tent home is done away with. Not made with hands. Not like those tent dwellings at which St. Paul was daily toiling with the hands which ministered to his own necessities. In the heavens. To be joined with "we have." Heaven is our general home and country (Hebrews 11:16), but the present allusion is to the glorified bodies in which our souls shall live in heaven.

2 Corinthians 5:2

In this we groan. Since we have the firstfruits of the Spirit, who assures us of that future building from God, we, in this earthly tent, "groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit the redemption of our body" (Romans 8:23). To be clothed upon; rather, to further clothe ourselves with. Here the metaphors of a tent and a garment—the "wandering tent" and the "mortal vesture of decay"—are interfused in a manner on which only the greatest writers can venture The corruptible yearns to clothe itself with the incorruptible, the mortal with immortality (1 Corinthians 15:53). The glorified body is compared to an over garment, House; rather, habitation (oiketerion).

2 Corinthians 5:3

If so be that. The verse may be rendered, "If, that is, being clothed, we shall not be found naked." The word "naked" must then mean "bodiless," and the reference will be to those whom, at his coming, Christ shall find clothed in these mortal bodies, and not separated from them, i.e. quick and not dead (1 Thessalonians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 15:51). This seems to be the simplest and most natural of the multitude of strange interpretations with which the pages of commentators are filled. It is true that the aorist endusamenoi, means literally, "having clothed ourselves," and that, in taking this meaning, we should have expected the perfect participle endedumenoi, having been clothed. If this be thought an insuperable difficulty, we must suppose the verse to mean "If, that is, in reality we shall be found [at Christ's coming] after having put on some intermediate body, and therefore not as mere disembodied spirits." But there is no allusion in Scripture to any intermediate body, nor is any gleam of light shed on the mode of life among the dead between death and resurrection, though the Church rejects the dream of Psychopannychia, or an interval of unconscious sleep. The uncertainty of the meaning is increased by two various readings, ei per instead of ei ge, which latter expresses greater doubt about the matter; and ekdusamenoi (D, F, G), which would mean "if in reality, after unclothing ourselves [i.e. after 'shuffling off this mortal coil'], we shall not be found naked." This seems to be the conjecture of some puzzled copyists, who did not see that a contrast, and not a coincidence, between the two expressions is intended. If this reading were correct, it would mean, as Chrysostom says, "Even if we would lay aside the body. we shall not there be presented without a body, but with the same body which has then become incorruptible." It is quite untenable to make "clothed" mean "clothed with righteousness," as Olshausen does. In the Talmud, 'Shabbath', the righteous are compared to men who keep from stain the robes given them by a king (i.e. their bodies), which robes the king deposits in his treasury and sends the wearers away (bodiless) in peace; but foolish servants stain these robes, and the king sends the robes to the wash, and the wearers in prison.

2 Corinthians 5:4

For we that are, etc.; literally, for indeed we who are in the tent; i.e. in the transitory mortal body. Do groan. "Oh wretched man that I am I who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Romans 7:24). Being burdened. "The corruptible body presseth down the soul, and the earthy tabernacle weigheth down the mind that museth upon many things" (Wis. 9:15). Not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon; more literally, since we do not wish to strip off (our bodily garment) but to put another garment over it. St. Paul here repudiates the Manichean notion that the body is a disgrace, or in itself the source of evil. He was not like Plotinus, who "blushed that he had a body;" or like St. Francis of Assist, who called his body "my brother the ass;" or like the Cure d'Ars, who (as we have said) spoke of his body as "ce cadavre." He does not, therefore, desire to get rid of his body, but to "clothe it over" with the garment of immortality. Incidentally this implies the wish that he may be alive and not dead when the Lord returns (1 Corinthians 15:35-54). Mortality; rather, the mortal; that which is mortal. Might be swallowed up of life. As in the ease of Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11), who entered into life otherwise than through "the grave and gate of death." St. Paul wishes to enter the "building from God" without having been first buried in the collapse of the "soul's dark cottage battered and decayed." He desires to put on the robe of immortality without stripping off the rent garb of the body.

2 Corinthians 5:5

He who hath wrought us for the selfsame thing. God prepared and perfected us for this very result, namely, to put on the robe of immortality. The earnest (see 2 Corinthians 1:22) The quickening life imparted by the Spirit of life is a pledge and part payment of the incorruptible eternal life. The Spirit is "the Earnest of our inheritance" (Ephesians 1:14; Ephesians 4:30).

2 Corinthians 5:6

Therefore we are always confident; literally, being of good courage. The sentence in the Greek is unfinished (an anacoluthon), but is resumed after the parenthesis by the repetition, "we are of good courage." Always (2 Corinthians 4:8). We are at home in the body. The tent is pitched in the desert, and even the pillar of fire can only shine through its folds. Yet the tent may become brighter and brighter as life goes on.

"To me the thought of death is terrible,

Having such hold on life. To you it is not

More than a step into the open air

Out of a tent already luminous

With light which shines through its transparent folds."


Absent from the Lord (John 14:2, John 14:3). Christ is indeed with us here and always; but the nearness of presence and the clearness of vision in that future life will be so much closer and brighter, that here, by comparison, we are absent from him altogether.

2 Corinthians 5:7

For we walk by faith (2 Corinthians 4:18; Hebrews 11:1; Romans 8:25). Not by sight; rather, not by appearance; not by anything actually seen. We do not yet see "face to face" (1 Corinthians 13:12), but are guided by things which "eye hath not seen."

2 Corinthians 5:8

To be absent, etc.; literally, to be away from the home of the body, but to be at home with the Lord. To be present with the Lord. The hope expressed is exactly the same as in Philippians 1:23, except that here (as in Philippians 1:4) he expresses a desire not "to depart," but to be quit of the body without the necessity for death.

2 Corinthians 5:9

We labour; literally, we are emulous. This, says Bengel, is "the sole legitimate ambition." The same word occurs in Romans 15:20. Whether present or absent; literally, whether at home or away from home; i.e. whether with Christ or separated from him (as in Romans 15:8); or, "whether in the body or out of the body" (as in Romans 15:6). The latter would resemble 1 Thessalonians 5:10, "That whether we wake or sleep we may live with him." We may be accepted of him; literally, to be well pleasing to him.

2 Corinthians 5:10

We must all appear; rather, for it is necessary that we must all be made manifest; that we must be shown in our real nature and character. The verb is not the same as in Romans 14:10, which occurs in 2 Corinthians 4:14. Before the judgment seat of Christ. The special final judgment is represented as taking place before the bema of Christ, although in Romans 14:10 the best reading is "of God" (Matthew 25:31, Matthew 25:32). St. Paul might naturally use this Roman and Greek idea of the bema, being too familiar with it in his own experience (comp. Acts 12:21; Acts 18:12; Acts 25:6; Romans 14:10). The things done in the body; literally, the things (done) by the instrumentality of the body. Another reading (which only differs by a single letter from this) is, "the proper things of the body" ( τὰ ἴδια τοῦ σώματος); i.e. the things which belong to it, which it has made its own. St. Paul, always intent on one subject at a time, does not stop to coordinate this law of natural retribution and inexorable Nemesis with that of the "forgiveness of sins" (1 Corinthians 5:11; Romans 3:25), or with the apparently universal hopes which he seems sometimes to express (Romans 5:17, Romans 5:18; Romans 11:32). Omnia exeunt in mysterium. According to that he hath done; rather, with reference to the things he did. The aorist shows that all life will be as it were concentrated to one point. The Pelagians raised questions on this verse about the sinlessness of infants, etc., all of which may be left on one side, as probably nothing was more absolutely distant from the thoughts of St. Paul. Observe that each is to receive the natural issues of what he has done. There is to be an analogy between the sin and the retribution. The latter is but the ripe fruit of the former. We shall be punished by the action of natural laws, not of arbitrary inflictions. We shall reap what we have sown, not harvests of other grain (Romans 2:5-11; Revelation 22:12; Galatians 6:7). Whether it be good or bad. St. Paul, who always confines himself to one topic at a time, does not here enter on the question of the cutting off of the entailed curse by repentance and forgiveness. He leaves unsolved the antinomy between normal inevitable consequence and free remission.

2 Corinthians 5:11-19

Self-devotion of the ministry of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:11

Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men. Multitudes of texts have been torn from their context and grossly abused and misinterpreted, but few more so than this. It is the text usually chosen by those who wish to excuse a setting forth of God under the attributes of Moloch. With any such views it has not the remotest connection. It simply means, "Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord, we persuade men," either "to keep in view the same fear of the Lord as ourselves," or (reverting to his last assertion of his own sincerity and integrity in 2 Corinthians 5:9), "that our sole ambition is to please God." The rendering, "the terror of the Lord," for the every day expression, "the fear of the Lord," was wantonly intruded into modem versions by Beza, and has not a single word to be said in its favour. The phrase means (as always) not the dread which God inspires, but the holy fear which mingles with our love of him. To teach men to regard God with terror is to undo the best teaching of all Scripture, which indeed has too often been the main end of human systems of theology. We persuade men. Not in a bad sense (Galatians 1:10). The attacks and calumnies of enemies make it necessary to vindicate our integrity is men; but we have no need to do so to God, because he already knows us (comp. "persuading Blastus," Acts 12:20). We are made manifest unto God; rather, but to God we have been (and are) manifested. He needs no self defence from us. Are made manifest in your consciences; but I hope that I have been, and am now, made manifest in your consciences. In other words, I trust that this apology into which you have driven me has achieved its ends; and that, whatever may be your prejudices and innuendoes, before the bar of the individual conscience of each of you we now stand clear.

2 Corinthians 5:12

For we commend not ourselves again unto you. Still reverting to the charge that he was guilty of self praise, he says that his object is not this, for it was needless (2 Corinthians 3:2, 2 Corinthians 3:3). But give you occasion to glory on our behalf. But we speak as we have done to give you a starling-point for something to boast of on our behalf. He has already said (2 Corinthians 1:4) that the teachers and the taught in their mutual affection ought to have some ground for "boasting" (i.e. for speaking with some praise and exultation) of each other. The Corinthians were being robbed of this by the interested lies of St. Paul's opponents, who thought only about outward appearances. This is why no has set forth to them the aim and glory of his ministry. Nothing could be more gentle and forbearing than such a mode of stating his object. Yet for those who were sufficiently finely strung to understand it, there was an almost pathetic irony involved in it. Which glory in appearance, and not in heart; literally, in face. The grounds of their boasting, whatever they were, were superficial and external (2 Corinthians 10:7), not deep and sincere. But those who would judge of Paul aright must look into his very heart, and not on his face.

2 Corinthians 5:13

For whether we be beside ourselves; rather, for whether we were mad. Evidently some person or some faction had said of St. Paul, "He is beside himself," just as Festus said afterwards, "Paul, thou art mad," and as the Jews said of Paul's Lord and Master (John 10:20). The fervour of the apostle, his absorption in his work, his visions and ecstasies, his "speaking with tongues more than they all," his indifference to externals, his bursts of emotion, might all have given colour to this charge, which he here ironically accepts. "Mad or self controlled -all was for your sakes." It is to God; rather for God. My "enthusiasm," "exaltation," or, if you will, my "madness," was but a phase of my work for him. We be sober. The word "sober" (sophron) is derived from two words which mean" to save the mind." It indicates wise self control, such as was represented also by the many-sided Latin word frugi. It is the exact antithesis to madness (Acts 26:25). What you call my "madness" belongs to the relation between my own soul and God; my practical sense and tact are for you. For your sakes; literally, for you.

2 Corinthians 5:14

The love of Christ. It matters little whether this be interpreted as a subjective genitive, "Christ's love to man," or as an objective genitive, our love to Christ;" for the two suppose and interfuse each other. St. Paul's usage, however, favours the former interpretation (2 Corinthians 13:14; 1 Corinthians 16:24). Constraineth. The word means that it compresses us, and therefore keeps us irresistibly to one object (Luke 12:50). That if one died for all, then were all dead. This is an unfortunate mistranslation and wrong reading for that one died for all, therefore all died. What compels Paul to sacrifice himself to the work of God for his converts is the conviction, which he formed once for all at his conversion, that One, even Christ, died on behalf of all men (Romans 5:15-19) a redeeming death (2 Corinthians 5:21); and that, consequently, in that death, all potentially died with him—died to their life of sin, and rose to the life of righteousness. The best comments on this bold and concentrated phrase are—"I died to the Law that I might live to Christ;" "I have been crucified with Christ" (Galatians 2:19, Galatians 2:20); and, "Ye died, and your life has been hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3). When Christ died, all humanity, of which he was the federal Head, died potentially with him to sin and selfishness, as he further shows in the next verse.

2 Corinthians 5:15

Unto themselves. That they should live no longer the psychic, i.e. the animal, selfish, egotistic life, but to their risen Saviour (Romans 14:7-9; 1 Corinthians 6:19).

2 Corinthians 5:16

Know no man after the flesh. It is a consequence of my death with Christ that I have done with carnal, superficial, earthly, external judgments according to the appearance, and not according to the heart. Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh. The word for "know" is different from the one just used ( οἷδα, scio; ἔγνωκα, cognovi), and may be rendered, "though we have taken note of." The whole phrase, which has been interpreted in multitudes of different ways, and has led to many different hypotheses, must be understood in accordance with the context. St. Paul is saying that he has now renounced all mere earthly and human judgments; and he here implies that the day has been when he knew Christ only in this fleshly way; but henceforth he will know him so no more. Probably this "knowing Christ after the flesh" is a rebuke to those members of the Christ party at Corinth who may have boasted that they were superior to all others because they had personally seen or known Christ—a spirit which Christ himself not only discouraged (John 16:7) but even rebuked (Matthew 12:50). To St. Paul Christ is now regarded as far above all local, national, personal, and Jewish limitations, and as the principle of spiritual life in the heart of every Christian. In the view which he took of his Lord St. Paul henceforth has banished all Jewish particularism for gospel catholicity. He regards Christ, not in the light of earthly relationships and conditions, but as the risen, glorified, eternal, universal Saviour.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore. If even a human, personal, external knowledge of Christ is henceforth of no significance, it follows that there must have been a total change in all relations towards him. The historic fact of such a changed relationship is indicated clearly in John 20:17. Mary Magdalene was there lovingly taught that a "recognition of Christ after the flesh," i.e. as merely a human friend, was to be a thing of the past. In Christ; i.e. a Christian. For perfect faith attains to mystic union with Christ. A new creature; rather, a new creation (Galatians 6:15). The phrase is borrowed from the rabbis who used it to express the condition of a proselyte. But the meaning is not mere Jewish arrogance and exclusiveness, but the deep truth of spiritual regeneration and the new birth (John 3:3; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 4:23, Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:3, etc.). Old things; literally, the ancient things, all that belongs to the old Adam. Behold. The word expresses the writer's vivid realization of the truth he is uttering. All things. The whole sphere of being, and therewith the whole aim and character of life. The clause illustrates the "new creation."

2 Corinthians 5:18

And all things are of God; literally, but all things (in this "new creation") are from God. Who hath reconciled us; rather, who (by Christ's one offering of himself) reconciled us to himself. We were his enemies (Romans 5:10; Romans 11:28), but, because he was still our Friend and Father, he brought us back to himself by Christ. The ministry of reconciliation. The ministry which teaches the reconciliation which he has effected for us.

2 Corinthians 5:19

God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself. This and the many other passages of Scripture which always represent the atonement as the work of the blessed Trinity, and as being the result of the love, not of the wrath, of God, ought to have been a sufficient warning against the hideous extravagance of those forensic statements of the atonement which have disgraced almost a thousand years of theology (Romans 5:10; 1 John 4:10). That God's purpose of mercy embraced all mankind, and not an elect few, is again and again stated in Scripture (see Colossians 1:20). Not imputing their trespasses unto them. See this developed in Romans 15:5-8. Hath entrusted unto us; literally, who also deposited in us, as though it were some sacred treasure.

2 Corinthians 5:20

Now then. It is, then, on Christ's behalf that we are ambassadors. This excludes all secondary aims. St. Paul uses the same expression in Ephesians 6:20, adding with fine contrast that he is "an ambassador in fetters." As though God did beseech you by us; rather, as if God were exhorting you by our means. In Christ's stead; rather, we, on Christ's behalf, beseech you. Be ye reconciled to God. This is the sense of the embassy. The aorist implies an immediate acceptance of the offer of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:21

He hath made him to be sin for us; rather, he made; he speaks with definite reference to the cross. The expression is closely analogous to that in Galatians 3:13, where it is said that Christ has been "made a curse for us." He was, as St. Augustine says, "delictorum susceptor, non commissor." He knew no sin; nay, he was the very righteousness, holiness itself (Jeremiah 23:6), and yet, for our benefit, God made him to be "sin" for us, in that he "sent him in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin" (Romans 8:3). Many have understood the word "sin" in the sense of sin offering (Le Galatians 5:9, LXX.); but that is a precarious application of the word, which is not justified by any other passage in the New Testament. We cannot, as Dean Plumptre says, get beyond the simple statement, which St. Paul is content to leave in its unexplicable mystery, "Christ identified with man's sin; man identified with Christ's righteousness." And thus, in Christ, God becomes Jehovah-Tsidkenu, "the Lord our Righteousness" (Jeremiah 23:6). That we might be made the righteousness of God in him; rather, that we might become. The best comment on the pregnant significance of this verse is Romans 1:16, Romans 1:17, which is developed and explained in so large a section of that great Epistle (see Romans 3:22-25; Romans 4:5-8; Romans 5:19, etc.). In him In his blood is a means of propitiation by which the righteousness of God becomes the righteousness of man (1 Corinthians 1:30), so that man is justified. The truth which St. Paul thus develops and expresses is stated by St. Peter and St. John in a simpler and less theological form (1 Peter 2:22-24; 1 John 3:5).


2 Corinthians 5:1-7 - Christian knowledge concerning the future body of the good.

"For we know that if our earthly house," etc. Two things are to be noticed at the outset.

1. Metaphorical representations of the body. The body is here spoken of under the figure of a "tabernacle" or a tent, and of a vestment or clothing. These two things would not be so distinct in the mind of the apostle as they are in ours, for both had the same qualities of movableness and protection. The "house" to which the apostle refers was not a building of bricks or stone, a superstructure that would be stationary, but a mere tent to be carried about.

2. The implied necessity of the body. Paul's language implies that the body is a clothing or protection. As a clothing, or protection, for the soul it is necessary, both here and in the other world. The soul must have an organ wherever it is. Now what does the Christian know concerning the future body?

I. He knows it will be BETTER THAN THE PRESENT.

1. It will be directly Divine. "A building of God." The present body is from God, but it comes from him through secondary instrumentalities. The future body will come direct, it will not be transmitted from sire to son.

2. It will be fitted for a higher sphere. "In the heavens." The present body is fitted for the earthly sphere, it is of the "earth, earthy." The future will be fitted for the more ethereal, and celestial.

3. It will be more enduring. "Eternal." This body is like the tent, temporary; it has no firm foundation; it is shaken by every gust. We "perish before the moth." The future body will be eternal, free from the elements of decay.

4. It will be more enjoyable. "For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven," etc. In this body we "groan, being burdened." To what pains and diseases is the present body subject! By implication the apostle states the future body will be free from all this, for all that is mortal will be "swallowed up of life." In that body there will be no groaning, no sighs or sorrows, no burden, no weight to depress the energies or to impede progress. The future body will be more fitted to receive the high things of God, and more fitted to communicate them also.

II. He knows he is now BEING DIVINELY FITTED FOR THE BETTER BODY OF THE FUTURE. "Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit." Every seed has its own body; it is the seed that makes the body; the organization does not produce the life, but the life the organization. And this spiritual life in man God is now preparing to pass into a higher body. Just as the chrysalis is being fitted to struggle into an organization with higher appetencies, more exquisite in form, and with faculties that shall bear it into mid-heaven. When will you have this body? When your soul has the life energy to produce it.

2 Corinthians 5:8-10 - The philosophy of courage.

"We are confident, I say," etc. Paul says we are courageous, or of good courage. Courage is often confounded with recklessness of life, a brutal insensibility to danger. True course always implies two things.

1. The existence of unavoidable dangers. He who rushes into danger is not courageous, but reckless. Paul had unavoidable dangers: "We are troubled on every side."

2. True convictions of being. Ignorance of existence may make men reckless, but never courageous. What was Paul's view of life?

I. A consciousness that his death would not ENDANGER THE INTERESTS of his being. Notice:

1. His view of the interests of being. It was being "present with the Lord."

2. His view of the bearing of death upon the interests of being. He regarded it as the flight of the spirit into the presence of the Lord. "Absent from the body, present with the Lord." A view of death this antagonistic to the ideas of purgatory, annihilation, soul sleep.

3. His state of mind under the influence of these thoughts. "Willing rather to be absent from the body."

II. A consciousness that death would not DESTROY THE GREAT PURPOSES of being. It is the characteristic of a rational being that he has some purpose in life—the purpose is that in which he lives, it makes life valuable to him. To a man who has no purpose in life or has lost his purpose, life is deemed of little worth. What was Paul's purpose in life? "Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him." Is not this purpose sublimely reasonable? If there be a God, does not reason teach that to please him should be the supreme purpose of all intelligent creatures? Now, Paul felt that death would not destroy this purpose. It destroys the purpose of the voluptuous, avaricious, etc.; and hence to them it is terrible. But it does not destroy the chief purpose of the Christian. In all worlds and times his chief purpose will be to be "accepted of him."

III. A consciousness that death would not PREVENT THE REWARDS of being. "We must all appear [or, 'be made manifest'] before the judgment seat of Christ." Success, while it should never be regarded either as a rule of conduct or a test of character, must ever have an influence on the mind of man in every department of labour. Non-success discourages. Paul felt that his labour hero would appear and be recognized hereafter. "We must all appear," etc.

1. Every one shall receive the recompense of labour after death. "Must all appear." None absent.

2. Every one shall receive a reward forevery deed. "That every one may receive the things done in his body." No lost labour. With this consciousness we may well be courageous amidst all the dangers here and in view of the great hereafter. Dread of death is a disgrace to the Christian. "If," says Cicero, "I were now disengaged from my cumbrous body, and on my way to Elysium; and some superior being should meet me in my flight and make me the offer of returning and remaining in my body, I should, without hesitation, reject the offer; so much should I prefer going into Elysium to be with Socrates and Plato and all the ancient worthies, and to spend my time in converse with them." How much more should the Christian desire to be "absent from the body, and present with the Lord"!

2 Corinthians 5:11-18 - Man in Christ a new man.

"For whether we be beside ourselves," etc. To be "in Christ" is to be in his Spirit, in his character, to live in his ideas, principles, etc. Such a man is "a new creature."

I. The man in Christ has a new IMPERIAL IMPULSE. "The love of Christ constraineth us," Whether the "love of Christ" here means his love to us or our love for him is of no practical import, The latter implies the former; his love is the flame that kindles ours. Now, this love was Paul's dominant passion; it "constrained" him; it carried him on like a resistless torrent; it was the regnant impulse. Two thoughts in relation to this new imperial impulse.

1. It is incomprehensible to those who possess it not. "Whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God," etc. Probably Paul appeared as mad to his contemporaries. They saw him brave the greatest perils, oppose the greatest powers, make the greatest sacrifices. What was the principle that moved him to all? This they could not understand. Had it been ambition or avarice, they could have understood it. But "the love of Christ" they knew nothing of; it was a new thing in the world. Only the man who has it can understand it; love alone can interpret love.

2. It arises from reflection on the death of Christ. It is not an inbred passion, not a blind impulse, not something divinely transferred into the heart. No; it comes "because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead." Paul assumes as an undoubted fact that Christ died for all. Because of this fact he concludes:

II. The man in Christ has a new SOCIAL STANDARD. "Henceforth we know no man after the flesh." The world has numerous standards by which it judges men, birth, wealth, office, etc. To a man filled and fired with love to Christ these are nothing. He estimates man by his rectitude, not by his rank; by his spirit, not by his station; by his principles, not by his property. Paul might have said—I once knew men after the flesh, Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, learned or ignorant; but now I know them so no more; I see them now in the light of the cross, sinners dead in trespasses and sins; "Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh," etc., I think no more of his body, but of his mind, not of his station, but of his Spirit. The fact that this is the true standard serves:

1. As a test by which to try our own religion.

2. As a guide for us in the promotion of Christianity.

3. As a principle on which to form our friendships with men,

4. As a rule to regulate our social conduct.

III. The man in Christ has a new SPIRITUAL HISTORY. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." In what sense can this change be called a creation?

1. It is the production of a new thing. This passion for Christ is a new thing in the universe.

2. It is the production of a new thing by the agency of God. Creation is the work of God.

3. It is the production of a new thing according to a Divine plan. The almighty Maker works by plan in all.

IV. The man in Christ has a sew STANDING. "All things are of God, who hath reconciled us," etc. That is, all things pertaining to this new creation. The great want of man is reconciliation to God. Man's alienation or apostasy from his Maker is the sin of all his sins, and the source of all his miseries. His reconciliation is not the means to his salvation; it is his salvation. Friendship with him is heaven. On the other hand, alienation is hell. A river cut from the fountain dries up; a branch cut from the tree withers and dies; a planet cut from the sun rushes into ruin. Separate a soul from God its Fountain, its Root, its Centre, and it dies—dies to all that makes existence tolerable. Such, then, is what Christianity does for us.

2 Corinthians 5:19, 2 Corinthians 5:20 - God's work in Christ.

"To wit, that God was in Christ," etc. God is a great Worker. He is the eternal Fountain of life in unremitting flow. He is essentially active, the mainspring of all activity in the universe but that of sin. There are at least four organs through which he works—material laws, animal instincts, moral mind, and Jesus Christ. By the first he leads on the great revolutions of inanimate nature in all its departments; by the second he preserves, guides, and controls all the sentient tribes that populate the earth, the air, and the sea; by the third, through the laws of reason and the dictates of conscience, he governs the vast empire of mind; and by the fourth viz Christ, he works out the redemption of sinners in our world. There is no more difficulty in regarding him in the one Person, Christ, for a certain work than there is in regarding him as being in material nature, animal instinct, or moral mind, The words lead us to make three remarks concerning God's work in Christ.

I. It is a work of RECONCILING HUMANITY TO GOD. "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself," The work of reconciling implies two things—enmity on the side of one of the parties, and a change of mind in one of the parties. The enmity here is not on God's part—he is love; but on man's. The "carnal mind is enmity with God." Nor is the change on God's part. He cannot change, he need not change. He could never become more loving and merciful. The change needed is on man's part, and on man's exclusively. Paul speaks of the world being reconciled to God, not of God to the world. The "world;" not a section of the race, but all mankind.

II. It is a work involving the REMISSION OF SINS. "Not imputing [reckoning] their trespasses unto them." The reconciled man is no longer reckoned guilty. Three facts will throw light on this. The state of enmity towards God is:

1. A state of sin. There is a virtue in disliking some characters, but it is evermore a sin to dislike God, for he is the All-good.

2. A state of sin liable to punishment. Indeed, sin is its own punishment.

3. In reconciliation, the enmity being removed, the punishment is obviated. What is pardon? A separating of man from his sins and their consequences. This God does in Christ.

III. It is a work in which GENUINE MINISTERS ARE ENGAGED. "He hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 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." Observe:

1. The position, of the true minister, he acts on behalf of Christ, and stands in "Christ's stead."

2. The earnestness of the true minister. "We pray you."

From the whole we observe concerning this work:

1. That it is a work of unbounded mercy. Whoever heard the offended party seeking the friendship of the offender?

2. It is a work essential to human happiness. In the nature of the case there is no happiness without this reconciliation.

3. It is a work exclusively of moral influence. No coercion on the one hand, no angry denunciations on the other, can do it; it can only be effected by the logic of love.

4. It is a work that must be gradual. Mind cannot be forced; there must be reflection, repentance, resolution.

2 Corinthians 5:21 - Christ made sin.

"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." "Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him" (Revised Version). From this passage we gather three wonderful truths.

I. That Christ was ABSOLUTELY SINLESS. "Who knew no sin." Intellectually, of course, he knew all the sin in the world; but he never experienced it, he was absolutely free from it.

1. He was "without sin," although he lived in a sinful world. Of all the millions who have been here he alone moved amongst the world and received no taint of moral contamination.

2. He was "without sin," although he was powerfully tempted. Had he been untemptable there would have been no virtue in his freedom from sin, and had there been no tempter there would have been nothing praiseworthy in his sinlessness. "He was tempted like as we are, yet without sin."

II. That, though sinless, Christ was in some sense MADE SIN BY GOD. "He hath made him to be sin for us." What meaneth this?

1. It cannot mean that God made the sinless One a sinner. This would be impossible. No one can create a moral character for another.

2. It cannot mean that God imputed to him the sin of the world, and punished him for the world's sin. The idea of literal substitution is repugnant to reason and unsustained by any honest interpretation of God's Holy Word. The atonement of Christ consists, not in what he said, did, or suffered, but in what he was. He himself is the Atonement, the Reconciler. What, then, does it mean? Two facts may throw some light.

III. That the sinless One was thus made sin in order that men MIGHT PARTICIPATE IN GOD'S RIGHTEOUSNESS. "That we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Never did Divine moral excellence or the righteousness of God shine out with such glory to man as in the sufferings which Christ endured in consequence of this connection with sinners. As the stars can only show themselves at night, and as aromatic plants can only emit their precious odour by pressure, so the highest moral virtues can only come out by suffering and battling with the wrong. What self-sacrificing love, what unconquerable attachment to truth, what loyalty to the infinite Father, what sublime heroism of love, was here exhibited in the incarnation, the beneficent deeds, and overwhelming sufferings of Jesus!


2 Corinthians 5:1-10 - Assurance of eternal life; faith and its effects.

Death intervenes between the present state of affliction and the glory of heaven, but death is only the destruction of the body now existing. It is not an end to bodily form and life. This is no speculation of the apostle's; it is an assurance, "for we know" that if this earthly tent be destroyed, it will be followed by an enduring habitation—a mansion, not a tabernacle. In the earthly body he groans, not because it is a body, but because it is flesh and blood suffering under the effects of sin, and hence he longs for the "house which is from heaven." It is a heaven for body as well as soul that he so ardently desires. To be bodiless even in glory is repulsive to his nature, since it would be nakedness. Death is repugnant. The separation of soul and body, however, is only temporary; it is not for unclothing, but for a better clothing, one suited to the capacities of spirit. If the fourth verse repeats the second verse, it enlarges the idea and qualifies it by stating the reason why he would be "clothed upon," viz. "that mortality might be swallowed up of life." And this longing is no mere instinct or natural desire, but a feeling inspired of God, who "hath wrought us for the selfsame thing." A Divine preparation was going on in this provisional tabernacle—a training of the spirit for the vision of Christ and a training of the body for the immortal companionship of the spirit. An "earnest" or pledge of this was already in possession. The sufferings sanctified by the Spirit, the longing, the animation of hope, were so many proofs and tokens of awaiting blessedness. How could he be otherwise than confident? Yea; he is "always confident." Though now confined to the body, yet it is a home that admits of affections and loving fellowships; and though it necessitates absence from the Lord and the house of "many mansions," nevertheless it is a home illumined by faith. "For we walk by faith, not by sight." The home is in the midst of visible objects that exercise our sense of sight, but our Christian walk, or movement from one world to another, is not directed by the eye, but by faith, the sense of the invisible. We know what are the functions of the eye. If we did not, the antithesis would convey no meaning. The eye receives impressions from external things, communicates them to the soul, is a main organ in developing thought and feeling, acts on the imagination and the will, and is continually adding something to the contents of the inward nature. Faith is like it as a medium of reception, unlike it in all else. Faith is not conversant with appearances. We do not see Christ in his glory; we see him (using the term figuratively) in his Word by means of the Spirit; and this seeing is faith. How do we know when we have faith? It attests itself in our capacity to see the path leading to eternal glory, and it enables us to walk therein. The path is from one home to another—from the home on the footstool to the home by the throne of Christ, and faith has the reality and vigour of a home sentiment. So strong and assuring is St. Paul's confidence that he prefers to depart and be with Christ. "At home in the body;" yes, but it is a sad home at best, and trial and affliction had begun to make it dreary to him. To die is to be with the Lord, and he was "willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." Whether absent or present, at home or away from home, we labour that we "may be accepted of him." To make himself and his life acceptable to Christ was paramount to every other desire; to labour was his absorbing thought. Such an energetic soul as his must have felt that its energies were immortal. There was no selfishness in his hope of heaven, no longing to be freed from work, no yearning for the luxury of mere rest. It was to be with Christ, for Christ was his heaven. If this was his confidence, if he was labouring untiringly to be acceptable to the Lord Jesus, was he understood and appreciated as Christ's apostle and servant among men? The burden of life was not the work he did, but the obstacles thrown in his way—the slanders he had to bear, the persecutions open and secret that followed him everywhere. He thinks of the "judgment seat of Christ." It will be a judicial inquiry into works done and "every one" shall "receive ['receive back'] the things done in his body." Measure for measure, whatsoever has been done hero shall return to every one. The individuality of the judgment, the complete unveiling of personal character, the correspondence between the reward and the good done on earth and between the retribution and the evil done here, he brings out distinctly. This was with him a fixed habit of thought. "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap." How near the two worlds are—the growing field here, the harvest in another existence hereafter! But observe another idea. "We must all appear," we must be made manifest, every one shown in his true character. Not only will there be recompense as a judicial procedure, but a revelation "in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ." St. Paul had vindicated himself again and again from the charges made against him; but the battle was now going on, nor was there any sign of its speedy abatement. It was natural that he should have the idea of manifestation prominent in his mind, since we all think of the future world very much according to some peculiarity in our experience on earth. How engrossed, heart and soul, in his apostleship is beautifully indicated by the fact that heaven itself was the heaven of St. Paul as the apostle of Christ. The sufferings of the man are never mentioned. First and last, we have the autobiography of an apostle, and hence, looking forward to the glory to be revealed, the supreme felicity is that he will appear in his true character as the Lord's servant.—L.

2 Corinthians 5:11-21 - Person and ministry of the apostle further considered; his work as an ambassador.

How was he conducting this ministry, of which he had spoken so much and had yet more to say? It was in full view of accountability to the day of judgment. "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men," adding motives to affect them, and not remaining content with arguments to convince their understandings. And in this work he now felt God's approval; before he had declared, "we are confident," and he reaffirms it in the words, "we are made manifest unto God." Every hour he stood at the bar of his conscience an acquitted man, and this conscience was a manifestation of God. Honestly was he striving to please God, as honestly labouring to save them, and in this spirit he was ever seeking to manifest himself to their consciences. If he were a temporizer, a man pleaser, he might adopt worldly arts and captivate them. No; he would address their consciences; the best in them should come to his side or he must lose them. "Savour of life unto life" or "savour of death unto death;" no other alternative. But do not misunderstand us. Commendation is not our object. If we have, as we trust, manifested ourselves to your consciences, then let your consciences speak in our behalf, and let their voices boast in this—that we are truthful in the sight of God and man. This is the way to answer our enemies who "glory in appearance and not in heart." Suffer he would rather than be wrongly vindicated. Do it in the highest way or not at all. "Your cause" is the great interest. No doubt we seem "beside ourselves," or we may appear "sober," but you may boast of this—"it is for your cause." And in this devotion to your well being what motive presses with weight enough to make us endure all things for your sakes? "The love of Christ constraineth us." And wherein is this love so signally demonstrated as to embody and set forth all else that he did? It is love in death. Looking at this Divine death, we form this judgment or reach this conclusion, that he "died for all" because "all were dead—" dead under the Law of God, dead in trespasses and sins, dead legally, morally, spiritually. Nothing less than such an atoning death for all men—so it seems to us the apostle meant—could exert on him this constraining influence. And how should this influence operate? "They which live should not henceforth live unto themselves." The very self had been redeemed by Christ's vicarious death; body, soul, and spirit had been bought with a price, and the price was Christ's blood; and with such a constraining motive, the most potent that the Holy Ghost could bring to bear on the human mind, how could men live unto themselves? If, indeed, the constraining power had its legitimate effect, only one life could result, a life consecrated to "him which died for them and rose again." If, therefore, all being dead, one died for all, that all might live in freedom from selfishness and be the servants of him who had redeemed them from sin and death, we can know henceforth no man after the flesh. The very purpose of Christ's death was that the fleshly life of sin might pass out of view (might be covered over and thus disappear from sight), and another life be entered on, a life in the redeeming Christ. Admitting that this passage presents the moral aspects of Christ's death and the obligations consequent thereupon as they act on moral sentiment, yet the fundamental idea of the apostle is that Christ stood in the stead of sinners, took their guilt upon himself, and made an offering of his life for their rescue. To strengthen this doctrine, he says that, though he once knew Christ after the flesh (as a mere man), he knew him now in a very different way. We are not to suppose that he had seen him in his earthly life, but merely that he knew of him. St. Paul, after his conversion, had an experimental knowledge of Christ as his Redeemer through the sacrificial death of the cross; nor was there any room in his heart for moral sentiment, nor any spiritual force in Christ's teaching and example, nor ground for any trust or hope, till he as "chief of sinners" had realized the righteousness of God in the atoning blood of Calvary. Such a change was a creation. He was "a new creature," and whoever experienced this power of the Lord's death was a new creature. Old things had passed away—the old self in taste and habit, the old unbelief rooted in the fleshly mind, the old worldliness—and all things had become new. No wonder that "all things" had become "new;" for "all things" pertaining to this change in its cause, agency, instrumentalities, "are of God." Strong language this, which sounds even yet to many as the rhetoric of excited fancy; but not stronger than the blessed reality it represents. Nay; words cannot equal the fact. A man may overstate his own experience of Divine grace; never can he exaggerate the grace itself. "All things are of God;" and how is this fact manifested? In the method of reconciliation which is God's act through Christ. "Who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ." To understand what is implied in reconciliation, we must remember that much more is involved in it than the moral state of a sinner's mind toward God. The enmity of the carnal man has to be subdued, and in this sense he is "a new creature," but the possibility of this creation rests upon an antecedent fact, viz. a changed relation to the violated Law of God. What has been done for him must take precedence, as to time, of what is done in him. We must know how God as Sovereign stands to us, and by what means the sovereignty cooperates with the fatherhood of God, before we can accept the offered boon of mercy. There must be a reason why God should pardon in advance of a reason why we should seek pardon. A principle of righteousness must be established as preliminary and essential to the sentiment of Christianity, since it is impossible for us by the laws of the mind to appreciate the power of any great sentiment unless we have previously felt it as connected with a great principle. "Whom God set forth to be a Propitiation, through faith, by his blood, to show his righteousness, because of the passing over of the sins done aforetime, in the forbearance of God; for the showing, I say, of his righteousness at this present season: that he might himself be just, and the Justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:25, Romans 3:26, Revised Version). There is a "ministry of reconciliation" because "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing [reckoning] their trespasses unto them." Forgiveness through Christ, the Propitiation, is free to all who believe in him. Nor are we left in doubt as to the substance of our belief. It is faith in Christ, God in Christ, the Reconciler, who pardons our sins and makes us new creatures in him. To make this reconciliation known, to demonstrate its infinite excellence as the method of grace, to show its Divine results in the very men who proclaimed the gospel, Christ had instituted the ministry, and its title was, "ministry of reconciliation." Recall, O Corinthians, what I have said in defence of my apostleship. Recall my sufferings in your behalf. See the reason of it all. Whom are these factious Judaizers fighting? Whom did those beasts at Ephesus try to destroy? Who is this man, troubled on every side, perplexed, persecuted, cast down, dying everywhere, dying always? This is the character he sustains, the office he fills—an "ambassador for Christ." Has he manifested himself to your consciences? Does he look forward to the day of judgment as a day of revelation as well as a day of reward and punishment? Know we not a man, not even Christ, after the flesh! Behold your minister, your servant, as an "ambassador," commissioned to offer you the terms of reconciliation. "We pray you in Christ's stead [on behalf of Christ], be ye reconciled to God." Nothing remains to be done but tot you to accept the offered reconciliation. And he enforces this idea by stating that he who "died for all," since "all were dead," had been made "sin for us, who knew no sin." "Holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;" yet he was "made to be sin for us," made a substitute or ransom, an offering, whereby the wrath of God was turned away. Reconciliation is accomplished not by our repentance and confession of sin, nor by any suffering on our part, nor by any merit of our work, but altogether by the death of the Lord Jesus Christ in our behalf. God's righteousness is thus set forth. The plan of salvation changed nothing in the character of Almighty God. Neither his righteousness nor his love was modified integrally by Christ's atonement. "God is righteous," "God is love," are no truer facts now than they eternally were. What the gospel teaches is that the righteousness and the love of God have assumed special forms of manifestation and operative activity through the Lord Jesus Christ. It is righteousness, not in the normal relation of Law to the original transgressor, but in an instituted relation of Law to one who took the place of the transgressor. It is love as grace, the form of love that provided for the righteousness on which St. Paul lays such an emphasis. It is not a change in the Law, but in the administration of Law, and the glory of it lies in the fact that the Divine government presents in this higher form the resplendent spectacle of that progression from the "natural" to the "spiritual," which St. Paul discusses in his argument on the resurrection. Whatever obstacles existed in the way of this sublime advance have been removed by Christ. "Mercy and truth" have their existence as attributes of the Divine nature; they have "met together." "Righteousness and peace" are not to be confounded, but they have "kissed each other."L.


2 Corinthians 5:6 - "Absent from the Lord."

To those disciples and apostles who were with the Lord Jesus during his earthly ministry, the separation which commenced upon his ascension must have been painful indeed. In the case of Paul, however, the language employed in this passage scarcely seems so natural. But we learn from the record of his sentiments what ought to be to all Christians their first thought, their governing principle, viz. their relation to Jesus Christ. The earthly state of all such is a state of absence from the Lord—a fact not to be grieved over, but to be recognized and felt.

I. THIS ABSENCE IS NOT SPIRITUAL, BUT BODILY. His own word is fulfilled, "A little while, and ye shall not see me." The exclamation of his people is verified, "Him, not having seen, we love."

II. THIS ABSENCE IS APPOINTED BY DIVINE WISDOM AND LOVE. It cannot be regarded as a matter of chance or of fate. It. is the will of him who most loves us and who most cares for us, which is apparent in this provision.

III. THERE IS A BENEFICENT PURPOSE IN THIS ABSENCE. Such was the obvious intention of our Saviour himself. "It is good for you," he said, "that I go away." His aim was to lead his people into a life of faith, and to excite our confidence in himself who has gone to prepare a place for us.

IV. THERE ARE CERTAIN DANGERS INVOLVED IN THIS ABSENCE, There is danger lest, separated from our Lord, we should grow worldly and carnal, lest our love to Jesus should wax cold, lest we should magnify ourselves, lest we should be ashamed of a religion whose Head is not visibly among us.

V. YET THERE ARE COMPENSATIONS IN THIS ABSENCE. It is intended to fortify and perfect the truly Christian character. It will make the meeting, when it takes place, more delightful and welcome.


1. Remembrance of Christ.

2. Faith in Christ.

3. Communion with Christ.

4. Fidelity to Christ in his absence.

5. Anticipation of his speedy return.

VII. THE TERMINATION OF THIS PERIOD OF ABSENCE IS AT HAND. Those who live until the Lord's return shall welcome him to his inheritance. Others must be absent from Christ until they are absent from the body, when they shall be "present" with the Lord."—T.

2 Corinthians 5:7 - The walk of faith.

Life is a pilgrimage which men undertake and accomplish upon very different principles and to very different results and ends. In this parenthesis St. Paul very succinctly and very impressively describes the nature of that pilgrimage which he had adopted and with which he was satisfied.

I. THE WALK WITH WHICH THAT OF THE CHRISTIAN IS CONTRASTED. This, which is that of the unenlightened and unrenewed, is the walk by sight; i.e. by repressing the spiritual nature and walking by the light which earth offers, by the mere guidance of the senses, by the influence of society, the approval and esteem of men, by considerations drown from earth and limited to earth. This is a course of life in which there is no satisfaction, no safety, and no blessed prospect.

II. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE WALK OF FAITH. Faith in itself is neutral; its excellence depends upon its object. The Christian regulates his course through this life of temptation, danger, and discipline by:

1. Faith in the existence of God, the God who possesses all. moral excellences as his attributes.

2. Faith in Providence; i.e. in the personal interest and care of him who is called Friend and Father.

3. Faith in God as a Saviour, which is faith in Christ, the salvation of the Lord revealed to man.

4. Faith in a righteous and authoritative taw.

5. Faith in ever-present spiritual aid—guidance, protection, bounty, etc.

6. Faith in Divine promises, by which the pilgrim is assured that he shall reach home at last.


1. It is the one principle enjoined throughout revelation, from the day of Abraham, the father of the faithful, down to the apostolic age.

2. The possibility of the walk by faith has been proved by the example of the great and the good who have gone before us (vide Hebrews 11:1-40.).

3. To those who live by faith life has a meaning and. dignity which otherwise cannot possibly attach to it.

4. Faith can sustain amidst the trials and sorrows of earth.

5. And faith is the blossom of which the vision of the glorified Saviour shall, be the heavenly and immortal fruit.—T.

2 Corinthians 5:14 - The love of Christ.

Every quality met in the Lord Jesus which could adapt him to accomplish the work which he undertook on behalf of our human race. But if one attribute must be selected as peculiarly and pre-eminently characteristic of him, if one word rather than another rises to our lips when we speak of him, that attribute, that word, is love.

I. THE OBJECTS OF CHRIST'S LOVE. Look at his earthly life and ministry, and the comprehensive range within which the love of Jesus operates becomes at once and gloriously obvious.

1. His friends. Of this fact—Christ's love to his friends—we have abundant proof: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

2. His enemies. This is more wonderful, yet the truth of what the apostle says is undeniable: "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." And we cannot forget his prayer offered for his enemies as they nailed him to the cross: "Father, forgive them."

3. All mankind. During his ministry the Lord Jesus was gracious to all with whom he came into contact. His aim was by the bands of love to draw all men unto himself, that they might rest and live in his Divine and mighty heart.

II. THE PROOFS OF CHRIST'S LOVE. The great facts of his ministry and mediation are evidences of his benevolence.

1. His advent. "Nothing brought him from above—Nothing but redeeming love."

2. His ministry. He went about doing good, animated by the mighty principle of love to man. Eyed sickness he healed, every demon he expelled, every sinner he pardoned, was a witness to the love of Christ.

3. His death. His was the love "stronger than death:" for not only could not death destroy it, death gave it a new life and power in the world and over men.

4. His prevailing intercession and brotherly care.


1. It is sympathizing and. tender, "passing the love of women."

2. It is thoughtful and wise, ever providing for the true welfare of those to whom it is revealed.

3. It is forbearing and patient, otherwise it might often have been checked and repressed.

4. It is self-sacrificing, counting nothing too great to be given up in order to secure its ends.

5. It is faithful "Having loved his own, he loveth them even unto the end."

6. It is unquenchable and everlasting: "Who can separate us from the love of Christ?"—T.

2 Corinthians 5:14 - The constraint of Christ's love.

The apostle represents the Savior's love, not merely as something to be admired and enjoyed, but as something which is to act as a spiritual force. He experienced it as the supreme power over his own life, and he had confidence in it as the principle which should renew and bless the world.

I. THE NATURE OF THIS CONSTRAINT. Men are influenced by many and various motives, some lower and some higher. Their natural instincts and impulses, their interests, their regard for public opinion and their ambition, the laws of the land,—these are among the admitted and powerful inducements to human conduct. But these are not the highest motives, and are unworthy of the nature and possibilities of man, unless in conjunction with something better. Even the sacred obligation of duty is insufficient. But Christ's love in his redemptive work, revealed to us in the gospel, is a moral and spiritual force of vast power? It awakens gratitude, love, devotion, obedience. It is the universal Christian motive. He who does not feel it, however correct his creed and conduct, is not in the proper sense of the term a Christian. Happy they who live under its sweet and constant constraint!

II. THE DIRECTION OF THIS CONSTRAINT. Physical power is of two kinds—it is either energy or resistance; e.g. the ocean and the dyke, the powder and the cannon, the steam and the boiler. As with physical, so with moral power.

1. Christ's love acts by way of restraint. It withholds those who experience it from self-indulgence, from worldliness, and from other sins to which men are naturally prone, and from which only a Divine power can deliver.

2. It acts by way of impulse, inducing to the imitation of Jesus in character and conduct; to obedience such as he enjoins when he says, "If ye love me, keep my commandments;" to consecration such as Paul exemplified when he said, "We live unto the Lord."

III. THE EFFICACY OF THIS CONSTRAINT. This depends upon a just interpretation of the passage. Were it our love to Christ which is imputed, this would be a feeble and vacillating motive; but it is something far greater and better, viz. Christ's love to us. The power of this motive may be seen in the life of every faithful friend of Jesus; e.g. in the apostles, as Paul, Peter, John; in the confessors and martyrs and reformers; in the missionaries and philanthropists, etc. It may be seen in the dangers braved, the opposition encountered, the persecutions suffered, the efforts undertaken and persevered in. What of noble and beautiful and beneficent conduct has not this Divine motive proved able to inspire! Greater deeds and more heroic sufferings than the love of Christ has accounted for, the annals of mankind do not record. It is to this motive that we must look for all that in the future shall bless our common humanity. What nothing inferior can effect the love of Christ will certainly prove powerful to accomplish.—T.

2 Corinthians 5:18 - "The ministry of reconciliation."

Every good man is a peacemaker. Both unconsciously by his character and disposition, and consciously and actively by his efforts, he composes differences and promotes concord and amity among his fellow men. The Christian minister, however, goes deeper when he aims at securing harmony between God and man. And he purposes to effect this reconciliation, not by the use of ordinary persuasion, but by the presentation of the gospel of Christ.


1. There is a moral Ruler and a moral law, righteous and authoritative.

2. Against this Ruler men have rebelled, they have broken the law, and thus introduced enmity and conflict.

3. Divine displeasure has thus been incurred, and Divine penalties, by which just displeasure is expressed.

II. THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY IS AUTHORIZED BY HIM WHO ALONE CAN INTRODUCE RECONCILIATION. God is the greater, and not only so, he is the wronged, offended party. If any overtures for reconciliation are to be made, they must proceed from him. He must provide the basis of peace and he must commission the heralds of peace.

III. THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY PROCLAIMS THE MEDIATOR OF RECONCILIATION. The Lord Jesus has every qualification which can be desired in an efficient Mediator. He partakes the nature of God and of man; he is appointed and accepted by the Divine Sovereign; he has effected by his sacrifice a work of atonement or reconciliation; his Spirit is a Spirit of peace. And in fact he has "made peace," removing all obstacles on God's side and providing for the removal of all on man's.

IV. THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY CONSISTS IN THE OFFER OF RECONCILIATION. It is a moral and not a sacerdotal ministry; it is experimental, being entrusted to those who are themselves reconciled; it is a ministry accompanied with supernatural power, even the energy of the Spirit of God; it is an authoritative ministry, which men are not at liberty to disregard or despise; it is an effectual ministry, for those who discharge it faithfully are unto many the "savour of life unto life."—T.

2 Corinthians 5:20 - "Ambassadors for Christ."

Even among the members of the Corinthian Church there were those who had offended the Lord by their inconsistency and who needed to be reconciled. How much more was and is this true of mankind at large! There is no denying the need of a gospel and of a ministry of reconciliation.

I. WHO ARE CHRIST'S AMBASSADORS? Probably the language is most justly applicable to the apostles only, inasmuch as their commission and credentials were altogether special. An ambassador owes his importance, not to himself, but to the power he represents, the message he bears. The preachers of Christ are all heralds, if they cannot be designated ambassadors. They may learn hence the dignity of their office and their personal unworthiness and insufficiency, and they may be admonished as to the imperative duty of fidelity.

II. BY WHAT COURT ARE THESE AMBASSADORS COMMISSIONED? They are the ministers of the King of heaven, and their authority is that of the King's Son. Thus their mission is one entrusted by a superior power and authority; and not only so, it is from an offended and outraged power. This appears when we consider—

III. TO WHOM THESE AMBASSADORS ARE SENT. Properly speaking, an ambassador is one accredited to a power sovereign and equal to that from whom he comes. But in this case the resemblance fails in this respect, inasmuch as the ministers of the gospel address themselves to offenders, to rebels, to those who cannot treat with Heaven upon equal terms, or any terms of right.

IV. WHOSE SUBSTITUTES ARE THESE AMBASSADORS? They act "on Christ's behalf," "in Christ's stead." The Lord himself first came upon an embassage of mercy. He has entrusted to his apostles, and in a sense to all his ministers, the office and trust of acting as his representatives, in so far as they publish the declaration and offer of Divine mercy.

V. WHAT IS THE COMMISSION WHICH THESE AMBASSADORS ARE SENT TO EXECUTE? It is an office of mercy. Their duty is to publish the tidings of redemption, the offer of pardon, and themselves to urge and to entreat men that they accept the gospel and thus enjoy the blessings of reconciliation with God.—T.


2 Corinthians 5:1-9 - The two bodies of the saint.


1. Frail.

2. Perishing.

3. Often a burden.

4. Frequently a temptation.

5. Not helpful to spiritual life.

6. Subject to many pains.

7. Debased.


1. Eternal. (2 Corinthians 5:1.) Having no tendencies towards decay, no marks of coming death. A body of life. Stamped with the eternalness of God.

2. Heavenly. (2 Corinthians 5:1.) The first body is of the earth, earthy; the second body is spiritual and heavenly in origin and character. Capable of heavenly joys. Fitted for heavenly service. Free from earthly weaknesses, pains, and soil.

3. From God. (2 Corinthians 5:1.) The present body is this in a certain sense, but it has passed through the hands of the devil. The resurrection body shall be of God and only of God, his unmarred workmanship. It shall be like the glorified body united to Deity in the person of Jesus Christ: "Who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory" (Philippians 3:21).

III. THE SAINT'S CONDITION WHILST IN THE EARTHLY BODY. Frequently a condition of sorrow. "We that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened" (2 Corinthians 5:4). There are


1. Revelation.

2. Preparation. "He that wrought us for this very thing" (verse 5).

3. The Spirit's witness. We have the earnest of the Spirit, which is a pledge of the fulness of the Spirit (verse 5). In the next life we shall be dominated by the Spirit; shall have a spiritual body—one pervaded by the Spirit. The apostle's confidence is strong; he says, "We know;" there was no uncertainty about the matter.

V. THE SAINT'S LONGING FOR THE HEAVENLY BODY. The desire is very intense especially when the lot is hard and the nature spiritual. "We groan, longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven" (verse 2). The paramount attraction is, however, not in the body itself, but. in the fact that the union with Christ will be closer. We shall be present with the Lord—at home with the Lord (verse 8). Now we walk by faith; then we shall see him as he is, and be like him. The gaining of the heavenly body will be the gain of closer access to our Lord, and will be the entering into our heavenly home, out of which we shall go no more forever.


1. The intermediate state between death and the resurrection will probably not be so perfect as that which follows.

2. There is a natural shrinking from death. "Not for that we would be unclothed, but that we would be clothed upon" (verse 4). The apostle seems to desire what is expressed in 1 Thessalonians 4:17—a translation, not death and tarrying for the resurrection.

VII. THE SAINT'S RESOLUTION WHETHER IN THE EARTHLY OR HEAVENLY BODY. To please Christ. This the apostle made his "aim" (1 Thessalonians 4:9). This was his supreme ambition. He resolved to live, not to himself, but to Christ and for Christ. Note, that the life for the heavenly and earthly body is to be the same. We must do now what we hope to do by and by. Heavenly life in the earthly body is the preparation for the heavenly life in the heavenly body.—H.

2 Corinthians 5:10 - The judgment.


1. It is a matter of most definite revelation.

2. It is necessary for the vindication of Divine justice.

II. CHRIST WILL BE THE JUDGE. "The judgment seat of Christ."

1. A very solemn fact

2. A very joyous fact for those who have loved, confessed, and served him.

3. A very impressive tact that the One who died for men will judge men.

III. ALL WILL STAND BEFORE CHRIST'S JUDGMENT SEAT. Not one will be missing. How vast an assemblage! A great multitude, and yet no one test in the crowd! We shall be conscious of the great number which no man can number, and yet be impressed with our own individuality. "Each one" will receive (2 Corinthians 5:10)—one by one. Every day we are brought a day nearer to that dread convocation.


1. Of character.

2. Of condition.

3. Of life.

We shall be "made manifest." Life secrets will cease. Successful deceptions will be successful no longer. All veils and disguises will be torn off. The world as well as God will see us as we are.

V. AT THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST WE SHALL RECEIVE OUR DOOM. This will be according to the deeds of our life. Will the faithful then be justified by faith? Yes; by faith which produces works. Profession will then go for very little. "Lord, Lord," will be but an empty cry. Ability to pray fluently or to preach eloquently will not come into the account. Nor the ability to look extremely pious. Nor facility of talk respecting "blessed seasons" enjoyed on earth, What faith has wrought in us will be the question. What our Christianity has amounted to really and practically. "A name to live" then will be nothing if we are found "dead." Upon the branch professedly united to the Vine fruit will then be sought. "Faith without works is dead." At the judgment it will seem very dead indeed. Yet not by the mere outward act shall we be judged. The motive will be considered as well as the actual deed. "Faith which worketh by love" (Galatians 5:6) will be diligently sought for. Note:

1. The distinction between good and evil will be strictly drawn at the judgment.

2. There will be degrees of reward and punishment. Some "saved as by fire;" some having an "abundant entrance;" some beaten with few stripes, some with many. It will be "according to what he hath done."

3. The dependence of the future upon the present. We shall receive the things done in the body. A remarkable expression. What we do now we shall receive then. We are now writing the sentence of the judgment! Time is sowing. Judgment is reaping. "What manner of persons ought we to be?"—H.

2 Corinthians 5:14 - The constraining influence of the love of Christ.


1. Advent. Relinquishment of heavenly glory. The highest place above exchanged for one of the lowest on earth.

2. Assumption of human nature. A vast condescension. A most striking proof of love.

3. Life. Miracles, acts of kindness, words, spirit.

4. Death. A transcendent proof.

(a) physically,

(b) mentally, and

(c) spiritually.

"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

5. Intercession. "He ever liveth to make intercession" (Hebrews 7:25).

II. CONSIDER THE EFFECT OF THE LOVE OF CHRIST. It constrained the apostle—"compressed with irresistible power all his energies into one channel." "Constraineth"—its influence was continuous. Its power was not soon spent; rather that power increased as the love of Christ was increasingly realized.

1. Negatively. Not to live to himself (2 Corinthians 5:15). There was now a greater power operating upon him than the mighty power of self.

2. Positively. To live to Christ (2 Corinthians 5:15). The love of Christ overmastered him. He felt that through it he had been purchased with a great price, and therefore sought to glorify Christ in his body and spirit which were peculiarly his.

2 Corinthians 5:17 - "A new creature."


1. The believer has died with Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:14.) Christ is his Substitute, has borne his sins, has made complete satisfaction for his guilt. By faith he is so united to Christ that what Christ has done is imputed to him. He is thus new in relation to God. He was condemned; now he is justified.

2. The believer partakes of the life of Christ. He is "risen with Christ" (Colossians 3:1). He has received the Spirit of Christ. Having been justified, he is now being sanctified. The likeness of the Redeemer is being wrought upon and in him by the Holy Ghost. There is thus a "new creation." The old life was a life of sin, but the new life to which he has risen is a life of righteousness. The love of Christ constrains him (2 Corinthians 5:14) to live, not to himself, but to Christ.


"All things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). There is no part of the believer's life from which the newness should be absent. Whilst not yet perfect, manifestly a great change has taken place: "Old things are passed away" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

III. THIS NEWNESS FURNISHES A TEST. What have we more than our profession of Christianity? Have we been transformed; made new creatures? "Ye must be born again" (John 3:7). Can faith save a man—faith which has a name to live, but is dead; faith which we only know a man possesses because he tells us so? We are not in Christ at all unless thereby we have become new creatures. The test is beyond appeal. The sentence of the judgment will proceed upon the assumption of its infallibility (2 Corinthians 5:10). All men in Christ become new creatures. "If any man," etc. A decided change takes place in the best as well as in the worst. All men may become new creatures in Christ. The vilest can be recreated equally with the most moral. This newness is not to be waited for till we enter another world. It belongs to this sphere in which we now are. Unless we are new creatures in this world we shall not be new creatures in another. It is on earth that "new creatures" are specially needed.—H.

2 Corinthians 5:20 - "Ambassadors of Christ."


1. Negative.

2. Positive.


1. That God loves men.

2. That he has given Christ for men. A vast proof of love! The first step was on God's side. Whilst we were enemies Christ died for us.

3. That Christ willingly gave himself for men. The death of Christ was perfectly voluntary.

4. That by the death of Christ God has provided the means for the perfect reconciliation of the world to himself. In the death of Christ God does reconcile; i.e. he removes every obstacle to reconciliation. Justification is fully prepared for the sinner. Christ was made sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). He bore our sins. Our sins were imputed to him. God's justice was satisfied. Christ is made our Substitute, and this so perfectly that what we are is imputed to him, and what he is is imputed to us. He takes our sins; we take his righteousness. No hindrance to complete restoration thus remains, except hindrance which may lie in the human heart itself.

5. That God earnestly invites men to be reconciled to him. Amazing condescension! The climax of Divine love! "As though God were entreating" (2 Corinthians 5:20).


1. With courtesy.

2. With intense earnestness. It is momentous. What issues depend upon its acceptance or rejection!

3. With zealous pleading.


1. As speaking on behalf of Christ.
2. As declaring the mind of God.—H.


2 Corinthians 5:1 - The tent and the house.

I. THE CONTRAST EXPLAINED. The foundation of this passage is to be found in 2 Corinthians 4:18, where a contrast is drawn between "the things seen," viz. the toils and afflictions endured in the service of Christ, and "the things not yet seen," viz. the joys of resting in Christ from present labours and of receiving from him approval and reward. Pursuing this train of thought, St. Paul writes, "We are here in a tent upon the earth, surrounded, affected, and limited by the things which are seen. But this tent will be struck, to be set up no more. The things which are seen are temporal. The present conditions of our life of toil and suffering will cease, and we shall enter a house of everlasting habitation." The apostle mixes together the figures of a dwelling in which we reside and that of a garment with which we are clothed. It was not an unnatural combination of metaphors; for the haircloth tents with which Paul was familiar, and which his own hands had made, suggested almost equally the idea of a dwelling and that of a vesture. The tent is to be taken down, the clothing to be removed. The present condition of labour and trial will come to an end. What then? Things not yet seen; a building from God; a new condition of life and order of things which will be permanent. Hands of men have not provided it and cannot destroy it. It is a house where nothing fades, nothing falls to ruin, nothing decays or dies—a house eternal in the heavens.

II. THE CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE OF THE FUTURE. It was St. Paul's habit to regard the state after death and the state after resurrection as from one angle of vision, and to describe them together. Probably he had no idea of the long interval which was to extend through all the Christian centuries. In his first letter to the Corinthians he had said, "We shall not all sleep," as though some of that generation might not see death. But now the feebleness of his body was as "a sentence of death" in himself. He expected and even wished to die; and yet his thoughts never paused on death or even on the rest of the departed, but rushed past death to the coming of Christ and the glory to be revealed. There is a real and obvious distinction between the post-decease and the post-resurrection state; but let us not overdo distinctions between conditions of blessedness which to an apostle's eye were so intimately blended. If some of the things which belong to the ultimate state are supposed by any to belong to the proximate, no great harm is done. The future is not mapped out with the precision of a chart. It is not for definite knowledge, but for hope. St. Paul, as we have said, never paused on death, took no pleasure in the thought of being "unclothed." At the resurrection he would be clothed with a body of incorruption and immortality. Nay; before that great day of triumph over death, he knew that he would be well clothed or guarded. He would be in God's building, "clothed upon" with the house which is from heaven.

III. THE MOOD OF MIND THAT WISHES FOR DEATH. St. Paul wrote this in dejection of spirit. To his sickness, which had much enfeebled him, was added at that time much anxiety about the condition of the Churches in Greece and their feelings toward himself. So his heart, as tender and sensitive as it was ardent and brave, was bruised and weary; and he fell a-thinking of death as welcome. Let the outward man perish; let the earthen vessel break; let the weary spirit escape and be at rest. A mood this into which, at one time or other, many Christians tall; but it should not be elevated into a pattern or rule, as though it were the duty of every Christian to long and sigh for death. Our holy faith requires nothing so unnatural. They who are in health and well employed ought to make the most of life—to value and not despise it. Enough that they do not forget death; and they need not fear it if they live well. We must do Paul the justice to acknowledge that there was nothing peevish or impatient in his mood. So long as there was service for him to render to the Church on earth, he was willing to abide in the flesh and to endure any toil or suffering in order to finish his course. But the mood that was on him led him to long for the finish, when he might leave the little horsehair tent on earth and be at home in God's building in the heavens.—F.

2 Corinthians 5:14, 2 Corinthians 5:15 - The secret of devotedness

life one now flings a charge of madness at the sublime enthusiasm of St. Paul. He is looked on as a paragon of Christians. But, while he lived, he had no such general appreciation to encourage and sustain him. What he had above other men were not praises, but labours and reproaches. He endured all because he had in himself the mainspring of faith and the holy energy of love. Throughout this Epistle he shows his feelings and motives with the utmost candour, and in this passage tells how he came to be so enthusiastic toward God and so thoughtful and self-controlled toward his fellow Christians.

I. THE MOVING PRINCIPLE OF CHRISTIAN DEVOTEDNESS. It is the strong unchanging love of Christ to his people, assured to them by his Spirit and his Word. Paul had a fear of God, a reverence for the Law, and walked in all good conscience; but when the love of Christ was revealed to him and suffused his spirit it made a new man of him—thrilled, stirred, animated, constrained him to love and serve Christ and the Church. And as the apostle grew old and experienced, this motive lost nothing of its power. The love of Christ became to him, as it does to all experienced Christians, more and more wonderful—a Shepherd's love, that led him to die for us, and that now secures that we "shall not want;" a Brother's love, and "love beyond a brother's;" a Bridegroom's love, who gave himself for the Church and will present the Church to himself.

II. THE WAY IN WHICH THE MOTIVE ACTS. It is through no mere gush of feeling, but through consideration of the purpose and efficacy of Christ's death and resurrection.

1. He died for all to this intent and with this result, that all of them died. Virtually and in the estimate of God this crucifixion of the whole Church took place when Christ was crucified. In the actual realization of it it becomes true to each man as and when he looks to Christ crucified and is united to him by faith. And with effects both legal and moral. He who was married to the Law dies to the Law, and is freed from its claims, so as to be married to the risen Christ. He who lived in sin dies to sin, and may not any longer live therein. He who loved the world is crucified to it, that he may love and live to God.

2. He rose again; and all the crucified ones live by him. So they have justification, as represented by the accepted One, who has gone to the Father; and sanctification too, as separated to God in holy living and guided by the indwelling Spirit The former manner of life is marked by self regard. The new manner of life exchanges this for the habit of regarding Christ. So his constraining love induces his followers "to live unto him."


1. Let it instruct us. Many are very ill informed on the relation of our Lord's death and resurrection to the Divine will and to human salvation; and for this reason they are much less constrained by his love than they ought to be. Study these things. Bring thought and consideration as well as emotion to the theme. The love constrains "because we judge."

2. Let it humble us. Has the Son of the living God so loved us, and where is our love to him?

"Lord, it is my chief complaint

That my love is cold and faint."

3. Let it impel us. What we need to overcome our moral indolence and habits of self-pleasing is the pressure of strong convictions and motives; and we can best get these in contemplating the love, the death, and the resurrection of Christ. This, too, is a great security against departure from the Lord. When we know and feel little of Christ's love we are easily tempted; but when this is in our thoughts and affections we abhor and repel whatever might separate us from him.

4. Let it comfort us. We are delivered from the wrath to come. Christ loves us. Then the Father also loves us. Duties are pleasant, afflictions are light; to live is Christ, to die is gain.—F.

2 Corinthians 5:18-21 - Reconciliation.

Great truths hang together. When the Lord Jesus had told Nicodemus of regeneration, he immediately proceeded to teach him salvation through a Redeemer. So when the Apostle Paul has spoken of new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), he instantly follows it with the doctrine of reconciliation through Christ.

I. THE NEED OF RECONCILIATION. The world is not in harmony or at peace with God. Sin has done it. On the one hand, God's displeasure is declared against the workers of iniquity; on the other, those workers are afraid of God and alienated from him. A great gulf yawns between God and man; and the need of reconciliation is the need of a bridge across that chasm. Or, a great mountain is cast up between God and man; and the need of reconciliation is the need of that mountain becoming a plain, so that God and man may not merely approach, but unite and be at peace. "What can be the difficulty," some exclaim, "if God desires it? Is he not omnipotent, and can he not accomplish whatever he pleases?" But we speak of a moral obstacle, not a physical. And, while God can certainly do what he pleases, he cannot please to do anything but what is perfectly righteous. So there is a difficulty. It is twofold: there is a sentence of condemnation in heaven against the transgressors of the law of righteousness; and there is an enmity to God or a cowering dread of him in the hearts of those transgressors on earth.

II. THE AUTHOR OF RECONCILIATION. "All things [i.e. all the things of the new creation] are of God, who has reconciled us to himself." Man, the creature and the sinner, should have been the first to seek the healing of the breach, by suing for pardon and imploring mercy from God. But it has not been so. The initiative has been taken by God, who is rich in mercy, and, loving the world, has provided for its reconciliation by Jesus Christ.

III. THE METHOD OF RECONCILIATION. Messages sent from a distant heaven or throne of God could not suffice. There was need of an authorized Messenger. So God sent his only begotten Son. For so great a work was constituted a unique and wonderful personality. The Son of God became man and yet continued Divine. So, in the very constitution of his person, he brought the Divine and the human together. And thus his relation to both parties was such as perfectly fitted him to be the Reconciler. He loved God, and therefore was faithful to all Divine claims and prerogatives; while at the same time he loved man and was intent on securing his salvation.

1. He dealt with the difficulty on the side of eternal righteousness. He did so by taking the room and the responsibility of the transgressors and making atonement for them. And the hand of God was in this. "He hath made him," etc. (2 Corinthians 5:21). "Made… sin," though he never was a sinner, and laden with it as a burden, enveloped in it as a mantle of shame. "Jehovah laid upon him the iniquity of us all." The issue is that we "become the righteousness of God in him." And in this is nothing illusive or fictitious. There was a real laying of our sins on the Lamb of God, that there may be a real laying or conferring of Divine righteousness on us who believe in his Name.

2. He deals with the difficulty of alienated feeling. No change is needed in the mind or disposition of God. He does not need to be persuaded to love the world. All the salvation in Christ proceeds from his love. But the enmity of men to God must be removed, and this is effected by the revelation of God as gracious and propitious to sinners in Christ Jesus. When this is known and believed, the heart turns to God and actual reconciliation is made.

IV. THE WORD OF RECONCILIATION. (2 Corinthians 5:19, 2 Corinthians 5:20.) When St. Paul preached the gospel it was as though God entreated or exhorted the people through his servant's lips. He was an ambassador, not a plenipotentiary with powers to discuss and negotiate terms of peace, but a King's messenger sent to proclaim terms of free grace and to press the acceptance of them on the enemies of the King. This embassy continues. Do not meet it with excuses and delays.—F.


2 Corinthians 5:1 - Our permanent building.

Taking the apostle's words in a general way, and not confining them to the precise topic which he has under consideration, we are taught by them that, regarding all our present things as but shadows and symbols, we need not trouble ourselves overmuch about their changing forms, or even about their passing away. All our heart and all our efforts should go out in the endeavour to bring nearer, and make clearer and fuller, the sense of our dwelling in, breathing in, working in, the unseen, the spiritual, the eternal. Our sphere is God. "In him we live, and move, and have our being." The real is the unseen. The stable and lasting is the eternal. And this view of things alone can put us in right relations with the body, and set us upon the right use of things seen and temporal. Whenever we are brought lace to face with any passing, dissolving, removing, earthly thing, then God seems to call us, saying, "Remember the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." Take for illustration—

I. THE TENT AND THE HOUSE. No figure could be more appropriate than this for the apostle, who gained his living as a tentmaker, and was familiar with its material, its construction, and its use. We can well imagine how, as he wrought, either at weaving the rough Cilician cloth, or at sewing together the various lengths, and the holes for the poles and ropes, he would meditate on the frailty of the tent which he was thus making, contrasting it with the stable marble and stone mansions found in such cities as Corinth. In his day tents were chiefly made for travellers; for those who journeyed from place to place, either for business or for pleasure, in districts where accommodation at inns could not be found. They had their settled homes in the great cities, and they went forth on their travels with quiet hearts, because of the cherished feeling that they had a home. They used the tent awhile, camping out in the open country; but if the wild storm did come, and even lift and carry away the tent; if the midnight robber did overthrow it, and seize the spoil,—the traveller might bear the hardship and the loss, in pleasant confidence that he had a home. If the worst came, it could be but the shadow of his home passing away; in yonder city stood his secure dwelling.

II. THE DOCTRINE AND THE TRUTH. For doctrine is like the frail tent, and truth is like the granite mansion that outlasts the passing ages. We cannot be too thankful for the forms in which sacred truth is conveyed to us, unfolded before us, or impressed upon us. We bless God for all holy and helpful words, full of tender and dear associations; words of simple catechism for our childhood's weakness; words of formal doctrine fashioned to help us when, in our youth time, we tried to get personal hold of mysterious and many-sided truth. Let no man despise the doctrines which, like tents, have often given us their shelter and their help. And yet they are only like "earthly houses of this tabernacle." Truth is the "building of God, the house not made with hands," wherein alone human souls may find quietness from controversy or from fears. Doctrines are only symbols and shadows, the human representations of the Divine and eternal things, the unspeakable realities which yet our souls may apprehend. Within, behind, above, around, the doctrine ever dwells the truth; and, at first, we are very dependent on the forms which it gains for mortal eyes and ears and minds; but, as the soul grows, and gains its vision, its hearing, and its touch, we get loosened from our dependence on the forms, we can calmly see them change and pass. Resting in the stable house of truth, we calmly look on all transitory forms, even of doctrine, and say, "We have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."

III. NATURE AND GOD. Nature, the world of things seen—the firmament, golden-glowing, cloud-shaded, and star-sprinkled; earth, with its vales, and hills, and flowers, and trees; the great and wide sea—is in a very serious sense God. It is God manifest to our senses. Behind what is called pantheism there is a deeply poetical and spiritual truth, Nature is God seen; God in toned picture for mortal eyes to see; God, if we may so say, in photograph. Earth is the plate which has caught all that human eyes may see of the figure of God. Nature is the tent symbol of the eternal house. The Jew called his mountains "the hills of God," because they brought to him the sense of the highness and almightiness of God. He called the splendid trees "the cedars of Jehovah," because they brought to him a sense of the stately beauty of God. Yet nature is not really God himself, only God in expression for our apprehending, only the veil that he shines through. Therefore we turn from the shadow to the substance which throws it; from the form to the reality which it does but exhibit. And if all nature passed away, we should lose nothing. It would be but dropping the veil that we might see the face.

IV. OUR EARTHLY AND OUR HEAVENLY BODIES. St. Paul was plainly thinking of his body, the vehicle by means of which our souls come into contact with the world of created things. But he cherished the idea of a spiritual body, which could be the clothing and vehicle of his soul through the long, the eternal ages. Thinking of it he could say, "What matter if my tent body be destroyed? I have a building of God, a house not made with hands."—R.T.

2 Corinthians 5:5 - "The earnest of the Spirit."

The apostle has been referring to the great hope set before us in the gospel, which, as he regards it, is this, that "mortality might be swallowed up of life." That is the object of the Divine working in the believer, and of its final realization he has this "earnest," or pledge of assurance, God has given us already the "earnest of the Spirit," who is the power that alone can work out such a sublime result as our final triumph over the flesh and sin, and meetness to take our place and part in a spiritual and heavenly state. "It is because the Spirit dwells in us by faith while we are here that we are to be raised hereafter. The body thus possessing a principle of life is as a seed planted in the ground to be raised again in God's good time" (comp. the sentence in 2 Corinthians 1:22 and Romans 8:1-11). Observe that the Holy Spirit is presented to us under many aspects and figures; no one representation of his Divine mission can exhaust his relations to us. We must see his work on one side after another, and be willing to learn from all She figures under which it is presented.

I. WHAT IS MEANT BY AN "EARNEST"? It is something offered as a pledge and assurance that what is promised shall surely be given. But it has been well pointed out that an "earnest" materially differs from a "pledge." A pledge is something different in kind, given as assurance for something else, as may be illustrated by the sacraments; but an earnest is a part of the thing to be given, as when a purchase is made and a portion of the money is paid down at once. The idea of the "earnest" may be seen in the "firstfruits," which are a beginning of, and assure the character of, the coming harvest.

II. WHAT IS THE SPIRIT AS "EARNEST" TO US NOW? St. Paul's one point here is that it is an assurance of the final victory of the higher life over the lower. We have indeed that higher life now, in its initial and rudimentary stages, in having the Spirit dwelling in us.

III. WHAT FUTURE IS PLEDGED IN OUR HAVING THE SPIRIT NOW? Precisely a future in which the spiritual life shall be victorious and supreme, and our vehicle of a body simply within the use of the Spirit. That is full redemption, glory, and heaven.—R.T.

2 Corinthians 5:7 - Walking by faith.

"We walk by faith, not by sight." "Walking" is a familiar Scripture term for a man's life on the earth. It seems to have been associated with the figure of life as a "pilgrimage" in the Old Testament, and as a "racecourse" in the New Testament. It is joined to another word sometimes, and our "walk and conversation" are spoken of, our "going forward" and "turning about."

I. WALK AS DESCRIPTIVE OF HUMAN LIFE. Its suitability will be seen if we notice:

1. That it is a moving on. The days of our life go by as do the scenes in a panorama.

2. It is a slow moving on, steady and regular as the clock; time moves on, bearing all its sons away.

3. It is a moving on through ever-changing scenes, as is the path of the traveller, now up the hillside, now along the dusty highway, and now through the shaded valleys, with ever-varying sights and sounds around us.

4. It is a moving on somewhere; for he who walks has some end before him or some home in view. So our human life has its goal. We pass on into the eternal, where we may find our home.

II. WALK BY SIGHT AS DESCRIPTIVE OF THE WORLDLY LIFE. "Walk by sight" does not mean "in the power of our vision," but "under the influence and persuasion of things seen and temporal." It is the one essential characteristic of the worldly man that his judgments and decisions are made, his affections are ruled, and his conduct is ordered by what may be gathered under the term "the fashion of this world." Sense condi-tions determine his place. Sense-requirements command his allegiance. Sense principles inspire his doings and decide his relations. He "walks" with a horizon no further off than yonder ridge of hills, and with no thought really bigger in his soul than "What shall we eat? what shall we drink? and what shall we enjoy?" Saying this is the saddest revelation of man's essential wrongness before the God who "made him for himself."

III. WALK BY FAITH AS DESCRIPTIVE OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. We are not yet face to face with the eternal realities, but faith as the "substance of things hoped for" gives us a present actual possession of those eternal things, and makes them exert their power on our "walk." Faith in the unseen and eternal can

The realities are revealed to faith; human sight can only see passing shadows of things.—R.T.

2 Corinthians 5:10 - "The judgment seat of Christ."

It is needlessly forcing language to regard this expression as referring to the general judgment of mankind. This letter is addressed to the saints, the Church at Corinth, and it may be specially instructive to keep within the limits of St. Paul's thought when he said, "For we"—that is, we Christians—"must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ." Such a judgment, or appraisement, of our conduct is involved in the very idea of our mastership to Christ. He will be sure one day to take account of his servants, and this Jesus himself taught as in his parables of the talents and pounds. Christians are as stewards, men entrusted for a time with their Master's goods. They are even to be thought of as "slaves," wholly the Master's possession; and he has full power to estimate their conduct, reward faithfulness, and punish neglect and disobedience. St. Paul even loves to think of himself as the bondslave of Jesus. And the apostles long to prove so faithful in all things that they may not be ashamed, or terrified, or loth to meet their Master at his coming. "The feeling of accountability may take two forms. In a free and generous spirit it may be simply a sense of duty; in a slavish and cowardly spirit it will be a sense of compulsion." To us it should be a joy and an inspiration that our own loved Master will appraise our lives; and that, if he is true to observe our faults, he will be no less gracious to recognize what he may call our goodnesses and our obediences. The thought of his judgment can only be a terror to the rebellious, disobedient, and wilful among his servants. We notice three things.

I. LOYALTY TO CHRIST IS OUR SPIRIT. "We call him Master and Lord, and we say well; for so he is." The rule of our life is the will of our glorified and ever-present Lord. We have voluntarily given ourselves to him. To him we owe our supreme allegiance. He is to us what his queen and country are to the general who leads forth his army. We must be ever true to him; and he, and he alone, is the Lord whose approval or condemnation of our work we should seek. Because I am loyal to Christ I will care about nobody's judgment of my life until I know his.

II. SERVICE OF CHRIST IN RIGHTEOUSNESS IS OUR LIFE. This is the very essence of the matter. Christ is served by righteousness, and really by nothing else. Our place of service, our kind of service, our success in service, are quite the secondary things. The first thing is the rightness with which we do the service. Was the work good?—this it is that Christ asks. Herein Christ differs from all other masters. They can only judge the work; he judges the character which found expression through the work. It is that personal righteousness that Christ will search for when he judges his servants.

III. THE APPRAISEMENT OF CHRIST IS OUR EXPECTATION AND OUR HOPE. A day of final judgment is men's expectation, but not their hope. It is too often a terror to them, a thought put away in fear. Christ's judgment of his saints is our hope; it is the first day of our glory. The thought of it may make us serious and watchful, but it never can make us sad. Christ will test and try our lives. Christ will weigh us in his balances. Christ will apportion our future place. Christ will chastise if there be found evil in us, and his chastisements shall be our joy; for we too want all the evil in us found out and put away. We even glory in this coming appraisement by our Lord; for if, in subtle disguises, evil lurks in any of our secret places of heart and life, Jesus will find it out, and will not leave us until we stand in the likeness of his own spotless purity. And upon our Lord's judgment of us our future, our eternal location and work, must depend. Tested in this life, he will know what we can do; and it may be that he will give us trust of higher things, "authority over ten cities."—R.T.

2 Corinthians 5:14, 2 Corinthians 5:15 - The power of the Christian motive.

The life of an intelligent being must be under the sway of some chosen and cherished motive. High degrees of intelligence find their expression in the careful selection of the motive. Where the intelligence is low and untrained, we find men blindly obeying motives which the accident of the hour may have raised up, or to which the bodily passions may excite. We can look into the face of no fellow man and say, "That man is living without a motive." The consideration of the motives that actually rule men's lives give us very sad thoughts of our humanity. They range all the distance between the animal and the Divine, but they belong for the most part to the lower levels. The entire aspect and character of a man's life may be changed by a change of his motives. A new and nobler motive will soon make a man a better man. No man ever did rise to do noble things while his motive concerned only self and self interests. All noble lives have been spent in service to others. All the best lives in private spheres have been self-denying lives. All the heroic lives in public spheres have been the lives of patriots, the lives of the generous, the pitying, and the helpful. St. Paul was in every way a remarkable man, full of energy, consecration, self-denial, and the "enthusiasm of humanity;" and in the passage now before us he tells us what was the supporting motive, the secret strength, of it all. "The love of Christ constraineth us."

I. THE SOURCE OF THE CHRISTIAN MOTIVE. "Because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then all died in him." Apparently that life of the apostle was the life of an enthusiast. But if you used that word in any bad sense he would indignantly deny such an accusation. It was indeed a life to which he was constrained, held fast, impelled, coerced, and that by the intense love of his soul for another—a love passing the love of women. But St. Paul would most earnestly urge that this love of his was no mere passion, no mere impulse, no blind force taking sudden mastery of his heart, and crushing down and silencing thought and judgment and will. He declares it to be a love based on judgment, and strengthened by maturer judgment. If that love was first won by the gracious vision granted to him when be was nearing Damascus, it was more truly a love confirmed and established by the serious meditations and calm decisions of his time of blindness, and by the Scripture studies of his lonely days in the desert. That sober consideration took up:

1. The sadness of man's condition. "Then were all dead;" or, as otherwise read, "then all died."

2. St. Paul's judgment decided that it was quite true about Jesus Christ—he had intervened to save men by his own sufferings and death. "He died for all." Paul—or Saul, as he was then called—was nearing the fulness of manhood when he heard of the appearance of a new prophet teacher in the land of his fathers. But all his prejudices arrayed themselves against the acceptance of him and against belief in his special commission and authority. It appeared from the reports that he was a poor man; that he came from the despised Galilean Nazareth, about which Old Testament Scriptures prophesied no such great thing; that he made himself the "friend of publicans and sinners;" that he was an unsparing foe of Paul's own sect, the Pharisees; but that at last he had been stopped in his mischievous career, and made a public example of by an ignominious and shameful death. And then one day prejudice was overthrown. Prejudice was made to see the living glory of him whom it had tried to believe was disgraced and dead. Prejudice heard the authoritative voice of the supposed impostor speaking out of the heavenly places. Prejudice was conquered; the reason, the judgment, and the heart were enthroned, and set to form a judgment concerning Christ. And what a different thing the career of the Lord Jesus became when it was soberly, thoughtfully judged! Poor was he? It was the worthy outer garb of the unspeakable humiliation of the Divine Lord to the weakness of men. It was the fit outward seeming for "Immanuel," God with us. Out of Nazareth did he come? That was only one of the thousandfold proofs that he was indeed the Messiah promised to the fathers, now in dimmer and now in clearer outlines. Friend of publicans and sinners was he? No wonder; for he well knew that the real want of men is, not the removal of diseases, or the extensions of ceremonial worship, or even the unfolding of new truths, but the pardon of sin, the cleansing away of iniquity, and the assurance, carried home to the very soul, that God loves and would save the sinner. Despised and rejected of men was he? Yes; and it must have been so. Sinful humanity could not bear the reproach of the presence of perfect virtue. The forces of evil would be sure to wrestle hard against him who came that he might cast them out and destroy them. Die, did he, a mournful, shameful death? Judgment says—There, amid the very shame of the cross, thrown up by the very darkness that lies behind it, shine forth rays of transcendent glory. There, in those hours of agony, may be seen sublime self-sacrifice, mystery of spiritual suffering, Divine sin bearing, and the most persuasive manifestation of God's love to men. There is God "not sparing his own Son, but delivering him up for us all;" and there is God's Son "bearing our sins in his own body on the tree." On that sober judgment the apostle based his new life motive. He set the love of that dying Saviour so high in his soul that it became from henceforth the master motive of all that he did.

II. THE WAY IN WHICH THE CHRISTIAN MOTIVE WORKS. "They which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again." The motive works by establishing a new law for the ruling of our life and conduct. It is the not-unto-self law. We do not know ourselves as we really are in our carnal state if we think that is not a new law. Gratification of self is the great unnatural human law. The not-unto-self law is the chosen life principle of all the good. It is the law of God, the life rule of Jesus the Christ; and, learnt of him, it has made many a human story since then beautiful and gracious. Could it be established in all hearts, the golden age would have come, in which the unselfish King can reign forever and ever. The only possible deliverance from the sway of the old self law is found in the elevating of some new and inspiring love to the throne of the heart. And Jesus makes himself the Object of just such love. The new motive also works in another way. It gives an inner spiritual force to sustain us in the endeavour to obey the law. Love becomes to us what it is to the child. The love of the parent becomes the law of the child's life; but the love, as it dwells in the heart of the child, makes obedience easy. So our love to Christ can become the inner force by which our obedience is sustained day by day.—R.T.

2 Corinthians 5:19 - God the Reconciler.

"God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself." "This is the first occurrence, in the order of time, in St. Paul's Epistles, of this word 'reconcile' as describing God's work in Christ. The idea involved is that man had been at enmity and had now been atoned (at-oned), and brought into concord with God. It will be noted that the work is described as originating with the Father and accomplished by the mediation of the Son" (Plumptre).

I. THE DISTURBANCE WHICH CALLS FOR RECONCILIATION. This may be presented as a disturbance occurring between

The point of impression is, that the disturbance is in no sense due to any action or neglect of God as Creator, King, or Father, but is wholly due to the self-willed and rebellious conduct of the creatures, subjects, or children. It involved a state of enmity, a withdrawal of pleasant relations, and acts of judgment on the part of God. All these statements need illustration and enforcement. Only as the difficulty is duly estimated can the grace of the remedy be fully understood.

II. THE SIDE ON WHICH WAS THE EARLIEST DESIRE FOR RECONCILEMENT, Not man's side. The offenders did not seek forgiveness and restoration. Show that this is true

None of us, now, are before God in seeking reconciliation. The offended Creator, King, and Father seeks to make both one, and break down the middle walls of partition. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself." The deep ground of redemption is God's pitying love for us sinners. We must not think that we claimed the love or that Christ persuaded God to show it. "God so loved the world as to give his only begotten Son." The enmity of man to him grieved him, and love found the ways in which to break the enmity, and win, by a free forgiveness, the very heart of the offenders.

III. THE WAYS IN WHICH GOD EFFECTS THE RECONCILEMENT. All are summed up in Christ. He is the Agent through whom God practically carries out his reconciling purpose. We may gather all the ways under two heads.

1. God reconciles by removing the hindrances.

2. God reconciles by persuading the offenders. For both Christ is the Agency. He takes "the handwriting of ordinances that was against us out of the way, nailing it to his cross." He could say, "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me." Plead, in conclusion, that God's reconciling mercies, embodied in Christ Jesus, ought to be a mighty persuasion on us to yield ourselves to him. They should say in our hearts, "Be ye reconciled to God."—R.T.

2 Corinthians 5:21

The Sinless counted as a sinner.

We give but the bare outline of a course of thought on this subject, because it is so suggestive of controversial theological topics, and can be treated from the points of view of several distinct theological schools.

I. CHRIST AS A SINLESS MAN. What proofs of this have we? And how does such sinlessness separate him from man and ensure his acceptance with God?

II. THE SINLESS CAN NEVER, IN FACT, BE OTHER THAN SINLESS. Neither God nor man can be deceived into regarding Christ as a sinner. No exigencies of theology may make us speak of God as regarding Christ as other than he was.

III. THE SINLESS CAN TAKE, AS A BURDEN ON HEART AND EFFORT, THE SINS OF OTHERS. Show fully in what senses this can be done.


V. WHEN THE SINLESS MAN THUS TAKES THE SINS OF OTHERS ON HIM HE BEARS THE SIN ALTOGETHER AWAY. Jesus took up the matter of our sin that it might be a hindrance and trouble to us no more forever.—R.T.

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". The Pulpit Commentary. 1897.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.
Genesis 3:7-11; Exodus 32:25; Revelation 3:18; 16:15
Reciprocal: Genesis 3:21 - make;  Job 10:11 - clothed;  Matthew 22:11 - which;  2 Corinthians 5:2 - clothed;  2 Corinthians 5:4 - but

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

Vincent's Word Studies

If so be ( εἴ γε )

Assuming that.

Being clothed

Compare Job 10:11.

Naked ( γυμνοὶ )

Without a body. The word was used by Greek writers of disembodied spirits. See the quotation from Plato's “Gorgias” in note on Luke 12:20; also “Cratylus,” 403, where, speaking of Pluto, Socrates says: “The foolish fears which people have of him, such as the fear of being always with him after death, and of the soul denuded ( γυμνὴ ) of the body going to him.” Stanley cites Herodotus' story of Melissa, the Corinthian queen, who appeared to her husband after death, entreating him to burn dresses for her as a covering for her disembodied spirit (v., 92). The whole expression, being clothed - naked is equivalent to we shall not be found naked because we shall be clothed.

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The text of this work is public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

That is, if so be, at our passage hence, we shall have the happiness to be of the number of those who are found clothed with glory, or clothed with holiness and good works, to fit us for our clothing in glory; that we may not be found naked, in our natural turpitude of sin and spiritual nakedness, which will render us abominable in the sight of God.

Learn hence, That none can groan or long for heaven but such as are clothed with a gospel-righteousness, that of justification, sanctification, and new obedience: none shall be clothed upon with glory hereafter, but such as are clothed with grace and holiness here.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. 1700-1703.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

3.If so be—By the best reading, since it will be, the apostle expresses no doubt.

Clothed’ not’ naked—Commentators who, like Meyer, Alford, and Stanley, are haunted with the phantasm of Paul’s expectation of an immediate advent, make sad work here. St. Paul, say they, here expresses the hope that he may not die, and so be found naked, disembodied spirit; but may live until the resurrection change of 1 Corinthians 15. He did, no doubt, prefer the resurrection state to the disembodied, for he held it to be that consummation of glory which the intermediate state delays. That delay, though a higher glory than belongs to earth, is inferior to the final glory. It is imparadised, but not heavenly, bliss. It is a state of disorganization, produced by sin, and under the shadow of death waiting for that day to which St. Paul’s wish darts at once, when mortality shall be swallowed up of life, 2 Corinthians 5:4. The disembodied spirit is as unprepared to enter the heavenly mansions beyond the resurrection as an undressed person to enter a parlour.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:3". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.