Scriptures

2 Corinthians 5

Introduction

The Spiritual Body And Eternal Life To The Faithful

2 Corinthians 5:1-11

‘For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.’ 2 Corinthians 5:1-5

Chapter 4 discussed the worth of suffering for the cause of Christ’s doctrine. Paul and his preaching companions had feared death in some situations, 2 Corinthians 1:8. No matter how dangerous the situation, Paul was determined to preach the truth to others that they may be saved, 2 Corinthians 4:15.

The things which he suffered could in no way compare to the eternal glory that awaited him and all others who take such a stand, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. Paul knew, by faith, that in the resurrection, men would be clothed with an eternal abode for the spirit, Psalms 132:9 / 1 Corinthians 15:38.

We suffer sickness, disease, fatigue, pain, sorrow, anguish, distress (over life, false brethren etc.), hunger in the flesh. Such living causes the faithful to ‘long to be clothed’ with the heavenly ‘spiritual body’, 1 Corinthians 15:44.

The word ‘clothed’ indicates the past action of obedience to the Gospel without the completion of the rewards that come along with that.

Paul had a divine way of saying,

‘if we die without proper preparation for our eternal abode it is as being naked because we will not be ‘clothed’ with our eternal spiritual body.’

Therefore Paul’s hope was that no one would die unprepared to meet the judgment of God. If said event happens, we will be ‘naked,’ that is, without our spiritually clothed body fit for eternal existence with God in heaven.

Again Paul mentioned the current ‘groan(ing)’ of our present state in the flesh. This state is a state of ‘burden.’ To ‘groan’, ‘stenazo’ is to sigh often, sigh deeply, moan. We often sigh due to exhaustion, frustration, pain, and mental anguish that accompany earthly life.

The sighing and mental anguish is not directed at the unclothed body (a state not prepared to meet God in judgment), but we sigh deeply due to our earthly pain that looks vigorously at the end when we shall be clothed with a spiritual body.

The immortal state ‘swallows’, ‘consumes’ up the body of mortal flesh by the victory offered in Christ, 1 Corinthians 15:54. The physical earthly body, that is mortal and subject to death, is consumed and no longer exists in the heavenly realm.

To be ‘fashioned’, ‘katergazomai’ is to effect by labor, to achieve, accomplish. God ‘achieved or accomplished’ our eternal salvation through the work of His Son Jesus, Luke 4:18-22. This salvation and eternal spiritual body are sure to be accomplished that man may know for sure that God ‘gave us the Holy Spirit as a guarantee.’

2 Corinthians 5:5 The Spirit as a guarantee. Paul uses the word ‘arrabon’ for ‘guarantee’, a word that has an interesting significance, the meaning of which becomes plain when we think how farm labourers would have been hired when the A.V. was translated.

In farming communities throughout the land, there was a special time in the farming calendar when farmers went out to hire workers for the new season. The men who were seeking work would gather in the village market-place or some similar place, waiting for the farmers to come looking for farm-hands.

A farmer would look at those who had gathered, and, if he saw a man whom he thought would be a good worker, he would question him about his experience, his family circumstances, and the degree of enthusiasm he had for the job, and, if he was satisfied with the man’s replies, he ‘would tell him what he was prepared to offer him’. ‘I can offer you a cottage and so much a week’!

If the man accepted the offer, the farmer would take a penny out of his pocket, place it in the palm of his right hand, and shake hands with his new worker, so that the penny passed from one hand to the other! That was called ‘the feePenny’. It was the farmer’s pledge and guarantee that the man was employed, and the farmer would keep his part of the agreement.

Paul states that God’s promise to redeem the whole Man is guaranteed by the ‘arrabon’, ‘the free-penny’ of the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Holy Spirit assures us of God’s intention to complete the salvation into which entered when we obeyed the Gospel.

Hence, John could write;

‘We are NOW the children of God, but what we shall become has not yet been revealed.’ Completely. 1 John 3:2

God has promised the faithful a heavenly eternal body and gave as ‘earnest-money’ the Holy Spirit to assure us of His pledge, 2 Corinthians 1:22.

The work of the Holy Spirit is

1. Making known the mind of the Father to man. 2 Peter 1:21 / John 16:13-14.

2. Convicting the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. John 16:8.

3. Converting souls. Romans 1:16.

4. Sanctification. 1 John 1:1-6.

‘Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad’. 2 Corinthians 5:6-10

The faithful Christian is ‘confident’ because while we live in these earthly bodies that groan in pain we are not without hope. We will be resurrected from the dead one day, stand before the Lord in judgment, and live with the Lord forever if we have lived faithfully.

Such hope motivates us to ‘walk by faith, not by sight.’ The word ‘sight’, ‘eidos’ is that which is seen, form, shape, figure. It is used in other passages of the New Testament. The apostle John said, ‘My little children, guard yourselves from idols’. 1 John 5:21.

Due to God’s promise of eternal salvation and an eternal spiritual body, Paul and his preaching companions (as well as all of us) made it their ‘aim’, ‘philotimeomai’ in life to live by the divine standard of truth and thereby be wellpleasing to the Father. 2 John 9.

These words indicate a set goal to achieve. Reaching said goal is the aspiration of an individual’s life. The life of such a one is filled with ambition to achieve this goal as though one were competing with others to be the victor. Here is a word that indicates an individual eaten up with interest and passion to achieve the goal of life.

In the Greek it says,

‘We are Ambitious to be well-pleasing to Him, whether away or at home.’

Paul’s consciousness of being a ‘citizen of heaven’, is so deep that, as long as he is in his ‘physical body’ he is ‘away from home’! And he speaks about dying as ‘coming home’ to the Lord.

2 Corinthians 5:10. The theology of the translators in 1611when the A.V., was produced was responsible for the rather frightening and ominous sounding translation of this verse. It is true that the rendering of the word ‘bema’ as ‘Judgment Seat’, because there would be such a .seat, in every Roman city, and it would be a place where the Roman authority in charge would judge in day-to-day matters brought before him. We see this in Acts 18:12, when the Jews complained about Paul.

But the following statement ‘that each one may receive good or evil’ or as the revised Authorized Version puts it, ‘good or bad’ conveys a mistaken impression. That word good is ‘agathos’ and means ‘benefit’. That word for bad is ‘kakos’ and is more accurately translated, ‘worthless’.

The contrast is not between actions that are morally ‘good or evil’ but, as we have already seen in our study, between that which abides in time of testing, and that which perishes.

Remember the fire, illustration Paul used when he said that the work of all to whom the responsibility of preaching and teaching has been committed will be judged and work which is proved lasting will be commended, whilst work which does not survive will fail to receive the Master’s ‘Well done’!

It is very important to remember that Paul is not discussing Salvation, but Service. And it is equally important to remember that in this section of his letter, he dealing particularly with the responsibility and accountability of those who along with himself, share the office of ‘apostle’.

He is still driving home the truth that all of his fellow-apostles are servants, whose service will ultimately be reviewed and evaluated by the Master. Therefore, to treat them as icons, each having his own admiring following, is wrong.

‘Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.’ 2 Corinthians 5:11-15

2 Corinthians 5:11, ‘what it is to FEAR the Lord.’ The word ‘fear’ is the rendering of the word ‘phobos’, and, originally, it refers to ‘flight’, flight caused by fear. However, the kind of ‘fear’ to which Paul refers is not ‘terror’, nor the fear of suffering punishment, but the reverential respect for God, which every creature should feel. It does not refer to fearing God’s righteous judgment, but it is the healthy, wholesome fear of disappointing or displeasing Him.

Unfortunately, the theology of the church of Rome created a ‘Christendom’, in which God was a stern, hard being, who looked down on Mankind dispassionately, threatening punishment whenever a soul displeased or disobeyed him. It was in this way that the rulers of the so-called ‘church of Rome’ kept control over its flock.

But godly fear is very different from the fear experienced by a criminal who expects punishment because of his offences. It is the emotion felt by a son who fears nothing more than offending a loving Father. Acts 9:31 shows the right kind of ‘fear’ in action in the church in Jerusalem.

‘What we are is known to God’. This a statement which is both awesome and inspiring, reminding us of the wonderful statement of the psalmist in Psalm 139, the opening verses of which are worth committing to memory!

Remember that Paul had defended himself and his preaching brethren in chapter 3:1 / 4:5+7 regarding their having ‘commended’ themselves to the brethren. The word ‘commend’, ‘sunistao’ is to recommend to favourable attention. Paul had no desire for self-attention or glorification through a message he concocted of his own.

Paul’s desire was for God to be given all glory for His message of salvation. To find ‘glory in appearance’ is to walk by sight rather than faith. The Corinthians had been guilty of this yet now were to change. 1 Corinthians 1:12.

Apparently some in Corinth, those who sought to discredit Paul and his preaching brethren by accusing them of having personal agendas, were accusing Paul and his preaching brethren of being ‘out of their mind’, ‘existemi’.

The Greek word ‘existemi’ means to put out of its place, to change or alter utterly, metaphorically to drive one out of his senses. We recall that while Paul was giving his defence to Festus the governor replies,

‘You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.’ Acts 26:24

Paul’s reply to the accusing brethren is that if we have been deranged or lost our senses, it is unto the glory of God. Paul was happy to have his own senses driven out and the knowledge of Christ to replace it. If some wanted to refer to Paul as out of his senses, Paul wanted them to know what senses he had been driven to and by what means.

If the brethren in Corinth so chose to view Paul and his preaching companions as ‘in our right mind’ as opposed to ‘out of our mind’, then the same principle applied.

Paul’s thinking was dictated by divine revelation. Whether one viewed him as sober or deranged, he would bring glory to God with his preaching.

2 Corinthians 5:14. ‘The love of Christ compels us’.

The Greek text says,

‘controls us’.

The question is, what motivates you? Because motivation is everything! Do I preach because I think I am ‘good at it’? Do I preach because I want people to admire me? Do I preach because it’s a way of earning a living? Do I preach because the Love of Christ compels me? Some are driven by the desire for fame, wealth or power; by pride, or self-esteem. Paul said,

‘Woe is me, if I do not preach the Gospel’.

‘So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.’ 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

At one time in Paul’s life he let human reason dictate his thinking on the coming Messiah, however, now he views Christ through divine revelation, Galatians 1:11ff.

Though it hurt Paul deeply to think back on his past dealings with Christians and his sinfulness through human reasoning, 1 Corinthians 15:9 / Galatians 1:13ff / Philippians 3:6 etc., he realized that now Christ had forgave him.

To be ‘in Christ’ is to be in fellowship with the Lord abiding in His truths, 1 John 1:3+5-6 / 1 John 2:6+24 / Galatians 3:27. Christians today need not dwell on their past sins.

We must realize that the old man of sin is passed away and we are not to let that return. Baptized Christians are ‘new creations’ as opposed to those ‘after the flesh.’

The ‘old man’ died when we obeyed the Gospel. What do we do with dead bodies? We bury them. We do not repeatedly dig them up to inspect them! What we were is history! Past! Let the old man stay dead. Don’t carry the burden of a guilt which God has already forgiven and forgotten!

Because Christ died for all, it stands that ‘all things are of God’, all things that lead to eternal life and a resurrected spiritual body. Through Christ is the blessings of remission of sins, Genesis 22:18 / Acts 3:25-26 and thereby reconciliation to God, i.e., fellowship, Colossians 1:20 / 1 John 1:9; 3:3).

This message of ‘the ministry of reconciliation’ was entrusted to the apostles that all in the world may have the hope of reconciliation and fellowship with God. This is a testimony of Bible unity. To be reconciled to God is to be one with God and one with brethren, John 17:11ff / Ephesians 4:1ff / 1 Corinthians 12:12ff / 1 John 1:5-7.

2 Corinthians 5:18 ‘He has committed US to the ministry of reconciliation’. This does not refer to believers in general, as a priesthood it does, Exodus 19:3-6 /1 Peter 2:9, but in the context here it’s referring to this special ministry of the apostles, as is proved by the words,

‘Now then, WE as ambassadors for Christ, implore YOU, on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God’.

Notice the use of the personal pronouns, ‘we’ and ‘you’.

Reconciliation has been effected by God Himself. John reminds us that it is not that we loved God, but that God loved us. We could never reach up to Him. He reached down to us!

That is the meaning of the incarnation, God becoming Man. ‘God was, in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself’. This is why salvation could only be by grace. Colossians 1:20 / Ephesians 2:16 / Romans 5:10.

Notice also that there are Christians who are to be reconciled to God. Aren’t Christians already reconciled to God? Reconciled is the Greek word, ‘katallasso’ and it means to change mutually or be at peace with. In other words the Corinthians were be at peace with God again.

Herein is the love of God made manifest. God gave both His only begotten Son to die for man’s reconciliation and divine instructions for man to hear, learn, study, and apply that all may be reconciled to God. When one is in Christ, his sins are forgiven and God does not ‘reckon’, put to one’s account, sin to that person any longer!

Paul is not preaching any type of self-proclaimed message to cause glory to himself. Paul and his preaching brethren preached Christ crucified that the world may be reconciled unto God and have an eternal abode with the Father. Paul’s desire for people was God’s desire; i.e., that no man perish in sin, 2 Peter 3:9.

The word ‘ambassador’, ‘presbeuomen’ is defined as, a diplomatic official of the highest rank appointed and accredited as representative in residence by one government to another. Who were the ambassadors represented by the plural pronoun ‘we’? The antecedent to the pronoun ‘we’ is Paul, and the other apostles.

Why did Paul refer to himself and these other apostles as

‘ambassadors on behalf of Christ’?

To truthfully answer this question we must examine nothing but the context the statement is made in. Much of 2 Corinthians is Paul’s proof of preaching a divine message with divine origins.

Paul was being accused by some brethren of preaching a message that would ‘commend’ himself to the brethren so that he could have personal gain, 2 Corinthians 3:1.

Some went so far as accusing Paul, and his preaching companions, of scamming the brotherhood for money under the guise of there being a need in Judea for the saints, 2 Corinthians 12:16-18. Paul, hearing that his motives and message preached was under attack, set out to prove the divine origin of his message.

The ambassadors’ objective was to reconcile the Corinthians to God, 2 Corinthians 5:18-20. These men were divinely armed with revelation to accomplish this task. They had no personal agenda of gaining a following or getting rich. Their work involved the souls of men.

We do not have inspired men today to serve as ambassadors of Christ yet we do have the command to use the power of the Gospel to save souls. Paul and his preaching companions did not have a monopoly on preaching.

The apostle Paul wrote Timothy saying,

‘And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.’ 2 Timothy 2:2.

God forbid that you or I would ever preach with an agenda to get gain from brethren. Our preaching is to have its origins in divine revelation alone. Our motives are to be love for man’s souls alone. When men preach their opinions or personal convictions they have left the one true faith.

Summary of 2 Corinthians 5. The Christian’s aim

Paul said,

‘So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it’. 2 Corinthians 5:9

The word ‘goal’ or ‘ambition’ indicates a passionate quest to achieve a set goal. The said goal of every Christian has its roots in the resurrection of the body, 2 Corinthians 4:14.

Man’s eternal body will be ‘clothed’ with a heavenly, immortal, existence, 2 Corinthians 4:2 / 1 Corinthians 15:42. Paul’s aim, as ours ought to be, was directed at the eternal spiritual and immortal body that shall rest with God for eternity.

Paul’s aim was to be the aim of all. Paul was not only immersed in the idea of personal resurrection and eternal existence with the Lord but in helping others make it to heaven too, 2 Corinthians 4:15.

The reality of hell caused Paul to preach to others that they would escape these eternal torments. Paul said, ‘we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others’. 2 Corinthians 5:11.

Even at the end of Paul’s life he thought about the souls of others. He said,

‘For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.’ 2 Timothy 4:6-8

A spiritual aim demands that we deny self-reason and trust divine revelation. The theme of 2 Corinthians is found in this principle. Preachers and members of the body of Christ are to have no personal agendas as their motivation to preach, 2 Corinthians 1:12 / 2 Corinthians 2:16 / 2 Corinthians 3:1+5 / 2 Corinthians 4:2-7 / 2 Corinthians 5:11+18-20. Paul said, ‘we walk by faith, not by sight’, 2 Corinthians 5:7.

Furthermore, the apostle states that man’s glorying is to be in the truth as opposed to ‘appearance’, 2 Corinthians 5:12. So Paul said,

‘And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again’, 2 Corinthians 5:15

Such an aim takes into consideration Jesus. Paul’s preaching was the

‘ministry of reconciliation’, 2 Corinthians 5:18

God’s aim has ever been to reconcile mankind to Himself through the blood of His righteous Son, 2 Corinthians 5:19 / 2 Peter 3:9.

Such an aim demands that the forgiven sinner forget his past and move ever closer to the goal. Paul had done many sinful deeds in his past just as you and I have, 1 Corinthians 15:9 / Galatians 1:13ff / 1 John 1:8.

When he became a Christian, he was redirected in life through repentance and baptism, Acts 22:16. Each individual who now obeys the gospel must redirect their lives as well, Romans 12:1-2.

We could dwell on our past mistakes to the point of it causing lethargy, complacency, and pessimism in our service to God; however, this is not what the Lord wants.

Paul said,

‘therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!’ 2 Corinthians 5:17 / Philippians 3:13-14.

To pine away in sin would be to falter in our aim!

Conclusion

The resurrection of the body and eternal judgment demands an act in life. Whether we choose to preach and or represent divine revelation alone, 2 Corinthians 1:12 or Satan’s doctrine, 1 Timothy 4:1 / 2 Corinthians 2:11, is our choice.

Those who make it their aim to serve God, as did Joshua and a host of Godly men and women in history, will not be disappointed, 1 Corinthians 15:58.

Those who will not give up their personal agendas of opinions and personal convictions will forever suffer in hell.

Go To 2 Corinthians 6

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

Genesis 1:26

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