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Two Corinthians Five

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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2 Corinthians 5:1 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.

house of this tabernacle. Our present bodies are called “tabernacles” (or “tents”) because they are only temporary dwelling places, like the tents of the children of Israel in the wilderness. Peter used the same term (2 Peter 1:14), as did John concerning the human body of Jesus (“the Word was made flesh, and [tabernacled] among us”—John 1:14). God, however, will provide an eternal dwelling-place, the resurrection body, for our eternal spirits.

not made with hands. This resurrection body, like that of the resurrection body of the Lord Jesus, is “not made with hands” (note Mark 14:58), but by the creative word of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:16; John 5:28-29). When Christ returns, those bodies now corrupting in their graves will “put on incorruption,” while those still living but subject to death will “put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:54) and both shall “ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

2 Corinthians 5:2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:

clothed upon. If our earthly house is “dissolved” (2 Corinthians 5:1) before Christ returns, there will be an intermediate period “with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8) in which we shall neither wear our present body nor our future resurrection body. It was thus Paul's earnest desire and, surely ours as well, still to be living when Christ returns, and thus immediately to be “clothed upon” with our resurrection bodies. The latter would thus be put on over our old bodies as it were, and so still be recognizable (as was that of Christ after His resurrection), but with all aspects of their old “mortality” (pain, sin, etc.) immediately “swallowed up of life” (2 Corinthians 5:4).

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

found naked. The period between one's death and resurrection, even though a time of blessed fellowship with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8), is compared to a state of nakedness, since the spirit/soul system is without its body, or “spiritual clothing,” awaiting Christ's return to earth.

2 Corinthians 5:4 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.

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

earnest of the Spirit. See note on 2 Corinthians 1:22 and note on Ephesians 1:13.

2 Corinthians 5:6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:

2 Corinthians 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

2 Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

absent from the body. Even though being “absent from the body” is not as good as being in the future resurrection body, it is still something to be anticipated by the Christian with joy, for “to depart, and to be with Christ ... is far better” (Philippians 1:23). “To die” for the Christian “is gain” (Philippians 1:21). In heaven with Christ, our spirits—though without physical bodies—will be distinct and recognizable, in some way still bearing our likenesses. This was true, for example, of the spirits of Samuel and Moses (1 Samuel 28:11-14; Matthew 17:3), and also, in Christ's parable, of the spirits of Abraham and Lazarus (Luke 16:22-25).

2 Corinthians 5:9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

labour. This verse is not suggesting that we must “labour” to be “accepted” by Christ. The connotation of “labour” is “be ambitious,” and that of “accepted of” is “be well-pleasing to.” It is our earnest desire to please Christ (2 Timothy 2:4).

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

judgment seat. The “judgment seat” (Greek bema) is not the “great white throne” (Revelation 20:11) where unbelievers are to be judged by their works and then sent into hell, but a judgment for rewards, or loss of rewards, to believers. See also Romans 14:10-12, 1 Corinthians 3:11-15, Revelation 22:12).

2 Corinthians 5:11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

2 Corinthians 5:12 For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.

2 Corinthians 5:13 For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.

2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

constraineth us. It is not our love for Christ that constrains us, for our love is variable at best. But His great love for us, the love that took Him to the cross in our place, is the greatest motivating factor for our love and service for Him.

were all dead. Literally, this means, “then all died.”

2 Corinthians 5:15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

2 Corinthians 5:16 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.

know we him no more. Before our conversion and further enlightenment by the Holy Spirit through His Word, we judged men according to worldly standards, even including Christ in our worldly method of evaluation. Now, however, our concern and judgment is spiritually motivated and guided. Paul says this was true of himself, and it should be true of us as well.

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

new creature. The miracle of regeneration—being born again and baptized by the Holy Spirit into the spiritual body of Christ—is a true miracle of special creation (not psychological redirection, or anything of that sort), comparable in quality (not quantity) to the creation of the universe. No natural process can accomplish or explain such a miracle.

2 Corinthians 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

2 Corinthians 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

reconciled to God. The marvelous truth is that God has already reconciled sinners to Himself by virtue of the sacrifice of His Son. The problem now is that sinners are not yet reconciled to Him. Therefore, He has committed to us “the ministry of reconciliation” and “the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19), as His ambassadors, to beseech men to accept His Son and His great work of salvation. This is “the Great Commission.”

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

knew no sin. According to Paul, Christ “knew no sin.” Peter says He “did no sin” (1 Peter 2:22) and John says that “in Him is no sin” (xTerm 3:5). Yet He was “made sin” for us, suffering and dying as the “propitiation ... for the sins of the whole world” (xTerm 2:2), in order to reconcile God to sinful mankind. Then we are “made the righteousness of God,” being given credit before God for His perfect righteousness. No wonder Paul could say: “The love of Christ constraineth us” (2 Corinthians 5:14).