2 Corinthians 5:1 “…our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens”
Describing our current, earthly bodies. The ones marred by a sin nature which causes deterioration and decay. We know if this body dies, we will have a new or rejuvenated one to replace it. Paul is making a slight reference or comparison between our bodies and the old tabernacle tent of the Old Testament. That tabernacle was made of materials that wore out, but it was eventually replaced by the temple which was made with better materials. And even that temple was only a representation of the one in heaven which is eternal.
3 “if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked.”
Little difficult to fit in the narrative. Paul’s thinking not immediately apparent within the context. Commentary wasn’t much help with their explanation, but I think they are correct. The idea he is expressing is life and death of the body. We groan in this body, longing to be rid of it with its sin nature, and be clothed with the one from heaven. But we would rather be alive and still in this body when Christ returns instead of being dead, walking around without it. We know we don’t stay here when the body dies. He gets to that in a moment.
4 “…further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life”
That new, rejuvenated body won’t die. No sin nature to cause death.
5 “…He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee”
Repeat of the phrasing he used in chapter 1. This comes from God, and He has provided proof. It’s not a fanciful wish on our part. Another reference to the Holy Spirit given to us at salvation as a guarantee that just as our spirit has been renewed, our body will be also.
6-8 “…we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord…we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord”
While we’re stuck in this present body on earth, we don’t have the full communion with Christ we’ll have when we get to heaven. But we live by faith, knowing that some day we will be with him. It is much better to be with Him there, even without our future bodies, than here in this sinful one. And we are assured that if we are absent from this current body, we will be with Him.
Commentary also makes an observation that perhaps Paul is making a comparison between being with Christ while disembodied and being with Him with our new ones. Both would be in full communion with Christ. The only difference would be our recognition of each other since most would be in spirit form, the only exceptions being Enoch and Elijah who were translated and taken up bodily, respectively. Interesting idea, but I don’t see that. When Christ was transfigured on the mountain, both Moses and Elijah were recognized. Elijah may have had his resurrection body, but Moses died and was buried by God. His body should still be here waiting as all others. He would have been standing there in spirit, yet Peter recognized him. I know there are a lot of variables to this idea, but personally I have always seen the spirit as a body of sorts. The vessel we used to interact with the spirit realm just as our bodies are used to interact with the physical one. As such, we should be just as recognizable in the spirit as the body. Certainly the angels and other heavenly creatures are spirit. Even God Himself is spirit. I’m sure they all can be seen there. Interesting things to think about now, but one day we’ll know.
10 “…we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ…receive the things done in the body…whether good or bad”
Since it says that all must appear at this judgment seat, I make a distinction between this and the Great White Throne judgment found in Revelation. The difference is what is judged. This one deals with our actions while on earth, whether they are considered good or bad, not on our spiritual condition. Christians will be judged and rewarded according to the good deeds they have done. Reference what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:12 regarding the material of our works. The good deeds will last, the bad will be burned up. The unsaved will face the same judgment and awarding of results. Not sure how that will play out after they are condemned to the Lake of Fire, but it will be done. The important thing to remember is that this judgment seat is not for determining our entrance into heaven. Our works have nothing to do with that. Paul makes it clear, even if a Christian’s works are totally burned up, he himself will still be saved since his salvation is by grace through faith in Christ alone.
11 “Knowing…the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…well known to God…well known in your consciences”
Paul’s motivation in persuading men was because he knew the truth of the coming judgment and the danger of not knowing Christ at that point, not from any selfish ambition on his part. He knew God was well aware of that motivation, and the Corinthians should know as well having worked with Paul.
12 “…we do not commend ourselves again…give you opportunity to boast on our behalf…”
He’s dealing again with the issue of some false teachers who were more concerned with outward appearance, letters, recommendations, etc., than actual truth in their teaching. He’s not bragging on himself or trying to build himself up, but trying to get them to see the difference. Corinthians should know by now that Paul teaches the truth, and he does it out of Godly motivation and his genuine concern for them.
13 “…beside ourselves, it is for God…of sound mind, it is for you”
When his actions appear to make him look crazy, it’s just his zeal for Christ. When he takes his time and thoroughly works through explaining theology, which makes him appear more sane, it’s his desire that they fully understand what is being taught. Reminds me of a youth pastor. When he’s speaking to a large group of kids, he may act wild and crazy to make his points while encouraging their enthusiasm. When he’s teaching a small group about particular aspects of God’s Word or doctrines, his demeanor is more calm as he’s making sure they are understanding the ideas he’s conveying.
14-15 “…if One died for all, then all died…He died for all…those who live should live…for Him…”
Blows away the idea of limited atonement, the idea that Christ only died for those who would believe in Him. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was enough for all men. Salvation is waiting for all. How sad that many choose not to accept such a wonderful gift. Those that do accept Him, considered to be truly alive and not dead in sin, should live for Him.
15 “…Him who died for them and rose again”
Commentary makes a comment about why Paul didn’t say “for them” after rose again. They suggest it’s just not his way of phrasing things, which is probably true. But it makes a good reminder of what Paul has been talking about regarding our present and future states. Christ died for us so that we can accept Him and be transformed in our current state. He rose again to show that death isn’t the end. And someday when we either die or He returns for us, we’ll inherit what He accomplished in resurrection.
16 “…according to the flesh…known Christ according to the flesh…no longer”
According to outward or earthly appearance. Now that he is a renewed person by the grace of God, he deals with others by that truth. Even his dealings with Christ. He now sees Christ as full redeemer of his soul, not just the Messiah who would come to be an earthly ruler.
17 “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new”
Awesome verse. Brings hope to anyone who comes to Christ. After receiving Christ we are no longer condemned by our past actions. We can start again. We may have to live with some physical consequences of past sins, but our souls are free from them.
20 “…we are ambassadors for Christ…”
One of the first verses I memorized. It was the motto used by the young men’s mission organization in my denomination. A good reminder of how our actions reflect on Christ and how we should conduct ourselves at all times.
21 “…He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”
Another awesome verse. Gospel in a nutshell. Christ became sin for us so we could be righteous before God. Our salvation.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.