2 Corinthians 5
- 1st Motive: The Assurance of Resurrection and Glorification (5:1-9)
- 2nd Motive: The Knowledge of the Coming Judgment Seat of Christ (5:10-13)
- 3rd Motive The Constraining Love of Christ (5:14-21)
1st Motive: The Assurance of Resurrection and Glorification (5:1-9)
The Dissolution of the Vessel and Its Glorified State (v.1)
- The expression “we know” denotes things that are part of the standard Christian knowledge: Rom. 2:2; 1 Cor. 8:1, 4; 1 John 5:20; Rom. 3:19; 7:14; 8:22; 2 Cor. 5:1; 1 Tim. 1:8; 1 John 2:18; 3:2; 3:14; 3:24; 5:15; 5:19; 5:20.
- The expression “we have” denotes things that are standard Christian possessions: Rom. 5:1; 5:11; 1 Co 2:12; 2 Cor. 5:1; Gal 2:4; Eph. 1:7; 1:11; 2:18, 3:12; Col 1:14; Heb. 13:10; 1 John 2:1.
- The expression “we are” or “ye are” denotes things that characterize our Christian identity, both individually and collectively: Rom 8:9; 8:16; 1 Cor. 3:9; 3:16; 3:23; 6:19; 12:27; 2 Cor. 2:15; 5:20; 6:16; Gal 3:26; 3:28; 3:29; 4:6; Eph. 2:10; 2:19; 5:30; Col. 2:10; 1 Thess. 5:5; 1 Pet. 2:9.
The Proper Hope of the Christian (vv.2-4)
- The present state of the believer: we who are “in this tabernacle”
- The intermediate state of the believer: we do not wish to be “unclothed”
- The permanent state of the believer: “clothed upon” with our glorified bodies.
- The intermediate and permanent state of the unbeliever: we (believers) shall not be “found naked”
The Twofold Reason for this Assurance (v.5)
The Earnest of the Spirit (Eph 1:14; 2 Cor. 1:22; 2 Cor. 5:5; Rom. 8:11). The earnest of the Spirit is the guarantee and foretaste in advance of our full portion in Christ. This is evident from the very word "earnest", which refers to the down payment money a person might pay for something they intend to take possession of. For example, if you intend to buy a $300,000 home in a few months, you would pay a certain percentage down, perhaps 10% or $30,000, on the home, up front, to show the seller you are serious about your intention. Why is this necessary? The believer in Christ has two inheritances. First, we have a spiritual inheritance "reserved in heaven for you" (1 Peter 1:4). Paul teaches in Ephesians that we are actually already "seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6), and therefore we already have access by faith to this heavenly, spiritual inheritance. It is the Spirit who allows us to enjoy those heavenly things right now, "all spiritual blessings in heavenly places" (Eph. 1:3). Secondly, we have a future, material inheritance that we will possess when Christ appears to possess what belongs to Him; "in whom also we have obtained an inheritance" (Eph. 1:11). There is coming a glorious day when the Spirit of God will be poured out on this world for blessing, when the redeeming or “setting free” will take place (Eph. 1:14), and the curse be lifted. That day is not here yet, but we have the very same Spirit within us, allowing us to share in the joy beforehand! The earnest works to keep us from settling for the things of this earth; we have something far better! The Spirit of God is the earnest in two ways: (1) to give us a foretaste of heaven before we get there, and (2) to guarantee that we will get there, then go on to reign with Christ and share all that He possesses! We could summarize the earnest of the Spirit as that which gives the believer the enjoyment of present blessings in Christ, and the guarantee of future blessings with Christ.Here in 2 Cor. 5, the earnest is more in the aspect of a guarantee that we will be glorified with Christ. Think of it… God chose to put His Spirit in our mortal bodies. He surely cares for our bodies! “But if the Spirit of him that has raised up Jesus from among the dead dwell in you, he that has raised up Christ from among the dead shall quicken your mortal bodies also on account of his Spirit which dwells in you” (Rom 8:11). Read more…
The Twofold Result of this Assurance (vv.6-9)
2nd Motive: The Knowledge of the Coming Judgment Seat of Christ (5:10-13)
In John 5, the Lord Jesus explained that God the Father has chosen to give up His right to judge men, so that the Son of man will have that place exclusively. Judgment as a whole, and in all its forms, is committed to the Son; "that man whom he hath ordained" (Acts 17:31). The reason for the Son's being invested solely with this authority is given in John 5:27; because He is the Son of man. Read more... As the judge of all men, the Lord Jesus Christ will hold a solemn tribunal, or judgment seat. The Greek word is 'bema' (Rom. 14:10; 2 Cor. 5:10), which means ‘raised platform’, or ‘dais’. The same word is used in Matt. 27:19 and John 19:13 for the raised platform that Jesus stood on accused before the Jews, called Pavement, or in Hebrew, Gabbatha. It is the same word for the platform Herod sat on in Acts 12:21 on that fateful day when he refused to give God the glory. Every bema-seat of worldly monarchs has been corrupt. One day, Christ will have His true bema-seat, and He will judge righteous judgment (Isa. 32:1). Who will stand before that judgment seat? All men, believers and unbelievers, will appear before the judgment seat, and their lives will be reviewed.Read more…
3rd Motive The Constraining Love of Christ (5:14-21)
Reconciliation (Col. 1:20-22; Eph. 2:16; Rom. 5:11; 2 Cor. 5:18-19) has to do with God's work of bringing lost and guilty sinners back to Himself. Reconciliation deals with alienation, and the feelings of enmity that are in the heart of the sinner. Alienation and enmity are the result of man's sin. The fault is on our side... God's heart has remained unchanged! God does not need to be reconciled to man, but man needs be reconciled to God. Alienation is the moral distance between God and man. How does alienation occur? First, in Eph. 2:3 we find that man is at a distance from God; "by nature the children of wrath". Second, in Col. 1:21 it says we were "alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works". Not only is man at a distance from God by nature, but he travels farther away by his own actions. The alienation is on both sides: we couldn't be in God's presence, and He couldn't be in ours. Enmity is the opposition that arises in a sinner toward God. To emphasize, God had no enmity toward man, but man does toward God. How does enmity arise? Man commits "wicked works", and then has a bad conscience about those works. He then begins to think of God as his enemy. That is why men are called "haters of God" (Rom. 1:30) when God has done nothing against them. The enmity is in "the mind" of man. Therefore, reconciliation to God is needed.Read more…
- Darby, J. N. Synopsis of the Books of the Bible. G. Morrish, 1940.
- “Hence it is said here ‘that what is mortal shall be swallowed up by life,’ not merely raised up out of death, but the mortal in us yielding to the superior and all-transforming power of the life in Christ, the body no longer as it was in Adam, but as in the Second man coming again from heaven.” – Kelly, William. Notes on the Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians. Bible Truth Publishers, 1975.
- “Therefore the apostle desired, not to be unclothed but clothed upon, and that that which was mortal in him should be absorbed by life, that the mortality that characterised his earthly human nature should disappear before the power of life which he saw in Jesus, and which was his life. That power was such that there was no need to die.” – Darby, J. N. Synopsis of the Books of the Bible. G. Morrish, 1940.
- Toplady, Augustus M. As Debtors to Mercy Alone. Little Flock Hymnbook #326. 1740-1778.
- Watts, Isaac. When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. Psalter Hymnal, 1987.
- It is quite a serious error to hold that the message “be reconciled to God” is addressed to believers, although some translations give that impression. To make this mistake is to fall into the error that our reconciliation is not a settled thing, and that our security is dependent on daily confessions and re-reconciliations. John Calvin himself fell into this error, teaching on 2 Corinthians 5; “… that, as we daily sin, so we might also by a daily remission be received by God into His favour.” – Calvin, John. John Calvin’s Bible Commentaries On St. Paul’s Epistles To The Corinthians, Volume 2. Translated 1858, p.142.