2 Corinthians 5:1-10

NoFearFor we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Observation

  • We know that if our mortal bodies are destroyed, God has built a place for us to live in heaven.
  • We will live eternally in heaven.
  • We long for our heavenly body.
  • We groan in this body.
  • Putting on our heavenly body we will not be naked.
  • When in this mortal body we are burdened.
  • We want our mortal body to be clothed.
  • We long for our mortal body to be swallowed up by life.
  • God has prepared us to have eternal life.
  • God has given us the Spirit as a guarantee of eternal life.
  • Because we have been promise eternal life, we always have good courage.
  • When we are in the current body we are away from the Lord.
  • Since we are away from the Lord, we walk by faith rather than sight.
  • We would rather be with the Lord than live in our mortal bodies.
  • Our goal is to please God whether in the mortal body or in heaven.
  • We will appear before Christ’s judgment seat.
  • We will appear before Christ’s judgment seat to receive what is due for what we have done in our mortal body.
  • We will receive what is due for the good and evil we have done in this mortal body.

Interpretation

What is it that keeps us so bound to this life? Men deceive themselves by thinking, incorrectly, they are happy here. Death is viewed with horror. Unbelievers never willingly leave this life except when they throw it off in despair. Believers, on the other hand, depart this life willingly. We have a better hope.

Paul refers to the body as a tent. A tent is a temporary structure. Peter uses this same metaphor in 2 Peter 1:13-14 when he talks about putting of his body. Therefore, Paul is contrasting a building that endures perpetually versus our present temporary structure. It is unclear if Paul is talking about a state of immortality, which believers experience after death or the incorruptible and glorious body we will have after the resurrection. He could be talking about either one. But I believe it is more consistent to say Paul is referring to the state of the believer after death.

After death, we put on a heavenly dwelling so we are not naked. The unbelievers also die and are without this body. However, they have nothing to put on and stand naked before God. Believers on the other hand are clothed with the glory of Christ.

That which is mortal is swallowed up by life. I love that imagery. Life overcomes death by swallowing it whole. For flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 15:50) Our corruptible nature must die in order for us to be renewed and restored to a state of perfection.

How do we know this is true? We know because God has prepared our new clothing and He has given us His Spirit as a guarantee. There is no better guarantee. There is no better way of knowing.

Verse 7 has been one of the most abused passages in all of scripture. When Paul says, “for we walk by faith, not by sight.” Paul is not talking about blind faith or credulity. He is not saying we are not to use the common sense and thinking abilities God has given us. In context, Paul is talking about how we are away from God, that is, we do not see God. We can be courageous because we trust God. This is not credulity because it is God who has made the promise and it would be foolishness to not trust God.

You may say, “Hold on Paul, if the next life is so great and this life so full of misery why not seek death? Why not just commit suicide or seek out martyrdom? Why not try getting to that heavenly body as quickly as possible?” Paul answers that when he says, “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him.” Our purpose is to serve Christ. If Christ desires us here on earth we willing obey and remain here. Our goal is not death but Christ. We desire to be further clothed with Christ. As Paul said in Philippians 1:21 “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Paul also says, “Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” In other words, we are courageous because we do not fear death. However the courage Paul speaks of is provided and maintained by the Holy Spirit.

In verse 10 the Apostle says, “so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” Here he is teaching that there are varying degrees of reward in heaven. All Christians have the sins forgiven and not suffer the punishment of hell for them. Even so, we will all stand before Christ on Judgment Day and receive varying rewards for what we have done in this life.

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