II Corinthians 5



      The Hope of the Future Life is the Great Support of Our Efforts (vs. 1-10)


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.”

For.   A further explanation of the hope expressed in ch. 4:17. We know.  This

accent of certainty is found only in Christian writers. Our earthly house.    Not

the “house of clay” (Job 4:19), the house which serves us as the home of our

souls on earth; as in I Corinthians 15:40.  Of this tabernacle; literally,

the house of the tent; i.e. the tent of our mortality, the mortal body. In II Peter

1:13-14 it is called σκηνώμα skaenomatabernacle - and the expression, “the

Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” (John 1:14) is literally, “He tabernacled

among us” — He wore “a tent like ours and of the same material.” The figure

would be specially natural to one whose occupation was that of a tentmaker.



                                    “Here in the body pent,

                                    Afar from Him I roam,

                            But nightly pitch my wandering tent

                                    A day’s march nearer home.”


A very similar expression occurs in Wisdom of Solomon 9:15, “The earthly

tabernacle (γεῶδες σκῆνοςgeodes skaenos) weigheth down the mind.”

Be dissolved; - rather, be taken to pieces.  A building.  Something more

substantial than that moving tenement.  Of God; - literally, from God; namely,

not one of the “many mansions” spoken of in John 14:2, but the resurrection body

furnished to us by Him. We have this building from God, for it exists now, and shall

be ours at the same time that our tent home is done away with.  Not made

with hands.   Not like those tent dwellings at which Paul was daily toiling with the

hands which ministered to his own necessities.  In the heavens.  To be joined

with “we have.” Heaven is our general home and country (Hebrews 11:16),

but the present allusion is to the glorified bodies in which our souls shall live in

heaven (compare I Corinthians 15:42-49).  Paul longs for an enduring habitation,

a permanent house, Jesus called it a mansion in John 14:2) (Remember the song,

“I’ve Got a Mansion” and its just over the hilltop in that bright land where we

will never grow older!CY – 2010)


2  For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our

house which is from heaven:”   In this we groan.  Since we have the first-fruits of

the Spirit, who assures us of that future building from God, we, in this earthly tent,

groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit the redemption of our body”

(Romans 8:23).  To be clothed upon; rather, to further clothe ourselves with. Here

the metaphors of a tent and a garment — the “wandering tent” and the “mortal vesture

of decay” — are interfused in a manner on which only the greatest writers can venture.

The corruptible yearns to clothe itself with the incorruptible, the mortal with immortality

(I Corinthians 15:53). The glorified body is compared to an over garment.  House;

rather, οἰκητήριονoikaetaerion - habitation.


3 “If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.”  If so be that. The

verse may be rendered, “If, that is, being clothed, we shall not be found naked.”

(γυμνοὶgumnoinaked – meaning the soul without the body)  .The word

naked” must then mean “bodiless,” and the reference will be to those whom,

at His coming, Christ shall find clothed in these mortal bodies, and not separated

from them, i.e. quick and not dead (I Thessalonians 4:17; I Corinthians 15:51).

This seems to be the simplest and most natural of the multitude of strange

interpretations with which the pages of commentators are filled. It is true

that the aorist ἐνδυσάμενοιendusamenoi means literally, “having clothed

ourselves,”and that, in taking this meaning, we should have expected the perfect

participle ἐνδεδυμενοιendedumenoi -  having been clothed. If this be thought an

insuperable difficulty, we must suppose the verse to mean “If, that is, in

reality we shall be found [at Christ’s coming] after having put on some

intermediate body, and therefore not as mere disembodied spirits.” But

there is no allusion in Scripture to any intermediate body, nor is any gleam

of light shed on the mode of life among the dead between death and

resurrection, though the Church rejects the dream of Psychopannychia, or

an interval of unconscious sleep. The uncertainty of the meaning is

increased by two various readings, εἴ περei per – if perhaps - instead of

εἴ γε - ei geif surely, which latter expresses greater doubt about the matter;

and ἐκδύσασθαι  - ekdusasthai (D, F, G), which would mean “if in reality,

after unclothing ourselves [i.e. after‘shuffling off this mortal coil’], we shall

not be found naked.” This seems to be the conjecture of some puzzled copyists,

who did not see that a contrast, and not a coincidence, between the two expressions

is intended.  If this reading were correct, it would mean, as Chrysostom says,

“Even if we would lay aside the body. we shall not there be presented without a

body, but with the same body which has then become incorruptible.” It is

quite untenable to make “clothed” mean “clothed with righteousness,” as

Olshausen does. In the Talmud, ‘Shabbath’ (f. 152, 2), the righteous are

compared to men who keep from stain the robes given them by a king (i.e.

their bodies), which robes the king deposits in his treasury and sends the

wearers away (bodiless) in peace; but foolish servants stain these robes,

and the king sends the robes to the wash, and the wearers in prison.


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.”   For we that are in this tabernacle;  literally, for indeed we who are in the tent;

i.e. in the transitory mortal body. Do groan. Oh wretched man that I am I who shall

deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24)  Being burdened.  “The

corruptible body presseth down the soul, and the earthy tabernacle weigheth down

the mind that museth upon many things” (Wisdom of Solomon 9:15).  Not for

that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon;  more literally, since we do not wish

to strip off (our bodily garment) but to put another garment over it. Paul here repudiates

the Manichean notion that the body is a disgrace, or in itself the source of evil. He was

not like Plotinus, who  “blushed that he had a body;” or like St. Francis of Assisi,

who called his body “my brother the ass;” or like the Cure d’Ars, who (as we have

said) spoke of his body as “ce cadavre.” He does not, therefore, desire to get rid of

his body, but to “clothe it over” with the garment of immortality. Incidentally this

implies the wish that he may be alive and not dead when the Lord returns (I Corinthians

15:35-54).  Mortality;  rather, the mortal; that which is mortal. Might be swallowed

up of life. As in the cases of Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (II Kings 2:11), who

entered into life otherwise than through “the grave and gate of death.” Paul wishes

to enter the “building from God” without having been first buried in the collapse

of the “soul’s dark cottage battered and decayed.” He desires to put on the robe

of immortality without stripping off the rent garb of the body.


Death is repugnant. The separation of soul and body, however, is only temporary; it is

not for unclothing, but for a better clothing, one suited to the capacities of spirit. If the

fourth verse repeats the second verse, it enlarges the idea and qualifies it by stating the

reason why he would be “clothed upon,” viz. “that mortality might be swallowed up

of life.” And this longing is no mere instinct or natural desire, but a feeling inspired

of God, who “hath wrought us for the selfsame thing.” (v. 5) - A Divine preparation

was going on in this provisional tabernacle — a training of the spirit for the vision of Christ

and a training of the body for the immortal companionship of the spirit. An “earnest”

(ibid.) or pledge of this was already in possession. The psalmist prays in Psalm

102:23-28 – He weakened my strength in the way; He shortened my days. I said,

O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are throughout all

generations.   Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth:  and the heavens

are the work of thy hands.  They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of

them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they

shall be changed:  But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.  The

children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before



5 “Now He that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath

given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.”  He that hath wrought us for the selfsame

thing is God.   God prepared and perfected us for this very result, namely, to put on

the robe of immortality.  (“Faithful is He which calleth you who also will do it”

I Thessalonians 5:24.)   The earnest of the Spirit. (see ch.1:22) The quickening

life imparted by the Spirit of life is a pledge and part payment of the incorruptible

eternal life. The Spirit is “the Earnest of our inheritance.”  (Ephesians 1:14; 4:30).


In the first few verses the body is here spoken of under the figure of a “tabernacle” or

a tent, and of a vestment or clothing.  These two things would not be so distinct in the

mind of the apostle as they are in ours, for both had the same qualities of movableness

and protection.  There is an implied necessity of the body.  Paul’s language implies that

the body is a clothing or protection. As a clothing, or protection, for the soul it is

necessary, both here and in the other world. The soul must have an organ wherever

it is. Now what does the Christian know concerning the future body?


  • He knows it will be BETTER THAN THE PRESENT.


Ø      It will be directly Divine. “A building of God.” (v. 1) - The present

      body is from God, but it comes from Him through secondary

instrumentalities.  The future body will come direct, it will not be

transmitted from sire to son.


o        It will be fitted for a higher sphere. “In the heavens.” (ibid.)

The present body is fitted for the earthly sphere, it is of the

“earth, earthy.”  (I Corinthians 15:47-49) - The future will be

fitted for the more ethereal, and celestial.


o        It will be more enduring. eternal.” (ibid.) - This body is like the

tent, temporary; it has no firm foundation; it is shaken by every

gust.  We “perish before the moth.” (Job 4:19) The future body

will be eternal, free from the elements of decay.


o        It will be more enjoyable. “For in this we groan, earnestly

desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from

heaven,” (v. 2) - In this body we groan, being burdened.”

(v. 4) –


o        To what pains and diseases is the present body subject! By

implication the apostle states the future body will be free from

all this,  (Revelation 21:4) - for all that is mortal will be

swallowed up of life.”  (ibid.) - In that body there will

be no groaning, no sighs or sorrows, no burden, no weight

to depress the energies or to impede progress. The future body

will be more fitted to receive the high things of God,

and more fitted to communicate them also.



BODY OF THE FUTURE. “Now He that hath wrought us for the selfsame

thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.” (v. 5)

Every seed has its own body; it is the seed that makes the body; the organization

does not produce the life, but the life the organization. And this spiritual life

in man God is now preparing to pass into a higher body.  Just as the chrysalis

is being fitted to struggle into an organization with higher appetencies, more

exquisite in form, and with faculties that shall bear it into mid-heaven. When

will you have this body? When your soul has the life energy to produce it.




                                    The Earnest of the Spirit (v. 5)


The apostle has been referring to the great hope set before us in the gospel,

which, as he regards it, is this, that mortality might be swallowed up of

life.” That is the object of the Divine working in the believer, and of its

final realization he has this “earnest,” or pledge of assurance, God has

given us already the “earnest of the Spirit,” who is the power that alone

can work out such a sublime result as our final triumph over the flesh and

sin, and meetness to take our place and part in a spiritual and heavenly

state. “It is because the Spirit dwells in us by faith while we are here that

we are to be raised hereafter. The body thus possessing a principle of life is

as a seed planted in the ground to be raised again in God’s good time”

(compare the sentence in ch. 1:22 and Romans 8:1-11).  Observe that the

Holy Spirit is presented to us under many aspects and figures; no one

representation of His Divine mission can exhaust His relations to us. We must

see His work on one side after another, and be willing to learn from all The figures

under which He is presented.


·         WHAT IS MEANT BY AN “EARNEST”? It is something offered as a

pledge and assurance that what is promised shall surely be given. But it has

been well pointed out that an “earnest” materially differs from a “pledge.”

A pledge is something different in kind, given as assurance for something

else, as may be illustrated by the sacraments; but an earnest is a part of the

thing to be given, as when a purchase is made and a portion of the money

is paid down at once. The idea of the “earnest” may be seen in the

firstfruits,” which are a beginning of, and assure the character of, THE




one point here is that it is an assurance of the final victory of the higher life

over the lower. We have indeed that higher life now, in its initial and

rudimentary stages, in having the Spirit dwelling in us.



NOW? Precisely a future in which the spiritual life shall be victorious and

supreme, and our vehicle of a body simply within the use of the Spirit. That

is full redemption, glory, and heaven.


6 “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in

the body, we are absent from the Lord:”  Therefore we are always confident;

literally, being of good courage.  The sentence in the Greek is unfinished (an

anacoluthon), but is resumed after the parenthesis by the repetition, “we are of

good courage.” Always (ch. 4:8). We are at home in the body.  The tent is pitched

in the desert, and even the pillar of fire can only shine through its folds. Yet the tent

may become brighter and brighter as life goes on.


                        “To me the thought of death is terrible,

                        Having such hold on life. To you it is not

                        More than a step into the open air

                        Out of a tent already luminous

                        With light which shines through

 its transparent folds.”



Absent from the Lord (John 14:2-3). Christ is indeed with us here and always; but the

nearness of presence and the clearness of vision in that future life will be so much

closer and brighter, that here, by comparison, we are absent from Him altogether.


7 (“For we walk by faith, not by sight:”)  For we walk by faith(ch. 4:18;

Hebrews 11:1; Romans 8:25).  Not by sight; rather, not by appearance; not by

anything actually seen. We do not yet see “face to face” (I Corinthians 13:12),

but are guided by things which “eye hath not seen.” (I Corinthians  2:9)

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” The home is in the midst

of visible objects that exercise our sense of sight, but our Christian walk, or

movement from one world to another, is not directed by the eye, but by faith, the

sense of the invisible. We know what are the functions of the eye. If we did not, the

antithesis would convey no meaning. The eye receives impressions from external

things, communicates them to the soul, is a main organ in developing thought and

feeling, acts on the imagination and the will, and is continually adding something to

the contents of the inward nature. Faith is like it as a medium of reception, unlike it

in all else. Faith is not conversant with appearances.  We do not see Christ in His

glory; we see Him (using the term figuratively) in His Word by means of the Spirit;

and this seeing is faith. How do we know when we have faith? It attests itself in our

capacity to see the path leading to eternal glory, and it enables us to walk therein.

The path is from one home to another — from the home on the footstool to the home

by the throne of Christ, and faith has the reality and vigor of a home sentiment.

So strong and assuring is Paul’s confidence that he prefers to depart and be with




Walking by Faith (v. 7)


“We walk by faith, not by sight.” “Walking” is a familiar Scripture term for

a man’s life on the earth. It seems to have been associated with the figure

of life as a “pilgrimage” in the Old Testament, and as a “racecourse” in the

New Testament. It is joined to another word sometimes, and our “walk and

conversation are spoken of, our “going forward” and “turning about.”


·         WALK AS DESCRIPTIVE OF HUMAN LIFE. Its suitability will be

seen if we notice:


Ø      That it is a moving on. The days of our life go by as do the scenes in a


Ø      It is a slow moving on, steady and regular as the clock; time moves on,

bearing all its sons away.  (“We spend our years as a tale that is told.”

(Psalm 90:9)

Ø      It is a moving on through ever-changing scenes, as is the path of the

traveler, now up the hillside, now along the dusty highway, and now

through the shaded valleys, with ever-varying sights and sounds

around us.

Ø      It is a moving on somewhere; for he who walks has some end before him

or some home in view. So our human life has its goal. We pass on into

the eternal, where we may find our home.



“Walk by sight” does not mean “in the power of our vision,” but “under

the influence and persuasion of things seen and temporal.” It is the one

essential characteristic of the worldly man that his judgments and decisions

are made, his affections are ruled, and his conduct is ordered by what may

be gathered under the term “the fashion of this world.” (I Corinthians 7:31)


Ø      Sense-conditions determine his place.

Ø      Sense-requirements command his allegiance.

Ø      Sense-principles inspire his doings and decide his relations.


He “walks” with a horizon no further off than yonder ridge of hills, and with

no thought really bigger in his soul than “What shall we eat? what shall we

drink? and what shall we enjoy?” Saying this is the saddest revelation of

man’s essential wrongness before the God who “made him for Himself.”



We are not yet face to face with the eternal realities, but faith as the

substance of things hoped for” gives us a present actual possession of

those eternal things, and makes them exert their power on our “walk.”

Faith in the unseen and eternal can


Ø      cheer;

Ø      raise the tone;

Ø      bring steadfastness into our walk and conversation.


The realities are revealed to faith; human sight can only see passing

shadows of things.  (“While we look not at the things which are seen,

         but at the things which are not seen:  for the things which are seen

        temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” – v. 18)


8 “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to

be present with the Lord.”  To be absent, etc.; literally, to be away from the home

of the body, but to be at home with the Lord. To be present with the Lord. The hope

expressed is exactly the same as in Philippians 1:23-24, except that here (as in v. 4)

Paul expresses a desire not “to depart,” but to be quit of the body without the

necessity for death.  (Phillip Henry, Matthew Henry’s father, was known for praying

“Lord, help me to be ready to leave or to be left!” – CY  - 2010)  “At home in the

body;” yes, but it is a sad home at best, and trial and affliction (and may

 I say “the aging process”  - CY  - 2010) had begun to make it dreary to him.

To die is to be with the Lord, and he was “willing rather to be absent from the body,

and to be present with the Lord.”   As the next verse states whether absent or present,

at home or away from home, we labor that we “may be accepted of Him.”


9 “Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be

accepted of Him.”  We labor;   literally, we are emulous. This, says Bengel, is

“the sole legitimate ambition.” The same word occurs in Romans 15:20.

Whether present or absent;  literally, whether at home or away from home;

i.e. whether with Christ or separated from Him (as in v. 8); or,

“whether in the body or out of the body” (as in v. 6). The latter would resemble

I Thessalonians 5:10, “That whether we wake or sleep we may live with Him.” - 

We may be accepted of Him; literally, to be well pleasing to Him.


What was Paul’s view of life?


  • He regarded the body as the organ of himself. He speaks of it as a

            “house,” a “tabernacle,” (v. 1)


  • The soul he regards as the personality of his being. “We that are in this

            tabernacle,” (v. 4)  The soul, not the body, is the “I,” or self.


  • He regarded death as a mere change in the mode of his being. Death

            changes the house and the garment; it is not the extinction of the tenant or

            the wearer.


  • Death does not destroy the GREAT PURPOSE OF BEING.  It is the

characteristic of a rational being that he has some purpose in life —

the purpose is that in which he lives, it makes life valuable to him.

To a man who has no purpose in life or has lost his purpose, life

is deemed of little worth.



What was Paul’s purpose in life?


  • “Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be

      accepted of Him.” Is not this purpose sublimely reasonable? If there be a

            God, does not reason teach that to please Him should be the supreme

            purpose of all intelligent creatures? Now, Paul felt that death would not

            destroy this purpose. It destroys the purpose of the voluptuous, avaricious,

            etc.; “to be carnally minded is death” – (Romans 8:6) and hence to them it

            is terrible!  But it does not destroy the chief purpose of the Christian. In all           

            worlds and times his chief purpose will be to be “accepted of Him.”




The Two Bodies of the Saint (vs. 1-9)




Ø      Frail.

Ø      Perishing.

Ø      Often a burden.

Ø      Frequently a temptation.

Ø      Not helpful to spiritual life.

Ø      Subject to many pains.

Ø      Debased.




Ø      Eternal. (v. 1.) Having no tendencies towards decay, no marks of

coming death. A body of life. Stamped with the eternalness of God.


Ø      Heavenly. (v. 1.) The first body is of the earth, earthy; the second

body is spiritual and heavenly in origin and character. Capable of

heavenly joys. Fitted for heavenly service. Free from earthly

weaknesses, pains, and soil.


Ø      From God. (v. 1.) The present body is this in a certain sense, but it has

passed through the hands of the devil. The resurrection body shall be of

God and only of God, His unmarred workmanship. It shall be like the

glorified body united to Deity in the person of Jesus Christ: “Who shall

fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to

the body of His glory” (Philippians 3:21).



Frequently a condition of sorrow. “We that are in this tabernacle do groan,

being burdened” (v. 4). There are:


Ø      the ordinary afflictions which befall mankind;

Ø      the special chastisements of God inflicted for the saint’s welfare, but

still painful;

Ø      the sense of living in a strange country, not in his own — uncongenial


Ø      struggles against temptations: the presence and power of hated sin.




Ø      Revelation.

Ø      Preparation. “He that wrought us for this very thing” (v. 5).

Ø      The Spirits witness. We have the earnest of the Spirit, which is a pledge

of the fullness of the Spirit (v. 5). In the next life we shall be dominated

by the Spirit; shall have a spiritual body — one pervaded by the Spirit.

The apostle’s confidence is strong; he says, “We know; there was no

uncertainty about the matter.



desire is very intense especially when the lot is hard and the nature

spiritual. “We groan, longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which

is from heaven” (v. 2). The paramount attraction is, however, not in the

body itself, but in the fact that the union with Christ will be closer. We

shall be present with the Lord — at home with the Lord (v. 8). Now we

walk by faith; then we shall see Him as He is, and be like Him (I John 3:2).

The gaining of the heavenly body will be the gain of closer access to our

Lord, and will be the entering into our heavenly home, out of which we

shall go no more forever.





Ø      The intermediate state between death and the resurrection will probably

not be so perfect as that which follows.


Ø      There is a natural shrinking from death. “Not for that we would be

unclothed, but that we would be clothed upon” (v. 4). The apostle seems

to desire what is expressed in I Thessalonians 4:17 “Then we which are

alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds,

to meet the Lord in the air:  and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

A translation, not death and tarrying for the resurrection.



OR HEAVENLY BODY. To please Christ. This the apostle made his

aim” (v. 9). This was his supreme ambition. He resolved to live, not to

himself, but to Christ and for Christ. Note, that the life for the heavenly and

earthly body is to be the same. We must do now what we hope to do by

and by. Heavenly life in the earthly body is the preparation for the heavenly

life in the heavenly body.



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.”


CHRIST - (This is one of  the two Divine Imperatives in scripture – the other being

“YE MUST BE BORN AGAIN” [John 3:7] – CY – 2010).   We must all appear;

The verb is not the same as in Romans 14:10, which occurs in ch. 4:14.  Before the

judgment seat of Christ.  The special final judgment is represented as taking place

before the βήμα bema – judgment seat  of Christ, although in Romans 14:10 the best

reading is “of God” (Matthew 25:31-32; see also John 5:22,27). Paul might naturally

use this Roman and Greek idea of the βήμα, being too familiar with it in his own

experience  (compare Acts 12:21; 18:12; 25:6; Romans 14:10).   The things done

in his body;  literally, the things (done) by the instrumentality of the body.

Another reading (which only differs by a single letter from this) is,

“the proper things of the body” (τὰ ἴδια τοῦ σώματοςta idia tou somatos); i.e. the

things which belong to it, which it has made its own.  Paul, always intent on one

subject at a time, does not stop to coordinate this law of natural retribution and

inexorable Nemesis with that of the “forgiveness of sins” (I Corinthians 5:11;

Romans 3:25), or with the apparently universal hopes which he seems sometimes

to express (Romans 5:17-18; 11:32).  According to that he hath done;  rather, with

reference to the things he did. The aorist shows that all life will be as it were

concentrated to one point.. Observe that each is to receive the natural issues of what

he has done. There is to be an analogy between the sin and the retribution. The latter

is but the ripe fruit of  the former. We shall be punished by the action of natural laws,

not of arbitrary inflictions. We shall reap what we have sown, not harvests of other

grain (Romans 2:5-11; Revelation 22:12; Galatians 6:7).  Whether it be good or bad.

Paul, who always confines himself to one topic at a time, does not here enter on

the question of the cutting off of the entailed curse by repentance and forgiveness.

He leaves unsolved the paradox between normal inevitable consequence and

free remission.


Paul says in Galatians 6:7 – “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap”

How near the two worlds are — the growing field here, the harvest in another

existence hereafter! But observe another idea.  “We must all appear,” we must be

made manifest, every one shown in his true character. Jesus said “whatsoever ye

have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have

spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon housetops” – (Luke 12:3)

Not only will there be recompense as a judicial procedure, but a revelation “in the

day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ.”  (Romans 2:16)




Assurance of Eternal Life; Faith and Its Effects (vs. 1-10)


Death intervenes between the present state of affliction and the glory of

heaven, but death is only the destruction of the body now existing. It is not

an end to bodily form and life. This is no speculation of the apostle’s; it is

an assurance, “for we know that if this earthly tent be destroyed, it will be

followed by an enduring habitation — a mansion, not a tabernacle. In the

earthly body he groans, not because it is a body, but because it is flesh and

blood suffering under the effects of sin, and hence he longs for the “house

which is from heaven.” It is a heaven for body as well as soul that he so

ardently desires. To be bodiless even in glory is repulsive to his nature,

since it would be nakedness. Death is repugnant. The separation of soul

and body, however, is only temporary; it is not for unclothing, but for a

better clothing, one suited to the capacities of spirit. If the fourth verse

repeats the second verse, it enlarges the idea and qualifies it by stating the

reason why he would be “clothed upon,” viz. “that mortality might be

swallowed up of life.” And this longing is no mere instinct or natural

desire, but a feeling inspired of God, who “hath wrought us for the

self-same thing.”  (According to Ecclesiastes 3:11, God has set eternity

in our heart!  CY – 2018)   A Divine preparation was going on in this provisional

tabernacle — a training of the spirit for the vision of Christ and a training

of the body for the immortal companionship of the spirit. An “earnest” or

pledge of this was already in possession. The sufferings sanctified by the

Spirit, the longing, the animation of hope, were so many proofs and tokens

of awaiting blessedness. How could he be otherwise than confident? Yea;

he is “always confident.” Though now confined to the body, yet it is a

home that admits of affections and loving fellowships; and though it

necessitates absence from the Lord and the house of “many mansions,”

nevertheless it is a home illumined by faith. “For we walk by faith, not by

sight.” The home is in the midst of visible objects that exercise our sense of

sight, but our Christian walk, or movement from one world to another, is

not directed by the eye, but by faith, the sense of the invisible. We know

what are the functions of the eye. If we did not, the antithesis would

convey no meaning. The eye receives impressions from external things,

communicates them to the soul, is a main organ in developing thought and

feeling, acts on the imagination and the will, and is continually adding

something to the contents of the inward nature. Faith is like it as a medium

of reception, unlike it in all else. Faith is not conversant with appearances.

We do not see Christ in His glory; we see Him (using the term figuratively)

in His Word by means of the Spirit; and this seeing is faith. How do we

know when we have faith? It attests itself in our capacity to see the path

leading to eternal glory, and it enables us to walk therein. The path is from

one home to another — from the home on the footstool to the home by the

throne of Christ, and faith has the reality and vigor of a home sentiment.

So strong and assuring is Paul’s confidence that he prefers to depart

and be with Christ. “At home in the body;” yes, but it is a sad home at best,

and trial and affliction had begun to make it dreary to him. To die is to be

with the Lord, and he was “willing rather to be absent from the body, and

to be present with the Lord.” Whether absent or present, at home or away

from home, we labor that we “may be accepted of Him.” To make himself

and his life acceptable to Christ was paramount to every other desire; to

labor was his absorbing thought. Such an energetic soul as his must have

felt that its energies were immortal. There was no selfishness in his hope of

heaven, no longing to be freed from work, no yearning for the luxury of

mere rest. It was to be with Christ, for Christ was his heaven. If this was

his confidence, if he was laboring untiringly to be acceptable to the Lord

Jesus, was he understood and appreciated as Christ’s apostle and servant

among men? The burden of life was not the work he did, but the obstacles

thrown in his way — the slanders he had to bear, the persecutions open

and secret that followed him everywhere. He thinks of the “judgment seat

of Christ.” It will be a judicial inquiry into works done and “every one”

shall “receive [‘receive back’] the things done in his body.” Measure for

measure, whatsoever has been done here shall return to every one. The

individuality of the judgment, the complete unveiling of personal character,

the correspondence between the reward and the good done on earth and

between the retribution and the evil done here, he brings out distinctly.

This was with him a fixed habit of thought. “Whatsoever a man soweth that shall

he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)  How near the two worlds are — the growing field

here, the harvest in another existence hereafter! But observe another idea.

“We must all appear” (v. 10), we must be made manifest, every one shown in his

true character. Not only will there be recompense as a judicial procedure,

but a revelation “in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by

Jesus Christ.” (Romans 2:16)  Paul had vindicated himself again and again from

the charges made against him; but the battle was now going on, nor was there

any sign of its speedy abatement. It was natural that he should have the

idea of manifestation prominent in his mind, since we all think of the future

world very much according to some peculiarity in our experience on earth.

How engrossed, heart and soul, in his apostleship is beautifully indicated by

the fact that heaven itself was the heaven of Paul as the apostle of

Christ. The sufferings of the man are never mentioned. First and last, we

have the autobiography of an apostle, and hence, looking forward to the

glory to be revealed, the supreme felicity is that he will appear in his true

character as the Lord’s servant.




The Judgment (v. 10)




Ø      It is a matter of most definite revelation.  “Because He

hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world

in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained;

whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, IN THAT



Ø      It is necessary for the vindication of Divine justice.


·         CHRIST WILL BE THE JUDGE. “The judgment seat of Christ.”


Ø      A very solemn fact:

o        for those who have rejected His salvation and His rule;

o        or who have treated His claims with neglect and indifference;

o        or who have professed to believe on Him, but in works have

denied Him.

Ø      A very joyous fact for those who have loved, confessed, and served Him.

Ø      A very impressive tact that THE ONE WHO DIED FOR MEN




one will be missing. How vast an assemblage! A great multitude, and yet

no one lost in the crowd! We shall be conscious of the great number which

no man can number, and yet be impressed with our own individuality.

Each one will receive (v. 10) — one by one. Every day we are brought

a day nearer to that dread convocation.





Ø      Of character.

Ø      Of condition.

Ø      Of life.


We shall be “made manifest.” Life secrets will cease. Successful deceptions

will be successful no longer. All veils and disguises will be torn off. The

world as well as GOD WILL SEE US AS WE ARE!



OUR DOOM. This will be according to the deeds of our life. Will the

faithful then be justified by faith? Yes; by faith which produces works.

Profession will then go for very little. “Lord, Lord, have we not

prophesied in thy name?  and in thy name have cast out devils?  and

in thy name done many wonderful works?”  (Matthew 7:22) will be but an

empty cry. Ability to pray fluently or to preach eloquently will not come into

the account. Nor the ability to look extremely pious. Nor facility of talk

respecting “blessed seasons” enjoyed on earth, What faith has wrought in

us will be the question. What our Christianity has amounted to really and

practically. “A name to live” then will be nothing if we are found “dead.”

(Revelation 3:1)  Upon the branch professedly united to the Vine fruit will

then be sought.  (John 15)  “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:14-26)

At the judgment it will seem very dead indeed. Yet not by the mere outward

act shall we be judged. The motive will be considered as well as the actual deed.

“Faith which worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6) will be diligently sought for.



Ø      The distinction between good and evil will be strictly drawn at the


Ø      There will be degrees of reward and punishment. Some “saved as by

fire;” some having an “abundant entrance;” some beaten with few stripes,

some with many. It will be according to what he hath done.”

Ø      The dependence of the future upon the present. We shall receive the

things done in the body (whether good or bad – Ecclesiastes 12:14).

A remarkable expression. What we do now we shall receive then.

We are now writing the sentence of the judgment!


o        Time is sowing.

o        Judgment is reaping.


“What manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and

godliness?”  (II Peter 3:11)



                                    The Judgment Seat of Christ (v. 10)


It is needlessly forcing language to regard this expression as referring to

the general judgment of mankind. This letter is addressed to the saints, the

Church at Corinth, and it may be specially instructive to keep within the

limits of Paul’s thought when he said, “For we — that is, we Christians

“must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” Such a judgment,

or appraisement, of our conduct is involved in the very idea of our

mastership to Christ. He will be sure one day to take account of His

servants, and this Jesus Himself taught as in His parables of the talents and

pounds. Christians are as stewards, men entrusted for a time with their

Master’s goods. They are even to be thought of as “slaves,” wholly the

Master’s possession; and He has full power to estimate their conduct,

reward faithfulness, and punish neglect and disobedience. Paul even

loves to think of himself as the bond-slave of Jesus. And the apostles long

to prove so faithful in all things that they may not be ashamed, or terrified,

or loathe to meet their Master at His coming. “The feeling of accountability

may take two forms. In a free and generous spirit it may be simply a sense

of duty; in a slavish and cowardly spirit it will be a sense of compulsion.”

To us it should be a joy and an inspiration that our own loved Master will

appraise our lives; and that, if He is true to observe our faults, He will be no

less gracious to recognize what He may call our goodness and our

obedience. The thought of His judgment can only be a terror to the

rebellious, disobedient, and willful among His servants. We notice three



·         LOYALTY TO CHRIST IS OUR SPIRIT. “We call Him Master and

Lord, and we say well; for so He is.” The rule of our life is the will of our

glorified and ever-present Lord. We have voluntarily given ourselves to

Him. To Him we owe our supreme allegiance. He is to us what his queen

and country are to the general who leads forth his army. We must be ever

true to Him; and He, and He alone, is the Lord whose approval or

condemnation of our work we should seek. Because I am loyal to Christ I

will care about nobody’s judgment of my life until I know His.



the very essence of the matter. Christ is served by righteousness, and really

by nothing else. Our place of service, our kind of service, our success in

service, are quite the secondary things. The first thing is the rightness with

which we do the service. Was the work good? this it is that Christ asks.

Herein Christ differs from all other masters. They can only judge the work;

He judges the character which found expression through the work. It is

that personal righteousness that Christ will search for when He judges His




AND OUR HOPE. A day of final judgment is men’s expectation, but not

their hope. It is too often a terror to them, a thought put away in fear.

Christ’s judgment of His saints is our hope; it is the first day of our glory.

The thought of it may make us serious and watchful, but it never can make

us sad. Christ will test and try our lives. Christ will weigh us in His

balances. Christ will apportion our future place. Christ will chastise if there

be found evil in us, and His chastisements shall be our joy; for we too want

all the evil in us found out and put away. We even glory in this coming

appraisement by our Lord; for if, in subtle disguises, evil lurks in any of our

secret places of heart and life, Jesus will find it out, and will not leave us

until we stand in the likeness of His own spotless purity. And upon our

Lord’s judgment of us our future, our eternal location and work, must

depend. Tested in this life, He will know what we can do; and it may be that

He will give us trust of higher things, “authority over ten cities.”  

(Luke 19:17)




`                       The Ministry of Reconciliation (vs. 11-21)


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.”  Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord we persuade men.

Multitudes of texts have been torn from their context and grossly

abused and misinterpreted, but few more so than this. It is the text usually

chosen by those who wish to excuse a setting forth of God under the

attributes of Moloch. With any such views it has not the remotest

connection. It simply means, “Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord, we

persuade men,” either “to keep in view the same fear of the Lord as

ourselves,” or (reverting to his last assertion of his own sincerity and

integrity in v. 9), “that our sole ambition is to please God.” The

rendering, “the terror of the Lord,” for the every day expression, “the fear

of the Lord,” was wantonly intruded into modem versions by Beza, and has

not a single word to be said in its favor.  The phrase means (as always) not

the dread which God inspires, but the holy fear - φόβον phobonfear which

mingles with our love of Him. To teach men to regard God with terror is to undo

the best teaching of all Scripture, which indeed has too often been the main end

of human systems of theology - “we persuade men” - Not in a bad sense (Galatians

1:10).  The attacks and calumnies of enemies make it necessary to vindicate our

integrity to men; but we have no need to do so to God, because He already knows

us.  We are made manifest unto God;  rather, but to God we have been (and are)

manifested. He needs no self-defense from us. Are made manifest in your

consciences;  but I hope that I have been, and am now, made manifest in

your consciences. In other words, I trust that this apology into which you have

driven me has achieved its ends; and that, whatever may be your prejudices and

innuendoes, before the bar of the individual conscience of each of you we now

stand clear (compare ch. 4:2).


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.” For we commend not ourselves again unto you.

Still reverting to the charge that he was guilty of self praise, he says that his

object is not this, for it was needless (ch. 3:2-3). But give you occasion to glory

on our behalf. But we speak as we have done to give you a starting-point for

something to boast of on our behalf. He has already said (ch. 1:4) that the teachers

and the taught in their mutual affection ought to have some ground for “boasting”

(i.e. for speaking with some praise and exultation) of each other. The Corinthians

were being robbed of this by the interested lies of Paul’s opponents, who thought

only about outward appearances. This is why he has set forth to them the aim and

glory of his ministry. Nothing could be more gentle and forbearing than such a

mode of stating his object. Yet for those who were sufficiently finely strung to

understand it, there was an almost pathetic irony involved in it. Which glory in

appearance, and not inheart;  literally, in face. The grounds of their boasting,

whatever they were, were superficial and external (ch. 10:7), not deep and sincere.

But those who would judge of Paul aright must look into his very heart, and not on

his face.


13 “For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be

sober, it is for your cause.”  For whether we be beside ourselves;  rather,

for whether we were mad.  Evidently some person or some faction had said of Paul,

“He is beside himself,” just as Festus said afterwards, “Paul, thou art mad,”

(Acts 26:24) and as the Jews said of Paul’s Lord and Master (John 10:20).

The fervor of the apostle, his absorption in his work, his visions and ecstasies,

his “speaking with tongues more than they all,” (I Corinthians 14:18) - his

indifference to externals, his bursts of emotion, might all have given color to this

charge, which he here ironically accepts. “Mad or self controlled, all was for your

sakes.” It is to God; rather for God. My “enthusiasm,” “exaltation,” or, if you will,

my “madness,” was but a phase of my work for Him.  We be sober. The word

“sober” – σωφρον - sophron) is derived from two words which mean” to save

the mind.” It indicates wise self control, such as was represented also by the

many-sided Latin word frugi. It is the exact antithesis to madness (Acts 26:25).

What you call my “madness” belongs to the relation between  my own soul and

God; my practical sense and tact are for you – “it is for your cause.”

literally, for you.


14 “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that

if one died for all, then were all dead:”  The love of Christ.   It matters little

whether this be interpreted as a subjective genitive, “Christ’s love to man,”

or as an objective genitive,“our love to Christ;” for the two suppose and

interfuse each other. Paul’s usage, however, favors the former interpretation

(ch. 13:14; I Corinthians 16:24). Constraineth.  The word means that it compresses

us, and therefore keeps us irresistibly to one object (Luke 12:50).  That if one died

for all, then were all dead.  This is an unfortunate mistranslation and wrong reading

for that one died for all, therefore all died. What compels Paul to sacrifice himself

to the work of God for his converts is the conviction, which he formed once for

all at his conversion, that One, even Christ, died on behalf of all men

(Romans 5:15-19) a redeeming death (v. 21); and that, consequently, in that

death, all potentially died with him — died to their life of sin, and rose to the

life of righteousness. Paul assumes as an undoubted fact that Christ died for all.

Because of this fact he concludes:


  • That the whole world were in a ruined condition: “Then were all dead.”


  • That this fact should inspire all to act with the same sacrificing spirit as

            Christ. “He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto

            themselves, but unto Him which died for them and rose again!”  (v. 15)


The best comments on this bold and concentrated phrase are — “I died to the Law

that I might live to Christ;” “I have been crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:19-20);

and, Ye died, and your life has been hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).

When Christ died, all humanity, of which He was the federal Head, died potentially

with him to sin and selfishness, as he further shows in the next verse.



The Constraining Influence of the Love of Christ (v. 14)


·         CONSIDER THE LOVE OF CHRIST. Shown in:


Ø      His Advent. Relinquishment of heavenly glory. The highest place above

exchanged for one of the lowest on earth.  “For ye know the grace of

our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes

He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich.”

(ch. 8:9)


Ø      His Assumption of human nature. A vast condescension. A most

striking proof of love.


Ø      His Life. Miracles, acts of kindness, words, spirit.


Ø      His Death. A transcendent proof.

o       Death for enemies.

o       Death at the hands of those He came to save.

o       Most painful death,

§         physically,

§         mentally, and

§         spiritually.


“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”


Ø      A death the object of which was the redemption, purification,

exaltation, and eternal happiness of men.


Ø      Intercession. “He ever liveth to make intercession” FOR US!

(Hebrews 7:25).



constrained the apostle — “compressed with irresistible power all his

energies into one channel.” Constraineth — its influence was continuous.

Its power was not soon spent; rather that power increased as the love of

Christ was increasingly realized.


Ø      Negatively. Not to live to himself (v. 15). There was now a greater

power operating upon him than the mighty power of self.


Ø      Positively. To live to Christ (ibid.). The love of Christ overmastered

him. He felt that through it he had been purchased with a great price,

and therefore sought to glorify Christ in his body and spirit which

were peculiarly His.


o       By a blameless life.

o       By seeking to show forth Christ in his character, spirit, acts, etc.

o       By submitting his will to Christ’s in all things.

o       By cherishing a deep love for Christ.

o       By seeking to extend the kingdom and to increase the glory of


o       By being wholly devoted to Christ. He was wont to speak of

himself as the “slave of Christ.”


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.” - That they should

live no longer the psychic, i.e. the animal, selfish, egotistic life, but to their risen Savior

(Romans 14:7-9; I  Corinthians 6:19).


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 no man after the flesh. It is a consequence of my death with Christ that I have

done with carnal, superficial, earthly, external judgments according to the appearance,

and not according to the heart.  Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh.

The word for “know” is different from the one just used (οἴδαμενoidamenare

acquainted with (above) and ἐγνώκαμενegnokamenwe have known

and may be rendered, “though we have taken note of.” The whole phrase,

which has been interpreted in multitudes of different ways, and has led to

many different hypotheses, must be understood in accordance with the

context. Paul is saying that he has now renounced all mere earthly and human

judgments; and he here implies that the day has been (whether — which is a

very unlikely view — before his conversion, when he looked on Christ as a

“deceiver,” or just after his conversion, when possibly he may only have

known Him partially as the Jewish Messiah) when he knew Christ only in this

fleshly way; but henceforth he will know Him so no more.  Probably this

“knowing Christ after the flesh” is a rebuke to those members of the Christ party at

Corinth who may have boasted that they were superior to all others because they

had personally seen or known Christ — a spirit which Christ Himself not only

discouraged (John 16:7) but even rebuked (Matthew 12:50). To Paul Christ is

now regarded as far above all local, national, personal, and Jewish limitations,

and as the principle of spiritual life in the heart of every Christian.  In the view

which he took of his Lord Paul henceforth has banished all Jewish particularism

for gospel catholicity. He regards Christ, not in the light of earthly relationships




There is a new social standard here.  “Henceforth we know no man after the flesh.”

The world has numerous standards by which it judges men, birth, wealth, office, etc.

To a man filled and fired with love to Christ these are nothing. He estimates man by

his rectitude, not by his rank; by his spirit, not by his station; by his principles, not

by his property.


17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things

are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Therefore. If even a

human, personal, external knowledge of Christ is henceforth of no significance,

 it follows that there must have been a total change in all relations towards Him.

The historic fact of such a changed relationship is indicated clearly in John 20:17.

Mary Magdalene was there lovingly taught that a “recognition of Christ after the

flesh,” i.e. as merely a human friend, was to be a thing of the past. In Christ;

i.e. a Christian. For perfect faith attains to mystic union with Christ.

A new creature; rather, a new creation (Galatians 6:15) - the deep truth

of spiritual regeneration and the new birth (John 3:3; Ephesians 2:10; 4:23-24;

Colossians 3:3) – To be “in Christ” is to be in His Spirit, in His character, to

live in His ideas, principles, etc. Such a man is “a new creature.”   The man

has a new “SPIRITUAL HISTORY!  He is a “new creature”, a product of

the work of God, a new thing according to the Divine Plan – (Revelation 13:8) –

Old things are passed away: literally, the ancient things, all that belongs to the

old Adam.  Behold. The word expresses the writer’s vivid realization of the truth

he is uttering.  All things. The whole sphere of being, and therewith the whole

aim and character of life. The clause illustrates the “new creation.”



                                                A New Creature. (v. 17)




Ø      The believer has died with Christ. (v . 14.) Christ is his Substitute, has

borne his sins, has made complete satisfaction for his guilt. By faith he

is so united to Christ that what Christ has done is imputed to him. He is

thus new in relation to God. He was condemned; now he is justified.


Ø      The believer partakes of the life of Christ. He is “risen with Christ”

(Colossians 3:1). He has received the Spirit of Christ. Having been

justified, he is now being sanctified. The likeness of the Redeemer is

being wrought upon and in him by the Holy Ghost. There is thus a “new

creation.” The old life was a life of sin, but the new life to which he has

risen is a life of righteousness. The love of Christ constrains him (v. 14)

to live, not to himself, but to Christ.


·         HOW THE NEWNESS IS MANIFESTED. In the believer’s:


Ø      spirit;

Ø      speech;

Ø      character;

Ø      acts;

Ø      plans, purposes, desires, etc.


All things are become new” (v. 17). There is no part of the believer’s

life from which the newness should be absent. Whilst not yet perfect,

manifestly a great change has taken place: “Old things are passed away”

(v. 17).


·         THIS NEWNESS FURNISHES A TEST. What have we more than

our profession of Christianity? Have we been transformed; made new

creatures? “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). Can faith save a man

faith which has a name to live, but is dead; faith which we only know a

man possesses because he tells us so? We are not in Christ at all unless

thereby we have become new creatures. The test is beyond appeal. The

sentence of the judgment will proceed upon the assumption of its

infallibility (v. 10). All men in Christ become new creatures. “If any

man,” etc. A decided change takes place in the best as well as in the worst.

All men may become NEW CREATURES IN CHRIST!  The vilest can be

recreated equally with the most moral. This newness is not to be waited for

till we enter another world. It belongs to this sphere in which we now are.

Unless we are new creatures in this world we shall not be new creatures in

another. It is on earth that “new creatures” are specially needed.


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;”

And all things are of God; literally, but all things (in this “new creation”)

are from God.  Who hath reconciled us; rather, who (by Christ’s one offering

of Himself) reconciled us to Himself. We were His enemies (Romans 5:10; 11:28),

but, because He was still our Friend and Father, He brought us back to Himself

by Christ.  The ministry of reconciliation. The ministry which teaches the

reconciliation which He has effected for us. That is, all things pertaining to this

new creation.  The great want of man is reconciliation to God. Man’s alienation

or apostasy from his Maker is the sin of all his sins, and the source of all his

miseries. His reconciliation is not the means to his salvation; it is his salvation.

Friendship with Him is heaven. On  the other hand, alienation is hell. A river

cut from the fountain dries up; a branch cut from the tree withers and dies;

a planet cut from the sun rushes into ruin. Separate a soul from God its

Fountain, its Root, its Center, and it dies — dies to all that makes

existence tolerable. Such, then, is WHAT CHRIST DOES FOR US!



                        The Ministry of Reconciliation (v. 18)


Every good man is a peacemaker. Both unconsciously by his character and

disposition, and consciously and actively by his efforts, he composes

differences and promotes concord and amity among his fellow men. The

Christian minister, however, goes deeper when he aims at securing

harmony between God and man. And he purposes to effect this

reconciliation, not by the use of ordinary persuasion, but by the

presentation of the gospel of Christ.





Ø      There is a moral Ruler and a moral law, righteous and authoritative.

Ø      Against this Ruler men have rebelled, they have broken the law, and thus

introduced enmity and conflict.

Ø      Divine displeasure has thus been incurred, and Divine penalties, by

which just displeasure is expressed.




and not only so, He is the wronged, offended party. If any overtures for

reconciliation are to be made, they must proceed from Him. He must

provide the basis of peace and He must commission the heralds of peace.



RECONCILIATION. The Lord Jesus has every qualification which can be

desired in an efficient Mediator. He partakes the nature of God and of man;

He is appointed and accepted by the Divine Sovereign; He has effected by

His sacrifice a work of atonement or reconciliation; His Spirit is a Spirit of

peace. And in fact He has “made peace,” removing all obstacles on God’s

side and providing for the removal of all on man’s.



RECONCILIATION. It is a moral and not a sacerdotal ministry; it is

experimental, being entrusted to those who are themselves reconciled; it is

a ministry accompanied with supernatural power, even the energy of the

Spirit of God; it is an authoritative ministry, which men are not at liberty to

disregard or despise; it is an effectual ministry, for those who discharge it

faithfully are unto many the savour of life unto life.”   (ch. 2:15-16)


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.”  God was in Christ, reconciling the world

unto Himself. This and the many other passages of Scripture which always

represent the atonement as the work of the blessed Trinity, and as being the

result of the love, not of the wrath, of God, ought to have been a sufficient

warning against the hideous extravagance of those forensic statements of the

atonement which have disgraced almost a thousand years of theology (Romans

5:10; I John 4:10). That God’s purpose of mercy embraced all mankind, and

not an elect few, is again and again stated in Scripture (see Colossians 1:20).

Not imputing their trespasses unto them.  See this developed in Romans 15:5-8. 

Hath committed (entrusted) unto us;  literally, who also deposited in us,

as though it were some sacred treasure.


God is a Great Worker. He is the eternal Fountain of life in unremitting flow. He is

essentially active, the mainspring of all activity in the universe but that of sin. There

are at least four organs through which He works material laws, animal instincts,

moral mind, and Jesus Christ.


  • By material laws He leads on the great revolutions of inanimate nature in all

      its departments;


  • By animal instincts He preserves, guides, and controls all the sentient tribes

      that populate the earth, the air, and the sea;


  • By the moral mind, through the laws of reason and the dictates of conscience,

      God governs the vast empire of mind; and


  • By Jesus Christ, He works out the redemption of sinners in our world. There is

      no more difficulty in regarding Him in the one Person, Christ, for a certain

            work than there is in regarding Him as being in material nature, animal instinct,

            or moral mind, The words lead us to make three remarks concerning God’s

work in Christ.:


Ø      It is a work of RECONCILING HUMANITY TO GOD. “God was in

                        Christ reconciling the world unto Himself,” The work of reconciling                               

                        implies two things — enmity on the side of one of the parties, and a                                  

                        change of mind in one of the parties. The enmity here is not on God’s

                        part — He is love; but on man’s. The “carnal mind is enmity with

                        God.”  (Romans 8:7)  Nor is the change on God’s part. He cannot

                        change, He need not change. For I am the Lord, I change not;

                        therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” – (Malachi 3:6)

                        He could never become more loving and merciful. The change needed

                        is on man’s part, and on man’s exclusively. Paul speaks of the world

                        being reconciled to God, not of God to the world. The “world;” not a                               

                        section of the race, but ALL MANKIND!


Ø      It is a work involving the REMISSION OF SINS. “Not imputing

                        [reckoning] their trespasses unto them.” The reconciled man is no                                    

                        longer reckoned guilty. Three facts will throw light on this. The state of                             

                        enmity towards God is:


o       A state of sin. There is a virtue in disliking some

characters, but it is evermore a sin to dislike

God, for He is the All-good.


o       A state of sin liable to punishment. Indeed, sin is its own



o       In reconciliation, the enmity being removed, the

punishment and their consequences.  This God

does in Christ.



Ø      It is a work in which GENUINE MINISTERS ARE ENGAGED.

      “He hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 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.” (vs. 19-20)       



o       The position, of the true minister, he acts on behalf of

Christ, and stands in “Christ’s stead.”


o       The earnestness of the true minister. “We pray you.”

                                                From the whole we observe concerning this work:


o       That it is a work of unbounded mercy. Whoever heard

      the offended party seeking the friendship of the offender?


o       It is a work essential to human happiness. In the nature

      of the case there is no happiness without this



o       It is a work exclusively of moral influence. No coercion

      on the one hand, no angry denunciations on the other,

can do it; it can only be effected by the logic of love.


o       It is a work that must be gradual. Mind cannot be

      forced; there must be reflection, repentance, resolution.




God the Reconciler (v. 19)


“God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.” This is the first

occurrence, in the order of time, in Paul’s Epistles, of this word

reconcile as describing God’s work in Christ. The idea involved is that

man had been at enmity and had now been atoned (at-oned), and brought

into concord with God. It will be noted that the work is described as

originating with the Father and accomplished by the mediation of the Son.



This may be presented as a disturbance occurring between:


Ø      a Creator and His creatures;

Ø      a King and His subjects; or

Ø      more worthily in this case, a Father and His children.


The point of impression is, that the disturbance is in no sense due to any

action or neglect of God as Creator, King, or Father, but is wholly due to

the self-willed and rebellious conduct of the creatures, subjects, or children.

It involved a state of enmity, a withdrawal of pleasant relations, and acts of

judgment on the part of God. All these statements need illustration and

enforcement. Only as the difficulty is duly estimated can the grace of the

remedy be fully understood.



RECONCILEMENT.  Not man’s side. The offenders did not seek

forgiveness and restoration.  This is true:


Ø      historically,

Ø      experimentally.


None of us, now, are before God in seeking reconciliation. The offended

Creator, King, and Father seeks to make both one, and break down the

middle walls of partition. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto

Himself.” (v. 19)  The deep ground of redemption is God’s pitying love for us

sinners. We must not think that we claimed the love or that Christ

persuaded God to show it. “God so loved the world as to give His only

begotten Son.” (John 3:16)  The enmity of man to Him grieved Him, and

love found the ways in which to break the enmity, and win, by a free

forgiveness, the very heart of the offenders.



All are summed up in Christ. He is the Agent through whom God practically

carries out His reconciling purpose. We may gather all the ways under two heads.


Ø      God reconciles by removing the hindrances.

Ø      God reconciles by persuading the offenders. For both Christ is the

Agency. He takes “the handwriting of ordinances that was against us

out of the way, nailing it to His cross.” (Colossians 2:14)  He could say,

“I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32)  Plead, in

conclusion, that God’s reconciling mercies, embodied in Christ Jesus,

ought to be a mighty persuasion on us to yield ourselves to Him. They

should say in our hearts, “Be ye reconciled to God.”   (v. 20)


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.”

Now then. It is, then, on Christ’s behalf that we are ambassadors. This excludes

all secondary aims. Paul uses the same expression in Ephesians 6:20, adding with

fine contrast that he is “an ambassador in fetters.”  As though God did beseech

you by us; rather, as if God were exhorting you by our means.  In Christ’s stead;  

rather, we, on Christs behalf, beseech you.  Be ye reconciled to God. This is the

sense of the embassy. The aorist implies an immediate acceptance of the offer of




Ambassadors for Christ (v. 20)


Even among the members of the Corinthian Church there were those who

had offended the Lord by their inconsistency and who needed to be

reconciled. How much more was and is this true of mankind at large!

There is no denying the need of A GOSPEL AND OF A MINISTRY



  • WHO ARE CHRIST’S AMBASSADORS? Probably the language is

most justly applicable to the apostles only, inasmuch as their commission

and credentials were altogether special. An ambassador owes his

importance, not to himself, but to the power he represents, the message he

bears. The preachers of Christ are all heralds, if they cannot be designated

ambassadors. They may learn hence the dignity of their office and their

personal unworthiness and insufficiency, and they may be admonished as to

the imperative duty of fidelity.



COMMISSIONED? They are the ministers of the King of heaven, and

their authority is that of the King’s Son. Thus their mission is one entrusted

by a superior power and authority; and not only so, it is from an offended

and outraged power. This appears when we consider:



speaking, an ambassador is one accredited to a power sovereign and equal

to that from whom he comes. But in this case the resemblance fails in this

respect, inasmuch as the ministers of the gospel address themselves to

offenders, to rebels, to those who cannot treat with Heaven upon equal

terms, or any terms of right.



“on Christ’s behalf,” “in Christ’s stead.” The Lord Himself first came upon

an embassage of mercy. He has entrusted to His apostles, and in a sense to

all His ministers, the office and trust of acting as His representatives, in so

far as they publish the declaration and offer of DIVINE MERCY!



ARE SENT TO EXECUTE? It is an office of mercy. Their duty is to

publish the tidings of redemption, the offer of pardon, and themselves to

urge and to entreat men that they accept the gospel and thus enjoy the

blessings of reconciliation with God.



                                    Ambassadors of Christ (v. 20)




Ø      Negative.


o       Not to originate their message.

o       Not to think lightly of their mission.

o       Not to seek their own glory.

o       Not to aim at their own comfort and pleasure as a

chief object.

o       Not to depart from their instructions. Not to add to them

nor take away.


Ø      Positive.

o       To go where they are sent.

o       To communicate the mind of their Lord.

o       To defend His honor.

o       To be influenced by the welfare of His kingdom.

o       To make their Master’s business pre-eminent.

o       To strive in every way to qualify themselves for their


o       To endeavor to do their work in the best possible way.

o       To endure loss and suffering rather than the interests

of their Master’s kingdom should be prejudiced.




Ø      That God loves men.

Ø      That He has given Christ for men. A vast proof of love! The first step

was on God’s side. Whilst we were enemies Christ died for us.

Ø      That Christ willingly gave Himself for men. The death of Christ was

perfectly voluntary.

Ø      That by the death of Christ God has provided the means for the

perfect reconciliation of the world to Himself. In the death of Christ

God does reconcile; i.e. He removes every obstacle to reconciliation.

Justification is fully prepared for the sinner. Christ was made sin for us

(v. 21). He bore our sins. Our sins were imputed to Him. God’s justice

was satisfied.  Christ is made our Substitute, and this so perfectly that

what we are is imputed to Him, and what He is is imputed to us.

He takes our sins;  we take His righteousness. No hindrance to

complete restoration thus remains, except hindrance which may lie

in the human heart itself.

Ø      That God earnestly invites men to be reconciled to Him. Amazing

condescension! The climax of Divine love! “As though God were

entreating (v. 20).




Ø      With courtesy.

Ø      With intense earnestness. It is momentous. What issues depend upon its

acceptance or rejection!

Ø      With zealous pleading.




Ø      As speaking on behalf of Christ.

Ø      As declaring the mind of God.


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.”  He hath made Him to be sin

for us;  rather, He made; he speaks with definite reference to the cross. The

expression is closely analogous to that in Galatians 3:13, where it is said that

Christ has been “made a curse for us.”  He was, as St. Augustine says,

delictorum susceptor, non commissor.” He knew no sin; nay, He was the very

righteousness, holiness itself (Jeremiah 23:6), and yet, for our benefit, God made

Him to be “sin” for us, in that He “sent Him in the likeness of sinful flesh and for

sin” (Romans 8:3).   Many have understood the word “sin” in the sense of sin

offering (Leviticus 5:9, Septuagint); but that is a precarious application of the word,

which is not justified by any other passage in the New Testament. We cannot, as

Dean Plumptre says, get beyond the simple statement, which Paul is content to

leave in its unexplicable mystery, “Christ identified with man’s sin; man

identified with Christ’s righteousness.” And thus, in Christ, God becomes

Jehovah- Tsidkenu, “the Lord our Righteousness.” That we might

be made the righteousness of God in Him;  - rather, that we might become.

The best comment on the pregnant significance of this verse is Romans 1:16-17,

which is developed and explained in so large a section of that great Epistle

(see 3:22-25; 4:5-8; 5:19 – a plan from the foundation of the worldRevelation

13:8). In Him.  In His blood is a means of propitiation by which the righteousness

of God becomes the righteousness of man (I Corinthians 1:30), so that man is

justified. The truth which Paul thus develops and expresses is stated by Peter and

John in a simpler and less theological form (I Peter 2:22-24; I John 3:5).  Also,

consider Hebrews 1:3)


“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.” From this passage we gather three

wonderful truths:


·         That Christ was ABSOLUTELY SINLESS. “Who knew no sin.”

            Intellectually, of course, He knew all the sin in the world; but He never

            experienced it, He was absolutely free from it.


Ø      He was “without sin,” although He lived in a sinful world. Of all the

                        millions who have been here HE ALONE moved amongst the world

                        and received NO TAINT of moral contamination.


Ø      He was “without sin,” although He was powerfully tempted. Had he

      been untemptable there would have been no virtue in His freedom from     

sin, and had there been no tempter there would have been nothing 

                        His sinlessness. “He was tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

                        (Hebrews 4:15)


·         That, though sinless, Christ was in some sense MADE SIN BY GOD.

            “He hath made him to be sin for us.” What meaneth this?


Ø      It cannot mean that God made the sinless One a sinner. This would be

                        impossible. No one can create a moral character for another.


Ø      It cannot mean that God imputed to Him the sin of the world, and

                        punished Him for the world’s sin. The idea of literal substitution is

                        repugnant to reason and unsustained by any honest interpretation of

                        God’s Holy Word. The atonement of Christ consists, not in what He

                        said, did, or suffered, but in what He was. HE WAS, IS, AND


                        AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD!  (John 1:29)  He Himself is the                              

                        Atonement, the Reconciler.  What, then, does it mean? Two facts may                                

                        throw some light:


o        That God sent Christ into a world of sinners to become closely

                                                identified with them. He was related to sinners, mingled with

                                                them, ate and drank with them, and was in the community,

                                                counted as one of them. “He was numbered with the                                                           

                                                transgressors.”  (Isaiah 53:12)


o        That God permitted this world of sinners to treat Christ as a

                  sinner.  He was calumniated, persecuted, insulted, murdered.

                  God permitted all this, and what He permits is, in Scripture    

                  language, often ascribed to Him.


·         That the Sinless One was thus made sin in order that men MIGHT

            PARTICIPATE IN GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS. “That we might be

            made the righteousness of God in Him.” Never did Divine moral excellence

            or the righteousness of God shine out with such glory to man as in the

            sufferings which Christ endured in consequence of this connection with

sinners. As the stars can only show themselves at night, and as aromatic plants

can only emit their precious odor by pressure, so the highest moral virtues can

            only come out by suffering and battling with the wrong. What self-sacrificing

            love, what unconquerable attachment to truth, what loyalty to the infinite Father,

            what sublime heroism of love, was here exhibited in the incarnation, the            

            beneficent deeds, and overwhelming sufferings of Jesus!


(I would like to recommend Jeremiah ch. 23 v. 6 – Jehovah-Tsidkenu – Names of

God by Nathan Stone – this web site – CY - 2010)




Reconciliation (vs. 18-21)


Great truths hang together. When the Lord Jesus had told Nicodemus of

regeneration, He immediately proceeded to teach him salvation through a

Redeemer. So when the Apostle Paul has spoken of new creation in Christ

(v. 17), he instantly follows it with the doctrine of reconciliation through Christ.


·         THE NEED OF RECONCILIATION. The world is not in harmony or

at peace with God. Sin has done it. On the one hand, God’s displeasure is

declared against the workers of iniquity; on the other, those workers are

afraid of God and alienated from Him. A great gulf yawns between God

and man; and the need of reconciliation is the need of a bridge across that

chasm. Or, a great mountain is cast up between God and man; and the need

of reconciliation is the need of that mountain becoming a plain, so that God

and man may not merely approach, but unite and be at peace. “What can be

the difficulty,” some exclaim, “if God desires it? Is He not omnipotent, and

can He not accomplish whatever He pleases?” But we speak of a moral

obstacle, not a physical. And, while God can certainly do what He pleases,

He cannot please to do anything but what is perfectly righteous. So there is

a difficulty. It is twofold: there is a sentence of condemnation in heaven

against the transgressors of the law of righteousness; and there is an enmity

to God or a cowering dread of Him in the hearts of those transgressors on



·         THE AUTHOR OF RECONCILIATION. “All things [i.e. all the things

of the new creation] are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself.” Man,

the creature and the sinner, should have been the first to seek the healing of

the breach, by suing for pardon and imploring mercy from God. But it has

not been so. The initiative has been taken by God, who is rich in mercy,

and, loving the world, has provided for its reconciliation by Jesus Christ.


·         THE METHOD OF RECONCILIATION. Messages sent from a distant

heaven or throne of God could not suffice. There was need of AN

AUTHORIZED MESSENGER!  So God sent His only begotten Son. For so

great a work was constituted A UNIQUE AND WONDERFUL PERSONALITY.

The Son of God became man and yet continued Divine. So, in the very

constitution of His person, He brought the Divine and the human together.

And thus His relation to both parties was such as perfectly fitted Him to be the

Reconciler. He loved God, and therefore was faithful to all Divine claims

and prerogatives; while at the same time He loved man and was intent on

securing his salvation.


Ø      He dealt with the difficulty on the side of eternal righteousness. He did

so by taking the room and the responsibility of the transgressors and

making atonement for them. And the hand of God was in this. “He hath

made him,” etc. (v. 21). “Made… sin,” though He never was a sinner, and

laden with it as a burden, enveloped in it as a mantle of shame. “Jehovah

laid upon him the iniquity of us all.” The issue is that we “become the

righteousness of God in Him.” And in this is nothing illusive or fictitious.

There was a real laying of our sins on THE LAMB OF GOD that there may

be a real laying or conferring of Divine righteousness on us who believe in His



Ø      He deals with the difficulty of alienated feeling. No change is needed in

the mind or disposition of God. He does not need to be persuaded to love

the world. All the salvation in Christ PROCEEDS FROM HIS LOVE!

But the enmity of men to God must be removed, and this is effected by the

revelation of God as gracious and propitious to sinners IN CHRIST

JESUS!  When this is known and believed, the heart turns to God and actual

reconciliation is made.


·         THE WORD OF RECONCILIATION. (vs. 19-20.) When Paul

preached the gospel it was as though God entreated or exhorted the people

through his servant’s lips. He was an ambassador, not a plenipotentiary

with powers to discuss and negotiate terms of peace, but a King’s

messenger sent to proclaim terms of free grace and to press the acceptance

of them on the enemies of the King. This embassy continues. Do not meet

it with excuses and delays.




"Excerpted text Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.

Materials are reproduced by permission."


This material can be found at: