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2Corinthians 5 (web)

Ministering in View of Death

Confidence in Ministering in View of Our Death

5:1 For we know that if the earthly house of our tent is dissolved,
we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens.
5:2 For most assuredly in this we groan, longing to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven;
5:3 if so be that being clothed we will not be found naked.
5:4 For indeed we who are in this tent do groan, being burdened;
not that we desire to be unclothed, but that we desire to be clothed,
that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
5:5 Now he who made us for this very thing is God,
who also gave to us the down payment of the Spirit.
5:6 Being therefore always of good courage, and knowing that,
while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord;
5:7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.
5:8 We are of good courage, I say, and are willing rather to be absent from the body,
and to be at home with the Lord.

Fear in Ministering In View of God's Judgement

5:9 Therefore also we make it our aim, whether at home or absent, to be well pleasing to him.
5:10 For we must all be revealed before the judgment seat of Christ;
that each one may receive the things in the body,
according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
5:11 Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord, we persuade men,
but we are revealed to God; and I hope that we are revealed also in your consciences.
5:12 For we are not commending ourselves to you again,
but speak as giving you occasion of boasting on our behalf,
that you may have something to answer those who boast in appearance, and not in heart.
5:13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God. Or if we are of sober mind, it is for you.

Compelled to Minister in View of Christ's Death

5:14 For the love of Christ constrains us; because we judge thus,
that one died for all, therefore all died.
5:15 He died for all, that those who live should no longer live to themselves,
but to him who for their sakes died and rose again.
5:16 Therefore we know no one after the flesh from now on.
Even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know him so no more.
5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new.
5:18 But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ,
and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation;
5:19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself,
not reckoning to them their trespasses, and having committed to us the word of reconciliation.
5:20 We are therefore ambassadors on behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating by us.
We beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
5:21 For him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf;
so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Discussion Questions

vs 1-8 Do you prefer life or death?
What do you look forwards to after death?
vs 9-10 What kind of judgement do Christians face?
How does this motivate you to be involved in ministering.
vs 11 Is it possible for us to persuade people to believe and how would you do it?
vs 15 Who were we living for before becoming believers, and who afterwards?
What kind of behavioral changes should you expect of those who come to faith in Christ?
vs 16 How does the world categorize people?
How does God?
vs 18-19 When introducing someone to Christ, how would you communicate the concept of reconciliation.
vs 20 What is the role of an ambassador and how do you view yourself as Christ's ambassador?
What authority and responsibility does this concept impart?


An Incorruptible Body

2Cor 5:1-4 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

Notice the similar terminology he uses in chapter 15 "Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changedó in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true:  Death has been swallowed up in victory." 1Cor 15:51-54 The earthly tent he is referring to is the present physical body, and that which is eternal is the resurrected body, which is eternal.

No one desires their body to decay and die, though it is perhaps the thing of which we can have the most certainty. We will all most certainly die. And there is no reincarnation as some false religions claims. Rather, "man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" Heb 9:27 But death is just a doorway for the saints to enter into something far better, a new home, eternal and uncorruptible.


2Cor 5:5 Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

The saints are guaranteed eternal life. Those who are in Christ have eternal security, the Spirit being a guarantee of that fact. For "he set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." 2Cor 1:22 And "you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are Godís possessionó to the praise of his glory." Eph 1:13,14

What was the purpose God made us for? It was for the purpose of showing his graciousness in redeeming sinners unto eternal life "into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fadeó kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by Godís power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time." 1Peter 1:4,5

I'd Rather Be Dead

2Cor 5:6-9 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.

To the Philippians Paul writes, "If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body." Php 1:22-24, which also answers the question as to whether upon death one goes to be immediately with the Lord or enters into some unconscious "soul sleep" state for thousands of years until the resurrection. For if the later were the case then Paul would not have struggled between these two options. For he saw the options as either.

1. Laboring in the physical body OR
2. dying and being immediately with the Lord

He didn't view the second option as merely entering into some soul sleep state which he would have viewed as a waste of his time when he could have been doing fruitful labor for the Lord. Thus upon death the Christian enters into the Lord's presence. For to be away from the body is to be at home with the Lord.

The Judgment Seat of Christ

2Cor 5:10  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

While the saints are not subject to condemnation, we are subject to scrutiny with regards to how we have served the Lord, though any evil deeds will be burned up and any good deed rewarded, as it is written, "No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each manís work.  If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." 1Cor 3:11-15 And as recorded in Daniel 12:2,3 "Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever."

It is also in fulfillment of a number of Jesus' parables, such as the parable of the Talents, the Minas, the Faithful and Wise Servant, the Watchful Porter, and the sheep/goat judgement of Matt 25

"Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free." Eph 6:7,8

Fearful Persuasion

2Cor 5:11  Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.

As he said in the previous verse, we are all subject to judgement, and in particular concerning teachers. John writes, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." 1John 4:18 Given that we are are imperfect, the fact of judgment invokes fear. This is one aspect of the fear of the Lord which motivates Paul. But another is the fact that Paul fears for the lost. If you're not trying to persuade people for the kingdom, what would motivate you to do so?

Note also that Paul assumes that men are persuadable - that people are not puppets. People are not "totally depraved" such that they cannot be persuaded by reasoning with them. Of Paul himself it is recorded, "Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks." Acts 18:4 The gospel can persuade reasonable men. Note for example the end of Peter's first sermon, "With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." Acts 2:40

There are "men sho speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animalsó these are the very things that destroy them." Jude 1:10 Among them are many religious people. But the gospel was intended for those who are reasonable, who listen with sincerity, and who can be persuade by the truth.

Commendable Behavior

2Cor 5:12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart.

One thing which reasonable people evaluate is the sincerity of the messenger. For there are so many people who want to promote their particular cause by misleading people, that it is naive and gullible not to scrutinize the messenger. Like, what is the messenger getting out of it? Does he get paid for this? Not Paul. Instead he gets persecuted. He was ostracized and threatened with death by his own people - the Jews - because of his message. He faced hostility whereever he went. There is nothing in Paul which does not stand up to scrutiny with regards to the sincerity of his convictions. So few "ministers" today have such credentials.

Paul speaks in this manner because he is dealing with the issue of celebrity seeking present in Corinth as it is today. I see Christians throughout much of the history of Christianity to this day following Christian celebrities like a bunch of mindless drones, unreasonable, being impressed with the outward appearance. Jesus said of the religious hypocrites of his day, "Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ĎRabbi.í" Mt 23:5-7 He says of them, "You hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence." Mt 23:25 and  "You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead menís bones and everything unclean." Mt 23:27

Out of your mind?

2Cor 5:13 If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.

That is, if others think we are crazy, it is for God's sake we are so reckoned with contempt. For example when Paul preached the gospel to Festus he said, "I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happenó that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles." At this point Festus interrupted Paulís defense. "You are out of your mind, Paul!" he shouted. "Your great learning is driving you insane." Acts 26:22-24 That's what he was accused of, but he responded, "I am not insane, most excellent Festus," Paul replied. "What I am saying is true and reasonable". Acts 16:25 So here Paul is not saying that he is insane, but that there are those who view him that way because of his devotion to God. In fact Jesus own family said of him, "He is out of His mind." Mark 3:21

So as a Christian, expect to be ridiculed and called crazy and such. But in fact be reasonable. For just as Paul was perceived as crazy by unbelievers, he was respected as a reasonable man among reasonable people.

Christ's Love Compels Us

2Cor 5:14 For Christís love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.

Formerly he spoke of being motivated out of the fear of God. Here he speaks of being motivated out of Christ's love. He is not speaking of his love for Christ, but rather Christ's love for those for whom he died. 1John 4:19 "We love because he first loved us." And "the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." Gal 5:6b Love is a great motivator. Paul speaks of the labors of the Thessalonians as being "prompted by love". 1Thes 1:3b

Now since Christ died for all, that implies that all need to be saved. John writes, "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." 1John 2:2 Therefore this compels us to reach out and spread the gospel to the world. But the Calvinistic concept of "limited atonement" which some have been indoctrinated with, doesn't go along with this reasoning, as also is the case with a number of other concepts in Calvinism. Consequently the modern mission movement has been partly a result of the decline of Calvinistic dogmatism. Today Christ's love compels us to share the gospel so to save the lost.

Living for Jesus

2Cor 5:15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

In becoming a Christian, understand the person is pledging allegiance to Jesus Christ as Lord with the intention of doing what he said. "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Rom 10:13, and what does Jesus understand this to mean? He says, "Why do you call me, ĎLord, Lord,í and do not do what I say?" Luke 6:46 To call Jesus "Lord" is to pledge one's intention to doing what he said. Thus Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to me, ĎLord, Lord,í will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." Mt 7:21 The Christian is to live in service to Jesus Christ. But such in fact should come naturally to the saint as the next verses indicate, but not without discipline. For even in his day Paul characterized the vast majority of Christians (indeed, Christian ministry workers) with this phrase, "everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ." Php 2:21

What are the implications of this in your life? And if it came down to an either-or evaluation would it be determined that you are living for yourself or for Jesus Christ? And what area can you improve upon?

A New Creation

2Cor 5:16,17 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Jesus once asked, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" Pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." Mt 12:48-50 This is how spiritual Christians view the issue as to who is really their family. While there are responsibilities one has to the family of his flesh. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of Godís church?) 1Tim 3:5 Yet priority goes to the family of God, which is eternal. "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Gal 6:10 "What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none;  those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away." 1Cor 7:29-31 What about secular status, ethnic background? "Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all." Col 3:11

This is not simply a matter of status. There is an actual change which takes place when a person is born of God such that they are no longer the mere mortals which they used to be. Remember in chapter 3 Paul rebukes the Corinthians for, "being human" as we say. "For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere men?" 1Cor 3:3,4 There is an expectation that believers behavior not as mere mortals. "It's just human nature" is no excuse for the saint, for those born of God are no longer mere mortals, but have become new creatures. What does the Bible say of those who "have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome" 2Peter 2:20? It says, "Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit," and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud." 2Peter 2:22 For such people show they haven't become new creatures, but were simply false Christians. And "what counts is a new creation." Gal 6:15b

Ambassadors for Christ

2Cor 5:18-20 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting menís sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christís ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christís behalf: Be reconciled to God.

The central theme of the gospel is that God is reconciling sinners to himself through faith in Jesus Christ. God does not, nor will he ever, count such men's sins against them. One of the tenets of the New Covenant, which is mentioned in Hebrews chapter 8, is God pledging: "I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." Heb 8:12 If a person's life is a book, it is as if the pages in which they have committed sin are torn out, burned up and discarded, and what is left over they will be rewarded for. "Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christís physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation" Col 1:21,22

God has ordained that people be reconciled to him through the preaching of the gospel by Christians. Thus though God sent an angel to Cornelius in Acts 10,11 commending him of his good works, he instructed him to send for Peter who "will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved." Acts 11:14 Salvation is by faith, but "faith comes from hearing the message" Rom 10:17b And that message is to be on the lips of the believers. For we are acting ambassadors for Christ.

Now the phrase, "We implore you on Christís behalf: Be reconciled to God." should seem strange to those of a reformed theology in which in person has no control over such matters, but rather that God has preordained who would come to faith and who would not, a person's own will having no say in the matter. But in fact reformed theology is wrong on this matter (and many others). People are not mere puppets. They can be influenced as implied here and elsewhere where we see the gospel preached. For what relevance does "imploring" have if in fact their destiny was predetermined? People can be influenced, and that influence can affect their destiny. Note the end of Peter's first sermon. "With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." Acts 2:40

Pleading, imploring, reasoning are all part of the rhetoric we find when the gospel is preached in the Bible. It's part of what constitutes being an ambassador for Christ. So in your communication of the gospel, consider not only content, but also the manner, the rhetoric and attitude in which you communicate it. Consider pleading and imploring people into the faith.

Incarnation for our Justification

2Cor 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Both I take to be referring to one's public reputation. Are we the actual righteousness of God? No, but having obtained a righteous standing with God in that our sins have been forgiven on the basis of Christ's shed blood, we are now a public display of God's righteousness. Not a righteousness attained through compliance to law, but that attained through faith, For "now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." Rom 3:21-24 Thus we have become ambassadors for Christ, bearing witness in ourselves of His righteousness.

But there are those who misread this verse to portray God as unjust. They portray God as imputing sin to the innocent, condemning the innocent. Yet it says, "Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocentó the LORD detests them both." Pr 17:15 If people are acquitted of guilt without atonement, that is unjust. And if the innocent are condemned, that is unjust. People who say that God does such things portray Him as unjust.

But God orchestrated events such that Jesus' public reputation was marred. He was publicly condemned as a sinner, though he was innocent. And as God justly compensates victims of unjustified suffering, which justice demands, God compensated Christ. It was through Christ's shed blood that Christ paid for the sins of the world. In this way he had to become "sin" (that is to be unjustly condemned as a sinner) on our behalf that we may in the end become objects of God's righteousness.

Is 53:4
 mentions, "we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted." While it's obvious from the context that Isaiah is saying, "we falsely considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.", Calvinists actually consider Christ, the innocent lamb of God, to have been cursed of God. Beware of Calvinism.

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Oct 08,2010