1 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. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 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.

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. 6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 We live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due to him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

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. 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. 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.

14 For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 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. 16 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. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us: "We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."  Version: Revised Standard Version.

COMMENTS

General:

  • Continuing his discussion of how an appreciation of God and eternity affects our outlook, Paul contemplates the transition of death.
    • The earthly tent (our body) may be destroyed, but we can look forward to a heavenly home (v.1).
    • It is characteristic of this life to groan longingly for the next life (v.2).
    • Mortality will give way to immortality (v.4).
    • This is our destiny, towards which the Spirit points (v.5).
  • The results of this perspective are very positive:
    • Confidence (v.6).
    • Living by faith, not sight (v.7).
    • Living to please the Lord (v.9).
    • Readiness for the judgment (v.10).
    • Knowing we are accountable to a holy God, we persuade others (v.11).
  • The death of Christ has several motivating consequences (v.12ff):
    • We are compelled by Christ's love for us (v.14).
    • Christians live for him, not for self (v.15).
    • We look at people in a totally new way (v.16).
    • We -- and all whose lives are transformed by the gospel -- become "a new creation" (v.17).
    • We have received the ministry of reconciliation (v.18); we are ambassadors (v.20).
  • God's appeal through those bringing the gospel to the lost is (vv.19-21):
    • Our sins are not going to be held against us.
    • God is making an appeal to us. (See Acts 2:40).
    • For Christ's sake -- and through his sacrificial death -- we need to get our lives right with God.
    • Jesus became "sin" (or possibly "a sin offering") for us. By removing our sin, we can become righteous:
      • In the sight of God, by virtue of Christ's atoning death.
      • In our daily lives, as we are transformed into his likeness (3:18; 4:16).

Advanced:

  • The "deposit" (arrabon) of 5:5 is the same deposit mentioned in 1:22 also Ephesians 1:14.
  • In connection with verse 10, many interpreters distinguish two separate judgments, one for believers (as here) and one for unbelievers.
  • The "new creation" of verse 17 is a foretaste of the world to come. Accordingly, the translations read "there is a new creation" (RSV) as well as "he is a new creation" (NRS).
  • In verse 18 it could be argued that Paul is referring to the ministry of the apostles, or possibly of missionaries and evangelists in general. And yet the phrase "As God's fellow workers" (6:1) militates against this understanding. For more on this, click here.
  • Ancient Greek had no quotation marks. I have added them in verses 20-21. Otherwise, the text reads as though Paul is saying the Corinthians are not right with God. Rather, I believe Paul is quoting his own (initial) appeal to the Corinthians and to everyone else (to accept the gift of salvation).

Thought questions:

  • Do I long to leave the body in order to be at home with the Lord? Or has this world so captured my heart that the thought of leaving it seems alien?
  • Am I motivated more by fear (v.11) or by love (v.14)?
  • Do I view myself as an "ambassador" of Christ? Do my words, bearing, actions, and example suggest a man/woman on a mission, one striving to represent the one who sent me?