2 Corinthians 5

5:1 Now we know that if the earthly tent [a temporary shelter] we live in is destroyed [at death], we have a building [a resurrection body fit for heaven] from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.

5:2 Meanwhile we groan [this verb used six times in NT (Mk. 7:34; Rom. 8:23; 2 Cor. 5:2,4; Heb. 13:17; Jas. 5:9); noun used in Acts 7:34 and Rom. 8:26; audible sighing because of a condition from which one longs to be free, in this case sighing due to limitations imposed by living in a mortal body], longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling [anticipation of receiving an immortal body],

5:3 because when we are clothed [with the resurrection body], we will not be found naked [death is like stripping off rotten and worn-out garments].

5:4 For while we are in this tent [our mortal bodies], 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 [cf. 1 Cor. 15:54].

5:5 Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit [received at the new birth (cf. Jn. 3:5-8)] as a deposit [down payment; cf. 2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:14], guaranteeing [cf. Rom. 8:9] what is to come.

5:6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body [physically alive] we are away from the Lord [in the sense that we do not perceive Him with our physical senses].

5:7 We live by faith [cf. Rom. 1:17 (Hab. 2:4)], not by sight.

5:8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body [after death] and at home with the Lord [cf. Phil. 1:23].

5:9 So we make it our goal to please him [this should be the central purpose of our lives], whether we are at home in the body [physically alive] or away from it [physically dead].

5:10 [cf. 1 Cor. 3:12-15] For we must all appear before the judgment seat [Gr. bema used originally of the place from which an earthly ruler gave legal decisions; cf. Rom. 14:10] of Christ [Paul did not indicate whether this judgment occurs immediately after a believer dies (as context suggests) or whether this will be a general judgment involving many persons at once], that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good [actions that conform to God’s revealed word] or bad [actions contrary to God’s revealed word].

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.

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.

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.

5:14 For Christ’s love [are you motivated by love or fear?] compels [“controls” (NASB); “urges us on” (NRSV); “leaves us no choice” (NEB)] us [all believers, not just Paul], because we are convinced that one died [the highest expression of divine love for sinners] for all [Jesus’ death was sufficient for all people of every age], and therefore all died [Christ’s death was a substitutionary atonement].

Motivation matters, especially when it comes to serving God. Paul left no doubt about his motivation for ministry. It was Christ’s love that compelled him to serve. This may be understood to mean “Christ’s love for Paul” or “Paul’s love for Christ.” Although Greek grammar permits either interpretation, Christ loved Paul first — which explains why Paul loved Christ. The word compels means to constrain or to hold fast a person to a course of action.

Christ’s love was at the core of Paul’s motivation for ministry. Christ had demonstrated His love for Paul by dying for him. Paul demonstrated his love for Christ by living for Him. The magnitude of Christ’s love left Paul with no choice but to live for the One who died for him. In light of Christ’s death for all, we have no right to live selfishly. Every follower of Christ should abandon their old and selfish ways. We must no longer live for ourselves or to please ourselves. Instead we should die to ourselves and live for Christ.

Christ’s love also compelled Paul to share the love of Christ with lost people. Paul saw himself as someone under obligation or in debt to those who did not know Christ (Rom. 1:15). He felt that because he knew and had experienced the love of Christ, he owed Christ to everyone who did not know him. Christ’s love compelled him “to evangelize where Christ has not been named” (Rom. 15:20) and to “plead on Christ’s behalf” that others would “be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20).

Like Paul, every Christ follower is under obligation to share Christ’s love with those who do not know Him. We owe Christ to all people. The greatest crime we can commit against others is to withhold the message of Christ from them. Christ’s love is the greatest motivation for serving Christ and sharing His story with others.

Our motivation for service impacts how and what we share with others. Paul was not unfamiliar with those who proclaimed Christ out of selfish ambition and other impure motives (read Phil. 1:15-17). He did however distinguish between those who preached the right message with false motives from those who preached the wrong message. He rejoiced that Christ was being proclaimed “whether out of false motives or true” (Phil. 1:18) but was absolutely intolerant of heresy and those who spread it.

Christian history has no shortage of examples of charlatans who used the gospel as a means to line their own pockets at the expense of the truth and the welfare of others. However, serving with false motives is not something that can happen only to those in leadership. Serving with false motives can happen as easily to the person in the pew as to the person behind the pulpit. Each of us must make certain that we are compelled by love to serve God and His purposes and to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Note: What effect does Christ’s love have in your life?

Note: People want to be loved. Nobody likes being rejected, overlooked, or ignored. Every follower of Christ has a responsibility to love God and to love people. As the recipients and beneficiaries of Christ’s great love, we must do more than sit, soak, and sour in the pew. We must take His love to those who live beyond the walls of our churches and share that love with all whom we meet. His love can transform lives and fill them with meaning. Here are a few practical suggestions for how you can leave a legacy of love.

M = Magnitude | Live each day with awareness of the magnitude of God’s love for you and then look for ways to demonstrate and share His love with others.

O = Owe | Remember that we owe Christ to every person who does not know Christ. Look for opportunities to tell others how wonderful He is.

T = Trustees | Consider yourself a trustee of Christ’s love and not the sole proprietor. Be a good steward of the good news by sharing it freely with others.

I = Interest | Invest personal interest in others. Take the time to talk to others and to learn about them and then be prepared to offer them hope and encouragement from God’s Word.

V = Vision | Ask God to help you sharpen your peripheral vision so that you do not overlook the people around you who are in need of the gospel. Slow down, look carefully, and share intentionally.

E = Example | Guard your example. Remember that you are a letter of recommendation for Christ, known and read by all men (2 Cor. 3:2-3).

S = Speak | Do not remain silent when you have opportunities to share the good news with others. Keep in mind that our silence can have terrible consequences for those who have not heard the gospel.

5:15 And he died for all [even though not all will accept Him as Savior], that those who live should no longer live for themselves [those who believe in Jesus should abandon their old, selfish ways] but for him who died for them and was raised again.

5:16 So from now on [Christians have a new and different perspective on people] we regard no one from a worldly point of view [an inadequate standard by which to measure others]. Though we once regarded Christ in this way [Paul once judged Christ by earthly standards and looked at Him as a blasphemer and a fraud], we do so no longer [after conversion, Paul saw Jesus in a different light; cf. Acts 9:1-18].

Note: What is the difference between seeing people through a worldly point of view and seeing them through spiritual eyes?

5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation [a new kind of human being—one who is in Christ]; the old has gone, the new has come [those who place their faith in Christ have a new destiny, a new direction, and new desires in life]!

5:18 All this is from God, who [God took the initiative] reconciled [to restore to harmony after a break] us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation [we are responsible for telling others what they need to do if they want to be reconciled to God]:

Note: Do you believe that every person deserves the opportunity to hear the good news? What responsibility are you willing to assume to ensure that others hear the message about Jesus?

5:19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ [the incarnate Son], not counting [calculating people’s debt] men’s sins [the obstacle to our relationship with God] against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation [the gospel].

5:20 We [all believers] are [being an ambassador for Christ is not optional for a believer] therefore Christ’s ambassadors [an official representative of one country to another; believers have the privilege of representing God on earth], as though God were making his appeal through us [note the content of God’s appeal through us…]. We implore [to beg; a reminder that we cannot remain passive about the lost condition of the world] you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Note: Someone said that believers are the only Jesus some will ever see. Is there anything that keeps others from seeing Jesus in you? If so, what will you do to insure that others see Jesus clearly?

5:21 God made him who had no sin [Christ was sinless; cf. Heb. 4:15; 7:26] to be sin for us [means that Jesus died a sinner’s death; He took our sins upon Himself; refers to substitutionary atonement; Jesus took the place of sinners; cf. Isa. 53:5], so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

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