Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
(2Co 4:17, 18)
GLORY IN THE
Hence arises his ambition to be accepted at the Lord's coming judgment.
Hence, too, his endeavor to deal openly with men, as with God, in
preaching; thus giving the Corinthians whereof to boast concerning him
against his adversaries. His constraining motive is the transforming
love of Christ, by whom God has wrought reconciliation between Himself
and men, and has committed to the apostle the ministry of
1. For--Assigning the reason for the statement
that affliction leads to exceeding glory.
if--For all shall not die; many shall be "changed" without
If this daily delivering unto death
should end in actual death.
earthly--not the same as earthy
It stands in contrast to "in the heavens."
house of this tabernacle--rather, "house of the tabernacle."
"House" expresses more permanency than belongs to the body;
therefore the qualification, "of the tabernacle" (implying that it is
shifting, not stationary), is added
2Pe 1:13, 14).
It thus answers to the tabernacle in the wilderness. Its wooden frame
and curtains wore out in course of time when Israel dwelt in Canaan,
and a fixed temple was substituted for it. The temple and the
tabernacle in all essentials were one; there was the same ark, the same
cloud of glory. Such is the relation between the "earthly" body and the
resurrection body. The Holy Spirit is enshrined in the believer's body
as in a sanctuary
As the ark went first in taking down the wilderness tabernacle, so the
soul (which like the ark is sprinkled with blood of atonement, and is
the sacred deposit in the inmost shrine,
in the dissolution of the body; next the coverings were removed,
answering to the flesh; lastly, the framework and boards, answering to
the bones, which are last to give way
Paul, as a tent-maker, uses an image taken from his trade
dissolved--a mild word for death, in the case of believers.
we have--in assured prospect of possession, as certain as if it
were in our hands, laid up "in the heavens" for us. The tense is
Joh 3:36; 6:47,
a building of God--rather "from God." A solid building, not a
temporary tabernacle or tent. "Our" body stands in contrast
to "from God." For though our present body be also from God, yet
it is not fresh and perfect from His hands, as our resurrection body
not made with hands--contrasted with houses erected by man's hands
So Christ's body is designated, as contrasted with the tabernacle
reared by Moses
This "house" can only be the resurrection body, in contrast to
the "earthly house of the tabernacle," our present body. The
intermediate state is not directly taken into account. A comma
should separate "eternal," and "in the heavens."
2. For in this--Greek, "For also in this"; "herein"
ALFORD takes it, "in this" tabernacle.
which seems parallel, favors this. But the parallelism is sufficiently
exact by making "in this we groan" refer generally to what was just
namely, that we cannot obtain our "house in the heavens" except our
"earthly tabernacle" be first dissolved by death.
under the body's weaknesses now and liability to death.
earnestly desiring to be clothed upon--translate, "earnestly
longing to have ourselves clothed upon," &c., namely, by
being found alive at Christ's coming, and so to escape
dissolution by death
(2Co 5:1, 4),
and to have our heavenly body put on over the earthly. The groans of
the saints prove the existence of the longing desire for the heavenly
glory, a desire which cannot be planted by God within us in vain, as
doomed to disappointment.
our house--different Greek from that in
translate, "our habitation," "our domicile"; it has a more distinct
reference to the inhabitant than the general term "house"
from heaven--This domicile is "from heaven" in its origin, and
is to be brought to us by the Lord at His coming again "from heaven"
Therefore this "habitation" or "domicile" is not heaven itself.
3. If so be, &c.--Our "desire" holds good, should the Lord's coming
find us alive. Translate, "If so be that having ourselves clothed (with
our natural body, compare
we shall not be found naked (stripped of our present body)."
being burdened: not for that--rather, "in that we desire not to have ourselves unclothed (of our present body), but clothed upon
(with our heavenly body).
that mortality, &c.--rather, "that what is mortal (our mortal part)
may be swallowed up of (absorbed and transformed into) life." Believers
shrink from, not the consequences, but the mere act of dying;
especially as believing in the possibility of their being found alive at
the Lord's coming
and so of having their mortal body absorbed into the immortal without
death. Faith does not divest us of all natural feeling, but
subordinates it to higher feeling. Scripture gives no sanction to the
contempt for the body expressed by philosophers.
5. wrought us--framed us by redemption, justification, and
for the selfsame thing--"unto" it; namely, unto what is mortal of us
being swallowed up in life
who also--The oldest manuscripts omit "also."
earnest of the Spirit--(See on
It is the Spirit (as "the first-fruits") who creates in us the groaning
desire for our coming deliverance and glory
6. Translate as Greek, "Being therefore always confident and
knowing," &c. He had intended to have made the verb to this nominative,
"we are willing" (rather, "well content"), but digressing on the word
(2Co 5:6, 7),
he resumes the word in a different form, namely, as an assertion: "We
are confident and well content." "Being confident . . . we
are confident" may be the Hebraic idiom of emphasis; as
Greek, "Having seen, I have seen," that is, I have surely
always--under all trials. BENGEL makes the contrast between "always confident" and "confident" especially at the prospect of being "absent
from the body." We are confident as well at all times, as also most
of all in the hope of a blessed departure.
whilst . . . at home . . . absent--Translate as Greek, "While we
sojourn in our home in the body, we are away from our home in
the Lord." The image from a "house" is retained (compare
Heb 11:13-16; 13:14).
7. we walk--in our Christian course here on earth.
not by sight--Greek, "not by appearance." Our life is governed
by faith in our immortal hope; not by the outward specious appearance of present
things [TITTMANN, Greek Synonyms of the New Testament].
Compare "apparently," the Septuagint, "by appearance,"
WAHL supports English Version.
also confirms it (compare
1Co 13:12, 13).
God has appointed in this life faith for our great duty, and in
the next, vision for our reward [SOUTH]
8. willing--literally, "well content." Translate also, "To go
(literally, migrate) from our home in the body, and to come to our
home with the Lord." We should prefer to be found alive at the Lord's
coming, and to be clothed upon with our heavenly body
But feeling, as we do, the sojourn in the body to be a separation from
our true home "with the Lord," we prefer even dissolution by death, so
that in the intermediate disembodied state we may go to be "with the
"To be with Christ" (the disembodied state) is distinguished from
Christ's coming to take us to be with Him in soul and body
"with the Lord"). Perhaps the disembodied spirits of believers have
fulness of communion with Christ unseen; but not the mutual
recognition of one another, until clothed with their visible bodies at
the resurrection (compare
when they shall with joy recognize Christ's image in each other
9. Wherefore--with such a sure "confidence" of being blessed, whether
we die before, or be found alive at Christ's coming.
we labour--literally, "make it our ambition"; the only lawful
whether present or absent--whether we be found at His coming present
in the body, or absent from it.
10. appear--rather, "be made manifest," namely, in our true
character. So "appear," Greek, "be manifested"
We are at all times, even now, manifest to God; then we shall be
so to the assembled intelligent universe and to ourselves: for the
judgment shall be not only in order to assign the everlasting portion
to each, but to vindicate God's righteousness, so that it shall be
manifest to all His creatures, and even to the conscience of the sinner
receive--His reward of grace proportioned to "the things done," &c.
Though salvation be of grace purely, independent of works, the saved
may have a greater or less reward, according as he lives to, and
labors for, Christ more or less. Hence there is scope for the holy
"ambition" (see on
This verse guards against the Corinthians supposing that all
share in the house "from heaven"
(2Co 5:1, 2).
There shall be a searching judgment which shall sever the bad from the
good, according to their respective,deeds, the motive of the
deeds being taken into account, not the mere external act; faith and
love to God are the sole motives recognized by God as sound and good
(Mt 12:36, 37; 25:35-45),
done in his body--The Greek may be, "by the instrumentality of
the body"; but English Version is legitimate (compare Greek,
Justice requires that substantially the same body which has been
the instrument of the unbelievers' sin, should be the object of
punishment. A proof of the essential identity of the natural and the
11. terror of the Lord--the coming judgment, so full of terrors to
translate, "The fear of the Lord"
persuade--Ministers should use the terrors of the Lord to
persuade men, not to rouse their enmity
ALFORD explain: "Persuade men" (by our whole lives,
namely, of our integrity as ministers. But this would have been
expressed after "persuade," had it been the sense. The connection seems
as follows: He had been accused of seeking to please and win men, he
therefore says (compare
"It is as knowing the terror (or fear) of the Lord that we
persuade men; but (whether men who hear our preaching recognize
our sincerity or not) we are made manifest unto God as acting on such
and I trust also in your consciences." Those so "manifested" need have
no "terror" as to their being "manifested (English Version,
'appear') before the judgment-seat"
12. For--the reason why he leaves the manifestation of his sincerity
in preaching to their consciences
namely, his not wishing to "commend" himself again.
occasion to glory--
namely, as to our sincerity.
in appearance--Greek, "face" (compare
The false teachers gloried in their outward appearance, and in
their learning, eloquence, wisdom, riches, not in vital religion in
their heart. Their conscience does not attest their inward
sincerity, as mine does
13. be--rather as Greek, "have been." The contrast is
between the single act implied by the past tense, "If we have ever
been beside ourselves," and the habitual state implied by the
present, "Or whether we be sober," that is, of sound
mind. beside ourselves--The accusation brought by Festus
The holy enthusiasm with which he spake of what God effected by His
apostolic ministry, seemed to many to be boasting madness.
sober--humbling myself before you, and not using my apostolic power
to God . . . for your cause--The glorifying of his
office was not for his own, but for God's glory. The abasing of himself
was in adaptation to their infirmity, to gain them to Christ
14. For--Accounting for his being "beside himself" with
enthusiasm: the love of Christ towards us (in His death for us, the
highest proof of it,
producing in turn love in us to Him, and not mere "terror"
constraineth us--with irresistible power limits us to the
one great object to the exclusion of other considerations. The
Greek implies to compress forcibly the energies into one
channel. Love is jealous of any rival object engrossing the soul
because we thus judge--literally, "(as) having judged thus"; implying a
judgment formed at conversion, and ever since regarded as a settled
that if--that is, that since. But the oldest manuscripts omit "if."
"That one died for all (Greek, 'in behalf of all')." Thus the following
clause will be, "Therefore all (literally, 'the all,' namely, for whom
He 'died') died." His dying is just the same as if they all died; and in their so dying, they died to sin and self, that they might live
to God their Redeemer, whose henceforth they are
15. they which live--in the present life
"we which live") [ALFORD]; or, they who are thus
indebted to Him for life of soul as well as body [MENOCHIUS].
died for them--He does not add, "rose again for them," a phrase
not found in Paul's language [BENGEL]. He died
in their stead, He arose again for their good,
"for (the effecting of) their justification"
and that He might be their Lord
ELLICOTT and ALFORD join "for
them" with both "died" and "rose again"; as Christ's death is our
death, so His resurrection is our resurrection; Greek, "Who
for them died and rose again."
not henceforth--Greek, "no longer"; namely, now that His death for
them has taken place, and that they know that His death saves them from
death eternal, and His resurrection life brings spiritual and
everlasting life to them.
16. Wherefore--because of our settled judgment
henceforth--since our knowing Christ's constraining love in His death
know we no man after the flesh--that is, according to his mere worldly
and external relations
as distinguished from what he is according to the Spirit, as a
For instance, the outward distinctions of Jew or Gentile, rich or poor,
slave or free, learned or unlearned, are lost sight of in the higher
life of those who are dead in Christ's death, and alive with Him in the
new life of His resurrection
(Ga 2:6; 3:28).
yea, though--The oldest manuscripts read, "if even."
known Christ after the flesh--Paul when a Jew had looked for a
temporal reigning, not a spiritual, Messiah. (He says "Christ," not
Jesus: for he had not known personally Jesus in the days of His
flesh, but he had looked for Christ or the Messiah). When once he was
converted he no longer "conferred with flesh and blood"
He had this advantage over the Twelve, that as one born out of due time
he had never known Christ save in His heavenly life. To the Twelve it
was "expedient that Christ should go away" that the Comforter should
come, and so they might know Christ in the higher spiritual aspect and
in His new life-giving power, and not merely "after the flesh," in the
carnal aspect of Him
1Pe 3:18; 4:1, 2).
Doubtless Judaizing Christians at Corinth prided themselves on the mere
advantage of their belonging to Israel, the nation of Christ, or on
their having seen Him in the flesh, and thence claimed superiority over
others as having a nearer connection with Him
Paul here shows the true aim should be to know Him spiritually as new
(2Co 5:15, 17),
and that outward relations towards Him profit nothing
Joh 16:7, 22;
This is at variance with both Romish Mariolatry and transubstantiation.
Two distinct Greek verbs are used here for "know"; the first
("know we no man") means "to be personally acquainted with"; the
latter ("known Christ . . . know . . . more") is
to recognize, or estimate. Paul's estimate of Christ, or
the expected Messiah, was carnal, but is so now no more.
17. Therefore--connected with the words in
"We know Christ no more after the flesh." As Christ has entered on His
new heavenly life by His resurrection and ascension, so all who are "in
Christ" (that is, united to Him by faith as the branch is In the vine)
are new creatures
"New" in the Greek implies a new nature quite different from
anything previously existing, not merely recent, which is
expressed by a different Greek word
creature--literally, "creation," and so the creature resulting
from the creation (compare
Joh 3:3, 5;
Eph 2:10; 4:23;
Col 3:10, 11).
As we are "in Christ," so "God was in Christ"
hence He is Mediator between God and us.
old things--selfish, carnal views (compare
of ourselves, of other men, and of Christ.
passed away--spontaneously, like the snow of early spring
[BENGEL] before the advancing sun.
behold--implying an allusion to
Isa 43:19; 65:17.
18. all--Greek, "THE."
things--all our privileges in this new creation
(2Co 5:14, 15).
reconciled us--that is, restored us ("the world,"
to His favor by satisfying the claims of justice against us. Our
position judicially considered in the eye of the law is altered, not as
though the mediation of Christ had made a change in God's character,
nor as if the love of God was produced by the mediation of Christ; nay,
the mediation and sacrifice of Christ was the provision of God's love,
not its moving cause
Christ's blood was the price paid at the expense of God Himself, and
was required to reconcile the exercise of mercy with justice, not as
separate, but as the eternally harmonious attributes in the one and the
(Ro 3:25, 26).
The Greek "reconcile" is reciprocally used as in the
Hebrew Hithpahel conjugation, appease, obtain the favor
"Be reconciled to thy brother"; that is, take measures that he be
reconciled to thee, as well as thou to him, as the context proves.
implying mutual reconciliation, is distinct from
Katallagethi here, the latter referring to the change of
status wrought in one of the two parties. The manner of God
reconciling the world to Himself is implied
namely, by His "not imputing their trespasses to them." God not merely,
as subsequently, reconciles the world by inducing them to lay aside
their enmity, but in the first instance, does so by satisfying His own
justice and righteous enmity against sin
"Reconcile himself unto his master"; not remove his own anger against
his master, but his master's against him [ARCHBISHOP MAGEE, Atonement].
The reconciling of men to God by their laying aside their enmity
is the consequence of God laying aside His just enmity against their
sin, and follows at
(2Co 5:19, 20).
19. God was in Christ, reconciling--that is, God was BY Christ (in virtue of Christ's intervention)
reconciling," &c. Was reconciling" implies the time when the act of
reconciliation was being carried into effect
namely, when "God made Jesus, who knew no sin, to be sin for us." The
compound of "was" and the participle "reconciling," instead of the
imperfect (Greek), may also imply the continuous purpose
of God, from before the foundation of the world, to reconcile man to
Himself, whose fall was foreseen. The expression " IN Christ" for "by Christ" may be used to imply
additionally that God was IN Christ
(Joh 10:38; 14:10),
and so by Christ (the God-man) was reconciling . . .
The Greek for "by" or "through" Christ (the best
manuscripts omit "Jesus"),
is different. "In" must mean here in the person of Christ. The
Greek Katallasson implies "changing" or altering the
judicial status from one of condemnation to one of justification. The
atonement (at-one-ment), or reconciliation, is the
removal of the bar to peace and acceptance with a holy God, which His
righteousness interposed against our sin. The first step towards
restoring peace between us and God was on God's side
The change therefore now to be effected must be on the
part of offending man, God the offended One being already reconciled.
It is man, not God, who now needs to be reconciled, and to lay aside
his enmity against God
(Ro 5:10, 11).
("We have received the atonement" [Greek,
reconciliation], cannot mean "We have received the laying aside of
our own enmity"). Compare
Ro 3:24, 25.
the world--all men
The manner of the reconciling is by His "not imputing to men
their trespasses," but imputing them to Christ the Sin-bearer. There is
no incongruity that a father should be offended with that son whom he
loveth, and at that time offended with him when he loveth him. So,
though God loved men whom He created, yet He was offended with them
when they sinned, and gave His Son to suffer for them, that through
that Son's obedience He might be reconciled to them (reconcile them to
Himself, that is, restore them WITH JUSTICE to His
favor) [BISHOP PEARSON,
Exposition of the Creed].
hath committed unto us--Greek, "hath put into our hands." "Us,"
that is, ministers.
20. for Christ . . . in Christ's stead--The Greek of both is the
same: translate in both cases "on Christ's behalf."
beseech . . . pray--rather, "entreat
[plead with you] . . . beseech."
Such "beseeching" is uncommon in the case of "ambassadors," who
generally stand on their dignity (compare
1Th 2:6, 7).
be ye reconciled to God--English Version here inserts
"ye," which is not in the original, and which gives the wrong
impression, as if it were emphatic thus: God is reconciled to
you, be ye reconciled to God. The Greek expresses rather, God
was the RECONCILER in Christ . . . let
this reconciliation then have its designed effect. Be reconciled to
God, that is, let God reconcile you to Himself
(2Co 5:18, 19).
21. For--omitted in the oldest manuscripts. The grand reason why they
should be reconciled to God, namely, the great atonement in Christ
provided by God, is stated without the "for" as being part of
the message of reconciliation
sin--not a sin offering, which would destroy the
antithesis to "righteousness," and would make "sin" be used in
different senses in the same sentence: not a sinful person,
which would be untrue, and would require in the antithesis "righteous
men," not "righteousness"; but "sin," that is, the representative
Sin-bearer (vicariously) of the aggregate sin of all men
past, present, and future. The sin of the world is one, therefore the
singular, not the plural, is used; though its
manifestations are manifold
"Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the SIN
of the world." Compare "made a curse for us,"
for us--Greek, "in our behalf." Compare
Christ being represented by the brazen serpent, the form,
but not the substance, of the old serpent. At His death on the
cross the sin-bearing for us was consummated.
knew no sin--by personal experience
might be made--not the same Greek as the previous "made." Rather,
the righteousness of God--Not merely righteous, but
righteousness itself; not merely righteousness, but the
righteousness of God, because Christ is God, and what He is we
and He is "made of God unto us righteousness." As our sin is made over
to Him, so His righteousness to us (in His having fulfilled all the
righteousness of the law for us all, as our representative,
The innocent was punished voluntarily as if guilty, that the guilty
might be gratuitously rewarded as if innocent
"Such are we in the sight of God the Father, as is the very Son of God
in him--by virtue of our standing in Him, and in union with Him