John Wesley's Explanatory Notes
Verse 1. Our earthly house - Which is only a tabernacle, or tent, not designed for a lasting habitation.
Verse 2. Desiring to be clothed upon - This body, which is now covered with flesh and blood, with the glorious house which is from heaven. Instead of flesh and blood, which cannot enter heaven, the rising body will be clothed or covered with what is analogous thereto, but incorruptible and immortal. Macarius speaks largely of this.
Verse 3. If being clothed - That is, with the image of God, while we are in the body. We shall not be found naked - Of the wedding garment.
Verse 4. We groan being burdened - The apostle speaks with exact propriety. A burden naturally expresses groans. And we are here burdened with numberless afflictions, infirmities, temptations. Not that we would be unclothed - Not that we desire to remain without a body. Faith does not understand that philosophical contempt of what the wise Creator has given. But clothed upon - With the glorious, immortal, incorruptible, spiritual body. That what is mortal -This present mortal body. May be swallowed up of life - Covered with that which lives for ever.
Verse 5. Now he that hath wrought us to this very thing - This longing for immortality. Is God - For none but God, none less than the Almighty, could have wrought this in us.
Verse 6. Therefore we behave undauntedly - But most of all when we have death in view; knowing that our greatest happiness lies beyond the grave.
Verse 7. For we cannot clearly see him in this life, wherein we walk by faith only: an evidence, indeed, that necessarily implies a kind of "seeing him who is invisible;" yet as far beneath what we shall have in eternity, as it is above that of bare, unassisted reason.
Verse 8. Present with the Lord - This demonstrates that the happiness of the saints is not deferred till the resurrection.
Verse 9. Therefore we are ambitious - The only ambition which has place in a Christian. Whether present - In the body. Or absent - From it.
Verse 10. For we all - Apostles as well as other men, whether now present in the body, or absent from it. Must appear - Openly, without covering, where all hidden things will be revealed; probably the sins, even of the faithful, which were forgiven long before. For many of their good works, as their repentance, their revenge against sin, cannot other wise appear. But this will be done at their own desire, without grief, and without shame. According to what he hath done in the body, whether good or evil - In the body he did either good or evil; in the body he is recompensed accordingly.
Verse 11. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we the more earnestly persuade men to seek his favour; and as God knoweth this, so, I trust, ye know it in your own consciences.
Verse 12. We do not say this, as if we thought there was any need of again recommending ourselves to you, but to give you an occasion of rejoicing and praising God, and to furnish you with an answer to those false apostles who glory in appearance, but not in heart, being condemned by their own conscience.
Verse 13. For if we are transported beyond ourselves - Or at least, appear so to others, treated of, 2 Corinthians 5:15-21, speaking or writing with uncommon vehemence. It is to God - He understands (if men do not) the emotion which himself inspires. If we be sober - Treated of, 2 Corinthians 6:1-10. If I proceed in a more calm, sedate manner. It is for your sakes - Even good men bear this, rather than the other method, in their teachers. But these must obey God, whoever is offended by it.
Verse 14. For the love of Christ - To us, and our love to him. Constraineth us - Both to the one and the other; beareth us on with such a strong, steady, prevailing influence, as winds and tides exert when they waft the vessel to its destined harbour. While we thus judge, that if Christ died for all, then are all, even the best of men, naturally dead - In a state of spiritual death, and liable to death eternal. For had any man been otherwise, Christ had not needed to have died for him.
Verse 15. And that he died for all - That all might be saved. That they who live - That all who live upon the earth. Should not henceforth - From the moment they know him. Live unto themselves - Seek their own honour, profit, pleasure. But unto him - In all righteousness and true holiness.
Verse 16. So that we from this time - That we knew the love of Christ. Know no one - Neither ourselves, nor you, neither the rest of the apostles, Galatians 2:6, nor any other person. After the flesh - According to his former state, country, descent, nobility, riches, power, wisdom. We fear not the great. We regard not the rich or wise. We account not the least less than ourselves. We consider all, only in order to save all. Who is he that thus knows no one after the flesh? ln what land do these Christians live? Yea, if we have known even Christ after the flesh - So as to love him barely with a natural love, so as to glory in having conversed with him on earth, so as to expect only temporal benefits from him.
Verse 17. Therefore if any one be in Christ - A true believer in him. There is a new creation - Only the power that makes a world can make a Christian. And when he is so created, the old things are passed away - Of their own accord, even as snow in spring. Behold - The present, visible, undeniable change! All things are become new - He has new life, new senses, new faculties, new affections, new appetites, new ideas and conceptions. His whole tenor of action and conversation is new, and he lives, as it were, in a new world. God, men, the whole creation, heaven, earth, and all therein, appear in a new light, and stand related to him in a new manner, since he was created anew in Christ Jesus.
Verse 18. And all these new things are from God, considered under this very notion, as reconciling us - The world, 2 Corinthians 5:19, to himself.
Verse 19. Namely - The sum of which is, God - The whole Godhead, but more eminently God the Father. Was in Christ, reconciling the world - Which was before at enmity with God. To himself - So taking away that enmity, which could no otherwise be removed than by the blood of the Son of God.
Verse 20. Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ-we beseech you in Christ's stead - Herein the apostle might appear to some "transported beyond himself." In general he uses a more calm, sedate kind of exhortation, as in the beginning of the next chapter. What unparalleled condescension and divinely tender mercies are displayed in this verse! Did the judge ever beseech a condemned criminal to accept of pardon? Does the creditor ever beseech a ruined debtor to receive an acquittance in full? Yet our almighty Lord, and our eternal Judge, not only vouchsafes to offer these blessings, but invites us, entreats us, and, with the most tender importunity, solicits us, not to reject them.
Verse 21. He made him a sin offering, who knew no sin - A commendation peculiar to Christ. For us - Who knew no righteousness, who were inwardly and outwardly nothing but sin; who must have been consumed by the divine justice, had not this atonement been made for our sins. That we might be made the righteousness of God through him - Might through him be invested with that righteousness, first imputed to us, then implanted in us, which is in every sense the righteousness of God.
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