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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

2 Corinthians 5



Verse 1

If - be dissolved (εανκαταλυτηιeaṅ̇kataluthēi). Third class condition, εανean and first aorist passive subjunctive. The very word used (καταλυωkataluō) for striking down a tent.

The earthly house of our tabernacle (η επιγειος ημων οικια του σκηνουςhē epigeios hēmōn oikia tou skēnous). Rather, “If our earthly (see note on 1 Corinthians 15:40 for επιγειοςepigeios) house of the tent (σκηνοςskēnos another form of σκηνηskēnē tent, from root σκαska to cover).” Appositive genitive, the house (οικιαoikia) is the tent.

We have (εχομενechomen). Present indicative. We possess the title to it now by faith. “Faith is the title-deed (υποστασιςhupostasis) to things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:7).

A building from God (οικοδομην εκ τεουoikodomēn ek theou). This οικοδομηoikodomē (found in Aristotle, Plutarch, lxx, etc., and papyri, though condemned by Atticists) is more substantial than the σκηνοςskēnos

Not made with hands (αχειροποιητονacheiropoiēton). Found first in Mark 14:58 in charge against Jesus before the Sanhedrin (both the common verbal χειροποιητονcheiropoiēton and the newly made vernacular αχειροποιητονacheiropoiēton same verbal with αa privative). Elsewhere only here and Colossians 2:11. Spiritual, eternal home.

Verse 2

To be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven (το οικητηριον ημων το εχ ουρανου επενδυσασταιto oikētērion hēmōn to ex ouranou ependusasthai). First aorist middle infinitive of late verb επενδυωependuō double compound (επ ενepεπενδυτηςen) to put upon oneself. Cf. Οικητηριονependutēs for a fisherman‘s linen blouse or upper garment (John 21:7). Oikētērion is old word used here of the spiritual body as the abode of the spirit. It is a mixed metaphor (putting on as garment the dwelling-place).

Verse 3

Being clothed (ενδυσαμενοιendusamenoi). First aorist middle participle, having put on the garment.

Naked (γυμνοιgumnoi). That is, disembodied spirits, “like the souls in Sheol, without form, and void of all power of activity” (Plummer).

Verse 4

Not for that we would be unclothed (επ ωι ου τελομεν εκδυσασταιEphesians' hōi ou thelomen ekdusasthai). Rather, “For that (επ ωιEphesians' hōi) we do not wish to put off the clothing, but to put it on” (αλλ επενδυσασταιall' ependusasthai). The transposition of the negative ουou weakens the sense. Paul does not wish to be a mere disembodied spirit without his spiritual garment.

That what is mortal may be swallowed up of life (ινα καταποτηι το τνητον υπο της ζωηςhina katapothēi to thnēton hupo tēs zōēs). “Only what is mortal perishes; the personality, consisting of soul and body, survives,” (Plummer). See note on 2 Corinthians 1:22 for “the earnest of the spirit.”

Verse 6

At home in the body (ενδημουντες εν τωι σωματιendēmountes en tōi sōmati). Rare verb ενδημεωendēmeō from ενδημοςendēmos (one among his own people as opposed to εκδημοςekdēmos one away from home). Both εκδημεωekdēmeō (more common in the old Greek) and ενδημεωendēmeō occur in the papyri with the contrast made by Paul here.

Verse 7

By sight (δια ειδουςdia eidous). Rather, by appearance.

Verse 8

We are of good courage (ταρρουμενtharroumen). Good word for cheer and same root as ταρσεωtharseō (Matthew 9:2, Matthew 9:22). Cheer up.

Are willing rather (ευδοκουμενeudokoumen). Rather, “We are well-pleased, we prefer” if left to ourselves. Cf. Philemon 1:21. Same ευδοκεωeudokeō used in Luke 3:22.

To be at home with the Lord (ενδημησαι προς τον Κυριονendēmēsai pros ton Kurion). First aorist (ingressive) active infinitive, to attain that goal is bliss for Paul.

Verse 9

We make it our aim (πιλοτιμουμεταphilotimoumetha). Old and common verb, present middle, from πιλοτιμοςphilotimos (πιλοσ τιμηphilosευαρεστοι αυτωι ειναιtimē fond of honour), to act from love of honour, to be ambitious in the good sense (1 Thessalonians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 5:9; Romans 15:20). The Latin ambitio has a bad sense from ambire, to go both ways to gain one‘s point.

To be well-pleasing to him (euarestoi autōi einai). Late adjective that shows Paul‘s loyalty to Christ, his Captain. Found in several inscriptions in the Koiné{[28928]}š period (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 214; Moulton and Milligan‘s Vocabulary).

Verse 10

Before the judgment-seat of Christ (εμπροστεν του βηματος του Χριστουemprosthen tou bēmatos tou Christou). Old word βημαbēma a step (from βαινωbainō), a platform, the seat of the judge (Matthew 27:19). Christ is Saviour, Lord, and Judge of us all (τους πανταςtous pantas the all).

That each may receive (ινα κομισηται εκαστοςhina komisētai hekastos). Receive as his due, κομιζωkomizō means, old verb. See note on Matthew 25:27.

Bad (phaulon). Old word, akin to German faul, worthless, of no account, base, wicked.

Verse 11

The fear of the Lord (τον ποβον του Κυριουton phobon tou Kuriou). Many today regard this a played-out motive, but not so Paul. He has in mind 2 Corinthians 5:10 with the picture of the judgment seat of Christ.

We persuade (πειτομενpeithomen). Conative present active, we try to persuade. It is always hard work.

Unto God (τεωιtheōi). Dative case. God understands whether men do or not.

That we are made manifest (πεπανερωσταιpephanerōsthai). Perfect passive infinitive of πανεροωphaneroō in indirect discourse after ελπιζωelpizō Stand manifested, state of completion.

Verse 12

As giving you occasion of glorying (απορμην διδοντες υμιν καυχηματοςaphormēn didontes humin kauchēmatos). An old Greek word (απο ορμηapoινα εχητε προςhormē onset, rush), a base of operations, material with which to glory, as we say “a tip” only much more.

That ye may have wherewith to answer (εν προσωπωι και μη εν καρδιαιhina echēte pros). Literally, “That ye may have something against (for facing those, etc.).” Paul wishes his champions in Corinth to know the facts.

In appearance, and not in heart (en prosōpōi kai mē en kardiāi). He means the Judaizers who were braggarts about their orthodox Judaism.

Verse 13

Whether we are beside ourselves (ειτε εχεστημενeite exestēmen). Second aorist active indicative of εχιστημιexistēmi old verb, here to stand out of oneself (intransitive) from εκστασιςekstasis ecstasy, comes as in Mark 5:42. It is literary plural, for Paul is referring only to himself. See note on 2 Corinthians 1:6 for ειτεειτεeite -eite It is a condition of the first class and Paul assumes as true the charge that he was crazy (if I was crazy) for the sake of argument. Festus made it later (Acts 26:24). He spoke with tongues (1 Corinthians 14:18) and had visions (2 Corinthians 12:1-6) which probably the Judaizers used against him. A like charge was made against Jesus (Mark 3:21). People often accuse those whom they dislike with being a bit off.

Verse 14

The love of Christ (η αγαπη του Χριστουhē agapē tou Christou). Subjective genitive, Christ‘s love for Paul as shown by 2 Corinthians 5:15.

Constraineth us (συνεχει ημαςsunechei hēmas). Old and common verb, to hold together, to press the ears together (Acts 7:57), to press on every side (Luke 8:45), to hold fast (Luke 22:63), to hold oneself to (Acts 18:5), to be pressed (passive, Luke 12:50; Philemon 1:23). So here Paul‘s conception of Christ‘s love for him holds him together to his task whatever men think or say.

Judging this (κριναντας τουτοkrinantas touto). Having reached this conclusion, ever since his conversion (Galatians 1:17.).

One died for all (εις υπερ παντων απετανενheis huper pantōn apethanen). This is the central tenet in Paul‘s theology and Christology. υπερHuper (over) here is used in the sense of substitution as in John 11:50; Galatians 3:13, death in behalf so that the rest will not have to die. This use of υπερhuper is common in the papyri (Robertson, Grammar, p. 631). In fact, υπερhuper in this sense is more usual in Greek than αντι προantiαρα οι παντες απετανονpro or any other preposition.

Therefore all died (αραara hoi pantes apethanon). Logical conclusion (ara corresponding), the one died for the all and so the all died when he did, all the spiritual death possible for those for whom Christ died. This is Paul‘s gospel, clear-cut, our hope today.

Verse 15

Should no longer live unto themselves (ινα μηκετι εαυτοις ζωσινhina mēketi heautois zōsin). The high doctrine of Christ‘s atoning death carries a correspondingly high obligation on the part of those who live because of him. Selfishness is ruled out by our duty to live “unto him who for their sakes died and rose again.”

Verse 16

Henceforth (απο του νυνapo tou nun). From the time that we gained this view of Christ‘s death for us.

After the flesh (κατα σαρκαkata sarka). According to the flesh, the fleshy way of looking at men. He, of course, knows men “in the flesh (εν τηι σαρκιen tēi sarki), but Paul is not speaking of that. Worldly standards and distinctions of race, class, cut no figure now with Paul (Galatians 3:28) as he looks at men from the standpoint of the Cross of Christ.

Even though we have known Christ after the flesh (ει και εγνωκαμεν κατα σαρκα Χριστονei kai egnōkamen kata sarka Christon). Concessive clause (ει καιei kai if even or also) with perfect active indicative. Paul admits that he had once looked at Christ κατα σαρκαkata sarka but now no longer does it. Obviously he uses κατα σαρκαkata sarka in precisely the same sense that he did in 2 Corinthians 5:15 about men. He had before his conversion known Christ κατα σαρκαkata sarka according to the standards of the men of his time, the Sanhedrin and other Jewish leaders. He had led the persecution against Jesus till Jesus challenged and stopped him (Acts 9:4). That event turned Paul clean round and he no longer knows Christ in the old way κατα σαρκαkata sarka Paul may or may not have seen Jesus in the flesh before his death, but he says absolutely nothing on that point here.

Verse 17

A new creature (καινη κτισιςkainē ktisis). A fresh start is made (καινηkainē). ΚτισιςKtisis is the old word for the act of creating (Romans 1:20), but in N.T. by metonymy it usually bears the notion of κτισμαktisma the thing created or creature as here.

The old things are passed away (τα αρχαια παρηλτενta archaia parēlthen). Did pass by, he means. Second aorist active of παρερχομαιparerchomai to go by. The ancient (αρχαιαarchaia) way of looking at Christ among other things. And yet today there are scholars who are trying to revive the old prejudiced view of Jesus Christ as a mere man, a prophet, to give us “a reduced Christ.” That was once Paul‘s view, but it passed by forever for him. It is a false view and leaves us no gospel and no Saviour.

Behold, they are become new (ιδου γεγονε καιναidouclass="greek-hebrew">γινομαι gegone kaina). Perfect active indicative of καιναginomai have become new (fresh, kaina) to stay so.

Verse 18

Who reconciled us to himself through Christ (του καταλλαχαντος ημας εαυτωι δια Χριστουtou katallaxantos hēmas heautōi dia Christou). Here Paul uses one of his great doctrinal words, καταλλασσωkatallassō old word for exchanging coins. ΔιαλλασσωDiallassō to change one‘s mind, to reconcile, occurs in N.T. only in Matthew 5:24 though in papyri (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, p. 187), and common in Attic. ΚαταλλασσωKatallassō is old verb, but more frequent in later writers. We find συναλλασσωsunallassō in Acts 7:26 and αποκαταλλασσωapokatallassō in Colossians 1:20.; Ephesians 2:16 and the substantive καταλλαγηkatallagē in Romans 5:11; Romans 11:15 as well as here. It is hard to discuss this great theme without apparent contradiction. God‘s love (John 3:16) provided the means and basis for man‘s reconciliation to God against whom he had sinned. It is all God‘s plan because of his love, but God‘s own sense of justice had to be satisfied (Romans 3:26) and so God gave his Son as a propitiation for our sins (Romans 3:25; Colossians 1:20; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10). The point made by Paul here is that God needs no reconciliation, but is engaged in the great business of reconciling us to himself. This has to be done on God‘s terms and is made possible through (διαdia) Christ.

And gave unto us the ministry of reconciliation (και δοντος ημιν την διακονιαν της καταλλαγηςkai dontos hēmin tēn diakonian tēs katallagēs). It is a ministry marked by reconciliation, that consists in reconciliation. God has made possible through Christ our reconciliation to him, but in each case it has to be made effective by the attitude of each individual. The task of winning the unreconciled to God is committed to us. It is a high and holy one, but supremely difficult, because the offending party (the guilty) is the hardest to win over. We must be loyal to God and yet win sinful men to him.

Verse 19

To wit, that (ως οτιhōs hoti). Latin puts it quoniam quidem. It is an unclassical idiom, but occurs in the papyri and inscriptions (Moulton, Prol., p. 212; Robertson, Grammar, p. 1033). It is in Esther 4:14. See also 2 Corinthians 11:21; 2 Thessalonians 2:2. It probably means “how that.”

Not reckoning (μη λογιζομενοςmē logizomenos). What Jesus did (his death for us) stands to our credit (Romans 8:32) if we make our peace with God. This is our task, “the word of reconciliation,” that we may receive “the righteousness of God” and be adopted into the family of God.

Verse 20

We are ambassadors therefore on behalf of Christ (υπερ Χριστου ουν πρεσβευομενhuper Christou oun presbeuomen). Old word from πρεσβυςpresbus an old man, first to be an old man, then to be an ambassador (here and Ephesians 6:20 with εν αλυσηιen halusēi in a chain added), common in both senses in the Greek. “The proper term in the Greek East for the Emperor‘s Legate” (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, p. 374), in inscriptions and papyri. So Paul has a natural pride in using this dignified term for himself and all ministers. The ambassador has to be persona grata with both countries (the one that he represents and the one to which he goes). Paul was Christ‘s Legate to act in his behalf and in his stead.

As though God were intreating by us (ως του τεου παρακαλουντος δι ημωνhōs tou theou parakalountos di' hēmōn). Genitive absolute with ωςhōs used with the participle as often to give the reason (apparent or real). Here God speaks through Christ‘s Legate.

Be ye reconciled to God (καταλλαγητε τωι τεωιkatallagēte tōi theōi). Second aorist passive imperative of καταλλασσωkatallassō and used with the dative case. “Get reconciled to God,” and do it now. This is the ambassador‘s message as he bears it to men from God.

Verse 21

Him who knew no sin (τον μη γνοντα αμαρτιανton mē gnonta hamartian). Definite claim by Paul that Jesus did not commit sin, had no personal acquaintance (μη γνονταmē gnonta second aorist active participle of γινωσκωginōskō) with it. Jesus made this claim for himself (John 8:46). This statement occurs also in 1 Peter 2:22; Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 7:26; 1 John 3:5. Christ was and is “a moral miracle” (Bernard) and so more than mere man.

He made to be sin (αμαρτιαν εποιησενhamartian epoiēsen). The words “to be” are not in the Greek. “Sin” here is the substantive, not the verb. God “treated as sin” the one “who knew no sin.” But he knew the contradiction of sinners (Hebrews 12:3). We may not dare to probe too far into the mystery of Christ‘s suffering on the Cross, but this fact throws some light on the tragic cry of Jesus just before he died: “My God, My God, why didst thou forsake me?” (Matthew 27:46).

That we might become (ινα ημεις γενωμεταhina hēmeis genōmetha). Note “become.” This is God‘s purpose (ιναhina) in what he did and in what Christ did. Thus alone can we obtain God‘s righteousness (Romans 1:17).


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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