Chapter 5: 2 Corinthians 5:1-21, judgment seat of Christ
Heavenly Father, we commit this time to You to see, hear, feel, and learn from You. We pray for all distractions, obstructions, doubts, and hindrances to be divinely removed. Help us to walk by faith and not by sight, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
VV 1-5, 1 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
The earthly house or tent is the physical body. If our physical bodies are destroyed through death, we will receive a resurrected body made by God that will last into eternity. This will happen to all Christians at a future event called the rapture, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. God’s promise of resurrection is guaranteed by the giving of the Holy Spirit as an earnest deposit. Greek for guarantee is “egguos”, which means an earnest deposit.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”
VV 6-8, 6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
When Christians are alive, they are absent from the Lord, but upon death, their spirits and souls will be united with the Lord. At death, our bodies will be either buried or cremated, but our spirits and souls live on with the Lord in heaven forever. Christians do not walk by physical sight but by spiritual eyes of faith.
VV 9-11, 9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.
Paul encouraged his audience to live worthy of their calling. After the rapture, Christians will appear before the judgment seat of Christ, Rev 4. The judgment seat of Christ is a judgment for rewards, not condemnation, 1 Cor 3: 14-15. Christians will be rewarded or rebuked for things they did, or did not do after salvation, but their salvation is secured. Christ had already paid the penalty of sins for the Christians on the cross. The judgment seat of Christ is not the same as the white throne judgment of Rev 20:11-15.
Romans 14:10, “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Unfruitful believers will still be saved because they had built their foundation on Christ through faith.”
I Corinthians 3:14-15, “If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
Revelation 20:11, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them.
“VV 12-14, 12 For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus, that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
Paul criticised the false apostles for boasting about their appearances without the sincerity of hearts. Paul might not have a stunning personality but his heart was sincere. Christ died for everyone. Christians should not live for themselves but live for Christ who died and resurrection from the dead for them.
VV 16-17, 16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
Therefore, connects us back to the previous verses. Since Christ died for everyone in the flesh, Paul would not appraise anyone according to the flesh. A born-again Christian is a new creation in Christ, regenerated by the Holy Spirit with the incorruptible seed of God’s words. The old man of the flesh is replaced by the spirit-man of the Holy Spirit. There is a change of world view, desire, appetite, gifting, insight, and ambition. There is a transformation of heart, renewal of mindset, and conformity to the image of God, Romans 12:2.”
Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
VV 18-19, 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
Justification by faith reconciled Christians to God, Romans 5:10. God reconciled the world to Himself through the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross, 2 Corinthians 5:21.
Romans 5:10, “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”
2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
VV 20-21, 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Christians are ambassadors for Christ with a mission to take the message of the gospel to the world. God made Jesus who is sinless and perfect to be sin for us so that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us through faith. Jesus took the sins of the whole upon Him as a substitutionary atonement on the cross of Calvary on Good Friday.
An ambassador is an official representative of one country to another country. As ambassadors of Christ, we must take the message of Christ’s gospel to the world on His behalf.
Jesus, the perfect and sinless man, took our sins for us on Good Friday, so that His righteousness is imputed to us by His death. Because of His amazing love, He did for us something that we could never do for ourselves.
Memorise 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new.”
Heavenly Father, we claim the promise that when our earthly house is destroyed, we will have a custom-designed eternal building in heaven built by You. Thank You for giving us the Holy Spirit now as a guarantee of our future resurrection life with You in heaven, in Jesus’ name, Amen.