II Corinthians 5:1-9

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

Text: II Corinthians 5:1-9

YOUR AIM IN LIFE AS A MINISTER

INTRODUCTION:

As I observe people I notice that in many cases they have no real ambition, no real aim in life. They are nice people, but they never really accomplish anything. They fritter away their time by busying themselves with things which are really of no consequence. No one would even know the difference if they stopped doing the things they are doing.

I remember one lady being interviewed on a radio program who wanted to gain some idea of how big one million is, so she proceeded to write out the numbers from one to one million on stenography note pads. It took her a long time, and a lot of steno note pads, but she did it. What an accomplishment! To think what the world might have been like if she had not written out the numbers from one to one million on a number of stenography notebooks! It was worthless. It was nothing but busywork.

Other people are full of ambition. They have some real goals in life, but they are not necessarily Christlike in nature. Their goals might be to achieve fame, to gain wealth, to gain wisdom, to commit some particular sins, to become president of the United States, or something else. Others merely want to get married and live happily ever after.

As a Christian what is your number one goal in life?

In II Corinthians 5:1-9 we see what a believer's life's aim as a servant of Christ should be.

II Corinthians 5:1-9 - (1) For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (2) For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: (3) If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. (4) For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. (5) Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. (6) Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst 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, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (9) Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

II Corinthians 5:1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

In verse 1 Paul states his assurance that although his earthly body is only temporary, his heavenly body is eternal.

For introduces this explanation. It might instead indicate a continuation of the thought of the previous passage and be understood in the sense of now.

We know is we see, we perceive, or we recognize. It refers to Paul. What is true of Paul is also true of all other believers.

What Paul knows is introduced by that and comprises the rest of this verse. It is in the form of a conditional statement which assumes nothing about its truthfulness. It may or may not be true, but if the condition is true, the conclusion will also be true.

The condition is if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved; and the conclusion is we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

If our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved speaks of the physical death of Paul. At the time this was written, Paul did not know whether he would die and go to be with the Lord or whether he would be caught up to be with the Lord at the rapture.

Our earthly house of this tabernacle refers to Paul's physical body, his current dwelling place at this time in his life.

Earthly suggests pertaining to the earth as opposed to heavenly.

House speaks of a structure used as a dwelling.

Of this tabernacle suggests of (this) tent and speaks of the body as a temporary rather than a permanent residence.

Were dissolved suggests were destroyed, were demolished, or were dismantled. It is pictured as pondering or considering whether this might someday happen. It refers to physical death.

We have, where we is Paul, but is also true of all believers everywhere, indicates a present possession. Even though believers do not yet have their resurrection bodies, about which this is speaking, it is so certain that they will have them in heaven that it can be spoken of as a present possession.

A building speaks of a permanent structure rather than a temporary structure such as a tent or tabernacle. Its reference is to the believer's resurrection body and indicates that it is permanent rather than temporary.

Of God indicates that God is the source of this building. He is the One Who will remove our old sin natures, make us completely Christlike, and provide us with our resurrection or glorified bodies.

An house not made with hands further describes this permanent structure, and it is referring to the believer's resurrection body.

An house is a dwelling place, and not made with hands indicates that no human being built it.

Eternal in the heavens also describes this house Paul has in heaven.

Eternal suggests that it is without end. It is not eternal in the sense that God is eternal because God had no beginning, but believers had a beginning. There was no time when God did not exist, but there was a time when believers did not exist. However, just as God has no ending, believers will also have no ending. They will live for the rest of eternity. It is understood in the sense of everlasting.

In the heavens is best understood as in heaven. The plural heavens is often used in this sense.

II Corinthians 5:2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven.

In verse 2 Paul expresses his desire for the rapture to come during his lifetime.

For introduces this desire. It might instead indicate a continuation of the thought of the previous passage and be understood in the sense of now.

In this refers to Paul's physical body which is subject to death and decay.

We groan, where we refers to Paul, is we sigh, we are groaning, or we are sighing; and its tense indicates that it is describing Paul as he writes II Corinthians. What is true of Paul is also true of other believers as well.

Earnestly desiring means longing for or desiring.

What Paul earnestly desires is to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven. It is something which is also true of all believers.

To be clothed upon with is to put something on (in addition) and suggests putting on a garment over another garment.

Our house speaks of the resurrected, glorified body.

Which is from heaven describes house and indicates that this house has its source in heaven, suggesting that it has its source in God the Father Who dwells in heaven.

I Thessalonians 4:13-18 - 13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

I Corinthians 15:51-58 - 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

I John 3:1-2 - 1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

Philippians 3:20-21 - 20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

II Corinthians 5:3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.

In verse 3 Paul indicates that he desires the rapture to occur during his lifetime so that he will not experience a disembodied state from the time of his death until the rapture.

If so be is understood in the sense of if indeed also or assuming that.

Being clothed is having been clothed (by someone else, i.e. by God); and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

When combined with if so be, it is understood in the sense of if indeed we have been clothed in.

We shall not be found, where we is Paul but is also true of all other believers, is we shall not be discovered.

Naked suggests without clothing, and in the context means without our resurrection bodies if physical death occurs before the rapture.

Paul is comparing three things:

(1) life in the physical body before death,

(2) life in a disembodied state after death but before the rapture

(3) life in a resurrection body after the rapture

Life in a disembodied state in heaven with Christ is better than (or preferable to) physical life on earth before death, but life in a resurrected and glorified body in heaven with Christ is better than (or preferable to) life in a disembodied state even though it is with Christ in heaven.

II Corinthians 5:4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

In verse 4 Paul again expresses his desire that the rapture come during his lifetime.

For continues Paul's explanation.

We . . . do groan is the same word used in verse 2 meaning we sigh, we are groaning, or we are sighing. It is describing Paul as he writes II Corinthians.

We that are in this tabernacle is the ones who are in the tabernacle (or tent) and refers to Paul but includes all other believers who are still physically alive, living in their earthly bodies.

Being burdened literally means pressed down as if with a weight, weighed down, or burdened. Here it is used figuratively in the sense of a mental or psychological condition and is understood as burdened or oppressed.

Paul then goes on to explain why he and other believers groan, being burdened, first negatively (not for that we would be unclothed) and then positively (but clothed upon).

Not for that means not for this reason that or not because.

We would be unclothed is we are wishing (or desiring) to be unclothed (i.e. we are wishing (or desiring) to remove clothing from the body or we are wishing (or desiring) to take clothing off).

But introduces a statement in strong contrast to not that we would be unclothed.

Clothed upon is the same term used in verse 2 in the sense of putting on a garment over another garment or putting a garment on (in addition) to another garment.

That mortality might be swallowed up of life indicates the reason Paul wishes to be clothed upon.

That is understood in the sense of in order that or for the purpose that.

Mortality is the mortal and suggests the mortal body, referring to the earthly tabernacle of this body.

Might be swallowed up suggests something that will cause the end of mortality, which means that we will no longer be subject to death.

Of life is by life, i.e. by eternal life rather than by physical life. Life swallows up the mortal (body). It suggests the change which takes place at the rapture for those who are saved and still physically alive. They will be changed.

I Corinthians 15:50-53 - 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

II Corinthians 5:5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.

In verse 5 Paul indicates that God is the One Who has prepared Paul and all other believers for the experience of their mortal bodies being swallowed up by eternal life.

Meanwhile, Paul and all other believers have the Holy Spirit as a down payment from God, promising that God will someday finish what He has begun.

Now continues the thought. He that hath wrought us is the One Who has prepared us or the One Who has caused us to be well prepared.

For the selfsame thing is for this very thing and refers to this mortal body being swallowed up by eternal life.

Is God, where God refers to God the Father. It is He Who has prepared Paul and all other believers for their mortal bodies being swallowed up by eternal life.

Who also hath given us is the One Who also gave Paul and all other believers, and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

What God has given all believers is the earnest of the Spirit, i.e. the first installment, the deposit, the down payment, or the pledge of the Spirit, i.e. of God the Holy Spirit. This means that God the Holy Spirit is the earnest, the first installment, the deposit, the down payment, or the pledge. The Holy Spirit is the promise that the salvation of believers will one day be finished or brought to completion when they receive their glorified or resurrection bodies.

II Corinthians 5:6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord.

Verse 6 draws an inference from verses 1-5. Because of Paul's interjecting verse 7, the thought of verse 6 is not completed until verse 8.

Therefore introduces this inference and is understood in the sense of consequently, accordingly, then, or so.

We are always confident indicates Paul's certainty. We is Paul but is also true of all other believers. Always is at all times. We are confident at all times.

Knowing is understood in the sense of because we know, because we see, because we perceive, or because we recognize.

What we know is that, whilst we are home in the body, we are absent from the Lord.

Whilst we are home suggests while we are at home in a familiar place.

In the body refers to the physical body.

We are absent, which refers to Paul but is also true of all believers, is, We are away.

From the Lord refers to Christ. Inasmuch as He is in heaven, it also means that Paul and all other believers are absent from heaven as long as they are in this mortal body.

II Corinthians 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:).

In verse 7 Paul interjects a thought before he returns in verse 8 to the thought of verse 6.

For we walk is you see we live, you see we are living, you see we conduct our lives, or you see we are conducting our lives. Its reference is to Paul but is also true of all other believers as well.

By faith is by means of faith (i.e. belief or trust). We live or conduct our lives by means of faith in this lifetime.

Not by sight indicates how Paul is not conducting his life: It is not by means of sight (or not by seeing). The point is that Paul is not yet in heaven with the Lord even though he knows by faith that he will someday be there with the Lord. When he gets there, he will see the Lord in person. However, until that time he is conducting his life on the basis of faith.

II Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

In verse 8 Paul returns to the thought he began in verse 6 and completes it.

We are confident, I say is we have certainty, (I say).

And willing, i.e. and we are willing, suggests we are willing to consider it as being good and therefore worthy of choice. It is understood in the sense of we are wishing (or we are preferring).

Rather suggests instead of being at home in the body and absent from the Lord mentioned in verse 6.

To be absent from the body is to leave the body or to get away from the body, which has been referred to as our earthly house of this tabernacle in verse 1, as this tabernacle in verse 4, and as mortality, i.e. this mortal (body) in verse 4.

And to be present with the Lord is and to be at home with the Lord, where the Lord refers to Christ.

With the Lord means in company with the Lord and suggests face to face with the Lord. Paul prefers being in the very presence of Christ in heaven to being in his body on earth. Who can blame him!

To be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord makes soul-sleep impossible. Soul-sleep is promoted by the Adventists, whether Seventh-day Adventists or Advent Christians, who teach that there is no separation of the soul from the body at physical death.

II Corinthians 5:9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

Verse 9 draws an inference from what Paul has written in verses 1-8.

Wherefore is therefore or for this reason.

We labour refers to Paul but is also true of all other believers as well. It means we are laboring, we are having as our ambition, we are considering it an honor, we are aspiring, we are striving earnestly, or we are making it our aim in life.

Paul's goal is that . . . we may be accepted of him, i.e. We may be well pleasing to Him, i.e. to Christ.

Whether present or absent suggests whether being present in the body (i.e. being a home in the body) or being absent from the body (i.e. being away from the body) as mentioned in verse 6.

CONCLUSION:

As servants of the Lord we must have a worthy goal in life. The only goal which is worthy is that (in everything we are, in everything we say, or in everything we do) we be well-pleasing to the Lord, no matter what the cost to us personally.