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    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 reconciliation.

    1. For--Assigning the reason for the statement (2Co 4:17), that affliction leads to exceeding glory.
    - we know--assuredly (2Co 4:14; Job 19:25).
    - if--For all shall not die; many shall be "changed" without "dissolution" (1Co 15:51-53). If this daily delivering unto death (2Co 3:11) should end in actual death.
    - earthly--not the same as earthy (1Co 15:47). 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 (compare Job 4:19; 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 (1Co 3:16). 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, 2Ti 1:12) 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 (Nu 4:1-49). Paul, as a tent-maker, uses an image taken from his trade (Ac 18:3).
    - 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 present (compare Joh 3:36; 6:47, "hath").
    - 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 shall be.
    - not made with hands--contrasted with houses erected by man's hands (1Co 15:44-49). So Christ's body is designated, as contrasted with the tabernacle reared by Moses (Mr 14:58; Heb 9:11). 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" (2Co 8:10). ALFORD takes it, "in this" tabernacle. 2Co 5:4, which seems parallel, favors this. But the parallelism is sufficiently exact by making "in this we groan" refer generally to what was just said (2Co 5:1), namely, that we cannot obtain our "house in the heavens" except our "earthly tabernacle" be first dissolved by death.
    - we groan-- (Ro 8:23) 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 2Co 5:1; translate, "our habitation," "our domicile"; it has a more distinct reference to the inhabitant than the general term "house" (2Co 5:1) [BENGEL].
    - 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" (1Th 4:16). 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 2Co 5:4) we shall not be found naked (stripped of our present body)."

    4. For--resuming 2Co 5:2.
    - 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 (1Th 4:15), 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 sanctification.
    - for the selfsame thing--"unto" it; namely, unto what is mortal of us being swallowed up in life (2Co 5:4).
    - who also--The oldest manuscripts omit "also."
    - earnest of the Spirit--(See on 2Co 1:22). It is the Spirit (as "the first-fruits") who creates in us the groaning desire for our coming deliverance and glory (Ro 8:23).

    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 "confident" (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 Ac 7:34, Greek, "Having seen, I have seen," that is, I have surely seen.
    - 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 Php 3:20; 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," Nu 12:8. WAHL supports English Version. 2Co 4:18 also confirms it (compare Ro 8:24; 1Co 13:12, 13). God has appointed in this life faith for our great duty, and in the next, vision for our reward [SOUTH] (1Pe 1:8).

    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 (2Co 5:2-4). 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 Lord" (Php 1:23). "To be with Christ" (the disembodied state) is distinguished from Christ's coming to take us to be with Him in soul and body (1Th 4:14-17, "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 1Th 4:13-17), when they shall with joy recognize Christ's image in each other perfect.

    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 ambition.
    - whether present or absent--whether we be found at His coming present in the body, or absent from it.
    - accepted--Greek, "well-pleasing."

    10. appear--rather, "be made manifest," namely, in our true character. So "appear," Greek, "be manifested" (Col 3:4; compare 1Co 4:5). 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 himself.
    - receive--His reward of grace proportioned to "the things done," &c. (2Co 9:6-9; 2Jo 8). 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 2Co 5:9; Heb 6:10). 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, Ro 2:27). 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 resurrection body.

    11. terror of the Lord--the coming judgment, so full of terrors to unbelievers [ESTIUS]. ELLICOTT and ALFORD, after GROTIUS and BENGEL, translate, "The fear of the Lord" (2Co 7:1; Ec 12:13; Ac 9:31; Ro 3:18; Eph 5:21).
    - persuade--Ministers should use the terrors of the Lord to persuade men, not to rouse their enmity (Jude 23). BENGEL, ESTIUS, and ALFORD explain: "Persuade men" (by our whole lives, 2Co 5:13), 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 Ga 1:10), "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 motives (2Co 4:2); 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" (2Co 5:10).

    12. For--the reason why he leaves the manifestation of his sincerity in preaching to their consciences (2Co 3:1), namely, his not wishing to "commend" himself again.
    - occasion to


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