Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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2 CORINTHIANS - Chapter 5

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2 Corinthians 5

Supplemental Commentary:

I.  PERSONAL DEFENSE  1, 15 -- 7, 16 (continued)

2.  The Apostle Defends His Assurance  3, 1 -- 5, 10 (continued)

5, 1-10:  Reward after Death.    1.  Earthly house: literally, "Tent-dwelling," i.e., a dwelling that has only a transitory existence.  "The camp-life of the Israelites in the wilderness, as commemorated by the annual feast of Tabernacles, was a ready and appropriate symbol of man's transitory life on earth."    2.  To go clothed over, etc.: the Apostle wishes that he might attain immortality without passing through death, that he might take on the resurrection body over his natural body (1 Cor. 15, 51).    3.  Clothed, and not naked: i.e., living, not dead, when Christ comes.  The dead who shall have lost their bodies at the Second Coming shall be clothed anew.  This is the most probable explanation of a very difficult verse.    5.  The Spirit as its pledge: the Holy Spirit received in Baptism is the earnest, the warrant, a foretaste of eternal life.

8.  The Apostle means to say, if death is necessary to be with Christ, then welcome death.  This verse affords a clear proof that purified souls immediately after death are admitted to the vision of God (St. Thomas).    10.  All of us must be made, etc.: all men, even children who die before the use of reason, must appear in the General Judgment.  Sinless children will be present then, "not to be judged, but to see the glory of the judge, in order that both the mercy and the justice of God may be manifested in their case" (St. Thomas).

3.  The Apostle Defends His Sincerity  5, 11 - 7, 1

What the Apostle has just been saying about the lofty motives that guide his life and actions was related not in self-praise, but for the sake of the Corinthians.  He and his fellow-workers are directed by love of Christ.  The Corinthians ought to imitate the character of the Apostles and avoid the sins and vices of the pagans around them.

5, 11-19:  His Labor for God and Souls.    11.  The fear of the Lord: i.e., the fear inspired by the thought of the judgment to come.  To God we are manifest: the Apostles have to resort to persuasion to convince men of their sincerity, but not so with regard to God who reads their hearts and souls.    13.  When the Apostle spoke of the graces and privileges he had received from God, his adversaries accused him of madness; but he spoke thus for the glory of God and the welfare of the faithful.    14.  For the love of Christ, etc.: i.e., the love Christ has for us restricts the energies and activities of the Apostles to the things that pertain to the service of God and the salvation of human souls, to the exclusion of all selfish interests.  And the reason for this is that since Christ died for all men, for the salvation of all, therefore all have died in Him, i.e., have participated in His death, sharing in its merits, so far as Christ is concerned.    16.  Have known Christ according to the flesh: St. Paul before his conversion had the ordinary Jewish idea of "the Christ," i.e., the Jewish Messias; but now, enlightened by the Spirit, he knows Him to be the Son of God, the Redeemer, the Sanctifier, the Reconciler.

17.  The change in the Apostles, which the preceding verse describes, is now extended to all Christians.  If then any man is in Christ: through Baptism he has become a new creature, morally and spiritually.    19.  God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, i.e., through Christ, in virtue of Christ's merits, (a) by wiping out men's sins, for which Christ atoned, and (b) by confiding to the Apostles the office of preaching the gospel, of administering the Sacraments, etc.

5, 20 -- 6, 13:  Ambassadors of Christ.    21.  For our salvation the sinless Son of God, in the person of Christ our Redeemer, became identified with our sins; so that God "suffered Him to be condemned as a sinner, and to die as one accursed" (St. Chrysostom).   [Commentary on this section is continued at the beginning of the next chapter.]

Confraternity Bible:

Reward after Death  1 For we know that if the earthly house in which we dwell be destroyed, we have a building from God, a  house not made by human hands, eternal in the heavens.  2* And indeed, in this present state we groan, yearning to be clothed over with that dwelling of ours which is from heaven; 3 if indeed we shall be found clothed, and not naked.  4 For we who are in this tent sigh under our burden, because we do not wish to be unclothed, but rather clothed over, that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  5 Now he who made us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as its pledge.

6 Always full of courage, then, and knowing that while we are in the body we are exiled from the Lord--- 7 for we walk by faith and not by sight--- 8 we even have the courage to prefer to be exiled from the body and to be at home with the Lord.  9 And therefore we strive, whether in the body or out of it, to be pleasing to him.  10 For all of us must be made manifest before the tribunal of Christ, so that each one may receive what he has won through the body, according to his works, whether good or evil.

His Labor for God and Souls  11 Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade men; but to God we are manifest.  And I hope also that in your consciences we are manifest.

12 We are not again commending ourselves to you; but we are giving you occasion to boast about us, that you may have an answer for them who glory in appearances and not in heart.  13 For if we were out of our mind, it was for God; if we are sane, it is for you.  14 For the love of Christ impels us, because we have come to the conclusion that, since one died for all, therefore all died; 15 and that Christ died for all, in order that they who are alive may live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for them and rose again.

16 So that henceforth we know no one according to the flesh.  And even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we known him so no longer.  17 If then any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the former things have passed away; behold, they are made new!  18 But all things are from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation.

19 For God was truly in Christ, reconciling the world to himself by not reckoning against men their sins and by entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

Ambassadors of Christ  20 On behalf of Christ, therefore, we are acting as ambassadors, God, as it were, appealing through us.  We exhort you, for Christ's sake, be reconciled to God.  21* For our sakes he made him to be sin who knew nothing of sin, so that in him we might become the justice of God.


2: To be clothed over, etc.: the Apostle wishes that he might attain immortality without passing through death, that he might take on the resurrected body over his natural

21: For our salvation the sinless Son of God, in the Person of Christ our Redeemer, became identified with our sins; so that God "suffered Him to be condemned as a sinner, and to die as one accursed."