Promise of New Body
Read (2 Cor 5:1-10)
Although believers are living in an earthly body, we will one day receive a new and eternal body in heaven. Our body is likened to a tent that is to be taken down. This is signifying the physical death and transient nature of our body. The believer will receive an immortal body made not by human hands but by God in heaven. They will receive a resurrection body when Christ returns (Rom 8:23, 30; Phil 3:20-21). They are already experiencing the reality of this resurrection life through the presence of Holy Spirit within them. The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our inheritance (Ephesians 1:14). Our physical bodies now experience trials, pain, sickness, discouragement and anxiety. They are waiting for the abundant life promised in the scripture (Rom 8:23; 2 Pet 1:11). Now they live by faith and not by sight. Faith is not wishful thinking but it is the objective trust in the resurrection of Christ and his return. Paul was confident that “Away from the body is at home with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8). We should please God whether we are in body or away from this body (2 Cor 5:9). When believers die, they go directly to the presence of God. There is no such thing like soul-sleep. Jesus promised the repentant thief “Today you will be with me in paradise“(Luke 23:40-43). Paul longed to depart and be with the Lord (Phil 1:23). The believers will stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give account of their life (5:10; 1 Cor 3:10-15). There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ (Rom 8:1). But God will hold them responsible for the deeds done in their bodies. So the believers don’t have to be afraid of death but enjoy the life in Christ serving God. Christ's victory over sin and death should motivate us to live for him.
We are Christ’s Ambassadors
Read (2 Cor 5:11-15)
Now Paul discusses his motives, his message and his method of the ministry. Paul’s motive for the ministry is given in verses 11-15. Out of his deep reverence to God and also in view of the judgment seat of Christ, he served Christ. It was the hard work of persuading people of their need of salvation. Someone has said "Fear or reverence is living the life from God’s perspective". Persuading is proving the truth by verified facts. Paul personal integrity is known to God and also to Corinthians. Paul was not trying to boast about himself but give the Corinthians the reasons to be proud of him so that they can answer those who oppose him. There was a minority in Corinth who questioned Paul’s integrity. His ministry was not motivated by self-interest but the glory of God and the benefit of believers. The Corinthian church demonstrated little appreciation for Paul yet he faithfully served them. Christ’s love compelled Paul to serve Christ rather than himself (2 Cor 5:14). Apostle Paul was convinced that if Christ’s death was for all, then all are spiritually dead. The believers should not live to please themselves but to please Christ who died and rose again for them (2 Cor 5:15; Gal 2:20). The resurrection of Christ provides incentive to holy living.
The great Exchange
Read (2 Cor 5:16-21)
Paul turns his attention to his message. There was a time he thought that Jesus was a just another man. After his conversion, Paul could no longer think that way. Paul now knows that when a person receives Christ he becomes a new person inside. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). Then he will have a fresh start and a new nature (2 Pet 1:3). It is the result of his abiding union with Christ (Ephesians 4:24; John 15:4-5). He is not the same anymore. As they cultivate this new nature by spending time in prayer and Bible study. This newness of life comes from God who reconciled them to him through Christ’s atoning death. God has entrusted us with the gospel. This is the message of reconciliation. “In Christ God is reconciling the world to himself, not counting their sins against them” (2 Cor 5:19). It is called the “great exchange” passage in the scripture (2 Cor 5:21). God does not impute our sin on us (2 Cor 5:19). Secondly God imputed our sin to Christ (John 1:29; 1 Pet 1:19). Thirdly Christ’s righteousness is imputed to sinner’s account. So when a sinner receives Christ, he is declared righteous upon the merits of Jesus Christ (Rom 3:24-25). To reconcile means to remove enmity between two people. Since the sinner is at enmity with God, he cannot do this for himself. God does it through Christ (Rom 5:9-10). All believers are Christ’s ambassadors. Their ministry is to plead with others to submit to the reconciling work of God (2 Cor 5:20). When they are reconciled, their standing before God will change from guilty to blameless. This is called justification. The believer’s hope, peace and eternity are based on the reconciling work of God. This gives us confidence to live and serve Christ.