Living by Faith

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Living by Faith

Wht=Undrly’g Quest in Study Lk This? 

   “Whr Does Hlp Cm Fr?” (Ps. 121:1)

    -- To Live Life & Face Its Probs

     -- To Conqr Fear/ Fatig/Frailty & KeepGo’g

     -- To Help Oths Ev. Whn<>Knw How?

            <>fr intell–2 many thngs <>undrstnd

            <> fr pwr–2 much nev will cntrl

            <> fr posses–can get deprssd sit’g on pile $

            <> fr oth peo–<>alwys care&do let us dwn

Our Hope=in Lord ... Who Made Heav&Earth

            -- He will keep your soul (v.7)

            àTht’s wht Study bout: V.Keep’g of Souls

Our Help Is In the Name of the Lord – Hope Too!

The Driving Force in Our Lives: th4 

To Knw G, to Wlk w/Hm, To Mk Him Knwn.


16 For this reason we never become discouraged [in any FINAL way!].

            Even though our physical being is gradually decaying,

            yet our spiritual being is renewed day after day.

            17And this small and temporary trouble we suffer (Temp/Lt Afflict)

            will bring us a tremendous and eternal glory,

                        much greater than the trouble.

18For we fix our attention, not on things that are seen (Our Probs/Failures)

            , but on things that are unseen (G’s Pres.; His Desire 4 Our Succ).

            What can be seen lasts only for a time,

            but what cannot be seen lasts for ever.

5 For we know that when this tent we live in—our body here on earth—is torn down, God will have a house in heaven for us to live in, a home he himself has made, which will last for ever.

2And now we sigh, so great is our desire that our home which comes from heaven should be put on over us; 3by being clothed with it we shall not be without a body.

4While we live in this earthly tent, we groan with a feeling of oppression;

            it is not that we want to get rid of our earthly body,

            but that we want to have the heavenly one put on over us,

            so that what is mortal will be transformed by life.

5God is the one who has prepared us for this change,

            and he gave us his Spirit as the guarantee of all that he has in store for us.

6 So we are always full of courage.  {What Does G’s Sp. Do?}

We know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord’s home.        7For our life is a matter of faith, not of sight.

8We are full of courage

            and would much prefer to leave our home in the body and be at home with the Lord. 9More than anything else, however, we want to please him,

            whether in our home here or there.

10For all of us must appear before Christ, to be judged by him.

            We will each receive what we deserve,

                        according to everything we have done,

                                    good or bad,

                                    in our bodily life.


2 Corinthians 4:16–18

That is the reason why we do not grow weary. But if indeed our outward frame is wasting away, our inward self is renewed day by day, for the light affliction which at the moment we must endure produces for us in a way that cannot be exaggerated an eternal weight of glory, so long as we do not think of the things which are seen, but of the things which are unseen, for the things which are seen are passing, but the things which are unseen are eternal.

Here Paul sets out the secret of endurance.

(i) All through life it must happen that a man’s bodily strength fades away, but all through life it ought to happen that a man’s soul keeps growing. The sufferings which leave a man with a weakened body may be the very things which strengthen the sinews of his soul. It was the prayer of the poet, “Let me grow lovely growing old.” From the physical point of view life may be a slow but inevitable slipping down the slope that leads to death. But from the spiritual point of view life is a climbing up the hill that leads to the presence of God. No man need fear the years, for they bring him nearer, not to death, but to God.

(ii) Paul was convinced that anything he had to suffer in this world would be as nothing compared with the glory he would enjoy in the next. He was certain that God would never be in any man’s debt. Alistair Maclean, minister father of the author of H. M. S. Ulysses and the rest, tells of an old Highland woman who had to leave the clean air and the blue waters and the purple hills and live in the slum of a great city. She still lived close to God, and one day she said, “God will make it up to me, and I will see the flowers again.”

In Christmas Eve Browning writes of the martyr whose story was set out “on the rude tablet overhead.”

“I was born sickly, poor and mean,

A slave; no misery could screen

The holders of the pearl of price

From Caesar’s envy; therefore twice

I fought with beasts and three times saw

My children suffer by his law;

At last my own release was earned;

I was some time in being burned,

But at the close a Hand came through

The fire above my head, and drew

My soul to Christ, whom now I see.

Sergius, a brother, writes for me

This testimony on the wall—

For me, I have forgot it all.”

Earth’s suffering was forgotten in the glory of heaven.

It is a notable fact that in all the gospel story Jesus never foretold his death without foretelling his Resurrection. He who suffers for Christ will share his glory. God’s own honour is pledged to that.

(iii) For that very reason, a man’s eyes must be ever fixed, not on the things that are seen, but on the things that are unseen. The things that are seen, the things of this world, have their day and cease to be; the things that are unseen, the things of heaven, last forever.

There are two ways of looking at life. We can look at it as a slow but inexorable journey away from God. Wordsworth in his Ode on the Intimations of Immortality had the idea that when a child came into this world he had some memory of heaven which the years slowly took away from him.

“Trailing clouds of glory do we come,”


“Shades of the prison house begin to close

About the growing boy.”

And in the end the man is earthbound and heaven is forgotten. Thomas Hood wrote with wistful pathos:

“I remember, I remember

The fir-trees dark and high.

I used to think their slender spires

Were close against the sky.

It was a childish ignorance

But now ‘tis little joy

To know, I’m farther off from heaven

Than when I was a boy.”

If we think only of the things that are visible we are bound to see life that way. But there is another way. The writer to the Hebrews said of Moses: “He endured as seeing him who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:27). Robert Louis Stevenson tells of an old byreman. Someone was sympathizing with him about his daily work amidst the muck of the byre and asking him how he could go on doing it day in and day out, and the old man answered, “He that has something ayont (beyond) need never weary.”


2 Corinthians 5:1–10

For we know that if this earthly house of ours, that tent which is the body is pulled down, we have a building which comes from God, a house not made with hands, eternal and in the heavens. For indeed so long as we are as we are we earnestly long to put on our abode which is from heaven, and if indeed we have put it on we shall not be found naked. For, while we are in this tent of the body, we groan, for life weighs us down, for it is not so much that we desire to be stripped of this house, but rather that we desire to put on our heavenly body over it, so that that which is subject to death may be swallowed up by life. He who has designed us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a first installment of the life to come. So then we are always in good heart, although we know that, while we sojourn here in the body, we are absent from the Lord—for it is by faith we walk and not by sight—but we are in good heart and we are willing rather to depart from the body and to stay with the Lord. So then it is our one ambition, whether we are present with him or absent from him, to be the kind of people in which he can find pleasure. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one of us may receive the consequences of the thing we did while we were in the body, consequences which will correspond to what each one of us has done, be it good or bad.

There is a very significant progression of thought in this passage, a progression which gives us the very essence of the thought of Paul.

(i) To him it will be a day of joy when he is done with this human body. He regards it as merely a tent, a temporary dwelling place, in which we sojourn till the day comes when it is dissolved and we enter into the real abode of our souls.

We have had occasion before to see how Greek and Roman thinkers despised the body. “The body,” they said, “is a tomb.” Plotinus could say that he was ashamed that he had a body. Epictetus said of himself, “Thou art a poor soul burdened with a corpse.” Seneca wrote, “I am a higher being and born for higher things than to be the slave of my body which I look upon as only a shackle put upon my freedom. … In so detestable a habitation dwells the free soul.” Even Jewish thought sometimes had this idea. “For the corruptible body presses down upon the soul and the earthly tabernacle weighs down the mind that muses on many things.” (Wisdom 9:15).

With Paul there is a difference. He is not looking for a Nirvana with the peace of extinction; he is not looking for absorption in the divine; he is not looking for the freedom of a disembodied spirit; he is waiting for the day when God will give him a new body, a spiritual body, in which he will still be able, even in the heavenly places, to serve and to adore God.

Kipling once wrote a poem in which he thought of all the great things that a man would be able to do in the world to come:

“When earth’s last picture is painted

And the tubes are twisted and dried,

When the oldest colours have faded,

And the youngest critic has died,

We shall rest, and, faith, we shall need it—

Lie down for an aeon or two,

Till the Master of All Good Workmen

Shall put us to work anew.

And those that were good shall be happy,

They shall sit in a golden chair

They shall splash at a ten-league canvas

With brushes of comets’ hair.

They shall find real saints to draw from,

Magdalene, Peter and Paul,

They shall work for an age at a sitting

And never be tired at all.

And only the Master shall praise them,

And only the Master shall blame;

And no one will work for money

And no one will work for fame;

But each for the joy of the working,

And each in his separate star,

Shall draw the things as he sees it,

For the God of things as they are.”

That was how Paul felt. He saw eternity not as release into permanent inaction, but as the entry into a body in which service could be complete.

(ii) For all his yearning for the life to come, Paul does not despise this life. He is, says, in good heart. The reason is that even here and now we possess the Holy Spirit of God, and the Holy Spirit is the arrabon (cp. 1:22), the first instalment of the life to come. It is Paul’s conviction that already the Christian can enjoy the foretaste of the life everlasting. It is given to the Christian to be a citizen of two worlds; and the result is, not that he despises this world, but that he finds it clad with a sheen of glory which is the reflection of the greater glory to come.

(iii) Then comes the note of sternness. Even when Paul was thinking of the life to come, he never forgot that we are on the way not only to glory, but also to judgment. “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” The word for judgment seat is bema. Paul may be thinking simply of the tribunal of the Roman magistrate before which he himself had stood, or he may be thinking of the Greek way of justice.

All Greek citizens were liable to serve as judges, or, as we would say, as jurymen. When an Athenian sat in judgment on a case he was given two bronze discs. Each had a cylindrical axis was hollow and that disc stood for condemnation; one was solid and that disc stood for acquittal. On the bema there stood two urns. One, of bronze, was called “the decisive urn”, for into it the judge dropped the disc which stood for his verdict. The other, of wood, was called “the inoperative urn”, for into it the judge dropped the disc which he desired to discard. So at the end the jury dropped into the bronze urn either the disc that stood for acquittal or the one that stood for condemnation. To an onlooker they looked exactly alike and none could tell the verdict the judges gave. Then the discs were counted and the verdict given.

Even so some day we shall await the verdict of God. When we remember that, life becomes a tremendous and a thrilling thing, for in it we are making or marring a destiny, winning or losing a crown. Time becomes the testing ground of eternity.


D. Paul’s Ministry: Its Glory and Frailty (4:7–18)


Baumert, N. Täglich Sterben und Auferstehen. 72–82, 82–88. Bishop, E. F. F. “Pots of Earthenware.” EvQ 43 (1971) 3–5. Bultmann, R. Der Stil der paulinischen Predigt und die kynisch-stoische Diatribe. FRLANT 13. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1910. Chavasse, C. “Studies in Texts—2 Cor. 4:7.” Th 54 (1951) 99–100. Cobb, W. H. “Αἰώνιος II. Cor. iv.17 and v. 1.” JBL 3 (June & December, 1883) 61. Dahood, M. J. “Two Pauline Quotations from the Old Testament.” CBQ 17 (1955) 19–24. Güttgemanns, E. Der leidende Apostel und sein Herr. FRLANT 90. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1966. Harman, A. M. “Aspects of Paul’s Use of the Psalms.” WTJ 32 (1969) 1–23. Joüon, P. “Reconnaissance et action de graâce dans le NT.” RSR 29 (1939) 112–14. Kleinknecht, K. T. Der leidende Gerechtfertigte. WUNT 2d.ser. 13. Tübingen: Mohr, 1984. Leivestad, R. “ ‘The Meekness and Gentleness of Christ’ (II Cor. x.l).” NTS 12 (1965/66) 156–64 (162). Noack, B. “A Note on II Cor. iv.15.” ST 17 (1963) 129–32. Perrin, N. “The Use of (παρα)διδόναι, in connection with the Passion of Jesus in the New Testament.” In Der Ruf und die Antwort der Gemeinde. FS J. Jeremias, ed. C. Burchard. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1970. 204–12. Popkes, W. Christus Traditus. Eine Untersuchung zum Begriff der Dahingabe. ATANT 49. Zurich: Zwingli Verlag, 1967. 150–51. Proudfoot, C. M. “Imitation or Realistic Participation? A Study of Paul’s Concept of ‘Suffering with Christ.’” Int 17 (1963) 140–60. Rey, B. “L’homme nouveau d’aprés St. Paul.” RscPhTh (1965) 161–95. Rissi, M. Studien zum zweiten Korintherbrief 47–53. Robinson, J. A. T. The Body. A Study in Pauline Theology. SBT 5. London: SCM Press, 1952. 75–78. Robinson, W. C., Jr. “Word and Power (1 Corinthians 1:17–25)” In Soil Deo Gloria, FS W. C. Robinson, ed. J. M. Richards. Richmond: John Knox, 1968. 68–82. Schweizer, E. “Dying and Rising with Christ.” NTS 14 (1967–68) 1–11. ———. “Die ‘Mystik’ des Sterbens und Auferstehens mit Christus bei Paulus.” EvT 26 (1966) 239–57. Siber, P. Mir Christus Leben. Eine Studie zur paulinischen Auferstehungshoffnung. Zurich: Zwingli Verlag, 1971.67–76. Spicq, C. “L’image sportive de 2 Corinthiens 4, 7–9.” ETL 14 (1937) 209–29. Tannehill, R. Dying and Rising with Christ. A Study in Pauline Theology. BZNW 32. Berlin: Töpelmann, 1967.84–90.


7But we have this treasure in clay pots, to show the preeminent power as God’s, not our own. 8We are hard pressed in every way, but not crushed by it; thrown into perplexity, but not left to despair; 9harassed, but not abandoned; knocked down, but not knocked out. 10We always bear in our bodily existence the dying of Jesus, so that the life too of Jesus may be displayed in our mortal existence. 11For we as living persons are alwaysa being handed over to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be displayed in our mortal nature. 12Thus death is at work in our case, but it is life for you.

13But since we possess the same spirit of faith as that shown by the Scripture writer,b “I believed, and so I spoke,” we too believe, and thus we speak 14in the knowledge that he who raised up Jesusc [from death] will raise up us also with Jesus and lead us with you into his presence, 15For all this will happen on your account, so that as grace extends to yet more people, it may cause gratitude to abound to God’s glory.

16So we are not discouraged. But even if our outward person is wasting away, our inward person is being renewed day by day. 17For our affliction, light and momentary, is producing for us out of all proportion an eternal weight of glory 18as we set our gaze not on what is seen but what is not seen; for what is seen is transient, but what is not seen is eternal.


11.a. The bulk of textual authorities read ἀεί, “always,” but p46 F G syrp Iren Tert Ambrosiaster have εἰ, “if.” If the latter is preferred, the reading will produce the following: “for if we as living persons are being handed over … it is that the life of Jesus may be displayed,” etc.

13.b. Lit., κατὰ τὸ γεγραμμένον runs “according to what has been written.” This is an unusual formula of citation to introduce OT Scripture; it is unique in the NT. Bultmann’s suggestion (123) is that it is a legal from, referring to A. Deissmann, Bible Studies, 250. But there are rabbinic parallels; cf. J. Bonsirven, Exégèse rabbinique et exégès paulinienne (Paris: Beauchesne et ses fils, 1939) 32; G. Schrenk, TDNT 1:749.

In translation a certain amount of paraphrase may be permitted here (so rsv; Barrett, “as that referred to in the Scripture Passage”; Héring, “which inspired the Scripture passage”; “of which Scripture speaks” is Collage’s rendering.)

14.c. The reading is “he who raised up the Lord Jesus” (τὸν κύριον ʼΙησου̂ν, by א C D G K L P Ψ TR and the main versions), but the shorter reading, attested by P46 B 33 has strong—if Alexandrian—support. Yet Origen and 1739 are witness for Caesarea, while there are Latin supports for the omission of κύριον, and cop and arm agree. The distribution of the data suggests that the original form of the text was τὸν ʼΙησου̂ν later expanded to include κύριον on grounds of piety and reverence. So Metzger, Textual Commentary, ad loc. See W. Kramer, Christ, Lord, Son of God, sec. 3h, and n. 738.


This section is interesting because it combines several features of Paul’s literary style: the use of images (v 7), and the rhetorical device, beloved by hellenistic moralists, of “lists of trials,” Gr. περιστάσεις (Peristasenkataloge, as Bultmann, Der Stil, 19, called this feature), using antithesis and paronomasia in the manner of the Stoic diatribe. See Der Stil, 25 ff, 79 ff with reference to Epictetus, Diss. II.19, 24; and Seneca, Ep. 41.4.

See further on these “lists” Prümm, Diakonia, 232 f.; Georgi, Die Gegner, 194 f. But, as Collange, Enigmes (149), notes, the OT-Jewish tradition is not to be passed over, e.g., the “afflictions of the righteous” in the Psalms (Pss. 3:2, LXX; 12:5; 22:5; 34:19). See H. Schlier, TDNT 3:139–48; and under Comment later.

Above all, there is paradox, as in vv 11, 12 where “life” and “death” are combined in an epigrammatic way. And the “seen” and the “unseen” are set in paradoxical juxtaposition (v 18), while the present and the future are held together in uneasy tension by Paul’s obvious hyperbolic reference to “light affliction” he now experiences, offset by his future expectation of a “weight of glory” (a Hebraic pun, since כבוד, ô, in the OT, usually rendered “glory,” has as its basic meaning “heaviness”) which is part of the age to come (αἰώνιος, “eternal,” v 17).

Then, there is recourse to OT Scripture in order to buttress the Pauline appeal to παρρησία, “confidence” (v 13). This citation is unusual in that it is introduced by the phrase κατὰ τὸ γεγραμμένον, “as that shown by the Scripture writer” (see under Notes). Normally Paul prefers the introductory formula καθὼς, “as it is written,” or (once) καθάπερ γέγραπται (1 Cor 15:3, 4 where he is borrowing from a paradosis). See E. E. Ellis, Paul’s Use of the Old Testament (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1957). Moreover, the substance of the quotation—Ps 115:1 (LXX; the MT 116:10 is slightly different) is without parallel in the use the rabbis make of the OT (Str-B 3:517). Paul ignores the context of Ps 115 (yet Kleinknecht, Der leidende Gerechtfertigte, 260 f., sees a point of comparison between Paul and the righteous sufferer, the psalmist), but fastens on the two verbs, “believe,” “speak,” in order to justify his apostolic ministry as proclamation. There may be a piece of Pauline apologetic here, as he defends his Gospel at Corinth. An even more closely connected way of relating the psalmist and the apostle is suggested by Dahood, “Two Pauline Quotations” (23), but as this proposal involves some textual emendation it is less than convincing. He proposes that the MT he˒ƒmantî kî ˒adabbēr ˒anî ˓anîtî mƒôd, “I believe when I speak: I was greatly afflicted,” should be revocalized with ˒adabbēr becoming ˒adubbar (pu˓al of dibbēr, to drive, pursue, persecute) and ˒ahîtî being read as ˓unnētî (cf. Ps 119:71). The reconstructed sentence now runs: “I trusted even though I was persecuted; I have suffered much.”

A final literary device—if we may so dub it—is the evident stress placed on the human name of Jesus by itself; it occurs some six times in the space of five vv (10–14), which on any showing is a high ratio of use. Granted that v 14 has a variant reading with the addition of κύριον (Lord) to “Jesus,” it is still a remarkable feature that calls out for explanation. Bengel attributes the recurring name to Paul’s meditative spirit (singulariter sensit [Paulus] dulcedinem eius, “[Paul] seems peculiarly to have felt its sweetness,” cited by Güttgemanns, Der leidende Apostel, 112, n. 101). Denney quotes P. W. Schmiedel as putting the repetition down to accident and, in part, to the fact that Christ’s death is here regarded as a purely human occurrence, not the redemptive deed of the messiah. But this idea is open to objection; there is nothing in the context to warrant such a conclusion. Denney himself wants to see Paul’s conscious paralleling of his own missionary career accompanied by its hazards and exposure to death (vv 11, 12) with Jesus’ earthly ministry and crucifixion. An alternative proposal is that Paul is appealing to Jesus’ “example” (see Proudfoot, “Imitation or Realistic Participation?”) as setting a model for Christian living, i.e., for all believers to follow; or more likely as indicating the way the true apostle of Christ will take, namely, the path to suffering and obedience, as Jesus did (so Güttgemanns, Der leidende Apostel, 112–19; Collange, 153, 154; cf. E. J. Tinsley, The Imitation of God in Christ, London: SCM Press, 1960). For this latter interpretation the strong point of support is that Paul is seen to be continuing his running debate with the Corinthians who, because he was known to be a weak and afflicted person, were casting aspersion on his claim to be a genuine “apostle of Christ.” It seems that only on this understanding of the raison d’être of these few vv can we make sense of some further idiosyncratic features of the text: (1) the unusual phrase “the dying of Jesus” (τὴν νέκρωσιν του̂ ʼΙησου̂, v 10); (2) the rare expression, “in our mortal nature” (ἐν τῃ̂ θνητῃ̂ σαρκὶ ἡμω̂ν, v 11; σάρξ, “flesh,” is not customarily used with this nuance by Paul); (3) the conclusion (v 15), which brings in the Corinthians as the direct beneficiaries of Paul’s “conformity” to Jesus (preferring Nachfolge to imitatio, with many interpreters: see H.-D. Betz, Nachfolge und Nachahmung Jesu Christi im Neuen Testament [Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1967]).


7. “But” (δὲ) sets up a contrast with the foregoing. Paul has extolled the glory of the Gospel, which focuses its beams that shine from God’s act to spotlight the supreme revelation in the person/face (πρόσωπον) of [Jesus] Christ (v 6). In him we see the knowledge of God displayed in its glorious form and light. But Paul’s thought quickly tums to the realities of the situation of his missionary labors—there is no nimbus of glory surrounding the messengers of such a glorious Gospel. Rather they are as a “claypot” (ὀστράκινον σκευ̂ος), a thought of human frailty and bodily weakness (Ps 30:13; Jer 22:28, translating the Hebrew כלי, kƒlî in the LXX version as σκευ̂ος). Several suggestions as to the background of Paul’s imagery have been made. We may dismiss summarily the rather fanciful notion of Chavasse, “Studies,” that Paul’s word is dependent on the narrative in Jud 7:16–20 (Gideon’s use of “empty jars,” into which torches were fitted as lamps) in spite of some superficial resemblances in the language forms used. The following are to be more seriously entertained as suggestions: (1) Allo remarks on the element of fragility which is true of clay vessels, and he goes on to relate this inherent weakness and frangible character to Paul’s human frame (vv 8–10). (2) But Barrett argues that the contrast is more one of the treasure of the contents and the “cheapness” of those who carry it. A good illustration is in Sifre Deut 48 (84a on Deut 11:12): as it is not possible for wine to be stored in golden or silver vessels, but only in one which is least among the vessels, an earthenware one, so also the words of Torah can be kept only with one who is humble in his own eyes; cf. b. Ta˓an. 7a where it is remarked that “glorious wisdom in a repulsive earthen vessel” describes R. Jehoshua ben Hanaiah, whose outward appearance was unattractive (cf. 2 Cor 10:10, and 10:1; 11:6, cited by W. L. Lane, NIDNTT 3 [1978] 914). (3) The fact that pottery vessels were used as receptacles for wick lamps has suggested to T. W. Manson, “2 Cor. 2:14–17,” Studia Paulina, 156, that the contrast is between “the small pottery lamps, cheap and fragile, that could be bought in the shops of Corinth” (see BAR 11 [1985] 42–56 for oil lamps in the Herodian period) and Christ’s followers who have only “frail mortal bodies” which nevertheless bear about a light derived from the central source of light in the face of Jesus Christ,” citing Phil 2:15 as well as 4:6, 10—two contrasting vv. There is much to favor this idea, not least that it capitalizes on the common theme of light that shines in a dark place. But C. Spicq, “L’image sportive,” 210, enters an objection that vases in antiquity were not the commonplace, rough-hewn items of domestic furniture of little value but were “decorated with athletic figures” and highly prized. (4) This leads to Collange’s view (Enigmes, 146) that σκευ̂ος is a title of honor and dignity (see Acts 9:15, σκευ̂ος ἐκλογη̂ς, “a vessel of election,” as Paul is called by the risen Lord). It carries this distinction of esteem because it speaks of human beings as instruments in the divine hands (Isa 10:15; 54:16 f.), the master potter (Jer 18:1–11). Paul is, according to this interpretation, celebrating his honored place in the succession of Israel’s prophets (especially the ˓ebed Yahweh of Isa chapters 40–55) whom God chose to be his servants. Conceivably the title looks back to Paul’s conversion and call (Gal 1:15, 16; see S. Kim, The Origin of Paul’s Gospel [1982] 93–99).

What follows, then, is either a sign that weak and disposable clay vessels demonstrate only too clearly that they have no inherent worth, or a tribute to God’s action in human, specifically apostolic, lives where the divine power is displayed, since Paul did not rush to volunteer as a candidate for the apostolic office. Either way, the clause with ἴνα signifies purpose: “to showl—the verb must be added ad sensum—” “that the preeminence (ὑπερβολή) of power may be God’s, and not derived from (ἐξ) us” (Barrett’s translation).

8. But the mention of “power” (δύναμις) must be strictly qualified (see C. H. Powell, The Biblical Concept of Power [London: Epworth Press, 1963]; B. Holmberg, Paul and Power: The Structure of Authority in the Primitive Church as Reflected in the Pauline Epistles [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978]). Paul is not a source of power in his ministry. On the contrary, he has received whatever authority he is called to exercise (see 10:8; 12:9; 13:10); and to outward appearance (10:7, 10) he is just the opposite of an impressive, commanding, self-sufficient persona. In a telling series of antitheses he offers an insight of his self-evaluation, calling into play the rhetorical figures of speech that enforce his main point, stated clearly in 13:4: ἡμει̂ς ἀσθενου̂μεν ἐν αὐτῳ̂, ἀλλὰ ζήσομεν σὺν αὐτῳ̂ ἐκ δυνάμεως θεου̂ εἰς ὑμα̂ς, “we are weak in him, but with him we shall live through the power of God (displayed) toward you.”

θλιβόμενοι, “hard-pressed,” “afflicted”; the verb recalls the bitter experiences of the Psalmists (3:2, LXX; 12:5; 22:5; 34:19) who endured hardship out of loyalty to Yahweh and his cause. Interestingly, there is a distinct link between θλι̂ψις (“affliction”) and στενοχωρία (lit., “narrow place,” so suggesting “difficulty,” “hardship,” “anguish”; see BGD) in both hellenistic (Epictetus, Diss. I. 25, 26) and biblical writers (e.g., Job 18:11; Deut 28:53 ff; Isa 8:22; 30:6; Esth 1:1g, LXX). This suggests a stereotyped formulation. But Paul’s use of this association (also in Rom 2:9; 8:35) needs to be seen in the light of what he will later write in 6:4; 12:10, where there is no such antithesis present. The root θλίβω/θλι̂ψις also looks back to 1:3–11 and ahead to 7:5 where the “affliction” is clearly precipitated by the crisis at Corinth. The verb στενοχωρέω, “to crush,” as in a narrow defile, and so “to be confined” or “hard-pressed” (in the passive voice), recurs in 6:12 also in direct reference to the Corinthian situation. It seems then that Paul’s antithesis, while owing some indebtedness to literary convention and conceivably a personal recall of the narrow pass, only sixty feet in places, in the Taurus mountains (the “Cilician Gate,” near Tarsus), is also prompted by his recent experiences at Corinth. He was subjected to fierce testing as Christ’s apostle as his authority was challenged; yet he now confesses to not being left in a “tight spot” and so “cornered,” in the modern idiom. God graciously made a way out for him to take (7:6) and his attitude to the errant church at Corinth that caused him so much grief was not such to “restrict” his affection for them (6:11–13), οὐ στενοχωρει̂σθε ἐν ἡμι̂ν. The limiting factor was on the Corinthians’ side (στενοχωρει̂σθε δὲ ἐν τοι̂ς σπλάγχνοις ὑμω̂ν). See later.

“Thrown into perplexity, but not left to despair” hardly does justice to Paul’s paronomasia and lyricism: ἀπορούμενοι ἀλλʼ οὐκ ἐξαπορούνενοι, the ἐξ is added to supply perfective force (Moulton, Grammar 1:237; 2:310; Robertson, Grammar, 596). The latter verb is rare, occurring in the Greek Bible only in Ps 87:16 (LXX). But its use at 1:8 fixes its sense here. Paul in his conflict “despaired” that he would escape with his life, so great was the peril he met in Asia. This v qualifies the earlier statement to the extent that Paul did not feel himself abandoned by God even when he faced great perplexity.

Διωκόμενοι, “harassed,” is the participle from διώκειν, “to pursue, chase, hunt”—a term used of seeking a quarry. The noun διωγμός, “persecution,” is linked with θλι̂ψις in Mark 4:17; Rom 8:35; 2 Thess 1:4, to describe the ordeal of Christian witness under attack. Paul’s autobiography in 12:10 in eludes this term as well as στενοχωρία (the impasse which creates difficulty). Here again Paul acknowledges the depth of the trial, yet he confesses that God did not abandon him in it (ἐγκαταλείπειν, “to abandon,” used of a person’s sense of being forsaken by others, 2 Tim 4:10, 16, and by God, Mark 15:34 = Matt 27:46, citing Ps 22:2; cf. Heb 13:5; the latter sense is drawn from LXX as in Gen 28:15; Jos 1:5. Acts 2:27 may be added to complete the NT usage of the word, certifying that God did not desert his servants in the hour of need).

9. καταβαλλόμενοι ἀλλʼ οὐκ ἀπολλύμενοι, “knocked down, but not knocked out.” This is a colloquial attempt, following J. B. Phillips, to express the most obvious example of paronomasia in Paul’s list. The first verb is unique, being found only here in the NT; it carries the idea of being thrown down to the ground. The companion verb ἀπόλλυμι has already been used of those on the road to final perdition (2:15; 4:3), namely, unbelievers as well as the adversaries of the apostle. Paul seems to be claiming here that while his opponents are powerful—they can knock him down—they are not able to subvert his apostleship or destroy his work.

10. The life of the apostle offers a strange paradox, signified by his close union with the suffering Jesus (13:3, 4). His apostolic career “in the body” is the place where the “dying” (νέκρωσις) is seen; Paul’s term is rare, found only here and in Rom 4:19. His preferred designation is “death” (θάνατος, 45 times elsewhere) to denote the demise of the earthly Jesus on the cross. Paul’s intimate association of his apostleship with Jesus’ death is a major theme of his ministerial life, as A. Schlatter (Paulus, der Bote Jesu 4 [Stuttgart: Calwer Verlag, 1969] 553) puts it: “As Jesus’ herald, he told the story of the passion; he not only told it, but he experienced it too; cf. Phil 3:10.” See too R. Tannehill, Dying and Rising, especially 84–90; E. Schweizer, “Die ‘Mystik’ des Sterbens und Auferstehens mit Christus bei Paulus,” EvT 26 (1966) 239–57, and E. Güttgemanns, Der leidende Apostel, 97–119, who questions the propriety of the term “mysticism” in regard to Paul’s sufferings. The νέκρωσις strictly refers to a process or a state of dying rather than the act when death supervenes. Windisch, Strachan, Plummer, Bultmann (TDNT 4:899) all regard Paul as speaking of the extended process of his life regarded as a continual dying (as in 6:9; 1 Cor 15:31: cf. R. P. Martin, The Spirit and the Congregation [Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans, 1984] 121–23). But Tannehill (Dying, 85 ff) and Güttgemanns (Der leidende Apostel, 114–17), from the parallel with Rom 4:19, argue for a rough equivalence of the terms “dying,” νέκρωσις, and “death,” θάνατος, inasmuch as Paul does not say “the sufferings of death,” but talks of his carrying in his mortal existence “an objective event” (Collange), i.e., Jesus’ once-for-all death (Rom 6:7–10) as the theme of his mission preaching. The “carrying” motif may go back to v 7, as a “vessel” carries the treasure of the Gospel, committed to the apostles.

Yet death for Jesus was not the end; his (risen) life was taken up after death, and he lives in power (13:4; see Rom 1:3, 4; 4:24 f.). That life is now seen displayed in the “bodies” (rsv, but the Greek is singular, ἐν τῳ̂ σώματι) of his apostles. The “body” (see J. A. T. Robinson, The Body, 75–78) is thus both the locus of Paul’s commitment to the Gospel of a crucified Jesus (Gal 6:14) and the medium of the display—φανερωθῃ̂, “may be displayed,” is emphatic by its position at the end of the sentence—of divine power. We know that a major debating point at Corinth was precisely the issue: Where is the real φανέρωσις, the true manifestation, of divine strength (see on 4:2; 5:10, 11)? Paul’s opponents appealed to their charismatic presence and signs (12:12). Paul himself saw the power of God in his weakness (12:1–10: see W. C. Robinson, “Word and Power”) because there he identified with him who was “crucified in weakness” (13:3). And in particular Paul saw his office as “minister of the new covenant” (3:6), which is modeled on the righteous sufferer in Israel, yet christianized by Paul’s awareness of living in the new age with its christological center (so Kleinknecht, Der leidende Gerechtfertigte, 268–78, esp. 277).

11. The preferred reading ἀεὶ, “always,” refers to Paul’s life as a constant struggle: “all our days” (Collange) we as living persons are “being delivered up to death.” The technical verb παραδιδόναι, “to hand over”—used regularly of Jesus’ destiny as a suffering figure who is fulfilling his life in God’s plan as one required (δει̂) to suffer (see Popkes, Christus Traditus, 150, 151, and N. Perrin, “The Use of (παρα) διδόναι”) suggests that this is Paul’s fate decreed by God. Popkes speaks of Paul’s destiny to suffer as a “core” element in his thought. He did not choose to live a risky life, as if he were a foolhardy person (an innuendo possibly to be seen in the background of 12:1–10 and in Phil 1:26–30: R. P. Martin, Philippians [NCB 1976 = 1980] ad loc.), or one who emulated the stoic ideal of a person challenged to bravery by life’s vicissitudes (see H. Braun, “Das ‘stirb und werde’ in der Antike und im NT,” Gesammelte Studien zum Neuen Testament [Tübingen, J. C. B. Mohr, 1962] 136–58, and esp. 186–91). Rather, he suffered in line with his apostolic vocation, and that is the proof that such a calling is God’s purpose for his life and that he is a “true” apostle (12:12, rsv). “For Jesus’ sake,” lit., “because of Jesus” (διὰΙησου̂ν] = propter, Plummer, 131; Popkes, 150), i.e., on account of loyalty to the Gospel of his death and resurrection, gives the rationale for Paul’s sufferings and exposure to death. See A. Schweitzer, Mysticism, 125–27, who insists on seeing the language as meaning “a physical union between Christ and the Elect” (people)—a most improbable idea (for a critique see A. C. Thiselton, “Schweitzer’s Interpretation of Paul,” ExpTim 90 [1978–79] 20–25 and D. M. Stanley, “The Theme of the Servant of Yahweh,” CBQ 16 [1954] 385–425, especially 412 ff., who argues for a background in the “servant” role [Isa 40–55]).

The outcome (or purpose, so taking ἴνα with J. D. G. Dunn, Jesus and the Spirit, 327, 328) is that “the (risen) life of Jesus may be displayed.” Again, observe the key word φανερωθῃ̂ (“displayed”), indicating the locus of Paul’s authority, not in ecstatic signs or external credentials but in “our mortal existence” (ἐν τῃ̂ θνητῃ̂ σαρκὶ ἡμω̂ν). There is hardly a distinction to be drawn between σάρξ, “flesh,” here and σω̂μα, “body,” in the previous v (so in 7:5 and 2:13 where σάρξ and πνευ̂μα, “spirit,” are virtual synonyms). The “flesh” is weak for several reasons: it is attacked by sin (Rom 6:12) and it is liable to corruption (1 Cor 15:53, 54; Martin, The Spirit and the Congregation, 134, 135).

12. ὥστε θάνατος ἐν ἡμι̂ν ἐνεργει̂ται δὲ ζωὴ ἐν ὑμι̂ν, “thus death is at work in our case, but it is life for you.” A surprising conclusion, says Collange, Enigmes, 159, since we are not prepared for it. And Calvin and Godet dismiss it cavalierly as ironical, while Plummer thinks it was added on prudential grounds, as a tactful aside. Güttgemanns, (Der leidende Apostel, 99) remarks that it is polemically slanted against Paul s adversaries. But this cannot be, since ἐν ὑμι̂ν, “for you,” a clear dative of advantage, does not have them in view. It is the Corinthians who are the beneficiaries: “life is for you.” Proudfoot, “Imitation,” especially 155, finds a reason in the mystical life that was mediated as though sacramentally through the church as the body of Christ. Collange (following Bachmann, Lietzmann, Barrett, Thrall) argues that the contrast death/life follows the pattern of the preceding vv and refers to Paul’s apostolic labor. Outwardly, Paul’s missionary service seems a failing enterprise: death is relentlessly active in his person, robbing him of his power; but Paul counts this disability worth it since his converts at Corinth are receiving the message of “life that leads to life” (2:16). Maybe there is a side-glance at the blessings of the new covenant (3:6) in contradistinction to the old order that spells death (3:6–11).

13, 14. ἔχοντες δὲ τὸ αὐτὸ πνευ̂μα τη̂ς πίστεως κατὰ τὸ γεγραμμένονεἰδότες ὅτι ἐγείρας τὸν κύριον ʼΙησου̂ν καὶ ἡμα̂ς σὺν ʼΙησου̂ ἐγερει̂ καὶ παραστήσει σὺν ὑμι̂ν “But since we posses the same spirit of faith as that shown by the Scripture writer … in the knowledge that he who raised up Jesus [from death] will raise up us also with Jesus and lead us with you into his presence.” Here is the opening of a new section, discussing the apostolic service and Paul’s faith. The centerpiece is the assertion, πιστεύομεν, “we believe” (v 13). Paul’s confidence is traced back to a like assurance he found in the psalmist whose words are given verbatim: ἐπίστευσα, διὸ ἐλάλησα, “I believed, and so I spoke.” What has led Paul to join his witness to that of the psalmist? If his somber verdict in v 12 is taken at face value, would it not counsel his silence? (Plummer). Is he returning to share with his readers, who have been distanced from him, as the community is different from the apostle (v 12), what they now have in common? (Strachan, 96, who with Schlatter thinks that “the same spirit of faith” unites Paul and the Corinthians). We should rather start from Paul’s conscious desire to identify with the psalmist (Ps 116) for whom the issue was one of life and death. So he regards his spoken ministry as a testimony to his faith—and the psalmist’s—in the triumph of life over death. As a Christian, moreover, he grounds his faith in the God “who raised Jesus” from death to new life, drawing on a confessional dictum (so W. Kramer, Christ, Lord, Son of God, sec. 3a–i, 20–26) and enlarging it to include God’s care for his people and servants as well as his Son Jesus, whose presence beyond death is a sure article of Paul’s faith (Phil 1:20–23; 1 Thess 4:16–18; 5:10). Notice the frequent mention of the human name Jesus (six times in vv 10–14), as though to emphasize the commonality of trust shared by the earthly Lord and his people who not only live “in Christ” but share a life with him (M. Bouttier, En Christ, 53), both now and at the Parousia which A. Deissmann takes to be the point of σὺν, “with,” with ʼΙησου̂ (Light from the Ancient East [London: Hodder & Stoughton, ET 1927] 303, n. 1; similarly Kümmel). But it is more likely to have a broader reference to “personal fellowship between Christ and the apostle” (W. Grundmann, TDNT 7:784), whether in life or beyond death. See the references to recent discussion on σὺν Χριοστῳ̂, “with Christ,” in R. P. Martin, Philippians (NCB, 1976 = 1980, 78, 79), and for the broader implications of this appeal to the human Jesus seen in the frequent mention of his earthly name, see the Introduction.

The closing part of the sentence, which is heavy with stereotyped phrases betraying the presence of traditional material, is typically in the Pauline manner. He will elsewhere employ paraenetic matter from tradition and then add a comment to apply it to his readers’ situation. So he writes: “and lead us with you (σὺν ὑμι̂ν) into his presence.” This is an elliptical remark, lacking a complement to the verb παραστήσει—it would be ἑαυτῳ̂, “to himself”—(Reicke-Bertram, TDNT 5:835–40) which is associated with the Parousia of Christ (Rom 14:10) or the final day of God’s purposes (Eph 5:27). But it can be a more immediate reference to entry into the Lord’s presence here and now (1 Cor 8:8; Col 1:22, 28). The future tense, however, points to a final consummation with the note of judgment struck, a thought Paul will return to in 5:10.

15. τὰ γὰρ πάντα διʼ ὑμα̂ς, “For all this will happen (supplying a verb in the future tense) on your account.” Paul’s pastoral regard shines out in this cryptic, verbless remark, as he is reminded that his sufferings and their vindication at the future resurrection find their raison d’être in the benefit that accrues to his Corinthian friends, both in life and death (so 7:3: see G. Stählin, “ ‘Um mitzusterben und mitzuleben.’ Bemerkungen zu 2 Kor 7, 3,” in Neues Testament und christliche Existenz. FS Herbert Braun, ed. H.-D. Betz and L. Schottroff [Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1973] 503–21). So much is clear from the general drift of v 15, which may be read as Paul’s tribute of praise to God as his people rejoice in his grace and turn their joy into thanksgiving. But the sentence is loaded with exegetical difficulties. These center on one main issue: is the verb περισσεύσῃ, “overflow,” “abound,” transitive, requiring an object, or intransitive with no object? In the latter case, it may have a causative sense, as in Barrett’s rendering, “the grace … may cause gratitude to abound to the glory of God,” which we have followed. This is preferable to seeing περισσεύειν as finding its direct object in εὐχαριστίαν, so rsv, “it may increase thanksgiving,” since as B. Noack, “A Note on II Cor iv. 15,” says, for Paul grace abounds through God’s will, not through human action. His solution, however, is to emend χάρις, “grace,” as the subject to εὐχαριστία, “thanks,” and so render “that the abounding grace might be to the greater glory of God because there are more Christians to thank Him for His grace.” But to duplicate εὐχαριστία seems harsh and tautologous.

Noack and Moule (Idiom Book, 108) take the phrase διὰ τω̂ν πλειόνων as “through your increasing number” (so Bratcher, Translator’s Guide, 47, 48), and this implies, from Paul’s standpoint, an evangelistic desire to see the good news of God’s grace reaching ever-increasing circles of men and women in his world. This may well be a Pauline sentiment (cf. 1 Cor 9:19–23; Rom 15:14–29), but has been questioned as to whether it is relevant in this context. If the v is not a tangential observation but is closely related to the Corinthian scene, we may propose that οἱ πλείονες, “the many,” refers to the main body of the church or the majority, of whom he has already written (2:6, in reference to the entire congregation exercising public discipline, or at least the considerable number who were on Paul’s side). It is possible, then, that Paul has this section of the Corinthian church in his sights, and is expressing thankfulness that “a majority of the church at Corinth had grasped their dependence on the grace of God” (Barrett). The upshot is that they, since they are thought of as having come over to Paul’s position regarding the recent disaffection, would have a more sober opinion of themselves as they reflect on the way these restored relations are due to divine grace, and should express their thankful hearts of praise to God. This line of interpretation is eminently reasonable. But we have opted for the former view—that Paul is calling the readers to celebrate the grace that extends to more and more unbelieving persons—on the ground that he is still in a combative mood. He is disavowing an interest in increasing his own apostolic stature by seeing more people becoming believers; this is a counterblast to his opponents who made such a claim. He is anxious to see the grace of God in wider display—but only so that gratitude may abound to God’s glory, not his own. Our view of περισσεύειν as a Corinthian watchword supports this interpretation (see Martin, The Spirit and the Congregation, 154, n. 13).

16. “So (διὸ) we are not discouraged.“ The verb οὐκ ἐκακου̂μεν picks up the earlier reference in v 1. The connecting διὸ gives the reason for Paul’s indomitable spirit. Earlier he reflected on God’s mercy shown to him; here it is the recall of God’s power in raising Jesus from the dead. These articles of faith bolster him in a testing time. Yet he cannot deny the obvious facts of his mortal existence, ἀλλʼ εἰ καὶ, “but even if” (see M. Thrall, Greek Particles, 36–39, on ἀλλά followed by γέ) is a disclaimer, granting the realities of the situation. Paul now faces the inevitable result of wear and tear on his human frame, ἔξω ἡμω̂ν ἄνθρωπος, “our outward person,” relates to his life as a mere man, “subject to a thousand troubles and under sentence of death” (Barrett) because of his mortality (1 Cor 15:42–50, 53). The contrast is then drawn with ἔσω [ἄνθρωπος] ἡμω̂ν, “our inward [man]” which is being renewed (ἀνακαινου̂ται) “day by day.” The last-named adverbial phrase ἡμέρᾳ καὶ ἡμέρᾳ, an obvious Hebraism (Esth 3:4; Ps 68:20; BDF § 200; but see Barrett who doubts the OT setting of the precise phrase), gives us a clue when we read it in the light of 1 Cor 15:31: “I die every day” (καθʼ ἡμέραν ἀποθνῄσκω). Paul’s physical existence was wasting away and the death sentence was already in process. Yet his “inmost self” (Rom 7:22, rsv) is undergoing renewal—not by absorption, as in hellenistic and gnostic thought, but by the hope of resurrection which entails a future for the outward person in his bodily existence (σω̂μα). So B. Rey, “L’homme nouveau,” as cited by Collange. This is an important observation, marking off Pauline anthropology from Plato, Rep. IX 589A, Epictetus, Diss. II 7.3, 8.14, and even Philo, Det. 22 f., all of whom make the human person a composite of a material shell and a precious kernel, the soul, which aspires to be immortal. No such dichotomy is really to be found in Paul who, in this passage, comes closest to making the human being a hybrid of body and soul (see later our comment on 5:7). But it is more likely that Paul’s idiom is shaped by the exigencies of his polemic, since in other places he draws no such radical distinction between body and soul, as though the outer frame were like an envelope or container to house the immaterial, immortal soul. “For him the person is one, indivisible whole” (Fallon, 47), and in using the language of his opponents he seems to be taking over their dualism. They made much of the “inner person” (the soul), regarding it as detachable from bodily existence (Güttgemanns, Der leidene Apostel, 115). But 5:7 and 12:2, 3 speak differently, and all that Paul is attempting is to set side by side the totality of the human person seen from opposing angles in order to draw the conclusion that this life is running down, and the eternal destiny set for the person is already in the making. That hope is not a shedding of the existing “body,” but its being taken up into God’s purpose in the eschatological body that awaits the resurrection. Of this hope we already have a foretaste in the “new person” given at baptism (Col 3:10: the new Adam) and indwelt by Christ (Eph 3:16; 4:22, . 24) through the Spirit (1:22; 5:5). It is what Paul calls in his own idiom “the heart” (καρδία: 2 Cor 5:12; Rom 2:29; 10:9, 10, etc.); and 1 Peter 3:4, “the hidden person of the heart” ( κρυπτὸς τη̂ς καρδίας ἄνθρωπος) epitomizes Pauline thought. If this is so, we have a valuable key to unlock the mystery of the text of 4:17–5:10.

17. Paul’s apostolic “affliction” (θλι̂ψις; cf. 1:8) refers to his trial as that which life demands of him as suffering apostle. Euphemistically it is dubbed “light” (ἐλαφρόν, a neuter adjective standing for an abstract noun) and “momentary” παραυτίκα, a NT hapax: see Bachmann for illustrations of the contrast “momentary” versus “lasting” [τὸ μέλλον or τὸ ἔπειτα]). Here the contrast is made with the twin notions of light versus heavy. The “eternal weight of glory” (αἰώνιον βάρος δόξης) is a phrase with a built-in paronomasia since δόξα, on its semitic groundplan (כבוד, kābô), speaks of “heaviness,” “weight.” Similarly, the “transitory” θλι̂ψις is matched by an “eternal” vindication by God. Paul enforces the point with his adverbial expression καθʼ ὑπερβολὴν εἰς ὑπερβολὴν, lit., “far beyond all measure,” to register the fact that his present suffering will reap a reward from God far out of proportion to its bitter experience. Cf. Wis. Sol. 3:5: “having been disciplined a little, they (the righteous) receive a great good,” cf. Rom 8:18.

18. μὴ σκοπούντων ἡμω̂ν τὰ βλεπόμενα ἀλλὰ τὰ μὴ βλεπόμενα, “as we set our gaze not on what is seen but what is not seen.” The use of μὴ (and not with οὐ) with σκοπούντων ἡμω̂ν is a salutary reminder that the verb carries a conditional force (Héring, against Denney): “provided we do not fix our attention on what is visible,” for then we should most certainly have cause to be discouraged and feel depressed by life’s conditions and trials. Per contra, as Paul deliberately averts his gaze from what is to be seen by eyesight (τὰ βλεπόμενα) to the invisible world of God’s providence and rule, so he is not disheartened in his service to the point of neglecting his ministerial office (Barrett). The verb is σκοπέω, to “set one’s sight” (see E. Fuchs, TDNT 7:415–19), usually in the sense of “regard as your aim” (so J. B. Lightfoot ad Phil 2:4) in distinction from the colorless βλέπω, which means simply “to look,” “to regard.” Σκοπέω, found only (in NT) in the writings of Paul (with the sole exception of Luke 11:35), carries with it the nuance of estimating the worth of an object, a gaze which is more like acuity than merely “seeing” something, and a realization of the purpose of what we see. The paradox will be evident in the juxtaposing of σκοπρι̂ν and βλέπειν in this verse, μὴ σκοπούντωντὰ βλεπόμενα, i.e., not allowing our aim in life to be determined by what passes before our vision, for such “phenomena” are only surface impressions of reality, which is open only to the eye of faith (as in Heb 11). This recall lifts the level of the future prospect of v 17 and makes it relevant for the present, not only in regard to Paul’s service but also his assurance of God’s reward. For the present his eyes are trained “on the mark”; it is the goal of the glory of Christ (Denney), or at least the glorious world where Christ reigns in splendor (4:4–6), and where his service exerts its renewing power in human lives.

The reason is now supplied. The visible reality is πρόσκαιρα, “transient,” whereas for Paul those aspects of reality which are hidden from the naked eye share the life of God; they are αἰώνια, “eternal,” as God is eternal. The former are destined to pass away as Paul’s mortal life is “being wasted away” (διαφθείρεται, in v 16). The invisible realities on which Paul encourages his readers to set their gaze are part of the new world where fellowship with God is the most real of all life’s experiences (Collange, Enigmes, 179). Again, a polemical note underlies this seemingly Platonic dictum: what Paul is concerned to assert is that eternal reality lies in the world of nonsensory perception. His opponents were fond of claiming exactly the opposite on the basis of their adherence to the outer “form” (εἰ̂δος, 5:7) of life. Paul’s orientation to life is grounded on “faith” (again 5:7; περιπατου̂μενδιὰ πίστεως), which in turn is directed to the unseen world of God and has its hope cast in the future. To the continued debate on the locus of reality—whether it is present or future, and whether it is gained by a rapture as the bodily existence is transcended or is bound inextricably to a “new creation” (see 5:17) of bodily dimension as a gift of God—he will turn in the argument of 5:1–10.


“This ministry” looks back to the contrast with the Mosaic order which, Paul declares, is superseded in Christ. But equally the phrase looks around at the Corinthian scene where Paul’s apostolic mission is under fire. So he must be defensive and explain how it is that such ministry can be justified.

Obviously Paul faced, at this period in his career, the temptation of “losing heart” (twice repeated in 4:1, 16). We might press Paul for a reason for this denial: “we do not yield to discouragement.” If he relied solely on human resources or was foolhardy enough to practice “disgraceful, underhand ways” in order to gain some cheap victories (v 2), then he might well concede a mood of despair. For the human heart remains hard and obdurate, strangely resistant to love’s appeal. Possibly we should hear in these verses the innuendo that Paul’s ministry was ineffectual and weak; it produced no great response in terms of “results.” So he must account for this lack of “success,” as his opponents evaluated his absence of credentials. Yet he is confident, with a persuasion that rests on several grounds: (1) His own sincerity, he claims, is self-evident (v 2). (2) The Gospel he brought to Corinth is thereby reinforced by the character of its messengers who convey it (v 2b), and it needs no external corroboration, for it shines by its own light. (3) The failure of many to respond is not due to any lack of adequacy or relevance of the message. Rather, the reason lies in the satanic grip on the human heart and mind (v 4). (4) Yet Paul is glad to report some visible proof of his work in the lives of the Corinthians whose increasing number are a tribute of praise to God. They do not serve to build up his own ego or promote his personal interests (v 15). He does not proclaim himself (v 5). He preaches “Jesus Christ as Lord,” whose authority he seeks to bring to bear on the situation at Corinth. And God’s radiance in Jesus’ person is one compelling sign of the finality of the new order that has taken over from the Judaic dispensation (3:7–18), as Paul himself had known that glory in his conversion-commission encounter which may be in the background of his writing here (vv 4–6).

Such a message as vv 5, 6 describe may well, without exaggeration, be called a “treasure” whose value is in no way diminished by the cheap and disposable pots that carry it. This is how Paul saw himself—having no inherent worth save as a messenger and transmitter; or to use his metaphor, as an earthenware jar in which some commodity was carried. His favorite self-designation is “servant” (v 5) or “honored vessel,” useful for allowing the Lord of glory to shine forth through his feeble and often threatened life (v 7).

The purpose of the arrangement by which the truth of God is deposited in frail vessels is then made plain (v 7b). So far from being protected and preserved unharmed from “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”—as possibly Paul’s opponents like the “super-apostles” and their emissaries of 11:5, 13–15 believed themselves to be specially favored—Christ’s messengers are consigned to a life of humiliation and risk. And this is in order to leave the unmistakable impression that the power of the message does not derive from the ingenuity and skill of the pleaders but comes solely from the inherent truth of the message as God’s word (a looking back to 2:17). So Paul’s assertion (v 7) is one of his most revealing summaries of the nature of the debate at Corinth, with ramifications that touch the meaning of Christian service in every age.

Man’s wisdom is to seek his strength in God alone;

And even an angel would be weak who trusted in his own.

William Cowper

“Dying, and look, we are alive” (6:9); “I die every day” (1 Cor 15:31) may be dismissed, at first glance, as a piece of Pauline rhetoric. But the passage that follows (vv 8–10), in a series of eloquent contrasts and memorable phrases, leads to this conclusion (vv 11, 12). Put in simple language, his apostolic work required that he should share in his Lord’s humiliation in the confidence that he will also share in his triumphant life (v 14). And the poignancy of this remark is not lost if we are near the truth in our reconstruction of the setting of the entire letter of 2 Corinthians 1–9, with chaps. 10–13 following in succession. In regard to this letter we suggest that it came out of a distressful period in the writer’s life when he knew himself to be bereft of human support and saw the prospect of his life’s mission evaporating before his eyes as his congregations at Ephesus and Corinth were in danger of sliding away from him as their apostolic “father in God.” See Introduction.

But the hope of final vindication, when death will lead through resurrection to the last home-gathering of the church, is not the apostle’s exclusively. When Paul is introduced to his Lord’s presence (v 14), those who are with him in Christ will share the victory too. That was his eager longing (Phil 1:21–23; 3:10, 11), although it was no escapist death wish which had taken possession of his outlook (conceivably the Philippian letter came out of the same period of his life, written while he was a détenu at Ephesus and reflecting his present circumstance and its aftermath). If God willed the continuance of his apostolic trials and labors, as he tells the Philippians (Phil 1:24), his congregations will benefit, and the result must be that “as the abounding grace of God is shared by more and more, the greater may be the chorus of thanksgiving that ascends to the glory of God” (v 15, neb).

Meanwhile, no other proof of the finitude and frailty of the apostle’s physical frame is needed than the reminder in v 16. His body, in its weakness and exposure to hazard, is constantly in the process of decay both in the normal course of “growing old” and—more so—in pursuit of his apostolic mission. “This slight momentary affliction” (v 17) must be one of his greatest understatements! But it serves to highlight where his hope is set: the real life of the spirit is being renewed and revitalized by the power of God (v 16).

And the outcome for him is not in doubt. His horizon is bounded by an eternal prospect (v 18), as with the eyes of faith he is enabled to see beyond the visible and tangible—the external credentials and demonstrable signs by which his adversaries at Corinth set so much store—to the eternal realities of that world where God’s glory shines in the person of Christ (4:6). Moving to the fulfillment of that hope will entail both death and Parousia. So to that theme he moves on in chap. 5.

E. The Heavenly Dwelling (5:1–10)


Baumert, N. Täglich Sterben und Auferstehen: Der Literalsinn von 2 Kor 4, 12–5, 10. SANT 34. Munich: Kosel-Verlag, 1973. Berry, R. “Death and Life in Christ.” SJT 14 (1961) 60–76. Bornkamm, G. “Der Lohngedanke im Neuen Testament.” In Studien zu Antike und Urchristentum. BZET 28. Munich: Kaiser Verlag, 1959. Bruce, F. F. “Paul on Immortality.” SJT 24 (1971) 457–74. Cassidy, R. “Paul’s Attitude to Death in II Corinthians 5:1–10.” EvQ 43 (1971) 210–17. Collange, J.-F. Enigmes de la deuxiéme èpître de Paul aux Corinthiens. Cambridge, 1972. Conzelmann, H. An Outline of the Theology of the New Testament. Tr. J. Bowden. London: SCM Press, 1969. Cox, S. “The Earnest of the Spirit.” Exp 2d ser. 7 (1884) 416–26. Danker, F. W. “Consolation in 2 Corinthians 5:1–10.” CTM 39 (1968) 552–56. Davies, W. D. Paul and Rabbinic Judaism2. London: SPCK, 1955. Dodd, C. H. “The Mind of Paul: Change and Development.” In New Testament Studies. Manchester: University Press, 1953. Ellis, E. E. “II Corinthians v. 1–10 in Pauline Eschatology.” NTS 6 (1959–60) 211–24. Feuillet, A. “La demeure céleste et la destinée des chrétiens: Exégèse de II Cor 5:1–10 et contribution à l’étude des fondements de l’eschatologie paulinienne.” RSR 44 (1956) 161–92, 360–402. Hanhart, K. “Paul’s Hope in the Face of Death.” JBL 88 (1969) 445–57. Harris, M. J. “2 Cor 5:1–10: A Watershed in Paul’s Eschatology?” TynB 22 (1971) 32–57. ———. “Paul’s View of Death in 2 Corinthians 5:1–10.” In New Dimensions in New Testament Study, ed. R. N. Longenecker and M. C. Tenney. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974. 317–28. ———. Raised Immortal: Resurrection and Immortality in the NT. London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1983. Hettlinger, R. F. “2 Corinthians 5:1–10.” SJT 10 (1957) 174–94. Hodge, C. An Exposition of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians Reprint. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959. Jeremias, J. “Flesh and Blood Cannot Inherit the Kingdom of God.” NTS 2 (1956) 151–59. Jewett, R. Paul’s Anthropological Terms: A Study of Their Use in Conflict Settings. AGJU 10. Leiden: Brill, 1971. Kennedy, H. A. A. St. Paul’s Conception of the Last Things. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1904. Knox, W. L. St. Paul and the Church of the Gentiles. Cambridge: University Press, 1939. Lang, F. G. 2 Korinther 5, 1–10 in der neueren Forschung. BGBE 16. Tübingen: Mohr, 1973. Lincoln, A. T. Paradise Now and Not Yet: Studies in the Role of the Heavenly Dimension in Paul’s Thought with Special Reference to his Eschatology. SNTSMS 43. Cambridge: University Press, 1981. Manson, T. W. “ΙΛΑΧΤΗΡΙΟΝ.” JTS old ser. 46 (1945) 1–10. Mattern, L. Das Verständnis des Gerichtes bei Paulus. ATANT 47. Zurich: Zwingli Verlag, 1966. Milton, C. L. “Paul’s Certainties. The Gift of the Spirit and Life beyond Death: 2 Corinthians 5:1–5.” ExpT 69 (1958) 260–63. Moule, C. F. D. “St Paul and Dualism: the Pauline Conception of Resurrection.” NTS 12 (1965–66) 106–23. Reprinted in Essays in New Testament Interpretation, chap. 14. Cambridge: University Press, 1982. Robinson, J. A. T. The Body. SBT 5. London: SCM Press, 1952. Roetzel, C. J. Judgement in the Community: A Study of the Relationship between Eschatology and Ecclesiology in Paul. NovTSup. Leiden: Brill, 1972. Schlatter, A. Paulus, der Bole Jesu. Schmithals, W. Gnosticism in Corinth. Tr. J. E. Steely. Nashville: Abingdon, 1971. Schweitzer, A. The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle. Tr. W. Montgomery. New York: H. Holt and Co./London: A & C Black, 1931. Sevenster, J. N. “Einige Bemerkungen über den ‘Zwischenzustand’ bei Paulus.” NTS 1 (1954–55) 291–96. ———. “Some Remarks on the ΓΥΜΝΟΣ in II Cor. v. 3.” In Studia Paulina, FS de Zwaan. Haarlem: Bohn, 1953. Stevens, G. B. The Pauline Theology. New York: Scribner’s, 1892. Thrall, M. E. Greek Particles in the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962. Thornton, L. S. The Common Life in the Body of Christ. London: Dacre Press, 1942. Vos, G. The Pauline Eschatology. 1930 ed. Reprint. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979. Wagner, G. “Le tabernacle et la vie ‘en Christ.’ Exégèse de 2 Cor. 5:1–10.” RHPR 41 (1961) 379–93. Watson, N. M. “2 Cor. 5:1–10 in Recent Research.” ABR 23 (1975) 33–6. Whiteley, D. E. H. The Theology of St. Paul. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1966.


1For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is dismantled, we have a house from God, one not built by human hands, eternal, in the heavens. 2And indeed in this [tent] we groan, longing to put on our heavenly house, 3since indeeda we shall put it on,b and we shall not be found naked. 4For while we remain in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not desire to be unclothed, but clothed, in order that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5The one who preparedc us for this very purpose [is] God, who also gave us the Spirit as a pledge. 6Accordingly, we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body, we are away from the Lord, 7for we live by faith, not by sight. 8We are confident [I repeat] and would rather be away from the body and be at home with the Lord. 9And so our ambition, whether we are at home or away, is to please him. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, in order that each one may receive recompense for what he has done in the body,d whether good or bad.


3.a. εἴπερ, found in P46 B D G, suggests more strongly that the “supposition agrees with the fact” (Liddell and Scott, 1:489). The text (εἴ γε) is supported by C and most of the mss But see M. J. Harris’s remark cited by Lincoln, Paradise, 212, n. 50. The context alone, however, can decide, as Thrall, Greek Particles, 86–91, allows.

b. ἐνδυσάμενοι is found in P46 א B D2 (cf. rsv) and appears to be an older reading. ἐκδυσάμενοι is contained in a later MS such as D*. Plummer, 148, views the latter reading as an “early alteration to avoid apparent tautology.” On the basis of external evidence, he probably is correct (Barrett, 149, n. 2; Schmithals, Gnosticism, 263 f.). But to include the former one makes the apostle’s statement appear trite (Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament [New York: United Bible Societies, 1975] 579, 580—though Metzger himself disagrees with the decision of the committee); thus Bultmann (137, 138) argues that only the second reading is really clear. At this point, however, we opt for the first reading and depart from Aland’s 26th edition.

c. The Western text (D F G lat) supports κατεργαζόμενος.

d. P46 lat have τὰ ἴδια του̂ σώματος.


In the first section (5:1–5) Paul continues (γάρ, “for”) the exposition begun in 4:7. He extends his argument concerning the contrast between the temporary and the permanent, the seen and unseen (4:18; cf. 1 Cor 15:51–58). To keep the contrast before his readers, Paul describes in 5:1 the antithesis of the Christian’s present body, namely, the future “spiritual” body.

Present Spiritual
του̂ σκήνους οἰκοδομὴν (cf. Heb 11:9,10)
ἐπίγειος οἰκίαν ἀχειροποίητον
καταλυθῃ̂ αἰώνιον ἐν τοι̂ς οὐρανοι̂ς

These opposites reflect Paul’s earlier teaching to the Corinthians concerning the same idea.

σω̂μα ψυχικόν (1 Cor 15:44) σω̂μα πνευματικόν
σώματα ἐπίγεια (1 Cor 15:40) σώματα ἐπουράνια
σπείρεται ἐν φθορᾳ̂ (1 Cor 15:42) ἐγείρεται ἐν ἀφθαρσίᾳ

Paul sees this earthly body as subject to wear and tear. Yet, there is something that will replace it, namely, a body that is free from the frailties that hinder the earthly vessel.

In 5:2–4 Paul continues his discussion of the spiritual body, but why he does so is unclear. He speaks of putting on (ἐπενδύσασθαι) the heavenly body over the earthly tent (5:2). But into this discussion Paul brings the idea of being unclothed, naked (γυμνός, 5:3). We do not know for sure what was Paul’s reason for including 5:2–4 in the epistle. Is Paul speaking of the Christian taking on the spiritual body at death or at the Parousia? Or does the Christian “already” have this body? Furthermore, does the idea behind “being naked” suggest an intermediate state (the period between the death of a Christian and the putting on of the spiritual body at Parousia) or does this suggest the concept of judgment as depicted in the Old Testament? There is no consensus as to the purpose for Paul’s writing of 5:2–4, though, at least, we can highlight three suggested reasons.

(1) One possible reason is that Paul has shifted his eschatology, for if Paul in 2 Corinthians sees the Christian receiving a spiritual body at death, then this marks a change from his position in 1 Corinthians which viewed the resurrection body as available to the Christian only at the Parousia (1 Cor 15:51–58; cf. 1 Thess 4:13–18; Phil 3:20, 21). One who sees such a shift is Knox, St Paul, 121–45, who argues that Paul did indeed change his view of the time at which the Christian receives a spiritual body. (There is also debate on whether or not Paul is consciously counteracting gnostic ideas [see Baur, Windisch, Käsemann, Kümmel, Friedrich, Bornkamm, Rissi, Schmithais; cf. Barrett 28–30]. What can safely be said is that regardless of the identity of Paul’s opponents there is some gnostic element in the background of his thinking.) Since Paul’s Jewish eschatology was probably not satisfactory for Greek minds (Knox, St. Paul, 26, 69–71; cf. 136 n. 8, where Knox cites hellenistic literature as a means of supporting his point [cf. σκη̂νος in Wisd Sol 9:15]; for the opposite view see Manson “ΙΛΑΧΤΗΡΙΟΝ,” 1–10), Knox (128) understands that 2 Corinthians is “largely devoted to a complete revision of Pauline eschatology.” In 2 Corinthians Paul, under the influence of hellenistic thinking, teaches the equivalent of the gnostic promise that at death the soul takes on a “robe” of divine fire (Corp. Herm. 10.18; Windisch; Bultmann, Theology, 1:201, 2).

Davies, Paul and Rabbinic Judaism, 310–18, who also believes that Paul now teaches that a spiritual body is to be received at death, attacks Knox’s view on the ground that the ideas of Paul, though similar in terminology, are not necessarily strictly hellenistic (cf. Grundmann, TDNT 2:63–64, and Schweitzer, Mysticism, 134). The desire to be free from this body, as well as the idea of a possession of the spirit (Davies, 144), can be seen also as Jewish (cf. Sevenster, “Some Remarks,” 208–10). Furthermore, Knox’s argument is weak in the fact that he does not convince us with regard to Paul’s sudden change to incorporate the Greek understanding of death in his thinking (Sevenster, “Einige Bermerkungen,” 295). Knox’s theory, St. Paul (1–26), that Paul’s visit to Athens was the basis for the apostle’s change undercuts his position (Davies, 314) because the impression given in Acts 17 is that Paul left Athens a disappointed person on more pragmatic grounds.

While Davies has argued against the hellenistic influence as the reason behind Paul’s change in eschatology, nevertheless he does see a change. He sees that change occurring because Paul came to view the Age to Come in a different manner. In 1 Corinthians 15, where Paul was quite certain of being alive at the Parousia, the apostle concentrates on the general resurrection. But in 2 Corinthians 5, Paul shows an “unconscious ambiguity of thought,” for he now is concerned with his own death and the intermediate state. Since his conversion, Paul has come to realize that the Age to Come has been actualized in the next world and at death the Christian will receive his spiritual body (Davies, 317–18; Whiteley, Theology, 206–7; Bruce, “Paul,” 470, 71).

But not all are convinced that Paul has shifted his thinking about eschatology. Berry disagrees with the notion that Paul has changed his mind about the time at which the Christian receives the spiritual body. For Berry, Paul has not changed his position, but rather expresses his fear of entering the “interim” state in a bodiless, or naked, state (64). Berry is not alone in this thinking (Stevens, Pauline Theology, 343, n. 1; Kennedy, St. Paul’s Conception, 264–81; Plummer 160–64; Thornton, Common Life, 284–86; Goudge, 45–55). For Berry, Paul does not present anything new in 5:2–4 (62; cf. 5:1). But because of an increased awareness on Paul’s part that death was close at hand, his hope centers now on the idea that he wishes to avoid death. Paul does not fear death per se but the fear centers on being a soul apart from the body. Harris, “2 Cor 5:1–10: A Watershed …?” concludes (56): “The eschatology of this passage cannot be deemed a temporary aberration in his thought. Nor, on the other hand, do the modifications of outlook and clarification of doctrine in 2 Cor 5 constitute a radical revision of Pauline eschatology, since the cardinal concepts of his eschatology—Parousia, resurrection, judgment—were not abandoned, but (in the case of the Parousia—resurrection motif) merely redefined in the light of new insights.” See too his “Paul’s View.”

One notes that Paul was probably not offering a doctrine different from his earlier teaching (5:1; see 1 Cor 15; Ellis, “II Cor. v. 1–10,” 217; Vos, Pauline Eschatology, 172–205). To have done so would have left Paul open to the charge of fickleness, something which he has already encountered and answered (1:15–23; see 2:17). Cassidy argues (“Paul’s Attitude” [210–17] that there is a completely different time-frame for believers who have died. Thus, they are not subject to the same aspects of time as those remaining on earth. As a result, they do not experience the “intermediate state,” even though theoretically this period exists. But Cullmann’s position that those who died are still anticipating a better age (Rev 6:10, “How long, O Lord?”) holds a strong counterposition to Cassidy (see O. Cullmann, Christ and Time2, tr. F. V. Filson [Philadelphia: Westminster Press/London: SCM Press, 1950] 239–42).

In short, Christians are groaning (στενάζομεν, 5:2, 4) and are burdened (βαρούμενοι, 5:4) as they wait for the new building of God. Paul seeks to be clothed over his earthly body (ἐπενδύσασθαι, 5:2) and does not wish to be found naked (γυμνός; cf. m. Ber. 3:5: the shema˓ must be recited by a person who is clothed). Possibly repelling the gnostic idea that happiness results in being unclothed (Bultmann, 137–38; cf. Plato and Philo), as well as showing the Jewish fear of nakedness (Barrett, 154, 155), Paul longs to escape death and to be clothed with his resurrection body. Thus 5:2–4 appear to reflect a change in Paul’s understanding of his life’s expectancy rather than a change in eschatology. As our Comment (see below) will show, Paul is quite cognizant of the subject of the intermediate state. To be sure he does not elaborate on it, but he does point out that he is not looking forward to it (Barrett, Hughes).

(2) A second proposed reason why Paul wrote 5:2–4 is offered by Ellis, “II Cor. v. 1–10.” He views the discussion of 5:2–4 as emphasizing the corporate body rather than individual bodies (so Lang, 2 Korinther 5:1–10, 179–82; Watson, “2 Cor 5:1–10”): “Paul’s primary thought is not of individual bodies at all, but of corporate solidarities which inhere in Adam and in Christ, the old aeon and the new aeon” (Ellis, 217). In fact, Ellis does not view the present passage as dealing with the intermediate state in any way (224). Following the reasoning of Robinson, The Body (76), Ellis understands Paul to mean that to think of the resurrection hope is not to think of the individual, but of the church (see Robinson, 81, 82).

The position of Ellis highlights the Christian’s existence ἐν Χριστῳ̂, “in Christ.” In this view it is held that the resurrection of the body commences at the believer’s baptism (Robinson, 79, 80; cf. Eph 5:26–27). At that time the Christian becomes one spirit with the Lord (1 Cor 6:17) and puts on Christ (Gal 3:27). This action is seen as the beginning of the replacement of one body (ἐν ʼΑδάμ, “in Adam”) by the other body (ἐν Χριστῳ̂ “in Christ”; Robinson, ibid.). The goal of the Christian is eventually to be “absent from the body.” Ellis interprets (222) this phrase to mean that one is no longer a partaker in the “solidarities of the mortal body” (i.e., the σω̂μα ψυχικόν, “a natural body”; cf. 1 Cor 15:44). The key moments become “baptism” and the “Parousia” (Robinson, 79): at the former the Christian begins the process of the resurrection; at the latter the completion of this transformation is achieved (ibid., 80, 81; Ellis, 218). For a critique of Ellis’s position see Hughes (184, 185); Harris, Commentary (349); and idem, “2 Cor 5:1–10,” in TynB 22 (1971) 39, 40.

The position of Ellis does not see a shift in Pauline theology. For Paul, the Parousia is still the time when the Christian receives the final reward from God. The death of a Christian is more of a dissolving of the old solidarity than a completion of the new. Rather, Ellis offers the idea that the apostle was speaking of the corporate body. The Christian does not enter the “naked” state, for the Christian already has a “body.” For Ellis the naked state refers to the concepts of guilt and shame (219–22).

There is a Greek “tinge” to Paul’s teaching in 5:2–4, but it seems unlikely that his main target is gnosticism (against Bultmann, 141). Possibly he is simply relating his fear of the “interim” period, a fear common to Jewish people. Moreover, he may be engaged in addressing an eschatological debate at Corinth, a debate that is reflected in his new concern with the interim state. To be sure, Paul is much concerned with death, but his death never dominated his writing. Rather, the possible debate, in conjunction with the increasing likelihood of his death, has prompted Paul to write 5:2–4.

(3) The foregoing provides us with a third possible reason behind 5:2–4. It is to be sought in the Corinthians’ situation; and it is polemic (cf. Lang, 2 Kor, 183; the opposite view to 5:1 is that the earthly house was being identified with the heavenly at Corinth). The insistence that Paul’s thinking here regarding the afterlife has been mainly influenced by his opponents has led to this new proposal. This suggestion refuses to see a sharp break between 4:16 and 5:1 ff. Still less does it envisage Paul as a confused or erratic thinker—or to use Windisch’s homely metaphor, a gardener plucking flowers at random and arranging them into a bouquet of mixed varieties. Bultmann (132) writes of 5:1–5 as a digression which does not have the apostolic ministry in view. Rather, in opposition, this third interpretation views the apostle’s thought as coherent and as continuing on into chap. 5 with the same objective in view: that is, to rebut the teaching of his opponents (clearly shown in Lincoln, Paradise, 59–71, and to an extreme in Lang, 2 Korinther 5, 1–10, who makes a polemical setting the leitmotif of 5:1–10). The issue lies in determining the two “forms” of Christian existence ascribed to being “in Christ” (Collange, 198). His opponents claimed that their Christian status was achieved now; Paul responds by pointing to the future, with its promise of a somatic resurrection (Harris, Raised Immortal, 223, 224).

A sharper focus is put on the debate once we pose the question, How did the two understandings of being a Christian differ? The issue is not death and resurrection, but the distinction between soul and body (see Fallon, 47). From his opponents’ viewpoint, the soul could attain to God only by a mystical ascent. At present the soul was held in a prisonlike existence in the body where it was weighed down and where it cried out for deliverance. Such release could come as the body wasted away, or was destroyed, or put off as clothing, or was left as an exile might leave a foreign land for home. The soul would thus be liberated and attain its glory by revitalizing the “inner person” by becoming a house of God, by putting on new garments of immortality, or being returned from exile.

Paul’s disquisition in 5:1–10 aims to repel all these assertions. It is less concerned with the right way of conceiving a future existence, and more with relating the kerygma to present existence (Lang, 2 Kor, 194, who puts his thought epigrammatically: Paul is not saying that one cannot stay in two places at one time; what he is saying is that one cannot serve two masters, as two attitudes to life are seen in 5:7, the contrast between πίστις, “faith,” and εἰ̂δος “sight,” “form”). He uses the language of his disputants in the hellenistic Jewish tradition but modifies it to suit his purpose. (Lincoln, Paradise, 59, traces this emphasis to Paul’s desire to oppose “the claims of the ‘super-apostles’ [in 11:5; 12:11] to present glory and to the Spirit’s manifestation in their ecstasies, their rhetorical gifts and impressive appearance.”) Specifically, glory, for Paul, will come only at the Parousia, not in any ecstatic experience. The present life is shot through with suffering rather than the glory of ecstasy. “Ecstasy” is an ambivalent term (5:13). When it comes (12:2, 3) it is a gift of God, but more important is the call to serve the Lord in daily life (5:9, 10).

V 5 closes the first part of our passage. It would not be appropriate for Paul to end on a note of despair, and he does not disappoint his readers. The confidence of Paul is based on the pledge (ἀρραβών) of God. This idea of pledge seems to make 5:5 a verse of transition to summarize the confidence of 5:1–4, and, at the same time, provide the basis for the hope of 5:6.

The second section (5:6–10) continues on the upbeat note of optimism introduced in 5:5. 5:6–8 is an awkward construction grammatically (see Héring, 38, n. 8; Hughes, 178, n. 53). Characteristic of Paul, he spontaneously interjects an explanatory parenthesis (v 7) and thus his thought is not sequentially clear. But it seems that v 7 holds the key to the discussion (see later), and the third option considered above commends itself. Nevertheless, 5:6–8 reflects a “victory” over any problem associated with the interim state. (Possibly this is a reference to the eschatological-anthropological debate at Corinth.) While Paul prefers to be alive at the Parousia, he acknowledges in 5:8 that to be absent from the body is still better than to be absent from the Lord (cf. Phil 1:23; Martin, Philippians [NCB, 1976= 1980] 79). Hettlinger (176–79) picks up on this “sudden change” in attitude and argues that Paul’s contentment with the afterlife shows that 5:4 could not have included the concept of disembodiment. But this again overlooks the evidence of 5:2–4, as well as ignores the possibility that Paul could have two minds about death (Berry, 66–68).

But Paul is not satisfied to emphasize the future only. Indeed, he is concerned with present issues at Corinth. In 5:9, 10 he warns the Corinthians that the goal, while time remains, regardless of one’s state at the Parousia (Conzelmann, Theology, 165), is to please the Lord (5:9). The time is coming for judgment to be passed on how the Christians behave (5:10). Thus Paul ends this passage, 5:1–10, as he opened it. This earthly tent, or body, will pass away only at death and there is something better for those who are faithful to the call: to see the present experience of believers as incomplete since they await the resurrection as a future event.


1. οἴδαμεν γὰρ, “For we know.” That Paul continues his theme of 4:16–18 is seen in his use of γὰρ, as well as the structure of 5:1 (see earlier). By including οἴδαμεν Paul probably wants to convey assurance to the believers (Bruce, 201) and remind them of previous teaching (Berry, 61, 62; see 1 Cor 15:42–45). Collange, Enigmes, 183, thinks Paul is recalling the teaching of Jesus in a synoptic logion (Mark 14:58: so Lincoln, Paradise, 62). Thus contra Knox (see p. 98), Paul is not preparing his readers for something new, but something already known. That this “something known” is revealed and not learned through human knowledge is suggested by Paul’s use of οἰ̂δα instead of γινώσκειν, also “to know” (Seesemann, TDNT 5:120–22). But this is not a distinction that is always true (see later). The use of a Wissenformel (as in 1:7; 4:14; 5:6, 11 [16]) has suggested to a number of commentators (Windisch, Héring, Ellis [213], Bultmann [132]) that Paul is responding to his critics by citing agreed Christian tradition (see Prümm, Diakonia, 1:40, 174).

Expanding his idea that what is seen is temporary (4:18), Paul describes the human body as ἐπίγειος ἡμω̂ν οἰκία του̂ σκήνους, “the earthly tent we live in” (cf. rsv). The metaphor of a tent, possibly reflecting the close proximity of the Feast of Tabernacles, or Booths (Lev 23:42), to the time of the writing of 2 Corinthians (Manson, “ΙΛΑΧΤΗΡΙΟΝ,” 8, 9; Wagner, “Le tabernacle”), suggests that the body is a temporary structure. But it is doubtful if Paul sees the tent as an outer covering of the real self (Schmithals, Gnosticism, 262; cf. Hipp. VI, 9:4–5; VII, 29:22). Indeed, he may be consciously opposing this notion. We possibly press Paul too much to account for his view of man in dualistic terms, namely, σω̂μαψυχή (or σω̂μαπνευ̂μα). Sevenster (“Remarks,” 210–12) is probably correct when he writes that Paul left the question of what the tent covers unanswered, for the apostle was not primarily interested in the death of an individual; rather the concern of Paul was the eschatological sequence of Heilsgeschichte.

This tent soon will be καταλυθῃ̂—“dismantled.” Kümmel, Theology, 239, 240, and Hughes, 162, n. 18, suggest that Paul has death in mind when he speaks of dismantling. If καταλύειν and ἀναλύειν are synonyms (ἀναλύειν is also used for the idea of dismantling a tent in 2 Macc. 9:1; cf. BGD 57), then from Phil 1:23 we see that death is in Paul’s view in 5:1. Also, we could rightly expect the notion of ἀλλαγη̂ναι (“change,” cf. 1 Cor 15:51, 52; see Hodge [354 n.] for concerns of textual problems in 15:51) if Paul was speaking of the change at the Parousia. Barrett (151) sees that both possibilities—death and the Parousia—are in Paul’s mind when he talks of the tent being dismantled. This position is possible in light of Paul’s use of the subjunctive (see below). But in view of Paul’s concentration on “taking off” (5:3b) and the point that the Parousia, in Paul’s thought, suggests a change (1 Cor 15:51), it appears that the intention of this passage was concerned primarily with death, and in particular the necessary corollary that death must precede resurrection—a point made in 1 Cor 15:12–28 (see R. P. Martin, The Spirit and the Congregation, 109–18). Regardless of which possibility influenced him, Paul is suggesting, as he has in 4:18, that something better awaits those who share the apostolic faith. Thus Paul is attempting to give meaning to the present situation by referring to the future (Bornkamm, Paul, 230).

We note that ἐάν commands the subjunctive καταλυθῃ̂ and reflects a conditional situation. The doubt expressed by Paul, however, is not directed toward the veracity of the apodosis (for we know Paul to be certain about a new body, 1 Cor 15:51–58); rather, the sentence construction of 5:1 expresses uncertainty in the apostle’s mind concerning whether or not he will experience this dismantling before the change at the Parousia. Another possibility is that Paul is driven by the exigencies of debate to assert that the future house must await death, i.e., against “realized” eschatologists at Corinth who telescoped the future hope at or beyond death into a present experience, begun in a baptismal resurrection (1 Cor 4:8; 15:12).

If death should occur, there is a replacement for the earthly tent, namely, οἰκοδομὴν ἐκ θεου̂, “a house from God,” one that is permanent, not temporary, αἰώνιον ἐν τοι̂ς οὐρανοι̂ς, “eternal in the heavens” (cf. Job 16:19; Heb 11:16; Phil 2:10; 1 Cor 15:49; John 3:12). This permanent dwelling, this spiritual body, is one that is ἀχειροποίητον, “made without hands” (see Collange, Enigroes, 186; Mark 14:58; Col 2:11). To say that this new house was made without hands is not to negate that God created man (Gen 2:7). It is to say that the tent is of the earth and that there is both a need (1 Cor 15:22) and a desire (5:8) for something else, wholly from God.

Schmithals’s assertion (Gnosticism, 263) that Paul emphasizes the features of the new habitation instead of the habitation itself is correct to a point. But it is not conclusive that Paul did this to overturn the gnostic argument that rejected the celestial corporeality (ibid., 160 f.; 176; so Sevenster, “Some Remarks” [210], who correctly asserts that parallel meaning of words does not necessarily imply agreement in ideas). It is also possible that Paul highlighted these “differences” between the earthly and the heavenly to support his contention that there is something unseen even though “the seen” is wasting away. Most scholars believe that Paul is more concerned with hope in the light of trouble, the temporary in view of eternity, than with a running battle with the gnostics. But the local situation at Corinth may well explain these expressions found only here in Paul.

Because Paul uses ἔχομεν, from ἔχειν, “to have” (present tense), some writers (Schlatter, Paulus, 544; Robinson, The Body, 80, 81; Hettlinger, “2 Corinthians 5:1–10,” 185) have concluded that Paul sees the Christian as having a new body before death (Lincoln, Paradise, 211, n. 38, lists several other interpreters but raises serious objection). Ellis identifies the body put on at baptism (1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:27). Thus, by being initiated into the corporate Body of Christ (Ellis calls [218] the house in 5:1 the Messianic Community; cf. Mark 14:58), the Christian is never “bodiless.” But to press Paul at this point as holding that the Christian already has the house of God misunderstands Paul’s use of Body of Christ, and also ignores 5:2 which speaks of the longing for this house. How can one have in possession something for which he still longs? Furthermore, if the Temple is the body, why associate the Temple with a tent? (Barrett, 152). Most likely the object of ἔχομεν is the hope that there is a house prepared (cf. John 14:2) for the believer (Barrett, 151) akin to the Jerusalem which is above (Gal 4:26). But see Lincoln, Paradise, 63. This interpretation is consistent with the tone of 4:16–18; there is hope, but it is for something yet to be grasped. See Rom 8:24, 25 (cf. Phil 3:20 f.) for this dimension of hope in Pauline thought, which in this field of inquiry is precisely his line of argument in 1 Cor 15 and 1 Thess 4 (Lincoln, 64, 65).

2. That our interpretation of ἔχομεν, “we have,” is probably correct is also seen in the first part of 5:2: καὶ γὰρ ἐν τούτῳ στενάζομεν, τὸ οἰκητήριον ἡμω̂ν τὸ ἐξ οὐρανου̂ ἐπενδύσασθαι ἐπιποθου̂ντες, “and indeed in this [tent] we groan, longing to put on our heavenly house.” Paul’s phrase ἐν τούτῳ, “in this,” refers to “in the tent.” While ἐν τούτῳ could also equal “for this reason” (John 16:30; 1 Cor 4:4; cf. Bruce, 202), the evidence suggests otherwise. Since the antecedent of the demonstrative must be σκη̂νος, “tent,” there was probably little doubt in the mind of Paul or his readers. Furthermore, Paul uses ἐν τούτῳ again (5:4), but this time he includes the word “tent” (see ἐν τῳ̂ σκήνει). Hughes’s suggestion (167, n. 27) that ἐν τούτῳ be rendered “meanwhile” (as in niv) leaves us with a colorless introduction to 5:2. But see Bultmann, 136.

Since Christians dwell in an earthly tent, they are subject to groaning (στενάζειν). But against Bruce, 202, the reason for groaning is not a negative but a positive one. That Paul would groan and despair at unkind circumstances seems highly unlikely (Phil 4:11–13), even if he was under a “death sentence” (1:9; cf. Bruce Paul, 468; cf. 4:8–12; 11:23–7). Paul’s use of στενάζειν (the verb meaning “to groan” occurs here, 5:4, and Rom 8:23) suggests that it is in anticipation of something to come that one groans, not in distress at what is. Rom 8:23 shows this to be the case. The groaning is in conjunction with the help of the Spirit, itself a gift of God, for we groan eagerly (Rom 8:25; cf. 5:5; see Black, Romans [NCB; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973 = 1981] 122). Why groan eagerly with the Holy Spirit’s indwelling unless there was something good to follow? The groaning in Rom 8:23 is a sign of hope (Murray, Romans [NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959] 1:306). This line of reasoning appears similar to what is in our passage.

The reason for Paul’s groaning is that it is part of the believers’ desire: ἐπιποθου̂ντες (“longing,” present participle) ἐπενδύσασθαι (“to put on”) the οἰκητήριοντὸ ἐξ οὐρανου̂ (“heavenly house”; cf. 2 Peter 1:13 ff.). The groaning is seen in a positive vein, for Paul is expecting something good to happen (Barrett, 152). We should note that Paul’s desire is to put on over what already is on. This is seen in ἐπενδύσασθαι (BGD, 284; like an “overcoat,” Barrett, 153). Hodge’s claim (115; cf. Feuillet, “La demeure,” and Bultmann, 136, who think also that the verbs as noted are hardly distinguishable) that ἐπενδύσασθαι and ἐνδύεσθαι are synonyms ignores 5:3, where Paul longs not to give up his earthly body (ἐκδυσάμενοι), but rather put the heavenly garment over it (ἐπενδύσασθαι, 5:4). He wishes for no interval to transpire as would be the case in the event of his demise before the Lord s return. The change in metaphor—house to garment—makes even clearer what Paul is thinking. As was discussed earlier, it appears that Paul did not change his outlook concerning the point at which Christians receive their resurrection body. This is seen in Paul’s choice of ἐπενδύσασθαι. Why seek to “put on over” unless one fears being unclothed? The point is that Paul groans, longs for, the outer garment to be placed over his earthly garment, namely, his physical body. If this were to happen, and it would happen for certain (he held) at the Parousia (1 Cor 15:51 ff.), then Paul would avoid the interim period, in which he would be naked (γυμνός).

3. The textual problems related to this verse have been discussed (see notes a* and b*: εἴ γε καὶ, “since indeed”). Paul is confident that the hope of a Christian will come to pass (Thrall, Greek Particles, 85–91). If the tent is dismantled, there awaits the Christian a house from God. But is this house obtained at death or at the Parousia? It is now time to present the evidence for our conclusion offered above.

As was discussed on 5:2, Paul is anticipating the putting of the heavenly garment over the earthly one, without the loss of the latter. He desires to avoid the experience of death, but if death comes, this will not result in a permanent state of being unclothed. Paul has already assured the Corinthians that the dead in Christ will put on a new body (1 Cor 15:52, 54). This, in addition to what 5:2 teaches, leads us to see that Paul still keeps both ideas about the resurrection before the people, both the dead in Christ and those remaining alive will be clothed at the Parousia, which is the topic of 5:2. But the evidence for our position is more than simply circumstantial.

5:4 yields the sense, as will be shown, that Paul seeks to avoid the period between death and the Parousia, the so-called Zwischenzeit, or Zwischenzustand, for he wishes, as he did in 5:2, to put the new body on over his corporeal frame. But whether in death or life, the Christian will put on the new body at the Parousia.

Paul’s desire is to put on the new corporeality so as not to be found naked (γυμνός). As a Jew Paul would abhor nakedness (Barrett, 153; Knox, 137; see m. Ber. 3:5, quoted above), for this would suggest that a man “ceases to be truly and properly man” (Hughes, 171). However, we must not press Paul to argue for a dualistic appraisal of man. (The minority view here—shared by Ellis, “II Cor,” Hanhart, “Paul’s Hope,” and Lang, 2 Kor 5, 188—is that εὑρίσκεσθαι, “to be found,” is to be taken in a judicial sense, and so the fear is that Paul will enter the next life exposed by God as one denuded [γυμνός] of good works. This is hardly cogent.) To say death has occurred—i.e., bringing inevitably the sense of nakedness—is to say that man becomes incomplete. We remember that the Greeks looked forward to dying, for it represented a flight of the soul from the body and as such it promised a desirable goal (Corp. Herm. 1:26; 10:8; Philo, Leg. All. II 57, 59; Plato Rep. IX 577B, Phaedo 67DE). What does Paul’s inclusion of γυμνοί in 5:3 mean? To evaluate Paul’s mention of γυμνότης as either an “afterthought” (Plummer, 147;) or a “spasm of unbelief” (Moule, “Dualism,” 121) is unsatisfactory. Ellis’s (220, 21) argument that Paul’s idea of nakedness refers to the shame and guilt of judgment is weak because judgment does not come in this passage until 5:10 and then only for Christians (cf. Oepke TDNT 1:774; 2:318; cf. Sevenster, “Some Remarks,” 204 f.). Also to see Paul fighting the Greek understanding of nakedness is inadequate (cf. Davies, Paul, 191–200: contra Schmithals, Gnosticism, 204). To be sure, Paul was not unaware of the gnostic idea of disembodiment (Bultmann, Theology 1:201, 202), but he does not view it as a state to be desired. Rather, death is now a real possibility to Paul; and it is one that he does not cherish.

For Paul the interim period is a bodiless one (1 Cor 15:35–38). It is, to be sure, a period that is temporary (1 Cor 15:42–44). But there is an interval (1 Cor 15:37). Although Paul actually gives little detail about the interim state for it does not appear to be in his sights, yet he does express the desire to bypass this period. But why does he seek to avoid the interim period unless this time of nakedness offered something less than the ultimate realization of hope (5:4)? If death results in the Christian’s receiving the resurrection body, why look forward to the Parousia? (See G. E. Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974] 554.) What need was there for God to redeem creation (Rom 8:23–27) if the salvation of the Christian was consummated at death? If death were the answer to all hope, we would think that Paul would desire death, but this is not what we find. Rather, he considers it still an enemy (1 Cor 15:26). He is thankful that he has escaped death (1:10) and he desires to finish his ministry in this life (Phil 1:20–24; 1 Cor 9:23–27).

But while Paul in 5:3 and 5:4 expresses the desire to be clothed, to be alive at the Parousia, he is unwilling to paint the intermediate state as a condition of horror. For one thing, Paul does not hold that the Christian is separated from Christ at death (Rom 8:30 ff.). Rather, to leave this life is to be with Christ (5:8; Phil 1:23). Paul’s goal (against Schmithals) is to finish this age alive and enter the next age without having to pass through a stage of being “naked.” And, as 5:4 reveals, this “skipping” the interim stage remains in Paul’s mind. But he is not overwhelmed to the point of despair by the prospect of leaving this world. Rather, though his goal is the Parousia, the outcome of death is still a plus for the Christian.

4. οἱ ὄντες ἐν τῳ̂ σκήνει στενάζομεν, “while we remain in this tent we groan,” resumes the thought introduced in 5:2. Paul groans for the spiritual body. He groans so as to express his desire to put on the new body. To this idea of groaning is added βαρούμενοι, “being burdened.” This idea of burdening suggests being weighed down either by affliction or with anxiety (rsv, “we sigh with anxiety”). In the light of Paul’s desire to answer his critics, the former understanding of βαρούμενοι (present participle, βαρέω) appears to be better (see 1:8 and the play on words in 4:17). Alternatively, circumstances do not “get” to Paul to threaten him (Phil 4:11–13; cf. 2 Cor 4:7–12). Furthermore, if the interpretation of 5:2 is correct, then Paul is simply expressing concern to receive the new body. But he seems to be answering some point here, namely, that he was a suffering apostle, and must fend off the charge of a fruitless ministry (so Hanhart, “Paul’s Hope,” but with an unusual view of γυμνός).

Paul proceeds to explain that he is distressed and burdened ἐφʼ ᾡ̂ οὐ θέλομεν ἐκύσασθαι ἀλλʼ ἐπενδύσασθαι, “because we do not desire to be unclothed” (see Moulton, Grammar 1:107; Turner, Grammatical Insights, 131) “but clothed” Hettlinger’s translation, “not because we wish,” is ntenable. Paul wishes to put on over (ἐπενδύσασθαι) and escape the taking off of the earthly garment (ἐκδύσασθαι). We have argued already that Paul believes that the spiritual body is not available to the Christian until the Parousia. The idea that those who die do not consciously experience an interval between death and the Parousia (Bruce, 204) also apparently misses the point. Paul has spoken twice of the desire to “put on over,” to have his resurrection body without losing his earthly body. This would not be necessary unless Paul wanted to avoid the result of death. He does not entertain the prospect of death enthusiastically. Probably Cullmann, Christ and Time2, 231–41, is correct in saying that those who enter the bodiless state, though better off (5:8; cf. Phil 1:23), still experience the tension of “already, but not yet” (“How long, O Lord?” is the cry according to Rev 6:9; cf. Heb 11:39 f.). The point is that Paul’s fear of the result of death can be best understood and with less problems if we see the interim state as a state which Paul fears, namely, a period of nakedness.

This last idea is further demonstrated in the use of the ἵνα, “in order that,” clause that completes 5:4. Paul longs for the Parousia, the “putting on over,” so that he may experience this ultimate result: καταποθῃ̂ τὸ θνητὸν ὑπὸ τη̂ς ζωη̂ς, “what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” We see a parallel in 1 Cor 15:54 which says that death is “swallowed up” in victory. The Christian who is alive at the Parousia will avoid death because what is mortal—that which is not yet dismantled in death (Jeremias, “Flesh and Blood,” NTS 2 [1956] 154)—is swallowed up by the living. Life is a gift from God. It (ζωή = “immortal life”: see Harris, Raised Immortal, 220–26) remains to be given, for life is not a possession of human beings as yet (Schmithals, Gnosticism, 268).

Paul concludes his short digression on the fate of the dead in Christ. From his viewpoint it is much better to await the Lord’s coming than to experience death (cf. Isa 25:8). This is simply an expansion of teaching put forward earlier in 1 Corinthians. Now that Paul realizes that it is very possible he will experience death himself, he reveals his preference. A spiritual body is to be desired instead of having to enter the interim period of waiting. This has been the theme of 5:2–4, but the hope of the resurrection is not lost as far as the dead are concerned (5:3). The hope of Christians, whether alive or dead, remains unchanged (Héring, 38).

We might pause to ask why Paul said so little concerning the interim state. By now the reason should be apparent. The hope of Paul is the resurrection of Christ, the pivot on which Heilsgeschichte turns since it looks forward to the hope that is yet to be consummated. From 4:13 to our present verses, Paul has stressed that which lies beyond what is seen. His short digression on the interim state simply reveals Paul’s desire to avoid this nakedness. But Paul is not concerned to give us a detailed theology of a mystery that had not been revealed to him. More likely, his point is to write about the events of eschatology, not the death of individuals (Sevenster, “Some Remarks,” 212), especially as these matters formed the nub of his debate with Corinthian teachers. They (as referred to in 1 Cor 15:12) “considered themselves to be enjoying heavenly existence to the full already [and] did not envisage a further stage of embodiment” (Lincoln, Paradise, 67). The issue, then, is his apostolic authority derived from the kerygma which, in turn, is based on an eschatology not yet realized; the debate at Corinth was centered on future events in themselves.

So, it appears that the Corinthians have already been exposed to the idea of the interim state. Possibly in a general manner, Paul had discussed the topic (as well as written to the Corinthians [1 Cor 15:12–19]) concerning those who have already died. He had already addressed this concern of the Corinthians. Thus, it appears that the matter of the interim state has been dealt with before and Paul simply reiterates what was said earlier. But there is a sharper point put on the later teaching because of the opponents’ claim that they have no need of a future resurrection.

5. δὲ κατεργασάμενος ἡμα̂ς εἰς αὐτὸ του̂το θεός, δου̂ς ἡμι̂ν τὸν ἀρραβω̂να του̂ πνεύματος, “the one who prepared us for this very purpose [is] God, who also gave us the Spirit as a pledge.” While 5:4 displayed the dislike of Paul for the interim state, it would be inconsistent for him to be paralyzed with fear concerning this prospect. Paul’s theme for several verses has been one of hope, which by its nature emphasizes what is not seen and not yet attained. “The one who prepared us for this very purpose is God,” repeats the thought of the last clause of 5:4. The whole of creation awaits God’s final action (Rom 8:23–27), at which time perfect fellowship will be restored and eternal life completed. The hope of the people should be in θεός, God, (placed at the end of the clause for emphasis). He has created (κατεργασάμενος; aorist participle) his people for this very thing (αὐτὸ του̂το). Probably Paul has in mind the endowment of Christians with heavenly bodies (Phil 3:21). This would revive Paul’s theme of the unseen, and of the permanent taking over from the temporary and terrestrial. But now Paul introduces the reason for this hope. It is more than simply a “shot in the dark.” Rather, Paul is convinced that what God will do in the future is ensured by what he has done in the past and what he is doing in the present (the use of the aorist implies an act already completed yet with present effect).

Paul’s basis for his assurance of the permanent triumphing over the temporary is the ἀρραβών (pledge) given to believers. This pledge is the πνευ̂μα (Spirit). God has already imparted the Holy Spirit, referred to in δοὺς, “given,” (aorist participle) as his pledge or deposit. The use of ἀρραβών (see on 1:22; cf. Gen 38:17, 18, 20) refers to a down payment, something to assure that the “final installment will come” (1:22). What the Christian has now is a present possession, which promises more to come (Cox, 424; Vos, Eschatology, 165; Hughes, 41 f.). To be sure, Paul describes the Holy Spirit as the instrument of God for the renewal of the “inner man” (ἔσω ἄνθρωπος). But also Paul is sure that the saving power that raised Jesus from the dead is also available to people in the present (Rom 8:11). God gave part of himself to be enjoyed now, as well as offering us the assurance that eternal life awaits the Christian (Cox, 425; Mitton, “Paul’s Certainties”).

Moule believes (“St. Paul and Dualism,” 118–20) that Paul groans because the apostle understands that God has only prepared us for the exchange; there is to be no addition of a new garment. Moule views God as planning the “naked” state and so requiring that everyone must recognize this “process of mortality” (ibid., 119). There is no possibility of avoiding the exchange; what is worked out is life’s hardship. The process of exchange occurs not only at death but throughout life. The crisis Paul fears is the using up of and the parting with our strength and health in obedience to God (ibid., 121). The Holy Spirit is simply a pledge that there will indeed be an exchange. Thus Moule translates 5:5a “but it is God who has made [?] us for this very thing; viz. to strip off clothing (and receive new clothing in exchange)” (ibid., 118 n. 1). But this interpretation implies that God’s creation was brought into being for the purpose of dying. Also, Moule eliminates the significance of Paul’s compound verb, ἐπενδύσασθαι, for this scholar argues that Paul is denying the idea of putting on over or that he is offering nothing more than wishful thinking. Such conclusions we find inadequate, and thus hold to the position that the naked state can be avoided. God has prepared us for the new life, not for the interim stage (Lincoln, Paradise, 212, n. 46).

6. Grammatically speaking, 5:6 is an anacoluthon. θαρρου̂ντες οὐ̂ν πάντοτε καὶ εἰδότες ὅτι ἐνδημου̂ντες ἐν τῳ̂ σώματι ἐκδημου̂μεν ἀπὸ του̂ κυρίου, “accordingly, we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.” It appears that Paul abandons his original thought after 5:6 and interjects a spontaneous interpretation in the form of an explanatory parenthesis (5:7; Bultmann, 141), a feature characteristic of Paul (see Hughes 178, n. 53). That Paul inserts a change of thought from his original intention is seen in his redundant use of θαρρου̂μεν, “we are confident,” in 5:8. Paul probably meant to say, “Being therefore always of good courage, and knowing that to be at home in the body is to be away from the Lord, we are willing rather,” etc. It appears that, as Paul was writing or dictating this letter, he came to the end of 5:6 and realized that some may understand that this life means separation from Christ. Of course, from 5:5 we see that this is not what he meant. To correct any possible misunderstanding, therefore, Paul inserts 5:7.

The contents of this earthen vessel (4:7–11) are priceless. And though the vessel, the tent, is fragile and temporary, there is no room for despondency (Barrett, 157). οὐ̂ν, “therefore, accordingly,” relates back to the hope discussed in 5:5. There is no reason for Paul to despair since the Spirit is with him. “Despair is an experience to which he [Paul] does not submit; for to despair is to disown the Spirit and to disown the Spirit is not to be a Christian at all” (Tasker, 82). Thus, θαρρου̂ντες πάντοτε (“always confident”) describes those who treasure the pledge of God.

Paul’s use of καὶ, “and,” could be taken to mean “because” (neb). If this is true, then it would suggest that the reason Paul has confidence is that he is away from the Lord and at home in the body. But this force of καὶ is unlikely, both on contextual grounds and on the basis of what we know of Paul. With respect to the former, the οὐ̂ν, as already pointed out, points back to Paul’s hope and assurance in 5:5. Thus Paul expresses confidence in God’s work, not in his environment. The latter argument is even more obvious, for Paul has the ability, with help from God, not to allow circumstances to dull his peace of mind (Phil 4:10–13). Furthermore, his firm hope is to put on the heavenly garment, something that Paul surely feels will bring him home to the Lord (Phil 3:21). Thus καὶ does not carry the force of “because,” but simply connects this thought.

ἐνδημη̂σαι ἐν τῳ̂ σώματι, “to be at home in the body,” expresses Paul’s awareness that some Christians do remain in the body. As suggested above, Paul does not want his readers to think that dying in Christ is a terrible thing. On the contrary (5:8), he sees it as a great improvement in relation to this life. To be “in the body” (notice Paul has dropped all metaphors for body) has its disadvantages, among which is “being away from the Lord.” Goudge describes the wording “being at home in the body” as a deplorable interpretation. His point is that the present body is not worthy to be called our home. But Paul is not suggesting that communion with the Lord is nonexistent during the Christian’s earthly pilgrimage (Knox, St. Paul, 140, 141). Rather, Paul is saying that the Christian is away from the Lord only in comparison with the prospect of seeing him face to face (1 Cor 13:12; cf. Bruce, 205; Martin, The Spirit and the Congregation, 53–56). If Paul had wanted to maintain the idea of total separation between creation and Creator, he could have used ἀποδημει̂ν, as did Philo. Paul holds that through the Spirit the believer can always have communion with the Lord. Thus, to be at home in the body is the confession that those who are alive “reside” (Strachan, 99) in the body. But to reside in the body is to postpone the fulfillment of greater fellowship between the Christian and the Lord. While we remain in this body, ἐκδημου̂μεν ἀπὸ του̂ κυρίου, “we are away from the Lord.” The idea behind ἐκδημη̂σαι is that the Christians are in a strange land (BGD, 238; Liddell and Scott, 1:504; cf. 1 Peter 2:11; Heb 11:13–16; Ep. Diognetus 5). While Christians are in communion with God they are nevertheless in a foreign land, continuing their pilgrimage. As long as one is on the earth, that perfect fellowship desired between the believer and the Lord remains elusive.

7. διὰ πίστεως γὰρ περιπατου̂μεν, οὐ διὰ εἴδους, “for we live by faith, not by sight.” But it may appear that Paul does not feel that his argument concerning the present communion between the believer in the body and Christ was sufficiently clear. As though Paul wanted to stress that being at home in the body does not imply an “absolute” sense of being away from the Lord, the apostle inserts, and somewhat awkwardly, a parenthesis which reads διὰ πίστεως γὰρ, κτλ., “for we live (lit., “walk”) by faith, not by sight.” Paul wants to be sure that the Corinthians retain hope even though what they hope for is unseen (cf. Rom 8:24). Thus Paul presents in 5:7 the thought of the invisibility of Christ, not his absence per se (Barrett, 158), as the idea behind 5:6 expresses it. Faith can be real, for Christ is real. Faith believes in things unseen (cf. 4:18) and is the basis for the Christian’s walk while “at home in the body.”

We note that περιπατου̂μεν is rendered in the present tense, thus suggesting the idea of “walking” as our experience in this lifetime. The “walk” (i.e., conduct, BGD, 649) of a follower of Christ is made possible through πίστις, “faith.” The use of διά with the genitive (πίστεως) denotes the idea of “by means of” (Moule, Idiom Book, 56, 57). The hope of God, given in the Holy Spirit as a pledge, is unseen by the human eye. But the demand of God is that those who want to please him must believe in him (Heb 11:6). The Christian has hope, even though he is away from the Lord, because as a believer he walks in the confidence that Christ is real, but unseen (see 1 Pet 1:8, 9).

But to get a complete idea of what Paul means by 5:7 is difficult because his use of εἰ̂δος is debated. The question centers upon whether εἰ̂δος, “sight,” is to be given an active or passive meaning. Kittel argues (TDNT 2:374, 375), that εἰ̂δος is not to be understood in the active sense (cf. Liddell and Scott, 1:482); thus διὰ εἴδους means “on the basis of what is seen” (see Hughes, 176, n. 2; Plummer, 151 f.). Kittel would take 5:7 as suggesting that the believer is controlled not by the things he cannot see, but by the faith that they do exist (we walk by faith, not by the appearance of things). However, Kümmel points out (121, 203) that εἰ̂δος can have an active sense (Num 12:8, LXX), and thus 5:7 would emphasize that faith in Christ is the determining factor in the Christian’s life even though he remains invisible (Tasker, 82; we walk by faith in Christ even though we cannot see him). In terms of context, Paul probably meant the latter, for to evaluate εἰ̂δος in a passive sense as understood by Kittel loses Paul’s use of it as an antithesis to faith. This parenthesis (5:7) has been inserted to correct any misunderstanding presented in 5:6. The faith of the Christian overcomes the problem set by the invisibility of the Lord. To be away from the Lord is not to be out of communion with him. Rather our walk with him in fellowship, though not yet perfected, is possible because of faith (Bruce, 205). Barrett argues (159) that the passive sense of εἰ̂δος could also mean “we live by believing in the absent and invisible Christ, not by looking at visible forms.” If this is true, then regardless of our choice as to the meaning of εἰ̂δος, the emphasis of 5:7 centers on faith in Christ as possible even if 5:6b be true.

The polemical side to this statement cannot be ignored, confirming Bultmann’s estimate (141) of vv 1–5 as “a polemical excursus.” He treats the phrase διὰ πίστεως γὰρ περιπατου̂μεν κτλ. as “a fundamental antignostic Christian remark,” citing H. Jonas, Gnosis und die spätantiker Geist (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1954) II. 1.48. The polemical nature of v 7 is recognized by an array of interpreters, listed by Lincoln, Paradise 68, 213, n. 60. Paul’s opponents built their hope on “what they saw” in ecstatic vision and thus gloried in the “outward” (5:12), not recognizing that the eschaton is future (1 Cor 13:12). Their pretensions to present power (12:12) were based on what they “saw” (contrast 4:18). This, for them, was the “form” (εἰ̂δος, Gestalt; see Jervell, Imago Dei, 270) of reality. Paul contradicts this, since faith is not yet realized in vision. He thus relativizes the value of their ecstatic experiences (Fallon), and unifies the human person (as in 12:2, 3), refusing to separate the “pure” soul from the “imperfect” body. He denies the dichotomy that would view the person as composed of two separable parts, a body of lesser value, and a soul which alone is capable of an intimacy with the divine. For Paul the human person is one and indivisible. Dualistic separation into body and soul is no part of his anthropology (see Jewett, Paul’s Anthropological Terms, 275–77, who argues that the use of σω̂μα in v 6 is modified by vv 8, 10; this proposal suggests that Paul is indebted to his opponents for the language of the earlier vv).

8. That 5:7 is a parenthesis, a break in Paul’s train of thought, is seen in the way he opens 5:8. θαρρου̂μεν (“we are confident”), though redundant, picks up the thought dropped in 5:6, namely, that whether in or out of the body, the Christian can be of good courage (see Höring, 39; Bultmann, 141). The Christian can always be confident whether in the body, for God has given a pledge; or out of the body, for ἐκδημη̂σαι ἐκ του̂ σώματοςἐνδημη̂σαι πρὸς τὸν κύριον (“to be out of the body [is to be] at home with the Lord”) is the greater hope of the Christian (Martin, Philippians, 79, ad Phil 1:21–23; see too Lincoln, Paradise, 69).

In comparison with 5:6, Paul in this v makes several changes. He reverses the order of being at home and being away from home. The meanings of these two words were discussed above. In 5:6 to be in the body was a present reality, marked by a present participle; so to be away from the Lord was described in the finite present tense. But in 5:8 Paul uses the aorist infinitive (ἐκδημη̂σαι and ἐνδημη̂σαι, probably inceptive in nature) to signify a once-for-all turn of events. Death will usher the believer into the presence of the Lord. The phrase πρὸς τὸν κύριον suggests both motion toward (linear) and place of rest (punctiliar; Moule, Idiom Book, 52, 53; but both grammatical points are challenged by Harris, TynB 22 [1971] 46). This could also be Paul’s way of suggesting the intimate fellowship that awaits the Christian (Hughes, 178, n. 52; cf. Moulton, Grammar 2:467), thereby overcoming the lack of fellowship hinted at in 5:6. The point of 5:8 is clearly that there is an alternative to being away from the Lord. εὐδοκου̂μεν μα̂λλον, “we would rather,” suggests a distinct preference (so most commentators, but not Berry, “Death,” 65. Collange, Enigmes [233, 234] shows the weakness of this view; but doubts remain).

What comes as somewhat of a surprise is that Paul writes εὐδοκου̂μεν μα̂λλον, “we would rather” be away from the body. The surprise comes because it appears from 5:2–4 that Paul was fearing just this event. The event of his death suggested to him a bodiless state, a condition that he groaned to avoid. But in 5:8 he expresses the desire to enter that state. In short, Paul prefers nakedness to present life (Héring, 39). Hettlinger, “2 Cor 5:1–10” (176–79), is quick to point out that this “fondness” for the interim period negates the position that Paul considers nakedness a bodiless state. Why long for something that is feared? The point is that Paul sees nakedness as a state not to be feared ultimately because it looks forward to a prospect of embodiment.

To adopt this position, that 5:8 is a reversal of 5:3, or even more, a denial of our findings for 5:3, is to assume that Paul (or anyone) can hold only one view about a certain idea. This, as Berry suggests (66–68), is not necessarily so. Paul could easily have two minds about death. On the one hand, he could shrink from death, for it held possibilities that he would like to avoid. On the other hand, to be free from this body would lead to a greater level of fellowship with Christ since the Parousia would intervene, bringing to an end all the service “in the body.” In other words, to die was not the consummation of salvation for the Christian, but it was, in terms of fellowship with Christ, better than staying in the body. This is exactly his train of thought in Phil 1:20–26.

That Paul expressed his wish to depart from the body and to be with Christ is not to say he developed a death wish. His ministry was important to him as a sacred trust from God (4:1; 1 Thess 2:1–8; 1 Cor 9:23 ff.; cf. 2 Tim 4:7). This is seen especially in Phil 1:21–26 where Paul, for the sake of the Philippians, views staying alive as a benefit, even though he desires to be with Christ.

From this there appears little development in terms of Paul’s eschatology from 1 Thessalonians to 1 Corinthians 15 to 2 Corinthians 5:1–10 (Vos, Pauline Eschatology, 172–205). But Harris (TynB 22 [1971]) sees a movement in Paul’s thinking away from the apocalyptic idiom and hope of an imminent Parousia, intensely desired, based on a realization that death may well supervene for him before the end-time. So the movement is toward a more nuanced type of eschatological thought, where the future discloses more of what the present reality of Christ’s rule conceals. These “altered eschatological perspectives” (56) are due to Paul’s experience in 2 Corinthians 1:8–11 and his own expectancy of receiving a σω̂μα πνευματικόν at his death. Paul also abandoned the hope of “sleeping” in the grave or Sheol until the Parousia. What is missing, however, in Harris’s reconstruction is a concern to relate Paul’s teaching in 2 Cor 5 to the contingency of the situation at Corinth at this particular juncture of his apostolic ministry, and a recognition of the polemical character of his writing in these vv. Paul, increasingly aware of his feeble hold on life (4:7–12; 6:9) and the looming prospect of an imminent death, reflects on the seriousness of it and on the fact that the dead in Christ are with the Lord (Héring, 39; Barrett, 159; Lincoln, Paradise, 69–71). The same setting in Paul’s life is found in Phil 1:20–26; 2:17, and Rom 15:31. These writings, along with 2 Cor, conceivably come out of the same period of Paul’s experience of fear and isolation.

9. διὸ καὶ φιλοτιμούμεθα, “and so, our ambition is.” The use of διὸ alerts Paul’s reader that the apostle is ready to present a logical conclusion (Moule, Idiom Book, 164). Paul writes that it is the Christian’s ambition (φιλοτιμούμεθα) to please the Lord. The idea behind φιλοτιμει̂σθαι is “to aspire” (BGD, 861) or “to devote oneself zealously to a cause” (Hughes, 178, n. 54). The cause is to please (or be acceptable to BGD, 318) the Lord (εὐάρεστος τῳ̂ κυρίῳ εἰ̂ναι). See Rom 12:1 f.; 14:18; Phil 4:18; Col 3:20; Eph 5:10; Heb 13:21; 1 Clem 35:5 [62:2].

Paul also makes it clear, in light of 5:6–8, that it makes no difference what state the Christian may be in when the Parousia happens (εἴτε ἐνδημου̂ντες, εἴτε ἐκδημου̂ντες, “whether at home or away”; Kümmel notes [121] that these participles are the reverse of 5:6; but it appears to make little difference whether we supply “the body” or “the Lord”; see Barrett, 159). The condition of the believer at the Parousia is immaterial for the saving event (Conzelmann, Theology, 165; cf. 1 Thess 5:9, 10). Whether asleep or alive, the Christian will receive the resurrection body at the Parousia. The point is that (as will be expanded in 5:10) at all times the person should seek to please the Lord (cf. John 8:29; 1 John 3:22; Did. 4:12; Barn. 19:2).

We may ask, Was Paul suggesting that the dead in Christ, the persons in a state of nearer presence to Christ (Héring, 39), could possibly not please Christ? In other words, are the “naked” persons still involved in a struggle between doing right and wrong? It does not appear so. For one thing, if Paul did hold this, it would lessen the attraction of being at home with the Lord. Furthermore, as 5:10 will show, the judgment of Christians is restricted to “things done in the body.” This strongly suggests that there is no chance of doing wrong in the intermediate state, which logically leads us to conclude that there is no way to displease Christ once we are at home with him. Filson argues (230, 231) that Paul nowhere suggests a “moral striving” for those who are asleep in Christ. What he adds is the exhortation to make efficient use of the time left to one. At the point of receiving the letter, the Corinthians who read it were “alive.” Thus, Paul is saying in 5:9 that regardless of how the “end” comes about—through death or the Parousia—the Christian is not relieved of his or her responsibility to please the Lord. Until the end happens, Christians are responsible to account for their conduct, if it should fall below the standard of good behavior (5:10). The polemical point of this v is seen in Paul’s use of the verb φανερωθη̂ναι, “to appear,” in the next v, a term much in vogue at Corinth to denote the “God-manifest” character of Paul’s opponents (see on 4:2, 3). Paul’s word (δει̂: “it is necessary”) shows how he gave a special twist to the claim to reveal the divine presence in human life (see on 4:2). It is only by a life of goodness in the concrete situations of bodily existence (τὰ διὰ του̂ σώματος, and we note the P46 and Latin readings “in his own body”) that a person’s claim to be representing God is shown to be authentic. Paul has clearly put his adversaries in his sights here.

10. Paul concludes at 5:10, and reaches the end of the “digression” (if that is the right term) of 4:7–5:10 by setting before the Corinthians the stimulus for behavior that is pleasing to the Lord. Though the Christian’s future is secure no matter what his state at the Parousia, Paul writes against false security. (The first readers would be aware of 1 Cor 9:27, which suggests that the Christian could be “rejected” on the basis of conduct; Rissi, Studien, 98, suggests that faith must be renewed to the close of life.)

τοὺς γάρ πάντας, “for all of us,” denotes the sum total of Christians (Moulton, Grammar 3:203). That Paul considered all Christians liable to judgment is also evident from δει̂, “it is necessary.” The requirement is φανερωθη̂ναι, “to appear” (aorist infinitive), not in the sense of a simple “showing up” but in the sense of being laid bare, for all the world to see the true nature of one’s character (Hughes, 180; cf. 1 Sam 16:7; Heb 4:13; cf. 1 Cor 4:5). The place we stand is ἔμπροσθεν του̂ βήματος του̂ Χριστου̂, “before the judgment seat of Christ.” While God judges the world (Rom 3:6), Christ is named also as judge (Rom 2:16; cf. Matt 25:31; John 5:22; Rom 14:10). This does not appear to be a contradiction; it is rather a statement that God judges the world, but that he chooses to do so through Christ (Barrett, 160).

A question arises as to whether this judgment in 5:10 is universal or is restricted to Christians. From earlier Pauline writings, it appears that there is a judgment intended for Christians (Héring, 39; cf. 1 Cor 3:10–15). The possibility of not pleasing God while here in the body is put before the Corinthians as something to be avoided. The inference is that Paul’s desire is to please God, even if it means displeasing men (Collange, Enigmes, 243). We know from 1 Cor 3:10–15 that salvation is not lost simply because one believer’s life is not as pleasing as another one’s. But the solemnity of this judgment should not be overlooked either (Tasker, 82). The tribunal of Christ for the Christian is needed to complete God’s justice, both in terms of holiness and impartiality (see below). The life of faith does not free the Christian from the life of obedience (Hughes, 180 f.; cf. Tasker, 83; Denney, 185; and Bultmann, 146, denying any inconsistency between justification by faith alone and 5:10).

That God’s judgment is universal is seen in that no one escapes, not even Christians. ἕκαστος, “each one,” must stand before the judgment seat of Christ (see C. J. Roetzel, Judgement in the Community, 175, who brings out the polemical setting of v 10: at the judgment “Paul’s Gospel will receive its vindication and those who oppose him and his Gospel can expect eschatological ruin [φαυ̂λον],” a point of view ignored by L. Mattern, Das Verständnis des Gerichtes bei Paulus, 151–58). And though this idea of everyone receiving judgment takes in Christians, Plummer (157) correctly points out that judgment is not rendered en masse, but in each case, one by one (cf. “we all must appear”). The reason that all Christians (Bruce, 206) stand before Christ and are addressed individually (“ein jeder,” see Bornkamm, “Der Lohngedanke,” 74) is ἵνα κομίσηται, “in order to receive recompense.” The purpose of the “appointment” before Christ is heralded by the ἵνα clause. The Christian will receive (note how the use of the middle voice for κομίσηται stresses the action of the agent; this fits in well with the remainder of this verse) or “receive back” or “receive what is one’s own” (“reap” or “get back for one’s self,” Liddell and Scott 1:975, 76) “in proportion to his deeds” (Moule, Idiom Book, 53). The basis of this recompense for the Christian is τὰ διὰ του̂ σώματος πρὸς ἔπραξεν, “what he has done in the body.” The last phrase can refer to both deeds and words, since both are under the auspices of the Christian (Plummer, 58). (Note a textual consideration: ἵδια, added in some witnesses, intensifies the retributive form of κομίζεσθαι, but Hughes, 181, n. 57, submits that the optional reading does not affect the meaning; see Note d*). The διά could be instrumental (“by means of the body,” Barrett, 160) or temporal (“while in the body”). Both ideas amount to the same thing (Bultmann, 145). Though Paul would definitely not overlook the latter idea, the former seems more likely in light of the phrase πρὸς ἔπραξεν. The important point to note is the aorist tense of the verb rendered “receive.” Paul’s use of it strongly suggests a constative force. If so, the Christian’s behavior is viewed by Christ as a unity, and not as a concatenation of individual acts (Hughes, 181, n. 58). This is further seen in Paul’s statement εἵτε ἀγαθὸν εἵτε φαυ̂λον, “whether good or bad,” which he uses to describe ἔπραξεν. Plummer notes (158 f.) that “whether good or bad” is constructed with a change to the singular neuter. Thus, though each individual is judged on the basis of his or her behavior, the person’s habitual action, and not his individual acts, are the basis for judgment. Specifically, what is at issue is the reader’s attitude to Paul’s teaching at Corinth. Thus God’s judgment is also impartial, for what is due to a person is what is given that person.

But we should not characterize this recompense as solely a penal operation (Hughes, 181). Paul is suggesting that those who do well will receive good. This is consistent with his picture in 1 Cor 3:10–15. The Christians whose work turns out to be gold, silver, and costly stones, will receive their reward (1 Cor 3:14; cf. Matt 16:27). If, however, they build their Christian life with only wood, hay, or straw, though they escape with their life, they suffer loss (1 Cor 3:15). Since Paul urged his readers to please the Lord, there must be a “positive reinforcement” for just such action. The Christian is not excused from doing good, and is liable for his or her actions (Eph 6:8; Col 3:25).

In this verse Paul does not clearly indicate exactly when this manifestation will take place, whether at death or at the Parousia. But it is hard not to assume that the recompense follows closely on the heels of the appearance before Christ (Plummer, 159). Likewise, Paul does not explain the idea of reward (cf. 1 Cor 3:14) though whatever lies behind this concept surely includes God’s approval (Barrett, 1 Corinthians, 88, 89).


These verses (5:1–10) bring to a close Paul’s disquisition (4:7–5:10) on the question concerning why his ministry (and that of those with him) proceeds in spite of overwhelming odds and why it has its credentials in spite of his suffering. While the ministry of death (3:7) has a sign, the Torah, the Christian looks to the unseen world, for this is permanent (5:1). Paul has shown that the earthly body, though wasting away, is the home of the Spirit (cf. the idea in 1 Cor 6:19). The Spirit, the pledge from God, is the basis for believing that God has something better in store for his people. There will come the day when the Christian will receive his or her permanent dwelling, the spiritual body, from God. It is a future prospect, not a present possession as his opponents were laying claim to. And though Paul desires to put on the heavenly body over the earthly body and not see death (his constant exposure to risk, among many reasons, is the one reason that this would impugn even more his ministry in the eyes of his opponents), the Spirit is the proof that God will meet both the dead in Christ and those who are alive at the Parousia.

Though Paul digressed in these verses concerning his fear of the naked state, the theme, especially in the second half (5:6–10), was the hope of God and its impetus to constrain the Christian to practical obedience. Until death, or the Parousia, occurs, the Christian must seek to please the Lord, for the Christian stands accountable for his or her actions as a Christian.



10 5.10: Ro 14.10

[1]The Good News Bible : Today's English Version. 1992 (2 Co 4:16). New York: American Bible Society.

[2]The letters to the Corinthians. 2000, c1975 (W. Barclay, lecturer in the University of Glasgow, Ed.) (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The Daily study Bible series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

EvQ The Evangelical Quarterly

FRLANT Forschungen zur Religion und Literatur des Alten und Neuen Testaments (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck)

Th Theology

JBL Journal of Biblical Literature

CBQ Catholic Biblical Quarterly

WTJ Westminster Theological Journal

RSR Recherches de science religieuse

WUNT Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament (Tübingen: Mohr)

NTS New Testament Studies

ST Studia theologica

FS Festschrift, volume written in honor of

ed. edited, edition(s), editor

ATANT Abhandlungen zur Theologie des Alten und Neuen Testaments

Int Interpretation

RscPhTh Revue des Sciences Philosophiques et Théologiques

SBT Studies in Biblical Theology (London/Naperville, IL: SCM/Allenson)

SCM Student Christian Movement

EvT Evangelische Theologie

ETL Ephemerides theologicae lovanienses

BZNW Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft [ZNW]

a 11.a. The bulk of textual authorities read ἀεί, “always,” but p46 F G syrp Iren Tert Ambrosiaster have εἰ, “if.” If the latter is preferred, the reading will produce the following: “for if we as living persons are being handed over … it is that the life of Jesus may be displayed,” etc.


13.b. Lit., κατὰ τὸ γεγραμμένον runs “according to what has been written.” This is an unusual formula of citation to introduce OT Scripture; it is unique in the NT. Bultmann’s suggestion (123) is that it is a legal from, referring to A. Deissmann, Bible Studies, 250. But there are rabbinic parallels; cf. J. Bonsirven, Exégèse rabbinique et exégès paulinienne (Paris: Beauchesne et ses fils, 1939) 32; G. Schrenk, TDNT 1:749.

In translation a certain amount of paraphrase may be permitted here (so rsv; Barrett, “as that referred to in the Scripture Passage”; Héring, “which inspired the Scripture passage”; “of which Scripture speaks” is Collage’s rendering.)

c 14.c. The reading is “he who raised up the Lord Jesus” (τὸν κύριον ʼΙησου̂ν, by א C D G K L P Ψ TR and the main versions), but the shorter reading, attested by P46 B 33 has strong—if Alexandrian—support. Yet Origen and 1739 are witness for Caesarea, while there are Latin supports for the omission of κύριον, and cop and arm agree. The distribution of the data suggests that the original form of the text was τὸν ʼΙησου̂ν later expanded to include κύριον on grounds of piety and reverence. So Metzger, Textual Commentary, ad loc. See W. Kramer, Christ, Lord, Son of God, sec. 3h, and n. 738.

F Codex Ambrosíanus

G Greek translation: as published in Septuaginta, LXX ed. A. Rahlfs, 1935. In Daniel, G includes both OG and Th, as published in J. Ziegler’s ed., 1954.

syr Syriac language or text version of the OT, (as published in the Peshitta Insitute edition, 1980)

Lit. literally

OT Old Testament

NT New Testament

cf. confer, compare

TDNT G. Kittel and G. Friedrich, eds., tr. G. W. Bromiley Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 10 vols., ET (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964–76)

rsv Revised Standard Version (NT 1946, OT 1952, Apoc 1957)

אԠCodex Sinaiticus

C The Cairo Geniza

D Codex Bezae or Deuteronom(ist)ic

K Kethib (the written consonantal Hebrew text of OT)

L Leningrad Codes of MT (as published in BHS) or Codex Leningradensis, B19a

P Pesher (commentary)

TR Textus Receptus

B Codex Vaticanus

n. note

Diss. Dissertation

Ep. Epistle(s)

e.g. exempli gratia, for example

LXX The Septuagint, Greek translation of the OT

MT The Masoretic Text [of the Old Testament] (as published in BHS)

Str-B H. Strack and P. Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament, 4 vols. (Munich: Beck’sche, 1926–28)

i.e. id est, that is

NIDNTT C. Brown, ed., The New International Dictionary, of New Testament Theology, 3 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975–78)

BAR Biblical Archaeology Review or Biblical Archaeologist Reader

l longum (metrically long poetic line)

BGD W. Bauer, F. W. Gingrich and F. Danker, Greek-English Lexicon of the NT

esp. especially

NCB New Century Bible [Commentary] (new ed.)

ExpTim The Expository Times

ET English translation

BDF F. Blass, A. Debrunner, and R. W. Funk, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament (University of Chicago/University of Cambridge, 1961)

Philo, Philo, De Quod Deterius Potiori insidiari soleat

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neb The New English Bible

SANT Studien zum Alten und Neuen Testament

SJT Scottish Journal of Theology

BZET Beihefte zur Evangelische Theologie

Tr. translation, translator(s), translated by, transpose(s)

Exp The Expositor

CTM Concordia Theological Monthly

SPCK Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge

TynB Tyndale Bulletin

NT Novum Testamentum

AGJU Arbeiten zur Geschichte des antiken Judentums und des Urchristentums (Leiden/Cologne: Brill)

BGBE Beiträge zur Geschichte der biblischen Exegese

SNTSMS Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series

JTS Journal of Theological Studies

ExpT Expository Times

NovTSup Supplement(s) to Novum Testamentum

RHPR Revue d’histoire et de philosophic religieuses

ABR Australian Biblical Review

a 3.a. εἴπερ, found in P46 B D G, suggests more strongly that the “supposition agrees with the fact” (Liddell and Scott, 1:489). The text (εἴ γε) is supported by C and most of the mss But see M. J. Harris’s remark cited by Lincoln, Paradise, 212, n. 50. The context alone, however, can decide, as Thrall, Greek Particles, 86–91, allows.

b b. ἐνδυσάμενοι is found in P46 א B D2 (cf. rsv) and appears to be an older reading. ἐκδυσάμενοι is contained in a later MS such as D*. Plummer, 148, views the latter reading as an “early alteration to avoid apparent tautology.” On the basis of external evidence, he probably is correct (Barrett, 149, n. 2; Schmithals, Gnosticism, 263 f.). But to include the former one makes the apostle’s statement appear trite (Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament [New York: United Bible Societies, 1975] 579, 580—though Metzger himself disagrees with the decision of the committee); thus Bultmann (137, 138) argues that only the second reading is really clear. At this point, however, we opt for the first reading and depart from Aland’s 26th edition.

c c. The Western text (D F G lat) supports κατεργαζόμενος.

d d. P46 lat have τὰ ἴδια του̂ σώματος.

mss manuscript(s)

MS Monograph Series or Manuscript

lat Latin

Corp. Herm. Corpus Hermeticum

m. Mishna tractate Berakot

ibid. ibidem, in the same place

niv The New International Version (1978)

NICNT New International Commentary on the New Testament

Philo, Philo, De Legum Allegoriarum

contra in contrast to

Ep. Diognetus Epistle to Diognetus

1 Clem 1 Clement

Did. Didache

Barn. Barnabas

[3]Martin, R. P. (1998). Vol. 40: Word Biblical Commentary : 2 Corinthians (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

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