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The House Not Made with Hands
Summary —The Groaning for Deliverance. The Divine Clothing for the Soul Which Has Laid Aside Its Mortal Tenement. Absent From the Body, but Present with the Lord. Appearing Before the Judgment Seat. Dying with Christ. New Creatures. The Ministry of Reconciliation.
1–4. For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle. Paul has spoken of looking for the things that are unseen and eternal (4:18). He now describes the body as only a tent dwelling, a temporary abode, in which we are camping during a journey. If death should come and the body be dissolved, there is another dwelling for the redeemed, “the spiritual body” described in 1 Cor. 15:44, a heavenly and eternal body. To the saint, death is the exchange of the earthly tent dwelling for this eternal spiritual body. 2. For in this we groan. While in this fragile, suffering earthly body, Paul longed for the deliverance from it and “for the house not made with hands,” the spiritual body. Clothed upon. The thought is that when the spirit leaves the mortal clay, it lays off an old and worn-out clothing, and is to be clothed upon, or invested in, its divine clothing. 3. If so be that, being clothed, we shall not be found naked. This shall come to pass, provided the spirit is clothed with a spiritual body at the resurrection, and not disembodied or naked. This is an allusion to the errors so prevalent at Corinth which he had combated in 1 Cor. ch. 15. It was a Greek theory that when the spirit left the mortal body that it remained without a body, but Paul says: “If we too, clothed upon, shall not be without an immortal body.” See Meyer on this passage. Many hold that Paul's language is due to the belief that they would meet the Lord in the mortal body in that age at his speedy coming. This, I am sure, is a wrong interpretation. 4. For we that are in this tabernacle. This tent dwelling for the journey. Do groan, being burdened. Groan for deliverance from it, because the burden is so heavy. Not that we would be unclothed. It is not that we wish to be freed from a body, but we wish a better one; to lay off the old raiment that we may be clothed upon with the heavenly raiment, the spiritual body, in order that “this mortal shall put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:53). 141
5–9. He that wrought us for this self-same thing. Gave us this longing for immortality. God not only gave it, but the earnest of the spirit, a sure proof of the fulfillment of all that he has promised. 6. Therefore we are always confident. Because of what is stated in verse 5. Paul knew, when danger threatened, that to be in the body was to be absent from the Lord's presence, and that if he was slain and thus left the body, he would go at once to the presence of the Lord. 7. For we walk by faith, not by sight. It is by faith here that we see the Lord, though absent from him. 8. We are confident. In the face of every peril, because we know that death, an absence from the body, would be to be present with the Lord. Note here the doctrine of the immaterial nature of the human spirit. It puts aside the body to be clothed with a new garment. It is absent from the body but present with the Lord. The body is not essential to its conscious existence. It does not sleep because the body sleeps. To Paul, death meant to be present at once with Christ, leaving the body behind. He labored (verse 9) so that, whether present in the body or absent from it, he might be accepted with Christ.
10–13. For we must all appear before the judgment seat. This is a stimulus to labor so as to be accepted by Christ (verse 9). The object of this judgment is that he may reap the fruits of what he has done in the body. The language here implies that our probation ends with our earthly life. 11. Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord. Fearing the Lord and accountable to him, he seeks to discharge his ministry by persuading men. See the Revision. We are made manifest to God. He sees our whole life and knows our motives as well as our deeds. I trust also. His life was known to God and approved. He hoped, too, that it was known to the saints at Corinth and that he had a witness in their conscience, in the effect of his preaching. 12. We commend not ourselves, but rather gives them an opportunity of glorying over his work and life so that they can answer the false teachers who assail him. 13. If we are beside ourselves. See Acts 26:24. The same charge had probably been made at Corinth. If it were true, it was due to his zeal for God or to the power of God. If at other times he was the opposite, sober, it was all that he might calmly reason with them and win them. His trances, visions and revelations his enemies imputed to madness. 142
14–16. For the love of Christ constraineth us. It was the power that moved him in all his conduct. That one died for all, therefore all died (Revision). I thus judge that if Christ died for all, all in Christ have died with him to a life of sin. Baptized into his death we must be dead to sin. The next verse shows that this is the meaning. Compare Rom. 6:3, 4, 6, 11 and Gal. 5:4. 15. And he died for all, etc. He died with this end in view, that those for whom he died and had life through him should not live for themselves, but for him who died for them. Thus Paul lived. His life was a consecrated life. 16. Wherefore we henceforth know no man after the flesh. As all have died to live new lives for Christ, they are not Jews and Gentiles; Romans, Greeks or Scythians, but all are Christians, not to be known as belonging to the old fleshly races longer. Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh. The Christ risen and sitting on the throne as our Lord is not in the flesh, and the Christ to whom the church adores is that risen Christ.
17–21. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Because, crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6), buried into his death (Rom. 6:4), we have died with Christ (verse 14), and risen to walk in a new life (Rom. 6:4). The old life ended when we died and were buried. Born anew, we are new creatures who must live a new life. All things are become new. The affections, the motives, the thoughts, the hopes, the whole life. 18. And all things are of God. These have all come from God through the gospel, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ. Before we were at variance with God, and disobedient. Through Christ we have been brought to love God, to love his will, and hence to obey him. We have been changed, are new creatures. The ministry of reconciliation. The gospel, the object of which is to transform men, and to bring them to peace with God. 19. That God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself. This explains more fully the ministry of reconciliation. It was not God who was to be reconciled, but the world. In Christ it is offered peace and shown the love of God. The ministry of reconciliation is to persuade men to accept God's love and mercy, and to repent so that he can forgive their trespasses. 20. Then we are ambassadors. We have God's message, are his authorized messengers, and speak for God, beseeching you for Christ, and in his name, to be reconciled to God by repentance and the obedience of faith. 21. Hath made him … who knew no sin. As a sinless substitute he suffered for 143our sins, that our sins might thus be atoned for, the law satisfied, and we be forgiven and accounted righteous. Since we die with Christ, in him we pay the penalty, and are justified. 143
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