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5. Our Heavenly Dwelling

For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. 5Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. 6Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7(For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 9Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

11Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. 12For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart. 13For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. 14For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. 16Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. 17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

21. Him who knew no sin. Do you observe, that, according to Paul, there is no return to favor with God, except what is founded on the sacrifice of Christ alone? Let us learn, therefore, to turn our views in that direction, whenever we desire to be absolved from guilt. He now teaches more clearly, what we adverted to above — that God is propitious to us, when he acknowledges us as righteous. For these two things are equivalent — that we are acceptable to God, and that we are regarded by him as righteous.

To know no sin is to be free from sin. He says, then, that Christ, while he was entirely exempt from sin, was made sin for us. It is commonly remarked, that sin here denotes an expiatory sacrifice for sin, and in the same way the Latin’s term it, piaculum 566566     The Latin term piaculum is sometimes employed to denote a crime requiring expiation, and at other times, an expiatory victim. — Ed Paul, too, has in this, and other passages, borrowed this phrase from the Hebrews, among whom אשם (asham) denotes an expiatory sacrifice, as well as an offense or crime. 567567     Thus in Leviticus 5:6, אשם, (asham,) denotes a trespass-offering; and in the verse immediately following, it means an offense or trespass. See Calvin’s Institutes, volume 2. — Ed. But the signification of this word, as well as the entire statement, will be better understood from a comparison of both parts of the antithesis. Sin is here contrasted with righteousness, when Paul teaches us, that we were made the righteousness of God, on the ground of Christ’s having been made sin. Righteousness, here, is not taken to denote a quality or habit, but by way of imputation, on the ground of Christ’s righteousness being reckoned to have been received by us. What, on the other hand, is denoted by sin? It is the guilt, on account of which we are arraigned at the bar of God. As, however, the curse of the individual was of old cast upon the victim, so Christ’s condemnation was our absolution, and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5.)

The righteousness of God in him In the first place, the righteousness of God is taken here to denote — not that which is given us by God, but that which is approved of by him, as in John 12:43, the glory of God means — that which is in estimation with him — the glory of men denotes the vain applause of the world. Farther, in Romans 3:23, when he says, that we have come short of the glory of God, he means, that there is nothing that we can glory in before God, for it is no very difficult matter to appear righteous before men, but it is a mere delusive appearance of righteousness, which becomes at last the ground of perdition. Hence, that is the only true righteousness, which is acceptable to God.

Let us now return to the contrast between righteousness and sin How are we righteous in the sight of God? It is assuredly in the same respect in which Christ was a sinner. For he assumed in a manner our place, that he might be a criminal in our room, and might be dealt with as a sinner, not for his own offenses, but for those of others, inasmuch as he was pure and exempt from every fault, and might endure the punishment that was due to us — not to himself. It is in the same manner, assuredly, that we are now righteous in him — not in respect of our rendering satisfaction to the justice of God by our own works, but because we are judged of in connection with Christ’s righteousness, which we have put on by faith, that it might become ours. On this account I have preferred to retain the particle ἐν, (in,) rather than substitute in its place per, (through,) for that signification corresponds better with Paul’s intention. 568568     The force of the preposition ἐν (in,) as made use of by the Apostle in this passage, is more fully brought out by Beza in the following terms: “Justi apud Deum, et quidem justitia non nobis inh’rente, sed qu’, quum in Christo sit, nobis per fidem a Deo imputatur. Ideo enim additurn est: ἐν αὐτῷ Sic ergo sumus justitia Dei in ipso, ut ille est peccatum in nobis, nempe ex imputatione. Libet autem hic ex Augustino locum insignem exscribere, velut istius commentarium plenissimum. Sic igitur ille Serm. 5. de verbis Apostoli: Deus Pater eum, qui non noverat peccatum (nempe Iesum Christum) peccatum effecit,ut nos simus justitia Dei (non nostra) in ipso (non in nobis.) His adde Philippians 3:9;” — “Righteous before God, and that by a righteousness which is not inherent in us, but which, being in Christ, is imputed to us by God through faith. For it is on this account that it is added: ἐν αὐτῷ (in him.) We are, therefore, the righteousness of God in him in the same way as he is sin in us — by imputation. I may here quote a remarkable passage from Augustine, as a most complete commentary upon it. In Serm. 5 on the words of the Apostle he expresses himself thus: God the Father made him sin who had not known sin, (Jesus Christ,) that we might be the righteousness of God (not our own) in him (not in ourselves.) To these add Philippians 3:9.” — Ed.


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