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For we know that if the tent which is our earthly home is destroyed (dissolved), we have from God a building, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Here indeed, in this [present abode, body], we sigh and groan inwardly, because we yearn to be clothed over [we yearn to put on our celestial body like a garment, to be fitted out] with our heavenly dwelling,

So that by putting it on we may not be found naked (without a body).

For while we are still in this tent, we groan under the burden and sigh deeply (weighed down, depressed, oppressed)—not that we want to put off the body (the clothing of the spirit), but rather that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal (our dying body) may be swallowed up by life [[a]after the resurrection].

Now He Who has fashioned us [preparing and making us fit] for this very thing is God, Who also has given us the [Holy] Spirit as a guarantee [of the fulfillment of His promise].

So then, we are always full of good and hopeful and confident courage; we know that while we are at home in the body, we are abroad from the home with the Lord [that is promised us].

For we walk by faith [we [b]regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance.

[Yes] we have confident and hopeful courage and are pleased rather to be away from home out of the body and be at home with the Lord.

Therefore, whether we are at home [on earth away from Him] or away from home [and with Him], we are constantly ambitious and strive earnestly to be pleasing to Him.

10 For we must all appear and be revealed as we are before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive [his pay] according to what he has done in the body, whether good or evil [considering [c]what his purpose and motive have been, and what he has [d]achieved, been busy with, and given himself and his attention to accomplishing].

11 Therefore, being conscious of fearing the Lord with respect and reverence, we seek to win people over [to persuade them]. But [e]what sort of persons we are is plainly recognized and thoroughly understood by God, and I hope that it is plainly recognized and thoroughly understood also by your consciences (your inborn discernment).

12 We are not commending ourselves to you again, but we are providing you with an occasion and incentive to be [rightfully] proud of us, so that you may have a reply for those who pride themselves on surface appearances [[f]on the virtues they only appear to have], although their heart is devoid of them.

13 For if we are beside ourselves [mad, as some say], it is for God and concerns Him; if we are in our right mind, it is for your benefit,

14 For the love of Christ controls and urges and impels us, because we are of the opinion and conviction that [if] One died for all, then all died;

15 And He died for all, so that all those who live might live no longer to and for themselves, but to and for Him Who died and was raised again for their sake.

16 Consequently, from now on we estimate and regard no one from a [purely] human point of view [in terms of natural standards of value]. [No] even though we once did estimate Christ from a human viewpoint and as a man, yet now [we have such knowledge of Him that] we know Him no longer [in terms of the flesh].

17 Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!

18 But all things are from God, Who through Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself [received us into favor, brought us into harmony with Himself] and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation [that by word and deed we might aim to bring others into harmony with Him].

19 It was God [personally present] in Christ, reconciling and restoring the world to favor with Himself, not counting up and holding against [men] their trespasses [but cancelling them], and committing to us the message of reconciliation (of the restoration to favor).

20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors, God making His appeal as it were through us. We [as Christ’s personal representatives] beg you for His sake to lay hold of the divine favor [now offered you] and be reconciled to God.

21 For our sake He made Christ [virtually] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [[g]endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of] the righteousness of God [what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness].


  1. 2 Corinthians 5:4 Joseph Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon.
  2. 2 Corinthians 5:7 Joseph Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon.
  3. 2 Corinthians 5:10 Alexander Souter, Pocket Lexicon of the Greek New Testament.
  4. 2 Corinthians 5:10 Joseph Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon.
  5. 2 Corinthians 5:11 Joseph Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon.
  6. 2 Corinthians 5:12 Joseph Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon.
  7. 2 Corinthians 5:21 Henry Alford, The Greek New Testament, with Notes.

Living by Faith

We are convinced that even if these bodies we live in are folded up at death like tents, we will still have a God-built home that no human hands have built, which will last forever in the heavenly realm. We inwardly sigh[a] as we live in these physicaltents,” longing to put on a new body for our life in heaven, in the belief that once we put on our new “clothing” we won’t find ourselves “naked.” So, while living in this “tent,” we groan under its burden, not because we want to die but because we want these new bodies. We crave for all that is mortal to be swallowed up by eternal life. And this is no empty hope, for God himself is the one who has prepared us for this wonderful destiny. And to confirm this promise, he has given us the Holy Spirit, like an engagement ring, as a guarantee.[b]

That’s why we’re always full of courage. Even while we’re at home in the body, we’re homesick to be with the Master— for we live by faith, not by what we see with our eyes. We live with a joyful confidence, yet at the same time we take delight in the thought of leaving our bodies behind to be at home with the Lord. So whether we live or die[c] we make it our life’s passion[d] to live our lives pleasing to him.[e] 10 For one day we will all be openly revealed before Christ on his throne[f] so that each of us will be duly recompensed for our actions done in life,[g] whether good or worthless.

The Message of Reconciliation

11 Since we are those who stand in holy awe of the Lord,[h] we make it our passion to persuade others to turn to him. We know that our lives are transparent before the God who knows us fully, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences. 12 Again, we are not taking an opportunity to brag, but giving you information that will enable you to be proud of us, and to answer those who esteem outward appearances while overlooking what is in the heart.

13 If we are out of our minds in a blissful, divine ecstasy,[i] it is for God, but if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. 14 For it is Christ’s love that fuels our passion and holds us tightly,[j] because we are convinced that he has given his life for all of us. This means all died with him, 15 so that those who live[k] should no longer live self-absorbed lives but lives that are poured out for him—the one who died for us and now lives again. 16 So, from now on, we refuse to evaluate people merely by their outward appearances. For that’s how we once viewed the Anointed One, but no longer do we see him with limited human insight.[l]

17 Now, if anyone is enfolded into Christ, he has become an entirely new person. All that is related to the old order has vanished.[m] Behold, everything is fresh and new.[n] 18 And God has made all things new,[o] and reconciled[p] us to himself, and given us the ministry of reconciling others to God. 19 In other words, it was through the Anointed One that God was shepherding the world,[q] not even keeping records of their transgressions, and he has entrusted to us the ministry of opening the door of reconciliation to God.[r] 20 We are ambassadors[s] of the Anointed One who carry the message of Christ to the world, as though God were tenderly pleading[t] with them directly through our lips. So we tenderly plead with you on Christ’s behalf, “Turn back to God and be reconciled to him.” 21 For God made[u] the only one who did not know sin to become sin for us,[v] so that we might become the righteousness of God through our union with him.[w]


  1. 5:2 The Aramaic uses the phrase “to sigh and yearn.”
  2. 5:5 By giving us the Holy Spirit, God is making us a promise, a guarantee of receiving our full inheritance. The Greek word for “down payment” (or “pledge”) is arrabōn and is used in Greek culture for “engagement ring.”
  3. 5:9 Or “at home or away from home.”
  4. 5:9 Or “our driving ambition.”
  5. 5:9 Or “in full agreement with him.”
  6. 5:10 Or “judgment seat.”
  7. 5:10 Or “done in the body” or “time spent in the body.” The judgment for our sins fell upon Christ on the cross, and the believer will never be judged for his sins. This judgment (scrutinizing) is for rewards. There will be different levels of reward given to believers after death. For some, there will be no reward, yet they will still be saved. See Rom. 14:10–12; 1 Cor. 3:10–15.
  8. 5:11 Although the Greek word phobos is usually associated with fear or dread, the classic use of the word is “deepest awe/respect.” See 1 John 4:18.
  9. 5:13 The Greek word existēmi means to be outside of one’s self in a state of blissful ecstasy and filled with pleasure. It is to come into another state of consciousness of being lost in wonder and amazement.
  10. 5:14 Paul uses the Greek word synechō (syn = “together with”; echō is where we get our English word echo), which is translated as “seize,” “compel,” “urge,” “control,” “lay hold of,” “overwhelm,” “to be held together,” “to grip tightly,” “completely dominate.” Paul is stating that the motivating passion of his life is Christ’s love filling his heart, leaving him no choice but to surrender everything to God. Paul gives us seven empowering motivations by which we are to live our lives: (1) the Holy Spirit—v. 5, (2) faith—v. 7, (3) a joyful confidence that we have new bodies waiting for us in heaven—v. 8, (4) our life’s passion to live for Christ—v. 9, (5) the knowledge of our appointment to stand before Christ—v. 10, (6) our holy awe of God—v. 11, (7) Christ’s endless love for us—v. 14.
  11. 5:15 Or “and he died for all so that those who live.” The repetitive phrase from v. 14 has been enfolded into the verse for the sake of English clarity.
  12. 5:16 From man’s point of view, Christ was a blasphemer and false teacher. Yet when we see him from the eyes of faith, we view him as the pure and holy one, God’s Son.
  13. 5:17 This would include our old identity, our life of sin, the power of Satan, the religious works of trying to please God, our old relationship with the world, and our old mind-sets. We are not reformed or simply refurbished, we are made completely new by our union with Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
  14. 5:17 Or “Behold, a new order has come!”
  15. 5:18 As translated from the Aramaic and implied in the Greek.
  16. 5:18 Or “who has restored us to friendship with God.”
  17. 5:19 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them.”
  18. 5:19 As translated from the Aramaic.
  19. 5:20 To be ambassadors for Christ means that we are his diplomatic agents of the highest rank sent to represent King Jesus and authorized to speak on his behalf. We are the voice of heaven to the earth, invested with royal power through the name of Jesus and authority of his blood.
  20. 5:20 Or “begging.”
  21. 5:21 The Greek word Paul uses is poieō, a verb that, when nominalized, is poiema (poem, or poetry). Christ is God’s poetic masterpiece who became the glorious sacrifice for sin. Though disturbing to the eyes of man, God saw the work of redemption culminated in the masterful poetry of his Son suspended on a cross to give us heaven’s righteousness. Read Isa. 52:10–53:12.
  22. 5:21 Or “the sin offering.” See Ex. 29:14; Lev. 4:3; Num. 8:8; Eph. 5:2.
  23. 5:21 This one verse is perhaps the greatest verse in the New Testament to describe our salvation through the sinless Savior and his substitutionary death on the cross. A wonderful divine exchange took place at the cross. All of our sins were left there, our guilt was removed and forever gone, and we walked away with all of God’s righteousness. What bliss is ours! Every believer today possesses the perfect and complete righteousness of Christ. We are seen by the Father as righteous as his Son.