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Friday, December 1st, 2023
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 5

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

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Verse 1

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.

Hence, arises his ambition to be accepted at the Lord's coming judgment. Hence, too, his dealing openly with men, as with God, in preaching: thus giving the Corinthians whereof to boast concerning him against his adversaries. His constraining motive is the transforming love of Christ, by whom God has worked reconciliation between Himself and men, and has committed to the apostle the ministry of reconciliation.

For. The reason for the statement (2 Corinthians 4:17) that affliction leads to exceeding glory.

We know - assuredly (2 Corinthians 4:14; Job 19:25). if. For all shall not die; many shall be "changed" without 'dissolution' (1 Corinthians 15:51-53), if this daily delivering unto death (2 Corinthians 3:11) should end in actual death.

Earthly, [ epigeios (G1919)] - not the same as earthy (1 Corinthians 15:47): in contrast to "in the heavens."

House of this tabernacle - rather, 'house of the tabernacle.' "House" expresses more permanency than belongs to the body; therefore the qualification, "of this tabernacle" (implying what is shifting, not stationary) is added: this tabernacle-like house (cf. Job 4:19; 2 Peter 1:13-14). In the tabernacle in the wilderness, the wooden frame and curtains wore out in time; and when Israel dwelt in Canaan a fixed temple was substituted for it. The temple and the tabernacle in all essentials were one: there were the same ark, the same cloud of glory. Such is the relation between the "earthly" and the resurrection body. The Holy Spirit is enshrined in the believer's body as in a sanctuary (1 Corinthians 3:16). As the ark went first in taking down the tabernacle, so the soul (which, like the ark, is sprinkled with blood of atonement, and is the sacred deposit in the inmost shrine, 2 Timothy 1:12) in the dissolution of the body; next the coverings were removed, answering to the flesh; lastly, the framework and boards, answering to the bones, the last to give way, (Numbers 4:1-49) Paul, as a tentmaker, uses an image from his trade (Acts 18:3).

Dissolved - a mild word for the death of believers.

We have - in assured prospect, as certain as if it were in our hands, laid up "in the heavens" for us. The tense is present (cf. John 3:36; John 6:47): not that the dissolution of the earthly, and the having the heavenly habitation, are simultaneous.

A building of God - Greek, 'from God.' A solid building, not a temporary tabernacle or tent. "Our" body stands in contrast to 'from God.' Though our present body be also from God, yet it is not fresh and perfect from His hands, as our resurrection body shall be.

Not made with hands - contrasted with houses erected by man's hands (1 Corinthians 15:44-49). So Christ's body is designated, as contrasted with the tabernacle reared by Moses (Mark 14:58; Hebrews 9:11). Our resurrection body, in contrast to the "earthly house of this tabernacle," our present body. The intermediate state is not directly taken into account. A comma should separate "eternal" and "in the heavens."

Verse 2

For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:

For in this - Greek, 'For also in this;' "herein" (2 Corinthians 8:10). Alford takes it, 'in this' tabernacle (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:4). But the parallelism is sufficiently exact by making "in this we groan" refer generally to what was just said (2 Corinthians 5:1) - namely, that we long to have our 'house in the heavens.' "We groan" under the body's weaknesses and mortality.

Earnestly desiring to be clothed upon, [Greek middle: ependusasthai (G1902)] - 'earnestly longing to have ourselves clothed upon'-namely, being found alive at Christ's coming, so to escape dissolution by death (2 Corinthians 5:1; 2 Corinthians 5:4), and to have our heavenly body put on over the earthly. The groans of the saints prove their longing desire for the heavenly glory-a desire which, as created by God, cannot be doomed to disappointment.

Our house. Different Greek [ oiketeerion (G3613)] from that in 2 Corinthians 5:1 [ oikia (G3614)]. Translate, 'our habitation,' 'our domicile:' it more distinctly refers to the inhabitant than the general "house" (2 Corinthians 5:1) (Bengel).

From heaven. This 'domicile' is "from heaven" in its origin; and is to be brought to us by Christ at His coming "from heaven" (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Therefore it is not heaven itself.

Verse 3

If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.

If so be ... [B Delta G read ei (G1487) per (G4007), provided that, if so be: 'Aleph (') C, ei-ge (G1489), seeing that, since.] Our 'desire' holds good should Christ's coming find us alive. Translate, 'that is [ kai (G2532)], if so be that having had ourselves (already) clothed (with our natural body, cf. 2 Corinthians 5:4), we shall not be found naked,' (stripped of it). Olshausen takes it improbably, 'having put on the robe of righteousness.'

Verse 4

For 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.

For resuming 2 Corinthians 5:2 For - resuming 2 Corinthians 5:2.

Burdened: not for that - rather, 'in that we desire not [ ef (G1909) hoo (G3739) ou (G3756) thelomen (G2309)] to have ourselves unclothed (of our present body), but clothed upon,' or 'over' (with our heavenly body).

That mortality ... - rather, 'that what is mortal [our mortal part: to thneeton] may be swallowed up of (transformed into) life' (1 Corinthians 15:54). Believers shrink from, not the consequences, but the act of dying; especially as believing in the possibility of being found alive at the Lord's coming (1 Thessalonians 4:15), and of having their mortal body absorbed into the immortal without death. Like Elijah, they wish to have the heavenly body drawn over the mortal body like a garment. Faith does not divest us of natural feeling, but subordinates it to higher feeling. Scripture gives no sanction to the philosophers' contempt for the body.

Verse 5

Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.

Wrought us - framed us by redemption, justification, and sanctification.

For (unto) the self-same thing - namely, unto our mortal part being swallowed up in life (2 Corinthians 5:4).

Who also. So C. But 'Aleph (') B omit "also:" inasmuch as He has given unto us.

Earnest of the Spirit (note, 2 Corinthians 1:22). It is the Spirit (as "the first-fruits") who creates in us the groaning desire for our coming deliverance and glory (Romans 8:23).

Verse 6

Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:

Greek, 'Being therefore always confident and knowing,' etc. He intended the verb 'we are willing' ('well content') [ eudokoumen (G2106)] to follow; but digressing on the word "confident" (2 Corinthians 5:6-7), he resumes it in the form of an assertion-`We are confident and well content.'

Always, [ pantote (G3842)] - under all trials. Bengel makes the contrast between "always confident" and "confident," especially at the prospect of being "absent from the body," etc. While then being confident at all times, yet [ de (G1161), 2 Corinthians 5:8 ] we are especially confident in the hope of a blessed departure. Whilst we are at home ... we are absent - Greek, 'while sojourning in our home [ endeemountes (G1736)] in the body, we are away from our home [ ekdeemoumen (G1553)] in the Lord.' The image from a "house" is retained (cf. Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 11:13-16; Hebrews 13:14).

Verse 7

(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

We walk - in our Christian course on earth.

By faith, [ dia (G1223) pisteoos (G4102)] - in a medium or state of faith.

Not by sight, [ dia (G1223) eidous (G1491)] - 'not by appearance.' Our life is pervaded by faith in our immortal hope: not by the specious appearance of present things (Tittmann) (cf. Septuagint, Numbers 12:8). 2 Corinthians 4:18 confirms the English version (cf. Romans 8:24; 1 Corinthians 13:12-13). God has appointed in this life faith for our great duty; and in the next, vision for our reward (South) (1 Peter 1:8).

Verse 8

We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

Willing - literally, 'well content.' Translate, 'to go from our home [ ekdeemeesai (G1553)] in the body, and to come to our home [endeemeesai] with the Lord.' We prefer to be found alive at the Lord's coming, and to be clothed upon with our heavenly body (2 Corinthians 5:2-4). But feeling the sojourn in the body to be a separation from our true home "with the Lord," we prefer even dissolution, so that in the intermediate disembodied state we may go to be "with the Lord" (Philippians 1:23). "To depart and be with Christ" (the disembodied state) is distinguished from Christ's coming to take us to be with Him in soul and body (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17). Perhaps the disembodied spirits of believers have full communion with Christ unseen; but not mutual recognition, until clothed with their visible bodies at the resurrection, when they shall recognize Christ's image in each other perfect.

Verse 9

Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. Wherefore - With such a 'confidence' of being blessed, whether we die, or live until Christ's coming.

We labour, [ philotimoumetha (G5389)] - 'make it our ambition:' the only lawful ambition.

Whether present (with the Lord, 2 Corinthians 5:8 ) or absent (from the Lord's immediate presence).

Accepted, [ euarestoi (G2101)] - 'well-pleasing.'

Verse 10

For 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.

Appear, [ fanerootheenai (G5319)] - 'be made manifest;' namely, in our true character. Not 'be judged:' for in one sense the righteous are not judged (1 Corinthians 6:2-3). So Greek, Colossians 3:4 (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:5). We are at all times 'manifest' to God; then we shall be so to the assembled intelligent universe and to ourselves; for the judgment shall be not only in order to assign the everlasting portion to each, but to vindicate God's righteousness, so that it shall be manifest to all His creatures, and even to the sinner himself.

Receive - his reward of grace proportioned to "the things done," etc. (2 Corinthians 9:6-9; 2 John 1:8): the saved may have a greater or less reward, according as he lives to, and labours for, Christ more or less. Hence, there is scope for the holy 'ambition' (note, 2 Corinthians 5:9; Hebrews 6:10). This verse guards against supposing that all share in the house "from heaven" (2 Corinthians 5:1-2). A searching judgment shall sever the bad from the good, according to their respective deeds (Ephesians 6:8; Colossians 3:25), the motive being taken into account, not the mere external act; faith and love to God are the sole motives recognized as sound (Matthew 12:36-37; Matthew 25:35-45).

Done in his body. The Greek may be, 'by the instrumentality of the body' [dia tou soomatos]; but the English version is legitimate (cf. Greek, Romans 2:27). Justice requires that essentially the same body, the instrument of the unbeliever's sin, should be the object of punishment. The unbeliever's own sin he shall "receive" as its punishment (Jeremiah 2:19): the good deeds of the righteous shall in part be their reward (Isaiah 3:9-11; Revelation 22:11-12).

Verse 11

Knowing 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.

Terror of the Lord - the coming judgment so terrible to unbelievers (Estius). But Bengel, 'the fear of the Lord' (2 Corinthians 7:1; Ecclesiastes 12:13; Acts 9:31; Romans 3:18; Ephesians 5:21). Persuade. Ministers should use the terrors of the Lord to persuade men, not to rouse their enmity (Jude 1:23). Alford, "persuade men" by our whole lives-namely, of our integrity as ministers. But this would have been expressed after "persuade" had it been the sense. The connection is: He was accused of seeking to please men, he therefore says (cf. Galatians 1:10), 'It is as knowing the terror (or fear) of the Lord that we persuade men; BUT (whether men who hear our preaching think us sincere or not) we are made manifest unto God as such (2 Corinthians 4:2); and I trust also in your consciences.' Those so 'manifested' need have no "terror" as to their being 'manifested before the judgment-seat' (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Verse 12

For 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.

For. The reason why he leaves the manifestation of his sincerity to their consciences (2 Corinthians 3:1) - namely, his not wishing to "commend" himself again.

Occasion to glory (2 Corinthians 1:14) - namely, as to our sincerity.

In appearance - Greek 'face' (cf. 1 Samuel 16:7). The false teachers gloried in their personal appearance, and in external recommendations (2 Corinthians 11:18) - their learning, eloquence, etc.-not in religion of heart. Their conscience does not attest their sincerity as mine does (2 Corinthians 1:12).

Verse 13

For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.

Be, [ exesteemen (G1839)] - 'have been' in your opinion. The contrast is between the single act (the past tense), 'If we have ever been beside ourselves,' and the habitual state (the present), 'or whether we be sober' [ soofronoumen (G4993)] - i:e., of sound mind-namely, in your estimation, in both cases.

Beside ourselves - the accusation brought by Festus (Acts 26:24). The holy enthusiasm with which he spake of what God effected by his apostolic ministry seemed to many to be boasting madness.

Sober - humbling myself before you, not using may apostolic power.

To God ... for your cause. The glorifying of his office was not for his own, but for God's glory (2 Corinthians 4:7). The abasing of himself was to meet their infirmity and gain them to Christ (1 Corinthians 9:22).

Verse 14

For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

For - accounting for his being 'beside himself' with enthusiasm: the love of Christ toward us, the highest proof of which is His death for us (Romans 5:6-8), producing in turn love in us to him, and not "terror" (2 Corinthians 5:11).

Constraineth us - compresses [ sunechei (G4912)] with irresistible power all our energies into one channel (Acts 18:5, "pressed in the spirit:" the same Greek). Love is jealous of any rival object engrossing the soul (2 Corinthians 11:1-3).

Because we thus judge - literally, (as) 'having judged thus;' a judgment formed at conversion, and ever since regarded as a settled truth.

That if - i:e., that since [ ei (G1487), with the indicative]. So C, Vulgate. But 'Aleph (') B Delta G f g omit "if:" 'that one died for all' [ huper (G5228), 'in behalf of all']. The object of His vicarious death was not that He should be by Himself, but have many to live to and with Him (John 12:24). 'Therefore all (literally, 'the all'-namely, for whom He "died") died.' His dying is the same as if they all died. In their so dying, they died to sin and self, that they might live to God their Redeemer, whose henceforth they are (Romans 6:2-11; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:3; 1 Peter 4:1-3).

Verse 15

And 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.

They which live - in the present life (2 Corinthians 4:11) (Alford). Rather, who are thus indebted to Him for life of soul as well as body.

Died for them. He does not add, 'rose again for them,' which is not a Pauline phrase, He died in their stead, He rose again for their good, "for (the manifestation of) their justification" (Romans 4:25), and that He might be their Lord (Romans 14:7-9). Alford joins "for them" with both "died" and "rose again:" as Christ's death is our death, so His resurrection is our resurrection. But His death for us is propitiatory and vicarious: His resurrection not so, but vivifying to us (Ephesians 1:19-20). Greek, 'who for them died and rose again.'

Not henceforth, [ meeketi (G3371)] - 'no longer;' namely, now that His death for them has taken place, and that they know His death saves them from death eternal, and His resurrection brings spiritual and everlasting life to them.

Verse 16

Wherefore 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.

Wherefore - because of our settled judgment (2 Corinthians 5:14).

Henceforth - since our knowing Christ's constraining love (2 Corinthians 5:14).

Know we no man after the flesh - answering to "old things" (2 Corinthians 5:17); i:e., according to his mere worldly relations (2 Corinthians 11:18; John 8:15; Philippians 3:4): with a view to 'glorying in outward things' (2 Corinthians 5:12); distinguished from what he is according to the Spirit, as a "new creature" (2 Corinthians 5:17). For instance, the outward distinctions, Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, slave or free, learned or unlearned, are lost sight of in the higher life of those dead in Christ's death and alive with Him in the new life of His resurrection (Galatians 2:6; Galatians 3:28).

Yea, though. So C. But 'Aleph (') B G g, Vulgate, read 'if even,' omitting "yea" [ de (G1161), but].

Known Christ after the flesh. Paul when a Jew had looked for a temporal reigning, not a spiritual Messiah. (He says "Christ," not Jesus: for he had not known Jesus in the days of His flesh, but had looked for Christ, the Messiah.) When once converted, he no longer "conferred with flesh and blood" (Galatians 1:16). He had this advantage over the Twelve, that as "one born out of due time" he had only known Christ in His heavenly life. To the Twelve it was 'expedient that Christ should go away' that the Comforter should come, and so they might know Christ in the higher spiritual aspect, in His new life-giving power, and not merely in the carnal aspect of Him (Romans 6:9-11; 1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 Peter 4:1-2). Judaizing Christians prided themselves on the fleshly (2 Corinthians 11:18) advantage of belonging to Israel, the nation of Christ, or on having seen Him in the flesh, and thence claimed superiority over others as having a nearer connection with Him (2 Corinthians 5:12; 2 Corinthians 10:7). Paul shows the true aim, to know Him spiritually as new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:15; 2 Corinthians 5:17); outward relations toward Him profit nothing (Luke 8:19-21; John 16:7; John 16:22; Philippians 3:3-10). This disproves both Romish Mariolatry and transubstantiation. The first verb [ oidamen (G1492)] ("know we no man") means 'we know by the senses as an acquaintance;' the latter [ egnookamen (G1097)] ("known Christ ... know ... no more") is to know mentally, to estimate. Paul's estimate of Christ, the expected Messiah, was carnal, but is so now no more.

Verse 17

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Therefore. Connected with 2 Corinthians 5:16, 'We know Christ no more after the flesh.' As Christ has entered on His new heavenly life by His resurrection, so all who are "in Christ" (i:e., by faith, as the branch is IN the vine) are new creatures (Romans 6:5-11). "New" [ kainee (G2537)] implies a new nature quite different from any previously existing: not merely recent [nea], a different Greek word (Galatians 6:15).

Creature, [ ktisis (G2937)] - 'creation,' and so the creature resulting from it (cf. John 3:3; John 3:5; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 4:23; Colossians 3:10-11). As we are "in Christ," so "God was in Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:19): hence, He is mediator between God and us.

Old things - selfish, carnal views (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:16) of ourselves, of others, and of Christ.

Passed away - spontaneously, like the snow of early spring before the advancing sun.

Behold (Isaiah 43:19; Isaiah 65:17).

Verse 18

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

All [THE, Greek] things - all our privileges in this new creation (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

Reconciled us, [ katallaxantos (G2644)] - restored us ("the world," 2 Corinthians 5:19) to His favour by satisfying the claims of justice against us. The aorist implies that the reconciliation is a past accomplished fact. Our position judicially considered in the eye of the law is altered, not as though Christ's mediation made a change in God's character, nor as if the love of God was produced by it: nay, the mediation and sacrifice of Christ were the provision of God's love, not its moving cause (Romans 8:32). Christ's blood was the price paid at the expense of God Himself, to reconcile the exercise of mercy with justice, not as separate, but as the eternally harmonious attributes in the same God (Romans 3:25-26). 'Reconcile' is reciprocally used as the Hebrew Hithpael conjugation, appease, obtain the favour of. Matthew 5:24, "Be reconciled to thy brother" - i:e., take measures that he be reconciled to thee, as well as thou to him, as the context proves. [ Diallageethi (G1259), however (Matthew 5:24), implying mutual reconciliation, is distinct from katallassoon (G2644) (2 Corinthians 5:19), which implies the change of status worked in one of the two parties.] God reconciles the world to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19) - namely, by "not imputing their trespasses unto them." God reconciles the world unto Himself, in the first instance, by satisfying His own justice and righteous enmity against sin (Psalms 7:11; Isaiah 12:1). Compare 1 Samuel 29:4 [ yitratseh (H7521) zeh (H2088) 'el(hSN-410) 'Adonaay (G136)], "Reconcile himself unto his master:" not remove his own anger against his master, but his master's against him (Dr. Magee, 'Atonement'). The reconciling of men to God by their laying aside their enmity is the consequence of God laying aside His just enmity against their sin, and follows at 2 Corinthians 5:20.

To us - ministers (2 Corinthians 5:19-20).

Verse 19

To 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.

God was in Christ, reconciling. Translate, 'God in (the person of) Christ (in virtue of Christ's intervention) was reconciling,' etc. [ een (G2258) katallassoon (G2644)], the act of reconciliation, is (as the imperfect "was," and the participle "reconciling," imply) simultaneous with the "not imputing their trespasses unto them."] The compound of "was" and "reconciling," instead of the imperfect (Greek), may also imply the continuous purpose of God, from before the world, to reconcile to Himself man, whose fall was foreseen. The expression "IN Christ" may imply additionally that God was IN Christ (John 10:38; John 14:10), and so by Christ (the God-man) was reconciling, etc. The Greek [ dia (G1223)] for "by" or through Christ ('Aleph (') B C Delta f g, Vulgate, omit "Jesus"), 2 Corinthians 5:18, is different. "Reconciling" [ katallassoon (G2644)] implies 'changing' the judicial status from one of condemnation to one of justification. The atonement (at-one-ment), or reconciliation, is the removal of the bar to peace and acceptance with the holy God, which His righteousness interposed against our sin. The first step toward peace between us and God was on God's side (John 3:16). The change now to be effected must be on the part of offending man, God, the offended One, being already reconciled. It is man, not God, who now needs to be reconciled, by laying aside his enmity against God (Romans 5:10-11). ('We have received the atonement' [ teen (G3588) katallageen (G2643), 'reconciliation'], cannot mean 'We have received the laying aside of our own enmity.') Compare Romans 3:24-25.

The world - all men (Colossians 1:20; 1 John 2:2). The manner of reconciling is stated-namely, by His 'not imputing their trespasses to men,' but to Christ the Sin-bearer (2 Corinthians 5:21). Where there is a non-imputation of men's sins, there must be an imputation of Christ's righteousness. There is no incongruity that a Father should be offended with that son whom He loveth, and at that time offended when He loveth him. So, though God loved men, yet He was offended with them when they sinned, and gave His Son to suffer for them, that through that Son's obedience He might be reconciled to them (reconcile them to Himself - i:e., restore them WITH JUSTICE to His favour) (Dr. Pearson, 'Creed').

Hath committed unto us, [ themenos (G5087) en (G1722) heemin (G2254)] - 'hath put in our hands' "Us" - i:e., ministers.

Verse 20

Now 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.

For Christ ... in Christ's stead. The Greek of both is the same; 'on Christ's behalf' [ huper (G5228)].

Beseech ... pray - rather, 'as though God did plead with [ parakalountos (G3870)] you ... beseech' [ deometha (G1189)]. Such 'beseeching' is uncommon in the case of "ambassadors," who generally stand on their dignity (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:6-7).

Be ye reconciled to God. The English version here inserts "ye," which gives the wrong emphasis. The Greek expresses God was the RECONCILER in Christ ... let this conciliation have its designed effect. Be reconciled to God. Accept the reconciliation already made (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

Verse 21

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

For. So C. Omitted in 'Aleph (') B Delta G f g, Vulgate. The grand reason why they should be reconciled to God-namely, the great atonement in Christ provided by God-is stated without "for" as being part of the message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19).

He - God.

Sin - not a sin offering [Hebrew, 'aashaam (H817)], which would destroy the antithesis to "righteousness," and would make "sin" be used in different senses in the same sentence; not a sinful person, which would be untrue, and would require in the antithesis "righteous men," not "righteousness;" but "sin" - i:e., the representative guilt-bearer of the aggregate sin of all men past, present, and future. The sin of the world is one; therefore the singular, not the plural, is used; its manifestations are manifold (John 1:29: cf. Romans 8:3-4; Galatians 3:13).

For us - Greek, 'in our behalf' (cf. John 3:14). Christ was represented by the brazen serpent, the form, but not of the substance, of the old serpent. At his death on the cross the sin-bearing for us was consummated.

Knew no sin - by personal experience (John 8:46; Hebrews 7:26; 1 John 3:5) (Alford).

Might be made. Not the same Greek as the previous "made." Rather, 'may become.'

The righteousness of God. Not merely righteous, but righteousness itself; not merely righteousness, but the righteousness of God, because Christ is God, and what He is we are (1 John 4:17), and He is "made of God unto us righteousness." As our sin is made over to Him, so His righteousness to us (in His having fulfilled all the righteousness of the law for us all, as our representative) (Jeremiah 23:6; 1 Corinthians 1:30); so that God 'imputes not our trespasses to us' (2 Corinthians 5:19). The innocent was punished voluntarily as if guilty, that the guilty might be gratuitously rewarded as if innocent (1 Peter 2:22-24). 'Such are we in the sight of God the Father, as is the very Son of God himself' (Hooker).

In him - in union with Him by faith.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/2-corinthians-5.html. 1871-8.
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