Our text for today is 2 Corinthians 5:1 — 8
“For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, 3 inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. 4 For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.
6 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight— 8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” (NASB)
- What do we know about how Paul faced death during his ministry?
- What do we understand about his attitude toward death in these verses?
- How did he face the reality that he lived constantly on the brink of death every day?
- When faced with overwhelming circumstances, how did Paul meet the challenges he faced? What are some examples?
- What do the following Scriptures teach us about how Paul thought about death, or the possibility that he might die in any circumstance?
a) 2 Corinthians 1:8-10
b) 2 Corinthians 4:7-12
c) Philippians 1:21-23
- How should Christians face death? Why? What gives us the ability to do so?
A) An Authentic Eternal Body (vs. 5:1)
1. Remember 2 Corinthians 4:17? What did Paul mean by “an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison?” What does that include?
2. What did Paul mean by writing the words “for we know” in 5:1? Compare these verses to 5:1:
a) Romans 8:18, 23
b) 1 Corinthians 15:35-49
c) Philippians 3:21
3. Paul refers to the body as a ‘tent’. The Greek word for tent is skenos (σκη̂νος), which refers not only to our body as a tent, but also to the Tabernacle of the OT, and later the Temple. What comparisons can we make between our ‘tent’ and the Tabernacle/Temple?
4. How do these verses help us understand more?
a) 1 Corinthians 15:42, 53-54
b) 2 Peter 1:13-15
c) John 1:14
5. Paul wrote to the Romans shortly after writing 2 Corinthians. What do we learn from this text to help us understand what Paul was thinking at that time?
6. What will our resurrection body be like? What has to happen for us to reach that state? What will it be like?
1 Corinthians 15:36-49
B) The Authentic Perfect Life to Come (vs. 5:2-4)
1. For what did Paul eagerly await? What was his longing? Compare these verses.
a) 2 Corinthians 5:2-4
b) 1 Corinthians 15:51-54
c) Romans 8:19
2. To what do you think Paul refers when he writes, “…in this house we groan?” To which house is he referring? Why does he call it a ‘house?’ Why are we groaning? Does this comparison remind you of anything Paul wrote elsewhere in the NT? Where?
3. What does Paul mean by the word ‘unclothed‘ in these verses? (NB: Some translations read ‘naked‘ rather than ‘unclothed.’) How would he (or we) be ‘unclothed?’ Why do we “not want to be unclothed?” In addition, What does he mean by “…being burdened?” How are these words connected to each other?
4. Paul emphasizes the point about the actual physical aspect of the body, both in this life and in the life to come, for a purpose. What did the Greeks believe about the body? To help us understand what they believed, read the following excerpt from William Barclay’s, The Letters to the Corinthians, and prepare to discuss the information:
“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.” (Wis.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.” (pages 204-5)
5. Why did Paul need to explain these things to the Greek speaking Corinthians? What was the danger in what they believed? Read 2 Timothy 2:16-19 for more details that can help us understand Paul’s concerns. What do we learn from that text as well?
C) The Authentic Eternal Purpose (vs. 5:5)
1. In this verse, Paul writes, “….for this very purpose.” What do these words mean, and why do they matter? For whom do they matter? When do they matter?
2. Read Romans 8:28-30. What do these verses help us to understand about 2 Corinthians 5:5? What does Paul teach us about what is to come? Why do we need to know that?
3. Read 1 Corinthians 15:49. What do we learn about our future state in this verse? Do we learn everything that we might want to know? What questions come to mind for you?
4. Now read John 6:37-40. What does Jesus teach us in these verses, as recorded by the Apostle John? What more do these verses help us to know?
5. What does Paul say we get “as a pledge” (ie, as a ‘down-payment’) for our future state? Read these verses to learn more about this:
a) Ephesians 1:14
b) Romans 5:5
c) Romans 8:9
d) 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
e) Philippians 1:6
f) Romans 8:35-39
6. Take a moment to summarize in your own words what authentic, eternal purpose, God has for His people. Why has He chosen to do these things?
D) The Authentic Dwelling Place for God’s People (vss. 5:6-8)
1. Based only on these verses, how do you think did Paul faced death? Why? On what basis?
2. For what reasons did Paul say it was better for him to remain here in this life? What did he prefer?
3. Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8. What do we learn from these verses about Paul’s mindset? What were his conditions when he wrote these verses?
4. Are we separated from Christ while we remain here on earth? Do you long for something more than all this world has to offer? What did the saints of old record in the Scriptures to help us? Read these verses to find out.
a) Psalm 42:1-2
b) Psalm 73:25
c) 1 Thessalonians 4:17
d) Hebrews 11:10-13
5. Paul wrote, in the middle of these two verses, “… for we walk by faith, not by sight.” What do you think he meant by that? How do they affect you? What do you think they mean?
6. Until we do go to the Lord, how do we persist in our walk with the Lord? How do we live out the authentic Christian life? What does it take to carry on in Christ, without discouragement or despair?
7. How do you understand Paul’s declaration at the end of these verses? “…we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. ” How do these words help you?