Evening Bible Study
Paul had spent nearly three years in Ephesus, during which he wrote his first
letter to the Corinthians.
Paul’s stay in Ephesus ended abruptly when a riot broke out in the city
because of how the Christian revival was affecting the business of those who
After the riot, Paul headed up north to Macedonia.
The year is AD 56, almost a year after Paul had written his first letter to
Back in chapter 4, Paul was talking about the difficulties we face in this
4:16–18 NKJV) —16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is
perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our
light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more
exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things
which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are
seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are
5:1-8 Confident Resurrection
:1 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed,
we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the
:1 our earthly house, this tent
Paul is still comparing “temporary” things with “eternal” things.
Paul was a tentmaker by trade.
Our current physical bodies are just “temporary”, like a tent.
Our future resurrected body is something eternal, like a building.
When the “tent” of our physical body is destroyed (dead), we still have
another place we will live in, an eternal body.
The body and soul of a person are two different things.
The real “you” is your spirit/soul, your inner self.
I think my “old body” is the real “me”, but it’s just a temporary housing
for the real “me”. There’s a different
body, an eternal body, that I’ll move into at the rapture.
:2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our
habitation which is from heaven,
:3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked.
:4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we
want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up
:2 earnestly desiring to be clothed
Paul has a great desire for the future resurrection body.
An Amish boy and his father were visiting a mall. They were amazed by
almost everything they saw, but especially by two shiny, silver walls that
could move apart and back together again. The boy asked his father, “What is
this, Father?” The father (never having seen an elevator) responded, “Son, I
have never seen anything like this in my life. I don’t know what it is!” While
the boy and his father were watching wide-eyed, as an old lady in a wheel chair
rolled up to the moving walls and pressed a button. The walls opened and the
lady rolled between them into a small room. The walls closed and the boy and
his father watched small circles of lights with numbers above the walls light
up. They continued to watch the circles light up in the reverse direction. The
walls opened up again and a beautiful 24-year-old woman stepped out. The father
said to his son, “Let’s go get your mother!
:3 having been clothed, we shall not be found naked
When a person dies, their spirit/soul leaves their physical body.
Some have suggested that when a believer dies, they immediately receive
their new resurrected body, but I don’t think this is what the Scripture
When a believer dies, there will be a time when their spirit will indeed be
“unclothed”, or without a body.
Those who die before the rapture of the church will indeed be in the Lord’s
Paul wrote to the Philippians,
1:23 NKJV) For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart
and be with Christ, which is far better.
It’s not until the rapture that we all get new bodies.
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians
Thessalonians 4:15–17 NKJV) —15 For this we say to you by the word
of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the
Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord
Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel,
and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who
are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we
shall always be with the Lord.
At the rapture, those who have already died will first
receive their new resurrection bodies, and then we who are still alive will
:4 we who are in this tent groan
It’s not fun living in these bodies as they grow older and older.
Note: Paul is not saying that we won’t be “unclothed”, or a spirit without
He’s simply saying that what he is looking forward to is getting that new
:5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also
has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
:5 the Spirit as a guarantee
guarantee – arrhabon – money which in purchases is given as a pledge or down payment that the
full amount will subsequently be paid
Part of the Holy Spirit’s work in us is to remind us that there is much
more up ahead.
:6 So we are always confident, 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.
:7 walk by faith, not by sight
The last chapter ended with Paul saying
(2 Corinthians 4:18
NKJV) while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the
things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary,
but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Our current old bodies are “seen”.
Heaven and the promise of our new bodies are still unseen.
Jesus is unseen.
Trusting the unseen
This is a big key to living the Christian life.
Faith: Trusting what you don’t see.
(Hebrews 11:1 NKJV)
faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
It’s our “faith” or “belief” that gives us hope because we
trust that we know what’s up ahead.
We are trusting God to take care of our future.
Star Wars gave us some lessons about faith.
Video: Star Wars – Luke training with the remote
The problem with Obi-wan’s idea of faith is that you have
to be careful about putting all your “trust” in your “feelings”.
Feelings can be deceptive.
“Walking” is about taking steps, sometimes maybe a “leap”.
Video: Indiana Jones – leap of faith
It’s about making choices and moving ahead.
The challenge is to live our lives by learning to trust in what we don’t
see instead of always making decisions based on what we see.
There will be times when we do sense the leading of the Holy Spirit.
God also wants to lead us through the Scriptures, trusting in what He says
even though we don’t see Him.
:8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body
and to be present with the Lord.
Paul is looking forward to that time when he will be gone from his body and
be present with the Lord.
5:9-11 Judgment seat
:9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well
pleasing to Him.
:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each
one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has
done, whether good or bad.
:10 the judgment seat of Christ
judgment seat – bema – of the official seat of a judge
Herod built a judgment seat at
Caesarea, from which he viewed the games and made speeches to the people.
It’s where they handed out the medals.
For us, this is not to determine whether or not we will go to heaven or
hell. That has already been determined
for us Christians when we chose to believe in Jesus and receive His sacrifice
for our sins.
(John 3:18 NKJV) “He who
believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned
already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of
This judgment seat will be to test our deeds in this life, for the purpose
of giving rewards.
3:13–15 NKJV) —13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it,
because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of
what sort it is. 14
anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a
reward. 15 If anyone’s
work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as
:11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are
well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.
:11 the terror of the Lord
terror – phobos – fear, dread, terror
There is a place for being motivated by a healthy fear of God.
A little bit of that terror has to do with the rewards we will receive or
not receive at the judgment seat of Christ.
A huge bit of that terror is knowing what will happen to those who do not
trust in Christ.
They will have to face God and be judged for their sins.
25:30 NKJV) And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There
will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
:12 For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity
to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast
in appearance and not in heart.
:13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of
sound mind, it is for you.
:13 if we are beside ourselves
It’s a way of saying that you’re crazy, out of your mind.
Remember that one of the things Paul has been challenged with by some of
the Corinthians is his own authority.
Paul is saying that if he’s “crazy”, at least he’s crazy for God.
:14 For the love of Christ compels us,
:14 the love of Christ compels us
It is not our love for Christ, but the love of Christ for us.
It’s okay to sometimes be challenged to do the right thing because of our
love for Jesus. (John 14:15)
But here Paul says he is motivated by how much Jesus loves him.
We can get off track and start serving the Lord for the wrong reasons.
We might do things just to get attention or get people to like us.
Some of us do things because we think it will help us feel less
Others do things because of competition, jealousy, or envy.
If your motivation is Christ’s love for you, you won’t be able to
stop. His love never stops.
Jesus’ love for Paul keeps him doing what Jesus asks him to do, no matter
what people may say of him.
The year was AD 155, and the persecution against Christians swept across
the Roman Empire and came to the city of Smyrna. The proconsul of Symrna, swept
up in this persecution, put out an order that the Bishop of Symrna, Polycarp,
was to be found, arrested, and brought to the public arena for execution. They
found Polycarp and brought him before thousands of spectators screaming for
blood. But the proconsul had compassion on this man who was almost a hundred
years old. He signaled the crowd to silence. To Polycarp he said, “Curse the
Christ and live.” The crowd waited for the old man to answer. In an amazingly
strong voice, he said, “Eighty and six years have I served him, and he has done
me no wrong. How dare I blaspheme the name of my king and Lord!” With that
Polycarp became a martyr.
:14 …because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;
:15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for
themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
:15 should live no longer for themselves
There is a sense that all who follow Jesus have entered into His death.
One of the reasons that Jesus died for us is so that we would stop living
for ourselves and start living for Him.
Illustration (if time?)
The Christian way is different:
harder, and easier. Christ says
“Give me All. I don’t want so much of
your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You.
I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a
branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it,
or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the
desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked—the whole
outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.”
-- C. S. Lewis
:16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even
though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus
:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
:17 all things have become new
If any person accepts Jesus, they get a new start in life.
Quick change, slow
There is a sense that when a person gives their heart to Christ, everything
The old has passed away. All things
But if you’re wondering what’s wrong with you because you still have things
that need help in your life, you’re not alone.
Paul also wrote,
3:13–14 NLT) —13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus
on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on
to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God,
through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
For some people, there are dramatic changes that take place, and take place
For others, the changes still take place, but may take a little more time.
:18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself
through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,
:18 who has reconciled us to Himself
reconciled – katallasso –
to change, exchange coins for others of equivalent value; to reconcile
individuals who are at odds
When you travel to a foreign country, if you are going to pay cash for
anything, you might need to “exchange” your currency. You exchange your
“dollars” for the currency of the land - rubles, shekels, pesos, or euros.
Note that the act of reconciliation was accomplished by God. (vs.18)
We had nothing to do with the accomplishment of reconciliation. It was all done by God.
:19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not
imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of
:20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading
through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.
:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might
become the righteousness of God in Him.
:21 to be sin for us
Here is that “exchange of coins” that the word “reconciliation” speaks of.
God took our sin and put it on the sinless one, Jesus.
(Isaiah 53:5 NKJV) But He was
wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His
stripes we are healed.
:21 we might become the righteousness of God
God exchanged something with our sin.
He took Jesus’ righteousness and gave that to us.
Have you ever wondered why Jesus didn’t just come as a fully grown man and
die on the cross, perhaps all in a weekend?
Why would He become a little baby, spend thirty years growing up, three more
years in ministry, and then die on a
When John the Baptist argued with Jesus and said that he wasn’t
worthy to be baptizing Jesus, Jesus said,
3:15 NKJV) But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now,
for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed
Jesus spent thirty-three years on planet earth living a
life of righteousness, a life of doing the right things.
God “reconciled” us by taking our sins, putting them on
Jesus, and “exchanging” them for Jesus’ good deeds.
:18 ministry of reconciliation
The “ministry of reconciliation” is all about speaking for God, imploring
people to get right with God.
It can only happen when they put their trust in Jesus.
It only happens when God Himself reconciles them to Himself through Jesus.
I have to admit that it’s not hard to get distracted in life.
My wife and I might go to the mall to pick up or exchange some particular
item, but there’s a lot at the mall that can get you distracted.
If you’re not careful, you might end up buying all sorts of things, just
because our eyes can tend to wander.
Let God use you, speak through you.
God has a reason for leaving us on this planet for so long.
God longs for people to be reconciled to Him.
And He has given us the task of bringing reconciliation.