2 Corinthians 5:1-21

Daybreak for Students

2 Corinthians 5:1-21

2 Corinthians 5
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. — 2 Corinthians 5:17

As I listened to my father’s testimony during my childhood, I often wondered how he could have been so different before he was saved. The way he lived in our home was nothing like the life he described before he had given his heart to God. He had been raised by a Christian mother who taught him about serving God, but he had chosen to go his own way. He joined the Air Force and became a navigator in World War II. In the twenty-nine missions he flew over Germany, he never gave a thought to praying, even though he saw many of his comrades lose their lives as their planes were shot down. After the war, he married and settled into a life of sin, including a gambling addiction that ultimately destroyed his marriage. Even though my mother was not a born-again Christian, she did attend church. On the few occasions when she would persuade my father to attend church with her, he would taunt her and pretend that he was going to smoke his pipe during the service.

Eventually my mother filed for divorce, and my father realized that he needed to make a change in his life. He attended his brother’s church one Sunday evening and prayed through to salvation. When he told my mother what had happened, she laughed at him and continued with her plans to divorce him. My father determined that he was going to serve God whatever the cost, and as he began to grow in his Christian walk, my mother saw a real change and decided to reconcile their marriage. However, she let him know that she had no intention of going to church. When she changed her mind and did go, she determined not to be friendly. However, God continued speaking to her heart, and one night she prayed and was saved.

As I grew up in this Christian home, I observed my parents’ dedication and love for God. What a transformation God had made in both their lives! In the key verse, Paul stated that when a person comes to Christ, he becomes a new person. The old desires for the sins of the world are gone, and his desire is to serve God and live a life of victory over the sins that previously bound him. This is only possible when a person surrenders his life and will completely to God and receives true salvation.

The amazing change that God made in both my parents’ lives is available today to anyone who has not experienced it — you, your family members, your acquaintances and co-workers. If you have not been transformed, seek God today. If you have been born again, take hope and pray for others who are not. God still changes lives.


The first ten verses of chapter 5 continue the thought of the previous chapter, which relates to Paul’s ministry of suffering. In verses 11-21, the subject turns to Paul’s ministry of reconciliation, and this thought carries through into chapter 6.

The “earthly house of this tabernacle” refers to the physical bodies of people here on earth. The word tabernacle could be translated as “tent,” so Paul gave a picture of the passing nature of life by comparing it to folding up a tent. He contrasted this with the new, resurrected body, which will be eternal. Because the resurrected body will be far superior, believers “groan” for the new body.

Greek culture was still strong in Corinth, even though the Corinthians were under Roman rule. Consequently, Christians there were familiar with the Greek belief that a person’s body would not be resurrected. Paul wanted to contradict that thinking. In verse 5, Paul said the “earnest,” or “guarantee,” of an eternal body is the Holy Spirit dwelling within the heart. This knowledge of an eternal existence with God was part of the reason for Paul’s consuming desire to please God.

In verse 10, Paul stated, “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” In Corinth, the Roman magistrate sat on an elevated seat in the local square, from which point he administered the law. This was also the place where triumphant athletes received their rewards. While there will be no condemnation for Christians in eternity, their lives will be reviewed and they will be rewarded accordingly.

Starting in verse 11, Paul spoke of his ministry of reconciliation. By “the terror of the Lord,” he indicated his recognition of the urgency of the task and his accountability to God, which motivated him to zealously fulfill his call to the ministry. Some in Corinth had questioned his credentials. He wanted the people in the church there to know he was not preaching to serve his own interests, though some of his critics were doing so. Rather, he was constrained by his responsibility to God and by the love of Christ, which was demonstrated by Christ’s death and resurrection.

In verse 17, Paul described the result of salvation: a new person. The old life passes away, and union with Christ brings a new life. This is not something a person can do for himself, but it comes from God, “who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ.” Having experienced this transformation, Paul was an ambassador, or representative, of Christ. On the Lord’s behalf, he implored people to be reconciled to God. Jesus Christ, who had no sin, took the sins of mankind to the Cross, so that man, who was born in sin, could receive His righteousness. Consequently, the righteousness of God became available to all who would receive it.


(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II.   The apology of the Apostle
     B.   The calling of Paul
           5.   The prospect of the ministry
                 b.   Future reward
                       (2)   Future life (5:1-8)
                       (3)   Future reward (5:9-10)
           6.   The program of the ministry
                 a.   The motivation (5:11-16)
                       (1)   The fear of the Lord (5:11-13)
                       (2)   The love of Christ (5:14-16)
                 b.   The message (5:17-21)


  1. Why did Paul say that a Christian does not need to fear death?

  2. What responsibilities do Christians bear in representing Christ to a lost world?

  3. What changes did you notice in your life after you were saved?


Praying through to salvation completely transforms a life. Desires are changed from trying to please self to striving to please God and living a life of righteousness. Let’s tell the world about this miracle!