The Christ event has permanently changed how believers see the world and with grace, we show our love to thank God. —
This Week’s Passage: 2 Corinthians 5:6-10 (11-13) 14-17
I. Establish the text
D. Brainstorm: What questions/thoughts come to mind?
6 “So we are always confident,” begs an introduction. Like much of Paul’s writings, a reading short enough to consider on a Sunday morning necessitates jumping into the middle of a longer argument. This picks up after an exhortation of confidence in an eternal building, despite groaning over an earthly tent.
8 Was Paul struggling with suicide over a chronic physical ailment?
9-10 This could easily lead to works righteousness.
11-13 An aside for those in Corinth.
14-15 Substitutionary atonement, becomes grace when combined with striving to please God (v 10).
16 What does Paul mean by regarding someone “according to the flesh”?
17 Forgiveness of sins = new creation!
E. Reconsider where the text begins and ends: What got chopped out?
- The chapter has a chiastic structure with v. 17 as its kernel. Using the verses after 17 as a guide, there is a shift in topic in verse 9 from bodily to spiritual renewal. Thus starting at verse 10 and including 11-13 allows for a succinct argument that culminates at verse 17.
III. Question the text.
C. What is the center of gravity of the text? Where was the author heading? What question did the author intend to answer? What is the emotional center of the text? What music would it call for?
- Center of Gravity: Christ urges us to act justly, as we can ignore our former selves and sins.
- Emotional Center: Everything old has passed away, everything has become new!
- Music: “Hear the Good New of Salvation!”
D. Look for conflict: stated or implied.
- We receive our punishment for sins, death, in Christ.
F. How will this text be heard by individuals in the congregation, including the preacher?
- A sermon on this passage could help clarify verse 17 as used for assurance of pardon.
IV. What do the commentaries have to say about the text?
Ralph Martin (Word Biblical Commentary: 2 Corinthians. Word, 1986.) divides the chapter into three sections: 1-10 – The Heavenly Dwelling, 11-15 – Motives for Paul’s Preaching and Living, and 16-21 – Living in the New Age. Martin perceives that Paul was motivated by “fear of the Lord” and is compelled to live dedicated wholly to God. [/fobon/ can also be translated as terror, fear, awe or amazement or deference.]
J. Paul Sampley (The New Interpreter’s Bible, “Second Letter to the Corinthians”. Abingdon, 2000.) considers the text in two large blocks: 4:7-5:10 – Paul’s Ministry Sustained Through Affliction and Mortality, and 5:11-6:10 – Paul’s Ministry of Reconciliation. He interprets “fear of the Lord,” citing OT passages, as “faithfulness.” He concurs with Martin that “out of our mind” as an ecstatic experience, possibly glossolalia. He explains “according to the flesh,” as assuming the resurrection had not occurred and that the standards of judgment had not been radically altered. Thus believers can no longer consider anyone according to the flesh for they themselves have been radically altered as well. He reflects: “From the moment of Christ’s death, everyone, everyone, has value [to God]. The problem rests with us.” To illustrate our response to the transformative event he writes: “Consider the first time you thought you were in love with someone. Odds are you could not contain yourself – or better yet, you could not contain the love you felt. Christ’s love for us is not different in its effect. Christ’s love not only claims us for God, but also pushes us out toward others.”
V. With respect to the hearers (including the preacher), What does this text want to say and do?
Those times when my sermons were best received,
when parishioners came up and said: “I felt you were preaching directly to me,”
were those times when I was preaching to myself. — Rabbi Chet Diamond
A. What is the theological meaning of the verses?
The Christ event has permanently changed how believers see the world and with grace, we show our love to thank God.
B. Focus Statement: Central, controlling, unifying theme.
God loves you! How do you show love to others?