Join us as we study through 2 Corinthians verse by verse. Our discussion questions, teaching points, and applications can help you or your small group get the most out of this book as you grow in understanding and obedience.

2 Corinthians 5:1-10 Inductive Bible Study Guide With Discussion Questions

Outline

I. Awaiting a new body (1-5)
II. Absent from the body and present with the Lord (6-10)

I. Awaiting a new body (1-5)

Discussion Questions

  • What is the earthly tent Paul refers to in verse 1? Why does Paul call it a tent?
  • How would it be destroyed?
  • What does the eternal house in heaven refer to?
  • What are the differences between the tent and the building from God?
  • What does the phrase “we groan” show us about the attitude we should have toward this world?
  • What does verse 3 mean?
  • How can we understand Paul’s use of the metaphors “clothed” and “unclothed” and “naked?”
  • What purpose did God fashion us for (verse 5)?
  • How does the Spirit guarantee what is to come? Why is this important?

Cross-References

Ecclesiastes 3:11 – He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

John 14:2-3 In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and welcome you into My presence, so that you also may be where I am. 

Romans 14:8 – For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.

Ecclesiastes 12:7 – And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

1 John 3:2 – Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

Philippians 3:21 – Who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Teaching Points

1. The tent that is our earthly home – In this passage Paul uses a tent as a metaphor for the human body. Tents were something many people at that time were familiar with. There were many nomadic dwellers who lived in tents. Paul himself was a tent maker.

A tent has several parallels with our physical bodies. Firstly, a tent is temporary. Tents did not last nearly as long as houses did. They would wear out in the harsh conditions. The Old Testament tabernacle was a tent. Only in the time of Solomon was a permanent structure built, the temple. In a similar manner, our bodies are temporary. They are continually wearing out in the harsh conditions of this world.

Secondly, a tent is a place of residence, a dwelling. Our body is also a dwelling place for our souls.

Our earthly bodies will be destroyed one day when we face death.

Application: Do not get attached to your physical bodies. It would not make sense to constantly invest in renovating and upgrading a tent instead of investing in a permanent home. And it doesn’t make sense to focus on our physical health to the exclusion of our spiritual health. Many people spend lots of money on plastic surgery, spa treatments, and try to reverse aging. While physical exercise and a healthy diet are important, our soul is far more important. Sometimes people focus on extending their earthly life because they are afraid of death. We should invest in God’s kingdom and prepare for eternity, redeeming our time on earth, while not fearing death.

2. We have a building from God – This “building from God” does not refer to the home in heaven Jesus is preparing for us (John 14:1-3). Rather it refers to our resurrected glorified bodies. Our resurrected bodies are not made from hands. They are eternal.

Application: Look forward with hope to that day!

Your new body will not wear out. Version 2.0 will last forever. Everything we see around us is in a state of decline. The second law of thermodynamics (entropy) is at work, meaning that things are descending from order to chaos, losing energy, and wearing out. But in the eternal state, the laws of this world will be suspended and God will do something new and spectacular.
Reflect: What aspect of You 2.0 do you most look forward to?

3. In this tent we groan – In this passage Paul continues his thoughts from the preceding section in chapter 4 that the “the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

In our current physical bodies, we groan. If you have experienced significant pain or sickness, you know what Paul is talking about. During those moments of extreme pain and discomfort, believers long for the time in heaven when there will be no more pain.

Revelation 21:4 – He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

You yourself may not have experienced this yet. If so, thank God for your good health. But even if you haven’t, you almost certainly know someone who lives with chronic pain. Know that they are groaning. If they are a believer they look forward with hope to their new bodies. But if they are an unbeliever, they have no hope. While they may think that death will bring them comfort, it will not. The pain of judgment will be far worse than what they experience now.

Application: Show compassion to those who are living in pain. If they are not saved, share the gospel with them so that they can share our hope. If they are saved, pray for them. And encourage them with the comfort that they have something far greater to look forward to. Is there someone you know who faces chronic pain? How can you show compassion to them this week?

4. That we may not be found naked – Paul says “but it on we may not be found naked.” “It” refers to the resurrected body. In other words, we are not doomed to an eternity as a disembodied soul. God made people very unique. He made people with a soul and a body.

  • Animals = Body but no soul
  • Angels = Spirit but no body
  • God = Eternal self-existent spirit
  • People = Spirit/Soul plus body
  • Jesus = Eternal spirit (He is God) plus a body (He is man.) Jesus satisfies both conditions and is therefore completely unique being 100% God and 100% man.

We will not be ghosts floating around in some vast void somewhere. Instead the eternal state will be even better than our temporary state now.

5. That what is mortal may be swallowed up by life – Death is often viewed as the end. When I ask people their opinion of what happens after death many answer that there is nothing. No thought. No awareness.

But here Paul shows us truth. Our life is mortal. But the end of our mortal life is the beginning of another life. Life in heaven will be more intense, more vibrant, more abundant, and eternal. It will not be a lesser life, but in fact will be superior in every way.

6. He has prepared us for this very thing – Our life in this world is preparation for eternity. God is molding you to be the kind of person He wants you to be. He is sanctifying you. He is helping you to grow in godliness and Christian character. Many of the trials and challenges we face in this present age are designed for this purpose.

Application: When you face trials, look for the lessons God wants you to teach from them. Pray that God will use them to grow your character and increase your faith and reliance on Him.

7. He has given the Spirit as a guarantee – The Holy Spirit is a reminder of God’s promise to resurrect His followers to eternal life. He is a pledge or a deposit. God has marked us as His own.

Application: Thank God for the security we have in Him. Remember that the Spirit is with you and pray that God will fill you with the Holy Spirit, guide you, and increase the fruit of the Spirit in your life.

II. Absent from the body and present with the Lord (6-10)

Discussion Questions

  • Why are they always confident?
  • From this passage what can we learn about death? After death? Judgment?
  • How can you apply the statement “we live by faith and not by sight?”
  • How does knowing we will face God after death affect our lives in the world now?
  • What is the judgment seat of Christ?
  • What will happen there?
  • Will Christians be judged?
  • How can we reconcile this verse with the knowledge that believers in Jesus are forgiven from their sins and that he took our punishment already?
  • What kind of rewards might believers receive?
  • How much should heavenly rewards motivate believers? Is being motivated by heavenly rewards selfish?

Cross-References

1 Thessalonians 4:14 – For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

John 11:26 – And everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?

Matthew 10:28 – And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 16:27 – For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

Matthew 25:21 – His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.

2 Timothy 4:8 – Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

Revelation 20:11-12 – Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.

Teaching Points

1. While we are home in the body we are away from the Lord – We will not finally come into God’s presence until we die and leave this earthly body. Certainly we have some contact with God. The Spirit indwells us. By prayer we can approach His throne, communicating with Him. Yet it is not the same as being face to face with him.

Paul is reminding us of this simple point: do not get too attached to your earthly body! As long as we are in this body, we are far away from the Lord.

2. We walk by faith not by sight – These promises are not something we see. What we see is all of the material things around us. You probably see your body more than anything else in the universe. But it is temporary. We believe in the hope of a resurrection. And that belief drives us to live for God and build His kingdom.

Reflect: Faith is an intangible thing which you cannot see or touch. Are there any tangible ways to increase your faith?

3. We are of good courage – Faith in the Lord gives us courage. The courage here is specifically courage to face death. Death is more feared than anything else. Those without God are afraid of it, living in dread of that ever approaching curtain. But as believers we face it differently. Our leader, Jesus, stared death in the face and defeated it. For us death is a curtain that is opening to something more and not a curtain that is shutting.

God holds the power over life and death in His hands. Faith in God’s goodness and salvation emboldens us.

4. Away from the body and at home with the Lord – When a person dies, leaving his physical body, his soul will immediately go to the presence of God.

Luke 23:43 – Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.

5. We make it our aim to please Him –

Recently my wife shared the gospel with a gentlemen. He said that he doesn’t waste time thinking about what will happen after death. It is irrelevant to life now. What is important is each day, eating and sleeping.

Many people share this view.
to do with now?

The answer is: everything. If God’s word

Matthew 24:38-39 – For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark. And they were oblivious, until the flood came and swept them all away. So will it be at the coming of the Son of Man.

Just living life takes precedence. After all, what does what happens after death have is true then all people will face Him one day (as we will see in verse 10). He created us. He gives us principles to live by. And He will hold us accountable.

If your boss says that he will come and inspect your work in one week time, you will not think that “it doesn’t matter; it is the future.” Knowing that this inspection is coming will change your actions today. You will aim to please Him. You will do your work to the best of your ability because you want him to be happy with it.

The same is true with us. Because we know that we will face God one day after death, it changes everything for us. It makes our current life full of meaning and purpose. We should do all to please Him because that day is coming closer and closer.

Application: Sometimes when we think of pleasing God we think of sharing the gospel, planting churches, or doing other great things like these. These are very good. But how can you please God in the simple things of life? How can you please God in how you communicate with your family?

6. The motive of pleasing Him – Paul says that our chief goal is to please Him. Why? In verse ten he gives one clear motive, “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.”

This knowledge provides the motivation for pleasing God. You will not appear before your parents in judgment. Your spouse will not sit on the throne to judge you. Neither will it be your boss holding you accountable. Jesus is the one on the judgment seat. Each of us is accountable to Him. Therefore the obvious response to this is to do everything to please Him.

Application: Whenever people are pressuring you to do something contrary to God’s Word, remember this truth. You will face Christ’s judgment seat, not another person’s.

7. We must all appear – Several things are stressed in this verse. Firstly, “must.” It is not optional. It compulsory. You cannot choose not to go. Secondly, he says, “all.” Every person must go there. There is nothing any person, great or small, can do to avoid this appearance. Believers are called to judgment as well. Thirdly, he says “appear.” This word means to “make manifest,” “make clear,” or “make visible.”

Your life will be unveiled. Every motive, thought, action, and pretense will be stripped bare before Christ who sees.

Hebrews 4:13 – And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

God in fact already sees everything about us. The judgment seat will not reveal anything new to him. And others will probably be focused on their own appearances. So primarily it is about unveiling each person’s motives and heart to themselves. The full you will be on display for you to see, wretch and all.

8. Will believers be judged for their sins? –

2 Corinthians 5:10b – “so that each one may receive compensation for his deeds done through the body, in accordance with what he has done, whether good or bad.”

Whenever we interpret a passage we must first do so in light of the whole Bible. And Scripture’s teaching is clear that once a person comes to Christ His sin is forgiven and He will not come into condemnation.

Galatians 3:13 – Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law.

1 Peter 2:23 – He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross.

Hebrews 10:12 – He…offered one sacrifice for sins for all time.

Romans 8:1 – There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

John 5:24 – Whoever believes in me… will not come into judgment.

This is not a judgment to decide who is going to hell or to condemn a person there. That is the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-12, 15). Instead it is a judgment to determine your rewards (recompense). It is to see how much fruit you had as a follower of Christ. It lays bare your works for God’s kingdom. Did you have many? Did you serve Him faithfully? What was your motives for what you did?

The word used which is translated “bad” here is “phaulos.” It means “worthless” or “useless.” It speaks to deeds which are meaningless for building God’s kingdom, not necessarily sin.

Sins may be brought up at this judgment seat to show the price Christ has paid to take our sins. But the focus is not on that. Rather it is on your faithfulness in service.

This is described in more detail in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 – For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

Your deeds either have value for the kingdom or they don’t. If they are worthless (wood, hay, stubble) they will be burned up. But if they are useful, then you will receive a reward. And that reward you can then cast down at the feet of Jesus, because He is worthy and it is all because of Him and for Him.

Application: It is not wise to go into a final exam unprepared. Good students test themselves first. You should regularly examine your own deeds to see how many useful ones you do for God’s kingdom. Will most of your deeds burn up? What are some things in your life that like wood, hay, or stubble? What is something you can do to build God’s kingdom this week?

2 Corinthians 5:11-15

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