2 Corinthians | 1:1-11 | 1:12-24 | 2:1-11 | 2:12-17 | 3:1-6 | 3:7-18 | 4:1-6 | 4:7-12 | 4:13-18 | 5:1-10 | 5:11-15 | 5:16-21 | 6-9 | 10-13 | PDF |

Join us as we study through 2 Corinthians verse by verse. Our discussion questions, verse by verse commentary, 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 5:11-15 Inductive Bible Study And Questions – Let Christ’s Love Control You

Discussion Questions

  • What is the fear of the Lord? How is it different than fearing a war or disease?
  • Paul says in verse 11 “what we are is known to God.” What were they?
  • How had Paul already commended themselves to the Corinthians?
  • Who are the ones who may have boasted about outer appearance?
  • What types of things may they have boasted about?
  • What kinds of “outer appearances” may a church focus on rather than the heart?
  • What does verse 13 mean?
  • How can the love of Christ control you?
  • In what way have “all died?”
  • What are some ways that a person lives for himself?
  • What are some ways that we can live for God?
  • Since Jesus died for you, what should you do for Him?


Ecclesiastes 12:13 – The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

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.

Proverbs 14:27 – The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.

1 Samuel 16:7 – But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Matthew 7:15 – Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Jeremiah 9:23 – Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches.

Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 1:10 – For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Knowing the fear of the Lord – Paul feared God. It doesn’t mean he lived in terror of God. Rather, he recognized God’s authority. As we have seen in the first part of 2 Corinthians 5, Paul believed that he would face God one day. Specifically, he believed that he would one day come before the judgment seat of Christ.

That belief changed how he lived. Because he knew this, he desired to please God in all that he did. Knowing that God is the beginning and the end, the Creator who gives the standards and the judge who keeps us accountable to those standards was Paul’s motivation for the life he lived. The evangelism and discipleship he engaged in were a direct results of his fear of the Lord.

2. We persuade others – It was this recognition of God’s authority that led Paul to preach the gospel, to persuade others. He wanted to be ready to face the judgment seat of Christ, and He wanted to make sure others were ready as well.

3. What we are is known to God and I hope also to your conscience – Some people in Corinth doubted Paul’s motivations. There were the false teachers who seemed to be trying to discredit Paul, and attacking him over various points. So we see throughout 2 Corinthians that Paul offers a vigorous defense of himself and his team. And he also regularly clarifies his motives so that they can know why he is doing what he is doing. In the end, his goal is to please God

4. We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us – Paul did not desire praise. He was not saying these things so that they would look at him and say, “Wow, Paul is a spiritual giant!”

The purpose of much of this letter was so that they would be clear about his motives. When they were, they would accept his apostleship and authority.

And in turn they could then “be able to answer those who boast about [their] outward appearance.”

False teachers in the church opposed Paul. One of their lines of attack seems to appearance. It may be that they were Judaizers who taught that everyone should follow the Old Testament law and therefore look good and righteous on the outside. Or it could be that they pointed to Paul’s afflictions as if they were a weakness.

By reminding the Corinthians of his motives, Paul helped them to answer his critics. In doing so, their faith in the Lord could be strengthened. And God’s enemies would be silenced.

5. Outward appearance versus the heart –

1 Samuel 16:7 – For man sees the outward appearance, but the LORD sees the heart.

Many false teachers care about outward appearance. And many churches focus on outward things instead of the heart of the sheep. Here are a few outward things that some churches may focus on:

  • Numbers – How many members does the church have? (David incurred God’s wrath because of his focus on numbers: 2 Samuel 24)
  • Offering – Some churches measure success by the amount of offering received.
  • Facilities – Some churches focus on large, beautiful buildings (The disciples also did this in Mark 13:1)
  • Respectability – Wearing nice clothes and nice greetings (Matthew 23:7)
  • Likes, retweets, or subscribers on social media.

Reflect: How can church or Bible study leaders focus on the heart?

6. If we are beside ourselves, it is for God – The word in Greek means something like being insane. Paul’s devotion to the Lord would be viewed as insanity by many. And in fact, believers who are faithful to God are often viewed as “mad” or “fanatics.”

7. If we are in our right minds, it is for you – Paul behaved reasonably and sober-mindedly toward the Corinthians.

In these two phrases, we are reminded that what Paul did and how he acted was for God’s glory and their edification.

8. The love of Christ controls us – Whatever Paul did, he did because he loved Christ. This was the underlying motivation for his life.

Reflect: Can you say the same thing about yourself? Does the love of Christ control you? What motivates you? What guides your major decisions?

Application: Think about an area of your life where the love of Christ is not controlling you. Perhaps it is your relationship with your spouse. Maybe it is your words. Or maybe it is how you react to your children when misbehave. Ask God to help the love of Christ control you in that area. In the next week, make a conscious effort to grow in love in that area.

9. He died for all that we might no longer live for ourselves –

Remember what God has done for us. Though we were totally depraved, on our own, without any hope, and destined for His wrath, He called and justified us because of His choice. It was His initiative, not ours, His grace not our work. Jesus gave us life for us.

Notice the course of action we should take in response. It is not just a small step like donating a bit of money to earthquake relief, buying some blankets for a poor person, singing a song of praise, going to church every now and then, or wearing Christian jewelry.

Neither does it necessarily require some huge ministry accomplishments like moving to Afghanistan to become a missionary to some poor tribes, transcribing the Bible into 10 languages, or pastoring a congregation of ten thousand. Those things are fine, but God actually requires much more than that. He doesn’t just want your money, your possessions, or your time. He wants your life. We are to be living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2).

That means we are to give him all of energy, thoughts, and actions, all of the time. We are to serve Him in a thousand small ways every day.

It is almost like being married and letting your wife get her way every time. Of course a wife might want something wrong, but God always wants what is right. We are to put His will above ours in every area. We live for Him. We live for His pleasure and not for our own.

Application: How can you live for God in the coming week?

2 Corinthians E-book: This entire study guide is available to download from our store or as a paperback version from Amazon.

2 Corinthians 5:16-21
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