2 Corinthians 5

2 Cor. 5:1 we have a building of God, an house not made with hands

Brigham Young

"When the faithful Latter-day Saints come to the end of their earthly existence, 'we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.' [2 Cor. 5:1.] The faithful Latter-day Saint knows that the dissolution of this mortal house will introduce his immortal spirit to freedom from death and punishment, and to the enjoyment of the society of the spirits of just men made perfect. To a person who has such a glorious hope everything is bright and beautiful." (Roy W. Doxey, comp., Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 1: 61 - 62.)

2 Cor. 5:2-4 we would be...clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life

Those who keep the new and everlasting covenant are promised that they will come forth in the morning of the first resurrection, clothed with glory, immortality and eternal lives. Paul has reference to this when he speaks of being 'clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.' Nephi saw the day when the righteous would be 'clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness' (2 Ne. 9:14). The greatness of such a moment is the earnest desire of the righteous. They long for a glorious resurrection. As Paul says, 'we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon.'

Yet, prior to being clothed with immortality, we must first live in mortality with all its trials and contradictions. Like Adam after the Fall, the carnal man feels naked before God and can't stand to be in his Presence. Hence, we must be clothed with the Spirit while yet in mortality-particularly if we attempt to approach God. In addition to being clothed with the Spirit, we must be clothed with humility (1 Pet. 5:5), charity (DC 88:125), and the whole armor of God (Eph 6:11). So clothed, our confidence can 'wax strong in the presence of God' (DC 121:45). Furthermore, in the holy temple, we may rejoice as did Isaiah, 'my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness' (Isa 61:10). What is the purpose of all this symbolism? Doesn't all of it point to the grand and glorious day when the spirit comes forth to be clothed with a celestialized body 'that mortality might be swallowed up of [eternal] life'?

Wilford Woodruff

"Therefore, I say to the Latter-day Saints, let us be faithful; let us keep the commandments; let us not renounce a single principle or command which God has given to us. Let us keep the word of wisdom. Let us pay our tithes and offerings. Let us obey the celestial law of God, that we may have our wives and children with us in the morning of the first resurrection; that we may come forth clothed with glory, immortality and eternal lives, with our wives and children bound to us in the family organization in the celestial world, to dwell with us throughout the endless ages of eternity, together with all the sons and daughter of Adam who shall have kept the commandments of God." (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 22: 148.)

2 Cor. 5:5 the earnest of the Spirit

See commentary for 2 Cor. 1:22.

2 Cor. 5:6 whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord

We are 'at home in the body' when we gratify the requests of the carnal man. The perpetual pampering and pleasure seeking may help the body feel at home, but they always drive the spirit into a self-made prison-a prison so secure that neither Jesus nor the Holy Spirit are granted visitation. Elder Maxwell noted, "It is so easy to become imprisoned in the single well-lit cell of one impulse and one appetite." (Notwithstanding My Weakness [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981], 100) Naturally, a regular response to the siren of sin inevitably drives us away from the Lord, for 'the natural man is an enemy to God' (Mosiah 3:19). Hence, while 'we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord.'

2 Cor. 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight

Neal A. Maxwell

"Since we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), some puzzlement is likely, for we do not see the end from the beginning. If we constantly saw the end from the beginning, the 'middle' would not be a true test!" (That Ye May Believe [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1992], 157.)

Neal A. Maxwell

"At present we are required to 'walk by faith, not by sight' (2 Corinthians 5:7). We can finally 'overcome by faith' (D&C 76:53), which is the only real and lasting form of personal triumph." (Lord, Increase Our Faith [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1994], 7.)

Neal A. Maxwell

"Hope helps us to walk by faith, not by sight. This can actually be safer. When unaided spiritually, natural sight often shrinks from the odds (see 2 Cor. 5:7). It is immobilized by improbabilities. Mauled by his moods and intimidated by his fears, the natural man overreacts to, while hope overrides, the disappointments of the day." ("Brightness of Hope," Ensign, Nov. 1994, 36)

Neal A. Maxwell

"Secular people, of whom there are more and more, insist on seeing instead of walking by faith (see 2 Cor. 5:7). In their passion to see, they fall into the trap of 'looking beyond the mark' (Jacob 4:14), including failing to notice the sprouting leaves on the fig tree signaling that summer is nigh (see JS-M 1:38-39; D&C 45:37).

"In such a context, those trying to spread the gospel's glorious truths often encounter people, as did Ether, whose reactions to his 'great and marvelous' prophecies were 'they did not believe, because they saw them not' (Ether 12:5)." ("The Richness of the Restoration," Ensign, Mar. 1998, 9)

Bruce C. Hafen

"...men are not forced by...circumstances to believe. There are so many things that [God] could do to rend the veil. But, 'we walk by faith, not by sight.' (2 Cor. 5:7.)

"Scholars in the philosophy of knowledge tell us that people tend to see what they want to see, especially when the evidence is ambiguous. Perhaps that is why the mists of darkness in Lehi's dream are so descriptive of the conditions of mortality. God has chosen to leave us free, amid circumstances that do not compel our belief, to determine for ourselves, as an act of will, whether to grasp the iron rod in the midst of that mortal darkness. All four of Lehi's sons were born of those same goodly parents. The difference between the believers and unbelievers was not so much in what happened to them, but in their attitude toward what happened. That attitude originated within their own hearts, with each making his own free choice about being willing to be believing." ("Is Yours a Believing Heart?" Ensign, Sept. 1974, 54-55)

2 Cor. 5:10 we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ

One particular television program featured a minister renowned for his understanding of the Bible. During the program, he responded to questions by telephone, freely quoting various biblical passages. One such caller asked him the meaning of the Revelation passage which speaks of the dead being judged 'according to their works' (Rev. 20:12)-especially in light of the Christian doctrine of salvation by grace. His response was not to respond at all. The subject was diverted. The next question was entertained.

In the logic of modern Christianity, there should be no need for judgment according to one's works, when salvation is wrought only by faith. Can we imagine the sinner who claimed allegiance to Christ standing before Him in judgment? He might declare, "I'm a Christian, I was told if I confess your name, I will be saved." Yet, his bold declarations will give way to a bowed head, a bended knee, and a frightening realization. At that tragic moment, he will understand he has been duped, for he will 'stand before God...[having] a bright recollection of all [his] guilt' (Alma 11:43).

Indeed, nothing is more final than the final judgment. No one gets to turn back the clock and try again. When the clock stops ticking, the day of probation is over and the consequences can be frightening.

Spencer W. Kimball

"Of two very important things we may be absolutely certain-that it is not vain to serve the Lord, and that the day of judgment will come to all, the righteous and the unrighteous.

"The time of reckoning is as sure as is the passage of time and the coming of eternity. All who live shall eventually stand before the bar of God to be judged according to their works. Their final assignments will constitute rewards and punishments according to the kinds of lives they lived on earth." (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 46)

Spencer W. Kimball

"The Book of Life (see Revelation 20:12) will show the earthly activities of all of us, and the book of the angels will give the entire story of every man and what he did in the light and in the shadows, in the open and in the corners, all that is said in the secret places and from the housetops, all that was thought and expressed, whether good or bad. There will be no escape. The honest judge will give full value to all for their good works and will not overlook the other.

"God is just. I know that every man will enjoy every blessing which he has earned and I know that every man will receive no blessing through mercy as that word is often connotated. Justice will be tempered with mercy but not replaced by it. I am positive that no man will ever be judged without opportunity, blessed beyond his deserts, nor punished for something for which he was not responsible." (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 46)

George Albert Smith

"Are we guiltless or are we among those who, when we stand in the presence of the great Judge, will be humiliated when we realize that because of our avarice and deceitfulness we have wronged these children of his of whom he has said: 'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me'? (Matthew 25:40.)

"'Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour's wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour's' (Deuteronomy 5:21).

"Do you believe that the Lord said that? Do you believe that he meant what he said? If we only understood how near we are to the Judgment Day there are men and women in the various communities of this world who would now be on their knees in sackcloth and ashes; but they think that time is so far off that they procrastinate the day of repentance." (Conference Reports, October 1935, p. 121.)

2 Cor. 5:11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men

Paul knew 'the terror of the Lord.' Like the sons of Mosiah, he 'could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause [him] to quake and tremble' (Mosiah 28:3). Such an understanding seemed to inspire Paul and the sons of Mosiah to become great missionaries.

Joseph Smith

"The disappointment of hopes and expectations at the resurrection would be indescribably dreadful [for those who have ignored or rejected revealed truths]." (Encyclopedia of Joseph Smith's Teachings, edited by Larry E. Dahl and Donald Q.Cannon [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], "Disappointment".)

2 Cor. 5:17 if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature

"In order to be 'born again,' the 'natural man' must be put off so that we each can become a 'new creature' in Christ (Mosiah 3:19; Mosiah 27:26; JST, 2 Cor. 5:16-17). This new creature, 'a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord' (Mosiah 3:19), is spiritual in nature as opposed to carnal or worldly. In essence, the driving or controlling forces within us must be altered from carnal, selfish, natural desires and motives to spiritually driven desires and motives. The scriptures refer to this change in disposition, temperament, or character as a 'mighty change' in heart (Mosiah 5:2; Alma 5:12-14).

"The Lord told Alma the Younger that without this change, we risk being 'cast off' and 'can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God' (Mosiah 27:25-27)." (C. Richard Chidester, "I Have a Question," Ensign, Apr. 1996, 53)

"Through the atonement of Christ we do more than enjoy a change of behavior; we have our nature changed. '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). Isn't that what the angel taught King Benjamin-that the natural man is an enemy to God and will stay that way unless and until he yields himself to the enticings of the Holy Spirit (Mosiah 3:19)? John Stott explained: 'We may be quite sure that Christ-centeredness and Christ-likeness will never be attained by our own unaided efforts. How can self drive out self? As well expect Satan to drive out Satan! For we are not interested in skin-deep holiness, in a merely external resemblance to Jesus Christ. We are not satisfied by a superficial modification of behavior patterns. . . . No, what we long for is a deep inward change of character, resulting from a change of nature and leading to a radical change of conduct. In a word we want to be like Christ, and that thoroughly, profoundly, entirely. Nothing less than this will do.'

"Elder Glenn Pace put it this way: 'We should all be striving for a disposition to do no evil, but to do good continually. This isn't a resolve or a discipline; it is a disposition. We do things because we want to, not just because we know we should. . . . Sometimes we overlook the fact that a spiritual transformation or metamorphosis must take place within us. It comes about through grace and by the Spirit of God, although it does not come about until we have truly repented and proven ourselves worthy. . . . My conclusion is that we will not be saved by works if those works are not born of a disposition to do good, as opposed to an obligation to do good.' This, of course, is what President Ezra Taft Benson meant when he taught that although the world deals in externals, the Lord works from the inside out.

"Bob George, a Protestant writer, described the spiritual transformation this way: 'Being made into a new creation is like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. Originally an earthbound crawling creature, a caterpillar weaves a cocoon and is totally immersed in it. Then a marvelous process takes place called metamorphosis. Finally a totally new creature-a butterfly-emerges. Once ground-bound, the butterfly can soar above the earth. It now can view life from the sky downward. In the same way, as a new creature in Christ you must begin to see yourself as God sees you.

"'If you were to see a butterfly, it would never occur to you to say, `Hey, everybody! Come look at this good-looking, converted worm!` Why not? After all, it was a worm. And it was `converted.` No, now it is a new creature, and you don't think of it in terms of what it was. You see it as it is now-a butterfly.'" (Selected Writings of Robert L. Millet: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2000], 78.)

2 Cor. 5:18 the ministry of reconciliation

Robert E. Wells

"...missionary work is the work of bringing people to peace with Christ and God. Paul calls it reconciliation. In his second letter to the Corinthians he said, 'God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, . . . hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.' (2 Corinthians 5:18.) He then declared that we are ambassadors for Christ and that we should bring all people to be reconciled to God. Through missionary work, we bring people to the waters of baptism, and through baptism they receive remission of their sins and peace in Christ." (The Mount and the Master [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 87.)

2 Cor. 5:19 God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them

"The English word atonement captures precisely what this 'reconciliation' means-that God and His children can be reunited or arrive at a state of 'at-one-ment' again. The Savior provides a way for us to repent of our sins by 'reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them' (2 Cor. 5:19)." (David Rolph Seely and Jo Ann H. Seely, "Paul: Untiring Witness of Christ," Ensign, Aug. 1999, 27)

Hugh Nibley

"The word atonement is only found once in the New Testament. It's found a number of times in the Old Testament, but only once in the New Testament. And it's not found at all in the Revised Standard Version. They don't use atonement at all. The word doesn't even appear in the New Testament. They use instead reconciliation, keeping it quite literal, from reconcilio. Reconciliation means 'to return and sit down beside somebody again.'...You return and then you sit down. You sit down by the side of the Lord, and you sit down again because you've been there before. It's reconciliation." (Teachings of the Book of Mormon--Semester 1: Transcripts of Lectures Presented to an Honors Book of Mormon Class at Brigham Young University, 1988-1990, p. 214.)

Neal A. Maxwell

"The Atonement was itself an act of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19). Jesus 'hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us . . . that he might reconcile [us] unto God' (Ephesians 2:14-16).

"The theme of reconciliation is often found in the Book of Mormon as well: 'Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved' (2 Nephi 10:24).

"There is no such thing as one party reconciliation. 'And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation' (2 Corinthians 5:18). God stands ready to reconcile us to Him, waiting with open arms to receive us (Mormon 6:17). There is no such thing as a solo embrace." (Not My Will, But Thine [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1998], 99.)

2 Cor. 5:21 he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin

"The night of atonement was a night of irony. He who was sinless became, as it were, the great Sinner. In Paul's words, God the Father had 'made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin.' (2 Cor. 5:21.) To the Galatian Saints, Paul also taught that 'Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.' (Gal. 3:13.) He who deserved least of all to suffer now suffered most-more than mortal mind can fathom. He who had brought life-the more abundant life (John 10:10)-was subjected to the powers of death and darkness. As the Prophet Joseph Smith taught the brethren of the School of the Prophets, Jesus Christ is called the Son of God because he 'descended in suffering below that which man can suffer; or, in other words, suffered greater sufferings, and was exposed to more powerful contradictions than any man can be.'" (Kent P. Jackson and Robert L. Millet, eds., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 5: The Gospels [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1986], 436.)

"I would like to draw attention to a few aspects of the Savior's vicarious suffering that often escape notice, but that are important for understanding our relationship with him. First, Jesus Christ did not just assume the punishment for our sins-he took the guilt as well. The sin, the experience itself with all of its negative consequences and ramifications, and not just the penalty for sin, became his. This is a crucial distinction. In the Atonement, Jesus does not just suffer our punishment for us, he becomes the guilty party in our place-he becomes guilty for us and experiences our guilt: 'For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.' (2 Cor. 5:21.)

"In Christ there is a real transfer of guilt for innocence. Through the oneness of our covenant relationship, my guilt becomes Jesus' guilt, which he experienced and for which he suffered. At the same time, his innocence and perfection become mine, and I am rendered clean and worthy. In Christ our sins cease to be ours, and as far as the justice of God is concerned, we never committed them. Through the Atonement, we are not merely forgiven-we are rendered innocent once again." (Stephen E. Robinson, Believing Christ: The Parable of the Bicycle and Other Good News [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1992], 117.)