Paul’s Service: Courageous and Confident
Courage in Judgment (II Corinthians 5:6-11)
Because God guarantees eternal life through the Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14), Paul is able to approach life on this earth with confidence. The Greek word used here, tharrheo, means to be of good cheer, to have good courage, to be full of hope. It is consistently his attitude; it wasn’t something that came and went. Paul knew that while we are here in this body, the Lord is waiting for us. The word endemeo, translated as “home,” means to be in one’s own country or with one’s own people (Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 11:13-16; 13:14). It should not be taken as meaning that the physical body is our permanent home. Rather our body represents being in this physical world. This world is our current place of residence, but we have our true home awaiting us with Jesus (Philippians 1:23). “Absent” is translating the Greek word ekdemeo, which means to be away from one’s own country or people.
It doesn’t matter that we haven’t seen our future home. We choose our path of living based on faith, not sight (Hebrews 11:1; Romans 8:24-25). It is the same point Paul made earlier in II Corinthians 4:18 (I Peter 1:8).
Paul plays further with endemeo (in one’s own country) and ekdemeo (away from one’s own country) in II Corinthians 5:8-9. When we see this world as our home, we are away from our true home. When we leave this home, we will be at home, and that is a preferable state which leaves us happy, of good courage, and full of hope (I Thessalonians 4:13-17).
Because we are well pleased to make heaven our home, our goal is to be well-pleasing to our Lord whether we are at home or away from home. “Goal” or “aim” is translating phileotimeomai, which means a loving honor. Christians see it as an honor to please our Lord (Romans 12:1; 14:18; Ephesians 5:10). Because we know that everyone must face Christ in judgment (Matthew 25:31-32; I Corinthians 4:5). The word “appear” translates the Greek word phaneroo, which means to be shown, manifested or declared. There everyone will receive recompense for what he has done – good or evil (Romans 2:6; Colossians 3:24-25; Revelation 22:12).
While the Christian is confident to appear before the Lord, we understand the terror that will fill those unprepared for such an appearing (Hebrews 10:31; Jude 23). Therefore, Paul and other preachers seek to persuade men out of their sins. But for the Christian, he knows he is manifested before God and doesn’t have that fear. God sees his sincere efforts on His behalf. And Paul trusts he is equally manifested to the Corinthians. They too know of his sincere efforts (II Corinthians 4:2), and, by implication, there will be no fear when Paul comes to them.
Confidence in Impact (II Corinthians 5:12-16)
Paul is not saying these things to boast about his accomplishments. Rather, he desires to inspire confidence about himself in the Corinthians so they would know how to answer who come boasting about themselves. Paul’s boast, if you would is about his sincerity (II Corinthians 1:12-14). These men commend themselves by their outward appearance, but it isn’t from the heart and, thus, not sincere (Galatians 6:12-14).
It appears that one angle of attack against Paul was to claim he was a religious nut, perhaps on the same order as Festus’ charge (Acts 26:24). Jesus too was charged with this (Mark 3:21). The phrase here means to be out of place. Basically, Paul is saying that if his thinking doesn’t fit in with what is considered “normal,” then it is because he is serving God. Or if he was seen to be sound in his mind it is because he is serving the brethren. How people claim to perceive him doesn’t matter. Madness is an easy charge to throw at a person you don’t want to reason with and gives you an excuse not to attempt it.
What motivates Paul is not how others look at him but the love Christ had for the world (Romans 5:6-8; 8:35; John 15:9-10). Paul is convinced that if one died for all people, then it must mean that all died with him (Hebrews 2:9; John 3:16; Matthew 20:28; Ephesians 2:1; Romans 5:15). Christ died so that Christians might live, not for themselves but for Christ (Romans 6:11-12; 14:7-9; I Corinthians 6:19; Galatians 2:20; I Peter 4:1-2).
Because Christ died for us and we died with him (Romans 6:3-4), from that point on our view of men changes. We don’t look at people from a worldly standpoint. We don’t judge their worth based on nationality, social status, or popularity (John 8:15; Galatians 2:6; 3:28; Philippians 3:4-6; James 2:1-4). Just as we no longer look at Christ the same way as before we began to follow him. The apostles, as an example, kept looking for Christ to set up an earthly kingdom (Matthew 20:21; Acts 1:6). Now they realized how much they misunderstood (I Corinthians 15:25).
- How do people view Jesus before becoming a Christian versus after becoming a Christian?
- How does being a Christian shape your view of people?