Bible Study for 2 Corinthians 5
In life, we know we can trust someone based on our past experiences with them. The same can be true with God - we trust God to be faithful in the future because God has been faithful in our past. One of the joys of the community of faith is that we can also hear the ways that God has been faithful to other people in the past. Scripture provides an even deeper testimony of God’s faithfulness.
As I read this passage from Paul, I was struck by how many other stories from Scripture came to mind. It is as if Paul could write these things, promising a future to the church in Corinth, because he knew the stories of the past, even though he did not include them.
I will go through this passage and share some of the connections from the Hebrew Scriptures and the Gospels that came to my mind. I encourage you to read the passage first and write down the stories that come to your mind. Then, for your Bible study, pick one or two passages to read and ask the following questions:
At what point in Israel’s history does this take place?
How did this story affect what happened later?
How does one passage help interpret the other? Does it change your reading to hear the two together?
What other Biblical passages come to mind?
How then are we called to live?
2 Corinthians 5:1-21
5:1For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling— 3if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked. 4For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
Tents make me think of the Israelites wandering (including Exodus 16-17) and the tent of meeting (Exodus 33:7-11)
Paul’s usage of tent is meant to invoke the image of the tabernacle (Exodus 35-40)
Death will be swallowed up (Isaiah 25:6-8)
6So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord— 7for we walk by faith, not by sight.
Jesus heals the blind man (Mark 8:22-26, John 9)
8Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10For all of us must appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.
Enoch walked with God and then he was no more (Genesis 21-24)
Elijah taken up into heaven (2 Kings 2:1-12)
Talk about the commandments when you are are home or away (Deuteronomy 6:1-9)
11Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences. 12We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance and not in the heart.
Where your treasure is, there your heart is also (Luke 12:32-34)
What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart (Matthew 15:10-20)
13For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. 15And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.
Those who lose their life for Christ’s sake will find it (Matthew 16:24-26)
16From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way.
Samuel anointing David (1 Samuel 16:1-13)
17So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
Moses’ face shone (Exodus 34)
Jesus is transfigured (Luke 9:28-36)
18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.
God sent Jesus (John 3:16-17)
20So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Jesus’ death and the tearing of the temple curtain (Matthew 27:32-56)
As you look up passages, it can be nice to use a physical Bible so it is easy to see what comes before and after. If you do not have one available, you can use http://bible.oremus.org/ for the NRSV which is the translation we use in worship or https://biblehub.com/ to be able to read a passage in many different translations.
What else do you notice? What else do you wonder? What connections did you make?
Share your thoughts with a friend or with firstname.lastname@example.org.