2-Corinthians - 5:9

9 Therefore also we make it our aim, whether at home or absent, to be well pleasing to him.

Verse In-Depth

Explanation and meaning of 2-Corinthians 5:9.

Differing Translations

Compare verses for better understanding.
Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.
And therefore we labour, whether absent or present, to please him.
Wherefore also we are zealous, whether present or absent, to be agreeable to him.
Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted by him.
Wherefore also we are ambitious, whether at home or away from home, to be well pleasing to him,
Why we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.
And for this reason also we make it our ambition, whether at home or in exile, to please Him perfectly.
For this reason we make it our purpose, in the body or away from it, to be well-pleasing to him.
And thus we struggle, whether absent or present, to please him.
Therefore, whether in our home or absent from our home, our one ambition is to please him.

*Minor differences ignored. Grouped by changes, with first version listed as example.

Historical Commentaries

Scholarly Analysis and Interpretation.

Wherefore we strive. Having shown how magnanimous Christians ought to be in the endurance of afflictions, [1] so that even in dying they may be conquerors over death, and that too, because by afflictions and death they attain to a blessed life, he now from the same source draws also another conclusion -- that they must, by all means, make it their main desire to please God. And indeed it cannot but be, that the hope of a resurrection, and thoughtfulness as to the judgment, will awaken in us this desire; as, on the other hand, the true reason why we are so indolent and remiss in duty is, that we seldom, if ever, think of what ought to be constantly kept in remembrance, [2] that we are here but lodgers [3] for a short time, that we may, after finishing our course, return to Christ. Observe, however, what he says -- that this is the desire both of the living and of the dead, by which statement the immortality of the soul is again confirmed.


1 - "Quelle constance et magnanimite doyuent auoir les Chrestiens en leurs afflictions;" -- "What constancy and magnanimity Christians ought to have in their afflictions."

2 - "Nous deurions auoir incessamment deuant les yeux et en memoire;" -- "We ought to have unceasingly before our eyes and in our remembrance."

3 - "Nous sommes yci estrangers;" -- "We are strangers here."

Wherefore - (Διὸ Dio). In view of the facts stated above. Since we have the prospect of a resurrection and of future glory; since we have the assurance that there is a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens; and since God has given to us this hope, and has granted to us the earnest of the Spirit, we make it our great object so to live as to be accepted by him.
We labor - The word used here (φιλοτιμούμεθα philotimoumetha, from φίλος philos and τιμὴ timē, loving honor) means properly to love honor; to be ambitious. This is its usual Classical signification. In the New Testament, it means to be ambitious to do anything; to exert oneself; to strive, as if from a love or sense of honor. As in English, to make it a point of honor to do so and so - Robinson (Lexicon); see Romans 15:20; 1-Thessalonians 4:1 l. It means here, that Paul made it a point of constant effort; it was his leading and constant aim to live so as to be acceptable to God, and to meet his approbation wherever he was.
Whether present or absent - Whether present with the Lord 2-Corinthians 5:8, or absent from him 2-Corinthians 5:6; that is, whether in this world or the next; whether we are here, or removed to heaven. Wherever we are, or may be, it is, and will be our main purpose and object so to live as to secure his favor. Paul did not wish to live on earth regardless of his favor or without evidence that he would be accepted by him. He did not make the fact that he was absent from him, and that he did not see him with the physical eye, an excuse for walking in the ways of ambition, or seeking his own purposes and ends. The idea is, that so far as this point was concerned, it made no difference with him whether he lived or died; whether he was on earth or in heaven; whether in the body or out of the body; it was the great fixed principle of his nature so to live as to secure the approbation of the Lord. And this is the true principle on which the Christian should act, and will act. The fact that he is now absent from the Lord will be to him no reason why he should lead a life of sin and self-indulgence, anymore than he would if he were in heaven; and the fact that he is soon to be with him is not the main reason why he seeks to live so as to please him. It is because this has become the fixed principle of the soul; the very purpose of the life; and this principle and this purpose will adhere to him, and control him wherever he may be placed, or in whatever world he may dwell.
We may be accepted of him - The phrase used here εὐάρεστοι εἶναι euarestoi einai means to be well-pleasing; and then to be acceptable, or approved; Romans 12:1; Romans 14:18; Ephesians 5:10; Philippians 4:18; Titus 2:9. The sense here is, that Paul was earnestly desirous of so living as to please God, and to receive from him the tokens and marks of his favor. And the truth taught in this verse is, that this will be the great purpose of the Christian's life, and that it makes no difference as to the existence and operation of this principle whether a man is on earth or in heaven. He will equally desire it, and strive for it; and this is one of the ways in which religion makes a man conscientious and holy, and is a better guard and security for virtue than all human laws, and all the restraints which can be imposed by man.

Wherefore we labor - Φιλοτιμουμεθα· from φιλος, loving, and τιμη, honor; we act at all times on the principles of honor; we are, in the proper sense of the word, ambitious to do and say every thing consistently with our high vocation: and, as we claim kindred to the inhabitants of heaven, to act as they do.
We may be accepted of him - Ευαρεστοι αυτῳ ειναι To be pleasing to him. Through the love we have to God, we study and labor to please him. This is and will be our heaven, to study to love, please, and serve him from whom we have received both our being and its blessings.

Wherefore we (g) labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.
(g) And seeing that it is so, we strive to live so, that both in this our pilgrimage here we may please him, and that at length we may be received home to him.

Wherefore we labour, that whether present or absent,.... This may be understood either of the ministers of the Gospel in particular, who labour in the word and doctrine, are ambitious, as the word here used signifies, and strive to preach the Gospel, not to please men, but their Lord and master; or of saints in general, who are intent upon this, and whose highest ambition is, that whether living or dying they
may be accepted of him; both persons and services: such who are born again, who are believers in Christ, and truly love him, are earnestly desirous of doing those things which are pleasing to him; and do in the strength of Christ endeavour to perform them. Faith is a diligent, industrious, and operative grace, and makes persons like itself. As none ought to be, so none are more careful to perform good works, or more ambitious to excel others in them, and thereby please their Lord, than believers. And these are the only persons that can please him, for without faith it is impossible to please him; for these act from a principle of love to him, and with a view to his glory; and may they be but accepted of him, living and dying, both in this and the other world, they have the highest favour they can wish for and desire.

The apostle quickens himself and others to acts of duty. Well-grounded hopes of heaven will not encourage sloth and sinful security. Let all consider the judgment to come, which is called, The terror of the Lord. Knowing what terrible vengeance the Lord would execute upon the workers of iniquity, the apostle and his brethren used every argument and persuasion, to lead men to believe in the Lord Jesus, and to act as his disciples. Their zeal and diligence were for the glory of God and the good of the church. Christ's love to us will have a like effect upon us, if duly considered and rightly judged. All were lost and undone, dead and ruined, slaves to sin, having no power to deliver themselves, and must have remained thus miserable for ever, if Christ had not died. We should not make ourselves, but Christ, the end of our living and actions. A Christian's life should be devoted to Christ. Alas, how many show the worthlessness of their professed faith and love, by living to themselves and to the world!

Wherefore--with such a sure "confidence" of being blessed, whether we die before, or be found alive at Christ's coming.
we labour--literally, "make it our ambition"; the only lawful ambition.
whether present or absent--whether we be found at His coming present in the body, or absent from it.
accepted--Greek, "well-pleasing."

Therefore we are ambitious - The only ambition which has place in a Christian. Whether present - In the body. Or absent - From it.

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