|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:9-15 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!
Verse 10. - We must all appear; rather, for it is necessary that we must all be made manifest; that we must be shown in our real nature and character. The verb is not the same as in Romans 14:10, which occurs in 2 Corinthians 4:14. Before the judgment seat of Christ. The special final judgment is represented as taking place before the bema of Christ, although in Romans 14:10 the best reading is "of God" (Matthew 25:31, 32). St. Paul might naturally use this Roman and Greek idea of the bema, being too familiar with it in his own experience (comp. Acts 12:21; Acts 18:12; Acts 25:6; Romans 14:10). The things done in the body; literally, the things (done) by the instrumentality of the body. Another reading (which only differs by a single letter from this) is, "the proper things of the body" (τὰ ἴδια τοῦ σώματος); i.e. the things which belong to it, which it has made its own. St. Paul, always intent on one subject at a time, does not stop to coordinate this law of natural retribution and inexorable Nemesis with that of the "forgiveness of sins" (1 Corinthians 5:11; Romans 3:25), or with the apparently universal hopes which he seems sometimes to express (Romans 5:17, 18; Romans 11:32). Omnia exeunt in mysterium. According to that he hath done; rather, with reference to the things he did. The aorist shows that all life will be as it were concentrated to one point. The Pelagians raised questions on this verse about the sinlessness of infants, etc., all of which may be left on one side, as probably nothing was more absolutely distant from the thoughts of St. Paul. Observe that each is to receive the natural issues of what he has done. There is to be an analogy between the sin and the retribution. The latter is but the ripe fruit of the former. We shall be punished by the action of natural laws, not of arbitrary inflictions. We shall reap what we have sown, not harvests of other grain (Romans 2:5-11; Revelation 22:12; Galatians 6:7). Whether it be good or bad. St. Paul, who always confines himself to one topic at a time, does not here enter on the question of the cutting off of the entailed curse by repentance and forgiveness. He leaves unsolved the antinomy between normal inevitable consequence and free remission.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For we must all appear,.... This is a reason why the saints are so diligent and laborious, so earnest and intent upon it, to be accepted of the Lord, because they must stand
before the judgment seat of Christ; who is appointed Judge of the whole earth, who is every way qualified for it, being God omnipotent and omniscient; and when he comes a second time will sit upon his great white throne, a symbol of purity and integrity, and will enter on this work, and finish it with the strictest justice and equity: and before him "we must all appear"; all the saints as well as others, ministers and people, persons of all ranks and conditions, of every nation, age, and sex; there will be no avoiding this judgment, all "must appear", or "be made manifest"; they will be set in open view, before angels and men; their persons, characters, and actions, even the most secret will be:
that everyone may receive the things done in his body; which he has performed by the members of the body as instruments thereof, or whatsoever he has done whilst in the body; and so this not only reaches to words and actions, but includes all the secret thoughts of the mind, and counsels of the heart, which will be made manifest: and when it is said, that "everyone shall receive" these; the meaning is, that he shall receive the reward of them,
according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad; the reward of good works will be of grace, and not of merit: good works will be considered at the last judgment, not as causes of eternal life and happiness, to which the saints will be adjudged; but will be produced in open court as fruits of grace, and as evidences of the truth of faith, which will justify the Judge in proceeding according to what he himself, as a Saviour, has said,
he that believeth shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be damned. The reward of bad works will be in strict and just proportion, according to the nature and demerit of them. The Jews say (f), that
"all the works which a man does in this world, "in the body", and spirit, he must give an account of in body and spirit before he goes out of the world.''
And again (g), all the works of men are written in a book, , "whether good or evil", and for them all they must give account.
(f) Zohar in Gen. fol. 57. 3.((g) Midrash Hanneelim in Zohar in Gen. fol. 75. 4.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
10. appear—rather, "be made manifest," namely, in our true character. So "appear," Greek, "be manifested" (Col 3:4; compare 1Co 4:5). We are at all times, even now, manifest to God; then we shall be so to the assembled intelligent universe and to ourselves: for the judgment shall be not only in order to assign the everlasting portion to each, but to vindicate God's righteousness, so that it shall be manifest to all His creatures, and even to the conscience of the sinner himself.
receive—His reward of grace proportioned to "the things done," &c. (2Co 9:6-9; 2Jo 8). Though salvation be of grace purely, independent of works, the saved may have a greater or less reward, according as he lives to, and labors for, Christ more or less. Hence there is scope for the holy "ambition" (see on 2Co 5:9; Heb 6:10). This verse guards against the Corinthians supposing that all share in the house "from heaven" (2Co 5:1, 2). There shall be a searching judgment which shall sever the bad from the good, according to their respective,deeds, the motive of the deeds being taken into account, not the mere external act; faith and love to God are the sole motives recognized by God as sound and good (Mt 12:36, 37; 25:35-45),
done in his body—The Greek may be, "by the instrumentality of the body"; but English Version is legitimate (compare Greek, Ro 2:27). Justice requires that substantially the same body which has been the instrument of the unbelievers' sin, should be the object of punishment. A proof of the essential identity of the natural and the resurrection body.
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