Copr. 1998, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  All Scripture references are to

the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984

International Bible Society,  unless otherwise noted. Quotations

from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes

the teacher uses a blackboard.

INTRODUCTION: I love to go camping. Imagine my joy when I found

that Paul is talking about camping (among other things) this week!

Let’s find out what camping has to do with Christian living!


     A. Read 2 Corinthians 5:1-4. Do you like to
go camping in a

          1. Acts 18:3
tells us that Paul was a professional
What do you think they used tents for back
then? Do you
think they did any camping? (Whatever the
use, it would
obviously be a temporary dwelling.)

          2. A professional
tentmaker would be aware of the
of living in a tent. Those of you who have
been camping
in a tent, tell me what are some of the
of tent camping?

a. Are there any advantages?

          3. If you had
your choice, how would you camp? (When we
were camping
this summer we saw an unusual sight at one
an elderly couple in a tent!  Normally,
campers tell
me about how they started in a tent when
they were young,
graduated to a tent-trailer (“pop-up”),
moved up to
a trailer and finally ended up with a
motorhome (or
fifth-wheeler).  Sleeping on the ground and
being too subject
to nature is apparently the problem!)

          4. In our text,
does Paul advocate tent camping? (No. He
says (5:2,4)
we groan in our tent! He says we are too
exposed (5:3-4)
in our tent.  He does not sound like a

          5. What does
Paul mean when he writes about living in a
Is he talking about a real tent? (No. He is
talking about
our human body.)

          6. Just like
the campers I have spoken with, Paul tells
us that we can
“graduate” to a more substantial dwelling.
What is that

a. Does he mean a mansion in heaven? (2 Cor. 5:1

certainly sounds that way.)

(1) If Paul is talking about a mansion, an
actual structure, how does verse 4 fit in?
There he says our heavenly dwelling “swallows”
“what is mortal” and gives us “life.”  How can
a building swallow mortality or give life?

(2) Let’s go back to chapter 4 and look at 2
Corinthians 4:18. Read. What is “temporary”
and what is “eternal” here? (Paul is comparing
our life here and temporary concerns to our
life in heaven and spiritual concerns.)

(a) Are the first four verses of chapter
5 just a continuation of this idea in
4:18? (Yes. I do not think Paul is
talking about heavenly mansions.  I think
he is saying that our body here is
temporary, but God gives us something
quite superior: eternal life!)


     A. Read 2 Corinthians 5:5-7.  Paul says
(v.5) that God has
made us for a purpose.  In light of what
we have just read,
what purpose is that?  To be a tent?
(We are made for an
eternal purpose, eternal life!)

     B. How many of you, when faced with tough problems,
have asked
yourself if God is real?  Does God exist?
Does He care about
me? Or, am I just kidding myself about God
and this eternal
life idea?

     C. When Paul says in v.7 “we live by faith
and not sight,”
does he mean that we have no proof for what
we believe?  No
current evidence?

          1. Notice v.5.
What is Paul talking about when he writes
about a “deposit”
and a “guarantee?” Right after he talks
about our “purpose”
he mentions the “deposit.” They look
like they are
related in Paul’s mind. What do you think?

a. What do deposits and guarantees have in common?
(They insure performance.  Some states have laws
which require you to pay a deposit when you buy any
beverage in a glass or metal container.  You get
the deposit back when you return the container. The
idea is that the deposit guarantees the return.)

b. In our state, many beverage containers say, “no
deposit, no return.”  Do you return those

     D. Paul seems to say that we do not have to
live by blind
faith, God has given us “performance insurance.” 
specifically, is the deposit, the performance
insurance, the
guarantee, mentioned in verse 5? (The Holy

          1. How is He
a performance guarantee?

          2. What performance
does He guarantee? (Verse 5 says that
the Spirit guarantees
“what is to come.” The Holy Spirit
gives us proof
and meaning for our “purpose” to keep our
eye on the eternal
and not the temporary.)

          3. Is the Spirit
working in your life and your church?
Do you have
this deposit insuring performance, or are you
more like the
“no deposit, no return” beverage
Is your focus and work temporary?


     A. Let’s read on. Read 2 Corinthians 5:8-10.

     B. Is Paul saying in v.8 that he would rather
be dead? (I
think he is saying that he has a preference
for eternal

          1. Is Paul telling
us that we must be one place or the
other: with
our body or with the Lord?

          2. If Paul is
talking about timing, and telling us that
we must be one
place or the other, is he suggesting
(v.10) that
we immediately have a personal judgment when
we die?

a. If so, how do you explain that Peter (2 Peter
3:7), John (1 John 4:17) and Jesus (Matthew 12:36)
refer to a “day of judgment?” Revelation 14:7
narrows it even more and refers to “the hour of His

b. If Paul is not talking about going to heaven when

we die, what could he possibly be talking about?

     C. Imagine that your Uncle Harry wrote you
a letter saying
that he was coming December 5 and gave a great
deal of detail
about why he had chosen to come then. 
In his next letter he
writes he is coming on May 10, and gives no
reasons for the
change.  He does not even mention the
change in the date.
Would you think something was wrong? (Of course.
You would
expect him to be consistent in what he writes.
You would
suspect an error.)

          1. Remember that
2 Corinthians is Paul’s second letter to
the church in
Corinth.  His first letter speaks
about death, our body and timing. Let’s turn
to it for just
a minute and review. Turn back to 1
15:35. Read.

a. What does Paul say he is about to explain? (The

kind of body the righteous have when they are

“raised” and just exactly how this is going to


          2. You should
read this whole chapter (1 Corinthians 15)
this afternoon
to get a better idea of Paul’s message.
Right now we
are going to focus on the highlights. Skip
down with me
now to vv. 50-53.  When does this say that
the dead will
be “clothed?” (v. 52 “in a flash … at the
last trumpet.” 
Paul’s language about being “clothed” in
1 Cor.15:53
fits perfectly with his discussion in 2

a. Is Paul like the Uncle Harry in my story? He just
changes the date with no explanation? (While there
seems on the surface to be a conflict, there is no
conflict when we look more deeply.  In 2
Corinthians 5 Paul seems to simply be comparing our
present life (our tent body) with eternal life (our
heavenly dwelling).  He is not speaking of timing
so much as faith and hope for the future.)

b. One commentator I read indicated that Paul’s
comments in 2 Corinthians 5 are the subject of much
controversy among Christians!


     A. So far we have learned that we have a temporary
here and we have proof of our eternal destiny.
Paul suggests
that this should shape not only how we think
about our own
lives, but also shape how we think about others.
Let’s skip
down and read 2 Cor. 5:14-17. Read.

          1. We know the
phrase, “one died for all,” is a common
reference to
Jesus’ death.  What does v.14 mean when Paul
continues and
says “therefore all die?”  Should the text
not say instead,
“therefore all live?” (This refers to an
attitude that
we need.  Since Jesus died for us, we need
to be willing
to sacrifice for the benefit of others.)

a. “All died” is a pretty extreme term. Does the
fact that Paul uses death as his point of
reference, instead of saying, “all were slightly
bothered” teach us that radical self-sacrifice is
the goal?

          2. Verse 16 says
that we will no longer “regard” someone
from a worldly
point of view.  First, how would you
regard someone
from the “worldly point of view?” (Money,
power, education,
position, and beauty would all raise
your opinion
of someone.)

a. How should we view people?  What “view” does Paul
recommend? (The view of self-sacrifice.  That would
mean that our heroes would be missionaries and
gospel workers who earn little while giving their
lives to the gospel.  Our heroes would not be movie
stars, sports stars and corporate leaders.)

b. Verse 16 tells us that we once regarded Christ
“from a worldly point of view.”  How could we do
that?  What does this mean? (If we are looking to
Christ for what we can get, as His disciples did at
first, we look at Him “from a worldly point of

(1) Have we regarded Christ from a worldly

point of view?

(2) Are we looking at Him like that today?

c. Verse 17 says we are a “new creation.”  Will a
new creature have a “new view?”



2) Are we looking at Him like that today?

c. Verse 17 says we are a “new creation.”  Will a
new creature have a “new view?”