For we must - ( ͂ dei ). It is proper, fit, necessary that we should all appear there. This fact, to which Paul now refers, is another reason why it was necessary to lead a holy life, and why Paul gave himself with so much diligence and self-denial to the arduous duties of his office. There is a necessity, or a fitness that we should appear there to give up our account, for we are here on trial: we are responsible moral agents; we are placed here to form characters for eternity. Before we receive our eternal allotment it is proper that we should render our account of the manner in which we have lived, and of the manner in which we have improved our talents and privileges. In the nature of things, it is proper that we should undergo a trial before we receive our reward, or before we are punished; and God has made it necessary and certain, by his direct and positive appointment, that we should stand at the bar of the final judge; see Romans 14:10.
All - Both Jews and Gentiles; old and young; bond and free; rich and poor; all of every class, and every age, and every nation. None shall escape by being unknown; none by virtue of their rank, or wealth; none because they have a character too pure to be judged. All shall be arranged in one vast assemblage, and with reference to their eternal doom; see Revelation 20:12. Rosenmuller supposes that the apostle here alludes to an opinion that was common among the Jews that the Gentiles only would be exposed to severe judgments in the future world, and that the Jews would be saved as a matter of course. But the idea seems rather to be, that as the trial of the great day was the most important that man could undergo, and as all must give account there, Paul and his fellow-laborers devoted themselves to untiring diligence and fidelity that they might be accepted in that great day.
Appear - ( ͂ phanerōthēnai ). This word properly means, to make apparent, manifest, known; to show openly, etc. Here it means that we must be manifest, or openly shown; that is, we must be seen there, and be publicly tried. We must not only stand there, but our character will be seen, our desert will be known, our trial will be public. All will be brought, from their graves, and from their places of concealment, and will be seen at the judgment-seat. The secret things of the heart and the life will all be made manifest and known.
The judgment-seat of Christ - The tribunal of Christ, who is appointed to be the judge of quick and dead; see the John 5:25 note; Acts 10:42; Acts 17:31 notes. Christ is appointed to judge the world; and for this purpose he will assemble it before him, and assign to all their eternal allotments; see Matt. 25.
That every one may receive - The word rendered "may receive" ́ komisētai means properly to take care of, to provide for; and in the New Testament, to bear, to bring Luke 7:37; to acquire, to obtain, to receive. This is the sense here. Every individual shall take, receive, or bear away the appropriate reward for the transactions of this life of probation; see Ephesians 6:8; Colossians 3:25.
The things - The appropriate reward of the actions of this life. "done in his body." Literally, "the things by or through ( ̀ dia ) the body." Tyndale renders it: "the works of his body." The idea is, that every man shall receive an appropriate reward for the actions of this life. Observe here:
(1) That it is the works done in or through the body; not which the body itself has done. It is the mind, the man that has lived in the body, and acted by it, that is to be judged.
(2) It is to be for the deeds of this life; not for what is done after death. People are not to be brought into judgment for what they do after they die. All beyond the grave is either reward or punishment; it is not probation. The destiny is to be settled forever by what is done in this world of probation.
(3) It is to be for all the deeds done in the body; for all the thoughts, plans, purposes, words, as well as for all the outward actions of the man. All that has been thought or done must come into review, and man must give an account for all.
According to that he hath done - As an exact retribution for all that has been done. It is to be a suitable and proper recompence. The retribution is to be measured by what has been done in this life. Rewards shall be granted to the friends, and punishments to the foes of God, just in proportion to, or suitably to their deeds in this life. Every man shall receive just what, under all the circumstances, he ought to receive, and what will be impartial justice in the case. The judgment will be such that it will be capable of being seen to be right; and such as the universe at large, and as the individuals themselves will see ought to be rendered.
Whether it be good or bad - Whether the life has been good or evil. The good will have no wish to escape the trial; the evil will not be able. No power of wickedness, however great, will be able to escape from the trial of that day; no crime that has been concealed in this life will be concealed there; no transgressor of law who may have long escaped the punishment due to his sins, and who may have evaded all human tribunals, will be able to escape there.
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing 2 Corinthians 5:10:
2 Corinthians 5:11
2 Corinthians 5:21
2 Corinthians 5:21
2 Timothy 4:1
1 Peter 1:17
DISCLAIMER: Church of the Great God (CGG) provides these resources to aid the individual in studying the Bible. However, it is up to the individual to "prove all things, and hold fast to that which is good" (I Thessalonians 5:21). The content of these resources does not necessarily reflect the views of CGG. They are provided for information purposes only.