What does 2 Corinthians 5:9 mean?
ESV: So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
NIV: So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
NASB: Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.
CSB: Therefore, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to him.
NLT: So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him.
KJV: Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.
Verse Commentary:
Paul has written honestly and transparently that he would rather be at home with the Lord in eternity than to continue through the suffering and pain of this life (2 Corinthians 5:8). He is not suicidal, though. His point is not that he actively seeks out death, nor that he has an overpowering urge to end his own life. He simply believes the gospel and understands how much better heavenly life will be than this temporary one in these temporary bodies. Until he gets there, though, he will keep going with the mission God has given him for this life.

Now Paul boils his goals—his "aim," or his intention—down to one single thing. He wants to please Christ. Whether here in difficult earthly life, or at home with Christ in glorious eternity, he wants to please Christ. That includes how he lives, what he says, and in every other way. That is Paul's ultimate purpose.
Verse Context:
Second Corinthians 5:1–10 continues Paul's teaching from the previous chapter. The glory of eternity with Christ is far weightier than any suffering experienced in our temporary bodies in this life. Paul longs to occupy his eternal body, described as a permanent house built by God Himself. Knowing that is coming, Paul has the courage to risk even more suffering in order to continue the mission to preach the gospel. His one goal in this life is to please Christ. He knows that every Christian will face judgment by Christ, not to decide one's eternal destiny, but to receive what is due for our works while living in these temporary bodies.
Chapter Summary:
Why does Paul endure so much suffering for preaching about Christ? He continues here his discussion of eternity, comparing our earthly bodies to living in a tent. Paul would rather live in the eternal body God has prepared for those who trust in Christ, free from the groaning and burden that afflicts everyone here. With that to look forward to, he preaches with courage that all in Christ are new creations. In Christ, God is reconciling people to Himself, not counting their sin against them. Paul implores everyone to be reconciled to God in this way through faith in Christ.
Chapter Context:
Second Corinthians 5 follows Paul's confident declarations in the previous chapter. His suffering, though severe, is only a light, momentary affliction preparing him for eternal glory beyond all comparison. He would rather occupy his eternal body, which gives him the courage to continue his mission to preach the gospel that God is reconciling people to Himself, forgiving their sin, through faith in Christ. Those in Christ become a new creation. He concludes by imploring all to be reconciled to God, which he continues to do in the following chapter.
Book Summary:
Second Corinthians returns to similar themes as those Paul mentioned in his first letter to this church. Paul is glad to hear that the church in Corinth has heeded his advice. At the same time, it is necessary for Paul to counter criticisms about his personality and legitimacy. Most of this text involves that subject. The fifth chapter, in contrast, contains comforting words which Christians have quoted often in times of hardship. Paul also details his expectations that the church in Corinth will make good on their promise to contribute to the needs of suffering believers in Jerusalem.
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