2 Corinthians 5:7 RV1885
(for we walk by faith, not by sight)
The Revised Version puts this verse between parentheses. Not meaning they had some doubts about the authenticity of the verse, but that this verse is a clarification of the verses around it.
When quoting this verse you will hear many preachers give explanations like:
▪︎ The Bible challenges us to ‘walk by faith, and not by sight,’
▪︎ or you are to ‘walk by faith, and not by sight,’
▪︎ or you ought to ‘walk by faith, and not by sight.’
It is clear that the word “walk” was used here in the metaphorical sense of “live”.
So the New International Version translates this verse as:
2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV
For we live by faith, not by sight.
Paul’s words are in this verse not a command to live by faith, but a statement of what they were doing.
And what they were doing is a good example to us.
▪︎ Living by faith, keeping our eyes on God, and making our decisions based on what God wants, and trust in the God and his Word.
▪︎ And not in the way the world is living, keeping their eyes on materials and circumstances, and making their decisions based on what they perceive. Where that brings them we can see all around us if we just look at the panic, and damage they caused by their reaction on the Corona virus.
A Christian can always trust God, and keep calm where the world is panicking.
But saying that this verse orders a Christian that he MUST live BY FAITH ONLY, ignoring whatever happens around him is not correct. By doing this, many have gone against the commandment in Deuteronomy.
Deuteronomy 6:16 NASB
You shall not put the Lord your God to the test
As I already said: Teaching that a Christian MUST live BY FAITH ONLY, ignoring whatever happens around him is not what this text says, nor what it means. Paul is NOT COMMANDING the Corinthians to “live by faith”; he is MAKING A STATEMENT that the Corinthians are living by faith.
This text is very popular in the Word of Faith movement, and by Frederick Price, a popular TV preacher in that movement, who closes every sermon by citing 2 Cor 5:7.
But in all these instances, this text has been stripped of its context, and was given a new meaning to it.
Paul is not saying that we “should live by faith” or that we “ought to live by faith.”. No, he directly and unequivocally says that we, all believers, do, in fact, live by faith.
Verse 7 can be rightly understood to be a parenthesis in the thought of the verses 5–8.
2 Corinthians 5:5-8 NASB
⁵Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. ⁶Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord ⁷— for we walk by faith, not by sight — ⁸we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.
To get the broader context, let us see what it says in the beginning of chapter 5.
Paul begins in verse 1 to explain what happens to a believer who dies, “if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed.” Then Paul says, that we can look forward to a resurrection body, “a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”
But until then “we groan” (verse 2), knowing that our present bodies are subject to ailments, injury, and disability. And since we know that “as long as we are at home in the body we are away [in a spatial sense] from the Lord” (verse 6), we “would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (verse 8). All believers here on earth are presently “away from the Lord” in the sense Paul means in verse 6.
But Paul’s reasoning in the verses 6 and 8 could leave the wrong impression. That’s why he interrupts with verse 7 before he completes his thought in verse 8.
The “for” that starts verse 7 with, is what the Standard Greek Dictionary calls a “marker of clarification.”
One could easily take Paul’s statement in verse 6 to mean that since believers are presently “away from the Lord,” they enjoy no fellowship with Him at all. But, of course, that would be an absolutely false idea, for, you see, Paul says in verse 7, “we presently live in the realm of faith (“by faith”), not in the realm of sight.”
Paul is contrasting actually seeing the Lord (“at home with the Lord”) with our present experience of believing in the Lord without seeing him (“away from the Lord”).
For now believers “live in the realm of faith,” trusting in the Lord whom they have not seen, but one day they will “live in the realm of sight.” This is same sort of contrast we see in John 20:29 and 1 Pet 1:8.
So although we are presently “away from the Lord,” this does not mean that we are cutoff from fellowship with the Lord. But for now we live “in the realm of faith,” which is no hindrance to communion with our Savior, though truly we look forward to the day when we will live “by sight.”