Absent from the Body
Upon what subject does Paul treat in 2 Cor. 5:1-8?
"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." 2 Cor. 5:1.
NOTE: In this verse the present and future condition of the believer is spoken of.
While we are here "in our earthly house," in "this tabernacle," that is in this present mortal state, what is our condition?
"For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven." "For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened; not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life." 2 Cor. 5:2, 4.
Where else does the apostle express the same fact?
"For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now." Rom. 8:22.
How many conditions, or states of being, does the apostle bring to view?
Three: First, a positive state in this present life clothed with "our earthly house" (2 Cor. 5:1.), "this tabernacle" (2 Cor. 5:4); second, a negative state, called in verse 3 "unclothed" or "naked," that is, when in death, in the grave; third, another positive condition, when mortality is swallowed up of life, when we are clothed upon with our house from heaven (verses 2, 4).
Which one of these conditions did the apostle wait for and desire?
"For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven." 2 Cor. 5:2.
What disclaimer does he utter concerning the second or middle state?
"Not for that we would be unclothed." 2 Cor. 5:4.
How is it proved that Paul looked forward to the resurrection, when he expressed a desire to be clothed upon with the house from heaven?
By the parallel text in Rom. 8:23: "And not only thy, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."
When is the body to be redeemed?
For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel. and with the trump of God; and dead in Christ shall rise first." 1 Thess. 4:16. See Phil. 3:20, 21.
When is mortality to be swallowed up of life?
"Behold, I show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." 1 Cor. 15:51-53.
NOTE: To be "naked," or "unclothed," must refer to one's condition in death. But how can it be said that one is unclothed, if he is a conscious, disembodied spirit, instantly enters the heavenly abode at death? It can be plainly seen that if an immortal soul is the "house from heaven," when the "earthly" house, the body, has been redeemed, an individual would have two houses, one more than he would have occasion for. Then again, if the second house is the supposed immortal soul, and one had it now in possession in his body, it could not be true that it is, "eternal in the heavens." On the whole it is evident that the apostle is here treating of the future redeemed body.
If the house from heaven is the future redeemed immortal body, how can it be said that, "we have" it?"
"And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son." 1 John 5:11. Hence, "he that hath the Son hath life." 1 John 5:12.
NOTE: This life we have in prospect, by faith. This life is equivalent to the redeemed state, which Paul calls "our house which is from heaven," and which we have, or posses, in the same manner. It is eternal in the heavens, because it is the fixed and unalterable purpose of God to bestow it upon us.
When, only, is a person fitted to be present with the Lord?
Not till he is redeemed from all that is mortal and corruptible. 1 Cor. 15:50; 1 Thess. 4:17.
To what condition, then, does the apostle refer by the words (2 Cor. 5:6), "At home in the body?"
To the first condition spoken of in verse 1.
To what condition does he refer by the expression, "To be present with the Lord?"
To the third condition. They are not necessarily immediately connected. Some time may elapse between them, as we have shown.