1 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven,
3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked.
4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.
The “for” at the beginning of v.1 refers back to 4:18 where Paul wrote, “we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen …” His statement in 5:1 explains his statement in 4:18.
For we know that if our house of this present tent-life on earth be taken down, a building from God we have, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed, in this [tent] we are groaning, longing to be clothed in addition with our house which is from heaven, seeing that also, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked [a disembodied spirit]. For indeed, we being in this tent, are groaning, being weighed down because we do not desire to be unclothed [divested of our mortal body] but clothed upon [invested with our heavenly body], in order that that which is mortal may be swallowed up by the life. — Wuest, page 423.
He who lives a life of faith and not of sight (v.7) will be able to say “I know” (vs.1-6) and “I am always confident” (vs.6 and 8), for faith makes Divine facts real, and illumines the mind with certitude.
Satan and men might do their best to destroy the clay-tent (v.4) in which Paul lived, but that did not trouble him; for he knew he had not a “tent” but a “house,” a building from God, not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens.
But he did not desire to be disembodied, but, on the contrary, to be alive at the coming of the Lord, so that his mortal body might be clothed upon by his immortal body, and so mortality be swallowed up of life. He groaned in his mortal body for it was burdened with pain and mortality, but he knew that the faithful God who wrought his house for him (v.1) wrought him for it (v.5), and as an earnest and pledge of the double fact, had given him His Holy Spirit. — Williams, page 901.
The body in which “the inner man” now resides is fragile, perishing, often a burden and a temptation, for since the fall it has not been conductive to spiritual living. But the new and glorified body will be forever free from any tendency toward sin, sorrow, or death. — Stam, page 96.
The following paragraphs, in part, are Stam’s rebuttal to Lewis Sperry Chafer’s belief that believers will get a temporary body between the time that their earthly body dies and they receive their glorified, eternal body in heaven. A variation of this view was taught to me long ago—that we received “a” body upon death, but that at the resurrection, some bit, some seed, from our earthy bodies would become part of our heavenly body and then become our glorified, eternal body. But when my father died, and I pondered death and what it means to the believer, I began wondering if—since heaven is outside of time—we all arrive at the same moment and receive our glorified, eternal bodies together. Stam believes this view.
It is clear that the apostle longed, not for death, but for the Rapture of believers, when “mortality” will be “swallowed up of life,” an event which he deemed to be near at hand (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:54-57). But it is also clear that “this [present] tabernacle” may be “dissolved,” in which case the “inner man” would leave the body and go to be with Christ. But there is an important truth about this eventuality that Dr. Chafer seems to have missed. Time is no factor in heaven. — Stam, page 96.