2 Corinthians 5:1-4

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.

For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven,

if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked.

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.

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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.

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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 with 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.

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The apostle was not longing for death and the dissolution of his body; he groaned and longed for the Lord to give him his new, glorified body. But Paul who said, “to die is gain” knew that if his tent body were dissolved he would be going to meet the blessed One who had a new glorified body for him, “mortality swallowed up of life”: Christ’s life. and this, not after many years, for there are no years in heaven. Indeed, the fact that Paul longed, not to go to be with Christ in a disembodied state, but to go to Christ to receive a glorified body, is evident from his words in Romans 8:22-23:

For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

Mark well, even we ourselves groan … and wait,” for what? For death and dismemberment? No! For “the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”

And this new, glorified body will not be “made with hands,” i.e., a human product, like the tents Paul toiled day after day to make. It will be a divine creation, “eternal in the heavens.”

So we are destined for glory … greater than the highest archangel will ever know. Let us then press forward, if “groaning,” also “longing” for the wonderful things promised to us in His Word.

“… If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:17).

Once we see that time is not a factor in heaven, that all there is is an eternal present, 2 Corinthians 5:1-4 become clear….

1 Corinthians 15:54 deals with the resurrection of the dead in Christ and the transformation of the living saints. Concerning the dead in Christ he says: “… this corruptible shall have put on incorruptibility.”

But referring to the living saints, he says: “And this mortal shall put on immortality.”

Note this carefully: “this mortal” refers, not to the dead, but to those who are “apt to die,” as all living saints are. And when shall these receive their glorified bodies? Immediately! They will go immediately from mortality to immortality, though some of the dead in Christ will have been “with Him” for many years: Paul and his comrades for almost two millenniums of time on earth. Stam, pages 97-99.

So, the whole picture we have of people we know who have died strolling around in heaven chatting with each other and waiting for us is almost certainly a misunderstanding of the concept of time and eternity. Rather, i believe, all who have trusted Christ will arrive at the same moment together.

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