|Question or Topic||Scripture|
Question: In 2 Cor. 5:6-9 what does Paul mean by the following phrases?
|2 Cor. 5:6-9|
The verses that are relevant to these questions read as follows:
"Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him." (2 Corinthians 5:6-9)Answer
The Apostle Paul is here using the word body much as he did in Rom.7: 24 where he said, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Diaglott = 'rescue me from this body of death').
The body here is the mortal body, full of sin and suffering which is our natural state. In this natural body dwells only sin and death. As long as we are bound in this mortality we cannot be with the Lord in his immortality as he, like his Father, is unapproachable and untouchable to mortal beings.
There is a need to read the first 4 verses of this 5th chapter to get a clearer picture of what Paul is saying in vs. 5-9. "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. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 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."
Our Mortal body
The tabernacle he speaks of here is our mortal body, which like a tent or tabernacle is only temporary (a body of death). The building of God he speaks of is the permanent immortal covering. Such will be our house or building in which we will dwell, if judged acceptable by our Lord.
This is what Jesus is referring to in John 14: 1-3, the verses so totally misunderstood in other religions and used erroneously to show we are going to heaven to live forever with Christ. Christ speaks thusly; "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions (In vs.23 the word here translated mansions is translated abode or dwelling place): if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."
Our future dwelling
Our dwelling place, being prepared at this time by Christ, is immortality and our place in the Kingdom that he will bring with him when he returns to the earth, as he promises in the above verses. If accepted by him we will dwell with him in that Kingdom in the immortal state. We will then be with him as Paul was longing to be in the verses in question.
We remember that Paul especially suffered great privations, injuries, illnesses, and partial blindness from the brightness of Christ's appearing to him on the way to Damascus. He had been years traveling in all sorts of conditions and desired to be free from his mortality and the burdens he had been under so long. He knew that Christ at his appearing would clothe him with immortality and this was what he longed for. (2 Tim. 4:8)
At home in the Body
We return now to the questions that were asked and will try to provide a fuller meaning to each part:
The phrase, "at home in the body" would be an expression meaning being alive in the mortal state.
"Absent from the Lord" would mean that one is still in the state of mortality and separated from Christ's presence thereby.
"Absent from the body" would mean being no longer in the mortal state but to have been clothed with immortality. Some might think that this would be the state of death but notice in verses 3-4 that he is asking not to be unclothed, which would be without life of any description. He is asking to be clothed with the new garment of immortality.
Being "present with the Lord" would be in the state promised by our Lord wherein we will dwell with him, in immortality during the Kingdom period and beyond. This would correspond with John 14:3; "I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, (on this earth) there ye may be also" as referred to above.
To sum up, the Apostle Paul is longing for the day of Christ's return and the judgment being confident that he would be clothed with the promised immortality that we all long for. We pray that we will be deemed acceptable to our Lord through the mercy of the Father. Then will we be truly at rest, free from our burdens of this present body, never to be so burdened again. Lord willing, we will live forever on the earth, powered by the untiring everlasting Spirit now enjoyed by our Lord and Savior, the first fruits of those taken from among men into this wonderful state.