Contemplation of New Life. (5:1-10) - Page 2 of 6 (series: Lessons on 2 Cor.)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

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


I am groaning in this body. Why? Well, let’s see; there is heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, disk disease, depression, and high blood pressure, just to name the most serious problems. Those are my personal issues; but in Romans 8:23{22, Paul states that all of creation groans under the decay that resulted from sin, and these verses (1-10) indicate that believers also join in that moaning. Such groaning is evidently not thought of as a mere human whim, but as a Spirit-guided desire (v. 5). Paul’s groaning reflected his desire to be free from the afflictions and imperfections of this life, and his feeling that so far he has not received the full range of salvation (Rom. 8:23{22).


When Paul spoke of wanting to be clothed with a heavenly habitation (dwelling), he is referring to his longing to receive a resurrected body. This image depicts the glorious truth that the earthly bodies of Christians will be transformed into eternal, heavenly bodies.


Paul was fixing his eyes “not on what is seen but on what is unseen” (4:18{4). These verses (2-4) express the same sentiment. Paul’s present life was “wasting away” (4:16{3) and he faced “death” (4:11-12{5). Paul was waiting for the day when God would give him a new body, a spiritual body, in which he will still be able, even in the heavenly places to serve and to adore God. That is how Paul felt. He saw eternity not as a release into permanent inaction, but as the entry into a body in which service to God could be complete.


Paul was hoping that he would be alive and on earth at the return of Christ, so that he might not have to go through the experience of death. Paul used a similar picture in 1 Corinthians 15:51-58, and he used the idea of “groaning” in Romans (8:22-26{26).


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

This verse explains why Paul wants to receive the spiritual body as soon as possible. He does not want to die and continue for a time in a bodyless intermediate state that he describes as “naked”; if the end comes before he dies, he will escape that imperfect intermediate existence.


This is interesting. One of these days Jesus is going to call his own out of this world. We will be caught up to meet our Lord in the air, and we are going to stand before Him. What will it be like for us? We will be clothed in His righteousness. “We will not be found naked.”


Not everyone will be clothed in His righteousness when they are raised from the dead. Christ “. . . was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification”—(Rom. 4:25)—that is, our righteousness. But some folk have not accepted His righteousness. They have rejected Christ. Therefore, there is a resurrection of the just and of the unjust. Paul mentions this in Acts 24:15, “I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.” Jesus said the same thing in John 5:29. “And come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” Dear reader, you are going to stand in his presence someday. Will you be clothed in the righteousness of Christ? Are you accepted in the Beloved?


This is a good time to point out that the Bible does not teach only one judgment day, but many judgments. There are eight judgments which have already passed or are still in the future.
1. There is the judgment which Jesus Christ bore on the cross. It is because Jesus bore this judgment for us that He could say, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24).
2. There is self-judgment. We are told in 1 Corinthians 11:31, “For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.”
3. Also there is the chastisement of God for the believer. The Lord takes us to His woodshed. “For whom the

Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives” (Heb. 12:6).
4. The works of the believer are to be judged, as we will see later in this chapter.
5. The nation Israel is to be judged.
6. The Gentile nations are to be judged.
7. Fallen angels are to be judged.
8. Finally, there is the judgment of the Great White Throne. All of the lost ones are brought there. They will appear naked. They will not be clothed in His righteousness. They will be judged according to their works, which is the way they wanted it to be.


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.

Verse 4 restates verses 2 and 3, but in a clearer form. “For (“Because”) we do not want to be unclothed” by losing our physical body at death; “but” our longing is rather “to be clothed upon,” to put on the spiritual body as a new garment without first stripping off the old garment, “so that the mortal” physical body “is swallowed up” and instantly replaced “by the” perfect eternal “life” with God that those with the spiritual body will enjoy.


If you feel like groaning, you just groan, dear reader. It’s scriptural. We are burdened. Yes, we are. That is why we groan in these bodies. It is not that we are worried about being unclothed; we knowthat we will be clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Someday, when our heavenly dwelling is received, all our groaning and being burdened will give place to laughter and exultation (Luke 6:21{6). The eternal and permanent—life itself—will swallow up the temporary and the decaying—the mortal. The fact that Paul piled image upon image and repeated himself indicates his concern that the Corinthians understand the bodily resurrection.


Being “clothed” or “covered” with eternal bodies indicates that when Christians die, they will not lose their personalities or even their recognizable characteristics. As Jesus’ own resurrection body shows, believers will have bodies that to some degree correspond with their own physical bodies. Their bodies will be redeemed (Rom. 8:24{10). Through Christ’s saving work, their resurrected bodies will be better than they can imagine.


Few details are given about the believer’s resurrected body, but the Bible does say it will be perfect, without sickness, disease or pain (Phil. 3:21{18; Rev. 21:4{27). Knowing this should affect the way Christians live on earth. Although believers will be transformed on the last day, they will retain the character that they have developed here on earth. The Corinthians had foolishly begun to live as if death would change everything: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die! (1 Co. 15:32). But Paul was trying to impress on them that what they did in this life did matter. In light of the certainty of the bodily resurrection, Paul encouraged the Corinthians to stop “sinning,” and that “bad company corrupts good character” (1 Co. 15:33-34). Paul’s exhortation applies today. Develop your character in this life, for every one of your actions here on earth has eternal consequences.


Paul had compared the earthly body to a seed that had been planted in the ground. The small seed has to “die” in order to grow up into a living, beautiful plant. In the same way, the earthly body has to be sown in weakness, decay, and even die before it yields the glorious resurrected body (1 Co. 15:42-44{23).


The glorified body is called “a building from God, a house not made with hands” in 2 Corinthians 5:1, and “our habitation which is from heaven” in 2 Corinthians 5:2. This is in contrast with our mortal bodies which came from the dust of the earth. “And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man” (1 Co. 15:49). It is important to note that Paul was not groaning because he was in a human body, but because he longed to see Jesus Christ and receive a glorified body. He was groaning for glory! If He is our Savior, He is our only hope.


It seems clear from this verse that being in this tent (2 Peter 1:13{7) and unclothed describe mortality while being clothed and possessing a heavenly dwelling depict immortality, without specifying any intervening stages.


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