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2 Corinthians 5 Commentary

A verse by verse commentary with quotations from many different authors.
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  2 CORITHIAS 5 COMMETARY Edited by Glenn Pease Our Heavenly Dwelling 1ow we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 1. BARES, For we know -  We who are engaged in the work of the gospel ministry. Paul is giving a reason why he and his fellow-laborers did not become weary and faint in their work. The reason was, that they knew that even if their body should die, they had an inheritance reserved for them in heaven. The expression “we know” is the language of strong and unwavering assurance. They had no doubt on the subject.  And it proves that there may be the assurance of eternal life; or such evidence of acceptance with God as to leave no doubt of a final admission into heaven. This language  was often used by the Saviour in reference to the truths which he taught Joh_3:11; Joh_ 4:22; and it is used by the sacred writers in regard to the truths which they recorded, and in regard to their own personal piety; Joh_21:24; 1Jo_2:3, 1Jo_2:5,1Jo_2:18; 1Jo_3:2, 1Jo_3:14, 1Jo_3:19, 1Jo_3:24; 1Jo_4:6, 1Jo_4:13; 1Jo_5:2, 1Jo_5:15, 1Jo_5:19-20. That if our earthly house - The word “earthly” here ( πιγειος   epigeios ) stands opposed to “heavenly,” or to the house eternal ( ν τος ορανος   en tois ouranois ) in the heavens.” The word properly means “upon earth, terrestrial, belonging to the earth, or on the earth,” and is applied to bodies 1Co_15:40; to earthly things Joh_3:12; to earthly, or worldly wisdom, Jam_3:15. The word “house” here refers doubtless to the body, as the habitation, or the dwelling-place of the mind or soul. The soul dwells in it as we dwell in a house, or tent. Of this tabernacle - This word means a booth, or tent - a movable dwelling. The use of the word here is not a mere redundancy, but the idea which Paul designs to convey is, doubtless, that the body - the house of the soul - was not a permanent dwelling-place,  but was of the same nature as a booth or tent, that was set up for a temporary purpose, or that was easily taken down in migrating from one place to another. It refers here to the body as the frail and temporary abode of the soul. It is not a permanent dwelling; a fixed habitation, but is liable to be taken down at any moment, and was suited up with that view. Tyndale renders it, “if our earthly mansion wherein we now dwell.” The Syriac renders it, “for we know that if our house on earth, which is our body, were dissolved.”  The idea is a beautiful one, that the body is a mere unfixed, movable dwelling. place; liable to be taken down at any moment, and not designed, anymore than a tent is, to be a permanent habitation.  Were dissolved - ( καταλυθ   kataluthē ). This word means properly to disunite the parts of anything; and is applied to the act of throwing down, or destroying a building. It is applied here to the body, regarded as a temporary dwelling that might be taken down, and it refers, doubtless, to the dissolution of the body in the grave. The idea is, that if this body should moulder back to dust, and be resolved into its srcinal elements; or if  by great zeal and, labor it should be exhausted and worn out. Language like this is used  by Eliphaz, the Temanite, in describing the body of man. “How much less in those that dwell in houses of clay,” etc.; Job_4:19; compare 2Pe_1:13-14.  We have a building of God - Robinson (Lexicon) supposes that it refers to “the future spiritual body as the abode of the soul.” Some have supposed that it refers to some “celestial vehicle” with which God invests the soul during the intermediate state. But the Scripture is silent about any such celestial vehicle. It is not easy to tell what was the precise idea which Paul here designed to convey. Perhaps a few remarks may enable us to arrive at the meaning:(1) It was not to be temporary; not a tent or tabernacle that could be taken down.(2) It was to be eternal in the heavens.(3) It was to be such as to constitute a dwelling; a clothing, or such a protection as should keep the soul from being “naked.”(4) It was to be such as should constitute “life” in contradistinction from “mortality.” These things will better agree with the supposition of its referring to the future body of the saints than any thing else; and probably the idea of Paul is, that the body there will  be incorruptible and immortal. When he says it is a “building of God” ( κ Θεο   ek Theou ), he evidently means that it is made by God; that he is the architect of that future and eternal dwelling. Macknight and some others, however, understood this of the mansions which God has prepared for His people in heaven, and which the Lord Jesus has gone to prepare for them; compare Joh_14:2. But see the note on 2Co_5:3.  An house -  A dwelling; an abode; that is, according to the interpretation above, a celestial, pure, immortal body; a body that shall have God for its immediate author, and that shall be suited to dwell in heaven forever. Not made with hands - Not constructed by man; a habitation not like those which are made by human skill, and which are therefore easily taken down or removed, but one that is made by God himself. This does not imply that the “earthly house” which is to be superseded by that in heaven is made with hands, but the idea is, that the earthly dwelling has things about it which resemble that which is made by man, or as if it were made with hands; that is it is temporary, frail, easily taken down or removed. But that  which is in heaven is permanent, fixed, eternal, as if made by God. Eternal in the heavens - Immortal; to live forever. The future body shall never be taken down or dissolved by death. It is eternal, of course, only in respect to the future, and not in respect to the past. And it is not only eternal, but it is to abide forever in the heavens - in the world of glory. It is never to be subjected to a dwelling on the earth; never to be in a world of sin, suffering, and death. 2. CLARKE, If our earthly house of this tabernacle - By earthly house, the  apostle most evidently means the body in which the soul is represented as dwelling or sojourning for a time, and from which it is to be liberated at death; for as death dissolves the tabernacle, it can then be no habitation for the soul. The apostle also alludes here to the ancient Jewish tabernacle, which, on all removals of the congregation, was dissolved and taken in pieces; and the ark of the covenant, covered with its own curtains, was carried by itself; and when they came to the place of rest, then the dissolved parts of the tabernacle were put together as before. When we consider this simile in connection with the doctrine of the resurrection, which the apostle has treated so much at large in these epistles, and which he keeps constantly in view, then we shall see that he intends to convey the following meaning: that as the tabernacle was taken down in order to be again put together, so the body is to be dissolved, in order to be re-edified; that as the ark of the covenant subsisted by itself, while the tabernacle was down, so can the soul  when separated from the body; that as the ark had then its own veil for its covering, Exo_40:21, so the soul is to have some vehicle in which it shall subsist till it receives its  body at the resurrection.  A building of God - Some think this refers to a certain celestial vehicle with which God invests holy souls on their dismissal from the body; others suppose it relates to the resurrection body; and some imagine that it relates merely to the state of blessedness  which the saints shall possess in the kingdom of glory. See the following note. 3. GILL, For we know, that if our earthly house ,.... By this house is meant the  body, so called from its being like a well built house, a curious piece of architecture; as an house consists of a variety of parts fitly framed and put together in just symmetry and proportion, and with an entire usefulness in all, so is the body of man; which shows the power and wisdom of God the architect: likewise, because it is the dwelling place of the soul, which makes it appear, that the soul is more excellent than the body, is independent of it, and capable of a separate existence from it: it is said to be an earthly house, because it is from the earth; is supported by earthly things; has its present abode on the earth, and will quickly return to it: and the earthly house of this tabernacle, in allusion to the tabernacles the patriarchs and Israelites of old dwelt in; or to the tents and tabernacles of soldiers, shepherds, travellers, and such like persons, which are soon put up and taken down, and removed from place to place; and denotes the frailty and short continuance of our mortal bodies. So Plato (z) calls the body γηινον σκηνος , an earthly tabernacle ; so the Jews were wont to call the body an house, and a tabernacle : every man (they say (a)) has two houses, גה   תיב , the house of the body , and the house of the soul; the one is the outward, the other the inward house.'' So Abarbinel (b) paraphrases those words, Isa_18:4. I will consider in my dwelling place; I will return , or again consider in my dwelling place, which is the body, for that is שפנה   ןכשמ , the tabernacle of the soul .'' Now this tabernacle may, and will be, dissolved , unpinned, and taken down; which does not design an annihilation of it, but a dissolution of its union with the soul, and its separation from it: and when the apostle puts an if upon it, it is not to be understood as though it is uncertain whether it would be dissolved or not, unless it be said with a  view to the change that will be on living saints at Christ's second coming; but it is rather a concession of the matter, and may be rendered, though the earthly house , &c. or it  points out the time when the saints' future happiness shall begin, when the earthly house , &c. and signifies that being in the body, in some sense, retards the enjoyment of it. Now it is the saints' comfort whilst they are in it, and in a view of the dissolution of it, that they have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens ? which some understand of the glorified body upon its resurrection, as opposed to its frail, mortal, earthly frame in its present situation; though rather all this designs the happiness of the saints, which will be begun, and they shall immediately enter into, at the dissolution of their bodies, and will be consummated at the resurrection; which is all of God's building and preparing; not made by the hands of the creature; or obtained by works of righteousness done by men; and it lies in the heavens, and will continue for ever. So the (c) Jews speak of אשידק   תיב , the holy house , in the  world to come, and which they suppose is intended in Isa_56:5. In this the saints have a present interest; they have it already built and prepared for them; they have an indubitate right and title to it through the righteousness of Christ; they have it secured to them in Christ, their feoffee in trust, their head and representative; and they have the earnest of it, the Spirit of God in their hearts; of all which they have sure and certain knowledge: for we know ; they are well assured of the truth of this from the promise of God, who cannot lie, from the declaration of the Gospel, the testimony of the Spirit, and the close and inseparable connection there is between the grace they have already received, and the glory that shall be hereafter. 4. HERY, The apostle in these verses pursues the argument of the former chapter, concerning the grounds of their courage and patience under afflictions. And,I. He mentions their expectation, and desire, and assurance, of eternal happiness after death, 2Co_5:1-5. Observe particularly,1. The believer's expectation of eternal happiness after death, 2Co_5:1. He does not only know, or is well assured by faith of the truth and reality of the thing itself - that there is another and a happy life after this present life is ended, but he has good hope through grace of his interest in that everlasting blessedness of the unseen world: “We know that we have a building of God, we have a firm and well-grounded expectation of the future felicity.” Let us take notice, (1.) What heaven is in the eye and hope of a  believer. He looks upon it as a house, or habitation, a dwelling-place, a resting-place, a hiding-place, our Father's house, where there are many mansions, and our everlasting home. It is a house in the heavens, in that high and holy place which as far excels all the palaces of this earth as the heavens are high above the earth. It is a building of God,  whose builder and maker is God, and therefore is worthy of its author; the happiness of the future state is what God hath prepared for those that love him. It is eternal in the heavens, everlasting habitations, not like the earthly tabernacles, the poor cottages of clay in which our souls now dwell, which are mouldering and decaying, and whose  foundations are in the dust.  (2.) When it is expected this happiness shall be enjoyed -immediately after death, so soon as our house of this earthly tabernacle is dissolved. Note, [1.] That the body, this earthly house, is but a tabernacle, that must be dissolved shortly; the nails or pins will be drawn, and the cords be loosed, and then the body will return to dust as it was. [2.] When this comes to pass, then comes the house not made  with hands. The spirit returns to God who gave it; and such as have walked with God here shall dwell with God for ever.
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