The Wednesday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is a Scriptural meditation whereby I take a verse or passage I have been pondering lately and seek to edify my readers with it’s promises, encouragements, warnings, rebukes, etc.
“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” (II Cor 5:1).
When Paul starts off this chapter with the word “for,” he is alluding to II Corinthians 4:16-18 where he speaks of the outward man perishing. This was something Paul came to “know.” This knowledge is not something that originated in his own mind; he was taught and tutored by God on the subject and he also has the experience of life that showed him this. And we can see it practically almost every day with out own bodies – they are perishing.
He says “we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed.” In other words, we know our physical, earthly bodies are not eternal. They have a stopping point of existence. Paul knows this; he is certain of it. He calls the body a “tent.” Just like tents are quickly taken down and removed, the body too will be removed from our soul at some point in the future and replaced by a glorified one.
Our bodies will be “destroyed”, which often refers to something being dismantled. It will be taken apart and rebuilt to perfect, glorification. And in it’s place will be “a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” This phrase has caused considerable debate about scholars and commentators but the context gives us the simple answer: this “building” refers to our resurrected body. We know this to be the case for the following 2 reasons:
- The Bible teaches our earthly bodies will be replaced by heavenly ones (I Cor 15:36-54). Because we are heavenly citizens, we have earned the right to have our lowly bodies transformed (Phil 3:20-21).
- The context demands this as Paul reflects on the passing away of the earthly body (II Cor 4) and the replacement to come of a heavenly one (II Cor 5).
This body-replacement is certain to happen.
And what a motivation for facing death to start with! No grim reaper can take our glorified body that awaits us away. One commentator writes,
“Death, the grim reaper, leaves none unharvested. Everyone – believers included and with no exceptions – faced his inexorable scythe. But, thanks be to God, the believer, confident of the certainty of Christ’s resurrection as founded on the apostolic word, ‘knows’ that beyond death lies the sure prospect of ‘a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens,’ which ‘we have.’”
All of this is a fixed reality.
 Barnett, pg. 260.