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5: 1 - 15.
pp. 124 - 129
After giving the magnificent testimony of II Cor. 4: 14-18 as to his triumph over his
sufferings and trials as he considers the `eternal weight of glory' that awaits him, the
Apostle Paul goes on to develop this theme and to consider what it will involve if he is
called upon to give his life for Christ and thus not be among those who are `alive and
remain to the coming of the Lord' (I Thess. 4: 15). He realizes that his human body is
only a temporary structure like a tent, but however adequate for this earthly pilgrimage, it
is not suitable for the glory yet to be, but will be dissolved after death. What follows then
will be God's provision of a permanent `house from heaven', the resurrection body,
concerning which he had previously written to the Corinthian church in chapter 15: of
the first canonical epistle.
"For we know that if the earthly house of our tabernacle (tent) be dissolved, we have a
building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens. For verily in
this we groan, longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven, if so
be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For indeed we that are in this
tabernacle do groan, being burdened; not for that we would be unclothed, but that we
would be clothed upon, that what is mortal may be swallowed up of life" (5: 1-4 R.V.).
In Rom. 8: 23 he refers again to our present `groaning with resurrection as
deliverance', "For we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, the
redemption of our body". Nothing can be clearer than that Paul dreaded the idea of any
disembodied state and his statement in Phil. 1: 23 must be interpreted in the light of
Phil. 3: 11 and the context we are studying in II Corinthians. He could not think of a
future life apart from resurrection. To be there apart from a body was like being naked, a
condition from which he instinctively shrank.
The following quotation from Professor F. W. Beare is to the point:
". . . . . our minds are dominated, or at least profoundly affected by our Greek
(essentially Platonic) inheritance, so that we think of immortality as the `immortality of
the soul' . . . . . we still feel that there is some essential part of our personality which
alone is capable of immortality, and that part does not include the body . . . . . Paul was
constitutionally incapable of thinking of life eternal in terms of a `soul' existing in some
disembodied state . . . . . A spiritual resurrection would to him be no resurrection at all; a
disembodied existence would be no better than the shadowy and unsubstantial existence
of a shade. He is therefore bound to express his hope of immortality in terms of attaining
to the resurrection from the dead" (The Epistle to the Philippians, pp. 125, 126).
Also Professor F. F. Bruce:
". . . . . But if he (Paul) does (die), what will be the mode of his existence between
death and resurrection? Must he endure some kind of disembodied state in the interval?
To some people of a different tradition, disengagement from the shackles of the body was
something infinitely desirable, but while Paul longed to be delivered from the present
mortal body it was in order that he might exchange it for one that was immortal; to be