Our Life and Service is Required Here on Earth

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2 CORINTHIANS 5:1 ESV

1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Paul does not permit the believer to entertain any doubts: “For we know,…” asserts the apostle. Paul is making it abundantly plain that when this earthly tent or tabernacle (our body) in which we now dwell shall be destroyed, a new building awaits us from the hand of God. A tent is a temporary dwelling place, and so also are our earthly and mortal bodies.

One day, this body will perish, i.e., the body, as we now know it, will succumb to ageing, death, decay, and dissolution (although, being immortal, the soul will never die). Yet, this same body will not remain in death, nor will it abide in a state of decomposition or final dissolution. God, who raised his Son from the dead, likewise will raise the bodies of his redeemed people from the dead.

Nevertheless, the body that the Lord brings forth from the earth or the sea will not be of the same nature as that laid to rest previously. Rather, it will be a glorious spiritual body. It will be an immortal body—fitted to be united forever with our immortal souls. This spiritual body is the “house not made with hands”, which will abide for all eternity in the heavens, or, rather, in the new creation—the new heaven and the new earth.

In verse 2, Paul continues by saying:

2 CORINTHIANS 5:2 ESV

2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling,

Like a tent, our present earthly body is not a final abiding place. Unlike the soul, it lacks permanence; it lacks ultimate security. In its present earthly state, our mortal body cannot fully enjoy all the glories that God has prepared for those who love him. It is a temporary abode, subject to many distressing circumstances and the vagaries of life and earthly living. Thus, the children of God groan (in the sense of sighing inwardly). They long to depart from this present mortal body in order to enter the fullness of blessing and joy associated with the new spiritual and eternal body.

However, God’s people recognise that—while this is their heart’s desire—their life and service is required here on earth for as long as the Lord determines. Thus, although they anticipate eagerly and joyfully the glories awaiting them in their Father’s house, they are not unmindful of their duties, responsibilities and privileges of their calling and election while they remain on earth. While in their mortal bodies, they are the Lord’s servants: and they must remain faithful in their Master’s service during the time of their sojourn on earth.

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[Above article extracted from NT Expository Notes, 2 Corinthians (2021) by Gordon Lyons. The full text of this commentary (in PDF format) can be downloaded or read online. This recently released commentary is available now on the NT Commentaries page of this website]

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