What Does 2 Corinthians 5:4 Mean?

For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.

2 Corinthians 5:4(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

Paul used Christ's own death and resurrection to lay the foundation for a very important teaching about our future...that a day is coming when all Christians will be clothed in a new, resurrected body - after we have travelled through the portal of death. Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the power of God, so too the believer-in-Christ will be raised into newness of life, through the same wonder-working power of the almighty God.

Paul was keen for the believer to understand that death was not the end. Life continues on into the eternal future. However, instead of being burdened with the many restrictions this earthly 'tent' affords, we will receive a new, glorious body, of flesh and bone - a body, like HIS glorious body -  "For indeed", Paul wrote, in chapter 5, "while we are in this mortal tent", (of flesh and blood), "we groan and are burdened".  But one day "what is mortal will be swallowed up in life".

Paul talked about the various restrictions connected with this mortal body, "For indeed,"  he wrote, "while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened... because we do not want to be unclothed. We want to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed-up by life" - the new-life in Christ, which we received at salvation.

Paul presented the great contrast that exists between the present, mortal body we inhabit today, and our future, eternal dwelling place, which we will receive at the rapture of the Church. It is not easy to live in a body that is dying, but because we are fallen creatures, the wages of sin is death. And it is appointed for each one of us to meet the great enemy of our soul, face to face - DEATH.

We wear clothes on our earthly body because we do not like to be naked.. and in the same way, none of us want to live as a disembodied spirit following our physical death. We want to be clothed in a new, heavenly body - a resurrected body of flesh and bone, just as the Lord Jesus was covered in a new, resurrected body - a new spiritual body. For just as the life of this mortal body is in the blood, so the life of our new, heavenly body is given to us by the Spirit - a spiritual body that is animated and enlivened by the Holy Spirit of God.

There is a well-known saying, that "in the midst of life we are in death", and living in this mortal realm, will eventually result in death - when we discard this physical covering. Paul was a tentmaker by trade and likened the physical frame, which houses man's soul, as a TENT. Like our physical bodies, a tent deteriorates over time. A tent or tabernacles is a temporary structure, just as this body is a temporary dwelling.

A tent is transitory. It is used to house people who are on a journey. It consists of an exterior casing that covers the people until they arrive at their permanent home. In the same way, the physical body of a believer is a temporary tent - a transitory dwelling to keep the spirit and soul covered during our short sojourn through life.

This incredible gift of a glorious, resurrected body should rejoice the heart of all believers, for when we die, we are promised an immortal body that is far superior to the one we currently inhabit. While we live in this mortal body, suffering and pain is inevitable, but Paul offers us some great encouragement, in this passage, by telling us that ALL Christians will one day, receive an immortal body. All believers will one day be clothed in a heavenly body. All of us have been assured that we will be given an eternal body that will be energised by God's Holy Spirit of life.

Today we groan within this dying body - not because we would prefer to be bodiless, ghostlike creatures! We groan because of sin and death, suffering and pain, disease and disappointments. We groan because we are burdened and encumbered by the restrictions of this mortal frame. We grown, as we unrelentingly march forward from the moment of our physical birth towards our inevitable death.

Death, however, should hold no dread for a believer, for when we leave this earth our soul goes to be with Jesus. It is not the consequences of death which cause us to groan but from the actual act of dying - the passing from this mortal sphere into the realm of the eternal and the heavenly.

The indwelling Spirit is a down-payment on the heavenly inheritance all Christians have been promised. It is a tangible assurance that... after death, when this exterior tent we call our physical body is discarded, we will receive a new, perfect, everlasting body that has not been tainted by sin and over which death is powerless.

Praise God that a day is coming when we will be re-clothed in a new body, just as we were reborn into the family of God and became part of a new creation - IN Christ. May we come to a deeper understanding of the joys that are ours through faith in Christ and remember that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, what a joy to know that a day is coming when all that is mortal will be swallowed up by life, and we will stand the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank You for the truth that we will one day be clothed in a new, resurrected body - like Christ's own glorified body. Thank You that we are not under God's condemnation because we have trusted Christ for the forgiveness of sins.. and how I praise You that the suffering and groaning of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. I praise You for Your goodness and grace and I pray in the holy name of Jesus, my Lord and my God, AMEN.

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