“Absent from the Body, Present with the Lord”
“Nevertheless, we are bold, and love rather to remove out of the body, and to dwell with the Lord.” (2Co 5:8 GenevaBible)
These words of the Apostle (2 Cor. 5: 8) have been held by some to favour the thought that the faithful are ushered into the Lord’s presence at death. Yet the Apostle does not say this; he merely expresses his preference to be “absent from the body, and present with the Lord.” In this verse he does not refer to the intermediate condition of sleeping, waiting for the Lord, because that was not his preference. He speaks of this in verses 1-4.
“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven, if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are (1) in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened, not for that we would be (2) unclothed, but (3) clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.”
“In this tabernacle” is the present unsatisfactory state of the consecrated Christian, seeking to walk in the Lord’s way, but hampered by the weakness of the flesh, which causes those who have the first fruits of the spirit to groan within themselves. (Rom. 8:23.) The “unclothed” condition is the period of waiting for the resurrection, when the faithful one, having finished his course in death, sleeps until the voice of the Lord calls him. This condition was not desired by the Apostle; yet he knew it must needs be. The “clothed upon” condition is that in which the faithful consecrated of the Gospel Age will rejoice when they receive the new estate, the
“house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
Then they shall be in the presence of the Lord, for they shall see him as he is, [and shall be like him. —1 John 3:2.
In verse 8 the first and third conditions are mentioned, and a decided preference for the third is expressed. The second condition is not mentioned in verse 8, but this does not authorise the thought that the Apostle expected to pass from the first to the third without staying for a time in the second or grave condition.
That he expected to remain “unclothed” for a time, before being “clothed upon,” is shown by reference to verse 4, also 2 Tim. 4:8.
“Dearly beloved, now are we the sons of God, but yet it is not made manifest what we shall be: and we know that when he shall be made manifest, we shall be like him: for we shall see him as he is.” (1Jo 3:2 GenevaBible)
“For henceforth is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love, that his appearing.” (2Ti 4:8 GenevaBible)
The New Covenant Advocate June 1909
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