Article of the Month

October 2015

The Apostle Paul

on Earthly and Heavenly “Houses

 

In one sense, this article is a follow-up on the article of last month (September, 2015).  In both contexts, Paul is dealing with a Christian’s human life versus his spiritual resurrection.

This article deals with II Corinthians 4:16 through 5:10.  In 4:16-18 Paul is admonishing that faith be maintained even though our human bodies are failing.  He comforts that, if we are living up to our privileges in Christ, our “inner man” (our “new creature” — our Christian mind) is growing daily.  Thus the “light affliction” of our human existence is working toward the eternal, unseen glories that cannot be compared to the temporary human setbacks.

In Chapter 5, Paul continues in order to deal with the concepts of a Christian’s death.  He refers to our human bodies as an “earthly tent” or earthly “house.”  This does not imply an indwelling “immortal soul.”  The Bible never mentions “immortal soul,” nor does it even imply it.  This “house” refers to our humanity which is the current vehicle

or “house” for our Christian “thought processes.”  Paul shows that a Christian’s resurrection will be to a spirit body.  The “thought processes” of our current existence will, in the “first resurrection,” receive new (spiritual) bodies.  That, of course, is the Christian’s hope of the “first resurrection.”  The world, by contrast, will have their thought processes implanted in new human bodies in the general resurrection of the dead — yet future.  So in 5:1, Paul shows our current existence.  He says that this current (human) “house” can be “torn down.”  He means, we can die.  But he continues to show the Christian’s spiritual-body hope when he writes:  “We have a building from God, a house, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”  He is referring to “the first resurrection.”  (Revelation 20:6; Acts 24:15)

In verse 2, Paul confirms that we “groan” in this human “house.”  This is because it undergoes all of the pains and experiences of fallen man.  He affirms that this “groaning” makes us long for the spiritual resurrection — “our dwelling from heaven.”  [Our wordings are from the New American Standard translation.]

Verse 3 poses difficulties for those whose understandings of death and resurrection are faulty.  Paul says, “inasmuch as we, having put it on [the spiritual “house”], shall not be found naked.”  “Naked” is the Apostle’s code word for DEAD.  In other words, Paul is saying that (1) we can be alive as humans, (2) we can be alive once the “first resurrection” is accomplished, or (3) we can be DEAD = naked.  No thought processes occur without a “body” (either earthly or heavenly).  Paul is using “naked” to represent that least-desirable condition of death, the condition in which we have no body, thoughts, or existence (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10).  It is the condition which he and all other Christians would have to accept until the “first resurrection” at the time of Jesus’ return.  (I Corinthians 15:50-54; I Thessalonians 4:15-18)

Thus, in verse 4, Paul summarizes the three possible conditions.  In verse 5, Paul shows  that God gives Christians  a “pledge” (or down payment or security) of our eventual heavenly “house” by granting us the Holy Spirit in our lives.

In verses 6-10 there is a wonderful passage which explains our mental state as a result of that “pledge” of a heavenly “house.”  To understand these verses we must understand Paul’s use of two Greek words.  They are, in essence, the same word except that one is the negative form of the other.  The two words (in English) are both found in verse 9.  They are “absent” and “at home.”  Their true meaning is uncomfortable and comfortable.  We, often, in daily living, tell someone, “Make yourself at home.”  We mean, “Make yourself comfortable.”  That is exactly the meaning of “at home” in these verses.  “Absent” means the OPPOSITE — “uncomfortable.”  Knowing this, we can see the meaning of verses 6-10 — a meaning very different from what many teach.

Verse 5 said that we have a “pledge” that we have a promised heavenly “house” (or body).  Verse 6 follows the thought with “Therefore.”   Paul’s meaning is that this Holy Spirit given to us (as a pledge) should have a certain effect on our daily lives.  To paraphrase verses 6-10:

Keep up your courage.  Know this:  If we are comfortable as

humans, we are not really staying with the Lord.  We are

uncomfortable with spiritual things.  This is true because our

Christian walk is by faith; our human life is by sight.

 

So, if we have the courage of our faith, we prefer to be

uncomfortable with our humanity and to be thus

comfortable with the Lord.  Therefore, we have as our

ambition, whether our flesh is comfortable or uncomfortable,

to please God.

 

After all, we must now as Christians all appear before our

Lord’s judgment standards.  This means that the way we use

our human powers, good or bad, will determine our payment.

  

            

This is a lovely passage when rightly understood.  In combination with last month’s consideration, we have a wonderful testimony from the Apostle Paul regarding how we value and use our current lives.

           

 

 

 

 

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