2 Corinthians 5:1-8
Our Longing to Be Clothed
Here we have a very intriguing passage by the Apostle. He has just spoken of the fact that it is the unseen world that is “really real,” and the visible world that is so very transient. He now builds on this, but in a very personal way, regarding the believer’s “longing to put on our heavenly dwelling,” that when this “tent that is our earthly home is destroyed,” we not be “unclothed” but “further clothed,” our mortal state being swallowed up in life. This is strange language—existing in a “tented”-state, then unclothed, then re-clothed, and longing for this further clothing—what does it all mean?
In the first place, Paul merely speaks of the believer’s desire to be “away from the body and at home with the Lord.” We have this longing because He has given us His Spirit as a guarantee. Though the Christian may enjoy the things God has richly provided for him in this life with modesty and charity, he knows that there is a better life, one in which communion with God is uninterrupted, which is the genuine believer’s most sincere hope. The older he grows, the more he realizes that this world truly holds nothing for him.
But even so, to get to that state of being with God, there is a line which must be crossed, a line called “death,” and there are few who cross it without some reticence. Paul speaks of a fear of being “unclothed,” that is, in a disembodied state, without the clothing of a body. In touching on this, even if in a cryptic sort of way, Paul refers to that “intermediate state” which believers occupy between death and the resurrection of their bodies on the last day. The Jew struggled to reconcile himself with such a state, for God made us embodied people and so to be without a body was considered incomplete. And they were right. If you will only consider it for just a moment, you will shudder at the notion of being what the ancients, both Jew and pagan, called a “shade,” “shadow,” lacking all substance, a mere puff of smoke.
Well, the beauty of our faith is that the intermediate state is just that—intermediate. When this tent is destroyed, as it necessarily must be, barring being caught up while still alive on that day, we will spend some time (whatever time is in eternity) unclothed, untented, unbodied. But that will only be temporary. We will be further clothed in a glorious body consonant with the one we now have—incorruptible, undefiled, immortal—suitable to our new heavenly state. And no clothing store today can top that!