2 A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY 3 reward of the righteous is bestowed at the moment of death and that an immortal soul leaves the body to face an 1 Introduction immediate reward or punishment. If this is the true meaning of Paul’s words,C lergy and laity alike have often stumbled over some of the writingsof Paul the Apostle. Scattered among we are faced with some serious incon- sistencies within the epistles. Let us examine the verses in 2 Corinthians 5:1-the letters that he addressed to the 8 and discover what Paul actually didchurches are a few verses that almost teach on this crucial subject:seem to contradict what he wrote inother epistles. At least they have been “For we know that if our earthlyinterpreted as contradictions. But did house of this tabernacle were dissolved,the great, spiritual, straight-thinking we have a building of God, an house notPaul write confusing things? Or is the made with hands, eternal in the heavens.contradiction only in the way readers For in this we groan, earnestly desir-have twisted his words? ing to be clothed upon with our house A perfect example of the problem which is from heaven:appears in the first few verses of 2 If so be that being clothed we shallCorinthians 5 where Paul speaks about not be found naked.life and death. His language has been For we that are in this tabernacle dounderstood by many to teach that the groan, being burdened: not for that we
4 A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY 5 would be unclothed, but clothed upon, an house not made with hands, that mortality might be swallowed up of eternal in the heavens.” life. Vs. 2 He states our condition while in Now he that hath wrought us for the the earthly house. “In this we selfsame thing is God, who also hath groan” and “being burdened.” given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Vs. 2, 3 He tells us what we desire in Therefore we are always confident, that state. “Earnestly desiring to knowing that whilst we are at home in be clothed upon with our house the body, we are absent from the Lord: which is from heaven: if so be that (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) being clothed we shall not be We are confident, I say, and willing found naked.” rather to be absent from the body, and to Vs. 4 Paul repeats these facts once be present with the Lord.” again. “For we that are in this tab- ernacle do groan, being burdened: In order to get the picture clearly in not for that we would bemind, let us review the verses point by unclothed, but clothed upon.”point. Vs. 4 He then states the result of being Vs. 1 Paul introduces an earthly house clothed with the house from heav- and a heavenly house, and says: en that he so greatly desired. “But “For we know that if our earthly clothed upon, that MORTALITY house of this tabernacle were dis- might be SWALLOWED UP OF solved, we have a building of God, LIFE.”
6 A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY 7 Vs. 5 The Spirit is a pledge that mor- Paul uses in the text. What does he tality shall eventually be swal- mean by the “earthly house” and the lowed up of life. “Who also hath “heavenly house”? By being “clothed given unto us the earnest (assur- upon” and “unclothed”? By “mortality” ance, pledge) of the Spirit.” being “swallowed up of life”? By being Vs. 6 Paul states the grounds of his “absent from the body” and “present confidence. “Therefore we are with the Lord”? always confident, knowing that The apostle answers all of these whilst we are at home in the body, questions for us. In verse 6, he defines we are absent from the Lord.” “our earthly house” as being “at home in Vs. 7 A parenthetical comment on the body.” The chief characteristic of successful Christian living. “(We this house is that it may be “dissolved.” walk by faith, not by sight.)” In other words, it is mortal. This earth- Vs. 8 He repeats a willingness to be ly house is, therefore, our mortal body absent from the body and to be or our present mortal condition. This with the Lord. “We are confident, I fact appears too obvious for further say, and willing rather to be absent comment. from the body and present with The house from heaven is “eternal” the Lord.” or immortal and represents the state of immortality that awaits the redeemed With the subject fully before us, let beyond the resurrection. Here is whereus determine the meaning of the terms the greatest misunderstanding enters
8 A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY 9the picture. Some have thought that the To the Corinthians Paul Wrote:“house from heaven” is put on at the “We... in this tabernacle do groan.”moment of death. But the apostle clear- “Given to us the earnest of thely spells out the TIME when he will put Spirit.”on immortality. “Earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven.” 2 The Time Of The Change To the Romans Paul Wrote:N otice how he explains when “mor- tality is swallowed up of life,” inRomans 8:22, 23, “…ourselves also, “We groan within ourselves …” “Have the firstfruits of the Spirit.” “Earnest expectation… waiting forwhich have the firstfruits of the Spirit, the redemption of our body.”even we ourselves groan within our-selves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, These two scriptures are speakingthe redemption of our body.” This verse of the same experience. The ultimatein Romans is a perfect, striking parallel object in both cases is to change thisto the verses in 2 Corinthians 5:1-8 and mortal body into the immortal bodyclarifies when we shall be clothed with and to change this “earthly house” intothat immortality. Notice the similarity the “house eternal in the heavens.”of language and thought: Please notice that in one verse Paul was “earnestly desiring to be clothed” with
10 A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY 11his house from heaven, and in the otherverse his “earnest expectation” was the“redemption of the body.” The comparison proves that this 3 Unclothed In Deathclothing from heaven takes place at the“redemption of the body.” Paul adds thefinal clarification in 1 Corinthians 15:5 W hat is meant by the term “unclothed”? Notice that Paul specifically declared that he did not1-53 when he again describes the TIME desire to be naked or unclothed. We canthis change takes place: “…we shall all be certain, then, that the unclothed statebe changed, In a moment, in the twin- did not involve being with the Lord,kling of an eye, at the last trump… this since Paul did not desire it. In fact, themortal must put on immortality.” In apostle made reference to being clothedother words, even though death should with only two houses, the earthly anddissolve this mortal body, Paul makes it heavenly. In the unclothed state, he wasvery clear that we do not put on the neither in the earthly body nor clothedhouse from heaven (immortality) until with the heavenly. That leaves only onethe coming of Jesus and the redemption possible explanation. To be “unclothed”of the body. This is also established by or “naked” is the condition of death thatthe repeated references to the “naked” is the interlude between the dissolvingor “unclothed” state. of the earthly house and putting on the heavenly.
12 A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY 13 vacated? Are the saints to have “houses to rent”? Moreover, this view introduces 4 Only Two Houses something that Paul never mentioned; for here we have THREE HOUSES, butS ome have claimed that the house which we have “eternal in the heav-ens” is the immortal soul with which we Paul’s language allows for only TWO. And one would have to be abandoned according to the popular view. Would itimmediately enter into heaven when the stand abandoned and fall into ruin? Allearthly house is dissolved. But this this is unscriptural and absurd. Such acould not be. Notice the impossibility of view is an impossibility.such an arrangement. If the soul inhab- The fact is that Paul is not talkingited that heavenly “house” immediately here about the soul at all. He does notat death, what happens when it must even once mention the soul in the pas-inhabit the immortalized body after the sage or its context. He is simply con-resurrection takes place? It is in the glo- trasting the present life with the farrified resurrection bodies that the right- more glorious life to come in heaven.eous dwell with God for eternity. This He did not look forward to the sleep ofwould involve those souls leaving the death (being “unclothed”) when he“house eternal in the heavens” which would not be with the Lord, but he didthey inhabited at death, and going into long for the redemption of the bodythe redeemed bodies at the resurrection. when he would be clothed with theThen what happens to the house they “house eternal in the heavens.” While
14 A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY 15still in this life he would be clothed with mean? Of what is the Holy Spirit in oura mortal body; and after mortality is hearts and earnest or pledge? Is it a“swallowed up of life,” he would have a proof or assurance that we have immor-heavenly, immortal body. But whether tal souls that will live on when the bodyin the earthly tabernacles or house from is dead? Is that what Paul meant? No.heaven he would still have a body. The apostle makes it abundantly clearNowhere does Paul separate a soul from that the Spirit is a pledge of the redemp-the body. It is either a body on this earth tion of our bodies at the resurrection.and being absent from the Lord, or it is “... ye were sealed with that holy Spirit ofa redeemed body in heaven and being promise, which is the EARNEST of ourpresent with the Lord. inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13, 14. 5 Earnest Of The Spirit Do not miss the point Paul makes that the “earnest of the Spirit” points to the time when our inheritance isH ere is further positive proof that Paul was referring to the resurrec-tion as the TIME to put on that eternal received in full and the bodily redemp- tion takes place. Paul used the samehouse. To both the Corinthians and expression in 2 Corinthians 5:5 whenthe Romans, Paul emphasized that the talking about putting on the house fromSpirit was a pledge that they would be heaven, “God hath given unto us theclothed with immortality. What did he earnest of the Spirit.” That Spirit is the
16 A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY 17pledge of the resurrection of the body. swallowed up of life.” 2 Corinthians 5:4.Another text removes all doubt: “But if Obviously, mortality can only be swal-the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus lowed up by immortality, or eternal life.from the dead dwell in you, he that Is this the passing of the soul from theraised up Christ from the dead shall also mortal body at the hour of death? Let usquicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit look at it. What is there about man,that dwelleth in you.” Romans 8:11. This according to the common view, which isverse provides undeniable proof that mortal? The body. In addition, what isthe indwelling Spirit is a guarantee that immortal? The soul. Assuming for aour mortal bodies will be quickened at moment that this is true, then whatthe resurrection. happens at death? At death the body, which is mortal, does not become immortal, but loses all its life and crum- 6 Swallowed Up When? bles back to dust in the grave. Moreover, the soul, which was immortal before, is no more than immortal afterwards. IsN ow let us take note that Paul used an argument that forever pre-cludes the doctrine of the soul going to there any “swallowing up of mortality by life” here? Just the reverse! Mortality,heaven at death. In one simple state- or the mortal part, is swallowed up byment, Paul shattered the popular argu- death! There is not as much life after-ment for natural immortality. He said, ward as there was before, because after“we… do groan that mortality might be death only the soul lives, while the body,
18 A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY 19which was alive before, is now dead. Paul was longing for that changeThat view is in contradiction to what from the earthly mortal body to the glo-the Word of God actually says. We must rious immortal body. He stated that thereject it. change would take place on the resur- Paul knew the Corinthians would rection-translation day. His chief hopenot be confused by his language in 2 seemed to center upon being translatedCorinthians 5 about mortality being without ever being “unclothed” inswallowed up by immortality, because death. He yearned to “be clothed upon”he had already written his first epistle to by translation at the coming of Jesus, sothem explaining when that immortality that he be not found “naked” (in thewould be put on. “… in the twinkling of grave). Translation would mean thatan eye, at the last trump… this mortal mortality would be “swallowed up ofmust put on immortality. THEN shall life.”be brought to pass the saying that is Nevertheless, he hastened to expresswritten, Death is swallowed up in victo- confidence, as we have just pointed out,ry.” 1 Corinthians 15:52-54. When in the certainty of a resurrection whenwould death or mortality be “swallowed death would be swallowed up in victoryup?” “THEN,” Paul said. When is (1 Corinthians 15:54). In either case,THEN? “In the twinkling of an eye, at whether by translation or resurrection,the last trump.” How can anyone stum- he would be “clothed upon” with theble over the plain language of these immortal body. Either mortality wouldverses? be “swallowed up” by being translated,
20 A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY 21or death would be “swallowed up” bybeing resurrected. Paul does not linger over the“unclothed” state, because his hopes 7 Made For What?rested in the new body to be received atChristy s coming. He could not be “for-ever with the Lord” until that change T he apostle makes one other point in 2 Corinthians 5 that destroys the idea of a disembodied soul. In verse 5,took place “in the twinkling of an eye.” he affirms that God “hath wrought usThe interim sleep of death in the grave for the selfsame thing.” What thing? Forheld no appeal for Paul, since it would what purpose had God made man? Paulseem but a fractional second of utter answers that we might enjoy a state ofoblivion to the one who died. Looking being in which “mortality is swallowedbeyond the uninviting nakedness of up of life.” Is that condition the separatedeath to the land of life, Paul ruled out existence of an immortal soul?any possibility of a state between death Impossible! Because if man had notand the resurrection when disembodied sinned, he would have reached that statespirits could be present with the Lord. without seeing death. God’s purpose in making man would have been realized without death taking place, and the idea of an immortal soul would never have existed. Surely no one could believe that God “wrought us” for the “selfsame”
22 A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY 23purpose of sinning, dying and leaving For I am in a strait betwixt two, hav-the body in some invisible soul form. ing a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is 8 Paul’s Earnest Expectation more needful for you.”A related text that Paul penned to the Philippians has been twisted andmisinterpreted much like 2 Corinthians First, let’s clarify what Paul’s “earnest expectation” really was in regard to being with Christ. Did he5. Here again Paul speaks of his “earnest expect to be with Him at death? Notexpectation.” Philippians 1:20-24: one text of the Bible teaches such a “According to my earnest expecta- thing. Let the apostle answer for him- tion and my hope, that in nothing I shall self concerning his “earnest expecta- be ashamed, but that with all boldness, tion.” For the earnest expectation of the as always, so now also Christ shall be creature waiteth for the manifestation magnified in my body, whether it be by of the sons of God.” Romans 8:19. What life, or by death. was that manifestation when the sons For to me to live is Christ, and to die of God would be revealed? Verse 23 is gain. answers, “… we ourselves groan within But if I live in the flesh, this is the ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to fruit of my labour; yet what I shall wit, the redemption of our body.” choose I wot not. Paul’s earnest expectation and hope
24 A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY 25was for the time when his body would • 1 Corinthians 5:5be redeemed. In the day of the Lord Jesus He did not say one word in • 1 Corinthians 15:51-55Philippians 1:20-24 about the TIME he At the last trumpwould be with the Lord. Some have • Colossians 3:4attempted to interpret this text as When Christ our life shall appearthough Paul said he wanted to depart • 1 Thessalonians 4:16 When the Lord descends with aand be with Christ immediately, but the shoutword immediately is not in the scrip- • 2 Thessalonians 2:1ture. In these verses, Paul does not At the coming of the Lordspecifically state WHEN he will be with • 2 Timothy 4:7, 8the Lord. At “that day” (by which Paul He only states his “earnest expecta- means the second advent oftion” to be there. We have found from Christ)other scriptures that his expectation cen-tered on the resurrection or translation Paul had two conditions in view: toof the body. Other passages further clar- live or to die. Between these two, he wasify without any equivocation when the in a strait. The cause of God on earthgreat apostle expected to be with Christ. drew him here, but he was weary from beatings, stonings, and bodily suffering.• Romans 8:23 He almost felt that death would be desir- At the redemption of the body able over the struggle of living. So evenly
26 A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY 27balanced were the influences drawing air: and SO shall we ever be with thehim in both directions that he hardly Lord.”knew which course he preferred. Please note the significance of thatNevertheless, he said it was more needful word “SO.” It means “in this way,”“in thisfor the church that he remain here to give manner,” “by this means.” “SO,” in thisthem the benefit of his counsel and labor. manner, by this means, “shall we ever be with the Lord.” By describing, without any limitation, the way and means by 9 How To Be With The Lord which we go to be with the Lord, Paul precludes every other means. If there is any other way of getting to be with theP aul positively refuted the idea of an immortal spirit leaving the body atdeath when he pinpointed the ONLY Lord, then Paul’s language is a stupen- dous falsehood. If we go to be with themeans of being with the Lord. In 1 Lord by means of our immortal spiritThessalonians 4:16,17 he said, “For the when we die, then we do not go to beLord himself shall descend from heaven with Him by means of the visible comingwith a shout, with the voice of the of Jesus, the resurrection of the dead andarchangel, and with the trump of God: the change of the living. Then Paul’sand the dead in Christ shall rise first: words would not be true. There is nothen we which are alive and remain possible way of avoiding this conclusion,shall be caught up together with them except by claiming that the descent of thein the clouds, to meet the Lord in the Lord from heaven, the mighty shout, the
28 A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY 29trumpet, the resurrection of the dead, that drew him were either “to live” or “toand the change of the living, ALL TAKE die.” He was “in a strait” between thesePLACE WHEN A PERSON DIES—a two. If he lived, Christ would be magni-position too absurd to be considered. fied, and if he died a martyr’s death, the Since Paul himself so carefully cause of Christ would be magnified. Itdefines the manner of going to be with would be “gain” either way, both for himthe Lord, why should man try to inter- and for Christ.pret Philippians 1:23 to mean some- But after considering the two alter-thing contrary to the writer’s own natives, upon which he could not makeexplanation? As we have just noted from up his mind (to live or to die), Paul is1 Thessalonians 4:16,17, Paul knew of suddenly struck with a third choice,only two ways to be with the Lord—by which he quickly declares to be “far bet-translation or resurrection. ter” than the other two. He described it as “having a desire to depart and to be with the Lord, which is far better.” Better 10 To Live Or To Die? than what? Clearly, than either of the two he had just mentioned (living or dying). Again, we are reminded of Paul’sH e expressed the hope that “Christ shall be magnified in my body,whether it be by life, or by death.” Paul overwhelming desire to be translated without passing through thetied life and death to a physical body, “unclothed” state of death. That was hisnot some soul or spirit. The alternatives deepest desire.
30 A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY 31 Once more, we are constrained to changed into the “likeness” of Christ.ask: When did Paul expect this transla- However, he refutes the idea that anytion to take place? Moreover, when did have seen him yet and declares unequiv-he anticipate the change from mortality ocally that it will all happen “when heto immortality? He answers: “when shall appear.”Christ, who is our life, shall appear,THEN shall ye also appear with him inglory.” Colossians 3:4. When is THEN?At His second Coming. Have these 11 Translation or Resurrection?appeared with Him in glory already?No. It will happen THEN, when Heshall appear. F inally, let us take note that in case Paul was not permitted to depart this life by translation and had to depart John agrees with Paul, “But we know by death, he did not expect to be withthat, WHEN HE SHALL APPEAR, we Christ until the resurrection. He clari-shall be like him, for we shall see him as fies this in 2 Timothy 4:6-8: “For I amhe is.” 1 John 3:2. Think for a moment now ready to be offered, and the timeabout the implications of that statement. for my departure is at hand. I have John could not have believed that fought a good fight, I have finished mythe righteous dead were already in the course, I have kept the faith: HENCE-presence of the Lord. If so, they were FORTH there is laid up for me a crownable to see him “as he is” at that very of righteousness, which the Lord, themoment, and they would already be righteous judge, shall give me AT THAT
32 A B S E N T F R O M T H E B O DY Library of SermonsDAY: and not to me only, but unto all 1. Armageddonthem also that love his appearing.” 2. Can a Saved Man Choose to Be Lost? In the clearest possible language, 3. Does God’s Grace Blot Out the Law? 4. Hidden Eyes and Closed EarsPaul not only explains but also empha- 5. How Evolution Flunked the Science Testsizes that his reward will be given at the 6. Is It Easier to Be Saved or to Be Lost? 7. Man’s Flicker or God’s Flamecoming of Christ. Even though his 8. Satan in Chainsdeparture in death was “at hand,” he did 9. Satan’s Confusing Counterfeitsnot expect to be with Christ immediate- 10. Spirits From Other Worlds 11. Thieves in the Churchly. He expected it “henceforth.” The 12. Why God Said Remembercrown of immortality was “laid up for 13. Why the Old Covenant Failedme,” he said. He would receive it “in that 14. The High Cost of the Cross 15. Hell-Fireday” with others who would “love his 16. Is It Possible to Live Without Sinning?appearing.” Surely, those of us living 17. Blood Behind the Veiltoday should anticipate that same glori- 18. Spirits of the Dead 19. The Brook Dried Upous appearing when we too shall 20. Death in the Kitchenreceive, with Paul, the crown of right- 21. The Search for the True Church 22. Is It a Sin to Be Tempted?eousness, which fadeth not away. 23. Is Sunday Really Sacred? 24. Heaven ... Is It for Real? 25. Rendezvous in Space 26. Christ’s Human Nature 27. Point of No Return 28. The Rich Man and Lazarus For more great resources, visit us at www.amazingfacts.org