Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


2 Corinthians 5:1

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

If our earthly house of this tabernacle - By earthly house, the apostle most evidently means the body in which the soul is represented as dwelling or sojourning for a time, and from which it is to be liberated at death; for as death dissolves the tabernacle, it can then be no habitation for the soul. The apostle also alludes here to the ancient Jewish tabernacle, which, on all removals of the congregation, was dissolved and taken in pieces; and the ark of the covenant, covered with its own curtains, was carried by itself; and when they came to the place of rest, then the dissolved parts of the tabernacle were put together as before. When we consider this simile in connection with the doctrine of the resurrection, which the apostle has treated so much at large in these epistles, and which he keeps constantly in view, then we shall see that he intends to convey the following meaning: that as the tabernacle was taken down in order to be again put together, so the body is to be dissolved, in order to be re-edified; that as the ark of the covenant subsisted by itself, while the tabernacle was down, so can the soul when separated from the body; that as the ark had then its own veil for its covering, Exodus 40:21, so the soul is to have some vehicle in which it shall subsist till it receives its body at the resurrection.

A building of God - Some think this refers to a certain celestial vehicle with which God invests holy souls on their dismissal from the body; others suppose it relates to the resurrection body; and some imagine that it relates merely to the state of blessedness which the saints shall possess in the kingdom of glory. See the following note.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

For we know - We who are engaged in the work of the gospel ministry. Paul is giving a reason why he and his fellow-laborers did not become weary and faint in their work. The reason was, that they knew that even if their body should die, they had an inheritance reserved for them in heaven. The expression “we know” is the language of strong and unwavering assurance. They had no doubt on the subject. And it proves that there may be the assurance of eternal life; or such evidence of acceptance with God as to leave no doubt of a final admission into heaven. This language was often used by the Saviour in reference to the truths which he taught John 3:11; John 4:22; and it is used by the sacred writers in regard to the truths which they recorded, and in regard to their own personal piety; John 21:24; 1 John 2:3, 1John 2:5,1 John 2:18; 1 John 3:2, 1 John 3:14, 1 John 3:19, 1 John 3:24; 1 John 4:6, 1 John 4:13; 1 John 5:2, 1 John 5:15, 1 John 5:19-20.

That if our earthly house - The word “earthly” here ( ἐπιγειος epigeios) stands opposed to “heavenly,” or to the house eternal ( ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς en tois ouranois) in the heavens.” The word properly means “upon earth, terrestrial, belonging to the earth, or on the earth,” and is applied to bodies 1 Corinthians 15:40; to earthly things John 3:12; to earthly, or worldly wisdom, James 3:15. The word “house” here refers doubtless to the body, as the habitation, or the dwelling-place of the mind or soul. The soul dwells in it as we dwell in a house, or tent.

Of this tabernacle - This word means a booth, or tent - a movable dwelling. The use of the word here is not a mere redundancy, but the idea which Paul designs to convey is, doubtless, that the body - the house of the soul - was not a permanent dwelling-place, but was of the same nature as a booth or tent, that was set up for a temporary purpose, or that was easily taken down in migrating from one place to another. It refers here to the body as the frail and temporary abode of the soul. It is not a permanent dwelling; a fixed habitation, but is liable to be taken down at any moment, and was suited up with that view. Tyndale renders it, “if our earthly mansion wherein we now dwell.” The Syriac renders it, “for we know that if our house on earth, which is our body, were dissolved.” The idea is a beautiful one, that the body is a mere unfixed, movable dwelling. place; liable to be taken down at any moment, and not designed, anymore than a tent is, to be a permanent habitation.

Were dissolved - ( καταλυθῇ kataluthē). This word means properly to disunite the parts of anything; and is applied to the act of throwing down, or destroying a building. It is applied here to the body, regarded as a temporary dwelling that might be taken down, and it refers, doubtless, to the dissolution of the body in the grave. The idea is, that if this body should moulder back to dust, and be resolved into its original elements; or if by great zeal and, labor it should be exhausted and worn out. Language like this is used by Eliphaz, the Temanite, in describing the body of man. “How much less in those that dwell in houses of clay,” etc.; Job 4:19; compare 2 Peter 1:13-14.

We have a building of God - Robinson (Lexicon) supposes that it refers to “the future spiritual body as the abode of the soul.” Some have supposed that it refers to some “celestial vehicle” with which God invests the soul during the intermediate state. But the Scripture is silent about any such celestial vehicle. It is not easy to tell what was the precise idea which Paul here designed to convey. Perhaps a few remarks may enable us to arrive at the meaning:

(1) It was not to be temporary; not a tent or tabernacle that could be taken down.

(2) it was to be eternal in the heavens.

(3) it was to be such as to constitute a dwelling; a clothing, or such a protection as should keep the soul from being “naked.”

(4) it was to be such as should constitute “life” in contradistinction from “mortality.” These things will better agree with the supposition of its referring to the future body of the saints than any thing else; and probably the idea of Paul is, that the body there will be incorruptible and immortal. When he says it is a “building of God” ( ἐκ Θεοῦ ek Theou), he evidently means that it is made by God; that he is the architect of that future and eternal dwelling. Macknight and some others, however, understood this of the mansions which God has prepared for His people in heaven, and which the Lord Jesus has gone to prepare for them; compare John 14:2. But see the note on 2 Corinthians 5:3.

An house - A dwelling; an abode; that is, according to the interpretation above, a celestial, pure, immortal body; a body that shall have God for its immediate author, and that shall be suited to dwell in heaven forever.

Not made with hands - Not constructed by man; a habitation not like those which are made by human skill, and which are therefore easily taken down or removed, but one that is made by God himself. This does not imply that the “earthly house” which is to be superseded by that in heaven is made with hands, but the idea is, that the earthly dwelling has things about it which resemble that which is made by man, or as if it were made with hands; that is it is temporary, frail, easily taken down or removed. But that which is in heaven is permanent, fixed, eternal, as if made by God.

Eternal in the heavens - Immortal; to live forever. The future body shall never be taken down or dissolved by death. It is eternal, of course, only in respect to the future, and not in respect to the past. And it is not only eternal, but it is to abide forever in the heavens - in the world of glory. It is never to be subjected to a dwelling on the earth; never to be in a world of sin, suffering, and death.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The believer not only is well assured by faith that there is another and a happy life after this is ended, but he has good hope, through grace, of heaven as a dwelling-place, a resting-place, a hiding-place. In our Father's house there are many mansions, whose Builder and Maker is God. The happiness of the future state is what God has prepared for those that love him: everlasting habitations, not like the earthly tabernacles, the poor cottages of clay, in which our souls now dwell; that are mouldering and decaying, whose foundations are in the dust. The body of flesh is a heavy burden, the calamities of life are a heavy load. But believers groan, being burdened with a body of sin, and because of the many corruptions remaining and raging within them. Death will strip us of the clothing of flesh, and all the comforts of life, as well as end all our troubles here below. But believing souls shall be clothed with garments of praise, with robes of righteousness and glory. The present graces and comforts of the Spirit are earnests of everlasting grace and comfort. And though God is with us here, by his Spirit, and in his ordinances, yet we are not with him as we hope to be. Faith is for this world, and sight is for the other world. It is our duty, and it will be our interest, to walk by faith, till we live by sight. This shows clearly the happiness to be enjoyed by the souls of believers when absent from the body, and where Jesus makes known his glorious presence. We are related to the body and to the Lord; each claims a part in us. But how much more powerfully the Lord pleads for having the soul of the believer closely united with himself! Thou art one of the souls I have loved and chosen; one of those given to me. What is death, as an object of fear, compared with being absent from the Lord!
Ellen G. White
Our High Calling, 250.4

All the greatness and glory of these wonderful things in God's house can only be appreciated as they are, in the mind, associated with God and the future home of bliss He is preparing for those who love Him....While we talk freely of other countries, why should we be reticent in regard to the heavenly country, and the house not built with hands, eternal in the heavens? This heavenly country is of more consequence to us than any other city or country on the globe, therefore we should think and talk of this better—even an heavenly—country. And why should we not converse more earnestly, and in a heavenly frame of mind, in regard to God's gifts in nature? He has made all these things, and designs that we shall see God in His created works. These things are to keep God in our remembrance and to lift our hearts from sensual things and bind them in bonds of love and gratitude to our Creator. OHC 250.4

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, 214

By precept and example, teach self-denial, economy, largeheartedness, and self-reliance. Everyone who has a true character will be qualified to cope with difficulties and will be prompt in following a “Thus saith the Lord.” Men are not prepared to understand their obligation to God until they have learned in Christ's school to wear His yoke of restraint and obedience. Sacrifice is the very beginning of our work in advancing the truth and in establishing institutions. It is an essential part of education. Sacrifice must become habitual in all our character building in this life if we would have a building not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 6T 214.1

Through erroneous ideas regarding the use of money the youth are exposed to many dangers. They are not to be carried along and supplied with money as if there were an inexhaustible supply from which they could draw to gratify every supposed need. Money is to be regarded as a gift entrusted to us of God to do His work, to build up His kingdom, and the youth should learn to restrict their desires. Teach that none may prostitute their powers in self-pleasing and self-gratification. Those whom God has endowed with ability to acquire means are under obligation to Him to use that means, through heaven's imparted wisdom, to His name's glory. Every shilling wasted on self-indulgence, or given to special friends who will spend it to indulge pride and selfishness, is robbing God's treasury. The money expended for garments to make a pleasing show is so much that might have been used to advance the cause of God in new places. Oh, that God would give all a true sense of what it means to be a Christian! It is to be Christlike, and Christ lived not to please Himself. 6T 214.2

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