Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


2 Corinthians 5:4

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

For we that are in this tabernacle - We who are in this state of trial and difficulty do groan, being burdened; as if he had said: The whole of human life is a state of suffering, and especially our lot; who are troubled on every side, perplexed, persecuted, cast down, bearing about in the body the dying of our Lord Jesus, and being always delivered unto death on the account of Jesus, 2 Corinthians 4:8-11. These were sufficient burdens, and sufficient causes of groaning.

Not for that we would be unclothed - We do not desire death, nor to die, even with the full prospect of eternal glory before our eyes, an hour before that time which God in his wisdom has assigned.

But clothed upon - To have the fullest preparation for eternal glory. We wish not to die, whatever tribulation we may be called to pass through, till the whole will of God is accomplished in us and by us.

That mortality might be swallowed up of life - Being fully prepared for the eternal state we shall scarcely be said to die, all that is mortal being absorbed and annihilated by immortality and glory. See the notes on 1 Corinthians 15:51-56; (note). From the use of these expressions among the Jews, this seems to be the general meaning of the apostle.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

For we - We who are Christians. All Christians.

That are in this tabernacle - This frail and dying body; note, 2 Corinthians 5:1.

Do groan - see 2 Corinthians 5:2. This is a further explanation of what is said in 2 Corinthians 5:2. It implies an ardent and earnest desire to leave a world of toil and pain, and to enter into a world of rest and glory.

Being burdened - Being borne down by the toils, and trials, and calamities of this life; see the note, 2 Corinthians 3:7-10.

Not for that we would be unclothed - Not that we are impatient, and unwilling to bear these burdens as long as God shall appoint. Not that we merely wish to lay aside this mortal body. We do not desire to die and depart merely because we suffer much, and because the body here is subjected to great trials. This is not the ground of our wish to depart. We are willing to bear trials. We are not impatient under afflictions. The sentiment here is, that the mere fact that we may be afflicted much and long, should not be the principal reason why we should desire to depart. We should be willing to bear all this as long as God shall choose to appoint. The anxiety of Paul to enter the eternal world was from a higher motive than a mere desire to get away from trouble.

But clothed upon - To be invested with our spiritual body. We desire to be clothed with that body. We desire to be in heaven, and to be clothed with immortality. We wish to have a body that shall be pure, undecaying, ever glorious. It was not, therefore, a mere desire to be released from sufferings; it was an earnest wish to be admitted to the glories of the future world, and partake of the happiness which we would enjoy there. This is one of the reasons why Paul wished to be in heaven. Other reasons he has stated elsewhere. Thus, in Philemon 1:23, he says he had “a desire to depart and to be with Christ.” So in 2 Corinthians 5:8 of this chapter, he says he was “willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” In 2 Timothy 4:6-8, he speaks of the “crown of righteousness” laid up for him as a reason why he was willing to die.

That mortality might be swallowed up of life - On the meaning of the word rendered “swallowed up” ( καταποθῇ katapothē); see the note on 1 Corinthians 15:54. The meaning here is, that it might be completely absorbed; that it might cease to be; that there might be no more mortality, but that he might pass to the immortal state - to the condition of eternal life in the heavens. The body here is mortal; the body there will be immortal; and Paul desired to pass away from the mortal state to one that shall be immortal, a world where there shall be no more death; compare 1 Corinthians 15:53.

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
The Faith I Live By, 181.1

For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. 2 Corinthians 5:4. FLB 181.1

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