We are confident - We are of good courage, notwithstanding our many difficulties; because we have this earnest of the Spirit, and the unfailing testimony of God. And notwithstanding this, we are willing rather to be absent from the body - we certainly prefer a state of glory to a state of suffering, and the enjoyment of the beatific vision to even the anticipation of it by faith and hope; but, as Christians, we cannot desire to die before our time.
We are confident - 2 Corinthians 5:6. We are cheerful, and courageous, and ready to bear our trial. Tyndale renders it: “we are of good comfort.”
And willing rather to be absent from the body - We would prefer to die. The same idea occurs in Philemon 1:23. “Having a desire to depart and to be with Christ; which is far better.” The sense is, that Paul would have preferred to die, and to go to heaven; rather than to remain in a world of sin and trial.
To be present with the Lord - The Lord Jesus; see the note on Acts 1:24; compare Philemon 1:23. The idea of Paul is, that the Lord Jesus would constitute the main glory of heaven, and that to be with him was equivalent to being in a place of perfect bliss. He had no idea of any heaven where the Lord Jesus was not; and to be with him was to be in heaven. That world where the Redeemer is, is heaven. This also proves that the spirits of the saints, when they depart, are with the Redeemer; that is, are at once taken to heaven. It demonstrates:
(1)That they are not annihilated.
(2)that they do not sleep, and remain in an unconscious state, as Dr. Priestley supposes.
(3)that they are not in some intermediate state, either in a state of purgatory, as the Papists suppose, or a state where all the souls of the just and the unjust are assembled in a common abode, as many Protestants have supposed; but,
(4)That they dwell with Christ; they are with the Lord ( πρὸς τὸν Κυρίον pros ton Kurion). They abide in his presence; they partake of his joy and his glory; they are permitted to sit with him in his throne; Revelation 3:21.
The same idea the Saviour expressed to the dying thief, when he said, “today shalt thou be with me in paradise;” Luke 23:43.