2 Corinthians 5:1

The Temporal and Eternal

1 For we know that if the 1earthly 2tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house 3not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

2 Corinthians 5:1 Meaning and Commentary

2 Corinthians 5:1

For we know, that if our earthly house
By this house is meant the body, so called from its being like a well built house, a curious piece of architecture; as an house consists of a variety of parts fitly framed and put together in just symmetry and proportion, and with an entire usefulness in all, so is the body of man; which shows the power and wisdom of God the architect: likewise, because it is the dwelling place of the soul, which makes it appear, that the soul is more excellent than the body, is independent of it, and capable of a separate existence from it: it is said to be an "earthly" house, because it is from the earth; is supported by earthly things; has its present abode on the earth, and will quickly return to it: and the earthly house of this tabernacle, in allusion to the tabernacles the patriarchs and Israelites of old dwelt in; or to the tents and tabernacles of soldiers, shepherds, travellers, and such like persons, which are soon put up and taken down, and removed from place to place; and denotes the frailty and short continuance of our mortal bodies. So Plato F26 calls the body (ghinon skhnov) , "an earthly tabernacle"; so the Jews were wont to call the body an house, and a "tabernacle":

``every man (they say F1) has two houses, (Pwgh tyb) , "the house of the body", and the house of the soul; the one is the outward, the other the inward house.''

So Abarbinel F2 paraphrases those words, ( Isaiah 18:4 ) .

``"I will consider in my dwelling place; I will return", or again consider in my dwelling place, which is the body, for that is (vpnh Nkvm) , "the tabernacle of the soul".''

Now this tabernacle may, and will be, "dissolved", unpinned, and taken down; which does not design an annihilation of it, but a dissolution of its union with the soul, and its separation from it: and when the apostle puts an "if" upon it, it is not to be understood as though it is uncertain whether it would be dissolved or not, unless it be said with a view to the change that will be on living saints at Christ's second coming; but it is rather a concession of the matter, and may be rendered, "though the earthly house" or it points out the time when the saints' future happiness shall begin, "when the earthly house" and signifies that being in the body, in some sense, retards the enjoyment of it. Now it is the saints' comfort whilst they are in it, and in a view of the dissolution of it, that they

have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the
which some understand of the glorified body upon its resurrection, as opposed to its frail, mortal, earthly frame in its present situation; though rather all this designs the happiness of the saints, which will be begun, and they shall immediately enter into, at the dissolution of their bodies, and will be consummated at the resurrection; which is all of God's building and preparing; not made by the hands of the creature; or obtained by works of righteousness done by men; and it lies in the heavens, and will continue for ever. So the F3 Jews speak of (avydq tyb) , "the holy house", in the world to come, and which they suppose is intended in ( Isaiah 56:5 ) ( Proverbs 24:3 ) . In this the saints have a present interest; they have it already built and prepared for them; they have an indubitate right and title to it through the righteousness of Christ; they have it secured to them in Christ, their feoffee in trust, their head and representative; and they have the earnest of it, the Spirit of God in their hearts; of all which they have sure and certain knowledge: "for we know"; they are well assured of the truth of this from the promise of God, who cannot lie, from the declaration of the Gospel, the testimony of the Spirit, and the close and inseparable connection there is between the grace they have already received, and the glory that shall be hereafter.


F26 In Clement. Alexandr. Stromat. l. 5. p. 593.
F1 Sepher Caphtor, fol. 38. 2.
F2 Mashmia Jeshua, fol. 11. 4.
F3 Zohar in Exod. fol. 34. 3. & 35. 3.

2 Corinthians 5:1 In-Context

1 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
2 For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven,
3 inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked.
4 For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.
5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.

Cross References 3

  • 1. Job 4:19; 1 Corinthians 15:47; 2 Corinthians 4:7
  • 2. 2 Peter 1:13
  • 3. Mark 14:58; Acts 7:48; Hebrews 9:11, 24

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Lit "our earthly house of the tent"
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