2 Corinthians 5:1-5
New American Bible (Revised Edition)
Our Future Destiny. 1 (A)For we know that if our earthly dwelling,[a] a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven. 2 [b]For in this tent we groan, longing to be further clothed with our heavenly habitation(B) 3 if indeed, when we have taken it off,[c] we shall not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent we groan and are weighed down, because we do not wish to be unclothed[d] but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.(C) 5 Now the one who has prepared us for this very thing is God,(D) who has given us the Spirit as a first installment.[e]Read full chapter
- 5:1 Our earthly dwelling: the same contrast is restated in the imagery of a dwelling. The language recalls Jesus’ saying about the destruction of the temple and the construction of another building not made with hands (Mk 14:58), a prediction later applied to Jesus’ own body (Jn 2:20).
- 5:2–5 2 Cor 5:2–3 and 4 are largely parallel in structure. We groan, longing: see note on 2 Cor 5:5. Clothed with our heavenly habitation: Paul mixes his metaphors, adding the image of the garment to that of the building. Further clothed: the verb means strictly “to put one garment on over another.” Paul may desire to put the resurrection body on over his mortal body, without dying; 2 Cor 5:2, 4 permit this meaning but do not impose it. Or perhaps he imagines the resurrection body as a garment put on over the Christ-garment first received in baptism (Gal 3:27) and preserved by moral behavior (Rom 13:12–14; Col 3:12; cf. Mt 22:11–13). Some support for this interpretation may be found in the context; cf. the references to baptism (2 Cor 5:5), to judgment according to works (2 Cor 5:10), and to present renewal (2 Cor 4:16), an idea elsewhere combined with the image of “putting on” a new nature (Eph 4:22–24; Col 3:1–5, 9–10).
- 5:3 When we have taken it off: the majority of witnesses read “when we have put it on,” i.e., when we have been clothed (in the resurrection body), then we shall not be without a body (naked). This seems mere tautology, though some understand it to mean: whether we are “found” (by God at the judgment) clothed or naked depends upon whether we have preserved or lost our original investiture in Christ (cf. the previous note). In this case to “put it on” does not refer to the resurrection body, but to keeping intact the Christ-garment of baptism. The translation follows the western reading (Codex Bezae, Tertullian), the sense of which is clear: to “take it off” is to shed our mortal body in death, after which we shall be clothed in the resurrection body and hence not “naked” (cf. 1 Cor 15:51–53).
- 5:4 We do not wish to be unclothed: a clear allusion to physical death (2 Cor 4:16; 5:1). Unlike the Greeks, who found dissolution of the body desirable (cf. Socrates), Paul has a Jewish horror of it. He seems to be thinking of the “intermediate period,” an interval between death and resurrection. Swallowed up by life: cf. 1 Cor 15:54.
- 5:5 God has created us for resurrected bodily life and already prepares us for it by the gift of the Spirit in baptism. The Spirit as a first installment: the striking parallel to 2 Cor 5:1–5 in Rom 8:17–30 describes Christians who have received the “firstfruits” (cf. “first installment” here) of the Spirit as “groaning” (cf. 2 Cor 5:2, 4 here) for the resurrection, the complete redemption of their bodies. In place of clothing and building, Rom 8 uses other images for the resurrection: adoption and conformity to the image of the Son.