2 Cor 5:1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
The tent Paul is speaking of, is our mortal body. When we die, our mortal body is destroyed. We will sleep in the dust of the earth (Daniel 12:2) until the resurrection. Then, at the return of Jesus from heaven to earth, he will bring the reward for the saints with him – a reward that has been kept safe in heaven – the reward of immortality for those recorded in the Book of Life. (1 Thes 4:14-16) This immortality is a house not made with hands – it comes from God.
2 Cor 5:2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling,
We long for immortality while we suffer in this mortal body.
2 Cor 5:3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked.
When we are clothed with immortality we will not be naked. Even in this life of mortality, we are counselled by Jesus to buy white garments from him to cover our nakedness. The white garments of the saints have been made righteous by being washed in the blood of the lamb.
2 Cor 5:4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
While we are mortal, we find life’s troubles burdensome. We don’t want to die, but we long for our mortal bodies to be clothed with immortality. Isaiah 25:6-9 speaks of this swallowing up of mortality. It will almost certainly happen on Mt Zion in Jerusalem. (Isaiah 25:7 cf Isaiah 24:23) And it will occur at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth. Matthew 25:31-34:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. (32) Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. (33) And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. (34) Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
1Co 15:51-54 also speaks of the time when our mortal bodies will be clothed with immortality – not immediately we die, but at the last trumpet when Jesus returns to earth:
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, (52) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. (53) For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. (54) When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
2 Cor 5:5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
God is very active in the lives of his children. Jesus reveals in John 17, that the faithful will be one with him and with God. We will have the mind or spirit of Jesus if we are faithful. See 1Co 2:12-16 LITV
But we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit from God, so that we might know the things that are freely given to us by God. (13) Which things we also speak, not in words taught in human wisdom, but in Words taught of the Holy Spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual things. (14) But a natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he is not able to know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (15) But the spiritual one discerns all things, but he is discerned by no one. (16) For “who has known the mind of the Lord?” “Who will teach Him?” But we have the mind of Christ. Isa. 40:13
This spiritual mind is a big encouragement for us, as it confirms to us that we love God.
2Co 5:6-9 KJV Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (7) (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) (8) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (9) Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.
Death is nothing to fear for the believer. Our faith makes us confident that when we die, we will be resurrected (at the return of Jesus to earth) and be present with him for ever. If we strive to please Jesus, it makes no difference if we are dead or alive. We will ultimately be clothed with immortality. As Romans 14:8 tells us:
For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
This is when we receive our reward – when Jesus returns to judge the world and us. All believers receive immortality at the same time. The common belief that people go to heaven at death and receive their reward, is not taught by Scripture. Scripture is very clear. We are clothed with immortality at the judgment seat. Consider the following verses:
2 Tim 4:6-8 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. (7) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (8) Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
Paul knew he would be clothed with immortality on judgment day.
Heb 11:39-40 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, (40) since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
All believers are clothed with immortality (made perfect) at the same time. At the judgment seat of Christ.
Dan 12:13 But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.”
Daniel, like Paul and all other believers, would rest in the sleep of death until the resurrection, when he will stand and be clothed with immortality.