What does to be absent from the body and present with the Lord really mean?


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“So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord.  For we walk by faith, not by sight.  We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).

Paul is comparing his mortal state with the future immortal life in heaven. He is stating the differences between mortal bodies that will perish and the immortal glorified bodies that will last forever. Let’s examine his expressions for these two states in verses 1-8:

A- Mortal: Earthly house- this tent- mortality- in the body- absent from the Lord.

B- Immortal: Building from God- house not made with hands- our house which is from heaven- absent from the body- present with the Lord.

Some have come to believe that Paul’s statements here mean that some immaterial part of us instantly goes to heaven at the moment of death. But this does not agree with the rest of scriptures that teach that the dead sleep with no consciousness whatsoever until they are awakened at the Resurrection. The Bible teaches that for the believer, at the moment of death, the next conscious thought is his awareness of his glorified body at Christ’s coming because in death there is no consciousnesses of time. Please check the Bible references on the state of the dead:

Paul is simply saying in 2 Corinthians 5:6-8, that he is eager to be absent from the weaknesses of his earthly body (sickness, infirmities and death) and to have a glorified body. He is eager to be translated to heaven without having to see death. And Paul speaks of his hope of translation saying, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:52-53).

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

This answer is also available in: العربية हिन्दी

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