2 Corinthians 5:4
For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) Being burdened.—The whole passage is strikingly parallel to Wisdom Of Solomon 9:15. “The corruptible body presseth down the soul, and the earthly tabernacle weigheth down the mind that museth upon many things.” The Wisdom of Solomon, which no writer quotes before Clement of Rome, had probably been but recently written (possibly, as I believe, by Apollos), but St. Paul may well have become acquainted with it.

Not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon.—Better, Seeing that we do not seek to put off, but to put on a garment. The thought is that of one who thinks that the Coming of the Lord is near. He wishes, as he expects, to remain till that Coming (comp. 1Corinthians 15:51; 1Thessalonians 4:15), to let the incorruptible body supervene on the corruptible, to be changed instead of dying. In this way that which is mortal, subject to death, would be swallowed up of life, as death itself is swallowed up in victory. (1Corinthians 15:54.)

5:1-8 The believer not only is well assured by faith that there is another and a happy life after this is ended, but he has good hope, through grace, of heaven as a dwelling-place, a resting-place, a hiding-place. In our Father's house there are many mansions, whose Builder and Maker is God. The happiness of the future state is what God has prepared for those that love him: everlasting habitations, not like the earthly tabernacles, the poor cottages of clay, in which our souls now dwell; that are mouldering and decaying, whose foundations are in the dust. The body of flesh is a heavy burden, the calamities of life are a heavy load. But believers groan, being burdened with a body of sin, and because of the many corruptions remaining and raging within them. Death will strip us of the clothing of flesh, and all the comforts of life, as well as end all our troubles here below. But believing souls shall be clothed with garments of praise, with robes of righteousness and glory. The present graces and comforts of the Spirit are earnests of everlasting grace and comfort. And though God is with us here, by his Spirit, and in his ordinances, yet we are not with him as we hope to be. Faith is for this world, and sight is for the other world. It is our duty, and it will be our interest, to walk by faith, till we live by sight. This shows clearly the happiness to be enjoyed by the souls of believers when absent from the body, and where Jesus makes known his glorious presence. We are related to the body and to the Lord; each claims a part in us. But how much more powerfully the Lord pleads for having the soul of the believer closely united with himself! Thou art one of the souls I have loved and chosen; one of those given to me. What is death, as an object of fear, compared with being absent from the Lord!For we - We who are Christians. All Christians.

That are in this tabernacle - This frail and dying body; note, 2 Corinthians 5:1.

Do groan - see 2 Corinthians 5:2. This is a further explanation of what is said in 2 Corinthians 5:2. It implies an ardent and earnest desire to leave a world of toil and pain, and to enter into a world of rest and glory.

Being burdened - Being borne down by the toils, and trials, and calamities of this life; see the note, 2 Corinthians 3:7-10.

Not for that we would be unclothed - Not that we are impatient, and unwilling to bear these burdens as long as God shall appoint. Not that we merely wish to lay aside this mortal body. We do not desire to die and depart merely because we suffer much, and because the body here is subjected to great trials. This is not the ground of our wish to depart. We are willing to bear trials. We are not impatient under afflictions. The sentiment here is, that the mere fact that we may be afflicted much and long, should not be the principal reason why we should desire to depart. We should be willing to bear all this as long as God shall choose to appoint. The anxiety of Paul to enter the eternal world was from a higher motive than a mere desire to get away from trouble.

But clothed upon - To be invested with our spiritual body. We desire to be clothed with that body. We desire to be in heaven, and to be clothed with immortality. We wish to have a body that shall be pure, undecaying, ever glorious. It was not, therefore, a mere desire to be released from sufferings; it was an earnest wish to be admitted to the glories of the future world, and partake of the happiness which we would enjoy there. This is one of the reasons why Paul wished to be in heaven. Other reasons he has stated elsewhere. Thus, in Philippians 1:23, he says he had "a desire to depart and to be with Christ." So in 2 Corinthians 5:8 of this chapter, he says he was "willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord." In 2 Timothy 4:6-8, he speaks of the "crown of righteousness" laid up for him as a reason why he was willing to die.

That mortality might be swallowed up of life - On the meaning of the word rendered "swallowed up" (καταποθῇ katapothē); see the note on 1 Corinthians 15:54. The meaning here is, that it might be completely absorbed; that it might cease to be; that there might be no more mortality, but that he might pass to the immortal state - to the condition of eternal life in the heavens. The body here is mortal; the body there will be immortal; and Paul desired to pass away from the mortal state to one that shall be immortal, a world where there shall be no more death; compare 1 Corinthians 15:53.

4. For—resuming 2Co 5:2.

being burdened: not for that—rather, "in that we desire not to have ourselves unclothed (of our present body), but clothed upon (with our heavenly body).

that mortality, &c.—rather, "that what is mortal (our mortal part) may be swallowed up of (absorbed and transformed into) life." Believers shrink from, not the consequences, but the mere act of dying; especially as believing in the possibility of their being found alive at the Lord's coming (1Th 4:15), and so of having their mortal body absorbed into the immortal without death. Faith does not divest us of all natural feeling, but subordinates it to higher feeling. Scripture gives no sanction to the contempt for the body expressed by philosophers.

By tarbenacle, he meaneth (as he had before expounded it) the earthly house of our body.

Do groan; both a groaning of grief, and also of desire.

Being burdened; either with the body of flesh; or with sin, the body of death, Romans 7:24; or with the load of trials and afflictions.

Not that we would be unclothed, that is, die, be unclothed of our flesh, (nature abhorreth death, and flieth from it),

but clothed upon; which is expounded, 1 Corinthians 15:54, our corruptible having put on incorruption, and our mortal having put on immortality. And this confirmeth what was observed before, that the apostles had some persuasion, (though not from any Divine revelation of that hour), that the resurrection, and day of judgment, would be before the determination of that age and generation; that so we might come into the possession of eternal life (for that the apostle meaneth by

mortality being swallowed up of life). Death is not desirable for its own sake, but upon the account of that immortal life into which it leadeth the souls of believers; nor (as was said before) doth the apostle here directly desire death, (which is that which in this verse he calleth unclothing), but rather the change mentioned 1 Corinthians 15:52, which he here calleth a clothing upon.

For we that are in this tabernacle do groan,.... There are some of the saints who are not in the tabernacle, the body. They were in it, but now are not; their bodies are in the grave, the house appointed for all living; and their souls are in the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, in everlasting habitations, in the mansions prepared in Christ's Father's house; and they have done groaning, being delivered from every oppressor, sin, Satan, and the world; are at rest from all their labours, and ate free from every burden; only the saints who are in the tabernacle of the body, in an unsettled state, groan, being in the midst of tribulation, and not yet in the enjoyment of that happiness they are wishing for. The reason of their groaning is, because they are

burdened with the body itself, which is a clog and incumbrance to the soul in its spiritual exercises; and oftentimes by reason of its disorders and diseases a man becomes a burden to himself; but what the saints are mostly burdened with in this life, and which makes them groan the most, is the body of sin and death they carry about with them; the filth of it is nauseous, grievous, and intolerable; the guilt of it oftentimes lies very heavy on the conscience; the weight of it presses hard, and is a great hinderance to them in running their Christian race; nor have they any relief under this burden, but by looking to a sin bearing and sin atoning Saviour, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. They are also frequently burdened with Satan's temptations, with blasphemous thoughts, solicitations to sin, the fears of death, the pangs of it, and what will follow upon it; though God is faithful, who will not suffer them to be tempted above that they are able to bear; however, these temptations are great burdens, and occasion many a groan: to which may be added the various afflictions of life, which though comparatively "light", are in themselves heavy, grievous burdens, and hard to be bore; the nature, number, and continuance of them often make them so; and especially they are such, when God is pleased to hide his face, and withhold the discoveries of his love and mercy. The apostle goes on to explain what he means by desiring to be clothed,

not for that we would be unclothed; that is, of our bodies; and this he says, not through any love and liking he had to this animal life, or to the sensual methods of living here, which make natural men in love with life, and desirous of always living here; but from a principle of nature, which recoils at death, does not like a dissolution, chooses any other way of removing out of this world than by death; a translation of soul and body together to heaven, like that of Enoch and Elijah's, is more eligible even to a good man; or such a change as will be upon the living saints at the coming of Christ, which the apostle seems to have in view, who will be not unclothed of their bodies, as men are at death,

but clothed upon; as is here desired, with incorruption and immortality:

that mortality might be swallowed up of life; not that the mortal body, or the substance of the body, which is mortal, might be consumed and destroyed, but that mortality, that quality to which it is subject by sin, might be no more: and he does not say, that "death may be swallowed up of life", which will be done in the resurrection morn; but mortality, which being swallowed up by a translation, or such a change as will be at the last day, will prevent death: and the phrase, swallowed up, denotes the suddenness of the change, in an instant, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and that without any pain, or such agonies as usually attend death; and also the utter, final, and total abolition of mortality; so that there will never be more any appearance of it; his desire is, that it may be swallowed up "of the life", which is properly and emphatically life, as this life is not; and means the glorious, immortal, and everlasting life, which saints enter into as soon as they are rid of their mortal bodies, and the mortality of them.

For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 5:4. An explanation defining more precisely, and therewith giving a reason for (γάρ), 2 Corinthians 5:3, after a frequent practice of the apostle. Comp. 2 Corinthians 4:10-11. In this καί, even, serves to emphasize the οἱ ὄντες ἐν τ. σκ., just as with ἐν τούτῳ in 2 Corinthians 5:2.

The ἐν τούτῳ of 2 Corinthians 5:2 is here more precisely defined by οἱ ὄντες ἐν τῷ σκήνει, in which οἱ ὄντες is prefixed with emphasis: for even as those who are still in the tent, i.e. for even as those whose sojourn in the tent is not yet at an end; already while we are still in possession of the bodily life, which duration of time is opposed to the moment of the possible κατάλυσις τοῦ σκήνους, when the tent is left, and when the longing and sighing after the new body would be still stronger; comp. on 2 Corinthians 5:2. From the very position of the καί Hofmann is wrong in making its emphasis fall on βαρούμενοι, which extorts sighs from us, and then taking οἱ ὄντες ἐν τ. σκ. in antithetic reference to what is afterwards affirmed of these subjects, since they prefer to remain in the earthly life (comp. οἱ ζῶντες, 2 Corinthians 4:11). The οἱ ὄντες ἐν τ. σκ. can only, in fact, be the same as the ἐν τούτῳ of 2 Corinthians 5:2, which, however, Hofmann has already wrongly understood in another way; the two expressions explain one anothe.

τῷ σκήνει] The article expresses the tent which is defined by the connection (the body).

βαρούμενοι] definition assigning a reason for στενάζ.: inasmuch as we are depressed; not, however, propter calamitates (2 Corinthians 1:8), as Piscator, Emmerling, Schneckenburger, Fritzsche suppose without any ground in the context, but the cause of the pressure which extorts the sighs is expressed by the following ἐφʼ ᾧ οὐ θέλομεν κ.τ.λ., so that βαρούμενοι, ἐφʼ ᾧ οὐ θέλομεν κ.τ.λ. is a more precise explanation of the τὸ οἰκητήριονἐπιποθοῦντες of 2 Corinthians 5:2.

ἐφʼ ᾧ] i.e. ἐπὶ τούτῳ ὅτι, propterea quod, as Romans 5:12; see on that passage. Comp. here particularly θυμὸν βαρύνειν ἐπί τινι, Pind. Pyth. i. 162 f.; στενάζειν ἐπί τινι, Soph. El. 1291; Xen. Cyr. iv. 3. 3 : δακνόμενος ἐπὶ τούτοις. We feel ourselves as oppressed by a burden, because we are not willing, i.e. have an antipathy, to unclothe, etc. The oppressive part of this οὐ θέλομεν ἐκδύσασθαι, ἀλλʼ ἐπενδύσασθαι lies in the ever present possibility of the ἐκδύσασθαι. Emmerling and Fritzsche take ἐφʼ ᾧ as quare (see Elsner, ad Rom. v. 12; Matthiae, p. 1373): “Nam in hoc corpore ad calamitates valde ingemisco (καὶ.… γὰρ βαρυν.) et propter hanc ipsam malorum molem (ἐφʼ ᾧ) nolo quidem, ut haec propulsetur, mortem oppetere (ἐκδυσ.),” etc. But there is nothing of the malorum moles in the context; and if we should wish, as the context allowed, with Osiander and older commentators, to refer βαρούμ. to the pressure which the body as such (the σκῆνος) causes to us by its onus peccati et crucis (comp. Wis 9:15), and then to explain ἐφʼ ᾇ: and in order to get rid of this pressure; this would be at variance with the parallel in 2 Corinthians 5:2, according to which the sighing must appear to be caused by the special longing (which in 2 Corinthians 5:4 is, by way of more precise definition, designated as an oppressing one), not by another pressure.[216] This, at the same time, in opposition to Usteri and Schneckenburger, who take it as whereupon (comp. Kühner, II. p. 298). According to Beza, it means in quo, sc. tabernaculo, and, according to Flatt, even although. At variance with linguistic usage. Ewald, taking βαρούμ. of the burden of the whole earthly existence, explains it: “in so far as we wish not to be unclothed, and so set forth as naked and guilty and cast into hell, but to be clothed over.” Against this it may be urged that ἐφʼ ᾧ does not mean quatenus (ἐφʼ ὅσον), and that the interpretation of “being unclothed” in the sense of reum fieri is not grounded in the text; see on 2 Corinthians 5:3.

θέλομεν] Out of this we are not, with Grotius, Emmerling, and others, to make malumus; otherwise must have stood instead of ἀλλά, 1 Corinthians 14:19. The οὐ θέλειν is the nolle, the not being willing (Baeumlein, Partik. p. 278; Ameis on Hom. Od. ii. 274), of the disinclination of natural feeling.

ἀλλʼ] sc. θέλομεν.

ἵνα καταποθῇ κ.τ.λ.] We wish to be clothed over, in order that, in this desired case, what is mortal in us may be swallowed up (may be annihilated, comp. 1 Corinthians 15:54) by life, i.e. by the new, immortal power of life which is imparted to us in the moment of the change (of the ἐπενδύσασθαι). Ὥσπερ ἀνίσχον τὸ φῶς φροῦδον τὸ σκότος ποιεῖ, οὕτως ἡ ἀνώλεθρος ζωὴ τὴν φθορὰν ἀφανίζει, Theodoret.

[216] Osiander: “wherefore we long to have ourselves not unclothed, but clothed over, because in the very act of dying the pressure of the tabernacle becomes heaviest, when it, as it were, collapses over its inhabitant.” It is self-evident that of this explication of ἐφʼ ᾧ there is nothing in the text: even apart from the fact, that Osiander explains as if the words were ἐφʼ ᾧ θέλομεν οὐκ ἐκδύσασθαι κ. τ. λ.

REMARK.

There is not fear of death in this utterance of the apostle, but rather the shrinking from death, that pertains to human nature—the shrinking from the process of death as a painful one. His wish was not to die first before the Parousia and then to be raised up, but to be transformed alive; and what man, to whom the nearness of the Parousia was so certain, could have wished otherwise? His courage in confronting death, which was no Stoical contempt of death, remained untouched by it.

2 Corinthians 5:4. καὶ γὰρ οἱ ὄντες κ.τ.λ.: for indeed we who are in the body (see 2 Corinthians 5:1) groan, being burdened (cf. Wis 9:15, φθαρτὸν σῶμα βαρύνει ψυχήν), not for that (ἐφʼ ᾧ; cf. Romans 5:12) we would be unclothed (cf. 2Es 2:45) but clothed upon, that what is mortal may be swallowed up of life, i.e., that the mortal body may, without passing through death, be absorbed, as it were, in the heavenly body which is to be superindued (cf. Isaiah 25:8). The double metaphor in these verses from that of a house to that of a garment is quite in St. Paul’s manner. Stanley finds the explanation of both “in the image which both from his occupation and his birthplace would naturally occur to the Apostle, the tent of Cilician haircloth, which might almost equally suggest the idea of a habitation and of a vesture” (cf. Psalm 104:2). The truth is that no single metaphor could possibly convey to the mind a true conception of heaven or of the condition of the blessed. We may speak of the heavenly home as a place (οἰκητήριον), but we have to remind ourselves that it is rather a state here expressed by the image of heavenly vesture.

4. in this tabernacle] Literally, in the tabernacle, i.e. the ‘tenement,’ of which we have already spoken (2 Corinthians 5:1).

do groan, being burdened] “Not because we desire to be delivered from the body, for of it we do not wish to be unclothed, but we hasten to be delivered from the corruption that is in it.” Chrysostom. This verse carries on the thought of v, 2 and explains it.

not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon] Better with Tyndale and Cranmer (also Wiclif), for we wold not be unclothed, but wolde be clothed upon. “It is quite possible that men might conceive (of the future state) as a disembodied state and suppose the Apostle to represent life in a visible form as a degradation.” Robertson. Such was the view of Greek philosophers almost without exception (see note on 1 Corinthians 15:12). St Paul, affirming the old Jewish view that God had created all things, and made them very good, entirely repudiates this doctrine, and declares that he does not desire separation from the body, but only its spiritualization. “Paul regards it as an especial happiness not to taste death, not to be obliged to put off this body, but to be glorified living, like Elijah, drawing the heavenly body over the present mortal body as a garment, yet in such a manner that the mortal body is absorbed in the nature of the spiritual body.” Olshausen. So Tertullian, “not as wishing to undergo death, but that death should be anticipated by life.” The whole passage should be compared with 1 Corinthians 15:35-54. See also note on 2 Corinthians 5:2.

that mortality might be swallowed up of life] i.e. “covered over and arrayed in the vesture of immortality.” Tertullian. ‘Mortality’ should rather be rendered what is mortal.

2 Corinthians 5:4. Καὶ γὰρ, for even) The reason of the earnest desire [2 Corinthians 5:2.]—στενάζομεν βαρούμενοι, we do groan being burdened) An appropriate phrase. A burden wrings out sighing and groaning.—ἐκδύσασθαι) to be unclothed, to strip off the body. Faith does not acknowledge the philosophical contempt of the body, which was given by the Creator.

Verse 4. - For we that are, etc.; literally, for indeed we who are in the tent; i.e. in the transitory mortal body. Do groan. "Oh wretched man that I am I who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Romans 7:24). Being burdened. "The corruptible body presseth down the soul, and the earthy tabernacle weigheth down the mind that museth upon many things" (Wisd. 9:15). Not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon; more literally, since we do not wish to strip off (our bodily garment) but to put another garment over it. St. Paul here repudiates the Manichean notion that the body is a disgrace, or in itself the source of evil. He was not like Plotinus, who "blushed that he had a body;" or like St. Francis of Assist, who called his body "my brother the ass;" or like the Cure d'Ars, who (as we have said) spoke of his body as "ce cadavre." He does not, therefore, desire to get rid of his body, but to "clothe it over" with the garment of immortality. Incidentally this implies the wish that he may be alive and not dead when the Lord returns (1 Corinthians 15:35-54). Mortality; rather, the mortal; that which is mortal. Might be swallowed up of life. As in the case of Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11), who entered into life otherwise than through "the grave and gate of death." St. Paul wishes to enter the "building from God" without having been first buried in the collapse of the "soul's dark cottage battered and decayed." He desires to put on the robe of immortality without stripping off the rent garb of the body. 2 Corinthians 5:4Being burdened (βαρούμενοι)

Compare weight (βάρος) of glory, 2 Corinthians 4:17.

Not for that we would be unclothed (ἐφ' ᾧ οὐ θέλομεν ἐκδύσασθαι)

Lit., because we are not willing to divest ourselves (of the mortal body). Regarding the coming of the Lord as near, the apostle contemplates the possibility of living to behold it. The oppression of soul (groan) is not from pains and afflictions of the body, nor from the fear of death, but from the natural shrinking from death, especially if death is to deprive him of the body (unclothe) only to leave him without a new and higher organism. Therefore he desires, instead of dying, to have the new being come down upon him while still alive, investing him with the new spiritual organism (clothed upon), as a new garment is thrown over an old one, and absorbing (swallowed up) the old, sensuous life.

"For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey,

This pleadng anxious being e'er resigned,

Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,

Nor cast one longing, lingering look behind?"

Gray, "Elegy."

Swallowed up

A new metaphor. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:54.

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