Over the next few posts I will take a close look at 2 Corinthians chapter 5. Please take time to read the chapter.
In the first few verses of this chapter the Apostle Paul is criticizing the Greek idea of Dualism. Dualism, in a nutshell, is the idea that humans are made up of an eternal soul and a perishable body. Christianity rejects this idea. As Christians we must believe in the eternal soul and the eternal body. In fact, as Christians we should recognize that we are our body and our soul together, not one or the other. The physical body is as much a part of our essence as our soul. Where the Greeks said, the invisible is good and the visible is bad; we Christians recognize that God is the maker of the visible and the invisible.
"For we know that if our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 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." 2 Corinthians 5:1-4
I used the English Standard Version (E.S.V.) rather than the N.I.V. above because the N.I.V. butchers the translation of this passage in a key spot.
Paul wrote about our heavenly dwelling and used two separate metaphors. Let's look at each to see what he's taught the people of Corinth.
First, Paul wrote about our earthly tent and our heavenly house. In this metaphor, I believe, he is making a statement about permanence. Paul was a tentmaker by trade and knew all about tents. The tents Paul made were not your Coleman camping tents. These tents were more sturdy than the tent missing two poles in your garage. The tents in Paul's day were more heavy duty than what you're thinking of, but they were still not a permanent dwelling. In fact, you might live in a tent until your house was ready to live in. This is what Paul's taking about. Our earthly bodies, as they are, are not permanent dwelling places. Our tents can't withstand all the elements; we need a permanent home.
In the end our bodies will be perfected and made eternal. They will be renewed to the original design, they will be like the bodies Adam and Eve had in the Garden of Eden. God called Adam and Eve's bodies good and our bodies will be renewed to be good on God's standard of good. Until then we groan for bodies that are permanent, bodies that don't break down like a tent being packed away.
When we die will not be souls floating around. We will not become angels. Rather, we will be perfected humans.
Secondly, Paul wrote about being clothed. This is where I think the N.I.V. butchers the Greek translation. In verse 4 the N.I.V. says, "... we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life." But in verse 4 the E.S.V. and other translations say, "... 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."
Here's an analogy that I hope explains what Paul is saying. In Iowa January is very cold. In my house sometimes I wear jeans and a T-shirt. If I walk out my front door when it's below zero outside I'll be cold in just jeans and a T-shirt. If I stay out too long I'll freeze. The solution to my problem is not to take off my jeans and T-shirt and go out naked so I don't freeze. No! The solution to my problem is to keep my jeans and T-shirt on and be further clothed. Put on a sweatshirt, boots and an winter coat.
That is what Paul meant when he said, "not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed." We don't need to get rid of our bodies. What we need is to be further clothed by putting on our heavenly dwelling. We need an eternal covering, one that withstands everything even time itself.
So, reject the idea that we are souls with a body. No! We are humans created in the image of God; body, mind and soul. That means you're mind is beautiful, but in need of perfecting. Your soul is beautiful, but in need of perfecting. Your body is beautiful, but in need of perfecting. Your body, mind and soul will live on in eternity, either in hell or the Kingdom. Groan to be further clothed and fix your eyes on what is eternal today.