“To Be Absent From the Body is to be Present With the Lord” – Said No Bible EVER!
There isn’t a single bible verse about being absent from the body- in some separate, conscious, bodiless form- and being present with the Lord.
In 2 Cor 5:8 and its context, Paul equates our earthly house (body) as being clothed with MORTALITY. And our heavenly house (body) as being clothed with IMMORTALITY.
But between the transition from the earthly, mortal house, to the heavenly, immortal house, there is a middle stage where we aren’t clothed with neither a mortal house or an immortal house. There’s nothing at all! And there’s no going around it. Paul referenced it as being naked, or unclothed (2 Cor 5:3-4), meaning, being without a natural or spiritual house… which is a reference to the condition of DEATH.
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And that is the part that is conveniently ignored by the confused- the immortal soul advocates, who claim that when we die, we go immediately to heaven (or hell), without interruption of consciousness. That’s not true!
Paul, nowhere implies that immediately at death, we will arrive in heaven in some soul without a body; but rather, that when we are resurrected to heaven at Christ’s return, we will be given brand new bodies.
Here’s what he really said:
2Co 5:1 – We are convinced that even if these bodies we live in are folded up at death like tents, we will still have a God-built home that no human hands have built, which will last forever in the heavenly realm.
2Co 5:2 – We inwardly sigh as we live in these physical “tents,” longing to put on a new body for our life in heaven,
2Co 5:3 – in the belief that once we put on our new “clothing” we won’t find ourselves “naked.”
2Co 5:4 – So, while living in this “tent,” we groan under its burden, not because we want to die *(and be unclothed), but because we want *(or prefer that we were already clothed in) these new bodies. We crave for all that is mortal to be swallowed up by eternal life.
2Co 5:5 – And this is no empty hope, for God himself is the one who has prepared us for this wonderful destiny. And to confirm this promise, he has given us the Holy Spirit, like an engagement ring, as a guarantee.
2Co 5:6 – That’s why we’re always full of courage. Even while we’re at home in the body, we’re homesick to be with the Master—
2Co 5:7 – for we live by faith, not by what we see with our eyes.
2Co 5:8 – We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (KJV)
2Co 5:9 – So whether we live or die we make it our life’s passion to live our lives pleasing to him.
All that Paul was really saying is that we are confident of our future, eternal dwelling. And therefore, that he preferred, or was willing rather, at that moment in time, to be absent from our temporary, earthly bodies, and be present with the Lord in our glorified heavenly bodies, without having to die first, and find ourselves unclothed, naked, and void of life.
In other words, he was willing instead, to be absent from this mortal life, and already be present with the Lord in our future, heavenly, immortal life.
Nothing of a mystery there! I’m sure we’d all prefer to be clothed with immortality now, and be with Christ in heaven now, rather than to actually feel the sting of death someday, and then be with Christ later, or afterward, at His Coming, at the Resurrection of the dead.
Paul is not advocating that to be absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord. Or that we are immortal…, or that anyone goes immediately to heaven upon an earthly death. That’s not what he’s saying. Remember, he- Paul, also wrote that God ALONE is immortal (1 Tim 6:16). So, that means we’re not. That means we die. It doesn’t get more explicit than that.
If Christ wouldn’t ever return to resurrect us from the dead- we’d be eternally lost into lifeless oblivion. For the simple reason- as Paul said, we don’t have inherent immortality. God ALONE is immortal. Therefore, to be absent from the body, doesn’t mean to be present with the Lord immediately upon death- at least not until the resurrection.
Think about that! There wouldn’t be a need for the resurrection of the dead, if we automatically went to heaven consciously, at death, by way of immortality- but that’s not the case. We actually die, and therefore, are in need of the resurrection!
Once again, LISTEN CAREFULLY as Paul expounds this point:
1 Corinthians 15:16 – For if the dead are not raised, then not even Christ has been raised.
1 Corinthians 15:17 – And if Christ has not been raised…
1 Corinthians 15:18 – Then they also which ARE FALLEN ASLEEP in Christ ARE PERISHED.
1 Corinthians 15:20 – BUT NOW is Christ risen from the dead, and has become THE FIRSTFRUITS of them THAT SLEPT.
1 Corinthians 15:21 – For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
1 Corinthians 15:23 – But EVERY MAN IN HIS OWN ORDER: Christ THE FIRSTFRUITS; AFTERWARD they that are Christ’s AT HIS COMING.
Once again, we see that Christ is THE FIRST, of those WHO ARE asleep (dead), to have been resurrected and gone to heaven. And the rest of us, WILL NOT go to heaven until Christ returns for us AT HIS COMING- at the resurrection, AND NOT AT ANY OTHER TIME before that.
So, let’s not get confused about the misconception of, to be absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord. Not so!
Other than Christ, no one has gone to heaven.
If Christ was the firstfruits, meaning first among mankind to be resurrected to heaven, then, that means that Enoch and Elijah, and Moses and the thief on the cross- none, went to heaven when they died. And to this day, are still dead and buried in their graves. They will be part of the first and blessed resurrection at Christ’s coming.
* – Indicates input of text for the purpose of clarity