The Present and Future of Believers
2 Corinthians 5:1
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands…


1. Temporary. To impress this the apostle compares the body to a house, composed of earthly materials, which must soon return again to its original element. The damps Of infirmity and waters of affliction soon undermine the frail tenement. The figure of a house, however, is too stable a metaphor. Hence the body is called a mere tabernacle (Nehemiah 8.).

2. Afflictive (ver. 2). Shall we illustrate it by an humble cottage buried in snow, whose inmates groan for deliverance? Or shall we take the fact that the atmosphere presses with a force of fourteen pounds on every square inch of surface? The tabernacle is oppressed, the weight is great, no man can remove it, or make his escape but with the loss of life itself. Though death cannot crush at once, he makes us feel his pressure. Ultimately it must succeed, but as the silver rises in the barometer by the pressure of the air, so the weight of affliction causes the believing soul to rise towards God.

3. A state of earnest longing and ardent hope — "In this we groan, earnestly desiring." Grief is vocal, and from the heart soon finds its way to the lips. To .groan, when oppressed, is natural, to desire heaven is supernatural. Here the believer stands distinguished from the vast masses of the creation which groaneth and travaileth in pain. It is a maxim among moralists that no man can desire evil for its own sake, which is just the sentiment of the apostle. We cannot desire death for its own sake; we cannot wish to be left naked, houseless, by the dissolution of the present tabernacle; but such are the happiness and glory found in the house not made with hands that we desire to exchange habitations.

4. One of certain knowledge, and Divine assurance of future glory (ver. 1). But whence does this knowledge arise? Not by intuition. The mind possesses a capability of knowing it, but nothing more. Not from the senses, for its subject is altogether supersensual. The Divine testimony of revealed truth is the foundation, the Holy Ghost is the great agent, and faith the appointed instrument of this knowledge.


1. It is a state of simple abstract being. The apostle speaks of no new house, tabernacle, or clothing; but of a complete divestment of all, in being "naked" and "unclothed." He speaks of the understanding, conscience, memory, imagination, will, and affections being laid naked and open before God, and the whole invisible world, while all the inhabitants thereof are equally laid open to the view of the soul when divested of mortality.

2. It is a state of conscious existence. Is it possible that insensibility can reign in the direct presence of Christ, who is the life and fountain of all knowledge and happiness? Was not Abraham conscious in Paradise when he replied to the rich man?

3. It is a state in which trial and probation are ended. An impassable gulf was fixed between good and bad spirits, according to the testimony of Abraham, as recorded by Luke.

4. It is a state of imperfection in relation to knowledge, the corporeal powers, and the manifestation of future glory.

III. HIS FINAL AND ETERNAL STATE. What is the house not made with hands? Is it material covering or vehicle into which the soul enters on its departure from the body? This notion was entertained by Plato and his followers, but stands opposed to our text, which speaks of the soul "being naked and unclothed." Besides, if a material covering be meant, the apostle says it must be eternal. It would therefore exclude the resurrection of the body. Neither can the house not made with hands mean the ethereal heavens, including sun, moon, and stars, they as well as the earthly house, pass away. The "heavens," therefore, must mean the abode of God — the glorious city of the New Jerusalem. But mark that the "house" is not said to be the heavens, but a fabric in the heavens — viz., the resurrection body. We are now prepared to observe that the final and eternal state of the believer will be a state of —

1. Restitution. If we have lost by the sin and apostasy of the first Adam, we gain more by the death, resurrection, reign, and faithfulness of Jesus, the second Adam.

2. A state of reward.

3. A state of pure unmixed life. "Not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life."

(D. McAfee.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

WEB: For we know that if the earthly house of our tent is dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens.

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