In an effort to “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen”, we’re going to spend a little extra time looking at the first few verses of chapter 5. At the beginning of this chapter, Paul gives us a glimpse of what the future holds for those who trust their eternal existence to Jesus.
The “earthly tent” refers to the current physical body a believer has and the “building from God” refers to the kind of body believers will be given in the future and keep for eternity. There are a few details we can gather about these future bodies from verse 1.
They will be created for us by God and will not simply be improvements on our existing bodies. The phrase “made with hands” was used by Jesus to describe his own body before crucifixion (a body formed through biological process, despite being conceived miraculously) and he used the same Greek phrase “made without hands” to describe his resurrection body as we see here. (Mark 14:58) Jesus said his first body would be destroyed and another built in its place. Jesus served as the first of all believers who would be given new bodies in this way. (1 Corinthians 15:20) Therefore, if he started with a body “made with hands” and was resurrected with one made by God, so will all believers.
These bodies will also be “eternal”. The Greek communicates the idea here of being non-temporary, unable to be lost, broken or destroyed. The life these bodies have will be as eternal and everlasting as God himself!
Notice that Paul says that we “have” these bodies right now. They already belong to us, though the time to claim them won’t come until later. Currently, they are “in the heavens”, meaning with God, as the term “heaven” commonly implies in its New Testament usage.
As our bodies are now, we all long for something better. We look at ourselves and see our physical flaws, our shortcomings, our weakness or dysfunction. (v.2) Public nakedness is a shameful state, but with our new bodies, we will be “clothed” in some way, without shame of any kind.(v.3) Our natural mortality will be “swallowed up” by life. The Greek word here for “life” refers to the highest and best form of life possible. Whatever life may be like for believers in eternity, it will not include any of the negative aspects of life here on earth in the bodies we live in now. (v.4)
Gaining Some More “Eternal Perspective”
Coffee House Question
What aspect of living in your body would you most like to live without?