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 5

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.


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1. For we know. Here follows an amplification (επεξεργασια) or embellishment of the foregoing statement. 507507     “S’ ensuit vne declaration de la sentence precedente, plus ample et comme enrichie;” — “There follows an explanation of the foregoing statement, more ample, and as it were enriched.” For Paul has it in view, to correct in us impatience, dread, and dislike of the cross, contempt for what is mean, and in fine, pride, and effeminacy; and this can only be accomplished by raising up our minds as high as heaven, through contempt of the world. Now he has recourse to two arguments. On the one hand, he shows the miserable condition of mankind in this life, and on the other hand, the supreme and perfect blessedness, which awaits believers in heaven after death. For what is it that keeps men so firmly bound in a misplaced attachment to this life, but their deceiving themselves with a false imagination — thinking themselves happy in living here? On the other hand, it is not enough to be aware of the miseries of this life, if we have not at the same time in view the felicity and glory of the future life. This is common to good and bad alike — that both are desirous to live. This, also, is common to both — that, when they consider, how many and how great miseries they are here exposed to, (with this difference, however, that unbelievers know of no adversities but those of the body merely, while the pious are more deeply affected 508508     “Sont touchez plus au vif;” — “Are more touched to the quick.” by spiritual distresses,) they often groan, often deplore their condition, and desire a remedy for their evils. As, however, all naturally view death with horror, unbelievers never willingly quit this life, except when they throw it off in disgust or despair. Believers, on the other hand, depart willingly, because they have a better hope set before them beyond this world. This is the sum of the argument. Let us now examine the words one by one.

We know, says he. This knowledge does not spring from the human intellect, but takes its rise from the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Hence it is peculiar to believers. Even the heathens had some idea of the immortality of the soul, but there was not one of them, that had assurance of it — not one of them could boast that he spoke of a thing that was known to him. 509509     Cicero, who argues at considerable length, and as it might seem most convincingly, for the immortality of the soul, introduces one as complaining that while, on reading the arguments in favor of this tenet, he thought himself convinced, as soon as he laid aside the book and began to reason with himself, his conviction was gone. “I know not,” says he, “how it happens, that when I read, I assent, but when I have laid down the book, all that assent vanishes.” Hence Seneca, (Ep. 102,) when speaking of the reasonings of the ancient heathen philosophers on this important point, justly observes, that “immortality, however desirable, was rather promised than proved by those great men.” — Ed. Believers alone can affirm this, 510510     “Puissent parler ainsi;” — “Can speak thus” — that is, with confidence. to whom it has been testified of by the word and Spirit of God.

Besides, it is to be observed, that this knowledge is not merely of a general kind, as though believers were merely in a general way persuaded, that the children of God will be in a better condition after death, and had no assurance as to themselves individually, 511511     “Et que cependant chacun d’eux ne fust point asseure de sa propre felicit;” — “And as if each of them were not in the mean time assured as to his own felicity.” for of how very little service this would be for affording a consolation, so difficult of attainment! On the contrary, every one must have a knowledge peculiar to himself, for this, and this only, can animate me to meet death with cheerfulness — if I am fully persuaded, that I am departing to a better life.

The body, such as we now have it, he calls a house of tabernacle For as tabernacles 512512     “Tabernacles ou loges;” — “Tabernacles or huts.” are constructed, for a temporary purpose, of slight materials, and without any firm foundation, and then shortly afterwards are thrown down, or fall of their own accord, so the mortal body is given to men as a frail hut, 513513     “Comme vne logette caduque;” — “As a frail little hut.” to be inhabited by them for a few days. The same metaphor is made use of, also, by Peter in his Second Epistle, (2 Peter 1:13, 14,) and by Job, (Job 4:19,) when he calls it a house of clay. He places in contrast with this a building of perpetual duration. It is not certain, whether he means by this term a state of blessed immortality, which awaits believers after death, or the incorruptible and glorious body, such as it will be after the resurrection. In whichever of these senses it is taken, it will not be unsuitable; though I prefer to understand it as meaning, that the blessed condition of the soul after death is the commencement of this building, and the glory of the final resurrection is the consummation of it. 514514     “La consommation et accomplissement;” — “The consummation and accomplishment.” This exposition will correspond better with the Apostle’s context. The epithets, which he applies to this building, tend to confirm more fully its perpetuity.

3. Since clothed He restricts to believers, what he had stated respecting the certainty of a future life, as it is a thing peculiar to them. For the wicked, too, are stripped of the body, but as they bring nothing within the view of God, but a disgraceful nakedness, they are, consequently, not clothed with a glorious body. Believers, on the other hand, who appear in the view of God, clothed with Christ, and adorned with His image, receive the glorious robe of immortality. For I am inclined to take this view, rather than that of Chrysostom and others, who think that nothing new is here stated, but that Paul simply repeats here, what he had previously said as to putting on an eternal habitation. The Apostle, therefore, makes mention here of a twofold clothing, with which God invests us — the righteousness of Christ, and sanctification of the Spirit in this life; and, after death, immortality and glory. The first is the cause of the second, because

those whom God has determined to glorify, he first justifies. (Romans 8:30.)

This meaning, too, is elicited from the particle also, which is without doubt introduced for the purpose of amplifying — as if Paul had said, that a new robe will be prepared for believers after death, since they have been clothed in this life also.




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