II Corinthians 5:1-10
In the ten verses before us, Paul uses the pronoun “we” 13 times, “us” twice and “our” twice. These plural pronouns, while referring to Paul and the Corinthians, are applicable to all who believe.
In the opening verse Paul speaks of two houses — an earthly house and a house in heaven. The earthly house is the tabernacle (tent) in which a believer dwells. It is our physical body. It is a transient structure. The house in heaven is our future dwelling place. Paul states that the house in heaven is of God’s construction. It is not transient. It is forever. The heavenly home is ready for habitation but cannot be occupied until the earthly home is vacated.
We groan (v. 2). We make deep and inarticulate sounds in response to pain and despair which we experience in our physical bodies. We desire to be clothed upon with a garment which shall never experience pain or sorrow. Paul describes that garment as our house which is from heaven.
“If so that being clothed . . .” (v. 3). The picture which Paul has placed before us is that of changing one’s clothes. The clothes in which we now reside is our earthly body. The clothes in which we desire to reside is our heavenly home. To be dressed in our heavenly home, we must remove our earthly clothing. When we remove our earthly clothing (submit to death), we are exposed. Some believers shall be more exposed than others.
In Revelation 3:15-18, Jesus addressed the church at Laodicea. The church at Laodicea was the seventh and last church which Jesus addressed. Jesus saw the church at Laodicea as wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. Jesus urged the Laodicean believers “to buy of me gold tried in fire” such that they might be rich and be clothed in white raiment such that “the shame of thy nakedness do not appear” (Rev. 3:18). The nakedness of those clothed in white raiment shall be hidden.
In verse 4, Paul makes it known that the groaning which he, the Corinthians and like-minded believers engage is not for fear of being found naked. We groan because we desire to be clothed with the house which God has built.
Why is Paul not fearful of being found naked? Read verse 5. God has given us the earnest of the Spirit. Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (Jn. 14:2) and “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto to you” (Jn. 16:7). The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, abides in all who hear and believe that which Jesus said. The presence of the Holy Spirit is proof that God is faithful to His every promise. The Comforter is cause for our confidence. We are confident because we know that the Comforter speaks to us and we see Him revealed in fellow believers.
“Therefore” (v. 6). Because the Holy Spirit dwells in us, we are confident that we shall see Christ face-to-face when we depart this body. We are confident of every promise because we live, not by sight, but, by faith. Living by faith means believing God and acting upon that which He reveals. Living by faith means acting upon that which the Comforter teaches and brings into remembrance (Jn. 14:26). It means loving one another as Jesus loves us. It means letting Him be seen in us.
In verse 8, the Apostle reiterates his and our confidence that being absent from the body (our earthly tabernacle) means to be present with the Lord. That confidence is manifested by our labors. In Paul’s day, prior to Paul’s day and in the present day, men who labor in the employment of others do so with confidence that their labor shall be rewarded on payday. Laborers do not receive payment in advance. It is with a similar confidence that we labor to please Him who made us free of the law which we could not keep.
In verse 10, Paul states that all believers must appear before the judgment seat of Christ. Every believer shall be exposed but not all shall be naked. Believers who have bought gold tried in fire shall be attired in white raiment such that their nakedness shall not be seen. Jesus does not want to look upon naked believers. He desires to look upon them who are clothed in white raiment and are rich because they have purchased gold tried by fire.
There is one source, and one source only, of gold tried by fire — Christ Jesus. All believers shall appear before the judgment seat of Christ. Some shall be clad in gold, silver and precious stones. Others shall be adorned in wood, hay and stubble. All coverings shall be tested by fire. In I Corinthians 3:15, Paul makes it known that the coverings of wood, hay and stubble shall be consumed by flame but that believers themselves will be saved as by fire. Though saved, these believers are without works and are naked.
The plural pronouns which Paul employs are inclusive but not totally inclusive. We, in verse 9, applies only to them who labor to be accepted of Him. Those who labor not shall be as the church at Laodicea.
Let us labor for the night shall come when no man can work.