Longing For A Heavenly Body

by Mike Ratliff

I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. (2 Peter 1:13-14 ESV)

Unlike Peter, the Lord has not made it clear to me the putting off of my body will be soon (see the passage above). However, I do not deny that my desire for the ending of this tabernacling in this earthly tent grows deeper with each skirmish or battle in the Truth War. I am not overly sad here. I do not even consider myself to be that ill, but with each step in spiritual maturity, the natural byproduct of standing firm in the hot parts of the battle, I find that my joy is in the heavenly perspective rather than in anything in the temporal with the only exception being in my personal relationships and fellowship with family and friends and fellow warriors. 

In 2 Corinthians 5:1-10, the Apostle Paul declares to us the incredible utility that comes to true believers through the Cross of Christ. In this, he shows us how we should prepare ourselves unto it, by whom, and to what end. As we fight the good fight, stand firm in the face of the growing apostasy consuming the visible church, God is not unaware of what is going on. He knows our thoughts and the intents of our hearts. He knows what our motives are. Therefore…

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. (2 Corinthians 5:1-5 ESV)

Here is v1 in Koine Greek: οιδαμεν γαρ οτι εαν η επιγειος ημων οικια του σκηνους καταλυθη οικοδομην εκ θεου εχομεν οικιαν αχειροποιητον αιωνιον εν τοις ουρανοις

The two words at the beginning of this passage, “we know,” is the Greek word οιδαμεν. This is a very interesting word. It means, “to know intuitively.” Paul’s point here is that we know intuitively what he is sharing in this passage because of being a child of God. This knowledge accompanies the New Birth in Christ. This is something that applies across the board with God’s truth. The unregenerate simply cannot grasp it no matter how well we share it or what books they read. Nothing can open their heart to understand God’s truth unless it is by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit according the mercy of God (Titus 3:5).

In v1 Paul is telling believers that if their earthly home is destroyed that they have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. This is the truth that what is alive spiritually in us is our real person, not the body. This is why Paul used the Greek word for tent, σκηνους, here to describe our bodies. This is the material portion of our person. In this age, in pop-culture especially, it is as if this σκηνους, is what it is all about and that it will go on forever. However, the truth is that this earthly (η επιγειος) home or tent (οικια του σκηνους) will be destroyed or dissolved (καταλυθη) in God’s timing. The word Paul used here that is translated as “destroyed” in the ESV means “to demolish.” Yes, this is going to happen in due time, however, those in Christ have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

This is a description of death of the mortal body. However, unlike those who have no eternal hope, those of us in Christ should see this as an encouragement as the reality of our mortality comes to bear. The word translated as “building” in v1 is οικοδομην, which means, “the process of building something.” In other words, God is, as I am typing this, building a new house for my spirit, which will be disembodied at the point of my death, leaving my old body remaining on earth. My new body is completely new, “a house not made with hands,” οικιαν αχειροποιητον. This is the completion of my eternal body. My new body has two qualities that we must understand now. The first is that it will be similar to my current body and identifiable, however, it will not be identical because it is αχειροποιητον or unhandmade. Instead, it is produced by God. This is the same word used by Christ referring to the resurrection of His body after three days and nights in the tomb. The bodies we have now were born into this world, but those resurrected in Christ, the righteous dead (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17), will be changed by God to new, glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:50-57). The second quality of my new body is that it is going to be eternal, αιωνιον.

Of what does this αιωνιον quality consist? This is the idea of eternality focused on what characterizes God Himself. The life that is given at salvation to believers is the promise of ζωην αιωνιον (life eternal), not denoting duration of a period of time, but to the quality of the life. This life can never be lost or taken away once a person is justified by faith, accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.

On the other hand, αιωνιον, is always related to time using the form αιωνια as in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 translated below as “eternal.”

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 ESV)

Therefore, what we see and experience in these bodies is temporal or transient, but what awaits us with God in our new bodies is αιωνια or eternal, which is that which is not temporal, cannot be lost, nor destroyed. This life that awaits all those in Christ is εν τοις ουρανοις, in the heavens. This is where God is and where the believer will find his or her ultimate rest.

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5:6-10 ESV)

This should be an encouragement to all of us truly in Christ, but it should also be a point of reflection for those who should examine their motives for what they are doing attacking those who stand firm on God’s Word as the Truth and live and minister accordingly. Those who say they are Christians also, but who are following hard after every wind of human philosophy while ignoring what God’s Word clearly says should really stop what they are doing and do some serious self-examination. However, as we saw above, the truth is only intuitively apparent to those truly in Christ for they are born again. They are regenerate and can see the truth plainly while those who are unregenerate are spiritually blind and can only see the temporal while being consumed by the lies of our enemy.

My brethren, be encouraged in the Lord. No matter what your circumstances are now, what awaits those who are In Christ in eternity is going to be according to ζωην αιωνιον in οικιαν αχειροποιητον.

Soli Deo Gloria!

12 thoughts on “Longing For A Heavenly Body

  1. I eagerly await my new body made after His. But this is exactly what happens when movements that name Christ concentrate on this life and all its needs to the exclusion, and sometimes the derision, of the life to come. Who would have thought that spending eternity with Jesus would be looked upon as a “fringe benefit”?

    No chest pains, no insulin, no infections. All that will be wonderful, but just being in His presence and allowed to worship Him forever will be what I am looking for.

  2. Amen! Amen! Amen! Rick, yes, I deeply desire departing this deteriorating “tent,” but to be in my Lord’s presence and worship Him perfectly with the rest of His children and the hosts of Heaven, well, why would we prefer this transient stuff? I just don’t get the focus on the here and now by professing Christians. Each day my love for the temporal decays a bit more and my anticipation of what awaits me in eternity increases. Oh, to be with Him!

  3. Hi Mike,
    Amen! Thanks for this encouraging word. Longing for His coming and eternity with Him.
    Praying for you and may He bring rich blessings on you and your family.

  4. Dear Mike,
    “I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, as he raised his right hand and his left toward heaven, and swore by Him ho lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time; and as soon as they finish “shattering” the power of the holy people all events will be completed.” Daniel 12:7 Satan thought that in the end Jesus was being “shattered” and destroyed by His death at the cross, but in fact the very opposite was occuring. Through this “shattering He was accomplishing His purpose which was to submit to God’s will in being the perfect sacrifice for our sin. It is precisely the same with us. We are here to be refined and demolished and “shattered” so that we participate in the sufferings of Christ and that in spite of our earthly afflictions, we will be more than conqueors in Christ and our testimony will point to our gracious Savior and His ultimate sacrifice for the security of our eternal home. In Christ alone, come what may in a world passing away, Charisse

  5. Speechless at the thought, Mike…..

    There should be a longing in our hearts as we realize what is being prepared for those who love Him. We will be with our Lord and Savior for all eternity…..

    God bless!

  6. As the Lord graciously allows me to know His will better I have become more and more dissatisfied with everything this world has to offer. I was trying to explain to someone I know recently about it, how just like in ecclessiastes I feel ‘everything is meaningless under the sun’, nothing tastes as good, nothing satisfies.They expressed such sympathy, I couldn’t get across that there was nothing to feel sorry for! Its not a bad thing. I don’t want to be finding my happiness in those things. I can take in a beautiful view and enjoy that expression of God, but I can leave it if God doesn’t think I need to see it.( I used to desperately thirst of that kind of thing to make me happy.)The creator is so much more beautiful Himself. I find that I have difficulty listening to music of any kind, but especially worldy, as I don’t want to be moved and influenced by it as I have been in the past. If I am going to be moved I want it to be because of what God is doing in my life.I find it difficult to have conversations with people, not because I am shy etc, but because unless they are seeking God I have little in common. I end up talking about God, not because I am trying to evangelise, but because I have very little else to talk about! I love, love, love that Jesus is transforming my life in this way, with no help from me, other than the abilitly to agree to carry on.But I do find the distancing of those I love hard. Many I love do not understand and some are even worried about me. We do look foolish in the eyes of the world. I have fibromyalgia and shall be very glad to escape this body of tiredness and pain. But even that, for now, I am glad to accept because its what God has decided for my best ,and is using it wonderfully to cause my to rely on Him alone.
    Your post was really,really encouraging.Thankyou.
    ( Thankyou also for letting me take up so much comment space : ) ).

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