on 2-corinthians 5 :2
For in this we groan - While in this state, and in this body, we are encompassed with many infirmities, and exposed to many trials, so that life is a state of discipline and affliction, and every thing within and around us says, "Arise and depart, for this is not your rest!" Those who apply these words to what they call the apostle's sense of indwelling sin, abuse the passage. There is nothing of the kind either mentioned or intended.
Desiring to be clothed upon with our house - This and the following verses are, in themselves, exceedingly obscure, and can be only interpreted by considering that the expressions used by the apostle are all Jewish, and should be interpreted according to their use of them. Schoettgen has entered largely into the argument here employed by the apostle, and brought forth much useful information.
1. That the Hebrew word לבש labash, which answers to the apostle's ενδυσασθαι, to be clothed, signifies to be surrounded, covered, or invested with any thing. So, to be clothed with the uncircumcision, signifies to be uncircumcised. Yalcut Rubeni, fol. 163.
On the words, Exodus 24:18, Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount, Sohar Exod., fol. 77, has these words, He went into the midst of the cloud, as if one put on a garment; so he was Clothed with the Cloud. Sohar Levit., fol. 29: "The righteous are in the terrestrial paradise, where their souls are clothed with the lucid crown;" i.e. they are surrounded, encompassed with light, etc.
2. The word בית beith, House, in Hebrew often denotes a cover, case, or clothing. So, in the Targum of Onkelos, בית אפי beith appei, the House or the Face, is a veil; and so בית אצבעים beith etsbaim, the House of the Fingers, and בית יד beith yad, the House of the Hand, signify gloves; בית רגלים beith regalim, the House of the Feet, shoes. Therefore, οικητηριον - επενδυσασθαι, to be clothed on with a house, may signify any particular qualities of the soul; what we, following the very same form of speech, call a habit, i.e. a coat or vestment. So we say the man has got a habit of vice, a habit of virtue, a habit of swearing, of humility, etc., etc.
3. The Jews attribute garments to the soul, both in this and the other world; and as they hold that all human souls pre-exist, they say that, previously to their being appointed to bodies, they have a covering which answers the same end to them before they come into life as their bodies do afterwards. And they state that the design of God in sending souls into the world is, that they may get themselves a garment by the study of the law and good works. See several proofs in Schoettgen.
4. It is plain, also, that by this garment or covering of the soul they mean simply what we understand by acquiring the image of God - being made holy. This image they assert "Adam lost by his fall, and they represent man in a sinful state as being naked." So they represent the Israelites before their making the molten calf, as having received holy garments from Mount Sinai; but afterwards, having worshipped the calf, they were stripped of these, and left naked.
5. But notwithstanding they speak of this clothing as implying righteous and holy dispositions, and heavenly qualities, yet they all agree in assigning certain vehicles to separate spirits, in which they act; but of these vehicles they have strange notions; yet they acknowledge that without them, whether they be of light, fire, etc., or whatever else, they cannot see and contemplate the Supreme Wisdom. In Synopsis Sohar, page 137, we have these words: "When the time draws near in which a man is to depart from this world, the angel of death takes off his mortal garment and clothes him with one from paradise, in which he may see and contemplate the Supreme Wisdom; and therefore the angel of death is said to be very kind to man, because he takes off from him the garment of this world, and clothes him with a much more precious one prepared in paradise."
When the apostle says that they earnestly desired to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven, he certainly means that the great concern of all the genuine followers of God was to be fully prepared to enjoy the beatific vision of their Maker and Redeemer.
on 2-corinthians 5 :2
For in this - In this tent, tabernacle, or dwelling. In our body here.
We groan - compare note, Romans 8:22. The sense is, that we are subjected to so many trials and afflictions in the present body; that the body is subjected to so many pains and to so much suffering, as to make us earnestly desire to be invested with that body which shall be free from all susceptibility to suffering.
Earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house ... - There is evidently here a change of the metaphor which gives an apparent harshness to the construction. One idea of the apostle is, that the body here, and the spiritual body hereafter, is a house or a dwelling. Here he speaks of it as a garment which may be put on or laid off and of himself as earnestly desiring to put on the immortal clothing or vestment which was in heaven. Both these figures are common in ancient writings, and a change in this manner in the popular style is not unusual. The Pythagoreans compared the body to a tent, or hut, for the soul; the Platonists liken it to a vestment - Bloomfield. The Jews speak of a vestment to the soul in this world and the next. They affirm that the soul had a covering when it was under the throne of God, and before it was clothed with the body. This vestment they say was "the image of God" which was lost by Adam. After the fall, they say Adam and all his posterity were regarded as naked.
In the future world they say the good will be clothed with a vestment for the soul which they speak of as lucid and radiant, and such as no one on earth can attain - Schoettgen. But there is no reason to think that Paul referred to any such trifles as the Jews have believed on this subject. He evidently regarded man as composed of body and soul. The soul was the more important part, and the body constituted its mere habitation or dwelling. Yet a body was essential to the idea of the complete man; and since this was frail and dying, he looked forward to a union with the body that should be eternal in the heavens, as a more desirable and perfect habitation of the soul. Mr. Locke has given an interpretation of this in which he is probably alone, but which has so much appearance of plausibility that it is not improper to refer to it. He supposes that this whole passage has reference to the fact that at the coming of the Redeemer the body will be changed without experiencing death; (compare 1 Corinthians 15:51-52); that Paul expected that this might soon occur; and that he earnestly desired to undergo this transformation without experiencing the pains of dying. He therefore paraphrases it, "For in this tabernacle I groan, earnestly desiring, without putting off this mortal, earthly body by death, to have that celestial body superinduced, if so be the coming of Christ shall overtake me in this life, before I put off this body."
With our house - The phrase "to be clothed upon with our house" seems to be harsh and unusual. The sense is plain, however, that Paul desired to be invested with that pure, spiritual, and undecaying body which was to be the eternal abode of his soul in heaven. That he speaks of as a house (οἰκητήριον oikētērion), a more permanent and substantial dwelling than a tent, or tabernacle.
on 2-corinthians 5 :2
5:2 Desiring to be clothed upon - This body, which is now covered with flesh and blood, with the glorious house which is from heaven. Instead of flesh and blood, which cannot enter heaven, the rising body will be clothed or covered with what is analogous thereto, but incorruptible and immortal. Macarius speaks largely of this.