CORPORATE BODY RESURRECTION in 2 Corinthians 5:1-9
2 Corinthians 5:1-9
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. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 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. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 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.
Christians are divided on many doctrines and The Resurrection is just another one. The majority view on The Resurrection is that sometime in the future physical bodies will be reassembled and connected to the soul/spirit of that person. Another view is that The Resurrection is a corporate resurrection.
THE RESURRECTION WAS CORPORATE and NOT individual bodies coming up out of the ground. The resurrection was for Israel and it was a resurrection out of the corporate body of death/ old covenant/ body of Adam and into the new covenant/ the body of Christ.
In Scripture, body (soma) can reference physical bodies like the human body or animal body. It can also refer corporately to the body of Christ (the church) or like in a “student body” or “body of knowledge.”
Alright, let's look at how Paul uses this word "mortal" in 2 Corinthians 5. But before we look at chapter 5, we must get the context. Remember context is king when it comes to interpretation:
who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:6 NASB
For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. 2 Corinthians 3:9 NASB
This should be clear that Paul is contrasting the two covenants. The Old kills, the old condemns, and therefore they groan:
For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory. 2 Corinthians 3:11 NASB
This verse is much clearer in YLT:
for if that which is being made useless is through glory, much more that which is remaining is in glory. 2 Corinthians 3:11 YLT
The old was "being made useless," the tent of the Old Covenant body was being torn down. Now look at chapter 4:
always carrying about in the body the dying of Yeshua, that the life of Yeshua also may be manifested in our body. 2 Corinthians 4:10 NASB
"Body"--here in both uses is singular, he is not talking about plural bodies. The "our" is plural, but "body" is singular. Paul has been talking about the covenants, and now he uses "body" to speak of them. He hasn't switched his topic to physical, biological bodies, he is still talking about the covenants:
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NASB
Paul says the "outer man" is decaying; that is what he said in 3:11. They were not to look at things "seen"--this is again the Old Covenant: the temple, priesthood, sacrifices, feast days, which were temporal. But they were to look at things not seen-- the New Covenant, which is eternal.
Now from this context of the contrast of covenants we move to chapter 5 where the subject is still a contrast of covenants, not biological bodies:
For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not MADE WITH HANDS, eternal in the heavens. 2 Corinthians 5:1 NASB
This is where the IBD (Individual Body at Death view) guys get their support for a spiritual body in heaven. In fact most Christians today interpret this text as talking about a change that takes place to our biological body at death. If you read it in isolation, it's easy to see how you could get that, but if you keep it in context, you'll see that the subject is covenant.
"Tent" here is skenos and is only used here and in verse 4. The words "torn down" are from the Greek word kataluo. Notice how Matthew uses this word:
"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. Matthew 5:17 NASB
"Abolish" here is kataluo. Matthew uses kataluo of the removing of the Old Covenant.
And He said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down." Matthew 24:2 NASB
Here what is being "torn down" (kataluo) is the Jewish Temple:
and said, "This man stated, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.'" Matthew 26:61 NASB
Again, it is used of destroying the Temple. It is also used this way in Matthew 27:40 and Acts 6:14. This word is used 16 times in the New Testament, 10 of them clearly referring to the Jewish Temple. This word is never used of physical death. Is Paul trying to confuse us? If this text is talking about physical death, why did he use a word so often connected with the Temple?
The word "building" is from the Greek word oikodome, which is used several times for the Jewish Temple and is also used of the Body of Christ:
in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, Ephesians 2:21 NASB
for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; Ephesians 4:12 NASB
This word is never used of an individual body, earthly or heavenly. Why does he use these words if he is not talking about the destruction of the Old Covenant?
Paul says, "We have"--this is a present active indicative, which means at the time of Paul's writing: "they already had a house not MADE WITH HANDS (around AD 55)." So there are two houses existing at the same time, the earthly tent and an eternal house not MADE WITH HANDS. This certainly fits the transition period where the Old and New covenant existed together for a period of forty years. Can these houses be two biological bodies?
For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven; 2 Corinthians 5:2 NASB
The "this house" here is the "earthly tent" of verse 1. They were groaning in the house they were in and longing for a new home from heaven. Is this a physical body? We certainly could say that we groan in our biological bodies. But is this what Paul is talking about? I don't think so. This word "groan" is the same word that Paul uses in Romans 8:23 "...even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body." So both texts have the same meaning:
And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. Romans 8:23 NASB
The "redemption of our body" is a reference to the resurrection. The promise of resurrection was a promise made to who? Resurrection was a promise made to Israel. Ezekiel 37 connects the Spirit and the resurrection, and Romans 8 talks about the Spirit and the resurrection. The resurrection was Israel's hope. Yahweh had promised to redeem His people from the grave:
Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from death? O Death, where are your thorns? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion will be hidden from My sight. Hosea 13:14 NASB
But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, For He will receive me. Selah. Psalms 49:15 NASB
These verses express hope that God will provide salvation beyond the grave, one of the few references in the Tanakh to life after death. This is what Paul calls "the redemption of our body"--the body talked about here is not our individual physical bodies. The "our" is plural and "body" is singular. This is referring to the corporate body of Christ. "Our body" is the body of Christ, and it has been redeemed! Redemption is tied to the destruction of Jerusalem that happened in A.D. 70.
I see Paul in the text in 2 Corinthians 5 as comparing two covenants, the Old and the New. The Old Covenant caused groaning. Paul is not talking about new individual bodies, but about the covenants. The earthly tent, our house, is a reference to the body of Moses:
For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. 2 Corinthians 5:4 NASB
Here the "mortal" is the tent, the Old Covenant. What is mortal, liable to die, will be swallowed up by the life.
Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord 2 Corinthians 5:6 NASB
The "we" here is not us! The "we" is Paul and his first century Jewish audience. Think about this: If the body here is the physical body, then as long as we are in the biological body we are absent from the Lord. Are believers today absent from the Lord? No, we dwell in His presence, that is the glory of the New Covenant:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them, Revelation 21:3 NASB
We live in the presence of Yahweh, sin has been dealt with, and we have full access to His presence:
for we walk by faith, not by sight 2 Corinthians 5:7 NASB
We no longer see the Temple, it is no longer physical. It is a spiritual dwelling place:
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, 20 having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Yeshua Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22 NASB
Yeshua the Christ is the Cornerstone of the new spiritual Temple, the apostles and prophets are the foundation. This building is described as growing into a holy temple (in the first century), to become God's dwelling place. The house was finished in A.D.70 and Yahweh moved in:
we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. 9 Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 2 Corinthians 5:8-9 NASB
They wanted to be absent from the body of Israel, the Old Covenant, and to be present with the Lord. The tent of the Old Covenant has been torn down. It was completely dismantled in A.D. 70, and believers today dwell in God's presence now and forever.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, Romans 6:12 NASB
So, "Mortal body"--is not talking about individual bodies. I believe that this is a reference to the corporate "body of Moses," which is part of the "body of Adam," which was mortal and about to end. What we need to understand is that in the "body of Adam" was the "body of Moses." The Old Covenant community was born in the body of Adam. Everyone was born in Adam, but Jews were in the body of Moses, which was in the body of Adam.
But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" Jude 1:9 NASB
Some think the devil wished to show the Israelites where Moses was buried, knowing that they would then adore his body; and that Michael was sent to resist this discovery. But I see the "body of Moses" here is referring to Old Covenant Israel. The devil was disputing with Michael over Old Covenant Israel:
For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 1 Corinthians 10:1-2 NASB
Old Covenant Israel was identified with Moses, they were in the body of Moses.
Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Yeshua have been baptized into His death? Romans 6:3 NASB
Paul talks about being baptized in Moses and Christ. This shows us that the physical people of Israel who made up the Old Covenant were the body of Moses. And those who trust Christ become part of the body of Christ.
Alright, that's enough for today. I hope that I have demonstrated that "body" is very often used corporately to refer to the "body of Adam" or the "body of Moses," speaking of unredeemed humanity. Or to refer to the "body of Christ," those individuals who have placed their trust in Christ and been redeemed. Could we get some kind of body in heaven? Absolutely! But the Bible doesn't talk about it. The body the Bible talks about is the corporate body of Christ--the redeemed of all ages, Jews and Gentiles. So it is my position that we don't get or need a body in the afterlife.