This chapter continues the subject dealt with in the closing verses of chapter 4. Two things support the believer under trial and suffering: seeing him who is invisible and seeing the glory which is to follow this brief life on earth. Our confident hope of an eternal, blessed life with Christ hereafter makes us indifferent to our temporary troubles and encourages us to seek our Lord's approval.
(Vs. 1.) These are things which "we know". The body in which the soul dwells is an "earthly house" because it is from the earth (Gen. 3:19) and shall return to the earth. It is called a "tabernacle" or tent because of its frailty and short existence. It must soon wear out, be folded together and finally destroyed (Heb. 9:27). When this comes to pass and the body is laid in the ground, the spirit returns to God (Luke 23:43; Phil. 1:23). We have "in the heavens" a house, or habitation, or dwelling-place made by God, through the righteousness and death of Christ (John 14:1-3). It is a "building of God" (worthy of its Author), "eternal" (in that it shall never parish), and it will be enjoyed immediately after this tent is dissolved.(Vs. 2.) Two things are evident here.
1. The believer groans under the burdens of this life. He groans because of the nature and corruption of sin which remains in him (Rom. 7:24, 25).
2. The believer longs and desires to be free from all sin and to be like Christ (Ps. 17:15). He does not desire death just for the sake of being done with life's burdens and trials, but he desires to put on immortality and to enter into the eternal joys of his Lord.
(Vs. 3.) We shall enter into the presence of the Lord clothed in the shining, pure and perfect robes of Christ's righteousness and shall not be ashamed (nor cast out) being naked (Matt. 22:11-13).
(Vs. 4.) While we are still in this tent of flesh, "we do groan, being burdened" with the body of flesh and sin and desiring to be with Christ, which is far better. It is not that we desire to cease to exist nor cease to live in God's universe and kingdom, but that we long to live truly in glory, holiness and immortality (1 Cor. 15:51-54). There is death about us and in us, and we long to be done with it. Death is not to be desired for its own sake, but even in the flesh we rejoice in the Lord and in his good providence. But death is to be desired because it leads the believer to that glorious change into the image of Christ.
(Vs. 5.) It is our sovereign Lord who has chosen, redeemed and called us to that glory and immortality (Rom. 8:28.31). We can be sure of that inheritance, for God, in his unchangeable purpose (Mal. 3:6), has determined to populate the new heaven and new earth with a people like Christ. He gave his Son to redeem them and to provide for them a perfect righteousness, and he has given us his Holy Spirit as a pledge of that promise (Eph. 1:13, 14). Salvation is of the Lord in its plan, its execution, its application, its continuation and its ultimate perfection.
(Vs. 6.) Because God has foreordained us unto eternal glory in, by and through Christ, and has given us the earnest of his Spirit, we are confident and assured that we shall enjoy those blessings. We know that while we are sojourners on earth in this natural body we are absent from the glorious presence of God and the full enjoyment of that for which we have been redeemed. We are not absent from his general presence, which is everywhere (and particularly with his people), but we have not yet entered into our inheritance (1 Peter 1:3-5).
(Vs. 7.) Our lives, conduct and expectations are regulated by our firm conviction and belief concerning God's mercies and grace to us in Jesus Christ. We see nothing here (by the eye of sense) but misery, sin and death. Faith is spoken of as seeing. "He that seeth the Son..." We see with the God-given eye of the soul which looks to Christ for all things.
(Vs. 8.) "We are confident of our future happiness and quite willing to depart out of this world and to be present with the Lord" (Phil. 1:23, 24). Those who are born from above, whose hearts and treasures are above, whose affection is set on things above, inwardly desire to depart from this strange country and live above.
(Vs. 9.) "We labour actively in the service and kingdom of the Lord preaching, witnessing and serving, and we labour passively, submitting to his divine providence, that whether living or dying, whether at home in the body or present with the Lord, we may be accepted in the Beloved." This is the one concern, the one desire of the renewed heart to win Christ and be found in him (Phil. 3:8-11).
(Vs. 10.) All sons of Adam must appear before the judgement seat of Christ (Heb. 9:27). All judgement is committed to the Son (John 5:22). All judgement is relative to the Son (Rom. 2:16). Men and women who have no interest in Christ, who have not the righteousness of Christ, shall give account of and stand responsible for every secret and open sin. Those who believe on Christ have no sin, therefore no condemnation (Rom. 8:1). Our sins have been both judged and put away in our Lord's sacrifice (Heb. 10:12-17).