What Does 'Absent from the Body Present with the Lord' Mean?
- Clarence L. Haynes Jr. Contributing Writer
- 2021 2 Jul
“We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” – 2 Corinthians 5:8 (NKJV)
The old saying in life goes there are two things that are certain, death and taxes. As much as we all begrudge paying taxes, we do it anyway hopefully trying to pay as little in taxes as possible. Even though you try to reduce that tax bill you eventually have to pay. The same is true of death. We can attempt to eat right and live a healthy lifestyle but eventually one day this body will give out and we all will experience death. This is not meant to discourage you but it is a reality and the older you get the more real this truth becomes. However, for us as Christians, death means something totally different than for those who don’t believe and in 2 Corinthians there is an allusion to the process of what death means for those who believe.
You may be familiar with the 2 Cor. 5:8 Scripture where Paul is stating the reality of what death means for us as Christians and that is what we want to dig into today. What does 'absent from the body present with the Lord' mean for you? There are three realities that I want you to understand from this verse and the verses surrounding it which will make this truth even more wonderful for you. First, let's take a look at the meaning of this phrase.
What ‘Absent from the Body Present with the Lord’ Means
1. You are an eternal being.
"For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands." – 2 Corinthians 5:1
The concept of eternity is difficult for us to grasp while we live in these earthly bodies. Have you ever tried to think about living forever? There comes a point where it stops making sense because that is not the reality we live with on this earth where everything has a beginning and an ending. However, that is not true for you and me. We have a beginning, and in this life, we will have an ending, unless Jesus comes before that, but even that ending is just another beginning. As Paul states here when this body we live in gives way, we have an eternal one waiting for us. We shift our residence from this earthly tent (our temporary bodies), to our eternal home (our heavenly bodies), which are built by God and are designed to live forever. This is what awaits all those who put their trust in Jesus.
2. There should be a longing for our eternal home.
As you go through life, especially if you should face difficulties or real challenges in life, the longing for your eternal home intensifies. When life is good, and everything is going well you may be aware of your eternal home but you may not dwell on it as much. However, if life becomes too overwhelming and your body stops functioning the way you want it to, this is when you long for your eternal home because as Paul said this earthly tent is being destroyed. This desire whether it is on the surface or buried should be in all of us. Consider these words.
"Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life." – 2 Corinthians 5:2-4
The reason you have hope is that you know that the moment you pass from this life there is a heavenly dwelling waiting for you.
3. You have the Holy Spirit who confirms your eternal residence.
"Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." – 2 Corinthians 5:5
The reason you can approach death and eternity with confidence and without fear is because God has placed the Holy Spirit within you. The assurance of eternal life comes because God has said it in his word and the Holy Spirit has confirmed it in your heart. Because we have the assurance this is true this is what births confidence in us to know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. With these three truths now let’s answer the question what does absent from the body present with the Lord mean?
‘Absent from the Body Present with the Lord’ Is the Answer to 2 Cor. 5:6
When you know you are an eternal being and you recognize that longing in you that desires to be in your eternal dwelling. When you also have the inner confidence that comes from the Holy Spirit, then this verse makes even more sense. To be absent from the body and present with the Lord means that the moment you breathe your last breath on earth you are instantly transferred directly into the presence of God, not temporarily but forever. There is an exchange that will take place where you will take off the burdens of this life and begin the realities of new life, that is eternal and free from the groanings we now experience. That’s why Paul in Romans made this statement.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” – Romans 8:18 (NKJV)
The moment you are absent from the body, the suffering of this present time ends. This is our hope and joy. This is why you can endure hardships, trials, persecution, sickness, or anything else we face in life because you know it is only for a little while. One day you will be absent from this body and be present with the Lord forever.
How Should We Live with This Truth?
Knowing that you have eternal life should transform the way you live now. After stating this truth let me show you what Paul said after.
“For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” – 2 Corinthians 5:7-10
The reality of knowing that one day you will be absent from the body and present with the Lord should impact you. Here are three ways it should impact you.
- You should believe that it is true.
- You should know that it is true.
- You should live like it is true.
What Paul is encouraging us to do is know that eternity with God is our reality and this should be seen in what we believe and how we live. When you know that one day you will be in God’s presence and one day stand before him, then this should guide everything that we do in this life.
The last thing I want to leave you with is this. From the moment you give your life to Christ, you will never be separated from the presence of God or the love of God ever again. If you live, his presence goes with you. When you die your faith becomes sight and though you will be absent from your body you will be present with the Lord. So whether you live in this life, you win. If you pass from this life, you win. That’s why your salvation is the greatest victory you have in life because that is the guarantee of your hope and your eternal life.
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Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. He has also just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. Do you want to go deeper in your walk with the Lord but can’t seem to overcome the stuff that keeps getting in the way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.
This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture's context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.
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