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2 Corinthians 5:4 Study Archive

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Yes, we who are in this tent certainly do sigh under our burdens, for we do not wish to lay aside that with which we are now clothed, but to put on more, so that our mortality may be absorbed in Life


Second Corinthians 5:4

  •  John 11:25-26 “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”
  • I Corinthians 15:44 “It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.”

St. Augustine
“If it could be managed, we would much rather not die; we would like to become like the angels by some other means than death. “We have a building from God,” says St. Paul, “a home not made with hands, everlasting in heaven. For indeed we groan, longing to be clothed over with our dwelling from heaven; provided, though we be found clothed, and not naked. For indeed we who are in this dwelling place groan, being burdened; in that we do not wish to be stripped, but to be covered over, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”

Albert Barnes (1832)
(On I Corinthians 15:53) “Must put on. The word here used (enduno) properly means to go in, to envelope, to put on as a garment; and then to put on any thing; as the soul is, as it were, clothed with, or invested with a body; and here it menas, must be endued with, or furnished with. It is equivalent to saying that this corruptible must become incorruptible, and this mortal must become immortal.” (in loc.)

F.F. Bruce (1971)
“Paul oscillates between the figure of a building to dwell in and a garment to put on. The verb here is ependysasthai, which, if the force of the prefix ep- (epi) is stressed, would mean ‘put on over’ (so NEB).”

“The abverb further conveys the force of epi and ependysasthai, ‘put on over’ (so NEB again); it almost suggests that the new body could be put on like an overcoat, above the clothes already being worn.” (1 and 2 Corinthians, pp. 202,203)

Conybeare and Howson
(On II Corinthians 4:14) “Great confusion is caused in many passages by not translating, according to his true meaning, in the first personsingular; for thus it often happens that what St. Paul spoke of himself individually, appears to us as if it were meant for a general truth; instances of this will repeatedly occur in the Epistles to the Corinthians, especially the second. We proposed, therefore, to change the pronouns we and us in this passage to into I and me.” (ch. xi.)

(On II Corinthians 5:1-10) “Literally, ‘If indeed I shall be found clad, and not stripped of my clothing;’ i.e. ‘If, at the Lord’s coming, I shall be found still living in the flesh.” We know from other passages that it was a matter of uncertainty with St. Paul whether he should survive to behold the second coming of Christ or not. (Compare I Thess. 4:15 and I Cor 15:51.) So, in the next verse, he expresses his desire that his fleshly body should be transformed into a spiritual body, without being unclad by death.” (chap. xvii.)

Geneva Bible
5:5 Now he that hath {c} wrought us for the selfsame thing [is] God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.

(c) He means that first creation, to show us that our bodies were made to this end, that they should be clothed with heavenly immortality.

B.W. Johnson (1891)
“clothed upon with the heavenly raiment, the spiritual body, in order that “this mortal shall put on immortality” (#1Co 15:53).” (People’s New Testament, in loc.)

John L. Bray
“At death, which is not really death for the Christian (John 11:25-26), we receive our heavenly bodies, so that we shall not be found naked, but clothed upon (II Corinthians 5:4). This is our resurrection body! ‘ . . and so shall we ever be with the Lord’ (I Thessalonians 4:17).” (The Rapture of Christians, p. 30)

“We are not interested in this old body surviving. Billions have turned back   into dust. Some have been eaten by wild beasts and sharks of the sea.  Some animals, after digesting the remains of a human body, are then eaten themselves by humans and, in turn, digested by them. Some humans have been eaten and digested by cannibals. Are these to be brought forth and reassembled and resurrected?

“If the old body is to survive in resurrection, which set of teeth will the Lord claim? Which set of hair? Which heart, or kidney, or other transplanted organ now belonging to someone else? If all cells in our bodies undergo change so that all cells are not the same cells they were several years ago, would just the cells at hand at the time of the resurrection be taken? No,  this is not what God is wanting to do. This old body is going to have to lie  down and die, and the Christian who lives therein will move out into a better one which is immortal.” (ibid. p. 24)

Adam Clarke (1805)
“I do not think that he refers to the resurrection of the body, but to the resurrection of the soul in this life; to the regaining of the image which Adam lost.” (Adam Clarke, Quoted by Terry,  (Doctrine of the Resurrection)

F.W. Farrar
“The fiery, uncompromising African practically makes Scripture say exactly what he himself chooses.  When, like Athenagoras, he condemns second marriage as “specious adultery,” he has no manner of doubt that he is expressing the opinion of St. Paul, though St. Paul says the exact opposite.  If in spite of St. Paul’s express disclaimer he insists on the resurrection of the identical flesh, he asserts that St. Paul does so likewise.” (History, p. 179)

James Stuart Russell (1878)
“This is the most complete account that we possess of the mysterious transition which the human spirit experiences when it quits its earthly tenement and enters the new organism prepared for its reception in the eternal world. It comes to us vouched by the highest authority,—it is the profession of his faith made by an inspired apostle,—one who could say ‘I know.’ It is the declaration of that hope which sustained St. Paul, and doubtless also the common faith of the whole Christian church. Nevertheless, the passage ought to be studied from the standpoint of the apostle, as his personal expectation and hope.

Observe the form of the statement—it is rather hypothetical than affirmative: “If my earthly tabernacle be dissolved,’ etc. This is not the way in which a Christian now would speak respecting the prospect of dying; there would be no ‘if’ in his utterance, for what more certain than death? He would say, “When this earthly tabernacle shall be taken down;” not, ‘if it should be,’ etc. But not so the apostle; to him death was a problematical event; he believed that many, perhaps most, of the faithful of his day would never suffer the change of dissolution; would not be unclothed, that is disembodied, but would ‘be alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord.’ Perhaps at this time he had begun to have misgivings about his own survival; but what then? Even if the earthly tenement of his body were to be dissolved, he knew that there was provided for him a divinely prepared habitation, or vehicle of the soul; an indestructible and celestial mansion, not made with hands; not a material, but a spiritual body. His present residence in the body of flesh and blood he found to be attended with many sorrows and sufferings, under the burden of which he often groaned, and for deliverance from which he longed, earnestly desiring to be endued with the heavenly vesture which was awaiting him above (ver. 2). The Pagan conception of a disembodied spirit, a naked shivering ghost, was foreign to the ideas of St. Paul; his hope and wish were that he might be found ‘clothed, and not naked;’ ‘not to be unclothed, but clothed upon.’ Conybeare and Howson have, of all commentators, best caught and expressed the idea of the apostle: ‘If indeed I shall be found still clad in my fleshly garment.’ It was not death, but life, that the apostle anticipated and desired; not to be divested of the body, but invested with a more excellent organism, and endued with a nobler life. There is an unmistakable allusion in his language to the hope which he cherished of escaping the doom of mortality, ‘not for that we (I) would be unclothed,’ etc., i.e. ‘not that I wish to put off the body by dying,’ but to merge the mortal in the immortal, ‘that mortality might be swallowed up of life.’

The following comment of Dean Alford well conveys the sentiment of this important passage:—

‘The feeling expressed in these verses was one most natural to those who, like the apostles, regarded the coming of the Lord as near, and conceived the possibility of their living to behold it. It was no terror of death as to its consequences, but a natural reluctance to undergo the mere act of death as such, when it was written possibility that this mortal body might be superseded by the immortal one, without it.’

In the succeeding verses the apostle intimates his full confidence that in either alternative, living or dying, all was well. ‘To be at home in the body was to be absent from the Lord; to be absent from the body was to be present with the Lord.’ In either case, whether present or absent, his great concern was to be accepted by the Lord at last; ‘For,’ he adds, ‘we must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ; that every on may receive the things done in the body, according to that which he hath done, whether it be good or bad’ (verses 6-10).

Thus the apostle brings the whole question to a personal and practical issue. All were alike on their way to the judgment seat of Christ, and there they would all meet at last. Some might die before the coming of the Lord, and some might live to witness that event; but there, at the judgment seat, all would be gathered together; and to be accepted and approved there was, after all, a greater matter than living or dying, ‘falling asleep in the Lord,’ or being ‘changed’ without passing through the pangs of dissolution. The judgment seat was the goal before them all, and we have seen how near and imminent that solemn appearing was believed to be. That all this heartfelt faith and hope, cherished and taught by the inspired apostles of Christ, was after all a mere fallacy and delusion appears an intolerable supposition, fatal to the credit and authority of apostolic doctrine.” (The Parousia)

Milton Terry (1898)
“The whole passage (verses 1-4 reads literally thus: “For we know that if our house of the tabernacle upon earth were dissolved, a building from God we have, a hourse not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens. For in this we groan, yearning to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven, since indeed also (ei;ge. kai.) being clothed we shall not be found naked.” (Biblical Heremeneutics)

“The two words for life are easily distinguishable as used in the New Testament.  It denotes the present human life considered especially with reference to modes and conditions of existence. It nowhere means lifetime, or period of life; for the true text of I Pet. iv, 3, which was supposed to convey this meaning, omits the word. It commonly denotes the means of living; that on which one depends as a means of supporting life. Thus the poor widow cast into the treasury her whole living (Mark xii, 44). Another woman spent all her living on physicians (Luke viii, 14). The same meaning appears in Luke xv, 12, 30; xxi, 4. In Luke viii, 14 and I John iii, 17 it denotes, rather, life as conditioned by riches, pleasures, and abundance. In i Tim. ii, 2; 2 Tim. ii, 4; 1 John ii, 16 it conveys the idea of the manner and style in which one spends his life; and so, in all its uses, it has reference solely to the life of man as lived in this world. zwh,, on the other hand, is the antithesis of death, and while used occasionally in the New Testament in the sense of physical existence (Acts xvii, 25; 1 Cor. iii, 22; xv, 19; Phil. i, 20; James iv, 14), is defined by Cremer as “the kind of existence possessed by individualized being, to be explained as self-governing existence, which God is, and man has or is said to have, and which, on its part, is supreme over all the rest of creation.”

Beings made in the image of God have true life only in fellowship with him. Wherever this life is absent there is death. Accordingly the idea of zwh, comprehends holiness and bliss, that of sin and misery. Now as both the zwh, and the da,natoj manifest themselves in different degrees, sometimes under different aspects, the words acquire a variety of significations. The highest grade of the zwh, is the life which the redeemed live with the Saviour in the glorious kingdom of heaven. Viewed on this side, zwh, denotes continued existence after death, communion with God, and blessedness, of which each is implied in the other.” (Biblical Hermeneutics, pp. 198-199)

“I do not think that he refers to the resurrection of the body, but to the resurrection of the soul in this life; to the regaining of the image which Adam lost.” (Adam Clarke, Quoted by Terry) (Doctrine of the Resurrection)

Philip E. Hughes
“Paul is talking of putting on one garment over another.” (The New International Commentary on the New Testament2 Corinthians, p. 168).

Stephen T. Davis
“We should not be misled by Paul’s use of the term ‘spiritual body.’ He is not using this term to signify a body ‘formed out of spirit’ or made of ‘spiritual matter,’ whatever that might mean, but rather a body that has been glorified or transformed by God and is now fully dominated by the power of the Holy Spirit. . . . It is clear to me that Paul’s view of the resurrection is a physical view.” [Davis, Risen Indeed: Making Sense of the Resurrection (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1993) 56-57.]

Philemon Robbins Russell
“The Christians at Corinth appeared at the destruction of Jerusalem, your judgment seat of Christ, about in the same sense in which the editor of the Trumpet, appeared at the judgment seat of Christ, at the battle of Waterloo.  It could have been nothing more than an imaginary appearing in judgment, just such a judgment as the devil and wicked men love.  Now how can you regard St. Paul as an honest man, if you believe he referred in 2 Cor. 5:10, only to the destruction of Jerusalem?  His language is general and universal.  ‘WE must ALL appear.” (A Series of Letters to a Universalist, p. 128)

Nelson Bible Notes (1990)
(On II Cor. 5:17
“The new man, to be visible, must be put on as one would put on a new suit of clothes (Col. 3:10).” (New Open Bible, p. 1312).

J.C. Robertson’s Word Pictures
(On I Corinthians 15:53) {Must put on} (|dei endusasthai|). Aorist (ingressive) middle infinitive, put on as a garment. {Immortality} (|athanasian|). Old word from |athanatos|, undying, and that from |a| privative and |thnêskô|, to die.”

I Corinthians 15:4

For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon <1902>, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

1902 ependuomai {ep-en-doo’-om-ahee} middle voice from 1909 and 1746; TDNT – 2:320,*; v AV – be clothed upon 2; 2

1) to put on over

I Corinthians 15:

53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on <1746> immortality.
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on <1746> (Aorist) immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

1746 enduo {en-doo’-o} from 1722 and 1416 (in the sense of sinking into a garment); TDNT – 2:319,192; v
AV – put on 18, clothed with 2, clothed in 2, have on 2, clothe with 1, be endued 1, arrayed in 1, be clothed 1, vr put on 1; 29

1) to sink into (clothing), put on, clothe one’s self

<1746> Enduo Usages

  • Mt 6:25 ¶ Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on <1746>. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
  • Mt 22:11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had <1746> not on <1746> a wedding garment:
  • Mt 27:31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put <1746> his own raiment on <1746> him, and led him away to crucify him.
  • Mr 1:6 And John was clothed <1746> with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;
  • Mr 6:9 But be shod with sandals; and not put on <1746> <1746> two coats.
  • Mr 15:17 And they clothed <1746> him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head,
  • Mr 15:20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put <1746> his own clothes on <1746> him, and led him out to crucify him.
  • Lu 15:22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on <1746> him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes onhis feet:
  • Lu 24:49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued <1746> with power from on high.
  • Ro 13:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on <1746> the armour of light.
  • Ro 13:14 But put ye on <1746> the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
  • Eph 4:24 And that ye put on <1746> the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
  • Eph 6:11 Put on <1746> the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
  • Eph 6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on <1746> the breastplate of righteousness;
  • Col 3:10 And have put on <1746> the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
  • Col 3:12 ¶ Put on <1746> therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
  • 1Th 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on <1746> the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
  • Re 1:13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment <1746> down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
  • Re 15:6 And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed <1746> in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles.
  • Re 19:14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed <1746> in fine linen, white and clean.


  • KJV–not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon..
  • RSV–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed..
  • Weymouth— Yes, we who are in this tent certainly do sigh under our burdens, for we do not wish to lay aside that with which we are now clothed, but to put on more, so that our mortality may be absorbed in Life.
  • Milton Terry — “indeed also being clothed”
  • 1 Corinthians 15:53 “this corruptible must be clothed with incorruption, and this mortal must be clothed with immortality.”
  • RSV — 1 Corinthians 15:53 “For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality.”


Eusebius (314)
“Jacob is recorded by Moses as saying to his house and all his people: “2. Remove the strange gods from your midst, (S. adds “be purified and change your garments).” (Proof of the GospelI, p. 9)


“The Savior swallowed up death – (of this) you are not reckoned as being ignorant – for he put aside the world which is perishing. He transformed himself into an imperishable Aeon and raised himself up, having swallowed the visible by the invisible, and he gave us the way of our immortality. Then, indeed, as the Apostle said, “We suffered with him, and we arose with him, and we went to heaven with him”. Now if we are manifest in this world wearing him, we are that one`s beams, and we are embraced by him until our setting, that is to say, our death in this life. We are drawn to heaven by him, like beams by the sun, not being restrained by anything. This is the spiritual resurrection which swallows up the psychic in the same way as the fleshly.”

“What, then, is the resurrection? It is always the disclosure of those who have risen. For if you remember reading in the Gospel that Elijah appeared and Moses with him, do not think the resurrection is an illusion. It is no illusion, but it is truth! Indeed, it is more fitting to say the world is an illusion, rather than the resurrection which has come into being through our Lord the Savior, Jesus Christ.”

But the resurrection does not have this aforesaid character, for it is the truth which stands firm. It is the revelation of what is, and the transformation of things, and a transition into newness. For imperishability descends upon the perishable; the light flows down upon the darkness, swallowing it up; and the Pleroma fills up the deficiency. These are the symbols and the images of the resurrection. He it is who makes the good. ” The Treatise on the Resurrection

Date: 28 Dec 2005
Time: 17:41:48

If one reads Heb.3:1-6, mainly ver.6b, you’ll find that Paul claims here that they are His house, not in it, if they remain faithful in light of what was about to happen, DOJ. Bruce Rowe San Marcos, Ca.

Date: 14 Jul 2007
Time: 21:57:49

I think James Stuart Russell’s explanation of 2 Cor. 5:4 is correct. It pays close attention to audience relevance by interpreting the text through the perspective of the first century saints. How would those saints like Apostle Paul have understood the resurrection event at the Parousia in its implications for the “living and remaining” saints? What would the living saints experience? Would they receive the “change” of bodies? Would they have their new bodies put on over their old ones so that their mortality was swallowed up by immortality? I think that is exactly what Paul is saying here in 2 Cor. 5:4. J. S. Russell was only following John Calvin on this idea. If you read Calvin’s commentaries on 1 Cor. 15:51 and 1 Thess. 4:16 you will see this same idea. And it is related to the rapture, as Calvin shows. The living were “changed” into their new immortal bodies and then caught up with the resurrected dead saints to meet the Lord in the unseen realm, just like Enoch was snatched away from visibility on earth into the invisible unseen realm. — By Edward E. Stevens (July 14, 2007)