4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.
This verse shows Paul was sure that, if his earthly body should dissolve in death, he had a home in heaven. He groaned for a better situation in eternity.
4 For we who are in this tent groan,
Being in “this tent” describes mortality of the physical body. We “groan” while in this body (2 Co 1:8; 4:8-12). The groaning is not to rid oneself of the present body but to receive the new body eventually at the Rapture.
All Christians face adversity and suffering while in their present bodies. “Burdened” means weighed down or oppressed.
not because we want to be unclothed,
“Unclothed” is our mortality (2 Pe 1:13). The team did not want to be without clothing but desired to have heavenly bodies superimposed on their physical bodies. Paul did not want a permanently disembodied state but longed for an immortal body. The point is not that it is a bad thing to be disembodied in heaven. The idea is that he preferred to go immediately from his mortal body on earth to his eternal body in heaven, which will not be the case.
No Christian should want to die. Death would be his gain (Php 1:21). It would be much better to be with the Lord than continue to live in this life (Php 1:23), thus we do not want to die before God’s timing. God “appoints” men once to die (He 9:27). Healthy people wait for God’s time.
but further clothed [clothed over],
One day our mortality will be “clothed” with an immortal resurrected body. At the moment of physical death, the Christian will be “present with the Lord” (2 Co 5:8) but will be unclothed until the coming of Christ. There will be a transformation of the perishable into the imperishable and the mortal with immortality (1 Co 15:53-54). “Clothed over” means that resurrection transforms the body and adds to it the new dynamics of the resurrection life.
The event of becoming “clothed” is the Rapture. At that event, no believer will die but go directly to be with the Lord. This will be a glorious event for Christians.
that mortality may be swallowed up by life.
“Life” here is immortal life. One day our mortal life in our body will become immortal. Once our body is in glory, we will never experience death again physically. Everything mortal will be devoured by life. The life that God gives us overwhelms mortality. New life in eternity will be beyond our imagination. Jesus dealt with the “mortality” issue (2 Ti 1:10).
Desire to obtain the resurrection body with its immorality is the thought here. Attaining the resurrection body is victory over death (He 2:14-15; 1 Jn 5:11-13). This is the hope that Christ will return in the gospel team’s lifetime. The new clothes of immortal life will swallow up this present physical life with God.
The point of verse 4 is that Paul did not look forward to the intermediate state between death and the Rapture but to the Rapture itself, where believers will receive their immortal bodies.
The body is mortal, but the soul immortal. Paul desired to go from his temporary body to his permanent, immortal body. At the Rapture, the physical body will be “swallowed up” by eternal life, a resurrection life that will never end.
Christians long for a glorified, resurrected body when Christ returns.
To be without a body after death is to be naked, a condition of shame. Physical nakedness brought shame to Adam and Eve, so God provided clothing for them. A soul without a body after death is the shame of nakedness. One day there will be the salvation of our bodies as well as our souls (Ro 8:23; He 6:2). The contrast is not between physical and spiritual, but between our current physical bodies and the future immortal, physical bodies.
The idea here is not the intermediate state of the believer before he obtains his permanent body in heaven. The thrust of this passage hinges on two ideas, the temporal and the eternal.
The Christian does not have an aversion to death itself. Death is the last enemy that God destroys (1 Co 15:26). He killed death by the resurrection.