Aspects of Resurrection.

2 Corinthians 5:5.

J. A. Trench.

Article 7 of 55 from 'Truth for Believers' Volume 2.

This verse is tantamount to the Apostle saying, "Always provided I am speaking of true Christians." In the first two verses he has been expressing the normal confidences of faith in view of the dissolution of the body.

The glorified condition that awaits us is looked at as a building in contrast to a tent, a building of God in contrast to a material house. The moral effect of a body of glory in prospect is that we groan in this body, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven. The terms used are significant; verse 4 explains "clothed upon" to be in contrast with being "unclothed." The fact is that the hope of the Lord's coming having been revealed, and put in its full place in Paul's earliest epistle, 1 Thessalonians, he ever after looks at it as ingrained into the whole Christian life. Hence he turns from the thought of the body being laid down in death, to that which will be the effect of the Lord's coming for us who are alive and remain unto it, i.e. that we shall be changed, without death at all, into the image of our Lord; all that is mortal being swallowed up in the power of that life we already possess in Him.

But there was much in the profession at Corinth that suggested that all was not real there. Hence the solemn warning clause of the parenthetical third verse. There would be those who would be clothed in bodies of resurrection who would be found awfully naked before God, as never having received the "best robe" (Luke 15:22), never having become God's righteousness in Christ, as the last verse of the chapter expresses it. The clothed state of the spirit, when, in the hour that is coming, "all that are in the graves, shall hear his voice" (John 5:28) is here referred to in contrast to the spirit being unclothed in death. The "naked" will be those who come forth (clothed indeed, as far as their bodily condition is concerned) to nothing, but "the resurrection of judgment."

Philippians 3:11. There is no such thing as a special or select resurrection of a certain company of believers. Scripture speaks of but two resurrections; first, that of the just when the Lord comes; then when time itself is over, the resurrection of the unjust to judgment. Christ is the firstfruits of them that sleep; afterward they that are Christ's at His coming. (1 Cor. 15:20, 23) It is for them as for Him a resurrection from among the dead, which is simply what Paul refers to in Philippians 3:11. It belongs to all who are His, and depends altogether upon Christ (2 Cor. 4:14; 1 Thess. 4:14), and in no way upon the condition of the believer. What then does the passage mean? It is the expression in the experience of the Lord's beloved servant (which he is inspired to give us all through the epistle as the only true, proper experience of the Christian) of the power of having before his own soul the object before God for him. What had He laid hold of us for, when the first ray of light from God pierced the darkness of our souls, but to be conformed to the image of Christ in glory? (Romans 8:29; 2 Cor. 5:4-5) Then, says Paul, that is what I follow after, or press toward (the word is the same). And his eye is so completely on the end of the way, that he does not care what the character of it may be. It may be rough or smooth, long or short; nay, a martyr's death may be imminent in it. He does not care; his whole mind is concentrated on the glorious end. "If by any means I may arrive at" (it is not the word for attainment) "resurrection from among the dead." Offer him the finest situation possible for a man in this world: how can it be compared with what his heart is set on? It is an object outside the whole sphere of the enemy's power through which he has to pass, an object that infinitely eclipses all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, that is ever before his mind.

But it is of the deepest interest that the chapter does not close without bringing in the effect of the Lord's coming by which the glorious goal may be reached at any moment without death at all. The one is the soul's pursuit, pressing on through everything here to reach Christ and full conformity to Him in glory; the other, the hope in which the affections of the heart rest. May both be more real to us every moment till we see His face.