“Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, ‘I believed, and so I spoke,’ we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. For we know that if the tent, which is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
Summary – This passage falls in the context of one of Paul’s discourses on the ministry of the Apostles. The Apostles preach the plain truth of the Gospel (4:2), the substance of which is “Jesus Christ is Lord” (4:5). Because of this, they are “afflicted” (4:8) in every way and even given over to martyrdom (4:11). But Paul uses this subject to explain the outcome of Christian death. Picking up on Psalm 116 in 4:13, he acknowledges the fleshly affliction they are sustaining, but incidentally Psalm 116:15–not quoted by Paul but no doubt in mind–says “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Adopted as sons and heirs, and with perseverance in suffering (Rom 8:17), we will be raised from the dead to be with Christ (4:14), clothed with a more physical body than we have now (5:4) which is our eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison (4:18).
Insight – I remember camping in tents with a couple friends one time when I was younger. We came back to our camp at one point only to find that wind had blown through while we were away and uprooted our tents and sent them rolling into a nearby tree! Or maybe you have built a tent at home using blankets and chairs. Those are pretty easy to tear apart, aren’t they? See, there is a reason most people don’t live in tents on a long-term basis. They just don’t last as long as solid, permanent houses. Not even close! Our bodies are like tents. They will not last forever. But St. Paul teaches us in this passage that though our bodies won’t last forever, we do not lose heart. That is because we can have hope that our bodies will be raised and we will be transformed into a new body. Compared to our current bodies which are like tents, those bodies will be like strong, permanent houses.
Now we get sick. We break our bones. We get tired. But in the hope of putting on a new and better body, we are to “increase thanksgiving” for God’s glory.
Child Catechism – Will your body last forever? No. But one day it will be raised to life and changed into one that will.
Discussion – Open your Bibles to Psalm 116 and read it through. How many parallels between it and this passage can you find? How do the two relate?
Prayer – Our Father, who has raised Jesus Christ from the dead and set Him in the heavens, we thank you for your promise that you will likewise raise us and bring us into your presence. By your Holy Spirit’s work in our lives, help us to humbly accept our present afflictions in the hope of resurrection, that we might increase our thanksgiving to you for your grace. Accept our thanksgiving that your Triune name may be glorified. In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.