Paul looks forward to a heavenly house, which, in his estimation (as that estimation is based upon his worldview that is now informed by the Resurrection), is a body that is suited for the kingdom of heaven that ultimately is the covenant God’s restored creation. To that end he writes “after we have put on our heavenly house, we will not be found naked” (2 Corinthians 5:3). Paul believes that he and other believers will not be without a body (no disembodied post-mortem experience in a faraway place as the final and ultimate hope and destination of those that believe on the Christ), but will rather have the experience of a renewed physicality, as did Christ upon His Resurrection, here in this re-constituted world where Jesus rules as Lord and where the Creator God dwells with His people.
Continuing with this theme, Paul goes on to write “For we groan while we are on this tent, since we are weighed down, because we do not want to be unclothed, but clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life” (5:4). Once again, there is an ability to correlate the groaning of the believer with the groaning of creation (never forget the exodus undertones when Paul speaks of groaning), as well as the similar groaning that is so carefully detailed in the eighth chapter of Romans. The believer groans in his tent--- in the perishable body that will run down and decay. He groans because he looks forward to a body that will never run down and never decay and never die, because the power of sin and death was defeated at the cross and triumphed over in Jesus’ Resurrection. He groans because of the anticipation of being fully clothed, of being fully human, of properly bearing the image of God as all were designed to do before the great rebellion in which man first realized that he was unclothed.
Though man was first naked before God before the fall, he was truly clothed; but just as happened to Adam and Eve, there is eventually a realization of being unclothed, desirous of re-gaining, through God’s great victory in Christ, the good creation that existed before the fall. Not only will that creation be re-gained, and not only will there be a re-gaining of true clothing, but that creation and clothing will be enhanced and made into something truly unknown and glorious, having been experienced by only one person in all of history, because of the awesome power of God that was put forth in the Resurrection. The believer experiences that power through the preaching and living of the Gospel, by which it is at work in this world, though it is not yet experienced in the fullness of its power. That day, however, will come. In that day, what is mortal, what can and will die, will be, as Paul writes, completely “swallowed up by life.”
As he continues his written contemplation of the renewal and restoration that is implied by the Gospel and the Resurrection, Paul writes, “Now the one who prepared us for this very purpose is God” (2 Corinthians 5:5a). This purpose, by way of reiteration, is being clothed with a “heavenly dwelling,” a renewed body that is suited for an existence in the to-be-consummated kingdom of heaven on earth, not just attaining to heaven. This purpose is to live beyond despair, and instead, living in the light of that “eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (4:17b).
How has the Creator God prepared His people for this? Paul says that those that live in allegiance to His kingdom through allegiance to the Christ are prepared because He “gave us the Spirit as a down payment” (5:5b). That is, the activity of the Holy Spirit, apparently gifting faith and stirring belief in the Gospel and the renewed life to come, is the down payment, or guarantee, of that God accomplishing a final redemption through a thorough and complete rescue from the power of death (spiritually and physically). In this state of belief, as one believes in the very thing that is the power of God unto salvation, one can trust and experience a foretaste of the power of the Resurrection to come.