In this article on 2 Corinthians 5:5 the author discusses the comfort we have in the face of death, because God gave us his Spirit as a deposit.

Source: Clarion, 2004. 2 pages.

2 Corinthians 5:5 - The Spirit as Deposit

Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

2 Corinthians 5:5

Believers look forward to the day of full salvation when Jesus Christ will return on the clouds of heaven and all things will be made new. Then we will receive glorified bodies, free from the effects of the fall into sin. But what comfort do we have in the meantime? What guarantee do we have that all this will happen? The Apostle Paul writes that God has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

The Lord Jesus Christ came into this world to lay the foundation for a glorious new life for us by his death and resurrection. After conquering sin and death, our Saviour ascended into heaven where He took his place at the Father’s right hand. Christ’s first major act after his ascension was that He poured out the Holy Spirit upon the church to dwell in the hearts of God’s children. When we think about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, we should not only think about the fact that the Spirit dwells in our hearts to transform our lives but also that the Spirit dwells in us as a guarantee of what is to come. God promises us a glorious future, and Paul literally writes in verse 5, “Now it is God who has prepared us for this very purpose, having given us the Spirit as a deposit.” Paul uses the language of business. Just like someone makes a down payment on a purchase, thereby guaranteeing that the rest of the money will be paid, so God has given us the Spirit as a down payment of what is to come. We have someone from heaven dwelling in us as a guarantee of what is still to come from heaven.

This is meant to be of great comfort to us as we live in a fallen and broken world. In chapter 4, Paul writes about the hardships that he experienced as a servant of the gospel, even being in danger of death (4:8-11). But Paul writes about an eternal glory that far outweighs all those hardships (4:16-18). Although our circumstances are different because we do not presently face the possibility of death due to persecution, we are faced with the brokenness of life in other ways. We do face the possibility of death due to sickness and accidents. Some of us even live with very debilitating illnesses for years before our death. In such circumstances, we have the comfort of knowing that there is a glorious future for God’s children, a future guaranteed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Paul writes, Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.2 Corinthians 5:1

Paul contrasts the “earthly tent” and the “building from God.” Since the former refers to the earthly body (cf. 2 Peter 1:13, 14), the latter refers to the glorified body prepared for us in Christ Jesus. Our earthly body is a temporary abode just like a tent is something we do not live in permanently. But the glorified body is a permanent abode just like a building and a house are permanent structures. The new body is a gift from God and will come down from heaven when Christ returns. This is our comfort when the earthly tent is destroyed by death, and God has even prepared us for this by giving us the Spirit as a deposit.

But since the time has not yet come, Paul speaks about longing for the glorified body while still in this fallen and broken world (5:2-4). Paul writes literally, “Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed over with our heavenly dwelling…” (5:2). Rather than experience death and decay, believers prefer to be “clothed over” with the glorified body. We want Christ to return during our lifetime so that we can be changed in the twinkling of an eye (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52). We do not want to be found unclothed and naked but still clothed, that is, still in the earthly tent (5:3, 4). Then the new body can simply be put over the old body like an overcoat is put over a suit jacket. That is the longing of Christians groaning in a broken world.

Paul goes on to write that, as much as we may desire to be alive at Christ’s return, we also know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord (5:6-8). Being away from the body, or being out of the earthly tent, means being at home with the Lord. Although death is an unpleasant reality, it is the entrance into Christ’s presence (cf. Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 16 Q/A 42). Thus we are comforted concerning death. And the indwelling of the Spirit comforts believers in the face of death because God has given us a deposit guaranteeing what is to come. Although we must go through death, our soul will be reunited with our body when Christ returns.

Whether we are alive when Christ returns or have already died and are no longer in the earthly tent, we have the comfort that we will receive a glorified body, an eternal house built by God. We may be confident because God has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come!

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