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2 Corinthians 5:4 (ESV) 

For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

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Bible Commentary

2 Corinthians 5:4 is a powerful Bible verse in the New Testament where Paul is speaking of the heavenly dwelling we have in Jesus Christ.

Paul talks about heaven as though it is a garment. Earlier in the chapter in 2 Corinthians 5:2, he calls it a heavenly dwelling, longing to “put it on,” or in the KJV “clothed upon with our house which is from heaven”.

How can we be clothed with a house? Interesting wording, isn’t it? Let’s dig into this further.


The Hebrew meaning of “tent” in 2 Corinthians 5:4 is: hut or temporary residence, the human body. It is the spirit and soul inside our bodies that is the real “us,” our thoughts, personality, emotions—the part that will live forever. So in that way, it makes sense that he is referring to our human bodies as a tent, or temporary residence.

In 2 Corinthians 5:4, Paul talks about how we are burdened in this human body. “Burdened” in Hebrew reveals the meaning from the root word: grave. So, yes we are weighed down by the grave that calls to our human flesh, which decays as we grow old.


Yet Paul is saying that even though we’re burdened by death or the grave toward the end of our lives, we don’t want to be unclothed, or without our flesh. Rather, we desire to be further clothed.

“Clothed” in Hebrew means: to invest upon oneself or array. The word “array” is defined this way: to place in order; to dress in finery; an impressive display.

Keep those definitions in mind as we continue. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:4 that we “want to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” What does he mean by that? How can mortality be swallowed up by life? 

Unlocking the Truth - Death Swallowed up by Life

The word “mortality” in Hebrew means: liable to die; be dead. Looking up “life” in Hebrew, we see these meanings: breath, spirit, soul, vitality.

That is exactly what Jesus is. In John 11:25-26, Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.

Paul is saying that mortality (death or sin) is swallowed up by life (breath, spirit, soul and vitality)—Jesus Christ.


Jesus took the sin of the whole world upon His body on the cross (Galatians 3:13). The power of sin and darkness was swallowed up as He died on the cross. He has conquered the devil, our enemy.

Because Christ is victorious over death, Hell and the grave, His heavenly body is the “order” and the fine dress, the impressive display from our definition of “clothed.”

Meditate for a moment on this truth—Jesus Christ is our fine clothing, our new “tent”. Can you imagine trading in your fleshly body for His fine clothing? What would that be like?

In Matthew 17:2 Jesus was transformed into His heavenly body in front of the disciples, “And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.”

Revelation 1:13 describes Jesus like this, “…son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters.”

The color white and light are used to describe Him. Both of these terms denote purity and holiness, unstained from the darkness of the world.


Imagine what it might be like to put on the clothing of Jesus Christ, the light and brightness of His glory, to cover your soul in the power of His purity and beauty.

Unspotted from the world, there would be no sickness, aches, decay or death. There would be no darkness to cloud our view of ourselves or others, only the perfect harmonious sounds of joy in holy communion with God.

Study the Bible verse 2 Corinthians 5:4, so you can be encouraged about your heavenly dwelling, the place your spirit and soul can call Home. I’ll leave you with these Bible verses from the Book of Isaiah.

Isaiah 25:6-8:

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
    a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
    of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
And he will swallow up on this mountain
    the covering that is cast over all peoples,
    the veil that is spread over all nations.
    He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
    and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.



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