Where Should I Start Reading?
Dear Adrien, God Bless your beautiful heart and thank you for your concern. We know this is a very hard subject for many Christians because of what they have been taught or failed to be taught concerning Heaven and Hell and 2 Cor. 5:6,8. We offer the following to help clarify the matter: 2 Cor. 5:6, 8, "to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord", was the inspired desire of the Apostle, which could be realized only in resurrection. Resurrection (and not death) is the subject of the whole context. These words are generally misquoted "Absent from the body, present with the Lord", as though it said that when we are absent from the body we are present with the Lord. But no such sentence can be found. No less than nine words are deliberately omitted from the context when the quotation is thus popularly made. The omission of these words creates quite a new sense, and puts the verse out of all harmony with the context; the object of which is to show that we cannot be "present with the Lord" except by being clothed upon with our Resurrection body our "house which is from heaven". We might with equal justice quote the words "hang all the law and the prophets", and leave out "on these two commandments" (Matt. 22:40); or say "there is no God" and leave out "The fool hath said in his heart" (Psalm 53:l), or say "Ye shall not drink wine", and leave out "Ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but (ye shall not drink wine) of them" (Amos. 5:l1); or talk about "the restitution of all things" and leave out "which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets" (Acts 3:21). All these partial quotations are correct so far as the Text is concerned, but what about the Context? The context is, "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord" (v. 8). By omitting the words printed in italics the sense is entirely changed. Being "at home in the body" in both verses is explained, in verse 3 as being in "this tabernacle", which, in v. 1, is called "our earthly house of this tabernacle"; and being "present (or at home with) the Lord" is explained in verse 2 as being "clothed upon with our house which is from heaven". The Apostle distinctly says, on the one hand, that he did not wish to die (v. 4, "not that we would be unclothed"); and on the other hand, he was not merely "willing rather" but "earnestly desiring to be clothed upon" (v. 2). It is true that some years later he did say "to die is gain"; but as we have seen above, the circumstances were very different, for he was then in prison. This brings us to the expression of Paul's desire in Phil. 1:23. The desire of the Apostle was not "to depart" himself, by dying; but his desire was for the return of Christ; the verb rendered "depart" being used elsewhere in the New Testament only in Luke 12:36, where it is rendered "return": "when he shall RETURN from the wedding". May we not fairly ask, Why are we not to translate it in the same way in Phil. 1:23? The preposition (ana) again, when compounded with the verb (luo) to loosen, means to loosen back again to the place from whence the original departure was made, not to set out to a new place; hence, (analuo) means to loosen back again or to return, and it is so rendered in the only other place where it occurs in the New Testament, Luke 12:36: "when he shall RETURN from the wedding". It does NOT mean to depart, in the sense of setting off from the place where one is, but to return to the place that one has left. The noun (analusis) occurs in 2 Tim. 4:6, and has the same meaning, returning or dissolution, i.e. the body returning to dust as it was, and the spirit returning to God Who gave it. The verb does not occur in the Greek translation of the Canonical books of the Old Testament, but it does occur in the Apocryphal books which, though of no authority in the establishment of doctrine, are invaluable, as to the use and meaning of words. In these books this word always means to return, and is generally so translated. But there is another fact with regard to Phil. 1:23. The English verb depart occurs 130 times in the New Testament; and is used as the rendering of 22 different Greek words. But this one verb (analuo) occurs only twice, and is rendered depart only once; the other occurrence being rendered return, and used by the Lord Himself of His own return from heaven. We must also further note that it is not the simple infinitive of the verb to return. It is a combination of three words: the preposition (eis) unto, and the definite article (to) the, with the aorist inference (analusai), to return; so that the verb must be translated as a noun -- "having a strong desire unto THE RETURN"; i.e. of Christ, as in Luke 12:36. These words must be interpreted by the context, and from this it is clear that the Apostle's whole argument is that the Gospel might be furthered (v. 12); and that Christ might be magnified (v. 20). To this end he cared not whether he lived or died; for, he says, "to me, living (is) Christ, and dying (would be) gain. But if living in the flesh (would be Christ), this (dying) for me, (would be) the fruit of (my) labour. Yet, what I shall choose I wot not, for I am being PRESSED OUT OF these two [i.e. living or dying (vv. 20, 21), by a third thing (v. 23), viz.], having a strong desire unto The RETURN (i.e. of Christ), and to be with Christ, which is a far, far better thing". (The word (ek) occurs 857 times, and is never once translated "betwixt" except in this place. It is translated "out of" 165 times). Paul's imprisonment had made many brethren "more abundantly bold" (v. 12 R.V.) to preach the gospel. His death might produce still more abundant fruit of his labor; for these brethren were the fruit of his labor (v. 11; 4:17. Romans 1:13). Christ would thus be magnified in his body whether Paul lived or died. That was why he did not know what to choose of these three things: Living would be good; for he could himself preach Christ. Dying might be even better, and further the preaching of Christ more abundantly, judging by the result of his imprisonment. But there was a third thing, which was far, far better than either; and that was the return of Christ, which he so earnestly desired. It is for the Traditionalists to show how they deal with these facts. It is not sufficient to say they do not believe in this our understanding of these passages: they must show how they dispose of our evidence, and must produce their own in support of their own conclusions. Here we have four passages which seem to be opposed to those we have quoted from the Old Testament. Both cannot be true. We must either explain away the Old Testament passages, or we must see whether these four passages admit of other renderings, which remove their apparent opposition. We have suggested these other renderings, based on ample evidence; which, not only deprive them of such opposition, but show that their teaching is in exact accordance with those other passages. Please read the research paper that is free to download that deals completely with this subject. Please download this free eBook and then just click to open and read on screen, it can also be printed. The address to download the teaching is Lazarus.exe the file is about 2MB and only runs on Windows. We would like any feedback as to how we could improve the teaching or any Scriptures we did not handle and you think should be included. So far no one, individual or institution has found fault in our research. Also:
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