In “not an alternate cosmology” Jefferson Vann explains why Paul’s “resolve to leave the body” did not contradict what he said about resurrection.
2 Corinthians 5:8-11 (JDV)
2 Corinthians 5:8 What’s more, we are also encouraged, and resolve to leave the body and stay at home with the Lord instead.
2 Corinthians 5:9 So whether we stay at home or leave, we are ambitious to please him.
2 Corinthians 5:10 Because we all have to appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
2 Corinthians Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience.
not an alternate cosmology
Paul’s troubles in ministry have given him and his team a different perspective on life and death. They would rather stay at home with the Lord even if it means departing this life, because they feel safe in the awareness that the Lord knows them. Their ambition is to please the Lord, and they are sure to accomplish that, whether it is by living for him or dying for him.
But a word of caution about this text. Paul is not giving an alternate cosmology to that he gave in 1 Corinthians 15. In that chapter, he outlined the personal eschatology of the resurrection, and stated that it was foundational gospel truth. In that personal eschatology, he stated that when we die, we wait until the resurrection. He also stated in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 that believers will not be “with the Lord” until the Lord descends and raises the dead.
1 Thessalonians 4:17 (JDV) Then we who are still alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
So, Paul does not contradict that assertion here. His ambition is not to die and go home to the Lord. His ambition is to please the Lord. The best case scenario is to leave this mortal body and stay at home with the Lord (vs.8). This can only happen at the return of Christ, when we are given immortal bodies that would allow us to stay at home with the Lord.
LORD, our ambition is to please you, whether by living for you or by dying for you.
For more on the unconscious intermediate state, see: