"We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." 2 Corinthians 5:8
Before we begin, let us read the whole context first.
"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:
If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.
For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.
Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.
Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." 2 Corinthians 2:5-8
Paul begins to speak of an earthly tabernacle and a heavenly tabernacle which is not made with hands, and that we are clothed with which refers to our bodies. He expresses his desire to receive the heavenly tabernacle and to be released from his earthly tabernacle (body).
This heavenly one is the one we shall receive at the coming of Christ. We shall be transfigured into a celestial body that is incorruptible. (Read all of 1 Corinthians 15 for an in-depth description)
"So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. " 1 Cor 15:42-44
Paul stated above:
"..that mortality might be swallowed up of life."
This aligns with 1 Corinthians 15 again. He is speaking of mortality putting on immortality and that death shall be swallowed up in victory.
"In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" 1 Cor 15:52-55
The grave shall be defeated at His coming.
Finally, Paul said that we would rather be absent from this body and to be present from this Lord. We all should desire to receive these things and look forward to these earnestly.
But, does this occur before the coming of Christ? It does not.
Because of Adam and because of sin, we all must die.
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23
But in Christ, he shall make us alive. Jesus was the firstfruits of the resurrection, and we shall be at His coming. Not before then.
"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming." 1 Corinthians 15: 22,23
But can we enter heaven before then? Do we receive our spiritual bodies before then?
"Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die." 1 Cor 15:36
We cannot receive these things for we are mortal and we will die. We cannot enter the Kingdom of God; not until Jesus comes to transform us and redeems us at the Second Coming.
"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption." 1 Cor 15:50
The Bible also tells us that no man has been to heaven except Jesus,
"And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven." John 3:13
We cannot receive these things on our own. We are simply mortal and await for that promise when Jesus shall come and give us immortality. Until then, we wait in our graves. We await to be released from our earthly tabernacle and to receive the new heavenly tabernacle.
The dead in Christ shall be raised up incorruptible, their graves shall be broken and death shall be defeated. That is why the Bible calls us "sleeping" for we shall awake again.
Paul's desire is to be with the Lord and he shall be when Jesus returns.We will all be caught up together in the air, and then there we shall be with the Lord for always.
"Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." 1 Thessalonians 4:17
Let us comfort one another with these words.