21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.
In these verses, Paul says that when he is absent from the body or when he departs, he will be with the Lord. Apostle Paul believed and taught resurrection from the dead and not the doctrine of the immortal soul. At Paul's death, his regenerated spirit would immediately go to God for His keeping until the resurrection. Paul does not say that immediately on his death he will be consciously present with the Lord. As far as Paul is concerned, he like all believers, will be with the Lord when he becomes conscious at the First Resurrection. A person who 'sleeps' is not aware of any time gap between when he falls asleep and when he wakes up from his sleep. So, for Paul, his first conscious waking moment after death will be rising from his grave in his new spiritual immortal body to meet Jesus Christ in the air in the First Resurrection, at Christ's Second Coming.
Notice Paul says that all believers will be presented to God as a group together with Christ.
Was this article helpful?