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2 Corinthians 5:8 states:

Thus we are full of courage and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

When would the audience of 2 Corinthians have understood the soul to have departed the body?

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The soul departing from the body was understood by the audience of 2 Corinthians to mean death.

John Chrysosotom - a Greek - comments:

See how avoiding painful terms such as "death" and "the end", he employs other terms so as to excite great longing, calling them presence with God; and in passing over the things considered to be sweet - the things of life - he expresses them [instead] in painful terms, calling the life here an absence from the Lord? He did this so that no one might want to linger among present things, but be wary of them; and that none when about to die might be disquieted.1


1 Homily X on 2 Corinthians

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There is nothing in the Bible about souls departing bodies:

  • Souls are simply living bodies, both human and animal: (Gen 1:3 — And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life[soul] …).
  • People don't have souls, they are souls: (Gen 2:7 — … and man became a living soul).
  • Souls can die: (Eze 18:4 — … the soul that sinneth, it shall die).

Currently we are physical beings with physical bodies:

  • At Christ's return, those that are saved will be converted into spirit beings (1Cor 15:52–53 — … we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality).

2 Corinthians 5:8's "away from the body" is simply looking forward to that day when Christians will become immortal spirit beings.

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  • Very Good answer! +1. – Dottard Nov 27 '20 at 2:50
  • What do you understand from Jesus saying about him not being a spirt because he has flesh and bones? – user48152 Nov 27 '20 at 12:46
  • Indeed an excellent answer +1 I do not under why some D.V the scriptures you have quoted,it is obvious that they approach the Bible with preconceived beliefs – Ozzie Ozzie Nov 28 '20 at 10:33
  • There is nothing in the Bible about souls departing bodies:. Genesis 35:18 – snoopy Mar 27 at 2:22
  • @snoopy, The Hebrew word for "soul" is "nehphesh", which means "that which breathes, the breathing substance or being". Notice how Genesis 35:18 is translated into English in other versions: — NLT: "Rachel was about to die, but with her last breath …" — NIV: "*As she breathed her last …" — CSB: "With her last breath …" — NET: "With her dying breath …" – Ray Butterworth Mar 27 at 13:17
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Based on Jesus' words to the penetent thief on the cross (Luke 23:43) I believe we can safely assume the common understanding was that the soul departs at death.

We can also look at the Greco-Roman history concerning the underworld to see that Paul's Greek listeners would also have understood an immediate transition (Mikalson, Jon D (2010). Ancient Greek Religion. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell. p. 177.)

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