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?


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


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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