What is the meaning of 2 Corinthians 5:8 away from the body and at home with the Lord?
The God-given hope of heavenly life is very strong in the 144,000 (Rev. 14:1-5) humans that will be chosen by God to (not man-made saints) serve as priests and kings and to reign upon the earth with Jesus.
Revelation 5:9-10 NASB
9 And they sang a new song, saying,“Worthy are You to take the
[j]book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for
God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and
nation. 10 “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our
God and they will reign upon the earth.”*
Paul had the desire to lay down his earthly tent (human body) and to be resurrected as a spirit being and to be with the Lord Jesus in the heavens, Such emotions are shared by others having such hope, this prompted Paul to write.
2 Corinthians 5:1-8 (NASB)
The Temporal and Eternal
5 For we know that if [a]the earthly tent which is our house is torn
down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands,
eternal in the heavens. 2 For indeed in this house we groan, longing
to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, 3 inasmuch as we, having
put it on, will not be found naked. 4 For indeed while we are in this
tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed
but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by
5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us
the Spirit as a [b]pledge.6 Therefore, being always of good courage,
and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from
the Lord— 7 for we walk by faith, not by [c]sight— 8 we are of good
courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be
at home with the Lord.
What happens to the soul at the moment of bodily death? Does it go to some sort of soul sleep or go to the Lord?
What is the Soul?
The word soul is translated from the Greek word " psy-chēn - ψυχὴν " and it refers to the person, it is not something immaterial, intangible, or immortal that leaves the body on death. The Bible texts below help us understand Jesus' words.
Luke 12:20 (NASB)
20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is
required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’
Luke 12:20 (NET Bible)
20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be
demanded back from[b] you, but who will get what you have prepared for
Acts 3:23 (NASB)
23 And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet
shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.
Acts 3:23 (NET Bible)
23 Every person who does not obey that prophet will be destroyed
and thus removed[b] from the people.
Mark 3:4 (NASB)
4 And He *said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the
Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent.
ΚΑΤΑ ΜΑΡΚΟΝ 3:4 1881 (WHNU)( The word [soul] entered in the verse by me.)
4 και λεγει αυτοις εξεστιν τοις σαββασιν αγαθοποιησαι η κακοποιησαι
ψυχην[soul] σωσαι η αποκτειναι οι δε εσιωπων
THE SOUL THAT SINS WILL DIES.
Ezekiel 18:4 (NASB)
"Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the
soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die."
Leviticus 24:17-18 (YLT)
17 "And when a man smiteth any soul of man, he is certainly put to
death.18 `And he who smiteth a beast repayeth it, body for body."
Animals are living souls:" And God said, Let the earth bring forth living souls after their kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth, after their kind. And it was so."(Gen. 1:24 Darby others Living Creatures)
From the verses above we have seen that the word soul refers to - persons or their life and even animals and that it can die.
The Bible speaks of two resurrections:
1/ The Earthly Resurrection,
People will be restored to life on earth and be reunited with their family and friends, Lazarus is an example that you have already mentioned.
Jesus said the all those in the tombs will hear his voice and come out.
John 5:28-29 (NASB) (Compare Acts 24:15)
28 Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are
in the tombs will hear His voice, 29 and will come forth; those who
did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the
evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.
Jesus said the meek will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5 KJV ) Similarly, the Psalmist wrote that the meek will inherit the earth and that God will get rid of the wicked.
Psalms 37:9-12 KJV
9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord,
they shall inherit the earth.10 For yet a little while, and the wicked
shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it
shall not be.11 But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall
delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
2/ The Heavenly Resurrection;
The Bible also speaks of the heavenly resurrection to life as a spirit being in heaven, like that of Jesus. The Apostle Peter wrote that Jesus was put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.
1 Peter 3:18 (NASB)
18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the
unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in
the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;
On similar thoughts, Paul wrote that Jesus was revealed in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,
1 Timothy 3:16 (NASB)
16 By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who
was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by
angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken
up in glory.
Just because Adam sinned and died this does not mean that God opened the way for humans to go to heaven, when Adam sinned, God clearly said to him "you were taken from dust and to dust you will return. If people go to heaven as some believe, why should there be a resurrection?
Genesis 3:19 KJV
19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return
unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and
unto dust shalt thou return.
Psalm 104:29 (KJV)
29 Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their
breath, they die and return to their dust.
Psalm 104:29 (NASB)
29 You hide Your face, they are dismayed; You take away their
[a]spirit, they expire And return to their dust.
Ecclesiastes 3:20 (KJV)
20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust