Re: 2 Cor. 5:8. I have always believed that what Paul was saying in this verse is that when we pass from this life in an instant we will be present with God in heaven.
This came up in our men’s Bible study of Psalm 91 and God’s perfect protection afforded to all who dwell in the shelter of the Most High. When Paul spoke these words, and I believe he spoke of this in another letter as well, he made the comment that he had a choice to stay in this body and serve the Lord or to be present with Christ (Die). He said he was torn between the two. So my comment to the other men there was do you think Paul knew the promise of God (Psalm 91) so up close and personal that he realized he had a choice of Life or Death? And of course if he did do we?
Paul also wrote about this to the Philippians when he was in prison, not knowing whether he would be found guilty and executed or released. He said,
“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.” (Phil. 1:20-26)
Paul didn’t believe He was being given the choice to live or die. He was saying that either way, he wanted the Lord to be exalted. He was convinced that even though he would prefer to die and be with the Lord, his time wasn’t up yet. Therefore, he wasn’t being given the choice and neither are we.