Please Help Share God's Best News GospelEditorial Note: This writing is taken from the website of: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/8449/index.html and we greatly appreciate them allowing us to reprint this precious writing.
The Bible teaches that Christ's resurrection body is the
pattern of our resurrection body. In Philippians 3:20-21, we read "For our
citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord
Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity
with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to
subject all things to Himself." First, notice that Christ still has His body.
Sometimes we fall into some vague notion that Christ stopped being human when He
ascended into heaven. That is not true. He will remain human and in His body
forever. This verse speaks of "the body of [Christ's] glory." Second,
recognize that Christ is already glorified. This verse speaks of "the body of
His glory." Third, we are not yet glorified. Our bodies are now in
a "humble state." Fourth, when Christ returns we will be glorified. Fifth, this
glorification consists in our present bodies being transformed into the likeness
of Christ's glorious body. In other words, we will be given bodies like
Christ's. This is also taught in 1 Corinthians 15:49: "And just as we have borne
the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly."
Our resurrection bodies will be physical.
Next, we must understand that our bodies will be
physical. Scripture teaches this in many ways. First, remember that Christ's
resurrection body is the pattern of our resurrection body. We know that Christ
was raised in a physical body because the disciples ate with Him after the
resurrection (Acts 10:41) and touched Him (Matthew 28:9; see also John 20:27).
Also, Jesus outright declared that His resurrection body was physical and can be
touched: "See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a
spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have" (Luke 24:39; see
also Acts 13:33-37). Since Christ's resurrection is the pattern of our
resurrection, we will therefore be raised in a physical body as well. Second,
the very use of the term body in regards to our resurrected state clearly
teaches that it will be physical: "who will transform the body of our humble
state into conformity with the body of His glory." It would be a contradiction
to speak of a non-physical body.
Second Corinthians 5:1-4 also very clearly teaches a physical resurrection: "For we know that if 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. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven; inasmuch as we, having put it on, shall not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed, but to be clothed, in order that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life."
First, Paul's terminology about the resurrection body clearly teaches a physical resurrection. He calls it "a building from God," "a house," and "dwelling." Second, he says that we will "put it on" and thus "not be found naked." In this context, what can "found naked" mean other than "found without our physical bodies"? Since our resurrected body is "put on" and keeps us from "being found naked," it must be physical. Third, his comparison with our bodies in their mortal state with them in their immortal state reveals his physical understanding of the resurrection body. Just as our bodies are currently a "tent" (because they are physical), so also the resurrection body will "clothe" us (and thus be physical). Just as our mortal bodies are a "house" (because they are physical), so also our resurrection body is an immortal "house" and "dwelling" (and thus will be physical).
Romans 8:21-23 also teaches a physical resurrection. First, Paul teaches that we are waiting for "the redemption of our bodies" (v. 23). Our bodies are not going to be thrown away. They are going to be renewed, restored, revitalized. How glorious! Second, notice the context. Paul is teaching that the whole creation is currently subject to decay and corruption. Then he says that "the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption." As John Piper has said, "The creation is not destined for annihilation. It is destined for liberation." Thus, the physical creation will last forever--in its renewed state. Since our bodies are part of creation, we must conclude that they also will be transformed and yet remain physical.
In John 6:39-40, Jesus affirms the physical resurrection of believers: "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me, I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day." What a glorious truth that Christ Himself will be the one to raise us! How powerful He must be!
We also read of the physical resurrection of the body in the Old Testament: "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt" (Daniel 12:2). Likewise, we read in Job: "I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; Whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes shall see and not another. My heart faints within Me" (Job 19:25-27).
But how are we to understand verses like 1 Corinthians 15:44, which says we will be raised with a spiritual body? "It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body" (1 Cor. 15:44). Virtually all commentators agree that "spiritual" does not mean "made out of spirit," but "directed by the Spirit." It is just like when we say someone is a "spiritual" person. Paul uses the word in this way in 1 Cor. 2:15: "The spiritual man judges all things..." Clearly Paul does not mean "non-physical and invisible man" here but "man filled with and directed by the Spirit." And look at 10:3-4, where Paul says that in the wilderness Israel ate "spiritual food" and drank "spiritual drink" from a "spiritual rock." Does Paul mean to say that these things were not physical? Obviously not! The fact that they ate this food and drank this water indicates that it had to be physical. And the phrase "spiritual rock" solidifies the argument, for Paul clearly does not mean to say "non-physical rock." He means that these things were sent from above and were under God's direction. And that's what He means when he says we will have "spiritual bodies." Further, "non-physical body" is a contradiction in terms. If it is a body, it must be physical. If it is not physical, then it is not a body. Thus, "spiritual body" is not referring to a change from physical to non-physical, but a change from our lowly state to our glorified state where the Spirit will fully fill and direct our bodies.
But what about the statement that "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" (v. 50)? Does this mean that believers will not experience a physical resurrection? No, because if Paul had wanted to say this, he would have used the phrase "flesh and bone," which carried the meaning of physicality. Instead, the phrase that Paul does use ("flesh and blood") carries with it no denial of physicality but is actually a Jewish idiom for our bodies in their present, sinful and corruptible state. So this phrase in no way implies that we will not have physical resurrected bodies. Paul is saying that our bodies in their present mode of existence--sinful and subject to decay--must first be changed into a form that is not subject to decay and sin before they can enter the kingdom of God. Is this not the meaning of his very next phrase: "...nor does corruption inherit incorruption"? And have we not already seen many passages where Paul clearly teaches that the resurrection body will be physical? In this verse, Paul is simply saying that our current, corruptible bodies must be changed into glorified, incorruptible bodies before they can be taken into the kingdom of God.
We will have the same bodies, yet they will be changed.
It is essential to understand that we will be
resurrected with the same bodies we had on earth, yet they will also be
transformed so that they are exceedingly glorious. We must hold onto the two
truths that there will be a continuity with our old bodies and yet a
transformation. As humans, we are not just spiritual, but physical. Our bodies
are a very important part of our identity--they are part of who we are.
Therefore, if we deny that we are raised with the same bodies we had on earth,
we are denying a significant part of our identity. But if we deny that our
resurrected bodies are improved, we are left with the depressing idea that we
will forever be subject to the weaknesses we now have, such as sickness,
fatigue, etc. Because our future resurrection affirms the continuity of our
identity, the improvement of our abilities, and the elimination of our
weaknesses, it is a very precious hope indeed.
We will have the same bodies.
There are many Scriptural reasons for believing that we
will be raised with the same body that died. First, Christ was raised in the
same body He had before He died. We know this because the tomb was empty (Luke
24:1-6) and because His resurrected body retained scars from the crucifixion
(John 20:25, 27). Since Christ's resurrection is the pattern that our
resurrection will follow, then we will also be raised with the same body.
Second, this is also evident from the very meaning of the term "resurrection of the dead" (1 Corinthians 15:13, etc.). This phrase means: that which is dead (namely, our body) is made alive. If the same body that died is not the body that was raised, Paul could not call it the "resurrection of the dead." It would not be a resurrection at all.
Third, we read that "the dead will be raised" (1 Cor. 15:52). John Piper comments on this verse: "If God meant to start all over with no continuity between the body I have now and the one I will have, why would Paul say `the dead will be raised'? Why would he not say, `the dead will not be raised...and so God will start from scratch'? He did not say that, because it is not true."
Fourth, Philippians 3:21 says that it is our earthly body which is transformed into conformity with Christ's body, not a different body that is created from scratch.
Fifth, Paul's statement "it is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body" (1 Corinthians 15:42) establishes that there is a continuity between our current body and our resurrected body, for it is the same "it" in both cases.
Sixth, verse 53 indicates that the same body we have now (which is mortal), will become immortal: "For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality."
You may be wondering how God could raise the same body that died when most people have been dead for thousands of years and their bodies have decayed to such an extent that the original body seems entirely gone. Wayne Grudem responds to this that "we must simply say that God can keep track of enough of the elements from each body to form a seed' from which to form a new body (see Gen. 50:25; Job 19:26; Ezek. 37:1-14; Heb. 11:22)."
We will have transformed bodies.
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