Bible Study Series: Resurrection, Rapture & the Redeemer
What will the resurrection body be like?
by I Gordon
You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body” - Source Unknown.
We are talking today about something that you probably spend quite a bit of time in your day thinking about, and looking after... your body. Why is that bit achy? Is my hair still sticking up again? Why is it itchy over there? What's that in my teeth and how am I going to get it out? Was that spot there yesterday? Is it just me or is that fatter than it used to be? When did chin appear on my chin? You know... things like that. We have to live in this body so we spend quite a bit of time thinking about it. But let me ask you a question... have you spent much time thinking about the new body you are going to get? I have a sneaky suspicion that the answer to that question will be directly proportional to your current age!
Well as we carry on with our series on the resurrection, we are going to talk about the resurrection body today. We will look at:
- The wonder and small issue with your current body
- What believers can look forward to in the resurrection body
- What was Jesus' resurrection body like?
- What did Paul teach about the resurrection body?
- How does scripture compare and contrast the first and second bodies of a believer?
- What application does scripture use after speaking of the resurrection?
The wonder and one small issue with your current body
The Bible is pretty clear that this body you have is pretty cool. Very cool in fact. In biblical language you were 'knit together in your mother's womb' by God and have been 'wonderfully and fearfully made' (Psalm 139:13-14). A lot of thought went into you. Every part of you. If you have studied any part of the body you would have seen that it yells out how amazing its design is and how incredible its designer is! Think about a couple of parts for a moment.
But there is one small issue with the body that does still exist. It gets old. According to one scientific site, you replace roughly 330 billion cells in your body each day. I don't know about you but that sounds like a lot to me! One site said "In 80 to 100 days, 30 trillion will have replenished—the equivalent of a new you!" But the site goes on to say that "As organs renew their cells, the organs still age due to changes in the replicating cells, such as mutations. As cells replicate, the DNA continually divides and copies; and over time, mistakes are made. Mutations can thereby accumulate and affect the life of the cell or the expression of certain genes. So even if the cells in parts of our bodies are relatively new, our aging, much-copied DNA makes us feel the weight of all those years that have passed."1
So, in other words, as amazing as this body is, it wasn't designed, at least not after the fall, to last forever. It ages. It starts to creak. It groans. It grows weaker. And when that weakness reaches utter exhaustion, It dies. Now if that is starting to sound a little gloomy, that is where the Gospel comes in! God, who cannot lie, has promised that the salvation He offers includes getting a new body2. A vastly improved superior body. Actually even that is not doing it justice. It is a perfect body without any design flaws. It is one in which you won't have to worry about those strange spots, those new lines, those new aches, or that second chin, ever again. And that is what this study is about. To learn about this we need to examine the One who is, so far, the only One to have received this new body. You know who I am talking about... the One who is called the firstborn from the dead - Jesus!
Jesus' resurrection body
The Bible tell us when we get this new body and whose body it will be like:
Php 3:20-21 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; (21) 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.
This fantastic verse tells that we receive the new body at the return of Jesus saying that our body will be transformed at His coming to be like His post-resurrection glorified body. So if we want to know what our new body is going to be like we need to explore what Jesus' resurrection body was like. Can you remember anything about it? Was is physical? Was it spiritual? Was it like our current body or did it do things the current body can't do? Here are a few points to consider:
- Firstly it was a physical body that could be touched and felt, having flesh and bones (if needed)
Luk 24:39 "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."
Jesus made sure the disciples, and all that read the account, knew that He had a physical body post-resurrection.
- A body that could eat and enjoy food though not needing food to keep it alive
Luk 24:41-43 While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; and He took it and ate it before them.
Again, Jesus did this to prove that He was not a mere spirit. He could still eat and enjoy food. Food is pleasurable and even in the age to come we will still eat and drink (Matt 26:29, Luke 22:29-30, Rev 19:9, Isa 25:6, Rev 22:2). But it will not require food maintain health or energy. The life of God will do that!
- A body that could show the scars of what it went through
Joh 20:27 Then He *said to Thomas, "Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing."
Now I believe this will be unique to Jesus. These scars of Jesus were proof of His death and resurrection. And even into the future, where all the tribes look on the One they have pierced (Zech 12:10, Rev 1: 5:6) these scars will a sign of who He is and what He did for mankind. Are we going to have scars from this life? No. Through a surfing accident I split my eye open, had 60 stiches in the left eyeball itself, and lost all sight in that eye. Thankfully I won't be carrying that injury and scar on into eternity! My new eyes will see far better than the one often tired one I have now!
- A body not restricted by physical limitations
Joh 20:19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"
Joh 20:26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"
It is interesting that John twice makes mention of the fact that Jesus appeared in the room with the disciples even though the doors were locked. He wants us to know that physical walls and doors didn't stop Jesus from coming and going in this new body.
- A body that could appear and disappear at will and not be governed by the laws of physics
Luk 24:31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight.
Act 1:9 And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
Similar to the previous point where He walked through a wall or closed door, Jesus was able to appear and then disappear in this new body. He could vanish if needed. He could defy gravity and ascend into Heaven. It seems that travel in the new body is not restricted by time and space! So, as a side note, after the resurrection I sure would love to explore the Universe, being unrestricted on where I can go and how long it takes to get there!
- Finally it is a body that could be shown in it's pure spiritual state, displaying the glory of God (Rev 1:12-16)
Rev 1:13-16 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. (14) His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; (15) His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; (16) He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.
Mat 24:30 At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.
This new body will also be able to display the glory of God. John was taken aback when He saw Jesus in this way. He fall down! When Jesus returns to the earth it will be in this glory. And believers will also shine with God's glory as we shall see.
Digging deeper... what Paul revealed about the resurrection body
Let's look now at what the Apostle Paul revealed about the resurrection body.
1Co 15:35-38 But someone may ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?" (36) How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. (37) When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. (38) But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.
There were questions in Corinth about the resurrection and thankfully Paul spent some time in this amazing chapter in 1 Corinthians 15 to go through it all. Many in Corinth, because of their Greek background, didn't believe in the resurrection (1 Cor 15:12) and it seems that the questions of 'how are the dead raised and what kind of body will they have' came more from a skeptical mind than genuine interest. Paul replies that they are being foolish because there are examples of resurrection all around them even in nature.
Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.
Paul speaks about the many seeds that are sown in the ground before germinating and coming forth in a new body. This body is one connected to, but different, from the seed that was sown. For example, I recently planted carrot seeds. They have a tiny little seed that doesn't look like a carrot. It's not shaped like a carrot and doesn't feel like a carrot. It certainly doesn't taste like a carrot (argh - this is not recommended!) And yet it has all the God-given instructions in that tiny seed to grow and transform into a glorious orange (or purple, red, white or yellow!) carrot. So that seed goes down into the earth and waits. It will wait for the right time and the right conditions. And then when the time and conditions are right, the transformation begins and something new comes forth! Well Paul says that the resurrection is like that. D.L Moody put it well when he said:3
Now Paul begins to answer the second question - What kind of body will they have in the resurrection? He says
1Co 15:39-42 All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. (40) There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. (41) The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. (42) So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.
Paul explains that not all bodies are the same but each is perfectly suited for their role and environment. You, as a human, came from a seed fertilizing an egg and you have been given a certain type of body (a pretty cool one) in this life. Animals, birds and fish all have different bodies but they are all perfectly suited for their environment. You can look at the scales and gills on fish and just marvel at God's design. Or the amazing feathers and wings on a bird that allow it to do things you can only dream of! Or look at those cute little pads, claws and that fluffy body that He gave to your little fur-baby! So awesome! And out into space there are heavenly bodies of different sizes and glory. We've got the sun, the moon, the stars... each has a glory of it's own. Paul reminds us that each star differs in splendor and glory and so it is in the resurrection of the dead.
I believe he is saying here that in our glorified state we will have a different capacity to display God's glory as well and is alluding to the well known passage in Daniel which speaks of the resurrection stating:
Dan 12:3 "Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
4 contrasts between the natural and resurrected body
Paul next uses four examples to compare and contrast the earthly natural body with the coming resurrection body. He writes:
1Co 15:42-44 The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; (43) it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; (44) it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
Note the differences:
|Earthly Body||Resurrection Body|
Perishable - (phthorá) 'Spoiling, corruption, destruction, ruin, decay, generally a fraying or wasting away.' Our bodies today follow the 2nd law of thermodynamics - that entropy occurs and matter breaks down. Our bodies are perishable and the process of death begins even while we are alive! I've spoken about a friend who recently died of cancer. She went from 50Kg -> 40Kg ->30kg -> 20kg as the cancer took over her body and she literally wasted away. Thankfully, death doesn't get the final say and where she is now there is fullness of joy!
Imperishable - (aphtharsía) 'incorruptible. Imperishable, incapacity for corruption.
Dishonor - (atimia) 'infamy, that is, (subjectively) indignity, disgrace, dishonor, reproach, shame, vile.'
Glory -(doxa) 'dignity, glory, honor, praise, worship.' Instead of disgrace and shame, the new body will display the very glory of God. Col 3:4 'When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.' It will be one that is created to reflect and bring honor to who He is! It shall never bring disgrace or reproach to God or its owner again!
Weakness - (astheneia) - 'feebleness (of body or mind); by implication moral frailty, infirmity, sickness, weakness.' Jesus said it well - 'The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.' We give into temptations at times. We can be weak physically, morally, spiritually. We can choose fear over faith and give up and in, through lack of physical and moral strength. Ultimately death occurs when the person has been brought to utter weakness, unable to even breathe.
Power - (dunamis) 'force; specifically miraculous power - ability, abundance, might' Wow! No more fear, lack of will power, lack of capability or spiritual might. We shall know and exercise the power of God. It will have energy, drive and capability. Think of the power of angels and then multiply it over and over! That is the power of the resurrection body!
Natural - (psuchikos) - 'soul, the natural and/or fallen instinct of man'. This current body is given to natural pleasures. desires, lusts and appetites common to fallen humanity. We spend far more time looking after our bodies than we do our soul and spirits. In this life we are often dominated by our body.
Spiritual - (pneumatikos) - 'dominated and controlled by the Spirit'. In contrast the resurrection body is dominated by the Spirit. It is still a physical body but one that does the will of God continually. It is controlled by the Spirit and not natural impulses. No more will it be said that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Both will finally be willing and able!
Now, I'm not sure how all this makes you feel but it does certain things for me. It makes me hopeful and desiring of the things that are to come. It makes me wonder at God again thinking 'who is this One that could create and control all these things?' And it makes me want to serve the Lord more and not waste my time. Anytime I get a little grasp of the things coming in eternity that is the result. It is probably why I spend a fair amount of my time looking at it! And hopefully you don't mind! But our lives are over so quickly and this is the time that we have been given to make a difference in eternity.
So I was pleased to see, and think again, about how this great chapter in 1 Corinthians 15 ends. After all the great teaching on what is to come with the resurrection in the future, Paul makes a simple 'therefore' for the present. He says:
1Co 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
In two simple points:
- Firstly, be steadfast - don't move from this hope you have in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Don't be swayed to the left or right. Don't be lured by false teachers and every wind of doctrine. Be immovable on all the core tenants of the faith. Have that firm and secure anchor for your soul, the hope of salvation, that holds true through any storm (Heb 6:18-19).
The truth of resurrection changes everything. It provides hope and steadfastness, and enables us to go on in the face of overwhelming and difficult circumstances.
William MacDonald, Believers Bible Commentary
- Secondly, always abound in the work of the Lord. Ask the Lord what He would have you to do. And then do it! Paul is clear that our toil is not in vain because this work is eternal in nature! You may not see the results in this life... but you will in the next!
To conclude, I remember years ago watching a DVD called Metamorphosis which, as the name suggests, is about caterpillars and the process they go through to turn into butterflies. It truly is amazing and one that is very apt for what we are discussing here. As the caterpillar turns into a chrysalis, it is programmed in its DNA to literally dissolve its own body parts turning it all into a 'soup' of cells that then begin being transformed into something more wonderful. About 25% of the caterpillars 'parts' remain while 75% of the butterfly is all newly created. It goes from being a fat earth-bound caterpillar that just lives to eat, down into the place of death, where it is transformed into a new heavenly creation able to soar and fly. No marks for what this pictures! God has placed these illustrations everywhere in creation to remind us of what is to come. And yes, death is a part of it. But it is not the end. It is the sowing of a seed.
So, what have we seen... is the resurrection body physical or spiritual? The answer of course is Yes! It is both. It is one created for both the physical and spiritual realms. It can eat and drink and will be perfect for earth in Jesus' Messianic Kingdom where believers will rule and reign with Him. It will also be perfect for Heaven, our home, dwelling in the New Jerusalem, amongst angels and heavenly creatures, displaying God's glory! There will be no restrictions in either realm. There will be no lack of power, capability or desire to do God's will. You will not be tired. You will not be sore. You will not wear out. It will be amazing! "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him" (1 Cor 2:9) Though your first body was fearfully and wonderfully created by God, we haven't seen anything yet! God will truly out-do His own first design in what is to come : )
Don't forget the salvation, in the Bible, is past present and future. The past is your spirit at the time of being born again. The present is an ongoing process involving your sould (mind, will and emotions) as it comes into alignment with your spirit. The future aspect involves your body which will be transformed to be like Jesus' resurrection body at His coming (Phil 3:21). It is a packaged deal. The body is as much a part of our salvation as the spirit... but each in their own time!
While on the topic of graves, there is a grave stone that has the following:
Here lies my wife: so let her lie! Now she’s at rest, and so am I!
There might be an unintended double meaning on another grave, where a wife had written on her husband’s tomb:
Rest in peace, Till we meet again!
To that we could add the classic:
Here lies the body of Solomon Peas, under the daisies and under the trees
But Peas is not here - only the pod, Peas shelled out and went home to God.
Of course, you make sure you know where you are going because the alternative is not good!
Here lies the body of Solomon Peas, under the daisies and under the trees
But Peas is not here - only the shell, Peas expired and went to....