Scriptures

What Will Our Bodies Be Like In Heaven?

Introduction

One of the most intriguing events when Christ returns and probably one of the most speculative is wondering what kind of bodies we will have in the afterlife. There are many theories concerning our bodies about which we could argue all day, some give good food for thought, whilst others aren’t even worth discussing, but whatever our bodies will be like, they won’t be prone to disease, old age, disabilities etc.

It’s not the purpose of this study to lay out exactly what our bodies will be like, but I do want us to stop and think for a moment about a couple of possibilities. New bodies at the resurrection

‘We ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.’ Romans 8:23

There’s no doubting that when Christ returns we are promised that we will be reunited with our bodies, I don’t think anyone would argue with that, but the real question is, what will these new bodies of ours be like? There are few Scriptures which will help us answer this question.

The nature of our resurrected bodies

‘I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ 1 Corinthians 15:50-57

To ‘inherit’, ‘kleronomeo’ is to receive a share of an inheritance, to inherit a portion of property, to be an inheritor or heir. Clearly flesh, blood, and corruption, the physical man of Adam, does not belong in heaven. Heaven is an eternal and immortal abode and thereby corruptible flesh has no place there. 1 Corinthians 15:39 spoke of the various fleshes that were of the earth and these fleshes have no place in eternity, whereas the heavenly body, is fit for eternity.

The Scriptures often speak of the ‘kingdom of God’ as the church, Mark 1:15 / Mark 9:1 / Luke 10:9-11. Here, however, the ‘kingdom of God’ is revealed to be the heavenly home of the righteous. We may define the church in the here and now as those terrestrial bodies undefiled by sin through the blood of Christ who, if they continue in faith, will comprise the church, kingdom of God, in heaven with a celestial body.

The word ‘listen’, ‘idou’ means lo! Behold! See there! There! Take it! Paul expresses his desire for the Corinthians to hear, understand, and hope. Those who taught that there was to be no resurrection were zapping the hope out of people. He tells them ‘a mystery’, it was a mystery and now he reveals the hidden things of the resurrection.

‘We all shall not sleep (die), but we shall all be changed.’

The antecedent to the plural pronoun ‘we’ includes Paul and all of humanity. The fact that Paul includes himself in the ‘we’ indicates that he didn’t know when this would occur, but he knew, by revelation, what would occur at that time.

There will be some of humanity that don’t see death, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. When this change from an earthly body to a heavenly body shall occur no-one knows, Matthew 24:36-44, however, the trumpet of God shall sound and mark the time, 1 Thessalonians 4:16.

At that point a ‘change’, ‘allasso’ will occur in mankind’s bodies, both dead and living. The Greek word ‘allasso’ is to make other than it is, to change, alter. When false witnesses were hired to speak against Stephen in Acts 6-7, they said,

‘For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place and shall change the customs which Moses delivered unto us.’ Acts 6:14

To ‘change’ the customs or laws given by Moses would be to change the Jews way of life. Likewise, when man shall experience the change that shall occur when resurrected, he will be different from his mortal state. Man will move from the earthly state to the heavenly.

He will be fitted for eternity with beauty and might and this change shall occur instantaneously, i.e.,

‘in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.’

Paul tells us the when, as best as he is able,

‘for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.’

‘Imperishable’, ‘aphtharsia’, which means incorruptible, immortal, undying, enduring. The body that was subject to corruption and decay will be fitted for eternal existence in that day.

‘Perishable’, ‘phthora’, which means mortality, death, the decay of matter. The word ‘must’, ‘dei’ indicates binding necessity, 1 Timothy 3:2. This will surely occur because the Scriptures cannot be broken, John 10:35.

The current and future state of man is illustrated in two ways

1. Man will go from a perishable state, death and decay, to an imperishable state, unending existence.

2. Man is said to go from a mortal state to an immortal state.

When this transformation occurs in the resurrection, Paul states that Isaiah’s prophecy will have been fulfilled. Isaiah said,

‘Death is swallowed up in victory,’ Isaiah 25:8

Victory swallows death and it will be no more, Revelation 20:14.

Furthermore, Paul quotes from Hosea 13:14 saying,

‘O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?’

The prophet foretold of a resurrection of the dead so that at the point in which it occurs one would exclaim,

‘where is thy sting o’ death?’

Death stings as a scorpion while man is in the terrestrial state; however, once the transformation of resurrection occurs, death and Hades will be cast into hell and will never more exist. If the scorpion is gone, so is its sting!

Because man sins he dies physically and spiritually just as the first man Adam, Genesis 2:17 / 1 Corinthians 15:2122. The death sting is due to sin and the power of that sting of death is the law. Law defines sin as transgression, 1 John 3:4. If there were no law then no sin would exist, Romans 4:15.

If no law or sin existed there would be no death. Law does exist however, and thereby sin exist and so does death. The power of sin has been destroyed by the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. Mankind is set free from the law and sin through the blood of Jesus Christ, Romans 7:1ff. When man now sins, he can ask for forgiveness if he is in Christ, Galatians 3:27. This is the

‘victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’.

Our resurrected bodies will be like Christ’s

‘And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.’ Philippians 3:20-21

The apostle Paul gives a little clue as to what is involved in this change, he tells us that our bodies will be glorious like Christ’s glorious body. You see, at the resurrection is when we’re going to get our total salvation. The total salvation Jesus won for us on the cross, we haven’t received yet, because God doesn’t just want to save our soul, He wants to save our bodies.

The bodies we have now are lowly bodies, in other words, they are still subject to sin, to death and to decay and to disease. But God’s got a plan that Jesus Christ is going to come back, and He’s got the power that puts everything under His control and He’s going to change our bodies, our lowly bodies, to be like His glorious body.

The apostle John also speaks about this change.

‘Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.’ 1 John 3:2

These verses tell us that those who die, having trusted Christ as their Saviour, will be given bodies like that of the Lord Jesus Christ. It will be a body that isn’t subject to disease and death any longer. It will be in all points perfect, as the Lord Jesus Christ’s body is also perfect. We further know from 2 Corinthians 5:8 that a Christian, immediately upon their death, go into the presence of the Lord.

What was Jesus’ Glorified Body like?

Jesus’ Body was Physical

Jesus wasn’t a spirit walking around after His resurrection, He had a body, much like what we will have. The Gospels tells us a great deal about what Christ’s glorious body was like and what He did whilst He was still here. A passage that gives a clear description of Christ’s resurrected body is found in Luke 24, as He appeared to the disciples.

‘Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’ Luke 24:39

In this passage, Jesus draws attention to His completely physical and yet glorified body. With clear words Jesus instructed His disciples to view His hands and His feet, and even to touch Him, and to see that He had a real physical body and not a spiritual body that couldn’t be touched. With these words, given in the context by Christ Himself, He rids the world of the false view of the nature of Christ’s resurrected body as being some mystical ‘spiritual resurrection.’

It should be noted, the fact that Jesus said flesh and bones rather than ‘flesh and blood’ doesn’t necessarily indicate that His body had no blood. The life principle in a resurrected body may not be in its blood, but in the spirit of God.

In Luke’s Gospel, he tells us that the risen Jesus walks unrecognised with two of His disciples. It was only after they arrived at the village of Emmaus, and Jesus broke the bread at the dinner table, that they finally recognised him. The story continues with Jesus appearing to a group of disciples.

‘When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.’ Luke 24:40-43

Then there is the scene with Peter and other disciples after a long day of fishing. They see the risen Lord calling them from the shore. When they arrive, they find that He has cooked a breakfast of bread and fish for them and invites them to

‘Come, have breakfast.’ John 21:1-14

What about Jesus’ encounter with Mary just after His resurrection?

Jesus said to Mary,

‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.’ John 20:17

Jesus is telling Mary not to clutch on to Him because there is work to be done, she needs to tell others what has happened and so there’s a sense of urgency. She wanted to hold on and not let go of Him, but Jesus wouldn’t allow her. This has nothing to do with the spiritual state of His body, after all a little later, Thomas was invited to touch Jesus.

‘Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ John 20:27

Jesus had His new glorified, resurrected body, His new everlasting body but it was still physical. Isn’t that what the resurrection is all about? Reconciliation with our bodies!

‘But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?’ How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendour of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendour of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendour, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendour. So, will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.’ 1 Corinthians 15:35-44

‘We ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.’ Romans 8:23

We know from these verses that we will be reconciled with our bodies at the resurrection, but they will be new, in terms of glorious.

Jesus’ body was Spiritual

There’s no escaping the fact that Jesus’ resurrected body did things that the un-resurrected body couldn’t do.

‘On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.’ John 20:19-20

Notice the door was locked, but Jesus came and stood amongst them, how did He get through a locked door?

Notice again what happened a week later. How did He get through a locked door?

‘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! John 20:26

Jesus’ Ascension

One of the biggest proofs that our new resurrected bodies are different from our old one is seen in the ascension of Jesus.

‘When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.’ Luke 24:50-51

‘After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.’ Mark 16:19

‘After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.’ Acts 1:9

What a sight this must have been for everyone present, it’s not every day to see someone going up in the air like this. Seems to me if our new resurrected bodies are going to be like Christ’s glorified body, then they are going to be capable of doing things they couldn’t do before, and just like Jesus resurrected body, they are going to be physical as well as spiritual.

When will we received our new glorified bodies?

Paul told us earlier when we will receive these new bodies,

‘for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.’ 1 Corinthians 15:52

When Christ returns, it will happen then.

‘For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so, we will be with the Lord forever.’ 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

Conclusion

This isn’t an easy question to try and answer as we’re trying to describe something which is, way beyond our comprehension. The reason for this study is to offer somethings to think about, not as a fact because when all the speculations are said and done, does it really matter?

Will our new redeemed bodies be spiritual?

Yes, no-one will argue with that.

Will our new redeemed bodies be physical?

Yes! No! Possibly! Who knows! Who cares!

We do know that death will be no more, incurable diseases and old age will be no more. The important thing is where our redeemed bodies spend eternity.

‘The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.’ 2 Peter 3:9

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers."

1 John 3:16

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