The Resurrection Body

by Mike Ratliff

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” (1 Corinthians 15:35 ESV)

Eternity is the true reality, not this physical life in the temporal. At the heart of our Christian faith is our blessed hope of a bodily resurrection. Many mistakenly believe that all Christians who die are given their eternal body right then, but the Bible is clear that our eternal bodies are resurrected by God from our physical bodies that we have now. There will be an interim between our death and the resurrection before we are given our Resurrection Bodies, but this post is about what will be after our Lord returns in victory and glory.

Our text will be from 1 Corinthians 15:35-49. We must remember that this epistle was a letter of correction from the Apostle Paul to a troubled church. In the passage we will study in this post, we can see Paul addressing questions posed from those who asked about the nature of the Resurrection with mocking taunts. Those posing these antagonistic questions were in unbelief or denial about it. They were probably either members of the church who were being derided by Gnostics or some in the church were being influenced by Gnostic teaching. So they asked the two questions below.

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” (1 Corinthians 15:35 ESV)

Paul answers with 4 responses. The first response is an illustration from nature.

36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. (1 Corinthians 15:36-38 ESV)

When we plant a seed in the ground it dies. It decomposes and its form ceases to be that of a seed. But life within it forms a new plant. (John 12:24) This plant rises from the dead seed. God is the one who does this. Just as He gives life to the new plant from a dead seed so will He give His elect a resurrection body at the first Resurrection.

Paul’s second response gives us a description of resurrection bodies.

39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. 42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. (1 Corinthians 15:39-42a ESV)

God has designed the Elect’s resurrection bodies so that they will be eternal. Our temporal bodies wear out, get old, get sick, and die. However, our eternal resurrection bodies will be in the same type as that of our Lord Jesus’ Christ who led the way by rising from the dead.

Paul’s third response contrasts earthly bodies and resurrection bodies.

What is sown is perishable; what is raised is 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. (1 Corinthians 15:42b-44 ESV)

In this passage we see four sets of contrasts between earthly bodies and resurrection bodies. The first one tells us that there will be no more sickness and death. The second one tells us that there will be no more “dishonor” because of sin. The third one tells us that there will no longer be a weakness in resisting temptation. The fourth one tells us that there will be no more limits regarding time and space. Our natural earthly bodes get sick and die. They are dishonored by sin. The temptation to sin is strong and we are limited to our place in the time/space continuum. However, our resurrection bodies will be free from all of that!

Paul’s fourth response is a reminder of the fact that Jesus Christ’s resurrection was our prototype.

45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:45-49 ESV)

Our forefather, Adam, was a created being who was given life, but the last Adam, Jesus Christ, came to give spiritual life to the elect. Adam was made from dust and was natural. Jesus Christ came from Heaven and was God and Man. Our natural bodies are made from dust and will go back to dust, but our resurrection bodies will be eternal and will bear the image of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The older I get the more I look forward to receiving my resurrection body. I deeply desire to see my Lord face-to-face. However, Jesus prayed that we not be taken out of the world, but be preserved in the world. Therefore, we must remain until called home. I long for that day, but until then..to live is Christ, to die is gain!

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21 thoughts on “The Resurrection Body

  1. Great post Mike!

    I agree with you that the resurrected body will be like Jesus’ body, but what does Jesus’ resurrected body like?

    And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for A SPIRIT HATH NOT FLESH AND BONES AS YOU SEE ME HAVE. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet (Luke 24:36-40 KJV).

    The Bible teaches that Jesus was resurrected in the SAME body that hung on the cross. Remember that the tomb was EMPTY! There were even still nail prints in his hands and feet, and a hole in his side! That is the same body that you are in while reading this, it has just been made spiritual by the power of indwelling the Holy Spirit.

    But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your MORTAL BODIES by his Spirit that dwelleth in you (Romans 8:11 KJV).

    You can see Jesus had the ability to cross over into the spiritual diminsion by the indwelling Holy Spirit at the Mount of Transfiguration. What body was he in? The same flesh and bone body that later hung on a cross and died for us? What body was John in when he came back from being taken up to Heaven when he wrote the book of Revelation?

    Paul said in 1 cor 15:50 that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God”, but what about “flesh and Spirit”?

    In the natural man, the Bible says that the source of life is the blood, in the spiritual man, the source of life is the Spirit of Life (Holy Spirit). That is the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead in a flesh and bones body. But Jesus’ resurrected body was without the blood, because it was shed for us. In the Old testament, there were special requirements to removing the blood from the sacrifices, because that was “the source of life” to the natural creatures.

    For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the alter to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul (Leviticus 17:11 KJV).

    You cannot get into the Kingdom of God without the shedding of blood, because without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. But could you get into the kingdom of God if you could find someone else to shed their blood for you…………………?

    What about the physical body? At the resurrection spoken of in Matthew 27:52,53 KJV, it says that “the graves were opened and the saints came out”. The graves held the physical bodies! Why do you think that they were not given new bodies and the physical bodies left in the grave? Ashes to ashes, dust to dust?

    Did Jesus ever teach eternal life in a physical but glorified body?

    These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all FLESH, that he SHOULD GIVE ETERNAL LIFE to as many as thou hast given him (John 17:1,2 KJV).

    Why is there even a doctrine in the Bible called the redemption of the body (Romans 8:23 KJV), if the body will not be redemned? Does anyone else ever ask these questions? I look foward to reading other responses.

  2. It will be glorious to get new bodies. I don’t think we know exactly what they will be capable of doing but my mom hopes that we will be able to fly! :o) I’m sure there are greater things to look forward to, but there is no sense in not looking forward to every part that Christ has given as a promise!!! I can’t wait either…but, I like you, I will. :o)

  3. Mike,

    “Therefore, we must remain until called home. I long for that day, but until then..to live is Christ, to die is gain!”…Amen!

    We have all heard the stories of loved ones dying and visiting the living. Can we conclude, biblically, that these claims are false, or at least not from God? And the statement that is often said about a loved one watching from above, this too is false?

    In Christ,
    Sherry

  4. Rachel,

    I believe that we long for Him because we love Him and that is born in our Regenerate Hearts. I think my love for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit increases continually. Even so, come soon Lord Jesus!

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  5. Sarah,

    I believe we will see Him soon. My anticipation is growing continually and I know that what awaits us with Him will be beyond our imagination.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  6. Sherry,

    I have not studied much about that. I don’t think anyone who has passed from this life to the next can visit the living here. As far as loved ones watching us from Heaven…the only passage that comes to mind is Hebrews 12:1. However, I don’t think that is what that verse is talking about.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  7. I don’t believe they can communicate with us. The example being the Parable of the Rich man and Lazurus. Sorry about my spelling as I have to go to work. Much love for my brothers and sisters in Christ. Deborah

  8. Frank,

    Great post.

    Here is some more perspective:

    When Jesus was raised and was walking around, He had the nails scars and the wound in His side. Clearly, He had the same body only it was “glorified.” Although we do not completely understand how that works, it is clear that it was the same body, only glorified. Same nail scars, same wound.

    Philippians 3:20-21 “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body…”

    Two things are evident here. One, we are waiting for the resurrection of our bodies. Paul says here that we wait for Christ from heaven who will tranform our bodies. This implies a future bodily resurrection of all believers who are waiting for Christ from heaven. Two, although we do not know exactly how our bodies will be transformed, we know that they will be like His glorious body. Same body, only glorified.

    Compare to 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17: “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who have already died. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”

    The resurrection of believers happens once, at the appointed day.

    1 Corinthians 15:13-18 “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty…For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then also those who have died in Christ have perished.”

    Paul was talking about a bodily resurrection here, not a spiritual one. Here, he clearly implies that our resurrection will be the same as His resurrection: “if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.” How did Christ rise? Bodily. Same body, only glorified. Acts 1:11 tells us that when Jesus comes back, He will come in the same way as when He ascended. He ascended bodily. John tells us that we shall be like Him because we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2).

    The main point is this: Christ was resurrected, not reincarnated. He had the same body as before. We are told that our bodies will be resurrected and fashioned like unto His body, which means that we will be like Him “when He appears.”

  9. And the essence of that new body is not just a Casper the friendly ghost body. It was so real to Paul he said “whether in the body or out I cannot tell”.

    A glorious day is coming when we shall be like Him!

  10. Carol,

    ‘The main point is this: Christ was resurrected, not reincarnated. He had the same body as before. We are told that our bodies will be resurrected and fashioned like unto His body, which means that we will be like Him “when He appears.”’

    Amen! Can’t wait!

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  11. Amen Deborah!

    Carol,
    What a clear exegesis! Thank you for sharing this. It’s funny I was going to hightlight the same thing Mike did! Same body, no reincarnation! When “HE APPEARS” we shall be like him! I can’t wait.

    Love You,
    Rachel

  12. Dear Mike,

    I really liked your post. I thougt how incredible it is, that we are so busy with the past or with our problems or feelings when you realize what we are called to. That we are so busy with our own opinions of the faith while “fighting” brothers and sisters who think differently.
    “But one thing I do: forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” While reading the context of this verse (Phil. 3:13) I came to verses 10-12 and realized this is the goal why Paul is doing this and why we should do this. “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” Now things are getting difficult! To know Him and the power of His resurrection? That is something we would like. Yes, power, that is nice! But suffering and death? Yet this is also what Jesus says: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

    Shalom shalom,
    Jacco Pippel.

  13. I also wanted to mention another part of Philippians 3 a few more verses down to 15. “And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.” This is very important. Many people today seem to think it is O.K. to agree to disagree, that some things in scripture are not as important as others and instead of crying out to the Lord for wisdom and insight, we just agree to disagree. This is not wise.

    Rachel

  14. Rachel,

    Very true! What I try to do is keep the dialog going with those who disagree while never agreeing with them. I always want to draw them to the truth. Some won’t and so it is fruitless to continue, but those whom God has laid on my heart to deal with, I deal with them with righteous love and patience that I could have only by the Holy Spirit. You are right, unless lead by the Spirit to engage them, I avoid those I see in bad theology. That is not the same thing as uniting for the sake of peace which is a huge mistake. We are united because of our common union with Christ.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  15. Mike,

    You are absolutely right. The Holy Spirit guides us and those who are truely seeking Him will come into all truth. Keeping the dialogue going without agreeing but questioning is a very good strategy. The Holy Spirit is the one who illuminates us as we go through our walk in His word.

    In Christ,
    Rachel

  16. i wonder with these glorified bodies
    will we travel throughout all the universe and explore other planets when the new heavens and new earth comes to pass by jesus

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