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Glorification

Receiving Resurrection Bodies

Summary:  (top)

The Bible is clear that at the coming of Christ all believers (those who are alive at the time and those who had died previously) will receive immortal "resurrection bodies". These bodies will be imperishable, glorified, powerful and spiritual (this "spiritual" means Spirit-led, not non-physical). Glorification then is simply a return to the way God had created us: perfect.

Introduction:  (top)

The redemption that comes by Christ not only saves us, but redeems our bodies - our bodies are set free from the after-effects of the Fall. "And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." (Rom. 8:30)

The Biblical Teaching:

That Believers will Receive Resurrection Bodies:  (top)

There is innumerable evidence within the Bible that believers will be raised, and our mortal bodies will be replaced with immortal bodies for the resurrection - resurrection bodies.

   General evidence:  (top)

  • "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God" (Job 19:25-26).
  • "But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself" (Ps. 49:15).
  • "Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt." (Dan. 12:2)
  • "Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out - those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned." (John 5:28-29)
  • Jesus said, "And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:39-40)
  • "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior 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." (Phil. 3:20-21)
  • "We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 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 Thess. 4:14-17)

   More explicit teaching:  (top)

I don't normally like to include such a large quote from the Bible as follows, but the teaching in 1 Corinthians is in general the most specific in the Bible concerning this subject. There will also be many quotes from this passage in the study and this way they can be seen in context.

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I die every day - I mean that, brothers - just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord. If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised,

"Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die."

Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character." Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God - I say this to your shame.

But someone may 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. All flesh is not the same: Men 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 splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.

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 dishonor, 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.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body; So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.

I declare to you, brothers, 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.

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

(1 Cor. 15:12-58)

What will the Resurrection Bodies Be Like?  (top)

   General attributes:  (top)

  • Imperishable: "So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable" (1 Cor. 15:42).
  • Glorified: "...it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory" (1 Cor. 15:43a).
  • Powerful: "...it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power" (1 Cor. 15:43b).
  • Spiritual (meaning Spirit-led, not non-physical; see below): "...it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." (1 Cor. 15:44)

   That the resurrection bodies will be physical:  (top)

Though the resurrection bodies are often referred to as spiritual, this does not necessarily mean "non-physical". There are several reasons to understand that the resurrection bodies will be physical bodies, made perfect, and spiritual solely in the sense that they will be led by the Spirit of God and focus on the spiritual things rather than the sinful things of this world.

When Paul speaks of "the flesh" or "flesh and blood", he is usually referring to the this-worldy sinful nature. Similarly, when he uses the word "spiritual" (especially when contrasting with "the flesh"), he is usually referring to the spiritual nature - that which is led by the Spirit of God:

  • "I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong..." (Rom. 1:11).
  • "We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin." (Rom. 7:14)
  • "The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment:" (1 Cor. 2:15)
  • "Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly - mere infants in Christ." (1 Cor. 3:1)
  • "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently." (Gal. 6:1)
  • "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs." (Eph. 5:19)

Other indications of a physical resurrection body:

  • Heaven and earth will be made new for us to live in: God said, "Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind." (Isaiah 65:17)
  • We shall all be changed: "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." (1 Cor. 15:51-52)

Conclusion  (top)

This glorification then is simply a return to the way God had created us: perfect.

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