The Spirit World: Ch. 17 (The Glorified Body)

This entry is part 19 of 23 in the series The Spirit World

The Glorified Body

(This is a continuation of The Spirit World book series. This post assumes the prerequisite reading of earlier posts in the series.)

Inextricably tied to a believer’s entry into Heaven and his resurrection, which is the subject of the next chapter, is the proper understanding of the nature of the eternal body.  Upon man’s resurrection he is equipped with substantially altered and eternal body with which to enter the eternal abode of Heaven.  This body, which the righteous will be later equipped with, is substantially different from his present earthly body.  Paul offers a detailed examination of the distinctions between the two bodies along with the reasons for such changes in 1 Corinthians 15.  In this text, Paul writes to the church, and focuses his description uniquely on the bodies which the righteous will receive upon their resurrection.  The unrighteous also have a unique eternal body which will be examined in chapter twenty.  Concerning the righteous body, Paul describes a reconstruction of radical extremes.  The present “earthly” body is made for life on the earth.  Prior to entering Heaven, however, man is to be regenerated and given a body suitable for eternal life in God’s presence. 

1 Corinthians 15:35-49 (NIV)
35 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. 39 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. 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. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being” ; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. 48 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. 49 And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.

A chief observation concerning the spiritual body is described in verse 42, “The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable.”  The imperishable nature of the resurrected body, simply stated, demands that the spiritual body is one which will not deteriorate.  It will be incapable of death or destruction.  Because it is a body which will not die, a second deduction can also be drawn, which is that it is a body incapable of housing sin.  Scripture teaches plainly that sin yields death to the body.[1]  Hence, a body which is guaranteed not to die for eternity is necessarily one which will never be susceptible to sin.  Both ideas are represented in the depiction of imperishability.

Verse 43 further observes, “it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory.”  “Glory”, as a term, describes a state of worthiness or dignity.  It is a state foreign to sinful man, yet is true of the resurrected body.  The resurrected body will have a worthiness to exist in God’s presence whereas the current sinful body of man does not.  Of the sinful man, God told Moses, “no one can see me and live.”[2]  While the indwelling Christ allows a believer to have fellowship with God’s Spirit, the body of death must be yet transformed  into a body of glory before it can dwell in God’s manifest presence in Heaven.  Verse 48 notes, “as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.”  A full transformation must accompany one’s bodily entry into the eternal abode of the Father.

 Continuing in verse 43 is the declaration “it is raised in power.”  The transliterated Greek term translated as “power” in the NIV is “dynamis,” which infers substantially great power, rather than general power.  It is associated with miraculous power and is used in parallel with Christ, angels and spiritual powers in scripture.[3]  This description indicates a power on a much greater plain than man currently experiences.  It is by definition, therefore, “supernatural” power which the resurrected body will be granted.

In verse 44 is recorded, “it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.”  Clearly a distinction exists between the natural earthly body which man currently has and the body which he will receive prior to entry into Heaven.  The heavenly body is a spiritual body.  The concept of a spiritual body is foreign to man’s experience.  Humanity has long understood a defining line to exist between the physical and the spiritual realms.  The body is understood to be of a uniquely physical essence while the soul is understood to be that which is spiritual.  The eternal body of man, however, is of a different constitution.  It is a spirit-body, specially designed for existence in the realm of Heaven, just as the physical body man is given today is designed for the physical world of earth.  Some erroneously have concluded that man will not have a body in Heaven, but will instead exist in spirit only.  While this is true of saints in Heaven prior to the advent of the resurrection, this text teaches clearly that the body, being raised, exists in a completely different essence than even those in Heaven today experience.  It is not mere spirit, but a “spiritual body.”

The descriptions noted in this text define something difficult to grasp completely.  It seems to be demonstrated in the text, however, that the spiritual bodies man will be transformed into at the resurrection will be similar, if not identical, to the body Christ received upon his glorification.  Paul noted, “as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.”  The risen Christ demonstrated characteristics which may indeed give insight into the nature of the resurrected body.  Christ was able to appear into a room without using a door.[4]  He also disappeared in similar fashion.  Yet, the risen Christ was able to be touched by the disciples to prove that he was not a ghost.  He was able to eat.[5]  While it is impossible to know if any of these characteristics may have been due to Christ’s deity, these were not characteristics of Christ’s body while he lived on earth, nor did his deity manifest itself in those fashions before he was raised and glorified.  It seems, indeed, that the characteristics of the risen Christ’s body are akin to those which will be normative of the glorified bodies of the righteous in Heaven.

[1] Romans 6:23, Genesis 2:17

[2] Exodus 33:20

[3] Dynamis is rendered “power” in 1 Corinthians 1:24 “…Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

[4] John 20:19

[5] Luke 24:39-41

image The Spirit World series will continue weekly until the entire book is published online. If, however, you enjoy this series and do not wish to wait, you can purchase the paperback version of The Spirit World here.

Series Navigation<< The Spirit World: Ch. 16 (The New Jerusalem)The Spirit World: Ch. 18 (Resurrection of Believers) >>

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