The Christian faith promises that those who die in Christ will be raised from the dead. But how are they raised? The Bible tells us the dead are raised by God using the old physical substance of the demised person to create a new and eternal physical person. This state of newness maintains the originality of the old person while incorporating revolutionary human-plus qualities.
I was going to say godlike qualities, but I didn’t want some rabid, false-prophet hunter to turn my statement into some ridiculous notion of me claiming we’re going to become gods. So, we’ll stick with human-plus qualities.
The apostle Paul answered the inquiries of the Corinthian church concerning the resurrection of the dead in fascinating detail:
But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.1 Corinthians 15:35-38
How are the dead raised? And with what body do they come? Paul uses the example of seeds in the earth to provide a picture answer. It is not a perfect metaphor, but it does adequately convey the idea of resurrection.
The Dead Are Raised In A Different Form
If you plant a seed into the earth, it doesn’t die in an absolute, scientific sense. But it does die in the sense that it could be “buried” for hundreds or even thousands of years before showing signs of life.
At some time in the existence of the seed, its ideal environmental conditions affect and penetrate the hard shell that protects the embryo. It is then that the apparent dead seed must again, in a sense, die.
This time it dies to the fate of remaining a seed, and instead bursts forth from its shell to become something so remarkably different from its former form that it appears impossible that it was ever once a lowly seed.
Similarly, the saints’ body dies and is buried. Their spirit goes to heaven, God’s present kingdom, where they will be until that moment when Christ visibly returns to earth in power and great glory.
At the moment of His return, the dead bodies of saints will burst forth from the earth. But their resurrected bodies will appear far different from the “seeds” that were originally planted in death.
Let’s look at this.
The Dead Are Raised With Different Kinds of Flesh, Bodies, and Glory
All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead…1 Corinthians 15:39-42
The Scriptures above provide several examples of different kinds of flesh, bodies, and glory. Then the apostle says, “So also is the resurrection of the dead.” I believe this means the resurrection will include a dazzling array of diversity and glory.
Concerning the resurrection, the angel told Daniel this:
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.Daniel 12:2-3
The wise and the soulwinner apparently are resurrected in a special glorious brightness that will be recognized by all. This is part of their honor and reward.
That there are honors reserved for some and denied others is a common theme of eternal rewards. We should unashamedly aspire to all that is available in God.
The Dead Are Raised In Incorruption, Glory, and Power
Our last day on the old earth looks nothing like our first day on the new earth. And the peaks we attain in this present body are accomplished simultaneously with the body’s inevitable decline into weakness and death. In contrast, we will be raised from death into incorruption, glory, and power:
The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.1 Corinthians 15:42-43
There are some remarkable people in this world. Some are incredibly beautiful. Some are astoundingly athletic. Some are amazingly intelligent. Some are wonderfully talented. And if life isn’t unfair enough, some are combos.
These folks are near demi-gods.
Yet they are all corrupted, damaged goods. Destined to slowly diminish, and finally to lose whatever it is that makes them special. Eventually all of us exhale our last breath, and our body is sown to the grave in corruption, dishonor, and weakness. All that remains of our former glory is a skeleton stripped bare.
But thanks be unto God this isn’t the end of the story for the saint’s body!
At the sound of God’s trumpet, our physical body will be raised in incorruption, glory, and power. The qualities and abilities of our new body will far transcend anything this world has ever seen.
The Dead Are Raised With A Spiritual Body
To those who have the erroneous and unbiblical idea that we will be raised from the dead to exist as disembodied spirits, Paul provides the following explanation:
It [the dead body] is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body…And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.1 Corinthians 15:44, 49
Remember the question: What kind of body is raised? It is a spiritual body. But be careful to notice it is a spiritual body and not a spirit body.
As Jesus said in Luke 24:39, when He rose from the dead with His resurrected spiritual body, “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”
A spiritual body has flesh and bones; a spirit body does not. The body that is resurrected from the grave is a real body of flesh and bones and everything that makes us human.
Notice Jesus said, “My hands,” and “My feet.” There is nothing nonmaterial about the spiritual body, just as there is nothing nonmaterial about the coming kingdom of God.
Paul further explains in verse 44 that the true contrast is in the natural body and the spiritual body. This is the correct comparison because it doesn’t change the humanity of the body.
The natural body is the present fallen state of our human body. The spiritual body is the future glorified state of our human body. You see, the body doesn’t change from flesh and bones to spirit. It changes from a fallen state to a glorified state.
Verse 49 punctuates this truth by reiterating in a different way the context of the resurrection. He states that just as we took on the physical image of Adam, we shall take on the physical image of Christ.
The Dead Are Raised With New Bodies To Inherit the Kingdom of God
God’s plan is so exceedingly grand, and the glories of our future home so phenomenal, we will need new bodies that are designed to function in the new environment.
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”1 Corinthians 15:50-55
Right after I tell you the glorified body has flesh and bones, we start off by quoting “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” Okay, let me explain.
First, the rest of the Bible teaches a physical resurrection of the bodies of the dead, whether righteous or unrighteous.
Second, Paul stating flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God immediately follows him telling us exactly the opposite. What’s the reason?
Third, it is clear from 1 Corinthians 15:50-53 that he is speaking of unchanged, unglorified flesh and bones.
Paul is simply saying our bodies must be changed before we can inherit the kingdom of God. And this makes sense. Adam’s physical body was suitable to interact with the old world. Our physical body must be suitable to interact with the new world.
He also stated that he would reveal a mystery to his readers. The second coming of Christ certainly was no mystery. So, what was he going to disclose that was new? It was the details of the resurrected body and the quickness of the resurrection.
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, we shall be changed! Raised from the dead with new, glorified physical bodies! I can hardly wait!
- Jesus Knows When He Will Return
- We Know Exactly When Jesus Will Return In Power And Glory
- We Can Know the General Time Of The Lord’s Return
- Can Jesus Return Before The Gospel Is Preached To The Whole World?
- Does The Bible Say We Will Get A New Body?
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