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THEOLOGY > Future > The Final Judgment > Resurrection of the Body  


The resurrection of the body is synonymous with the resurrection of the person; to speak of the body being raised is to speak of the person coming back to life. For the body to be reconstituted, albeit a spiritual body, is for the individual to be given the spiritual life that he will have throughout eternity.

Isaiah affirms: “Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise” (26:19). Is this not a perfect example of Hebrew parallelism? When the dead come back to life, their bodies come back to life; when the bodies are resurrected, the dead who are identified with the bodies will live. Verse 14 states: “They are dead, they will not live; they are shades, they will not arise.” In contrast to the death of v. 14 there is the hope of v. 19. The dead are dead—they do not live, but are like shades; but the promise is that they will live and will live when their bodies arise.

This same equation is seen in the wording of Paul in First Corinthians; he asks: “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” (15:35). He equates the dead with their body; “they” in the second question refers to “the dead” in the first question. When the new body comes to be, the dead will have been raised, not the body raised but “the dead raised.” While speaking of the resurrection of the body and its composition, Paul states: “the dead will be raised imperishable” (I Cor. 15:52); it is the dead, not just the body, that will be raised to a new state. The “dead” and their “body” are interchangeable references to the person.

The resurrection of the body is spoken of as “the redemption of our bodies” (Rom. 8:23). Resurrection is part of the soteriological process. The believer is to have victory; death must lose its sting. When “the mortal puts on immortality” is when the redemption will be fully realized, and the following statement will come to pass: “Death is swallowed up in victory” (I Cor. 15:54). At that point we will have victory, not the body only, for we will give thanks “to God who gives us the victory” (I Cor. 15:57; note the “us”). Consider several thoughts regarding the body.

The old body will be raised a new body. Paul states: “What you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel” (I Cor. 15:37). The body laid in the grave is the body that will be raised, not the precise body that was on earth, but a new body, one that is spiritual; the new body will be similar to the old but constituted differently. Paul has commentary in his epistle:

What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body (I Cor. 15:42-44).

There is a comparison and contrast between the old body and the new body: perishable vs. imperishable, dishonor vs. glory, weak vs. powerful, physical or natural vs. spiritual. There is both continuity and discontinuity between the earthly and the heavenly body—the same but different.

The new body will be like the body of Christ. Earthly man is made in the image of God (see: Image of God); in eternity man will have a body like the body of Christ. It is not that man will be or will become divine, but that man will more fully reflect his position as a son of God (see: Rom. 8:14, 16, 19; II Cor. 6:18; Gal. 4:5).

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself (Phil. 3:20-21; see I Jo. 3:2).

The resurrected body will be a flesh and bones body, one like the Lord’s body. In fact, this is the purpose of the Incarnation—He became flesh in order that flesh might be redeemed and therefore glorified. Paul states: “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven” (I Cor. 15:49).

The resurrection of the body will be instantaneous. It will be “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (I Cor. 15:52; for “moment” the NIV has “flash”). Godet commented that these two references speak of “an indivisible moment” and “a movement of the eyelid,” both of which “denote the suddenness with which the event will happen” (Commentary of First Corinthians, 856). “In a moment” is literally “in an atom” (Gr., atomos; only here in NT).

The body will be raised by God. Various terminology is used to refer to the work of the Trinity at the time of resurrection:

God raised the Lord and will also raise us by His power (I Cor. 6:14; “God gives it a body as He has chosen,” I Cor. 15:38; see: II Cor. 4:14; I Thess. 4:14);

We await the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body (Phil. 3:20-21);

If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you (Rom. 8:11).

Resurrection is a supernatural event, brought about by the Creator of Life and by the One who is Sovereign over life (see: God is Sovereign).

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