December 2, 2014

Spiritual Body - πνευματικόν σῶμα

A spiritual body (in Greek: σῶμα πνευματικόν). Better known to believers as a Resurrection Body. What is it and what are its characteristics? Why am I delving into it? I felt like looking into it in detail because it will be my vehicle or vessel for eternity in His Kingdom. In it I will be like Christ after His Resurrection. Paul speaks directly about the Resurrection Body in 1 Corinthians 15:35-49

So what is the Resurrection Body every person will be raised to? Just so we’re clear, it will not be just the saved that are brought back to resurrection bodies, it will also be the condemned that will be raised in Resurrection bodies too (John 5:28-30). How else would they be tormented physically for eternity?

John 5:28-29 ~ “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”

This also echoes Daniel 12:2....

Daniel 12:2 ~ “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."

So the topic is raised specifically by Paul as a rhetorical question. He then proceeds to answer.

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

Paul states it is a body that is unique and perfect for its purpose and location:

1 Corinthians 15:39-40 ~ “For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 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.”

At the Resurrection we will be given a body unique to its purpose, location and time in the Kingdom. The body will be imperishable.

1 Corinthians 15:42 ~ “So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable”

Our resurrection bodies will be “raised imperishable. Our resurrection body will never experience sickness, decay, deterioration, or death. Our current bodies are prone to disability and are frail…they will someday fail us in death.

1 Corinthians 15:47-49 ~ “The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 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. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”

So what does it mean exactly when it says to bear the image of Heaven? It clearly means the body of the Resurrected will not be made of dust or of the perishable creation. We won’t be dirt. Our bodies now though are subject to the Fall in sin. It says so right in the text. The resurrection body will be perceived as a physical body but it will also be spirit. I suggest that until Jesus came back from the dead, this spiritual flesh or material did not previously exist. It is mentioned in the Old Testament but it did yet exist.

Isaiah 26:19 ~ "Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead."

We have no other record of the spiritual body / σῶμα πνευματικόν until Christ’s Resurrection nor do we currently have any historical record or anything analogous to it extra-canonically (outside the Bible). Therefore it is a state that is post-Resurrection and unique to the latter days or the days after Christ’s death burial and resurrection in accordance with Scripture. This body overlaps two realms. It is both physical and spiritual. So too where it will/would need to reside. So Heaven will somehow have to be somewhat like reality now. How do I know this? Because Jesus was here on Earth in the spiritual body / σῶμα πνευματικόν and he ascended this way to Heaven.

This tells us a few things about the characteristics. We know some of the characteristics because of Jesus and the narratives in the Gospels and Acts after Jesus is raised from the dead. It seems a resurrection body has flesh and bone (Luke 24:39-40). He was also able to eat food.

Luke 24: 42 ~ “They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; and He took it and ate it before them.”

Because a resurrection body is flesh and bone, Jesus post-resurrection still had visible wounds, and His disciples could physically touch Him. In this way He was tangible or solid. At the same time He seemed transitory or more specifically He was transcendent. Jesus could speak to Mary at the tomb and she could physically see Him, yet He was able to travel effortlessly and appear and disappear at will. In this way there is a spiritual aspect to Jesus’ resurrection body.

Mark 16:12 says that Jesus just appeared or was literally “made apparent or rendered apparent”. In other words, Jesus was made visible to two of the disciples as they were walking along in a field. This of course echoes the road to Emmaus narrative in Luke 24:13-35. This seems to tell me that a resurrection body can literally “twinkle” or “wink” in and out of our realm at will. We see hints of this also in the infamous transformation passage of 1 Corinthians 15:51-52.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 ~ “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 imperishable, and we shall be changed.”

If he was made visible…there is an implication that moments before he was not visible or He could not be perceived by human vision. It doesn’t mean He wasn’t previously there. When Jesus becomes apparent, he becomes conceivable in our realm. He becomes cognizant to us in our senses…He became graspable.

This twinkling parallels another passage later in the New Testament that will parallel this process in reverse. We that are left, at the last trumpet will be changed the other way from graspable physical to spiritual body / σῶμα πνευματικόν.

In John 20:19 it says that Jesus came and stood in the midst of the disciples when doors were shut. At was at this point he showed them his crucifixion wounds. Thomas wouldn’t even believe it was Jesus until his hands felt the scars of the nails. Thomas’ reaction to actually witnessing Jesus in His Resurrection body was to acknowledge Him as God.

Finally in John 21 we see Jesus at the Sea of Galilee. This episode tells us a few last things about resurrected Jesus and a resurrection body. He told the disciples where to fish. Jesus in this body could still think clearly and rationally. This dismisses the idea of a zombie –like Jesus often joked about. They knew it was the Lord so He had to have been recognizable as Jesus. This visible recognition seems to be done at Jesus’ whim or will because on the Road to Emmaus, Jesus was not immediately recognizable. This may or may not have bearing on a believer’s resurrection body. I believe the disciples inability to recognize Him on the Road to Emmaus was an issue more of their faith than his visual appearance.

As one last Biblical proof that there will be other saints resurrected in the Latter Days, the Bible also tells us of older saints or holy ones that were resurrected at the moment of Jesus’s resurrection. So it was not just Jesus at this point it was ordinary saints or holy ones…just like you or I.

Matthew 27:52-54 ~ “The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

Although there is not a lot of information on the resurrection body, there is enough to intrigue a believer to long for the day when we will inherit one for ourselves from the Lord. All these evidences and facts should tell the Christian a few things. First, we have nothing to fear from death. It is not an end, merely a transitional phase of our existence. Secondly, we give up the perishable body for the imperishable. It is an imperishable body that seems to have many interesting and exciting features that we do not currently have. This seems to include being able to pass through solid objects and phasing in and out of realms at least when it comes to our human senses. This of course may not be necessary when everyone is in the Kingdom and the old Heavens and Earth pass away. Third, it appears we will be resurrected to our optimal state…like we see Jesus was. Fourth, this body will be with God for eternity. We will dwell in joy in our Master’s presence. Most importantly, we will be able to worship God whether it be in the New Heavens or the New Earth. Regardless, this new body will be suited and perfectly conditioned for either contingency and I believe that is the point. It will be usable for worship of God whether we be in the New Heaven or the New Earth. In a sense, both will become one because it will all be God’s Kingdom.

As I said in the beginning of this post, believers will have a perfect body for a perfect purpose in a perfect location at the perfect time. Just as it was meant to be before sin entered the picture. When that day comes, when sin has been removed from the believers life, these perfect conditions will be restored and we will return to our originally intended state. Holy like our Creator. We will be like Christ, glorified.

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