Questions about the resurrection body are often the same questions people have about heaven. For example, how old will we be there, will we look like we do now, will we recognize each other, will we eat in heaven, will we sleep? All fascinating to ponder but, frankly, not answered or not elaborated on in the Bible. This is not a fault of Scripture. We just couldn’t understand those details in our present, finite state. Let’s read 2 Cor. 12:1-6 to see what I mean. Nevertheless, people will ask. Paul knew this so takes the issue up in our present text. Let’s read it now.
As is often the case, God answers our question but not in the way that we’re expecting. But understand that those questioning the apostle here are not doing so out of a real interest but out of disagreement with the resurrection. Paul calls them “foolish” as if God can’t figure out the nature of physical body after resurrection. God so created the body once without sin and death– Adam and Eve. So the answer about what kind of body believers will have after the resurrection is not given just to satisfy their nay saying. Instead, Paul uses examples from creation to support the claim of the bodily resurrection. He starts with a favorite illustration used by Jesus: seeds.
The first “explanation” given to us about “what kind of body” we will have in the afterlife is that it will be from the original but so much more. Paul speaks of death as the moment of transformation, that is, in the physical sense (baptism is our spiritual rebirth). A seed planted must die, cease to exist as a seed, to grow into a plant. Just as a caterpillar must die, cease to exist as a worm, to be transformed into a butterfly (mine, not Paul’s). The second point is that not all living things share the same destiny, meaning resurrection to eternal life. Plants, animals, fish, birds, people- we’re not all made the same by God. Man is uniquely created in God’s image. This is not to say there won’t be plants, animals, fish and birds in heaven. Just not those that started here. Humans, however, carry over. Even non-living things like the sun, moon and stars have a different nature and so different future than us (v. 41 has led some to think angels are connected to stars). Scripture points to a new heavens and earth in the afterlife probably recognizable to this one… but so much more (more on heaven in our next study).
What is given in vv. 42-49 is best in answer to the question. The resurrected body, sometimes also referred to as “the glorified flesh”, will be different than this body we have now. The new body will be imperishable (can’t decay or die), glorified, powerful, spiritual (not immaterial but fully in sync with the spirit), and like Jesus’ resurrected flesh who is the “last Adam”, the “second man”, not of dust as the first but “from heaven”. We have already looked as Paul’s contrasting Adam and Jesus to illustrate the better, new, eternal, righteous life we have in Christ. In birth we share Adam’s dust; in baptism we share in Jesus’ heavenly glory. So baptism is called the new birth and is directly connected to the resurrection in the Bible (Rom. 6:4,5; 1 Peter 3:21).
For Our Further Discussion:
- What clues might we take from Jesus’ body post-Easter that may given an indication of our raised body? What one notable thing will be different from us?
- Will cremation hinder the resurrection?