ALL THINGS NEW

A NEW BODY

When the New Testament teaches that Jesus Christ will come back, it also teaches that those who believe in him will “rise”. This includes those believers who have already died before Christ’s return. Paul teaches:

‘For the Lord himself will come down from heaven … and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air’ [1Thessalonians 4:16,17].

This immediately raises questions:

Is this just a spiritual thing or is it a physical thing?
If it is a physical thing, what kind of body will we have?

Paul addresses these questions in 1Corinthians 15.  In this chapter he spends eleven verses confirming the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Then he spends twenty-two verses affirming the central significance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and establishing the necessity of believing in the resurrection of the dead. Having established these two concepts he then states: ‘But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?”’ [15:35]

The first part of his answer points out the foolishness of this question. The answer is obvious in nature: of course it will be a different kind of body, a new body. The second part of his answer lists a series of contrasts: [15:42-54]:

Our present body is ‘perishable’: our new, resurrection body will be ‘imperishable’.
Our present body is characterized by ‘dishonour’: our new, resurrection body will be glorious.
Our present body is weak: our new, resurrection body will be powerful.
Our present body is ‘natural’: our new, resurrection body will be ‘spiritual’.
Our present body bore the likeness of Adam: our new, resurrection body will bear the likeness of Christ.
Our present body is ‘mortal’: our new, resurrection body will be immortal.

Paul gives us the following facts about this transformation:

The transformation from the old body to the new body affects all believers, both the dead and the living [15:51,52].
The transformation is instantaneous [15:52].
The transformation is inevitable … it is a divine ‘must’ [15:53].
The transformation occurs when the trumpet sounds as Jesus Christ returns [1Corinthians 15:52: 1Thessalonians 4:16,17].
This transformation marks the final expression of Christ’s victory over death [1Corinthians 15:54-56].
This transformation is forever [1Thessalonians 4:17].

All of this, although it does not answer every question we might ask, was written by Paul to encourage, to strengthen and to motivate us:

‘Therefore encourage each other with these words’ [1Thessalonians 4:18].

 ‘Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain’ [1Corinthians 15:58].

© Rosemary Bardsley 2012