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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Biblical evidence for a physical body after death

The Bible teaches that there will be a physical body for the redeemed, at some point after death. Here is some of the evidence. All quotations are from the World English Bible, public domain:

Job 19:25 But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives.
In the end, he will stand upon the earth.
26 After my skin is destroyed,
then in my flesh shall I see God,

Christ had a physical body after His resurrection:
Luke 24:1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they and some others came to the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3 They entered in, and didn’t find the Lord Jesus’ body. (Presumably because His body had been transformed, and He was still inhabiting it, and had left the area.)

Luke 24:38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled? Why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39  See my hands and my feet, that it is truly me. Touch me and see, for a spirit doesn’t have flesh and bones, as you see that I have.” 40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 While they still didn’t believe for joy, and wondered, he said to them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”
42 They gave him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. 43 He took them, and ate in front of them.

John 20:17 Jesus said to her, “Don’t hold me*, for I haven’t yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brothers, and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”  *A number of translations say “Don’t cling to me,” or “Don’t touch me,” which would have not been possible, if Christ was only a spirit.

John 20:24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, wasn’t with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
26 After eight days again his disciples were inside, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, the doors being locked, and stood in the middle, and said, “Peace be to you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Reach here your finger, and see my hands. Reach here your hand, and put it into my side. Don’t be unbelieving, but believing.”

Acts 10:40 God raised him up the third day, and gave him to be revealed, 41 not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen before by God, to us, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.

We will be like Christ
John indicates that we will be like the risen Christ, indicating that we, too, will have a glorified body:
1 John 3: 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it is not yet revealed what we will be. But we know that when he is revealed, we will be like him; for we will see him just as he is.

Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed toward us. 19 For the creation waits with eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of decay into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. 23 Not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for adoption, the redemption of our body.

1 Corinthians 15:51 Behold, I tell you a mystery. We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 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 will be changed. 53 For this perishable body must become imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this perishable body will have become imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then what is written will happen: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

Revelation 7:9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could count, out of every nation and of all tribes, peoples, and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands. Revelation uses figurative language, and it is clear that much of it was not meant to be taken literally. The redeemed presumably would not be able to hold palm branches in their hands, or wear robes, without a body.

New heaven and new earth
God promises a new creation, apparently physical as well as spiritual. (See also the Romans 8 passage, above.) Presumably a new creation with physical structure will be inhabited by believers who are physically resurrected. Revelation 20:1 I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth have passed away, and the sea is no more.

For more on the matter of "the sea no more" see here.

The Apostle's Creed is not scripture, but was a concise statement of what the church believes. It includes this:  
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
    the holy Christian Church,
        the communion of saints,
    the forgiveness of sins,
    the resurrection of the body,
    and the life everlasting. Amen.
(This is the version used in the Lutheran Service Book. All the versions I saw use the phrase "resurrection of the body.")

It is not clear, at least to me, as to when we will assume this glorified body, but, in comparison to eternity, whether it is assumed immediately upon death, or after the Final Kingdom, with its new heaven and new earth, is established, or somewhere between these points, doesn't matter much.

The best fictional portrayal of the bodily resurrection is in The Silver Chair, by C. S. Lewis, when King Caspian is transformed, after his death, but only because of the blood of Aslan, the lion.

Thanks for reading.

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