By: Scott Shifferd, Jr.
“See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have,” Jesus declared to His disciples revealing Himself as resurrected from the dead (Luke 24:39 ESV). Paul revealed, “God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power” (1 Cor 6:14; cf. Rom 8:11; 1 Thess 4:16; 1 John 3:2). However, Paul also noted, “I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Cor 15:50). Is this a contradiction? How can Christians resurrect as Christ rose flesh and bones when flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God?
The apostle Paul answered this question when he addressed a similar question, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” (1 Cor 15:35). Paul explained the nature of the resurrected body in 1 Corinthians 15 — “the Resurrection Chapter.” The flesh-and-blood body is the natural body. Paul revealed, “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body” (15:44a). The Greek word for “natural” in this passage does not mean physical but one of the soul and of the nature of this world. The apostle described the natural body as perishable, dishonorable, and weak, but the resurrected body is imperishable, glorious, and powerful (15:42–43). The weak body is natural like Adam who was “a man of dust,” and the glorious body is spiritual like Jesus’s resurrected body (15:45–49).
When Jesus returns, the faithful do not put off their old bodies and put on new spiritual bodies. Instead, the mortal bodies put on the immortal nature. The apostle referred to the flesh and blood as the perishable and mortal (1 Cor 15:50). Those who are alive at Jesus’s coming will change and the dead will resurrect imperishable (15:51–52). The flesh-and-blood body will change and not be put off but raised to life again. That mortal body resurrects to immortality (15:52). Paul described, “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality” (15:53). Paul observed that the faithful would not be unclothed of their body but further clothed so “what is mortal may be swallowed up by life” (2 Cor 5:4).
In conclusion, the bodies that rise will resurrect like Jesus in flesh and bones and yet put on the spiritual nature of immortality as Jesus bodily rose from the dead. On the last day, the bodies of the faithful will transform and become supernatural. Resurrection unto eternal life is the hope and wonder of the Christian faith. For this reason, Christians rejoice and thank God. Paul revealed, “But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a 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).