Monday, September 23, 2013

Transformed Into His Likeness

It is a great blessing when thoughtful Bible students raise questions about God’s Word. It is so uplifting to consider the nature of Jesus’ resurrected body, the nature of Jesus’ current state in heaven, and the type of bodies and existence we will share because of His amazing grace. These are fascinating subjects, worthy of our most careful attention.

Not everyone may agree with every statement that follows. However, here are some topics I have considered, relevant Scriptures I have consulted, and resulting conclusions I have drawn.

1. Jesus’ Body after the Resurrection

Lk 24:36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 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.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them.

From this passage I conclude that:
[1] Jesus’ physical body, having been crucified and buried, was raised from the dead.
[2] Jesus “himself” stood among His disciples, including John.
[3] This body, after His resurrection, had the hands and feet, and the wound marks, from the crucifixion. It was in fact His body.
[4] This body, after His resurrection, had flesh and bones.
[5] This body, after His resurrection, ate human, physical food, specifically broiled fish. This may indicate that His body was hungry, or at least that He was in fact flesh and bones.

Some think that this was a different body from the body that was crucified, based on the fact that Jesus appeared and disappeared miraculously.

Jn 20:19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
Jn 20:26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

However …
[1] Jesus, even before His resurrection, walked on water. He also appeared “in glory” at the Transfiguration. Such supernatural events, before and after the resurrection, do not require the conclusion that the resurrected body was a different body.
[2] Resurrection, by its very definition, means that something dead is alive again. Jesus’ dead body, His actual, human body, had to be raised for there to be a resurrection.
[3] If Jesus’ actual, human body was not raised (as the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” and others have taught), what happened to that body?
[4] These same passages in John 20 stress that Thomas touched Jesus' actual flesh and confirmed that this was in fact the body that was crucified.

2. Jesus’ Body Now in Heaven

1 Co 15:47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 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. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. 50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

From this passage I conclude that:
[1] Though Jesus on Earth was flesh and blood, of the dust like Adam, He is in fact now the man of heaven, not the man of dust.
[2] Jesus has gone back from His temporary state (while on Earth) to His eternal state (in Heaven).
[3] Flesh and blood cannot enter heaven.
[4] Jesus’ body, now in Heaven, no longer has flesh and bones.
[5] We must be transformed, as He was, from this earthly state (of dust) into the heavenly state.
[6] Our heavenly bodies will not consist of flesh and bones.

This transformation is further described elsewhere.

Php 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 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.

3. Jesus’ Current Heavenly State Yet to be Revealed

1 Jn 3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

From this passage I conclude that:
[1] When Jesus appears again we shall see Him as He is now.
[2] Neither John nor the other witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection had yet seen Him as He is now.
[3] Therefore, what He is now is not the same as what He was when they saw Him after His resurrection.
[4] Jesus, after His resurrection, was not yet fully glorified into His current heavenly state.
[5] Since His ascension and enthronement Jesus has been fully glorified and is no longer flesh and bones.

4. Our Raised, Transformed State When He Returns

1 Co 15:35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 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. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. 42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

1 Co 15:50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall 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 imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.

From this passage I conclude that:
[1] When Paul was asked, “What kind of body …?” he implied that such a heavenly, fully glorified body had not yet been seen. He could have answered, “Of course, our bodies will be like Jesus was after the resurrection, with flesh and bones, eating broiled fish.” He did not. Instead he said, “You foolish person!” and did not use the resurrected, physical, human body of Jesus in his response.
[2] Our bodies must (and will) be raised and transformed from their current state (of dust, of Adam) into their heavenly state (of heaven, of Christ).
[3] This is what happened to Jesus Himself. He was raised and (later) was fully transformed and glorified.
[4] What was gradual for Jesus will be instant for us. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye …” When He returns, our bodies will be raised and transformed into His likeness.
[5] We, like Jesus in His current heavenly state, will no longer be flesh and bones.
[6] In our transformed, glorified state, we will inherit the kingdom of heaven.

Ultimately, on this we can all agree. We want to be like Jesus Christ! And we will be! That final transformation, which we anticipate with joy, provides the motivation we need today to become more and more like Him. As the Scripture says:

1 Jn 3:3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

To comment and/or to receive notices of future blog posts, please email cory247 [AT symbol] gmx [dot com]. God bless.

1 comment:

Kevin Keim said...

Very informative Cory. Thanks for sharing. :)