When will we receive our resurrection bodies? What will they look like? In the past few days my family and I have read Wayne Grudem’s discussion of those questions in Chapter 42: Glorification (Receiving a Resurrection Body) of his Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1994) in our family’s after-breakfast Bible reading. Here I’ll share just a little of what he says about them.
Glorification is the last step in the application of redemption. The previous steps, each of which Grudem devotes a chapter to and of which I’ve made one or more posts on are election, the Gospel call, conversion, regeneration, justification, adoption, sanctification, perseverance, and death. Glorification will occur when our bodies are raised and reunited with our souls.
When Will We Receive Our Resurrection Bodies?
The primary New Testament passage on the resurrection of the dead is 1 Corinthians 15:12-55. In verses 51-52 of it Paul says that our bodies will be raised and reunited with our souls when Jesus Christ returns: “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be changed imperishable, and we shall be changed” (ESV; all Biblical quotations are from the ESV).
In 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 Paul explains that the souls of those who had died and gone into the presence of God will return with Jesus and be reunited with their bodies before those who are alive meet him: “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”
Grudem cites other New Testament passages which affirm the doctrine of glorification (pages 829-30) and several Old Testament passages which support the doctrine (pages 830-31). Please let me know in a comment on this post if you would like me to provide references to some of the passages and I’ll do so in a reply to your comment.
What Will Our Resurrection Bodies Look Like?
In the first passage referred to above (1 Corinthians 15:12-55) Paul describes our resurrection bodies thus: “What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body” (verses 42-44). Thus our resurrection bodies will remain healthy and strong forever, be attractive and perhaps surrounded by a brightness, be strong and powerful, and subject to the Holy Spirit. Paul also observes in the passage, “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust [Adam after the fall], we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven [Jesus]” (verse 49).
Grudem presents considerable Biblical evidence for continuity between our present bodies and our resurrection bodies (pages 833-35). Please let me know in a comment on this post if you would like me to provide some of the evidence and I’ll do so in a reply to your comment.
When we receive our resurrection bodies, the whole creation will be renewed. Paul refers to this in Romans 8:21, “The creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”
When we receive our resurrection bodies, unbelievers will also be raised but they will face judgment. Jesus told the Jews, “An hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his [the Son’s] voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28-29).