Spiritual Body

INTRODUCTION: Genesis records that the LORD took substances from the earth to form the natural body of the first Adam, and all who have lived since then are his physical descendents. The Apostle Paul wrote that there is a spiritual body that will come from the last Adam, Christ Jesus. Those who look forward to the resurrection can have confidence from scripture about the sure hope for a renewed existence in a form that cannot see corruption. The natural body will deteriorate and returns to the earth, but the soul OF MAN will go back to God for final disposition.

NOTE: Scripture passages are from the World English Bible.


A - MAN'S PHYSICAL BODY IS OF THE EARTH BUT MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD

Genesis 1 "26 God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky, and over the livestock, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." 27 God created man in his own image. In God's image he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them. God said to them, "Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.""

Genesis 2 "7 Yahweh God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."

Genesis 3 "17 To Adam he said, "Because you have listened to your wife's voice, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it,' cursed is the ground for your sake. In toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 It will yield thorns and thistles to you; and you will eat the herb of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face will you eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For you are dust, and to dust you shall return." 20 The man called his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all living."

Psalm 89 "48 What man is he who shall live and not see death, who shall deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah."

Psalm 103 "13 Like a father has compassion on his children, so Yahweh has compassion on those who fear him. 14 For he knows how we are made. He remembers that we are dust. 15 As for man, his days are like grass. As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. 16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone. Its place remembers it no more."

COMMENTS: After the LORD God created everything that constitutes the heavens and the earth he then formed man from the earth, and made him in His own image to have dominion over all the rest of creation. The earth is the source of all growth and sustaining substances for the physical body of man, and for all other living creatures. God created man as male and female and told them to be fruitful and multiply to fill the earth. The LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

When Eve and Adam disobeyed God and ate that which was forbidden, death became an inescapable eventual consequence for every person. All descendents of the first Adam and of the mother of all living will lose their natural body and it will return to the earth. The soul departs from the physical body at the point of death, so that union is broken. The verse from Psalm 89 asks a question with the obvious answer that there is no person who has any power over their own soul once the body has died. The brief passage from Psalm 103 gives reassurance that the LORD is compassionate toward those who fear Him. He knows how all people are made, and how relatively brief their time is before death will overtake each one. The disposition of the soul of each person is solely in the hands of the Creator God.


B - THE SPIRIT DEPARTS FROM THE PHYSICAL BODY UPON DEATH

Genesis 25 "7 These are the days of the years of Abraham's life which he lived: one hundred seventy-five years. 8 Abraham gave up the spirit, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years, and was gathered to his people."

Genesis 35 "28 The days of Isaac were one hundred eighty years. 29 Isaac gave up the spirit, and died, and was gathered to his people, old and full of days. Esau and Jacob, his sons, buried him."

Genesis 49 "33 When Jacob made an end of charging his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the spirit, and was gathered to his people."

Philippians 2 "5 Have this in your mind, which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, existing in the form of God, didn't consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, yes, the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also highly exalted him, and gave to him the name which is above every name; 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, those on earth, and those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Luke 23 "46 Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!" Having said this, he breathed his last."

COMMENTS: At their appointed time, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob each gave up their spirit, and there lifeless body was buried in a tomb to return to the earth. The Apostle Paul explained that Jesus set aside his position in heaven to participate in the form of man in a physical body and then was obedient to the Father even to the point of death on a cross. Therefore God highly exalted him so his name is above all names in earth and in heaven. When Jesus died on the cross, he gave up the spirit and his body became lifeless, and it was laid in a tomb. There is so much that could be discussed about the complete design for the entry of Christ into the world in bodily form, which was under the control of the triune God to the most minute detail, but the thrust of this study is intended to very briefly contrast the physical body with the spiritual body for mankind.


C - BORN AGAIN OF THE SPIRIT

John 3 "3 Jesus answered him, "Most certainly, I tell you, unless one is born anew, he can't see the Kingdom of God." 4 Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb, and be born?" 5 Jesus answered, "Most certainly I tell you, unless one is born of water and spirit, he can't enter into the Kingdom of God! 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Don't marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born anew.' 8 The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but don't know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.""

COMMENTS: The Savior of our soul, Christ Jesus, entered into our fallen world in bodily form to reveal the great love He offers for those who will receive the gift of new life by faith through the second birth. There are many other passages that speak of saving faith and salvation in Christ, but this one should be sufficient to set the direction in this study to move on to the idea that those who experience the second birth will also inherit a spiritual body.


D - GOD WILL PROVIDE THE SPIRITUAL BODY

1 Corinthians 15 "35 But someone will say, "How are the dead raised?" and, "With what kind of body do they come?" 36 You foolish one, that which you yourself sow is not made alive unless it dies. 37 That which you sow, you don't sow the body that will be, but a bare grain, maybe of wheat, or of some other kind. 38 But God gives it a body even as it pleased him, and to each seed a body of its own. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies, and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial differs from that of the terrestrial. 41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonour; 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. There is a natural body and there is also a spiritual body. 45 So also it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living soul." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However that which is spiritual isn't first, but that which is natural, then that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, made of dust. The second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the one made of dust, such are those who are also made of dust; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 As we have borne the image of those made of dust, let's also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now I say this, brothers, that flesh and blood can't inherit the Kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption."

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 corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this corruptible will have put on incorruption, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then what is written will happen: "Death is swallowed up in victory." 55 "Death, where is your sting? Hades, where is your victory?" 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

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, 27 Whom I, even I, shall see on my side. My eyes shall see, and not as a stranger. "My heart is consumed within me."

COMMENTS: The Apostle Paul, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, presented some word pictures to provide a glimpse for us into the transition that awaits those who are appointed to eternal life by the grace of God through the second birth and the seal of the Spirit. The imagery suggests that there will be significant differences between our natural body and our spiritual body, and all of this is within the perfect design of our Creator God. Paul uses the illustration of the many differences between the seed and the mature plant as an example of the difference between our mature natural body and the completely different incorruptible spiritual body. He emphasizes that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. The second portion of the passage above from 1 Corinthians shows that this transition will encompass the full span of time from the first ones who died having been made righteous by faith, to those believers who are still alive in the natural body when Christ returns for his children. The passage from Job tells us that many centuries before the coming of Christ even Job had the faith to believe that he would experience resurrection with a new body, and he gave praise to his redeemer through the statement he made.


E - THE GOD OF THE LIVING

2 Corinthians 5 "1 For we know that if the earthly house of our tent is dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens. 2 For most certainly in this we groan, longing to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven; 3 if so be that being clothed we will not be found naked. 4 For indeed we who are in this tent do groan, being burdened; not that we desire to be unclothed, but that we desire to be clothed, that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now he who made us for this very thing is God, who also gave to us the down payment of the Spirit. 6 Therefore, we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord; 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are courageous, I say, and are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord."

John 6 "37 All those whom the Father gives me will come to me. He who comes to me I will in no way throw out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. 39 This is the will of my Father who sent me, that of all he has given to me I should lose nothing, but should raise him up at the last day. 40 This is the will of the one who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son, and believes in him, should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

Luke 20 "27 Some of the Sadducees came to him, those who deny that there is a resurrection. 28 They asked him, "Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man's brother dies having a wife, and he is childless, his brother should take the wife, and raise up children for his brother. 29 There were therefore seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died childless. 30 The second took her as wife, and he died childless. 31 The third took her, and likewise the seven all left no children, and died. 32 Afterward the woman also died. 33 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them will she be? For the seven had her as a wife." 34 Jesus said to them, "The children of this age marry, and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage. 36 For they can't die any more, for they are like the angels, and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. 37 But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he called the Lord 'The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' 38 Now he is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for all are alive to him.""

COMMENTS: Despite the numerous and wonderful array of the functions and capabilities of the natural body, it is limited in length of life for every individual. Paul has assured us in 2 Corinthians that God has given the Christian the down payment of the Spirit to assure us that when the earthly house of our tent is dissolved we have an eternal house in the heavens. When the time comes for us to be absent from the body, we will then be at home with the Lord. In the gospel of John, Jesus says that it is the will of the Father that all he has given to me I should lose nothing, and everyone who sees the Son, and believes in him, should have eternal life; and I will raise them up at the last day.

Based on their rejection of resurrection, religious leaders tried to frame an example within a definition in the law of Moses to present to Jesus what they saw as a very difficult problem. This incident is also recorded in Matthew and Mark, and the answer that Jesus gave provides a unique commentary on the eternal life possessed by the chosen of God. The key elements are: (1) The resurrection is in a different age from the one experienced in the natural body, (2) there is no marriage in that age, (3) those resurrected cannot die as they are like the angels, and (4) they are children of God being children of the resurrection. The fourth item listed drew my attention to the thought that our relationship to all others who are in heaven will be based on the reality that we are in our spiritual body given directly by the LORD. We will all be without the distinctions and interrelationships of many generations of the natural body. We will instead be in the eternal state where everyone is a child of God.

Jesus directed the attention of the Sadducees back to the scripture, and specifically to Moses, to give them (and others who observe) an opportunity to allow scripture to change their hearts to accept the truth. Jesus referred to the opening of Exodus chapter 3, and emphasized the wording that was used to prove that the dead are raised. The Lord is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That is a present and continuing truth because he is the God of the living, not of the dead, for all are alive to him.

The death of the natural body is only half of the story for those who believe that Jesus came to give life eternal. We don't need to understand all of the details about it, but only that we can believe the Word of Life. John 11 "21 Therefore Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you would have been here, my brother wouldn't have died. 22 Even now I know that, whatever you ask of God, God will give you." 23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 24 Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." 25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will still live, even if he dies. 26 Whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" 27 She said to him, "Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, God's Son, he who comes into the world.""

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

How great is your love, LORD, that you made man in your own image among all of your creation, and gave him dominion over all other living creatures of the land, water, and air. You know all things about the frailties and failings of every person, and you look upon mankind with compassion knowing that the natural body will die like the flower of the field. But you have made provision for a second birth wherein you have sealed the soul with your Spirit for each one who has accepted your gift of eternal life by faith. In the fullness of time you sent your Son Christ Jesus that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Your promise of resurrection is exemplified in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and your Word verifies that you, LORD, are the God of the living, not of the dead. Though I cannot imagine what the spiritual body will be like, I know that there have been a multitude of wonderful qualities in the natural body. It is enough to know that none of the aspects of decay and corruption will be present in the spiritual body. Help me, LORD, to praise you as long as I am in this natural body especially knowing that its demise will surely be replaced by that which will allow me to worship and praise you forever! Hallelujah and amen!

Published 20 January 2015