The Resurrection of Our Bodies
“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”- Romans 8:11
Death was not an original part of God’s creation; rather, it came into the created order when Adam fell into sin (Rom. 5:12). It is the last enemy of God’s people that will be destroyed (1 Cor. 15:26). Having already been defeated through the resurrection of Christ, it will be destroyed on the last day when Christ comes again in glory to judge the living and the dead.
Man brought sin into the world, and death was conquered by a man—the God-man Christ Jesus (Rom. 5:13–21). He brings life to His people, both new spiritual life and the new physical life that our bodies will enjoy at the resurrection. A connection exists between Christ’s resurrection and ours. As Paul says in today’s passage, the very same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead will do the same for our mortal bodies (8:11). There is a continuity between the resurrection of Jesus and ours. He is the firstfruits; we are the harvest (1 Cor. 15:20–23). His resurrection was the guarantee of our own resurrection. In fact, we have already been raised with Christ in principle; we wait only for the experience of physical resurrection (Rom. 6:1–5). But the resurrection of God’s people unto new, embodied, glorified life is as good as done, having been secured by Christ’s resurrection in glory.
Since we will be united with Christ “in a resurrection like his” (v. 5), our resurrection will likely be similar to His. When we look at the postresurrection accounts of Jesus, we see that there was both continuity and discontinuity between what He was like before death and what He was like after His death and resurrection. Jesus’ postresurrection body was enough like His preresurrection body that Mary Magdalene finally recognized Him when He appeared to her, but His postresurrection body was also different enough from His preresurrection body that she could not recognize Him at first (John 20:11–18). Perhaps something like that will be true of our resurrection bodies as well.
Paul explains this for us in 1 Corinthians 15:42–57, where he tells us that the natural body sown in death will be raised as a spiritual body. He does not mean a nonphysical body, for spiritual is not set in opposition to the physical in this text. A spiritual body, instead, is one that has been permeated with the Holy Spirit and granted immortality. The new bodies that we will receive at the resurrection will be forever guarded from death by the power and love of God. We will be imperishable, and all of the weaknesses introduced by sin will be no more.
People may claim that death is just part of the natural order, but their endeavors to delay or even prevent their own deaths prove otherwise. Sinners are looking to escape death, but the only way to do so is through resurrection unto eternal life, which is available only in Christ. The hatred of death is a point of contact with the unbeliever that we can use as a springboard to declare the promise of resurrection in the gospel.
Passages for Further Study