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The resurrection is a key belief in Christianity. It is not only connected to the ultimate proof of Jesus’ deity; but it also is part of the great hope that sustains disciples of Jesus in hard times, growing especially dear as age and infirmity take their tolls on our bodies. But what do you know about it, and what can we know about it?

What resurrection is not
Greeks thought the idea of resurrection to be ridiculous — skeletons and half decomposed bodies lurching around. But Paul defends the resurrection in 1 Cor. 15 not a Night of the Living Dead sort of thing, but as the receiving of a glorious and immortal body (1 Cor. 15:35ff).

The importance of resurrection
There are three essential reasons why resurrection is a key belief in Christianity. First, "But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain." 1 Corinthians 15:13, 14, NAS95. Second, our hope of seeing God face to face, living eternally in Heaven, a living in a redeemed future beyond this flawed, sinful world is all dependent on our resurrection. Third, the resurrection of the good and the evil insures that there will be "… tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." Romans 2:9, 10, NAS95. We are also told that our spirits long for an immortal body; Paul says, "For indeed while we are in this tent (this earthly body), we groan (are fearful), being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed (die and be without a body) but to be clothed (given an immortal body), so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life." 2 Corinthians 5:4, NAS95. Paul also notes for us, "Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable." 1 Corinthians 15:50, NAS95. In other words, it is only the immortal, imperishable body that may inherit the eternal Kingdom God has prepared.

So, what will happen?
Well, we’re told that the resurrection of the dead, of the good and the sinful (Jn. 5:28,29), happens at Christ’s coming, first (1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16). Immediately, then, those alive (the good and the evil) at Christ’s coming will be changed from their mortal bodies to immortal bodies (also 1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16). In this state, all men will be able to face God in judgment; we’ll study this in more detail in a future article.

But what is the resurrection body like?
Our human curiosity would like to have all the details filled out, but the problem is that resurrection bodies are spiritual bodies unlike bodies we have known in this world. To describe them is a little like trying to describe the color red to a child completely blind from birth. None of our five senses really can be referenced in this describing a spiritual thing, so Paul uses illustrations. He begins with seeds. Seeds — and our physical bodies — are small, generally wrinkly, and meant to be buried; but the plant that comes from the seed is like the resurrection body. However, the plant, which has a connection to the seed, is more glorious than the seed, different in appearance than the seed, and capable of more than the seed (1 Cor. 15:36-38). Paul then uses the illustration of different kinds of flesh or meat. Flesh and meats are clearly different from each other. Fish looks different from beef, which looks different from chicken, which looks different from pork. Not only does it look different but the textures and tastes are different. So also with the earthly body and the resurrection body — there will be differences in their substances (1 Cor. 15:39). Next Paul uses different kinds of heavenly bodies. Objects on earth (we perhaps think about mountains or seas) are of one kind, but heavenly objects are more glorious, radiant, and awe-inspiring. So also with earthly bodies as compared with spiritual, resurrection bodies; we may appreciate the earthly, but the heavenly is more glorious, radiant, and awe-inspiring (1 Cor. 15:40-41). These comparisons certainly carry us a little way in more understanding of the resurrection body, but Paul has one more really informative comparison to make. Our resurrection body, he says, will be like Christ’s own immortal, resurrection body (1 Cor. 15:48,49; also 1 Jn. 3:2 and Php. 3:21). This tells us that we can garner even more information about the resurrection body by simply reading the accounts in the gospels about Christ’s resurrection and appearances to the disciples. We can know, for example that although Jesus could be touched (Jn. 20:19-29), He could also appear and disappear out of nowhere in a locked room (Lk. 24:36ff). He could prepare and eat physical food (Jn. 21:9-13). He could be seen and heard (Jn. 20:19-29). But He could also disguise Himself (Jn. 20:11-18; Lk. 24:13-35). He ascended to the Father on a cloud and will return the same way (Acts 1:9-11). And Jesus now stands at the right hand of God’s throne in His very presence (Acts 2:33).

Other miscellaneous information about the resurrection include:
It will be accomplished for Christians through the Spirit of God —Romans 8:11

There will be no marriage in the resurrection — Lk. 20:35,36; Mt. 22:30

The different kind of life we live after our baptism is a metaphor for the difference between this earthly life and the resurrection body we shall have — Rom. 6:4

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