What Does the Bible Say About the End Times Resurrection?

David Finkbeiner  and J. Brian Tucker
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It was common in the ancient Greco-Roman world to view the physical body with some disdain. What mattered most was one’s spirit; the flesh was insignificant, even evil. This attitude infected some of the Corinthian believers, and Paul would have none of it. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul makes the case for Christ’s bodily resurrection, and He does so in order to insist on the future resurrection of believers’ bodies as well. After all, God created us from the beginning with bodies and souls, and He declared his original creation very good (Gen. 1–2). He will redeem us in full, and that includes our bodies. This is why the intermediate state described earlier is just that: intermediate. Only when Christ returns will our bodies be raised forever.

Only when Christ returns will our bodies be raised forever.

As we saw previously, although they differ on its timing, all the views on the millennium and rapture agree that Christ’s second coming will usher in the resurrection. In fact, Scripture clearly teaches that the bodies of all humans, believer and unbeliever alike, will be resurrected (John 5:28–29; Acts 24:15; Dan. 12:2). We know very little about the nature of the unbeliever’s resurrection, except that it will be a “resurrection of judgment” (John 5:29 NASB) that inexorably culminates in the second death (Rev. 20:5–6, 13–15). Scripture focuses attention on the resurrection of believers.

Christ will raise what remains of believers’ earthly bodies and transform them into bodies patterned after His own resurrected body (1 Cor. 15:22–23). What will the believer’s resurrected body be like? It will be imperishable, no longer subject to sickness, disease, aging, or decay (1 Cor. 15:42). It will be glorious, both flawless and beautiful to behold (1 Cor. 15:43). It will be powerful, no longer subject to our present weaknesses but enabled to do all that God calls us to do (1 Cor. 15:43). It will be a “spiritual body,” completely dominated by the Holy Spirit and no longer put to the service of sin (1 Cor. 15:44). By “spiritual,” Paul does not mean non-physical, for he stresses throughout 1 Corinthians 15 that our resurrected bodies will be physical, as is Jesus’. In short, our resurrected body will be perfectly suited for living forever in the eternal state, the new heaven and earth. The resurrection of believers marks the completion of God’s redeeming work in their lives, when they will finally be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:23, 28–30).

When you next go to the doctor for an illness, or look in the mirror with disappointment, or feel too tired to keep moving, or struggle with physical pain, or find yourself changing for the worse with age, or keep falling into the same sinful pattern, consider: this state of affairs is not permanent. It will not always be this way. Jesus is coming back, and everything will change when He resurrects our bodies. We thus have very good reason to be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58 ESV). The reality of the doctrine discussed next only strengthens that motivation.

For Further Reading:

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by J. Brian Tucker and David Finkbeiner

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book cover for 50 Most Important Theological Terms