The Sanctity of Life and the Resurrection - Third in a Series
When we think of the deterioration of the body after death, we may think of it as erasing the link between the human soul and body. But there is no breaking of that link; body and soul remain integrated despite appearances.
A Scripture that may help to demonstrate this truth is found in 2 Kings. Elisha, God’s prophet, had died and been buried. Moabites invaded Israel the next year. A man was being buried when those in charge saw them approaching, so they cast the man into the tomb of Elisha. And as a man was being buried, behold, a marauding band was seen and the man was thrown into the grave of Elisha, and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet. (2 Kings 13:21) A resurrection took place, and was perhaps Elisha's final miracle. (He also resurrected the son of the Shunammite woman. (2 Ki 4:32-35))
Obviously, though Elisha’s soul was at rest and his body had disintegrated except for his skeleton, those bones retained his person in some way that we cannot define. That is hard to grasp but something to think about before you sign your driver’s license.
Can we be sure we will never again need our heart, our lungs, our kidneys? Will our resurrected bodies have different parts or merely different qualities? When you drink and eat at the marriage supper of Jesus (Rev 19:7; Mat 26:29), will it be your mouth and tongue, your body? Job, whom we meet in the Bible before the book of Psalms, would say, Yours.
If we had to select one Scripture or passage that best relates the concept of the eternal integration or unity of man’s soul and body, it might be Job 19:25-27:
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
(New King James Version)
In the depths of his misery, Job prophesied about Jesus Christ, and that he knew he would see him on the earth, in his very own body, with his own eyes, even though his body were long since perished, it would nevertheless be true.
The King James translation says: though after my skin worms destroy this body, a more graphic picture of corruption. There is no way to prettify the process of deterioration. Thankfully, given enough time, a body will become invisible. But does that mean that it has disappeared from the realm of life? We cannot see God either, but by faith we believe he exists as the everliving One.
Can an invisible body materialize? Some stories and TV shows come to mind. Those are only fictions, but just as surely as matter can neither be created nor destroyed, a new day will dawn and a human soul will again be clothed his or her body. A temporary disintegration of the body does not break the link between a human body and its soul.
The Bible explains that our resurrected bodies will be glorified. “Sown in corruption,” they will be raised in incorruption (1 Cor 15:42) What will that new body be like? In a word, like Christ’s. The Bible reveals that Christ will transform our humble condition into conformity with the body of his glory. (Phil 3:20-21)
How does the Bible describe Christ's resurrected body?
It was physical:
“See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” (Luke 24:39)
More than 500 people saw him. (1 Cor 15:6)
And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them. (Acts 10:41)
You may wonder about this, since Paul stated: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. (1 Cor 15:44) However, theologians point out that this does not mean made out of spirit, but directed by the Spirit.
It was his body:
Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. (Jhn 20:27)
Since Thomas was invited to thrust his hand into Jesus’ side, we understand that the resurrected body has new qualities. Evidently Jesus was no longer bloody yet his wounds were apparent; it was his body, not a newly created one.
It was different in some aspects:
Our glorified bodies will be capable of new states:
And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. (Luk 24:30-31)
Additionally, they are not sexual in the same way as they once were:
For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven. (Mark 12:25)
A 17th century theologian, John Gill, wrote, “If the body was reduced to nothing by death, the resurrection of the body would not be properly a resurrection, but a creation of a new body… This is no other, nor better, than a transmigration of souls into other bodies.” But Christians do not believe in reincarnation. We believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.