“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) Was Christ’s Resurrected Body a Different One? (Tom Edwards)
Was Christ’s Resurrected Body a Different One?
When Jesus arose from the dead, was it with the same body He had prior to His resurrection or was it some type of “spiritual” body that replicated it?
Recently, I read of an unusual belief held by the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” with regard to this. According to their doctrine, Jesus “said that he would give his ‘flesh in behalf of the world,’ as a ransom for mankind. … If he had taken back his flesh when he was resurrected, he would have canceled that ransom sacrifice” (JW.org). Therefore, according to their view, “At his resurrection from the dead, Jesus was brought forth with a spirit body” (Reasoning from the Scriptures, p. 334).
So there you have it. According to their teaching, the body Jesus had while on this planet, prior to His resurrection, was not the same body He had when risen from the dead and appearing to witnesses over a period of 40 days, before His ascending back to heaven. But is this what the Bible also teaches?
It is true that Jesus had to die in order to make an atonement for sin – but where does the Bible say that the Lord’s body that was put to death on the cross must remain dead, that there was to be no resurrection for it?
Instead, do we not read the exact opposite? For Jesus “was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4).
The verse that the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” appear to be alluding to, in the phrase of Jesus saying that He would give His “flesh in behalf of the world,” is John 6:51. In this passage, Jesus declares, “I am the Living Bread which came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this Bread, he shall live forever. And truly the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
But how would that same body being resurrected nullify the atonement Jesus made by His death with that body? And where does it say in the Scriptures that the crucified body of Jesus must remain dead in order for the atonement to continue to be effectual?
If Christ’s body prior to His resurrection remained dead, and it was switched with some type of “spirit body” that appeared human in His resurrection, why did Peter quote David who “looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY. This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses” (Acts 2:31-32).
So if the Lord was given a different body for the resurrection, what happened to the one that suffered and died on the cross? Would it not have undergone decay, if it had never been resurrected?
Also, what part of Christ was risen from the dead? Was it only His eternal spirit (His soul, His true essence)? And if so, where does the Bible say that that part of Christ died and only that part would arise?
Jesus declares, “if anyone keeps My word he will never see death” (Jn. 8:51). But what part of these obedient ones would never die? Their bodies would die, but not their eternal souls (spirits). Now what about Jesus? How well did He do in keeping His Father’s word? He obeyed Him always and fully, having never failed even once. Christ never sinned. But still His body was put to death, while His spirit (His soul, His true essence) never died. But that spirit, which had been in the Paradise section of Hades for three days, following His death (cf. Luke 23:43; Acts 2:31), was then rejoined to His crucified body that was risen from the dead.
So the point is, in the resurrection, it is that which is dead that is brought back to life. And since it was the body of Christ that was put to death (and not His spirit/soul/true essence), that same body was then also risen from the dead.
Being the same body, it still had the wounds that had been made from the crucifixion. But if that had been some type of “spirit body,” a replica of what only appeared as His former body, wouldn’t that be deceptive, such as in the case of Thomas who wanted to see for himself and touch those wounds in the Lord’s hands and side?
It is true that some of the apostles thought they were seeing a spirit when they saw the resurrected Christ. But that was apparently the only explanation they could come up with at the time, since they had not be expecting to see Him arisen from the dead (Luke 24:37). But what did the Lord then say to them? “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 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” (vv. 38-39).
Doubting Thomas, who did not believe the testimony the other apostles had given about having seen the risen Lord, said, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (Jn. 20:25).
It was then that next Sunday, when Thomas had been with the other apostles, that the Lord appeared to all of them: “Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing” (Jn. 20:27). Thomas’ response was, “My Lord and My God!” (v. 28).
Some people, who hold to the belief of a “spirit body” that only appeared human in the Lord’s resurrected form, point out that Jesus had the ability with that “spirit body” to go through closed doors. This is seen, as in the above passage that points out that “Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst…” Some Bible versions refer to those doors as having been “locked” (CEV, ESV, GNB, GW, ISV, LITV, WEB, Weymouth, and the NIV to name some). Of course, even in the versions that speak of the doors being “shut,” it is also in the same passage that says they were shut “for fear of the Jews” (Jn. 20:19). So would not that also indicate that they would be doors that were not only shut, but also locked? Yet, the same verse also says that “Jesus came and stood in their midst.”
Why should we think, though, that the previous indicates that the body Jesus had on earth prior to His resurrection must have been a different one that was limited from doing what He could with His resurrected body?
Even prior to His resurrection, the Lord did some very astonishing things that would not seem to be humanly possible. In John 6:16-21, for example, the apostles got into a boat in order to cross the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum. That body of water is said to be at its farthest points about 13 miles from north to south and 7 miles at its widest part. But regardless of how far or close they were to their destination, as soon as they received Jesus into the boat, who had been walking on the water, the boat was “immediately” at the land to which they were going. Various commentators view that sudden arrival as a miracle, which, of course, would be a miracle over space and time.
And it is also in that same section that says, “when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat; and they were frightened” (v. 19). Was Jesus transformed to some type of “spirit body” that appeared as a human body to accomplish that? If so, what about Peter when he also came walking on the water to Jesus – at least for a moment? (See Matt. 14:29.) It wasn’t because Peter had a human body that the Lord rebuked him for sinking. Rather, it was because of Peter’s “little faith” and doubting (v. 31).
Also, in Luke 4:28-30, “all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage,” as they heard the teaching of Jesus. They then “got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill…to throw Him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, He went away.” How could Jesus have just walked through the midst of an angry mob without something miraculous about that?
So even with just a human body, Jesus did some mighty, amazing things! And we should not have trouble believing any of it, for with God “all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26) and “Nothing is too difficult” (Jer. 32:17).
Christ’s resurrected body was the same as the one He had on earth, prior to His resurrection. And the resurrection of that body did not make void His atonement for sin, but was part of what makes forgiveness possible:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).
(All Scriptures are from the NASB, unless otherwise indicated.)
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)