As explained in Chapter 8 of The Rise and Fall of the Antichrist, the saved are going to get heavenly bodies when the Resurrection and the Rapture occurs when Jesus returns and ends the Antichrist’s seven-year reign. For those saved who die before these events, it seems they have a kind of heavenly body that is more or less like a ghost that can somewhat materialize such as Moses and Elijah on the mount of transfiguration.
But it is at the Resurrection and Rapture that both the living and previously dead saved will receive new super bodies that are both natural and supernatural.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep [are physically dead] in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:14–17
The fifteenth chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians has one of the most revealing dissertations on this body of the future. There the apostle Paul writes: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:19 –20). Jesus has risen first, and all those who have died in the faith having accepted Jesus as their Savior are going to be able to rise just as Jesus did.
There is a little-noticed passage of Scripture that seems to indicate that those who sincerely loved God, but who died before Jesus’ death and resurrection, were resurrected themselves at the same time as Jesus was. “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city [Jerusalem] and appeared to many” (Matthew 27:52–53). These (whose number include perhaps all the other previously dead believers up till that time), and Jesus Himself, are considered part of this “firstfruits” resurrection.
Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 15: “For since by man came death, by Man [that is Jesus] also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming” (1 Corinthians 15:21 –23). First there was Jesus, then the firstfruits of that first resurrection—that is, the Old Testament believers—and last all of those who are saved, whether alive or dead, at the time of Christ’s Second Coming.
Moving along to the 35th verse: “But someone will say, ‘How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?’ Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body” (1 Corinthians 15:35–38). The current physical body is like a seed that is planted in the ground, which then springs forth as a whole new plant. The new heavenly body is going to be much more wonderful than the present physical body. It’ll be like the difference between the grain of wheat and the full-grown stock and head that comes from one grain. Or in terms perhaps more can relate to, a beautiful flowering plant that comes from one tiny seed. That’s how much better these new heavenly bodies are going to be.
All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fish, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. … So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory.
1 Corinthians 15:39–40,42–43
This current earthly fleshly body grows old, dies, is buried, and decays back to the dust from which it came. “But it is raised in incorruption.” When it’s raised again, it will never decay. It will be heavenly and immortal and incorruptible.
“It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:43–44). These current bodies are very weak compared to the powerful supernatural powers that resurrection bodies will have. In this passage Paul is not referring to each one’s spirit when he is talking about our spiritual body. The saved human spirit inhabits the natural body now and it will also inhabit the supernatural body after the Resurrection.
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:51–58
That marvelous heavenly body is worth working for and suffering for, and worth being steadfast in our labors of love for the Lord and others, because the hard work will not be in vain.
In the third chapter of Philippians, Paul says: “For our citizenship is in Heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20–21).
This new body will be like Jesus’ glorious body—it will be of similar substance with similar attributes and abilities. It will be in the “image of the heavenly Man” (1 Corinthians 15:49). And “when He is revealed, we shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2). In comparison, this body of the flesh is called a “lowly body.” It’s hard to live with sometimes; sometimes it stinks, it’s hungry, it’s tired, it’s heavy, it gets sick and/or damaged, it suffers, it groans. But the day is coming when it will be changed to a marvelous glorified body like the body of Jesus.
So what was He like? One of the Gospel accounts gives the impression that at His resurrection, Jesus had already walked through the walls of the crypt before the stone sealing the entrance had been removed.
Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from Heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said.”
The first time Jesus met His disciples after His resurrection, He walked right through a locked door into their secret meeting room and nearly scared them to death.
Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. And He took it and ate in their presence.
Jesus said He wasn’t a spirit or a “ghost” as it is translated in other Bible versions, but rather He had a supernatural body that had some kind of flesh and bones. He could perform certain natural functions like eating and drinking with them, as well as certain supernatural functions like walking through walls.
At a later meeting He told “Doubting” Thomas to touch the wounds in His hands and His side to prove that it was Him, the same body, only glorified, resurrected, now supernatural, but still bearing the same scars (John 20:26–27). Whether all will still bear their scars and wounds is not known.
Jesus could also dematerialize, disappear, be transported elsewhere where He could materialize and reappear. On some occasions He could hide His identity and disguise His appearance so that His disciples wouldn’t recognize Him until He wanted them to.
Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”
Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?”
And He said to them, “What things?”
So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”
Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken. Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther.
But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them. Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.
He could also fly. We are told that at His ascension that “it came to pass, while [Jesus] blessed [His disciples], that He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:51). And “while they watched, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9). Which also brings up another question that He must have been able to breathe in the rarified air, or maybe didn’t need to breathe at all. Mark tells us that at His crucifixion, Jesus “breathed His last” (Mark 15:37). That expression is a common idiom to mean the person died, but perhaps in this instance it also means that Jesus did not need to breathe again, even in His supernatural resurrection body.
And what about the things our bodies enjoy in life today? It is not unthinkable that all of the pleasures of this present physical life can be continued into the next life. It seems apparent from the descriptions of Jesus after His resurrection and other Scriptures included earlier that this new supernatural body is similar to the physical body and can eat and drink and be merry, have fun, love, and enjoy all of the present pleasures of this life, but better. It will be an immortal, incorruptible, powerful body that can enjoy such pleasures forever without ever suffering pain or sickness or weariness or death!