We Shall All be Changed

We Shall All be Changed

Behold, I tell you a mystery," the apostle Paul wrote to a group of Christians in the Greek city of Corinth. "We shall not all sleep [be dead], but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet [Jesus' Second Coming]. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we [who are alive] shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must 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?'" (1 Corinthians 15:51-55).

Paul also said that our spirits are immediately present with the Lord when we die (2 Corinthians 5:8), so in this passage he is explaining the bodily resurrection of the dead. It's pretty hard to explain how a spirit can rejoin a body that's been in the grave for years—possibly even hundreds or thousands of years—and come to life and be perfectly whole, even better than it was before. Paul says it's going to be like the difference between a seed and what the seed becomes once it has germinated and grown to maturity (1 Corinthians 15:36-44). How are we to understand that transformation?

Our resurrection bodies are going to be new and different, and yet they'll be close enough to the ones we have now that we'll recognize each other: "Then I shall know just as I also am known" (1 Corinthians 13:12). The disciples recognized Jesus after He was resurrected, but not always. He was different enough that sometimes they didn't recognize Him (Luke 24:13-16,31; John 20:14-16). That was either because He didn't want to be recognized at the time, or because He was more beautiful and more perfect, because He had a new spiritual body that would never die—and that's the kind of body all His believers will have. You're going to be like Jesus was and is now, since His resurrection. He "will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious [resurrection] body" (Philippians 3:21).

Jesus' followers were able to see Him after He was resurrected, He walked and talk with them, and He even cooked for them and ate and drank with them (Luke 24:43; John 21:9-14). Jesus was able to do all these normal, natural things, and in your new resurrection body, so will you.

But that's not all. You'll also be able to do some things you can't do in your natural body. When His followers were in a locked room for fear of those who had crucified Him, Jesus walked right through the locked door (John 20:26). Another time, when He had finished talking with two of His followers on the road to Emmaus, He "vanished from their sight" (Luke 24:31). You'll be able to walk through walls and doors and appear and disappear, just like Jesus did. You'll also be able to travel from one place to another, not merely at the speed of sound or light, but at the speed of thought.

"We shall all be changed!" The main thing that's going to be changed is your body, but if He's going to change your body, He's certainly going to change your clothes. You'll be clothed in a robe of light, a robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10). No matter where you are or what you're doing, you're suddenly going to notice a wonderful change and look to see that you're wearing a beautiful new robe of righteousness!

Actually, you may be so preoccupied with what's happening in the sky—lightning and thunder and Jesus appearing in the clouds—that you may not even notice what you're wearing. But you'll certainly feel different because you'll "be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump" (1 Corinthians 15:52). At the sound of that trumpet you're going to be raised from the dead, if you are dead, or raised from the earth if you're still living.

In another epistle, Paul writes: "I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14). That includes you, if you've accepted His gift of eternal life, purchased through His death on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.

"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 4:16-17).