Will the resurrection of the body be a physical resurrection from the dead?
Yes, our bodies will be raised not spiritually or ethereally, but physically and materially. Our souls will be reunited with our transformed physical bodies, brought back to life from the dead. Scripture teaches this in many ways.
First, simply to speak of a "resurrection" of the dead (Matthew 22:30-31; Luke 14:14; 1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16) is to imply physicality. That is what a resurrection is. The Bible has no categories for the concept of a resurrected body that remains dead and physically lying in a grave.
Second, Philippians 3:20-21 teaches us that Christ's resurrection body is the pattern of our resurrection body: "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory." We know that Christ was raised in a physical body because the disciples ate with Him after the resurrection (Acts 10:41) and touched Him (Matthew 28:9; see also John 20:27). Also, Jesus outright declared that His resurrection body was physical and touchable: "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; see also Acts 13:33-37). Since Christ's resurrection is the pattern of our resurrection, we will therefore be raised in a physical body as well.
Third, Romans 8:21-23 speaks of waiting for "the redemption of our bodies" (v. 23). Our bodies are not going to be thrown away. They are going to be renewed, restored, revitalized.
Fourth, Jesus speaks of the resurrection as involving the coming forth of individuals out of their tombs, which clearly indicates a physical concept of the resurrection: "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment" (John 5:28-29).
Fifth, the Old Testament speaks of the resurrection as being physical: "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt" (Daniel 12:2). Likewise, we read in Job: "I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; Whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes shall see and not another. My heart faints within Me" (Job 19:25-27).
Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, chapter 42, "Glorification"
©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Used by Permission.
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in its entirety or in unaltered excerpts, as long as you do not charge a fee. For Internet posting, please use only unaltered excerpts (not the content in its entirety) and provide a hyperlink to this page. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.
Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org