The Evangelical Universalist Forum

The Imperishable Body in Heaven

The Bible gives a description of the resurrected body, the body of those in heaven.

1 Corinthians 15:42 “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body:”

1 Corinthians 15:45-49 “So also it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.”

So, in heaven, we will have an imperishable, spirit body. Imperishable things are immaterial, for all material things can be degraded and thus can perish.

God is said to be immaterial, for He is said to be a spirit (John 4:24): “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

The Bible also says we are made in God’s image: Genesis 1:26 “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness.’”

Genesis 1:27 “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them;”

It would seem, then, that according to the Bible, in heaven we will be immaterial. As well, we will be a spirit. We would consequently be truly made in His image, as the Bible says.

But if that is the case, how can something that is immaterial have a body, as 1 Corinthians 15:42 claims? An immaterial body literally would seem to be an oxymoron.

However, maybe the “body” label is metaphorical, not literal, in which case in heaven we could be said to be immaterial, to be a spirit, and to have a body.

What on earth, or even heaven, is a “spirit body”? Perhaps you mean a “spiritual” body. Yes, bodies in heaven will be imperishable. Adam’s body would not have decayed had he not fallen into sin. Scripture tells us that our bodies in heaven will be like Jesus’ resurrected body:

Phil. 3:21 When he comes back, he will take these dying bodies of ours and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same mighty power that he will use to conquer all else everywhere.

The term spirit body is not an unusual construction.

A spirit body is simply a body that can be described also as a spirit, just as a human body is a body that can be described also as a human.

Nouns can modify nouns just as adjectives can modify nouns.

A spiritual body is not strictly the same as a spirit body, since a spiritual body can be any body, even a material one, that has a spiritual aspect. What I meant to convey was a body that not only has a spiritual aspect but in fact also IS a spirit.

A spirit body IS NOT material, while a spiritual body can be material. Thus, these terms may not always be the same, especially in the context of the issue I raised. That’s why I used the term spirit body, since the context was immateriality.

I’ve always ‘assumed’ that the pattern set by Jesus is the model: he died, buried, and then - the tomb was empty. Meaning his body, the one that went into the tomb, was raised but changed.
And that he ate and drank afterwards - some very material and physical stuff going on, not what I would call simply spiritual (not that you are either).

My hunch is that ‘heaven’ will be just as material as this Earth is now, but that is only a hunch. Apparently there will be eating and drinking, and I expect that exultant dancing will be in order as well as all festivities.

Yes, I put ‘assumed’ into quotes because it was a pun. :slight_smile:

But that’s why I quoted the 1 Corinthians verses. It seems that Paul is emphasizing the immateriality of those in heaven. What does it mean for an immaterial being to eat, to drink, and to do other things that can be easily envisioned in a material being, but probably not in an immaterial one?

But note the probably used in my last statement. That means I don’t know.

I know less than you.:slight_smile: My suspicion is that the gospels are truthful, and that Paul would agree with them - but that his language about this in 1 Cor 15 is difficult to parse for some reason.

I wonder if our BIOS will stay the same? That’s a weird thought even for me.

You know, for once in my life I don’t really care if I’m wrong. I’m just looking forward to arriving there.

Btw, you should not take this as any admission that I am ever wrong! :grin:

Perish the thought :slight_smile:

But there is more than just Paul. As I said above, John says God is spirit, and Genesis says we are made in God’s image. How can we be made in His image if we are material? If what persists of us, after all, is made in God’s image, which is a spirit, then our immaterial being is what would be present in heaven, it would seem.

So, which verses should define our stance on this issue? I don’t know. Nothing new there, when it comes to understanding the Bible!

My understanding is that the ‘image’ we are made into is as a being that can relate to others, love, think, plan, intend, create and like that. There’s no indication that God has a bodily ‘form’ that ours imitates. You in particular might really enjoy ‘Body and Soul’ by the philosopher JP Moreland.
Also this online article by Tom Wright is was an eye-opener for me.


Thanks for the reference. Let’s drop, for the time being, the made-in-His-image part of the argument.

Consider just the unperishable part. Material things cannot be unperishable. So, a material body does not seem to be what Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 15. That alone strongly suggests the immaterial spirit body of heaven’s occupants because only immaterial things are unperishable.

Tough question!
I’m not convinced that we have only a choice between two alternatives, though. Paul hints at us being ‘sown’ perishable, but raised imperishable. So perhaps there is something more than material? Material+?
I like that he uses terrestrial things to point to these hard to understand things. I think about the acorn and the Oak tree: not much resemblance between the two. The acorn qua acorn has to ‘die’, and if the circumstances are congenial, the oak grows out of that ‘death’. Is that a suitable metaphor? It only goes part-way of course; but Christ died physically and THAT ‘sown’ body - by God’s power, that’s the important thing - was raised out of death to what Paul calls a ‘spiritual’ body - which gets us into definitions that frankly I cannot answer. But God did it somehow.
Flowers from seeds, is the way Paul puts it. He is trying to get us to see something that perhaps he himself does not fully understand. He surely did not know about telomeres!
The point being that the material body was not thrown away, but taken up into something else. Mortality ''put on" immortality. It was an addition.
Of course this raises, so to speak, a lot of questions.
I am pretty well convinced that Paul is not talking about a ‘national resurrection’ of Israel, though I realize that has gotten some attention around here and elsewhere. Wright’s book on ‘The Resurrection of the Son of God’ does a pretty thorough job of showing that it is individual resurrection that is pointed out in the NT.
That’s all I’ve got, I think.

Yes, I agree that the acorn as an acorn must die. Thus, if the seed’s integrity or nature is not lost, then the tree will not develop from the seed. So, the seed does lose its integrity or nature, and in that sense, its life ends, to yield the tree.

But this analogy does not seem to get at the imperishable part. Neither the seed nor the tree is unperishable in any sense that I can see.

Well no, of course not, that’s why I said the metaphor is partial - and that is the USE of metaphor, right? To point at something we cannot quite grasp from something we can.
In any case, I’m sure you’ll get plenty of other opinions. :slight_smile:

The contrast that was made was with the “natural” and normally that contrast would be “supernatural” not “spiritual”.

I’m just going by the actual words used in1 Corinthians 15:46.

“However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual.”

But Christ’s body was supernatural in that he told Thomas to feel his wounds and he ate some fish yet he walked through walls. The word spiritual may not mean exactly what we think, like we think something like a ghost?

And that right there should give a strong clue as to Paul’s USE of metaphor, i.e., the undertones of 1Cor 15 used to expound covenantal realities.

The bible nowhere states Jesus had a ‘supernatural body’… what Jesus had was a resurrected body. You do recall the gospels record Jesus doing so-called supernatural type of things BEFORE he died, right? — like walking on water etc.

Very true. Given the bible is primarily about covenant then spiritual and natural can be likened to covenant realities… old covenant = natural and new covenant = spiritual.

What was ‘Christ’s Body’? Answer… the NT body of believers. Interestingly we don’t get all twisted up over that as it makes PERFECT sense… I suggest we apply THAT understanding to 1Cor 15.

Perhaps in light of this discussion this below might be reconsidered…

1 Like

If you look at the Wisdom (Yoga (1, 2); Zen (1, 2), Red Road ( 1, 2)) and Light ( 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,6) traditions. Or read the biographies of Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Indian yogis, Native American Holy People, Islamic Sufis and Tibetan Lamas - who are considered saints…well, guess what? They can do all the mystic and miracle stuff, you see in the Bible. And I think Adam and Eve, could do the same stuff - at least potentially. So whatever body Jesus had, at least they appear to tap into - the same mystical benefits (AKA Theosis). Like these Tibetans do:

Note: I think I have become “corrupted”, by being a lifetime member - of the Theosophical Society (chiefly for their extensive library collection). Just as I have become “corrupted”, in my theories of Homo Re-Animus Evolution and Z-Hell (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) tribulation…by watching shows like The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead. :crazy_face:

As Davo said, Jesus demonstrated his supernatural essence well before his resurrection, so a supernatural essence is not a unique characteristic of only resurrected Jesus.

When Jesus returned to provide evidence of his resurrection, he appeared to be material, but material things do not walk through walls (e.g., John 20:19). So, that suggests an immaterial essence. Yet he was visible to others and was touched by Thomas (e.g., John 20:19-29)! How could he be immaterial if he could be physically seen and touched?

Could it be that the resurrected Jesus was immaterial, as will be everyone after being resurrected? But in those instances when Jesus appeared to persons here in this world after his resurrection. did he work with the sensory systems of mere mortals and cause them to see and feel something that would not have been otherwise seen or felt? Who knows? That would seem to be possible in a being, Jesus, who has supernatural abilities. So, if the resurrected Jesus is both immaterial and has supernatural abilities, then these seemingly contradictory claims from the Bible can be reconciled.

This subject area is indeed confusing when one tries to piece together the various biblical descriptions of the behavior of resurrected persons and of life in heaven. That won’t stop us from speculating, though. It may in fact stimulate speculation.