Resurrected A Spiritual Body 


All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, 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. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. 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. 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. And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (1 Corinthians 15:39-45)


Some Christians imagine, and maybe even hope, that ‘heaven’ will be an endless continuation of this life.  They think heaven will simply be an endless life full of the physical pleasures of this world. That is an idea of which many Church Fathers through history attempted to disabuse people.  Origen (martyred in 254AD) addresses this very issue reminding people that St Paul speaks about a resurrected flesh which is distinctly different from our physical bodies in this world.

Certain persons, then, rejecting the labor of thinking and following the superficial view of the letter of the law, or yielding, rather, in some way to their own desires and lusts, being disciples of the letter alone, reckon that the promises of the future are to be looked for in the pleasure and luxury of the body; and especially because of this they desire to have again, after the resurrection, flesh of such kind that never lacks the ability to eat and drink and to do all things that pertain to flesh and blood, not following the teaching of the apostle Paul regarding the resurrection of a spiritual body. And consequently they say that there will be contracts of marriages and procreation of children even after the resurrection, picturing for themselves the rebuilding of the earthly city of Jerusalem.  . . .


Those, however, who accept the interpretation of Scriptures in accordance with the sense of the apostles, do indeed hope that the Saints will eat, but that they will eat the bread of life (John 6:35), which nourishes the soul with the food of truth and wisdom, and enlightens the intellect, and causes it to drink from the cup of divine Wisdom, just as the scripture says, Wisdom has prepared her table, she has slaughtered her victims, she has mixed her wine in the bowl, and she cries with a loud voice: ‘Turn to me and eat the bread which I have prepared for you and drink the wine which I have mixed for you’ (Proverbs 9:2-5).  (ON FIRST PRINCIPLES, pp 138-139)


Many Patristic writers were clear that ‘heaven’ is not simply going to be an endless continuation of our current life on earth.  Rather, they believed that ‘heaven’ is a transfigured life, a new creation.  What exactly it will be is not yet clear to us, though we get glimpses of it in the appearances of the Risen Lord at the end of each Gospel.  The risen Christ is still Christ, and yet His disciples (including the women disciples) cannot recognize Him at first.  He shows them He is real and not a ghost, and yet He is transfigured by the resurrection. We are to share in this transfigured life of the new creation when the resurrection of all occurs.

Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)

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