Q&A: Continuity and Discontinuity in the Resurrection

Continuity and Discontinuity in the Resurrection

How similar will our resurrected bodies be to our current bodies?

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Answer

It's clear in the New Testament that there is a continuity and discontinuity between our current bodies and our future resurrected bodies. The key information for this is Jesus' own bodily resurrection. It's clear that this was Jesus himself. He was no longer in the tomb, he body was not somewhere else and the apostles were meeting a spirit. He was embodied in his body with the wounds from his crucifixion. He was able to be touched, he was able to eat food, etc., and he was recognizable. Although what's interesting is, apparently not immediately recognizable as we see in, say, Luke chapter 24 where many people encounter the resurrection resurrected Jesus and don't immediately realize it's him. We're not told why that's the case, but it does suggest that maybe there's something about his resurrected body that is not immediately recognizable. Also, there's discontinuity in the fact that apparently Jesus can move from one place to another and go through walls, kind of transporting immediately and those sorts of things. So, we see Paul flush this out, so to speak, a little bit in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 where he talks about the fact that our bodies will be raised immortal and they will be glorious, and that we will no longer sin or even have the capacity to sin. All of those things are new elements that will be different about our resurrected bodies compared to our current bodies. Our resurrection body will be our real body, but transformed through the resurrection.

Answer by Dr. Constantine R. Campbell

Associate Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School