Recently some people have questioned how spiritual the body is, but the Christian faith and the scriptures attest that the body, that is our bodies, are in fact spiritual and important. The human body has a hugely important and central role, both in Christ’s life and work, and in our own. This not only has eternal importance of the highest order, but we keep these bodies, as Christ retains His, forever.
The longish list of phases from the New Testament below (these are just the ones I recall from memory, there will be others) amply demonstrate the place of the body. To relegate the body to being only natural and therefore unspiritual in purpose, and by implication being unholy, is very much akin to Gnosticism, the great heresy that was so damaging and that the early church had to grapple with, and against which John wrote much in his epistles, and which he referred to as the “many antichrists” that had gone out at that time.
ANYWAY, A QUICK PRÉCIS of the place and spiritual purpose of the body:
- A “body thou hast prepared for me… I come to do thy will O God” (Heb 10:5-7)
- The suffering of Christ for sin was “in the body” (1 Peter 4:1)
- The finished work of Jesus was done “in His own body on the cross” (Eph 2:16, etc)
- He “appeared in a body” 1 Timothy 3:16 “Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body…”
- We ourselves overcome sin “in the body” (1 Peter 4:1)
- We will be judged according to those things done while “in the body” (2 Cor 5:10)
- Jesus own body was/is the temple of God – “the temple He had spoken of was His body” John 2:21)
- And the believers own body also -“your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 6:19)
- We are to glorify/honour God “in the body” (1 Cor 6:20)
- By the sanctifying work of God “your whole spirit, soul and body” is to be “kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
- The whole work of reconciliation of man to man, as well as man to God, and the removing of the dividing wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile to form one new man, (ie the Body of Christ) was “in this one body… through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.” (Ephesians 2:16)
- Christ’s resurrection was a resurrection of His body
- He appeared to his followers in that body for 40 days
- He said to His disciples, “look,” “flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39-42)
- He ascended to heaven in his body, AND his final “coming” will be an “appearing” in the body in the same way as when He ascended (Acts 1:11)
Paul says (1 Cor 15) that, like Christ, our bodies will be glorified, transformed from mortal to immortal, from natural to spiritual, but it is still the body. 1 Corinthians 15:42-43 “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;”
And Scripture says that His final or ultimate coming, at the consummation of all things, when there is a general resurrection of all and a great final judgement and a separation of the righteous and the wicked, Christ “appears a second time.” This is a bodily, visible, seen by all, appearing in glory. Hebrews 9:28 “so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”
This term “appear” refers to a bodily coming – He retains His glorified body, complete with the marks of His crucifixion, which is so God glorifying and so loved of the Father.
His body, in which He suffered, is never discarded as something unspiritual.