Resurrection: Physical?

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! We’ve been looking at the topic of resurrection lately and we’re going to be eventually looking at what difference it makes. Tonight, we’re going to be tackling the question of if the resurrection is spiritual or physical.

Let’s look at the text from 1 Corinthians 15, the chapter we’ve been going through.

42 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; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

For some, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, this would seal the deal. We are raised in spiritual bodies. It’s no surprise that they also teach that Christ was not physically raised but was raised spiritually. However, if we look at it deeper, which we do at Deeper Waters, will we see the same situation?

To begin with, spiritual in this case is not to be seen as the opposite of physical. Much of what I say comes from Mike Licona’s book “The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach.” Licona went through the writings of the Greeks from the 8th century on and could not find one use of the word natural that simply meant physical.

As for spiritual, there are times where it does mean something immaterial, but there are also noted times that it does not refer to something immaterial. When it is used of bodies, with one exception, it does not seem to refer to bodies that are ethereal. What I gather from the references is that they seem to refer to something more enlightened. That would fit what’s going on in 1 Corinthians.

We could get some further clues by looking at the rest of 1 Corinthians.


The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.


But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.


If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord.

Is Paul seeking for the people of the church to be immaterial? Is he telling them that if any of them consider themselves to be immaterial then they can judge what he says?

More likely, it is referring to a kind of life that is lived. Spiritual people are those focused on heavenly matters and the things of the Spirit. Natural people are those who are still focused on the things of this world. Now to an extent, we all have to think about things of this world. That is no sin. The question is if those are the things that drive us.

We can make the same comparison to the bodies. It is not physical vs immaterial in regards to the nature of the body. It is more asking where does the source of their energy come from. Our new bodies will be bodies that are powered by the Spirit. We will not be ruled by the desires of the flesh but the desires of the Spirit.

We shall look further tomorrow.

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