In his first letter to the church in Corinth, Paul discusses the great differences between our earthly bodies and our resurrected bodies (see 1 Corinthians 15:35-54). Contrasting our earthly bodies with the splendor of our heavenly (resurrected) bodies, Paul says, “The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 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” (vv. 42-44, emphasis added). In short, our resurrected bodies are spiritual, imperishable, and raised in glory and power.
Through the first Adam, we received our natural bodies, perfectly suited to an earthly environment. However, they became perishable as a consequence of the Fall. Due to disobedience, mankind became mortal. Aging, deterioration, and eventual death now affect all of us. From dust we came, and to dust shall we return (Genesis 3:19; Ecclesiastes 3:20). Our resurrection bodies, on the other hand, will be “raised imperishable.” They will never experience sickness, decay, deterioration, or death. And “when the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable… then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory’” (1 Corinthians 15:54).
As a result of the Fall, we are “sown in dishonor.” We were originally made perfect and in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), but sin has brought dishonor. Yet believers have the promise that our imperfect and dishonored bodies will one day be raised in glory. Freed from the restrictions imposed by sin, our resurrected bodies will be honorable and perfectly suited for pleasing and praising our Creator throughout eternity.
Our current bodies are also characterized by weakness and debility. Our earthly “temples” are undeniably fragile and susceptible to the plethora of diseases that ravage mankind. We are also weakened by sin and temptation. One day, though, our bodies will be raised in power and glory, and we will no longer be subject to the flaws and fragility that pervade life today.
Last, the resurrected body will be a spiritual one. Our natural bodies are suited for living in this world, but this is the only realm in which we can live. “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 15:50). After the resurrection we will have a “spiritual body,” perfectly suited for living in heaven. This does not mean that we will be only spirits—spirits do not have bodies—but that our resurrected bodies will not need physical sustenance or depend on natural means of supporting life.
We get a glimpse of what our resurrection bodies will be like when we recall Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances. He still had visible wounds, and His disciples could physically touch Him, yet He was able to travel effortlessly and appear and disappear at will. He could go through walls and doors yet could also eat and drink and sit and talk. Scripture informs us that our “lowly bodies” will be just “like His glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). Indeed, the physical limitations imposed by sin that hinder our ability to fully serve Him on earth will be forever gone, freeing us to praise and serve and glorify Him for eternity.