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Part 3 The Apostle Paul argues for a resurrected physical body

As we look back at 1 Corinthians 15:44 we must understand that throughout the New Testament, whenever the Greek word soma (body) is applied to a person it always refers to a physical body.  There are no exceptions to this.  In fact Greek scholar Robert Gundry, in his authoritative book Soma in Biblical Theology, speaks of “Paul’s exception-less use of soma for a physical body.”   Hence, all references to Jesus’ resurrection body (soma) must be taken to mean a resurrected, physical body.  This supports the view that the phrase “spiritual body [soma]” refers to a spirit-dominated and supernatural physical body[1]

Additional Pauline writings support a physical resurrection

We also see throughout the writings of Paul that he preached a bodily resurrection of Jesus. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”  After Jesus’ death on the cross we see the words “He was buried and that He was raised.”  The same body of Jesus that goes down in burial is the one that was raised or resurrected.  In order to appear to others He needs to have a physical body, which is consistent with the text. 

Paul continued in his commitment to a physical resurrection in Philippians 3:21 (NIV) Who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”  It is our lowly mortal body that will be “transformed” and not eliminated.  The apostle could easily have said we would be like Jesus’ glorious spirit[2].  

Paul shared a fulfilled prophecy in Acts 13:34-37 that Jesus, the Holy One of God, would never bodily decay.  As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no longer to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: ‘I WILL GIVE YOU THE HOLY and SURE blessings OF DAVID.’ 35 “Therefore He also says in another Psalm, ‘YOU WILL NOT ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY.’ 36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay; 37 but He whom God raised did not undergo decay.’”  David’s body went to the grave and underwent decay.  The body of Jesus, the Holy One of God, didn’t undergo decay because it was resurrected.  The bodily resurrection of Jesus was a fulfillment of a prophecy of David (Psalm 16:10).

Further support a bodily resurrection

Jesus said He would raise his physical body.  John 2:19-22 Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ 20 The Jews then said, ‘It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?’ 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.”  Jesus said after they destroy the temple (his body) he would raise it up in three days.  Nowhere do we see Jesus was to be raised up as a spirit.

Go to part 4 here

[1] Rhodes, Ron, Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Harvest House Publishers, 1993, p. 190
[2] Habermas, Gary & Licona, Michael, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, Kregel Publ., 2004 p. 155
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