Out With The Old And In With The New
Part of the Hope set forth in the Bible is that every saved person will receive a new, glorified body. Probably every person who has lived past the age of 40 has, at one time or another, wanted a “better” body. Every middle-aged person wants fewer aches and pains, more energy, more flexibility, more strength, 20/20 eyesight, better hearing, younger looking skin, fewer sags and wrinkles, and the list goes on and on. For everyone who at anytime has wanted a better body, the Bible has good news. God has promised every saved person a new and very much improved body. Christians will receive their new bodies at the Rapture. The Old Testament believers and the believers who die during the Tribulation period will receive their new bodies when they are raised from the dead at the First Resurrection. People who believed during the Millennial Kingdom and those considered worthy of everlasting life at the White Throne Judgment will receive theirs when they are judged righteous at that time, after the Second Resurrection.
The physical bodies we have in this life have been ravaged by sin nature and our own sin and abuse, weakened by improper nourishment and disease, and adversely affected by genetic damage that has occurred in the human race through the years. The Bible describes natural human bodies as “perishable,” “mortal,” “earthly,” “dishonorable,” “weak,” “lowly,” and “natural” (1 Cor. 15:42–44, 48, and 54; Phil. 3:21). In contrast, those same verses describe the new body as “imperishable,” “immortal,” “of heaven,” “glorious,” “powerful,” and “spiritual.” All of these words describing the new body are summed up in the following verse in Philippians.
[Jesus Christ] 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.
There is no question that our lives on earth would be more joyous if only our bodies stayed youthful, healthy, and energetic. The promise of a new and glorious body that will last forever is something to rejoice about. It is also one more reason to be excited about salvation and about sharing the saving message of Jesus Christ with those who are not yet saved. The Bible says our new bodies will be “spiritual,” not “natural.” What it means to have a spiritual body is partly clarified in Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 15:45-49
(45) So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.
(46) The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.
(47) The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.
(48) As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.
(49) And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.
The first body is described as “natural” because it came via a natural process and it bears the likeness of the earthly man. The new body is described as “spiritual” because it will come via a supernatural process. Believers will receive their new body from the Lord and it will bear the likeness of his resurrected body. In addition, the new body will be energized (made alive) by “spirit” rather than the force the Bible refers to as “soul.” This is made clear in verse 45 above, which, unfortunately, has been so poorly translated in the NIV that much of its truth is unclear. The NASB is more helpful:
1 Corinthians 15:45 (NASB)
So also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
Both the layout and the translation of this verse in the NASB help to make its meaning clear. First, the capitalization is the way the NASB indicates that the section is a quotation from the Old Testament. Second, the word “soul” is more accurate in this context than is “being” that appears in the NIV. Although the words “soul” and “being,” or even “person,” can be interchangeable in many contexts, interchanging them in this context, when “soul” is specifically being contrasted to “spirit,” muddies the waters. The Old Testament quotation is from Genesis 2:7, which speaks of God breathing into Adam’s nostrils and Adam becoming a living “soul” (Hebrew nephesh = soul). Adam was dead, just a beautiful but lifeless body, until God “breathed” into his nostrils and he came to life.
In contrast to Adam, who became a “soul,” Jesus became a life-giving “spirit.” The point of the verse is that “soul” was the basis of life for the first Adam, but “spirit” is the basis of life for the Last Adam, Jesus. There are two major reasons why this verse cannot be saying that Jesus is a spirit being without a body of flesh and bones. First, it is paralleling Adam and Christ. When the Bible says that Adam became a “soul,” it does not mean he had no body. He had a physical body that was animated by the life force called “soul.” When the Bible says that Jesus became a “life-giving spirit,” it does not mean he shed his physical body. He still has a physical body, but it is animated by spirit.
Second, Jesus himself told his disciples that he was not a spirit. After his resurrection, he appeared to his disciples who, when they first saw him, thought he was a spirit. Unfortunately, the NIV translates the Greek word pneuma, “spirit,” as “ghost.” The correct translation is “spirit,” and Christ plainly said that he was not a spirit being but a human being with flesh and bone. Furthermore, he used the expression, “I myself,” not something that he would have said if he were still “I” but somehow not “himself.”
Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost [pneuma = spirit] does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.
It is both interesting and noteworthy that Christ did not use the phrase “flesh and blood,” a phrase he used in Matthew 16:17 (KJV) referring to human beings. Instead he said, “flesh and bones.” From the phrase “flesh and bones,” some people have concluded that Jesus’ new body does not have blood. This verse does not state that the new body does not have blood, nor does any verse clearly state whether Jesus’ new body has blood or not. What is clear from 1 Corinthians is that the life force in his new body is spirit. In the “old” body, the life of the flesh is in the blood (Lev. 17:11). If the new body does have blood, then the blood appears to perform a somewhat different function in the “new” body than it does in the “old” body.
Similarities and Differences Between The Old and The New
While there will be significant differences between the new body and the old body, there will also be striking similarities. Christ said he was flesh and bones. This is important. Flesh and bones are physical substances with physical properties. Jesus is not a spirit being without a physical body. Nevertheless, as head of all of God’s created order who has been given “all authority” (Matt. 28:18), Christ can surely do what angels can do and more. He is not limited to the laws of physics as we understand them. After the resurrection he appeared inside locked rooms (John 20:19 and 26), instantaneously moved from one place to another (Luke 24:31), and traveled through the heavens (Acts 1:9; Heb. 4:14). The fact that he could do these things still does not mean that his body was not flesh and bones or was not “physical.” Rather it means that Christ could use his authority to do things that would ordinarily be placed in the category of a “miracle.”
Since the Bible does not state all the capabilities of the new body, its capabilities cannot be described with absolute certainty. However, based on what is written, it is possible to make some reasonable assumptions. It has already been shown that his body was physical. However, since he could perform supernatural feats, it is reasonable to conclude that he has supernatural abilities. This in no way contradicts anything recorded in the Bible. God has always been able to give human bodies the ability to perform supernatural feats. For example, we read about Christ and Peter walking on water, but do not conclude that they had different, lighter bodies than other humans, or that walking on water is a normal human activity. We read about Philip being moved from his meeting with the Ethiopian eunuch and instantly appearing at Azotus (Acts 8:39 and 40), but do not conclude that humans can normally “pop around” from one place to another. We read about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego staying alive in the burning furnace and know that what they did was not normal for human beings. We realize that there was a miracle, something beyond the ordinary, in these situations. It seems reasonable that the same type of thing will be true for our new bodies. Apparently there will be the way they “usually” respond, and there will also be the power to do more. 
That Jesus appeared in a locked room is not a sound basis for concluding that after his resurrection he never used a door. In fact, during the Millennial Kingdom, the exact gate he will use to enter the Temple is specified (Ezek. 46:1–8). The point is that just because Jesus did things after his resurrection that are not normal for humans does not prove that they are “normal” for his body or will be for our bodies.
Many prophecies in the Old Testament describe activities in the future Kingdom that are considered normal activities in this life. The prophecies of the future involve farming, fishing (from the bank of the river, not on top of the water), building (with walls, gates, and doors, something seemingly unnecessary if people never actually use them), and other “regular” jobs. People will eat and drink and even sweat in the heat (Ezek. 44:18). There are also indications in Scripture that general obedience to physical laws will continue from the Millennial Kingdom into the Everlasting Kingdom. The New Jerusalem in the Everlasting Kingdom will have walls and gates, even though every person will have a new body. Scripture indicates that people will walk on streets of gold, not float over them.
Another reason to believe our new bodies will be quite similar to the ones we have now is the prophecies of healing for those of us who are not whole now. For example, Isaiah 35:6 promises that in the Kingdom the lame will leap like a deer—a promise that fullness of motion and ability will be restored to those who are crippled now. There is no promise stating, “The lame will fly like a bird.” Prophecies state that “the blind will see,” which implies that eyes will be useful just as they are today; “the deaf will hear,” which implies both the existence of ears and that they will be useful in the future; “the mind of the rash will know and understand” (Isa. 32:4), which implies that people who now have mental problems will be able to think clearly and normally; and “the stammering tongue will be fluent and clear” (Isa. 32:4), which implies that anyone who has a speech defect will be able to speak normally.
The picture painted by the prophets is a return to normalcy. It is a return to the wonderful, capable physical bodies that God originally created for mankind before the ravages of sin and Satan took their toll. The Bible does specifically promise that flesh and bone bodies will be totally whole and very energetic. The new body will be quite similar to the old body, but with some measure of supernatural ability. People will be immortal, healthy, and strong. After God made Adam and Eve on the sixth day, He saw that what He had made was “very good.” God was pleased with the way He had made man. He did not make Adam as a “flesh and bones prototype” just to test His design. No verse of Scripture indicates that God is dissatisfied with His design to the end that in the future He wants to eliminate flesh and bone and make men into spirit beings.
Christians often ask if in our new bodies we will remember this life. The answer to that question is yes, we will. Jesus was still Jesus after he was resurrected and, in his new body, he had full awareness of his earlier life. Since believer’s bodies will be made like Christ’s new body, believers will also have an awareness of this life. There are many things about both the Millennial Kingdom and the Everlasting Kingdom that indicate we will remember our earlier life. The Millennial Kingdom will have land divisions, the Temple, and other physical features and characteristics that will make no sense if the reasons for them are not known. The foundation of the walls of the New Jerusalem will be labeled with the names of the Twelve Apostles, and the gates will be named after the twelve tribes of Israel (Rev. 21:12–14). All of this would be senseless if no one remembered the Apostles or the tribes of Israel. Furthermore, the Bible says that at the Judgment people will receive what they are due. If people have no awareness of the previous life, rewards would seem to be arbitrarily given. Also, there are verses such as 1 John 2:28 which state that some will feel shame at Christ’s coming. No one feels shame unless he can remember what he has done. 1 Corinthians 13:12 states that in the future people will “know fully.” This would also seem unfeasible if people cannot remember their former life.
The primary reason for confusion about whether or not people will remember this life is Isaiah 65:17, which says that in the Millennial Kingdom the “former things will not be remembered, neither will they come to mind.” The second phrase in the verse explains the first. It is not as if people cannot remember the past. It is clear that Christ did, and it is even clear that at the beginning of both the Millennial Kingdom and the Eternal Kingdom there will be some painful memories and tears (Isa. 25:8; Rev. 21:4). However, in the joy and abundance of the Kingdom, the painful past will not come to mind. Anyone who has had a painful experience in his past but has been emotionally healed and is enjoying a wonderful life knows what it means to “forget” the past and not have it come to mind. Isaiah is not referring to actual mental capacity, but to the relation that the person has with past painful memories.
Imagine the joy of having a new and glorious body, alive with energy and youthful vigor. Imagine having that wonderful body and living in a world where people are loving, and where there is peace, safety, and abundant quantities of great food. The God who cannot lie promises this wonderful life to all believers, and it is available to anyone who will come to God through Jesus Christ.
 The exact nature of the “more” that our new bodies can do was the subject of much discussion during the writing of this book. It is possible that the level of power or ability is related to the position that the person will be assigned in the future. Christ, Lord of all, was given “all authority.” We see glimpses in Scripture that some angels are more powerful than others (Ezek. 28:12–14; Dan. 10:12–14; Rev. 10:1; 18:21). It is quite possible that the supernatural ability that a person has is somehow related to the tasks he is given to perform. It is also possible that our new bodies will be able to do things that God has not even hinted about in Scripture. God can do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20), and it is possible that there is much about the new body that He has not revealed.