Authored by Scott MacGregor
It is not yet disclosed (made clear) what we shall be [hereafter], but we know that when He comes and is manifested, we shall [as God’s children] resemble and be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He [really] is.1
I think it is good to be curious, to have a healthy interest in and investigate things we don’t understand. It is also good to be open to having our opinions and theories proven wrong. I’ve had some pretty set ideas for a while about the subject that the preceding verse touches on, but I am coming to a different conclusion than what I had before. It is not a big shift in thinking, and it doesn’t affect my overall mindset much—those ideas and opinions that govern how I see life and how I act in it—but it is a change, and it’s actually refreshing.
I’ve been known for a while as a bit of a future buff. By that I don’t mean that I am a futurist—one of those who study current trends and discoveries to predict what the future may be like. My particular realm is Bible prophecy and what it has to say about the future. And it has quite a bit to say.
In this article, though, I am not going to go into the future of the world but the future of us; that is, us humans. The Bible tells us that those who believe on Jesus have eternal life. Eternal life is a long time; so long, in fact, that it cannot be measured. Now when you think about it, it probably strikes you, as it does me, that if this is true, we should probably take some interest in what it’s going to be like and what we’re going to be like in it.
If, for instance, we were thinking about going to university, I think we would take considerable time looking into what it would be like—whether it would meet our standards, what courses it offers and how those fit into our life plans, whether it is worth the investment of time and money, and the list goes on. Or if we were thinking of applying for a job, we would probably investigate the company, what the wages and benefits are, the working environment, the possibility of promotion, job security, and so on. And these are places we’re going to spend a relatively few short years at when we take into account the big scope of things.
There is not time or space here to get into an overall study of what the “great hereafter” is going to be like, but what I want to look at is what we will be like in it. Surprisingly, this is one aspect of the hereafter that we have quite a bit of information on. Some of that information we are told directly in Scripture and some of it we can deduce. More of it we can speculate on, not in a wild way, but given what we do know and can deduce, there are some quite interesting possibilities.
Before we go on, we probably need to cover our current state of affairs. We have what is called a dichotomous nature. That is, we are made up of two components—a physical nature and a spiritual nature.
Our physical body is temporal, which means for a time. Our spirit is eternal; it will live on after we physically die. What a spirit looks like, we don’t know, because it’s invisible to the human eye. Ghosts—the spirits of the departed—are often depicted as see-through humans. But we don’t really know if our spirits will look like humans or not once we pass over to live in the spiritual realm.
We’re told that the spiritual realm is itself only a temporary home.
So what happens to us after that? What is our permanent state going to be like?
At the end of this current era in human history—at the point of Jesus’ long-awaited second coming—our spirits come to reside in very outstanding supernatural bodies, bodies similar to (but a vast improvement on) our current physical bodies.
I tell you a mystery (a secret truth, an event decreed by the hidden purpose or counsel of God). We shall not all fall asleep [in death], but we shall all be changed (transformed). In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the [sound of the] last trumpet call. For a trumpet will sound, and the dead [in Christ] will be raised imperishable (free and immune from decay), and we shall be changed (transformed). For this perishable [part of us] must put on the imperishable [nature], and this mortal [part of us, this nature that is capable of dying] must put on immortality (freedom from death).2
Jesus already has one of these immortal bodies like these that are described, and He has been “test-driving” His for the last 2,000 years or so.
So when did Jesus start using this supernatural body? We know while He lived on earth so long ago that His was a mortal body just like ours. And, like ours can, that particular body died. At His resurrection, He came out of the tomb in this new type of super body. Thus it is often called a “resurrection body.” Now this body was quite different from the old one and yet in many ways the same. He must have had the familiar human looks—the two arms, two legs, a torso, a head, and so on—because He was instantly recognized as a man. However, it wasn’t apparent to those that saw Him that He was the resurrected Jesus.
And this is the issue that I am changing my mind on. Up until a week or so ago, I had understood that He was recognizable and that it was grief or other factors that prevented even His closest friends and confidantes from instantly recognizing Him. But I think the accounts make a strong case for the fact that He actually was different.
What did He look like during his 33-year life on earth? We don’t have a description of Him in scripture, which to me always seems a bit odd. Four separate authors in distant locations decided to write biographies of Him, yet none of them described His physical appearance. The only verses that allude to His looks are in prophecy in the Old Testament’s book of Isaiah, written many hundreds of years before His time: He has no form or comeliness [royal, kingly pomp], that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him.3
That doesn’t give us a lot of information, but it’s enough to suggest that Jesus was quite ordinary in looks. He didn’t appear or act like He was the king He was. He was not a “beauty” to look at. So if His friends and disciples were looking for a plain, normal Jesus after His resurrection and didn’t recognize Him at first when they saw Him, what does that suggest?
Since we’re out of time, I’m looking forward to addressing that question in, “Future Bods, Part 2.”
I will also discuss our own personal future, and eternal, bodies. So keep your eyes out for the next podcast in this two-part series.
1 1 John 3:2 AMP (Amplified Bible)
2 1 Corinthians 15:51–53 AMP
3 Isaiah 53:2 AMP
Read by Stephen Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2013 by The Family International