The question (s) about the resurrection are some of the most commonly asked of all. I am happy to share this article by my friend Holger Neubauer. Many of his thoughts are more than challenging– and insightful. Enjoy!
There is One Body
Holger W. Neubauer
The ancients were accustomed to identify themselves by the communities and peoples that they were a part of. Isaiah said, “For the head of Syria is Damascus and the head of Damascus is Rezin” (Isaiah 7:8). Isaiah continues, “The head of Ephraim is Samaria and the head of Samaria is Remaliah.” Isaiah speaks of these competing nations as heads and bodies. Damascus was the capitol city of Syria and Rezin was their king or head. The head of the Northern kingdom was Rezin. We see here a head and a body of people under the direction of their king. The ancient Philistines, Amorites, Perizzites, etc., lived and died together as one body of people. Because the people had a corporate identity, they also sinned together. Hosea 13:1 says, “When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; But when he offended in Baal he died.” It was northern Israel that had sinned and died. Hosea would later say in that context, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave, I will redeem them from death” (Hosea 13:14). Israel needed redemption as a body of people and as a corporate identity of a unique people.
The New Testament carries out the promises of the Old Testament. The body of the Old Covenant people was prophesied to be redeemed and then live again. Isaiah 26:19 predicted, “your dead men shall live, together with my dead body they shall arise.” Here the “dead men” of God equal the “dead body.” The prophet speaks of the Old Covenant people as a body. In Jude 9, we find Michael fighting with the Devil for the “body of Moses.” Because of our 21st century understanding, we usually think of the biological body of Moses. But does this make sense? Since no one knew where Moses was buried, the devil could hardly be concerned about his physical body (Deuteronomy 34:6). Did the devil fight over keeping the burial place secret? I think there is a better answer. Zechariah 3 is the background of Jude 9, and in that context it says, “the Lord rebuke you Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you” (Zechariah 3:2). It was Jerusalem, the head city of the body of Moses that the angel was contending for. Hebrews 3:2 in contrasting Moses and Christ, speaks about “Moses also who was faithful in all his house.” It was the house/body of Moses the Hebrew writer had in mind. This was the same body of Moses that had died but was prophesied to rise again and the one that Michael fought for. Without the Old Testament as the background we are in the dark about Jude 9, and open to wild speculation. But with the Old Testament as our background, we allow inspiration to interpret itself.
But when and how would the Old Covenant body rise? The prophets predicted that the dead men would rise at the “time of the end” (Daniel 12:2,4). Daniel was a Jewish prophet who was living in the age of Moses. His end is the end of that Law and system. The “time of the end” and “end of time” have completely different connotations. The Old Covenant prophets looked to a time of their end, not end of time. The prophets predicted the dead body would live again in the “time of the end” and when God’s own redeemed body would rise. Does anyone see a train coming yet? The Old Covenant body that died through sin, would live again through a Savior that would be the head of this new body. No serious believer would doubt that Christ is “head of the church and savior of the body” (Ephesians 1:22,23;5:23). Those saved are found in the body and Paul affirms there is but “one body” (Ephesians 4:4). The very body that Jesus saved is the one He also redeemed. Paul said in Ephesians 1:7 says, “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” To be in Christ is to be in His body. The salvation plan of God is exclusively tied to the “one body” (Ephesians 4:4). God does not have a salvation plan in creating His own body through Christ and then another plan for an individual biological body salvation at the end of time. Any salvation doctrine outside the “one body” is a false plan.
Paul would tell the Ephesian elders to “feed the church of God which he has purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). Paul speaks to these same Ephesians and speaks of the “purchased possession” (Ephesians 1:14). Who can doubt that the church is the purchased possession? Yet, Paul spoke of the sealing of the Holy Spirit that was the “guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession” (Ephesians 1:14). Though the saints had redemption through Christ (Ephesians 1:7), the process of redemption was completed through the new covenant. As I argued in a previous post, (see: guarantee=sealing=anointing), the sealing was miraculous in nature because the Ephesians received the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the apostle’s hands (Acts 19:6). The Holy Spirit was given to the infant church until the redemption was complete. Paul would say, “ye are sealed until the day of your redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). The apostle is not speaking about a different nature of redemption, but the completion of the process. Just as the kingdom was a process (Matthew 13:31; Col 1:13, Hebrews 12:28; Luke 21:31), the scheme or redemption was a process. Paul speaks of the redemption of a people who were united in Christ and certainly not an individual physical or biological body. The day in Paul’s future was the same day Jesus said, “your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28). Some will balk and say Luke 21:28 speaks of a physical redemption, but the context points to a spiritual reality; as the coming of the Lord was spiritual (Luke 21:27) and the kingdom was spiritual (Luke 21:31). Jesus was careful to promise that redemption would be completed in the very generation he was living in at the time (Luke 21:32). It was a people that was being redeemed within the framework of a body.
This is the same subject of Romans 8:10-9:4. Paul says, “the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness” (Romans 8:10). The Old Covenant body had died because of sin. The miraculous work of the Spirit was bringing that Old Covenant body back to life through the church. God’s promise to bring resurrection to Israel was now at work. As Isaiah predicted, “Your dead shall live together with my dead body they shall arise” (Isaiah 26:19). The dead men were beginning to live through the Spirit’s work, just as Jesus taught (John 5:24-29). The book of Romans is about demonstrating that Israel’s promises would be experienced by both Jew and Gentile as they both were under sin and in need of redemption. When Paul says, “will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Holy Spirit who dwells in you,” (8:11), he is not speaking of individual physical bodies, but corporate bodies comprised of both Jew and Gentile. Notice the same theme in Ephesians 2:15,16, “to create in himself, one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross.” The “one body” is the church and it is that body that is Paul’s focus in the scheme of redemption.
This body of people was being led by Spirit, as Romans 8:14 says, “For as many are led by the Spirit, they are the sons of God.” This miraculous work of the Spirit lasted for forty years, or for the last days of Israel (Micah 7:15; Joel 2:28-32). Paul also states that this body had “received the Spirit of adoption” where they were crying “Abba Father” (8:15). The expression “Abba Father” is a Hebraism which refers to a little boy crying for His father. The Holy Spirit had revealed the early church’s relationship to their God. Paul paints the perfect picture of the infant church yearning for his Father and full inheritance (Revelation 21:7). God was interested in inheriting sons in a body and not inheriting biological bodies, so he could have sons.
The body that Paul addresses in this chapter was suffering and was “about to” see the glory of the new age through a body which was not known in other ages. The “glory” was right around the corner (Romans 8:18; ck. Rienecker and Rogers p. 367). Those in this body of suffering were, “eagerly waiting for the adoption the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23). Notice the plural pronoun “our” and singular subject “body.” Paul does not have reference to the biological physical body, but rather the church going through the transition of covenants and the suffering of the age. Paul’s “our body” and the “purchased possession” that was sealed by the Spirit are one in the same. God was adopting sons not dead corpses. Our physical bodies are not in the discussion. Notice just who would be adopted, “who are Israelites, to who pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the Law, the service of God, and the promises” (9:4). It was the Old Covenant people that were being adopted as God was being faithful to all his promises for them, in order that all mankind could share in Israel’s promises. This is the time that Isaiah’s dead body would rise. Hear again the prophet, “Your dead shall live; Together with my dead body they shall arise” (Isaiah 26:19).
Paul’s body in 1 Corinthians 15 is the same body under consideration. Because the Judaizers argued that the Gospel had made the Law perfect, they also argued there was no need for the resurrection of the dead ones. But they were wrong. Since Christ was the first out of Hades and in the presence of God, the dead ones also had to come out of Hades to receive their reward. The false teachers who were arguing that the Law would continue did not acknowledge that the Old Covenant body was temporary and was “sown in corruption and then raised in incorruption” (1 Corinthians 15:42). The body under consideration was literally “being sown in corruption” and “being raised in incorruption.” The mockers asked, “what body do they come?” (15:35). The plural pronoun and singular subject bear out the same theme. The question revolved around the idea that the Old Jewish saints could not be raised in a new body of Christ that comprised of both Jew and Gentile. The phrase in 15:28, “all and in all” refers to both Jew and Gentile in equality in relationship with God (Colossians 3:11). The false teachers desired the Gentiles to go to Hades rather than the Jews being raised with them. It was an argument that focused on the Law. But Paul argued, “the strength of sin is the Law” (1 Corinthians 15:56). The strength of sin is not the Gospel, for the Gospel is the answer to the strength of sin. When the Law would end, the Covenants would change. Paul’s “then comes the end” (15:24) is the one great end of God’s salvation plan.
The Old Covenant body was being changed, and soon the Law would end, and the change would be complete. Paul argued, “we shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed” (15:51). This is a reference to a change of covenants at the time of the end, not a miraculous change at the end of time.” The “change” is the end of what had already begun. 2 Corinthians 3:11 says, “If what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.” The present tense verb is staring at us like the noon’s day sun. Now watch 2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the image of the Lord are being transformed int the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” God is trying to get our attention with another present tense verb. The phrase, “are being changed” ought to stop us in our boots. When would the work of the Spirit be complete in transforming this Old Covenant body? When Paul would say, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12; Revelation 21:4).
There is only one body that is purchased by the sacrifice of Christ. There is only one body that brings salvation. There is only one body that contains all the sons of God. There is only one body that is adopted and now receives full inheritance. There is only one body that the Spirit revealed the truth in!!!! The biological body is promised to return to the dust from whence it came but the spirit would return to God (Ecclesiastes 12:7). The only body that the spirit of man needs to have access to God is the church. God has created His own church which is the body of Christ. The church was created to sufficiently take care of every spiritual need and bring us to God and open heaven. I believe in the full access to Heaven by the finished work of Christ in his church. It is in the church where “the spirits of just men are made perfect” (Hebrews 12:23). Then why do we think your physical body has to be transformed and made perfect in the distant future? Pshaw! Praise God Almighty, for salvation has come down!