Eternal Perspectives

[Paul] speaks of two sorts of body, the present one and the future one. He uses two key adjectives to describe these two bodies. Unfortunately, many translations get him radically wrong at this point, leading to the widespread supposition that for Paul the new body would be a spiritual body in the sense of a nonmaterial body, a body that in Jesus’s case wouldn’t have left an empty tomb behind it. It can be demonstrated in great detail, philologically and exegetically, that this is precisely not what Paul meant. The contrast he is making is not between what we would mean by a present physical body and what we would mean by a future spiritual one, but between a present body animated by the normal human soul and a future body animated by God’s spirit.

And the point about the future body is that it will be incorruptible. The present flesh and blood is corruptible, doomed to decay and die. That’s why Paul says, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom.” The new body will be incorruptible. The entire chapter [1 Corinthians 15], one of Paul’s longest sustained discussions and the vital climax of the whole letter, is about new creation, about the creator God remaking the creation, not abandoning it as Platonists of all sorts, including Gnostics, would have wanted.

~ N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope

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