Stephen Whitsett BA
Giving an orthodox apologetic answer for Preterism / Dispensationalism
The Spiritual Body
"One of the greatest misconceptions about the fulfilled (PRETERIST) perspective of the resurrection relates to the nature of it. The Bible teaches a BODILY resurrection of the dead, contrary to the notion of some who seem to affirm a "spiritual" resurrection instead.." What is NOT understood by some is the determination of the nature of the "body" under consideration -- Larry Siegle 5/25/2014 FACEBOOK
"There is nothing in Paul’s corporate language of the “body” of Christ that forces us to assume that the resurrection to come (in their day) would involve the literal process of individual corpses coming out of their graves. Instead, the expected eschatological resurrection was the translation of the children of God from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant (2 Cor. 3:18."
-- Max R. King posted by Larry Siegle 5/25/2014 FACEBOOK
What is commonly argued is that the “spiritual body” is not a body of flesh at all but some unknowable type of “body”.
A spiritual body is simply a “body” made of flesh that is of the spiritual realm.
So what do I mean by that? Let’s break it down carefully.
A Body is always made of flesh. Christ when he “transfigured” on the mount his countenance changed and his clothes turned white and his face shone like the sun yet it was still Christ body that was transformed, the flesh revealed the Glory of the father in a visible display of light.
Christ was raised in a body of “flesh and bones” (Luke 24.39 He also promised us we would have a glorious body like his (Phil 3.21A body that people exist in as well as creation, is always regarded as flesh all through scriptures.
“38But God gives it a body as he has chosen, … 39For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.”
So let it be understood Paul is speaking about the body a human has that is made of flesh, (No where in I Cor 15 is Paul speaking about the “body of Christ” as hyper preterists insist). A body is made of flesh. The opposite or absence of a body leaves the “spirit” alone.
A body cannot be a “spirit” for a spirit cannot be touched or felt.
We understand that angels watch over and guard us and in a few rare occasions they even appear to us in human form but are never described as having a “body”.
We understand God alone is “spirit” a non corporeal being not confined by space or time but yet also appears in human form (to Mosses) as we are made in the “image” of God.
We understand there is a “spiritual” realm a different dimension of
space in which angels exist and God operates. (2 Kings 6.17)
The word “spiritual” is an adjective that is used to describe a NOUN,
In I Cor 15 “spiritual body” the noun is the “body” the word ‘spiritual”
describes what kind of body. IT is a Body of a spiritual nature in that
it can exist in the realm of angels and of God. Thus Christ ascended
into heaven in a spiritual body that was not bound by earthly rules.
Humans do not fly or go up into heaven unless they have help from God.
There is no scriptures that teach that somehow Christ body changed again
into some other “spiritual form” after he ascended. In fact scriptures
teach Christ exist in “bodily form” (Col 2.9)
I Corinthians 15.53 tells us what KIND of changes the body will go under..
“53For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.”
So again when Paul states “this body” he is referring to his own carnal, lowly, natural, perishable, and mortal, body, will be clothed, with imperishability and immortality. It becomes immune to the ravages of old age or sickness and diseases, and secondly it cannot die.
Christ being the example of what is “resurrection of the dead” and Mathew 27.52 gives us an example of others being resurrected from out of a tomb where the corpse once again walks upon the earth, AFTER His resurrection we have no reason to believe in any other type of “spiritual body”. Because Christ resurrected body was still made of flesh and then of bone (not blood), and we are to get a “body” like his we must conclude that a spiritual body is still made of “flesh”.
As I was told by One preterist...
“He first makes an assumption that he understands the process of mortal to immortal, and then imposes that upon the other person. But of course, we must remember, Stephen has the correct understanding, and the rest of us are novices… I hold that all people in Christ were made immortal. But then if you don't understand what the immortal is, then you have to come up with an answer outside of scripture.”
Immortal means; "without death"
I Tim 6.16 tells us Christ alone , among men, HAS immortality... yet he came to die. Not spiritually but physically.
So let me back up for a second and explain “HOW” we get to this point.
From early church fathers we know that the Apostle John died about 98-100 AD when Trajan became emperor, meaning he lived through 70 AD. According to church history and even Jesus’s very own words in that he stated that “some among them would live to see the son of man come on clouds of glory” there is no reason to doubt the testimony as this same argument can be applied to any saint who lived beyond the 70 AD destruction.
Now, not even arguing on any other point of I Corinthians 15 except one;
“51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, …and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality”.
(I Thess 4 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord,”)
We shall not all sleep, Sleep is a metaphor for physical death. (Psalm
but we shall all be changed, …and we shall be changed…. repeated twice. ALL will be changed..NOT some.
The idea of what Paul is communicating is that at “His coming” Those who are alive and have not physically died are changed – THEY WILL NOT DIE – EXPERIENCE PHYSICAL DEATH-Death is swallowed up in victory.(to change: to cause one thing to cease and another to take its place, ) He then describes the change as “this perishable body” and “this mortal body” becoming something different. From “mortal” thnetós – properly, subject to dying (death), mortality; the inevitability of physical death.- immortality to athanasía (from 1 /A "without" and 2288 /thánatos, "death") – properly, immortality (literally "without death, deathlessness")
But as one preterists stated, “Greek be damned, why is that so almighty important”. The obvious answer is “it’s because that was the language it was written in”, it’s how we communicate; words have specific meanings and so people use those specific words to communicate a specific idea, if people wish to make up their own definitions for words other than what was originally communicated, the “truth” is lost in the “translation”.
In the above quote the person argued, “I hold that all people in Christ were made immortal” so let’s look closely at this argument.
The first obvious implication is that he is saying people are made immortal when they come to faith in Christ. NOT at his second coming, meaning they did not have to wait for his return to become “immortal”. So by implication all those who are in Christ have already been made immortal. So why would Paul say, “at his coming those who are alive are changed” if they had all ready experienced the change at the point of their conversion? As this changed is promised only for those who “love his appearing”.
The definition for “Mortal” all through scriptures is associated with the “Body”.
“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts.” Rom 6.12Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)
Not once is the concept of “mortal” is ever used of the soul. In fact Mathew 10.28 Jesus himself said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Spiritual death, the condition of the relationship of a person NOT In Christ, as they have a "soul" that is living and a body as well, neither are "dead", but spiritual death is the state of living under the wrath of God as a sinner. "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him". who are doomed to eternal judgment upon physical death.
It is the Body that is always subject to death, not the soul, the soul is not mortal it cannot be killed by any human means!! But a body can. It is subject to death. So accepting the proper definition for “mortal” meaning "subject to death" as our body is, IF we are changed to Immortal at our conversion then no Christian should ever be subject to physical death.
Mortal then is also contrasted with “perishable” (food is perishable John 6.27; Romans 1.23Open in Logos Bible Software (if available) Men are perishable) Perishable - hthartós (an adjective, derived from 5351 /phtheíro) – perishable, what easily perishes disintegrates (corrupts) – like the break-down of the physical body during our natural lifetime. At no point in any scripture do we learn or associate “growing old and frail” with the soul.
So by implication preterist try to make “mortal” to be referencing the soul yet not once is “mortal soul” ever mentioned or by implication in scriptures an appropriate application or even in any secular understanding or definition. The idea of a “mortal” soul is completely foreign thinking. The body alone is mortal, subject to death.
On the other hand the “soul” does not eventually grow old (perishability) or die it can only be destroyed by an “act of God” meaning if God did not act to cause it to cease it will not cease to exist of its own accord. As the Bible speaks of “souls” going to “sheol” to await resurrection years after the body had natural (or unnaturally) died. In fact we see Mosses and Elijah appear at the transfiguration (both bodies were taken by the Lord) with or without bodies is not mentioned BUT they appear in physical form which means their “souls” are now hundreds of years old.
So, yes I do understand the process of “Mortal” to “immortal” as only happening at His coming. Nowhere else in scriptures is it promised or stated to occur to the body (or to the soul) except at His coming and so assuming correctly the right definition for the word there is no other meaning that is acceptable under any circumstance. And stating the case from within scriptures the argument against the futurist understanding is unfounded on every level.
Mortal and Immortality refer to the “physical body” alone. Any other definition is unfounded and made up and so becomes by the nature of the discussion “dishonest” in that it does not deal with what scriptures reveals.
With that said, At His coming John would have been physically changed since he was alive, his body would have become “Immortal”, instead we find that he naturally grew older and eventually died, the opposete of immortality and imperishability. IF he had remained on earth he would still be with us today, OR if he had been caught up in 70 AD then there could not have been testimony to his life after 70 AD or even a tomb marked in Ephesus, “Her lies John, the beloved” as all believers would have been taken up leaving non behind.
At at this point I am not arguing for the physical bodily resurrection of a dead body out of a grave BUT in the fact I Corinthians 15 context is one talking about a “body” of flesh and physical death, NOT spiritual death.
The context begins then with Paul wanting to answer to questions and he premises them with the assurance That Christ resurrection from the dead IS a fact, that His body came out of a tomb and “walked again”.
“12Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?”- Resurrection then IS the body coming out of the grave as Christ did!!
Now preterist do not question that Christ came forth from the grave BUT argue incessantly that the “resurrection of the dead” is either the souls leaving Hades to ascend with Christ into heaven or they adopt the metaphorical use of “resurrection of the dead” in a metaphorical sense in that we are raised to new life in Christ in HIS resurrection.
Two things must be noted; resurrection is the coming back to life what once was dead. The Old man was crucified with Christ so NOTHING is being brought back to life, we are born again; what’s dead of the Old man needs to stay dead and buried. The spiritual life that comes to us is never termed by Paul as “resurrection” but the “new birth”.
Our problem with preterism is that their metaphorical interpretation does not maintain consistently through the whole chapter and denies the strength of the “platonic” form of argument Paul is presenting; IF this is true THEN this is also true.
“if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.”
“if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”
“ if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.”
“if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have “physically “died” in Christ have perished.
How do we know we are talking about Physical death and not spiritual death? Paul uses the term “sleep” instead of the normal Greek word for death.
The phrase “IN Christ” demands that those who are asleep (dead) died as a Christian, they are not alive being “resurrected in Christ” BUT THEY ARE DEAD. Dead people do not get “Born again”.
Paul argues all the way through those who are “in Christ” are the ones raised and experience the “resurrection of the dead”. Now we have already established this resurrection happens at no other time then at His coming, while the new birth is experienced at our confession of faith. Everybody who is saved is not saved “only” at his coming they must experience the new birth and die physically BEFOR he comes in order to take part in the “resurrection of the dead”.
“The dead will be raised”. As opposed to or contrasted with “that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord,” as we who are alive “We shall not all “die”.
“we who are alive, living life in Christ as a new creation”- not dead in our sin without Christ.
The main strength of his argument lies in this little portion
“If the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.” To remain consistent Paul equates the raising we experienced is identical to what Christ experienced. Christ was never “born again”, raised to new life in Himself, he was never “spiritually dead” to begin with. So if Christ dead body came back to life then the dead in Christ will experience the same type of resurrection. If you say the physical dead are not raised back to life then Christ was never raised back to life. His body remains in the grave!!!
“We testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.”
What further bolsters our claim of “physical death”?
“What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37And what you sow is not the body that is to be,”
It is well understood the seed being sown is a metaphor for the body that goes into a grave. Physical death. The seed goes into the ground and dies, BUT new life springs up from that very same seed.
“so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then Christ at his coming those who belong to. –
OR “at his coming those who belong to Christ, shall all be made alive.” To be made alive at His coming is not the new birth because they already belong to Christ through the new birth.
“35But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?”
How are we ever raised in Christ in a body?
“God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39For not all flesh is the same”, - Body is again equated with “flesh by Paul” and it is the dead who are given the new body.
If each person is made alive in Christ at their conversion the “spiritual death” is conquered for them. People are still “born” in spiritual death, having no relationship with God, and having the fallen sin nature that was passed on by Adam. BY Adam sin came to all men, so by one man life.
How can spiritual death be the “last enemy”? When it was defeated by Christ on the cross who reconciled us to himself as the first thing he accomplished on the cross, “the veil was torn in two”.
“26The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
As we have established death then is physical death, the last enemy is physical death. In the new heaven and earth he promises “death will be no more”
How is this accomplished? Those who have physically died in Christ are raised immortal. They cannot die again as death has no power over them. Those who were changed at His coming were made immortal, “Death where is thy sting?” They are “Without death”. Death has been made impossible for those who are in Christ.
AND The Final judgment of the Great White throne, being the judgment of ALL who have lived, leaves us with the idea this is the last judgment there can be no other judgment to follow, therefore there is no one else to be born and die to face judgment. The book has a last page with the last name.
With the last person being born and the last person dying there is no further people to be born to face judgment. It all ends.