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What will our bodies be like after the rapture?


Question: Will we be reunited with our earthly bodies after the rapture and then be made into glorified bodies?
Off hand, I think of only three passages of Scripture that deal significantly with your question. 1 John 3:1-3 is the shortest of these – and one that gives the least information. What it does give, however, is most assuring and should be sufficient to satisfy our desire to know. This passage simply says,

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this home in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Our future is assured. God’s love already causes Him to call us His own children. This separates us from the world that does not know God. Yet, John says that we do not know what we shall be. All we know is that we shall be like Him. When our Lord returns and we see Him face to face, seeing Him will complete our transformation into His likeness.
When we have this hope, which is confident expectation coupled with earnest desire, in us we will even now purify ourselves as He is pure. That is, we will already be making progress in our transformation into His likeness.
Knowing that we will be like Him should satisfy us. Human curiosity wants to know details – but we would not understand them if they were given! If you are one of God’s children, when Jesus returns, you will be like Him. Note that John does not say we will be like Jesus was after His resurrection. John saw Jesus in His resurrected body and saw Him ascend back to the Father, yet he said we do not know what we will be like – except that we will be like Him. Do not worry about it! The promise of God should be sufficient for us.
Fortunately, for our curiosity’s sake, we are given a little more information in two passages from the pen of Paul.
The first of these is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, a passage often read at funerals because it, too, offers great hope to the believer.

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

At the trump of God, the dead in Christ will rise from their sleep in Jesus. Living believers will be caught up together with the risen saints, and together they will meet the Lord in the air to be with Him forever.
Nothing is said, though, about what sort of bodies either of these groups will have. But to be with the Lord forever – and to be in His likeness because we see Him as He is – should be sufficient for us.
Unfortunately, human curiosity is strong! Among the questions the church at Corinth had sent to Paul was one asking (as you have) about the body we would have in the resurrection. Perhaps this question was asked sincerely, but I suspect it was asked to argue against there being a resurrection of the dead. At least that was the issue Paul addressed in 1 Corinthians 15 where verses 35-54 answer this question. I will not take the space to quote this entire passage (20 verses), but will summarize it instead.

You ask, “How are the dead raised and what kind of body will they have?” Don’t you realize that the seed dies and is reborn in a plant that is not like the seed? God gives each plant its own body that pleases Him. So also with bodies of flesh. Even now, there are different kinds of flesh: human, animal, fish, and fowl. There are also heavenly (celestial) bodies and earthly bodies, each with its own kind of glory. Even the sun, moon and stars have different kinds of bodies and differ from each other in glory.

This is the way it will be in the resurrection. The body that is sown in corruption will be raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor & weakness; it is raised in glory and power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. First we are natural; then we are spiritual. As we have born the image of Adam, the natural man, we will bear the image of the heavenly Man, the second Adam.
Flesh and blood do not inherit the kingdom of God and corruption does not inherit incorruption. We, natural beings that we are, will not all sleep (die), but we will all be changed. At the trump of God, the dead will be raised incorruptible and we will all be changed. The corruptible, mortal will become incorruptible and immortal. Then, death will be swallowed up in victory!
This summary expresses most of what Paul said. He still did not describe the incorruptible, immortal body. He just said it is spiritual, heavenly, and “the image of the heavenly Man.” It is not like the mortal, corruptible, natural, fleshly people we are now.
In all of this, neither of these writers (nor any other writer of the Scriptures) speak of a “rapture” in which living saints will be caught up to be with the Lord while life goes on upon the earth for another thousand years. This is a fanciful theory based in human deduction more than in God’s revelation. The emphasis in Scripture, when speaking of the return of the Lord, is not on the events that will transpire – though they will be awesome – but on the lives we should live now as we anticipate and desire His return. As John said, if we have this hope, we will purify ourselves as He is pure.
Your specific question, then, seems to lie among those secret things that belong to God (see Deuteronomy 29:29). Let me encourage you to look more to what God has revealed to us that we might do them!
I hope these words will be encouraging to you as you fix your eyes, even now, on Jesus who is the author and perfecter of our faith.
Respectfully yours,

Question: Will we be reunited with our earthly bodies after the rapture and then be made into glorified bodies?

Off hand, I think of only three passages of Scripture that deal significantly with your question. 1 John 3:1-3 is the shortest of these – and one that gives the least information. What it does give, however, is most assuring and should be sufficient to satisfy our desire to know. This passage simply says,

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this home in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Our future is assured. God’s love already causes Him to call us His own children. This separates us from the world that does not know God. Yet, John says that we do not know what we shall be. All we know is that we shall be like Him. When our Lord returns and we see Him face to face, seeing Him will complete our transformation into His likeness.

When we have this hope, which is confident expectation coupled with earnest desire, in us we will even now purify ourselves as He is pure. That is, we will already be making progress in our transformation into His likeness.

Knowing that we will be like Him should satisfy us. Human curiosity wants to know details – but we would not understand them if they were given! If you are one of God’s children, when Jesus returns, you will be like Him. Note that John does not say we will be like Jesus was after His resurrection. John saw Jesus in His resurrected body and saw Him ascend back to the Father, yet he said we do not know what we will be like – except that we will be like Him. Do not worry about it! The promise of God should be sufficient for us.

Fortunately, for our curiosity’s sake, we are given a little more information in two passages from the pen of Paul.

The first of these is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, a passage often read at funerals because it, too, offers great hope to the believer.

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

At the trump of God, the dead in Christ will rise from their sleep in Jesus. Living believers will be caught up together with the risen saints, and together they will meet the Lord in the air to be with Him forever.

Nothing is said, though, about what sort of bodies either of these groups will have. But to be with the Lord forever – and to be in His likeness because we see Him as He is – should be sufficient for us.

Unfortunately, human curiosity is strong! Among the questions the church at Corinth had sent to Paul was one asking (as you have) about the body we would have in the resurrection. Perhaps this question was asked sincerely, but I suspect it was asked to argue against there being a resurrection of the dead. At least that was the issue Paul addressed in 1 Corinthians 15 where verses 35-54 answer this question. I will not take the space to quote this entire passage (20 verses), but will summarize it instead.

You ask, “How are the dead raised and what kind of body will they have?” Don’t you realize that the seed dies and is reborn in a plant that is not like the seed? God gives each plant its own body that pleases Him. So also with bodies of flesh. Even now, there are different kinds of flesh: human, animal, fish, and fowl. There are also heavenly (celestial) bodies and earthly bodies, each with its own kind of glory. Even the sun, moon and stars have different kinds of bodies and differ from each other in glory.

This is the way it will be in the resurrection. The body that is sown in corruption will be raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor & weakness; it is raised in glory and power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. First we are natural; then we are spiritual. As we have born the image of Adam, the natural man, we will bear the image of the heavenly Man, the second Adam.

Flesh and blood do not inherit the kingdom of God and corruption does not inherit incorruption. We, natural beings that we are, will not all sleep (die), but we will all be changed. At the trump of God, the dead will be raised incorruptible and we will all be changed. The corruptible, mortal will become incorruptible and immortal. Then, death will be swallowed up in victory!

This summary expresses most of what Paul said. He still did not describe the incorruptible, immortal body. He just said it is spiritual, heavenly, and “the image of the heavenly Man.” It is not like the mortal, corruptible, natural, fleshly people we are now.

In all of this, neither of these writers (nor any other writer of the Scriptures) speak of a “rapture” in which living saints will be caught up to be with the Lord while life goes on upon the earth for another thousand years. This is a fanciful theory based in human deduction more than in God’s revelation. The emphasis in Scripture, when speaking of the return of the Lord, is not on the events that will transpire – though they will be awesome – but on the lives we should live now as we anticipate and desire His return. As John said, if we have this hope, we will purify ourselves as He is pure.

Your specific question, then, seems to lie among those secret things that belong to God (see Deuteronomy 29:29). Let me encourage you to look more to what God has revealed to us that we might do them!

I hope these words will be encouraging to you as you fix your eyes, even now, on Jesus who is the author and perfecter of our faith.

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