Risen from the Dust
We are given various descriptions of spiritual bodies throughout the bible. By comparing them to our own flesh bodies, we can better perceive the differences between the two distinct forms.
One of the more notable examples of a spiritual body, is when Ezekiel sees the veiled likeness and glory of God at the river Chebar, "Then I noticed from the appearance of His loins and upward something like glowing metal that looked like fire all around within it, and from the appearance of His loins and downward I saw something like fire; and there was a radiance around Him. As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD" (Ezekiel 1.27-28 NASB bible), (see also Ezekiel 8.2). Ezekiel's description of God is that of a radiant spiritual form, having the likeness of man, but being fundamentally different from flesh and blood.
Angels have spiritual bodies, and while they have often disguised themselves as normal flesh humans (Hebrews 13.2), their natural form is revealed in scripture. In Daniel 10, we are given a clear description of an angelic spiritual body, "I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, there was a certain man dressed in linen, whose waist was girded with a belt of pure gold of Uphaz. His body also was like beryl, his face had the appearance of lightning, his eyes were like flaming torches, his arms and feet like the gleam of polished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a tumult" (Daniel 10.5-6 NASB bible). Daniel is even overwhelmed by this encounter, becoming stunned and faint.
Ezekiel also witnesses the natural form of a spiritual body. In one of his visions from God, he describes speaking with an individual who's appearance is like gleaming bronze, "And he brought me thither, and, behold, there was a man, whose appearance was like the appearance of brass, with a line of flax in his hand, and a measuring reed; and he stood in the gate" (Ezekiel 40.3 KJV bible). In the New Testament, there is a similar angelic visitation mentioned in Matthew's gospel, "His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow" (Matthew 28.3 KJV bible). There is also a description of an angelic spiritual body given in Revelation 10.1, "And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire" (Revelation 10.1 KJV bible). We see from these passages, that angels in their natural form are uniquely different from flesh and blood creatures, and have glory and power on a spiritual level.
We know that man is made in the image of God and his angels, but man is not made of the same substance. In these depictions, God and his angels appear as luminous beings with a bright radiance surrounding them, as if they are made of glowing metal. They appear to defy explanation, and are representations of the eternal form that people will be changed into at the Resurrection of the Dead (see ch.15 Resurrection of the Body).
This is one of the mysteries that Jesus reveals to his apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration, "And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him" (Matthew 17.1-3 KJV bible). Transfiguration, or metamorphoo in the Greek, means to change or transform. Jesus temporarily transfigures himself into a spiritual body, with his face shining like the sun. He does this to demonstrate to his apostles the form in which the Son of Man (and those that are with him in heaven) will return to the earth.
Any true Christian understands that Jesus physically resurrected from the grave. As recorded in the gospels, his flesh body was resuscitated, and he came forth from the tomb after three-and-a-half days. However, few realize that after he resurrected physically, he also resurrected spiritually. When Jesus ascended into heaven to take his place at the right hand of God, he transfigured into a spiritual body.
When Jesus first came forth out of the tomb he had resurrected physically, but not spiritually. This is why he appears to his disciples in a flesh body, still bearing the wounds of crucifixion, "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have" (Luke 24.39 KJV bible). "Then saith he to Thomas, reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing" (John 20.27 KJV bible). Compare that description of Jesus to the one given in Revelation 1, which is after he had ascended into heaven, and took his place at the right hand of God, "I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength. When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man" (Revelation 1.13-17 NASB bible). His spiritual body is mentioned again in Revelation 2.18, "These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass" (Revelation 2.18 KJV bible). Clearly, Jesus has already taken on his eternal form, being transfigured at his departure from the world, and ascension into heaven, "when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high: Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they" (Hebrews 1.3-4 KJV bible).
While Christ has already transfigured into a spiritual body, no one else has yet been resurrected into the eternal form. None of the departed souls, who are currently abiding in heaven (see ch.4 Souls in Heaven), have yet been resurrected into spiritual bodies. Abraham, Moses, Paul, and all of the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, will have to wait until the first resurrection to bear the image of the second man, the Lord from heaven.
This explains why it is written that Christ is the firstborn from among the dead, "And he [Jesus] is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence" (Colossians 1.18 KJV bible), "and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth" (Revelation 1.5 NASB bible). He is the firstborn among many brethren, "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren" (Romans 8.29 KJV bible). This is also why Jesus is referred to as the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep, which is to say the firstfruits of those who have passed on, "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept" (1st Corinthians 15.20 KJV bible).
The firstfruits are the first part of a harvest to ripen. Christ is the firstfruits of mankind, and the firstborn from the dead, because he has been fully reconciled back to God as the appointed heir of all things. He alone has resurrected spiritually, conquering spiritual death, and becoming alive forevermore as the King of kings and Lord of lords, "the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only [alone] hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting" (1st Timothy 6.15-16 KJV bible).
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