spirits have bodies

Joh 4:24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

It is repeated ad nauseam that God does not have a body because God is spirit. But this seems to be a modern construct, most likely adopted from Platonism where the material world and physical forms were part of corruption. It was “transcendence from the physical world” that Platonism set as the goal, to escape the body. But this is not the Christian hope. Paul writes that the Christian hope is in a future body:

1Co 15:42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.
1Co 15:43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.
1Co 15:44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

What is very interesting is the way which Paul words what particular type of body we will have. It will be a “spiritual” body. Not only that, but Paul states that just as we now have a earthly body in the image of God that we will have a spiritual body in the image of God:

1Co 15:48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly.
1Co 15:49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.

Paul is stating that our substance will change to spirit, that spirit will have a body, and that spirit will bear the image of God. But what differentiates a spiritual body from a earthly body? Paul points to one key difference: immortality.

1Co 15:51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—
1Co 15:52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
1Co 15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
1Co 15:54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY.”

Like everyone else in the time of Paul, Paul was expecting God to usher in an Earthly Kingdom under which everyone would live. Outsiders would bring tribute. And God (or a delegate) would reign from inside the kingdom. This was to be the Kingdom of God. Even if the spiritual bodies that Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians do not have “flesh and blood” (Luk 24:39), everyone understood spirits to have bodies.

There is another very interesting passage on spirits in the Bible. In Luke, Jesus appears to the 12 disciples. They are shocked. They think Jesus is a spirit. They had seen Jesus die and now they see Jesus standing in front of them. The 12 were not under the impression that spirits do not have bodies. Just like everyone today, they assumed that ghosts were spatially located and looked like people. In order to convince the 12 that he was not a spirit, Jesus shows them the holes in his hands. Jesus then states:

Luk 24:39 Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”

Assuming that Luke is using “spirit” in the same way as Paul, it is safe to say that spiritual bodies do not have flesh and blood.

But I believe that Luke is speaking of a different type of “spirit” (in language, words have several uses) than Paul. The disciples were thinking that Jesus was a ghost. The disciples were not thinking that Jesus had a spiritual body as defined by Paul. Paul states that his spiritual body will be in the image of God. But the disciples were afraid of Jesus’ body, suggesting they were thinking about phantoms.

In any case, the Luke passage does not support the conclusion that spirits do not have bodies. It is evidence that spirits do have bodies. Every time the Bible talks about spirits, they have spatial location. From the Spirit of God hovering over the face of the earth (Gen 1:2) to Samuel being conjured (1Sa 28:14). The claim that because God is spirit that God has no body is a baseless claim. If anything, the default assumption should be that because God is spirit that He has a body.

Addendum:

One place which attributes a body to God that is not adequately answered by Classical theology is in Exodus 33. Moses asks to see God’s glory. God says no one can see His “face” and live (God does not say that He does not have a “face”). God compromises by showing Moses His backside. God places Moses in a cleft of a rock, covers Moses with God’s own hand, passes by the rock, and then lifts His hand to show Moses His backside. There is no possible way to misinterpret what happens in the text:

Exo 33:17 So the LORD said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.”
Exo 33:18 And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.”
Exo 33:19 Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”
Exo 33:20 But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.”
Exo 33:21 And the LORD said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock.
Exo 33:22 So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by.
Exo 33:23 Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”

About christopher fisher

The blog is meant for educational/entertainment purposes. All material can be used and reproduced in any length for any purpose as long as I am cited as the source.
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One Response to spirits have bodies

  1. Pingback: Apologetics Thursday – Verses on God Ordaining Free Acts | God is Open

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