Reading Systematic Theology with Wayne Grudem – When will we receive resurrection bodies? What will they be like?

This post is part of a 50+ post series from the classic work by Wayne Grudem (PhD, Cambridge), Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. The aim of each post is to provide an overview of each chapter in the book and related resources for each topic.

Synopsis of Chapter

In his chapter on Glorification, Wayne Grudem outlined the biblical doctrine of the Christian’s post-resurrection body. In the chapter, he defines glorification as “the final step in the application of redemption. It will happen when Christ returns and raises from the dead the bodies of all believers for all time who have died, and reunites them with their souls, and changes their bodies of all believers who remain alive, thereby giving all believers at the same time perfect resurrection bodies like his own.”

Grudem provides evidence for glorification from both the Old and New Testaments. In his most lengthy section he describes what our resurrection bodies will be like. Finally, he describes a renewed creation as well as the resurrection of the unjust, those who will go to eternal judgment.

Biblical Support for Glorification

We find support for the Christian’s future glorification in both the Old and New Testaments. Starting with the Old Testament, we can see that believers in the Gospel records believed in a resurrection before the New Testament was penned. Mary replied to Jesus regarding her dead brother, “Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’” (John 11:24) Martha knew there would be a resurrection, based on her understanding of the Old Testament. Perhaps Martha was thinking about Job’s testimony concerning a future resurrection and glorification: 

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God.” (Job 19:25-26)

Just as the Old Testament taught a future resurrection and glorification, the New Testament further elucidates the doctrine further. There are multiple passages that affirm glorification including, John 5:28,29, John 6:39, 40, and Philippians 3:20-21. However, the primary passage that teaches this event is at the end of 1 Corinthians. The Apostle Paul tells us:

“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51,52)

What Will Our Resurrection Bodies Be Like

As Christians, we will be resurrected and glorified. But what will our resurrected bodies be like? The Scriptures teach our resurrected bodies will…

  • Have a glory and possibly a light that shines around them (Daniel 12:3).
  • Be of a similar nature as Jesus’ body, having flesh and bone (Luke 24:39).
  • Have similarities with our current bodies like Jesus who still had nail prints in his hands and feet (John 20:20,27).  
  • Be like seeds sown into the ground but will be imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 49).
  • Have a spiritual nature similar to the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 15:44).
  • Be changed into glorious bodies like Jesus’ body (Philippians 3:21). 
  • Appear like Jesus’ resurrected body (1 John 3:2).
  • Be raised in power (1 Corinthians 15:43).

Application: Glorification – Hope in a Broken World 

Glorification is not just for Christians but also for the entire creation. When Adam sinned, God cursed the ground because of him (Genesis 3:17-19). As a result, the thorns, thistles, poisonous snakes, earthquakes, murder hornets, and many other judgments entered into our world. Romans 8:20 tells us, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope.” This hope for a renewal in a cursed creation will be realized in its future glorification.

Just as Christians look forward to glorified bodies, so also the created order looks forward to a complete renovation. Glorification, then, is both a hope for the Christian and for the rest of redeemed creation which all points back to the glory of God who will make things new. 

“So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)

Special Terms

  • glorification
  • spiritual body

Resources: Wayne Grudem

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