Do Believer in Heaven have a body now?



John Hoole - June 12, 2011




Between their death and the resurrection of their bodies, do the dead currently have a temporary body?  There are four main Scriptural passages used to affirm they do have temporary bodies.


1.      2 Corinthians 5:1-4 NKJV


1       For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

2       For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven,

3       if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked.

4       For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.


Our "earthly house" is a reference to the mortal bodies we have right now, before we die.  Verses 2 & 4 speak of being clothed after we have died.  But is being "clothed with our habitation from heaven" speaking of a body given us between our death and the resurrection of our bodies?


But if our current body, called "earthly house" ("tent" in verse 4) here dies, we are told that we will be given a building (body) from God that is eternal.  If it is eternal, then it cannot be temporary.  This body with which we will be clothed must be referring to our changed body at the resurrection - not an interim temporary body..


2.      Luke 16:19-31


A second argument for "temporary intermediate bodies" may be drawn from Luke 16.  It is here where we find the story of a Rich man and a beggar named Lazarus, both of whom died.  The fact that they each were able to recognize each other seems to possibly indicate each had a body.


The rich man was in torment, and recognizing both Abraham and Lazarus, he requests Abraham let Lazarus to dip his finger in some water and cool his tongue.  Having a tongue seems to indicate a body.


3.      Matthew 17:1-3 NKJV

1       Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves;

2       and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.

3       And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.


This passage depicts the transfiguration of Jesus, where both Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus in bodily form.  Elijah, along with Enoch are the only two people in human history who did not die.  This is not true of Moses, who did die.  And it appears that Moses had some form of body that made him visible and identifiable to Peter, James and John, who were with Jesus.


Actually, all their appearance with Jesus proves for sure is that they had a body for this one unique event.  Moses may have been given a temporary body just for the duration of this one event.  We know that Angels of God in the Bible often are shown with bodies, even though their normal state is without a physical body.


4.      Revelation 6:9-11 NKJV


9       When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.

10     And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?"

11     Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.


Here we have a group of martyrs who were now in heaven.  It is definitely prior to their resurrection, and are described as wearing white robes.  Many point to this as evidence for them having a body of some sort.  The argument is that spirits do not wear clothes.


And yet, in verse 9, it is mentioned that the apostle John identified them as "souls."  He mentions nothing of a body - only that he saw the souls.


Another question that could be raised is whether Jesus had a temporary body between his death and resurrection.  We simply are not told.  Or, possibly we are given a hint in 1 Peter 3:18-19.


1 Peter 3:18-19 NKJV


18     For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

19     by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison,


He was put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.  Is the last part of that phrase speaking of the time between death and resurrection?


It is natural to be curious about this period in our future.  But, I believe this is one of those areas the Scripture refers to a "secrets thing of God."  If I were to say which way I lean, it is that we will not have a body during this period.  I think the passage we considered earlier in 2 Corinthians 5 seems to imply a period where we will be "unclothed" or "naked."  But then he writes that we have a eternal body prepared for us in the heavens.  And our immediacy with God is to be apart from the body.