The Christian Afterlife


It would appear that the bodily resurrection of the dead is a teaching found rather late in the Bible. Initially, God’s people apparently believed that the current life is all that there is (Psalm 115:17). In the New Testament times, the Sadducees rejected belief in the afterlife as well. But as early as the prophet Daniel’s writing, and certainly later in the Apostle Paul’s writings, God revealed to his people a fuller plan of salvation, which included an afterlife characterized by bodily resurrection. This means that, contrary to popular notions about disembodied eternal existence, the Christian hope is grounded in Jesus Christ’s resurrection, which is a foreshadowing of what the church will share in as well.

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Matt O’Reilly (PhD) is Lead Pastor of Hope Hull United Methodist Church near Montgomery, Alabama, and a fellow of the Center for Pastor Theologians. He is the author of Paul and the Resurrected Body: Social Identity and Ethical Practice and The Letters to the Thessalonians. Connect at or follow @mporeilly.