Will Our Heavenly Bodies Be Immaterial?


Many traditional hymns and contemporary Christian songs have taught us that the afterlife is a place where we will live as disembodied souls, often as a private experience between us and God. However, the Bible and the early Christian church had as its hope not disembodied souls but a resurrected body, just like Jesus had after being raised from the dead. Instead of hoping to escape from persecution to the immaterial realm, the church trusted that they would inherit the eternal bodies promised in the gospel. Indeed, the final picture in the book of Revelation is that of a heavenly city joining with earth—the afterlife will be a time of community, bodily existence, and eternal joy both in the presence of God and in sinless relationship with others. Contrary to how some read 1 Corinthians 15, the spiritual body is about source of empowerment, not quality of material.

Watch this Seven Minute Seminary video from Ben Witherington III as he critiques views on the spiritual body that pass over the resurrection.

Download the one-page PDF group discussion guide here.

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Dr. Witherington joined the Asbury Seminary faculty in 1995. A prolific author, Dr. Witherington has written more than 40 books and six commentaries. He is a John Wesley Fellow for Life, a research fellow at Cambridge University and a member of numerous professional organizations, including the Society of Biblical Literature, Society for the Study of the New Testament and the Institute for Biblical Research. In his leisure time, Dr. Witherington appreciates both music and sports. It is hard to say which sound he prefers: the sophisticated sonance of jazz sensation Pat Metheny or the incessant tomahawk chant of the Atlanta Braves faithful. A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, he is a dedicated Tar Heels basketball and football fan. He and his wife, Ann, have two children.