Most people understand that the Scriptures teach that the body in which Jesus was crucified was the same body that came out of the grave. But regarding the body in which He now dwells, was that changed or transformed in His ascension into heaven? If so, how do we know from scripture?
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St. Thomas Aquinas addressed this pretty deeply, and as I suspected, his answer was yes, Our Lord's risen body was a glorified one. Although it differed in glory in some way from His body in Heaven.
[summa theologica part 3 question 54 article 3 ]( http://www.newadvent.org/summa/4054.htm)
One good, convincing point St Thomas makes is that in no way could one consider Jesus' body given to corruption after His resurrection. He did as He chose. He came and went as He pleased. He appeared in the manner which He desired.
The resurected Jesus appears to have a pretty normal body.
In contrast Jesus' ascended body appears to be quite different:
Now trying to make a literal interpertuation from Revelations can be very tricky, but I think there are a couple things interesting here. Jesus didn't appear exactly like he did here on earth John (who new him personally), says he looked "like the Son of Man". We know it is Jesus based on verse 18, so Jesus in a way resembled what he looked like here on earth. But has obiviously been given a new body that looks amazing.
(For simplicity, I will accept your presupposition that He only had one body prior to the ascension - both before and after the resurrection.)
Many people use the visions in Revelation 1:14-16 or 5:6 to make arguments about what Jesus looks like in Heaven, but this is bad hermeneutics in my opinion. The visions in Revelation are symbolic, hence the need to interpret each symbol (as in 1:20, or within 5:6 itself.)
The fact is, any claim to the affirmative will have to deal with 1 Cor 15:50, which clearly states the affirmative is impossible.
Scripture speaks of the likeness of Adam and the likeness of Christ, making some distinction between them: “And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:49). Christ will remain a man, but his deity that was once veiled in his humanity will shine through it. Because of the Fall and the Curse, we have never been or seen human beings who are fully functional as God’s image-bearers, conveying the brightness and majesty of his being. But that day is coming. Christ, the God-man, the new head of our human race, will be the ultimate image-bearer, fully conveying the brightness and majesty of the Almighty.
Note, however, that the difference between Adam and Christ, which Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 15:45-49, is not that one was a physical being and the other wasn’t. It was that Adam was under sin and the Curse, and Christ was untouched by sin and the Curse. Jesus was and is a human being, “in every respect like us” (Hebrews 2:17, NLT), except with respect to sin.
So although we should recognize that our resurrection bodies will be glorious in ways that our current bodies are not, we should also realize that those bodies will continue to be—in both the same and in greater ways—the functional physical bodies that God designed for us from the beginning.
Interesting debate! Personally i'm of the view that Christ's resurrected body was spiritual i.e. He was no longer flesh and blood. But, he was able to appear in any form He chose hence the appearance of flesh and blood (Luke 24:39); moving through walls (Luke 24:36); and taking on another guise (Luke 24:16). IMHO it is not unlike angelic encounters of the past (Genesis 18-19), for instance.
The body of Christ now in heaven has little resemblance of the body he had while on earth, in terms of ‘glory’. The body of Christ and its appearance is mentioned in several parts of scripture making it a worthwhile subject to consider seriously. In his incarnation from Eternity the Eternal Son of the Triune Godhead took assumed a human nature into His own person. This assumption of the human through the virgin birth made him appear ‘not beautiful’, or not ‘glorious’. Therefore straight away we must understand that the glorification of that same human is something altogether different from the impression that his body made to men while on this earth. His very presence in the earth was part of his ‘humbled’ state. (Philippians 2, 6-8)
What was the chief end or purpose of his taking human nature? Was it not to act as a Priest with something to offer?
Now Jesus offered his own soul and body for the sin of the world.
The purpose for taking human flesh was to save humans; otherwise he might have taken on spiritual angelic flesh (Heb 2:5). But no, Jesus did take upon Himself a 'ten-fingered flesh and blood' human nature with His own eternal person forevermore.
Now if this Jesus was to represent His sacrifice before the Father, that we might enjoy eternal cleaning and justification before God’s throne forever and ever, was it not important that his human life appeared before the throne in the Most Holy Place after laying his sacrifice down on the alter? This He did not do externally nutil after he rose, until he ascended to His father in glory. Althouhg in a sense He did do it when He said it is finished and the Father did accept it, thus the curtain in the most holy place was torn from top to bottom. I am referrig to his external entrance into that most holy place in heaven for we are refering to his physical body here.
Now the glorification of the man-ward side of the God-Man, was made Lord over the entire universe in his glorification into heaven. Jesus, as a man, was not Lord before his ascension into heaven, though as God He was Lord eternally. The glorification of Christ respects principally the human exaltation into Lordship and glory fro the Son was already infinitely glorious respecting his divine nature.
Clearly therefore, the unimpressive body of Christ after His resurrection was not the Christ who now reigns as Lord and Eternal Priest forever, when he appeared to many for those forty days before His glorification, there was still nothing in him that seemed beautiful or glorious. The transfiguration on the mount, the view of Christ in many prophecies including in Revelation, and Paul’s meeting with him under a blinding light, all confirm that his body appears nothing like the one He rose with.
However, this does not mean Jesus does not now have a human body. Of course he must have a human body! for he would not otherwise still be human and would be unable to act as our Priest. A Priest can only mediate for those of his own flesh. This seems to be one of the principle reasons why he appeared to so many after his resurrection. He is not a ghost after his resurrection but a human still. He has ten-fingers and most likely eats food. It’s just that His body is not like the weakness of an earthly body and is exceedingly glorious. In many ways his body is still ‘flesh and blood’ (1 Corinthians 15:35-50) he means flesh and blood fallen under the curse, for Adam and Eve had flesh and blood before the curse, to which Messiah came to restore.
John Owen the great puritan theologian of the sixteen century sums it up well:
He was referring to:
We will have a body like His, still flesh and bone, but glorious, which is a glorious hope for us. I am not sure a human could physically live under the tensions of witnessing the full glory of a heavenly body.
The idea clearly from scripture is that in some way the resurrection body is from the same material but different as the earthly one. That is the idea of 'wheat' being 'different material' from the 'seed' that it was derived from, but of some common property that associates both. Clearly human seed is not like an apple seed, and a human not like an apple. (1 Corinthians 15)
Note: I do not reject St. Thomas’s consideration, and other many good theologians who hold a similar view, for possibly this was Christ’s glorified body and somehow its 'glory' was fully hidden, until He was properly glorified as Lord? But as it was at minimum 'fully hidden', I prefer to say it was not the same body, being represented as something so different than his current one.
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