Different Christian denominations have differing theologies of the resurrection: what it means for us, how it happened, and so on. What do the main bodies of Christian belief (Orthodox, Catholic, "mainline" Protestant) have to say, if anything, about Jesus' resurrected body, compared with the human body he had in his lifetime? Did he sleep? Did he grow tired? Did he get hungry? Did he have to defecate?

This passage from Luke seems to say that Jesus had flesh and bones, was hungry, and ate food, and this question assumes all those things are to be taken literally.

Luke 24:36-43 ESV As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.

Again, I'm looking for an overview of beliefs from major Christian denominations; answers can be based on Scripture, Sacred Tradition, Church Fathers, or whatever each denomination uses to construct its fundamental beliefs.

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    It's better. Definitely better. Still a bit broad, however. I get what you're getting at, and it's an interesting question, I just can't think of any way to pose it that doesn't make it either too broad, or so narrow as to be pointless. Even as it is, there could be several answers from different perspectives. About the only way I can see this standing is if it were narrowed to something like "What is the official Catholic (or insert other) teaching on this?" That would only work with denominations with a central authority. Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 2:58

4 Answers 4


Oh man this is a good question!

As always, coming from a Catholic perspective:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church has this to say about resurrection generally:

What is "rising"? In death, the separation of the soul from the body, the human body decays and the soul goes to meet God, while awaiting its reunion with its glorified body. God, in his almighty power, will definitively grant incorruptible life to our bodies by reuniting them with our souls, through the power of Jesus’ Resurrection.

How? Christ is raised with his own body: "See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself"; but he did not return to an earthly life. So, in him, "all of them will rise again with their own bodies which they now bear," but Christ "will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body," into a "spiritual body" [Documents and Statements of the Fourth Lateran Council, 1215]

But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” You foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body which is to be, but a bare kernel.... What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable.... The dead will be raised imperishable.... For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality. (1 Cor 15:35-37, 42, 52, 53)

What I get from this is essentially that it's not clear, and it's not going to be clear until it happens, just exactly how Jesus' or any other person's resurrected body works. Of course things like growing tired, getting hungry, and eliminating food waste are natural processes; there's nothing wrong with them (though at least in the case of the last we have privacy restrictions and taboos relating to it). But resurrection gives us a "glorious body", and no one knows how that's going to work.

On the other hand, the older catechism, the Catechism of Pius V, is possibly a bit more definite:

Not only will the body rise, but whatever belongs to the reality of its nature, and adorns and ornaments man will be restored.

This seems to indicate that since these processes "[belong] to the reality of [the body's] nature" now, they will in the future. On the other hand, one of the qualities which this Catechism attributes to the resurrected is

impassibility, which shall place them beyond the reach of suffering anything disagreeable or of being affected by pain or inconvenience of any sort.

That certainly seems to mean that at a minimum there will be no upset stomachs :-) It might also be interpreted to mean that any of these processes that might be considered an "inconvenience" of sorts might also be eliminated.

I looked as well at Aquinas' Summa Theologica; that doesn't really seem to have anything that I could reasonably apply. So that's all I've got.

I'd have to go with the modern Catechism's apparent answer: "We really don't know."

  • @brasshat: I deleted your comments as they were not constructive, but merely started a discussion. Please refrain from doing that again in the future. Matt, I appreciate that you elected not to continue after one reply. Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 15:57

Early on, the Church fought against a heresy known as Docetism. Docetism taught that Jesus only appeared to look like a man, but in reality was not. Any teaching that denied the existence of Jesus' resurrected body not functioning as a normal, human body, is thus technically heretical in Nicene formulation.

For this reason, the Chalcedonian Creed states that Jesus is:

consubstantial with us as far as his humanness is concerned; thus like us in all respects, sin only excepted

Gnostically speaking, however, the docetic idea permeated their scriptures. According to the Gnostic texts of Judas, Peter, and Phillip, for example, you would find that Jesus' body was only an apparition. As the Gospel Treatise of Seth states:

I visited a bodily dwelling. I cast out the one who was in it previously, and I went in.

The implications for Christology if Jesus did not have a physical body would essentially preclude substitutionary atonement.


Although I am somewhat hazy about whether or not the question fits into the scope of this site or not, I will give what I know from my studies, and you may feel free to use them as they apply to your question.

There are two basic facts that must be considered here.

all other arguments aside, we are absolutely sure that Jesus was a human just as any of us are human, therefore is there any reason to believe that Jesus resurrected body is any different from what every other resurrected body would be.

and also

God who able to create the Material world also has the power to rearrange or even recreate all things to conform to his pleasure.

to that end what do we know about the resurrected body?

All Scripture is quoted from the King James translation unless otherwise noted:

Matthew 22:23 through 32 The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

We can determine several things from this statement of Christ:

First of all we need to take a long look at Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

'not knowing the Scriptures' what Scriptures is Jesus making reference to. The scriptures of Jesus time consisted of the five books of Moses, and the Prophets.

There seems to be little doubt that Jesus was referring to the writings of Moses, and to that end most probably to the book of Genesis in which there is more information about the power and incentives of God than any other books of the Old testament.

In the story of creation alone we are told that there are two realms the realm where God is or the spiritual realm, and the material or create realm.

The Angels are definitely of the spiritual realm, so when Jesus said; "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven." He is telling us that we will be Spiritual beings. That presupposes that we will not have a material body as we know it now.

The Apostle John said it best in:

1st John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.


Jehovah's Witnesses are among those who take a different view of the "body or bodies" that Jesus appeared to his followers in after his resurrection. Below is quoted from jw.org:

After Jesus’ Resurrection, Was His Body Flesh or Spirit?

The Bible's answer

The Bible says that Jesus “was put to death in the flesh but made alive [resurrected] in the spirit.”—1 Peter 3:18; Acts 13:34; 1 Corinthians 15:45; 2 Corinthians 5:16.

Jesus’ own words showed that he would not be resurrected with his flesh-and-blood body. He said that he would give his “flesh in behalf of the life of the world,” as a ransom for mankind. (John 6:51; Matthew 20:28) If he had taken back his flesh when he was resurrected, he would have canceled that ransom sacrifice. This could not have happened, though, for the Bible says that he sacrificed his flesh and blood “once for all time.”—Hebrews 9:11, 12.

If Jesus was raised up with a spirit body, how could his disciples see him?

  • Spirit creatures can take on human form. For example, angels who did this in the past even ate and drank with humans. (Genesis 18:1-8; 19:1-3) However, they still were spirit creatures and could leave the physical realm.—Judges 13:15-21.

  • After his resurrection, Jesus also assumed human form temporarily, just as angels had previously done. As a spirit creature, though, he was able to appear and disappear suddenly. (Luke 24:31; John 20:19, 26) The fleshly bodies that he materialized were not identical from one appearance to the next. Thus, even Jesus’ close friends recognized him only by what he said or did.—Luke 24:30, 31, 35; John 20:14-16; 21:6, 7.

  • When Jesus appeared to the apostle Thomas, he took on a body with wound marks. He did this to bolster Thomas’ faith, since Thomas doubted that Jesus had been raised up.—John 20:24-29.

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