It seems that believers will receive their new bodies at the second coming:

1 Cor 15:51,52: "Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed."

However, if a believer dies before the second coming, it appears that they will already receive a new body:

2 Cor 5:1: "For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands."

How can these two scriptures be reconciled? Is the "building from God" a temporary vessel until the believer receives his/her resurrected body at the second coming or are these two bodies the same? Or maybe something entirely different?

  • Well, one possibility is that 2 Cor 5:1 isn't referring to a body at all, but an actual dwelling, i.e. John 14:2.
    – Matthew
    Commented Jul 29, 2022 at 2:04
  • This wonderful time is when faithful believers (both dead and alive) are 'born from above' and John 3:6 is realised.
    – steveowen
    Commented Jul 29, 2022 at 5:10

2 Answers 2


The two verses are talking about the same thing.

1 Corinthians 15:51,52 talks about two groups of people, those that "sleep" (i.e. have died, and are currently unconscious) and those that are still alive. At Christ's return, both groups will be transformed into immortal spirit beings at that time:

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.
1 Thessalonians 4:15

2 Corinthians 5:1 simply uses figurative language, referring to physical bodies as tents (temporary dwellings), and spirit bodies as buildings (permanent).

  • Which denomination is it that refers to the resurrected bodies as spirit bodies (as opposed to physical bodies that are immortal, I assume)?
    – kutschkem
    Commented Jul 29, 2022 at 11:40
  • @kutschkem There are many. Here is one: [What Do You Mean -"Born Again"? — Living Church of God ](tomorrowsworld.org/magazines/2003/january-february/…). ¶ Or see my answers to What is the Order of the Resurrection of the Dead? and Is John 3:3 a universal statement, O.T. Saints included?. Commented Jul 29, 2022 at 20:11
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    @RayButterworth I believe the term "sleep" (1 Cor 15) is an euphemism. No one that has died is actually unconscious at the moment (see e.g. 2 Cor 5:8 ("absent from the body... present with the Lord"), Eph 4:8 (taking captivity captive), Rev 6:9 (souls under the altar), 1 Thes 4:14 (Jesus bringing the believers that died back with him)). Sleep is merely indicating that their bodies are "asleep" from a earthly perspective. Also, where does the bible make a distinction between "physical" and "spiritual" bodies? The body is the vessel of the spirit.
    – aslan
    Commented Jul 31, 2022 at 0:09
  • @aslan says "No one that has died is actually unconscious at the moment". Not according to Ecclesiastes 9:5: "but the dead know not any thing", or Psalm 146:4: "His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish". Commented Jul 31, 2022 at 0:20
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    @aslan, in John 3:8, Jesus described what one's reborn spirit body will be like: "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.". This is how, after his resurrection, Jesus was able to enter rooms without using the doors or windows. Once inside, he then manifested himself as a physical body in order to interact with the disciples, just as many times, angels manifested themselves as physical bodies when talking with humans. (E.g. the two angels in Genesis 18 and 19.) Commented Jul 31, 2022 at 2:56

In the context of 2 Corinthians, a key word that is easy to skip over is the word naked. In context, to be naked means that when we die, our spirit/soul/mind is/are separated from our mortal, earthly body. In other words, the believer's absence from the body leaves them, temporarily, without a glorified body--in other words, naked.

Had Adam and Eve not sinned, their bodies would have lived forever. That was God's design from the very beginning, though through their disobedience they became subject to death. "In Adam, all die" (1 Cor 15:22).

Now, since "to depart [from the body] . . . [is to] be with Christ" (Philippians 1:23 NIV), in what way will a believer be in Christ's presence when their spirit is flown? According to Paul, the believer will be without a physical body; in other words, he or she will be naked.

This is not to say that all the believers who have claimed to have been in heaven as the result of a near-death experience did not see what they believe they saw. There may be more than one way to see, a way that does not require physical eyes. When alive, we often say, "Oh, I see" or "I see what you mean" when we in fact mean we understand, or we "see" with our mind's eye.

In short, those who "die in Christ" still exist, even though they do not yet have their spiritual bodies. That is because the saints in heaven are waiting for resurrection day, which the apostle Paul elucidates in 1 Thessalonians 4. Worth noting is the saints who preceded us in death are resurrected first! They are naked no longer.

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