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The Blue Letter Bible
Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Objections to the Resurrection of Jesus

Don Stewart :: Was Jesus Raised Bodily from the Dead?

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Was Jesus Raised Bodily from the Dead?

Objections to the Resurrection of Jesus – Question 22

There are some who believe that Jesus Christ did not have a resurrected body, but was only a spirit in His resurrection. In other words, Jesus rose from the dead but He rose in “spirit-form.”

Jesus Was Raised in a Body

However, the Scripture is very clear on the issue; the resurrection of Jesus was in bodily form. Early in His ministry, Jesus predicted that He would come back from the dead in an actual body. He said,

So the Jews replied to Him, “What sign of authority will You show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered, “Destroy this sanctuary, and I will raise it up in three days.” Therefore the Jews said, “This sanctuary took 46 years to build, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking about the sanctuary of His body. So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this. And they believed the Scripture and the statement Jesus had made. (John 2:18-22 HCSB)

It was the body of Jesus that was to be resurrected.

In addition, Jesus refuted the idea that He was some disembodied spirit when He appeared to His disciples after His death. We read what happened when He appeared to His disciples on the day of His resurrection:

And as they were saying these things, He Himself stood among them. He said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost. “Why are you troubled?” He asked them. “And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself! Touch Me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” (Luke 24:36-39 HCSB)

Jesus Christ rose in the same body that was put in the tomb.

There Are Similarities between the Earthly and Resurrected Body of Jesus

There were a number of similarities between Christ”s earthly body and His resurrected body. They include the following.

1. People Recognized Him after His Resurrection

Jesus was recognizable to people after His resurrection from the dead. Indeed, when He appeared to His own disciples they knew that it was truly Jesus who had risen. John records the following encounter between Jesus and His disciples:

Having said this, He showed them His hands and His side. So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. (John 20:20 HCSB)

It was the same Jesus who had been crucified on the cross. On this occasion, His disciples immediately recognized Him.

2. Jesus Talked with People after He Was Raised from the Dead

Jesus talked to people after His resurrection. Luke records the Jesus conversing with His disciples when He appeared to them in the upper room:

While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?” (Luke 24:36-38 NRSV)

Jesus was not a ghost; He was real.

3. Jesus Invited People to Touch Him

The disciples were frightened with Jesus’ appearance, since they assumed they had seen a spirit. Therefore, He invited them to touch His body to see if it were real:

“Look at My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself! Touch Me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” Having said this, He showed them His hands and feet. (Luke 24:39, 40 HCSB)

This proves that Jesus had a genuine body—He was not some disembodied spirit.

4. Jesus Showed His Scars to the Disciples

When Jesus appeared to the disciples in the upper room Thomas was not among them. Thomas told the other disciples that He would not believe in the resurrection until he could see Jesus with his own eyes and touch His wounds. The Gospel of John records what happened after that:

And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:26-28 NKJV)

On this occasion Thomas was challenged by Jesus to see if He were indeed real. The doubter immediately realized that Jesus had come back from the dead in a resurrected body. His doubts were now removed.

5. Jesus Ate Food With His Resurrected Body

Jesus had the capacity, though not the need, to eat. We read of this in Luke”s gospel as He asked His disciples for something to eat:

But while they still could not believe because of their joy and were amazed, He asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, and He took it and ate in their presence. (Luke 24:41-43 HCSB)

Eating a food in the presence of His disciples was another indication that Jesus had a genuine body; He was not a mere spirit.

Simon Peter later told a group of Gentiles that Jesus ate and drank with them after His death on the cross. He put it this way:

“And we apostles are witnesses of all he did throughout Israel and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by crucifying him, but God raised him to life three days later. Then God allowed him to appear, not to the general public, but to us whom God had chosen beforehand to be his witnesses. We were those who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.” (Acts 10:39-41 NLT)

He ate food in their presence, He drank in their presence. This shows that His resurrection was indeed bodily.

The New Testament is clear; Jesus was raised from the dead in an actual body; the same body that had been put to death.

Summary – Question 22
Was Jesus Raised Bodily from the Dead?

There are those who contend that Jesus Christ did indeed rise from the dead but not in bodily form. His resurrection was “spiritual.” In other words, He only appeared to have a resurrected body.

However, from the accounts in Scripture we can see that Jesus” resurrection was indeed bodily. We discover this in two ways.

First is Jesus own testimony. Jesus made it clear that He was not a disembodied spirit. When He first appeared to His disciples in the upper room He specifically told the people that He was not a ghost or a spirit. His own testimony on this matter should settle the question.

Second, we find that the things that Jesus did also demonstrate that He has an actual body. He did things only a person having a body can do. Jesus walked with two disciples on the road to Emmaus. He ate and drank in the presence of His disciples.

In fact, He still had the wounds from the cross on His body. On the day of His resurrection He showed His disciples the scars from the wounds from the cross. It was indeed the same Jesus which had been put in the tomb.

Consequently both His words and His deeds testify to the fact that His resurrection was bodily.

Has the Tomb of Jesus and the Burial Box That Contains His Bones Been Found in Jerusalem? ← Prior Section
What Were the Differences between Jesus' Body Before and After His Resurrection? Next Section →
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