Thursday, July 9, 2009

Intermediate Bodies?

Q: When we die, if we are spirits in Heaven, how will we recognize others? According to II Cor. 5:1-8, it seems a case could be made for an intermediate body, before our resurrection body. Can you shed any light on this?

A: You are correct in understanding that the new body is not given until the resurrection of the dead, thus it is natural to ask what happens between our death and our resurrection. Much of what happens during this time period is a mystery. Some suggest that we will sleep during this time and have no conscious awareness of any events. The events of Luke 16:22-31 tell what happened to an unsaved rich man and to a man named Lazarus.
Lazarus went to a place called the bosom of Abraham, and the rich man went to the place of torments in hell. Although these places are near to each other- near enough that they can see each other- they cannot go back and forth, because of a great gulf between. This passage provides more detail about the intermediate state than others. I find it interesting to note that the rich man was able to see both Abraham and Lazarus. This would suggest that he could either see their bodies or else recognize their spirits. Perhaps even more intriguing is that the rich man wanted Lazarus to use his finger to dip water on his tongue. Tongues and fingers are body parts, suggesting some sort of body.
2 Corinthians 5:1-8 KJV 1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. 5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. 6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
Notice how vs. 1 speaks of a tabernacle being dissolved and a house put in its place. A tabernacle could be taken down and put back up quite quickly, a house was more permanent. The house of vs. 1, would be eternal/forever in the heavens. Our bodies now are temporary, but our resurrection bodies will be forever.
Though this passage gives us hope for our final bodies, it is not clear enough about what is happening during the intermediate state. Vs 3 speaks of being clothed with a body, but based on the context, that likely refers to the body we will have for the eternal state. Ultimately, we have very little information about the bodies of those in that intermediate state. We know very little about what happens during that time. Although it seems that men can see each other, there is no indication that they can actually see us here on earth. On the other hand, we are not told that they cannot.
The II Cor 5, passage show, however, that we will have bodies during the eternal state. How recognizable we will be then is questionable, for remember that we will be as the angels. (Matt. 22:30).
I do find it interesting that although Abraham was from a different time in history than the rich man, he still recognized him. Perhaps God will just give us the insight.

1 comment:

Rev. Jason P. Peterson said...

Good thoughts overall, Mr. Miller. The distinctions you note are all too often absent from the theology of many churches, especially the Resurrection of the Body.

Revelation 6:9-11 might be an additional reference to consider concerning the consciousness of the deceased and their knowledge of earthly events.