In 1 Corinthians 15:50-57 we understand this perishable body will be raised and take on it's eternal form. In death, I have always presumed that my spirit and soul parted my body and were given or housed in the resurrected body or regenerated body given for our habitation in Heaven with the Lord. In 2 Corinthians 5:1,8, we are assured that this mortal body will be changed into an incorruptible housing. Moses and Elijah appeared with the Lord on the mount of transfiguration, presumably in their resurrected bodies received when rescued from Paradise when Jesus led captivity captive and took them to Heaven, having purchased their right to now enter Heaven and God's presence by having placed his sinless blood on the Heavenly mercy seat for the remission of sins forever. (Hebrews 9:22-26) (remember God showed Moses the actual artifacts in Heaven which He wanted him to duplicated for use on the earth by the Israelites Ex. 25:40 / Hebrews 8:4-5). Jesus appeared to His disciples in His resurrected body. If our spirit and soul are indeed already housed in an incorruptible body in Heaven after we die, why would Jesus then bring the dead back with Him to re-inhabit their now resurrecting dead bodies from the graves when He comes for the rapture? Only to be re-transformed again??? It just doesn't make sense to me somehow. I believe fully in eternal life after death for those who have accepted Christ as savior. But, what is this yo-yo effect with the bodies of the dead saints??? I don't quite understand it.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 - 17
ESV - 13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
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Paul's words in 1 Thess 4 are directed to those who were confused that Jesus hadn't returned and didn't know what was the fate of those who had died in the meantime. Paul encourages them (1Thess 4:18) with an explanation of what will happen when Jesus does finally return and he deliberately focuses only on their resurrection. He makes no mention of any afterlife, or non-material existence in heaven. If this were Paul's thinking, he would have comforted them by saying what we hear in so many funerals - 'he/she is in heaven, in the arms of Jesus.' Paul knew this was not the case. He understood, and his readers understood, that the dead are 'asleep' in the grave, unaware of the passage of time until Jesus returned, when they would qualify for their eternal bodies if they were in Christ Rom 8:23. How they would be brought by God is explained where Paul says that the dead in Christ will rise first to meet the returning Jesus in the air. Jesus is returning to earth in the the same manner as he left Acts 1:11. He will take up a real reign here, with redeemed believers, so in a very clear sense those who are resurrected will be brought back with Jesus, accompanying him on his arrival on earth. The reference to Moses and Elijah having 'resurrected bodies' because Jesus has released the captives is misplaced. The vision on the mount was obviously before Jesus's death and resurrection, so the oft quoted passage about captivity being led captive in Eph 4:8, can't be applied to Moses and Elijah. In fact Jesus states that what happened was a vision, much like Peter's vision of the sheet being let down with all sorts of animals. Further the Ephesians verse cannot be connected with some kind of victory procession for those who were dead. Peter is very clear in Acts 2:34 that David is not in heaven, yet if Eph 4:8 is a parade towards heaven, he should be there. All Paul was saying is that Jesus, by his death and resurrection, had taken captive the very thing that held all of mankind captive prior to his resurrection - namely death itself. Death will not be fully overcome until Jesus hands over the kingdom to the Father (1 Cor 15:24-26) so until that time, those who died before Christ was manifest on earth have to wait until the great white throne of judgement in Rev 20. Those asleep in Christ will qualify for eternal bodies on his return as 1 Thess 4 explains. Finally, it is worth noting that this scriptural dilemma cannot arise unless immortality of the soul and/or spirit is the dominant way of understanding man. Better, and more biblically aligned, is that man in a mortal being, with immortality only bestowed by God conditional on faith in him pre-Christ (which qualifies for eternal life at the second resurrection) or faith in Jesus (which qualifies for eternal life at the first resurrection on his return). An immortal component of man is not assumed in the bible. The devil would have us believe otherwise and said so to Eve in the garden Gen 3:4. Man has been devising ways since then of an afterlife that will take the place of qualification by God. All the Babylonian, Egyptian, Persian, Greek and Roman views of a non-material afterlife are testament to this, yet the bible speaks of a silent grave where the dead know and experience nothing ahead of resurrection Dan 12:2. So, this 'conundrum' can be easily understood when we take the immortal soul out of the equation (a 'soul' is just a living, breathing person), and also see the sequence of our inheriting eternal bodies in terms of resurrection and not an existence in 'heaven' immediately after we die. Jesus is coming to earth, and we will join him on his return, rising from the grave having been asleep in Christ, and therefore in a very blessed situation compared to the lost.
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