What is the evidence that Christ's resurrection body was physical?
One of our guest speakers was Dr. Ron Rhodes, the founder and director of Reasoning From the Scriptures Ministries. With nearly 50 books penned and decades of public teaching, he is an expert on the Bible. As a former "Bible Answer Man," he specializes in easy to understand answers to the really tough questions about the Bible and the defense of the Scriptures.
Dr. Rhodes' topic at our conference was "The Truth of the Resurrection" (watch). He did a remarkable job in the following segment of explaining that Christ's resurrection was physical in nature.
The Resurrection Body
There are some people out there who claim that Jesus died in one body but resurrected in a different body. There are some who claim that, just like there are some people who claim that when you die you are going to die in one body and then you are going to get a different body altogether. Well, what does Scripture really say about this?
First of all, the empty tomb shows that it was the same body. Look, if one body goes into the tomb and the same body comes out of the tomb, doesn't that mean it is the same body? That's a no brainer! You would think so.
Furthermore, the crucifixion scars prove that it was the same body. Jesus showed His crucifixion scars to different people on different occasions. It proves that it was the same body that went into the tomb.
And, still furthermore, Jesus Himself promised that it would be the same body. Jesus was talking to the Jews when He said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (Jn. 2:19). I will raise it from the ground. I will reconstruct it. They thought that He was talking about the physical building — the Temple, but then he indicated He was talking about His physical body. Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it, which is the same body from the dead. It was the same body.
The resurrection body Scripture says very clearly, "neither his flesh did see corruption" (Acts 2:31). In other words, the flesh that went into the tomb did not see corruption, but came back to life. It was the same body. Case closed!
There is a good analogy in the seed. In using an analogy from planting a seed, the body is sown in death, that is to say that it is buried. And, just as the same seed that is planted in the ground blossoms into a flower, that, too, is physically related to that seed. So, the same body that is planted in the ground comes forth from the ground. The same body that goes into the ground is resurrected. The point of victory comes at the point of defeat. It was the body that died. It is that same body that is resurrected from the dead.
I want you to fully understand that Christ's resurrection was a physical resurrection. The Jehovah's Witnesses teach that His was just a spiritual resurrection body. I've got to tell you that there are even some evangelical theologians who have claimed the same. There have been some evangelical theologians at seminaries that have written books claiming that Jesus' body was a spirit resurrection. This is unbiblical!
Jesus' resurrection was a physical resurrection. For example, Jesus appeared to the disciples and said, "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have" (Lk. 24:39). I don't know how you can get much more clearer than that. That is a physical body.
Furthermore, Jesus ate physical food four times after the Resurrection, and He did this as a proof that He had a real, physical body. By the way, do you know what that indicates? That indicates that when you and I get resurrected from the dead, we can still eat. Yeah! And, apparently, not gain weight. So, yeah, I'm looking forward to that good, heavenly cooking!
The Resurrection was said to be "in the flesh." He was raised in the flesh. That is a physical body — in the flesh. It even retained the crucifixion scars.
I'm not going to get technical with you here, but I do know Greek and have had over 13 semesters of Greek. But, I just want to tell you that the Greek word for "body" when it is applicable to a human being always refers to a physical body. It never, ever in the Greek New Testament refers to anything other than a physical body. So, when Jesus resurrected from the dead, it was a physical body that He resurrected in.
In the final segment of Dr. Rhodes sermon on "The Truth of the Resurrection," we'll look at the the many reliable testimonies authenticating Jesus' resurrection as an actual event.