Being Human 9 – Resurrection, Adam, and our Future Hope (RJS)

The final chapter of Joel B. Green’s book Body, Soul, and Human Life: The Nature of Humanity in the Bible deals with the resurrection of the body. The Christian hope is in resurrection, without this death wins, evil can win, and we have nothing. As Paul says, without the resurrection our faith is futile.

The emphasis in Dr. Green’s book is that being human is a totally embodied experience – sin is an embodied phenomenon; virtue and conversion are embodied phenomena; in the same way resurrection is a fully embodied phenomenon.  I put Dr. Green’s book aside for awhile – but this final chapter is well worth a post. It both wraps up his book and connects with our current discussion of Adam, especially Adam in the context of 1 Cor. 15.

There are a several themes that Dr. Green emphasizes about resurrection. These hang with his overall thesis that both science and scripture argue against human body-soul duality. I cannot do justice to the full content in one short post. But here is a brief sketch.

1. Life throughout the OT and most of the NT is viewed as a fully embodied existence. There is no “essential person” or soul apart from the embodied existence.

2. There is no clear teaching in scripture of an intermediate state between life and resurrection. Dr. Green argues this point at length – wrestling especially with the writings of Luke. This includes the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, the words of Jesus to the thief on the cross, and the perception of Jesus after the resurrection. I rather expect that this is where many of us may disagree with Dr. Green.

3. Jesus’ existence after the resurrection is not as a spirit, a resurrected corpse, or as an angel – “his, rather, is a transformed materiality, a full bodily resurrection.” (p. 167) He exists in continued relationship with God and with his disciples. He re-establishes the table fellowship that so characterized his ministry. “Hence the post-resurrection persistence of Jesus’ identity is established, first, with reference to his physicality and, second, with reference to relationality and mission.” (p. 168)

Resurrection – whatever it is, however it happens, and it happens only as the divine gift of God, through his power – is a fully embodied phenomenon.

How do you understand the Christian hope in resurrection? What is resurrection?

Jesus, his life, death, and resurrection as the focus of scripture. Dr. Green takes his discussion of resurrection a step further – and looks at resurrection as the culmination of the message and trajectory of scripture. This starts with a look at the nature of the resurrection of Jesus in the book of Luke and its connection with the grand narrative of scripture.

Jesus moves immediately to a third kind of evidence: “Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you – that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled’ ” (Luke 24:44). Here is the move Jesus makes: He weaves a story; or rather he picks up the story that is already present, the one in the Scriptures, within which, throughout his ministry, he has sought to inscribe himself. In an essential sense, his identity is lodged there, in the grand story of God. What is more, he shows that the Scriptures themselves can be read aright only with reference to him, only insofar as they are actualized in the continuity of his person from life to crucifixion and afterlife, in resurrection. (p. 168-169)

Jesus explained the scriptures to the two on the road to Emmaus, and when the two returned to the eleven and those who were with them in Jerusalem Jesus appeared among them and opened their minds to understand the scriptures.

Resurrection and 1 Cor. 15. The next great passage on Resurrection is 1 Corinthians 15 – a statement of the gospel, the essential reality of the resurrection of Jesus, and an extended discussion of the resurrection body. Here I would like to draw something of a connection and contrast between Dr. Green’s discussion of resurrection in the context of 1 Cor. 15 and Dr. C. John Collin’s discussion the historicity of Adam in light of the same passage.

The first point is that the statement of the gospel in 1 Cor. 15 is a restatement of Jesus as the focus and fulfilment of the scriptures.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3-4)

This harks back to Luke 24 – the scriptures speak to the mission of Jesus and are only interpreted properly in this context. The comparison between Christ and Adam is likewise a connection of the story of Jesus with the scripture – as completion and as contrast.

For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

The phrase “in Adam” Dr. Collins identifies as covenantal language. We are in Adam in terms of our relationship with each other and with God. But we are also in Adam in terms of our physical bodies. The first Adam is of the earth, with an earthy corruptible body. This body is subject to death and decay on account of sin – not because the nature of Adam’s body underwent a transformation following his sin (he was of the earth before the fall), but because of the broken communion with God – represented as the expulsion from the Garden and from the Tree of Life. Dr. Green doesn’t make quite this connection – but he reflects on the distinction Paul makes between the earthy body of Adam (Gen. 2:7) and the spiritual or heavenly body of the resurrected Lord. The most significant connection between Adam and Jesus is not typological but ontological. The first Adam was of the earth – he became a living soul – and we are all likewise in Adam and of the earth. The last Adam (Christ), on the other hand, became a life-giving spirit.

Paul insists that the first Adam was dusty, the second Adam heavenly, and in so doing makes use of the physical science of his world (15:47-49). That is, ἐκ γῆς χοϊκός (ek ges choikos, “[of] dust of the earth”) and ἐξ οὐρανοῦ (ex ouranou, “of heaven”) refer to the nature of the two kinds of body – the one made up of the stuff of the earth, dust, and thus well-suited to earthly life; the other made up of heavenly stuff, and thus well-suited to life in the heavens. (p. 174)

Dr. Green points out that Paul’s focus here is not on death, not on sin, not on Adam, but on the resurrection hope and the nature of the bodily resurrection as we are “in Christ”. Paul makes use of scripture and his understanding of heaven and earth to describe the distinction between our present bodies and the resurrection body, but ultimately it is a mystery.

Dr. Collins finds it hard to conceive of a covenantal relationship “in” someone who had no historical existence. Thus Paul’s use of Adam, in his view, implies historicity. But if the focus of 1 Cor. 15 is on the resurrection hope through Christ, then Adam as a historical individual could be incidental to the intent of the text. Mankind as of the earth and in broken relationship with God is essential to the intent of the text, in this way we are “in Adam”. But this does not require Adam as a unique historical individual. The resurrection of Jesus and his role as life-giving spirit is the essential focus of the text. Jesus, who as Paul says in Colossians  “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation,” is, in fact, the central figure of 1 Cor. 15 and of the narrative of scripture.

Resurrection and Our Future Hope. Dr. Green’s focus in his book is not on Adam, but is on the earthy embodied nature of human existence. If we are fully embodied creatures – what then does this mean for resurrection? It must mean a fully re-embodied resurrection. Dr. Green sums up his discussion of resurrection and his book with three reflections.

First, even for the non-dualist, it is problematic to imagine that human identity is constructed or sustained solely in material terms. ( p. 178)  … What I want especially to underscore here, though, is that who we are, our personhood, is inextricably bound up in our physicality, and so is inextricably tied to the cosmos God has created, and in the sum of our life experiences and relationships. (p. 179)

Relationships, with God, with each other, and with the world form and define our personhood.

This means, second, that death must be understood not only in biological terms, as merely the cessation of one’s body, but as the conclusion of the embodied life, … sans divine intervention, there is no part of us, no aspect of our personhood, that survives death. (p. 179)

There is no natural immortality. Immortality is a gift of God.

Third … life-after-death requires embodiment – that is – re-embodiment. … How are we capable of traversing from life to life-after-death? Simply put, we are not. The capacity for resurrection, for transformed existence, is not a property intrinsic to the human person (nor to the created cosmos). This is, as Paul emphasizes, God’s doing. Even if our transformed lives in Christ in this world anticipate, they do not constitute eschatological existence. The glorious, bodily transformation of which Paul speaks is the consequence of resurrection, not the preparation for it. (p. 179-180)

There is no Christian hope without the resurrection and resurrection is “a divine gift, divinely enacted”. Paul did not really have the words or framework to describe the resurrection body – but he knew that it is a body and it is entirely the work of God – a continuation of our existence, but transformed in the new creation, not of the perishable material structures of this world. He brings Adam into the picture not to affirm the historicity of a unique individual (although he may assume historicity) but to contrast the earthy body subject to death and decay with the heavenly resurrection body – imperishable and capable of life everlasting.

I’ve rambled a bit here – from Luke to 1 Cor. to the nature of resurrection. Resurrection, though, is key to our understanding of the Gospel. Paul leaves no doubt about this. If there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised our faith is futile. There are a number of questions we could consider – on the nature of resurrection, the nature of the resurrection body.  In light of the on-going controversy over Adam I would like to add two other questions to the mix.

What do you see as Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 15?

How does this relate to the comparison between Adam and Christ?

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  • Brian

    Hey Scott, I’m Brian, I’ve recently become a fan of your works and upon seeing this website I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to post on your blog.
    But in regaurds to the topic matter I agree, Paul’s point was to make a contrast between the earthly body of the man of earth and the heavenly body of the man of heaven. Even if he were to assume that Adam existed, which he didn’t, it doesn’t really hold any relevance for the power of his argument which instead deals with the future hope and resurrection.
    As for the resurrection body the way I see it is that it’s a transformation of our physical bodies into spiritual bodies, so that it is no longer subject to perishability and decay, but I can’t quiet tell if Tom Wright is on to something when he says that the greek adjective “ikos” denotes the mode of existence rather than substance. I think it be wise if we just put a question mark over Paul’s description of the body, I mean he’s kind of hard to understand and we weren’t there to expeirence what he saw or felt, for all we know spiritual was probably the only word that even came close to describing the risen lord, we are limited by language you know.
    Well interesting dicussion as always, I’ll try to make regular visits to your site.

  • Amos Paul

    I think we have a problem in defining ‘body’. I got the impression that this piece is basically implying something like the body we have now–but Paul specifically seems to imply that there is something ‘Heavenly’ or ‘other’ about the raised body.

    But more to point, I think even making these distinctions is an ‘earthly’ endeavor. It seems scientifically minded, to me, to understand ‘what’ the body is that we are supposed to be living in will be like. Indeed, I feel like Paul was responding to just such objections in I Corinthians 15–“How are the dead raised, with what kind of body do they come?”

    I actually believe that an Aristotelian distinction really helps us in conceptualizing this puzzle. That is, a soul is the form of a person’s life that is realizing a body. A body is whatever there is that happens to realize a soul. Our life is defined by the soul but for there to be a life, it must be realized in some way–body.

    I think the more perplexing questions with Paul, actually, is the manner in which he talks about people being ‘asleep’ and/or dead before they are ‘raised’–as though there is an intermediate state or states between the resurrection and our earthly passing. This may be irrelevant and reliant merely upon the Jewish conception of Sheol, the deep place of the dead.

    But he then also uses the analogy of our bodies being ‘sown’ as one thing, and then raised as another thing. But things that are sown are placed into some state (buried in the earth) to sprout with life from therein. Personally, I find this indicative of the idea that, after death, we do not merely ‘take up’ heavenly perfection but, rather, grow into and in it somehow. That’s heading towards another discussion, however…

    As a final example, we *do* have some strange Biblical examples of the dead appearing alive and recognizable–though lacking a material body so far as we can tell. That is Samuel being called by the Witch of Endor to talk to Saul as well as Elijah and Moses appearing next to Jesus at the Transfiguration. This indicates to me, at least, that these people’s lives were clearly continuing on in some way after death and not merely dormant or attached to some sort of material state as we are used to conceiving of ‘bodies’.

  • Dutch Rikkers

    Re: Adam’s body after sin. The Tree of Life is one of the key bookends of the Bible. We had access to it in the Garden and its fruit assured perpetual life. Apparently because God did not want sinful people to keep living, He banned Adam from access to it. Then the Tree of Life comes back again (some 1000 years later in the canon) in the third chapter of the Revelation. And finally we see it as a permanent fixture in the coming Garden city for the “healing of the nations” in the last book of the Bible.

    Since we are intended to be embodied souls/spirits, which are in need of nourishment, isn’t it quite possible that the Tree of Life indeed provides vital food–in fact, the MOST vital of food for us to keep on living?

    Another thought struck me about Adam and Eve: before sin and rebellion and having access to the Tree of Life, their age in years was meaningless. Could they not have lived for eons before the fall? Is it possible that the age given for Adam at his death makes reference only to the years he lived after he became mortal? Could the Garden have been a sanctuary for the creature made in God’s image throughout the ages of many dinosaurs? Could the supposed 10,000-people source of the modern human genetic code be all the descendants of then ageless Adam and Eve and that conception was far less common before the Fall. One of the mystery statements about the Fall in the KJV, which has been taken out in modern translations, is that Eve’s “conception” would increase along with the pain of labor.

    Amos, I have had the same thoughts about Samuel, Moses, and Elijah. But since Jesus appeared to take on a different body at the Transfiguration (perhaps a foreshadowing of His resurrection body), it may well be that God may at any time return the essence of us to material bodies. I also have wondered how the disciples recognized Moses and Elijah, their not likely having any pictures of them. Perhaps Jesus introduced them to the disciples. As John says, though, a great many things happened during the Incarnation that have not been written down. The wonder of it all!

  • A robust understanding of resurrection was never articulated to me in the evangelical world I was raised. It’s only been in the last few years that the idea of resurrection has become a more prominent subject to explore. Rob Bell points to it incessantly, not as an idea to understand, but an event that shapes how we live. N.T. Wright is the other one to add substance to this praxis.

    So any thoughts I have on it are underdeveloped and weak. It’s a shaming thing to admit, since Paul makes such a big point of it, and yet my evangelical upbringing made so little of it. Resurrection was like icing on the cake, following the Rapture.

    But for me, now, resurrection is a promise for how God is going to restore all things in the far, far, far, far distant future. Whether it is a promise of a new beginning, a new chapter in an long, ongoing story, or the emergence of a new flower from a sown seed, I am not yet confident on what resurrection hope means for me as a Christian. Terrible, isn’t it?

  • Amos, there is no indication in the text that Samuel did not have a material body. In fact, it explicitly says that he looked like an old man wrapped in a robe.

    As for Elijah and Moses, Jesus explains in Matthew 17:9 that what the disciples saw was a vision. And again, even in terms of the vision, there is no indication that the men they saw did not have material forms.

    I don’t believe that Hebrew thought had any concept of disembodied existence. Even the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, which is often pointed to as evidence of a conscious intermediate state, depicts two fully embodied men living in Hades.

  • Tim (4), your observation about your evangelical upbringing is telling. I had the same experience; the resurrection just wasn’t talked about very often.

    I think the reason is obvious. If we “go to heaven” when we die, then the resurrection is superfluous, period. Since most evangelicals are cartesian dualists who believe that our immaterial souls go directly into the presence of the Lord upon death, then it’s no surprise that the doctrine of the resurrection is more or less disregarded.

    By contrast, whenever NT authors talk about our hope after death, they always cache it out in terms of the resurrection. Not once do they talk about “going to heaven when we die.” By their lights, our hope after death, indeed out only hope after death is resurrection.

  • Amos Paul


    1 Samuel 28:

    13 The king said to her, “Don’t be afraid. What do you see?”
    The woman said, “I see a spirit coming up out of the ground.”
    14 “What does he look like?” he asked.
    “An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said.
    Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.

    A spirit rising out of the ground doesn’t sound like what we would normally call a physical body. In any case, matter does not spontaneously occur realizing a human soul and then un-occur. It’s obvious, then, that the Biblical exmaples of people seeing the dead are not following the expected laws of physical matter.

  • Ty

    I’m with Tim on this one. Growing up in the evangelical church prepared me to win souls for God and worry about the Rapture, but the Resurrection was moot. In fact, Resurrection was just another word for life-after-death. I am not taking pot-shots at my upbringing because God can use it however he likes, but I am imputing blame onto bad theology. It takes the likes of Rob Bell and NT Wright, both, sadly, controversial (though for good reasons) to awaken a desire for resurrection life that the Apostle Paul was so adamant about. I am looking forward to researching and reading more about resurrection life from past church teachers and preachers, who are sadly left by the wayside.

  • Amos, that’s a mistranslation. The medium actually says that she sees elohim (“gods” although it is occasionally translated as “judges” or “rulers”) coming up out of the ground. Incidentally, “comping up out of the ground” is resurrection language, and that’s probably what happened here—Samuel was raised from the dead.

    I’m a little confused by what you’re saying. Are you suggesting that the medium and Saul see and speak to a non-physical being? How is that even possible? Even angels assume physical forms when dealing with humans.

  • Amos Paul

    By physical I mean following the physical laws of the universe as our bodies do. In all honesty, we haven’t the fainest what *actually* happened with Samuel. He appeared and was gone. He was *clearly* existing and interacting with the world in a way that is different than the way we exist.

    Again, I haven’t much respect for detailing out the machincations of ‘resurrection bodies’. If you look at the distinction I made above, philsophically speaking I defined any way that a soul lives as that of being ’embodied’. The body is merely what the soul realizes to be actualized. Though I would find it rather strange if, as you say, this is a Paulian described Christian resurrection that occured (1) at the behest of a witch who Samuel described as disturbing him and (2) prior to the ‘first fruits’ of Christ’s resurrection.

  • Amos (10),

    It is a bizarre account, that’s for sure. But the passage does give us an indication of what happens. Samuel says that he was “disturbed” and “brought up.” This is consonant with how Scripture portrays death: physical people die and go into the ground where they “sleep.”

    So as best as I can tell, Samuel was temporarily raised from the dead. The other plausible option is that a demon was pretending to be Samuel.

    As for your two points:

    1. It is no less strange for a “soul” to be summoned at the behest of a medium. In either instance, something miraculous is clearly taking place.

    2. There were several resurrections prior to Christ’s resurrection. In all of those cases, however, the resurrection was only temporary and the person eventually died again—that is, they were raised with mortal bodies. Christ’s resurrection is said to be the “first fruits” because he was the first person to be raised in a glorified and immortal body.

  • Amos Paul


    So as I take it, your personal interpretation is that Samuel rose again with a body like you and me and lived until that body died again? I find that doubtful, but it’s certainly not something that we can presume Scripture answers for us. I find it far more likely that Samuel only appeared as an old man for identity purposes and left as quickly as he came, abandoning the appearance that his life realized for the benefit of Saul.

    I also find the resurrection stories and Scripture and so forth to be of a completely different character than Christ’s resurrection, and not just concerning a different kind of body. Christ literally did something that involved his life realizing an entirely new creation. Other resurrections were merely lives realizing the same physical bodies and estates as before.

    But in any case, the Transfiguration is yet another account where Elijah and Moses apparently show up, and then disappear. Again, clearly, their lives or ‘souls’ are not boung in bodies like the ones we have now. What sort of bodies or realizations their lives are occupying, I have no idea, but I’m arguing that the evidence obviously shows them living on in a different way that is not, yet, the resurrection we await.

  • Amos (12), the text leaves open what happened to Samuel after the incident. My speculation is that he immediately went back into the ground.

    You say that my interpretation is doubtful and that yours is more likely, but you didn’t interact with anything in the text that I pointed to. Why is your interpretation more likely when we consider what the text actually says and when we consider how the OT talks about death in general?

    As for Elijah and Moses, as I said in comment 5, the disciples saw a vision. Elijah and Moses were not literally and actually on the mountain top with Jesus, any more than a giant sheet filled with animals literally and actually fell down from heaven in Acts 10.

  • Dutch Rikkers

    Ronnie, I have always thought the fact that the witch was shocked to see Samuel shows that it was not a demon (her certainly being familiar with her “familiar spirit.”) When she actually saw Samuel instead of her familiar spirit, she was blown away by it.

    Regarding a resurrection of Samuel, it appears that he was buried near present day Ramallah (probably Ramah)perhaps at the site of Neby Samwel–where when I was with a TV documentary crew we shot part of the story of Saul. We also went to Endor, which is over 50 miles from Ramallah close to Mt. Tabor. So it seems that Samuel did not come “out of the ground” at his burial spot. My guess, then, is that it only appeared that he came out of the ground and that his essence had been with God, and God gave him a body by which he could be seen.

    If this and the appearance of Elijah and Moses show anything, it seems to be that our essence (soil/spirit) is in God’s safekeeping for sure–and since Jesus dwells with the Father and communes with the Spirit who is present with us in life,(and probably death) our disembodied self could be, as Paul said, “present with the Lord” and can be assigned a familiar body at any time. The Transfiguration also seems to indicate that there is awareness of earthly circumstances available to our disembodied persons–unless God briefs us before He sends us back to the material earth.

    Seems that Stephen Hawking may well be right about at least one other parallel universe–the very one that causes this one to exist!

  • Amos Paul


    I basically agree with what Dutch said, although I’m uncertain to what extent and in what ways we’re ‘closer’ to God upon death. My views there are potentially different. But The OT, as you say, does talk about the dead as being put down into the deep. It also says that the souls therein are irretrievable, sort of asleep, etc. Although, if anyting, much of this language is more poetic than theological. Indeed, there is Judaic theology that does believe and teach the resurrection of God’s people–though Judaic teaching is generally that God gave us this life to be concerned with it, not the next.

    But still–it is more of a stretch for me to imagine that the ‘Witch’s power’ or God would retrieve Samuel’s physical and decaying body to resurrect him in it, then that he merely *appeared* as an old man. Again, as the text says. I also do interpret the usage of the word elohim to describe Samuel to be indicative of the fact that his appearance seemed supernatural to the witch, more than a human which she expected. You call spirit a mis-translation, but why else would the witch call him a god? I think it means that Samuel seemed different than a normal person.

    Also, your statement that Elijah and Moses were merely a vision the disciples saw also seems doubtful to me–just as I doubt that the Transfiguration was a mere vision. The text describes Elijah and Moses as talking to Jesus–having a conversation with Him. I think Jesus was *actually* talking to Elijah and Moses.

    I find it presumptuous on our part to assume that the way we exist now is the way humans *must* exist when all our science says everything we know to be alive is gone upon death. Obviously, we can exist more than in this estate if you believe that life does not end there.

  • Dutch (14), I was tracking with you until you said that Samuel’s essence had been with God. Where does the text say or imply such a thing? What do you mean by essence?

    I haven’t studied the geography, but assuming that what you say is true, I don’t see it as problematic that a miraculous resurrection would occur in some place other than where the body was buried.

    The text does not merely say that he appeared to come out of the ground—Samuel himself says Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up? Again, this is not consonant with the idea that he was somewhere with God. In fact, God is most often said to dwell in the heavens. If Samuel’s soul was with God, we would expect him to say something like “why have you disturbed me by bringing me down?”

    See my comments on Elijah and Moses in comment 13.

  • Amos Paul

    I can we see we have fundamental interpretational differences, Ronnie, and no amount of discussion will cross that gap.

    However, for a last couple of points–my view is not that Samuel was dwelling ‘with God’ per se as I don’t claim specific knowledge of how life progresses beyond this stage. Nevertheless, God is all in all and Samuel did give Saul a fairly specific message on behalf of God. Clearly, Samuel was in communion with God in some manner.

    Moreover, Christ brought *only his closest disciples* to the literal spot of experiencing his Transfiguration. Years later, Peter fell asleep and had a vision. These two things are not alike.

  • Amos, Jesus explicitly describes the events as a vision. The word is horama and is the exact same word used to describe various visions in Acts. Yes, the text describes Elijah and Moses as talking to Jesus—it’s describing the vision!

    Forgive me, but I’m getting a bit frustrated here because there seems to be an unwillingness to deal with the text. Jesus says “it was a vision” but you are saying “it wasn’t a vision, it was real.” Samuel said that he was brought up, but you and Dutch are saying “he wasn’t brought up.”

    The medium’s use of elohim is strange, there’s no doubt about that. But how, exactly, does this show that Samuel was existing in an immaterial state? How does this negate the fact that the text repeatedly says he was brought up?

    I’m not sure that it’s obvious that “we can exist more than in this estate.” Human life is embodied life (in a physical sense—not in the Thomistic sense that you mentioned before), that is the teaching of both science and Scripture. Life does not end here precisely because human bodies will one day reconstituted.

  • Nevertheless, God is all in all and Samuel did give Saul a fairly specific message on behalf of God. Clearly, Samuel was in communion with God in some manner.

    Yes, Samuel was a prophet.

  • Dutch Rikkers

    Ronnie, since there is a lot of speculation in all of this, it’s probably not a very big deal. But it seems that Samuel was at least conscious enough in soul/spirit (the essential self)to be disturbed–and he seemed to be instantly aware of what the current circumstances were. I don’t know, maybe he was in that “great cloud of witnesses” the writer of Hebrews mentioned (whatever he meant by that!). I would think that since our origin is in the Spirit and the spiritual world the direction of up or down are only perceptions, not material actualities. Jesus appeared to go up at the ascension. Not sure of the direction Elijah and Moses came from. I guess that’s why we call them mysteries!

  • Amos Paul

    Ronnie, I’m not trying to frustrate you. But we are interpreting things differently. Text is filled with words that can be understood many ways.

    Only Matthew uses horama which *can* have the connotation of ‘a vision’.

    Horama — ‘the vision’, literally means that which is seen–especially supernatural things. It could be talking about things seen with the mind’s eye or actual, literal eyes. Different translations of the verse ‘tell no one of the vision’ vs ‘tell no one what you have seen’ illustrate this. Moreover, only Matthew has this comment

    Mark, the older text, uses more explicitly literal language when Jesus states almost the exact same thing.

    And finally, do our lives stop until the point which we are resurrected (which Scriptures say is yet to come)? How do we exist between that ‘body’ and this ‘body’? I’m sorry, but I don’t see you can hold to ‘souls can only exist emobodied’ without a more robust understanding of what it means to be embodied.

  • rjs


    Dr. Green’s point – which you can disagree with – is that souls can only exist as embodied, the concept of a disembodied soul is meaningless. All of the examples you give are embodied – although the body is, of course, different from the earthly body with which we are familiar.

    I think he is right on this. As to the intermediate state, I think that most would say that either resurrection is immediate to the sense of the one who had died or there is some intermediate embodiment, not quite the final state, but not a disembodied soul either. Of course we cannot know precisely. Dr. Green has a long section on this, and cites a fair bit of additional reading material. But I did not want to concentrate on this aspect of the issue in my post.

    I think the issue Paul has here in 1 Cor. 15 is with the nature of the resurrection body – clearly it has to be different in substantive ways with what we are familiar with, but it is still a body.

  • Amos Paul


    I think agree with embodied but disagree with its perceived definition.

    I was literally just reading my Scripture for the day and came across an interesting statement I had forgotten about.

    Mark 12:26-27:

    “And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”

  • P.

    We hear talk of Adam this, Adam that. I didn’t know that Adam existed all by himself. Shouldn’t the phrasing be “Adam and Eve?”

  • rjs


    What do you perceive the definition to be?

  • Amos Paul


    Basically what I’ve been saying along Aristotelian, Thomistic, etc. grounds. That a soul is the defintion of one’s life, but we do not know what all that life can be realized by. If a soul exists at all, it exists realized by X–that is, it is embodied. Souls aren’t free-floating realities. To be Actualized, they must be realized by something.

    Or at the very least, I don’t understand the concept of a soul/life not being realized by something. Even when people imagine our souls going to Heaven “free of a body”, they imagine it consisting of body-like experience with sensory data, self-contained relationship to other things, etc. However, just because we know bodies of flesh and bone and blood doesn’t mean that’s the only stuff souls can realize. Moreover, just because we know bodies that exist under the conditions of physical laws of the natural universe, similarly, is not proof that our souls can not be realized by anything else.

  • Amos (21), I don’t see why it matters that Mark or Luke did not quote Jesus as using horama. Just see for yourself how horama is used in the NT. It’s misleading to say that the word merely “can” refer to vision. It unequivocally refers to a vision 10 out of 11 times in Acts. It’s usage in Acts 7:31 is debatable. To disputing the meaning in Matthew strikes me as ad hoc.

    I’m a bit confused as to why you think Mark 9:9 militates against the view that the disciples saw a vision. They saw a vision and Jesus warned them not to tell anyone what they saw. I genuinely don’t see a problem there.

    And yes, our lives stop until we are resurrected. Between our deaths and resurrection we only exist in the form of corpses, or dust. For you are dust, and to dust you shall return Human beings are composed of physical stuff (“dust”). The whole person returns to the dust, not merely the “body.”

  • Amos Paul


    A variety of people wrote things in the NT. Matthew only wrote Matthew. How others utilized a word that is sensitive to context is incidental and un-related to this context. Even still, if I often used a statement like, “I see what you did there,” to refer to a metaphorical ‘seeing’ what somebody has done, lets say, in a piece of writing–does that discount the possibility of me saying, “I see what you did there,” to my friend who just illustrated to me the proper way to swing a gold club?

    You’re certainly free to interpret the Transfiguration as *just* a spiritual vision, though I personally see no real reason to do so.

    Also, I think you’ll find that your view of us existing only as corpses until the resurrection is not the view we were discussing in the Judaic Scriptures. The Scriptures talk about Sheol like its an *actual place* and, indeed, Jesus’s description of the bosom of Abraham and lake of fire was the most popular description of what Sheol was like (to the Jews) in his day.

    Those Jews, of course, could have been *wrong*. I didn’t realize you were agreeing with Dr. Green to this extent. I think you might find that such a view is rather unique within the Judeo-Christian traditions.

  • Amos Paul

    *swing a golf club, not swing a gold club. I haven’t the faintest what one would use a gold club for…

  • I see no real reason to think that the disciples did not see just a vision. Nothing in the context suggests otherwise and this is in line with how horama is nearly always used. Seeing how a word is used elsewhere in Scripture is standard exegetical practice, so it strikes me as curious that you would all of a sudden take exception with that.

    Sheol is an actual place in the sense that the grave is an actual place. I won’t get into the Lazarus parable other than to say it’s not a true story, and it wasn’t intended (or understood by the original audience I daresay) as providing information about what happens to people when they die.

    And the lake of fire is not a description of sheol. In fact, hades (which is the LXX and NT translation of sheol) is depicted as being thrown into the lake of fire.

    Yes, I’m fully aware that the physicalist view of human persons is a minority position in the Christian tradition.

  • PaulE

    rjs (22), Does Dr. Green also apply his argument that a soul without a body is meaningless to God the Father? It sounds to me like under his definition any phenomenon counts as a “body”. Whereas it seems in common speech that a body has the trait of being tactile rather than being merely visible. (Of course, most people aren’t familiar with George Berkeley.)

    Also, just wanted to throw this out there: the reason for thinking Samuel’s appearance is probably an apparition is that mediums consult spirits rather than raising bodies.

  • normbv

    The concept that we are looking forward to a future resurrection is an attempt by NT readers to read themselves into the dialogue concerning first century believers in Christ. Resurrection of the Body in 1 Cor 15 is a continuation of Paul’s understanding of the “body/soma”of Death corporately. It is not to be taken individually except in the idea that the individual is a “member of the corporate body” [1 Cor chapter 12]. Being in Adam is existence in a corporate body that attempted worship through their mortal abilities; i.e. through “works of the flesh”. All men Jew and Gentile attempted this walk with God through their own fleshly efforts and Paul in 1 Cor 15 is illustrating that now through Christ you are no longer in the mortal or fleshly mode of attempting to know God. Instead those whom he was speaking to had left their corporate Adamic heritage of mortal death through works of the Law and were to put on the “life” giving and spiritual Last Adam of Grace. Resurrection life through Christ has been established for the here and now. Individually through faith we enter the corporate body of believers called the Body of Christ where resurrected life abounds. Resurrection was much more dynamic in the minds of the apostolic teachers than a future event; it had happened and was breaking out among those being taught the Good News.

    Eph 2:5 even WHEN WE WERE DEAD in our trespasses, MADE US ALIVE TOGETHER WITH CHRIST–by grace you have been saved–

    Rom 7:23-24 but I see IN MY MEMBERS another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that DWELLS IN MY MEMBERS. (24) Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me FROM THIS BODY OF DEATH?

    1Co 15:45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

    Col 2:12-13 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. (13) And YOU, WHO WERE DEAD IN YOUR TRESPASSES AND THE UNCIRCUMCISION OF YOUR FLESH, GOD MADE ALIVE TOGETHER WITH HIM, having forgiven us all our trespasses,

  • The concept that we are looking forward to a future resurrection is an attempt by NT readers to read themselves into the dialogue concerning first century believers in Christ.


    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. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

  • Danny

    But seriously, you all should read the book, Joel’s book, he told me to call him Joel instead of Dr. Green in class. It is a great book.

  • rjs


    It is a good book – I hope it gets some interest and readers from these posts.

  • normbv

    I’ll repeat my point. People today read themselves into a discussion pertinent to the first century not understanding the language, metaphors and symbolism involved.

    N. T. Wright captures the essence of your quote of 1 Thes 4 in these statements from an article I have linked below.

    Begin Wright quote.

    “Second, he echoes Daniel 7, in which “the people of the saints of the Most High” (that is, the “one like a son of man”) are vindicated over their pagan enemy by being raised up to sit with God in glory. This metaphor, applied to Jesus in the Gospels, is now applied to Christians who are suffering persecution.

    Third, Paul conjures up images of an emperor visiting a colony or province. The citizens go out to meet him in open country and then escort him into the city. Paul’s image of the people “meeting the Lord in the air” should be read with the assumption that the people will immediately turn around and lead the Lord back to the newly remade world.

    Paul’s mixed metaphors of trumpets blowing and the living being snatched into heaven to meet the Lord are not to be understood as literal truth, as the Left Behind series suggests, but as a vivid and biblically allusive description of the great transformation of the present world of which he speaks elsewhere.

    Paul’s misunderstood metaphors present a challenge for us: How can we reuse biblical imagery, including Paul’s, so as to clarify the truth, not distort it?”

    End Wright quote.

    The point being that Paul was telling the living faithful that Christ vindication for His and their suffering was about to happen soon. This would be realized at the judgment of the Old Covenant system of Jewish works in the upcoming destruction of the Jews Temple and sacrificial system administered by a corrupt priesthood. This sign was prophesized by Christ during His Olivet discourse as found in the Gospels and would be the final sign that Christ had defeated His enemies. He had put them under His feet and the everlasting Kingdom that He came to established would be completed and inaugurated and fully commissioned at this Sign. His coming in the air reflects the realization that God through Christ would come into the City and live amongst us. Revelation 21 illustrates a similar idea in apocalyptic language as well.

    Rev 21:2-3 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, COMING DOWN OUT OF HEAVEN FROM GOD, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “BEHOLD, THE DWELLING PLACE OF GOD IS WITH MAN. HE WILL DWELL WITH THEM, AND THEY WILL BE HIS PEOPLE, AND GOD HIMSELF WILL BE WITH THEM AS THEIR GOD.

    God is with us and dwelling with us now; not some distant calamitous time in the future. That is the picture being painted in 1 Thes 4 and not one where reanimated bodies come flying out of their graves as N. T. Wright points out.

    The quote above are taken from this article by Wright.

    FAREWELL TO THE RAPTURE (N.T. Wright, Bible Review, August 2001.

    “Little did Paul know how his colorful metaphors for Jesus’ second coming would be misunderstood two millennia later.”

  • That’s a lot of writing considering that I merely quoted a passage.

    I am in complete agreement with Wright here, and nothing he wrote in any way contradicts the doctrine of the future resurrection of the dead (which he affirms).

    1 Thessalonians 4 explicitly says that the dead will rise at Christ’s coming. Nothing you wrote here even comes close to challenging that. I understand that your primary motivation is maintain your form of hyper-preterism, but let’s be reasonable here!

  • normbv


    Usually when someone throws 1 Thes 4 out there without defining qualifications they are end times rapture adherents. Perhaps you should define what your eschatological end times looks like per 1 Thes 4 in order for us to know where you are coming from. It’s obvious that Wright doesn’t buy into the classical American misuse of those verses as it appeared you first may have implied. It appears now that you are wanting to have it both ways in regards to those verses that were obviously written by Paul concerning the Day of wrath that were to come shortly to those he was addressing the letter to.

    1Th 1:10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus WHO DELIVERS US FROM THE WRATH TO COME.

    1Th 4:15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that WE WHO ARE ALIVE, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.

    1Th 5:1-2 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. (2) For YOU YOURSELVES ARE FULLY AWARE THAT THE DAY OF THE LORD WILL COME like a thief in the night.

    I’m glad you agree with Wright because his statement below is the crux of what I’m pointing out.

    Wright … “Paul’s mixed metaphors of trumpets blowing and the living being snatched into heaven to meet the Lord are not to be understood as literal truth, … but as a vivid and biblically allusive description of the great transformation of the present world of which he speaks elsewhere.”

  • Amos Paul


    Why does it sound like Wright is attributing Revelations talk to Paul’s theological outlook?

  • normbv

    I didn’t state that Walton was making the comparison to Rev 21; I did because it matches the same concepts that 1 Thes 4 is presenting of coming down from Heaven to meet His people through the Spirit of life instead of their dwelling with through the mortal nature.

    Rev 21:2-3 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, COMING DOWN OUT OF HEAVEN FROM GOD, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “BEHOLD, THE DWELLING PLACE OF GOD IS WITH MAN. HE WILL DWELL WITH THEM, AND THEY WILL BE HIS PEOPLE, AND GOD HIMSELF WILL BE WITH THEM AS THEIR GOD

    Walton is presenting the same perception in his anylisis of 1 Thes 4 and its simple to see the similar concepts.

    Again I asked you to explain your idea of 1 Thes 4 and what that looks like in your mind. I assume that since the Thessalonians didn’t get to see the coming presence of Christ then Paul must have been speaking of a literal future date in which there would be some form of literal meeting Him in the “air”.

    So are you a rapturist or not?

  • Who is Walton?

    As for Wright, his beef is that the passage is pressed into service of “Left Behind” theology which envisions a pre-trib rapture and has people living in some ethereal realm called “heaven.” I fully agree with him about this. Our only possible disagreement is if he insists that the part about being caught up is necessarily symbolic. It could be symbolic, but I see no textual or contextual warrant for insisting that it must be.

    Your argument is both careless and contrived. It goes something like this: If Paul uses some symbolic language to describe the coming of Christ and the resurrection of the dead (e.g. trumpets) then the part about the dead rising must not be literal.

    But that’s silly. Paul’s whole point is that the church should not grieve over members who have died because, just as Christ rose from the dead, so also will the dead in Christ rise from the dead.

    So can we talk about what the text actually says, and not what you want it to say?

  • normbv

    I misspoke and meant Wright.

    So yes I see that you are a literal physical rapture adherent which Wright clearly repudiated concerning 1 Thes 4 which was your proof text. The end times details matter little amongst the hyper-rapturist. 😉

    I beg to differ with you because I’ve produced scriptures that illustrate that the “dead” were actually many of those living but were “raised/resurrected” illustrating that a mortal/fleshly means of walking with God had been put aside. Being raised or resurrected through Christ did not mean one had to physically die to have this new standing.

    Eph 2:5 even WHEN WE WERE DEAD in our trespasses, MADE US ALIVE TOGETHER WITH CHRIST–by grace you have been saved–

    Col 2:12-13 having been buried with him in baptism, in which YOU WERE ALSO RAISED with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who RAISED HIM from the dead. (13) And YOU, WHO WERE DEAD IN YOUR TRESPASSES AND THE UNCIRCUMCISION OF YOUR FLESH, GOD MADE ALIVE TOGETHER WITH HIM, having forgiven us all our trespasses,

    Ronnie, pardon me but you are simply a shifting exegete and don’t realize it. Also, in the future if you care to engage me you can leave the pejorative terms out such as “poppycock” and “hyper” and deal with the concepts and scriptures I presented. One of the first notes that someone is struggling is a tendency for them to resort to a provocative approach.

  • rjs


    As I understand you I think you are mischaracterizing NT Wright. As far as I can tell he holds to a real bodily resurrection – and that this is a future resurrection with an intermediate state for those who have died.

    Most of us do not agree with the position you seem to be advocating.

  • So yes I see that you are a literal physical rapture adherent

    Don’t be silly, I said nothing of the sort. Please don’t resort to dishonesty.

    which Wright clearly repudiated concerning 1 Thes 4 which was your proof text.

    I am in full agreement with Wright’s substantive points, as I’ve indicated. If you choose to ignore what I wrote, then I can’t help you.

    I beg to differ with you because I’ve produced scriptures that illustrate that the “dead” were actually many of those living but were “raised/resurrected” illustrating that a mortal/fleshly means of walking with God had been put aside.

    The passage from Thessalonians is clearly referring to people who had literally died. The fact that other passages talk about being dead/being made alive in some other sense is immaterial. This is the sort of bizarre hermeneutic employed by Harold Camping.

    Also, in the future if you care to engage me you can leave the pejorative terms out such as “poppycock” and “hyper” and deal with the concepts and scriptures I presented.

    What you write is poppycock, and you are a hyper-preterist. Whether or not my pointing that out bugs you matters little to me. Feel free to demonstrate that 1 Thessalonians 4 itself is not referring to a physical resurrection. If you can’t, then run along.

  • normbv

    RJS, you stated … “As I understand you I think you are mischaracterizing NT Wright. As far as I can tell he holds to a real bodily resurrection – and that this is a future resurrection with an intermediate state for those who have died.”

    I didn’t quote Wright to illustrate his complete eschatological viewpoint. I quoted him to illustrate the point concerning how to interpret 1 Thes 4 within its contextual framework. I’ve written more than once here on this site how Wright is very good and consistent until he gets to his exotic view of a repopulated earth that he pulls out of nowhere [he doesn’t believe in Heaven but a Heaven on Earth}. He’s not quite a traditional postmillennialist and so he has developed his own eschatological view that is hardly shared by large groups of Christians.

    RJS you said … “Most of us do not agree with the position you seem to be advocating.”

    RJS, sometimes you seem to lose the context of your own position regarding Genesis. Making a statement like you just did comes off as a bit of naiveté on your part. If you haven’t looked around lately your Genesis probing’s would probably get you tossed out of “most” American Churches if you pushed it on them. So welcome to the minority crowd. I happen to belong to two of those minority groups; #1 is my understanding of Genesis and #2 is my understandings of Revelation and eschatology. I’m not alone in either crowd and yet it’s kind of unusual to find those of us who play in both ends of the biblical spectrum.

    Those who delve into the Genesis arena are typically driven by science like you. Those of us who also delve into Biblical eschatology see the same hermeneutical problems on both ends and so we don’t try to compartmentalize one end against the other. Genesis and Revelation are bookends of the same biblical spectrum and the hermeneutic that reveals one also reveals the other. I haven’t seen where you are really proficient in the eschatological end so it doesn’t surprise me that you make a statement like you did. When you work on Genesis your instincts are open and aware but in eschatological matters you apparently follow the crowd even though the YEC literal hermeneutic is the same one that gives us half a dozen flavors of ill begotten end time’s scenarios. I imagine though that you will put two and two together some day and figure that out as well.

    RJS, I’m being a little hard on you because you’re much sharper than your statements to me reflect. In fact you are likely well beyond my IQ level by leaps and bounds but IQ does one no good when they ignore a subject. If you really want to be a truly good biblical exegete then you need to know biblical eschatology nearly as well as you understand Genesis. Also it doesn’t hurt to be very skilled in Pauline theology along the way.

    Just to let you think about something. You have assessed the glaring problems with Genesis literal interpretation because your science background drives you to challenge its credibility in the manner you have historically been taught. The problem is that you have no science driving your instincts to challenge an end time’s scenario because it supposedly doesn’t depend upon science and can be anything we wish it to be. Therein lays the problem which is neglect. You don’t neglect Genesis but you likely neglect Revelation because it doesn’t intrigue you and you don’t have the same incentives for investigation as you do in Genesis. It’s not what one knows that’s the problem; it’s what we don’t know.

    Have you ever noticed how lesser studied people’s eyes glaze over when you try to explain your understanding to them about Genesis? I get the same look from people when trying to explain Revelation. That unfortunately is just the way it is as we try to bring more knowledge about biblical issues to the general population; you’re just going to be talking over most people’s heads most of the time but that doesn’t mean one should just quit.

    Again I’m sorry to be blunt but you don’t seem to ask questions and pursue these eschatological issues worth a flip. If you do it’s only a question or two which is essentially worthless for decent learning purposes. Perhaps you should join in on some forums where we do both and where you can really learn and get away from these sound bite postings that tend to be the standard here on this site.