Question: "What is a spiritual body?"

Answer: Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, taught about the resurrection of the dead and the spiritual body: “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:42–44). The “spiritual body” here is contrasted with the “natural body.”

The references to being “sown” and “raised” relate to the process of sowing a seed in the ground so it will come forth in a different form. A seed of corn is “resurrected” as a tall cornstalk with ears of corn. So it is with the spiritual body. The natural, physical body must die (and be sown in the ground) in order for the new body to be raised in a different form (1 Corinthians 15:36). The natural body of flesh and blood is perishable, dishonorable, and weak. The spiritual, non-physical body will be imperishable, glorified, and powerful (verses 42–43). The natural body comes first and must die. Only then can the spiritual body be born (verses 36, 46). The natural body bears the image of Adam, the “earthly man”; the spiritual body bears the image of Christ, the “heavenly man” (verses 48–49).

The spiritual body is not a mere spirit, for then it would not be a body. Nor is it a flesh-and-blood body, which in this world needs food, sleep, air, etc. After the resurrection, the spiritual body will be of a different quality, needing none of those things. The spiritual body will be fit for the spiritual realm, as Paul explained elsewhere: “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20–21). The “lowly body” is the body we are born with, fit for this world. The “glorious body” is the spiritual body believers will receive at the resurrection, fit for eternity. It will be like the one Jesus received when He came out of the grave. He was visible and recognizable (John 20:16–18). He was touchable and could eat, and yet He could appear and disappear at will (Luke 24:31, 36), and He could ascend into heaven (Acts 1:11).

The spiritual body the Lord had after His resurrection is the kind of body believers are going to have after their resurrection. First John 3:2 says, “We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” This is the promise of a spiritual body suitable for the full life and glory of heaven, a body like Jesus has—one that can eat but doesn’t need to and that can defy physical limits and suddenly materialize. The spiritual body will have no expiration date, and age will be meaningless. It will be a real body, but a body that, like the spirit, knows no decay and has no need of physical sustenance to keep it alive.

The Bible teaches that all people will be resurrected, “some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2). So all will have a spiritual body, but there will be two different destinies. The difference is faith in Christ (John 3:36; 1 John 5:12). You will be resurrected someday, and you will receive a spiritual body. The question is, where will you spend eternity?