We Shall See Him As He Is
In the ongoing discussion about the resurrection, we are offered arguments that suggest the body involved in various eschatological (end times) texts refer to our individual bodies. This article will focus on 1 John 3:1-2:
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3;1-2)
Those who claim the text teaches an individual body work up lots of sweat in through the friction caused in rubbing this text against the grain. They make it teach exactly the opposite of what it teaches. In a recent article by Ed Stevens posted in Fulfilled Magazine, Spring 2014 issue, the following statements are made on 1 John 3:2.
Individual Bodies–Not Collective “. . . Beloved, now we [each] are children of God, …what we [each] will be…when He appears, we [each] will be like Him, because we [each] will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2-3 NASB95).”
Stevens claims that the four references to we (a collective plural noun) means each person receives an individual body. He adds the words “each” four times neither of which are in the text. His cites the word “everyone’ in the next verse to justify his interpretation. We see several serious problems with Ed’s approach and conclusions.
We Shall See Him As He Is Does Not Demand Individual Bodies
Just because the text mentions “we” does not imply we each receive an individual body. (We each already have individual bodies and there is nothing to suggestion that our individuality will be merged into one huge mass of glob). That is not the collective oneness of which the Bible speaks. The patriarchs are always referred to as individuals in their post life experience.
Further every time one was raised from the dead, they always appeared individually even though they were a part of the corporate body of Moses. When Moses and Elijah appeared with Christ and the disciples in their post life bodies that could both appear and disappear, (and that before the parousia), they were yet individuals. They had not yet participated in the end time resurrection, yet they had individual bodies. As far as we know, man’s individuality dead or alive is part and parcel of his being.
Yes, it is true that every man purifies himself just as Christ is pure. However, the argument to support an individual use versus a collective is unwarranted. For example, it was stated that “If it was talking about a collective body, it would say that “we” were one singular “child of God,” not a bunch of individual “children of God.”
This reminds me of the question people often are asked about how many “children” do you have? Would a parent with only one child say none? No, they would answer one. Using children doesn’t require there to be more than one “collective body” any more than it require a single-child parent to respond they have no “children” when they have one child.
The IBD premise is based upon a faulty and flawed assumption about Christ’s return in some form of glorified human body. However, the very writer he uses to argue his point flatly contradicts the use he makes of it. Let us grant for the sake of argument that the body spoken of here is Jesus’ post resurrection individual body, about which of course this text says not one word. It merely says “we shall see him as he is”.
What does that mean? Does it refer to Jesus’ post resurrection body that had the wounds in his sides and hands? Does it refer to the body that he fed fish and honey comb? No.
The Apostles Saw and Handled Jesus Post Resurrection Body
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life–the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us.” (1 John 1:1-2)
John says “we have heard”, “we have seen with our eyes” we have looked (gazed intently) upon, and our hands have handled. Now understand that John is speaking of Jesus in his incarnation. He is speaking of the Word which became flesh and dwelt among them. He testifies that that same one was the embodiment of the eternal life of God. It is that one who was manifested to them.
How then could John tell the saints a few verses later that they had not yet seen Jesus’ post resurrection body? IBD advocates argue their books and podcasts that Jesus was raised from the dead in his incorruptible, immortal body. Certainly, Jesus did not die again. He said, I am he that was dead but am alive forevermore, (Rev. 1:18).
Stevens is using a text that makes John teach the very opposite of what he taught in chapter 1. This is proof positive Christ is not referring to his post resurrection human body, which was the same as the body put to death. But, either way, the Apostles and disciples both saw and handled it. This defeats everything Stevens says about an individual body in 1 John 3.
The Body of Christ Was Hidden
Jesus’ body, yet to be revealed in 1 John 3, was a body that was hidden. By hidden we do not mean totally as in absolute. We are calling attention to an already but not yet concept. The saints had not yet seen the body of Christ (the church) in it’s glory. They saw it in its humiliation. Daniel prophesied the saints would be persecuted until the Ancient of Days came and rendered judgment in their favor and they received the kingdom, Dan. 7:21-28.
Anyone who is being persecuted is being humiliated. How long was the church humiliated? Until Christ returned. That is why the text in Phil. 3:21, speaks of the “body of the humiliation of us”. Their glory, projected in the future would be manifested at Christ’s return. Note the parallel text in Col. 3:3-4.
“For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory”. (Col. 3:3-4) Whatever the life that is hidden in this text is the life which is revealed. Note that the saints life was hidden when they died with Christ.
For you died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. A life that was handled is not hidden. The life they received in Christ, a life that confirmed them as sons of God was hidden from the world. That is why they had the Spirit to “confirm” them as the Sons of God until Christ return. The world did not know their spiritual status before God. The Jews, (children according to the flesh) contested and challenged their status as “sons of God” the children of God according to the flesh.
This is why God said of those who “claimed to be Jews” (sons of God) but were not, that he would indeed make them come and worship before the saints feet. This is an end times event. How is it possible if all the saints have jettisoned to heaven? God had a point to prove to the Jews on behalf of the saints and he fulfilled it.
The unbelieving Jews had a visible temple, a history of covenant existence, the Law, the Levitical priesthood, daily sacrifices and recognition from the empire as a valid religion. Christians claimed to follow this one, “Jesus of Nazareth”. They hoped for a “house not made with hands” a kingdom which could not be seen by the eye, and a king would not and could not rule on a throne on earth. Yeah, everyone was saying, “good luck with that”. For this reason Christians (spiritually hidden sons of God) were despised, viewed as traitors, destitute and the scum of the earth.(1 Cor. 4:11-13)
Yet, they claimed they were the glorious sons of God. How would God manifest it? He would do so through the destruction of the temple by bringing an end to the “reign” of the persecutors, validating the glory, power and divinity of Christ. That is the glory, power and proof of His divine presence in which we bask until this very day. That is the “life” they were hoping to be manifested at Christ’s return. They wanted to see “that” glory, not the “humiliation” from persecution they were then experiencing.
We Shall See Him As He Is, The Living and the Dead
IBD proponents also use a faulty approach in seeking to refute the collective covenantal body by drawing an unfair distinction between the living and the dead ones of 1 Cor. 15:51-52. They correctly recognize that resurrection involves both the living and the dead. The dead ones are raised (out of Hades); the living are changed (never to inhabit Hades). Not entering Hades is the equivalent of immortality for that is the victory Paul pronounces for the resurrected state.
However, they use this distinction of the two groups in a manner which the Apostle does not. We (CBV) have always acknowledged that individuals are part of the collective body. However, that does not mitigate against the collective body. Paul said, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we are Jews or Gentiles…” (1 Cor. 12:13). Here is another use of the collective body made up of individuals. Each individual entered the body through baptism, whether Jew or Gentile. But, they all entered one collective body. They did not each enter a separate individual body. To claim such is the error IBD proponents makes on the resurrection of the living and the dead ones.
For example, Stevens asks the question which exposes his fallacy. “Which of those two groups (the living and the dead ones of 1 Cor. 15:51-52) is the collective body? We may as well ask, “which of the two groups Jew and Gentile entered or is the collective body of Christ? If Ed’s question and underlying argument is true, then so is our question. His response to 1 Cor. 12:13 would force him to say, “Obviously neither!” He feels he must choose one over the other. That’s just bad exegesis.
His reasoning is, that two separate groups, the living and the dead cannot enter the same corporate collective body. The living and the dead must enter two separate bodies, or in the case of the IBD view, they must all enter separate individual bodies.
However, with the Jew and Gentile, before they entered Christ, they could also be considered the “living and the dead” in one sense. The Jew was “covenantally” alive being in covenant relationship to God. The Gentile was “covenantally” dead, having no hope being without God in the world. So, in one sense, (especially since the Jew was born into the covenant at birth), we have the “living and the dead from that point of view. So, again, the argument totally backfires. It would negate the fact that Jew and Gentile could enter the one body of Christ, and yet none lost their individuality. Paul did not cease to being Paul and Luke didn’t cease to be Luke.
The Living and the Dead In the One Body of Christ
It is not the case that the living and the dead in Christ enter two separate bodies but the one collective body of Christ. The text says for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ, all are made alive. Whatever is meant by resurrection, it is that all end up in the one Christ. He is one body. That is true for the dead or the living.
Further, the IBD argument which questions whether dead or living enter the same body, is refuted by Paul. If it is true for the dead ones, why would it not be true for those who fell asleep in Christ prior to the change at the parousia? Paul, citing a consequence which the Corinthians rejected, said, “Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished”. That means when Christians died, they were no longer in the “one” body of Christ! Paul repudiated such a claim that one who died ceased to be a member of the body of Christ. He affirms that individual was yet in the same body of Christ otherwise he had perished.
But to further demonstrate the fallacy of Steven’s question, into what were the dead ones entering upon their resurrection? Was it not the kingdom of God? “And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 8:11-12)
This text says the dead ones enter the kingdom of God, one kingdom, one spiritual entity! However, they could not enter until the end of the age! Hebrews 11:13-16, 39-40, shows they were yet hoping to enter the kingdom. They were “eagerly awaiting” what would soon be their eternal heritage at Christ’s return, Heb. 10:37. Paul says, they all died in faith, not having received the promise that they without us/apart from N.T. saints could not inherit.
The “one promise” is the “one kingdom” which is the “one collective body”. This tells us they were all (the living and the dead) entering the same kingdom. We have proof of the living in the following chapter, Heb. 12:28, as they (the living) were “receiving” (paralambanontes) the kingdom. That is “the promise” of Hebrews and the end goal of eschatology.
So what distinction is there between what the living would receive when the faithless Jews were cast out in 70 A.D.? None. Both the living and the dead enter the kingdom. Otherwise, the IBD position must argue that all the saints gathered from the four winds are dead saints! Thus there would be none living at the parousia. Will they deny that all enter the kingdom?
The kingdom of 1 Cor. 15:50 equates with the spiritual body! The kingdom is also placed opposite to corruption and therefore equates to incorruption and immortality. What then, is the difference since both the living and the dead enter the kingdom at the parousia? We are speaking in the “established” consummation sense, not the initiatory or beginning. Resurrection is the time of the harvest of the kingdom per Jesus’ parables in Matt. 13 and Mark 4:26-29.
We Shall See Him As He Is In Glory
Christ’s work on earth was his humiliation, (Phil 2:5f). His return is the time of his glory. He comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. We shall see him as he is in glory. We cannot see Christ in humiliation today. We cannot see the church in humiliation today. We can only see him and the body of Christ in glory of the fulfilled, finished and glorious work of Christ. [high_impact_btn_add_to_cart_silver link=”http://www.allthingsfulfilled.com/shop/the-last-days-dvd-study-series/” + target=”_self”] [/high_impact_btn_add_to_cart_silver]