Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to
When Shall These Things Be?
The Resurrection of the Dead
Part 13 Romans 8:11
David A. Green
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Strimple Argument #13: Christ’s redeeming experience is the
model and pattern of what lies ahead for us. Romans 8:11 says that
God “will also” (i.e., just as He did for Christ) “give life to your mortal
bodies” (288, 294, 297, 326-330, 333-337). Therefore, the word “soma”
(body), when used in reference to the resurrection of the dead, means
“the physical, material aspect of our person.”
Answer: Strimple is correct that the physical death, physical burial,
and physical resurrection of Christ was the “pattern,” “parallel” and
“model” of the church’s body-burial, body-death, and body-resurrection
with Him. And Strimple is correct that Paul said in Romans 8:11
that the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead “will also” give life
to the “mortal bodies” of believers.
Nevertheless, the eschatological church’s Spirit-empowered bodyburial,
body-death, and body-resurrection with Christ were not physical/
biological events. The “redemptive experience” of the eschatological
church was not a literal replay-in-process of what Christ experienced.
What Christ experienced physically (literal death, literal burial, and literal
resurrection), the eschatological church was experiencing spiritually
throughout the eschaton: Burial with Christ, death with Christ,
and resurrection with Christ through the age-changing power of the indwelling
Holy Spirit (Rom. 6:4-6,8; 8:17; 2 Cor. 13:4; Gal. 2:20; 3:27; Eph.
2:5,16; Col. 2:12-13,20; 3:1,3; 2 Tim. 2:11).
Most futurists accept the doctrine of a non-physical body-burial
with Christ and a non-physical body-death with Christ through the
Spirit. And they should. For as Paul said, “If Christ is in you, the body
is dead because of sin” (Rom. 8:10). The indwelling, Sin-killing Spirit
of Christ brought about the death of the mortal body of Sin and Death
while believers were still physically alive.
Preterists and futurists agree that Paul speaks of non-physical
body-death in Rom. 8:10. Yet when the doctrine of non-physical bodyresurrection
is offered, Strimple claims that such a non-physical usage
of the word “body” is “semantic sleight of hand” and a “contradiction in
terms.” He compares those who employ such a non-physical usage of
the word “body” to Humpty Dumpty arbitrarily changing the definition
of words (335-336).
Despite Strimple’s irrational ridicule, the Scriptures teach us that as
Christ was crucified physically, put to death physically, buried physically,
and resurrected from the dead physically, so were His people, through
His indwelling Spirit, buried bodily (yet non-physically) with Him into
His death; and while thus dying bodily (yet non-physically) with Him (to
Sin), His people were concurrently being resurrected bodily (yet nonphysically)
with Him through the same indwelling Spirit (Rom. 8:11) in
anticipation of the end of the old covenant age.
We know that the “body” was raised non-physically, because the
“body” that was non-physically buried with Christ and non-physically
put to death with Him was, as Paul’s logic demands, to be resurrected
with Christ out of its non-physical burial and non-physical death (which
was death to the Adamic world of Sin, Death, and the Law). Therefore,
the eschatological resurrection of “the body” was necessarily non-physical
(not a biological resurrection).
In the second half of this chapter I will discuss the meaning of the
word “body” in eschatological, resurrection-of-the-dead contexts. For
now though, I will close this section with a preliminary argument that
bears directly on the historical basis for a resurrection unto biological
On page 332 of WSTTB Strimple says that Christ’s individual, postresurrection
body was physically “endowed with new qualities” so that it was physically
imperishable, physically glorious, physically powerful, and physically heavenly.
How does Strimple know this?
Strimple acknowledges that although Jesus, after His resurrection,
passed through locked doors, and though God “caused Him to be
seen,” and though Jesus suddenly “disappeared from their sight,” these
occurrences do not prove that Jesus’ post-resurrection body had been
changed. As Strimple agrees, even before Jesus was raised from the
dead, He walked on water, was transfigured, and “walked right through”
a mob. Even the apostles themselves had passed through locked doors
and had vanished and reappeared (329).
Since none of those events indicate that either Jesus or the apostles
had physically imperishable bodies, how does Strimple know that Jesus
had a physically imperishable body after His resurrection? Strimple
offers one piece of evidence, which is this:
Christ’s body would never die again. Therefore it was a physically
“imperishable, glorious, powerful, heavenly” body.
But this is hardly biblical proof. Enoch and Elijah were physically
taken up without seeing death. According to Strimple’s evidence,
Enoch and Elijah must have had biologically incorruptible bodies. But
if the hope of the promise is to receive a biologically incorruptible body,
then Enoch and Elijah could not have received such a body, because
Heb. 11:39 tells us that they “received not the promise.” If then, in the
futurist framework, Enoch and Elijah could not have put on physically
incorruptible bodies when they were taken up without seeing physical
death, why assume that Jesus became physically incorruptible when He
was assumed into the divine glory-cloud?
The fact is there is no scriptural proof that Christ’s body became biologically
incorruptible. That means that the four gospel narratives offer
no historical foundation and no Scripture-proof for the doctrine of a resurrection
of the dead unto biologically incorruptible bodies. The concept
has to be introduced into the gospel so that the gospel will better fit the
futurist supposition of an eschatological “resurrection of the flesh.”
Nevertheless, Strimple is so bold as to state, “ . . . [B]ut of course
the New Testament . . . lays great stress on the wonderful discontinuity
between Christ’s body before his resurrection and his body after it”
(332). Strimple offers no hint as to where in the New Testament this
“great stress” is found. That is because the “great stress” is found only
in the assumption of the futurist framework which has been imposed
upon the gospel narratives.
Mathison said: “Jesus’ resurrection body was changed enough that he was not
always recognized immediately. . . . He was also able to travel unhindered by
normal impediments. . . . ” Mathison did not realize that he was “proving” that
before Jesus’ resurrection, both He and the apostles had physically imperishable