1 Corinthians 15:44
It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
1 Corinthians 15 contains a wealth of information and is probably the most frank discussion in all of Scripture regarding the nature of resurrection. We are told that as we have a natural body, we shall also have a spiritual body. A day is coming when we will have much more in common with angels than we presently share. Be that as it may, we are still spirits that live in physical bodies. This does not make our spirits unsubstantial. Our spirits have shape and form and can impact the physical realm.
1 And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I sat in mine house, and the elders of Judah sat before me, that the hand of the Lord God fell there upon me.
2 Then I beheld, and lo a likeness as the appearance of fire: from the appearance of his loins even downward, fire; and from his loins even upward, as the appearance of brightness, as the colour of amber.
3 And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy.
The Holy Spirit stretched out a fiery hand and grabbed Ezekiel’s spirit man by the hair! Think about that for a minute. Ezekiel’s spirit man had hair! It wasn’t just an undefined little cloud or ball of light; it actually had a shape that corresponded to Ezekiel’s physical frame. But this was only a vision, you might say. Yes, it was. But visions of God aren’t like television shows—they are real. Ezekiel was as much in Jerusalem that day as he was in Babylon. His body was one place while his spirit journeyed elsewhere. And in the spirit he saw (verse 5), dug through a wall (verse 8), walked through a door (verses 9-10), fell on his face in intercession (9:8), prophesied against the princes of the people (11:1-5), and watched one of them drop dead in response (11:13). This was not a mental exercise or simply imagination. As Ezekiel was obedient to the Lord’s command in the vision, things actually happened in the physical realm. And this sort of phenomenon isn’t confined to Old Testament prophets.
1 Corinthians 5:3-5
3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,
4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,
5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Consider the logistics of Paul’s claim. First of all, we can never afford to forget that this was a letter. He had to write it in response to a situation that was already old by the time he received the news. This letter then had to be delivered and read. The elders had to meet and determine when they were going to exercise this church discipline. At the appointed time, they call the young man in and pronounce this curse of death over him for nonrepentance. And Paul is in the meeting. How? After all, he’s living in Ephesus. How is he going to know when his letter arrives? How is he going to know when they are going to meet? It’s not as if they could get on the phone and call him or fire off a quick email!
“As absent in the body, but present in the spirit…when you are gathered together and my spirit.” Take these words at face value. Paul isn’t saying that his general opinion and attitude approve of the meeting and its function. No, he is literally saying that he will be present in the meeting via his spirit. As an apostle of Jesus Christ and in the authority of his office, he was going to show up and deliver the young man’s body to satan for its destruction, that Christ may keep his spirit in the end day. There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body. And the spiritual is the greater of the two.