When we get to heaven, what will our bodies be like? Will we know one another? Will other people know us? To find answers, we need to understand Jesus’ promise of a resurrection body.
The Bible is very clear that in heaven, we are not going to be a bunch of spirits floating around. We are going to have physical bodies. That should not be a surprise when you remember that God’s original design for us was both a spirit and a body. Genesis 2:7 says, “The Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” God created us as body and spirit, and in eternity we will always exist in body as well as spirit. God’s future plan for us includes a physical resurrection.
It is not only Christians who will receive a new body; unbelievers will also receive a new body for eternity. Believers’ new bodies are necessary so that we can experience God’s unending blessing. Unbelievers must receive a body so that they can experience God’s everlasting judgment. Everybody is going to be raised from the dead and have a resurrected body.
The Bible talks about two resurrections. The resurrection for Christians is the First Resurrection. In Revelation 20:6, John says, “Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power.” The First Resurrection doesn’t refer to a point in time; it refers to the people, believers, who will receive a new body to experience God’s blessing. Not every believer will receive his new body at the same point in history. Paul makes that clear in 1 Corinthians 15:22-23: “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order.” Some of us will receive a resurrection body at the Rapture. Other believers will receive their new bodies at the Second Coming of Jesus. And believers who are saved during the Millennium will receive their new bodies at the end of the thousand-year reign of Christ. But all believers are part of the First Resurrection, the resurrection of the saved.
The Second Resurrection is the resurrection of all the unsaved. One day, every unbeliever who has ever been born will be raised from the dead. Right now, when an unbeliever dies, he goes to Hades, the temporary place of the unsaved. But someday they are going to be raised. Unlike the First Resurrection, which occurs in stages, the Second Resurrection occurs at one point in history, before the Great White Throne Judgment. It is described in Revelation 20:13: “The sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.” These unbelievers rejected the grace of God. And as good as their works may be, no one is good enough to inherit heaven. Verse 14 says, “Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.” Everyone, believers and unbelievers, will receive a new body for all eternity.