“who will change our body of humiliation to be similar to his body of glory according to the act by which he is able to subordinate all things to himself.”
Here is the other half of Philippians 2:10-11. Indeed, there will come a time when all will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, though some will do so under judgment for indeed, in that day when he returns in the air, Jesus will subject all things to himself — even all things in subjection under his feet (Hebrews 2:8). Those who reject Christ will be perfected in that hatred and crushed under the boot of the Lord of Glory, forcing them to admit that which they most hate is true — that Jesus is Lord of all.
Ordinarily we don’t think of our fleshly bodies as “bodies of humiliation,” but what better word could Paul have chosen for what we experience? We are fallen and as such, we suffer all sorts of diseases, ailments, injuries, and ill effects from weather changes, hard work, as well as just overall weariness. We get frustrated at our own limitations as well as with the limitations of others and death is before us all. Add to that those things that are the common lot of living in this fallen world…storms and natural disasters, crime and the presence of the wicked in our midst, accidents and turmoil. The bottom line is that this world is not “okay,” and though we endure, life in this world has a manner of humbling us and wearing us down. As a pastor, I cannot begin to count how many older people I have sat with who have outlived spouses, children, and other loved ones and have simply asked, “Why hasn’t God taken me home yet.” Indeed, this world is not okay and humiliation is as operable a term as any to describe the overall struggles of life.
Yet, we have here, Paul echoing his reminder that we have something to look forward to — glorified bodies made similar to the glorified body of Christ. No, not exactly the same, Paul uses the term su/mmorphoß (summorphos), which means to me remade in a similar form. So, we might not be able to fly or walk through walls, but we will be raised whole from the dead to live forever without the effects of sin in this world. Is that not enough? Is that not more than you can imagine? Is that not the greatest and most marvelous thing? Indeed, how greedy we unworthy beggars are, who have been brought into the household of God. May our souls never cease to give thanks for all that God gives to us.
“Wherefore, if from me or them, in this way I preached and in this way you believed.”
(1 Corinthians 15:11)
Paul has returned to his starting point. This fact of the resurrection of Christ, he says, is the heart of his preaching. Without the resurrection, there would be no good news for man. There would be no hope for anything beyond this life except eternal condemnation. The resurrection of Christ is the surety we have been given that points to our own resurrection. This is an essential of the faith. Paul is saying that there is no Christian preaching apart from this fact and no one can come to faith apart from this fact. If one denies the doctrine of the resurrection of Christ, one cannot be a Christian. It is that simple.
All too often, when we think of the afterlife, we only think in terms of the spiritual. Some of this is a result of the tremendous influence that Greek philosophy has had on our culture, which taught that the spiritual was good and the physical was bad. One of the things that Paul goes out of his way to show us in this chapter is not only the reality of the physical resurrection of Christ, but later on he will talk at length about the physical resurrection of us. The point is that the Greeks were wrong and the conception of floating around in spiritual bodies forever is also wrong. There is indeed an intermediate state, where we will be with God in spirit and our bodies will be kept in the grave, but that state is not final. There will come a time when Christ will return as he left, with a shout all of those who are dead in Christ will rise up from the grave and be reunited with their spirits and they, along with all believers who are still alive, will be caught up in the air with Christ in glorified bodies. Those who are unbelievers will also rise to life once again, but will be raised for the purpose of eternal condemnation. Eternal life will be physical—though without the negative effects of sin.
Friends, I hope that you look forward to that day. It will be a day where you will be restored to a body that will be free from sickness and disease, free from aches and pains, and free from weakness. It will be a day where we will work, but without frustration or toil. It will be a day when hope is transformed into the reality of Christ’s presence. What a glorious time that will be! Praise be to God!