This question has come up from a couple people recently. It was like when you hear a word or name for the first time, and then once you’ve heard it, you hear it everywhere.
When Jesus returns will there be men and women in the resurrection, or will we be some sort of asexual entity? The passage that both individuals quoted as the basis of their question was Galatians 3. Be sure to read the whole book of Galatians, and at least the whole chapter, but here is an excerpt.
“27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
In the context of the book of Galatians, and this section in particular, Paul is not talking about the state of the human body in the resurrection. Instead, he’s talking about our status as redeemed human beings before God through faith.
When you read the whole book of Galatians (6 chapters) you get the whole picture that some Jewish Christians are teaching the people in Galatia that to be a REAL Christian, you need to go through circumcision and follow the law and so on. They’re teaching many false Jewish teachings that suggested that there was a kind of social stratification that took place in God’s eyes. Paul’s statement here is speaking against that to say, “No! In baptism, we’re all the same. Through faith, men and women are not better or worse. Through faith, a free man is not different than a slave. Through faith, we are all heirs of the promise, Abraham’s offspring.”
When it comes to the resurrection, all we know is that when Christ returns we’re gonna know it. Jesus talks about the second coming in each of the Gospels, Paul discusses it in 1 Thessalonians, and we hear a ton about it in Revelation. Everything that we hear suggests that there will be a new and perfect creation, all of the brokenness of sin will be burned away and things will be restored to perfection and peace (some examples). When it comes to the resurrection of the dead, in particular. Check out 1 Corinthians 15. Here’s just a chunk…
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.
29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? 30 Why are we in danger every hour? 31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day!32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.
35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
Also, when Jesus is talking to the Pharisees they ask, “How will marriage work in heaven?” (Matthew 22, Mark 12, Luke 20). Jesus says, “You’re missing the point.” In each instance, Jesus draws out the point of marriage and the fact that God is the God of the living rather than the dead (hence we’re asleep in Christ when we pass away rather than eternally dead). Marriage points to God’s covenantal love for humanity. Jesus says that people will not be given in marriage, but he doesn’t say that people will be androgynous or something. Instead, he says that the institution of marriage will no longer exist because it won’t need to. He also says we’ll be like the angels. By that phrase, “like the angels,” most theologians have historically understood that to mean that we will be eternal and in God’s nearer presence, rather than actually being angels. Remember, angels are spirit only. We are flesh and spirit and in the resurrection we will have a physical body once again. We don’t totally know what that will look like, but everything we hear in Scripture makes it sound like it’s gonna be amazing. Paul says this to the church in Corinth (2 Corinthians 5):
5 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
Some would suggest that this means our spirit is more important than our flesh, but notice he says in verse 4, “For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed (removed from the body), but that we would be further clothed (given a new and perfect body), so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” What an awesome picture, right? Eternal life swallowing up our frail flesh with a perfect, glorified body like Jesus when he rose from the dead. (C.S. Lewis’ book The Great Divorce takes an interesting look at this idea of the perfect body).
This is some of what we know from Scripture. We don’t know how that will work in eternal life to be male and female with perfect bodies and what life will look like apart from sin, but we know it will be great. And when we’re in the presence of God, I don’t know that we’ll be thinking a ton about the “how” of it all compared to being amazing at the awe of it all.
Have questions or want to talk more about this? Feel free to send me a message.