The Report of the Delaney Committee set up by the United States Senate in 1949 to consider the matter of poisons in foodstuffs produced some truly staggering information. It was found that 704 substances were used in food, but of these no fewer than 276 had not been established as harmless, and were therefore a potential danger to public health.
In the spiritual world of doctrine and teaching, the same danger exists. Much of our spiritual food is poisoned, and sometimes it is hard to discover exactly what the poison is or where.
In theology, one of the most important doctrines concerns the humanity of the Lord Jesus. Some would have it that after His resurrection the Lord was no longer human at all, that He thereupon was exalted to Divine nature; that He gave up His flesh for the life of the world (John 6:51), and exists now as spirit only. It has been maintained that flesh and bones and blood are "corruption," and therefore cannot inherit incorruption.
We maintain that if these things are true, the grand doctrine of the Word or Logos is totally destroyed, while the title "The Son of Humanity" becomes meaningless.
Many a time have I carefully examined Acts of Parliament. This can be very interesting. But in order to discover what the Law does actually say, it is necessary to study each word with very great precision. Everything may hinge upon one single word.
So also with the Sacred Scriptures. They are far more perfect than Acts of Parliament, and infinitely more beneficial.
Let us then examine John 6:51 carefully. "The bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." Rotherham reads, "And the bread also which I will give is my flesh. . . . in behalf of the world's life." The Concordant Version reads, "Now the bread also, which I shall be giving for the sake of the life of the world, is My flesh."
It will be observed that nothing whatever is said about the Lord giving up His flesh. There is a fairly common Greek word for "give up," namely, paradidOmi. Yet even this does not necessarily signify to give up something so that it cannot be given back. When the Lord expired, "He gives up the spirit" (John 19:30). But He got back His spirit when He rose again. The Lord was given up for us all (Rom. 8:32), but certainly that was not the end of Him. Christ is to give up the kingdom (or perhaps better, the kingship) to Him who is God and Father (1. Cor. 15:24), although of His kingdom there will be no consummation (Luke 1:33). Christ gave Himself up for the Ecclesia (Eph. 5:25). Yet He still lives, and lives in us also.
How then does Christ give His flesh for the life of the world? The flesh of animals is the ordinary food of man kind. But not their blood. The blood must be drained from the flesh. So that the eating (that is, making a meal) of that flesh, is something different from drinking the blood. Only after the death of the Lord could it be said His flesh was to be eaten. Yet in the case of animals, what flesh we eat is. already dead flesh. It cannot sustain us in life permanently, But the bread which the Lord gives, is living Bread. It is not dead flesh, but Living Flesh. In some way we must make a meal of that living Flesh of God's Son, so that our spiritual life is sustained. The union of His flesh and His blood how ever, was parted in His death. What He did give up, and finally, was His blood. Therefore only in His resurrection form can His flesh be eaten, as living food. In His death, the Lord gave His flesh so that the World, the World of men and women, the whole World of mankind, might have life, spiritual life. Which simply means that the Resurrection Body of Flesh of the Lord has a supreme significance and value for all mankind.
It is important to note that in 1. Cor. 15:50 Paul does not state that flesh and blood ARE not able to inherit God's kingdom. The verb (dunatai) is in the singular, IS not able. Moreover, the two terms, flesh and blood are here without the definite article. All this means that the condition of "flesh plus blood" cannot enter God's kingdom.
As for Heb. 5:7, "in the days of His flesh," we do not require to reason that when He arose He had no flesh. We might speak the same way of the days of Paul's flesh. While we are alive, we are essentially flesh. Was it not enough to make the writer of the Hebrews epistle marvel that He who came in Human Form did possess our flesh at all?
Ever must we bear in mind that what we know concerning spirit is very little. But we know one tremendous fact: that all history knew of no bridge which could link up Spirit and Flesh until the Logos of God became flesh. God incarnated into our Race, His own Race. Flesh in itself is not sinful. The Lord never came short. We do not know how those who live throughout the Thousand Years in bodies of flesh will become adapted to the following eon. It may be that their flesh will become gradually more and more spiritual. But as yet we know next to nothing concerning the spiritual body or life. These things are beyond us, except for faith.
There is a soulish body and there is also a spiritual body (1. Cor. 15:44). This would seem to imply that the spirit body has shape like the flesh body. Paul's questioner had asked, "With what-particular (poiO) body are they coming?" Observe the verb of motion, which to Paul's hearers must have implied a body visible and recognizable. Paul says there are different kinds of flesh. And there are different glories.
After His resurrection, the Lord "presents Himself alive" to His apostles. Literally, stands Himself beside them, with many positive proofs or tokens. There is no evidence whatever that He was not present in a body of flesh. He only disappeared when a cloud "under-got" Him (Acts 1:9). Similarly, on the Mount of Transfiguration, there is nothing to shew that temporarily the Lord lost His body of flesh, to take it back again in a short time. Moses and Elijah were seen by the disciples. Had they been spirits, they could not have been seen. Peter spoke toward (pros) Jesus (Luke 9:33), which implies direct speech to one actually near and visible. Moses and Elijah were seen as men, apparently as much men as the onlookers.
Our own bodies are to be changed and transformed (Phil. 3:21) but that does not necessarily mean that we shall not be flesh of a transcendent kind.
When John tells us that the Logos or Word becomes flesh, he means that the Logos now becomes something which He was not previously. He who did appear transitorily and fleetingly to Abraham and others in human form, now becomes permanently flesh, and tabernacles among us. The inference is that He now remains flesh. He could no longer be the Logos or Explanation of Mankind, were He only Spirit. Nor could He continue to be the Son of Mankind were He spirit.
Of course the last verse of 2. Cor. 3 may be appealed to. Perhaps most or all versions have it wrongly, "as from the Lord the spirit." Some would render, "as from the spirit of the Lord." T. S. Green, however, shewed in 1867 (Critical Notes on the New Testament) that the structure of the Greek means "from glory unto glory, even as from the Lord, (a glory) of spirit." We have the same construction in verse 6.
Even after the Lord entered heaven, Stephen observed Him there, and standing, and even as the Son of Humanity (Acts 7:56). Therefore He must have been still completely human. This completely shatters the argument that had the "Lord in His resurrection taken back and retained His humanity He would be everlastingly degraded in nature." This is the very reverse of the truth. Nothing in all history has so magnified and ennobled our God, setting the seal to His Deity, as His incarnation into Mankind in His Son.
A.T. Last updated 8.1.2006