May 31 – A Powerful Return

[Christ] will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

Philippians 3:21

Today’s verse assures us that Jesus Christ has the power to do the amazing things He has promised us. Since He can subject the entire universe to His sovereign control, He certainly has enough power to raise our bodies and make us like Him. He has the power to providentially create natural laws and to miraculously overrule them. He has the power to give life and to take it. The apostle Paul said, “Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet” (1 Cor. 15:24–25).

The same power that will recapture the entire fallen universe and give it back to God is what makes it possible for us to become like Christ. Where is your focus? I hope it is on heaven and that you have not been distracted.[1]


3:21 When the Lord Jesus comes from heaven, He will change these bodies of ours. There is nothing vile or evil about the human body in itself. The evil lies in the wrong uses to which it is put.

But it is a lowly body, a body of humiliation. It is subject to wrinkles, scars, age, suffering, sickness, and death. It limits and cramps us!

The Lord will transform it into a body of glory. The full extent of the meaning of this we do not know. It will no longer be subject to decay or death, to the limitations of time or of natural barriers. It will be a real body, yet perfectly suited to conditions in heaven. It will be like the resurrection body of the Lord Jesus.

This does not mean that we will all have the same physical appearance! Jesus was distinctly recognizable after His resurrection, and doubtless each individual will have his or her own individual physical identity in eternity.

Also, this passage does not teach that we shall be like the Lord Jesus as far as the attributes of God are concerned. We shall never have all-knowledge or all-power; neither shall we be in all places at one and same time.

But we shall be morally like the Lord Jesus. We shall be forever free from sin. This passage does not give us enough to satisfy our curiosity, but it is enough to inspire comfort and stimulate hope.

According to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. The transformation of our bodies will be accomplished by the same divine power which the Lord will later use to subdue all things to Himself. He is “able to save” (Heb. 7:25). He is “able to aid” (Heb. 2:18). He is “able to keep” (Jude 24). Now in this verse we learn that He is able to subdue. “This is … our God forever and ever: He will be our guide even to death” (Ps. 48:14).[2]


Focusing on Expectations

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. (3:20–21)

The underlying motivation for pursuing Christlikeness is the hope of the return of Jesus Christ. Since Christ is in heaven, those who love Him must be preoccupied with heaven, longing for Christ to return and take them to be with Him (1 Thess. 4:17).

Paul had little interest in the comforts and pleasures of this world, as the following passages indicate:

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. (2 Cor. 4:8–10)

In everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things. (2 Cor. 6:4–10)

Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern? (2 Cor. 11:23–29)

This view led him to the conviction that made him write, “I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better” (1:23).

It is consistent for believers to have a heavenly focus, because our citizenship is in heaven. Politeuma (citizenship) appears only here in the New Testament, though Paul used the related verb in 1:27. It refers to the place where one has official status, the commonwealth where one’s name is recorded on the register of citizens. Though believers live in this world, they are citizens of heaven. They are members of Christ’s kingdom, which is not of this world (John 18:36). Their names are recorded in heaven (Luke 10:20; cf. Phil. 4:3; Heb. 12:23; Rev. 13:8; 21:27); their Savior is there (Acts 1:11; 1 Thess. 4:16); their fellow saints are there (Heb. 12:23); their inheritance is there (1 Peter 1:4); their reward is there (Matt. 5:12); and their treasure is there (Matt. 6:20).

Though they do not yet live in heaven, believers live in the heavenly realm (Eph. 2:6); they experience to some degree the heavenly life here on earth. They have the life of God within them, are under the rule of heaven’s King, and live for heaven’s cause.

Paul’s reference to citizenship may have been especially meaningful to the Philippians, since Philippi was a Roman colony. The Philippians were Roman citizens, though obviously living outside of Rome, just as believers are citizens of heaven living on earth.

It is from heaven that we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. To the disciples who watched as Christ ascended into heaven the angels said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). In John 14:2–3 Jesus Himself promised, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” Because of those promises, believers are to be “awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:7), and “to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10). Until He returns, believers “groan within [themselves], waiting eagerly for [their] adoption as sons, the redemption of [the] body” (Rom. 8:23).

The hope of Christ’s return provides believers with motivation, accountability, and security. In this promise there is positive motivation to be found faithful when He returns to reward believers; to be accountable to God for living lives that produce gold, silver, and precious stones instead of wood, hay, and straw (1 Cor. 3:12). There is a corresponding negative reality, as John wrote: “Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward” (2 John 8). Finally, the promise of Christ’s return provides security, since Jesus promised, “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:39–40).

Believers are not to wait for Christ’s return with attitudes of passive resignation or bored disinterest. Instead, they are to eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Believers are not waiting for an event but a Person. Apekdechomai (eagerly wait) is often used to speak of waiting for Christ’s second coming (e.g., Rom. 8:19, 23, 25; 1 Cor. 1:7; Gal. 5:5; Heb. 9:28). It describes not only eagerness, but also patience.

As noted above, Christ’s return marks the end of believers’ struggling pursuit of the elusive prize of holy perfection, for it is then that He will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory. It is then that the eagerly awaited redemption of the body will take place (Rom. 8:23). It is “when He appears [that] we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2). Until then, the new creature (2 Cor. 5:17) is incarcerated in the unredeemed humanness (“the body of this death”; Rom. 7:24) from which it longs to be liberated.

For believers who die before Christ’s return, death means the temporary separation of the spirit from the body. The body goes into the grave, while the spirit goes immediately into the presence of God (1:21, 23; 2 Cor. 5:6, 8). Heaven is currently occupied by “the spirits of the righteous made perfect” (Heb. 12:23). Those believers who live from Pentecost to the Rapture will have their spirits joined to their resurrection bodies at the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:15–17). The Old Testament believers and those saved during the Tribulation will receive their resurrection bodies at Christ’s second coming (Dan. 12:2; Rev. 20:4).

Christ will totally transform the bodies of all believers, each group at its appointed time (cf. 1 Cor. 15:22–23), to make them fit for heaven. Believers’ bodies will have a new schematic; they will be refashioned and redesigned. Christ will change the present body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory. Like Christ’s resurrection body, believers’ resurrected bodies will be recognizable. They will be able to eat, talk, and walk, but will not have the physical restrictions of our present bodies. After His resurrection Christ appeared and disappeared at will, even entering a room whose doors were locked (John 20:19). Paul gives the most detailed description of believers’ resurrection bodies in 1 Corinthians 15:35–49:

But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?” You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. 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. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.

The combination of a redeemed spirit and a glorified body will enable all believers to perfectly manifest the glory of God. Sin, weakness, sorrow, disappointment, pain, suffering, doubt, fear, temptation, hate, and failure will give way to perfect joy (Matt. 25:21), pleasure (Ps. 16:11), knowledge (1 Cor. 13:12), comfort (Luke 16:25), and love (1 Cor. 13:13).

Salvation involves far more than mere deliverance from hell. God’s ultimate goal in redeeming believers is to transform their bodies into conformity with the body of His glory. They will “become conformed [summorphos; the same word translated conformity in v. 21] to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29; cf. 1 John 3:2). “Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Cor. 15:49).

Their transformed bodies will permit believers finally to be the perfect creation God intends for them to be for the joy of perfect fellowship with Him forever. Describing heaven, John wrote, “I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them’ ” (Rev. 21:3; cf. John 14:1–3; 1 Thess. 4:17). Those bodies will also allow believers to see God. In the Beatitudes Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8), while John wrote that in heaven “there will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads” (Rev. 22:3–4). Believers’ resurrection bodies will also be perfectly suited for the eternal service they will render to God (cf. Rev. 7:15).

Lest any doubt Christ’s power to transform believers’ bodies, Paul notes that He will accomplish it by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. Hupotassō (subject) means “to arrange in order of rank” or “to manage.” Christ will have the power to rule the millennial kingdom (Rev. 12:5, 19:15; cf. Isa. 9:6; 32:1; Zech. 14:9). By His power Christ will also transform the earth’s topography (Zech. 14:4–8) and the natural kingdom (Isa. 11:6–9). Paul’s point is that if Christ can subject the entire universe to His sovereign control (cf. 1 Cor. 15:24–27), He has the power to transform believers’ bodies into His image.

As they run the spiritual race (Heb. 12:1), believers must look to godly examples for inspiration and instruction. They must also look out for those enemies of the truth who would lead them astray. Finally, they must focus on the glorious hope that is theirs at the return of Christ—the transformation of their bodies into conformity with His. Then, regenerated fully in soul and body, they will be suited to eternal, holy glory and joy.[3]


You Shall Live Again

Philippians 3:21

… who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Once I discussed the relative importance of the two most significant Christian doctrines with one of my friends. They were the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We came to the conclusion that although the death of our Lord is the heart of the gospel both doctrinally and in terms of the evangelistic message, the resurrection is of at least equal importance with it historically in terms of the evidence for Christ’s claims.

The evangelist Reuben A. Torrey called the resurrection of Jesus Christ “the Gibraltar of Christian evidences, the Waterloo of infidelity.” Torrey was entirely right. The resurrection of Jesus is the great historical fact upon which all the Christian doctrines are suspended and before which all honest disbelief must waver. If it can be shown that Jesus of Nazareth actually rose from the dead, as the Scriptures claim and as Christians have always confessed, then the Christian faith rests upon an impregnable foundation. If it stands, they stand. If the resurrection falls, the other truths fall also. It was a recognition of this truth that caused Paul to write to the Corinthians, “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised” (1 Cor. 15:14–15).

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a bit like a clothesline that supports the clean wash. If the line falls, the doctrines of the faith fall. Where the resurrection stands, everything else stands with it.

The Other Doctrines

What does the resurrection prove? It proves all that needs to be proved. It proves the essential doctrines of Christianity.

In the first place, it proves the deity of our Lord. When he lived on earth Jesus claimed to be equal to God and that God would raise him from the dead three days after his execution by the Jewish and Roman authorities. If he were wrong in this, his claim would be blasphemy. If he were right, the resurrection would be God’s method of substantiating it. Jesus did rise from the dead, and his resurrection is God’s seal on Christ’s claims to divinity. This is why Paul, who knew that Jesus had been raised, writes that “through the Spirit of holiness [Jesus] was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4).

Then too the resurrection proves our justification before God. The Book of Romans states that Jesus “was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). Jesus had claimed that his death would atone for human sin. He had said that he had come “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). He died as he said. But the question remained: Could it be true that the death of this one man would be acceptable to God for others? Three days pass; Christ rises; his claim is established. By the resurrection God shows that he has accepted Christ’s atonement forever.

The resurrection also proves that the believer in Christ can have a supernatural victory over sin in this life, for Christ lives to provide the supernatural power for it. The author of Hebrews says, “Therefore he [Christ] is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (Heb. 7:25). In the same way Jude says that he “is able to keep [them] from falling” (Jude 24).

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is also the unshakable evidence for our own resurrection. Because he lives we shall live also. That is why Paul says, in the verse we have now come to in our study of Philippians, Christ “by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Phil. 3:21).

This verse teaches several important things: 1) Jesus is living, 2) because he lives we shall live, and 3) because he was transformed we shall be transformed. Moreover, we know all of these things through the fact of his own resurrection.

Jesus is Living

In the first place, Jesus is living. This great fact first gripped the disciples and friends of Jesus. During the days following the resurrection all of them moved from blank and enervating despair to firm conviction and joy. Thereafter this unshakable truth transformed their life and ministry.

During the last century the well-known critic of the Gospels, Ernst Renan, wrote that belief in Christ’s resurrection arose from the passion of an hallucinating woman, that is, of Mary Magdalene. He meant that Mary Magdalene was in love with Jesus and deluded herself into thinking that she had seen him alive when she had actually seen only the gardener. This idea is preposterous. The last person in the world that Mary or any of the others expected to see was Jesus. To their minds Jesus had died forever, and their hopes had died with him. The only reason Mary was in the garden on that Easter morning was to put spices around his dead body.

Moreover, even if Mary had believed in some sort of resurrection through the force of love, there is no evidence that the disciples could have been similarly deluded or that they anticipated anything of the kind. Many despaired; some, like the Emmaus disciples, were scattering. Thomas, for one, was adamant in his disbelief. Yet, we find that within a matter of days after the Lord’s alleged resurrection all of them were absolutely convinced of what beforehand they would have judged entirely impossible. And they went forth to tell about it, persisting in their conviction even in the face of threats, persecution, and torture.

Torrey summarizes the evidence like this. “The most significant fact of all is the change in the disciples—the moral transformation. At the time of the crucifixion of Christ we find the whole apostolic company filled with blank and utter despair. We see Peter, the leader of the apostolic company, denying his Lord three times with oaths and cursings. But a few days later we see this same man filled with a courage that nothing could shake. We see Peter standing before the very council that had condemned Jesus to death, and saying to them: ‘Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, doth this man stand before you whole’ (Acts 4:10). A little further on, when commanded by this council not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus, we hear Peter and John answering: ‘Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard’ (Acts 4:19, 20). … Something tremendous must have happened to account for such a radical and astounding moral transformation as this. Nothing short of the fact of the resurrection, of their having seen the risen Lord, will explain it.”

Certainly Paul was at one with this first great conviction of the disciples when he made the resurrection of Jesus the basis of the Christian’s own faith and spiritual confidence.

We Will Also Live

The second important thought in our text is that because Jesus lives we shall live also. Jesus had said, “I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14: 2–3). In 1 Thessalonians Paul writes, “We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him” (1 Thess. 4:14).

At this point two truths must be made clear: 1) Apart from the resurrection of Jesus Christ there is no certainty of life beyond the grave for anyone, and 2) On the basis of the resurrection of Jesus Christ the believer can have a perfect confidence. The writings of philosophers have many arguments for immortality, but at best they offer only a speculation that such things may be so. One philosopher has called the doctrine of immortality “a candle flickering at the end of a dark tunnel.” Another has called it “a star shining dimly on the blackest of nights.” This is the philosophical hope of immortality, but it does not give confidence. It is a probability but not a certainty. The only sure evidence of our resurrection is the resurrection of Jesus himself, who said, “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19). His resurrection makes the difference.

In the year 1899, two famous men died in America. One was an unbeliever who had made a career of debunking the Bible and arguing against the Christian doctrines. The other was a Christian. Colonel Ingersoll, after whom the famous Ingersoll lectures on immortality at Harvard University are named, was the unbeliever. His death was sudden and came as an unmitigated shock to his family. His body was kept in the home for several days because Ingersoll’s wife could not bear to part with it; and it was finally removed only because the corpse was decaying and the health of the family required it. At length the remains were cremated, and the display at the crematorium was so dismal that some of the scene was even picked up by the newspapers and communicated to the nation at large. Ingersoll had used his great intellect to deny the resurrection. When death came there was no hope, and the departure was received by his friends and family as an uncompensated tragedy.

In the same year the evangelist Dwight L. Moody died, and his death was triumphant for himself and his family. Moody had been declining for some time, and his family had taken turns being with him. On the morning of his death his son, who was standing by the bedside, heard him exclaim, “Earth is receding; heaven is opening; God is calling.” “You are dreaming, Father,” his son said. Moody answered, “No, Will, this is no dream. I have been within the gates. I have seen the children’s faces.” For a while it seemed as if Moody was reviving, but he began to slip away again. He said, “Is this death? This is not bad; there is no valley. This is bliss. This is glorious.” By this time his daughter was present, and she began to pray for his recovery. He said, “No, no, Emma, don’t pray for that. God is calling. This is my coronation day. I have been looking forward to it.” Shortly after that Moody was received into heaven. At the funeral his family and friends joined in a joyful service. They spoke and sang hymns. They heard the words proclaimed, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:55–57). Moody’s death was a part of that victory.

I do not mean to imply that the death of every Christian is equally glorious. Not all feel the force of these doctrines and live them in the moment of their homegoing, but death is still partially transformed even for those who do not. For a Christian death can be victorious. There is no hope apart from our Lord’s resurrection. In the light of his resurrection, as we go out to the cemeteries to look at the graves of our parents, sisters, brothers, wives, husbands, friends, and children, we hear the Lord Jesus say, “Your parents shall live again; your brother shall live again, your son shall live again.” And we know that even now they live in Christ’s presence.

Jesus lives, and so shall I.

Death! thy sting is gone forever!

He who deigned for me to die,

Lives, the bands of death to sever.

He shall raise me from the dust.

Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives and death is now

But my entrance into glory.

Courage, then, my soul, for thou

Hast a crown of life before thee;

Thou shalt find thy hopes were just;

Jesus is the Christian’s Trust.

To Be Transformed

The last teaching of our text is that we shall be transformed. Because Jesus was transformed, we shall be transformed. Thus, Paul says that Jesus will change our lowly bodies and fashion them like his glorious body.

This is a great comfort to those who have lost Christian loved ones. There is always a horror to death as we know it. It is connected to sin. Even the Bible knows it as the ultimate enemy of humans. In death, and often before it, the body of a person is destroyed. Sometimes it is wasted by sickness; sometimes it is crushed in the abrupt terror of an accident. Often the last sight we have of a Christian friend is of a wasted body caught by the grim hands of death. Yet in none of these grim experiences have we heard the end of the story. The last reel has not been shown. We know that we shall meet again in Christ’s presence. We shall meet in transformed bodies, and the former sadness will fade to a small and insignificant thing in the light of the unending joy of eternity

Apart from the resurrection of Jesus himself there are only three resurrections recorded in the four Gospels—the resurrection of the son of the widow of Nain, the resurrection of the daughter of Jairus, and the resurrection of Mary and Martha’s brother Lazarus. Each began in mourning and sorrow; each ended in exuberant joy. What made the difference? Nothing but the coming of Jesus! Jesus said of himself, “I am the life,” and where life meets death, death is vanquished. Death was vanquished, and it will be abolished forever for us when Jesus Christ returns.

Perhaps you are saying, “Can I really believe that is possible? Is Jesus really able to do the things claimed?” Of course, he is! Think of the things for which the Bible tells us he is able. It says that “he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him” (2 Tim. 1:12), “he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb. 2:18), he “is able to keep you from falling” (Jude 24), he “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20), “he is able to save completely those who come to God through him” (Heb. 7:25). Can he do these things? Of course, he can. In the same way he is able to raise up our bodies, transforming them “by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control” (Phil. 3:21).[4]


21 Christians await the resurrection, described here in terms of the transformation of, literally, “the body of humiliation” (to sōma tēs tapeinōseōs, a Hebraic genitive). Paul is not denigrating bodily existence (“our vile body,” KJV). His language derives from the reality that our perishable bodies succumb to the humiliation of death by which we return to dust (1 Co 15:35–58). He also assumes that this earthly dress is unfit for heavenly habitation. Our earthly physicality requires a divinely wrought transformation (metaschēmatizō, “change the outward form of,” GK 3571; NIV, “transform”) to make it fit for heavenly existence. When Christ subjects all things to himself (including the emperors of this world, 1 Co 15:24), God will then claim the final victory over death.[5]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 168). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1977). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2001). Philippians (pp. 259–263). Chicago: Moody Press.

[4] Boice, J. M. (2000). Philippians: an expositional commentary (pp. 220–225). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Garland, D. E. (2006). Philippians. In T. Longman III (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 248–249). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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