Life after death: a New Testament study in the relation of body and soul
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The title of our study indicates the main subjects that must be investigated. Before we can speak of life after death we must know what is meant by life and what is meant by death. We are to speak of these in terms of man who is the subject of life, death and life after death. Biblical man is seen as being basically a psychosomatic unity. Body and soul do not denote parts of man but man's entire being from different perspectives. This view of human nature profoundly influences the concept of the future life after death in its anthropological dimension. Human life here is an embodied existence and the life after death was described as an embodied existence. Resurrection of the body was the form of expression used by Biblical man of the future life. Life, here or hereafter, requires a body. Life is not simply duration, but rather means the quality and content of the life that is lived. A basic part of life is that it is lived in fellowship with God and His people. Man breaks this fellowship through sin. Death is not only the divine boundary placed on life but also is the enemy of life and the divine judgement on sin. The life of Jesus is seen as a struggle against and victory over the evil and hostile forces opposed to God and man (esp. a victory over sin and death). Thus the death and resurrection of Jesus is the victory which has won our redemption and "brought life and immortality to light" (2 Tim. 1:10). The believer's life, though still lived in the midst of the evil powers, even now experiences in Christ the new life that overcomes death. Fellowship, the community of life with God and those who are His, is restored in Him. The beginnings of this hope for a life of fellowship with God and Christ is found in the OT when men of faith reached out longingly for unending communion with God (Ps. 73:23ff.). Later developments added to this hope the concept of the resurrection of the body. The body that is to be raised is a body transformed into the likeness of the Body of Christ — a spiritual body. The fundamental faith of the NT for a life after death is that it is a life of unending fellowship in and with Christ (resp. God). This is the Christian's life: (1) we live now in Christ; (2) we will, in some way, be with Him after death; (3) we will be with Him in full fellowship at the Parousla-Resurrection, when our now hidden lives will be revealed (Col. 3:1-4).