There shouldn’t be any question about the physical nature of the Savior’s resurrection for those who believe in the Bible.
To his disciples the Savior testified: “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39). To impress on them even more the corporeal nature of his resurrected body, the Savior ate a “piece of broiled fish, and of an honeycomb” (Luke 24:42).
This scripture, however, doesn’t seem to be enough for the immaterialists who contend that Jesus’ resurrected body of flesh and bones was but a temporary manifestation to appeal to mortal man, because Jesus is not restricted to a physical body, but is a spirit.
However, with a resurrected body the Savior penetrated the solid walls of the room where the apostles were gathered.
“When the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you” (John 20:19).
After traveling with the two men on the road to Emmaus, Jesus with His resurrected body “vanished out of their sight” (Luke 24:31). during His mortal ministry, it was with His physical body that the Savior walked on water.
These don’t really sound like restrictions!
But why is there this confusion?
Below I have selected a few excerpts from (#Ad) The Inevitable Apostasy and the Promised Restoration that help answer this question.
The Nature of God
How important is it for us to understand the nature of God? John the Beloved taught the imperative need to understand God when he wrote, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). The Church of the New Testament and the early Christian writers taught that God the Father, his Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost were three, separate, distinct beings, having a oneness in unity and purpose. Unfortunately, this simple doctrinal belief quickly evolved into a mystery, namely that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were an inexplicable triune—three gods who were somehow only one substance and one God…
Unfortunately there is much confusion in the Christian world today about the nature of God and the relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and whether they are material or immaterial beings. If someone is not aware of this uncertainty, then he simply needs to ask ten or twenty Christians of different faiths, at random, the following questions: Do you believe that God the Father and Jesus Christ are the same being or separate beings? Do you believe that God has a material body or instead is some immaterial, undefinable entity? Do you believe Jesus was resurrected with a glorified body of flesh and bones and, if so, does he still have a material body in heaven today? If Christ retained his resurrected body, does God the Father also have a similar glorified body of flesh and bones, since Jesus is in his Father’s express image? If Jesus, however, does not have a glorified physical body in heaven today, then what happened to his resurrected body, and what was the purpose of his resurrection? Further, ask a little child how she pictures her Father in Heaven—does she view him as some amorphous being or as a kindly, loving Father who is in the image of the mortal Jesus?
One God or Three Gods?
If the members of the Godhead are different manifestations of the same person or substance, as some assert, then many scriptural events and passages make no sense whatsoever. Much of the confusion centers around John 10:30: “I and my Father are one.” From this, many have assumed that God the Father and Jesus Christ are one and the same person. They often include the Holy Ghost in this “oneness.” The scriptures assert and many of the early Christian writers testified, however, that they were three separate and distinct persons who shared a oneness, not in identity of person, but in purpose, unity, and will. The scriptural references to their separateness are numerous. Following are but a few examples.
Why would Jesus have prayed to himself? Why would he have pled with himself for the cup to be removed? Why would he in agony have said, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me” (Matthew 27:46) if he and the Father were the same? What imploring value would those petitions have had, if made only to self? If they were the same individual—the same God—why would Jesus have stated: “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). How could his Father be “greater” than he if they were the same person? It was Jesus who said, “I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30). Certainly, this was a magnificent statement of submission. But what submission would there have been if he were merely following his own will under a different name?…
The separate, distinct nature of the three members of the Godhead was evidenced at the baptism of the Savior. On that occasion Jesus stood in the water, the Holy Ghost descended upon him, and the Father spoke from the heavens: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16–17). The three members of the Godhead again manifested themselves at the stoning of Stephen. While “full of the Holy Ghost,” Stephen saw “Jesus standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55). For those who tried to dilute or mystify the reality of three gods, Dionysius of Alexandria (c. A.D. 264) wrote, “If from the fact that there are three hypostases [essential parts], they say that they are divided, there are three whether they like it or no, or else, let them get rid of the divine Trinity altogether.” In other words, he argued, there is either a trinity or there is not—but do not give me any nonsense that they are three separate, distinct persons yet somehow only one being or substance.
While there are some scriptures that suggest the Father and the Son are one (John 10:30; John 17:21; 1 John 5:7), they become clear as to what is meant by “one” when read in context. There are likewise scriptures that suggest a husband and wife are one: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).17 Accordingly, the real question is, “What does it mean to be one, as that term is used in the scriptures?” No one would contend a husband and wife are one physical body, or one and the same individual manifested in different forms. However, a husband and wife may be one in purpose and in mind and in will…
Jesus prayed that this type of oneness be extended to all his disciples: “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee” (John 17:21). Certainly he was not preaching that all believers be merged into one physical mass, but rather be one in purpose and mind.
Edwin Hatch noted Christianity’s affinity for Greek philosophy: “The ideas of men were trooping in one vast host to proclaim with a united voice that there are not many gods, but only One, one First Cause by whom all things were made, . . . one Supreme Being. This formed the basis of the theological battle for several centuries—three gods as dictated by the scriptures versus one God as dictated by the philosophers. How did the battle end? As Edwin Hatch correctly observed: “The struggle really ended as almost all great conflicts end, in a compromise.” But in weighing this compromise, he added: “The dominant Theistic philosophy of Greece became the dominant philosophy of Christianity. It prevailed in form as well as in substance.”
The Nicene Creed, adopted in A.D. 325,24 was a crucial step in the integration of the scriptures with Greek philosophy.
An Immaterial or Material God?
Origen of Alexandria spoke of the separate and distinct identities of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, but he acknowledged that the church at his time did not have a clear understanding of whether God was material or immaterial…
What an admission! The doctrine concerning the physical nature of God was lost. Instead, it was replaced by the opinions of men. While Origen acknowledged that the church in his day did not have a doctrinal stance on the physical nature of God, he nonetheless gave his opinion that God was immaterial…
As a result of this theological uncertainty concerning the corporeal existence of God, a false doctrine arose concerning the nature of God, namely, that God was immaterial. This heresy was founded upon one or more of the following assumptions: (1) God was invisible and therefore had no form or substance, (2) all matter was corruptible and, therefore, a god who was eternal could not be composed of a corruptible substance, and (3) God is a spirit and therefore cannot have a material body.
No doubt much of the foregoing was influenced by Greek philosophy. Aristotle had taught: “The Supreme Being is immaterial; it can have no impressions, no sensations, nor appetites, nor a will in the sense of desire, nor feelings in the sense of passions; all these things depend on matter.” …
God declared his materiality in the first book of the Bible: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. . . . So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him” (Genesis 1:26–27). A few chapters later, Moses confirmed that Adam was “in the likeness of God,” and then, to help us understand how he was using the words “likeness” and “image,” Moses observed that Adam “begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth” (Genesis 5:3). The parallel was clear—man is in the physical likeness and image of God, just as Seth was in the physical image of his father.
It is of further interest to note that Paul declared that Christ is in “the express image of his [God’s] person” (Hebrews 1:3), meaning that he looks like God the Father, much as a son is in the image of his mortal father. What does the word image mean in these verses if God has no form, no substance, no materiality? Yet almost every Christian church today teaches that God is a spirit, without body, parts, or form. At least one major church declares that God is also without passions, hence the phrase that “God is without body, parts, or passions.”…
What type of relationship can someone develop with a god who is immaterial, invisible, and undefinable? It must be difficult, if not impossible, for the human heart and mind to fully contemplate and consummate a relationship with a mysterious “something” that can be neither envisioned nor defined. Contrary to such a belief, Paul declared: “We are also his [God’s] offspring.” Then he added, “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device” (Acts 17:28–29). What was Paul’s point? That like begets like, and thus, if we are his offspring, we must be like him. A similar message was recorded in Hebrews, which reminds us to be “in subjection unto the Father of spirits and live” (Hebrews 12:9). There are multiple passages that refer to God as our Father in Heaven. Why? Because we are his spirit children, created in his image.
God is not an “it,” as many Christians assert. He is not a thing. He is not some neuter force, not some ethereal non substance. The scriptures not only refer to God as our Father in Heaven, but as “him” or “he” in verse after verse. Why? Because God is a male personage.
Consistent with being a male personage, God has a corporeal body. Jacob declared: “I have seen God face to face” (Genesis 32:30). Paul spoke of a “face to face” encounter with the Lord (1 Corinthians 13:12), and John saw the day when the worthy would approach the throne of God and “see his face” (Revelation 22:4). The ten commandments were “written with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18). God said to Moses: “I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen” (Exodus 33:23).
The Lord said with regard to Moses: “With him will I speak mouth to mouth” (Numbers 12:8). It was the resurrected Savior whom Stephen saw “standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55). Ezekiel saw “the appearance of his loins” (Ezekiel 1:27). John saw the coming of the Lord and declared that “his eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns. . . . And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword” (Revelation 19:12, 15). He further revealed that Jesus “sat upon” a white horse and “was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood” (Revelation 19:11, 13). The scriptures also tell us that “Enoch walked with God” (Genesis 5:24) and that Abraham “stood yet before the Lord” (Genesis 18:22).
It is hard to say that we believe in the Bible and still insist that God is a being without body, parts, or passions.
For more examples and details, you may want to read (#Ad) The Inevitable Apostasy and the Promised Restoration