“Behold, I tell you a mystery,” the apostle Paul wrote to a group of Christians in the Greek city of Corinth, “We shall not all sleep [be dead], but we shall all be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we [who are alive] shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality… Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’” (1 Corinthians 15:51–55).

In this passage Paul is explaining the resurrection of the dead. It’s pretty hard to explain how a body that’s been in the grave for years — possibly even hundreds or thousands of years — is going to come to life and be perfectly whole, even better than it was before. How’re you going to explain that? Paul says it’s going to be like the difference between a seed and what the seed becomes once it has germinated and grown to maturity (1 Corinthians 15:36–44).

Our resurrection bodies are going to be new and different, and yet they’ll be close enough to the ones we have now that we’ll recognize each other: “Then I shall know just as I also am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). The disciples recognized Jesus after He was resurrected, but not always. He was different enough that sometimes they didn’t recognize Him (Luke 24:13–16, 31; John 20:14–16). That was either because He didn’t want to be recognized at the time, or because He was even more beautiful and more perfect, if that’s possible, because He had a new spiritual body that would never die — and that’s the kind of body you’re going to have! You’re going to be like Jesus was and is now, since His resurrection. He “will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious [resurrection] body” (Philippians 3:21).

Were Jesus’ followers able to see Him after He was resurrected? Yes! Were they able to usually recognize Him? Yes! Did He walk and talk with them? Yes! He even cooked for them and ate and drank with them (Luke 24:43; John 21:9–14). Jesus was able to do all these normal, natural things, and in your new resurrection body, so will you. Think of that!

At the sound of that trumpet you’re going to be raised from the dead, if you are dead, or raised from the earth if you’re still living.

But that’s not all. You’ll also be able to do some things you can’t do in your natural body. When His followers were in a locked room with the door barred for fear of those who had crucified Him, Jesus walked right through the barred door (John 20:26). Another time, when He had finished talking with two of His followers on the road to Emmaus, He “vanished from their sight” (Luke 24:31). You’ll be able to walk through walls and doors and appear and disappear, just like Jesus did. You’ll also be able to travel from one place to another not merely at the speed of sound or light, but at the speed of thought! Well, we’re getting ahead of our story now.

“We shall all be changed!” The main thing that’s going to be changed is your body, but if He’s going to change your body, He’s certainly going to change your clothes. Contrary to what some believe, He’s not going to resurrect you stark naked. You’ll be clothed in a robe of light, a robe of righteousness. Just think, no matter where you are or what you’re doing, you’re suddenly going to notice a wonderful change and look to see that you’re wearing a beautiful new robe of righteousness!

Actually, you may be so preoccupied with what’s happening in the sky — lightning and thunder and Jesus appearing in the clouds — that you may not even notice what you’re wearing. But you’ll sure feel different because you’ll “be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trump” (1 Corinthians 15:52). At the sound of that trumpet you’re going to be raised from the dead, if you are dead, or raised from the earth if you’re still living.

In another epistle, Paul writes: “I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 4:13–14). That includes you, if you’ve received Him! It also includes all of your departed family members and friends who are saved. So don’t worry that you’ll never see them again; you’ll meet in the air. What a family reunion — the biggest ever!

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17).

God became a man to turn creatures into sons; not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man. — C.S. Lewis

“We Shall Be Changed!”, Copyright © 1998-2012, The Family International