“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
When 1 John 3:2 says we are the sons of God, John appears to be speaking of the resurrection. The only indication of being like Him was something John had never seen. John had seen the heart of Christ and therefore the Father (John 14:1-8), so he is not talking about growing in the heart of Christ in this verse. We must settle on the alternative idea of being like Him in the resurrection.
Paul had his hope set on the resurrection. He first described the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:37-44, and then he made the contrast between Adam and Christ very clear. We have been born in the image of the earthly in the fact that we are in Adam’s physical image (1 Cor. 15:49). We are in the form of man (Phil. 2:6-8). Paul then noted there will come a time when we will be in the image of the heavenly (1 Cor 15:49). The image of the heavenly was in full context of the resurrection. Paul also noted that Christ was the first fruits of our resurrection (1 Cor. 15:19, 23).
Jesus’ resurrected body is glorious (Phil. 3:21). On the road to Damascus, Paul saw the resurrected Christ in a marvelously glorious body that was so magnificent that he was totally blinded by it. Moses saw God’s glory when he saw the back of God, making his face to shine. The children of Israel could not look on Moses’ face because it was so bright. However, when Paul saw the resurrected Christ, it must not have been the eternal body of Christ, since John says it does not yet appear what we shall be (1 John 3:2). If Paul had already seen what we shall be, then John would not have said it is unknown what we shall be.
Jesus asked the Father to give Him the glory He had before the foundation of the world. In the book of Revelation, we may have a picture of the kind of glory God has. “And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heavens fled away; and there was found no place for them” (Rev. 20:11).
When Christ returns, we shall see Him as he is; however, just seeing Him is not our only hope. We also have the hope of being like Him (1 John 3:2). The Holy Spirit testified through Paul that in the resurrection our physical bodies will be transformed to be like His glorious body (Phil. 3:21). All of God’s children, from the least to the greatest have this hope of being resurrected in the image of His glorious body. John said that it does not yet appear what we shall be. However, he further testified that when we see Him we will be like Him. What a marvelous hope we have in Christ””not only to inherit an eternal home in heaven with Him, but to have a body like His as well.
QUESTIONS: 1. In the resurrection, what body will Christians have? (1 Cor. 15:42-44)
2. Are the first fruits of the cotton crop the same as the rest of the crop? What about a wheat crop? What is the meaning of the term “first fruits”?
3. Explain how Jesus was the first fruits of our resurrection.
4. Romans 8:18 speaks of a stark contrast between the glory that shall be revealed in us and something we have to endure. What is that? (Acts 14:22)
5. What was David prophesying about in Psalm 17:15?
6. What was the image of the earthy in 1 Corinthians 15:49?
7. What two kinds of bodies are described in Philippians 3:21?
8. According to Matthew 22:30-32, what will we be like in the resurrection?
9. Luke 20:36-38 also talks about the resurrection. How is that described?
10. Can we go to heaven in flesh and blood as we are today (1 Cor. 15:50-58)? Describe what will take place that day.