The physical structure of a human or an animal. The different kinds of physical bodies are composed of different kinds of flesh, together with the life force.—1 Cor. 15:39; Jas. 2:26; Gen. 7:22; see SOUL.
While there are physical bodies visible and palpable, there are also spiritual bodies, invisible to human eyes and entirely beyond human senses. (1 Cor. 15:44) The bodies of spiritual persons (God, Christ, the angels) are glorious. “At no time has anyone beheld God.” (1 John 4:12) Man cannot see God and live. (Ex. 33:20) When the apostle Paul had only a glimpse of the manifestation of Jesus Christ after Jesus’ resurrection, he fell to the ground and was blinded by the brilliance, a miracle being required to restore his sight. (Acts 9:3-5, 17, 18; 26:13, 14) Likewise, angels are far more powerful than men. (2 Pet. 2:11) They are glorious, brilliant ones and have appeared as such in physical manifestations. (Matt. 28:2-4; Luke 2:9) These spirit sons of God have vision strong enough to see and endure the brilliance of the Almighty God.—Luke 1:19.
Because we cannot see God with physical eyes, he uses certain metaphorical expressions to help us to understand and appreciate things about himself. The Bible speaks of him as having eyes (Ps. 34:15; Heb. 4:13); arms (Job 40:9; John 12:38); feet (Ps. 18:9; Zech. 14:4); heart (Gen. 8:21; Prov. 27:11); hands (Ex. 3:20; Rom. 10:21); fingers (Ex. 31:18; Luke 11:20); nose, nostrils (Ezek. 8:17; Ex. 15:8); and ears. (1 Sam. 8:21; Ps. 10:17) It is not to be supposed that he literally possesses these organs in a physical way or in appearance as we know them. The apostle John, who had hope of life in heaven, said to fellow heirs of heavenly life: “Beloved ones, now we are children of God, but as yet it has not been made manifest what we shall be. We do know that whenever he is made manifest we shall be like him, because we shall see him just as he is.” (1 John 3:2) It will be an organism conformed to the “glorious body” of Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:21), who is “the image of the invisible God,” “the reflection of his glory and the exact representation of his very being.” (Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3) They will, therefore, receive organisms that are incorruptible, having the life principle of immortality, as distinguished from angels in general and from mankind, who are mortal, able to die.—1 Cor. 15:53; 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16; Mark 1:23, 24; Heb. 2:14.
CHRIST’S BODY OF FLESH
At the institution of the Lord’s evening meal Jesus offered the unfermented bread to the eleven faithful apostles, saying: “This means my body which is to be given in your behalf.” (Luke 22:19) He had said beforehand: “The bread that I shall give is my flesh in behalf of the life of the world.”—John 6:51; Heb. 10:10; 1 Pet. 2:24; see LORD’S EVENING MEAL.
Jesus’ fleshly body, in order for him to be the “last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45) and to be a “corresponding ransom for all [mankind],” had to be a real human body, no incarnation. (1 Tim. 2:5, 6; Matt. 20:28) It had to be perfect, for it was to be sacrificed to provide before Jehovah God the purchase price. (1 Pet. 1:18, 19; Heb. 9:14) No imperfect human could provide the needed price. (Ps. 49:7-9) For this reason Jesus said to his Father when presenting himself for baptism, to begin his sacrificial course: “You prepared a body for me.”—Heb. 10:5.
The physical body of Jesus Christ was not allowed to decay into dust as did the bodies of Moses and David, men used to foreshadow Christ. (Deut. 34:5, 6; Acts 13:35, 36; 2:27, 31) When his disciples went to the tomb early on the first day of the week, Jesus’ body had disappeared and the grave clothes were left in the tomb, his body doubtless being disintegrated without passing through the process of decaying.—John 20:2-9; Luke 24:3-6.
After Jesus’ resurrection he appeared in different bodies. Mary mistook him for the gardener. (John 20:14, 15) He again appeared, entering a room with locked doors, having a body with wound marks. (John 20:24-29) Several times he manifested himself and was recognized, not by his appearance, but by his words and actions. (Luke 24:15, 16, 30, 31, 36-45; Matt. 28:16-18) Once a miracle performed at his direction opened his disciples’ eyes to his identity. (John 21:4-7, 12) Jesus, now being resurrected as a spirit (1 Pet. 3:18), could materialize a body for the occasion as the angels did in past times, when they appeared as messengers. (Gen. 18:2; 19:1, 12; Josh. 5:13, 14; Judg. 13:3, 6; Heb. 13:2) During the days before the Flood the angels that “did not keep their original position but forsook their own proper dwelling place” performed an incarnation and married human wives. That these were not truly human but were materialized bodies is shown by the fact that the Flood did not destroy these angels, but they dematerialized and returned to the spirit realm.—Jude 6; Gen. 6:4; 1 Pet. 3:19, 20; 2 Pet. 2:4.
Jesus Christ is spoken of as the Head of “the congregation, which is his body.” (Eph. 1:22, 23; Col. 1:18) This Christian body of people has no divisions racially, nationally or otherwise, Jews and people of all nations being represented in it. (Gal. 3:28; Eph. 2:16; 4:4) All are baptized by holy spirit into Christ and into his death. They are, therefore, all baptized into one body. (1 Cor. 12:13) Thus all the body follows the head, dying his kind of death and receiving his kind of resurrection.—Rom. 6:3-5; see BAPTISM.
The apostle Paul uses the functioning of the human body to illustrate the operation of the Christian congregation, likening the members living on earth at any particular time to a body, with Christ as the invisible Head. (Rom. 12:4, 5; 1 Cor. chap. 12) He emphasizes the importance of the place each member occupies, the interdependency, the mutual love and care and the accomplishment of work. God has set each one in his position in the body and through the various operations of the holy spirit the body performs what is necessary. The Head Jesus Christ, as liaison member, supplies the members of the body the things they need by means of “its joints,” which may have reference to the appointed overseers and ministerial servants, or those with special responsibilities, and through the “ligaments,” which may mean the connective and communicative provisions and directives, so that the “body” is spiritually well fed and each part informed of the movements and spiritual well-being of the rest of the body.—Col. 2:19.
PROPER USE OF ONE’S BODY
The Christian should appreciate the body God has given him and should love himself to the extent of caring properly for his body so that he may be able to present it in acceptable, sacred service to God. (Rom. 12:1) This requires the use of reason and the maintenance of the body with food and other necessities along with physical cleanliness, but other types of care are even more important. These involve spirituality, seeking God’s kingdom and his righteousness, and the practice of moral uprightness. (Matt. 6:25, 31-33; Col. 2:20-23; 3:5) The apostle counsels: “Bodily training is beneficial for a little; but godly devotion is beneficial for all things, as it holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.”—1 Tim. 4:8.
One who is a member of the Christian congregation, the body of Christ, and who commits fornication, is taking a member of the Christ away and making it a member of a harlot. Any Christian committing fornication not only is bringing in moral defilement but is also “sinning against his own [fleshly] body.” He is putting himself in peril of being removed from the body of Christ, the temple organization, and is exposing himself to the danger of syphilis and other venereal diseases. (1 Cor. 6:13, 15-20; Prov. 7:1-27) He may be ‘handed over by the congregation to Satan for the destruction of the flesh.’—1 Cor. 5:5.
One who is a member of the body of Christ, as well as other dedicated persons who are associated with these spiritually begotten body members, must also avoid spiritual fornication. The Scriptures call one who has friendship with the world an ‘adulteress.’ (Jas. 4:4) Jesus said of his disciples: “They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.” (John 17:16) Therefore, Jesus is careful that those who make up the members of his body are clean morally and spiritually. (Eph. 5:26, 27) They are said to have their “bodies bathed with clean water.” (Heb. 10:22) As the apostle Paul says, speaking of human husbands: “In this way husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself, for no man ever hated his own flesh; but he feeds and cherishes it, as the Christ also does the congregation, because we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and he will stick to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This sacred secret is great. Now I am speaking with respect to Christ and the congregation.”—Eph. 5:28-32; see parts of the body under their individual headings.