Matthew 22:30—Will we be like angels (spirits) in heaven, beings without physical bodies?

Problem: Jesus said that in the resurrection we will be “like the angels of God” (Matt. 22:30). But angels have no physical bodies—they are spirits (Heb. 1:14). Thus, it is argued that we will have no physical bodies in the resurrection. This, however, is contradictory to those verses that claim there will be a resurrection of the physical body from the grave (John 5:28–29; Luke 24:39).

Solution: Jesus did not say that we would be like angels in that they are spirits, but like them in that they do not marry. Two observations are relevant here.

First of all, the context is not talking about the nature of the resurrection body, but whether or not there will be marriage in heaven. The question Jesus answered with this statement was, “In the resurrection, whose wife of the seven [husbands she had] will she be, for they all had her?” (22:28) Jesus’ reply was that, like angels, there will be no marriage in heaven. So the woman will not be married to any of these seven husbands in heaven. But Jesus said nothing here about having immaterial bodies in heaven. Such a conclusion is totally unwarranted by the context.

Second, when Jesus said “in the resurrection ... [they] are like angels of God,” He obviously meant like angels in that they will “neither marry nor are given in marriage” (v. 30). He did not say they would be like angels in that they would have no physical bodies. Rather, they would be like angels in that they would be without sexual propagation.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.