One must wonder about this because each of Boetner’s examples are of people… with bodies. No where in those examples is there any indication that the persons spoken of are disembodied spirits.
A point that can be made is Paul’s description of the earthly house and the heavenly one, 2 Cor 5:1, to which Storm’s was alluding. Paul’s description is that to be absent from one is to be in the other. This is parallel to being in the body (earthly) and absent from the Lord. The heavenly dwelling is a body, also. It is describe like the earthly as a tablernacle, even though the nature of it is not clear, and Jesus’ description of Lazarus and Paul’s of himself in Heaven is one of having a body.Of this Calvin says
“The body, such as we now have it, he calls a house of tabernacle. For as tabernacles are constructed, for a temporary purpose, of slight materials, and without any firm foundation, and then shortly afterwards are thrown down, or fall of their own accord, so the mortal body is given to men as a frail hut, to be inhabited by them for a few days. The same metaphor is made use of, also, by Peter in his Second Epistle, (2 Peter 1:13, 14,) and by Job, (Job 4:19,) when he calls it a house of clay. He places in contrast with this a building of perpetual duration. It is not certain, whether he means by this term a state of blessed immortality, which awaits believers after death, or the incorruptible and glorious body, such as it will be after the resurrection. In whichever of these senses it is taken, it will not be unsuitable; though I prefer to understand it as meaning, that the blessed condition of the soul after death is the commencement of this building, and the glory of the final resurrection is the consummation of it.”
As you will note, Calvin doesn’t know what was meant (Storms it appears read Calvin on this). What he includes is that a body may well be the intermediate state. There are some areas that are problematic when a “spiritual non-corporeal” body is interjected as the meaning. That being, there is no such thing expressed in Scripture and it is even harder to reckon with eyes that see, voices that sing and speak, and the expressed movements of bodies in heaven. Even though the two, the body and the soul are spoken of as separate and separable, there is nothing that indicates that the unity of the person is ever dissolved. In fact, we must maintain that integrity. Now, it does not devolve that the man of dust must so remain eternally for there to be a resurrection of the body. Only that a body of some kind be intimately, indissolubly, united in that state of eternal bliss. It is, after all, what constitutes man. A soul does not constitute him, nor does a body, but both together constitute the person and it is persons who are resurrected. How is that reconciled with a “spirit” like body? There is no such thing, that is, the idea is oxymoronic. Entities in creation occupy some spatial reality, be it ethereal or material. God is the only pure spirit in that he alone is without a body, parts, or constraints of creation. What necessity is there to have such a thing as a bodiless soul, anyway? What does it mean to be present with the Lord if we say there is only a spiritual reality, specters and no bodies of which we can distinguish any sense of form? How do we explain the appearance of Moses and Elijah, or of Samuel? If we in our imaginations see ourselves as being there as Paul did who was caught up into that third heaven, if we likewise were to meet the Lord, how would we represent that in our minds? As ghosts? Translucence beings? No, it in fact goes contrary to our minds. Neither Paul, nor Jesus, gives us any reason to believe that there is a disembodied state.
What the intermediate state means anthropologically is shrouded in mystery. Perhaps that is why those like Calvin were reticent to commit to any single meaning, reserving the right to be wrong. Calvin says concerning the new clothing, a metaphor for the new body:
Afterwards, however, he adds, that the natural horror of death is overcome by confidence; as an individual will, without any reluctance, throw away a coarse, dirty, threadbare, and, in one word, tattered garment, with the view of his being arrayed in an elegant, handsome, new, and durable one.
Calvin, speaks of where he departs from Chrysostom:
Since clothed He restricts to believers, what he had stated respecting the certainty of a future life, as it is a thing peculiar to them. For the wicked, too, are stripped of the body, but as they bring nothing within the view of God, but a disgraceful nakedness, they are, consequently, not clothed with a glorious body. Believers, on the other hand, who appear in the view of God, clothed with Christ, and adorned with His image, receive the glorious robe of immortality. For I am inclined to take this view, rather than that of Chrysostom and others, who think that nothing new is here stated, but that Paul simply repeats here, what he had previously said as to putting on an eternal habitation. The Apostle, therefore, makes mention here of a twofold clothing, with which God invests us – the righteousness of Christ, and sanctification of the Spirit in this life; and, after death, immortality and glory. The first is the cause of the second, because those whom God has determined to glorify, he first justifies.
The point is, that though Calvin wasn’t quite sure what kind of body there was in heaven at the point of death, he seems quite sure that the “body,” whatever it is, is glorious, the very image of Christ, the robe of immortality. Calvin, then, tends to a glorified body upon death which may be further glorified at the resurrection of the parousia. It matters not at this point whether there is wrangling about the material nature of that body, the state of its glorification, or whatever. The fact is that it is something that can be seen, that has subsistence as some kind of substance which we can recognize is the possession of the saints in heaven, now.
One interesting twist that some have recognized, as Storms mentions, is that the play on body and clothing is language used of the church. There is one kind of body here, another in heaven, one assembly among men and another among the angels. But this also goes to the point that the language of the resurrection is quite diversified in its applications and views, making it difficult to determine whether or not the meaning of egeirontai, raised, in 1 Cor 15, does not refer to the bringing forth of the Adamic body from the grave, but the rousing of the resurrection body out of heaven at the Parousia. The word raised is not anastasis, to make to live again (stand on ones feet). And though it can mean to energize, rouse, it also means to make appear in public. This kind of language is used in the OT of the Lord’s return, as it is he who rises to judgement and makes public his decrees. He is raised and will rise and come forth out of heaven. However, he already has a body. The fact remains that the meanings, especially eschatological ones, widely vary
It is a minority position to be sure, an obscure one, that we have bodies in heaven at the point of death though perhaps not yet rewarded with the final consummation of glory which is promised at his coming. When I say minority, I do not mean the less right one, merely, that historically the majority has held to the disembodiment theory. The minority view remains orthodox, nonetheless, a historic consideration of Reformers like Calvin. It remains an enigma, true enough. For the body which is sown is that of the dust, but Scripture clearly says it is not the body of dust that is resurrected for the first man is not that which is raised, he being of the dust. The new man has a heavenly body and it is that which is raised, 1 Cor 15, and it comes from heaven, not from the dust of the earth. The first Adam was of the earth, dust. The second was of heaven and that glorification of that body is a heavenly substance. Yet, it is the same body as we know from Christ’s post resurrection appearances. This is not to become confused in the light of His being conceived from the flesh of Mary. For we are not speaking of his days prior to the resurrection, but after. So also, we are not speaking of saints prior to death, but after.
So the question of what it means to be raised from the grave is answered. It cannot mean from a tomb. It must mean, simply, from death. The first body is earthy, the second is, despite what some say, kainos ktisis, a new creation, anothen gennao, born from above, heavenly, made without hands, kept in heaven. It is not simply a reassembled prior existence. Chapter 15 goes on: the dead will be raised imperishable. Adam, the man of dust, is made of perishable things. The problem with interpreting being raised to mean those who are dead in the grave on earth, is that the parallel is the body which is dead on earth with the body which is alive in heaven. However, persons die, and not just their bodies. It is persons who live again, and not just their bodies. The contrast is flesh and blood, perishable, and therefore that body which has died, versus that which imperishable, not flesh and blood, of heaven, that which cannot ever die. The heavenly body, which is just like that body of earth except for its origins has a new beginning and no end. The first had a beginning, and ended. Jesus said that if you put new wine in old skins you burst the skin and ruin both. Or, if you put old wine in new skins, you ruin both. His answer to the dilemma was a new creation, soul and body, new wine, new wine skins.
The dead in Christ shall rise first. That is simple. Raised is the word egeirontai. Though it can mean raised from the a grave, the reality is not that in 1 Cor 15:15-16, but being changed from death (the grave) to life. The dead are raised, is the point. The resurrection of the body though is unseen by those on earth. We observe them in their graves. We live by faith, though, not by sight. Those who have gone before of course, or I should say, by the matter of course, are the first to be raised. For they have already received their new bodies as Christ also did. And Scripture declares them as coming with the Lord at his appearing, not rising from the ground at that time. We rise from the ground, those of us who remain, and we meet them in the air, those who have gone before. So the dead will be raised first. Throughout, the text has been contrasting perishability and imperishability, and the appearance, not of a coming together of body parts, but the appearing, egeirontai, the declaration or demonstration that is revealed in the Parousia, of what is the reality of the resurrection.
The timing of the resurrection of those who have gone before is left open to interpretation by Christ’s own words when he challenges in his discourse with Martha the sense that the resurrection is at the last day, only. And of course he will lose none and will raise up all on the last day. The language of the eschaton is shaded in mystery and types and should not always be taken literalistically. He said he was the resurrection and there are many resurrections spoken of because the term itself has wider application than just that which happens at the Parousia. Yet there is one Resurrection. And the only one that truly matters is not at the Parousia, but His on Easter Morning. It explains a lot when we consider the oddity of Christ’s resurrection: A body that has holes which does not bleed? There are also the many who were resurrected that morning; we have no idea what happened to them afterward. We suppose they died, again, we don’t know. But what would be the purpose of another death? After all, it is appointed to man once to die, then the judgement, right? All those who are said to die in Christ are of that first resurrection, also, because there is only one resurrection, right? Even though they do not walk in it except by faith until they die, at which time they rise, that is they are resurrected to be with the Lord, we are all said to be of the resurrection, now. So what it means to rise or to be raised is as much an open field of understanding as many other eschatological terms. So the rousing, the rising, spoken of in Corinthians, could very well just be that appearing which makes evident that they were indeed raised from the dead. For raised is in the perfect present tense in places where it cannot mean to take place at the Parousia. When First Thessalonians 4 is read we equate those rising first as being the bodies which are reunited with the souls, at that time. However, there is no need to do so. And though anasthsontai is used there, it is a synonym with the exact same meaning as egeirontai. And though it is future, egeirontai, used in Corinthians describing the same event, indicates they have already been raised. “And the dead in Christ will rise first,” may just be a restatement of “God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” There is no distinction that is being made between body and soul in Thessalonians. And it says nothing about the grave.
The definition of egeiro is interesting, broadly encompassing several eschatological ideas. The tense used in 1 Cor 15:15-16 is the present indicative. It means that it has already happened and is now the fact. Well, how can that be if the dead are not raised yet… if the resurrection of the body is future? It is connected with Christ being raised and the purpose is… to establish that Christ is raised, and so also are those who are his. If we deny one, Paul is saying that we deny both. If his are not raised, present tense, then neither is Christ. Truly, each in their time are raised, first Christ then at his appearing they who have been raised will appear with him. That only makes sense. Why is the word egeiro (sounds like a Greek sandwich) important, then? Because it indicates a revealing, a public display, and not just a rousing from the grave or the animation of the body, or a change in spiritual state of soul, but the actuality itself being demonstrated. That is, egeirontai is to display, to hold up for public examination. Christ was seen by 500 brothers, but those who are his, who are with him now, will not be seen to have been resurrected until he returns. It doesn’t say that they will be raised bodily at that time, necessarily. To the contrary, the language says that they are now raised. Both cases, however, will still prove Paul truthful. The statement is that they are raised already and that it will be made apparent in the Parousia. But if one wants to believe that they are yet to be bodily raised, and are now only disembodied spirits floating around in heaven, fine, the point of the passage remains that there really is a resurrection no matter when it is made evident.
If you will indulge me further, Herman Hoeksema writes:
A Difficult Conception
Now, as I said, teaching about the intermediate state presents a very difficult problem. The intermediate state refers to the state of man in the absence of the body. That is very difficult for us to comprehend. In the second place, it refers to the state, not so much of all mankind but of the believer, of the Christian. You cannot talk in one breath of the believer and of the unbeliever when you speak of the intermediate state. That is impossible. Finally, it is a difficult problem because it concerns the question of heaven—of heaven as it now is. It is difficult enough to conceive of the heavenly things as they finally shall be. But because the final kingdom of heaven is pictured in Scripture, we can at least have some kind of conception of it. The Bible speaks of the new creation, and of the creature that shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption and shall enter into the glorious liberty of the children of God. But that is not the question. The question is not about the final state. The question is not about the final realization of the kingdom of God in glory. The question is about heaven as it is. That is much more difficult.
I must say a little about each of these elements in order at least to impress upon your minds the difficulty of the problem.
First of all, man is one, not two. Let me emphasize that. Man is not two beings but one being. Often that is denied. At least we often have the idea that man is sort of a spirit in a box. If it were that simple, there would be no problem being absent from the body. Then it would simply be this: that the spirit is imprisoned in the body for awhile, and then at death, as a separate entity, the spirit simply leaves the body. But that is not the case. Man is a physical, psychical, spiritual, personal being in the present world.
Let me explain. Picture to yourself several concentric circles, one circle in another. All of these circles together are the whole man. The outward circle is the body, the body as you see it. My body! A wonderful thing is that body, with its five senses: the seeing, the hearing, the smelling, the tasting, the touching. That is the body–the wonderful physical instrument through which I see. My body itself does not see; my body cannot see. But my body is the physical instrument whereby I see, I hear, I taste, I touch, I smell. See what? The world. I see the world! You can easily understand that. If I had no senses at all, I would have no contact with the world. Yet the body would still be living, and my soul would still be living in the body. That is the body. It is the instrument of my soul, or spirit, whereby I stand in a fivefold contact with this present world.
Now imagine, inside that outer circle, another circle, a circle close to the edge of the former circle. That circle I would call the spiritual or soul aspect of the body. The body is connected with the soul somehow, you understand. It is not true that the body is a box in which the soul is imprisoned. Oh, no! There is a very intimate connection, a very intimate relation, an organic connection between the spirit, the soul, and the body. Because of that, there is an inner aspect of my body that is connected with the soul. I think that the inner aspect is what the doctors call the nervous system. It is the nervous system that is the inside of the eye, of the ear, of the touch, of the taste, and of the smell by these the soul is connected with the body.
Thirdly, imagine a third circle inside of that second circle. That third circle I would call the physical side of the soul. Perhaps we can find that aspect of man in the brain. If you had no brain at all its different cells and all its different compartments–you could have no contact with the world. Even though you had the spiritual side of the body, the nervous system, without the brain you would still have no contact with the outside world. The brain is the instrument of the intellect and the will, the instrument of the rational and moral being, the instrument of the soul in its narrowest sense.
What is the soul? The soul is the seat of mind and will, which are the two faculties of the soul. Without the brain, there would be no mind, and there would be no will. There would be no sensation or perception. The brain is the physical aspect of the soul, while the soul itself is the intellect and will.
Inside one more circle is what the Bible calls the spirit of man. The spirit of man is that which God originally created to be adapted to Him. The spirit of man is the highest part of him, the center of his being.
Now imagine one dot in the center of all those circles. That center of it all is the person. That is what I call my I, the I that always remains the same and never changes. I was born as a little baby. I grew up. I learned my trade in the old country. I came to this country. I went to school to study for the ministry. I graduated. I became a minister of the gospel. I had all kinds of troubles, and still have, because I preach the truth. I, I, I: the same I. That I never changes. My soul changed; my body changed; my mind changed; my intellect changed; my will changed. But I am always the same. And presently, beloved, I die.
I die. What does that mean? That means that I—the same I that was born almost 70 years ago, the same I that lived in the changeable nature that same I now passes through another transformation. That is death. Death is, after all, nothing but a transformation. Death is not annihilation. Death is a transformation from one state to another, just as the Lord speaks of the seed that falls into the earth and dies and then brings forth much fruit. That death of the seed, you understand, does not mean that the seed disappears. Oh, no! A seed of wheat that you plant in the earth stays there and is transformed in the earth. It does not disappear. It is so transformed that the living kernel sprouts up and grows into a fully developed wheat plant. So is death, death both for the righteous and the wicked. But I am speaking now particularly of the death of the righteous. Death is a mystery. but death nevertheless means a transformation.
What transformation? Negatively, the transformation according to which I–the same I–am “absent from the body.” Do you understand? The apostle says in II Corinthians 5:1, “We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved….” That is the negative side of the transformation we call death. This tabernacle is going to be dissolved. This tabernacle in which I live, in which I was born, in which I am speaking to you tonight, is going to be dissolved. That is, the senses are going to disappear: the eye, the ear, the nose, the smell, the taste, the touch. It is all going to disappear through death. It is going to disappear as far as I am concerned. And the nervous system, the soul side of the body, is going to dissolve. Also the brain, the physical side of the soul, is going to be dissolved. All that will be left is a transformed soul and a transformed spirit transformed in such a way that instead of seeing earthly things, I will see heavenly things. Instead of sensing with whatever senses I may have on earth, in heaven I will sense, I will taste, I will feel heavenly things. Concretely, it means that instead of seeing the world and hearing the world and all things in the world, I will see Christ and hear Christ and be with Him, “which is far better,” says the apostle Paul. It is that kind of transformation.
But do you not see that this presents a problem? Do you not see that we cannot possibly conceive of a spirit, of an I, of a person–of a human person–without a body? Do you not see that without my body, I am blind, I am deaf, I am senseless? Besides, do you not understand that though we can speak of these things at present while we are still in the earthly house of this tabernacle, we can never quite understand what heaven will be the present heaven?
As Genesis begins so our tale ends. We find always that man is a complex unity. But, he is always a unity, body and soul. The soul, whether it is defined as the thoughts, emotions, spirit, etc, has to have a vehicle of expression and that we know as the body. The terms for soul often are used interchangeably for the body of flesh and not just of that invisible component of man. Indeed, what we find in revelation is souls with eyes, hands, lips and so on. Never do we find just spirits without those body parts mentioned doing anything. Trumpets blow, voices praise, creatures sit, stand, and bow. Whatever the nature of the corporeal state of heaven, it is without question corporeal. It is not earthly corporeality, it is heavenly corporeality. Hoeksema is quite right, it is a very difficult conception, but it is impossible to conceive of it as being bodiless reality. Even in the case of Lazarus and the Rich man, what we encounter is not a picture of disembodied characters, but real persons both body and soul.