Are the Jewish Epistles for the Body of Christ?

by Jerry Shugart

1 Peter 1:3-4 and the "Hope" of the Christian

Here we can see Peter telling the Jewish believers that they have a "living hope" and describes that hope as an inheritance:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you" (1 Pet.1:3-4).

The Blessed Hope

When Peter speaks of a "living hope" he is speaking of the "hope" found in Paul's epistles:

"Awaiting our blessed hope, and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13).

That is exactly the same "hope" which the Apostle John refers to here and it is in regard to the time when Christians will be made like the Lord Jesus when "he shall appear" at the Rapture:

"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. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure" (1 Jn.3:2-3).

Inheritance

Peter ties the inheritance of the Jewish believers to that which is "reserved in heaven" and that can only be in regard to the new body which those in the Body of Christ will put on at the Rapture:

"To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you" (1 Pet.1:4).

The following words of Paul speak of this inheritance:

"...after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory" (Eph.1:13-14).

The Holy Spirit is given as the earnest of the Christian's "inheritance," and the Christian will inherit the purchased possession on the "day of redemption":

"And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption" (Eph.4:30).

In his comments on this verse Dr. Harold W. Hoehner says, "The fact that the Holy Spirit may be grieved points to His personality. His seal of a believer remains until the day of redemption, the time that a believer receives his new body (cf. 1:14, Phil. 3:20-21)" [emphasis added] (Walvoord and Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary; New Testament [Colorado Springs: ChariotVictor Press 1983], 637).

The following words of Paul are in regard to the "redemption of our body":

"And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body" (Ro.8:23).

It is the heavenly body which is the purchased possession and all those in the Body of Christ will put on that body at the Rapture. That is the same exact inheritance of which Peter speaks of here:

"To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you" (1 Pet.1:4).

Reserved in Heaven

The "hope" mentioned in the previous two passages from the New Testament is the same "hope" which Paul says in "laid up in heaven" for those in the Body of Christ:

"We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel" (Col.1:3-5).

The "hope" is laid up in heaven and that brings us back to 1 Peter 1:4:

"To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you" (1 Pet.1:4).

Here Paul describes the glorious body which the Christian will put on as "our house which is from heaven":

"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven" (2 Cor.5:1-2).

Peter tells those in the Body of Christ that their inheritance is "reserved in heaven" for them and Paul makes it plain that the "house" or new body which the Christian will put on at the Rapture "is from heaven." Here we can see that the Christian will put on a heavenly body:

"As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption" (1 Cor.15:48-50).

In his commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:48-50 Dr. David K. Lowery says that "With all that had preceded about the need for the natural body to give way to the spiritual, it followed that flesh and blood, the natural body, could not enter the eternal state" (The Bible Knowledge Commentary; New Testament, 545).

From all of this we know that the Jewish Christians who received the Hebrew epistles will put on glorious bodies just like the Lord Jesus' gloroius body at the rapture and those bodies will be heavenly bodies because at that time their destinity will be the heavenly realm.

Incorruptible

Peter used the word "incorruptible" to describe the Christian's inheritance:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you" (1 Pet.1:3-4).

Paul uses the same exact word to describe the body which those in the Body of Christ will put on at the Rapture:

"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (1 Cor.15:51-53).

Fadeth Not Away

At 1 Peter 1:4 it is said that the inheritance is one "that fadeth not away." Later in the same epistle Peter refers to the same inheritance as a "crown of glory" and says that it "fadeth not away:

"The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed...And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away" (1 Pet.5:4).

Paul practically mirrors that passage when he speaks of the same exact thing here:

"When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory" (Col.3:4).

Those in the Body of Christ will "appear with Him in glory" because they will put on a new, glorious body just like the Lord's glorious body:

"For our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our lowly body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself" (Phil.3:20-21).

If It Looks Like a Duck

The Apostle Paul's words in regard to what will happen at the rapture and his description of the bodies which Christians will put on then matches perfectly with the verses from the Hebrew epistles which I have quoted. Paul describes the Lord Jesus' coming at the rapture as being imminent and we see that same exact teaching in the Hebrew epistles. Paul says that we will put on glorious heavenly bodies like the Lord Jesus' body at the rapture and that same exact thing is indicated in the Hebrew epistles. Both Paul and Peter use the same exact word, "incorruptible," to describe the body which we will put on at the rapture and both refer to it is a "hope" and our "inheritance."

Folks, If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck then it is a duck! There can only be one imminent coming of the Lord Jesus and that coming is the rapture. Since only those in the Body of Christ will be raised at the rapture then common sense dictates that those who received the Hebrew epistles are members of the Body of Christ.