One of the most common questions people ask about heaven is what they will look like. Some imagine that all that they dislike about their body will be changed. Others want to retain their hair and eye color. Sometimes shorter people want to be taller and taller people want to be shorter. How similar or different will people’s bodies be in heaven?
According to the Bible, God will give people new bodies for the New Heavens and New Earth. The new bodies will look similar to the bodies people had on Earth, though without the effects of sin. People will retain their race in heaven. Many believe that people will be the age of their optimum physical health.
Will people have supernatural abilities in heaven? Will Jesus’ resurrected body and everyone else’s resurrected body be exactly the same? What age will people be in heaven? Will babies who die on Earth also be babies in heaven? Will people retain their race, height, and other individual characteristics? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
Also see Are Babies That Die On Earth Babies in Heaven? to learn more.
Will people’s bodies in heaven have special powers and abilities?
The Bible teaches that God will give people new bodies for the New Heavens and New Earth (1 Cor. 15:42-44).
Scripture also reveals that people’s new bodies will be like Christ’s resurrected body. Philippians 3:21 reads, “Who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (ESV). Knowing this, people observe the special abilities Christ had after he rose from the dead.
- Jesus moved through walls: “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.'” (John 20:29, ESV)
- Jesus disappeared in an instant: “And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.” (Luke 24:31, ESV)
- Jesus ascended into the sky at will: “And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” (Acts 1:9, ESV)
Will Jesus’ resurrected body and everyone else’s resurrected body be exactly the same? In heaven, people’s bodies will be similar to Christ’s, but they won’t be exactly the same. The reason they won’t be the same is that in heaven Jesus will still be God and people still won’t be God. Many scholars believe that the abilities that Jesus demonstrated in the verses above are the result of his deity and aren’t examples of the abilities that every resurrected body has.
That said, even though people’s new bodies won’t have all the attributes of God, they may have many more abilities than they have right now. Some wonder if people will be able to run as fast as a cheetah or even fly like a bird. The Bible doesn’t directly answer this question, but it does teach that people won’t be exactly like God.
Also see Who Will Not Go To Heaven? to learn more.
What age will people be in heaven?
Christians have been asking this question for 2,000 years. Theologians, pastors, and scholars have debated the issue and there isn’t consensus on the answer. Today, many hold a version of the optimum-age view, which is described below.
- There won’t be ages in heaven: Some believe there are no ages in heaven because time itself will be fundamentally different. They suggest people on Earth can’t comprehend a timeless existence, so the question of what age people will be in heaven has a limited answer.
- Ages at death will be retained in heaven: Others believe that people in heaven will be whatever age they were when they died. In other words, babies will be babies and elderly people will still be elderly. However, if aging in general is the result of sin, which most scholars believe it is, then this may be the weakest suggestion, or perhaps, at best, an incomplete one.
- People will be their optimum age: Yet others argue that people will look like they are in their late 20s or early 30s, or whatever the age of their optimum physical health. According to this view, the precise age doesn’t matter as much as peak physical condition, which may vary from person to person depending on genetics and DNA. One person’s optimum age may be 26, while another person’s may be 31.
What about babies who die in the womb or in infancy? The first view pleads ignorance. The second view argues they will remain babies in heaven. Some who hold the third view suggest that babies will immediately be their optimum age. Others who hold the third view believe that babies will be allowed to grow up to their optimum age.
Does the story of Adam and Eve support the third view? People who hold the third view point to Adam and Eve to support their argument. They observe that in a world without sin, such as the New Heavens and New Earth will be, the first pair weren’t babies and they weren’t elderly.
Adam and Eve were old enough to reproduce. This comparison isn’t to suggest that people will reproduce in heaven, but that the same time of life is a person’s optimum age.
“Our DNA is programmed in such a way that, at a particular point, we reach optimum development from a functional perspective. For the most part, it appears that we reach this stage somewhere in our twenties or thirties. Prior to this stage, the development of our bodies (anabolism) exceeds the devolution of our bodies (catabolism.” (Hank Hanegraaff, Resurrection, p. 133)
Also see Will There be Marriage In Heaven? to learn more.
Bodies in heaven will retain charactersitics they had on Earth
The Bible indicates that people’s bodies in heaven will be similar in appearance to the bodies they had on Earth. They will be “new,” yet they will still be their body. For example, Revelation teaches that people will retain their race in heaven as well as some of their history (“from every notation”) and experiences (“languages”):
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.” (Revelation 7:9, ESV, emphasis added)
What other characteristics will people retain? Based on passages like this, many scholars believe that people will generally retain their height, physique or build, and their hair, eyes, and skin color. Physically, people will still be themselves, but without the effects of sin.
An exception to this is when a particular physical feature that a person has is a result of living in a fallen world. For example, those born without the ability to walk, won’t only be able to walk in heaven but run.
“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.” (Isaiah 35:5-6, ESV)
What about when the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus? After Jesus rose from the dead, John records that Mary didn’t recognize him (John 20:13-15). Does this mean that Jesus’ body was so different as to be unrecognizable by his closest followers? Scholars believe that Mary’s reaction was based more on not anticipating seeing Jesus alive because he had just been crucified.
John 20:16 also implies that she initially wasn’t looking at him: “Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned and said to him in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher)” (ESV, emphasis added). When Mary turned to see Jesus, she recognized her friend and Savior.
“Somehow, somewhere within you is the pattern of the heavenly person you will become, and if you want to catch a glimpse of how glorious and full of splendor your body will be, just do a comparison. Compare a hairy peach pit with the tree it becomes, loaded with fragrant blossoms and sweet fruit. They are totally different, yet the same. Compare a caterpillar with a butterfly. As wet, musty flower bulb with an aromatic hyacinth. A hairy coconut with a graceful palm tree.” (Joni Eareckson Tada, Heaven Your Real Home, p. 38)
Also see How Old Is Heaven? to learn more.
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