The Vile Body Made Glorious
Philippians 3:21
Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like to his glorious body…

The word "vile," in ordinary usage, represents that which is mean and despicable. This is not the thought of the Apostle Paul. The substance of the body is not in itself vile. There is nothing vile in the elements of the human frame or in their combination. The construction of the body is not vile. There is so much of Divine design, wisdom, and skill displayed in every part of the human body, that the attributes of the Creator seem to be enthroned or enshrined in it. The uses of the body are not vile, so far, at least, as the body is rightly used, and the members are instruments of righteousness unto God. It is not Paul's habit to speak in contempt of the human frame. The body is, nevertheless, as the subject of disease and infirmity, as sustained by toil and by the sweat of the brow, as appointed to die, and as liable to the motions of sin, in a state of debasement. It is in a state of humiliation.


1. The transformation in substance. This will consist in the change of the present natural material, to what the apostle calls "spiritual." There is almost a contradiction involved in speaking of any substance as being spiritual, but we see very many changes in the substance of nature which are very like a change from that which is grossly material, to that which is refined and spiritual. Take, say, a lump of rough ice. Apply heat to it; and the change effected is to water. The material is nearer the spiritual as water than it was as ice. Continue to apply heat to this melted ice, and you get from it a cloud of vapour floating in the air. Here is something kindred to the change of that which is material into that which is spiritual, and, perhaps, the change of which the text speaks is of this kind or of this class. Or take, say, a grain of wheat and drop it into the ground; it germinates; and presently it comes up to a beauteous blade. How much more like the spiritual is that green spiritual blade, than the hard, cold, apparently lifeless thing called a seed which you cast into the ground? "Flesh and blood," we are told, "cannot inherit the kingdom of God, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Of these qualities we may mention strength. How little, in certain aspects, the body can bear I Compared with the spirits of some men how weak is the body. God Himself is clothed with activity, is ceaselessly active. Those who are redeemed to God by Jesus Christ are saved from morbid inactivity. There is as strong a desire to do, as there is to be and to enjoy. Now, to have a body that will endure this doing, because constituted of a material that will never wear, and that will never waste! Oh, how glorious will this be!

(1) The transformation, so far as the substance is concerned, will be from a wasting material to a permanent substance. We all know that our bodies are now constituted on the principle of waste and repair. The future body will not be based on this arrangement.

(2) The transformation will be from a corruptible substance to an incorruptible — from a substance exposed to many ills, to a substance the heir only to vigour and to pleasure.

2. The change in the form may be gathered from Revelation 1:13. The transformation will be from the mixture of comeliness and uncomeliness to perfect purity — from heaviness to lightness and agility — from dwarfishness or overgrowth to perfect stature — from the expression which sin and sorrow give to the human countenance unto the expression of perfect righteousness and of fulness of joy. Now all this is involved in the words, "fashioned like unto His glorious body." The body of the Lord Jesus Christ is a body that HIS Father thinks worthy of Him. It is a body suited to His dignity as King of kings, to the glorious city over which He reigns, and which harmonizes with all that is sublime and beauteous there. And when our bodies shall be fashioned like it what a change this will be; like that between the colours on a painter's palette, and the picture on the canvas, yet not like because infinitely surpassing it, or as the change which passes over the earth, when the winter is gone and the time of the singing of birds is come.

II. JESUS CHRIST WILL BE THE TRANSFORMER. The Redeemer has taken us men entirely in hand to do everything for us. We want a sacrifice, a righteous standing with God, regeneration, teaching, comfort in tribulation, victory in battle, and He provides them all. In the text Christ is doing our part of His work for us. He has already transformed our spirits, and will in due time change our bodies. The tendency of this working is to subdue everything to His purpose, so that all things may have this one issue — the working out of a complete salvation. The text exhibits —

I. The resources of Christ. He literally can do everything for you. Inwardly you are His workmanship, for you are newly created in Him; but more still will be done, even the transformation. Will you not, then, look more constantly to Christ? You cannot look to Him too much. He delights in your cherishing large expectations.

2. The completeness of redemption. Christ takes the body into His redeeming hand, He changes that, and He makes that perfect. Why not trust Him to perfect all that concerneth you?

3. The future glory of the saints. What is there involving dignity, or pleasure, or joy, that is not provided for in that Father's house to which the Saviour has gone that He may prepare a place for us.

4. One great object of the Christian's hope. The existence of hope in our nature is an illustration of the goodness of God. We double our sorrows by our fears. But what shall we say of the effect upon our joys of hope? We enjoy some promised or coming blessing, over, and over, and over again, long before it reaches our hands. Weary in this pilgrimage of life, whither are the weary steps which you are taking today carrying you? Every step carries you nearer home. Every pain tells that the hour is near in which the Lord Jesus Christ "shall change the body of your humiliation." Wait a little, and your redemption will be consummated, and it will be as though you had never known a fallen world like this, and a humbled nature like this.

(S. Martin.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Who shall change our vile 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.

WEB: who will change the body of our humiliation to be conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working by which he is able even to subject all things to himself.

The Resurrection of the Body
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