Will we eat in heaven?

Today in our Christian Classics Club, we discussed the last chapter of Wilhemus a Brakel’s The Christian’s Reasonable Service (Vol. 1). We vigorously talked about a short statement made by a Brakel on p. 630 (see below). He explained in what way Christ could have eaten after the resurrection. We considered his words and sought to square that with 1 Cor. 6:13: “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” This verse has been used by Reformed thinkers to establish the truth that we will NOT be eating in our glorified state. I incorporated a Brakel’s statement into my notes on Eschatology and the following are my current reflections on this topic. I am very thankful for our wonderful group that meets twice a month to discuss both Gurnall and a Brakel! Today, we finished Volume One of a Brakel!!!! I have been greatly edified by our robust discussions throughout this year!

Food? Eating in Heaven?

Will we eat in our glorified state? Some (like Hoekema)[1] believe that 1Cor. 6:13 emphatically teaches that we will not eat in our glorified state.[2] Our glorified body no longer depends on the nourishment. Herman Bavinck also agrees with this. He says the resurrected body “is no longer composed of flesh and blood; it is above the sex life (Matt. 22:30) and the need for food and drink (1 Cor. 6:13).”[3] The older commentator, John Diodati, said that “by death, the passage to eternal life, all use of meats, and of those organs is annihilated.” (Annotations [1648], 190) John Gill concurs and stated that “there will be no appetite, no desire in the stomach after meats, no need of them to fill the belly, and so no use of these parts for such purposes as they now are; for the children of the resurrection will be like the angels, and stand in no need of eating and drinking.”[4] Even Charles Hodge drew the same conclusion from 1 Cor. 6:13, “The time shall come when men shall no more be sustained by food, but shall be as the angels of God.”[5] Geerhardus Vos espoused the traditional interpretation of 1 Cor. 6:13.[6] And lastly, the venerable and trustworthy Matthew Henry believed it was safe to state that we will not need food:

There is a time coming when the human body will need no further recruits of food.” Some of the ancients suppose that this is to be understood of abolishing the belly as well as the food; and that though the same body will be raised at the great day, yet not with all the same members, some being utterly unnecessary in a future state, as the belly for instance, when the man is never to hunger, nor thirst, nor eat, nor drink more. But, whether this be true or no, there is a time coming when the need and use of food shall be abolished.

However, various passages indicate that perhaps that may not be the case. One of the most common imageries used in the Bible is one of feasting. The OT refers to a “lavish banquet” which the Lord will prepare. Is. 25:6 reads, “And the Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; a banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, and refined, aged wine.” In the institution of the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 26:29), Jesus says, “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” Rev. 19:9 speaks of the “marriage feast of the Lamb.” Perhaps these statements only symbolize the blessed estate of the righteous?

Oddly, we read of Christ eating after the resurrection (cf. Luke 24:43, Jn. 21:9-14). Does that mean we will eat with a glorified body? However, Bavinck noted, at that moment, Jesus existed in a transitional body before His ascension.[7] Wilhemus a Brakel goes further saying, “He may possibly have held back His full glory while interacting with His disciples. He ate with His disciples (Luke 24:43) to further assure them of His resurrection, not because He was in need of nourishment. His stomach also did not digest this nourishment, since this would be inconsistent with a glorified body. Rather, by His omnipotence He caused the food to disappear.”[8] Perhaps a Brakel said too much when he declared that Christ’s omnipotence “caused the food to disappear”?

Against this majority opinion, Venema adds, “Though some might be inclined to deny this outright, it might be that this denial is borne out of an over-spiritualized view of the final state.”[9] It may not be an over spiritualized interpretation because 1 Cor. 6:13 seems to support the “majority” opinion.  We conclude with Venema’s statement though it puts him at odds with Hoekema, Bavinck, a Brakel, Gill, Hodge, etc.

Just as our eating and drinking today is to be done to God’s glory (1 Cor. 10:31), so it may well be in the new heavens and earth that the blessings of food and drink, sanctified through the Word of God and prayer (1 Tim. 4:5), will be the occasion for worshipping and serving the living God. It is wise not to be too dogmatic on this question one way or the other. Nevertheless, life in the new creation will undoubtedly be like a rich banquet at which the saints of God will sit down together and enjoy the richest of foods.[10]

[1]Hoekema, The Bible and the Future, 252: “It would seem that, according to this passage, the digestive functions of the body will no longer be necessary in the life to come.”

[2] Lenski says, “In the Parousia no digesting and no organ for that purpose are needed to keep the body alive. Regarding the change of our bodily organs compare Matt. 22:30; 1 Cor. 15:44, 51.” Kistemaker does not wish to press this.

[3] Bavinck, The Last Things, 137. “After the resurrection both the stomach and food will be destroyed (1 Cor. 6:13), but both were realities to Adam. In heaven God’s children will no longer marry, but be like the angels (Matt. 22:30); Adam, however, needed the help of a wife.” (Reformed Dogmatics, 2:564)

[4] John Gill, An Exposition of the New Testament, vol. 2, The Baptist Commentary Series (London: Mathews and Leigh, 1809), 638.

[5] Charles Hodge, An Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1857), 103. A less theological exegete drew the same conclusion: “God, however, will (at the Parousia) cause such a change to take place in the bodily constitution of man and in the world of sense generally, that neither the organs of digestion as such, nor the meats as such, will then be existent.” [Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer, Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the Epistles to the Corinthians, ed. William P. Dickson, trans. D. Douglas Bannerman, vol. 1, Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1879), 179.].

[6] Geerhardus Vos, Reformed Dogmatics, ed. Richard B. Gaffin, trans. Annemie Godbehere et al., vol. 5 (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012–2016), 274.

[7] Bavinck, The Last Things, 137: “And Jesus arose with the same body in which he died and which had not even seen corruption, and remained moreover in a transitional state up until his ascension, so that he could still eat food as well.”

[8] The Christian’s Reasonable Service, 1:630.

[9]Venema, The Promise of the Future, 474.

[10]Venema, The Promise of the Future, 474.

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