Question 56. In Colossians 1:18, Jesus is said to have “first place in everything.” Wouldn’t being first place in everything include being the first to have a glorified human body? If so, into what state were Enoch and Elijah translated when they were taken into heaven? How does this transition differ from physical death?

He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have the first place in everything. (Col. 1:18; NASB)

The emphasis in Colossians 1:18 is on Messiah’s preexistence and preeminence in dealing with all the created order. He precedes everything, and He is also the One who holds the universe together. He is essentially the One whom scientists unknowingly refer to as “atomic glue.”

Even if we relate Messiah’s being “first place in everything” to His glorified body, there is a difference between the nature of His resurrected body as over against what happened with Enoch and Elijah, as there is a difference between the resurrected body and the translated body. Both end up being glorified, but the resurrected body is given to the person who died and rose again and therefore passed from mortality to immortality and was glorified. Yeshua was the first one to receive that kind of glorified body. He has therefore a glorified resurrected body.

The concept of translation, on the other hand, is when a living body passes from mortality to immortality without undergoing physical death and by translation is also glorified. Both Enoch and Elijah have this kind of translated body. All saints who are alive at the time of the rapture will also not be resurrected, but will be translated and therefore also glorified.

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Arnold Answers is a bi-weekly Q & A with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.