While a Christian would believe that Christ’s resurrected body has both physical and spiritual traits, a Shincheonji person would believe that Jesus exists only in spirit.
A Shincheonji member would then object to the above statement, quoting 1 Corinthians 15:42-45.
42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”[a]; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.
The Jehovah Witnesses make a similar argument, as they also believe that Jesus returns in spirit. But the Jehovah Witnesses claim that Christ also resurrected in Spirit, unlike Shincheonji’s perspective that Christ first rose physically, then was transformed into a Spirit once he was covered by a cloud.
In order to have a deeper understanding of these verses, we need to look at the Greek to get to the root of the Apostle Paul’s message. (Source for the following argument).
Did Jesus rise physically from the dead?
“So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural [psychikos] body; it is raised a spiritual [pneumatikos] body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. (1 Cor. 15:42–44)
Your Jehovah’s Witness friend will say, “See, Paul describes our present, earthly bodies as ‘natural,’ and our future, resurrected bodies as ‘spiritual.’” However, they wrongly assume that natural and spiritual mean physical and nonphysical, respectively. The question is: What does Paul mean by the terms “natural” and “spiritual”?
Paul uses the exact same words earlier in his first letter to the Corinthians. He writes,
The natural [psychikos] person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual [pneumatikos] person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. (1 Cor. 2:14–15)
Notice the natural person does not mean a physical person, but rather a person oriented toward human nature or soul. In fact, psychikos, which is translated “natural,” literally means soul-ish. Similarly, the spiritual person does not mean a non-physical, spirit person. Rather, it’s a person oriented toward the Spirit. Paul is contrasting soul-led persons with Spirit-led persons. The contrast is not one of physicality, but of orientation.
Therefore, Paul is explaining that the future resurrected body will be freed from slavery to the weak, mortal, dishonorable, sinful human nature. The resurrected body will be led, sustained, empowered, and made glorious by the Spirit. As Christians, we believe in a future bodily, physical, spiritual resurrection, because this is what the New Testament teaches.”
Using the context of what was taught in verse 45, it would make sense that the “soul-ish” person would be oriented towards the Spirit, have both characteristics of Spirit and Flesh in the new glorified body that God wants to give us, which will also give us life.
(Source for the following argument).
What does 1 Corinthians 15:45 mean?
“Scripture not only explains differences, but also the connections between the natural-born body of Christians and the resurrection bodies of those same believers in eternity. Paul wrote in the previous verse that if there is a natural body—the one we live in now—then there is also a “spiritual body.” In this specific context, he means the one we will be raised into after God transforms us. In other words, there must be a progression from the natural body, built to live on earth, to the spiritual body, which will be built to exist in heaven and eternity.
This was first explained as parallel to how a planted seed dies, only to grow into the ultimate form for which it is intended (1 Corinthians 15:37).
These two bodies are also different-but-connected in that one follows the pattern of the first Adam, while the other follows the pattern of the last Adam, who is Christ. As explained in Genesis 2:7, the first Adam became a living earthly being after God formed him from the dust of the ground. The last Adam, Christ, became a “life-giving spirit” after being resurrected from death to life by God. Jesus was raised as a life-giving spirit in the sense that through Him, and Him alone, those who are born again can look forward to being resurrected as He was.”