1 Corinthians 15:35-49
35.) But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?”
36.) Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies.
37.) And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain, perhaps wheat or some other grain.
38.) But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.
39.) All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.
40.) There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
41.) There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.
42.) So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.
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. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
45.) And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
46.) However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.
47.) The first man was of the earth, made of dust, the second man is the Lord from Heaven.
48.) As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly.
49.) And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.
Paul is finally answering the question that the Corinthians were asking, “How can there be a resurrection of the body?” First, we need to remember the differences in the line of thought between the Jewish and Greek believers. The Jews, except the Sadducees, believed in the resurrection of the dead in a bodily form. The Greeks believed the soul would live on but not the body. The reason for this failure to believe is pretty straight forward. What happens when a person dies and is buried? Over time, their body decomposes. Thus, the Greek believers couldn’t wrap their heads around being resurrected in a body that had been in the ground a few days, much less a few weeks, months or years.
Paul basically calls them idiots. The Scripture is translated as foolish ones, but the Greek is much harsher….Paul tells them to look around, to learn from the everyday events happening in the world. Paul tells them to look at agriculture and observe what happens when a seed is planted. He uses this analogy because for a seed to grow, it has to be planted in the ground. Likewise, when a person dies, they are buried in the ground. What is put into the ground is only a seed, a bare, naked piece of grain. Yet what comes up? God creates from that seed a whole new body, a body that is totally different in appearance from the seed that was buried in the ground.
The Corinthians were focused on the flesh. Paul tells them to look around the animal world. All creatures have flesh. People, birds, fish, and animals all have flesh. In verse 39, the word for one and another are the same Greek word. It literally means the same but different. We all have flesh, but the kinds of flesh we have differs. Even as individuals our flesh will differ. Some of us have lighter or darker pigmentation. Some of us because of our age have smoother or softer skin. Some of us have a few more wrinkles. For some our skin is tight, and for some of us it hangs kind of loose. Even as human beings, we differ.
Are we seeing a theme here? Paul continues. He tells the Corinthians that there are celestial bodies, and there are terrestrial bodies. But their external appearance is not the same. In verses 40 and 41, this is what the word “glory” means – one’s external appearance. In the heavens the sun and the moon and the stars are all celestial bodies, but they are different in appearance. The sun gives us light and heat in the world during the day. The moon gives us light at night, but not nearly as bright as the sun, and it also changes shapes and sizes in the sky. Even the stars have different sizes and brightness. Then there are the terrestrial bodies. A mountain is different than a hill or a valley. A river is different from a creek or an ocean. A tree is different from a vine. A grass is different from an herb. Paul is trying to get his Gentile believers to understand that the resurrection of the believer is the completion of what was begun at conversion. Just as we became new people when we placed our faith in Jesus Christ for our salvation, at the resurrection we receive our new bodies. One given to us by God, eternal in nature, so that we can dwell with him forever.
Paul tells us that in death the old body is sown in corruption. The old body is sown in dishonor. The old body is sown in weakness. The old body is sown a natural body. Paul tells the Corinthians (and us)that he’s not talking about the earthly body being restored. Because of sin, one can’t restore the earthly body. Because of sin, the earthly body suffers corruption. Because of sin, the earthly body has been dishonored – by the sins we have committed, the unholy acts we have performed before and after our conversion. We may be saved, but we are not perfect. We may strive to be perfect through God’s love, but we are not perfect in our actions, thoughts, or habits. None of us is an over-comer in every aspect of our lives, and through this weakness, we not only dishonor God but also our own bodies.
The next idea is the one Paul hopes will catch the Corinthians’ attention. The old body is sown a natural body. You see the word translated natural is the Greek word psuchikos (pronounced psoo-khee-kos’). It means a sensual body governed by the soul. Remember what we said earlier? The Greeks believed that the soul was what was eternal. The Hebrews believed that the soul was what made humanity different from the rest of the animal creation. It was what made humanity able to communicate with God. The Hebrews did believe that the soul was eternal, but not outside of a body. By using the word “psuchikos”, Paul was telling the Corinthians that for the soul to exist eternally, it had to be connected to a body eternally.
Then Paul gives us the good news. The body that is sown in corruption, dishonor, weakness, and natural will be raised. The body will be raised in incorruption. The body will be raised in glory. The body will be raised in power. The body will be a spiritual body. Because of the finished work of Jesus on the cross, sin no longer has dominion. And because sin no longer has dominion, we will be resurrected to live with Him in our new incorruptible body. Because of the finished work of Jesus on the cross, our new body will be surrounded, immersed, and saturated with His glory. This is not the same word as before that meant external appearance. It means the eternal radiance of the Father and the Son! Because of the finished work of Jesus on the cross, our new body will be raised in power. It will be mighty, miraculous, abundant, and will carry with it the almighty power and energy of God the Father. Last but not least, through the finished work of Jesus on the cross, it will be a spiritual body. The Greek word here is pneumatikos, (phyoo-mat-ik-os) and is a body that is non-carnal, which means not from this world but ethereal, extremely delicate, and light in a way that is too perfect for this world. A body dominated by the Spirit of God, not the things of this world…
Paul reemphasizes to them there is a spiritual body. A body created to last for eternity, created for those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work. And it is as different from our earthly body as the seed of grain is from the plant it produces. Paul wanted them to see the differences so they could receive the promises.
Paul returns to a theological theme to which he often refers – that of the first Adam and the second Adam. The first Adam is the Adam of Genesis, created by God from the dust of the earth, created to be in fellowship with God. The first Adam was not created to die but to live in perpetuity with God. Yet we know what happened – sin got in the way, and things didn’t work out. God gave Adam and Eve free will, and they chose poorly. That was when corruption, dishonor, weakness, and the natural or carnal came into play. But John’s Gospel tells us that God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, that through Him humanity would not perish but have everlasting life. We know the Son is Jesus, and that makes Him the second Adam. As John puts it, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Jesus chose righteously and fulfilled the will of the Father. Through that fulfillment and Christ’s finished work on the cross, He was resurrected as the first fruit, our guarantee. But before Jesus could be our Savior, He had to empty himself and become a human person. He had to take on the natural body. He had to live and be faithful in the carnal, natural world.
What Paul wants the Corinthians and us to understand is the difference between the two Adams. The first Adam was created in this world from the dust of this world. He chose to be equal with God rather than to be in fellowship with God. The second Adam was not from this world. Paul tells us that He is Lord, which means supreme in authority, master of all. He was the creator of this world, but He saw equality with God as something not to be grasped. Instead, He emptied Himself and took upon Himself the natural body, the corruptible body of this world. At His resurrection, He received His spiritual body. You see, Jesus didn’t go from spirit to carnal to spirit. At His resurrection, He received the same spiritual body promised to us. The same body that could walk with two disciples down the Emmaus road, break bread with them, and then disappear from their sight. The same body that walked through the door of the upper room yet ate fish to prove He wasn’t a ghost. The same body that was held by Mary at the tomb and commanded Thomas to place his fingers in his nail holes and his fist into his side. The same body that prepared breakfast by the Sea of Galilee and met Paul on the road to Damascus. But before He could receive His spiritual body, Jesus had to receive His natural or worldly body.
What Paul wanted the Corinthians to see is the same thing he want you and me to see. That which is promised to us is incredible, eternal, not of this world. The resurrection body is made after the heavenly Man, Jesus, incorruptible. That is the promise for us who have placed our faith in Jesus and His finished work. While on this earth and in this life, we are bearing the image of the man of dust. We have aches and pains. Perhaps we can’t move as fast or with as much agility as we once did. We may be dealing with illnesses or handicaps that make this life a little harder than we would like it to be. That is because we are living in a fallen world. All those things are part of this world, but Jesus said, “I have overcome the world.” Both Isaiah and Matthew tell us that by His stripes we have healing. Paul tells us we may be in the world, but we are not of the world. And through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can have victory in this world, a victory is forever. We will only die once. Like a mere seed of grain, we may be placed in the ground. But the promise is this – there is a resurrection, and at our own resurrection we will bear the image of the heavenly Man: JESUS!
Remember to pray and claim Psalm 91 in the first person.
BLESSING – May the Father envelop you with His resurrection power. May the Christ envelop you in His grace. May the Holy Spirit strengthen and empower you to victory in this world. Amen