Jesus Christ – Insight Into Our Resurrection
Paul has corrected those in Corinth who have suggested the resurrection isn’t a possibility. Paul has pointed out it’s importance as part of the gospel message. He’s explains how central that Jesus’ mission of reversing Adams sin and reminded them of Christ’s own resurrection and how it was experienced by a multitude of eyewitnesses. And he’s revealed to them by their continued practice of their desired Christian rituals that they are actually confirming the reality of resurrection.
The Church’s Pending Resurrection
Paul begins to explain to the church the manner of their coming resurrection.
The church in it’s doubting did not have the full understanding for how the Lord can accomplish something so incredible. To comprehend the possibility that a dead body that has been in a grave for hundreds of years, decomposing, will be able to return to life. It was their thinking, that this was such an impossible thing to happen that contributed mainly to the reason the church was believing the false teaching that came in their midst. Paul begins to address the wrong thinking circulating throughout the church.
1 Corinthians 15:35-38 (NKJV)
A Glorious Body
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.
In verse 35 Paul refers to a person asking how the dead will be raised and what kind
of body they will have? And we need to understand the tone in which it was asked. This is the question being asked in Corinth by those who did not believe in the resurrection. It was, to a degree being asked in a way to mock any idea of the resurrection. Another way to ask the question would be asking, How could it even be possible for God to raise a dead body? Imagine the condition such a dead body would be seen. The point of the question was to recognize the decaying sequence of dead bodies and to the destructive nature of death where a body would completely decompose and would discredit the idea of resurrection. So it remained, how can a decomposed body be brought to life? Or if a body is totally burned up, what then? Or if it was crushed by a rock or eaten by an animal? Imagine the condition of such a resurrected body. And for the people in Corinth the idea of resurrection was far-fetched.
Paul after repeating the question begins with strong wording. To those who hold onto such thinking as “foolish ones.” This may appear harsh and inappropriate for this statement. Since elsewhere in scripture, Jesus said that the one who calls another a fool has sinned.
Matthew 5:22 (NKJV)
22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.
But if we examine his usage in the context of this case, it is clear Paul was not sinning in his use of this strong rebuke. In scripture the word fool refers to a person who discounts or dismisses the power of God. Psalm 53 says:
Psalm 53:1 (NKJV)
53 The fool has said in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity;
There is none who does good.
Jesus is giving an example in Matthew 5:22 of someone who uses the term ‘fool’ in a hateful manner to slander and cause indignation to another. But in Paul’s usage here, he is using the term in it’s technical sense, as a description of this person’s sinful mindset. In fact, the church in Corinth was not giving credibility to and were ignoring the power of God when they made their claim the resurrection was impossible. They were making the argument a believer would not receive a new body and in doing so in the process the were dismissing God’s ability to do things beyond what we can imagine. Therefore, Paul wasn’t making a hateful insult as Jesus Christ described. He was accurately labeling the unbelieving thinking of those in the Corinthian Church.
Immediately after that statement Paul answers this foolish objection by reminding them of God’s power to do the very thing they were denying. And Paul uses a comparison to another kind of resurrection involving seeds and plants. Through this example Paul is notating the ability and miraculous power of God to turn one physical form into another. A view of something that is evident in the every day cycle of life on earth. One of ways God designed for the reproduction of plants is to plant seeds into the earth. A manner that nothing new comes to life until it is first buried in the ground (resurrection). Paul goes on to say that the thing that is buried bears no resemblance in physical form to the plant that will appear later. And just by looking at a seed you are not able to predict the appearance of the plant. Because it is God Who has chosen the assignment (body) or the physical appearance to each plant as He desires. And the body of the plant originates from an earlier body, the seed which is completely different from itself. And as we do not necessarily pay attention, this transformation is happening around us everyday. In addition, once the new plant arrives, the seed that produced it, is gone. The old seed did not remain in the ground. If fact, the seed literally transformed into the new body of the plant. And notice that the new plant is not only different from the original seed in appearance, it is also much larger. Which points that the material for the plant comes elsewhere beyond the materials that were present in the original seed. Therefore, in Paul’s example all these elements shows God can use one thing to create something completely new and different without being needful on the structure, appearance or the condition of the original material.
The Vastness of God’s Creative Powers
1 Corinthians 15:39-41 (NKJV)
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.
Here Paul is reminding them that God’s ability for creating physical bodies is vastly limitless. Think about it, look at the universe of ‘bodies’ that we are able to see that exist. And we can easily see the bodies of men are different than that of animals, birds, fish, and so on. And in the universe the celestial ‘bodies’ vary enormously in their physical construction from the sun to the moon and the rest of the stars in the sky. We can see they vary in size, brightness, etc.
If God can make a universe so diverse in appearance, why would we have reason to doubt His ability to construct a new body for us? So, when the time comes for the Lord to assign each of us our resurrected body, He won’t be constricted by the condition or appearance of our first body. In essence He isn’t required to make our new body from the same molecules in our original body. God will construct our new body suitable for eternal life in a heavenly realm, which requires He use all new material. So just as our first body was well suited for the physical birth and living a physical life on earth, also know that our eternal bodies will and must be designed to share living an eternal life with Jesus Christ. The earth has been cursed because of sin brought into this world through Adam, and our new bodies cannot share any material in common with the present world. Hence, we must be created with new material, in the likeness of Christ, so we can live eternally. And at the time when we enter our new bodies it will be by the power of God and not by a physical birth. And just as our first body was made from the materials of our earthly parent’s bodies, so will our new resurrected body must be made in the likeness of Christ’s body. As was when our new spirit was born again in the likeness of Christ’s Spirit. And the material for our new body will have a new and eternal source that is different from this present cursed creation.
New Body, New Construction
1 Corinthians 15:42-49 (NKJV)
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.
In our new existence, Paul says we will be incorruptible (some Bibles use the word imperishable). Adam’s sin brought corruption and therefore placed all of humanity in a state of corruption. Which these corrupt materials were present in our bodies at birth. But, by the power of God our new bodies at resurrection will have it’s source in Christ and we will have a new perfect body constructed. And it will be an imperishable (incorruptible) body. We will also have a new life of sinlessness through the power of Christ.
Notice how Paul uses the example of the seed to subtly emphasize the contrast between the old and new bodies. First the body is sown (buried) in dishonor. This dishonor of our current body is our weakness in sin. And by our bodies being corrupt in this sin death (physical) is evidence of our corruption. However, once we have died and been buried (planted in the ground) that is when we rise to our state of glory. Now we can see the death process as a means of bringing new life, a life of glory. A seed is weak and the plant is strong when it emerges in comparison. Therefore, our new bodies will be strong when facing the temptation of sin and more than just that, we will never again experience the weakness of sin in our lives. Because we will have the power of Christ in us to obey in perfection.
In our original bodies, which is currently our natural state is to live according to the desires of the flesh. However, in our new bodies, which will be spiritual, we only desire to serve and please the living God. The thoughts and desires we will experience, will be according to Jesus’ nature, rather than our previous nature which was sinful. And thus, we can be assured just as we have experiences in an earthly, sinful existence, we know we will also experience the heavenly, eternal life that is to come. So, just as the buried seed experiences an existence of one kind, that seed will become a new existence as plant living a new life in the future.
Paul’s example using the seed is perfectly representative with the resurrection. It might even make you think did God prepared the seed in creation just to support Paul’s illustration to the Corinthian Church. Or did the Lord give us seeds leading to plants so that we possibly have a clearer grasp of His power to resurrect our dead bodies? In a sense, it may seem so. May it be a reminder how much God has given to ensuring His children are well prepared for the coming resurrection. Right now, today we are bearing the image of the earth, Adam. We are sinful as Adam and our bodies are cursed to die, as is the entire earth. But by our faith in Jesus Christ, we have reason to look forward to a new resurrected and heavenly life. We will be made of an eternal material and we will be perfect as Christ is perfect. We will have escaped the curse of death as Christ Himself conquered death.
“The author’s biblical interpretations and conclusions presented in this document rely on original teaching used by permission of Verse By Verse Ministry International (VBVMI). The author’s views may not represent the views of VBVMI, it’s Directors or staff. Original VBVMI teaching may be found at http://www.vbvmi.org.”
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