In 1 Corinthians 15, verses 35-49, the apostle Paul goes into detail concerning the resurrection of the Christians. Two questions often come up in the minds of those who question the bodily resurrection. “How are the dead raised?” and “what kind of body will they have?”
1 Corinthians 15:35-38. "But some 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 12 of this chapter, Paul recognized that some among the Corinthians were saying there is no resurrection from the dead. They didn’t understand how it could happen so they didn’t believe it would happen.
In verse 35-37, Paul rather impatiently explain this to them. “But some 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.”
The foolishness here is to even think
that God can be limited, but, in all honesty,
we all have a tendency to limit God
at one time or another.
For twenty centuries, skeptics have asked these questions; “How are you going to restore a body that’s been cremated or eaten by an animal or shark? What if those animals who ate the person have died and their bodies have decayed or been eaten by other animals? What if the ashes of those who were cremated aren’t in a jar somewhere and are scattered all over?
These are foolish questions, yet there are some today who choose to ignore the fact that God made a fully functional human being out of a handful of the dirt and then He took a rib bone from that person and made another fully functional person of the opposite sex, so He is fully capable of providing the believer with a resurrection body.
I believe in the creation theory,
and I believe in the "re-creation" theory.
Paul takes up the questions from verse 35, "How are the dead raised?" and, "With what kind of body?" and gives them some explanations in verses 36-38.
He tells them these are foolish questions. Everywhere around them are examples of what happens in resurrection. He points to the normal process of plants growing from seeds or bulbs that are placed in the ground. His illustration is this: just as the seeds died in the ground and sprouted new life, the earthly body of the believer will die, and from that body, at Christ’s resurrection command, will spring up a new body.
Death is not an obstacle to resurrection, it’s essential to it. Obviously, if something is going to be raised from the dead it has to die first. The body has to die just like the seed has to die.
Nature teaches us that the body that emerges from the seed that dies is different from the one that was planted. Put a grain of wheat or a kernel of corn in the ground and what comes up? Another grain or another kernel? No way!
A green stem or a stalk comes up that isn’t anything like what you put in the ground. It does have an identity with the seed that was planted but the seed that was planted comes out of the ground as something new.
If you had never planted a seed and have never seen what came up from that seed, you probably wouldn’t believed that process if somebody told you that this is what would happen. You can put almost anything else in the ground and that won’t happen. Try planting a dollar bill and see what happens. The fact that a plant grows from a seed put in the ground is so familiar to us that we miss the miraculous part of it. But Paul says it happens in nature so we shouldn’t have any trouble believing that God can resurrect the dead.
It’s our human nature to be skeptical and we try to limit God’s ability to fit our understanding. In Acts 26:8, Paul was speaking to King Agrippa, when he said, "Why should it be thought a thing incredible that God should raise the dead?" How could anyone think it incredible when we have the testimony of nature all around us?
Science has developed a process called "cloning" but God beat man to the punch. He used some of the very earth that He had created and made Adam from it and we all descended from him. If God can make a person out of a handful of dead dirt, what’s so strange about God raising our body from the dead?
Verse 38: "But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body." God controls what each seed produces, be it flower, fruit, or grain.
Verses 39-41: "All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 40: There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41: There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differs from another star in glory."
Paul is explaining the fact that the resurrection body will be different from our present bodies. He uses the illustration that all flesh is not the same. There is human flesh, animals flesh, fish flesh, and the flesh of birds. They’re all different, and yet they’re all flesh.
Their second question was, "What kind of body is the resurrection body? " "How will it be different from the one we have now?"
Paul uses things which are visible in nature itself to draw a parallel with the reality that there is resurrection, and then he establishes the absolute certainty that this is going to happen.
He starts with that lesson from nature in verse 39: "All flesh is not the same flesh:" If you don’t believe that, go into a restaurant and order a roast beef dinner. If they serve you chicken instead, believe me, you would know the difference.
Paul continues using examples from the world of nature to teach men spiritual lessons. He tells them something they already know, that all bodies are not alike. The flesh of human bodies is different from bird, animal, and fish flesh.
Going back in verse 38, it states that the difference is in the inner difference, or personality, of these beings. "To each kind of seed its own body." In other words, what the body looks like tells us which creature it is. A fox has a body suited to a fox. A fish has a body suited to a fish. People have bodies suited for humans. All these creatures mentioned also have natures that fit them.
Next, Paul takes up the sun, moon, and stars, in verses 40-41: "There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41: There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differs from another star in glory."
This earth has a glory that is different from the glory of the celestial bodies and Paul uses this comparison to point out that there is a difference between the body of the believer now and the glorified one he will get at the resurrection of the saints.
There is a difference even among the celestial bodies themselves. There is one glory of the sun and another glory of the moon and another glory of the stars, "for star differs from star in glory." If you ever look up at the sky on a clear night, you obviously know this is true.
All the earth is dependent on solar power, and we’ve only touched a fraction of its use. The sun has tremendous power and all energy in life, basically, comes from the sun. The sun is brighter than the moon, and the stars differ in the brightness of the individual stars.
Paul is using these as examples to emphasize that the glory of the resurrection body will be different from the glory of the body which we have on earth. All this has its parallel in the truth of the resurrection. If we would only read the lessons of nature we would have a panorama of the resurrection spread out before us.
Verses 42-49 show the contrast between what the believer's body is now and what it will be in its eternal state. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. At the present time, our bodies are subject to disease and death. When they are placed in the grave, they decompose and return to dust. But it will not be that way with the resurrection body.
Verse 42: "So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: Verse 43: It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: Verse 44: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body."
My body is corrupt, it’s decaying, it’s gradually slowing down. So are your bodies. We’re going to be put in the ground just like the seed is buried in the ground. From that seed comes a beautiful plant and from the earthly body of the believer, whether it’s put into the ground or scattered to the winds, will come a perfect body, no longer subject to decay.
When we put the body into the ground, or in any other way dispose of it, the body ends its existence in dishonor. But it will be raised, Paul says, in glory. It will be new and clean and able to function in a totally new way.
There is nothing very majestic or glorious about the dead body. However, if the body is the body of a believer in Jesus Christ, it will be raised in glory. It will be free from wrinkles, scars, the marks of age and all other traces of sin. It is sown in weakness, it will be raised in power.
Old age or disease brings on weakness and continues to weaken our body until we die. We may have amazing strength as human beings here, but a tiny virus can quickly end it all. We can’t boast of anything very impressive about ourselves because human life is really very fragile and very easily ended. The body will not be subject to these limitations in eternity.
When Jesus rose from the dead, His body still had the wounds of the crucifixion. His apostles were sure it was the same Jesus in the same body and yet what a difference! His glorified and transformed body was functioning at a different level. It could pass through closed doors, able to appear and disappear, able to eat or not to eat. It functioned in fellowship with the saints and was able to disappear from the earthly scene and enter into heaven.
Our body is sown a natural body, it’s raised a spiritual body. We know the resurrection body of the Lord Jesus was composed of flesh and bones because He said, "A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have" (Luke 24:39). The difference between a natural body and a spiritual body is that the natural body is suited to life here on earth while the spiritual body will be suited to life in heaven.
Verses 45-49: "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."
Several times in scripture, the first man Adam is contrasted with the Lord Jesus Christ. God breathed the breath of life into Adam's nostrils and he became a living being. We all descended from him and bear his characteristics. The last Adam, our Savior, became a life-giving spirit. The difference is this. Physical life was given to Adam by God, whereas Christ gives eternal life to man.
As descendants of Adam, we’re like him, we’re a living soul in a mortal body, and we bear the image of our earthly parents. But as believer’s in Christ, we’ll be clothed in immortality.
Verse 46 states a fundamental law in God's universe. The natural is first and the spiritual comes afterward. In human history, Adam, the natural man, came first and then Jesus, the spiritual Man. We’re born natural beings; but when we are born again, we become spiritual beings. We receive natural bodies first, then in resurrection we will receive spiritual bodies.
The first man had a body made from the dust, and God breathed life into that body. When Adam sinned, he became "dead in trespasses and sins," (Ephesians 2:1).
But Jesus, the last Adam, came as a life-giving Spirit,
and when we receive Him by faith,
our human spirit is given life and our soul, our mind, and our emotions are subject to Christ.
In our new life we begin to experience the joy
of being in a right relationship with God.
But that order, the natural first and then the spiritual,
was determined by God.
In verse 47 it says that "the first man was of the earth, made of dust." He originated from the earth and his characteristics were earthly. The second Man is the Lord from heaven and His characteristics are heavenly.
Now in verse 48 it repeats those facts. “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.”
Of the two men mentioned in verse 45, Adam was first and Jesus was the second. Jesus existed from all eternity past, but when He came to earth, He became a man and He came later in time than Adam. He came from heaven and everything He did and said was heavenly and spiritual rather than earthly.
Adam and Christ are sometimes referred to as federal heads, so those who are born of Adam inherit his characteristics and those who are born of Christ become a heavenly people.
The most important question you will ever have to answer, and you will have to answer it sometime, is this; Are you "of heaven"? You were born into Adam's race, but are you part of the Kingdom of God through a second birth? Have you received the Lord Jesus Christ into your heart and become a child of God? That is the great question of all time and you have to give your answer to God.
If you are truly born again, God includes you in Verse 49. “And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.”
The apostle John wrote, in 1 John 3:2. “it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”
That is our sure hope! What a difference it makes to everything in this life! It changes the way you act and the way you think. It changes how and where you spend your time. Best of all, it changes where you will spend eternity. Everything is changed when you’re a man of heaven as well as a man of the dust.