Summary: This text examines the resurrection of the dead and the difference between the natural and spiritual body in view of the resurrection.
February 11, 2006 1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-49
But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined . . . . So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised 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 body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.
The Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes is a very interesting read. Jewish tradition says that it was written in the latter years of Solomon’s life - after he had sowed his seeds and experienced everything there was to experience. You would expect that after having lived such a lavish life that Ecclesiastes would be a book filled with fond experiences of his days gone by. Yet Ecclesiastes presents us with the exact opposite. Here is an old man who looks back at all of his accomplishments and escapades and basically calls them “meaningless.” Listen, for instance - to Ecclesiastes 3:18-21
I also thought, “As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”
This almost sounds like unbelief, doesn’t it? He compares man to the animals. When he looks at things from the viewpoint of the world - using only his senses - even with having experienced all this world has to offer - he sees it as hopeless because it doesn’t offer a FUTURE.
The reason I mention this whole thing is because today’s text makes a differentiation between what Paul calls a “natural” body and a “spiritual” body. When you look at humans according to “nature”, they sometimes appear to be not much more than that of a glorified animal. He eats. He drinks. He has sexual relations. He breathes. He dies. What difference is there? When we see monkeys counting to ten and humans drooling and beating their heads due to a malfunction of the brain or an injury thereof, the lines may seem closer together. Science loves to depict the aborigines and native tribes of Africa when they try and link man to ape. We look at those instances and we think with our senses, “hmm, they don’t seem that far off.” Notice also how our human scientists have liked to depict everything that used to be called “sin” and instead refer to it as “natural” actions or a “sickness,” a human genome that has been mutated to be a little different in some way. Therefore, alcoholism, homosexuality, anger, addiction to gambling, and every other problem in our world is blamed on the natural code of the human. Even religion is thought to be “hard wired” into the brain because of a certain sort of layout of the brain. They probably call it the “god gene.” Nature is the reason for everything.
Nature is very real. We have natural abilities and natural tendencies. Some are seemingly good and productive, and some are bad and destructive. Even Paul refers to it in today’s text when he talks about the “natural” body. The excuse today is that if it’s “natural”, if it’s the way I seem to be made, is that the way I should live? It has resulted in a world of people thinking and saying, “if it feels good, do it.” They even bring God into the equation and say, “hey, God made me this way! Who am I to fight against God? Why train a dog to be a cat?” Even we come up with the excuse, “I can’t help it I’m a loudmouth.” As we send our spouse away crying, we excuse our behavior by saying, “hey, that’s just the way I am.” We say of our misbehaving children, “boys will be boys.”