Summary: When Christ returns the dead in Christ and those alive will have their physical bodies transformed into spiritual ones.

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1 Corinthians 15:35-58

Ever since God spoke the words “dust you are, dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19) humanity has been waiting to see how the soul is to be clothed upon Christ’s return. While the physical body is destined to return to the dust of the ground, Solomon stays the soul returns to God in whom it came (Ecclesiastes 3:20). The soul however, is not going to return without some form of a body. In a twinkling of an eye, the dead and those alive in Christ will have their physical bodies transformed into new spiritual ones. For those who do not believe this is possible, Paul addresses their skepticism by answering two of their fundamental questions: how are the dead raised and what kind of body will they have? The first part of this sermon (verses 35-44) explains how Paul compares bodies and seeds to prove that God can give us a new spiritual body. The second part (verses 45-49) examines how Paul’s comparison of the First and Last Adam to accentuate the superiority of this new spiritual body over that of the physical one. The last part (50-58) will examine Paul’s argument that being clothed with the spiritual body will be the ultimate victory over death!


35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?”

By using a diatribe style of teaching, Paul poses two rhetorical questions that could be asked by a hypothetical debate partner. This partner could have been thinking about the Sadducees who did not believe the soul continued to exist after death and therefore could not be resurrected. He could have also been referring to those who believed in the immortality of the soul but denied the resurrection of the body. Paul could also have in mind proponents of Judaism who believed the resurrected body would be identical to that of the body that died. This of course raised questions such as: can God really reassemble the ashes of those cremated and scattered to the wind or sea and how can God resurrect a body that was partially eaten by animals? Since numerous resurrection theories were common in the Greco-Roman world, it is even possible that his debate partner is none other than the church of Corinth who might have been confused as to which theory was indeed correct, if any!

36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.

To those who view resurrection as an impossibility, Paul finds the skepticism of such questioning to be from “fools” and without merit. “Fool” echoes Psalms 14:1 with the implication that the skeptics of resurrection have failed to consider the power of God to form a body as He chooses. To prove his point Paul uses three analogies the first of which is a seed. For example, the seed that is sowed (a burial) while in the ground dies, decomposes and is destroyed in the form that it was sowed. The person who plants the seed cannot germinate or cause the seed to grow. Only God can transform different types of seeds into various types of plants. When new life emerges, the plant has a totally different form than that of the seed and yet remains the same living entity. In a similar manner, the body of a person that dies and is buried will not retain its original form upon resurrection but will be given a spiritual body that has emerged from the soul of that person.

39 Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.

After having shown that death is not always the end but the beginning of new life, Paul now uses two more analogies to show that the same God who appointed different bodies for various purposes has the power to create a resurrected body that is unlike our present ones. The first analogy focuses on the various kinds of flesh as found in the sixth, fifth and fourth day of creation. Can there be any doubt that the body or flesh of people, animals, birds and fish differ radically from one another in both composition and splendor? The second analogy that Paul uses is heavenly bodies. As earthly bodies have their own kind of splendor so do heavenly bodies who emit light. Are not the bodies of the sun, moon and various stars different from that of people, animals and plants? By using these analogies Paul is making a profound point: since God has already demonstrated the power to create and clothed the earth and heaven with various bodies then why would anyone doubt His power to cloth the dead in Christ with a spiritual body?

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