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Explaining the Nature of the Resurrection on 1 Corinthians 15:35-49 helps those who are a bit confused as to what the resurrection of the body means. This is a part of the larger series The Hope of the Resurrection on 1 Corinthians 15:12-58 which helps people understand, defend, explain and even proclaim the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
There are three major topics regarding the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15.
1) Some deny the resurrection of the dead (15:12)
2) Some don’t understand the resurrection (15:35)
3) An affirmation of the resurrection (15:50)
From the three major topics, we can form three major outline points. (For more on the structure).
A. Defending the Fact of Resurrection (15:12-34)
B. Explaining the Nature of Resurrection (15:35-49
C. Proclaiming the Glory of the Resurrection (15:50-58)
We here are discussing the second point, Explaining the Resurrection in 15:35-49).
B. Explaining the Resurrection (15:35-49)
The apostle uses three concepts to explain the nature of the resurrection.
1) Death and Life (1 Corinthians 15:35-39)
2) All things new (1 Corinthians 15:40-44)
3) Two Stages (1 Corinthians 15:45-49)
We have already followed Paul’s answer to those who ask about whether there is such a thing as the resurrection of the body. Paul has shown that the resurrection is clear testified in nature, in theology, and in practice. In a practical way, can you see how Christ has changed your life? If so, fully believe and put your doubts away. He is alive!
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There was one other question, however. Others might ask, what is the resurrection like?
"But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?”" (15:35)
There was one other question that others might ask, “What is the resurrection like?” “But someone will say, ‘How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?’” (1 Cor 15:35).(1 Corinthians 15:35) 39 40 41 43 44 45 46 47 48
Paul believes God has revealed His truths by what lies around us. Nature is God’s lesson book. We need only to open it up and see. This is true of the resurrection itself. Let’s see if we can clearly present his argument.
I am a city boy. I myself have been trying to learn about truth more so I wanted to learn more from nature. One time I wanted to learn how wheat plants produced seeds. I think I knew by then that the grains were indeed the seeds themselves.
I had started buying whole grain flour and making bread because of its better nutrition. Then I learned that the flour itself loses half its nutrition value within a day’s time of being ground up. So I started exploring how the flour was made. I never realized that whole-wheat flour was simply ground up wheat seed.
White flour is the same but stripped of the entire inner portion, which contained important elements and needed fibers. So I planted wheat seed in one section and was excited to see the tall stalks with all their seeds gloriously swinging about each stalk. So many seeds come from one stalk. But a greater lesson lay ahead.
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Every plant must die. Every fall, genetic triggers in each wheat cell signal the plant’s own death. New life depends on the replanting of those seeds. The seeds become places where life again begins. The seeds must first be separated from life, die, and be lifeless before it can become of greater use.
If I was to start a new plant, I must tear the living plant out and then plant the seeds. Or perhaps I could just let the seeds drop and hope for themselves to replant themselves. We call this nature but really it is God’s wonderfully designed lesson of life. Jesus taught in parables all the time. He used life illustrations to teach unclear truths. When you eat bread, you are essentially eating ground up kernels of grain or seeds. But you could also take those seeds and with warmth and water, will see the miracle of life take place. A whole new plant comes alive.
"You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish." (1 Corinthians 15:35-39)
Now Paul emphasizes here that the seed is not like the plant. If you were an expert artist or designer, and you were given a seed, how good of a drawing could you make of what it would become? It is impossible. Every seed is different. Every plant or body of life has its own design. “All flesh is not the same flesh.” People are different from beasts, which again are different from fish. He extends this living principle into inanimate creation.
The same is true with the resurrection. This body must die. It is sown but must die. Upon dying, it has a seed (a soul), which will be brought up in God’s new world.
"There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. 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" (1 Corinthians 15:40-41).
There is a huge difference between mankind and the sun. Cows are yet different from the moon. The sun is different from the moon while the stars differ in their own glory. Each star has its name, character, purpose, and design.
Although we understand much more about the stars today, they still remain a mystery. We are trying to discover more with the Mars Rover and Hubble telescope. By studying them, we acknowledge they are different. Stars are very different from what we know or experience on earth.
Paul’s argument goes like this. By observing these bodies, whether earthly or heavenly, there will be great upcoming changes. We cannot comprehend them just as we cannot understand the glorious stars. Right now when we look at them, we don’t see them, as they will be.
"So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 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 also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.”
"The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. And just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly" (1 Corinthians 15:42-49).
Note how he uses the seed illustration: sown and raised. Sow a seed and up comes its new self.
Became a living soul
Became a life-giving spirit
Conclusion: Our bodies will experience the same change (15:49)
The progression, the first and the last, is clearly set forward by Paul. Why is he so elaborate? It is simply to show us the nature of the resurrected body. In summary, then, we simply do not know what the spiritual will be like. It is more glorious than what we have. Does the use of the word spiritual refer to the absence of body? Certainly not, for each has a body. Even the heavenly bodies such as the star have form, but they will share a heavenly form.
Perhaps what is so important is that we make sure that we have the spiritual seed within us. In order to receive this spiritual seed of life, we need to be born from above. This is where we receive the beginnings of our new nature though it will not have its fullest appearance until we are resurrected. Everything will be so new and exciting.
=> For further reading, click Proclaiming the Resurrection (15:50-58)
Scriptures typically quoted from the New American Standard Bible unless noted:
(C) Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1988