Day 2: 1 Corinthians 15:35-49
35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 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. 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.
42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 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.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.
I remember seeing the Patrick Swayze movie “Ghost” as a teenager. For those of you who haven’t seen it (spoiler alert!), at the beginning of the movie there is an accident, Swayze’s character is killed, and his spirit leaves his body. And that is pretty close to what the Corinthians believed. The followers at Corinth believed that through the gift of the spirit they would enter into an ultimate spirituality and that the only thing that stood in the way was the physical body. They believed that when someone died they discarded their physical body and their spirit went on–just like in the movie.
You will find many people who hold a similar view today. Many believe that when we die our spirit will go to heaven and we will be rid of these out-of-shape, flawed, and sick bodies. However, this is not resurrection. Resurrection always refers to our physical bodies that were once dead being alive again. If our physical bodies stay dead while our spirit goes on, we have not experienced resurrection and death has not been defeated. As believers, the only example we have is Jesus. We know that for Jesus, resurrection included his physical body because the tomb was empty. He did not appear to his followers as a spirit but as a real physical body that had somehow been transformed.
This is the idea that Paul is trying to convey to the Corinthians. Somehow our spiritual body and our natural body will be united into one transformed body. The idea that our physical bodies are something that is bad and should be discarded actually goes against God’s opinion of us from creation. Of course the curse of sin has caused death to creep into all areas of our lives including our bodies, but it is clear from scripture that God is focused on redemption and not destruction. Paul’s argument to the Corinthians is that the redemption of Christ affects everything including the material world–and that involves the physical body as well. It’s hard to imagine Paul using any stronger language as he tries to convince the Corinthians that resurrection is real. Earlier in this same chapter he says, “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”
Justin Lewis | Facilities Director/YAMs Pastor, Lima Community Church