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THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 44
Verse 44. It is sown a natural body. swma qucikon. This word "natural" denotes, properly, that which is endowed with animal life, having breath, or vitality. The word from which it is derived (quch denotes, properly, the breath; vital breath; the soul, as the vital principle; the animal soul, or the vital spirit; the soul, as the seat of the sentient desires, passions, and propensities; and then a living thing, an animal. It may be applied to any animal, or any living thing, whether brutes or men. It is distinguished from the soul or spirit, (pneuma,) inasmuch as that more commonly denotes the rational spirit, the immortal soul; that which thinks, reasons, reflects, etc. The word "natural" here, therefore, means that which has animal life; which breathes and acts by the laws of the animal economy; that which draws in the breath of life; which is endowed with senses, and which has need of the supports of animal life, and of the refreshments derived from food, exercise, sleep, etc. The apostle here, by affirming that the body will be spiritual, intends to deny that it will need that which is now necessary to the support of the animal functions; it will not be sustained in that way; it will lay aside these peculiar animal organizations, and will cease to convey the idea which we now attach to the word animal, or to possess that which we now include under the name of vital functions. Here the body of man is endowed simply with animal functions. It is the dwelling-place, indeed, of an immortal mind; but as a body it has the properties of animal life, and is subject to the same laws and inconveniences as the bodies of other animals. It is sustained by breath, and food, and sleep; it is endowed with the organs of sense, the eye, the ear, the smell, the touch, by which alone the soul can hold communication with the external world; it is liable to disease, languor, decay, death. These animal or vital functions will cease in heaven, and the body be raised in a different mode of being, and where all the inconveniences of this mere animal life shall be laid aside.
It is raised a spiritual body. Not a mere spirit, for then it would not be a body. The word spiritual pneumatikon here stands opposed to the word natural, or animal. It will not be a body that is subject to the laws of the vital functions, or organized or sustained in that way. It will still be a "body," (swma,) but it will have so far the nature of spirit as to be without the vital functions which here control the body. This is all that the word here means. It does not mean refined, sublimated, or transcendental; it does not mean that it will be without shape or form; it does not mean that it will not be properly a body. The idea of Paul seems to be this: "We conceive of soul or spirit as not subject to the laws of vital or animal agency. It is independent of them. It is not sustained or nourished by the functions of the animal organization. It has an economy of its own; living without nourishment; not subject to decay; not liable to sickness, pain, or death. So will be the body in the resurrection. It will not be subject to the laws of the vital organization. It will be so much LIKE A SPIRIT as to be continued without food or nutriment; to be destitute of the peculiar physical organization of flesh, and blood, and bones; of veins, and arteries, and nerves, as here, (1 Co 15:50;) and it will live in the manner in which we conceive spirits to live; sustained, and exercising its powers, without waste, weariness, decay, or the necessity of having its powers recruited by food and sleep." All, therefore, that has been said about a refined body, a body that shall be spirit, a body that shall be pure, etc., whatever may be its truth, is not sustained by this passage. It will be a body without the vital functions of the animal economy; a body sustained in the manner in which we conceive the spirit to be.
There is a natural body. This seems to be added by Paul in the way of strong affirmation arising from earnestness, and from a desire to prevent misconception. The affirmation is, that there is a natural body; that is apparent; it is everywhere seen. No one can doubt it. So, with equal certainty, says Paul, there is a spiritual body. It is just as certain and indisputable. This assertion is made, not because the evidence of both is the same, but is made on his apostolic authority, and is to be received on that authority. That there was an animal body was apparent to all; that there was a spiritual body was a position which he affirmed to be as certain as the other. The only proof which he alleges is in 1 Co 15:46, which is the proof arising from revelation.
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