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The Resurrection Body

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39Not all flesh is alike, but there is one flesh for human beings, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40There are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one thing, and that of the earthly is another. 41There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; indeed, star differs from star in glory.

42 So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. 43It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. 45Thus it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual. 47The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. 49Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.

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35. How—It is folly to deny a fact of REVELATION, because we do not know the "how." Some measure God's power by their petty intelligence, and won't admit, even on His assurance, anything which they cannot explain. Ezekiel's answer of faith to the question is the truly wise one (Eze 37:3). So Jesus argues not on principles of philosophy, but wholly from "the power of God," as declared by the Word of God (Mt 19:26; Mr 10:27; 12:23; Lu 18:27).

come—The dead are said to depart, or to be deceased: those rising again to come. The objector could not understand how the dead are to rise, and with what kind of a body they are to come. Is it to be the same body? If so, how is this, since the resurrection bodies will not eat or drink, or beget children, as the natural bodies do? Besides, the latter have mouldered into dust. How then can they rise again? If it be a different body, how can the personal identity be preserved? Paul answers, In one sense it will be the same body, in another, a distinct body. It will be a body, but a spiritual, not a natural, body.

36. fool—with all thy boasted philosophy (Ps 14:1).

that which thou—"thou," emphatical: appeal to the objector's own experience: "The seed which thou thyself sowest." Paul, in this verse and in 1Co 15:42, answers the question of 1Co 15:35, "How?" and in 1Co 15:37-41, 43, the question, "With what kind of body?" He converts the very objection (the death of the natural body) into an argument. Death, so far from preventing quickening, is the necessary prelude and prognostication of it, just as the seed "is not quickened" into a new sprout with increased produce, "except it die" (except a dissolution of its previous organization takes place). Christ by His death for us has not given us a reprieve from death as to the life which we have from Adam; nay, He permits the law to take its course on our fleshly nature; but He brings from Himself new spiritual and heavenly life out of death (1Co 15:37).

37. not that body that shall be—a body beautiful and no longer a "bare grain" [Bengel]. No longer without stalk or ear, but clothed with blade and ears, and yielding many grains instead of only one [Grotius]. There is not an identity of all the particles of the old and the new body. For the perpetual transmutation of matter is inconsistent with this. But there is a hidden germ which constitutes the identity of body amidst all outward changes: the outward accretions fall off in its development, while the germ remains the same. Every such germ ("seed," 1Co 15:38) "shall have its own body," and be instantly recognized, just as each plant now is known from the seed that was sown (see on 1Co 6:13). So Christ by the same image illustrated the truth that His death was the necessary prelude of His putting on His glorified body, which is the ground of the regeneration of the many who believe (Joh 12:24). Progress is the law of the spiritual, as of the natural world. Death is the avenue not to mere revivification or reanimation, but to resurrection and regeneration (Mt 19:28; Php 3:21). Compare "planted," &c., Ro 6:5.

38. as it hath pleased him—at creation, when He gave to each of the (kinds of) seeds (so the Greek is for "to every seed") a body of its own (Ge 1:11, "after its kind," suited to its species). So God can and will give to the blessed at the resurrection their own appropriate body, such as it pleases Him, and such as is suitable to their glorified state: a body peculiar to the individual, substantially the same as the body sown.

39-41. Illustrations of the suitability of bodies, however various, to their species: the flesh of the several species of animals; bodies celestial and terrestrial; the various kinds of light in the sun, moon, and stars, respectively.

flesh—animal organism [De Wette]. He implies by the word that our resurrection bodies shall be in some sense really flesh, not mere phantoms of air [Estius]. So some of the oldest creeds expressed it, "I believe in the resurrection of the flesh." Compare as to Jesus' own resurrection body, Lu 24:39; Joh 20:27; to which ours shall be made like, and therefore shall be flesh, but not of animal organism (Php 3:21) and liable to corruption. But 1Co 15:50 below implies, it is not "flesh and blood" in the animal sense we now understand them; for these "shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

not the same—not flesh of the same nature and excellency. As the kinds of flesh, however widely differing from one another, do not cease to be flesh, so the kinds of bodies, however differing from one another, are still bodies. All this is to illustrate the difference of the new celestial body from its terrestrial seed, while retaining a substantial identity.


another of fishes … another of birds—Most of the oldest manuscripts read thus, "another FLESH of birds … another of fishes": the order of nature.

40. celestial bodies—not the sun, moon, and stars, which are first introduced in 1Co 15:41, but the bodies of angels, as distinguished from the bodies of earthly creatures.

the glory of the celestial—(Lu 9:26).

glory of … terrestrial—(Mt 6:28, 29; 1Pe 1:24).

41. one glory of … sun … another … of … moon—The analogy is not to prove different degrees of glory among the blessed (whether this may be, or not, indirectly hinted at), but this: As the various fountains of light, which is so similar in its aspect and properties, differ (the sun from the moon, and the moon from the stars; and even one star from another star, though all seem so much alike); so there is nothing unreasonable in the doctrine that our present bodies differ from our resurrection bodies, though still continuing bodies. Compare the same simile, appropriate especially in the clear Eastern skies (Da 12:3; Mt 13:43). Also that of seed in the same parable (Mt 13:24; Ga 6:7, 8).

42. sown—Following up the image of seed. A delightful word instead of burial.

in corruptionliable to corruption: corruptible: not merely a prey when dead to corruption; as the contrast shows, "raised in incorruption," that is, not liable to corruption: incorruptible.

43. in dishonour—answering to "our vile body" (Php 3:21); literally, "our body of humiliation": liable to various humiliations of disease, injury, and decay at last.

in glory—the garment of incorruption (1Co 15:42, 43) like His glorious body (Php 4:21), which we shall put on (1Co 15:49, 53; 2Co 5:2-4).

in weakness—liable to infirmities (2Co 13:4).

in power—answering to a "spiritual body" (1Co 15:44; compare Lu 1:17, "Spirit and power"). Not liable to the weaknesses of our present frail bodies (Isa 33:24; Re 21:4).

44. a natural body—literally, "an animal body," a body moulded in its organism of "flesh and blood" (1Co 15:50) to suit the animal soul which predominates in it. The Holy Spirit in the spirit of believers, indeed, is an earnest of a superior state (Ro 8:11), but meanwhile in the body the animal soul preponderates; hereafter the Spirit shall predominate, and the animal soul be duly subordinate.

spiritual body—a body wholly moulded by the Spirit, and its organism not conformed to the lower and animal (Lu 20:35, 36), but to the higher and spiritual, life (compare 1Co 2:14; 1Th 5:23).

There is, &c.—The oldest manuscripts read, "IF there is a natural (or animal-souled) body, there is also a spiritual body." It is no more wonderful a thing, that there should be a body fitted to the capacities and want of man's highest part, his spirit (which we see to be the case), than that there should be one fitted to the capacities and wants of his subordinate part, the animal soul [Alford].

45. so—in accordance with the distinction just mentioned between the natural or animal-souled body and the spiritual body.

it is written—(Ge 2:7); "Man became (was made to become) a living soul," that is, endowed with an animal soul, the living principle of his body.

the last Adam—the LAST Head of humanity, who is to be fully manifested in the last day, which is His day (Joh 6:39). He is so called in Job 19:25; see on Job 19:25 (compare Ro 5:14). In contrast to "the last," Paul calls "man" (Ge 2:7) "the FIRST Adam."

quickening—not only living, but making alive (Joh 5:21; 6:33, 39, 40, 54, 57, 62, 63; Ro 8:11). As the natural or animal-souled body (1Co 15:44) is the fruit of our union with the first Adam, an animal-souled man, so the spiritual body is the fruit of our union with the second Adam, who is the quickening Spirit (2Co 3:17). As He became representative of the whole of humanity in His union of the two natures, He exhausted in His own person the sentence of death passed on all men, and giveth spiritual and everlasting life to whom He will.

46. afterward—Adam had a soul not necessarily mortal, as it afterwards became by sin, but "a living soul," and destined to live for ever, if he had eaten of the tree of life (Ge 3:22); still his body was but an animal-souled body, not a spiritual body, such as believers shall have; much less was he a "life-giving spirit," as Christ. His soul had the germ of the Spirit, rather than the fulness of it, such as man shall have when restored "body, soul, and spirit," by the second Adam (1Th 5:23). As the first and lower Adam came before the second and heavenly Adam, so the animal-souled body comes first, and must die before it be changed into the spiritual body (that is, that in which the Spirit predominates over the animal soul).

47. of the earth—inasmuch as being sprung from the earth, he is "earthy" (Ge 2:7; 3:19, "dust thou art"); that is, not merely earthly or born upon the earth, but terrene, or of earth; literally, "of heaped earth" or clay. "Adam" means red earth.

the Lord—omitted in the oldest manuscripts and versions.

from heaven—(Joh 3:13, 31). Humanity in Christ is generic. In Him man is impersonated in his true ideal as God originally designed him. Christ is the representative man, the federal head of redeemed man.

48. As is the earthy—namely, Adam.

they … that are earthy—All Adam's posterity in their natural state (Joh 3:6, 7).

the heavenly—Christ.

they … that are heavenly—His people in their regenerate state (Php 3:20, 21). As the former precedes the latter state, so the natural bodies precede the spiritual bodies.

49. asGreek, "even as" (see Ge 5:3).

we shall also bear—or wear as a garment [Bengel]. The oldest manuscripts and versions read, "We must also bear," or "let us also bear." It implies the divine appointment (compare "must," 1Co 15:53) and faith assenting to it. An exhortation, and yet implying a promise (so Ro 8:29). The conformity to the image of the heavenly Representative man is to be begun here in our souls, in part, and shall be perfected at the resurrection in both bodies and souls.