1 Corinthians 15 is the clearest teaching in the Bible on the nature of the bodily resurrection and is therefore one of the most amazing and precious chapters in the Scripture. These are things that are impossible to know apart from the Bible. There is no other source in the world for such information.
“But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; 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. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption” (1 Co. 15:35-50).
Note that Paul calls the man who doubts the resurrection a “fool” (1 Co. 15:35). It is not wrong to call a man a fool if he is a fool or to say that he is foolish if he is, so long as one is not speaking in a hurtful way with the goal of cursing someone or wishing harm to them. Speaking the truth in love is not wrong even when the truth is harsh. God calls the rich man in Luke 12:20 a fool. Jesus called the Pharisees fools (Mt. 23:17). Twice the Bible says the atheist is a fool (Ps. 14:1; 53:1). The book of Proverbs describes the characteristics of the fool (e.g., Prov. 10:18, 23; 11:29; 12:15-16; 13:16; 14:16; 15:5; 17:10; 18:6-7; 20:3; 26:11; 28:26).
When Jesus warned against calling someone “thou fool” in Matthew 5:22, He was referring to speaking in anger and wishing harm on someone. It is wrong to curse someone as a fool; but it not wrong to say that a person is foolish if indeed he is; and nothing is more foolish than denying the gospel of Jesus Christ!
It is not wrong to ask questions about divine things, but it is wrong to ask in a doubting manner. It is reasonable to want to know how God will raise up the body after it disintegrates and returns to dust. Many bodies have been burned to ashes or devoured by wild beasts, and every dead body eventually disintegrates. To ask how the elements of the body will be recollected and reorganized is not an unreasonable question.
And it is not unreasonable to wonder about the nature of the resurrection body, whether the person will look like he did before he died and other such things.
But the man that Paul rebukes as a fool was not asking questions in order to know the truth about the resurrection; he was asking questions in order to cast doubt on the truth of God’s Word. This is a “foolish and unlearned question” that Paul warned about (2 Ti. 2:23). It is not a question asked sincerely but insincerely in order to cause strife and doubt and confusion. Asking foolish questions is a tactic of false teachers.
The Nature of the Resurrection Body
1. The resurrection body is related to the mortal body as wheat is to grain; the mortal body is the seed for the resurrection body (1 Co. 15:36-38).
Paul uses an example from the natural order of things to show the foolishness of the argument against bodily resurrection. God has given men the ability to reason from the physical to the spiritual and are accountable to God if they do not exercise this reason properly. We see the same thing in Romans 1:19-20. There is no excuse for not understanding from creation that there is an almighty Creator.
The destruction of the seed proves that the decaying of the dead body is no obstacle to resurrection (1 Co. 15:36). See also Joh. 12:24. “The objection was, that the body died, and returned to dust, and could not, therefore, rise again. The reply of Paul is, ‘You may make the same objection to grain that is sown. That dies also. The main body of the kernel decays. In itself there is no prospect that it will spring up.’ Should it stop here, and had you never seen a grain of wheat grow--had you only seen it in the earth, as you have seen the body in the grave--there would be the same difficulty as to HOW it would produce other grains, which there is about the resurrection of the body” (Barnes).
As the seed is different from the plant that springs from it, so the resurrection body is different from the mortal body (1 Co. 15:37). The resurrection body will be very different from the natural body while retaining some basic similarities, just as the plant does not look like the seed from which it springs. “It is implied here, that the body which will be raised will not be the same in the sense that the same particles of matter shall compose it, but the same only in the sense that it will have sprung up from that; will constitute the same order, rank, species of being ... as the grain produced is subject to the same laws, and belongs to the same rank, order, and species as that which is sown” (Barnes).
In the seed we see the same power and wisdom of God that operates in the resurrection (1 Co. 15:38). The God who is able to make a mighty oak tree spring from a tiny acorn is well able to do anything He pleases, and the bodily resurrection is not impossible when considered in this light. “The apostle replies by telling them this was to be brought about by divine power, that very power which they had all observed to do something very like it, year after year, in the death and revival of the corn; and therefore it was an argument of great weakness and stupidity to doubt whether the resurrection of the dead might not be effected by the same power” (Matthew Henry).
This picture of the natural body being the seed of the resurrection body that is “sown” (1 Co. 15:42-44) supports the practice of burial as opposed to cremation. The farmer does not burn the seed; he plants it. Burying the body of a deceased believer is a testimony of our faith in the resurrection. The Hindu, on the other hand, burns the body because he has no such faith. If a body is burned, that is no hindrance to the resurrection, but it is not a proper biblical practice.
God gives bodies (“But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him,” 1 Co. 15:38). Only God can make a living body, whether vegetable or animal or human. All are miraculous. All are exceedingly complicated beyond man’s ability even to understand. The existence of living bodies that are produced by living seed is irrefutable evidence for an almighty Creator for those who are not willfully blind.
This passage is a reminder of the truth of Genesis 1, which says that the herbs and trees reproduce after their kind (Ge. 1:11-12). This is an evidence for divine creation and is contrary to what we would expect if evolution were true.
2. The resurrection bodies will differ one from another (1 Co. 15:39-41).
God is a God of variety. Every individual has a different appearance and personality in this world, and the same will be true in the resurrection. We will know one another by our appearance, just as the disciples recognized Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mt. 17:3).
The same God who made all of the different bodies in this universe, both terrestrial (of this earth) and celestial (above the earth), is the God who will create the resurrection body. One is not more difficult than the other.
As there is a great difference between the earth and the sun in glory, there is a great difference between the mortal and the resurrection bodies (1 Co. 15:41).
This passage implies that the resurrection bodies will differ one from another in glory (1 Co. 15:41). Modern science has proven that the stars differ from one another in glory. Hebrews 11:35 says there is the possibility of obtaining a “better resurrection.” This does not refer to salvation itself but to rewards in eternity. In 1 Ti. 6:17-19 we learn that the believer can lay up in store a good foundation against the time to come by doing good and communicating in this present life. This is what Jesus was talking about in Mt. 6:19-21, when He taught about laying up treasures in heaven by giving. In the Parable of the Talents, the Lord Jesus taught that believers that serve God faithfully will receive greater rewards (Mt. 25:14-23). “We are all saved by the same grace and through that same grace we will be raised and changed at the coming of the Lord. But we will not all be rewarded in the same way, for reward is for faithful service, and I am afraid many of us are going to lose a great deal at the judgment seat of Christ because we have not been more true and real in all our ways down here. The day is soon coming when you and I would give worlds, if we possessed them, if we had only let God have His way absolutely in our lives. ... There is not one soul with Christ today who looks back on his earthly life and says, ‘I wish I had not been quite so out-and-out for God; I wish I had been less self-denying; I wish I had been more concerned about my own comforts.’ But I fancy there are many who say, ‘If I had my life to live over again, no matter what suffering, what renderings of the heart-strings it might mean, I would never hesitate a moment to let God have His will in everything in my life.’ It is not a question of whether or not we get to heaven. All who are saved by grace will be there, but there will be a difference in our rewards” (Harry Ironside).
3. The resurrection body is incorruptible (1 Co. 15:42).
This means that the resurrection body is incapable of any type of corruption, deterioration, injury, pain, sickness, disease, infirmity, aging. All of that will be gone.
Incorruption means there will be no indwelling sin. The “old man” will be gone, hallelujah! There will be no evil thoughts, no fleshly or satanic temptations.
The incorruption will mean perfect joy, unblemished by even a hint of sorrow. Everlasting joy will be upon their heads. “they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isa. 35:10). Their mouths will be filled with laughter and their tongues with singing (Ps. 126:2). “There will be great joy, and that joy will be perpetual and unfading. ... this joy is not short-lived and fading, like the garland of flowers on the head; it is constant, increasing, everlasting” (Believer’s Bible Commentary).
4. The resurrection body is a glorious body (1 Co. 15:43).
“Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Php. 3:21). The term “glory” refers to the splendor and majesty of Christ’s kingdom (Mt. 19:28; 25:31; Col. 3:4). We read of “Solomon in all his glory” (Mt. 6:29). His kingdom was incredibly wealthy and beautiful (1 Ki. 10), but it was only a little foretaste of Christ’s glory. The resurrection glory was prefigured by the transfiguration of Christ. Luke says, “... the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering ... in glory” (Lu. 9:29-31), and Matthew says, “his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light” (Mt. 17:2). The resurrection body is described as shining as the brightness of the firmament (Da. 12:3). See also Mt. 17:2.
“Glory” is honor, the opposite of “dishonor” (“it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory”). A beautiful, shining person demands much honor! See Jas. 2:2-3; Mt. 28:3; Lu. 24:4; Ac. 10:30. Even in this world, spectacularly beautiful people are given great honor, and the glorious body will be far, far more beautiful and spectacular than anything we have ever seen in this world! Every glorified saint will be altogether beautiful! There will be no “common” saints, though apparently they will not be equal in glory. “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead” (1 Co. 15:41-42). The resurrection body “shall be adapted to a world of glory; and everything which here rendered it vile, valueless, cumbersome, offensive, or degraded, shall be there removed” (Barnes). The natural body is dishonorable in imperfection, weakness, sickness, corruption, and death. The resurrection body is a body of magnificent honor, honorable in shining beauty and fantastic ability.
The resurrection to glory is described in Romans 8:18-23 in terms of liberation. Here the believer’s present condition is contrasted sharply with his future condition in glory. The present condition is described as subject to vanity, the bondage of corruption, groaning and travailing. That about sums up life in the natural body in this fallen world! Resurrection is called “the manifestation of the sons of God” (v. 19). Every born again believer is an adopted son of God. Christ is the firstborn of many brethren (Ro. 8:29). It does not yet appear what the sons of God will be, but they will be manifested in the resurrection. This is described as being “delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (v. 21). Resurrection will be liberation! The bondage and restraints of this present life will be gone. The poor creepy-crawly caterpillar will be liberated as a glorious butterfly! In this present life I am constrained by severely limited intelligence, limited skill, limited memory, limited strength, limited health, limited time (there’s never enough time to do anything to the fullest), limited in space (bound to this planet, restrained by physical objects), limited capacity to enjoy life, limited joy, constrained by the necessity of eating and sleeping and attending to a myriad of mundane, repetitive chores. In the resurrection, I will be liberated to vastly increased intelligence, skill, memory, strength, time, space, joy, and the capacity to enjoy life. I will be liberated from being subject to the vanities of this life, from being a slave to tedious chores. I will be liberated to perfect health and immortality. Consider joy. Instead of a small temporal joy intermingled with sorrow, there will be continual joy, joy unspeakable and full of glory, joy without admixture of any sorrow whatsoever (Isa. 35:10). Consider intelligence and skill. Adam doubtless was a genius in intelligence, perfect in memory, brilliant in understanding, highly skilled. He named all of the animals and didn’t have to ask Eve to help him remember what he had named them! The second man in the resurrection body will far exceed Adam. In the resurrection, genius will not be limited to a few as it is in this world. I suspect that in the resurrection, every saint will have the musical genius of David and Handel and the broad intelligence of Solomon, who spoke 3,000 proverbs, whose songs were 1,005, who had knowledge of trees and beasts and fowl and creeping things and fish (1 Ki. 4:30-33). The resurrection saint’s strength will far exceed that of Samson. In the resurrection, they will literally and truly “mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isa. 40:31). The resurrected saint will not be omnipotent and omniscient as God is, but he will be magnificently expanded in every realm of ability. As for space, Christ walked through walls, appeared at various places, and ascended up through the atmosphere of this world to heavenly realms. As for time, there will be no more time constraint. We will dwell in eternity. This is described in Scripture as endless aions or ages. “Forever” is eis tous aionas (Mt. 6:13), literally “into the ages.” “For ever and ever” (Re. 22:5) is eis tous aionas ton aionon, literally “to the ages of the ages.” It describes endless aions of God’s eternal purposes and activities, with Christ as King over them and His people enjoying God and delighting in paradise. An age of a million years will be but a moment, less than a moment. Liberation!
The glory of the resurrection body is illustrated by the butterfly’s metamorphosis, which is a four-stage process (egg, larva, pupa, butterfly).
It begins life as a tiny, brilliantly-designed EGG that the female butterfly attaches to the exact type of vegetation needed by the caterpillar when it hatches.
The creature emerges from the egg as a larva or CATERPILLAR. It is an eating machine that increases its weight 3,000 times in 20 days, doubling in size about every 12 hours. The caterpillar has three pairs of “true legs” and up to six pairs of “prolegs.” The prolegs have rings of tiny hooks called crochets that help them grip the leaves and stems of plants. The creature’s brain and nervous system control the extremely complex coordinated movement of its legs.
When it has grown to the right size, the caterpillar locates a suitable place on a milkweed leaf (in the case of a monarch). It spins a silk pad, from which it hangs by its prolegs to form a PUPA OR CHRYSALIS. The caterpillar attaches itself firmly to the silk pad by means of a cremaster that has microscopic hooks. After a few hours the pupal skin hardens. The creature’s body and organs dissolve into a cellular liquid referred to as “SOUP.”
This “soup” reorganizes itself into a gorgeous butterfly! The caterpillar has 16 short legs, a chewing mouth, six simple eyes that see only in black and white, eats leaves, and it crawls. The butterfly has six long articulated legs, a sucking mouth, antennae, a proboscis, four wings, reproductive organs, two complicated compound eyes that can see in color, drinks nectar, and it can fly!
The resurrection body is a more magnificent transformation even than that of the amazing butterfly!
(For a multimedia study of metamorphosis, see An Unshakable Faith: An Apologetics Course, PowerPoint # 16 - “Icons of Creation,” available from Way of Life Literature.)
5. The resurrection body is a powerful body (1 Co. 15:43).
“Power” is the Greek dunamis, from which the English dynamite comes. It refers to ability, strength, capacity, capability. It is also translated “mighty,” referring to Christ’s mighty works (Mt. 11:21, 23) and “strength” (Re. 1:16). Like Jesus, in the resurrection the redeemed will be above the angels (Heb. 2:6-9), and angels are exceedingly powerful. Angels are called “mighty” (2 Th. 1:7). One angel destroyed the entire Assyrian army (2 Ki. 19:35). One angel will bind Satan and cast him into the bottomless pit (Re. 20:1-3). Angels can ascend in fire (Jg. 13:20), unlock the most secure prisons (Ac. 12:5-10), and control natural forces (Re. 7:1). They can travel from heaven to earth (Lu. 2:13-15). In the resurrection, all things will be put under our feet as joint-heirs of Christ. We will not be subject to the limitations of the earthly body. There will be no weakness, fatigue, hindrances, lacks. “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isa. 40:31). There will be greatly increased capacity and ability. The believer will never be God, never have infinite knowledge, etc., but he will be great. Even the earthly body is amazing. Man was made in God’s image. Adam would have been a genius mentally and capable of great feats physically. A remnant of this remains after the fall. It is witnessed in men and women of genius in all areas of endeavor. Some men still have perfect memories. There are strong men to run races and do physical exploits. Samson removed an entire city gate weighing between five and ten tons and carried it to Hebron, which was 36 miles away and 3,200 feet higher in altitude (Jg. 16:3), but the glorified saint will make Samson seem like a poor weakling! Eric Liddell, the Scottish Olympic runner who became a missionary to China, testified of the joy of running. He believed that God was pleased with it and was running with him, and doubtless He was, because God made man in all of his capabilities. In the resurrection, all of God’s people will run like Eric Liddell, only faster and much more joyfully and with no weariness whatsoever! “... they shall run, and not be weary” (Isa. 40:31). The greatest feats done in the natural body--the greatest achievements of musicians, athletes, mountain climbers, chess champions, inventors, engineers--will probably be child’s play compared to the capabilities of the resurrection saint. The resurrected saint will probably be a glorified genius at everything! “The future body will abound with energy, endowed perhaps with faculties of which we now have no conception” (Charles Hodge). “When we receive our resurrection bodies we shall be able to use all the vast, unsuspected resources, as yet untapped, which God built into the human brain when He fashioned it, with omniscient genius, from the dust of the earth. Who can tell what limits there will be to our achievements throughout the endless ages of eternity” (John Phillips).
I suspect that the glorified saint will be able to play a thousand instruments, sing like an angel, ride a glorified horse with the wind, ponder the deep things of God with phenomenal capacity, travel from heaven to earth. He will learn and learn and learn and never forget! He will be able to quote and discuss everything he has ever learned in perfect detail.
There will be a perfect capacity to enjoy and use God’s creation to the fullest. The glorified saint will enjoy everything in complete delight and in perfect fellowship with the Lord and in loving association with all the saints. “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11). Even in this fallen world, there are countless things to enjoy and appreciate and study--the ocean, the sky, the animals, the plants, food, colors, smells, sounds--but our enjoyment is deeply tainted with our fallenness and by the corruption of the creation itself. In the resurrection, we will be able to enjoy, contemplate, study, use the creation of God to perfection. The senses will doubtless be enlarged to a great degree beyond anything that we understand in this present body. There is no telling what God will create in the coming aions upon aions, but in God’s infinite foreknowledge the resurrection body is designed for eternity in the new heaven and the new earth. We do not know what God will create in the aions, but the resurrection body will be capable of using and enjoying it.
Note that death is described in terms of “dishonor.” There is no “dignity in death” as the euthanasia movement believes. Death is the wages of sin; it is the curse of the law. Death cannot be escaped by suicide, because death is eternal. The first death takes the individual out of this world, but the second death carries him into the lake of fire for eternal judgment (Re. 20:11-15). The only dignity in death and the only escape from eternal death is salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
6. The resurrection body is a spiritual body (1 Co. 15:44-46).
It is not a spiritual body in the sense that it is non-material. It is a spiritual body in the sense that it is not a natural body, but it is still a real body (Lu. 24:36-43).
The resurrection body is a spiritual body in that it is not a body of flesh and blood (Heb. 2:14), but it is a body of flesh and bones (Lu. 24:39). The life of the resurrection body is in the spirit and not the blood (1 Co. 15:50; Le. 17:11). Christ is not a spirit in the sense that He has no body, but in the sense that He has a spiritual body (“The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit,” 1 Co. 15:45).
It is a spiritual body in that the old fleshly nature will be gone. The resurrection body is a body designed for the redeemed to live in perfect holiness and righteousness in God’s righteous kingdom into the ages of ages. “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Mt. 13:43). There will be nothing to hinder holiness and joy. No longer will there be a battle between the flesh and the spirit (Ga. 5:16-17), between the “old man” and the “new man” (Eph. 4:22-24). The “old man” will be gone! The flesh in which “dwelleth no good thing” and which is “present with me” and hinders me from performing that which is good (Ro. 7:18), will be gone forever. There will be no internal enemy to tempt me and resist my spiritual life. I will be holy as God is holy (1 Pe. 1:16). I will bear the image of Christ (Ro. 8:29; 1 Jo. 3:2). I will see Him face to face (1 Co. 13:12) and not as in a mirror (2 Co. 3:18). I will bear the fruit of the Spirit in perfection, “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Ga. 5:22-23). I will walk in perfect charity (1 Co. 13:4-7). The resurrection body is a body designed for the royal priesthood (1 Pe. 2:9) to live out the “royal law” of God’s love (Jas. 2:8).
It is a spiritual body in that the life of the resurrection body will not depend upon the natural functions of the mortal body nor will it be limited by them, such as eating, sleeping, resting, performing toiletries, and exercising. The resurrected believer can eat and enjoy food (Lu. 24:42), but apparently he will not be dependent on this. It is not a soulish body, meaning it is not subject to bodily appetites (sleep, food), not subject to physical weariness, not controlled by emotions. It is the soul that hungers (Pr. 27:7). It is the soul that is sad and in turmoil (Ps. 119:25, 28; 42:5, 11). It is the soul that is cast down (Ps. 42:5, 6, 11). It is the soul that is weary (Job 10:1; Jer. 31:25). In this present body, a large portion of life is spent in meeting the needs of the soulish body, cleaning it, feeding it, giving it rest, exercising it, attending to its sicknesses, dealing with its depressions, bearing its infirmities. Of the present body, Christ said, “the spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak” (Mt. 26:41), but this will no longer be true of the spiritual body. There will be nothing to limit the operation of the spirit. There will be no need of rest, sleep, food, bathing. Imagine not having to sleep!
It is a spiritual body in that it is a body made to be controlled by the spirit and not limited by or hampered by the soul (“it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power,” 1 Co. 15:45). “A natural body is a body of which the physical life is the animating principle; and a spiritual body is a body adapted to the rational, immortal principle of our nature” (Charles Hodge). “Not a spirit-phantom, but a spiritual body in its adaptation to the spirit. As we have now a natural body which is suited for an earth-life, so the believer shall have a body suited for a glory-life. We shall be like Him to be with Him in eternal glory and in these wonderful bodies we shall rule and reign with Him” (Annotated Bible). “Our present, fledgling attempts to ‘walk in the Spirit’ (Ro. 8:9) will become an uninterrupted way of life. We, too, shall be taken up into the life of the Spirit. Our nature, person, and personality, our intellect, emotions, and will, our physical frame and vital senses will be under the control of the Spirit of God. The life-giving Holy Spirit already inhabits the believer’s spirit. The full potential of all this, however, awaits the day when we receive our resurrection bodies” (John Phillips). Harry Ironside makes this observation: “In the natural body I am not all spirit; I am also soul (1 Th. 5:23). The soul is the seat of my emotional nature, the seat of all my natural instincts; as a man, it is my human self; but the spirit is the highest part of my nature to which God can make Himself known. ‘The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God’ (Ro. 8:16). As a Christian I ought to be constantly under the control of the spirit, I ought to live according to the highest part of my nature; but every little while I find that instead of being controlled by the spirit part of me I am controlled by my soul, and I am more or less a creature of emotions. I am easily influenced this way or that emotionally, and often to my detriment and to that of others. And this is called here ‘the natural body.’ The word translated ‘natural’ is simply the Greek adjective from the word ‘soul,’ that is, a soulish body. This body is the suited vehicle for the expression of the emotions of my soul. The spirit is often willing to do certain things but the flesh is weak. The body being a soulish body is a hindrance to the spirit. But in the resurrection I shall have a body that is spiritual, that is, a body suited to and dominated by the spirit. There will be nothing then to hinder the full expression of the spirit, and I shall be absolutely subject to God who is a Spirit” (Harry Ironside). “[O]ur present bodies are imperfect mediums through which the regenerated Spirit-filled inner life of the believer seeks unsuccessfully to express itself in the fullest measure. The Greek word ‘vile’ in Php. 3:21 speaks of the unfitness of our present bodies to fulfil the claims of the spiritual life” (Kenneth Wuest).
It is a spiritual body in that it is not limited by physical time and space. The resurrected Christ can walk through walls and appear and disappear at will (Joh. 20:19, 26; Lu. 24:30-31). He can appear in a different form (Mr. 16:12). Apparently the believer’s spiritual body will share these attributes, because “when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 Jo. 3:2).
“And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit” (1 Co. 15:45). The first Adam was made a living soul when God breathed into him (Ge. 2:7). The last Adam, Christ, is a quickening spirit. He has the power to give life. See Joh. 5:21, “For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.” Christ is the resurrection and the life (Joh. 11:25). Christ is called the “last Adam” because He is the last Adam. There are only two Adams, the first one who sinned and fell, and the last one who is God manifest in the flesh. Christ is called the “second man” (1 Co. 15:47) because He is not the last man. He is the firstborn among many brethren (Ro. 8:29).
7. The resurrection body is a heavenly body (1 Co. 15:47-49).
The resurrection body is designed to dwell in the heavens and not merely on earth. It is capable of dwelling on earth, as we see in the fact that Jesus dwelt on earth for many days after His resurrection, but it is not limited to earth and is not designed strictly for earth-dwelling. Php. 3:20 says, “our conversation is in heaven.” We are already seated in heavenly places in Christ positionally (Eph. 2:6) but we don’t yet have a heavenly body. Christ could ascend up to heaven in His resurrection body. “And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven” (Lu. 24:50-51).
The resurrection body is made of heavenly elements, not earthly. The natural body is literally made up of the elements of this world. It is “earthy” (1 Co. 15:47). The name “Adam” means “red earth” and refers to the fact that the first man was fashioned out of the dust of the ground (Ge. 2:7). The resurrection body is a heavenly body which is fashioned out of different elements. In 2 Corinthians 5 Paul describes the resurrection body as “an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” and “our house which is from heaven” (2 Co. 5:1, 2).
The New Testament believer will operate both in heaven and in earth during the Millennial Kingdom. Christ said the overcomers in the churches will rule with him with a rod of iron (Re. 2:26-27). That refers to the Millennial Kingdom (Ps. 2:9; Re. 19:15). At the same time, we are heavenly people who are already seated in the heavenlies (Eph. 2:6) and who have a home in heaven (Joh. 14:1-3).
Jesus Christ is “the second man” (1 Co. 15:47). This means He is “the second who sustained a relation to men that was materially to affect their conduct and destiny; the second and the last who should sustain a peculiar headship to the race” (Barnes). All men are in Adam by natural birth and are condemned because of sin; those that believe the gospel and experience the new birth are in Christ and have all blessings by the gift of grace (Ro. 5:12-21). Jesus is a man as fully as He is God, and contrary to what some false teachers have taught, He is a man throughout eternity. After His resurrection He remains “the man Christ Jesus” (1 Ti. 2:5). “He is the second man for two reasons: (1) He is the second man because man in sin is not man as God intended man to be; so God calls Adam the first man, and Christ the second man. (2) He is the second man because He is not the last man. He is the ‘last Adam’ (1 Co. 15:45) but not the last man. God intends to populate heaven with a race of men and women just like Jesus. The Son of God became the Son of man so that the sons of men might become the sons of God. Man was made in the image and likeness of God; Jesus came in the image and likeness of men. Now we can be made anew in the image and likeness of Him: ;We shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is’ (1 Jo. 3:2). Luke specialized in keeping before us the wondrous sinless humanity of Him who ‘was made in the likeness of men’” (John Phillips).
Jesus Christ is the “Lord from heaven” (1 Co. 15:47). This denotes His deity and the fact that He originated from heaven and not from earth. He was not conceived in a natural fashion but was virgin born. His beginning was not in Mary’s womb; He is the eternal Son of God. Even when He was on earth, He was in heaven (Joh. 3:13). (The corrupt Egyptian Greek text on which the modern Bible versions are based omit “the Lord” in 1 Co. 15:47, but these words are in the majority of extant Greek manuscripts and they went to the ends of the earth in the Reformation Bibles based on the Received Text, and we have no doubt that they were penned by Paul.)
8. The resurrection body is an immortal body (1 Co. 15:53).
The resurrection body cannot die. Death will not be possible. We will be like Christ. “Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him” (Ro. 6:9). In the days before the Flood, men lived to great ages. Adam lived 930 years, and Methuselah lived 969 (Ge. 5:5, 27). A millennium seems like a long life, but in light of eternity it is but a moment. The born again believer possesses eternal life as God’s gift in Christ, but the natural body is not made for eternity. For that, God will give the immortal resurrection body.
It is nearly impossible to imagine living in an immortal body, with death forever past, with no possibility of dying. In this present body, we live in constant remembrance of death. We are always apprehensive about death. We live in a world of death. We know about the multitudes of ways man can die. We have seen loved ones and friends die. And we know that death awaits us at some appointed time.
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