Resurrection lessons from 1 Corinthians 15 (Part 2)

POST OVERVIEW. The second of a three-part study of 1 Corinthians 15, the great chapter on the Resurrection of the righteous that will occur on the last day. (See Post #648, 5/8/2023, for the first part of this study.) The objective of this series of posts is to give the Bible student a firm grasp of the doctrine of the Resurrection.

In the first part of this study of 1 Corinthians 15 (post #648, 5/8/2023), we had established some basic understandings of the Resurrection. First, when we use the word “Resurrection,” we are referring to the general resurrection of all the righteous that will occur on the last day (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54; 11:24) at the same time that the Lord Jesus descends from heaven with a shout (1 Thess. 4:16). Also, although there are several events that occur in the Resurrection, the primary and defining event is that all the righteous of all time will receive their eternal glorified bodies.

We were in the process of examining the meaning of 1 Cor. 15:42-44, and now we continue that examination by looking at 15:44. In this section, Paul is comparing the physical body that we are given for our earthly life with the heavenly body that we will be given in the Resurrection, particularly in relation to the physical body when it has died. Paul uses the word picture of a seed that is sown into the ground to describe our physical body when it is finally “sown” into the grave.

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.

15:44. At our death, our natural body is sown into the ground, having lost all its usefulness. All the parts of the body are there, but there is a complete absence of life. The purpose of the natural body was to carry us and be our servant from birth to death, but now that death has come, the purpose of our natural body has gone and thus it is thrown into the ground.

But the resurrection body, our “spiritual” body, is not like that. We will be raised with a spiritual body that is completely unlike the natural body that went into the grave. Our spiritual body will be useful to us throughout all of eternity. The purpose of this spiritual body is to allow us to serve and worship the King of kings in sinless joy forever, and that purpose will never change or become obsolete.

And Paul punctuates this verse with a promise, that if the believer in Jesus had a natural body, then there will certainly be for that believer a spiritual body. In other words, every believer is promised a glorified spiritual body that will allow them “to stand before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes (indicating that our glorified bodies will be clothed in heaven), and palm branches in their hands, crying out with a loud voice, saying ‘Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’” (Rev. 7:9-10).

This amazing chapter culminates in 15:50-54 with more teaching about the Resurrection as the apostle tells us about the actual event itself. The inspiration of the Holy Spirit is evident in this passage as we see that this description of the Resurrection is in complete agreement with other Scriptures about this event.

50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.

In this five-verse theological masterpiece, we will see that, in each verse in this passage, Paul addresses both those who are asleep (“the dead in Christ”) and “those who are alive and remain until the coming (παρουσία) of the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:15). This is significant because it tells us that all those who are in Christ at the Lord’s return will be resurrected to receive their glorified bodies.  

EXEGETICAL NOTE: Paul consistently uses the words “perishable” and “imperishable” to refer to those who are dead in Christ at the Resurrection. Since this is the case, we can use “dead in Christ” and “perishable” interchangeably.

15:50. Paul says that those who have “flesh-and-blood” bodies at the Resurrection are completely unprepared for eternal life in the kingdom of God. In other words, those who are physically alive in Christ “cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” But Paul adds that “the perishable,” those who are physically dead in Christ (15:42), also “cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” Paul has thus presented a problem; namely, that no believer in Christ who has a natural, earthly, physical body, whether alive or dead, can inherit the kingdom of God. What is the solution to this problem?  

We will explore the answer to this question in the next post in this series, and we will also solve Paul’s “mystery” from 1 Corinthians 15:51. Go to Post #650 for more teaching on the Resurrection.

Soli Deo gloria            rmb                 5/11/2023                   #649

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