Online Bible Commentary
Our Resurrected Bodies; Similar, But Different
1 Corinthians 15:35 But someone will say, "How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?" 36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. 37 And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain--perhaps wheat or some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 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. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. (NKJV)
In this chapter, Paul is responding to some false teaching in the church in Corinth. The false teaching was that some teachers were denying the bodily resurrection of Christians.
So Paul, in this chapter, is correcting this false teaching. Chapter fifteen is, perhaps, the most comprehensive study of bodily resurrection in the entire Bible.
In this passage, Paul answers two questions that he anticipates from the false teachers that deny a bodily resurrection. The questions are “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?" (v. 35).
The questions would come as a challenge for Paul to offer proof of his claim of bodily resurrection. Paul previously referred to these false teachers as ignorant (v. 34). Here he follows up that description with the words “foolish one” (v. 36a)
In answering the question “How are the dead raised up?”, Paul gives the illustration of how our bodies are like grain. Grain is planted in one form, as a seed. The seed germinates (dies) in the ground, and produces another form, such as “wheat” (vv. 36b-37).
The wheat is similar in color and texture, but different. It is different in that it blooms, but it maintains the same identity. “God gives… to each seed its own body” (v. 38). This answers the first question of how the dead are raised. It is as much of a mystery as how a seed grows into wheat.
In answering the second question “with what body do they come?", Paul gives two illustrations. The first illustration is that of how there are different forms of “flesh”: men, animals, birds and fish (v. 39). They are all similar, but they are different.
The second illustration is just as there are different forms of “celestial” bodies: the sun. moon .and stars, there are different forms of “terrestrial” bodies, earthly bodies (v. 40). Celestial bodies are similar, but differ in their “glory”, the sun is brighter than the moon and some stars are brighter than other stars (v. 41).
“So also is the resurrection of the dead”, Paul writes in comparing the resurrected body with these two illustrations (v. 42a). The resurrected body is similar to the flesh of earthly creations and to the differing glory of celestial bodies, but different.
Like the differences in the “flesh” of men, animals, birds and fish, our earthly bodies are similar, but different than our resurrected bodies. They are similar in that they both are physical bodies.
They are different in the following ways. Our earthly bodies are corrupted (mortal), dishonoring of God, weak (without power), and controlled by our natural desires. Our resurrected bodies are incorrupted (immortal} instead of corrupted (mortal), glorious instead of dishonoring, powerful instead of weak, and controlled by our spirits instead of our natural desires (vv. 42b-44a). The power of the resurrected body was demonstrated when the resurrected Jesus was able to enter a locked room (Luke 24:29).
And like the celestial bodies, our resurrected bodies are similar, but different in their glory. They are similar in that they are physical bodies, but they are different in that we are all rewarded differently, receive different glory, in Heaven according to the good we have done on earth.
Next, Paul expands on the difference between the natural body and the spiritual body (v. 44b). This is a reference to being controlled by our natural desires or by our spirit.
This does not mean that our resurrected bodies are spirit. Our resurrected bodies are similar in substance to that of Jesus’ resurrected body, a body of “flesh and bones” (Luke 24:36), but are different in that each one of us is recognizable.
Our natural bodies, received life from “the first man Adam”, while our spiritual, resurrected, bodies will be given life from “The last Adam”, Jesus. Our natural controlled lives come first, then come our spiritual controlled lives (v. 46).
Adam was “of the earth”, while Jesus is “the Lord from Heaven” (v. 47). Consequently, our earthly bodies are “of dust” and our resurrected bodies are “Heavenly”, of Heaven (v. 48).
So, as we bear the image, the characteristics, of Adam now, our resurrected bodies will bear the image, the characteristics, of the resurrected Jesus (v. 49). Staying in the context of our bodily resurrection, let us look at some of the physical characteristics of the resurrected Jesus.
The resurrected Jesus looked similar to the pre-resurrected Jesus, but He was different, The resurrected Jesus was flesh and bones.
The resurrected Jesus could just appear in an instant, like on the road to Emmaus and in the upper room. Likewise, He could disappear in an instant as when He broke the bread with the men he had met on the road to Emmaus. He could eat, just like before (Luke 24).
Our resurrected bodies will be the same. We will have perfect bodies, bodies that will never die or become sick, disabled or debilitated. We will be able to do all the things we could do when we were young and spry. We will be better than ever; similar, but different.