Christians and the Resurrection

by Mike Ratliff

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” (1 Corinthians 15:35 ESV)

Eternity is the true reality, not this physical life in the temporal. At the heart of our Christian faith is our blessed hope of a bodily resurrection. Many mistakenly believe that all Christians who die are given their eternal body right then, but the Bible is clear that our eternal bodies are resurrected by God from our physical bodies that we have now. There will be an interim between our death and the resurrection before we are given our Resurrection Bodies, but this post is about what will be after our Lord returns in victory and glory.

Our text will be from 1 Corinthians 15:35-49. We must remember that this epistle was a letter of correction from the Apostle Paul to a troubled church. In the passage we will study in this post, we can see Paul addressing questions posed from those who asked about the nature of the Resurrection with mocking taunts. Those posing these antagonistic questions were in unbelief or denial about it. They were probably either members of the church who were being derided by Gnostics or some in the church were being influenced by Gnostic teaching. So they asked the two questions below.

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” (1 Corinthians 15:35 ESV)

Paul answers with 4 responses. The first response is an illustration from nature.

36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. (1 Corinthians 15:36-38 ESV)

When we plant a seed in the ground it dies. It decomposes and its form ceases to be that of a seed. But life within it forms a new plant. (John 12:24) This plant rises from the dead seed. God is the one who does this. Just as He gives life to the new plant from a dead seed so will He give His elect a resurrection body at the first Resurrection.

Paul’s second response gives us a description of resurrection bodies.

39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. 42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. (1 Corinthians 15:39-42a ESV)

God has designed the Elect’s resurrection bodies so that they will be eternal. Our temporal bodies wear out, get old, get sick, and die. However, our eternal resurrection bodies will be in the same type as that of our Lord Jesus’ Christ who led the way by rising from the dead.

Paul’s third response contrasts earthly bodies and resurrection bodies.

…What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 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. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:42b-44 ESV)

In this passage we see four sets of contrasts between earthly bodies and resurrection bodies. The first one tells us that there will be no more sickness and death. The second one tells us that there will be no more “dishonor” because of sin. The third one tells us that there will no longer be a weakness in resisting temptation. The fourth one tells us that there will be no more limits regarding time and space. Our natural earthly bodes get sick and die. They are dishonored by sin. The temptation to sin is strong and we are limited to our place in the time/space continuum. However, our resurrection bodies will be free from all of that!

Paul’s fourth response is a reminder of the fact that Jesus Christ’s resurrection was our prototype.

45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:45-49 ESV)

Our forefather, Adam, was a created being who was given life, but the last Adam, Jesus Christ, came to give spiritual life to the elect. Adam was made from dust and was natural. Jesus Christ came from Heaven and was God and Man. Our natural bodies are made from dust and will go back to dust, but our resurrection bodies will be eternal and will bear the image of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The older I get the more I look forward to receiving my resurrection body. I deeply desire to see my Lord face-to-face. However, Jesus prayed that we not be taken out of the world, but be preserved in the world. Therefore, we must remain until called home. I long for that day, but until then..to live is Christ, to die is gain!

Soli Deo Gloria!

6 thoughts on “Christians and the Resurrection

  1. May I refer you to 1 John 3:2.

    1Jn 3:2 Dear friends, we are God’s children now; and it has not yet been made clear what we will become. We do know that when he appears, we will be like him; because we will see him as he really is. (taken from CJB)

    The ONLY question that can be asked, really, is what form is our Lord since John tells us that “we will be like Him”. I will HAPPILY wait to see for myself since NO ONE knows. We all speculate one thing or another, but we just don’t know!

    Yes, Genesis does say that we are made in His image, but is that the physical or is it the spiritual image? I know some Pastors teach different answers to those questions, but to be bluntly honest, they don’t know for certain! Hope cannot explain the unknowable.

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  2. Douglas, Since God is spirit and does not have flesh and bones, being made in His image must necessarily mean spiritually. Focusing on the physical mostly leads to error – Kenneth Copeland’s outrageous assertion that God is about 6′-2″ etc.

    We will have a physical body that resembles that of the Lord Jesus, but our spirit is even now seated with Him in the heavenlies.

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  3. Indeed so, Manfred, indeed so. Personally, I think the image is a bipedal form, with two arms, two legs, etc. But we will be perfected if we have a physical presence. But even THAT won’t be necessary. Will he have a physical body upon his return? Interesting to ponder, but we will never know until He Comes.

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  4. Douglas – where in Scripture do you get the idea that God the Father has a physical image? Nothing indicates He will and the scripture flat out says He does not. Jesus alone, among the godhead, has and will have physical form.

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  5. Douglas,
    You ask whether Christ will have a physical body upon His return. See Acts 1:11, where the angels tell the disciples that Christ will come again in the same manner in which He departed. How did He depart? In a physical body, with scars showing (see also Luke 24:28-43).

    And then go to Zechariah 14:4 and see that the Lord will descend upon the Mount of Olives at His Second Coming (see also 12:10 and 13:6). When the Lord returns to Jerusalem, the believing Remnant will see His scars upon His physical body.

    I hope that helps…

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