How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?

by Mike Ratliff

35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?” 1 Corinthians 15:35 (NASB) 

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 say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?” 1 Corinthians 15:35 (NASB) 

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

36 You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; 37 and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. 1 Corinthians 15:36-38 (NASB)

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 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is 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.
42a So also is the resurrection of the dead. (1 Corinthians 15:39-42a NASB)

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.

42b It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 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 NASB)

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 So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 47 The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly. 1 Corinthians 15:45-49 (NASB)

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!

2 thoughts on “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?

Comments are closed.