Thank you all for your patience while I took a two month break from writing this Bible Study on 1 Corinthians 15. In July, we finished studying Christ’s resurrection and its implications regarding our own resurrection at His return. Now Paul shifts the conversation to the nature of our resurrected bodies.
35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 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. 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. ~~1 Corinthians 15:35-41 (ESV)
As we see in verse 35, Paul now addresses practical reservations regarding bodily resurrection. The question as to what kind of bodies we will have come either from immature believers or, as implied by Paul’s harshness in verse 36, from skeptics trying to disprove the doctrine through ridicule. Whatever the motives, the two main questions are:
- How are the dead raised?
- What is the resurrection body like?
Gill believes that the first question betrays cynicism, and most likely a determination to show the absurdity of resurrection. That cynicism gives rise to the question of the form decomposed bodies could possibly take upon resurrection. But, as Jamieson, Fausset and Brown point out, such questions should be answered by appealing to God’s power rather than from human philosophies (as Jesus did in Matthew 19:26, Mark 10:27 and Luke 18:27).
As we come to verse 36, we are startled that Paul bluntly calls anyone who would raise objections such as these a fool. The Corinthians, because they prided themselves on their worldly wisdom, must have been even more startled. And Paul intended to startle them! His harshness brings out the idea that their supposed intellectual wisdom crumbles into idiotic babble (Romans 1:22).
As Barnes observes, they appeal to personal experience and their deductions from nature as evidence that bodily resurrection is ludicrous. But Paul turns the tables by holding up an example from nature that exposes their objections. Contrary to their arguments that a dead body simply returns to dust, Paul likens the body to a seed that must die and be buried in order to produce life (see John 12:24).
In verse 37 Paul expands on his analogy by comparing the natural body that we sow through burial to a seed (or kernel) planted in the ground. A kernel of grain, for example, grows into an entire stalk of wheat, flax or barely, complete with husks, leaves or blades. Obviously a tiny seed looks considerably different than a fully developed plant!
With this simple illustration, the apostle demonstrates the fallacy of their reasoning, thus striking at their pride. If they had reasoned more carefully, they would have realized that crops come from decomposed seeds, so that nature itself testifies to the truth of resurrection.
We’ll close today’s study with verse 38, which definitely leads me into worship! God gives everything the type of body that pleases Him. Just as He is pleased for a seed to have a different body than a plant, so He is pleased for a natural body to be different than a spiritual body. I love this testimony to God’s sovereignty, don’t you?
Barnes brings out the point that God, rather than impersonal laws of nature, determines the assignment of bodies. By His design, a seed has a different body than a fully developed plant and a natural body is different than a spiritual body. Possibly, Paul thinks of Christ’s words in Mark 4:26-29. Human reason only understands so much of how a seed is transformed into a plant. How much more limited we are in understanding how God transforms our earthly bodies into heavenly ones!
Lord willing, next Monday we’ll dig into verses 39-41 to deepen our understanding of our resurrection bodies. Between now and then, please leave comments and/or questions here, on the Facebook page or on Twitter. Thank you.