The Thirty-First in a Series of Sermons on 1 Corinthians
We have all thought about it. We talk about having eternal life, but what does that really mean? How will we spend eternity? What, exactly, will happen to us on that day the Lord returns to judge the world, raise the dead and make all things new. What will our resurrection body be like? In 1 Corinthians 15:35-58, Paul tells us.
We are nearing the end our series on 1 Corinthians and we have been making our way through one of the richest chapters in all the Bible in terms of doctrinal content–chapter fifteen of that letter. In this chapter Paul defines the gospel (vv. 1-11), discusses the fact of the resurrection (vv. 12-19), points out how that resurrection is tied to Christ’s return at the end of the age (vv. 20-28), and reminds us that Jesus’ resurrection establishes Christian ethics (29-34). Paul closes out his discussion of Christ’s resurrection and its importance for us by discussing the nature of that body in which we will be raised at the end of the age. The very idea of a bodily resurrection presented a problem for first century Greeks who believed that the body was the source of urges and passions from which people finally escape at death. Paul must correct this false assumption by making a compelling case that God will indeed raise the dead, bodily.
Since we have a great deal of ground to cover, we take up Paul discussion of the resurrection body beginning in verse 35, of 1 Corinthians 15. Paul opens this section by asking a question, and then answers it using a number of analogies, beginning with that of seeds and bodies. “But someone will ask, `How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?’” The question is either rhetorical (Paul asks the question that a hypothetical person might ask in light of his previous discussion about the resurrection of the body) or else the question actually comes from the letter sent by the Corinthians to Paul. We don’t really know which. But the question is very simple. “How are the dead raised?” “What will the resurrected body be like?”
Not only would the Greek mind have trouble with the physical body being raised in the first place, but once the body decomposes, how can it be raised? What on earth would such a body be like? How can God reanimate a dead and decaying body? There may be a bit of Greek skepticism in the question. But as we see in verse 36, Paul will have none of such skepticism! “You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.” Paul actually labels those raising such an objection “foolish,” a reference to someone who has not truly considered God’s perspective on this subject.
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