Sermon Notes

Resurrection of the Body

1 Corinthians 15:35-58

I. Analogies of Resurrection; 15:35-44.

35 But someone may ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?" 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. 42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised 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.

In their denial of the resurrection it was the assumption that it had to do with reanimating corpses. Therefore, because they could not figure out how, they had given up the resurrection itself. Paul calls them foolish, because they have not considered what God can do.

The first analogy Paul uses to help them understand the resurrection is that of a seed and a plant. By being buried in the ground, the seed seemingly dies. Yet out of its death as a seed, new life emerges, totally different in appearance from the seed. Yet, somehow a mature plant remains the same living entity.

There still lies ahead for the Corinthians resurrected bodies that will be far more glorious than their present ones. Unlike their current bodies, these new bodies will be created for eternity, never again to die or limited be sin or weakness.

II. Adam and Christ, 15:45-49.

45 So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.

Believers who have shared in the limited, fallen likeness of Adam can look forward to sharing in the kind of perfect humanity Jesus embodies, but only after this life, when Jesus comes back again. A new body is a necessity for experiencing the world to come.

III. Assurance of Transformation; 15:50-58.

50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-- 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." 55 "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Frail, human bodies cannot survive in God’s eternal and holy presence. One must have a body that is imperishable and immortal. This change will take place instantaneously, not gradually. The climax of these events for believers is the destruction of death itself.

Paul reminds us that it is the resurrection hope, and only this hope, that keeps believers from despair and helps them stay faithful in Christian service. Because we will one day fully bear the image of Christ, who is the perfect reflection of God, we should encourage each other to work toward that image even now.

Paul ends with a call to “let nothing move you.” This urgency is almost certainly in direct response to the denial of the resurrection by some.