In this lesson, Bell continues to challenge prevailing attitudes and thoughts on 1 Corinthinans 15. Be sure to start here with the first installment. This is awesome stuff, so be sure to read the entire set of articles.
Concerning the Sowing of the Body #6
Sam Frost, Kurt Simmons and Ed Stevens all reject the Covenant Body View of resurrection. Frost attempts to answer this in his book, “Why I Left Full Preterism” AV Press, pp. 39-41. Frost recognized the traditional problem of taking the seed to refer to the human body. He understands as do we, that once one does, it means that body must die in order to be raised. Since one does not bury dead seed, the analogy breaks down unless we literally bury the living among the dead so that they die in order to be raised. Be sure to read Frost’s Exegetical Essays on the Resurrection, which was written before he abandoned the truth of Covenant Eschatology. His own words are some of the best refutation of his current (ostensibly “orthodox”) views.
However, rejecting that premise, Frost offers the following as his exegetical solution. He says in response that both the immortal body at death (IBD) view and the covenantal body view (CBV) both have the same inherent problem. We (CBV’ers) deny such a charge.
Frost argues that the “seed” represents a seed, not the human body. He then claims that the only difference between the traditional view and the CBV view is that the definition of the “body” is changed from the individual body to the corporate body. He says the corporate body view only changed definitions, but errs in that it takes the seed as referring to the human body. Frost assumes this. CBV’ers do not take the seed as referring to the human body. That is his error #1.
He states correctly that the seed is “given” a body. He writes, ” It itself is not a body in Paul’s example.” We disagree with this latter statement. The seed is both. It is a body, and it is given a new body. That is Paul’s point. The seed body sown is not the seed body raised. It is given a new body in resurrection. Frost goes through several elaborate arguments to argue that man is not body apart from spirit, and then he argues for that very point on dissecting the germ life of a seed from its outer shell or “body.” How ingenious!
So, we ask whether Frost has noticed that per the text, the dead do not have an immortal, i.e. resurrection/spiritual body as of the time of writing. The question implies that. How are the dead ones raised up and with what body do they come? Frost is very familiar with this view as he argued it correctly in his “Exegetical Essays on the Resurrection” where he affirmed the Covenant Body View.
Now if it was the case that the dead ones did not have a body (immortality/icorruption) and the dead had to be “given” a body (Frost’s own terms), then the dead must be the seed, for it is the seed which is given a body. “But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.” (15:38) If not, then the seed sown, is never raised! That is a huge exegetical problem.
Out of his own mouth, arguing against the IBD (Indivdual Body at Death) view as teaching transmigration of the soul, we must judge him for doing the same.
“To bring into this a second body entirely unrelated to the soul creates numerous theological problems, not to mention the example of Jesus, who was raised in his self-same body. It also smacks of a transmigration of the soul, leaving one body, and entering into another body. This is entirely foreign to biblical anthropology. “ WILFP, p. 40, AV.
Frost’s problems may be rooted in his attempt to bring anthropology into a discussion of eschatology and soteriology.
Further, Frost admits that the dead were being sown (although he apparently forgets what he writes and claims that the “body” of man is sown! (WILFP, p. 40) Does not this contradict his later statement (Ibid, p. 41) that the “seed” is not a body, but is “given” a body? He has just adopted the very view he tries to refute and therefore refutes his own position. We appreciate the work he does for us!
Paul said the seed is sown. If the seed is sown and Frost says sowing is death, what is it that dies? Is that not the body per Frost? How then can Frost argue that the body is not the seed? He now is sent back to the drawing board to work out the same problem he claims for the traditionalists and IBD folk! He apparently overlooks the fact that he is one of the scholars who teach that position.
On the other hand, it must follow that the dead are a “type” of seed which is not analogous to the “seed bodies” of men, sun, moon, stars, fishes or birds, though they all work on the same principle. That is precisely what the text states:
“But God gives it [the seed] a body as He pleases, and to each seed [of whatever type] “its” own body,” 1 Cor. 15:38, emp. mine.
The question then comes back to Frost, why does he choose the human body at all to talk about resurrection? Why didn’t he choose the stars, sun, moon or fish? To quote him, “Sounds a little fishy to me!” Paul’s point is that every “seed body” he mentions in that list from Genesis including the flesh of man, is an analogy of, and is therefore differentiated from the particular “seed body” he is defining in 1 Corinthians 15. Consequently, all of them must be excluded, as examples are not used to illustrate examples.
Therefore, the dead ones are a “seed body” that required more death in order to be made alive. Further, since they were already dead, i.e. in Hades, they could not die physically or biologically. That means they could not be sown biologically because the sowing is an eschatological and soteriological process.
Who and what determines the sowing? Is it physical death? Is it physical birth? When does the sowing begin? Sowing cannot begin apart from Christ. He is the resurrection. It is only through him that man can die to sin and be raised. Therefore, it is only through Christ that man can be sown.
In the parable of the tares, Jesus said “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.” (Matt. 14:24). In the explanation, he reveals that He is the sower. “He answer and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.” (Matthew 13:37) Therefore, sowing occurs only through Christ.
Since the dead ones were already physically dead, bio death is not an option. The dead ones had to die to whatever they were held by, which was sin, death, Hades and through condemnation of the Law or the “commandment”. That means they were under covenantal condemnation. In order to arise from that death, they had to die with Christ whose death transformed him from the Old Covenant ministration of death (a death he died by taking upon him the sins of the world and being separated from the Father, Matthew 27:46; Rom. 6:10) to that of the New Covenant Life.
“And for this cause he is the mediator of the new covenant that by means of death for the redemption of the transgression which were under the first testament, they who are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” (Heb. 9:15) That is when the sowing occurred. Whenever Christ’s death began to be applied to the saints who were under the first covenant would be my suggestion. It is my judgment that since neither O.T. saints, nor N.T. saints could be raised apart from the other, then their deliverance began at the same time. It would likewise consummate at the same time. I would use the same verse to establish both points, i.e. Hebrews 11:39-40, although I would not insist on a precise beginning point as long as it upheld Christ as the first fruits. We will summarize our findings in the next and final installment.