The Resurrection – More on the Nature of the Resurrection #7 By Holger Neubauer
1 Corinthians 15:35-50 speaks of the nature of the resurrection and the body that was to be raised. Some at Corinth asked, “how are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come” (15:35). The question revolved around the Jews being raised and the nature of their resurrection. If the body of Christ would be raised, how then would the Jews be raised? The singular “body” and the plural “they” point to a corporate resurrection of a singular kind. The argument centered around “their body” as opposed to “our body.” This implies that the Corinthians understood the corporate nature of the resurrection, that it belonged to the body of Christ. Isaiah’s words remind us that it was God’s intention to raise Old Covenant Israel, “Thy dead men shall live together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust” (Isaiah 26:19). Paul begins to argue the case for the type of body in which Old Covenant saints would be raised.
The Resurrection Demands “Death”
The first point Paul makes is that before a body is raised it has to die. This is so obvious that Paul states the truth in the most forceful way, “Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die” (1 Corinthians 15:36).
Paul’s next point is that the body that they were presently sowing was not the body that “shall be.” The body that the Corinthians were sowing was not yet seen, just as a grain of seed, “may chance of wheat, or of some other grain” (1 Corinthians 15:37). The seed was still so small, it could not be discerned as to what the final outcome would produce. Paul said earlier, “For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). This spiritual face to face meeting would come at the end of the revelation and end of the law. 1 John 3:2 echoes the same teaching, “Beloved, now we are the sons of God, and it doth not appear what we shall be: but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” John is not emphasizing a physical transformation but a spiritual one. The vestiges of the law were still apparent to the early church as the elders of Jerusalem informed to Paul, “many of thousands of Jews there are which believe and they are all zealous of the law”(Acts 21:20). The law, with its new moons and sabbaths, Paul said, “are a shadow of things to come” (Colossians 2:17). The law was a shadow of the church which in its true and complete spiritual sense was still to come. Paul used the word (ARE) “eimi” which has no past tense in the Greek. The law still possessed its shadows, even as Paul wrote, that would be taken away at the revelation of Christ. Hebrews 8:13 taught the same truth, “a new covenant, he hath made the first old, that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” The perfect man and the unity of the faith were just around the corner (Ephesians 4:11-13).
1 Corinthians 15:38 posits the truth, “But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.” This seed is the “seed of the kingdom” which was bringing forth the spiritual kingdom of God. Jesus affirmed the consummation of the kingdom would come with the fall of Jerusalem (Luke 21:31) as John affirmed as well (Revelation 11:15;12:10). The kingdom would be completed when the revelation of the New Covenant would be completed. 1 Corinthians 13:10 and “that which is perfect” is a reference to the completion of the kingdom which coincided with the completion of revelation (1 Corinthians 1:6-8). The seed of the kingdom would bring out the perfect body of Christ, as the transitioning New Covenant from the Old Covenant would bring about the body of Christ. The law, which contained shadows of things to come, but the “body is of Christ” referred not to heaven but to the heavenly church (Colossians 2:17).
More to come in this excellent series on the Resurrection by Holger Neubauer, so stay tuned!