Death where is thy sting? Saturday, 24th week in ordinary time – 1 Corinthians 15:35-37,42-49

Death where is thy sting? Saturday, 24th week in ordinary time – 1 Corinthians 15:35-37,42-49

A few members in the Corinthian community who believed that they had better spiritual gifts than others were now suggesting that the Resurrection of man was absurd. Paul is clear, if Christ did not rise, our proclamation has been in vain, our faith has been in vain, our testimony that God raised Christ from the dead is false and we still continue to live in our sin (1 Corinthians 15:13-17). For Paul, death does not have the last word; if it did then his courage and the courage of every Christian would be foolish bravado.

Paul holds no punches back. He asks the community “not to be deceived”; a term he has used twice before. He exhorts the people to keep good company for “bad company ruins good morals.” (verse33). Paul is clearly telling these Corinthians that their association with the Sadducees who did not believe in the resurrection or their association with the pagans, the Greek philosophical types, who did not believe in the resurrection (Acts 17:31-32) has led them to these false conclusions about the resurrection of the dead. He appeals once again to those spreading heresy, “come to a sober and right mind and sin no more; for some people have no knowledge of God.” He says this to shame them and the doubts that they were spreading.

Paul now turns from the fact of the resurrection, which for him is a given, to explain his point in a descriptive way. Paul’s argument in this important passage is that there is both a radical difference and a real continuity between the body that dies and the body that is raised by God’s power.

Paul recalls the miracles of creation in the transformation of a bare seeds into plants (36-38). Paul says our bodies are like “seeds” which “grow” into resurrection bodies. When a plant is sown it is not sown in its final form, as a plant but as a seed. It is God who gives the seed a body as he has chosen. So, every seed is transformed into a different plant with a different body. When you plant a wheat seed, a big wheat seed does not come up. Instead, a stalk of wheat grows. So, even though our resurrection bodies come from our present bodies, we should not expect that they will be the same bodies or just “improved” bodies.So by using this analogy, one can reflect on the miracles of God’s creation and use it to understand the resurrection.

It’s hard to understand what our resurrection bodies will be like, so Paul also employs contrast to help us. He gives us four antithesis between our present body and our future resurrection body. On all counts, the resurrection body wins!

What is sown, he says, is perishable but what is raised is imperishable, what is sown in dishonour is raised in honour, what is sown in weakness is raised in power and what is sown in a physical body is raised as a spiritual body. The thrust of these antitheses that Paul uses is that the spiritual body that is raised, while linked to the physical body (as seed to plant) has a unique glory, qualitatively superior to the weak body which dies.

But arguments based on logical deductions from nature can also be insufficient. So he contrasts Adam, the first man with Christ, the last Adam. The first perfect man, Adam, gave us one kind of body. The second perfect man, Jesus the last Adam, can give us another kind of body. Christ is a life-giving spirit. We have all borne the image of the first Adam, and those who put their trust in the last Adam will also bear His resurrection image. From the first Adam, we all are made of dust, but from the last Adam we can be made heavenly. For believers, the promise is sure: we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.

The best example we have of what a resurrection body will be like is to see what Jesus’ resurrection body was like. The resurrection body of Jesus was material and could eat (Luke 24:39-43), yet it was not bound by the laws of nature (Luke 24:31, 24:36-37).

Spread the love ♥

You might also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *