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The Resurrection Body – Perfectly Transformed for Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:35-58)

Chatswood Baptist Church https://www.chatswoodbaptist.com.au


When astronauts on the international space station take a walk in space they can’t just leave the airlock and head outside as they are. For if they did they would be dead very quickly. Human bodies are not able to withstand space without a space suit.

“Within a very short time, a matter of 10 to 15 seconds, you will become unconscious because of a lack of oxygen,” according to Stefaan de Mey, a senior strategy officer at the European Space Agency (ESA) charged with coordinating the strategy area for human and robotic exploration.

“The oxygen starts expanding and rupturing your lungs, tearing them apart — and that would cause boiling and bubbling of your blood, which immediately will cause embolism and have a fatal impact on your body,” de Mey said.

Human bodies were clearly not meant for space. They were made for Earth where we can breathe, and the atmosphere is right for us.

What Kind of Resurrection Body? (v35-38)

How are the dead raised? That isn’t really the question that Paul is looking to answer here in great detail. Paul has already addressed this in 1 Cor 6:14

14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.

The answer to that question is by God’s Spirit. But the real question that Paul is answering here is with what kind of body are they raised.

We need to remember who the audience is here. Paul is speaking to the church made up of Jews, Romans and Greeks. The people who have a Greek (Hellenistic) way of thinking could not conceive of the dead being raised, as for them the ultimate goal was to jettison the body and be fully spirit.

Verses 35-38 of today passage state:

35 But someone will 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.

In answering the question Paul here shows that there is a continuity of our body, but at the same time a radical transformation. Paul also makes is clear that it is God who turns the seed into a body. We receive the body that God determines. As is common in the New Testament an agricultural metaphor is used in the explanation. Paul says that when a seed is planted in the ground out of that seed comes something radically different from the seed. Now Paul was not trying to give us a lesson in biology. But the seed does in a sense cease to be a seed and become a plant. You could say that the seed dies and is replaced by the plant. I meant to have this on the screen but couldn’t quite find a picture that I liked. Anyway, a rose seed looks very different to the rose plant and indeed rose flower that it will become. In a different yet similar way that is what Paul is talking about in these first three verses. In death our bodies will be planted in the ground or cremated, and God will give us our resurrection body from that seed, that is somehow based on our body. For that is what we read in verse 38.

Each Body is Fit for Its Purpose (v39-41)

Paul then continues by talking about how God makes everything perfect for its purpose. Suitable for its’ existence.

39 Not all flesh is the same: People 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.

Paul here starts to list out some of the different kinds of ‘bodies’ that there are. He starts with those things that we understand easily, humans, animals, birds and fish. Then that there are heavenly bodies. Paul is saying that each of these bodies has its own splendor, its own glory if you like. The sun and moon as well. In this way Paul seems to be implying that why wouldn’t the resurrection body also have splendor and glory as they are all made by God. And in fact, our resurrection body is not an earthly body, but a heavenly body. It is made for heaven; it is made for the heavenly realm. Now while we do know what the moon and stars and animals look like. We don’t know what our resurrected bodies will look like. Although Paul in Philippians 3:20-21 gives us a little bit more understanding.

20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Our resurrected heavenly bodies will be like his glorious body. Amen.

At each juncture in this passage Paul is building up not only the picture of our resurrected heavenly bodies, but also the argument of how inconceivably better they will be than our current earthly bodies. This argument comes to a crescendo in verse 42-44.

The Resurrected Body (v42-44)

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. 

4 things that Paul tells us about our resurrection bodies.

1. An Everlasting Body

Perishable – imperishable. From people who will die to people who won’t die. Imperishable means to endure forever. When Jesus returns and we are raised, we are raised in a body that is eternal, that is everlasting. Our bodies will not wear out at all.

We are so aware aren’t we that we currently live in a perishable body. For the majority of us who wear glasses to read or to clearly see things in the distance. This is proof that our bodies are perishable. Our eyesight is perhaps ever so slowly, but none the less gradually getting worse. And this is just one example of how our bodies are perishing. It may be our knees, it may be our strength, it may be our arms, our ankles. The longer we live the more our bodies will become fragile. Unless the Lord Jesus comes back first our bodies will stop being able to sustain us. We currently live in a perishable body. But Paul states here that when we are resurrected from the dead, when Jesus returns we will be raised imperishable. That means we will be raised with a body that is everlasting. That can’t wear out. That won’t degrade. Now this is an incredible thought. For everything in our world degrades, gets old and eventually dies or doesn’t work anymore.

There is a saying about all cars that have been carefully and lovingly restored. They are said to have been restored to their former glory. They are as good as new, just like when the car had come off the show room floor. Well friends the imperishable body that we are given, the heavenly body that we are given means that it will always be the case that we will look new all the time.

2. A Sinless Body

Romans 6:23 is such a wonderful verse. And when I read verse 43 of 1 Cor 15 I see this verse in action. For our sinful body is buried in the ground, yet when we are raised, we are raised with a sinless, perfect body. Showing none of the wages of sin.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Our bodies die as a result of our sin. Our human bodies show our sins. Our body is corrupted. Every single person’s body is corrupted because of their sin. So therefore, their body is sewn in dishonour or sin. But praise be to God it is raised in Glory.

3. A Body without Weakness

Our bodies are easily broken here on earth. We can build up our bodies. We can go to the gym; we can do weights. We really can become strong compared to those around us. Likewise, we can be fit. Some of us can run marathons. But no matter how strong we are able to make our earthly bodies, friends it does not compare to our heavenly bodies. The strongest person on earth can still break a bone, can still be run over, can still have an organ failure. Yet when we are raised in power like our Lord and Saviour, then we are indestructible.

4. A Perfect Body

Paul’s fourth point encapsulates all of the proceeding points. Why is our resurrected body so superior? It is because it isn’t a human body anymore. Our human body was made for this world. But when we are raised from the dead we know are raised with our transformed spiritual body, it is made for the new heaven and the new earth. The words here are spiritual body, it is still a body, but one that is made for being with Christ forever. Jesus gives us a hint of what this may be like in Luke’s Gospel.

Luke 20:34-36

34 Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage,36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.

After filling us with Joy as we look to Christ’s return and our heavenly bodies that are beyond our comprehension. Paul now shows us how we are made alive in Christ.

From Adam to Christ (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 is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.

Paul now shows Adam and Christ as the representatives of these two bodies. Adam the man made from dust who is the natural, the earthly body. You just need to go back to Genesis 2:7 to see where Paul gets these words from. And then there is Christ, The Son of God who came from Heaven. Who is the spiritual body. Back in verses 21 & 22 of 1 Cor 15 as we saw last week, that in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. We now see that human bodies die, but when we are in Christ we are given a spiritual body that is fit for heaven, which is given to us by Christ. Verse 49 explains our transformation. We were all like Adam, we all have endured earthly bodies, but we will all have bodies like Christ’s heavenly body.

The Need for a Spiritual Body (50)

50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

Paul now makes it absolutely clear that our mortal bodies, these bodies that we are all here in today are not fit for purpose for God’s Kingdom. They are made from dust, they are perishing. The perishing body is right for here and now, but not for what God has in store. This doesn’t explain exactly how our bodies will be, but it does reinforce that we can only be with God with a heavenly body that is made for the eternal Kingdom that Christ’s second coming brings.

Paul now answers the question of what happens to those who are alive when the Lord returns.

The Living and the Dead in Christ (51-52)

 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. 

We have seen over the course of this short series that Paul often uses the word sleep when talking about death. And here he says that all will get a heavenly body. Those who don’t die before Jesus’ return will be changed in the twinkling of and eye upon his return. That means instantly. You know the expression blink and you’ll miss it. That is what is happening here. As quickly as possible those who are alive are clothed in their heavenly bodies. In our last series on 1 Thessalonians, we saw that when Christ returns all believers dead and alive will meet Christ in the air.

16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so, we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thess 4:16-17

We Must be Transformed into our Heavenly Bodies (53)

Paul then says it must be this way. His whole argument has pointed to this.

53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.

For when we are changed, when we are given our heavenly bodies then truly death is defeated. Let’s look at it logically. When our mortal bodies are changed from perishable to imperishable death is over. There will be no more death. Paul then quotes Hosea 13:14 where God promises to deliver his people from the grave.

Our Resurrection Bodies Show that Christ Defeated Death (54-57)

 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.

Friends, these words are glorious. The day when Jesus returns we will rise with him in our heavenly bodies to never again die. To be with our Lord and Saviour forever. The sting of death as Paul writes is sin. We know that the wages of sin is death. But sin will be no more, and death will be no more. Just sit with that for a moment. When Jesus returns, when the one who died for your sins and for mine returns in glory, then sin is gone forever. Death is defeated forever. We will live with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit forever. Praising God continually and living in our heavenly bodies with our creator forever. Every believer has victory over sin and death because of Jesus. Jesus gives us the victory.

Therefore, Stand Firm (58)

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, 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.

Paul finishes with a wonderful encouragement for us to stand firm in light of the Lord’s return, our being raised with heavenly bodies which have defeated death. Our Labor for the Lord is not in vain. Paul finishes this chapter the way he started it. In verse one he reminded the Corinthians that it was on the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection that they had taken their stand, that they had believed. And after reminding them that they would be resurrected on that final day with a body like Christs, he says so therefore stand firm. What wonderful words for us today. Friends stand firm in the Lord. For living for Jesus is never in vain. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Amen.