In I Corinthians 15, Paul covers the concept of the resurrection in detail. While the Corinthian Christians seem to have faith in Christ’s bodily resurrection, they have problems with the concept of our own physical resurrection. Paul discusses the hope and power of the resurrection as well as the implications involved in denying the resurrection. He sets the stage in verse 20, referring to Jesus as the first-fruits of those raised from the dead. Continuing into the subsequent verses, Paul states that those who belong to Christ will also be raised.
Principals of the Resurrection
From here, Paul begins to address some concerns regarding the resurrection and some principals surrounding the event. In verse 35, he asks what matter of body in which the dead will be raised. Addressing this, Paul uses an illustration of plantings, but he does not give a specific answer. Instead, he claims a body can be different while remaining the same in verses 38-41. God maintains a distinction between different types of bodies – each remaining its own. We will have a resurrected body, but it will be incorruptible and in glory according to verses 42-44.
Why does Paul deem it necessary that we cannot deny the physical resurrection despite the difficulties in comprehending such? This can be a signal to be more careful with the bodies we have now. We will be raised with a body – a spiritual, unique, and perfected body. Still, such knowledge should give me pause to consider how I treat the body I have in this life. I Corinthians 6:19-20 describes our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit and a vessel in which to glorify God.
Additionally, as Paul argues for the idea of a bodily resurrection, we cannot disassociate what we do with our bodies and our spiritual state. This is a problem the Christians at Corinth have. In chapter 6:18, he addresses the thought that sins committed happen outside the physical body, but Paul reminds his audience that anything affecting the body affects the spirit. Verses 13-16 remind us that our bodies are not our own, and the actions we take in this body reflect the health of our spirituality. Romans 14:12 and Matthew 16:27 speak of personal accountability before God, but, in II Corinthians 5:10, Paul speaks to the same accountability in terms of what we do in or with these bodies. Again, we cannot disassociate our physical activities with who we are spiritually, and our bodies belong to Christ.
I Corinthians 15:51-58 tells us we will be raised to put on immortality and incorruption, calling upon us to be steadfast in our labor for the Lord. Our worshipful service is not empty. It is not unproductive. The knowledge that we will be raised to eternal life should challenge us to live as Christ would have us. God through Christ has given us the victory over sin and death. Ours is to reflect that spiritual state in our lives now, so we can put on an incorruptible body in the resurrection.
lesson by Tim Smelser