Read thru New Testament Devotional – September 7, 2017

1 Corinthians 15:35-58

1 Corinthians 15:35-44-Paul anticipates a skeptic responding to his teaching about the resurrection with two questions: “How does the resurrection work? And, what will the resurrected body be like?” (:35). Paul gives a description of the resurrected body. He explains that while it is the same body...it will have been changed and given new qualities that are far greater than the mere physical qualities it had before. It’s similar to sowing wheat. When you sow the seed it goes into the ground...and then later, it becomes a plant. It’s still the same wheat that you sowed...but the body, the seed, has become a plant. It is still the same essence, it is wheat...but its body has been radically changed. The wheat cannot become a plant until the seed dies (:36). As certainly as there are differences between the bodies of creatures that live on earth...there is a difference between the body we have on earth and the body we will have in Heaven (:39-41). The physical body will die...but when it is raised it will be totally changed...perishable to imperishable, dishonor to glory, weakness to power, natural to spiritual.

15:42–44a. Paul concluded that just as it is with the varieties of bodies that God has made in the universe, so will it be with the resurrection of the dead. He then mentioned four differences that believers may anticipate between their present mortal bodies and those they will receive at the resurrection. First, mortal bodies are perishable, but resurrected bodies will be imperishable. Mortal bodies are subject to illness and death, but resurrected bodies will have no such difficulties.

Second, mortal bodies carry dishonor, but resurrected bodies carry glory. Since Adam’s fall into sin, all human beings have been born into a dishonorable existence wherein sin corrupts even their bodies (cf. Rom. 7:17–25). Resurrected bodies, however, will be glorious and splendid. Third, mortal bodies suffer weakness, but resurrected bodies will be filled with power. Human beings originally received the power and honor of dominion over creation (Gen. 1:26–28). Through sin, however, man and the rest of creation were drawn apart (Rom. 8:20–23). In the resurrection, however, believers will reign with Christ in great power over his creation (2 Tim. 2:12).

Fourth, mortal bodies are natural, but resurrected bodies will be spiritual. These terms are difficult to define precisely, but there is no justification for believing that Paul meant to contrast the material and immaterial or the physical and nonphysical. Christ’s appearances in his resurrected body demonstrated that he continued to be physical and material, but this physicality had special characteristics. For example, he was able to appear suddenly (Luke 24:36), even in rooms with locked doors (John 20:19, 26), and to vanish just as quickly (Luke 24:31). At the same time, however, he was able to break bread (Luke 24:30), to eat fish (Luke 24:42–43), and to cook and distribute food (John 21:9, 13). Moreover, people were able to touch him (John 20:27).

It is best to take the term spiritual not as “immaterial,” but as a reference to the Holy Spirit. In other words, believers’ resurrected bodies will be spiritual because they will be renewed by the Holy Spirit. Christ himself was raised by the Spirit (Rom. 8:11), and in the same way the bodies of believers will be resurrected by the power of the Spirit.

Pratt, R. L., Jr. (2000). I & II Corinthians (Vol. 7, pp. 269–270). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, Logos Bible Software

In chapter 15, Paul uses the word “raised” to speak of the resurrection of the body. He only uses the word in one other chapter in 1 Corinthians (6:14). But here in chapter 15 he uses the word 19 times (NASV). It seems to be his favorite word in reference to the resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:45-50-Paul further demonstrates the radical change that will take place when our bodies are resurrected by comparing our physical ancestry to our spiritual ancestry. The difference is not just one of appearance, an outer change. But the change is one of substance, quality. He speaks of Adam as “the first man”...from earth, and Jesus as the “last Adam”...from Heaven (:45). When we are born physically we receive the physical attributes of our physical ancestor, Adam. He was taken from the earth, the ground and became a “living soul”. Because we are all physical descendants of Adam we bear the image of Adam...our physical attributes.

C. the soul as an essence which differs from the body and is not dissolved by death (distinguished from other parts of the body)

http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G5590&t= KJV

However, when we are born spiritually, we receive the spiritual attributes of our spiritual ancestor, Christ...a “life-giving Spirit”. Our resurrected bodies will be similar to the resurrected body of Christ. It is this spiritual quality that makes us fit and suitable for Heaven. Paul makes it clear that this change is absolutely necessary in order for us to qualify to live in Heaven (:50).

15:44b–49. To make his position perfectly clear, Paul stated that the existence of a natural (ordinary) body necessitates the existence of a spiritual (renewed by the Holy Spirit) body. He supported this belief with five observations about Adam written in the Scriptures. From these five observations Paul drew five conclusions about Christ. Assuming the truthfulness of his earlier comparison between Adam and Christ, he argued from the lesser to the greater that if something were true of Adam, then something greater must be true of Christ.

First, Paul paraphrased Genesis 2:7, which states that Adam became a living being. Then, turning to the last Adam, he asserted that Christ did not merely become a living being. In his resurrection Christ became something much greater than a living being. He became a life-giving spirit. In other words, as much as Adam was a wondrous creature able to transmit life to his offspring, he did not compare to the wonderful Christ, who gives eternal life to all who trust in him.

Second, Paul noted that the order of the biblical account was important. Historically, the natural body for the human race came before the spiritual body given by Christ. This supports Paul’s earlier argument that God will provide a body renewed by the Spirit in the resurrection of believers.

Third, Adam was of the dust of the earth, but Christ is from heaven. Adam was an ordinary human being, but Christ exceeds Adam’s glory because Christ came from heaven (John 6:38). Fourth, Paul argued that Scripture indicates that those who are of the earth (i.e., Adam’s descendants) are like the earthly man (i.e., Adam). They inherit his natural physical nature. Yet, those who are of heaven (i.e., born from above in regeneration) become like the man from heaven (i.e., Christ). From heaven (epouranios) does not refer to Christ’s location of origin, or even to his current location, but to his nature. The regenerate inherit Christ’s spiritual nature.

Fifth, Paul pointed out that the biblical record teaches that all people bear the likeness of the earthly man. The Old Testament not only teaches that human beings are the image of God, but also that they are the images of their human ancestors, including Adam (Gen. 5:3). So Paul concluded it must be true that Christians bear the likeness of the man from heaven.

Elsewhere, Paul described the ultimate state of salvation as being “conformed to the likeness of [God’s] Son” (Rom. 8:29). To bear the likeness of Christ is to reach the zenith of human existence.
Pratt, R. L., Jr. (2000). I & II Corinthians (Vol. 7, pp. 269–270). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, Logos Bible Software

1 Corinthians 15:51-58-All believers will have a “changed” (resurrected) body.

change

άλλάσσω allassō change; exchange
58.43 ἀλλάσσωa: to cause a difference by altering the character or

nature of something—‘to change, to alter, to make different.’ καὶ ἀλλάξει τὰ ἔθη ἃ παρέδωκεν ἡμῖν Μωϋσῆς ‘and he will alter the customs which Moses handed down to us’ Ac 6:14.
Louw-Nida, Logos Bible Software

At the return of Christ (Revelation 4:1-the rapture of the church), the sound of the trumpet announcing His arrival, some believers will have already died (“sleep”), but some will still be alive. Those that have died will be raised from the grave and their bodies will immediately be “changed”. At that same moment, those who are alive will immediately be “changed” without having to go through death (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). At that moment death (and it's cause, sin) will be destroyed...the resurrection from the grave of Jesus and His followers having overcome its power. This should encourage us to persevere in our service to the Lord.

Someone has written,

There is a preacher of the old school but he speaks as boldly as ever. He is not popular, though the world is his parish and he travels every part of the globe and speaks in every language. He visits the poor, calls upon the rich, preaches to people of every religion and no religion, and the subject of his sermon is always the same. He is an eloquent preacher, often stirring feelings which no other preacher could, and bringing tears to eyes that never weep. His arguments none are able to refute, nor is there any heart that has remained unmoved by the force of this appeals. He shatters life with his message. Most people hate him; everyone fears him. His name? Death. Every tombstone is his pulpit, every newspaper prints his text, and someday every one of you will be his sermon.

Thomas Gray wrote, “The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power and all that beauty and all that wealth e’er gave await alike the inevitable hour. The paths of glory lead but to the grave.” As far as human power, beauty, wealth, and glory are concerned, that truth applies to Christians as much as to any others. But the hope of the Christian is not in such things, which he knows will end at the grave. The hope of the Christian is expressed by the epitaph Benjamin Franklin wrote for himself, engraved on his tombstone in the cemetery of Christ’s Church in Philadelphia: “The body of Franklin, printer, like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stripped of its lettering and gilding, lies here food for worms. But the work will not be lost, for it will appear once more in a new and more elegant edition, revised and corrected by the Author.”

MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1984). 1 Corinthians (pp. 441–442). Chicago: Moody Press, Logos Software

For an encouraging list of Scriptures that address things that “shall not” happen see: http://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/marsh_fe/bible_readings/503.cfm?a= 1077051

Prayer: Lord, please help me to live every moment with the confidence that I will live forever. Nothing can change that. Help me to be fearless for You.

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