SESSION 21 — “To a Church in Crisis, With Love,” a Bible study of 1 & 2 Corinthians

Text: 1Corinthians 15:35-58 

With love, even God’s own divine love in our hearts, Paul and I teach today. May you hear and believe, and not be deceived by false teachers.

Last time, in the first 34 verses of Chapter 15, Paul corrected the church at Corinth, because some (both inside and outside the church) were saying there is no resurrection. If there is no resurrection, Jesus was not resurrected, and we are all still dead in our sins! This is a crucial aspect of the gospel! So he strongly rebuked them, telling them to wake up from their stupor. 

If I were to give this a title, it would be, “The Final Resurrection.” 

Paul and I, by the Spirit, will now teach about our resurrected bodies, which we will have when the final resurrection happens, at the end of things. Remember from last time, our spirits immediately go to the Lord when we die (again, 2Corinthians 5:6-8) — absent from the body is present with the Lord! Hallelujah! 

Now, let’s look at today’s text!

Verses 35-36 — 

But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body to they come?” 

Paul responds strongly. You fool (mindless, stupid, ignorant, unbelieving)! Why are they fools? The method of our resurrection and the type of body we will have is not the greatest aspect of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The greatest aspect is resurrection to eternal life, and then, when we are filled with His Spirit, pure hearts and freedom from slavery to sin!

Remember that the believers at Corinth are: 1) focusing on what the body will be like because some find it repulsive to think they will be resurrected to moldy, decayed bodies, and 2) believing there is no resurrection and 3) going so far as to say Christ was not resurrected! These errors are from their own thinking, and/or from false teachers who are among them, or who have come in from the outside. 

But to answer the questions of the believers at Corinth, Paul uses the metaphor of the seed or grain that is sown, and what grows from it. The seed must die (go into the ground) in order for something to spring up from it. 

Verses 37-38 —

You don’t sow an ear of corn to get corn. You don’t sow a carrot to get carrots. In the case of wheat, you sow a bare grain. It looks nothing at all like the tall, grass-like plant that will grow from that bare grain. The wheat is given a body (the wheat plant) by God, just as He intended. And each of the seeds has a different body that is produced, depending on the kind of seed planted. It is His design.

Verse 39 —

All flesh (bodies) are not the same. There is one flesh (body) for men (mankind). There is another for beasts, there is another for birds, and another for fish. Men do not look like fish, nor beasts, nor birds! They look like men, because God designed them to look the way they do. Again, it is His design.

Verses 40-41 —

There are also heavenly bodies (the sun, moon and stars) and earthly bodies (mountains, canyons, bodies of water, etc.). But the glory (dignity, honor) of one is different from the other. Both are beautiful, but in different ways.

Likewise, the sun has its own beauty. The moon has its own beauty. The stars have their own beauty, for star differs from star in glory. What does that mean? The degree of brilliance is different, from star to star, and moon versus sun!

Verse 42-44 —

And Paul now applies all of this to the resurrection of the dead, and the bodies we will have at the end of things. And he does it in a glorious way! 

It is sown in corruption (the human body in the grave is perishable) it is raised in incorruption (the resurrected body is imperishable).

It is sown in dishonor (indignity, compared with what is raised), it is raised in glory (beauty). It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power (dunamis, God’s miraculous power, the power of resurrection)! Glory to God!

It is sown a natural body, but it is raised a spiritual body, because if there is a natural body, there also must come a spiritual body for His children. It is God’s design.

Verses 45-47 —

Paul then quotes Genesis 2:7 — The first man, Adam, became a living (alive) soul (that which breathes) when God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. There was a part of Adam that was of the dust of the ground, and a part of him that was not able to be weighed or measured — his spirit that was made by God in the image of God, who is Spirit (John 4:24).

But the last Adam, Jesus Christ, was a life-giving (One who makes alive with eternal life) Spirit (the Greek word refers to God’s divine Spirit)! And because He rose from the dead, all who believe into Him will have eternal life, life as God has it! He is life-giving!

However, for us who believe, the spiritual is not first. We are in natural bodies first, then in spiritual bodies. Our natural body dies, and it will be raised a spiritual body.

Paul concludes by saying the first man (Adam) is from the earth, formed from the earth by the hand of God. The second man (Jesus Christ) is from heaven. He was sent from the Father, and was with the Father before anything was made by Them (John 1:1-2). He was fully God and fully man (John 1:18, Hebrews 1:1-3, etc.).

Verses 48-49 —

As is the earthy (Adam who was perishable), so are those who are earthy (Adam’s offspring — all mankind). We perish, if we are of the earth and have rejected Jesus Christ. And as is the heavenly (Jesus Christ who is from heaven), so are those who are heavenly (who have come to faith in Christ and will be given spiritual bodies at the final resurrection).

Verse 50 —

Flesh and blood, which is perishable (mortal), cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Why? The kingdom of God is not of this world, but of heaven. That part of us which is mortal (our natural bodies) will die and decay. 

Our mortal bodies cannot inherit the kingdom of God, which is immortal. So, the mortal body that goes into the ground when a believer dies is raised as a spiritual body, as Paul says in Verse 44. It will be changed from mortal to immortal.

But when will the bodies of all Christians, dead or alive, change? And how will that happen?

Verses 51-52 —

Paul says, Pay attention! I am correcting your false ideas, believers at Corinth! I tell you a mystery (i.e., I reveal a truth you did not know). We will not all sleep — some Christians will be alive when the Lord returns. 

Our bodies will be changed in the twinkling of an eye — in an instant, in a moment, as quickly as light is reflected on the surface of an eye. When? At the last trumpet, the seventh of the trumpets which the angels will sound (Revelation 11:15), after Jesus Christ opens the seventh of the seals on the scroll (Revelation 4:6-7). Then, God will pour out His wrath on the earth, as a judgment against all who have rejected His Son.

Then our bodies will be changed! The dead in Christ will be raised immortal, and for those in Christ who are alive, we will be changed so that our living bodies become spiritual, immortal bodies! Paul instructs the Thessalonians —

1Thessalonians 4:13   But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 

16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up (Greek harpazo, Latin rapturo) together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.

This event is called the rapture, based on the Latin rapturo, for “caught up.” Again, there is no “soul sleep.” That is a heresy. Just as Paul said in 2Corinthians 5:6-8, he also says in Philippians 1:21 and forward —

Philippians 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better . . .

Again, absent from the body, our spirits immediately go to Jesus Christ in heaven. But at the last trumpet, every Christian’s body, dead or alive, is changed so that it becomes spiritual and immortal. 

Verse 53 — 

Why must our bodies be changed? Because our bodies are perishable. We must put on (as if sinking into a new garment) imperishable bodies. Our bodies are mortal. We must put on immortal bodies. Then our bodies are fit for heaven!

Verse 54 —

And when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, “Death is swallowed up (gulped entirely down) in victory!” 

Glory to God! The Father and the Son are worthy of all honor and glory and praise! Now you know what Paul meant by “The last enemy to be abolished is death,” from 1Corinthians 15:26! This is Jesus Christ’s final victory!

Paul has quoted from Isaiah’s prophecy —

Isaiah 25:8  He will swallow up death for all time, 

And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, 

And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; 

For the LORD has spoken.

Verse 55 —

O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The Lord will have no compassion for death or hell. I will quote from the 1984 NIV, which is a better translation than my NASB for the passage from Hosea to which Paul refers   

Hosea 13:14   “I will ransom them from the power of the grave;

I will redeem them from death. 

  Where, O death, are your plagues?

Where, O grave, is your destruction?

“ (on these) I will have no compassion . . .”

What will the Lord do with death and hell? They will burn in the lake of fire forever —

Revelation 20:13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.

Verse 56 —

The sting of death is sin, beloved. Just as it was in the Old Testament, the one who sins is the one who dies (see Ezekiel 18:4, 20). Ezekiel spoke this to God’s people! Paul confirms — 

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And the power of sin is the law, because none of us is able to obey, in our own power. But when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, our sin nature (propensity to sin inherited from Adam) is crucified, and God’s law is easy to obey!

Verse 57 

And the power of sin is the law, but thanks be to God! He gives us the victory over death, through our Lord Jesus Christ! 

Verse 58 —

Therefore, considering all this (all that I have shown you to correct your views on resurrection), my beloved brethren — do you see that Paul loves them, and that he corrects them just as a parent corrects an errant child?

Considering all that I have written to you, here is my command to you, believers at Corinth (and believers today) —

— Be steadfast (settled regarding the truth)

— Immovable (unable to be moved from the truth)

— Always abounding (superabounding, overflowing, excelling) in the work of the Lord (not man’s works, but His divine works which He will do in and through you)

Knowing (having no doubt) that your toil is not in vain (empty and worthless) in the Lord! All that He does in and through you is worthwhile and fruitful!

And they will be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, when they are filled with the Spirit! They will know that their toil is not in vain in the Lord! Amen!

Next time, I will teach from the final chapter of 1Corinthians, in which Paul gives a variety of instructions we should heed!

Then he will come to them for what will be a painful visit, and then write a letter of strong rebuke. That letter is not recorded in the New Testament. But we will learn about it in 2Corinthians.

Immediately after 1Corinthians 16, I will begin recording my Bible study of 2Corinthians. But I will not begin publishing those sessions until this fall, so that I have time to record some sessions in advance. Then, even if I am traveling, I will still be able to keep publishing them weekly. 

I pray you are learning as much as I am learning AND that you are applying these truths to your heart! Lord Jesus, I pray it will be so. Amen!

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