Seven Qualities of our Resurrection Bodies
How Will We Be Different & How Different Will We Be?
1 Corinthians 15
Introduction: This week we’ve been thinking about the brevity of life. I touched on this subject this morning, and at the same time we’ve been thinking a great deal about a dear friend of our church who passed away this week at a very young age. We’ve also been reading about those who were killed in the terrorist attacks in Paris. So tonight let’s talk about the resurrection and specifically about the resurrection bodies. We’re continuing our series of studies into 1 Corinthians 15, and tonight let’s just break into the text in 1 Corinthians 15:35.
Verses 35-36: But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” How foolish!
I don’t think Paul meant to say that was a foolish question. He was addressing those in Corinth who didn’t believe in the resurrection and who were asking those questions sarcastically and in an unbelieving way. It is surely not foolish to question the process of the resurrection, but it is foolish to question the truthfulness of the resurrection, seeing that Jesus Christ has already risen from the dead and all of Christianity is based on the foundation of that resurrection.
1. Our Resurrection Bodies Will Be the Same But Different – Verses 36-44
Verses 36-38: What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as He has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.
Paul is going to explain that our resurrection bodies will be the same but different. He’s going to use the analogy of seeds and plants. To me, the germination of a seed is one of the greatest mysteries of nature. Suppose I have a seed here in my hand, perhaps the seed of a bean. If I were to put this seed on a cutting board and slice it open, it would just be the inside of the bean, such as I might eat. But if I plant the seed, suddenly it begins to change. A whole new plant literally forms inside of it and breaks through and begins to push its way out of the earth. Paul is using this as a metaphor for the resurrection. When we die, we’re planted, as it were, like seeds in the earth. But a great transformation is coming. This analogy tells us two things.
First, our resurrection bodies will be of the same nature as our current bodies. The substance and essence of them will be the same. When you plant beans you don’t get corn. When you plant an apple tree you don’t get an orange tree. The tree or the plant is of the same essence and nature as the seed.
But second, our resurrection bodies will besuperior to our current bodies. Compare an acorn and an oak tree or a kernel of corn to a corn stalk, and you’ll see that what springs out of the earth is much better and greater than what falls into the earth. My great-grandfather planted apple orchards on the Tennessee-North Carolina border. He was the Johnny Appleseed of that region. Apple seeds are very small things, but apple trees are much larger and more beautiful. They grow. They blossom in the spring and bear fruit in the fall. They are of the same essence or substance or nature as the seed; indeed they spring up out of the seed. But they are different and much more glorious.
Now, these next verses are a little difficult. I’m not sure I have them totally figured out, but I think the apostle is simply continuing to unfold this argument.
Verse 39-42: Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 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. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; the star differs from star in splendor. So it will be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable…
There are several ways to interpret these verses, but I think at its essence this passage is saying that when we rise again we’ll have our same bodies and we will be humans, but our splendor will be awesome. Trying to compare our current bodies with our resurrection bodies is like comparing planet earth with the sun.
Verse 43-44: It (our dying body) is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
Now, when Paul uses the word “spiritual” here, he does not mean incorporeal. He does not mean we will be simply disembodied spirits. He is using “spiritual” in the sense of “transformed” or “glorified.” He was saying:
Our bodies die and are sown in the earth like see. They are sown is dishonor but raised in glory. Sown in weakness but raised in power. Sown a natural body, but raised a glorified and transformed body.
2. Our Resurrection Bodies Will Be Patterned After Christ’s – Verses 45-57
Now, he’s going to take us a bit further. The body that dies will be Adamic. It will be like the body of Adam, who died. But when we are resurrected, our bodies will be glorified like that of Jesus, the Second Adam.
Verses 45-47: So it is written: “The first man Adam because a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual (or glorified and transformed) did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven.
And now we have a great statement of biblical truth. Jesus died too. He was put to death. His body was sown in dishonor. It was sown in weakness. It was sown in sorrow. But at that moment sometime before dawn on Easter Sunday when He was resurrected, a bolt of transforming power stuck Him and when He rose again His body was changed, transformed, glorified, and equipped for eternal life. And He set the pattern for us.
Verse 48-49: 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. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.
On this planet, we bear the bodies of Adam. We have genetic damage. We have illness and disease. We have sickness and death. But at the resurrection, our bodies will bear the image of that of Christ. This is a consistent teaching of Scripture. We have it given to us here, in 1 Corinthians 15. But look at these other verses:
- Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 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 – Philippians 3:20-21.
- Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is – 1 John 3:2.
Now, at this point and based on I want to suggest seven fantastic facts about our resurrection bodies.
First, Our resurrection bodies will be incapable of dying. Right now, we’re subject to death at any moment. Our bodies here are perishing. They die. But after the resurrection our glorified and transformed bodies will be incapable of dying. That’s the point here in 1 Corinthians 15. Let’s go on to verse 50, and notice in these following verses how the word imperishable occurs. The word imperishable means it cannot perish, it cannot die, it is incapable of perishing and dying:
Verses 50-54: I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – 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. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 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.”
There are four occurrences of imperishable, and two occurrences of the word immortality.
I also want to quote another Scripture about this. Romans 6:8-11: Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over Him. The death he died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Notice those words about Jesus: He cannot die again. What was the one thing Jesus could do during HIs earthly life that He can never do again? What capacity did He have before the cross that He lost afterward? The capacity of dying. Before Good Friday, He was capable of dying. After Easter, that capability was gone forever. When His entombed body was struck by the Resurrection Bolt of the Holy Spirit, a surge of glorfication instantly transformed Him. He rose imperishable. The Bible says, “Since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again.” And He also said, “Because I live, you will live also.”
Second, our resurrection bodies will be incapable of pain and tears. Right now, we’re subject to terrible pain. Some of our pain is from diseases and injuries and illnesses. Some people experience terrible pain inflicted by others. Some are even tortured. But our resurrection bodies will be incapable of pain. Revelation 21:4 says: He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of thing has passed away.
Third, our resurrection bodies will be physical and real and corporal and recognizable. Look at Luke 24:36-43, an event that took place on the day Jesus rose from the dead: While they were still talking about this, Jesus Himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at My hands and My feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, He asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat.” They gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and He took it and ate it in their presence.
In his book about heaven, Randy Alcorn said, “We’ll stand on the New Earth and see it, feel it, smell it, taste its fruits, and hear its sounds. Not figuratively. Literally. We know this because we’re promised resurrection bodies like Christ’s. He saw and heard and felt and, as He cooked at ate fish, He presumably smelled and tasted it. We will too.”
Fourth, our resection bodies may have extra-dimensional qualities. Going back to Luke 24, verses 30-31 say: When He was at the table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight.
He had the ability to disappear, and we see Him later that evening in Jerusalem, as though He traveled there by telepathy.
Also look at John 20:19-20: On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, He showed them His hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.”
He seemed to have been able to pass right through locked doors. Also in Acts 1:9, we read: After He had said this, He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. So the glorified body of Christ had and has extra-dimensional abilities. It can appear and disappear; it can travel by telepathy; it can pass through locked doors; it can fly or ascend into the sky. Now, when we’re told that our resurrection bodies will be like our Lord’s, it is speaking in terms of immortality. Just because He could do those things doesn’t necessarily mean we will be able to. But why not? Angels seem to have these same abilities, and we know that our resurrection bodies are going to be far superior to our current ones.
Fifth, our resurrection bodies will be in the prime of life. Many theologians have taught that in terms of the spectrum of apparent age, we’ll all appear to be perhaps somewhere around thirty-three years old in heaven, for that’s the age Jesus was at the moment of His resurrection. That’s an age that seems to express the prime of life. And when we think of Adam and Eve, they were created in the prime of life. They weren’t created as babies, nor were they elderly.
Sixth, our racial and gender identities will probably continue into heaven. I believe if you’re a man on earth, you’ll be a man in heaven. If you’re a woman you’ll be a woman. If you’re Caucasian or Asian or Black or Jewish or whatever, that’s what you’ll be in heaven. Let me give you two verses from Revelation that seem to suggest this.
- Revelation 5:9: And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
- Revelation 7:9: After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.
Seventh, we may have a luminescent quality to us. Do you remember what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15 about the glory of the heavenly bodies being different from those of earth? What was the major difference? Their glow and their glory.
In Exodus 34, Moses spent time with the Lord and something unusual happened to him. Look at verse 29: When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken to the Lord. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near Him.
Look at Luke 9:28-30, which also features Moses: About eight days after Jesus said this, He took Peter, John, and James with Him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As He was praying, the appearance of His face changed and His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightening. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus.
When we see Jesus after His ascension, His face is as brilliant as the sunshine. In Acts 9, Saul of Tarsus saw him and was blinded by the experience. In Revelation 1, John saw a vision of the enthroned Christ and He was splendorous. And in Revelation 21, we’re told that the entire city of New Jerusalem will be luminescent and illumined by the light that radiates from the resurrected Christ.
Daniel 12:3 says about the resurrected saints: …those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens. And Matthew 13:43 says: Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
3. Our Resurrection Bodies Are the Hope that Keeps Us Serving Now – Verse 58
All this is so very wonderful, not notice the application makes at the very end of the chapter. He tells us that this glimpse of our future glory should provide the impetus for present service. The coming reality of the resurrection is why we labor and work and serve and testify now.
Verse 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.
I can’t tell you what a comfort this verse has been to me through the years. There’s an old hymn that says, “Sometimes we feel discouraged, and think our work’s in vain.” But whenever I begin to fill that way too long, I remind myself of this verse.
There’s not much else to say. If I were to compose sermons for a thousand years, I couldn’t think of a better closing sentence than that one. So I’ll just leave it there, at that!