What Our Bodies Will Be Like
35Some of you have asked, “How will the dead be raised to life? What kind of bodies will they have?” 36Don't be foolish. A seed must die before it can sprout from the ground. 37Wheat seeds and all other seeds look different from the sprouts that come up. 38This is because God gives everything the kind of body he wants it to have. 39People, animals, birds, and fish are each made of flesh, but none of them are alike. 40Everything in the heavens has a body, and so does everything on earth. But each one is very different from all the others. 41The sun isn't like the moon, the moon isn't like the stars, and each star is different.
42That's how it will be when our bodies are raised to life. These bodies will die, but the bodies that are raised will live forever. 43These ugly and weak bodies will become beautiful and strong. 44As surely as there are physical bodies, there are spiritual bodies. And our physical bodies will be changed into spiritual bodies.
45 The first man was named Adam, and the Scriptures tell us that he was a living person. But Jesus, who may be called the last Adam, is a life-giving spirit. 46We see that the one with a spiritual body did not come first. He came after the one who had a physical body. 47The first man was made from the dust of the earth, but the second man came from heaven. 48Everyone on earth has a body like the body of the one who was made from the dust of the earth. And everyone in heaven has a body like the body of the one who came from heaven. 49Just as we are like the one who was made out of earth, we will be like the one who came from heaven.
50My friends, I want you to know that our bodies of flesh and blood will decay. This means they cannot share in God's kingdom, which lasts forever. 51 I will explain a mystery to you. Not every one of us will die, but we will all be changed. 52It will happen suddenly, quicker than the blink of an eye. At the sound of the last trumpet the dead will be raised. We will all be changed, so we will never die again. 53Our dead and decaying bodies will be changed into bodies that won't die or decay. 54 The bodies we now have are weak and can die. But they will be changed into bodies that are eternal. Then the Scriptures will come true,
“Death has lost the battle!
55 Where is its victory?
Where is its sting?”
56Sin is what gives death its sting, and the Law is the power behind sin. 57But thank God for letting our Lord Jesus Christ give us the victory!
58My dear friends, stand firm and don't be shaken. Always keep busy working for the Lord. You know that everything you do for him is worthwhile.
One of my most haunting memories is a visit to a church in Rwanda after the genocide. The bones of hundreds of Tutsi people lay on the floor where they had been killed. I was overwhelmed by the horror of decayed bodies reduced to bones in a place of worship. Standing before death, in any form, we ask profound and searching questions.
Paul begins this section with two questions posed by an imaginary interrogator. How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have? The response builds up to an emotional and theological peak in the final verses.
Paul begins with the example of seeds that bear no resemblance to the final plants (vv 36-38). By analogy, the bodies of those raised from the dead will be dramatically different than the former appearance of these people. He then draws attention to the diversity of bodies in the natural order where there are no limits to God’s creativity (vv 39-40). In a moving manner he compares the physical body with its weaknesses to the spiritual body associated with the resurrection from the dead (vv 42-49).
The apostle’s following words (vv 50-55) are best appreciated when they are read slowly and in an audible voice (as he intended within the Corinthian house churches). “We will all be changed.” “The dead will be raised.” “Our frail bodies will put on immortality.” “Death is swallowed up in victory.” This message has given comfort and hope to believers around the world in times of sorrow.
Paul concludes by stating that Jesus Christ overcomes death’s sting connected with sin and the law’s condemnation. A confident faith in resurrection life after death produces a steadfast dedication to serve God. Every effort and sacrifice has meaning in the work of his kingdom.
Father God, we long for your Spirit to whisper words of comfort and hope into our hearts during times of sorrow and loss. We hold fast to our hope in resurrection life after death. In the name of Jesus. Amen.