1 Corinthians 15:35-44
But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?…
I. THE DEATH IS OFTEN A CONDITION OF NEW AND HIGHER LIFE. Paul first teaches us the parable of the seed (vers. 37, 38). Is that which thou sowest the body that will be? No: a new body springs from the corruption of the old, more complex, beautiful, and adapted to the higher region in which it has its life. But though the form of the grain be changed its identity is not lost. To each of the seeds God gives its own body. It you sow wheat, you reap wheat; if you sow barley, you reap barley, etc. The form is changed, but the identity is preserved. We draw no proof from the analogy; but we feel that it is not so difficult for us to conceive the resurrection of the body now that this natural resurrection of the seed is brought home to our thoughts. We see, e.g. —
1. That dissolution does not inevitably imply destruction, nay, that it affords no clear presumption of it even. Nothing sown is quickened except it die. And therefore, it may be that the dissolution of the body is not its destruction: it may pass through death to a form more comely and perfect, to a more fruitful service, to more life and fuller.
2. When form is changed identity may be preserved. The grain rots and dies that the vital germ may be quickened and fed, and each grain takes its own new body: wheat remains wheat, and rice, rice. And so if we ask, "How are the scattered and vapourised particles of which our bodies are composed to be recovered and compacted into a new organism?" Nature replies, "That may not be necessary. Much may die and yet the vital germ may live." If we say, "We do not care simply to live, but to be ourselves," Nature replies, "To each of the seeds God giveth its own body, not another's. And therefore, though your new form may differ from the old, it may be that you will remain the same, and find the same friends about you, each in its own likeness, though enlarged and glorified. You may have exchanged the winter of seed-time for the golden splendours of an eternal summer; but nevertheless you may still be what you were."
II. THE SAME SUBSTANCE MAY TAKE VARIOUS FORMS.
1. Earthly bodies differ from each other (ver. 39). Men, beasts, fish, birds are all composed of flesh and blood. Yet this one flesh — how infinite its variety of forms!
2. If then of one flesh God can weave these infinite varieties of animal life, each exquisitely adapted to its peculiar element and conditions, can we suppose that His power is exhausted by the forms now visible to us? Is it not in accordance with all the teachings of Nature that, if at death men pass into a new element and new conditions of life, God should adapt their organism to its new conditions, that He should develop in it new faculties and powers?
3. Heavenly bodies differ from earthly (ver. 40). There is one matter as there is one flesh. Compare sun, moon, stars, planets, comets with the various orders of beasts, fish, birds, or with mountains, streams, trees, flowers; and how immeasurable is the diversity! Yet God made them all and made them of the same substance, and if it please Him, He can mould the identical substance of which all physical nature is composed into new forms. Nay, more; the matter of the heavenly bodies is in each case adapted to its conditions, and varies as these vary. And therefore the presumption is strong that if death should greatly change our conditions, our physical organism will change with them, and be adapted to them. If death should lift us to heaven, we may well believe that, as we were here adapted to an earthly lot, so there we shall be adapted, for a heavenly lot.
4. Heavenly bodies differ from each other (ver. 41). It is not simply that each of the heavenly bodies had its own light: it has its own glory, its peculiar characteristics, its proper excellence. From the earliest ages, when men tilled the fertile plans of Chaldaea, they have distinguished differences of light even in the planets — the blue ray of Mercury, the golden lustre of Venus, the red and bloody portent of Mars, the deep orange gleam of Jupiter, the leaden hue of Saturn. And these differences of light speak of differences of place, magnitude, structure. The one glory of the heavens is a complex of many different glories. And if of one substance God has woven the infinite and differing globes of light, how incommensurate our thought of Him, did we suppose that He could not out of the one substance of this mortal body weave many different bodies, each perfect in its kind and for its purpose, each answering to its conditions and rising as they rise!
(S. Cox, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?