1 Corinthians 15:35-44
But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
"How are the dead raised?" This Paul answers by arguments from analogy.
I. THE NATURE OF THE ARGUMENT. Analogy is probability from a parallel case. We assume that the same law which operates in the one case will operate in another if there be a resemblance between the relations of the two things compared. Thus, when Christ said, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground," etc. As in nature life comes through death, so also is it in the world of spirit. The law of sacrifice, which accounts for the one fact, will also explain the other. Thus St. Paul shows that the life of the seed is continued after apparent death in a higher form, and argues, that in like manner the human spirit may be reunited to form.
2. How far this argument is valid. It does not amount to proof; it only shows that the thing in question is credible. It does not demonstrate that a resurrection must be, it only shows that it may be.
3. Now, it is in this way that St. Paul concludes his masterly argument. He proves the resurrection from the historical fact, and by the absurdity which follows from denial of it, and then he shows that so proved, it is only parallel to the dying and upspringing corn, and the diverse glories of the sun, and moon, and stars. But it is not on these grounds that our belief rests. We fetch our proofs from the Word of God, and the nature of the human soul.
II. THE CREDIBILITY OF THE RESURRECTION.
1. There are two difficulties advanced.
(1) The question, How are the dead raised? may be a philosophical one. We are told that the entire human body undergoes a complete change every certain number of years, and that it is dissolved in various ways. Those who are wise in such matters tell us that there is not a single portion of the globe which has not, some time or other, been organic form.
(2) The other question is merely a sneer, "With what body do they come?" It is as if the objector had said, "Let there be nothing vague: tell us all about it, you who assert you are inspired."
2. Now, to these objections Paul replies. He discerns in this world three principles.
(1) That life, even in its lowest form, has the power of assimilating to itself atoms: he takes the corn of wheat, which, after being apparently destroyed, rises again, appropriating, as it grows, all that has affinity with itself: that body with which it is raised may be called its own body, and let it is a new body.
(2) The marvellous superabundance of the creative power of God. "There is one glory of the sun," etc.; and yet there is a difference between them. There are gradations in all these forms — bodies celestial and bodies terrestrial. Now, are we to believe that God's wisdom and power should be insufficient to find for the glorified spirit a form fit for it? We simply reply to the objection, "With what body do they come?" "Look at the creative power of God!"(3) The principle of progress. The law of the universe is not Pharisaism, the law of custom stereotyped. Just as it was in creation, first the lower and then the higher, so (ver. 46) at first we lead a mere animal life, the life of instinct; then, as we grow older, passion succeeds, and after the era of passion our spirituality comes, if it comes at all. St. Paul draws a probability from this, that what our childhood was to our manhood — something imperfect followed by that which is more perfect — so will it be hereafter.
3. St. Paul finds that all this coincides with the yearnings of the human heart (ver. 54). This is the substance of two prophecies, one in Isaiah, the other in Hosea, and expresses the yearnings of the heart for immortality. No man, in a high mood, ever felt that this life was really all, ever looked on life and was satisfied, ever looked at the world without hoping that a time is coming when that creation which is now groaning and travailing in bondage, shall be brought into the glorious liberty of the Son of God. And this feeling, felt in a much greater and higher degree, becomes prophecy. And when we look around, instead of finding something which damps our aspirations, we find the external world corroborating them. Then how shall we account for this marvellous coincidence? Shall we believe that God our Father has cheated us with a lie?
(F. W. Robertson, M.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?