1 Corinthians 15:35-44
But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?…
I. THIS QUESTION WE HAVE ALL ASKED.
1. At death something goes out of the body — that which vitalised it, that which we could not touch, nor weigh, nor measure. No sooner has this something gone, than the body immediately begins to return to its dust. Nothing can arrest it. We may make a mummy of it, but a mummy is not a body. In the British Museum are many specimens of mummies. They excite no human interest, only appeal to curiosity and create aversion.
2. The necessity for this material body of ours arises from the fact that we belong, temporarily at least, to a material world. Without such bodies we could not see, or feel, or touch, or recognise this world. It would not exist for us.
3. Recall what Paul says elsewhere in other parts of his letters about the body. Writing to Roman Christians, he calls it a "body of death." To the Corinthians he speaks of it as a wild beast to be kept in subjection. To the Philippians he speaks of "this body of our humiliation." And yet, when we have said everything to its disadvantage, we cannot withhold a recognition of the wonderful way in which the body sympathises with and serves the purpose of the mind and spirit. The old Greeks recognised its lines of beauty in their Dianas and Apollos. They lived intelligently and artistically for the body. But they proved to the world that the service of the body, even when artistically pursued, issues in enfeeblement, effeminacy, and corruption. Art refines to a degree, but only to a degree. They who talk of regenerating men by opening art museums and multiplying picture galleries must be people with but little reflection. In Athens of yesterday, and in Paris of to-day, we have the most salacious of all populations. When, however, we study the body under the influence of the mind and spirit, how admirable it often is — revealing and concealing the thought of the mind — the feeling of the soul! suggesting to us how possible it is to elevate even this body, and treat it as if it were a temple — a temple of the Holy Spirit of God.
4. This body is a body of humiliation, and yet it suggests a body of a very much higher and nobler kind. As the mind develops, as the heart enlarges, this body becomes more and more unadapted to it. Age is not of the mind and heart; it is of the body only. Spiritually-minded men do not become in feeling and spirit old, like men of the world. There is nothing that preserves juvenility like true piety. There is nothing ages men and women like the opposites of the graces of the spirit. Envy, hatred, jealousy, un-charitableness — these bring the wrinkles into the face, and the age into the soul.
II. BUT THE BODY THAT IS, IS THE ONLY FORERUNNER OF THE BODY THAT SHALL BE. All the way through this chapter the apostle is fighting the thought that we ourselves put into the phrase "disembodied spirits."
1. He goes to nature and finds a suggestion there. Why, even in nature, he says, you sow not the body that shall be, only a bare grain — the vital element that rises above the earth takes to itself a body suited to it. Every vital thing has in it a tendency to gather to itself a bodily form suited to its necessities and conditions. The grub in its grub state is embodied in one form and way; by and by, as it advances in its life, that body is no longer suited to it, but a new body is developing: soon it seems to die into its chrysalis state; but, lo, an entirely new creature, no longer with the limitations of the grub body, emerges; a creature that now sports in the air, and no longer crawls on the earth. It has its own body, but how different from the grub body; yet there is a vital connection between the one and the other. Each stage in it has been preparing for the next. And everything has its own body suited to its state and environment. And not sameness, but variety, is the order of creation. There are terrestrial bodies — bodies that belong to earth. There are celestial bodies — bodies that belong to the heavens. And each and all of these have their special glory and beauty. A star is of one order, a sun of another, but each has its own glory. And so with bodies. There is a body that belongs to man in his state of dishonour. Another which belongs to him in his state of glory.
2. The natural body is the type and promise of the spiritual body, but it is not the spiritual body. It has the same relation to it as the terrestrial has to the celestial, as corruption has to incorruption, etc. Everything lower points to a higher. Man is never disembodied; all through time he is an embodied spirit, and when he has sloughed off his time body, his earth body, he has still a body, but one suited to him in a way and to a degree to which this body has never been suited (vers. 48, 49). All earth forces and powers and laws have been in our earth body. Like the earth, it has been subject to the law of gravitation and decay, to constant change. We have borne the image of the earthy. "We shall also bear the image of the heavenly." The one is not complete without the other. The spirit of man in its next stage of being will have a body suited to it. Not a body subject to all the diseases, infirmities, neuralgias, aches, and pains to which this is subject. Every one shall have his own body, the body suited to express his inward character; but it shall be as superior to this present material body as the body of the butterfly is to that of the grub.
(Reuen Thomas, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?