The Resurrection-Body – 1 Corinthians 15:35-58

Since this passage pertains to the major section of chapter 15 most of the historic cultural aspects are the same as in verses 1-34. We again see the obstacle to accept a bodily resurrection in connection to the Greco-Roman understanding of the equation of the body (i.e., the material) with “mortality and corruptibility” (Ben Witherington, Conflict And Community In Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary On 1 And 2 Corinthians [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995], 306). Thus a bodily resurrection seems absurd.
Another cultural aspect is the concept that if a seed is sown it will die to give life to a plant (Witherington, 307) – a view hold in ancient times. Though this is an erroneous from a botanical standpoint, the analogy fits, since Paul is speaking in the passage at hand of continuity and discontinuity in respect to the body in the resurrection.
In verses 35-49 Paul deals with the diversity of bodies which are seen and experienced in the first creation. He raises the questions (v. 35): How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they be raised? Which he answers via creation analogies where transformation happens to a seed as it dies in the ground (v. 36-38). Verses 39-41 explain the diversity of the earthly and the heavenly realms (difference in creation: human beings, animals, birds, fish; difference in heavenly and earthly bodies; and finally difference among the heavenly bodies: sun, moon, and various kinds of stars).
Verses 42-44 apply the given argument to the human body as being mortal but via resurrection transforms into an immortal one, which is also confirmed by Scripture (vv. 45-47 quoting Gen 2:7). God is transforming and creating new life by raising people from the dead through Jesus Christ. The existence Corinthian believers experience are on the one hand derived from Adam (“nature”) but the existence to come derived from Jesus Christ is characterized by “Spirit.” Adam came from dust, but Christ from heaven. Verses 48-49 apply the situation to those who are in Adam or in Christ.
First Corinthians 15:50-58 gives us the certainty of the victory over death in the resurrection. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom (v. 50). Not all who believe will die before the parousia (that is Christ’s second coming).  As Jesus Christ’s returns,  the dead will be raised and the living will be transformed. This transformation is into imperishable and immortal bodies which fulfills the prophecy of Isa 25:8. The transformation is the victory of Hosea 13:14. In v. 56 Paul then comments on Isa 25:8 and Hosea 13:14 by applying it in Christological terms. The resurrection of Jesus broke the power of death and on the cross the death sentence was pronounced.
Thanks be to God for such a victory (v. 57)! Out of this Paul exhorts the Corinthian believers to stand firm and to be immovable in the gospel. We will inherit a resurrection body – some believers will not experience resurrection per se, but will be transformed at the parousia. Through the death and resurrection of Christ we need to stand firm and be involved in the work of the Lord.  

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