Bodily Resurrection

1 Corinthians 15
Luke 24.31,36-42
John 20.19-20, 26

In 1 Corinthians, Paul answered a number of questions posed by the church in Corinth. Some of these questions were posed in a letter written by the Corinthian chruch which does not survive, so we can only infer the question based on Paul's answer. In Chapter 15, the missing letter seems to have been concerned with a church faction that denied the resurrection.

We know that at least one sect of Judaism, the Saducees, did not believe in the resurrection. So it is no surprise that the question came up among the followers of Y'shua in Corinth, and Paul used a full chapter of his letter to deal with the subject. The first part of the chapter deals with the fact of resurrection and is not the subject of concern in this note. It is Paul's discussion of the nature of the resurrection body that is of current interest.

Paul starts his discourse in verse 35 with an agricultural example, saying that when a grain of wheat dies in the earth, it is reborn as a stalk of wheat. There are two elements of note here. First the seed must die and second, one cannot discern the shape of the plant by looking at the seed. So you can study a sack of seed all you want and will never be able to visualize the field of wheat that lies therein. To put a point on it, consider a caterpillar. There is nothing in its appearance that gives one a clue that it will one day become a butterfly. This is Paul's first point about our resurrection bodies - we really have no conception what they will be like.

Having said that, Paul then goes on to give us some rather stunning clues about what things will be like post resurrection.

The crux of his discourse rests on the difference between Adam after the fall and Y'shua after His resurrection. (Prior to His death, Y'shua was in most ways just like us. The ways He was different are crucial of course, but I'm focusing here on the similarities - which are also crucial. He ate, drank and died just like we do and He performed His works by the power of the Holy Spirit just like we can.) After His resurrection, Y'shua did some things that were quite different from the abilities he showed before his death. He was able to appear and disappear and He was able to enter locked rooms full of people without going through the door or windows.

Paul tells us that, while our present bodies are made in the image of Adam, our resurrection bodies will be in the image of Y'shua. To understand this, we must go back to Genesis. There we are told that Adam before the fall was made in the image of God. After the fall, Adam was changed and can no longer be said to be the image of God. For one thing, Adam died, for another, he sinned - neither of which applies to God. Thus, there was a qualitative difference in Adam once he chose to disobey God.

Reading Genesis 5, we see that all of his offspring are in Adam's likeness and image - not God's. This change of image explains why we all die even if we commit no sin worthy of death. (Romans 5 explains that between Adam and Moshe everyone died even though the Torah had not been given and sin was not imputed to humanity.) The death we all die is because of the image we all bear - that of Adam.

Thus, while we do not really know what Adam was originally like, we can infer that he was very much like Y'shua after His resurrection. To help us out, Paul gives us a list of His characteristics in 1 Cor 15: imperishable, glorious, powerful, spiritual, immortal. He also assures us that all who belong to Messiah will receive a new body made in the image of God, some by resurrection and some by change at the last trumpet.

Surely an event which we greatly desire.