Study 9 THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY
Things Hard to be Understood
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: 1 Corinthians 15: 35-54)
One of the glorious truths revealed in God’s Word is that concerning the resurrection of the body. The apostle Paul has devoted a whole chapter in his Letter to the Corinthians to the unfolding of this glorious theme – 1 Corinthians 15:1-58.
In our Lord’s day the Sadducees said that there was no resurrection from the dead (Matthew 22:23), but see what Jesus said about this in Matthew 22:29. There are many Sadducees today – people who do not believe in the supernatural and who say, as one prominent theologian has said, “The resurrection of the body is an utter impossibility.” With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible – see Matthew 3:9; 19:26. He made man out of the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7); raised the dead (John 11:43-44); made the leper whole (Luke 5:12-13). Can He not give us new and wonderful bodies in which to live in His presence through all eternity? Of course He can – and that is what He has promised! Why do we believe in the resurrection of the body?
- 1. Because of the constant testimony of the scriptures. Look up Genesis 22:5, and compare Hebrews 11:19. Then look up Job 19:25-27, and compare Isaiah 26:19. See also Psalms 16:9; 17:15; Daniel 12:1-3; John 11:21-46.
- 2. Because of the personal testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is important, for He would not mislead us. Look up John 5:28-29, and compare John 6:39-40, 44, 54. Then look up Luke 14:13-14; 20:35-36.
- 3. Because of the teaching of the apostles. See what Paul says about the resurrection of the body – Acts 24:15; 1 Corinthians 15:35-38;
1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; Philippians 3:10-11; see also Revelation 20:4-6; 20:13.
- 4. Because of the scope of Christ’s redemptive work. Compare Romans 8:11-23 with 2 Corinthians 5:1-4.
- 5. Because of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Himself. His was a bodily resurrection, and we are to have a body like His – look up Luke 24:39; 1 Corinthians 15:20; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 John 3:2.
- 6. Because recognition in heaven requires a body! Recognition requires some kind of visible form by which we shall be distinguishable!
- 7. Because the indwelling Holy Spirit is God’s guarantee that our bodies will be raised again. This is clearly emphasised in Romans 8:11; 2 Corinthians 5:5.
The scriptures make it perfectly clear that there will be a literal resurrection of the bodies of everyone – John 6:39,40,44; but the scriptures preserve an ominous silence about the future body of the unbeliever.
What will the resurrection body of the believer be like? It will be like His body; a real body (Luke 24:39); recognisable (Luke 24:31; John 20:16); and powerful (John 20:19). But, in 1 Corinthians 15 the question is asked, “With what kind of body will they come?” (verse 35); and then verses 36-49 answer that question.
1. It will be the same body, yet different.
Verses 37 and 38 make this clear – “to each kind of seed he gives its own body”. If wheat is sown, wheat will grow; if barley is sown, barley will grow, and so on. The new body will be the same body in that it will be absolutely identified with the body which has died. If John Jones has been sown, it will be John Jones who will be raised; and yet it will be John Jones in a new body – the same, yet different! Our Lord’s body was the same in that it was recognisable and His disciples knew Him; and yet how different that body was! It was no longer weak and subject to human limitations; it was a strong, glorious body subject to new laws.
2. It will be a God-given body suited to our new environment.
See verses 38-41. Just as God gave a body to Adam (Genesis 2:7), and later to Eve (Genesis 2:21-22), so at the resurrection He is going to give a new body to every redeemed sinner, a body which is perfectly suited to the new life we are to live and to the new environment in which we are to live. Just as the bird has a body fitted for flights in the air, a fish has a body fitted for life in water and an animal has a body fitted for life on land, so the child of God will have a body fitted for life in Heaven with the Lord.
3. It will be an incorruptible body, not a corruptible body.
We are told this in verse 42. What is corruption? It is the liability to decay, as every human body decays; it loses its bloom and its powers and becomes worn and wasted with disease. Our new bodies in the resurrection will have no elements of corruption. Disease or death will never be able to touch these bodies, nor will they fail to lose their powers, faculties or senses. We shall possess eternal, undecaying youth!
4. It will be a glorious body and unmarked by dishonour.
Verse 43 tells us this. The word “dishonour” implies sin. Our earthly bodies have been dishonoured by sin, and sin has brought disease, decay and death; but all this will be changed when we receive our new bodies. In them we shall not have the ability or the capacity to sin, but only to serve the Lord in holiness through all eternity.
5. It will be a powerful body in which there is no weakness.
Verse 43 emphasises this. Our present bodies are weak and need constant care, rest, sleep and food, and even then with the years they get weaker still and die. One day they are going to be raised in power. In our new bodies we shall never know fatigue or exhaustion.
6. It will be a spiritual body, not a natural body.
Verses 44-46 make this quite clear. Just as animals have senses of which we human beings have no knowledge, so in our new bodies we will have new senses of which we have no knowledge at present. The future bodies of God’s children may have fifty senses instead of five! Our present soul-bodies have five senses, but our spirit-bodies will have senses so much grander, larger in scope and mightier in power that we can form no adequate conception of the wonder of that new body that will be ours.
7. It will be a heavenly body, not an earthly body.
It will be immortal – not mortal. Verses 47-50, 53, 54 emphasise this. Everything about our present bodies is earthly; everything about our new body will be heavenly. Our present bodies are composed of dust; our new bodies will have no elements of dust in them. They will be celestial bodies!