“But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable.” (I Corinthians 15:35 – 38, 42)
Before I start in with my commentary, beloved reader, I HAVE TO share with you the way the New Living Translation phrases verse 42: “It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever.” I knew that the writer of I Corinthians was drawing on plain-faced metaphors, but that is sort of jarring!
To trace back in Paul’s metaphor/analogy. When one plants a crop, the seed is not considered to be “alive” until it sprouts and grows. What is planted (that is, our human lives) bears little responsible to the plant that grows from the ground (that is, the spirit that is raised to heaven). So the question is not what sort of the body the raised dead will have, but will those who have died be raised up to heaven. However, that is not the direction that Paul discourse travels. Continuing on with the his description of the human body . . . .
“It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.” (Verses 43 – 44)
You get the sense, beloved reader, that Paul does not think much of the physical body. And he seems to be directing his readers to dismiss the physical body and embrace the destine of the spiritual body.
“Thus it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual.” (Verses 45 – 46)
Is it just me, or does Paul seem to be saying we need to endure having a physical body before we are awarded a spiritual one?
“The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven. What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” (Verses 47 – 50)
Or maybe I am just sensitive right now about the shortcomings of the physical body. I am still in the processing of healing. Do not fear though, beloved reader (& my mother,) by the time you read this I will have had another week at least of healing and will probably feel better. Right now however, I have pains and aches that I thought I would be over and done with. Paul does not talk about pains of the body, but he is pretty clear about what he feels are the shortcomings of the physical, perishable, dishonorable, weak, dusty, flesh and blood body.
The other issue I have with Paul’s dismissal of the body is that the soul and spirit that are said to be imperishable is firmly entwined in the body. We are not distinct body/psyche spirits, but a melding together of the two. Maybe, perhaps, I am being too judgmental of what the imperishable body will be; maybe Paul does believe and understand that the imperishable will retain a physical form that is an “improved” version of our mind/body self. I guess that is yet another question I will have of Paul in the world to come.
May you, beloved reader, honor that which is honorable and distance yourself from that which will bar you from eternal life. Selah!