Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 15:35 - 15:50

Online Resource Library

Return to | Commentary Index | Bible Index | Search | Prayer Request | Download

Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 15:35 - 15:50

(Show All Books | Show All Chapters)

This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

C. Refutation of the denial of the resurrection of the dead, in reference to its mode; and the constitution of the resurrection body


35But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what [kind of, ðïßῶ ] 36body do they come? Thou [om. Thou] fool, that which thou sowest is not quick ened, except it die: 37And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain [ of some of the other grains, ôéíïò ôῶí ëïéðῶí ]: 38But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him [he willed, ὴèÝëçóåí ], and to every seed his own body. 39All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh [om. kind of flesh] of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes [another flesh of birds], and another of birds [fishes]3.40There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial Isaiah 41 one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and 42another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. 43It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power: It is sown a natural [an animal, öõ÷éêüí ] body, it is raised 44a spiritual body. There Isaiah 34 a natural body, and there is [if there is an animal body, there is also] a spiritual body. 45And so it is written, The first man Adam was made [became, ἑãÝíåôï åἰò ] a living soul; the last Adam was made [om. was made] a quickening spirit. 46Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural [animal]; and after ward that which is spiritual. 47The first man is [was] of the earth, earthy: the second 48man is the Lord [om. the Lord] from heaven. As is [was] the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49And as we have borne [wore, ἐöïñἐòáìåí ] the image of the earthy, we shall also bear [we will wear, öïñÝóïìåí , or, let us wear, öïñÝóùìåí the image of the heavenly. 50Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit corruption.


1Co_15:35-38. After having established the belief in the resurrection of the dead, on the ground of Christ’s resurrection—a fact well attested and lying at the foundation of the whole Christian salvation—and, besides, having exhibited the untenableness of the contrast on other grounds, he next proceeds to encounter those objections which related, partly, to the process itself, and, partly, to the result.—But some one will say,—He here introduces his opponents speaking in the character of persons who, not satisfied with the argument hitherto, now, for the first time, come in with their own reasons for doubting. [These persons are not to be confounded with sincere inquirers; rather, they belong to the class of mockers, such as Paul encountered at Athens. As Calvin says, “nothing is more at variance with human reason than this article of faith;” and, hence, there is hardly one which provokes such ridicule and calls out so many cavils].—How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come ?—The present tenses are not to be explained as setting forth the future in the form of the present because of its certainty, [Stanley]; but as exhibiting the case simply as a matter of thought. “ Åñ÷ïíôáé =‘Come into manifestation.’ Two distinct objections are here introduced, yet standing in close connection, as is seen from the copula äÝ . [The first originates in a sense of the impossibility of the resurrection, and so asks for the “how,” as a demonstration of the possibility of it; and the other seeks to puzzle by asking for the details of new organization, which, when given, it hopes to prove absurd. Alford resolves the two into one, regarding the second as only stating specifically what is involved more generally in the first. But certainly the mode of the Apostle’s reply implies two distinct points here]. The answers to both these questions now follow, so as to illustrate, first, the process of the resurrection by analogies drawn from vegetable life, and, next, the peculiarity of the resurrection body in its distinction from the present, partly, though analogies taken from the several spheres of creation, and, partly, from the difference between the first and the second Adam. He begins with an address to the deniers or the doubters of the resurrection, expressive at once of strong disapprobation and contempt.—Fool!—By this epithet he characterizes as irrational those who are inclined to boast of a high degree of rationality, inasmuch as they ought to have convinced themselves at once respecting the matter in question by an analogy so obvious. [The term does not necessarily express any bitterness of feeling, for our blessed Lord used the like to his doubting disciples (Luk_24:15). It was the senselessness of the objection that is here attacked; for it was folly to say, the body could not live again because it died. The case of the seed showed that disorganization was the necessary condition of organization. If the seed remain a seed, there is an end of it; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (Joh_12:24. So with the body (Hodge)] What thou sowest Óὑ , thou, belongs not to fool, as if it were an emphatic addition to the vocative; but it belongs ‘to the relative clause, and it is placed first to show that the readers ought to understand from their own experience the unreasonableness of the objection (Neander). [It is the pointed finger aiming at the objector present to the author‘s mind.—‘Thou.’] The human sowing is here contrasted with that of the divine in the implanting of human bodies in the grave (as Klopstock sings: “The seed by God is sown, To ripen till the harvest day”), but not the work of God in the development of the seed ( æùïðïéåῖôáé )—is not made alive, unless it die:—What he means is, ‘From the fact that the seed sown by man is not made alive without having first passed through a process of death and corruption, thou oughtest to infer that it is just so with the human seed—that dying and corruption furnish no ground for asserting the impossibility of the resurrection.’ By the use of the verb “is made alive,” instead of ‘springs up’ ( ἀíáôÝëëåé ) the type is brought closer to the antitype.—After this reply to the first question, he turns to a more extended explanation of the nature of the new body, in answer to the second. From the process itself, he passes over to its contents and results by showing that, as in the process, there was a contrast in the development (first, death, and then life); so here there was a contrast, between the seed corn and the plant which sprung from it. The former is brought prominently to view in the construction of the sentence since it is set before us at the first in an absolute clause.—And what thou sowest,i.e., ‘as to that which thou sowest.’— not that body which is to appear dost thou sow,—In view of the fact of which he is treating, the plant is here designated as a physical organism by the term “body;” and in contrast with this he calls that which is sown as, naked corn;— ãõìíὸí ,i.e., either undeveloped, or separated from its proper covering and from the life of the plant; the former explanation is better suited to the context,—it may be òἰ ôý÷ïé . Comp. on 1Co_14:10.—of wheat or some of the others:— ôῶí ëïéðῶí , sc., óðåñìÜôùí . In opposition to a gross identification of the present body with the resurrection body which lies at the ground of the objection urged, he here asserts a distinction between the two—a distinction, however, which does not exclude the identity of the fundamental substance or the germ. [That which springs up differs in outward form from that which is sown; yet it is so far the same, that we can say that that which is sown is precisely what springs up. The analogy here, therefore, is sufficient to destroy the force of the objection raised.] Müller interprets 1Co_15:37 of the intermediate state between death and the resurrection. He remarks “Just as the old seed corn which is sown into death retains a sort of corporeity in ever changing forms (in the germ, in the blade, in the stalk) all through an intermediate state, until it, as it were, attains to its resurrection and glorification in the fresh, green corn, so also do human souls pass through their intermediate state, not without a certain sort of corporeity. But as the old appears again in a rejuvenated form, only when it has attained to a new and perfected kernel, so also, do those who sleep come to their full and glorified state in the resurrection of the body, which will take place at the end of the world.” he next proceeds to show the divine causation in respect to the future body, thereby showing wherein all development, even the resurrection of the dead included, ultimately rests.—But God giveth it a body—“The Holy Scriptures know nothing of an independent development of nature without God, about which modern philosophy has so much to say.” Bisping.—as he hath pleased,—The past tense here points back to. the original determination of the Creator, in accordance with which He goes on perpetually giving to each seed or germ a body, after its own fixed kind, or conducts it onward to the development of the same. [In all the continued processes of nature, the Creator abides by the primitive constitution of things. The uniformity of His operations should not lead us therefore, to ignore His perpetual free agency, and to regard the universe in the light of a dead mechanism. Nature is a live with an ever-present, ever-active God].—and to each of the seeds óðåñìÜôùí , lit., sperms, not only of fruits, but also of animals—a gradation to 1Co_15:39. (Bengel).—its own body. ἴäéïí , own, i.e., suited to the species, peculiar to the individual, produced from the substance of the seed. The argument here is this: that inasmuch as this is the way of God’s working, we may expect something of the like sort in relation to the germ of the human body, and that it is absurd to dispute this. [And still further; inasmuch as we cannot infer from looking at a seed what the plant is to be, so it is very foolish to attempt to determine from our present bodies what is to be the nature of our bodies hereafter. (Hodge)].

1Co_15:39-44. The diversities of organization in the several spheres of creation, and also the diversities in their glory, are next exhibited as analogous to the diversity between the present and the resurrection body, as that of a new and higher organization. He starts from the animal life, where man occupies the first position. With the unity of the genus ( óÜñî , flesh,) there exists a striking difference in the species.—All flesh is not the same flesh;—[De Wette explains “flesh” as the animal organism].—but one is of men, and another flesh of beasts, êôῆíïò , êôÝáíïí , êôῆìá properly, animals owned by man, such as sheep and oxen; but here in distinction from what follows, the word denotes quadrupeds in general.—and another of birds, and another of fishes.—The difference predicated here is not as to substance, but as to quality (Calvin); and this is manifold and marked. [If, then, we see such a variety in the organization of flesh and blood here, the inference is that we may find a still greater variety of organizations existing in other spheres. God is not limited in His power and wisdom, so that He must make all bodies a lake.]—(There are) also bodies celestial:—It is not agreed whether the apostle here means the bodies of angels, or heavenly bodies, such as the sun, moon and stars. The first interpretation, taking the expression to mean ‘bodies found in heaven,’ is maintained by Meyer and de Wette (comp. Mat_22:30); the second is the more common one, followed by Osiander and Neander, [Hodge and Alford]. The latter has no support in the usage of antiquity, and is vindicated, partly on the ground that the heavenly bodies were regarded by Plato, Plutarch, Galen, and others, as animated beings; and partly on the ground that in 1Co_15:38, the term “bodies” is applied to plants; and to this it may yet be added, that not only the clearness and the beauty with which the stars shine, but also the interest attached to this whole treatment of the idea of corporeity, explains this rare use of the word óῶìá , body, as denoting a material whole bound together in unity of being. But it may be asked, whether the contrast between the stars viewed as heavenly bodies and the world of men, animals and plants, viewed as earthly bodies, is a suitable one? Perhaps, indeed, not so suitable as that between the bodies of angels and those of men and beasts. The latter “would also touch and explain far better the distinction between the earthly body of death and the supramundane body of the resurrection” (Osiander); and nothing unsuitable, nothing disturbing to the symmetry of the whole analogy, can be found in it. Moreover, we are led to the supposition that angels have bodies, from what our Lord says in Luk_20:35-36, of the equality between angels and the children of the resurrection in the future world. So far as the unfitness of this analogy to meet the case of the skeptics is concerned, it must be remembered that the apostle has not so much to do with these, as with a congregation established in the faith, to whom such a view of angels would be neither strange nor incredible.—This comparison between the two kinds of bodies is followed by an exhibition of their diversity in respect to glory. In the one case it is a heavenly radiance; Mat_28:3; and in the other case it is strength, beauty, grace, artificial culture, in their several manifestations (Meyer).—There is one glory of the sun, etc.—Not only do the heavenly bodies differ from the earthly in glory, but there is great diversity among the heavenly bodies themselves. The sun has one degree of lustre, the moon another, and even the stars exhibit a wonderful variety of size and brilliancy among themselves. The allusion here might naturally lead us to think of the various degrees of glory in the resurrection bodies, as compared with each other; but the context does not point to this, and all the allegorical deductions, such as we find in Tertullian and others, must be pronounced erroneous. [So Calvin:—“A mistake is here commonly fallen into in the application; it is supposed that Paul meant that, after the resurrection, the saints will have different degrees of honor and glory. This, indeed, is perfectly true, and is proved by other declarations of Scripture; but it has nothing to do with Paul’s object.” Paul is arguing here from existing diversities in the various organizations found throughout the universe, to prove that there may be still other and greater varieties yet to appear—that neither the wisdom nor power of God has been exhausted in the production of different kinds of bodies, and will be made more signally manifest in providing for saints a vesture suited to the glory of Christ’s coming kingdom]. In the next verse we have the apodosis of the comparison.—So also (is) the resurrection of the dead.—The connection is this: as we see so great a variety of forms above and below, there is abundant room for modifications of every sort in the human body, and it indicates only great narrowness of mind to infer from the condition of the dying human body that it could undergo no transformation. (Burger). The general proposition to which the comparison leads, viz., that there is a distinction between the constitution of the earthly body and that of the heavenly, is now more fully carried out.—(It) is sown in corruption.—The subject of the sentence is indicated by the connection. Instead of saying, ‘it is buried,’ as pertinent to the case of the human body, he borrows his expression from the analogy above employed. [The bodies of the saints are as seed sown in the ground; and, hence, every graveyard or cemetery is most aptly termed, in German, “God’s Acre.” The dissolution that is there quietly going on, out of sight, is but preparing the way for a more glorious appearing, when the winter is past, and the millenial spring breaks upon us.] As the antithesis we have—(it) is raised in incorruption:—’ Åãåßñåôáé , is raised,—the expression is not inconsistent with the figure. For we may take it in the middle sense, ‘it raises itself,’ or, ‘it rises,’ just as the plant does out of the seed corn. On account of what is said in 1Co_15:36, Neander interprets the sowing, not of burial in the grave, but of the development of life upon the earth; [and so Hodge: “it is now a corruptible body, constantly tending to decay, subject to disease and death, and destined to entire dissolution.” In this case the whole earth must be taken for God’s seed field, and our present condition must be regarded as, in some sort, an underground one]. The preposition “in,” in both clauses, expresses the condition in which the body is found in the two stages; in the first, the elements hitherto organically united are dissolving and scattering; and in the second, we are raised above all corruption and harm, above all pain, and disease, and suffering, into a state imperishable and fixed.—It is sown in dishonor,—‘ Áôéìßá , not simply denotes the unseemliness of the earthly body, and the humiliating infirmities of its corruptible state, by reason of which Paul elsewhere calls it “our vile body” (Php_3:21), but also, since he is speaking of burial, the foulness of the corpse, which is a reminder of the disgrace incurred in the penalty inflicted by death.—it is raised in glory:—By this he means the revelation of the dignity of the children of God in the resplendent brightness of their resurrection bodies, pervaded and glorified by the divine life. It is to be fashioned like unto the glorious body of the Son of God.—it is sown in weakness,—’ ÁóèÝõåéá does not refer simply to the feebleness of the earthly body when living [Bloomfield], but also to its perfect powerlessness as a corpse, its inability to resist corruption.—it is raised in power: Äýíáìéò denotes a fullness of strength, energy and elasticity, which a renewed vitality will confer on the resureection body, enabling it to execute all the purposes and volitions of the spirit with the utmost ease and readiness.—All that is implied in these contrasts is condensed into the final one. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.—Respecting the term “natural,” [or, more properly, ‘animal,’ ‘psychical,’] comp. on 1Co_2:14. The expression, “natural body” ( óῶìá øõ÷éêüí ), denotes, in general, an organization that corresponds to the soul ( øý÷ç ); and “spiritual body” ( óῶìá ðíåõìáôéêüí ) one that corresponds to the spirit ( ðíåῦìá ). The former is one which carries the impress of the soul; the other, the impress of the spirit. The soul is that by means of which our spiritual part is linked to a physical life—a life of impulse and sensation, dependent for its nourishment upon a world of sense. The corporeity corresponding to this and determined by it, is precisely on this account made dependent upon this outward world, and is affected by it; and by reason of it, it is exposed to all that which has just been expressed by the words “corruption,” “dishonor,” and “weakness,” of which death is the catastrophe. The nature of the spirit is, on the contrary, a free, supermundane life of light and love in God; and the spiritual body is an organization suited to its character, being lifted above all dependence on the outward world, and the consequences following from it, and displays itself in incorruption, glory and power. The antithesis to the animal or natural body forbids our explaining the epithet “spiritual” here, as though it meant ethereal, or refined, [“much less made of spirit, which would be a contradiction.” Hodge].—According to the ordinary reading, the following sentence would be simply a short and emphatic confirmation of what has already been said. But the better authenticated text, which we are by no means justified in setting aside as an easier reading, or as a correction, presents us here with two clauses—the second conditioned upon the first, which is supposed to be conceded.—If there is an animal body,—which the soul has as its corresponding organism—a thing perfectly obvious—there is a spiritual body.i.e., the same must hold good also of the spirit; this likewise must have its corresponding organ as its means of expression, and as the instrument of its operations, [suited to the new order of things introduced by the coming of Christ], The emphasis here lies upon the word “is.” [If the one exists, so does the other].

1Co_15:45-49. According to Ewald, the sense and connection of this passage may be given thus: ‘This order of succession in the whole course of the world’s history, it is impossible should be otherwise. The finer forms always follow the grosser; those more spiritual succeed the more sensuous. Christ could appear only after Adam; and the purely heavenly Christ, as an external manifestation, is yet to be looked for. In like manner, the entire glorified humanity can only follow upon the present.’—And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul,—The citation is from Gen_2:7, with the addition of the qualifying words “first” and “Adam;” [ ἐãÝíôï åἰò øý÷çí æῶóáí , from the LXX, being a literal rendering of the Hebrew ìְּðֶôֶùׁ çéָּä , lit., for, or, unto a living soul; and to this the following expression is accommodated: åἰò ðíå . ῦìáæùïðïéῦí —The expression living soul, as used in Genesis, is often taken to indicate an order of being superior to the brute, and is the text of many an argument to prove the immortality of the soul. The incorrectness of this assumption will be readily seen by referring to Gen_1:20-21; Gen_1:24 and elsewhere, in which passages the words translated “living soul” are applied also to the entire lower creation. They are used indifferently of man and beast to express animal life in general; and it is in this light that the apostle uses them as the very course of his argument shows. Adam is spoken of as a living soul, not to prove his immortality, but rather his mortality. It is by means of the soul that he and all descended from Him, are linked to this changing and corruptible world, and so become the heirs of corruption. The only superiority ascribed to man in the history of creation, is found in the fact that ‘God breathed into him the breath of life,’ and in this it is intimated that in the act of becoming a living soul, man at the same time was endowed with higher capacities, which brought him into relationship with God, and made him capable of communing with Him, and so of rising to a spiritual existence. But the possibilities here involved for leading a true, spiritual life, could only be carried out by his abiding in fellowship with God and partaking of the Divine Spirit. And had this been maintained by obedience, there is every reason to believe that the higher life of the spirit would have glorified the lower and made it partaker of immortality without the intervention of death. But by reason of the Fall, this possibility was cut off, and man becoming animal ( øõ÷éêüò ) or as our version renders it “natural” in the very elements of his character, or in the springs of his existence, became at the same time mortal. Herein lay the necessity for the new creation through the intervention of a Redeemer who shall be nothing less than a quickening spirit]. That the Apostle wished to have the following clause also, regarded as a scripture quotation, is an assumption as groundless as that the whole was taken out of the Apocrypha. That which was affirmed in scripture respecting the first man Adam, suggests to his mind the thought of Christ, the antitype of Adam; the lower plain upon which Adam was said to stand, points to the higher. Already by the addition of the epithets “first” and “Adam,” the apostle gives us to recognize the significance of the scripture language, and introduces the contrast which he wished to set up.—the last Adam, a quickening spirit.—“He attaches his own words directly to the passage from Scripture, as if to intimate, that the latter as necessarily followed from the former, according to its typical significance, as though it had been already spoken. He, therefore, merely gives expression to the inference which is implied in the passage itself, without any intimation that it also did not belong to the language of Scripture—it being a self-evident result plainly contained there. (“Let a person read the first clause,” and man became a “living soul,” dwelling thoughtfully upon the expression “living soul,” and then repeat, “the last Adam, a quickening spirit,” somewhat less slowly and loud,” Meyer, Ed. 3.) The whole sentence, however, is by no means, to be regarded as a logical parenthesis, as though 1Co_15:46, were to be connected immediately with 1Co_15:44; but it enters directly into the whole course of thought, and was designed to be a confirmation of the preceding statement (1Co_15:44) from Scripture, which, by its declaration in regard to the first Man, that he became a living soul, from whence the soul-body or animal organization proceeded, points directly to that higher state which was first realized in the last Adam, viz., to the quickening Spirit on which the spiritual body was founded.—The adverb “so” introduces the scripture text a-corresponding to that which had just been asserted and likewise confirming it. Adam’s becoming “a living soul” is represented as the effect of God’s breathing into him “the breath of lives,” ðִùְׁîַú çַééִí . This is the term used to express the principle of life taken absolutely, which has its source in the divine Spirit, of which the soul of man is the efflux forming the bond or nexus between his body and his spirit, [See Delitzsch, Ed. 2. Part II. Sec. 3, and Heard, Tripartite Nature of Man, p. 36—45]. The man, however, is ðֶôֶù çַéָּä , living soul, wherein body and spirit meet in living union. By means of this union is he constituted and made capable of a spiritual life; or in other words, herein consists the foundation of his moral and intellectual culture and final glorification into a divine life (Beck, Seelenl., p. 9.) “This life of the spirit as it increases in intensity is destined to make the soul, and by means of it the body likewise ever more and more, the proper image and exponent of itself, so that the two-fold life of man, as in a natural and necessary way it has the soul for its uniting bond, so also in an ethical and voluntary way it has the spirit as an all-pervading and controlling principle.” [See Delitzsch, Part 2. Sec. 5]. The first man, not as yet having transcended the character of a living soul (with which, however, sin must not as yet be supposed, nor even the necessity of its occurrence, but only the susceptibility for it, Meyer, Ed. 3,) since his personal life, by a free act of his own, had not appropriated as it should the Divine life of the spirit, but had apostatized from it through sin, which ran its fatal course in subjecting man more and more to the power of death, required now a new beginning which should actually lead to that glorification for which he was originally intended. This was to be achieved by such an appropriation of the Divine life of the Spirit that the result should be a quickening spirit. And this is just what we find in the other and second Adam who winds up the history of the race; since soul and body are in Him thoroughly pervaded by the Divine life and He as the perfected and glorified One, has the power continually to beget this same life in others, and so by renewing and transforming them, actually to develop the original capacities and intent of our common nature. “But for the very reason that this quickening Spirit was obliged to assimilate every thing to itself, there arose a necessity for its bursting this earthly covering in order to fashion for itself a new and glorified organ.” Neander.—Now, it is evident, that the point of time from which Christ became this “quickening Spirit” was, not His birth, but His resurrection; for until that moment He was in the likeness of sinful flesh and had an animal body; and it was not until after He had solved the problem of maintaining the original sinlessness of the spirit through all the stages of His natural life in a world of sin, that He, who, by a living resemblance, was the representative of a humanity that had become flesh in all its natural susceptibility to sin and death, became in like manner the representative and head of a humanity spiritually and divinely glorified, by virtue of having glorified human nature through the power of the Spirit, and in the maintenance of a perfect obedience, and of thus having overcome the curse of sin (Beck, Lehrwiss., p. 465 ff. 472), The point of transition from the one to the other stage is His resurrection. Through this, in the very might of that love which led him to incur judgment and lay down His life for the deliverance of the lost, He became henceforth in His newly quickened and glorified corporeity the divine organ for that life-renewal, that quickening of the dead, which reaches its perfect realization at the resurrection, and so, “a quickening spirit” (comp. Rom_8:11). The verb to be supplied is not ἐóôßí , is, but ἐãÝíôï , became. While it belongs to the soul to be only “living,” and that through the spirit; so, on the contrary, does it belong to the Spirit “to make alive,” to impart the divine life-power which it has in itself, or which it is in a personal way (Osiander and Meyer). As the expression, “the first man,” designates the founder of the human race whose type is impressed upon all who spring from him, so does the expression, “the last Adam,” designate Him from whom issues the second final development of humanity that leads on to perfection.

And now, since it were natural to wish that the perfect had existed from the beginning, he proceeds to state the law of the divine order.—Howbeit, not first the spiritual, but the animal; afterward the spiritual.—Such is the established order in the development of humanity; and this order he means to set forth as something necessary, [founded in the very plan of the entire creation, the analogies of which were to be seen everywhere. Nature, through all the stages of existence, forms an ever-ascending series. In all the realms of life we mount from the lowest organizations to those more refined and complete. Why this was so ordered the apostle does not pretend to say. The reason for it is deeper than science can go, and is among the hidden things of the Eternal Wisdom. Al i that Paul means to assert here is, that such is the order required by the general constitution of things]. First, the earthly nature must needs manifest itself in Adam, and then only could it attain afterwards to a higher development (Neander). The adjectives, “spiritual” and “animal,” had better be taken here in a general way, as designating different stages of life, without supplying the noun “body.”—That the natural is first, and then the spiritual, is shown in the instances of the two great heads of humanity.—The first man (is) of the earth, earthy;—By the epithet “earthy,” which relates to the body, and not to the whole man as imbued with earthly affections, he designates that physical conformation which corresponds to his origin as taken from the earth. With this is connected the animal state. But the inward quickening of the body, which proceeds primarily from the spirit, does not take place directly; but through the operation of the soul, which, in man, by virtue of the breath of the Creator; is, as it were, formed out of the essence of the spirit in the body (Beck, Seelenl., p. 31). Now, inasmuch as in the creation of the first man there existed, first of all, a body fashioned out of the dust of the earth, this, at the start, could only bear the impress of the soul, which mediated the quickening power of the spirit. And such a body carries in itself the possibility of death, which, however, is only realized through sin (Gen_3:19; Comp. Rom_5:12 ff.), i.e., the alienation of the soul, which determines the condition of the body, from the Divine Spirit-life. Apart from this, however, it has the possibility also of not dying, which might have been realized through the perpetual appropriation of this spirit-life by means of which, as the soul advanced in spiritual glorification, it would become ever more qualified for the progressive quickening and glorification of the body (comp. Osiander, p. 777). As the antithesis we have—the second man is from heaven.—The fuller reading of the received text, “the Lord from heaven,” is opposed by an overwhelming balance of authorities; and the rejection of the words “the Lord” is not to be explained on the ground that it did not seem to suit as the proper contrast for “earthy.” It is far more likely that some transcribers attempted to fill out what appeared to be an imperfect antithesis, by adding “the Lord” in the margin by way of a gloss, and that this afterwards crept into the text. By the term “Lord”; (which would belong not to the subject, but to the predicate, and as the nobler designation would be put before the other), there would be exhibited the divine glory, the supramundane exaltation and power of the second man coming from heaven, in contrast with the earthly imperfection and weakness of the first man springing from the earth; and this certainly would not simply refer to his bodily life, but to his entire personality, which carries in itself the fulness of the spirit, and of divinely quickening power; from which, then, it might be inferred in regard to the expression “earthy,” that it denoted the earthly constitution and characteristics of the entire person of the first man.—In the case of the shorter reading, however, the question arises whether it means the heavenly origin of the second Man, in relation to His human life; which, then, in case the term “earthy” refers to the body of the first man, might be referred in like to manner to Christ’s corporeity (hence the heretical assumption that Christ’s body was from heaven); or whether it means the final appearing of the second man, His second advent, for the perfection of His work, of which the resurrection of the dead is a part. The whole context appears to imply the latter (comp. 1Co_15:22-23; 1Co_15:45; 1Co_15:49). What is here meant, therefore, is His coming from Heaven at His second Advent, which will take place in celestial, glory and in His transfigured humanity. And this presents to us the real antithesis to the earthiness of the first-man.

The following verses express the fact that the peculiar qualities of each of these two heads are reflected in those of the persons who belong to them severally, viz., in respect to the natural body on the one side, and the spiritual body on the other. This is what is meant by ̓ éïò and ôïéïῦôïé .—As the earthy, such they also that are earthy:—By the latter are meant those who have descended from Adam, and like him are of an earthy nature.—and as the heavenly, such they also that are heavenly.—By the latter are meant those belonging to Christ in their state of heavenly perfection, or those who are taken up with Christ, the glorified, in the fellowship of His glorified life in heaven. Comp. Eph_2:6, “and hath made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus;” and Php_3:20, “Our citizenship is in heaven;” to which may be added still further, 1Co_15:21. “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body.” The latter is here carried out in 1Co_15:49, in the same antithesis as in 1Co_15:48.—And as we bore,—namely, during our earthly life,—the image of the earthy,—i.e, the animal body (Php_3:21, “the body of our humiliation”)—we shall bear—namely, at the time of His appearing, from the resurrection onward,—the image of the heavenly.—i.e., the spiritual body which is made like unto His glorious body. In the verbs ἐöïñÝóáìåí and öïñÝóïìåí , he places himself and his readers at the turning point of the second Advent, when they will have the life which they led in their earthy state behind them, and that of their heavenly state just before them.— Öïñåῖí ,—an image taken from dress. It means to wear as a garment; it occurs also in tragedy in relation to bodies ( öïñåῖí äÝìáò ), and particular parts of the body, such as the hair. The more feebly attested reading öïñåóïìåí , we shall bear, corresponds to the entire connection and force of thought. The other, öïñÝóùìåí , let us bear, would introduce a. paranesis, which would constrain us to take the word “image” in an ethical sense. So Chrys., and Theoph.: “By the image of the earthy he means evil deeds, and by the image to the heavenly, good deeds.” It is in connection with this reading also that the following verse is interpreted in an ethical sense, which, however, is in contradiction with the uniform usage of the words “flesh and blood.” Perhaps, however, it was the ethical interpretation of 1Co_15:50, that gave rise to the reading. [Stanley, in obedience to the preponderance of authority, gives preference to the hortatory form of this sentence, which he acknowledges to be in no connection with the context].

1Co_15:50. He here winds up the whole of this exposition respecting the body in which believers should come forth, and confirms the declaration, “we shall bear the image of the heavenly,” by a solemn asseveration.—Now this I say,—It is a formula for emphasizing a subsequent statement, and implies no concession to his opponents. ̓ ôé , as in 1Co_7:29, not ‘because,’ but,—that

1Co_15:49 rests on 1Co_15:45, not on that which here follows.—flesh and blood—By these words, according to Theodoret, are intended [not our sinful, fallen nature, as some, like Chrys., understand it construing the words in an ethical sense; but] our mortal nature, which, as such—cannot inherit the kingdom of God;—or, as Lange, “the constitution originating in natural birth.” It is the animal body in its present organization. “Flesh” denotes the earthly substance of the “body and blood,” the animal element in it, according to its corruptible nature. That this corporeal constitution cannot enter the kingdom of God without change, is still further shown from the incompatibility between the two.—neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.—Corruption, not as distinct from flesh and blood, as the dead are distinguished from the living; but the word exhibits to us prominently a characteristic of our present state, which sets it in marked contrast with the constitution of the kingdom of God, as that of an imperishable life— öèüñá is here the abstract for the concrete öèÜñôïí . The present êëçñïíáìåῖ expresses a constant relation (Meyer), and an established truth. The idea of time is not here taken into account.


1. Skepticism would fain wear the aspect of an enlightenment that transcended the ordinary scope of faith, of a more comprehensive and loftier view of the world which was justified in looking down upon a belief in the doctrines of revelation as a sign of narrowness and bigotry. But, regarded rightly, the narrowness will be found on its part. It is skepticism that betrays a lack of sound reason, which, at the same time, includes a lack in the higher moral constitution. There lies at the foundation of it a dullness of thought, a dislike for the labor of profound contemplation, a disposition to be readily satisfied with what is most obvious, and to abide within the wonted circle of human notions. Nay, still more there is at the bottom of it a pride of understanding which delights in the supposed discoveries of truth, and is opposed to the acknowledgment of a wisdom surpassing its own range of thought and opinion—even a wisdom to which it is the business and duty of the human under standing to submit, cordially accepting its doctrines and endeavoring to understand them more, and more, if it is ever properly to come to itself, since it here enters upon its own proper ground, the Spirit of God, and in the light of truth is enabled to recognize more and more, on every side, the nature and laws of Divine providence, and the manifold ways of God, and the correspondencies which exist between the natural creation in its varied developments and the kingdom of grace or the work of redemption in all its rich unfolding.

2. The resurrection of the dead, stands in close analogy with various phenomena which constantly present themselves to our notice, and in which the creative omnipotence of God displays itself from year to year. In these death, dissolution, and corruption, are seen to be the conditions of a new life—stages of transition to new forms of existence. The kernel contained in the ripened fruit, conceals a vital germ, which, when the kernel is planted in the soil and there dissolved, bursts forth and springs up into a new growth in conformity with the constitution originally given it by the Creator, and by means of His ever-present, everywhere active, power. Essentially the same process occurs in the resurrection of the dead. Corruption is only the dissolution of that which was the result of a previous vital development, in order that the germ of a new body which was included in the inmost kernel of the old, may break forth and unfold itself into a new and living organism. But the new is not [as some suppose, the restoration of the old, a recomposition of the same particles that existed in the old body,] but of another and nobler quality [and better suited to be the organ of a perfectly sanctified spirit]. In the resurrection body we enter upon a distinct and higher stage of life than that occupied by the body which has been laid in the earth. [The apostle calls it “a building of God, a house not made with hands” in contrast with the former, in which, as the seat of pain, and suffering, and sin, we groaned being burdened. What its particular attributes and peculiarities are, it doth not yet appear. It is sufficient for us to know, that it will be like unto Christ’s glorious body; and from the hints afforded us in the account given of His several appearances to His disciples, we may obtain some idea of its superior adaptation for the service of the spirit]. It must be understood that we are here speaking only of those who have been taken unto a fellowship with the new divine life in Jesus Christ, and have come within the sphere of His redeeming grace; or, in other words, who belong to that new development which proceeds from the last Adam. [What the condition of those will be who are to come forth to the resurrection of damnation, we are not here informed, and on this point to offer conjecture would be to go beyond our province].

This higher stage of corporeal existence has its analogies in the broad range of creation; since here also, we behold manifold distinctions and degrees of organization, as well in the sphere of animal life as among the higher orders of being, including man and angels, and also among the celestial bodies shining with varied glory. Somewhat corresponding to the distinctions here observable, will be the superiority of the resurrection-body in the comparison with the earthly body—a superiority, which viewed in the contrasts presented at the time of death and of resurrection, is expressed in the antithesis between corruption and incorruption, weakness and power, dishonor and glory.

3. The resurrection as illustrated by the account of the divine plan in man’s creation. Much light is cast upon the great distinction between the present and the resurrection-body, by the divinely revealed economy of the Creator, or, in other words, by the divinely ordained development of the human race, as set forth in Scripture. The all-quickening Spirit of God first produced a creature with a living soul. The soul, as the vehicle and instrument of his life-power, by which being quickened, the earthly body prepared for it by God becomes animal or psychical, i.e. conformed to the character of the soul, is the organism of a personal life which is capable either of appropriating to itself ever more and more that divine spiritual life in which it is rooted, or of apostatizing from it. In the case of apostasy, such as actually occurred, instead of a progressive glorification of the earthly, physical body into a heavenly, spiritual one, there would ensue a progressive mortality and corruption. And such man has already incurred. Nevertheless, that condition for which he was originally constituted and destined, was still bound to come to pass. Through a Divine act of love, a new process of development was introduced into the human race, which, as in the first instance, entered into life through the quickening power of the divine Spirit, and in the like manner, involved the possibility of a free self-determination in both directions, i.e., a true human life according to soul and body. But by a style of conduct opposed to that pursued in the first stage of development or by its head, the first Adam—by the perpetual appropriation and maintenance of the divine, spiritual life amid all the temptations of our lower nature, and amid all the difficulties, struggles and necessities which attended upon a loving entrance into the accursed state of the first Adamic humanity, this reached a height upon which the animal nature, glorified into a truly spiritual condition, becomes the principle of a like glorification for the earthly animal race of man (in so far as this enters into the fellowship of the second Adam), so that everything which had been corrupted by means of sin is again restored, and aims at rising to the highest stage of life which had been ordained from the beginning as the proper goal of all human endeavor, but which had become unattainable after the apostasy. Now after that we have become incorporated into the second Adam by faith, by means of which His Spirit as an inwardly sanctifying power takes possession of our personal life, and delivers it from all selfishness, and all entanglement with our earthly sensuous being, and attracts it with all its powers and entire organism into the service of the Divine life, and assimilates it to that; there then follows, as the natural completion of this process, an unfolding of the germ of this Divine spiritual life that has been implanted in this organism (after the process of dying which belonged to the old Adamic state, has been gone through with) into a new organism which corresponds to the glorified body of the second Adam.



1Co_15:35. Hedinger: Shall I rise again out of the grave, the dust, the fire, the abyss of the sea, and appear in beauty and glory? Reason says, No. Oh, blindness! Ask the beautiful fruit-bearing stalk, what and where it was a short time ago.

1Co_15:36. “Thou fool.” Paul here calls conceited reason by its right name, in order to rebuke unbelief (Gal_3:1). To him who believes in the infinite knowledge, wisdom and power of God, and in the creation where God brought all things out of nothing, it will not be hard to believe that God knows where every little particle of dust of this or that body or member is, and how that which has been mingled in with the seeds of other bodies is to be again separated from them, and how each particle is to be brought again to its place, so that each body may be the same body. If it is possible that a corrupted little seed of corn shall spring up to new life and verdure, and bring forth new kernels, although thy reason cannot comprehend how this can happen; then it is not impossible that God should quicken again the bodies that have been dissolved.—There is such a depth and breath in the works of God, that our feeble understanding becomes lost in them, even as a little drop of water is swallowed up in the great sea.

1Co_15:37 f. That the nature of every plant, with all its peculiarities is included in the little seed-corn, and springs from that, is certainly a work of God’s wisdom and omnipotence. If He now produces from the buried kernel a particular plant which bears upon its stalk many other like kernels, how can we doubt that God would be both able and willing, according to His own infinite power, to bring forth out of the seed of a decaying human body a like result once more? (Luk_18:27.)

1Co_15:43. The most beautiful of mankind, during their whole life, are but dirt, and are obliged to conceal much that they have both upon and in themselves; but the resurrection will glorify all that, and render our bodies perfectly pure vessels.

1Co_15:45. We must carry about with us this mortal body in humility, endure it with patience, and let it die with fresh courage. In this way we rightly labor towards transforming it into that glorious and spiritual body which we expect from the second Adam.

1Co_15:47. Hedinger: Since the earthly Adam, endowed with earthly attributes, came first, and the second spiritual Adam followed after, so must that body which we inherit from Adam first be earthly and born, ere it become spiritual according to the image of the second Adam.

1Co_15:48. Every thing in its own time—the body must first lay off its earthly qualities through death, and after that spring up anew.—What at last is born anew at the resurrection—should not this be glorious? 1Co_15:49. Here upon earth the glory of the divine image mirrors itself in believers to some degree; but at the resurrection they will possess all this glory in its perfection.

1Co_15:50. Perhaps thou wouldst gladly journey on to heaven with thy body and soul without dying, and so inherit its glory (2. Cor. 1Co_5:4); but that which is to live there must first perish, ere it be made anew.

Berlenb. Bibel:

1Co_15:35 f. Man takes too much upon his phantasy, and means to see every thing thereby. Happily such are first pointed to the operations of Nature. For the lower and the transient world is an image of the higher and the enduring. If such wise spirits would investigate more exactly the operations of Nature, this would enable them to read in living characters, what follies they, with their wisdom perpetrate before God. Even in natural things we do not succeed in understanding how one thing and another transpires; and how much more will this be the case in heavenly mysteries (Wis_9:16).—It is a folly which emanates from the pool of our corrupt hearts to be always inquiring—‘how? how?’ If we take our reason only with us and use it beyond its proper limits, it turns to unreason. We should learn to understand that things come from a higher hand, and abide in the way of faith.

1Co_15:37. The outer hulls do not germinate, but are sloughed off from the inner germ, decay and mix with earth; but the germ itself springs up again in living green. Accordingly it is not precisely the same body with all its dust that is to rise again. Yea, even during this life, this mortal body is subject to a perpetual change, so that in a short time not one particle of that which we once were, remains in us, [so it is not necessary in maintaining the identity of the body to preserve the same material particles of which it was at any one time composed]. Though our bodies are in continual flux, yet no one says that we become new men every quarter of a year.

1Co_15:38. The best is concealed in order that we may not confound Nature with God. Nature hides itself. There God alone is master, and has the key. If we do not go to Him we shall bring nothing out.

1Co_15:44. We must not draw our conclusions from one body to another, and say: A body is a body. No; great distinctions exist among bodies. There is a spiritual body which is through and through like pure spirit, as well as a natural and beastly body.

1Co_15:45. God has created men not purely spiritual, in order that they may not exalt themselves, but ever be mindful of their dependence. The natural life is, in respect to the other life, only as a field; but in the field a spiritual seed is sown which shall hereafter spring up through the power of the second Adam.

1Co_15:46. The state of weakness comes first: otherwise, we would not know how to esteem that of highest glory, nor yet to distinguish between the two. Hence, this order is good; and he who takes it into account will avoid the miserable snares which are spread by reason.

1Co_15:47. The first and the second man—these two are as wide asunder in their nature as heaven and earth, yea, as God and the creature; and yet one has come to the other, so that we have share in both.

1Co_15:48. We must not become more earthly than Adam was. The Heavenly Adam was provided in order that we may and should again erect ourselves upon Him. In this way, then, do those that are heavenly spring from Him by a new birth and life in Him. But if this is to happen, our old earthly man, must and will, in thought, word, work, become united to Christ, in his sufferings and death, and the new man arise in us.—This is the great mystery, on account of which God became man, and proposes now to exhibit us as the children of God through His incarnation.


1Co_15:35 ff. In inquiring after the exact ground, how any event comes to pass, every thing for the most part turns upon the intention of the inquirer—whether he inquire from a desire of learning, and a delight in the truth, or from doubt and pleasure in mocking; whether he does it from faith and for the sake of advancing in knowledge, or simply to find pretext for unbelief. The difficulty in respect to the resurrection is the dying and the dissolutton; but this, indeed, in a thousand cases, is the only way to new life and verdure, and fruitfulness. This thou wouldst question, if thou hadst not seen it so often.—It is enough that now the way through death to life is so pictured before our eyes. What God does daily and yearly in the realm of Nature, this He does in the kingdom of His Son, for the destruction of the last enemy. Let the change and expansion and manifold increase in the seed that is sown be what it may, yet all this has had its ground and cause in the seed itself. Even so the resurrection is but a quickening and up-springing of that very thing which has died.—What else is the denial of the resurrection but an ignoring of the power of God, which can produce out of its inexhaustible fulness just what it will. 1Co_15:42 ff. Precious foundation for our patience,—to suffer under the body of this death, because the germ of a future spiritual body exists therein! How deep down into the inheritance of Adam: until thou returnest again to dust! How highly exalted in the inheritance of Christ: until we shall become like unto His glorious body! Lord Jesus, prepare me that I may bear thy heavenly image.

1Co_15:50. The natural life which we have in common with other living creatures upon the soil of earth, is not fit for the kingdom of God; it would be far too weak to sustain the powers in exercise there.


1Co_15:35. All question after the how in the mysterious doctrines of religion must be asked with modes