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Bodily Resurrection

Author: Randy McCarthy
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By: Elder Randy McCarthy


Our reading schedule for October includes 1Corinthians 15. This is one of my favorite chapters in the entire New Testament. In this chapter, the Apostle Paul makes several powerful arguments for the veracity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and for the significance of this event.


Paul appears to be addressing a false teaching that had crept into the Corinthian church, namely, that there would not be a physical resurrection of the saints when the Lord Jesus returns. Paul ably dispels this false teaching, and tells us several things about the resurrection that can be of great comfort to us today.


Paul begins this section of his letter by repeating the following creed, or saying, that was commonly voiced among the early believers. Many scholars believe that this creed had been in existence within two years after the resurrection of Christ (circa 30 A.D.):


For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 1Cor 15:3-7.


From the very beginning, the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead was the central theme of all of the apostles’s teachings.  See Acts 4:2, 13:30, 17:18 and 26:23; Romans 1:4; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 2:12; Philippians 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 2 Timothy 2:8; 1 Peter 1:3 and 1:21; Revelation 1:18.  Seven weeks after the crucifixion and resurrection, Peter stated emphatically on the Day of Pentecost that he and the other apostles were eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. (Acts 2:32 et seq.).


In Chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians, Paul directly links the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ to our own bodily resurrection when Christ returns.  Paul argues that since Jesus was raised from the dead in glory, we must be raised too; it is an absolute certainty that we will be raised. There is no way it cannot happen.


For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith [is] vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the firstfruits of them that slept…But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then [cometh] the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy [that] shall be destroyed [is] death. 1Cor 15:16-26.


In this passage, Paul explains that Jesus was the “firstfruits” of them that slept. The firstfruits was an offering under the Mosaic Law that was made at the beginning of a harvest season: if God accepted the firstfruits, God accepted the rest of the crop. Leviticus 23:10-11. Since God accepted Jesus Christ and honored Him by raising Him from the dead, God will accept us as well and raise us from the dead in glory based on the perfect atonement by Christ. This is great news!


Paul makes one more wonderful statement about the resurrection, describing to us what it will be like:


But some [man] will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? [Thou] fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And 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]: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body… So also [is] the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam [was made] a quickening spirit… As [is] the earthy, such [are] they also that are earthy: and as [is] the heavenly, such [are] they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 1 Cor 15:36-49.


Paul brings to mind an example that the Lord Jesus had also used, that of a seed planted into the ground. John 12:24. Paul says that nature itself tells us that we put one kind of thing into the ground (like a seed of wheat), and another thing comes out (like a wheat plant). They are the same in one sense, and yet quite different in another. So it is with our bodily resurrection; we will emerge in our own bodies, and yet these bodies will be changed. All our corruption from our relation to Adam and his sin will be erased, and we will be like the Lord, bearing his glorious image.


It is comforting to look forward to the resurrection, when all our trials will be over and we will be with the Lord and His People forever in peace and safety. Still, it is a difficult thing to imagine what it will be like. Paul was caught up into heaven and saw some of the glories of this, and could not speak of them, either because he was forbidden, or more likely, there simply were no words to describe it. 2Cor 12:2. Paul does say that the sufferings of this present life are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us then. Romans 8:18. John said that it is not clear what it will be like in the resurrection, but we shall be like Him. 1John 3:2. Job said that he would see his Redeemer with his own eyes, and not the eyes of another.  Job 19:27.  God said that in that day there will be no more death, and He will wipe away every one of our tears. Rev 21:4. Perhaps David said it best: I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness. Psalm 17:15.


One thing we do know about our bodily resurrection in glory: it will happen. Every day brings it closer.  Praise God for His great mercy and love!


Published: 2010-10-10 by RKM


larry heldman  

Elder James Compton (1905 - 2007)
Elder James Compton was the original founder of the 'Gospel of Grace Tape Supply.' His collection of tapes began as he traveled to Church meetings and Associations recording sermons on Reel to Reel. He has maintained this library of sermons faithfully over the years and are now the foundation of PB Sermons. org. This web site is dedicated to Elder James Compton (1905 - 2007)