by Dr. Samuel Lee   04/01/2001     0 reads



1 Corinthians 15:35-58

Key Verse: 15:49

“And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.”

1. Read verse 35. Why might people ask these questions? What did Jesus

say about the resurrection of the dead? (Jn 5:28,29)

2. Read verse 36. What is the resurrection principle taught here? (Jn

12:24) What was Paul's attitude toward this principle? (15:31a) What

was the disciples' first reaction to this principle? (Mk 8:31-32)

What did Jesus teach? (Mk 8:34b-35)

3. Read verse 37. To what does Paul compare a person's body? How is the

seed that is planted different from the body which grows from it?

4. Read verses 38-41.  What does this suggest about the purpose of God

   in his works of creation? Read verses 42-44a. What is the contrast

between the natural body and the spiritual body? How is human glory

different from the heavenly glory?

5. Read verses 44b-49. Who are the two Adams? How are they different?

What do we receive from each? What promise does God gives us? (49)

What does this mean?

6. Read verses 50-54. What is the mystery? Why is it necessary to be

changed? How is Jesus' work different the second time he comes? (Jn

5:28,29) What happens to those who are not Jesus' people? (Rev 21:8)

To those who are?

7. Read verses 55-58. What is the great victory? What is its source? With

this assurance of victory how must we live? What is our joy and

confidence? (49,57,58)




1 Corinthians 15:35-58

Key Verse: 15:49

“And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.”

In the first lecture we studied the gospel of the resurrection:

Jesus died for our sins and rose again on the third day according to the

Scriptures.  Through his resurrection the Risen Christ forgave all our

sins and gave us new birth into a living hope in the kingdom of God. In

the second lecture we studied the power of the Risen Christ. In a vast

field of death in history, Jesus is the only one who rose again from the

dead, and he became the firstfruits of eternal life with his resurrection

power. The Risen Christ de stroys all dominion, authority and power of

all unrighteousness. Next, he destroys the power of death. Finally, the

Risen Christ restores the kingdom of God so that God may be all in all,

and men can live in the kingdom of God forever and ever with Christ

who was once slain for our sins and is now sitting on the throne. In

this third lecture we learn the resurrection principle and the glory of

the resurrection. We also learn that at the time of the sec ond coming

of Jesus there will be the bodily resurrection of the saints, and at

the same time, all the enemies of God will be completely destroyed.

Let's study today how glorious is the resurrection of Christ. The

resurrection is glorious beyond our imagination. So let us study the

glory of the resurrec tion and live with this glorious hope in our hearts.

I.  The resurrection principle (35-49)

First, the prerequisite of resurrection. (35,36) Look at verse 35a. "But

someone may ask, 'How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will

they come?'" In time past and present, no one has ever been raised

from the dead. Everyone was swallowed up by the power of death. So

it was inconceivable for the Corinthians to accept resurrection

faith. It was even more inconceivable for them to think of the bodily

resurrection. Whether they believed it or not, the resurrection of Christ

was a historical fact, and the bodily resurrection of each person will

occur. John 5:28,29 says, "‘Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming

when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out--those

who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will

rise to be condemned.'" But some asked, "With what kind of body will they

come?" To many, it was horrible that the dead would be raised and walk

around. They thought that the resurrection body was like a corpse walking

around. Nobody wanted to die. The attachment to life in this world may

be the strongest attachment any person can have. But nobody wanted to

be raised as they were, wretched and abominable. No one wants to repeat

the miseries and agonies of life over again--never! So some Corinthians

asked rebelliously, "How are the dead raised?"  and "With what kind of

body will they come?" These two questions are basically the same.

The question, "How are the dead raised?" came from their fear of

death. They did not want to die. Even if they had to suffer endlessly

living in this world, they wanted to live in this world. In view of

history there were many empires with many slaves. Slaves under their

masters had no meaning to live in this world at all. But the more they

were driven to work harder through whipping, beating, and hurling insults,

the more they wanted to live, partly because of their family members,

but mainly because of their attachment to their own lives. So when

Paul mentioned about the glory of the resurrection they rejected his

teaching in their hearts. But they did not say, "We reject the glory

of the resurrection." Instead, they turned what they had in their minds

around into a theological argument, like many worldly Christians who do

not put what they know into practice.

Paul knew what the problem was in their hearts and taught the

resurrection principle. The resurrection principle is the most glorious

truth of God. Look at verse 36. "How foolish! What you sow does not come

to life unless it dies." The resurrection principle is that death is

prerequisite to resurrection: unless someone or something dies there is

no resurrection.  Without death there is no resurrection. It is the same

as saying, "No pain, no gain," or "No cross, no crown." This principle

applies to the present life. One woman Ph.D. student was happy to become

a Christian after studying the beautiful Jesus. Soon she found out that

if she wanted to be a good Christian, she has to deny herself and take

up her cross daily. Then she began reading many books to discover how to

enter the glory of the resurrection by another way, not through the way of

the cross. Finally, she came to a conclusion that she is not able to get

a Ph.D. in physics unless she studies, suffering almost unto death. When

she realized the resurrection principle she made a bitter smile.

It is not easy for anyone to grasp the resurrection principle. Peter

made a confession of Christ, "You are the Son of the living God." (Mt

16:16) It was a confession of love more than a theological statement. But

whenever Jesus taught him the meaning of his death and resurrection,

Peter was not happy to hear his words. So once when Jesus spoke to his

disciples concerning his death and resurrection, Peter took him aside and

began to rebuke him. Jesus rebuked him back, "Get behind me, Satan! You do

not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." (Mk 8:33) Then

Jesus taught him the right attitude toward the resurrection principle. "If

anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and

follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever

loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it." (Mk 8:34b,35)

The resurrection principle is the life-giving principle.

Paul, who grasped the glorious resurrection principle, said in 1

Corinthians 15:31a, "I die every day." When he said, "I die every day," it

did not mean physical death, but it meant that he did not despair in all

situations, but worked hard for Jesus as a matter of life and death. Again

he said in 2 Timothy 1:8,9: "So do not be ashamed to testify about our

Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for

the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a

holy life--not because of anything we have done but because of his own

purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the

beginning of time." There is no thought of death to those who accepted

the resurrection principle. Instead, their hearts are filled with the

glory of God. Romans 8:18 says, "I consider that our present sufferings

are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." On

the other hand, those who reject the resurrection principle are under

the shadow of death. Let's read verse 36 again. "How foolish! What you

sow does not come to life unless it dies."

Second, the earthly body is the seed of a spiritual body. (37-41)

Some Corinthian Christians wondered what kind of body would come at

the time of resurrection. There were some Christians who believed in

Jesus as the Son of God. But they did not know that God is Spirit and

he is omnipotent and omnipresent. They also did not know that man is

both body and spirit. Most of all they had no idea that the physical

body is the seed of the resurrection body. So Paul likens man's body to

a seed that has been planted. Look at verses 37 and 38. "When you sow,

you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat

or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and

to each kind of seed he gives its own body." No seed is pretty enough to

look at with wonder. But the bodies that come from seeds have fascinating

beauty beyond imagination, like the beautiful flowers and all kinds of

plants which come from their seeds.

Look at verses 39-41. "All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind

of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are

also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of

the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is

another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars

another; and star differs from star in splendor." Here Paul explains that

the physical body is the seed of the spiritual body. Paul also explains

that when God created all things, he gave each thing its own kind of

body and its own splendor or glory. Each body is different. Each has

its own kind of splendor.  Likewise, the resurrection body is indeed

splendorous and glorious.

In verses 35-44, the word, "glory" or "splendor" is repeated five

times.  Here, "splendor" or "glory" refers to the inherent greatness

that is found in each of God's works of creation. Every part of God's

creation was created to give glory to God, and at the same time, each

created thing reveals its own special greatness. So, one who discovers

himself or herself in God is indeed great, and, all of creation finds

satisfaction as it fulfills God's purpose in creation.

What is physical glory or the glory of the flesh? It is human honor,

love and wealth. These three things are the glory of the flesh. This

is the reason man must seek honor, glory and immortality, even though

they are only seeking a fleeting pleasure or thrill. Nevertheless, human

glory does not satisfy man's soul, because it is based on five desires

and seven feelings of fallen mankind. Among them, the desire to eat and

to get human recognition may be strongest. Man exerts great effort to

achieve the glory of the flesh.

But man dies too soon before enjoying the glory of the flesh. Only

the glory of heaven satisfies human souls, because God created man in the

image of God with both body and spirit. Man is a soul. Because we have

physical bodies that belong to the earth, we need the worldly glory,

even though it fades away too soon. But if a man does not know about

God's truth that the physical body is the seed of the resurrection body

he cannot but be a mental patient in his inner man. A man who knows the

physical body is the seed of the resurrection body longs for heavenly

glory with gladness and utmost happiness in his inner man. Also, he

can be a good husband to his wife, thinking that she is his precious

partner of pilgrimage pressing toward the glorious heavenly kingdom. So

far, Paul explained that the physical body is the seed of the spiritual

body and that the resurrection body is splendorous and glorious. Most

importantly, Paul makes it clear that man is both body and soul: man has

both a physical body and a spiritual body, and the physical body is the

seed of the glorious spiritual body.

Third, we will bear the likeness of the Risen Christ. (42-49) Verse 42a

reads, "So will it be with the resurrection of the dead." What, then,

will the resurrection body look like? Verses 42b-44 read, "The body

that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 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 body, it is raised a spiritual body." What

a glorious hope it is to be clothed with the resurrection body! This

is the reason Jesus invited all kinds of sinners to himself. Once,

Jesus was passing through Samaria. There Jesus met a Samaritan woman

whose soul was thirsty. She had had five husbands and a boyfriend. She

was a dangerous woman. Jesus humbled himself and said, "Will you give

me a drink?" At that moment she saw in Jesus the Messiah, the Savior of

the world. Through this event the dangerous woman was accepted into the

kingdom of God as a heavenly princess. Once, Jesus was passing by the road

of Capernaum. Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi.  Jesus said to him,

"Follow me." It was an invitation to become one of his disciples. More

fundamentally, it was an invitation to the kingdom of God.  Through that

event this dishonorable man was accepted into the kingdom of God with the

most honorable resurrection body. Once a man with leprosy whose eyes were

barely supported by their sockets, oozing, came to Jesus and said in a

hoarse voice, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." Jesus

cleansed his leprosy and made him as white as snow.  Through this event

he was accepted into the kingdom of God with an imperishable body.

In this world, we must suffer. We have sorrow and pain. In the

course of living in this world all men become old and look wretched. It

is because we inherited a physical body from Adam. Look at verse 45. "So

it is written: 'The first man Adam became a living being'; the last

Adam, a life-giving spirit." From the Risen Christ Jesus we received

life-giving spirit, that is, a glorious spiritual body. As the physical

body came first, so the spiritual body also comes. As Adam came from

the dust of the ground and gave us a physical body, the Risen Christ,

the second Adam, came from heaven and gave us a spiritual body. (45-48)

Verse 49 reads, "And just as we have borne the likeness of the

earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven." It

is funny that each person thinks, even if he or she does not really

believe so, that he or she is the most handsome man or the most beautiful

woman. People think so to forget about their hidden human agonies. One of

the human agonies is that each person loses his or her beauty when he or

she gets old. So, to old people we are ready to say, "Oh, you look very

young." It is a white lie.  Still, it works remarkably. Man wants to be

a poetic teenager and live in the world forever and ever. But he gets

old and dies. We all bear the likeness of the earthly man. If there is

no resurrection body, man's life is too sorrowful to think about. Those

who have no resurrection faith are all too sorrowful, thinking they will

be ornamented by funeral service men when they die.

But when we have resurrection faith we do not suffer from the

thought of death. Rather, we live in the world with glorious hope. Look

at verse 49.  "And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly

man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven." When we

keep the faith, and fight the good fight, and run the race to the end

and die, we will be clothed with the resurrection body by the Risen

Christ. What will we look like? That's a good question. We will not

look as we were. We will all look like beautiful Jesus. It is totally

unbelievable. But it will be so. Look at verse 49 again. "And just as

we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the

likeness of the man from heaven." During our lifetime we Christians

all suffered endlessly to keep the faith and run the race of faith. We

suffered endlessly because of false accusations of God-haters. Most

of all, we suffered because of fallen man's tendencies in us, though

we struggled hard to be like Jesus. But when we die, not only are we

clothed with the likeness of Jesus, but also the Risen Christ makes our

inner man to be like beautiful Jesus. We will be as humble as Jesus. We

will be as gentle as Jesus. We will be as obedient as Jesus. We will be

as glorious as Jesus. The man from heaven is Jesus Christ. We die in an

ugly and weak body; but when we believe in Jesus the man from heaven,

we will be raised up in a glorious resurrection body. We will bear the

likeness of Jesus. We shall be like him.

II.  The glory of the second coming of Christ (50-57)

How glorious is our hope of salvation and our hope to be restored

in the image of Jesus! With this glorious hope of heaven in our hearts,

we can live every day as holy children of God. But our greatest and

most glorious hope is far bigger than just our own personal salvation

and glorification.  Paul says in verse 50, "I declare to you, brothers,

that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the

perishable inherit the imperishable." This verse tells us that we can

enter the glory of God only by faith in the Risen Christ. Verse 51 says,

"Listen, I tell you a mystery." What is it?

First, the salvation of believers. (51-53) Look at verses 51-53. "Listen,

I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be

changed--in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For

the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will

be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable,

and the mortal with immortality." In this verse, "at the last trumpet,"

refers to the time of Jesus' second coming.  We don't know when Jesus

will come again. When Jesus came first to this world, he came as the good

shepherd and Savior of the world. He became a friend to everybody. He

healed the sick and preached the good news of the kingdom of God. But

when he comes again, he will not come as a shepherd and friend; he will

come as the Judge of the living and the dead.

Many people abuse God's long-suffering patience, saying, "Where

is God's judgment? Let's eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." But we

Christians live a holy life, eagerly waiting for the second coming

of Jesus Christ, because we have a secret in our hearts. The secret

we Christians hold in our hearts with joy is the sure fact of Jesus'

coming again. What happens to us when he comes again? Look at verses

51 and 52. "Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep,

but we will all be changed--in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye,

at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised

imperishable, and we will be changed." At the time of the second coming of

Jesus Christ there will be the bodily resurrection of all people. Bodily

resurrection has deep meaning in it.  Those who thought death is the

end of everything will find that they were wrong.  Those who lived in

the world as the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the

sexually immoral, and those who practiced magic arts, the idolaters and

all liars cannot hide anymore in their graves. They will be resurrected

to be judged according to what they had done. On the other hand, Jesus'

people will all be changed to be like him and will inherit the kingdom

of God and live forever with the Risen Christ in peace and love.

Second, enemies destroyed. (54-57) The coming of Christ means joy and

salvation to believers. But the time of his second coming is the time of

condemnation and suffering for the enemies of our God. They crucified

Jesus and thought they would see him no more. But they will see his

coming with their own eyes. They were the ones who persecuted God's people

ruthlessly. But they will not be able to persecute them anymore, because

they will be thrown into the lake of eternal destruction. Finally, the

last enemy, the power of sin and death, is destroyed by the second coming

of Jesus Christ. Actually, at the time of the resurrection of Jesus, the

power of sin and death was destroyed. But Satan has been wagging his tail

because the vestige of last breathing remained in the end of Satan's tail.

This wagging tail of Satan has frightened mankind until now. But at

the time of the second coming of Jesus, sin and death, that is, Satan,

will be completely destroyed and there will be no more Satan--the liars

and murderers. So Paul cried out to this power of death which has been

rendered helpless, "'Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death,

is your sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the

law" (55-56). Look at verse 57. "But thanks be to God! He gives us the

victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

III.  Therefore, my dear brothers (58)

Look at verse 58. "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let

nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord,

because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." Paul

explained in this chapter the meaning of the resurrection of Jesus,

the power of the resurrection, and the glory of the resurrection. Paul

strongly encourages Christians to work hard for the Risen Christ, for

only work done in the Lord is not in vain.

The last words of verse 58, "in vain," have a deep spiritual meaning.

While worldly people were only making money and living an easy life,

Satan whispered to the Corinthian Christians, as he does to us, "The

Christian life is no fun." But Paul says that what worldly people do is

in vain. They make much money by cheating and being cheated. They enjoy

all kinds of pleasures freely, but they have no resurrection faith,

so they do all these things to cover up their deep inner despair at the

power of sin and death.  Whatever they do is nothing but the expression

of their despair. But in Christ, labor for the Lord is not in vain; we do

not despair at our lives because we have faith in Jesus' resurrection. It

is this conviction that is the basis of resurrection faith. One who is

convinced that his labor in the Lord is not in vain is the one who will

someday be clothed in the image of the Risen Christ. He will receive the

kingdom of heaven as his inheritance. May God help each of us to enter

the glory of God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.