Category Archives: 1 CORINTHIANS 15:35-58

The doctrine of resurrection as it relates to believers.

1 CORINTHIANS 15:35-58

We come now to the second major section of the chapter, in which the apostle deals with the resurrection of the saints.  Those who have died in Christ have not perished, verse 18, for Christ is risen. Those who are still alive are not of all men most miserable, verse 19, for the same reason.


15:35  But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?

 15:36  Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:

 15:37  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:

 15:38  But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed his own body.

 15:39  All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.

 15:40  There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.

 15:41  There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.

 15:42  So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:

 15:43  It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:

 15:44  It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

 15:45  And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.

 15:46  Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.

 15:47  The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.

 15:48  As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.

 15:49  And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.



(a) Verses 34-41 The character of the resurrection body.
(b) Verses 42-44 The change of the resurrection body.
(c) Verses 44(b)-49  The correspondence of the resurrection body to Christ’s.



(a) Verse 36 A quickened body.
(b) Verse 36 A clothed body.
(c)  Verse 38  A sovereignly-given body.
(d) Verse 38 An identifiable body.
(e) Verse 39 A body suited to the nature.
(f) Verse 40 A body suited to the environment to be lived in.
(g) Verse 41 A body capable of radiating glory.

That resurrection is possible and credible is shown by the use of illustrations from various fields of study in the natural realm, whether botanical, animal, or astronomical.  From these the apostle illustrates the truths regarding the resurrection body and its suitability for the glorious environment in which it will function.

15:35        But some man will say- having dealt effectively with the question raised in verse 12 as to whether the resurrection of the dead is a possibility, the apostle now anticipates another query. 
How are the dead raised up?- the word “how” means either, “by what means”, or “in what condition?”.  That the latter is the meaning is clear from subsequent verses; the apostle makes no attempt here to explain by what means God will raise the dead.  That it will be by the word of Christ we know from His own words, John 5:25-29.  “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead? Acts 26:8.  The Sadducees denied resurrection, and the Lord Jesus rebuked them with the words, “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God”, Matthew 22:29. 
And with what body do they come?- “in what condition” is answered in verses 36-44(a), “what body”  is answered in verses 44(b)-49.  What body can possibly rise from the grave, when it has crumbled to dust centuries ago?  He who made man from the dust at the beginning, can bring a man out from the dust.  We should remember that our body is not only an object, but is also an idea- one million cells in our body die and are replaced each second, so we are constantly changing.  The body we had when we were saved, and our bodies became God’s, 1 Corinthians 6:19,19, is composed of different cells now.  The resurrection body is “eternal in the heavens”, and “from heaven”, 2 Corinthians 1,2, in other words it exists in the mind of God in the first instance.

15:36    (a)    A QUICKENED BODY
Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die- even a knowledge of natural matters should rid the fool of his doubts as to the possibility of resurrection.  “Thou” is emphatic, for even the seeds fools sow are quickened after they have “died”, that is, after the outer part has given way to the development of the inner germ of life.  So death is a necessity, not a calamity, both for the seed, and the believer. 

15:37    (b)    A CLOTHED BODY
And that which thou sowest- now a further thought, based on the act of sowing a seed. 
Thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain- the small insignificant seed is placed in the earth, but when it is quickened into life, a luxuriant plant is produced, which seems to bear no resemblance to the tiny seed sown.

But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him- note the change of tense, with the “giveth” being when the seed grows, whilst the “pleased Him” referring to God’s original creation.  He gives the seed a body in accordance with His original design.

And to every seed his own body- whether wheat, or some other grain, the body or foliage is given suited to the kind of seed that has been sown.

All flesh is not the same flesh- having established certain principles from the plant kingdom, the apostle now turns to the animal and bird kingdom. This statement introduces the idea of differences of nature, whereas wheat and other sorts of grain were a question of variety of the same species, with the common idea that the plant produced corresponded to the seed sown.
But there is one kind of flesh of men, another of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds- this shows that men and apes are different flesh.  Each class has a body that is suited to the nature, which the word flesh suggests.  Eve was flesh of Adam’s flesh, but she was not made of the soft part of his body.  She did, however, share his nature, as the animals did not.  So Adam said, “This is now…flesh of my flesh” as before, when he named the animals, it was not, Genesis 2:19, 23.  Each has a body suited to its habitat, and nature, with man being upright, able to work; animals on all fours, able to hunt; fishes with fins, able to swim in the water; birds with feathers and wings, able to fly in the air.  So with the resurrection body- it will be suited to life in heaven.

There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial- bodies suited to heaven, or earth, preparing for the idea of the exchange of an earthy body for a heavenly, verses 47-49.

15:41    There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon- even celestial bodies vary according to God’s ordination.  Their particular function determines what their glory is.  The sun displays the glory of energy; the moon the glory of beauty; the stars the glory of diversity.  Each saint will display each of these glories.  See Daniel 12:3; Matthew 13:43.
And another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory- It is obvious sun and moon vary but it is not so evident that stars vary, hence the affirmation that it is so. 



(a) Verse 42 From corruption to incorruption.
(b) Verse 43 From dishonour to glory.
(c) Verse 43 From weakness to power.
(d) Verse 44 From natural to spiritual.

5:42    So also is the resurrection of the dead- according to the principles outlined in verses 36-41.
It is sown in corruption- the dead body is buried in the earth as a corruptible and corrupt thing, being part of the creation which is in the bondage of corruption, Romans 8:21.  No matter how holy a believer is, the body is corrupt.
It is raised in incorruption- able to display holiness perfectly. This is the redemption of the body, Romans 8:23, Ephesians 4:30 which introduces us to the full measure of sonship, (adoption) of which the Spirit of adoption is the earnest or pledge, Romans 8:15, Ephesians 1:13,14.  Note that the same body is raised, even though the body that shall be is not the body sown in the earth, according to verse 37.  The latter statement has to do with the condition of the body, the bare grain contrasted to the luxuriant plant, not its identity.  The plant is not buried, but the seed is, so in that sense the future body is not sown.

It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory- there is nothing personal about the dishonour, for it is the common lot of humanity, including the believer’s body.  No matter how morally honourable the believer is his body lacks the honour it should have, because of the Fall.  It is a body of humiliation, Philippians 3:21, and yet shall be fashioned like unto His body of glory.  It will be fitted to radiate the glories of Christ, not simply outwardly, but morally too.

It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power- no matter how physically strong the believer was before burial, the body is weakened by sin.  At the resurrection weakness will give way to unfettered energy, enabling us to serve God as we should.

It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body- no matter how spiritual the believer who dies, his body is natural, meaning soulish, fitted for life on earth, and to sense things naturally. Note that it is a spiritual body, not a spirit-body.  This body will be perfectly fitted to express spiritual things, and to appreciate them too.



(a) Verses 44-45 Spiritual body.
(b) Verse 46 Superior body.
(c) Verses 47-48 Suitable body.
(d) Verse 49 Serviceable body.

The apostle shows the connection between the body possessed by the two heads of a race of men, Adam and Christ, and the body of those linked to each.

15:44    (a)    SPIRITUAL BODY
There is a natural body- that possessed by Adam and all in his image.  Natural means soulish, dominated by soul-considerations, appreciating things through the senses.  Hence, for instance, the garden in Eden was full of trees pleasant to the sight, and good for food.
And there is a spiritual body- only possessed by one man as yet, Jesus Christ.  Note that just as Adam had a soulish body, but this did not mean he was immaterial soul only, so Christ has a spiritual body, but this does not mean He is immaterial spirit only.

15:45        And so it is written, the first man “Adam was made a living soul”- Note the order in Genesis 2:5,7, where first it is said there was not a man to till the ground, then the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and “man became a living soul”.   So the man described here is the first man, for before him there was none to till the ground.  There is no room in Scripture for some supposed race of pre-Adamite men, as proposed by those who believe that the earth is billions of years old. 
Man was formed of the dust of the ground, a fact which Paul will use in verse 47.  Then the fact he uses in this verse, that man, initially only a body, became a living soul by the in-breathing by God of the breath of life (plural), indicating that he now had the ability to live in every sense of the word, physically, sensually, intellectually, morally, spiritually.  So man has a soul, but is also said to be a living soul, e.g. a living person, not an inanimate body.  The Scripture Paul quotes relates to man in innocence, so having a natural body does not imply being a sinner.  Note that Adam is described as the first man, and also Adam, for Adam is not only his personal name, in view of the fact that he was made of the ground, (adamah), but also his name as the federal head of the race of man; see for instance the use of word man (adamah) in each of first seven verses of Genesis 6.  Note, too, that the apostle translates the word man of Genesis 2:7 as Adam.
The last Adam was made a quickening spirit- Christ is not called the last man Adam, for that would make Adam His personal name.  He is the last one who will be head of a race of men.  The rabbis spoke of the former Adam and the latter Adam, the Messiah.  Instead of being like Adam, and becoming a living soul, receiving soulish life from God, He is the quickener, or giver of life, the life being spiritual, fitting the bodies of His people to dwell in a spiritual realm.  This is why the resurrection body is called a spiritual body, because instead of being filled with the breath of soulish life, it will be filled with spiritual life.  This ability to quicken implies His Deity, for only God can quicken with resurrection life.  See John 5:17-25.  He also gives this life as one who is “spirit”, that is, has Himself the sort of body that is dominated by the spirit, and can be suitably described by that part of Him.
We may tabulate the contrasts between Adam and Christ as follows:-

First man.                              Second man, (none in between).
Adam (as head of race, with none before).  Last Adam, (none to follow).
Became (by creation) a living soul. Became (by resurrection) a life-giving spirit.
Given life for earth. Gives life for heaven.
Natural (soulish) body Spiritual body
From the earth beneath him. From heaven.
Lower than angels. Lord of all.

15:46    (b)    SUPERIOR BODY
Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual- this is a principle which runs throughout scripture.  The first must show itself a failure, and be set aside, so that the way is cleared for the introduction of the second.  When God introduces a second thing, it implies the failure of the first; He does not need to experiment until He reaches perfection.

15:47    (c)    SUITABLE BODY
The first man is of the earth, earthy- now a reference to the actual material of Adam’s body, whereas in verse 45 it was a question of the character of it.  He was made of the dust from beneath his feet, which is appropriate since he would walk on the earth.
The second man is the Lord from heaven- as is suggested by the fact that He gives life, verse 45.  He is the Lord both of the dead and the living, Romans 14:9, and this in virtue of the fact that He has died, rose and revived.  Whilst when here He was “some other man”, meaning “a different sort of man”, Acts 8:34, yet the things spoken of here with regard to believers receiving a spiritual body await His coming from heaven at the rapture.  He did not come from heaven as a man at His first coming.

15:48    As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy- Adam’s race shares his earthy body.  This is not a stigma, for Adam had an earthy body in innocence.
And as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly- the heavenly is Christ, and as He is, with a glorified body in resurrection, so are (as far as the purpose of God is concerned) the heavenly, those destined for heaven by God’s grace, Ephesians 2:6.  Our resurrection body is a house from heaven, 2 Corinthians 5:1,2, meaning it is God’s heavenly purpose for His people that they should have a changed body.

15:49    (d)    SERVICEABLE BODY
And as we have borne the image of the earthy- the “and” suggests a further thought; not only possessing a natural body like Adam, but representing and manifesting him through it. 
We shall also bear the image of the heavenly- having a body then which will enable us to truly and perfectly represent Christ, not only bodily but morally also, for we shall be like Him, 1 John 3:2.  We all represent Adam now, but we are all different in looks, each having our own personality; so also when we represent and manifest Christ.



15:50  Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

 15:51  Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

 15:52  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

 15:53  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.


(a) Verses 50,51 Telling of the mystery.
(b) Verse 52 Timing of the change.
(c) Verse 53 Transformation of the believer’s body.

Up to this point the apostle has dealt only with the bodies of dead saints, but now he deals with the change effected to living bodies at Christ’s coming. This is hitherto undisclosed truth, hence is described as a mystery.

15:50    (a)    TELLING OF A MYSTERY
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God- in other words, the bodies of believers, (brethren), cannot enter into full inheritance in heaven as they are.  Flesh and blood conditions are suited to the earth, but not heaven. 
Neither doth corruption inherit incorruption- to be flesh and blood does not imply sin, but corruption implies there has been a fall, with its consequent bondage of corruption for all of creation, including bodies. Flesh and blood “cannot”, meaning a physical impossibility, corruption “doth not”, meaning a moral impossibility.  Nought that defileth shall enter heaven, Revelation 21:27.

15:51    Behold, I show you a mystery- the word “show” means to tell or explain.  A mystery in ancient times was a secret known only to the initiated, (called “the perfected”, see 1 Corinthians 2:6), and revealed by one specially authorized, see Ephesians 3:1-4.  Paul acts in this capacity here as he unfolds the truth regarding the living saints’ bodies.  How are they going to share in the resurrection if they have not died when Christ comes?
We shall not all sleep- that is, not all believers will pass into death, where the body sleeps, see John 11:11.
But we shall all be changed- the mystery is about not all sleeping, and that all shall be changed, whether dead or alive at Christ’s coming.  “Change” means to make other than it is.  Paul does not use the word that speaks of the manifestation of inner reality which he employs in Philippians 3:21, Romans 8:29, no doubt because he is thinking of bodily changes only here.  The ground of this change is that the believer’s body is indwelt by the Spirit of God, so Romans 8:11 reads, “But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken (make alive) your mortal (tending to death) bodies by (on account of) His Spirit that dwelleth in you”.  Taking this passage and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 together, we see that dead saints shall rise first, the living will be changed, so that both classes stand momentarily upon the earth, then they are caught up together to be with the Lord. Is this my reader’s hope? If it is not, then please re-read 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, looking to God to reveal His truth to you.

15:52    (b)    TIMING OF THE CHANGE
15:52        In a moment- the Greeks believed that they had discovered the smallest particle, so small that it could not be further divided; they called it a-tomos, not divisible, and this is the word the apostle employs here.  If we could imagine a period of time that could not be divided up, then we would have an idea of the rapidity with which the change will take place.  It is not, therefore, a process, but speaks of indivisible time, preparing us for eternity.  This has solemn moral implications for us, for there will be no time to make amends with others, nor to repent of sins before God.  “He that hath this hope on Him, purifieth himself”, 1 John 3:3.
In the twinkling of an eye- not a blink, but the momentary change of the light in the eye.  This tells of change that is so sudden that the eye cannot capture it.  An imperceptible change, preparing us for the changeless state.
At the last trump- now the apostle speaks of an irrisistible call.  In 1 Corinthians 14:8 he likens the ministry of Christ to His people as a trumpet sound preparing them for battle.  He no doubt has in mind the uses to which the silver trumpets were put in Israel, in accordance with Numbers 10.  They were for calling the assembly, for a signal to journey, to call the princes, and to sound an alarm for war.  Clearly, at the coming of Christ it is a question of preparing to journey.  Many have been the soundings of the trumpet down through the centuries, as Christ has led His people on, but now there has come the last trump, for the last journey, this time from earth to heaven, is to be made.  No doubt there is also an allusion to the Roman Army, with its first trumpet call to wake the troops, the second to pack up the tents, and the third to move off.  Those asleep in death will be awakened, those still alive will put off their present tabernacle, and all shall move off at the last trumpet call.
For the trumpet shall sound- in Revelation 4:1 the apostle John heard a voice like a trumpet saying “Come up hither”, and he went through the opened door of heaven. Such shall be the experience of the saints.
And the dead shall be raised incorruptible- not only in incorruption, but in a state which it is not possible to affect by corruption, assuring us the saints will never fall into sin.
And we shall be changed- the apostle links himself with those alive at the Lord’s coming, such was the expectancy with which he anticipated it.

15:53    For this corruptible must put on incorruption- the believer’s body is corruptible because it is the seat of the sin-principle, which means it is in the bondage of corruption.  It is morally imperative that this body be altered, for nothing that defiles shall ever enter heaven, Revelation 21:27.  Incorruption means here, “incorruptibility”.  Not just having no corruption, but not able to be corrupted.
And this mortal must put on immortality- likewise it is vital that the body that tends to death should be changed to one that is totally and eternally deathless.



15:54  So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

 15:55  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

 15:56  The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

 15:57  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.


(a) Verse 54 The victory of life over death.
(b) Verses 55-56 The victory of Christ over death and hades.
(c) Verse 57 The victory of the believer through Christ.


When the changes detailed in verses 51-53 have taken place, then the full extent of the victory obtained by Christ at the cross will be realised, and the triumph which He knew over death, hades and the grave will be shared with His people on the resurrection day.

15:54        (a)    The victory of life over death.
15:54        So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption- this corruptible means this body which is capable of deteriorating because of the bondage into which the fall of man brought it.  Incorruption is not simply the condition at the resurrection, but also the character throughout eternity, that of incorruptibility.  The resurrection body is not able to decay.  “Put on” is the same figure used in 2 Corinthians 5:2, “clothed upon with our house which is from heaven”. And this mortal shall have put on immortality- now the body is viewed as being subject to and tending towards death.  The resurrection body is not capable of dying, for the One who is life-giving has worked upon it, verses 45.

Then- there are three distinct formulas for introducing the fulfillment of prophecy:
1. With the word “ina”, meaning “in order that it might be fulfilled”, where the object of the prophecy is completely realized.
2. With the word “opus”, meaning “so that it might be fulfilled”, where there is not the full realization of the thing prophesied, but an event within the scope and intention of the prophecy, Matthew 8:17, for instance.
3. With the word “tole”, as here, meaning merely a case in point, when what happened was an illustration of what was said in the prophecy.

So the resurrection of the saints of this age is not a fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah that Paul quotes here, nor of the prophecy from Hosea which he makes in the next verse.  Rather, it is an illustration of what will happen regarding Israel in the future.
Then shall be brought to pass the saying which is written- the saying of Isaiah still stands written, hundreds of years later, for God’s word is inspired, not just was inspired- it retains its original character.
Death is swallowed up in victory- the Hebrew way of saying that permanent victory over death has been achieved.   

15:55-56    (b)    The victory of Christ over death and hades.
15:55        O death, where is thy sting?- the exclamation of the saints when the resurrection has taken place.  As originally worded, it is a declaration by God that He will accomplish this, “O death, I will be thy plagues”, Hosea 13:14.  This He has done by raising Christ from the dead, thus robbing death of its prey, and plaguing death itself with the plague of death.
O grave, where is thy victory?- the Textus Receptus reads hades here.  Again, the original wording indicates God’s intention to destroy death,  “O death, I will be thy destruction”, and this He did when Christ rose from the dead, no more to die.  If death cannot hold one who had all sins laid upon Him, its power is broken; if the Devil cannot defeat Christ when He is crucified through weakness, 2 Corinthians 13:4, he will never defeat Him.  In virtue of His resurrection Christ has the keys of hell (hades), and death, Revelation 1:18.  He locks the door of hades so that church saints cannot go there; He unlocks the door of death so that they can come out.

15:56        The sting of death is sin- no doubt a reference to the word plague in Hosea 13:14.  The bite of the serpent in Eden has resulted in the poison of sin being in us, which brings about death.
And the strength of sin is the law- that which gave the sin-poison its potency, was the fact that it was the transgression of God’s law, for sin is the transgression of the law, 1 John 3:4.  The law was the ministration of death, 2 Corinthians 3:7, but its power is broken.

15:57        (c)    The victory of the believer through Christ.
15:57    But thanks be to God- the word thanks is “charis”, meaning grace, so is in direct contrast to the law which enhanced the power of sin in us.  The grace of God gives us the victory over these powerful forces.
Which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ- the victory which was achieved when God destroyed death, hell and the grave by raising Christ from the dead, is given by grace to us, because of Him.  Isaiah 53:12 speaks of God as giving Christ a portion with the great, and Himself dividing the spoil with the strong, because He has poured out His soul unto death.  This is the way He does it, giving His people a share in His victory and its spoils.



15:58  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. 

15:58    Therefore- as a result of the whole chapter, but especially the last sections.
My beloved brethren- as those whose spiritual welfare is on the apostle’s heart.
Be ye steadfast- as to your inner thoughts on the matter of the truth of resurrection, whether of Christ, or your own.
Unmoveable- unaffected by the error that some would try to teach.
Always abounding in the work of the Lord- the only feast in Israel’s calendar that had not prohibition about working, was the feast of the waving of the firstfruits, see Leviticus 23:9-14, 1 Corinthians 15:20,23.
Forasmuch as ye know- because you believe the truth of this chapter.
Your labour is not in vain in the Lord- because He is risen, all work done for God is worthwhile.

“And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. 
And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me,
‘Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am He that liveth, and was dead;
and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death'”. 
Revelation 1:17,18.