Types of Bodies (1 Corinthians 15:35-49)

1. Putting on a new body involves death, that is, the setting aside of the prior form (e.g., a seed ceasing to be a seed when it is buried).

  • Even those who are Raptured will undergo a kind of death when they receive their new body, for the old shall pass away to make way for the new. This will be the death of death itself!

2. A seed was never meant to stay a seed. Our bodies which we inherit from Adam were not meant to last forever but rather to be changed into their future, final form.

  • Even apart from the curse of sin, Adam’s body was not how he was meant to spend eternity. Hypothetically, he would have been born again after eating from the Tree of Life. Sometime after populating the earth, born again people would eventually receive glorified bodies. This could have happened without death being introduced.

3. Among terrestrial bodies there is variety in kind.

  • “Terrestrial” is defined as “on the earth,” or limited to it. The other term, “earthy,” used in 47-49 means “of the dust (soil).” The idea is that the bodies humans and animals possess are bound to the earth. Paul’s argument basically says that the fact that humans have bodies made from the earth makes sense of our earthly limitations. Angelic bodies were not made from the elements of any one planet and so are not limited to one as we are.

4. Celestial bodies possess a different kind of glory altogether.

  • Celestial bodies, whatever their composition, are not bound to physical laws as much as terrestrial ones are. Thus, a main difference between these types is the amount of limitation involved. The specified material of our bodies (the “dust” of Earth) serves to illustrate why we are unable to transcend the laws of physics which keep us on the earth.

5. Celestial bodies not only differ from terrestrial ones, but they also differ from each other in degree of glory. This glory is essentially the same but possessed in varying quantities (i.e., some shine brighter than the others).

  • Not all believers will “shine” the same. Exactly what this entails has not been revealed.

6. Celestial bodies are compared to planets, stars, and other objects, such as Earth’s moon, in the Second Heaven.

  • Generally, when people think of the word “heavenly” they imagine the Third Heaven. However, the word as used in this text is not limited to the Third Heaven but also includes outer space. Ephesians 6:12 shows that fallen angels occupy heavenly places and this obviously does not refer to the Third Heaven. Perhaps the way we think of Heaven is flawed. The Second Heaven differs from the First Heaven in only spatial degree. What if it is the same with the Third Heaven? Is it merely higher than the Second Heaven, spatially speaking? Could it be located on the frontier of the universe, beyond which exists only God?

7. Celestial bodies cannot be killed, neither do they physically decay.

  • Adam’s body was corruptible in the sense that it could die if sin became a reality. It was not inherently bad, but it was inferior to the bodies we will one day possess because it was capable of death. Angelic bodies cannot die and do not decay, being immortal. Incorruption, as things pertain to humans, probably precludes the possibility of sinning as well, though clearly the same cannot be said of angels. However, Paul does not seem to be dealing with the sin nature in this context.

8. Spiritual bodies are possessed by angels, and this shows they are not pure spirits.

  • Ezekiel 1:20 describes the spirits of the living creatures being “in” the wheels. This means the cherubim are not formless spirits but have bodies themselves. Angels are “spirits” insofar as they are not limited to flesh-and-blood rules as we are. Therefore, “spirit” when used of an angel is not meant to be taken in an absolute sense, as if they are disembodied. It is even unlikely that humans in Heaven are disembodied. They most likely possess a temporary form, though how exactly this differs from a glorified body we do not know. Perhaps it is like what angels have now. Obviously, angels do not possess glorified earthly bodies, as we will have in the resurrection. So, there is overlap between angels and glorified bodies, but they are not identical. This progression of earthly body to angelic body and then angelic body to glorified body serves to highlight our uniqueness in God’s creation, even our superiority to the angels.

9. The natural body of Adam was not flawed, yet not glorified.

  • We are not going back to Eden. We have something better awaiting us, something even the angels do not have: incorruptible humanity. This has to do with us possessing the image of Christ, who is the image of the Father.
    • Theory: When the Son accomplished creation, God had to take on a form to manifest Himself into the universe. This form is that which Adam was patterned after and the kind of form we will have in the resurrection.

10. God gave Adam his spirit by “breathing into him.”

  • Was the spirit of Adam created out of nothing or did God create it from out of His own Spirit? It appears from Scripture that the spirit of man differs from both angels and animals. Yet the word “spirit” applies to all of them so there is something common to all of them.
    • Theory: The gift of the spirit to living things is from the very Spirit of God. This does not limit God any more than taking from a bottomless well would diminish the amount of water in it. However, God’s gift of His Spirit varies in kind as flesh varies in kind. Angels, humans, and animals all have spirits, but they are not identical to each other. Also, spirits of created beings differ from God in that they are finite and limited to the natural world while He is infinite and truly supernatural (that is, existing beyond the space-time universe).

11. The body we will possess will be the heavenly form of Christ before His incarnation.

  • Christ took on humanity to raise it up to the level it was meant to attain according to God’s eternal plan! Jesus’ original form was the blueprint for mankind to be fulfilled in steps.

Author: James Buddy Smith
Ark of Hope
Jasper, Georgia