Life After Death (1 Corinthians 15:35-49)
Few passages are more exhilarating than 1 Corinthians 15 and its promise of resurrection life. For those who trust in Christ, Paul says what is buried in the dust will be raised in glory. Taking up a variety of images, he describes the indescribable in verses 35–49— namely the way in which children of Adam formed from the dust of earth are raised to life in Christ to share his heavenly glory.
In Sunday’s message I took time to explain how Paul makes his argument to skeptics in Corinth. Looking to creation, to the way in which seeds come to life, and to the way dust becomes glory, I tried to follow and flesh out Paul’s argument. You can listen to the sermon online or read the sermon notes. Discussion questions and further resources—including Andrew Peterson’s lyrical eschatology—are listed below.
1 Corinthians 15:35–49
35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. 42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
- First Corinthians 15:35–49 address the skeptics question of ‘how the body is raised.” What was the prevailing view of the body in the Greco-Roman world? Why is bodily resurrection difficult to understand given their low view of the body? How might a wrong view of the body continue to plague us today?
- How does Paul address skepticism surrounding the resurrection? What do we learn from Paul’s approach to speaking to skeptics? See also Acts 17.
- Read verses 35–41. What are the two analogies Paul uses to explain the resurrection? How does these two analogies help make plausible the resurrection? What hope do you find in thinking about the resurrection in terms of seeds and harvest? Dust and glory?
- What do the two analogies teach us about the resurrection? How does Paul move from the analogies to his teaching about the resurrection?
- Read vv. 42–44. What are the differences the between the buried seed and the raised body? What comfort does this bring to you?
- Read vv. 45–49. How does Paul use Genesis 2:7 (v. 45)? What does the comparison between Adam and Christ teach us? About the Bible? About the resurrection?
- What does it mean that the second Adam is a life-giving Spirit? Or that we will bear the image of the man of glory?
- Who can you tell about this glorious resurrection? Pray for them.
For Further Consideration
On the Resurrection
First Corinthians 15 has many applications. One of them includes the reason Christians have always buried their dead and not burned them. While we believe that anyone who dies in Christ, however they die, will be raised to life, we also believe that burial the way in which Christian testify to their hope in resurrection. This belief is not unchallenged today, especially as funeral costs rise, but it is worth considering. Therefore, here are two helpful posts.
- A Biblical Theology of Burial by Nick Batzig
- Cremation and a New Kind of Christianity by Russell Moore
Few books of eschatology compare to the music of Andrew Peterson. While theologians try to decode the details of Jesus return, Peterson plainly sings of the glories of the new creation. Therefore, for those interested in eschatology, I’d recommend listening to his songs, beginning with these.
There are plenty more songs to add to this list. Just go look up Andrew Peterson Spotify and listen to them all.
Soli Deo Gloria, ds