Life after death & beauty in the stars: 1 Corinthians 15:35-58

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The Resurrection Body

35 Someone will ask, “How can the dead be raised to life? What kind of body will they have?” 36 You fool! When you plant a seed in the ground, it does not sprout to life unless it dies. 37 And what you plant is a bare seed, perhaps a grain of wheat or some other grain, not the full-bodied plant that will later grow up. 38 God provides that seed with the body he wishes; he gives each seed its own proper body.

39 And the flesh of living beings is not all the same kind of flesh; human beings have one kind of flesh, animals another, birds another, and fish another.

40 And there are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies; the beauty that belongs to heavenly bodies is different from the beauty that belongs to earthly bodies. 41 The sun has its own beauty, the moon another beauty, and the stars a different beauty; and even among stars there are different kinds of beauty.

42 This is how it will be when the dead are raised to life. When the body is buried, it is mortal; when raised, it will be immortal. 43 When buried, it is ugly and weak; when raised, it will be beautiful and strong. 44 When buried, it is a physical body; when raised, it will be a spiritual body. There is, of course, a physical body, so there has to be a spiritual body. 45 For the scripture says, “The first man, Adam, was created a living being”; but the last Adam is the life-giving Spirit. 46 It is not the spiritual that comes first, but the physical, and then the spiritual. 47 The first Adam, made of earth, came from the earth; the second Adam came from heaven48 Those who belong to the earth are like the one who was made of earth; those who are of heaven are like the one who came from heaven. 49 Just as we wear the likeness of the man made of earth, so we will wear[c] the likeness of the Man from heaven.

50 What I mean, friends, is that what is made of flesh and blood cannot share in God’s Kingdom, and what is mortal cannot possess immortality.

51-52 Listen to this secret truth: we shall not all die, but when the last trumpet sounds, we shall all be changed in an instant, as quickly as the blinking of an eye. For when the trumpet sounds, the dead will be raised, never to die again, and we shall all be changed53 For what is mortal must be changed into what is immortal; what will die must be changed into what cannot die. 54 So when this takes place, and the mortal has been changed into the immortal, then the scripture will come true: “Death is destroyed; victory is complete!”

55 “Where, Death, is your victory?
Where, Death, is your power to hurt?”

56 Death gets its power to hurt from sin, and sin gets its power from the Law. 57 But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

58 So then, my dear friends, stand firm and steady. Keep busy always in your work for the Lord, since you know that nothing you do in the Lord’s service is ever useless. (GNT)


This passage is full of vivid imagery that tangibly gets the author’s point across. First is the idea of the seed dying in order for the plant to be born; I never really considered the seed and the plant as two separate things, but this made me see differently. The seed has to be changed into something completely new in order to grow and be a plant; as this relates to us, everything we know now will cease to exist.

I also love the idea that each type of thing has its own beauty; even if two things aren’t the same, they can both still be beautiful. For me, it reminded me that each person was created in God’s image, and to appreciate people for who they are rather than what I think they should be.

Also, the parallel made between Adam and ourselves is one i never thought of. Before God breathed life into him, Adam was just flesh; this is the same as us. Right now, we are flesh, made of earth; when Jesus comes again, we will have new life breathed into us, and will become something much more than we are now, made of heaven. What is mortal cannot become immortal, therefore our bodies cannot be taken to the next life; this reinforces the seed becoming a plant image, as we must die and be changed to become our immortal selves.

The final part of this passage concerns death and its weight on us. Verse 57 basically asks, “why go to war with an enemy that’s already been defeated?” Death is powerless over us as God’s people, all because of Christ’s victory. We are not charged with defeating death, but are asked be ready when Jesus comes again, having faith in God and loving others in the process.

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