A Concise Commentary On 1 Corinthians 15:35-57
By Jonathan Mitchell
Verse 35. But still someone will say, "How are the dead ones being habitually (or: presently; periodically) awakened and raised up? And in what sort of body (or: with what kind of material organism) are they continuing to come (or: one-after-another going)?"
36. You idiot! (or: You senseless and stupid fellow!) What you are habitually sowing is not being progressively brought to life unless it should die off. [comment: thus death is the path toward resurrection]
37. And further, that which you continue sowing: you folks are not progressively sowing the body [= the organism] which shall be coming into being (or: that will be developing), but rather, a naked seed (a bare kernel, or grain without clothing), whether it may hit the target of wheat (= perchance of wheat), or any one of the rest [of the grains].
38. Yet God habitually gives a body to (or: for) it, according as He wills (intends; purposes), and to (or: for; with) each of the seeds its own body.
From this metaphor of seeds, we know that the DNA of the resurrected plant is in the seed. The seed is consumed by the growing plant, and so the plant that ascends into the atmosphere (heaven) has the seed as a transformed part of it – but it is more than the seed. The heavenly body has its source in the earthly body (the seed). It has simply (?!) been elevated and expanded.
39. Not all flesh [is] the same flesh, but to the contrary, [there is] indeed one [flesh] of humans (of people; of mankind), yet another flesh of tamed animals (or: of livestock), still another flesh of birds (or: flyers), and another of fishes.
40. And then [there are] supra-heavenly bodies (bodies having the characteristics of that upon the dome of the sky, or the upper heavens, the celestial), and earthly bodies (bodies which exist upon the land; terrestrial bodies), but [they are] indeed different: the glory of the supra-heavenly [bodies is] one thing, while the glory of the earthly [is] different.
41. [There is] one glory (or: splendor) of [the] sun, and another glory of [the] moon, and another glory of [the] stars, in fact star continues differing from star, in glory and splendor (or: for you see, [one] star is progressively carrying through and bearing apart in excellence from [another] star).
Note: all these are further examples from the created universe – the material, eonian existence.
42. Thus also (or: In this way also) [is] the resurrection of the dead people. It is habitually (repeatedly; presently; one after another) being sown within corruption (or: in union with decay and ruin; in perishability); it is being habitually (or: presently; repeatedly; one after another) awakened and raised up within incorruption (non-decayability; imperishableness).
From his metaphor, the “incorruption” into which it is raised is simply the heavens (atmosphere), being no longer within the soil. A plant, a tree, a crop, fruit, etc. are of themselves clean and not corrupt – they contain life.
Now if we see this metaphor of the seed planted then raised as a cycle of life, a picture of the eonian purpose, we see the union of the two and the transformation from stage one to stage two. I wonder if Paul has transcended the idiotic question and is speaking on a different level. Jesus often did this. Is this cycle, represented by the planting and germinating of the seed to a plant in the atmosphere, a picture of one complete life of a human – the one purposed by God?
43. It is constantly being sown within dishonor (in union with lack of value; in the midst of worthlessness), it is being habitually (or: repeatedly; constantly; one after another; progressively) awakened and raised up within, and in union with, power and ability.
This could well apply to this life, here and now – via the work of the life of Christ within.
44. It is habitually (continually; repeatedly; presently) being sown a body having the qualities and characteristics of a soul (a soulish body; or: = a body animated by soul); it is habitually (repeatedly; constantly; presently; one after another) being awakened and raised up a spiritual body (a body having the qualities and characteristics of the Breath-effect). Since there is a soulish body (or: = body animated by soul), there also is (or: exists) a spiritual one (or: = one animated by spirit). [comment: note the germinal connection between the two – they are a progression of the same body]
These two are the same person: this transformation we see happening now within ourselves and within others.
45. Thus also (or: In this way also), it has been written, "The first human (or: man), Adam, came for existence (or: was birthed) into [being] a living soul" [Gen. 2:7]; the Last Adam into [being] a continuously life-making (life-engendering; life-creating; life-giving) Spirit (or: Breath-effect).
We have seen in Jesus, and now in us, that these two are the same Person, two aspects of the one plan. Now Jesus was planted and died in one creation, and was resurrected in the new creation. Has not the Seed of God within us gone through the same journey?
46. Nevertheless, the spiritual [is] not first, but rather the one having the qualities and characteristics of a soul (the soulish), then afterwards, the spiritual (that pertaining to and having the qualities of Breath-effect).
Again, two stages of one process, one person, one life.
47. The first human (person; man) [was/is] forth from out of the earth (land; ground; soil; dirt), made of moist soil and mud (or: having the quality and characteristics of moist dirt that can be poured; soilish), the Second Human (Person; Man) [is] forth from out of the midst of heaven.
Now let us consider the experience of Jesus. Again, we see that the two humans are one, the second one just being a transformed human. The source of the second is the same phrase that describes the source of the house from out of the midst of heaven, in 2 Cor. 5:2, our dwelling-house (habitation) – the one from out of the midst of heaven – and although it is a different metaphor, I think that they are parallel thoughts. Now I agree that the house and the person are one. I suggest that the Second Human was birthed from out of the midst of the First.
48. As [is] the person made of and having the character and quality of moist soil or mud (pourable dirt; soil), of such sort also [are] the people [who are] made of and have the character and quality of moist soil or mud (soilish folks); and likewise, as [is] the Heavenly Person (or: the one made of and having the quality and character of the supra-heaven), of such sort also [are] the supra-heavenly people – those made of and having the quality and character of the supra-heaven.
Does this not describe us now? Are we not now seated with Christ among the celestials? If not, they we are ones who have only the character and quality of moist soil or mud.
49. And correspondingly as we bear and wear the image of the dusty person, [p46 adds: doubtless] we can and should [B reads: will] also bear and wear the image of the supra-heavenly One.
I follow the reading of Nestel-Aland text following Alelph, Alexandrinus, p46, Codex Bezae, and many others, which read the aorist subjunctive, not the future, as B and a few others do. The aorist suggests that we should now be wearing the image of the supra-heavenly One.
50. Now I am saying this, brothers (= fellow members and believers), that flesh and blood (= humans in their estranged condition; = people of dust who have not been resurrected) have no power and continue unable to inherit (receive or participate in an allotted portion of) God's reign and kingdom – neither is corruption and decay (the perishable) continuing on to inherit (participate in the allotment of) the Incorruption (Imperishability).
I see here that Paul is speaking of the natural person when he uses the term “flesh and blood,” or, as elsewhere, “humans in their estranged condition.” It is the resurrected Christ within us who inherits all things, and who shares this with us. The Plant receives the inheritance of the DNA of the Seed. It is that within one person, with earth (soil) and heaven (air) in union that receives the inheritance and bears the fruit.
51. See (Look and consider)! I am progressively telling you a secret ([the] mystery)! We, indeed, shall not all be laid to sleep [in death], yet we all will be changed (or: On the one hand, not all of us will be made to [die], but on the other hand, we all will be altered)(or: We all shall not be put to repose, and so we all shall be transformed) (or: All of us shall not sleep, but we all will be rearranged to be another or made to be otherwise),
I suggest that here Paul was inserting a comforting promise to his first century readers: the Lord was soon to come in an event that would finalize the end of the old covenant, with the destruction of Jerusalem, and one event would happen to them all – they would all be changed and altered. My last two alternative renderings suggest that “sleeping” or “reposing” was to end.
52. within the midst of an instant (or: in union with an uncut and indivisible moment), within, and in union with, the midst of a rapid sweep or blink of an eye, within, and in union with, the midst of the last or final trumpet. You see, the trumpet will sound, and the dead people will be awakened and raised up [A, D and others: will stand back up again; will be resurrected] incorruptible (imperishable), and then we, ourselves, will be changed (made otherwise; altered; transformed).
If the “last trumpet” refers to the 7th trumpet in Rev., then what he just said already happened, at least with the preterist view. Another obvious connection is with 1 Thes. 4:16-17,
16. because the Lord [= Yahweh or Christ] Himself will descend from heaven within a shout of command, within the midst of [the] Chief Agent's (or: an original messenger's; or: a chief and ruling agent’s; or: [the] beginning messenger’s) voice, and within (or: in union with) God’s trumpet [note: figure of a message or a directive for action], and the dead people within Christ (or: in union with [the] Anointed One) will raise themselves up (or: will stand up again) first (or: in first place)
17. Thereupon (or: After that; As a next step) we, the living folks, the ones continuing to be left around, will at the same time be seized and snatched away (carried off by force) into the midst of air – together with them within clouds – into the Lord's meeting ([Christ’s or Yahweh’s] encounter). And thus (in this way) shall we always be (or: exist at all times) together with [the] Lord [= Christ or Yahweh].
Note that the location of this meeting, is in the air, among the clouds – two figures of the realm of spirit, or heaven, and also the place of a plant who blossoms forth and bears its fruit in the heavens, while its roots sink deep into the earth. So connecting these two passages – if this indeed should be done – places the resurrection in the context of an upward call from the Lord, to have an encounter with Him. The language of both contexts is apocalyptic in nature, and should be understood as being figurative, not literal.
53. For it continues being necessary (it is habitually binding) for this perishable and corruptible to instantly plunge (or: sink) in and clothe itself with (or: slip on; put on) incorruption and imperishability, and for this mortal (one that is subject to death) to instantly plunge and sink in and clothe itself with (or: put on; slip on as a garment) immortality (deathlessness; undyingness).
This is the same thing as clothing ourselves with Christ, or “putting on Christ.” It is one of Paul’s imperatives, something that it is necessary to do, and the process is viewed as the instant act of a snapshot (the aorist tense). It is like what he says in Eph. 6, when we are told to put on “the whole armor, which is God.” Again, the language here does not suggest a future event, but an immediate necessity – plunging and sinking into the midst of Christ.
54. Now whenever this mortal instantly plunges and sinks in and then clothes itself with (or: slips on; puts on) the Immortality, then will come into existence (will be birthed; will take place) the word (the thought; the idea; the message; the saying) which has been written, "The Death was drunk down and swallowed into Victory (or: overcoming)!” [Isa. 25:8]
Has not this prophecy been fulfilled in Christ? Have we not already taken the plunge into Him who alone is Immortal? We read in 1 Tim. 6:
16. the Only One continuously holding and having possession of immortality (deathlessness), the One continuously making inaccessible (or: unapproachable) light His home (or: dwelling), Whom not one of mankind sees, saw or perceived, nor is able or has power to see or perceive, in Whom [is] honor (value; worth), and eonian strength (might having the qualities and characteristics of the Age; strength enduring through and pertaining to the eons). It is so (Amen)!
It is our being immersed into Christ that accomplishes this.
55. “Where, O Death, [is] your victory (or: overcoming)? Where, O Death, [is] your stinger (sharp point; sting; goad; spur)?" [Hos. 13:14]
56. Now the stinger (sharp point; or: the sting, thus, the injection) of the Death [is] the Sin (the mistake; the error; the failure), and the power (or: ability) of the Sin [is] the Law.
So why does Paul bring in the Law here? Because it is the realm of death of which he has been speaking. Christ’s death brought an end to the Law, bringing it to its goal: Christ. It was the Law that brought death: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden; the Law ever since.
We read in Rom. 7:
9. Now I was at one time (or: formerly) habitually living apart from law (or: I was once alive, independent from custom and [Torah]), yet, in connection with the coming of the implanted goal (impartation of the finished product within; inward directive; commandment), the Sin becomes alive again (or: deviation, failure, error and the missing of the target revived and comes back up to life), but I die (or: and I died; yet I die).
10. Also, the implanted goal (impartation of the finished product within; inward directive; commandment) – the one [meant to lead] into Life – this was found by me (for me; in me; to me) [to be leading] into death.
11. For the Sin (failure; error; the miss when shooting at a target; the deviation from the goal), taking a starting point (receiving an occasion and base of operation) through the implanted goal (impartation of the finished product within; inward directive; commandment), completely makes me unable to walk the Path (made me incapable to walk out; thoroughly cheats and deludes me, making me lose my Way; deceives me) and through it kills me off (or: slaughtered me).
So Paul brings toward a close his teaching about death and resurrection with a reference to the Law, and we see through Rom. 7:9-11, that it was this that brought the death, and it was the resurrection from this of which Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life” – John 11:25.
57. But grace and joyous favor [is] in God (or: by God) – the One constantly (repeatedly) giving the Victory (or: the overcoming) to us, in us and for us through our Lord (Owner; Master), Jesus, [the] Christ!
God is “the One constantly giving the Victory” over death and the Law, through the resurrection which is Jesus Christ, our Lord – what a gift!
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