The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 1 Corinthians 15:41-44
- Note: all these images are from an Internet search. Not my work!
A Good Question:
First, thanks to my friend Rae Vinson in Florida for posing the thoughtful question that led me down this rabbit-hole (or more likely through this wormhole…).
Here’s what Rae said in her email: “I’m leading a Sunday School class through 1 Corinthians 15. A very meaty chapter, that one. Part of our discussion was that Paul was emphasizing the Resurrection of the body in this chapter. This led to quite a lively discussion on which body is resurrected and what about cremation? So I am trying to get perspectives on this to bring in to class. I would love to hear your thoughts.“
My response was/is pretty-much stream of consciousness. As a piece of writing it’s not that well-constructed, but what I said does give a glimpse of “conversational Derek” and I think – at least sometimes – that makes more interesting reading:
I love this chapter in 1 Corinthians – it shows how deep and how brilliant Paul can be. I think this is why rather than hoping Saul would become a Christian one day God went out on the road to Damascus and basically recruited Paul directly! God was thinking “I want this mind on the side of the Gospel. This guy is going to do such a good job of articulating the message.“
Regarding what happens to the body after death, I am amazed that people who think God could reconstruct a body that has been dead for centuries (rotted, eaten by worms and eventually turned into compost) feel God couldn’t do the same with the remains after a cremation! Good grief! God can handle it. God created us in the first place and is perfectly capable of manufacturing any kind of a body after death.
One of the huge problems with understanding stuff like 1 Corinthians 15 is wrapping our minds around it using the limitations of our brains, our imagination, and our language. The words we use – the words Paul uses – are part of a language that is terrestrially based. All our metaphors are rooted in ideas that happened here on Earth. Take a look through the Hubble telescope and get a sense of what we have never seen (99.99999999999% of everything) and has never made it into the lexicon of conversational English! On top of that God exists both in and beyond time and space. Eternity and what form we take when we are no longer earth-bound beings cannot be described in our language!
Paul of course does a masterful job of getting the essential idea across, the idea that there is time and there is eternity; there is perishable and then imperishable; there is flesh and there is spirit; there is seen and unseen.
One last thought – I’m just freeform writing here – Adam was the first man. Paul later described Jesus as the 2nd Adam. Jesus was the firstborn of the new creation. That is, a new kind of life. The resurrection Jesus experienced was not the same as the one Lazarus experienced a few weeks previously – this new life eclipsed anything previously imagined!
We (when we become a “new creation” in Christ) are born of the spirit in the sense that – like Jesus – we will not be subject to death. Our body will die one day, and it will likely biodegrade in one way or another. But we – the essence of who we are becoming as believers – never will! God may or may not put us into a body that is recognizable to those of us stuck in our limited understandings. That’s okay. God will handle it. It’s going to be wonderful.
I know this – anything we think we know and understand now is inadequate, partial, “through a glass, darkly” and mostly wrong! God has such better/bigger/different plans for us.
Peace – Derek
There it is. I confess to enjoying concepts that could potentially make our heads explode. Not being able to understand is – to me – one of the most profound proofs of the veracity of the scriptures.
Blessings and more – DEREK
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.