THE RADIANT HOPE
Lord, thank You for removing the sting from death.
Read 1 CORINTHIANS 15:35–58
The Resurrection Body
35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised 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 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.
50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
What absence of hope besets the average unbeliever who knows nothing about what lies beyond the grave!
This passage may be likened to the culminating movement of a symphony in which all the earlier tensions get resolved as the music crescendos in a blaze of glory. The cross-cultural context in Corinth remains prominent in the questions that trigger this discussion: “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” (35), but in responding to them Paul takes us into realms which inspire awe and wonder.
We may be grateful for the clash of cultures which gave birth to this passage, not in the least because concerns related to ageing, mortality and life-after-death are universal and articulated even by people of faith. Paul’s cross-cultural experience enables him to listen carefully to the questions raised by Gentiles in Corinth, and the result is a passage which addresses the deepest uncertainties of the human condition.
At the core of Paul’s confidence that death will be overcome and that the creation, including our physical bodies, will be renewed and transformed is his trust in the power and faithfulness of God. He has told us that the ultimate destiny of history is that “God may be all in all” (28), and throughout this passage his hope of a re-created world that outstrips our finite comprehension surpasses the beauty and diversity of the existing world. Although defiled by human corruption, this earth, with all its creatures and plants, displays the handiwork of its Creator-God. This realization strengthens our confidence that the world to come will render us forever amazed at and grateful for the full spectrum of our great salvation. Thus, Paul cries: “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (57).
Let the hope of this passage stir your spirit and energize your worship.
Lord, I believe that the victory has already been delivered to those of us who confess You as savior.
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