It is sown a natural body - Σωμα ψυχικον· An animal body, having a multiplicity of solids and fluids of different kinds, with different functions; composed of muscles, fibres, tendons, cartilages, bones, arteries, veins, nerves, blood, and various juices, requiring continual support from aliment; and hence the necessity of labor to provide food, and skill to prepare it; which food must be masticated, digested, and refined; what is proper for nourishment secreted, brought into the circulation, farther elaborated, and prepared to enter into the composition of every part; hence growth and nutrition; without which no organized body can possibly exist.
It is raised a spiritual body - One perfect in all its parts; no longer dependent on natural productions for its support; being built up on indestructible principles, and existing in a region where there shall be no more death; no more causes of decay leading to dissolution; and consequently, no more necessity for food, nutrition, etc. The body is spiritual, and has a spiritual existence and spiritual support.
What the apostle says here is quite consistent with the views his countrymen had on this subject.
In Sohar Chadash, fol. 43, it is said: "So shall it be in the resurrection of the dead; only, the old uncleanness shall not be found."
R. Bechai, on the law, fol. 14, says: "When the godly shall arise, their bodies shall be pure and innocent; obedient to the instinct of the soul: there shall be no adversary, nor any evil disease."
Rab. Pinchas says: "The holy blessed God shall make the bodies of the righteous as beautiful as the body of Adam was when he entered into paradise."
Rab. Levi says: "When the soul is in heaven, it is clothed with celestial light; when it returns to the body, it shall have the same light; and then the body shall shine like the splendor of the firmament of heaven. Then shall men gain the knowledge of what is perfect." Sohar. Gen., fol. 69.
The Jews have an opinion that the os coxendicis, the lower joint of the backbone, survives the corruption of the body; and that it is out of this bone that the resurrection body is formed. In the place last quoted, fol. 70, we have the following teachings on this subject: "Let us borrow an example from what relates to the purifying of silver. First, the ore is cast into the burning furnace, that it may be separated from its earthly impurities; it is then silver, but not perfect silver. They put it into the furnace a second time, and then all its scoriae are separated from it, and it becomes perfect silver, without any adulteration. Thus does the holy blessed God: he first buries our bodies under the earth, where they putrefy and corrupt, that nothing remains but that one bone: from this a new body is produced, which is indeed a body, but not a perfect body. But in that great day, when all bodies are hidden in the earth, and the soul departs, then even that bone decays, and the body which was formed out of it remains, and is as the light of the sun, and the splendor of heaven. Thus, as the silver was purified, so is the body: and no imperfect mixture remains." See Schoettgen.
These things must not be treated as rabbinical dotages; the different similes used for the apostle have the same spirit and design: as the seed which is sown in the earth rots, and out of the germ contained in it God in his providence produces a root, stalk, leaves, ear, and a great numerical increase of grains; is it not likely that God, out of some essential parts of the body that now is, will produce the resurrection body; and will then give the soul a body as it pleaseth him; and so completely preserve the individuality of every human being, as he does of every grain; giving to each its own body? 1 Corinthians 15:38. So that as surely as the grain of wheat shall produce wheat after it is cast in the earth, corrupts, and dies; so surely shall our bodies produce the same bodies as to their essential individuality. As the germination of seeds is produced by his wisdom and power, so shall the pure and perfect human body be in the resurrection. Hence he does not say the body is buried, but the body is sown; it is sown in weakness, it is sown in dishonor, etc., etc.
There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body - This very saying is found in so many words, in Yalcut Rubeni, fol. 126: "There are different kinds of men." רגופא אדם ואיה דנשמתא אדם דאיהו אדם אית "There is a spiritual Adam, and there is also a corporeal Adam."
It is sown a natural body - ( σῶμα ψυχικὸν sōma psuchikon). This word, “natural,” denotes properly that which is endowed with “animal” life, having breath, or vitality. The word from which it is derived ( ψυχή psuchē) denotes properly the breath; vital breath; the soul, as the vital principle; the animal soul, or the vital spirit; the soul, as the seat of the sentient desires, passions, and propensities; and then a living thing, an animal. It may be applied to any animal, or any living thing, whether brutes or men. It is distinguished from the soul or spirit ( Πνεῦμα Pneuma), inasmuch as that more commonly denotes the rational spirit, the immortal soul, that which thinks, reasons, reflects, etc. The word “natural” here, therefore, means that which has “animal” life; which breathes and acts by the laws of the animal economy; that which draws in the breath of life; which is endowed with senses, and which has need of the supports of animal life, and of the refreshments derived from food, exercise, sleep, etc.
The apostle here, by affirming that the body will be spiritual, intends to deny that it will need that which is now necessary to the support of the animal functions; it will not be sustained in that way; it will lay aside these special animal organizations, and will cease to convey the idea which we now attach to the word animal, or to possess that which we now include under the name of vital functions. Here the body of man is endowed simply with animal functions. It is the dwelling-place indeed of an immortal mind; but as a body it has the properties of animal life, and is subject to the same laws and inconveniences as the bodies of other animals. It is sustained by breath, and food, and sleep; it is endowed with the organs of sense, the eye, the ear, the smell, the touch, by which alone the soul can hold communication with the external world; it is liable to disease, languor, decay, death. These animal or vital functions will cease in heaven, and the body be raised in a different mode of being, and where all the inconveniences of this mere animal life shall be laid aside.
It is raised a spiritual body - Not a mere spirit, for then it would not be a body. The word spiritual ( πνευματικόν pneumatikon) here stands opposed to the word natural, or animal. it will not be a body that is subject to the laws of the vital functions, or organized or sustained in that way. It will still be a “body” ( σῶμα sōma), but it will have so far the nature of spirit as to be without the vital functions which here control the body. This is all that the word here means. It does not mean refined, sublimated, or transcendental; it does not mean that it will be without shape or form; it does not mean that it will not be properly a body. The idea of Paul seems to be this: “We conceive of soul or spirit as not subject to the laws of vital or animal agency. It is independent of them. It is not sustained or nourished by the functions of the animal organization. It has an economy of its own; living without nourishment; not subject to decay; not liable to sickness, pain, or death. So will be the body in the resurrection. It will not be subject to the laws of the vital organization. It will be so much like a spirit as to be continued without food or nutriment; to be destitute of the special physical organization of flesh, and blood, and bones; of veins, and arteries, and nerves, as here 1 Corinthians 15:50.; and it will live in the manner in which we conceive spirits to live; sustained, and exercising its powers, without waste, weariness, decay, or the necessity of having its powers recruited by food and sleep.” All, therefore, that has been said about a refined body, a body that shall be spirit, a body that shall be pure, etc., whatever may be its truth, is not sustained by this passage. It will be a body without the vital functions of the animal economy; a body sustained in the manner in which we conceive the spirit to be.
There is a natural body - This seems to be added by Paul in the way of strong affirmation arising from earnestness, and from a desire to prevent misconception. The affirmation is, that there is a natural body; that is apparent: it is everywhere seen. No one can doubt it. So, with equal certainty, says Paul, there is a spiritual body. It is just as certain and indisputable. This assertion is made, not because the evidence of both is the same, but is made on his apostolic authority, and is to be received on that authority. That there was an animal body was apparent to all; that there was a spiritual body was a position which he affirmed to be as certain as the other. The only proof which he alleges is in 1 Corinthians 15:45, which is the proof arising from revelation.
The seed dies to spring forth into new life, and in this we are taught the lesson of the resurrection. All who love God will live again in the Eden above. Of the human body laid away to molder in the grave God has said, “It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.” 1 Corinthians 15:42, 43. COL 87.1
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More than this: as we impart the blessings of this life, gratitude in the recipient prepares the heart to receive spiritual truth, and a harvest is produced unto life everlasting. Ed 110.1
By the casting of grain into the earth, the Saviour represents His sacrifice for us. “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die,” He says, “it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” John 12:24. Only through the sacrifice of Christ, the Seed, could fruit be brought forth for the kingdom of God. In accordance with the law of the vegetable kingdom, life is the result of His death. Ed 110.2
So with all who bring forth fruit as workers together with Christ: self-love, self-interest, must perish; the life must be cast into the furrow of the world's need. But the law of self-sacrifice is the law of self-preservation. The husbandman preserves his grain by casting it away. So the life that will be preserved is the life that is freely given in service to God and man. Ed 110.3Read in context »