Paul is answering the two questions which he raised in verse 35. The questions are: 1. How are the dead raised up? 2. With what body do they come forth?
We have noticed that the article of the resurrection is a matter of saving faith; the resurrection is not a mere natural development, nor is it a matter which the natural man can believe. It is foolishness to him. However, the doctrine of the resurrection of the body is clear from both the sphere of the natural and the spiritual to faith!
In this faith in God, the Father, and in God, the Son, and in God, the Holy Ghost, we will listen to what Paul says concerning the nature of the resurrection body, and the place which it has in the design of God even already at the time of the creation of the world.
It should be very evident from all that we see about us in world of the “living soul,” all the creatures that move upon the face of the earth, and all that moves in the deep and in the heights of the heavens, that not all flesh is the same flesh. We must discipline our mind to notice this fact. Our faith in the blessed resurrection cannot be bound up in the erroneous assumption of the sameness of the present and future organism. That such sameness is not necessary to have a body we are taught by the great diversity among the bodies of man, four-footed domestic animals, fowl and fish. They are all bodies; all are flesh, but all are not the same flesh. This is a lesson which we should daily contemplate in our nature studies. We should not simply see this diversity among the creatures as such, but we should rise above the plane of the natural, to the things which are heavenly and spiritual.
This we should underscore!
Is it not true that “we know God out of two books”? (See the Belgic Confession, Art. 2.) And these two books Paul demonstrates in this passage under consideration.
The same is true of the sun, moon and stars. All are heavenly luminaries. But the radiance and the glory of the sun is different from the moon, and the moon’s radiance and effulgence differs again from that of the stars. Paul points from this variety in the creation of God, the visible creation, which we can experience as “living soul,” to the invisible, or not yet visible reality of the resurrection bodies.
Says he in verse 42: “Thus also is the resurrection of the dead.” Paul does not mean to state that there will be a difference in the glory with which each saint shall be glorified. This is evidently the plain teaching of Scripture elsewhere. However, such is not the teaching of Scripture in this passage. Paul merely means to state that the resurrection body shall be quite otherwise constituted than the present body. He does not compare the saints in glory, but is comparing the present body with the future, the resurrection body.
It is to be noted that Paul in contrasting these two bodies, the present and the future, does not here stress their identity, but rather the difference within the identity.
1. This difference is, first of all, a difference in the sense that all that is of sin, death and corruption shall be no more. This I would call a rather accidental difference, that is, it does not really affect the essential constitution of the body. If nothing more took place in the resurrection than the removal of corruption, we would again simply be where the first Adam was as a “living soul.” We would simply be free from sin and death, and simply bear the image of the earthy. See verse 49. We would be back on earth, and really not one step nearer to the spiritual and heavenly body. Still this is a difference of great importance. Immortality is more than endless life and existence. And the immortality which is ours in Christ is quite different qualitatively from the not yet having died of the first Adam in the state of righteousness. For even this being raised in “incorruptibleness,” in “glory,” in “power” is not be divorced from the fact that in this all we shall bear the image of the Lord from heaven! It is all one picture that we have here.
2. Secondly, there is the difference between the bodies which are in heaven and the bodies which are on earth. Says Paul in verse 40, “There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial.” Paul, in speaking of the celestial (heavenly) bodies is evidently not referring to the sun, moon and stars S It is also quite evident, it seems to me, that, in thus speaking, he is not referring to the bodies of the angels in heaven. Meyer tries to take this position. He refers to, where we read: “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” In our opinion the point is not well-taken to try to maintain that Jesus here teaches that angels have bodies. To do so is evidently assuming what must be proved; it is begging the question. The point that Jesus here makes is that even as the angels do not marry, nor are given in marriage, so also in the resurrection we will not be given in marriage. The point of comparison is not in the “body” but in the “marriage.” Hence, it is our considered opinion that the heavenly bodies refers to the bodies of the saints as we shall be conformed unto the glorious body of the risen and exalted Christ. There are two kinds of bodies—the earthly and the heavenly. And this is the assumption of Paul throughout in this passage.
3. And it should be noticed that Paul reasons from the reality of the one body to the reality of the other body, that is, from the reality of the earthly (natural) body to the reality of the heavenly (spiritual) body! Says Paul in verse 44, “If there is a natural body there is also a spiritual body.” The conditional sentence here is one which expresses determined reality. The protasis, “If there is a natural body” does not place the matter as one of mere possibility. That point is established before all. If this former is true, the latter is equally true. The one body fits with the other. This reasoning from the reality of the natural (psychical) body to the reality of the spiritual (pneumatical) body is not a mere humanly posited proposition. It is rooted in the very nature and purpose of the body of man, as determined by the relationship and difference of the two Adams, the first and the last. This is what has been preached and thus we have believed. The resurrection is no after thought on the part of God! The coming of sin and death into this world through one man is such that it must needs serve the coming of the second Adam. Hence, if there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. The Textus Receptus, it is true, does not here have “if there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” It simply reads: “There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body.” However, the reading we have chosen is well sustained by the unicals A. B. C. D. F. G. And it is a singular reasoning on the part of Paul.
4. It is not an after-thought on the part of God that the heavenly and spiritual body should follow the earthly (earthy) and natural body. For thus it is written in: “the first man Adam was made a living soul.” This refers to Moses’ account of the creation act of God whereby he formed man (Adam) out of the dust of the ground. The text in , in full, reads as follows: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” What Paul proves from this passage is not that man was created in the image of God, nor that he was created male and female, but rather the nature of Adam’s body. He was created unto a living soul. Thus it was with the first Adam, who was taken from the earth, and, therefore, was called Adam. He is out of the earth, earthy. He is flesh and blood. He is natural, that is, psychical. His life here is ruled by his soul, the animal life. And this is everywhere first. Afterwards is the spiritual!
5. In speaking of the first Adam as being a “living soul” it should be borne in mind that the term soul (psyche) in the Scriptures refers to more than one thing; it has a rather broad usage. In general it can be said that the term “soul” or “psyche” either refers to the physical soul or to the spiritual soul, considered as a spiritual entity. Taken as the physical soul it refers to the “breath of life,” the vital force that animates the body and shows itself in breathing. Closely allied with this meaning is the idea of “physical life” which must be sustained by earthly food and drink. Thus in. And then the soul in which there is life, the living soul. From this viewpoint all the creatures which move upon the earth are called living soul in , or living creatures. The living creature is characterized by the fact that it, unlike the plant, is not tied to one place upon the earth, but moves about. Then too the living creature consciously reproduces itself, its young. The living soul is adapted to marriage and being given in marriage, and thus producing the human race. For the first Adam it was not good that he as living soul should remain alone. He needs a help meet. His development is on the earth. And all he brings forth bears the stamp, the imprint, the image of the earthy. Adam could not bring forth heavenly children. He is simply living soul.
In this sense he is natural. His body is psychical. It is limited for its knowledge of God and of self to the earthy, and must depend upon the senses of touch, taste, sight, hearing and smelling. Adam could not reach beyond the earthy unto the heavenly as living soul. He is out of the earth, earthy. And all the talk about Adam bringing the entire human race in the way of obedience, by a certain covenant of works, to where Christ brings his own, must be deemed to be so much philosophy which cannot stand the touchstone of the Word of God. He is the first Adam, and, as such, he can only bring forth other living souls. The body is ever simply psychical, that is, governed by the life of the physical soul, rooted in the blood. It is ever flesh and blood that cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Hence, we must all be changed to enter into the glory of the eternal kingdom.
6. However, the last Adam is different. He is not out of the earth, earthy. He is the Lord from heaven! The second man (anthropos) is out of heaven. True, he lived on earth, He was born from a woman, suffered and died. But as the Second Adam, he is the head of a new human race, the elect. He does not need a help-meet. He does not marry. He saves the human race of the first Adam through water and Spirit. He enters into our death, dies according to the Scriptures for our sins, and is raised the third day according to the Scriptures. And he ascends on high at the right hand of the Father, and He will make all things new. And in the resurrection it will be evident that he is the life-giving Spirit. And then our bodies shall no longer be living soul, which is adapted to the propagation of the human race, and marriage, but we shall then have a spiritual body, adapted to and wholly controlled by the Holy Spirit to serve God day and night in his temple, that God may be all in all.
7. Thus in the wisdom of God the natural is first and then the spiritual. That is no accident. It is thus in the wisdom and goodness of God. And, therefore, if there is a natural body there is also a spiritual body. And we must not ask: how are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come. For now we bear the image of the earthy. Presently we shall bear the image of the heavenly. And if we then further inquire into just what this body shall be, then we answer that it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that we shall be like Christ, for we shall see God as He is. And everyone that has his hope upon God purifies himself even as He is pure.