1 Corinthians 15:29-58 – The Resurrection Will Happen

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Resurrection Will Happen; Our Future Bodies Are Different From Our Present Bodies; Not Everyone Will Die; Stand Firm And Serve The Lord

We live in a fallen world that is satanically controlled and is in rebellion against God and is under a curse. One of the worst things about life in this world is death. Death is like a poisonous smog that envelopes a city, diminishes the light of the sun and sickens the people. Knowing that Messiah Yeshua overcame death enables those who have faith in Him to live without the smog. They can live in beautiful sunshine.

Even though Rabbi Paul and others proclaimed the Good News to the Corinthians, which included the truth about Messiah’s resurrection, and the resurrection of everyone who is united to Messiah – some of the Corinthians had come to the erroneous conclusion that there was no resurrection. The Rabbi is aware of this and corrects them.

In this part of his letter, Paul makes two arguments why the resurrection will happen. The first is based on those who are baptized for the dead. Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? This is a difficult part of the Word of God to interpret, and many interpretations have been given. In my opinion, the best interpretation is that some of Messiah’s followers in Corinth were practicing baptism for the dead. If a family member or friend died before being baptized, someone who was saved and baptized would represent him and be baptized for him. And it seems that the reason it was being done was so that those who died without being baptized would have baptism credited to them, so that they would be saved and resurrected. If this was the reason, Paul’s point is: why would anyone baptize people for the dead if resurrection wasn’t a reality?

Paul does not state that this was the right thing to do. It isn’t. Just as it’s wrong to pray to the dead, or pray for the dead, or buy indulgences to help the dead, or have masses for the dead, it’s wrong to be baptized for the dead. I want to be very clear: Paul does not give approval for being baptized for the dead. He only observes that this was being done by some.

His second argument for the resurrection is that we are wasting our lives if there is no resurrection. He uses himself and his co-laborers as examples. And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I face death every day – yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Messiah Yeshua our Lord. Most people want a peaceful and prosperous life. They don’t want to live in danger every hour or face death every day. Paul’s life and the lives of his co-laborers were in constant danger – but that was a danger they were willing to endure in order to produce communities like the one in Corinth. Just as Paul could boast about such fruit, so he could say, “I face death every day.” Why live in constant danger, facing death every day, if the resurrection wasn’t true?

Paul gives them an example of the danger he was in. If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? After Paul left Corinth, he went to Ephesus and proclaimed the Gospel there. His life was in danger there. He fought wild beasts there – either literally, by being arrested by the authorities and placed in the area to fight wild animals; or figuratively – the wild beasts referring to vicious people who were trying to kill him. Or both. His point? His life was not one of peace and pleasantness and prosperity. It was one of life-threatening danger. There are better ways to live. Why live that way if there was no resurrection? It wasn’t logical.

He elaborates his argument, giving the opposite perspective. If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” If there is no resurrection, it isn’t logical to make sacrifices in this life to serve the Lord or preach the Gospel to a hostile world. If there is no life after death, no Hell to be avoided, no Heaven to be enjoyed, it makes much more sense to enjoy whatever life we have in this uncertain world, life which may end at any time.

The Rabbi expresses this argument by quoting from Isaiah 22: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Instead of turning to the Lord and showing remorse for their sins, the Jewish people wanted to have a good time eating good food and drinking good wine. This was logical behavior if there is no God, no resurrection, no day of judgment. But God is real. Resurrection is true. Judgment is certain. So, living for the pleasures of the present and ignoring spiritual realities and the future is wrong.

People sin by doing the wrong things; and they sin by having the wrong beliefs. Those in Corinth who denied the resurrection were sinning. And since we are influenced by those around us, it’s dangerous to stay close to those who are sinning. Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” If we stay close to those who are sinning, we are in danger of their bad character corrupting our good character.

Since this is true, we must be wise about choosing the people we associate with. Choose the right people to spend time with and choose to avoid spending time with the wrong people. Choose the people you spend time with on the basis of their character. Choose them on the basis of their faithfulness to the truth. And this applies to Messiah’s Community. Not everyone in Messiah’s Community will have good character. Not everyone in Messiah’s Community will be faithful to the truth.

Those who had stopped thinking clearly needed to turn away from their doctrinal sins and return to the truth. Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God – I say this to your shame. There can be people in Messiah’s Community who don’t know God they way they should. This ignorance of God is seen by them having abandoned one or more of the core teachings of the faith. And it is shameful if people who are ignorant of God and are in error about important doctrines are allowed to function normally in the Community. This was happening in Corinth, and it’s happening in many parts of the Church today, including parts of the Messianic Jewish movement. I say this to our shame.

The Rabbi addresses other issues about the resurrection. But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” How foolish! There are different kinds of foolishness. This is the kind of foolishness that comes from being simple or naive. The Rabbi believes the answers as to how the dead are raised and what kind of body they will have are obvious. They’re easily discerned from nature. There is a connection between the natural realm and the spiritual realm. God has designed them both, so similar principles operate in both. All some has to do to know about the resurrection and what kind of body those who are resurrected will have is observe the life-cycle of the crops that feed us.

If someone does that, he will see the principle of life after death at work. What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. A seed needs to be placed in soil to produce a plant. Being placed in the soil is like death and burial. Just like a seed goes through a death-like experience and is buried, and only after that does a plant come into existence – after life and death there will be resurrection.

Another truth about the resurrection can be learned from nature. God has designed plants so that the seeds, and the plants that come from them, share the same life – but the seed is different from the plant. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. The life of a seed and a plant is a two-stage life. The first stage is the seed. The second stage is the plant. The same life is shared by the seed and the plant, but it is shared in two different bodies. In a similar way, our future bodies come after our present bodies and are different from our present bodies.

Another truth about the resurrection can be learned from nature. God has designed different kinds of seeds which produce different kinds of plants. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. In the same way, God has designed the resurrection body to be different from our present bodies.

That same truth is seen with the different kinds of bodies of different kinds of creatures. Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. Just as people, animals, birds and fish have different kinds of bodies, those who are resurrected will have a body that is different from their present body.

There are many kinds of bodies, and God has designed each one so that it is adapted for its purpose. This includes bodies that are adapted for our present life and bodies that are adapted for our future life. There are also heavenly bodies (bodies adapted for life in Heaven) and there are earthly bodies (bodies adapted for life on Earth).

God is great. He is a great designer; and He has designed each kind of body so that there is something great about it. Our earthly bodies, although frail and temporary, nevertheless have a splendor to them. They can be beautiful and do some great things. And our future bodies will have an even greater degree of splendor. But the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. Again, there is a connection between the natural and spiritual realms. Just as the sun, moon and stars have different kinds of splendor, our resurrection bodies will be different from our earthly bodies and have a different kind of splendor – a greater splendor.

The Rabbi elaborates on the greater splendor of our future bodies. So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable. The present body decays. It is raised imperishable. The future body will not decay. It is sown in dishonor. The present body experiences problems and processes that take away from its honor. It is raised in glory. There will not be any problems or processes that diminish from the magnificence of the resurrection body. It is sown in weakness. The present body is weak and frail. It is raised in power. The future body will not have any frailty of any kind – only strength. It is sown a natural body. The earthly body is adapted for life in this fallen world. It is raised a spiritual body. The future body is adapted to live in the future world that is completely controlled by the Spirit of God.

There is a physical realm and there is a future spiritual realm. The same God is the designer of both, and therefore, although there differences between the two realms, there are also similarities between the two. The first similarity: in both realms, people have bodies. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

Another similarity: each realm has a man who is the founder of that realm. Another similarity: the kind of life and the kind of body that each founder has is shared by the other people who are part of that realm.

There are differences between the lives and bodies of these two founders. The Rabbi refers to the creation of the first man, Adam, to establish the first difference: So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The first man, Adam, who began humanity, became a “nefesh chaya” a living being, with life designed to live in this world. He was able to give life, his kind of life, to others of his world. The last Adam, Messiah Yeshua, who will culminate humanity, has a different kind of life. He has a spiritual life that is able to give His kind of life, spiritual life, to those in His world.

There is an order in the appearance of these two men. The spiritual (Messiah) did not come first, but the natural (Adam), and after that the spiritual (Messiah Yeshua). The Rabbi’s point: Just as the natural man, Adam, came first, and after he came, the spiritual man, Messiah Yeshua, arrived – so first comes life in this world, and after that comes a different kind of life in the next world.

There is a difference in the origins of the two founders of the two realms. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. Adam’s body was made from the dust of the Earth. It was adapted to live in this realm. The Messiah came from Heaven and returned to Heaven. He has a body that is adapted for life in Heaven.

Those who are connected to one of the founders of the two realms share the kind of life and body of the founder to whom they are connected. 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.

Everyone who has been given life from Adam has shared his image. We have shared his nature – good and bad. We have shared in the great things that are part of him, and the weaknesses that are part of him – his fallen nature and fallen body and his ruined future. And everyone who has been given life from Messiah will share His image. We will be like Him. We will have a new, godly nature and a perfect body adapted for life in Heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.

Paul makes it crystal clear that our future bodies will be different from our current ones. I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. The physics of the future kingdom are different from the physics of this world. Our present bodies, which are made of flesh and blood, can not function in God’s kingdom. Our bodies are perishable. They decay. They return to the elemental state from which they came. But God’s kingdom is imperishable. Things in His kingdom do not decay. Therefore we will need a different kind of body for life in His kingdom; and those imperishable bodies will be given to us.

The Lord’s representative reveals a mystery, something not known before and only recently revealed. Not everyone who follows Messiah will die and be resurrected. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep (die), but we will all be changed – 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. When the final trumpet blasts, and the Lord Yeshua returns, He will resurrect those who died; and His followers who are alive will be changed. They will receive the same kind of body that those who are resurrected will receive – but without having to experience death. Their transformation will take place virtually instantaneously – in the amount of time it takes for the eye to give a twinkle.

Followers of King Yeshua will live with Him in the kingdom of God, and for that to happen, our bodies must change. For the perishable (our bodies in this present state, which are subject to decay) must clothe itself with the imperishable (our future bodies which are not subject to decay), and the mortal (our present bodies which are subject to death) with immortality (our future bodies which are not subject to death).

I like the metaphor Paul uses – changing clothes. It’s as simple for us to receive new bodies that are imperishable and immortal as it is for us to take off worn-out clothes put on beautiful new clothes.

As he does so often, the Rabbi reinforces his teaching with a quote from the Word of God. First, from Isaiah 25, in which God revealed that He would give victory to His people and swallow up death forever. 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.” Death, which has devoured billions of people, will itself, finally be swallowed up. God’s people will be completely victorious – even over death.

Then the Rabbi doubly reinforces his teaching with a second quote, this time from Hosea. Just as the rebellious nation of Israel experienced judgment, and came close to death yet was prevented from dying, so that death was overcome – so will we. This will be our joyous experience as well. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” Stings from bees or other creatures can be very painful. Death will be victorious and painful for those who die in their sins. They will die physically, then be judged, then be sent to the Lake of Fire and die the second death. However, the experience of those whose sins are forgiven will be very different. Death will not be victorious over them. They may die the first death, but they will not die the second death. And for them, death will not be painful. Death will be more like a welcoming kiss from a lover than a sting from a wasp or scorpion.

What gives death the ability to hurt so much? Sin. And what empowers sin? The law. The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. The more people are aware of right and wrong, the more responsible they are to do what is right and not do what is wrong; and the more guilty they are for doing what is wrong. That increases sin’s power. And, the closer people come to law, the more our sinful natures are stirred up to resist the law. Law increases the power of sin. And remaining in a state of sin is what gives death its ability to really hurt people.

But, we have something more powerful than law that increases the power of sin that results in death! We have a different approach to God that really works! Not a law-based approach to God, but a faith-based approach to God – faith in our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. The Lord Yeshua is greater than the law! The Lord Yeshua is stronger than sin! The Lord Yeshua is stronger than death! And the Lord Yeshua gives victory over sin and death to all those who are joined to Him by faith. And, if we are given the victory, and death is defeated, and only life remains – that necessitates resurrection.

The Gospel is true. Each individual truth that is part of the Gospel is true. That means we should not move from any of the truths of the Gospel. We must stand firm on the truths we have received. The resurrection is one those truths. That means that it’s worth living for the Lord, serving the Lord, suffering for the Lord. 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.

Let’s pray:

Heavenly Father, thank You for the Gospel, and that it is true, and that every part of it is true. Help us to stand firm. Help us so that nothing moves us from the truths of the Gospel.

Help us be very sure of the Good News. Help us be very sure of the resurrection. May that sureness change our perspective so that we give ourselves fully to serve You; and live holy lives that please You.

He us be focused on the resurrection so that we are better able to walk in newness of life; and so that we are full of new, resurrection life, so that we are able to overcome life’s challenges. Help us experience the power of resurrection, now, today, this new week, this new month.

By |2017-09-04T22:16:06+00:00September 2nd, 2017|Categories: Commentaries by Rabbi Loren, Sermons by Rabbi Loren|Tags: , |Comments Off on 1 Corinthians 15:29-58 – The Resurrection Will Happen

About the Author:

Rabbi Loren Jacobs is the senior rabbi and founder of “Congregation Shema Yisrael” (which means “Hear O Israel”). Congregation Shema Yisrael is a Messianic synagogue which was started in 1986 when Rabbi Loren and his wife Martha moved to Michigan to proclaim the Good News about the Messiah to the Jewish people living in the metro Detroit area.Rabbi Loren was raised in a Jewish home in the Chicago area, and became a Messianic Jew in 1975. He graduated from Moody Bible Institute’s Jewish Studies program in 1979 and received a Bachelor’s degree in Biblical Literature from Northeastern Bible College in New Jersey in 1986. His wife Martha is a fifth generation Messianic Jew, which is quite unusual. They have two adult children and two grandchildren.