Notes on Resurrection in I Corinthians 15

Below is a post I wrote a few years ago to a professed former full-preterist. I have deleted most of the references to him, but kept the rest. I believe this chapter deserves very careful study. Perhaps more than any other it is the clearest exposition of what our new nature in Christ will be when we leave this life.

———————-

One of the weakest points of argumentation against Preterism is to use this chapter as if it is an unanswerable refutation to our position. But the exact opposite is true.

Paul wrote, 15:36-38:

“Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:

But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.”

It is not “the selfsame body”. “Thou sowest not the body that shall be.”

The sinfulflesh will be destroyed, dissolved – λύω. Our souls are and will exist forever. – somewhere. The continuity is in our invisible part, 2 Cor. 4:16 – 5:2.

Let’s look more closely at that very passage that many say Preterists avoid in Greek, especially verses 42-44:

“So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
It is sown in dishonour; 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. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.”

Notice that this resurrection of the dead has a fourfold contrast:
It is sown in corruption (φθορά); it is raised in incorruption (ἀφθαρσία):
It is sown in dishonour (ἀτιμία); it is raised in glory (δόξα):
it is sown in weakness (ἀσθένεια); it is raised in power (δύναμις):
It is sown a natural (ψυχικός) body; it is raised a spiritual (πνευματικός) body.

I realize that the sticking point here  is in that word ψυχικός. But I want to first note that this sowing, described in fourfold aspect, is not at the time of death. A corpse, for instance, would not be characterized as “weak“, but lifeless. Further proof that Paul is not thinking of sowing as dying is the fact that he had earlier (vs. 36) distinguished the two, making one contingent upon – but not simultaneous with – the other.

All four of those things in that fourfold contrast being sown are to be destroyed. To argue for the destruction of three, but the restoration of one is to be inconsistent. If (as you write later on) these “selfish, imperfect (physical) bodies” will be “restored as spiritual, perfect (physical) bodies” you do not have the ψυχικός being destroyed, but merely changing.

Does it stand to reason that, out of the four things being sown (all clearly bad), only three of them are to be destroyed or done away with, but the last merely restored?

Another argument that is made is the close relationship between ψυχικός and ψυχή (Spirit, spirit, breath, life, depending on context). But this is not a valid proof. I had written about this in my article earlier. Two words may have been related etymologically but diverged considerably in usage. And that is the case here. ψυχικός is to ψυχή (that is, “soul” is to “soulish“) as “self” is to “selfish“.

“Self”, like “soul”, has generally kept its good or neutral connotations. (“Save yourselves from this evil generation.”, etc.)

“Selfish” is like “soulish” in that they both share a worse connotation. They are both products of the Fall. ψυχικός is found here in the New Testament: 1 Cor. 2:14; 15:44 (twice); 46; James 3:15; Jude 10, 19. In all of these ψυχικός is shown to be undesirable, art of those things that have no part – even in reconstituted form – in the New Creation.

I believe the biggest initial obstacle for those considering what I am arguing for – a spiritual resurrection – is an unwillingness to think outside the body. Christ said that in the resurrection we “will be like the angels”. The fact that so many are against this is, I believe, because of a culturally inherited predisposition, not the biblical evidence.

WE SHALL BE LIKE HIM. NOT HE SHALL FOREVER BE LIKE US.

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:”

There was a down-payment of that intent in Creation, of course, and a further realization in the new creation (the new creature) as we turn to the Lord. We went from mere God-consciousness to (at least degree of) Christlikeness.

Much more could be said about this, and the part the Parousia plays here, but I want to finish up with some comments on this chapter in Corinthians, getting back to things you touched upon.

I brought up Christlikeness because that is an essential topic of 1 Corinthians 15. I suppose it is obvious to say that a Christian enjoys two stages of it. God’s Spirit working in us produces a certain degree of it, but after this life we will have much more of it.

In the chapter we have a series of contrasts between the new life and the old, the things we will become contrasted to those things we are being saved from. Those good qualities of the new creature (v. 42-44) are: incorruption, glory, power, spiritual. Then we read about the originators of the two classes, Adam and Christ. Adam “became a living being”. Christ, “a life-giving Spirit.” KJV unhelpfully provides “became“, which is not at all the point.

A VERY IMPORTANT TEACHING CONCERNING OUR DESTINED NATURE

Then we come to a very important, oft-overlooked, detail. Overlooked in application, the origins of these two persons. (Skipping v. 46 for this post):

“The first man is of the earth (ἐκ γῆς), earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven (ἐξ οὐρανοῦ) .”

This passage is a continuation of verse 40: somata epigeia and somata epourania now become “ek ges” and “ex ouranou”. This preposition (ek, ex – the forms only differ because of euphonics) shows origin. Adam came from the earth, from the dust. This brings to mind the very passage from Genesis. The “Second Adam” came from heaven. Note: In both cases, the origins determine the essence of who these two are – and (v. 48) the essence of their “followers”.

Verse 49 says that “we shall [or “let us”] bear the image of the heavenly man” (the Second Adam, from heaven).

Now here is the Preterist application:

We shall be like Christ.
And what is Christ like – according to this passage? He is like He was before He came to Earth. He is spiritual.
Was Christ fleshly before he came here to Earth? No. He was pure Spirit.
We – according to this passage – will also be like Him.
Spiritual bodies. Spirits of just men made perfect, as we are told in Hebrews.

We cannot have part Adam’s essence (“dust”) and part Christ’s, seeing that we could not then “enter into the Kingdom of God”. “Dust” has to do with “flesh and blood”, not spirit.

About asterisktom

I breathe, therefore I blog.
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