1 Corinthians 15:29–49 (NKJV)
29 Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead? 30 And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? 31 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”1 Corinthians 15:29-34
33 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” 34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.
Paul continues his argument for the bodily resurrection in this passage. He speaks of the practice of the baptism for the dead. This is an obscure reference, not spoken of elsewhere in the Bible. It is presumed that some in Corinth were being baptized vicariously for loved ones posthumously. While this is not a Biblical practice, it does demonstrate that many were concerned about their dead loved ones who may not have been converted before death. He then speaks of his own experience of fighting for this gospel of a hope in resurrection. Do not be shameful by doubting the resurrection.
35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” 36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. 37 And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.1 Corinthians 15:35-49
39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.
40 There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 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. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.
Paul uses examples of sowing and reaping, and of the different bodies in the heavens and the earth. He points to the fact that seed does not produce new life until it dies, and then a new life comes forth. Verse 42 is pivotal, in that it described how the body is sown in corruption but raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor but raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, but raised in power. The sowing of the body in death results in the new life in Christ. The message of this passage is one of hope. Death is not the end, but simply a change of state. The dead Christian may hope in the resurrection of the body by the power of the Holy Spirit. Do not restrict your hope to this earth, but look forward to the resurrection. In Christ we may live live forever!
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