1 Corinthians


9. The Resurrection, 15:1-58

vi] Made like Christ


In dealing with the issue of the bodily resurrection of the dead, Paul develops the idea of continuity and transformation, both in our association with Adam, the earthly person, and Christ, the heavenly person.


i] Context: See 15:1-11.


ii] Background: The Corinthian enthusiasts and their flawed understanding of the resurrection of the dead,15:1-11.


iii] Structure: Made like Christ:

Against the view that there is no bodily resurrection #6.


There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body.


"What kind of body does a resurrected person possess?"

Analogies from nature, v36-41;

The analogies applied, v42-44;

Genesis 2:7:

the natural precedes the spiritual, v45-46;

the natural of dust, the spiritual of heaven, v47-48.

Conclusion, v49:

Believers will possess the heavenly body of the last Adam.


iv] Interpretation:

In v35-58 Paul handles the doubts of those who cannot accept the resurrection of an imperfect, sinful mortal body. The spiritual self, yes, but not the mortal self. Their sense of horror with this idea is conveyed in the rhetorical questions in v35; "how could it be possible for a mortal body to be raised? I mean, really! What a stupid idea." "What type of resurrected body would that be? A corpse, dead meat! How stupid." Because these spiritual Corinthians think of resurrection in the terms of a resuscitated corpse, they deny a bodily resurrection of the dead. Paul deals with their problem by affirming the continuity of the present body with the resurrected body, while emphasizing its transformation. The same body is raised, although, in the end, it is anything but the same. Christ has the same body, but his resurrection body is certainly different.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 15:45

The Adam-Christ analogy, v45-49. i] Argument - Genesis 3:7, v45-48. Paul has already compared Christ with Adam in v21, 22, establishing that there is both continuity and distinction - Adam and Christ share a human body, but all die in Adam, whereas all those in Christ will live. The passage before us again establishes continuity and distinction. Both Adam and Christ are human, "a living being" (Genesis 2:7), yet whereas the first Adam was God-breathed, the second Adam is God-breathing. In our association with the second Adam, humanity finds the gift of life-giving power. So, having established that our resurrection body is swma pneumatikon, "a spiritual body", v44, Paul now explains that it is also eiV pneuma zwopoioun "a life giving / creating spirit", ie., whereas Adam's eiV yuchn zwsan "spirit / being / life-force" was extinguished in death, Christ's spirit / being / life-force is not extinguished because it is life-giving / creating - Christ has life in himself, Jn.5:26. The implication of the argument is that a believer in Christ will derive from Christ that same living force and so will not die, but be raised in the last day.

ou{twV kai "so" - thus and = also. The kai is coordinative, serving to introduce the next step in the argument, while ou{twV is possibly indicating that the quote is somewhat off the cuff, so the phrase is best left untranslated; "Now, scripture tells us that the first man Adam became a living creature."

gegraptai (grafw) perf. pas. "is written" - it has been written. The perfect is often used when referring to scriptures: it was written and is still before us. The actual verse in the LXX reads egeneto oJ anqrwpoV eiV yuchn zwsan, "the human became a living soul", Gen. 2:7.

zwsan (zaw) pres. part. "living" - [the first man adam became to a] living [soul]. As with zwopoioun, "life-giving", the participle is adjectival, attributive. The prepositional phrase eiV yuchn zwsan, "to a living soul / being", is an LXX Hebrew equivalent and serves as a predicate nominative. The God-breathed body of flesh become a living person, a living soul.

eiV pneuma zwopoioun "a life-giving spirit" - [the last adam became] a life giving spirit. To balance with "a living-being", Paul adopts a similar construction. The verb egeneto, "became" is assumed with eiV + acc. again serving as a predicate nominative. Barclay draws out the comparison expressed by the two prepositional phrases in the words "a life-having person" and "a life-giving person", although Naylor's "life-creating person" is probably closer to the mark.


Paul develops his argument by expounding Genesis 2:7. He makes the point that there are two human forms - The first Adam and the last Adam (cf. v22, Adam and Christ). The first Adam is formed as a living being, a God breathed living soul. He is a life-having person formed for existence in the world. The second Adam is a life-creating spirit; he is a life-giving person formed for existence in the heavenlies. This second Adam is the resurrected Christ and he came after the first Adam. As Adam is the representative person for all who have an earthly body, so the resurrected Christ is the representative person for all who will have a heavenly body.

alla "-" - but. Introducing a contrast. Cassirer takesalla here as cumulative rather than adversative; "Observe further that it is not what is spiritual which comes first, but what is natural ..."

ou ... alla "not ..... but ...." - [the spiritual is] not [first,] but [the natural]. Forming a counterpoint construction. In the same way a seed precedes the fruiting of a plant, so the natural body precedes the spiritual resurrection body. Some commentators think that Paul may be countering the widely held views of Philo of Alexandria, a Jewish philosopher and contemporary of Paul. Philo argued that the opening chapters of Genesis revealed two creation stories, one of the ideal spiritual man, I:27, and the other of the physical man, 2:7. Paul argues for the reverse, one created physical person, followed by Christ, the spiritual person. Whatever prompts the comparison, Paul's point is clear. "Yet ..... but rather ....."

to yucikon adj. "the natural" - natural, unspiritual. The adjective serves as a substantive, nominative subject of an assumed verb to-be. Again "the natural" refers to "the natural or physical body", the body possessed by Adam and his descendants, a body, due to sin, destined for annihilation. The physical body comes first, not the spiritual, and to argue otherwise is counter to scripture.

epeita adv. "then" - afterwards. Sequential adverb, here temporal.

to pneumatikon adj. "the spiritual" - The adjective serves as a substantive, nominative subject of an assumed verb to-be. For "the spiritual" Paul obviously intends "the spiritual body", the life-creating Christ / Second Adam now possessing his resurrection body, which resurrection body a believer in Christ mimics. This body did not come first.


Using the imagery of human creation, a creation from the dust of the earth, Paul gives an image of the stuff from which the second Adam, the resurrected Christ, is made. He possesses a spiritual body which finds its origin in heaven. Paul is not defining Christ's origin as such, he is just describing the element of his being; his body is spiritual - of the heavenly domain.

ek + gen. "[the first man] was of [the dust of the earth]" - [the first man] from, out of [earth is made of dust, the second man is] from, out of [heaven]. Here expressing source / origin. Again Paul expresses the continuity that exists between the first and second man, but at the same time emphasizes distinction. The first man is created from the dust of the earth, Genesis 2:7; we are God-breathed dust and to dust we return. The second man is ek (source/origin) "out of" heaven. "The raised Christ, however, belongs to, indeed provides the model for, a different order of existence. ... The second man exhibits those qualities that come from heaven and shape the character and nature of the form in which those in Christ will be raised", Thiselton.


The implication of Paul's argument now comes to a head. The resurrected Christ, who is the last Adam, will change (transform) our "mortal bodies into the likeness of his glorified body", Phil.3:21. Through our identification with Christ we will become as Christ is. The form of the first Adam, the earthly person, is our form. The form of the last Adam, the person from heaven, is the form of those "who are of heaven." Because we are "in" Christ, we will become as Christ is.

oiJoV ... toioutoi "as..... so are" - as, such as [the dust = the one made of dust] so, of such a kind [and = also the dusts = the ones made of dust]. These qualitative relative pronouns together form a correlative construction. Barrett suggest that in this context they do not express quality / character. Thiselton disagrees and so translates the verse "the one from dust is the model for people of dust; the one from heaven models those who pertain to heaven." Paul is using here a theology of identification that he first introduced in v22; "as in Adam all die, so in Christ all (those who believe) will be made alive". Our identification with Adam brings death, and our identification with Christ brings life. As Adam died, so will our corruptible body die, for it is of the earth; it belongs to the present existence. As Christ lives, so will our resurrection body live, for it is of heaven; it belongs to a future existence. This new existence is for those who are "in Christ", for by being "in Christ" they share in the life of this person from heaven.

oJ coikoV adj. "was the earthly man" - was the one made of earth, dust. This adjective serves as a substantive, nominative subject of an assumed verb to-be, the intended sense being "the man of/from dust / the earthly man" = the first Adam. There are no verbs in the verse and so they must be supplied. In the NIV, the first verb to-be "was" is obvous, but a present tense is also possible. The second "are", a durative present tense, is appropriate. "What the earthly man is (ie. dust = nothing), so are those who are his descendants."

kai "-" - and. Adjunctive; "so also those of dust."

oJ epouranioV adj. "the heavenly man" - [as] the heavenly man [so also are the heavenly ones]. The adjective serves as a substantive, nominative subject of an assumed verb to-be; "what the man from heaven is (ie. spiritual = eternal), all the heavenly are", Barclay.


ii] Conclusion, v49. Paul finally encourages his readers to live as those who already possess the resurrection body of the person from heaven. There is a translation problem with this verse. Note the alternate reading in the NIV: "so let us bear the likeness of the man from heaven." This is the better reading. Paul is encouraging his readers to be what they are, Christ-like, heavenly men and women.

kai "and" - Coordinative, as NIV.

kaqwV ..... kai ... "as .... so" - just as [we bore the image of the one of dust] and = also [we will bear the image of the heavenly man]. Correlative construction; "just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so also we will bear the image of the heavenly man."

thn eikona (wn onoV) "the image" - the likeness. Accusative direct object of the verb "to bear."

tou coikou gen. adj. "of the earthly man" - of the dust = of the made of earth man. The genitive is adjectival, attributive / idiomatic, "the image which represents the one made of dust." "Made like the material pattern", Phillips.

foresomen (forew) fut. ind. "shall we bear" - we will carry, bear, wear. Although most manuscripts say "let us bear" (hortatory subjunctive), most translations follow a lesser reading, "we shall bear". It is certainly easier to see Paul simply affirming the transformation a believer will go through in the day of resurrection. We will be as Christ is. Yet, if we follow the stronger reading, although it is a difficult concept to understand, we do arrive at a deeper truth. What Paul is implying is that through our identification with Christ we already share in the life of the person from heaven. His resurrection life is already ours; we are alive. Although we await the day of resurrection, there is a sense where we are already raised and now sit with Christ in the heavenlies. The eternal future is present. Also, the resurrected life we now possess in Christ enlivens us, renews us. He makes us alive - alive unto God. That is, we are shaped into the image of Christ, becoming like Christ. On the basis of this truth, Paul exhorts his readers to "bear / put on" the image of the resurrected Christ in their lives - they are to be what they are. Because we are alive to God in Christ, live out the new life we possess. Live it out in the sense of ethically live it out. Live the life of a righteous person, declared righteous in the sight of God and eternally made righteous in the presence of God.

tou epouraniou adj. "of the heavenly man" - of the heavenly. The genitive is adjectival, as above; "so we shall be made like the heavenly pattern", Phillips.


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