1 Corinthians


9. The resurrection 15:1-58

v] The analogy of seed and bodies


Arguing against those who can handle the idea of the soul leaving the body and ascending to heaven, but who have difficulty with a bodily resurrection, Paul makes the point that the resurrection of the dead, an event which entails a transformation from one form to another, is well illustrated in nature. The amazing transformation of a sown seed evidences the principle of continuity and transformation, while the wonder of the creation, both here on earth and in the cosmos, evidences the principle of distinctive difference. God will give believers, sown with a death-bound body, a supernatural body in the day of resurrection.


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: The analogy of seed and bodies:

Against the view that there is no bodily resurrection #5.


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 arguing for a bodily resurrection, Paul clearly delineates earth from heaven; they are each of a different order. The resurrection of the dead does not involve the resuscitation of a corps, but rather its transformation into a spiritual entity suitable for existence in heaven. "While the present life is lived within the parameters of time and space, and is delineated by death, the resurrection of Christ has revealed the foundation of a new reality: He will never die again, death no longer has dominion over him, Rom 6:9", Lorenzen.


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

Text - 15:35

The resurrection body, 35-44: i] The objector's question, v35. The "what kind of body?" question allows Paul to present the analogy of the seeds, which serves to illustrate the transformation of the body on the day of resurrection to that of a spiritual body, v44a, a body which is incorruptible, v52.

alla "but" - but [a certain person will speak, say]. Adversative / contrastive

pwV "how" - how [are the dead lifted up, raised]. Modal interrogative. Somewhat unclear, so Paul clarifies the question in the next clause.

de "-" - but/and. Possibly epexegetic in that the clause explains the opening question; "that is, with what manner of body do they come." Jeremias argues that it is coordinative in that Paul presents two separate questions here, the first answered in v36-44, and the second in v50-57. That there is one question, further explained by the coordinative clause, seems more likely.

swmati (a atoV) dat. "with [what kind of] body" - with [what kind of] body [do they come]? The dative expresses either means, "by what body", or manner / attendant circumstance, "with what manner of body", Lenski, qualified by the interrogative pronoun poiw/, "of what kind", dative in agreement. "What kind of body will they have", Barclay.


ii] The principle of continuity and transformation is evidenced in nature when a bare kernel is sown in the ground. When the seed germinates it springs forth as a lush plant, v36-38. "You fool, when it comes to the resurrection body, nature illustrates what kind of body is raised." We learn a number of things from the act of sowing and reaping. First, what is sown dies in the ground before it is raised to life. Second, there is continuity between the seed and the plant which has burst to life, but there is also a transformation of the "bare kernel" which was sown. God transforms the dead body planted in the ground; to each kind of seed a new transformed body. "The same is true of the resurrection of the dead. I who die will be raised alive, but changed into a different form", Barnett.

afrwn voc. adj. "how foolish" - foolish man. Vocative, as NIV.

su pro. "you" - [what] you [sow is not made alive]. Emphatic by use and position.

ean mh + subj. "unless [it dies]" - unless, [as may be the case, it dies, then what you sow is not made alive.] Introducing the protasis of a negated 3rd. class conditional clause where the stated condition has the possibility of coming true. "The seed you sow in the ground has no life given to it unless it first dies", Cassirer.


kai "[when you sow]" - and [what you sow]. Possibly epexegetic; "and with regard to what you sow." Berkeley shapes the clause as a question; "Now is what you sow the body that is to be?"

to geghsomenon (ginomai) fut. mid. part. "that will be" - [not the body] the one going to become. The articular participle, is adjectival, attributive, introducing a relative clause limiting "the body", as NIV.

alla "but" - Adversative.

gumnon adj. "just [a seed]" - naked, bare [seed, grain]. Accusative direct object of the verb "to sow." "A bare kernel", ESV.

ei + opt. "perhaps" - if [it should happen]. This construction serves to introduce an indefinite adverbial clause; "perhaps", "it could be ....", Zerwick.

sitou (oV) gen. "of wheat" - As for tinoV, "of a certain other, of some other", the genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting kokkon, "[naked] seed."

twn loipwn gen. adj. "of [something] else" - [or certain other] of the remaining seeds. The adjective serves as a substantive; "the rest." The genitive being partitive.


de "but" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the argument.

autw/ dat. pro. "[God gives] it [a body]" - [god gives a body] to it. Dative of indirect object.

kaqwV "as" - like, as [he wanted]. Comparative, "in line with his will", "as he has chosen", ESV.

kai "and" - Possibly epexegetic such that the second clause explains the first; "that is ....."

ekastw/ dat. adj. "to each kind" - to each. The adjective serves as a substantive, dative of indirect object / interest, advantage; "for each kind of seed he gives its own body." "A different body to each kind of seek", Phillips.

twn spermatwn (a atwn) gen. "of seed" - of the seeds [its own body]. The genitive is adjectival, partitive.


iii] The substantial difference between the bare kernel and the lush plant is further illustrated in the variety, the difference, of various kinds of terrestrial (earthly) and celestial (heavenly) entities, v39-41. Each seed has its own body exhibiting a diversity of form and character. The glory of each is different, as is the glory of the risen Lord, a glory we will share at the resurrection of the dead.

ou ..... alla "Not ...." - not [all flesh is the same flesh] but. Introducing a counterpoint construction.

sarx (x koV) "flesh" - The word is not being used in an evil / corrupted sense, but rather in a neutral sense, referring to the diversity of the stuff which makes up the different kinds referred to: "People, animals, birds, and fish are each made of flesh, but none of them are alike", CEV.

men ..... de .... de ..... de .... "-" - [but] one the one hand ........ but on the other hand .... and on the other hand .... and on the other hand .... Adversative comparative construction.

allh ... allh ... allh .... allh adj. "one ... another ... another .... another" - one [there is of men but/and] another [there is]. Nominative subject of an assumed verb to-be.

kthnwn (oV) gen. "animals" - [flesh] of animals. The word refers to farm animals. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, or idiomatic / of material.

pthnwn gen. adj. "birds" - [and another flesh] of feathers, wings, birds [and another of fish]. The adjective serves as a substantive, so "birds", with the genitive as above.


kai "[there are] also" - Adjunctive, as NIV; "likewise".

swmata (a atoV) "bodies" - bodies [there are heavenly and bodies earthly. Nominative subject of an assumed verb to-be. The word "flesh" was used in illustrating the diversity of the stuff of species, while "body" is used in illustrating the diversity of "form and character" (Thiselton) in the different kinds of terrestrial and celestial entities; "There are bodies that belong to heaven and bodies that belong to earth", Cassirer.

alla "but" - Adversative. "But" the glory of each is different.

men ... de ... ".... and .." - on the one hand [different is the glory of the heavenly] but on the other hand [different is the glory of the earthly]. Adversative comparative construction.

doxa (a) "glory" - There is the glory of earthly things and the glory of celestial ("heavenly") things, but there is also the glory of "the man from heaven", v47, and the resurrected body will share in that glory.

twn epouraniwn gen. adj. "of the heavenly bodies" - the heavenly. The adjective serves as a substantive, "the heavenly" = "celestial", as NIV = sun, moon, stars and planets. As with "the earthly bodies", the genitive may be taken as adjectival, possessive, identifying the possession of a derivative characteristic, "the glory belongs to / pertains to ...", but also verbal, subjective, "the glory exhibited by ..."

twn epigeiwn gen. adj. "the earthly bodies" - the terrestrial. The adjective serves as a substantive, the genitive being possessive; "the terrestrial" = terrestrial bodies = "the bodies of those who live on the earth", Ellingworth.


hJliou (oV) gen. "the sun [has one kind of splendor]" - [another glory there is] of the sun [and another glory of moon and another glory of stars]. As for selhnhV, "moon" and asterwn, "stars", the genitive as above, probably adjectival, possessive / characteristic, as NIV, or possibly verbal, subjective.

gar "and" - for. Here probably emphatic; "yes, and ...", Barrett.

diaferei (diaferw) pres. ind. "differs" - [star] differs. Expressing differentiation; "while among the stars themselves there are different kinds of splendor", Phillips.

asteroV (hr roV) gen. "from star" - from star. The genitive is ablative, expressing separation, but possibly comparison.

en + dat. "in [splendor]" - in [glory]. The preposition here is adverbial, probably modal, expressing the manner in which the stars differ, one is more brilliant than other, but possibly reference / respect, "with respect to glory." "Each star has its position and brightness or magnitude", Thiselton.


iv] For a believer, the body that is sown in death is raised a spiritual body at the resurrection, v42-44. In his agricultural illustration, Paul drew out the idea of continuity and transformation, a principle which applies to the resurrection body. In his cosmic illustration, he drew out the idea of distinction, of difference, again a principle which applies to the resurrection body, ie., the glorious resurrection body will be distinctly different from the body of a deceased believer. Paul now drives this fact home in a set of comparisons:

it is sown in decomposition, raised imperishable;

it is sown unhonored, raised in/to splendor;

it is sown in weakness, raised in/to power;

it is sown a death-bound body, raised a spiritual body;

It is unclear weather v44b rounds off this passage or introduces the next; it actually does both well. If rounding off the passage, it serves as a minori ad maius argument, from the lesser to the greater, serving to answer the question posed in v35, "what kind of body?" If there is a natural body ("soulish body", Barnett) then obviously there is a spiritual body.

ouJtwV "so it will be with" - therefore, so [and = also]. drawing a logical conclusion.

twn nekrwn adj. "of the dead" - [the resurrection] of the dead. The adjective serves as a substantive, the genitive being ablative, expressing source / origin, "from the dead", but possibly verbal, subjective, "the dead rise", or objective, "God raises the dead", B&L.

en + dat. "" - [it is sown] in [decay, it is raised] in [an imperishable state] - This preposition is used in the three sets of comparisons found in v42b, 43. It is likely that it is adverbial, modal, expressing manner; "what is sown corruptible is raised incorruptible", Cassirer.


atimia (a) dat. "dishonor" - [it is sown in] humiliation. Thiselton suggests that we must draw the meaning of the word from its contrast with "glory", so first, it takes the sense of "humiliation", ie., of our lowly state, mourning, sorrow, frailty and grief, and second, "shame", ie., our sinful desires and habituated actions which were performed in the old body.

doxh/ (a) dat. "glory" - [it is raised in] glory [it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power]. Thiselton suggests "splendor", it expresses the climax of transformation into full Christ-likeness.


yucikon adj. "a natural [body]" - [it is sown] a natural [body]. In 2:14 the "yucikoV man", the "unspiritual man", is an unbeliever, but here the word is used of a believer whose body is "death-bound" (better than "natural"). Barnett opts for the rather awkward term "soulish body", so Edwards. Pfitzner suggests it means "the human body as it is animated by natural life", whereas the "spiritual body" is "the glorious body which is animated by the Holy Spirit." Fitzmyer also suggests "animated body"; Jeremias suggests "human nature in its frailty and sinfulness"; and R&P suggest that it refers to a body which does not rise "above the level of merely human needs and aspirations", but such a description cannot be made of a believer. Garland suggests that the comparison is of "the body kindled by the soul and the body kindled by the Spirit", ie., an earthly believer as compared to a heavenly believer.

pneumatikovn adj. "[a] spiritual [body]" - [it is raised a] spiritual [body]. As with yucikoV the sense of this adjective is unclear, none-the-less, it is likely that both words are well-known to the Corinthians, even used by them. Suggested meanings are many: "That which pertains to the Holy Spirit of God", Thiselton; "the body kindled by the Spirit", Garland; "all that the body is not", Fitzmyer; "the spiritual body is the new body, animated by the Spirit of God, with which the same man will be clothed and equipped in the age to come", Barrett. We are best to follow Fee who suggests that yucikoV describes the body in terms of its essential characteristics as earthly, while pneumatikoV describes the body in terms of its essential characteristics as belonging to the life of the Spirit in the age to come. The pneumatikoV body "is spiritual, not in the sense of immaterial, but of supernatural", so also Martin.

ei + ind. "if" - if [there is a natural body]. Introducing a conditional clause, 1st. class, where the condition is assumed to be true; "If, as is the case, .... then ..."

kai "[there is] also" - [then there is] and = also [a spiritual one]. Adjunctive, as NIV.


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