God created Adam and Eve as living souls in physical bodies. It was and is God’s very good plan for mankind that he should be a created being of both soul and body. This is confirmed by the fact that Jesus Christ and all who follow Him will live forever in heavenly bodies. If there is no resurrection of the dead then it means that God has abandoned His original plan of creation. The final resurrection of the body, which is the unique hope of the Christian, confirms that God’s original plan was indeed very good, and that He has not abandoned His original intention in the created order. Of course Adam fell into sin in the garden, and with Adam, all of mankind fell. As a result, our physical bodies are fallen and subject to temptation, sin, and finally death. God sent His Son, the last Adam, to die in our place, and He secured victory over death by raising Him from the grave, so that all who are in Christ will also rise on the last day. The Corinthian church in the First Century had some in their midst who denied the resurrection of the dead, and in so doing, they denied the importance of God’s created order. The redemption of our bodies in the final resurrection is proof of the fact that God is unchanging – that He is the same yesterday, today and forever; and if He pronounced the creation of the physical body as “very good” (Genesis 1:26-31), then we would expect that in the end, He would finally give us new bodies that are very good.
Contrary to the ideas that held sway in ancient Greek philosophy, and continue to be embraced by much of Christendom today, we are not ghostly souls trapped in physical bodies waiting for death to set us free. Part of the reason for many Christians’ unhealthy attitude toward death and dying lies in a failure to see death as God’s enemy. But the Scripture describes death as a destructive force that must be conquered at the end of the age in the final resurrection. The unique Christian doctrine of the resurrection of the body is an essential teaching of the New Testament because it proves that for eternity, love wins and death loses. This is a healthy biblical understanding of death.
Also the doctrine of the resurrection affirms the moral significance of life in our present bodies. Whether they meant it or not, the Corinthians’ denial of the final resurrection of the body was tantamount with a denial that what they did with their bodies had any ultimate significance with God. They failed to understand the truth taught in Romans 8:23, which refers to the resurrection as, “the redemption of our bodies,” (significantly not, “redemption from our bodies”). In other words, our present physical bodies will be changed, not replaced. Their immorality was a betrayal of their theological confusion over the resurrection; they therefore failed to see the importance of the body, so they used their bodies to serve immorality. So Paul takes a significant portion of this letter to correct and teach on this matter. It is no coincidence that a letter which opened teaching a theology of the cross (1:18-2:16) would conclude with a rich theological teaching on the resurrection. These two truths – the cross, and the resurrection – which form the bookends of 1 Corinthians – must also frame the entirety of our theology and practice. A proper understanding of the triumphant transformation of our bodies in the resurrection will go a long well in helping us to be a good steward of our bodies now, as we seek to use them in a way in keeping with their ultimate Christ-like end.
As we read 1 Corinthians 15:35-57 it calls us to expand our imaginations beyond what we know in flesh and blood. In this text we see that God’s creative power is beyond ordinary comprehension. Being that this is clearly a future event, the resurrection gives us a bright and hopeful future. Read the text a few times through along with 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, and utilize the sanctified imagination that God gave you to think about your glorious future condition.