For many years I puzzled over the remaining verses of 1 Corinthians 15, as I attempted to reconcile them with other statements in the Bible.
N. T. Wright, a world-class scholar, solved the problem for me with his terminology, “life after life-after-death.”
What did Wright mean? This is how I understand his words.
Life after Death
Martha told Jesus that if he had been present when her brother was sick that Jesus could have healed him. The conversation between Jesus and Martha speaks of life after death.
— John 11.23-27 – Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live,
And everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”
The key message is: “Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die” (verses 25-26).
When someone has trusted their life to Jesus, we can be assured that these words are true.
They have, as the old spiritual says, “moved up on a little bit higher.” Not just a little bit, I’d say. Rather, they have entered the bliss of heaven.
A Continued Relationship with God
The Sadducees didn’t believe in life after death. They posed a hypothetical question to Jesus. His answer reveals two facts about life after death.
— Matthew 22.31-32 – “And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God,
“‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is God not of the dead, but of the living.”
(1) Notice the names. People in heaven are not anonymous persons who can not be recognized from our past lives on earth.
There are names, personalities, and recognition of our prior earthly being.
(2) Resurrection life is a continuation of a relationship with God while on earth.
God does not form a relationship with people while they are on earth, only to drop them at the time of their death.
That relationship carries on into eternity, or as Wright calls it, “life after death.”
Life after Life-After-Death
There is more to come. God has plans to give his followers a body similar to the one Jesus displayed in his resurrection appearances.
Rudy Ross talks about Jesus’ ability to walk through walls in his resurrected body, but also the fact that he ate.
The point that Paul makes is that there is more to come. There is life after life-after-death.
At some point in God’s agenda for humans, we will be raised and have a body like Jesus.
The Corinthians didn’t understand this and said made their views clear to Paul.
— 1 Corinthians 15.35 – But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?”
Paul used two analogies to drive home the blessed truth that there is life after life-after-death.
(1) Our body is but a “seed” of things to come.
— 1 Corinthians 15.36-38 – Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain.
But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.
An acorn does not look like an oak tree, but it carries within itself the properties of the tree.
We can assume that our human body does not look like a resurrected body, but it carries the seed of what is to come.
(2) Just as there are different kinds of bodies. Our resurrected body will be different from what we have now, but it will be full of glory.
— 1 Corinthians 15.39-41 – Not all flesh is alike, but there is one flesh for human beings, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.
There are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one thing, and that of the earthly is another.
There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; indeed, star differs from star in glory.
Rudy and I ended our discussion of the resurrected body at this point in today’s video. The blog article and video will pick up on Paul’s argument tomorrow.
There is much that I don’t know about what God will be doing for us in the future.
What I do know is that it is good, because God loves us with everlasting love.
Rudy Ross and I produce a daily video on the passages we study in this blog. You can see it on the Bob Spradling channel.
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