For an introduction to this series, click here.
Well, yesterday was kind of short, and now I have a lot of ground to cover to finish up this chapter. This is one of the greatest chapters in the Bible though.
Remember that the second half (actually it is more than half of the text but bear with me) of I Corinthians is a response to a series of questions the church wrote back to Paul. He had some pressing issues, like divisiveness, he had to get out of the way first, and then he answered their questions. Apparently there was a controversy in the church what the resurrection body would be like. Paul gives them an answer, but I think if you read it, you can read between the lines that Paul is thinking, "Why are you asking me this? God is going to do things right. What does it matter?"
"But someone will ask, 'How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?' You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, 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. For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, 'The first man Adam became a living being'; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven." (15:35-49)
But there is a spiritual lesson to be learned here. I'm pretty sure Paul is the only epistle writer to refer to Jesus as the "last Adam." Christ is engendering a new race of people, one linked not by blood but by faith.
Finally Paul wraps up his argument with a glorious anthem of praise:
"I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory.' 'O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." (15:50-58, ESV)
I have heard supposedly learned people say that the rapture is not taught anywhere but one passage in I Thessalonians. They have never read this passage in I Corinthians, which clearly teaches the rapture. A lot of people, especially those of the more sensitive and educated sort, view the doctrine of the rapture as kind of backward and silly, for whatever reason, I don't know. It is true that the church in large part ignored the rapture for more than 1,000 years. Some of them were more interested in building an earthly kingdom, certainly, but others you wonder why they never address the topic. But despite what some people might like, the rapture is coming, and I am looking forward to it. I hope I get to see it. I know I will be a part of it either way, but I kind of hope I can see it happen with these eyes that I am looking at the computer screen with right now.