The Nature of Man [Part 2]: The Nature of Man After the Resurrection
Updated: 6 days ago
“...There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body.” (1 Corinthians 15:44, KJV). When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, they were experiencing tremendous persecution for their faith in Yeshua (Jesus Christ). Therefore, He was encouraging them with the promise of paradise and how their reward will be greater if they obeyed God’s commandments; and he did so in concrete terms.
“But someone will say, ‘How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?’ Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain… But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fish, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies [of Heaven] and terrestrial bodies [of earth], but the glory of the celestial is one and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another for the moon… So is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body [terrestrial], it is raised a spiritual body [celestial]”(1 Corinthians 15:35-44, emphasis mine).
The Scriptures are written in the most beautiful language; no matter which language it is translated in, its power and impact is the same. The words used in the Scriptures are used with proper diction and for deep reasoning. The Hebrew word for ‘weakness’ and ‘power’ used in this text are ‘astheneia’ and ‘dynamis’. ‘Astheneia’ is what it means to be human, frailty or a feebleness of health or want of strength, (Strong’s G769) and ‘dynamis’ is the strength or the ability to perform miracles and the excellence of soul – essentially, what God is (Strong’s G1410). Our resurrected body will be quite different from the one we have now.
Paul explains that we are like seeds. This is a beautiful illustration of how the child of the Most High (Elohim) is reborn, and he explains this process by using concrete examples of things we all know about but never really thought of - more so by us who do not live in an agricultural environment. This is a reflection of how Yeshua describes the wheat in Matthew 13. He was explaining how we grow into maturity and then is reaped by God to become whatever He pleases. This process included the sowing of the seed, the birthing or breaking forth of the root and the stem, and the eventual growth of the stalk and the production of fruit - in this case the grain. Grain, such as barley and wheat, were important produce in Paul’s culture and he draws on what he saw every day to explain our birth into immortality. He concentrated on the birth process of the wheat plant. This time the wheat is not an analogy to spiritual development, but of the physical transformation that will occur when Yeshua returns and adopt us into the family of God (Ephesians 1:5; Luke 20:36; Galatians 4:7-9; 1 John 3:2). Paul emphasised how different the wheat is from the seed in both nature and form, and in order for a seed to grow, it must first die. “It is appointed to every man to die once” (Hebrews 9:27). In other words, if we are born once we die two times (the first and second death) and if we are born twice, then we die only once (1 Peter 1:23).
In many Christian traditions, baptism is regarded as a symbolic death; and when we come up out of the water we are reborn, or ‘born again’. However, the Biblical tradition speaks of Baptism as a sign that we have sacrificed our lives as we throw in our lot with Yeshua’s (Romans 6). Indeed, the word ‘sacrifice’ means death, however, the Christian after baptism is required to be a living sacrifice. On the other hand, what Paul speaks of here is a literal death of the body. The topic here is the resurrection of actual dead people and not of a symbolic death.
The question asked in this text is a stupid one, because the question actually asked is “if all the flesh off the bones of the dead and even the bones themselves have rotted away, crushed or even burned, how then can that now non-existent body ever be resurrected intact?” So, Paul responds simply by saying “fool, do you think a seed can become a plant without ever dying, without ever changing?” Many Christians believe that when Yeshua comes that we are going to be the same – still flesh and blood but living forever. Nothing will change about us except being immortal and wearing long white robes and a crown filled with gems, without a Kingdom to rule. This belief is even more illogical than the belief that we must change physically in order to become immortal and that we are wearing crowns because we are going to be ruling over something. The prevailing belief that we will keep our human nature in the Kingdom of God is not supported by the Scriptures; however the rebirth of man into a totally different species is backed up by the Word himself, Yeshua.
If we were never going to change our bodies at all when Yeshua returns, then the writers or even Yeshua himself would not have called it a ‘rebirth’. Nicodemus stumbled to understand this in the same way the Corinthians did when Paul taught them the same thing. When Yeshua told Nicodemus that he must be born again in order to see the Kingdom, he probably had a ridiculous look on his face and responded with another stupid question, “How can I go back into my mother’s womb to be reborn?” (John 3). Yeshua responded by saying, “That which is flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” (John 3:6-7, NKJV). Nicodemus did not comprehend the basic law of nature that nothing can change unless it dies, and that all species of plants and creatures in the universe must reproduce after their own kind (Genesis 1:24-25, 7:13). So even if it were possible to re-enter his mother’s womb and be reborn, it would be impossible to be reborn as something different from what his mother was, which was human (flesh) and still unable to see the kingdom of God. Flesh can only birth flesh and spirit only spirit. Adam can only produce another Adam, an image of himself. That is the order of the universe.
God’s physical laws are as unchangeable as Himself, and when Adam sinned the change that occurred in his body was irreversible. In order to see the Kingdom of God again, he needed a new and more durable body - one that will be compatible with God’s. “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be [has not happened yet] we know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” (1 John 3:2, NAS, emphasis mine). We will be able to see Him as He is because we will have a body just like His.
There is however, an example of a change that naturally occurs in nature where one creature may change into a totally and more glorious species after rebirth. We see this in how the caterpillar changes into a butterfly. The law of nature says that in order for change to occur in any species it must first die and then become something completely different and perhaps more glorious than it was before. This process is called rebirth, and for the butterfly, it is as painful as its first birth into the world as a caterpillar.
Granted, it is difficult for us to think that humans too can change into a totally different species, and that we can become spirit. The problem is that we have a very narrow world view. We do not often see examples of this sort of change in nature and we have never seen it happen in our species; thus we believe it to be impossible. We also have erroneous ideas of what a spirit is, because we cannot see it. There is a veil that hides the spirit world from us and because we cannot interact with it physically we do not understand a lot about it. A spirit body is not a glimmer of an image of a being that we cannot touch and has no substance. A spirit has a body just as we do that can be touched, heard and seen. Yeshua is a good example of what this is when He appeared to His disciples after His resurrection. He could be seen by all, heard by all and touched, if He allowed it (John 20:17). Yeshua was not resurrected human (flesh); He was the first fruit of the very resurrection that we will partake of when He returns (2 Peter 1:4, 1 Corinthians 15:35-44). Our resurrected bodies will not be different from His, ours will be just like His and compatible with God’s glory (1 John 3:2).
It is doubtful that even after Yeshua explained this to Nicodemus that he understood it. So, the question is raised again to Paul for him to explain it and he did so with the only example he probably knew of the rebirth process in nature – how a seed becomes a plant. God cannot change His laws, because He made them perfect, complete. You cannot get more perfect than perfect. Even after sin, the very laws He created were still intact and unchanged. The state of things changed, but certainly not the laws. Heaven and earth are witnesses to this, for as long as they exist none of the laws of God will change (Matthew 5:18). They are founded on His laws. The law of the resurrection is simple, “For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22, NKJV). Paul goes on to explain that we all bear the image of the man of dust, Adam, but in the future we shall (a certain and future event) bear the image of the Man of Heaven, that is Yeshua (1 Corinthians 15:47-49); and that “flesh and blood (humans) cannot inherit the Kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption (1 Corinthians 15:50, NKJV). This is one of the mysteries of the kingdom that is explained to God’s children. This is one of those teachings Yeshua spoke of when He said, “They look but cannot see and they hear and do not understand.” (Mathew 13:13, paraphrase). It is difficult to understand this concept.
However, what is fascinating is that this very law of nature was set before the foundations of world, before God even created the earth and formed man. Amazing! Man was created from the beginning to be redeemable, to be inheritors of salvation (Hebrews 1:14, Roman 8:17). We were not a backup plan for Lucifer’s fall, as some churches teach; and the plan of salvation was not ‘Plan B’, it is the Plan, the only plan. Perhaps even the mere fact that the ‘Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil’ was even planted in the Garden meant that man’s experience of death was inevitable. Not as a stumbling block, but as a necessary evil to bring man to perfection. With God, there is no such thing as a coincidence, man did have a choice, and we still do – the same choice Adam had.
However, I did wonder about Genesis 1-2 for some time. In Genesis 1, we are told that God made human beings, male and female, and then He blessed them. Then in Genesis 2, we see the creation of man alone. I often wondered if Genesis 1 was a summary of all creation, to include the seventh day, which was created after man, and the Genesis 2 onward outlined the details of man’s journey. If that were so, then why was it necessary to back up to the sixth day to explain how man became lonely? God already knew that He would create a mate for Adam, but He allowed Adam to be alone first in order that he would be able to appreciate Eve when she was presented to him. God made us. He must have known our nature very well. We do have the tendency to abuse or to devalue things and people that we never had to live without. This tendency is clearly seen in our relationships with each other. We often never really appreciate our partners until for some reason we lose them, sometimes temporarily and sometimes forever. Maybe it was not by chance that Adam and Eve disobeyed God, maybe it was necessary to know what it was like to live without Him first, in order to appreciate Him when we are reconciled to Him. I don’t know, I am just speculating; but I do know that we were created to inherit salvation and we were not created to remain as dust (mortal) and as flesh and blood (1 Corinthians 15). We will be changed as a caterpillar changes into a new species. We will be made new creatures and become dual citizens of Heaven and of earth, sharing in the work and achievements of our Saviour.
It is apparent that Yeshua did not begin to reflect the glory of the Father immediately after his resurrection, because He had not gone to Him yet. The disciples only saw Yeshua’s body begin to shine when He was being translated to Heaven. Our spirit bodies will function in the same way, reflecting the light received from being in the presence of the Father, the source. Paul assures us that there is no mystery in the second birth and what we will become – this is clearly explained by His Word. The only mystery in all of this is that we “will not all sleep (die)” but some of us will be changed, translated so quickly, we will skip the inevitable death, or it will not be noticeable to us (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). This is the foundation behind our belief in the promise of paradise. We believe that God will change us to become compatible with Him again and for us to be reconciled to Him, in body and spirit.
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