Paul in 1 Cor. 15 has given us the clearest and most explicit account of the resurrection to be found anywhere in scripture. He commences with Jesus and His resurrection and shows that we have many and reliable witnesses "that Christ died for our sins, and that he was buried and was raised the third day, (after his death,) &c. He thus proves Christ's resurrection as an evidence of the power of God to raise the dead in general, for remember this was the general proclamation of the Apostles—viz: "They preached through Jesus, (the value of his death as our redemption price) the resurrection of the dead;" With close argument Paul reaches the conclusions of verses 20-22. (Diaglott,)—"But now Christ has been raised from the dead a first fruit of those having fallen asleep. For since through a man there is death, through a man also there is a resurrection of the dead; for as by Adam all die so by the Anointed, also, will all be restored to LIFE." Not merely to the measure of life now possessed by men, but gradually to the "perfect" human life as illustrated in first Adam before sin and death began their work.
"But each one in his own rank, Christ, a first fruit." God has time and order for everything, and He has wisely arranged for various ranks or orders or companies in the resurrection. All are to be raised, but each in his own rank: Christ first, afterward, they who are Christ's in (or during) his presence. Only these two are specifically mentioned, and yet that the others will be raised afterward in their own orders is certain, since it is positively stated, (vs. 22,) "All will be restored to life." This work of restoring progresses during the millennial age which is called "the times of restitution of all things," and when the work of restoring to life and all that was lost through sin and death is complete, then the end of that age will come. "Then cometh the end when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father," Jesus, during that age having put down all enemies. "Even death, the last enemy will be rendered powerless."
This concludes Paul's argument, but he pauses to answer some questions, (vs. 35)—"But some one will say: How are the dead raised up, and in what body do they come?" Will it be the same particles of matter that once constituted their bodies? Hear Paul's answer: You have illustrations before you in nature; the grain you plant never comes up again; it dies and wastes away, but God gives another grain just like it, of the same kind and likeness. If you sow wheat you will get wheat; if you sow tares you will get tares. God will give "to every seed his own body." Now apply this same principle to the resurrection. What body you will have depends upon what seed you are of when buried. If you are "of the earth, earthy," when you die you will be raised up to the standard of the head of your kind—the perfect natural man. But if with Jesus you have given up the flesh life, crucified the flesh, and through him become a new creature, a "partaker of the Divine Nature, you are no longer of the natural seed but of the Spiritual." "THE seed of Abraham," (Gal. 3:29.) And if in the resurrection God gives "to every seed his own body," then all who are of the spiritual seed will get a spiritual body, just as surely as the natural seed will have its own body. "Of what kind the earthy one, (Adam) such, also, (will be) the earthy ones, (when raised) and of what kind the heavenly one, (Christ,) such, also, (will be) the heavenly ones" (when raised). ["Diaglott."] "There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body," and which you will have, depends on which seed you are of when buried.
Vs. 39:—This need not seem strange to you, for though you have never seen a spiritual body, yet, you can see this to be reasonable, and in harmony with God's dealings generally as you see them every day—even of fleshly bodies, there are different sorts and grades—the fowl, fish, beasts, &c., different, yet all flesh; so God has diversities, and you have no reason to dispute, when I, Paul, say that there is a grander body than any of these, a spiritual or heavenly.
Vs. 40:—Man, when restored to the glory of the earthly again, brought back to perfection, though he will then be a truly glorious being, will yet be far different from a heavenly body. Both will have glory, but the glory of the heavenly is one thing, and the glory of the earthly is quite another thing, just as the glory of a star is beautiful, yet different and less than the glory of the sun. When our change takes place, we shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of our Father. (Matt. 13:43.)
While it doth not yet appear what we shall be, for we have never seen the glory of the heavenly, yet Paul gives us certain general characteristics of those who will have part in THE resurrection, (the chief or first.) The Greek language has a peculiar way of expressing emphasis by the use of the article the. It is used here by Paul to distinguish between the resurrection of the "little flock," the "blessed and holy" who have part in the "first resurrection," and the resurrection of the natural seed. He says, (vs. 42-43. Diaglott.)—"Thus is THE resurrection of THE dead: It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown an animal body, it is raised a spiritual body."
Thus closes Paul's argument regarding the resurrection; but lest some should be perplexed and wonder how any could become spiritual bodies, if they should be alive when their Lord comes, he explains: "Behold, I show you a mystery, we shall not all sleep, but we must all be changed."
The overcomers—church of the first born—are represented as becoming "dead to sin," "crucifying the flesh," even during the present life, and yet though dead to sin, alive toward God through Jesus Christ. Here, the figure used represents the body dead, but the spirit (will or mind,) alive. Thus every overcoming christian has a germ of spiritual life in a dead body. "I live, yet not I, (I am dead,) but Christ liveth in me." If such an one loses the present life, is it his death? No, that took place before. Was it the death of the spiritual life within? No, it cannot die. "He that believeth on (into) the Son, hath everlasting life." Such only "sleep," but we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment," (vs. 53,) and instead of living in this dead body, fast decaying away, we shall have it changed, for this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." Thus our death takes place before we enter the grave, and our life begins and grows for a while before we get the body which God has designed for us, "like unto Christ's glorious body."