"Thou sowest not that body which shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat or some other grain: but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him; and to every seed his own [kind of] body." 1 Cor. 15:37,38.
The Apostle uses this illustration from nature to teach the church regarding—what? Not regarding the living, but those dead. He is answering the question (verse 35), "How are the dead raised up, and with what [kind of] body do they come" [forth] in the resurrection. We must keep this in memory to get the force of the Apostle's argument.
He shows that there are varieties of earthly nature—men, fish, fowl, beasts, etc., and also variety in the heavens, sun, moon and stars; and he adds these two illustrations of variety and differences, to his first illustration of grain. As the dying and living again of the grain best illustrated THE FACT of the dead coming forth to life, so the varieties and differences of fish, fowl, etc., and of sun, moon and stars illustrate the DIFFERENCES which should be expected in the resurrection. Some (the body or bride of Christ) will be like him and will come forth spirit beings—celestial, while the mass of mankind will come forth human beings—terrestrial. There will be glory to both classes, though differing as the glory and beauty of fish, fowl, etc., differ from the glory of sun and stars in KIND.
And that there will be grades or degrees of glory on each plane, is also shown, even as the moon is beautiful but less majestic than the sun, so some of those who come forth spiritual will, though glorious and perfect, be less grand than others; and on the earthly plane there will be variety in perfection and glory also.
After stating thus the general principles, the Apostle proceeds to explain particularly "THE" chief resurrection, in which as prospective members of the body of Christ, the Corinthian Church and all saints would have special interest. And keeping in mind the original question, "How are the DEAD raised up and with what body do they come" forth, he applies his answer now to the class DEAD in Christ—dead "members" of Christ's body, and says:—
"So also is THE [chief] resurrection OF THE DEAD." [Remember that he is not talking about the living as some have erroneously supposed, but of those who were already 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 a natural [animal] body, it is raised a spiritual body."—Verses 42-44.
What is sown thus and raised thus? The being—the individuality sown in death thus, is raised from it thus. The Apostle is holding to his original illustration. The germ of life in the grain of wheat which will produce the new stalk, is not the entire grain planted, for all decays and dies except this germ. So with the being entering death, or sown in death. Being cannot be considered apart from a body, and hence being is reckoned as still associated with the body which is sown in the corruption of death. It is not the corrupted body but the being, which God will raise up in a new appropriate body, even as in the grain, it is not the old grain but the germ or vitality from it which comes forth in a new grain.
But says some one a grain of wheat has a germ which lives while the grain decomposes, which germ may be seen in some seeds; but man has no such germ. No, we answer; the germ of life in man and in grain differs, and so does also the process of resurrection; man does not sprout forth as a shoot of grain, nor does the Apostle use the illustration for such purpose. Nevertheless man has a germ of being, though unlike the grain, it is not in himself, but in another. The germ of life through which man shall be restored to being [whether of earthly or heavenly nature] is "hid with Christ in God." (Col. 3:3.) It is in God, in the sense that it is decreed in God's plan and possible through God's power. It is with Christ in the sense that God's plan is being accomplished through Christ who ransomed and justifies all. It is thus that "all live unto him." (Luke 20:38.)
God seeing the end from the beginning thus considers things and men that are not, as though they were. (Rom. 4:17.) Thus death is really extinction, but because of God's plan to ransom and restore all from it through Christ Jesus, he gave his "friends" in all ages to know that Adamic death is merely a sleep, in view of the resurrection waking he had abundantly provided for in his plan; which before the foundation of the world foresaw and provided the Lamb slain, to take away the sins of the world by paying the penalty of Adamic sin for all.