A Spiritual Body
What does Paul mean, in I Corinthians 15:44, by saying that, “there is a natural body and there is a spiritual body.”?
There have been several different theories as to what Paul meant by this. One is that Paul is speaking here of a 'special', physical nonetheless, body that we will be clothed with in Heaven, another is similar; that, at physical death, we will be 'further clothed' with our 'habitation ( or dwelling ) from heaven'.
Up until about a week ago, I would have been fairly comfortable in purporting this second view, although not at all the first; but now think, upon further examination, and illumination, I believe, from the Holy Spirit; that all Paul is talking about here, is the spiritual 'change' that we undergo, at the moment of 'Immaculate Reception'!
In other words, I have now come to believe that the 'spiritual body' that Paul talks about in I Corinthians 15 is 'merely' the opposite of the 'natural man, or body, that he speaks of in chapter 2 of the same book, or letter!
As we look at the Greek word psuchikos which is translated 'natural' throughout Paul's letter; we see that, while it does have more of a 'physical' meaning, or connotation; in the context, especially of verse 14 of chapter 2; it doesn't make much sense to apply the literal, 'physical' meaning; otherwise, none of us would have any hope of understanding anything of a spiritual nature, while we are in this 'tent'!
On the other hand, and this is part of my reason too, for crying 'Context, context!'; the Greek word pneumatikos, translated 'spiritual' here, and everywhere else in the Greek New ( er ) Testament that the word is found; speaks of the 'change' of nature that occurs when an individual receive Christ into his 'heart of flesh', as Ezeekiel recounts in Ezekiel 36:26.
When Paul says that 'it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body', I don't think that he is speaking of separation from our spirit, or life-force ( Ecclesiastes 12:6,7 ), but rather of our dieing, in Christ, to our 'old man', or, our 'carnal nature'.
Jesus also speaks to this effect, in the third chapter of John, when He told Nicodemus, who thought that Jesus was saying that, to enter the Kingdom, you had to be physically reborn; that 'unless one is born of water ( the natural birth ) and the Spirit ( Matt. 3:11 ), he cannot enter the kingdom of God.' Jesus had to further clarify, with this statement, to make clear in Nicodemus' mind that He was NOT talking here about a physical, but rather, a spiritual 'change'!
I think that many of us ( me included, for all of my adult life, up until a few weeks ago ) have affixed this same 'natural' conclusion to the 'change' that Paul speaks of in I Corinthians 15:52, et al. Some would argue, and believe me; I've thought about this, that the 'spiritual' change had already happened to those pre-AD70 saints. Well; yes and no; the book of the Acts ( or the history of the genesis of the institutional church ) has a lot to say on this matter, but for the sake of time and space, we'll just look here at a few references from Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, and from Peter's first epistle.
Paul tells the Thessalonican believers that “we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede ( go before-where? ) those who are asleep”.
Peter tells the recipients of his first letter that, 'you are being built up a spiritual house................. '( John 14, II Corinthians 5 )
I think, and I'll not touch much on whatever else the 'transition period' between 33 and 70AD may have been, or meant to those who were alive at the that time; that this so-called 'transition period' was, not only what I like to call 'the changing of the guard', or the period of inauguration of the New ( er ) Covenant; but, more than that, a time of purification by trials and testings of His special people ( I Peter 2:9 ), not unlike it's typification under Moses in the 'wilderness, before they were allowed to enter the Promised Land, which, itself was a type of Heaven, or, the Rest ( Hebrews 4 ) that we now enjoy in Christ!
Going back to our main thesis; we notice, in verse 49 of I Corinthians 15, that Paul tells them that 'as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall bear the image of the heavenly Man' ( an interesting note on this passage; the Majority text, upon which the Authorized Version is largely based, replaces the last part of this verse with, 'let us also bear the image of the heavenly Man' )
I've already discussed with several people that I believe that the 'image of God in which He created Adam, or man; was the ability to have dominion; so, if that is the case; is the 'image of Christ' here in I Corinthians, the same as the 'image of God' in Genesis 1? Has God re-created man ( II Corinthians 5:17 ) in His image, so that we could fulfill His purpose in making man in the first place?
I've always looked at this next verse, as further reiterating the Scriptural idea that our physical bodies will not inhabit Eternity, or Heaven; but last night, I had yet another 'revelation'!
Paul tells his 'brethren', in verse 50, that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.”
With a surface reading of this verse, we might get the idea that I outlined above, but when taken in context with Paul's usage of the word 'flesh, especially in Romans 8; it takes on a whole new aspect!
Paul tells the saints in Rome that “those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
Well; I guess that does it! There's just no pleasing God until we 'shuffle off this mortal coil', right?
We should hope that that's not the case! I think that we can all agree that Paul is not saying here that those who are physically alive cannot please God, but rather that those who 'live after the flesh', or live to indulge our fleshly nature, are 'dead while we live'!
Paul clears this up in the next verse, when he tells them, “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you...........”
So, if Paul 'simply' means our sinful nature, here in Romans 8:8,9, by his use of the word 'flesh', why wouldn't he mean the same 'flesh' in I Corinthians 15?
The Greek word sarx, used in all but two instances by Paul, and translated 'flesh' in his letters; does have a literal meaning of 'flesh, as stripped off the bone', but also, according to my Strong's Concordance, a meaning of 'the human nature'.
For more instances, in Paul's letters, and otherwise, where 'flesh' doesn't necessarily mean 'flesh'; look at, Romans 7:5, all of chapter 8,13:14,I Corinthians 1:26, 5:5, II Corinthians 1:17, 5:16a, 10:2,3b, 1:13, Galatians 5:17,19,24, 6:8, Ephesians 2:11a, I Peter 3:18,21,4:1a,2,6, and II Peter 2:10.
There is more that could have been written here, but for the sake of time and space, and that God's Name may be glorified, and not my own, through His Word; I will end here, with the admonition to be a Berean, and search the Scriptures, 'to see if these things are so'!
In His Kingdom and service,