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Friday, October 14, 2016

1 Corinthians (Lesson 46)



Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:3-4)

Established November 2008                                                        Published weekly on Friday

1 Corinthians                                                                     Lesson 46            

When I taught in the classroom I was mindful of the clock because it helped me know where to end my Bible lesson.  That doesn’t work so well in this setting.  I still know where I want to go in the Bible and I generally know what I want to say as I sit down to write.  But as I put those words to paper brand new thoughts usually come to mind and because they are pertinent to our study and they may help you understand what this book is saying I go after them.  Back in the day I called this “chasing rabbit trails.”  If you’re familiar with rabbits in the wild, then you know rabbit trails are plentiful and seemingly endless… pursuing them can “eat-up” blocks of time rather quickly.  This is what happened last week.  I try to limit chasing “rabbit trails” in my lessons, but you can’t eliminate them.  You have to allow the Holy Spirit room to function!

Getting back on “track,” so to speak, I ended the lesson last week while our Apostle Paul was speaking of the profound and miraculous change that will take place in the Believer when he or she is raised from the dead.  He’s opted to do this by listing four remarkable contrasts that contain the phrases “it is sown.., it is raised...” The word “it,” refers to the Believer’s body.  Paul does this so the unbeliever challenging this tenet will no longer doubt that this great transformation will be brought about in the same body.

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If you’ll open your Bible at 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, we’ll begin where we left off last week and that would be at miraculous change #3. 

3)         It is sown in weakness; it is raised in powerThe 2016 Summer Olympic Games, officially known as the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, which took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil recently ended.  It goes without saying every one of those athletes endured many years of sacrifice and intense training to attain that level of competitiveness.  Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter, regarded as the fastest human ever timed, and a 9-time Olympic gold medalist, is just one example of the excellence in Olympic sports.  But no matter how healthy these men and women are, no matter how strong they are, at the end of the day each one of them yields to the body’s demand for mental and physical rest.  Even the strongest man on earth gives in to his body’s needs at the end of the day.  That being said and understood, how many people stop to consider that one-third of their life is spent in bed; resting?  How many people stop to consider that during this down time, this period of recuperation, their very lives are in the hands of the Creator?  We don’t own our next breath or our next heartbeat is what I’m saying.

The ultimate human weakness is death.  Everyone attempts to “hold onto life” when the end approaches, but in the end death wins the struggle, as the body is forced to concede defeat and yield up its soul and spirit to God who gave them. Scripture teaches us that “the power of death” has temporarily been given to “the devil” (Hebrews 2:14), and that it is our enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26).  Nevertheless God can sanctify even this experience for the Believer (Romans 8:38-39).  Paul declared:  “For to die… is GAIN…  (Philippians 1:21).

In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul wrote:  we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord (2 Corinthian 5:8).  Although Paul desired to be with the Lord, and it is without a doubt “far better” than anything we’ll experience here on earth, it is still not “the best” God has in store for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For one day this poor body, having been sown in weakness will be raised in power.  I thought I would point out the Greek word for power is Dunamis (pronounced:  doo’-nam-is) Noun, Feminine –Strongs Greek #1411, meaning – physical power, marvelous works, ability.  Our English word dynamite is derived from this word. 
                       
4)         It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body – We have to understand what this means, if we are going to appreciate what the coming spiritual body will be.  To do this we need to go back to the beginning, when man and woman were created in the image of God:  Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness(Genesis 1:26).  And the LORD God formed man of the dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a (what) living soul (Genesis 2:7 - KJV). 

Man and woman are made in the image of God but God doesn’t have a body He is an invisible Spirit being (John 4:24).  So, when the Bible says we’re made in the image of God it is actually saying “we’re made in the likeness of God,” which means even though you and I think of ourselves as someone you can see and touch, the real you and me is invisible, and by that I mean to say we are made up of soul and spirit housed in a physical body. 

God is a Trinity made up of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit; and man and woman are a triune being as well made up of body, soul, and spirit. The Bible says we are created in three parts: spirit, soul, and body.  We pick up this Truth in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians where he writes:  Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23). 

The threefold nature of man and woman has been illustrated by Dr. Clarence Larkin using three circles (Rightly Dividing the Word, page 86).  The outer circle stands for the human body, the middle circle represents the soul, and the inner circle is the spirit. 

Quoting Mr. Larkin, the carnal body (Soma) is shown as touching the material world through the five senses of “sight,” “smell,” “hearing,” “taste,” and “touch.” 

The gates to the soul (Psyche) are “imagination,” “conscience,” “memory,” “reason,” and the “affections.”

The Spirit (Pnuema) receives impressions of outward and material things through the soul.  The spiritual faculties of the Spirit are “faith,” “hope,” “reverence,” “prayer,” and “worship.”

Again, Genesis 1:26 says, “And God said, let us make man in our image, after our (what) likeness…”  The Bible doesn’t mention God having a human likeness.  At least not until the Lord stepped out of time and into our world, taking on human flesh, as Jesus Christ that is.  So what this book is talking about is that image in the area of the soul and the spirit and both of these characteristics are invisible! 

To give you a better perspective on this, especially when we refer to ourselves as being made a “triune being,” the Bible is speaking of those characteristics of ours that are invisible, i.e. the mind, the will, and the emotions.  If you’ve taken a psychology course, one of the first things you’ll learn is these three things make up our personality.  Wrap them all together, if you will, and I like to refer to them as the soul.  There’s no denying we all have a mind, a will, and emotions.  It’s also a fact that all three are invisible.  If you didn’t have a will, you wouldn’t be reading this right now.  It’s also true that brain surgery is performed.  Brain cells can be viewed under a microscope, but no one can view the mind or change it in any way except for its owner.   It’s also true we all have emotions.  Who hasn’t experienced joy or sadness?   These are all definite entities; they make up the real you and me and they are definitely invisible.  The Triune Godhead also has a mind, a will, and emotions and there are plenty of Scripture references to support this statement, “Jesus wept” being one.   So it is in this aspect that mankind is made in the likeness of God. 

This book also says the body is a tent that houses the spirit and the soul.  Our
Apostle Paul illustrates this for us in 2 Corinthians 5:1:  For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Now some would argue the soul and the spirit are one and the same, however, the Bible disagrees with that opinion.  In the book of Hebrews Paul addresses each one quite clearly:  For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of (what) soul and spirit, and joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

When Paul states that our resurrected bodies will be spiritual, he’s not saying we’re going to be invisible spirits, hovering around heaven or sitting on clouds and playing musical instruments – forget you ever heard that nonsense.  When Jesus’ disciples saw Him after His resurrection, what did they see?  Although they thought they were looking at a ghost, Jesus assured them they were seeing real flesh and bones, “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself.  Touch Me, and see.  For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39).

Jesus Christ’s resurrected body was the same as before, not a brand new one.  After He arose, the tomb was empty.  His body was resurrected – the very same body, but in a glorified state.  The wounds from His crucifixion were still visible (John 20:27).  He could be touched and handled, which means He was not a ghost (Luke 24:39).  He was with His disciples for a long time on the road to Emmaus, He spoke with them, and they never once questioned His humanity (Luke 24:13-18).  He ate food with His disciples (Luke 24:42-43).  Jesus could pass through solid walls (John 20:19).  He could appear in different forms, protecting His true identity (Mark 16:12).  He could suddenly appear seemingly out of nowhere (Luke 24:36).  And we know He ascended directly into the third heaven, passing through the first and second heaven in bodily form with no ill effect – He didn’t need an oxygen tank or a space suit in outer space (the second heaven) (Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9).   

What Paul is saying is we are dominated by our sin-natured soul and body now.  Even when we are born again we still have to battle with “Old Adam” or those daily carnal forces which bombard us (Romans 7; Galatians 5).  When we receive our new resurrected bodies, we will no longer be dominated by our soul and body, but our spirit will be in complete harmony with God and we will be dominated by our spirit.  This is why Paul called it a spiritual body for we will be like Him (Romans 8:29-30; 1 John 3:2-3).

I think we covered that well enough.  Let’s move on to verses 45-49.

1 Corinthians 15

45: So also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.”  The last Adam (Jesus Christ) became a life-giving spirit.

46: However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual.

47: The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man (Jesus Christ) is from heaven.

48: As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly.

49: Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.

In this section Paul continues his argument of the previous paragraph which began at verse 35.  An unbeliever challenged Paul with the questions, “How are the dead raised?”  And with what kind of body do they come?”  He answers these questions in verses 45-49 using a contrasting analogy between Adam and Christ.  Paul says, although people are born with a “natural body,” they are raised with a “spiritual body” and then proceeds to expand on this (v46).

Before we begin to examine Paul’s analogy it’s a good idea to get a handle on what Paul means by the terms “natural” and “spiritual” in verse 46.  The Greek word for natural is Psuchikos (pronounced:  psoo-khee-kos’), Adjective, Strongs Greek #5591, and it means:  the sensuous nature with its subjection to appetite and passion.  The Greek word for spiritual is Pneumatikos (pronounced:  pnyoo-mat-ik-os’), Adjective, Strongs Greek # 4152, meaning:  one who is filled with and governed by the Spirit of God. 

These are the same two adjectives Paul used in 1 Corinthians 2:14 to describe the basic differences between a Believer and an unbeliever.  However, in this case, and as Paul’s analogy in verses 45-49 will make clear, they do not describe the essential difference between those who belong to God and those who do not as in 2:14.  Rather, they describe the one body in terms of its essential characteristics as earthy, on the one hand, and therefore worldly, and as heavenly, on the other hand, and therefore belonging to the life of the Spirit in the age to come.  The Believer’s body in the age to come is “spiritual” because it will be supernatural, as Paul will explain in short order with the help of Scripture in verse 45, because the body will have been transformed by Christ, who became a “life-giving spirit” through His resurrection.

Paul begins with a familiar opening remark, “So also it is written… another way of putting this is – The Word of God says“The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.”  The last Adam (Jesus Christ) became a life-giving spirit. 

Let’s go to the book of Genesis, chapter 5.  Here we’ll find two significant verses which depict for us what man was like before and after the fall. 

Genesis 5:1b: In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him.

Genesis 5:3: And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:  (KJV)

The first passage above refers to the state of man before his fall and the latter verse refers to fallen man, for Seth was begotten in the likeness and after the image of fallen man, as are all of us.  But God, in His matchless grace had a wonderful plan to rescue fallen mankind.  This divine plan is centered in the Truth stated in Romans 8:3b …God sending His own Son in the (what) likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

Please note Jesus Christ did NOT come into the world as a sinner, but in the likeness of sinful flesh, so that, dying as a sinner, He might condemn sin and pay its penalty, once, for all (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 6:10)!  Adam had been made in the likeness of God, but he sinned and this rebellious act brought upon himself and all those who come after him the curse of sin and death.  As a result, Seth (as well as Cain and Abel for that matter) was begotten in the likeness of Adam, cursed by sin.  Remember the LORD God telling the man that in the day he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he would die?  (Genesis 2:17)  When the man and the woman disobeyed, they didn’t die then and there did they?  They both lived for several hundred more years, but here’s the thing; they were changed from immortal to mortal on that day.  Their eventual death became a certainty and God who is outside of time saw it at the moment they sinned: for you are dust and to dust you shall return (Genesis 3:19 – ESV; Ecclesiastes 3:20).
 
Thus, as an act of infinite grace, God sent His Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh, that in the flesh He might condemn sin and judge it.  As a result, those people who place their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ’s finished work of the Cross will one day be like Him - Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly (v49). 

There’s a companion passage in Philippians 3:20-21 where Paul expresses the same message:  For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:  Who shall change our vile body, that it may be (what) fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.  (KJV)

Becoming born again is the exact opposite of being mortal.  We didn’t actually become immortal on that faithful day but our immortality was made certain, and from that time on God saw us as immortal beings.  He inspired Paul to write, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he (or she) is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Although we don’t feel or look any different, to God we became a new creation on the day we accepted the Lord Jesus Christ’s death as payment for our sins.  He now sees us being as righteous as His Son (2 Corinthians 5:21).  This righteousness comes through faith (alone) in Jesus Christ to all who believe (Romans 3:22; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). 

Paul has quoted Genesis 2:7, stating Adam was created a living soul, and contrasts that truth with Christ, the last Adam, who is made a life-giving spirit.  This spoke of the post-resurrection Christ, not Jesus who was born in the stable of Bethlehem with a mortal body.  Jesus Christ was made a life-giving spirit through the work of the Cross in the same manner Hebrews 5 said He was made the author of eternal salvation through the things which He suffered. 

Just as Adam was natural in contrast to Christ’s resurrected state in which His body was spiritual, the body that is sown is natural, and the body raised is spiritual.  As Paul said in 2:14, there is a difference between a Believer and an unbeliever, but here he’s now saying there’s a difference in ORDER for the two.  As Adam came before Christ’s resurrection, the mortal state of man’s body must occur before the immortal state.  It’s merely an issue of time.  Even Christ’s mortal body existed before His spiritual body did.  The Believer’s body is mortal when sown and when raised it is immortal, but that’s an oversimplification of the transformation process.

1 Corinthians 15

47: The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man (Jesus Christ) is from heaven.

This verse contrasts the created body of Adam from the resurrected body of Christ.  The Bible says Mary “conceived” (Matthew 1:18-20).  Conception requires the egg of the woman to be fertilized by the male seed.  Since there was no human, male seed involved due to the “virgin birth,” when the Bible says Mary “conceived” this means in part that Jesus’ body came from Mary’s body.  It also means part of her flesh was involved in the formation of the human body of Jesus.  This also means Jesus’ body from Mary was as much from the earth as Adam’s body. 

If you’ll recall, the “seed of the woman” was spoken of by the LORD God in Genesis 3:15 and God kept it insulated from the curse of sin.  There was no “sin nature” in the “seed of the woman” because the father of Jesus was not human but divine.  Science shows us the circulatory or blood system of every fetus born of a woman comes from the male and not the mother.  Therefore, the blood system of Christ originated with God, who was the Father.  But Jesus was human in every way (other than Adam’s sin-nature) because He was born of the ovum, or the egg, or the “seed of the woman.” 

Paul contrasts Adam and Christ in his analogy because they are the federal heads of the human race.  Adam represents the unjust and Jesus Christ represents the justified Believers.  Paul also contrasted heaven and earth, the Lord is from heaven and Adam is from the earth.  The next verse contrasts the difference between earthy (mortal) and heavenly (immortal) bodies.

1 Corinthians 15

48: As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy (mortal); and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly (immortal).

When Paul said, “the earthy” he was referring to Adam.  Adam was made from the dust of the earth and all those who are descended from him are of the earth as well, earthy and mortal.  But the heavenly, referring to Jesus Christ’s post-resurrection body and those who are resurrected in stages after Him, will have bodies just like His (2 Corinthians 5:1-2).

1 Corinthians 15

49: Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.

The Lord Jesus Christ had the body from heaven according to verses 47-48.  And according to 2 Corinthians 5:1-2 we too will have bodies just like His - from heaven.  Verse 49 makes Paul’s point.  If Christ’s body was immortal, physical, and visible then our body will be just like His body.  Every true Believer’s citizenship is in heaven; therefore, their vile bodies will be fashioned after the likeness of Christ’s glorified body.

(To be continued)

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