1 COR. 15:45-58 “Having Born The Image Of The Earthly, We Shall Bear The Image Of The Heavenly


Jim Bomkamp

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1.                  INTRO:

1.1.         In our last study we continued to ponder the bodily resurrection of Christ and the resultant assurance of the bodily resurrection for believers when Christ returns

1.1.1.  Paul gave further arguments for the fact that if Christ was bodily raised from the dead then all believers in Christ are likewise assured that they will also be bodily resurrected

1.1.2.  We looked at the glory of the resurrected bodies that we will be given and the hope that generates for us

1.1.3.  We saw that having that hope of being gloriously resurrected in Christ causes us to want to be like the Lord in holiness

1.1.4.  We saw that with each of us the only hope that we have for having a whole body is if Christ comes and resurrects our bodies, for each of us are fighting a losing battle with time and aging, and of course gravity

1.1.5.  We saw that because we know that Christ has been raised from the dead and thus we shall also be raised up with Him, we will will be motivated to perfect godliness in Christ knowing that everything that we do in this life will have eternal consequences of privilege and rewards, and, this hope will also help us to be able to endure and be obedient through any suffering or difficulty that we may have to do through

1.2.              In our study today, we are going to finish up chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians where we have looked at Paul’s exposition to the church of the essential Christian doctrines, especially of the resurrection of Christ.  We have seen that Paul wrote this chapter primarily because he had found out that some in the church did not believe that there was going to be a resurrection of the dead.  Today, we are going to concentrate again upon how the hope that we have as Christians of being resurrected to glory when Christ returns for His church causes us to be transformed in our character to be like Jesus.  We are going to see how this hope actually gives us perseverance to stay focused upon and abound in doing the things that the Lord would have us to be doing in our Christian walk

1.2.1.  I want to just emphasize something first before we continue, and that is that the fact of the resurrection of Christ really brings down all the philosophies and wisdom of men, for if Christ be raised from the dead and rules as Lord over all, then all of the wisdom of man is meaningless.  James S. Hewett  once wrote, “About 1930, the Communist leader Bukharin journeyed from Moscow to Kiev.  His mission was to address a huge assembly. His subject, atheism. For a solid hour he aimed his heavy artillery at Christianity, hurling argument and ridicule. At last he was finished and viewed what seemed to be the smoldering ashes of men's faith. "Are there any questions?" Bukharin demanded. A solitary man arose and asked permission to speak. He mounted the platform and moved close to the Communist. The audience was breathlessly silent as the man surveyed them first to the right, then to the left. At last he shouted the ancient Orthodox greeting, "CHRIST IS RISEN!" The vast assembly arose as one man and the response came crashing like the sound of an avalanche, "HE IS RISEN INDEED!"”

1.2.2.  In our last study, I mentioned that there was one thing that I want to point  out as we considered the resurrection of Christ and our inter-related resurrection in Christ as believers, and that is that when we speak of Christ’s resurrection we are speaking of a bodily resurrection.  Christ didn’t just have His spirit live on, and He didn’t just get dissolved into the great oneness, so to speak, as some might teach in these days.  One of the major cults, The Jehovah Witnesses, believes that Christ returned to earth in, I believe, 1917, but only His presence came, not Him in body.  However, the scriptures reveal clearly that Christ was bodily raised from the dead, and so shall we believers in Christ also be bodily raised from the dead when Christ returns for us Luke 24:36-43, we read that in one of the appearances that Jesus made to His disciples immediately after His resurrection that He told them and then proved to them by eating some fish that He was not just a spirit but had been raised bodily, “36 And while they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst.37 But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit.38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?39 “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.”40 [And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.]41 And while they still could not believe it for joy and were marveling, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”42 And they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish;43 and He took it and ate it before them.”

1.2.3.  In the body that Jesus had after being resurrected but before ascending up to heaven, He looked similar to what He had looked like before (as we see from the fact that some of His disciples had to be told by Him that it was indeed He), however in that body He could also appear and disappear at will.  The body that He had though does not appear to be the body that we see of the resurrected Christ in other parts of scripture, such as the first chapter of the book of Revelation: Matt. 17:1-8, we have a prefiguring of Christ’s resurrection where we read that before Jesus was crucified He took His disciples up to a mountain so that He might be transfigured momentarily before them into the glory that He would have in His resurrected body, “1 And six days later Jesus *took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and *brought them up to a high mountain by themselves.2 And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.4 And Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”6 And when the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were much afraid.7 And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.”8 And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one, except Jesus Himself alone.” Rev. 1:11-18, we see a picture of the resurrected Jesus after His ascension to heaven, “11 saying, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”12 And I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands;13 and in the middle of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His breast with a golden girdle.14 And His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire;15 and His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been caused to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters.16 And in His right hand He held seven stars; and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as a dead man. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” vision of the glorious resurrected Jesus I believe more accurately describes the resurrected body that believers will have when Christ returns for His church, not the pre-ascension body that looked and functioned for the most part like a normal human body yet resembled Him before His going to Calvary to a certain degree the way, this vision of Jesus in Revelation chapter 1 is very similar to the vision that Daniel had in chapter 7 of His book when he saw the Ancient of Days

2.                 VS 15:45-48  - 45-48  45 So also it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living soul." The last Adam 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 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. -  Paul compares the first Adam and the Second Adam (Jesus Christ) in the things that they have done 

2.1.         Paul demonstrates the superiority of Christ to Adam.

2.1.1.  Adam was the first man created by God and became a ‘living soul’, however Christ has become ‘a life-giving spirit’. 

2.1.2.  In verse 46, Paul states the obvious, that Adam came before Christ.  However, if the first Adam would have been sufficient for the human race, then there would have been no need for a second Adam. 

2.2.         In verses 47-48 Paul uses the comparison between the fleshly Adam and the spiritual Adam to make an exhortation to the Corinthians to be heavenly minded (spiritual), and not earthly minded (fleshly), since they shall spend eternity in heaven with God and His creations.

2.3.         As ‘star differs from star in glory’ (vs 41), the glory which Christians receive when resurrected will vary, based upon their rewards from their labors for Christ in this life.

2.4.         We Christians ought to live heavenly lives, with our minds set constantly upon that heavenly reward that the Lord shall give us when He appears and transforms our bodies into their resurrected counterparts.  We shouldn’t get too involved or concerned about the things of this life, or live for the things that are temporal and soon to pass away for eternity.

2.5.         We Christians would be wise to labor as much as we can for the Lord since we will be rewarded and recompensed for all that we have done for Him. 

2.5.1.  On the day of the judgment of rewards for Christians, I believe all Christians will look back upon this life and wish that we had actually done more for the Lord.

2.5.2.  I have also heard more than one Christian voice to me that as he or she got older in age that they began to realize more and more the wisdom of storing up treasures in heaven rather than upon the earth. 

3.                 VS 15:49  - 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. -  Paul tells the Corinthians that they have presently been formed after the first Adam (the man of flesh), but that as believers in Christ they will be formed after the second Adam, Jesus Christ (the spiritual man)

3.1.         Paul reiterates what he has been telling the Corinthians, that they shall not only have an earthly body, but also a heavenly or spiritual body when they are resurrected.

3.2.         However, in saying that we believers will be in the image of the second Adam, having been in this life formed after the first Adam, Paul is also implying that when our bodies are transformed when Christ returns for the church that we will be holy as the Lord is holy.  Therefore, we need to prepare ourselves in this life for that transformation by growing in godliness and righteous living before the Lord!

3.2.1.  I wonder what will happen when some who claim to be Christians if they were get to heaven, when in the here and now they are not following the Lord closely, not obeying Him and His voice as they should, not taking the time daily to spend time worshipping the Lord, and not making fellowship with the church a priority in their life? a shock heaven would be to their system! out of place they would be in the presence of God where the Lord is constantly being worshipped, and where they are not the center of their own world. will they get used to hanging out with people who have lived long lives centered completely around the Lord and His leading for them? do they think that they will want to hang around with in heaven?

4.                  VS 15:50  - 50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. -  Paul tells the Corinthians that no one is going to enter God’s kingdom in their present body which is indwelt by sin and fraught with weakness due to generations of sinful living

4.1.         Paul tells the Corinthians that no one will ever go to heaven to be in God’s presence in their earthly, natural body. 

4.2.         People of ‘Flesh and blood’ such as this earthly body possesses cannot go to be in heaven when Christ returns.

4.2.1.  You might ask at this point, “But wait didn’t Jesus appear to His disciples and show them that His body was made of flesh and blood and then He ascended to heaven in that body?”  The answer is, “No.  Jesus showed His disciples that His body was made of flesh and bone, not blood.  Besides, I believe that at His ascension His body was transformed to a more glorious body before He got to heaven.” 

4.3.            Paul writes here that the ‘perishable does not inherit the imperishable.’ 

4.3.1.      First of all, let me define here what ‘perishable’ really means in this verse.  Strong’s Greek Dictionary has the following entry for this word translated ‘perishable’ here:  The Greek word ‘phthora’ is variously translated in the King James translation as “corruption, to perish, destroy.” word means:, destruction, perishing which is subject to corruption, what is perishable the Christian sense, eternal misery in hell the NT, in an ethical sense, corruption i.e. moral decay

4.3.2.  According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, our English word ‘perishable’ is defined as:  liable to perish : liable to spoil or decay <such perishable products as fruit, vegetables, butter, and eggs.>”

4.3.3.  When resurrected believer’s bodies are transformed by God, they can and never will decay, lose their original power, strength, glory, etc. 

4.3.4.  Heaven shall only be inhabited by those who shall have bodies that will never perish, or die.

5.                 VS 15:51-53  - 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. -  Paul tells the Corinthians that everyone of God’s people will be transformed to have resurrected bodies when the last trumpet sounds

5.1.         Paul tells the Corinthians in these verses what the sequence of events shall be when Christ comes again for His church. 

5.1.1.  He tells them that some believers shall be alive when He comes for the church saying, ‘we shall not all sleep.’ 

5.1.2.  The resurrection however is for both those believers alive on the earth when Christ returns for His church as well as those who have died and gone already to be with the Lord, for he says, ‘we shall all be changed.’ 

5.1.3.  The amount of time that it will take for a believer to be resurrected to the new body will be the amount of time for a twinkle in a person’s eye to occur.  A twinkle is a reflection of light, so when Christ returns it shall happen suddenly, at the speed of light, or 196,000 miles per second. 

5.1.4.  He tells them that there will be a trumpet that will be blown when the dead are resurrected, the ‘last trumpet’.  We have seen already that scripture teaches that there are all kinds of trumpets that will blow during the end times events.  This trumpet is the ‘last trumpet’ for believers which will occur at the rapture of the church (1 Thess 4:16), but I do not think that it is the last of all of the trumpets that scripture mentions.  This is a trumpet to announce the arrival of the king to His subjects.  The church will be in heaven after the rapture of the church and the further trumpets that will sound will be trumpets that signal God’s judgment, followed by the last great trumpet that will sound when the elect who became God’s people during the 7 Year Tribulation are rounded up by the angles from the four corners of the earth (Matt. 24:31). read about the events of the Rapture of the church in 1 Thess. 4:15-17:  “15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep.16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.” 

5.1.5.  Paul says that when the trumpet sounds, all believers present on the earth and in heaven will at that time be changed into their resurrection bodies, and thus they shall pass from being mortal creatures to being immortal creatures whose body will never decay or deteriorate, grow old, grow less in power, etc., ‘this perishable must put on the imperishable and this mortal must put on immortality.’

5.2.         Christ is going to come for His church at an hour when she does not know it, and it will happen at the speed of light (the twinkling of an eye), therefore we Christians ought to be about our Father’s business and not be caught up living for the things of this world.

6.                 VS 15:54-57  - 54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. -  Paul tells the Corinthians that when believers in Christ are resurrected that death will be ‘swallowed up in victory’

6.1.         In wrapping up his discussion concerning the bodily resurrection of believers, Paul tells them that the end result of gaining immortality will be that ‘death is swallowed up in victory’, since at the moment of being resurrected to glory all Christians will have full and complete victory over death and never die again.

6.2.         Paul tells them that death stings because of sin, or in other words, people will die and suffer death because of their sin.

6.2.1.  In Rom. 6:23, we read about the fact that the wages of sin (or what you receive as a result of sinning) is death, “23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

6.3.         Then, Paul tells the Corinthians that the ‘power of sin is the law’ since the law reveals what sin is and convicts of sin. 

6.3.1.  Paul wrote to the Romans in Rom. 7:7-8 that there is nothing wrong with the law, for it reveals what true righteousness is, however because of the sin that dwelt within him the law actually caused him to desire everything that was wrong, and therefore he could not as a Jew get victory over the sin of coveting that which God did not desire for his life and was sinful, “7 What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead.”

6.3.2.  Paul wrote in Gal. 3:24:, that the law was our tutor to lead us to Christ as it showed us that we could not keep the law and since not being able to be justified before God based upon our own righteousness, man is to realize his need for the mercy and grace of God in order to come to God and be accepted by Him and saved, “24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.”

6.3.3.  The problem with the law of God is that though it reveals us what is right and wrong, it does not give us the power to live righteously. 

6.4.         Paul tells the Corinthians finally that they should give thanks to God because He gives them victory over the law, sin, and death through Jesus Christ.

6.5.         We Christians can always walk in victory in Christ, victory over sin and the Devil because through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as believer’s in Christ we can now walk in a way that pleases God and get out of all of the bondages of sin we had previously.

6.6.         We Christians ought to be light bearers, telling the lost people of this world that there is a cure for the disease of sin which they are going to die from if they do not give their lives to Christ.  We ought to be those who are constantly showing the path that leads to life eternal.

7.                 VS 15:58  - 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. -  Paul tells the Corinthians that as a result of the hope of the resurrection of the dead which they possess that they ought to persevere and abound in their serving the Lord

7.1.         With the final rap up of his teaching and exhortation concerning the resurrection of Jesus as well as the resurrection of believers, Paul gives the Corinthians some practical exhortations to help them through the difficult and dangerous days that may lie ahead of them as disciples of Jesus:

7.1.1.  In light of the fact that believers have the assurance of a future resurrection to eternal life through Jesus Christ, Paul tells the Corinthians that they ought to work on being ‘steadfast’ in clinging to Christ, to the truths of the gospel, and to service for Him. Acts 20:22-24, as Paul was saying what he knew was going to be his last “good bye” to the Ephesian church he spoke about how he would not allow anything in his life move him from completing the things that the Lord had called him to, even severe persecution, “22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: 23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.  24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” wrote in 1 Peter 5:10 about how that if we have to go through suffering in our Christian walk, that it will only last for awhile, and after it is has been used by God and run it’s course God will establish, strengthen, and perfect us, “10 And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”

7.1.2.  In light of the fact that believers have the assurance of a future resurrection to eternal life through Jesus Christ, Paul tells the Corinthians that they ought to be ‘immovable’ in clinging to Christ, to the truths of the gospel, and to service for Him. Heb. 6:19, Paul wrote about how the sure and steadfast hope that we have in Christ is an anchor to our soul which keeps us from drifting away from Christ and from fulfilling the things that Christ has called us to fulfill, “19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil.”

7.1.3.  In light of the fact that believers have the assurance of a future resurrection to eternal life through Jesus Christ, Paul tells the Corinthians that they ought to be ‘always abounding in the work of the Lord’. is, they ought to be doing exceeding abundantly the work of the Lord because of the assurance of resurrection which they possess. we have assurance that the smallest work done for Christ will receive a reward, and that we shall be soon resurrected to glory in Christ, then rather than be caught up in worldly pursuits we should be caught up with serving Christ in every way that we can!

7.1.4.  Paul tells the Corinthians that the reason why they should be doing these things is that they know that their ‘toil is not in vain in the Lord’. will reward us properly for every good work we perform for Him, and as 1 Corinthians chapter 3 teaches, we will one day give account for all of the things that we have done in the body since receiving Christ as our Lord and Savior. Greek word used for ‘toil’ here includes all of the difficulties and persecutions which we may face in our service for Christ.

7.2.         Because we Christians have that assurance that Christ is coming for us and is going to resurrect our bodies to eternal life, then we ought to have our minds and our hearts set upon the things of the Lord.  We ought to be steadfast and immovable and we ought to be constantly ‘abounding’ in labors working for and serving the Lord.

7.3.         Everything that we do for the Lord in this life counts.  Jesus said in Mark 9:41 that everyone who even gave one of His servants even a single cup of water would not lose their reward in heaven!


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