The mistranslation of this passage is a stronghold
In order to understand this passage (and indeed, in order to understand Paul) it is necessary to tear down a "stronghold". What is a "stronghold"? It is a delusion of the mind that is, for the one deluded, so much of a "given" that they have no doubt and entertain no contradiction. Psychiatry distinguishes a "delusion" from a strongly held "belief" in that a delusion does not yield to new information. So if I believe that I have a large tumor in my chest even after exhausting medical investigation then I have a delusion. This is a feature of schizophrenia and other mental disorders.
Paul claims that the apostles had weapons capable of destroying these strongholds because they had divine power. Arguments that long imprisoned the minds of the deluded are destroyed and every enemy thought is taken into captivity for obedience to the Christ:
2Co 10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have
divine power to destroy strongholds. 2Co 10:5 We destroy arguments
and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take
every thought captive to obey Christ,
So Paul is claiming that only the divine weapons are capable of ripping out the bars of some mental prisons, setting the mind free and bringing the knowledge from God. When one escapes the stronghold it is like gaining sight:
Act 9:18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes,
and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; Act 9:19
and taking food, he was strengthened. For some days he was with the
disciples at Damascus. Act 9:20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus
in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God." Act 9:21 And all
who heard him were amazed and said, "Is not this the man who made
havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not
come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief
priests?" Act 9:22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and
confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was
Whenever one escapes a stronghold they become the target of persecution by those who are still deluded:
Act 9:23 When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him,
... Act 9:29 And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But
they were seeking to kill him.
Here is the way the passage in question is commonly translated:
1Co 15:45 Thus it is written, "The first man Adam became a living
soul"; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
Here's a more correct translation:
1Co 15:45 Thus it is written, "The first man Adam became a living
being"; the last Adam became a life-giving breath.
The difference between these two translations is Yuge because the mistranslation is a reflection of the deception of Substance Dualism, the philosophy of Rene Descarte which in turn traces all the way back to the Greek philosopher Socrates and his disciple, Plato (not to be confused with Play-Doh):
...This project led Descarte to conclude that the mind was a completely
distinct substance from matter. Matter is easily described: it is
measurable, has dimensions, can be touched and seen, sometimes smelt
and tasted, divided, destroyed and altered. Mind, however, can almost
be defined as the opposite of this – in fact, one of the difficulties
with Descartes’ definition is that mind seems to have almost no
positive qualities. It is invisible, without dimensions, immaterial,
unchanging, indivisible and without limit.
In defining mind and matter in this way Descartes is also fulfilling a
religious agenda. Mind so defined can be equated with the soul, which
in turn can be proven to be distinct from the body and immortal...
...Drawing on the words of his teacher Socrates, Plato considered the
psyche to be the essence of a person, being that which decides how we
behave. He considered this essence to be an incorporeal, eternal
occupant of our being. Socrates says that even after death, the soul
exists and is able to think. He believed that as bodies die, the soul
is continually reborn in subsequent bodies and Plato believed this as
well, however, he thought that only one part of the soul was immortal
Augustine was a Neo-Platonist:
The Greek philosophers influenced Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Substance Dualism is patently false
The opposing position to Substance Dualism is Physicalism. This is the viewpoint of the scripture and is also demonstrated by scientific experimentation. For example, we can image the brain while someone solves a math problem and the parts of the brain concerned with that "light up" on the image. The mind either is indistinguishable from the brain or it "supervenes" on the brain but it is not an immateriality.
So also, in Genesis, Moses describes the introduction of life, self awareness and God awareness by the introduction of "breath":
Gen 2:7 So the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground,
breathed life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.
From that time on a "living being" consists of two parts: flesh and breath. He does not "have a soul" but IS a "living being".
So the scriptures are committed physicalists. However, within physicalism there are two schools. In the one there is only one material and that is the one that we know and love which is the makeup of our world. But in the other physicalism, and for Paul, there are multiple kinds of the material, and this brings us back to the original post:
1Co 15:39 Not all flesh is the same. Humans have one kind of flesh,
animals in general have another, birds have another, and fish have
still another. 1Co 15:40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly
bodies, but the splendor of those in heaven is of one kind, and that
of those on earth is of another. 1Co 15:41 One kind of splendor
belongs to the sun, another to the moon, and still another to the
stars. In fact, one star differs from another star in splendor. 1Co
15:42 This is how it will be at the resurrection of the dead. What is
planted is decaying, what is raised cannot decay. 1Co 15:43 The body
is planted in a state of dishonor but is raised in a state of
splendor. It is planted in weakness but is raised in power. 1Co 15:44
It is planted a physical body but is raised a spiritual body. If there
is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. 1Co 15:45 This,
indeed, is what is written: "The first man, Adam, became a living
being." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 1Co 15:46 The
spiritual does not come first, but the physical does, and then comes
the spiritual. 1Co 15:47 The first man came from the dust of the
earth; the second man came from heaven. 1Co 15:48 Those who are made
of the dust are like the man from the dust; those who are heavenly are
like the man who is from heaven. 1Co 15:49 Just as we have borne the
likeness of the man who was made from dust, we will also bear the
likeness of the man from heaven.
Paul has set forth his case against Substance Dualism and for Physicalism (of the variety of multiple kinds of flesh).
From the Greek philosophers thru Ambrose and Augustine, Substance Dualism has dominated the West now for millennia. Note that until the KJV there was never an English word for "spirit" and all of the scriptures spoke of the "breath". The word "spirit" was coined from the Latin word "spiritus" which meant "breath". And "ghost" was from ye olde German for "breath".
So when one refuses the mental mold of "immateriality" and understands that the resurrected saint will bear the image of one who has a body (albeit a "breathly" body) one can begin to understand the scriptures in a new way. We understand that God and the angels have "spiritual bodies" and they live in a "spiritual world"; not one that is immaterial but one that has a different kind of flesh.
The importance of all this for understanding Paul cannot be overstated. This I will show in other posts. But for now let's just consider the original post.
The original post
So what does this mean?:
1Co 15:44 It [the human body] is planted a physical body but is
raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a
spiritual body. 1Co 15:45 This, indeed, is what is written: "The
first man, Adam, became a living being." The last Adam became a
1 Cor 15 is "the resurrection chapter". Not that Paul actually believed in a resurrection for the saints; he did not. He believed in a reincarnation. The saints would get brand new "spiritual" bodies. He first describes the making of Adam. When the breath entered him he became a "living being". But in describing Jesus he says that he is a "life giving breath". That is, just as the breath entered the lifeless clay of Adam and made him alive, so Jesus, when he returns will raise the sleeping saints to life!:
Joh 11:25 Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The
person who believes in me, even though he dies, will live.
The image is well presaged here:
Eze 37:5 This is what the Lord GOD says to you dry bones! 'Pay
attention! I'm bringing my Spirit into you right now, and you're going
to live! Eze 37:6 I'm going to grow tendons on you, regenerate your
flesh, cover you with skin, and make you breathe again so that you can
come back to life and learn that I am the LORD.'" Eze 37:7 So I
prophesied, just as I had been ordered to do so. Immediately there was
a noise and a rattling—and then all of a sudden the bones came
together by themselves! Each bone came together, all of them attached
together! Eze 37:8 As I continued to watch, I saw tendons growing on
the bones, and muscles growing and covering them, and then skin
covered the flesh from above. But the bodies weren't breathing. Eze
37:9 Then he ordered me, "Prophesy to the Spirit, Son of Man. Tell
the Spirit, 'This is what the Lord GOD says: "Come from the four
winds, you Spirit, and breathe into these people who have been killed,
so they will live."'" Eze 37:10 So I prophesied as I had been
ordered, breath entered them, and they began to live. They stood on
their own feet as a vast, united army. Eze 37:11 "These bones
represent the entire house of Israel," the LORD explained to me. "Look
how they keep saying, 'Our bones are dried up, and our future is lost.
We've been completely eliminated!' Eze 37:12 "Therefore prophesy to
them, and tell them, 'Watch me! I'm going to open your graves, lift
you out of those graves, and bring my people back into the land of
Israel. Eze 37:13 Then you'll learn that I am the LORD, when I've
opened your graves and caused you to come up out of them, my people.
Eze 37:14 I'm going to place my Spirit in you all, and you will live.
I'll place you all into your land, and you'll learn that I, the LORD,
have been speaking and doing this,' declares the LORD."
The "breath" that he causes to enter is Jesus. That is what Paul was alluding to. God will provide new bodies for the saints of new flesh and animate them, through Jesus. God animated Jesus by his own breath as well:
1Pe 3:18 For the Messiah also suffered for sins once for all, an
innocent person for the guilty, so that he could bring you to God. He
was put to death in a mortal body but was brought to life by the
Spirit [God's breath],
This is what Paul called "the principle of the breath of life":
Rom 8:2 For the principle of "the breath of life" in Christ Jesus has
made me free from the law of [Mr.] Sin, even death.
This principle is the basis of so much of Paul's writings, particularly about the conflict between "flesh" and "breath":
Gal 5:17 For the desires of the flesh are against the breath, and the
desires of the breath are against the flesh, for these are opposed to
each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
This goes directly to the principle of the breath of life, which goes right back to Moses' account of the makeup of man.
A few supporting scriptures
Joh_6:63 It is the breath that makes alive; the flesh has no effect:
the words that I speak unto you, they are breath, and they are life.
Jas 2:26 For as the body without the breath is dead, so faith without
works is dead also.