This verse has sparked a lot of false doctrine throughout the centuries. Even in the ancient days going all the way back to the 2nd century A.D., Irenaeus in his 5th book of "Against Heresies" tells us the Gnostics in his days used this verse to deny a physical resurrection. They used this verse to teach that this flesh of ours is evil and won't rise from the dead. But Irenaeus tells us that the Orthodox Christian teaching, which he traces back to the apostles, taught that this same body will rise from the dead on the last day. Salvation is for the entire man, including flesh and blood.
So what does Paul mean by "flesh and blood will not inherit the kingdom of God"? When cherry picked out of its context then it can easily be used say that our flesh and blood body won't enter the Kingdom. But when we put it in its proper context, rightly dividing the word, then we can see what he meant by this.
In 1 Corinthians15:1-19 Paul goes over the gospel message that he originally preached to these Corinthians. Saying that Yahuwshuwa (Jesus) died for our sins, was buried, and rose again. He reminds them that all the apostles, including himself, have witnessed Yahuwshuwa after his resurrection, and that he was even seen by above 500 people at once. So he is surprised that some of the Corinthians are claiming that there will be no resurrection of the dead. Paul shows them how illogical they are being by saying if there is no resurrection of the dead then that means Yahuwshuwa is not risen, and if he is not risen then the apostles are false witnesses, their faith is vain, and they are still in their sins. So this is his way of saying of course there is a resurrection of the dead!
In 1 Corinthians 15:20-34 he confirms that Yahuwshuwa did indeed rise from the dead, and became "the firstfruits of them that slept". This means he is the first to rise from the dead, him being the firstfruits shows he is a representative of the future "harvest". Paul is making a connection to Leviticus 23:9-14 which is the third and final part of the spring feast of the Passover, which is the offering of the firstfruits of the barley harvest. Yahuwshuwa fulfilled the Passover by shedding his blood on the tree, the feast of unleavened bread by giving his flesh for the world being buried, and he rose from the dead on the waving of the sheaf of the firstfruits , fulfilling it by being the firstfruits of the resurrection. So we must understand the first fruits are barely, the harvest wont produce grapes. the harvest is also going to produce the same kind of barley as the firstfruits. This is showing that our resurrection will be exactly like Yahuwshuwa's resurrection. Let's take a look at Yahuwshuwa's resurrection recorded in Luke 24:39
" Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and
see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have."
So we see that his resurrection body consisted of flesh and bones. The same body that died rose from the dead. Therefore our resurrection body will also consist of flesh and bones.
John 2:19 "Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and
in three days I will raise it up."
BUT there is one huge difference in the resurrection body, it was now immortal and incorruptible. He now had everlasting life, never to die again. This is what Paul will now begin to focus on as we lead up to verse 50.
In 1 Corinthians 15:35-41 he begins with a question to himself "How are the dead raised up? With what body do they come"? He again uses the imagery of sowing and planting. The seed being sowed in the ground represents our mortal bodies dying and returning to the dust, and the wheat it grows represents our resurrection body. So he says the body that is sown is not the same as the one that shall be raised. Lets see what the differences are between the body that is sown and the body that is raised, I'm going to post verses 37-50 and make bold all the connecting verses:
37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall
be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:
38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed
his own body. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one
kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and
another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies
terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of
the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and
another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one
star differeth from another star in glory. 42 So also is the
resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in
43 **It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44 It is sown a natural
body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body,
and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a
quickening spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual,
but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47
The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy:
and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And
as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the
image of the heavenly. 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and
blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption
So we see that the body that is sown is our mortal natural body that's corruptible and subject to death because of sin that entered the world through Adam. Now I'm going to repost verses 42-50 and highlight the parts that all connect concerning what body is raised up:
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption;
it is raised in incorruption: 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There
is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is
written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam
was made a quickening spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is
spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is
spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man
is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also
that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are
heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall
also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now this I say, brethren,
that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth
corruption inherit incorruption.
Paul is using a lot of parallelism, saying the same thing over and over but in different ways so that we may gain a clear understanding. This style in very common in the bible. We see Paul is clearly showing us that our mortal natural body that is subject to death because of sin will die, but the body that will be raised is a immortal incorruptible glorified body. We will still consist of flesh and bones like Yahuwshuwa, but we will no more be under the bondage of death.
People also see "spiritual body" and use that to say that we will be spririts and not physical bodies. but we already saw in Luke that Yahuwshuwa was not spirit, he was flesh and bones. The greek word for body is σῶμα which always speaks of physical bodies, unless it is figurately speaking of the church as the body of Christ. and to Prove that being Spiritual doesn't take away from the substance of the flesh, we can stay in 1 Corinthians and go to chapter 10 verses 1-4:
1 Corinthians 10 King James Version (KJV) 10 Moreover, brethren, I
would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were
under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all
baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 And did all eat the
same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual
drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them:
and that Rock was Christ.
Paul calls the manna the Israelites ate in the wilderness spiritual, he called the water they drank from the rock that was struck by Moses Spiritual. It was still physical food, water, and a rock, but it was spiritual because it was supernaturally provided for them. Same with the resurrection bodies. They are spiritual because they are supernaturally raised and led by God's Holy Spirit. A spiritual body is a Spirit led body, a body flowing with life because of the Spirit. Adams body was animated by the breath of life and made a living soul, while Yahuwshuwa was raised up and led by the Holy Spirit. Lets look at 1 Corinthians 2:12-15:
2 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit
which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given
to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which
man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing
spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man receiveth
not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto
him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is
judged of no man.
Again showing that a spiritual man means a Spirit led man, not a spirit. Yahuwshuwa partook in the body of a natural man, in the likeness of sinful flesh, that was corruptible. But he raised in a heavenly spiritual incorruptible body of flesh and bones. as ch 15 verse 49 said as we have born the natural, we will also bear the heavenly. so lets now end this with verse 50
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the
kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
The 2nd part of the same verse interprets the 1st part for us. What did paul mean by flesh and blood? he meant a corruptible body. He is saying this flesh and blood body that corrupted and dying cannot inherit the kingdom, BECAUSE corruption cannot inherit incorruption.
"Flesh and blood" is always used in scripture to describe mortal natural men : Matthew 16:17, John 3:6-7, Galatians 1:11-16, Ephesians 6:12. So it was easily understood in Pauls day that flesh and blood was synonymous of saying a mortal man. And to prove even further that we do not strip this flesh and blood body in order to inherit the kingdom look at verses 51-55:
51 Behold, I shew 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised
incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must
put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So
when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal
shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the
saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death,
where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
This corruptible will PUT ON incorruption, not die and be discarded. Same as in Romans 8:11 " he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by the Spirit that dwelleth in you". Even Isaiah doesn't deny the flesh as inheriting the new earth and heavens in Isaiah 66:22-23
"22 For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make,
shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your
name remain. 23 And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to
another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to
worship before me, saith the Lord.
Conclusion: Paul's audience couldn't imagine our bodies being raised up again, since our current bodies are full of so much infirmities. But Paul explains that the body that will be raised will not be this same corruptible flesh, but a immortal spiritual body, all while never rejecting the substance of it. Flesh and blood is synonymous of speaking of mortal men. Mortal men will not inherit the kingdom, only men who have been raised incorruptible can inherit incorruption. Throughout all of Paul's teachings he never denies salvation for the substance of the flesh. He says we are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit if we are led by the Spirit. Again not denying the substance of the flesh but is speaking of a fleshly carnal mind. I have a teaching I did on the topic of the resurrection of the dead you can watch on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P00AWNyjKkU