3

1 Cor. 15:50(KJV) says,

"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption."

Is Paul saying those that are "flesh and blood" are not in the Kingdom of God, is he saying the "incorruptible bodies" have neither flesh nor blood?

How are we to understand this verse in context with 1 Cor. 15?

2

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 incorruption: 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 inherit incorruption.

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

1

When Paul began to teach the resurrection of the dead, he found that the Greeks interpreted that as meaning that our earthly bodies would rise up out of the graves, a concept that the Corinthians found repulsive. In 1 Corinthians chapter 15, Paul sets out to resolve this in a way that the Corinthians would find acceptable.

Paul reminds the Corinthians of the gospel he taught them: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas, then the twelve, after that to more than five hundred brothers at once, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Next he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one born out of time, he appeared to Paul himself. By equating the earlier appearances of the risen Jesus with the appearance to himself (1 Corinthians 15:5-8), Paul appears to suggest all the post-crucifixion appearances to be spiritual rather than physical.

Paul asks how some Corinthians can say there is no resurrection of the dead if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, because if there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised, in which case their faith is for nothing (15:12-14). Paul writes of baptism for the dead, a practice which presupposes that the dead will return (15:29). Then he calls them fools for believing that the resurrected will come back in their earthly bodies. He says there are earthly bodies, which are corruptible, and heavenly bodies, which are not.

Burton L. Mack says, in Who Wrote the New Testament, pages 132-133, that Paul did not want to talk about resurrection of invisible souls, so he gives the examples of Adam, who had an earthly body, and Jesus, who had a heavenly body (15:45-48) and whose resurrection was the first-fruits of the general resurrection, which will likewise be in the heavenly, incorruptible bodies.

Finally (1 Corinthians 15:50), Paul reassures them that he teaches that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Because the human body is corruptible, it can not inherit the kingdom of God, which is incorruptible. He explains further in verse 53 that the mortal, corruptible bodies we have now must become immortal bodies fit for heaven.

1 Corinthians 15:53: For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

5
  • "When Paul began to teach the resurrection of the dead, he found that the Greeks interpreted that as meaning that our earthly bodies would rise up out of the graves, a concept that the Corinthians found repulsive." I think you have this backwards, as Christians, the followers of Christ, saw that when Jesus resurrected it was with a physical body and not a spirit as Christ Himself said in Luke 24:39. The Greeks were the ones that believed in the immortality of the soul coming from the writings of Aristotle and Plato in Phaedo. – jlaverde Jul 27 '16 at 16:27
  • @jlaverde "The Greeks were the ones that believed in the immortality of the soul coming from the writings of Aristotle and Plato in Phaedo." Agreed. – Dick Harfield Jul 27 '16 at 21:47
  • @DickHarfield Docetism was soundly rejected by the 1st Council of Nicea, are you suggesting that this is Paul's understanding? – Tau Jul 28 '16 at 14:40
  • Hi @Tau No, Docetism is a completely different concept that claimed Jesus did not suffer because he was not incarnated in the flesh. Paul was only telling the Corinthians that the resurrection is in a 'heavenly' body. Of course, that is not merely a personal opinion but comes from the conclusions of exegetes such as Mack and I merely follow their analysis in the text. – Dick Harfield Jul 28 '16 at 21:49
  • @DickHarfield Since Mack considers the Gospels as 'myths', I wouldn't consider him a credible source for exegeting this passage. However, one way of viewing this passage is spiritual, and the text seems to convey that meaning. Yet Jesus told Thomas to "put his finger in Jesus's side"(Jn. 20:27); this is obviously a physical inference. So there must be more to this passage than Paul is alluding to. – Tau Jul 30 '16 at 2:47
1

What Paul is explaining is that Jesus was resurrected, the saints are to be reincarnated.

First, Paul picks a fight with an imaginary objector:

1Co 15:35 But someone will ask, "How are the dead raised? What kind of body will they have when they come back?"

He insults the idiot of his own making and teaches discontinuity between the form of a seed and the form of the ensuing plant:

1Co 15:36 You fool! The seed you plant does not come to life unless it dies, 1Co 15:37 and what you plant is not the form that it will be, but a bare kernel, whether it is wheat or something else. 1Co 15:38 But God gives the plant the form he wants it to have, and to each kind of seed its own form.

He gives examples of various kinds of "flesh" in the earth and sky saying that God can reincarnate the saint in any kind of flesh he chooses:

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.

So the seed dies and the ensuing plant is not, as Moses said "after its kind":

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.

Paul then says that the saints have two kinds of flesh. First, they have Adamic flesh, then sky-flesh.

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.

But the earthly flesh must be replaced with sky flesh if it is to live forever:

1Co 15:50 Brothers, this is what I mean: Mortal bodies cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and what decays cannot inherit what does not decay.

4
  • Several questions: if Christ is the 1st fruits,(vs 23), and He appeared to the disciples as flesh and bones(Luke 24:39),why would Paul suggest that we are any different than the 1st fruits? Also, why would he make a comparison to different types of flesh if Christ's flesh is the same as our flesh? – Tau Jul 28 '16 at 14:35
  • 1
    @Tau Jesus was not fully human so his experiences might be different, no? He only came in the "likeness" of sinful flesh in "appearance" as a man. (Phil 2) So perhaps unlike you and I in some sense his flesh was from the sky to begin with: Joh 6:56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. 58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. – user10231 Jul 28 '16 at 15:00
  • Again-Docetism. One of the Original Agnostic Heresies was to deny Jesus's humanity. The "Word was made flesh and dwelt among us"(Jn. 1:14) meant that He was fully man, and fully God. That His Spirit was pre-existant God is not a point of contention, but if He were not fully man, He would be disqualified from taking the place of man in His substitutionary sacrifice(Heb. 2:14). – Tau Jul 28 '16 at 16:36
  • 1
    @Tau I don't see the words "fully man" OR "fully God" in John 1:14. That's all just Catholic traditions. – user10231 Jul 28 '16 at 17:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.