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1 Corinthians 15:40 NASB

“There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another.” ‭‭

What are the two glories that Paul is talking about here? It seems like the rest of Scripture focuses on the glory people will have in their heavenly bodies; what glory is there in our earthly bodies? 1 Cor 15:43 talks about earthly bodies being sown “in dishonor,” how does this connect to having its own type of glory?

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The answer to this question is actually found in the following verses:

Acts 15:39-44 - 39 Not all flesh is the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another, and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies. But the splendor of the heavenly bodies is of one degree, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is of another. 41 The sun has one degree of splendor, the moon another, and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.

42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead: What is sown is perishable; it is raised imperishable. 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. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

Here, the word δόξα (doxa) = glory, splendor, reputation, renoun etc, is simply used in a general sense of meaning. BDAG give four senses to this word:

  1. the condition of being bright or shining, brightness, splendor, radiance, eg, Acts 22;11, Luke 9:32, 1 Cor 15:41, Heb 9:5, Luke 2:9, etc
  2. the state of being magnificent, greatness, splendor, anything that catches the eye, eg, Matt 6:29, Luke 4:6, 12:27, Rev 21:24, 26, etc
  3. honor as enhancement or recognition of status or performance, fame, recognition, honor, prestige, eg, Luke 14:10, John 5:41, 44a, Rev 4:11, etc
  4. a transcendent being deserving of honor, majestic being, eg, Jude 8, 2 Peter 2:10

A perfect (and beautiful) earthly body is still an earthly body that will die; a heavenly body will not die. Thus, the splendor of the earthly body is different, distinct (for different reasons) from the heavenly body.

The Greeks and Romans made much of perfect (earthly) bodies as can be seen from the glorification of such in their statues; and modern magazine about celebrities shows exactly the same ideas about the glorification of our earthly bodies.

Paul promises that our heavenly bodies will have an entirely different splendor from our earthly bodies - but he does not describe just what that will be except to assure that such heavenly bodies will never die.

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  • Thank you, Dottard! Was very helpful to be reminded of the context of Greek/Roman culture where the earthly body was revered. May 21, 2022 at 14:12

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