Christian people have wondered and speculated for years as to what we will look like and be like in eternity. What does the heavenly body appear as? What apparent age are we in heaven? Are we our stellar selves at age 22 with full health, dark hair, and doggone good looks? Or are we our 70-year-old selves with clogged arteries, artificial joints, and white hair under the halo (if any hair at all?). Or what about that dear little nephew who died as a child … does he get an adult type of heavenly body, or is he a child for eternity?
Paul would pretty much say that these are stupid questions and ponderings. We can’t know it, and even if we did see it, we probably couldn’t describe something so totally “other.”
What we can do is trust a faithful God. And among things we can know is that it will be awesome. It will not be a body that is subject to the physical ravages we daily face in this perishable world. Among terms used in today’s passage, the heavenly body will be glorious, imperishable, immortal, victorious, bearing the image of Christ.
God has been giving bodies to things for a long time. He’s good at this. Consider the heavenly bodies of varied sorts, as well as the animals, fish and birds. And we again see here also the illustration of a seed that dies in the ground, only to become something so much more magnificent.
Think about different seeds. You look at them – so many varied shapes and sizes – and then see what they become. Consider the diverse seeds for beans, watermelon, corn, wheat, and maple trees. If you knew nothing at all about seeds, you’d never pick out the maple seed as the one to grow into a giant tree. That is amazing. But even the fruit plants that come from larger seeds are quite incredible relative to the size and plain nature of the seed from which they grew.
So likewise, the heavenly body can be counted upon to be an amazing creation of a faithful God. And this truth should lead us toward a great sense of hope, anticipation and comfort. A final day of victory will come (God’s trumpet sound) and those alive will join with those gone before to this final inheritance that includes an eternal and imperishable heavenly body.
This is the ultimate and final victory that should motivate us to have confidence that our earthly labors for the kingdom of God are not futile (vs. 58). Therefore my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. The Greek word for “stand firm” has the idea of not being moved off your feet by whatever comes at you. The next verb – “let nothing move you” – is the only time this word in used in the New Testament, and it has the idea of not letting yourself be picked up and put in another place. What a great encouragement! I know I need large doses of this on a regular basis. It is all worth it to remain faithful to the end.
1 Corinthians 15:35 – But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
15:42 – So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that 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. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.
15:50 – I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[from Isaiah 25:8]
15:55 – “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 15:56 – The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
15:58 – Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.