Thursday, December 08, 2005

Resurrection, part 9

Paul goes on to say that just as stars differ in glory, “So also is the resurrection of the dead.” He elaborates by explaining exactly in what ways they differ:

It is sown perishable, it is raised imperishable;
It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory;
It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;
It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body (vv. 42-44).
Notice that in each case, “it” refers to the same thing. It is sown perishable, and the same it is raised imperishable. That means the body that rises is the same body that died, albeit transformed. That raises an interesting philosophical question, but I’ll get to that in another blog.

Jehovah’s Witnesses and some others see the contrast between “natural body” and “spiritual body” as a contrast between a physical body and a non-physical body. Often, Jehovah’s Witnesses will use the phrase “spirit body” to describe Jesus’ resurrection body. But “spirit body” is a contradiction in terms, and it’s nowhere found in the Bible. Instead, Paul uses the phrases “soma psychikon” and “soma pneumatikon.” Psyche is the Greek word for soul, and pneuma is the Greek word for spirit. Soma is body. So literally, Paul is saying “soulish body” and “spiritual body.” But to really find out what Paul means by these phrases, we have to look at other places he uses them.

Conveniently enough, Paul uses almost identical phrases elsewhere in the same letter. In 1 Corinthians 2:14-15, Paul makes a contrast between the “natural man” and the “spiritual man.” The phrases he uses are “anthropos psychikon” and “anthropos pneumatikos.” Clearly, Paul isn’t talking about one man made of flesh and another man made of spirit. He isn’t making a contrast between a physical man and a non-physical man. That’s not how Paul uses the terms psychikon and pneumatikon. They don’t refer to what things are made of at all. Rather, they seem to indicate what animates them, or how they are oriented, or something like that. A natural man is a man who cannot accept the things of God, whereas a spiritual man is a man who can. Likewise, a natural body is a body subject to corruption and decay, whereas a spiritual body is a body freed from such corruption and decay. The contrast has nothing to do with what they are made out of.

to be continued... Part 10


At 12/08/2005 9:44 PM , Blogger andrew said...

Love your site! Can you send me an email - options11 at bigpond dot com


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