Establishing the unbreakable connection between the resurrection of Jesus and the resurrection of believers and laying out the order of His resurrection and ours make up the first portion of Paul’s answer to those in Corinth who denied that the dead will be raised to life again (1 Cor. 15:1–34). The second part of the Apostle’s argument focuses on the nature of our resurrection bodies, the topic Paul begins to address in today’s passage.
Paul is not answering people who are merely confused or who want more information on Scripture’s teaching when he poses their questions, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” (v. 35). The Apostle refers to those asking these questions as fools, which indicates that the concerns raised did not come from a place of honest inquiry. The people asking the questions were calling the power of God into doubt. Essentially, they were asking how the bodily resurrection of believers could be possible at all. Furthermore, there are commentators who believe that some Corinthians asked these questions because they thought resurrection meant the mere reanimation of a corpse without any kind of attendant transformation.
In any case, Paul sets out to answer the questions even if they were not asked in a humble spirit. First, the Apostle notes that his readers should not have a problem thinking that resurrection is possible because we see something like a resurrection in our everyday experience. Paul looks to agriculture, explaining that seeds are planted and die in the process before producing a new plant. The “body” of the seed is shed, and a new “body” comes in its place (vv. 36–38). Anyone with a basic understanding of the way plants grow understands this, and if it is not impossible for a seed to be transformed into something new, it is not impossible for God to do the same with our resurrection bodies. John Calvin comments, “We are beyond measure spiteful and ungrateful in estimating the power of God, if we take from him what is already manifest before our eyes.”
To be sure, there will be continuity between our present bodies and our resurrection bodies, just as there is some continuity between a seed and the plant that grows from it. Nevertheless, there will be discontinuity. The resurrection body will have its own unique glory, for in creation, God has assigned different kinds of bodies and different glories to the physical world (vv. 38–41).