1 Corinthians 15:37
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:
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(37, 38) God giveth it a body.—Here it is implied that, though the seed grows up, as we say, “in the ordinary course of Nature,” it is God who not only has originally established but continually sustains that order. Each seed rises with its own “body;” a corn seed grows up into corn, an acorn into an oak. All through this passage the word “body” is used in a general sense for “organism,” so as to keep strictly and vividly before the reader the ultimate truth to illustrate which these analogies are introduced. The points of analogy between the sowing and growth of seed and the life and resurrection of man are not, as some writers put it—(1) the seed is sown, and man is buried; (2) the seed rots, and man’s body decays; (3) the seed grows up, and man is raised. Such a series of analogies are misleading, for there is no necessity for the body of man to decay, but only a necessity for it to die (1Corinthians 15:51-52). The points of analogy are these:—(1) The seed is sown in the earth, and man is born into the world; (2) the seed dies and decays—man dies; (3) the seed grows through its very decay—man rises through death.

15:35-50 1. How are the dead raised up? that is, by what means? How can they be raised? 2. As to the bodies which shall rise. Will it be with the like shape, and form, and stature, and members, and qualities? The former objection is that of those who opposed the doctrine, the latter of curious doubters. To the first the answer is, This was to be brought about by Divine power; that power which all may see does somewhat like it, year after year, in the death and revival of the corn. It is foolish to question the Almighty power of God to raise the dead, when we see it every day quickening and reviving things that are dead. To the second inquiry; The grain undergoes a great change; and so will the dead, when they rise and live again. The seed dies, though a part of it springs into new life, though how it is we cannot fully understand. The works of creation and providence daily teach us to be humble, as well as to admire the Creator's wisdom and goodness. There is a great variety among other bodies, as there is among plants. There is a variety of glory among heavenly bodies. The bodies of the dead, when they rise, will be fitted for the heavenly bodies. The bodies of the dead, when they rise, will be fitted for the heavenly state; and there will be a variety of glories among them. Burying the dead, is like committing seed to the earth, that it may spring out of it again. Nothing is more loathsome than a dead body. But believers shall at the resurrection have bodies, made fit to be for ever united with spirits made perfect. To God all things are possible. He is the Author and Source of spiritual life and holiness, unto all his people, by the supply of his Holy Spirit to the soul; and he will also quicken and change the body by his Spirit. The dead in Christ shall not only rise, but shall rise thus gloriously changed. The bodies of the saints, when they rise again, will be changed. They will be then glorious and spiritual bodies, fitted to the heavenly world and state, where they are ever afterwards to dwell. The human body in its present form, and with its wants and weaknesses, cannot enter or enjoy the kingdom of God. Then let us not sow to the flesh, of which we can only reap corruption. And the body follows the state of the soul. He, therefore, who neglects the life of the soul, casts away his present good; he who refuses to live to God, squanders all he has.And that which thou sowest - The seed which is sown.

Not that body that shall be - You sow one kernel which is to produce many others. They shall not be the same that is sown. They will be new kernels raised from that; of the same kind, indeed, and showing their intimate and necessary connection with that which is sown. It is implied here that the body which will be raised will not be the same in the sense that the same particles of matter shall compose it, but the same only in the sense that it will have sprung up from that; will constitute the same order, rank, species of being, and be subject to the same laws, and deserve the same course of treatment as that which died; as the grain produced is subject to the same laws, and belongs to the same rank, order, and species as that which is sown. And as the same particles of matter which are sown do not enter into that which shall be in the harvest, so it is taught that the same particles of matter which constitute the body when it dies, do not constitute the new body at the resurrection.

But bare grain - Mere grain; a mere kernel, without any husk, leaf, blade, or covering of any kind. Those are added in the process of reproduction. The design of this is to make it appear more remarkable, and to destroy the force of the objection. It was not only not the grain that should be produced, but it was without the appendages and ornaments of blade, and flower, and beard of the new grain. How could anyone tell but what it would be so in the resurrection? How could any know but what there might be appendages and ornaments there, which were not connected with the body that died?

It may chance of wheat ... - For example; or suppose it be wheat or any other grain. The apostle adduces this merely for an example; not to intimate that there is any chance about it.

37. not that body that shall be—a body beautiful and no longer a "bare grain" [Bengel]. No longer without stalk or ear, but clothed with blade and ears, and yielding many grains instead of only one [Grotius]. There is not an identity of all the particles of the old and the new body. For the perpetual transmutation of matter is inconsistent with this. But there is a hidden germ which constitutes the identity of body amidst all outward changes: the outward accretions fall off in its development, while the germ remains the same. Every such germ ("seed," 1Co 15:38) "shall have its own body," and be instantly recognized, just as each plant now is known from the seed that was sown (see on [2294]1Co 6:13). So Christ by the same image illustrated the truth that His death was the necessary prelude of His putting on His glorified body, which is the ground of the regeneration of the many who believe (Joh 12:24). Progress is the law of the spiritual, as of the natural world. Death is the avenue not to mere revivification or reanimation, but to resurrection and regeneration (Mt 19:28; Php 3:21). Compare "planted," &c., Ro 6:5. And when it again riseth, or shooteth up, it is not bare grain, without either stalk or ear, which was the body by them sown.

And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be,.... The sower, for instance, does not take a stalk of wheat in its blade, and ear, and full corn in the ear, encompassed with the husk, and sow it in the earth, which is the body or form in which it appears when it rises up again, and is come to its full growth:

but bare grain (or naked grain) it may chance of wheat, or some other grain; wheat, or any other grain, is cast into the earth naked, beat out of the husk; and that selfsame grain rises up again, clothed with additional verdure, beauty, and fruitfulness; and so the body which comes out of its mother's womb naked, and returns naked again, Job 1:21 to which the apostle seems to allude, will rise again the same body, though with additional glories and excellencies; so that if it should be asked, how is it possible that a dead body can be raised up again? the possibility of it may be seen, in the quickening and raising up of a grain of wheat, that first rots and dies; and if it be inquired with what body the dead will be raised, it may in some measure be observed in this instance, that though it will be the same body, yet with different and excelling qualities: this simile seems to have been much in use among the Jews, to illustrate this doctrine, and we have some traces of it still in their writings (o):

"Cleopatra the queen asked R. Meir, saying, I know that the dead shall live, for it is written, "they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth", Psalm 72:16 but when they rise, shall they rise naked, or shall they rise in their clothes? to which he replied, much more than wheat: for as wheat is buried, "naked", it comes forth, (or springs up,) with many clothings; and how much more the righteous, who are buried in their clothes?''

and again (p),

"says R. Eliezer, all the dead shall stand in the resurrection of the dead, and shall rise with their garments on; from whence do you learn this? from the seed of the earth, especially from wheat; for as wheat is buried "naked", and comes forth with many clothings, much more the righteous, who are buried in their clothes.''

(o) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol, 90. 2.((p) Pirke Eliezer, c. 33.

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:
1 Corinthians 15:37. Καὶ ὃ σπείρεις] And what thou sowest,—not the body, which is to be, sowest thou. Ὃ σπείρεις makes the attention rest upon itself first in general, independently of what follows, which forms a complete sentence by itself. See on Matthew 7:24; Matthew 10:14; Luke 21:6. What shall spring out of the grain, the plant, Paul calls τὸ σῶμα τὸ γενησόμ., because he has it before his mind as the analogue of the resurrection-body. The emphasis, however, lies upon τὸ γενησ.

γυμνὸν κόκκον] a naked grain, which is not yet clothed, as it were, with a plant-body (see what follows). Comp. 2 Corinthians 5:3. To this future plant-body corresponds the future resurrection-body with which that, which is buried and decays, is clothed. That it is not the soul or the πνεῦμα of the departed which corresponds to the γυμνὸς κόκκος (Holsten), is shown by ὃ σπείρεις; comp. with 1 Corinthians 15:42 ff.

εἰ τύχοι σίτου] it may be of wheat. Here, too, εἰ τύχοι does not mean, for example, but, if it so happens (that thou art just sowing wheat). See on 1 Corinthians 14:10.

ἤ τινος τῶν λοιπῶν] neuter. We are to supply from the connection σπερμάτων. Comp. Nägelsbach on the Iliad, p. 304, ed. 3.

1 Corinthians 15:37-38 make answer to the second branch of the question of 1 Corinthians 15:35, by the aid of the same profound analogy.—καὶ ὃ σπείρεις, οὐ τὸ σῶμα τὸ γενησόμενον σπείρεις, “And what thou sowest—not the body that will come to be dost thou sow”. It is the object of the sower to realise a new ποιότης in his seed. If any one interrupted him with the question, “What sort of a body can the grain take that you drop in the earth to rot?” the sower would dismiss him as a fool; he has seen in this case “the body that is to be”. Now the actuality of the lower resurrection vindicates the conceivability of the higher.—τὸ γενησόμενον states not merely a future certainty (that shall be; quod futurum sit, Vg[2486]), but a normal process (oriturum, Bz[2487]: quod nascetur, Cv[2488], Bg[2489]).—ἀλλὰ γυμνὸν κόκκον, “but a naked grain”—unclothed with any body, wanting the appearance and furnishing of life (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:3, ἐνδυσάμενοι, οὐ γυμνοί).—For εἰ τύχοι (“if it should chance, of wheat”), see note on 1 Corinthians 14:10 : the kind of grain is indiff.—“or of any of the rest (of the seeds)”. The grain of wheat gives to the eye no more promise of the body to spring from it than a grain of sand.—ὁ δὲ Θεὸς stands in opposition to σὺ ὃ σπείρεις—God the lifegiver responding to the sower’s trustful act[2490] “But God gives it a body, according as He willed” (ἠθέλησεν)—not “as He wills” (according to His choice or liking), but in accordance with His past decree in creation, by which the propagation of life on the earth was determined from the beginning (Genesis 1:2 f.; for the vb[2491], cf. note on 1 Corinthians 12:18). To allege an impossibility in the case is to impugn the power and resources of the Creator (cf. Acts 26:8), manifested in this very way every spring-time. The Divine will is the efficient nexus between seed and plant (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:6).—“And (He gives) to each of the seeds a body of its own (ἴδιον)”. This added clause meets the finer point of the second question of 1 Corinthians 15:35; God will find a fit body for man’s redeemed nature, as He does for each of the numberless seeds vivified in the soil. “How unintelligent to think, as the Pharisees did, that the same body that was buried must be restored, if there is to be a resurrection! Every wheat-stalk contradicts thee!” (Mr[2492])

[2486] Latin Vulgate Translation.

[2487] Beza’s Nov. Testamentum: Interpretatio et Annotationes (Cantab., 1642).

[2488] Calvin’s In Nov. Testamentum Commentarii.

[2489] Bengel’s Gnomon Novi Testamenti.

active voice.

[2491] verb

[2492] Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary (Eng. Trans.).

37. and that which thou sowest] “There are two parts in this similitude: first that it is not wonderful that bodies should arise again from corruption, since the same thing happens in the case of the seed; and next that it is not contrary to nature that our bodies should be endowed with new qualities, when from naked grain God produces so many ears clothed with a wonderful workmanship.” Calvin. Tyndale renders, And what sowest thou?

thou sowest not that body that shall be] “The same, yet not the same. The same, because the essence is the same; but not the same, because the latter is the more excellent.” Chrysostom. The identity of the body does not depend upon its material particles, because physicists tell us that these are in a continual flux, and that in the course of seven years every material particle in the body has been changed. Personal identity depends upon the principle of continuity. The risen body arises out of that which has seen corruption, in the same way as the plant out of its germ. The length of time that elapses is nothing to Him to Whom ‘a thousand years are but as one day.’ But as the seed is to all appearance very different to the plant which arises from it, although science tells us that it contains that whole plant in miniature, as the Body of Jesus after His Resurrection was endowed with many strange and new qualities (St John 20:19; John 20:26) so as often to be unrecognizable by His disciples (St Luke 24:16; Luke 24:31; Luke 24:37; St John 20:14; John 21:4) though yet it was the same body (St Luke 24:39-40; St John 20:20; John 20:27); so we learn that the body we sow in the grave is ‘not that body that shall be,’ but that the resurrection body—the spiritual body—while it exhibits visible and unequivocal signs of its connection with the body out of which it has arisen, will be possessed of many wondrous faculties which are denied to us here. See notes on next verse and on 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, and cf. Romans 8:11 (margin), Revelation 21:4.

but bare grain] i.e. naked grain. A nakid corn, Wiclif. Our version follows Tyndale here, only substituting grain for corne.

1 Corinthians 15:37. Οὐ τὸ σῶμα τὸ γενησόμενον, not the body that shall be) viz., the body that is beautiful, and no longer bare grain.

Verse 37. - Not that body that shall be. This deep remark should have checked the idly and offensively materialistic form in which the doctrine of the resurrection is often taught. But bare grain. Wickliffe, "a naked corne." In this passage, almost alone in all his Epistles, St. Paul, who does not seem to have been at all a close observer of external phenomena, uses metaphors drawn from natural life. His usual metaphors are chiefly architectural and agonistic - derived, that is, from buildings and games. That he was not a student of nature arose, no doubt, partly kern his Semitic cast of mind, but chiefly from his being short sighted, and from his having spent most of his early life in large cities. It may chance; if it so happen, (see note on 1 Corinthians 14:10). The English word "chance" occurs but four times in the whole Bible (1 Samuel 6:9; Ecclesiastes 9:11). In Luke 10:31 the words rendered "by chance" mean rather "by coincidence." 1 Corinthians 15:37Not that body that shall be

Or, more literally, that shall come to pass. Meeting the objector's assumption that either the raised body must be the same body, or that there could be no resurrection. Paul says: "What you sow is one body, and a different body arises;" yet the identity is preserved. Dissolution is not loss of identity. The full heads of wheat are different from the wheat-grain, yet both are wheat. Clement of Rome, in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, arguing for the resurrection of the body, cites in illustration the fable of the phoenix, the Arabian bird, the only one of its kind, and which lives for a hundred years. When the time of its death draws near it builds itself a nest of frankincense, myrrh, and other spices, and entering it, dies. In the decay of its flesh a worm is produced, which, being nourished by the juices of the dead bird, brings forth feathers. Then, when it has acquired strength, it takes up the nest with the bones of its parent and bears them to Heliopolis in Egypt.

Bare (γυμνὸν)

Naked. The mere seed, without the later investiture of stalk and head.

It may chance (εἰ τύχοι)

Lit., if it happen to be: i.e., whatever grain you may chance to sow.

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