1 Corinthians 15:46
Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
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(46) Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual.—Here a further thought is introduced. There is not only a variety of bodies—and that variety regulated by adaptability to their state of existence—but there is an ordered sequence in that variety. As the Adam was first from whom we derive the natural body and soul, and the Adam was last from whom comes our spiritual nature, so there will be the like order in regard to our bodies. The natural body first in this life—the spiritual body afterwards in the next life.

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.Howbeit - There is a due order observed, 1 Corinthians 15:23. The decaying, the dying, the weak, the corruptible, in the proper order of events, was first. This order was necessary, and this is observed everywhere. It is seen in the grain that dies in the ground, and in the resurrection of man. The imperfect is succeeded by the perfect; the impure by the pure; the vile and degraded by the precious and the glorious. The idea is, that there is a tendency toward perfection, and that God observes the proper order by which that which is most glorious shall be secured. It was not his plan that all things in the beginning should be perfect; but that perfection should be the work of time, and should be secured in an appropriate order of events. The design of Paul in this verse seems to be to vindicate the statement which he had made, by showing that it was in accordance with what was everywhere observed, that the proper order should be maintained. This idea is carried through the following verses. 46. afterward—Adam had a soul not necessarily mortal, as it afterwards became by sin, but "a living soul," and destined to live for ever, if he had eaten of the tree of life (Ge 3:22); still his body was but an animal-souled body, not a spiritual body, such as believers shall have; much less was he a "life-giving spirit," as Christ. His soul had the germ of the Spirit, rather than the fulness of it, such as man shall have when restored "body, soul, and spirit," by the second Adam (1Th 5:23). As the first and lower Adam came before the second and heavenly Adam, so the animal-souled body comes first, and must die before it be changed into the spiritual body (that is, that in which the Spirit predominates over the animal soul). Christ, the spiritual Adam, was not first in order of time, but the natural Adam, God in his providence rising from more imperfect to more perfect dispensations: and so it is as to God’s providences relating unto us; we have first natural bodies, we are born with such, we grow up and die with such, but then we shall rise again with ohers, in respect of more excellent qualities and endowments.

Howbeit, that was not first which is spiritual,.... As the apostle before proves the distinction of a natural and spiritual body, and gives instances of both in the two principal men in the world, the first and the last; and points out the difference between them, the one being animated, and having life given unto it, the other animating, and giving life to others; proceeds to observe the order of these, how that one was before the other; the spiritual body, though the more perfect and most excellent, yet was not first in being:

but that which is natural; Adam's animal body was before Christ's spiritual body:

and afterwards that which is spiritual; yea, even Christ's animal, or natural body, was before his spiritual one; his body taken from the virgin, and formed in her womb, and in which he lived here on earth, was an animal body, as before observed; and upon his resurrection, it commenced a spiritual one; being the same in substance as the former, only different in qualities; and just so it is, and will be, with the bodies of the saints'; which is the apostle's design and view, in observing this order; the natural body is first, and then the spiritual; it is first a natural body, as generated and nourished, as weak and dying, and it is afterwards a spiritual one, when raised from the dead.

{26} Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.

(26) Secondly, he wills the order of this twofold state or quality to be observed, that the natural was first, Adam being created of the clay of the earth. And the spiritual follows and came upon it, that is, when the Lord being sent from heaven, endued our flesh, which was prepared and made fit for him, with the fulness of the Godhead.

1 Corinthians 15:46. After it has been stated and confirmed from Scripture in 1 Corinthians 15:44-45 that there exists not simply a psychical, but also a spiritual body, it is now further shown that the latter cannot precede the former, but that the reverse must be the case. “Nevertheless the pneumatic is not first, but the psychical; afterwards the pneumatic.” We are not, with the majority of the older commentators (also Flatt, Osiander, Hofmann), to supply σῶμα (which the context does not even suggest); but Paul states quite generally the law of development,[84] that the pneumatic appears later than the psychical, a gradation from lower to higher forms, which goes through the whole creation. This general statement he then proves:

[84] See also Ernesti, loc. cit. p. 126.

1 Corinthians 15:46 might have been expressly aimed at the Philonian exegesis; it affirms a development from lower to higher, from the dispensation of ψυχὴ to that of πνεῦμα, the precise opp[2553] of that extracted from Genesis 1, 2 by Philo. (ἀλλʼ οὐ) “Nay, but not first is the spiritual, but the psychic—after that (ἔπειτα: cf. 23) the spiritual”. P. states a general law (σῶμα is not to be understood with the adjs.): the ψυχικὸν as such demands the πνευματικὸν to follow it (1 Corinthians 15:44); they succeed in this order, not the reverse. “The Ap. does not share the notion, long regarded as orthodox, that humanity was created in a state of moral and physical perfection.… Independently of the Fall, there must have been progress from an inferior state, the psychic, which he posits as man’s point of departure, to a superior state, the spiritual, foreseen and determined as man’s goal from the first” (Gd[2554] ad loc[2555]: see the whole passage).

[2553] opposite, opposition.

[2554] F. Godet’s Commentaire sur la prem. Ép. aux Corinthiens (Eng. Trans.).

[2555] ad locum, on this passage.

46. Howbeit that was no first which is spiritual] See note on 1 Corinthians 15:23. “The law of God’s universe is progress.” Robertson. His whole lecture on this passage will repay study. He shews how the Fall was an illustration of this law, a necessary consequence of a state of mere natural life; a “step onward,” if for the time “downward.” He traces it in the history of nature and of nations, and finally applies it to individuals, and shews how our natural feelings and affections are the sources of our spiritual ones; how the moral life, the fulfilment, that is, of the law of our being as discerned by natural religion, the living up to the light we have (cf. Romans 2:14), leads up to the spiritual life, and how temptation and sorrow, themselves the fruit of a state of things undeveloped and incomplete, are necessary elements in the formation of the perfect, the spiritual man. Cf. Hebrews 2:10. Thomas Aquinas remarks how the law holds good in nature, even of one and the same being, that what is imperfect precedes what is perfect.

1 Corinthians 15:46. Οὐ πρῶτον,) not the first.—τὸ πνευματικὸν, the spiritual) body. This verse refers to 1 Corinthians 15:44, 1 Corinthians 15:45, making as it were a parenthesis, to which 1 Corinthians 15:47 afterwards corresponds.—ἔπειτα, afterward) This should be carefully noticed by those, who so dispute about the origin of evil, as if all things should have been not only good at the beginning, as they were, but also such as they will be at their consummation.

Verse 46. - That was not first which is spiritual. The imperfect precedes the perfect. 1 Corinthians 15:46Not first - spiritual - natural

A general principle, illustrated everywhere in human history, that the lower life precedes the higher.

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