1 Corinthians 15:49
And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
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(49) We shall also bear the image of the heavenly.—Better, let us bear also the image of the heavenly. Such is the reading of the best MSS. The words transport the thoughts of the reader to the future glory, and, at the same moment, show a light on present duty. The resurrection life is to be begun in us even now. “If by any means we can attain to the resurrection of the dead” (2Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 3:21).

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 as we have borne the image of the earthy - As like our first father, we are frail, decaying, dying; as we are so closely connected with him as to be like him. This does not refer, mainly, to one bearing his moral character, but to the fact that we are, like him, subject to sickness, frailty, sorrow, and death.

We shall also bear the image of the heavenly - The Lord Jesus Christ, who was from heaven, and who is in heaven. As we are so closely connected with Adam as to resemble him. so by the divine arrangement, and by faith in the Lord Jesus, we are so closely connected with him that we shall resemble him in heaven. And as he is now free from frailty, sickness. pain, sorrow, and death, and as he has a pure and spiritual body, adapted to a residence in heaven, so shall we be in that future world. The argument here is, that the connection which is formed between the believer and the Saviour is as close as that which subsisted between him and Adam; and as that connection with Adam involved the certainty that he would be subjected to pain, sin, sickness, and death, so the connection with Christ involves the certainty that he will like him be free from sin, sickness, pain, and death, and like him will have a body that is pure, incorruptible, and immortal.

49. as—Greek, "even as" (see Ge 5:3).

we shall also bear—or wear as a garment [Bengel]. The oldest manuscripts and versions read, "We must also bear," or "let us also bear." It implies the divine appointment (compare "must," 1Co 15:53) and faith assenting to it. An exhortation, and yet implying a promise (so Ro 8:29). The conformity to the image of the heavenly Representative man is to be begun here in our souls, in part, and shall be perfected at the resurrection in both bodies and souls.

And as believers, being the natural sons of the first Adam, have borne his image, had such bodies as he had while they lived here; so they shall also in the resurrection bear the image of the heavenly, the image of Christ; that is, have such bodies as was Christ’s body after that he was again risen from the dead.

And as we have borne the image of the earthy,.... Which regards not so much the sinful image of the first man upon the soul, or the depravity of the powers and faculties of it, as his image of frailty and mortality on the body, having like him a body subject to infirmities and death:

we shall also bear the image of the heavenly; which likewise regards not so much the spiritual image of Christ stamped on the soul in regeneration, when Christ is formed in the heart, and the new man is created after his likeness, and which more and more appears, through every transforming view of him, and will be complete in glory, as the image and likeness of Christ upon the bodies of the saints in the resurrection, when they shall be fashioned like unto his: some copies, as the Alexandrian and others, read the words as an exhortation, let us bear the image, &c. as if the words were an improvement of the apostle's reasoning on this subject, engaging saints to be more concerned for, and seeking after a greater likeness to Christ in righteousness and true holiness; but the other reading and sense are best.

And as we have borne the {b} image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

(b) Not a vain and false image, but such a one as indeed had the truth with it.

1 Corinthians 15:49. The Recepta φορέσομεν is to be retained (see the critical remarks), for which van Hengel. too, decides, although taking τ. εἰκόνα in the moral sense An exhortation (φορέσωμεν, defended by Hofmann) lies all the more remote from the connection, seeing that Paul proceeds in his development of the subject with καί, and it is certainly not the ethical, but the physical conception of εἰκών which is prepared for by what precedes (see still τοιοῦτοι, 1 Corinthians 15:48); also in what follows, 1 Corinthians 15:50, it is not an ethical, but a physiological relation which is expressed. Beza says well, in opposition to the reading φορέσωμεν and its interpretation: “Hoc plane est detortum, quum res ipsa clamet, Paulum in proposito argumento pergere.” What, namely, was already contained in 1 Corinthians 15:48, he now expresses in a yet more definite and concrete way (hence, too, passing over into the first person), bringing out with much emphasis the full meaning of the weighty statement, thus: And as we have borne (before the Parousia) the image of the earthly (of Adam),—i.e. the psychical body which makes us appear as like in kind to Adam,—so shall we (after the Parousia) bear also the image of the heavenly (of Christ), i.e. the pneumatic body. Paul transfers himself and his readers to the turning-point of the Parousia, from which the aorist dates backward in the αἰὼν οὗτος, and the future forward in the αἰὼν μέλλων.

To extend the “we” to all men (Krauss) is forbidden by the whole context, and would presuppose the idea of the ἀποκατάστασις πάντων.

Regarding φορεῖν, the continuous φέρειν, see on Romans 13:4.


Adopting the reading φορέσωμεν, we should not, with Bengel, import the idea of a promise, but take it as hortative, with Chrysostom, Theophylact, Erasmus, al., including Hofmann, so that εἰκών would fall to be understood ethically. Εἰκόνα δὲ χοϊκοῦ τὰς φαύλας πράξεις λέγει· εἰκόνα δὲ τοῦ ἐπουρανίου τὰς ἀγαθάς, Theophylact. In connection with this Hofmann takes καθώς argumentatively (comp. on Php 1:7; Php 2:12): “seeing that we have borne … so must we now also be willing to bear …” But that καθώς is the ordinary as of comparison, is shown by the two comparative clauses in 1 Corinthians 15:48, and by the annexing of the καθώς to them by the simple καί, which continues the comparison in the way of assertion. Moreover, φορέσωμεν would, in fact, not mean, “we must be willing to bear,” but, “let us bear.”

49. And as we have borne the image] The image or likeness. In this present life we are like Adam: in the next we shall be like Christ, cf. Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Php 3:21; Colossians 3:10; 1 John 3:2.

we shall also bear] So Tyndale. Many MSS. read ‘let us also bear’ in this passage. But St Paul is not exhorting here, but teaching (“non esse exhortationem, sed puram doctrinam.” Calvin). And, moreover, the exhortation would seem a little out of place, since “regeneration cannot be obtained by striving or even by faith itself, it is an act of positive grace.” Olshausen. Tertullian, however, remarks expressly that St Paul says ‘let us bear,’ speaking in exhortation, not in doctrine. So Chrysostom, whom—with the Vulgate—Wiclif follows, translating “bere we also;” while Theodoret, on the contrary, says that St Paul here was not speaking hortatively, but prophetically.

1 Corinthians 15:49. Καὶ καθὼς, and even as) From the former state Paul infers the latter.—ἐφορέσαμεν, we have borne [worn]) as a garment.—τὴν εἰκόνα, the image) This not only denotes the resemblance, but also the dependence.—φορέσωμεν καὶ τὴν εἰκόνα τοῦ ἐπουρανίου, let us bear [wear] also the image of the heavenly) Tertullian says: Let us bear; not we shall bear, preceptively, not promissively. Nay, φορέσωμεν, let us bear, and yet in the way of promise.[145] The subjunctive renders the expression modal and conciliatory, by which Paul (comp. 1 Corinthians 15:53, must) expresses the divine appointment and faith assenting to it. Comp. the subjunctive Jam 4:13; Jam 4:15, πορευσώμεθα, κ.τ.λ. Later copies have made it, φορέσομεν; and there is the same variety in the copies of Orige[146] against Celsus, as Sam. Battier observes in Biblioth. Brem., Class vi., p. 102, etc., who approves of the reading φορέσωμεν out of Maximus, περὶ ἀγάπης.

[145] Tisch. reads φορέσομεν with B (judging from silence) both Syr. Versions. But Lachm. as Beng., φορέσωμεν with ACD(Λ)Gfg Vulg. Orig. 1,591bc, 2,26b, Iren. Cypr. Hilar.—ED.

[146] rigen (born about 186 A.D., died 253 A.D., a Greek father: two-thirds of the N. Test. are quoted in his writings). Ed. Vinc. Delarue, Paris. 1733, 1740, 1759.

Verse 49. - We shall also bear the image of the heavenly (for the fact, see Romans 8:29; 1 John 3:2). For "we shall bear," the best manuscripts (א, A, C, D, E, F, G, etc.) read "Let us bear." Our reading is, however, supported by B, and this is just one of the cases in which manuscript evidence (or as it is called "diplomatic evidence") has a minimum value, and other evidence (paradiplomatic) is decisive. For

(1) the pronunciation of the indicative and subjunctive at that time was almost identical, because in conversation the vowels seem to have been much slurred; and

(2) there was a universal tendency to substitute hortative for direct forms, with a view to edification (as in 1 Corinthians 14:15; Romans 6:2, 8; 2 Corinthians 5:11, etc.). Here the exhortation would ruin the texture of the argument. 1 Corinthians 15:49We shall bear (φαορέσομεν)

The great weight of authority is in favor of φορέσωμεν let us bear. This reading presents a similar difficulty to that of let us have in Romans 5:1 (see note). The context and the general drift of the argument are certainly against it. The perceptive or hortative subjunctive is, as Ellicott remarks, singularly out of place and unlooked for. It may possibly be a case of itacism, i.e., the confusing of one vowel with another in pronunciation leading to a loose mode of orthography.

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