Paul continues with his understanding of the resurrection. It is not just a spiritual understanding, but the spiritual is necessarily linked to the body. He explains that each body is different (v 37-39). First explaining animals are different from humans, implying they will be very different in the resurrection. Many people will ask, will their pet be in heaven. The short answer to that is that they will be according to your desire for them to be there as a gift to you, not on any merit on the part of an animal, because they do not have free will by which to be judged worthy or unworthy of heaven.
Then Paul segues into “heavenly bodies” (40). Paul is not talking about something that is living and has free will. He is referring to things that have physical existence. That is why he refers to the sun, moon and the stars as heavenly bodies. Those are physical things above the sky. Since they are above the sky, they are considered “heavenly.” Nonetheless, it is something to meditate on.
Paul comes back around to make the full point, when a farmer tills the ground and plants, he sows a seed, not the full plant (37). What is planted does not look like the plant that has all sorts of fruit. What is many times less than a quarter of an inch big becomes a full plant maybe eighteen inches high and eighteen inches in diameter with leaves and vegetables. But that seed must die before it becomes the full plant (42). We are weak now, we are ignoble now, we are subject to decay now, but after we have been buried into the ground, what will come to be will be incorruptible because Jesus has conquered death and corruption; our bodies will be glorified, no longer subject to sin or human limitations. Our bodies will rise strong in mind, body and soul. We will understand God, for we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2).
We will have access to the knowledge of God without the hindrance of sin that separates us. We will have a bodily strength beyond the strength our human bodies can provide by themselves. Some traditions in the Church teach that we will have a body as if we were 33 years old. The reason for this is that it is presumed Jesus died on the cross for us at the age of 33 years. It is therefore presumed to be the perfect age and God would want that for us. Many will look forward to that.
Paul continues to expound that the natural body is our body before our death, whereas the spiritual body is after our resurrection. This spiritual body is very real and has a physical quality, but not limited to the physical quality. Humans have a body and a soul. We participate in the physical dimensions of existence and we also have a spiritual existence as well. Heaven would bring about the perfection of the whole person, body and soul. Body and soul, we will “bear the likeness of the man from heaven” (49), Jesus, in all His glory and power.
Paul reminds us that we cannot save ourselves “… no more than corruption can inherit incorruption” (50). Our natural bodies are subject to sin, corruption and death. I do not know anybody 120 years old. We all die at some time. No mortal being can obtain immortality. But God, the immortal one, can provide for us, and does so. He not only can, but says yes. Not only does He give us everlasting life, but life to the fullest. We are invited to participate in His kingdom where love, mercy and good company is everlasting.
Therefore, be “steadfast and persevering” (58) for our hope is in Him who has loved us, and pursued us. We have hope!