Resurrection: A Life-Giving Spirit?

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! Tonight, we’re going to be continuing our look at the doctrine of the resurrection. Our focus has been on the fifteenth chapter of Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians and looking at some historical bedrock. We’ve laid out a historical bedrock from which a case can be made for the resurrection and now we’re looking at what that resurrection means.

When we get to verse 45, we find that Paul says that Adam was made a living soul but Christ was made a life-giving spirit. What’s going on here? Are we to believe then that Christ rose as a spirit as the Jehovah’s Witnesses would have us believe and that the resurrection is not physical then?

Not at all. Let’s point out that already we’ve seen abundant evidence that Christ rose physically and that this was in the epistles. We see in the gospels more evidence of this, such as Luke saying that a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.

Now some skeptic of the NT could say that what is going on is that Luke is trying to contrast his Christology from Paul. A Jehovah’s Witness wouldn’t say that, so the technique will still work on them. An atheist would however and so we’re going to have to deal with Paul from Paul, which is just fine. In fact, it’s always the main place to start. Look at the author’s own works as much as possible and let them define their terms.

No one would read the Genesis account and think that Adam was something non-physical. However, note that Adam is a living soul in that account. Are we to assume then that Adam was an immaterial being since we generally do understand souls as referring to something immaterial? Not at all.

What we are to understand about Adam is his being in contrast to the being of Christ. Adam is natural in his nature. He lives in the flesh. Christ on the other hand was raised the way that we are to be raised as we saw yesterday. We are to be raised in physical bodies that are instead powered by the Spirit. Such is the case with the body of Christ.

N.T. Wright and others believe that what is going on is that Paul is contrasting all throughout this chapter the resurrection with what is going on in Genesis 1 and 2. The resurrection is not just a doctrine about the nature of human beings. It’s a nature about the creation entirely. That’s why there’s the passage culminating in verse 28 about the whole of creation being united to God.

If Adam was not created as immaterial however, there is no reason to think Christ was raised immaterial. That is not to say that we deny that there is an immaterial aspect to man. It is saying that one does not arrive at the conclusion from 1 Corinthians 15:45 that Christ did rise only spiritually.

We shall continue tomorrow.

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