35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” 36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies.
Paul sets forth the nature of the resurrection body of the believer (15:35-49). There is no description of the resurrection body of the unbeliever. That God will raise the bodies of the unsaved is clear, but the description of those bodies is not clear. It is clear that they will stand in physical bodies at the Great White Throne, where God will judge them for rejecting Christ as their Savior.
There is a dissimilarity between planted seed and harvest seed as there is between the natural body and the resurrected body.
But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up?
Paul now sets forth two stock objections to the physical resurrection of the body. The resurrection of the body is a standard Christian doctrine; the church fathers incorporated it into the Apostle’s Creed: “We believe in the resurrection of the body.”
The natural body decomposes in the ground after we bury it. The Corinthians believed the body that would rise was a spiritual body, not a material body. Paul taught that the body that will rise is a glorified physical body.
And with what body do they come?”
The two questions of this verse are questions of unbelief. Paul will answer this second question beginning with verse 39.
This is a severe reprimand. The Corinthians summarily accepted the current philosophy in Corinth – Gnosticism, which denied a literal, bodily resurrection. Gnostics believed only in a spiritual resurrection. Paul answers the first questions in verses 36-41. As Paul stood before King Agrippa, he said,
Ac 26:8, Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?
God does not have to strain Himself to raise the dead. It does not make any difference how people died or how people buried them; God will raise them from the dead.
what you sow is not made alive unless it dies.
The word “you” is emphatic, so Paul appeals to the objector’s own experience.
Paul illustrates his point with a seed of grain that becomes a plant. Life exists in one form of the body before death and yet in another form after death. Death is necessary to resurrection; a seed decomposes when planted in the ground and then becomes a plant later. We cannot rise until we die.
Death is necessary for resurrection.
Death is not for the Christian, the bleak, black, terminus of existence. It is the gateway to eternal life. We cannot bring these diseased, dying bodies into heaven. We will get a new body for a new existence.