50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—
Paul comes to a climax in his discussion on the resurrection, beginning with verse 50. Paul raised and answered two questions in verse 36: (1) The very condition of death is a necessary preliminary to resurrection; the condition of the body has nothing to do with resurrection; and (2) the resurrection body will be like the resurrected body of Christ.
Now this I say, brethren,
Paul now moves to the bottom line of his argument of chapter 15 – present bodies cannot go to heaven, where there is no corruption in the body.
that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God;
“Flesh and blood” refer to the mortal body, so our present bodies in their current condition cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Our present physical organism cannot go to heaven. The idea of “inherit” is to take possession of.
nor does corruption inherit incorruption.
The corruptible or perishable (decomposing) body cannot enter a state of incorruption. Only the resurrection can put the body into a new state.
The word “behold” calls attention to an important statement to follow. It is a dramatic word, for it is like pulling a curtain aside to reveal a new statue to dedicate it. Paul wants to call to our attention something of an extraordinary order – Christians will live in a glorified, non-corrodible body forever because of the resurrection of Christ.
I tell you a mystery:
A “mystery” in biblical parlance is a truth not hitherto revealed; it is not something spooky, mysterious, or difficult to ascertain. In this case, the mystery is the Rapture. God did not reveal anything about the Rapture in the Old Testament, nor did He reveal this in the gospels. It is a church-age doctrine. This is Jesus coming to take up Christians to be with Himself forever.
We shall not all sleep,
Not all Christians will die and be put into the grave before the Rapture. “Sleep” is a euphemism for physical death. The soul does not sleep.
But we shall all be changed—
Every Christian, both dead and living at the coming of Christ, will be changed or transformed in the body. Christians will instantaneously receive their glorified bodies at the Rapture.
Our present bodies will be exchanged for glorified bodies at the Rapture.
People say that there is nothing more certain than death and taxes. Taxes are certain, but death is not certain for the believer. The last chapter in life for the believer is not the cemetery, the grave, the casket, or the funeral parlor. No, the last chapter is transformation, translation, and transfiguration.