The word of the day is “incorruption.” In today’s reading of 1 Corinthians 15:39-45, we turn our attention from material things of the present to the futures’ spiritual things. In this passage, St. Paul speaks of our bodies’ transformation when God raises them from the dead. He writes that in the resurrection, “the body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption” (vs. 42).
The Glorious Resurrected Body
The Apostle describes how glorious our recreated bodies will be (vs. 42-45). Now they are subject to corruption; that is, they are infected with inevitable decay and destruction (Strong’s #5356 & 5351, 263). They are dishonored; that is, they are debased with shame and indignity (Strong’s #819, 46). They are weak; that is, they are feeble and sickly (Strong’s #769, 44). They are “natural;” that is, they are corporeal or sensual (Strong’s #5591, 257).
But in the resurrection, God will raise our bodies to be spiritual, incorrupt, glorious, and powerful (vs. 42-25). And freedom will be the chief difference between our lowly existence in the physical world and our exalted life in the spiritual world. Giving us transformed bodies, God will liberate us to be His children and heirs of eternal life. Moreover, all creation will share in our freedom. Vanity and emptiness of purpose once oppressed the universe (Strong’s #3153, 158). But when God raises us from the dead, “the creation itself will be delivered from the bondage of corruption and brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). Thus, the universe will take part in the freedom of the children of God
The Resurrected Body and the Renewal of Creation
St. Simeon the New Theologian teaches that the resurrection of the body will be the model for the transformation of the cosmos. He writes, “Renewed creation will not return to what it was created [to be] in the beginning” (Simeon the New Theologian. On the Mystical Life: The Ethical Discourses. Vol. 1. St. Vladimir’s Press, 1995, p 38.).
The “new theologian writes, “The body of the Risen Christ, the “new Adam,” was spiritual and immutable after His resurrection. “As His body was a far different thing than the “old Adam’s, so shall the whole creation in the same way and at God’s command, not become what it was before, material and perceptible—but be transformed in the re-birth into an immaterial spiritual dwelling place, beyond any perception of the senses” (St. Simeon, 38-39)
The hope of being raised from the dead and clothed with the “spiritual body” of incorruption would be enough for us. But God has revealed an even more amazing future for us. It is the vision of “a new heaven and a new earth” far exceeding the world of corruption in which we now live (Rev. 21:1). Thus, God will give us a new and spiritual world, a dwelling place worthy of our glory (St. Simeon, 39).
Our hope in the resurrection of the dead to life eternal is so enthralling that turning our attention back to the present fallible world might give us a jolt. How can we keep our hope in mind and heart as we face the challenges of living in this mortal body and this imperfect society?