An analogy of seeds and bodies. 15:35-44
v44a. In his argument so far, Paul has established that, for believers, their "natural body", buried in the ground, will be transformed and raised a "spiritual body" in the day of resurrection. He means by "natural body", one suited to life in this world, and by "spiritual body", one suited to life in heaven.
v44b. Seeing we now possess this "natural body", there must also be a "spiritual body" - a body which can inherit eternal life, heaven, (for flesh and blood, the natural body, cannot enter heaven).
The resurrection body
Paul argues for a resurrection of the physical body in the same form as Christ rose from the dead. Everything a Christian believes depends on Christ's resurrection. Forgiveness of sins, justification, sanctification.... salvation itself, depends on the resurrection of Christ. As Christ is, so we shall be, so we are becoming, so we are. If Christ did not rise then we are lost.
In the day of resurrection, at the return of Christ, what will we be like? What form will we take?
The Bible doesn't give us a finite description of the resurrected form. Yet it does tell us a number of things about this new body we are to inherit.
i] Continuous. It is of the old, but new. What we are will be caught up in the new resurrected body. In that sense, it will not be a totally new body, a totally new self. The old self is still there, and we will recognize that self. The best example of this is Jesus. His body did not remain in the tomb in Palestine. It came alive and was incorporated in his resurrection body.
ii] Transformed. There will be a transformation of the old into the new. The illustration Paul uses is of a seed sown in the ground and springing to life into a sheaf of wheat. The illustration we use most often is that of a caterpillar moving to the chrysalis stage and then emerging as a butterfly.
iii] Suitable. It will suit the environment of heaven. It will fit in there, work there, just as our natural body works well here, just as a seed works well here, or a fish works well in it's environment.
iv] Spiritual. Paul uses three words to describe this body. It is "imperishable", glorious and "spiritual." It will never die, it is wondrous and it is of the stuff of heaven.
v] Christ-like. The most profound truth about the resurrected body is that it is the same body as the "man from heaven". Christ has already taken the form of this resurrected body. It is the way he is now, and the way he is now is the way we will be. We will be as Christ already is. To be as Christ is, what more wondrous future could be offered to us?
When we look at the risen Christ we get an idea of the form of the resurrected body. When Jesus rose from the dead he was able to communicate with his friends, even eat a meal with them, yet appear and disappear and walk through solid walls. Yet the form of Jesus, as he appeared to his disciples, was most likely not the final reality of the resurrected body. Two pieces of evidence point to a form beyond what the disciples saw.
First, Jesus said to Mary of Magdala, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father." This is very cryptic saying, but in it's many double meanings there lies the idea that Jesus was not yet in the form he would finally take in heaven. He was still in the process of transformation and he did not want Mary to hold onto the natural man that was being changed into the man from heaven.
Second, when Paul saw Jesus on the Damascus road, he saw no mere natural man, he saw the risen Lord in all his glory, and that vision blinded him. This was indeed a manifestation of the glorious risen Lord. This glory of the man from heaven will one day be ours.