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1 Corinthians 15:35-58 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

C. The Manner of the Resurrection[a]

35 [b]But someone may say, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come back?”

The Resurrection Body. 36 [c]You fool! What you sow is not brought to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be but a bare kernel of wheat, perhaps, or of some other kind; 38 but God gives it a body as he chooses, and to each of the seeds its own body. 39 [d]Not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for human beings, another kind of flesh for animals, another kind of flesh for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the brightness of the heavenly is one kind and that of the earthly another. 41 The brightness of the sun is one kind, the brightness of the moon another, and the brightness of the stars another. For star differs from star in brightness.

42 [e]So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible. 43 It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious. It is sown weak; it is raised powerful. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one.

45 So, too, it is written, “The first man, Adam,[f] became a living being,” the last Adam a life-giving spirit. 46 But the spiritual was not first; rather the natural and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, earthly; the second man, from heaven. 48 As was the earthly one, so also are the earthly, and as is the heavenly one, so also are the heavenly. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image[g] of the heavenly one.

The Resurrection Event. 50 [h]This I declare, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does corruption[i] inherit incorruption. 51 [j]Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For that which is corruptible must clothe itself with incorruptibility, and that which is mortal must clothe itself with immortality. 54 [k]And when this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility and this which is mortal clothes itself with immortality, then the word that is written shall come about:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin,[l] and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.


  1. 15:35–58 Paul imagines two objections that the Corinthians could raise: one concerning the manner of the resurrection (how?), the other pertaining to the qualities of the risen body (what kind?). These questions probably lie behind their denial of the resurrection (1 Cor 15:12), and seem to reflect the presumption that no kind of body other than the one we now possess would be possible. Paul deals with these objections in inverse order, in 1 Cor 15:36–49 and 1 Cor 15:50–58. His argument is fundamentally theological and its appeal is to the understanding.
  2. 15:35–49 Paul approaches the question of the nature of the risen body (what kind of body?) by means of two analogies: the seed (1 Cor 15:36–44) and the first man, Adam (1 Cor 15:45–49).
  3. 15:36–38 The analogy of the seed: there is a change of attributes from seed to plant; the old life-form must be lost for the new to emerge. By speaking about the seed as a body that dies and comes to life, Paul keeps the point of the analogy before the reader’s mind.
  4. 15:39–41 The expression “its own body” (1 Cor 15:38) leads to a development on the marvelous diversity evident in bodily life.
  5. 15:42–44 The principles of qualitative difference before and after death (1 Cor 15:36–38) and of diversity on different levels of creation (1 Cor 15:39–41) are now applied to the human body. Before: a body animated by a lower, natural life-principle (psychē) and endowed with the properties of natural existence (corruptibility, lack of glory, weakness). After: a body animated by a higher life-principle (pneuma; cf. 1 Cor 15:45) and endowed with other qualities (incorruptibility, glory, power, spirituality), which are properties of God himself.
  6. 15:45 The analogy of the first man, Adam, is introduced by a citation from Gn 2:7. Paul alters the text slightly, adding the adjective first, and translating the Hebrew ’ādām twice, so as to give it its value both as a common noun (man) and as a proper name (Adam). 1 Cor 15:45b then specifies similarities and differences between the two Adams. The last Adam, Christ (cf. 1 Cor 15:21–22) has become a…spirit (pneuma), a life-principle transcendent with respect to the natural soul (psychē) of the first Adam (on the terminology here, cf. note on 1 Cor 3:1). Further, he is not just alive, but life-giving, a source of life for others.
  7. 15:49 We shall also bear the image: although it has less manuscript support, this reading better fits the context’s emphasis on futurity and the transforming action of God; on future transformation as conformity to the image of the Son, cf. Rom 8:29; Phil 3:21. The majority reading, “let us bear the image,” suggests that the image of the heavenly man is already present and exhorts us to conform to it.
  8. 15:50–57 These verses, an answer to the first question of 1 Cor 15:35, explain theologically how the change of properties from one image to another will take place: God has the power to transform, and he will exercise it.
  9. 15:50–53 Flesh and blood…corruption: living persons and the corpses of the dead, respectively. In both cases, the gulf between creatures and God is too wide to be bridged unless God himself transforms us.
  10. 15:51–52 A mystery: the last moment in God’s plan is disclosed; cf. notes on 1 Cor 2:1, 7–10a. The final trumpet and the awakening of the dead are stock details of the apocalyptic scenario. We shall not all fall asleep: Paul expected that some of his contemporaries might still be alive at Christ’s return; after the death of Paul and his whole generation, copyists altered this statement in various ways. We will all be changed: the statement extends to all Christians, for Paul is not directly speaking about anyone else. Whether they have died before the end or happen still to be alive, all must be transformed.
  11. 15:54–55 Death is swallowed up in victory: scripture itself predicts death’s overthrow. O death: in his prophetic vision Paul may be making Hosea’s words his own, or imagining this cry of triumph on the lips of the risen church.
  12. 15:56 The sting of death is sin: an explanation of Hosea’s metaphor. Death, scorpion-like, is equipped with a sting, sin, by which it injects its poison. Christ defeats sin, the cause of death (Gn 3:19; Rom 5:12).
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


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