‘I believe in the resurrection of the body’
The belief that the dead live on, disembodied, has always been popular. The expression that grandma’s spirit is in heaven looking down on us is common, but it is not really the correct message. It is not life after death but bodily resurrection that people have difficulty with.
Paul addresses the Corinthians’ skepticism in three ways.
A Physical Body
First, he describes what sort of body God gives each believer at the Resurrection: both gloriously transformed and recognisably the same. And it will be physical – the phrase ‘spiritual body’ in v. 44 means animated by the Spirit, not made out of spirit. You cannot remain human without a body – but neither can that body continue alive if the spirit animating it is not divine.
An Imperishable Body
Next Paul explains how God creates imperishable bodies. Jesus is the key: his perfect humanity become ours through his life-giving Spirit.
When will This Happen?
Finally, Paul tells us when this will happen: at the last trumpet. The trumpet symbolises God’s act of speaking a people into existence.
Our Easter-style resurrection will be God’s final victory over Death, and because Christ has already been raised we know this is no wishful thinking. So we live for God, knowing that every act of faith and love will have an echo in the new creation, not least by making us the person we will become and remain forever.