Thursday, 2 April 2015
All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. 1 Corinthians 15:39
Paul is still answering the question found in verse 35 – “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” After those questions, he used the seed as an example we could grasp. Put a seed in the ground and out comes a plant, and yet it is the same life. So why should it be considered impossible for the resurrection body to be substantially different than the earthly body while still being the same person?
To highlight this further, he notes that, “All flesh is not the same flesh.” The word flesh here denotes the body as much as the material with which the body is made. Each animated being has a body unique and perfectly suited for the environment in which it lives. Thus he notes that “there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.”
The body of man is given to man based on his capabilities. He was given dominion over the earth and in order to fulfill that, he was given hands to grasp, legs to run, a mind to think, etc. But he was also given the ability to swim in the ocean. With the development of technology, he can swim under the waters, even for extended periods of time. And because of technological developments he can also fly. Thus man has a body which is designed by God to fulfill the commission he was given.
The animals all have their own bodies, each suited for the purpose God intended. Squirrels eat nuts, but they also store them. Sometimes, those nuts are forgotten, covered over by mud from a flood, or maybe even the squirrel dies, leaving the nut uneaten. When this happens, the nut sprouts into a tree. And so squirrels serve a purpose in this way, helping to sew new forests or continue forests that exist. This is just one example in an almost infinite variety of things that various animals do with the bodies they have been given.
Paul notes also that there is “another of fish.” If flesh were flesh without variety, then we would think it impossible that a being could live under water. We would have no concept of something that could accomplish this feat. But there are fish. Because there are, we can see that life can live and thrive where we cannot. So why should we think it is impossible that we will someday be given bodies that are substantially different than the ones we have now, ones which are able to live and act in a way we cannot yet comprehend?
Paul finishes this verse with, “another of birds.” Will we be able to fly in our resurrected bodies? Birds can fly even though we can’t. They have another type of flesh than we have. They have been designed to do what birds do. Like the squirrel, many birds provide transporting services for seeds and nuts. As they do, new life springs up. Along with this, they live their lives doing all those things that birds do, working harmoniously within the realm for which they were designed.
A final thought concerning animal life and the resurrection body would be to consider the butterfly. It transforms into its beautiful state from a mere caterpillar. If this is possible within the natural creation, why should we assume that it is impossible for the resurrection body to be wholly different than what we now know while still being the same life-force that we always have been, memories and all.
Life application: If we have nifty bodies that can do really amazing stuff now, imagine what God has prepared for us in our resurrected bodies! Don’t be afraid of death, it is a temporary and necessary step on the way to amazing glory.
O God! A caterpillar becomes a butterfly because this is what You have ordained for it to do. It is the same life-being and yet it is a completely different form than it once was. All things have come from Your wisdom and we can accept them because we see them. Help us to have faith that the same Word which created the butterfly can also resurrect us to eternal life. You have spoken it will happen, and so we can be confident it will come to pass. Thank You for Jesus who makes it possible. Amen.