Paul describes in the book of 1st Corinthians that we have two bodies; a flesh body that is corruptible, which can grow old and decay, and a spiritual body that is now mortal, but will someday be immortal. He writes: “For this corruptible (perishing flesh body) must put on incorruption, and this mortal (spiritual body) must put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” (I Corinthians 15:53-54)
The idea that we consist of two parts, flesh and spirit, helps us to understand, how and why, sometimes we war against ourselves. We mean to do one thing, but do another. Jesus said: “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”. (Matthew 26:41) It is a reality that the more we listen to the flesh, the weaker our spirit becomes. The more we listen to our spirit, the stronger it becomes. The words of Paul in the book of Romans confirm this war we have within ourselves. “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Romans 7:18-25) It is encouraging to think that a man of God like Paul had these problems. We all do.
Comparing man to a seed that is planted, Paul continues on in I Corinthians to explain more facts concerning death and resurrection. He also speaks of the various types of flesh. “But some man will say, how are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, (made alive) except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.” Our body is a seed chosen by God that is planted. Continuing, he names the four different types of flesh. “All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.” (I Corinthians 15:35-39)
Speaking once more concerning the two bodies of man, Paul talks of the spiritual, describing it as “the celestial body,” which is of a heavenly nature or origin, and of the flesh as the “terrestrial,” which exists on the earth: “There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” (I Corinthians 15:40-50) Our flesh has to die to receive our inheritance.
Paul now makes an astounding announcement; the revelation of a mystery. What is this mysterious revelation? It is that not all people are going to die a natural physical death, but at some point in history, at what is termed the “last trumpet,” everyone is going to be changed into a spiritual body. In one moment, we will be changed into our spiritual body, but not necessarily our immortal body. That happens, as we discussed in another posting concerning “The World to Come”, the two resurrections. There are two differing opinions on this. Some believe this to mean all people and some believe it to mean all Christians. Paul writes: “Behold, I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible (perishing) must put on incorruption, and this mortal (liable to die) must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law But Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Corinthians 15:51-57)
We have now learned that we have two bodies, a flesh body that is corruptible, which can grow old and decay, and a spiritual body that is now mortal, or able to die, which will someday be immortal. We also learned that we are a seed, chosen and planted by God. Paul describes the spiritual body as the celestial body, which is of a heavenly nature, and the flesh body as terrestrial, which exists on the earth. We were also taught that not all people are going to die a physical death, but are going to be, in an instant, changed into a spiritual body.