Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:45-49

The Man From Heaven

Popular Translation

45 The Bible says, “Adam, the first human, received life.” But the last Adam, Jesus, is a life-giving spirit. 46 The first human did not have spiritual body, but a physical one. The human with a spiritual body came later. 47 The first human, Adam, was created from the dirt of the earth. The second human, Jesus, came from heaven. 48 The first person was from the dust. His sons and daughters are also from the dust. But the person of heaven is really different. And the people in heaven will be just like him. 49 Now, we look like Adam, man made from dust. Soon we will look like Christ, the man from heaven.

Literal Translation

45 Thus it is also written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being,” the last Adam a life giving spirit. 46 But, the first (was) not the spiritual, but the natural, then the spiritual. 47 The first man (came) from the dust of the earth, the second man out from heaven. 48 As such, the dust (one), so too, (those) dust (ones), and as such (one) of heaven, so too, (those) of heaven. 49 Just as we bore the image of the dust (one), we will bear the image of the (One) of heaven.

15:45 “The first man, Adam, became a living being” was a combination of Genesis 1:27a (So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him) and 2:7c (man became a living being). The word “Adam” had the generic meaning of “man,” the addition of “Adam” to “man” was actually redundant.

The phrase “become a living being” was actually “become into a living (human) soul.” In other words, the verb “become” had a passive voice, that begged the question, “Who caused this “becoming?’” Of course, the answer was God. In other words, “man” (“Adam”) received life from God.

Paul balanced the first Adam with the second, the one who would give life. That phrase was literally “the last Adam into a life-giving spirit.”

The first Adam received natural life from God’s Spirit; the last would gift eternal life through that same Spirit.

15:46 “the natural” was literally the “soul-like.” Paul used the language of the human spirit (“soul”) to differentiate between the human and the divine (“spiritual”).

15:48 This sentence was a comparison between the “earthly” Adam and the “heavenly” Adam. The sons of the earthy Adam shared the same curses as the first one (“As such, the dust (one), so too, (those) dust (ones)”). Those who believe in the heavenly Adam (Christ) would share in the same blessings he does (“and as such (one) of heaven, so too, (those) of heaven”).

Paul ended the body of his letter to the Corinthian Church with arguments for the resurrection of the body. In 15:35-37, he created a “straw man’s” argument to combat. This fictitious opponent questioned the kind of body the raised would have. Paul replied with an agricultural analogy (difference between seeds and plants) and the different types of bodies (animals and people). He stressed the resurrection will basically change the body. The exact nature of the change and details of the end result were a matter of mystery. But he did say that the raised body would be “spiritual” in nature.

What is the difference between the “earthly” and the “heavenly” body? Paul did not explain physiological differences (which would be speculative, at best). But he did explain the difference in terms of the two human archetypes: Adam and the Risen Christ. Adam disobeyed God. So, he left a legacy of sin, sickness and death (from dust to dust). He represented estrangement from God. But the Risen Lord (the “second” Adam) lived perfect obedience. He was the sign of freedom from this evil. He personified life with God.

Our life with God now is a foretaste to eternity. While we struggle in our earthly form, we will be blessed with a heavenly form. Every part we possess, body and soul, mind and heart, will enjoy eternal life. Now, we wait with praise and gratitude for resurrection of the body.

How does belief in the resurrection of the body change your outlook on life? How do you hope to live like Christ?