1 Corinthians 15:45—Was Christ a life-giving spirit after His resurrection, or did He have a physical body?
Problem: Paul asserts here that Christ was made a “life-giving spirit” after His resurrection. Some have also used this passage to prove that Jesus had no physical resurrection body.
Solution: This does not follow for many reasons.
First, “life-giving spirit” does not speak of the nature of the resurrection body, but of the divine origin of the resurrection. Jesus’ physical body came back to life only by the power of God (cf. Rom. 1:4). So Paul is speaking about its spiritual source, not its physical substance as a material body (see also comments on 1 Cor. 15:44).
Second, if “spirit” describes the nature of Christ’s resurrection body, then Adam (with whom He is contrasted) must not have had a soul, since he is described as “of the earth, made of dust” (v. 47). But the Bible clearly says that Adam was “a living being [soul]” (Gen. 2:7).
Third, Christ’s resurrection body is called “spiritual body” (v. 44) which, as discussed under 1 Corinthians 15:44, is the same word used by Paul to describe material food and a literal rock (1 Cor. 10:4).
Fourth, it is called a “body” (soma) which always means a physical body when referring to an individual human being.
In summation, the resurrection body is called “spiritual” and “life-giving spirit” because its source is the spiritual realm, not because its substance is immaterial. Christ’s supernatural resurrection body is “from heaven,” as Adam’s natural body was “of the earth” (v. 47). But just as the one from “earth” also has an immaterial soul, even so the One from “heaven” also has a material body.
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.