"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.V No.VII Pg.12-13
February 1943

I Corinthians 15:36-41 And The Germ Theory

M. V. Showalter

"If Christ hath not been raised, your faith is vain." With these words the Holy Spirit makes the resurrection of Christ the supreme basis for Christianity. Christ arose, and thus beyond cavil proved that we shall rise. The early Christians asked, How are the dead raised? What sort of body have they?

Among recent religious writings I read: "Wheat and corn may be planted together but they will not get mixed. When the corn comes up, it will be corn; and when the wheat comes up it will be wheat. The flesh of birds and beasts may mingle with the dust of man's body, but they will not be mixed in the resurrection." "The germ in a grain of wheat is very small compared with the rest of the grain, but that little germ is what survives when the body of the grain dies and goes back to dust. Paul declares this to be a similitude of the resurrection." The American Indian believed in a happy hunting ground for man after death. The above philosophy goes him a few dozen. It would argue an Elysian Field for each seed and beast and bird, and incidentally for man. Just as the life germs pass away and leave their seed bodies, so pass away the life germs of men. Every form of life here on earth is to be resurrected then, eh?

The writer seems unaware of the fact that the dust particles of man are largely cereals and flesh. We build our bodies out of wheat, corn, oats, bird, beast, fish, etc., particles which they had assembled from earth particles. In the resurrection, per him, those dust particles are not to be mixed with man's dust. Well, then, when their dust is taken out, there is practically none left for man. Too bad that he charges Paul with teaching that.

That same writer says: "The resurrection body sustains a similar relation to the natural body that the flower of a morning-glory sustains to the seed of the morning-glory. In some way or other, according to God's wisdom and power, the spiritual body of the resurrection comes out of the natural body that is sown in the grave." And: "When Jesus was raised from the dead, he had the same body that he had before, only it was changed." Talk about mixed figures and conglomerate ideas, there they are. That writer has his reader picture a morning-glory flower and its seed as a type of the resurrection body and its natural body. Then he tells him Christ had the same body after the resurrection that he had before (truth) "only it was changed." Changed to what? In what respect changed? Changed as morning-glory seed relative to its flower? The Bible says there was no change in His body. "It is I." "Handle me, and see." Could those men "handle" a spirit? Could they even discern a spirit? In spirit form Christ is one with God. God is spirit. "No man hath seen God." Man cannot see God and live (Ex. 33:20). Had Christ been resurrected in spirit form all who saw him would have died.

Another writer says correctly that Christ ate and drank with His disciples after His resurrection. But he later affirms: "So far as we know He did not retire for rest or food as was His wont in the days of His flesh." Here he says the resurrected body was different, but just above he had argued identity of the two. He thinks Christ appeared "suddenly" with the disciples, vanished "suddenly" from the two at Emmaus, although neither the word suddenly nor its equal appears in the text. He seems to think, as do some, that the resurrected body of Christ could pass through a solid door as readily as the sun's rays can pierce the atmosphere. The Bible does not so teach. Christ's behavior in the instances named above is no more a puzzle to Bible students than His conduct at other times "in the days of His flesh" (see Lk. 4:30; Jno. 8:59,10:39).

Such illogic and such incongruous statements are too frail a basis for faith. They argue a feeble effort to sustain an unscriptural concept of the resurrection.

The writer quotes: "It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." He then avers identity of the sown body and the raised body. He reasons here on the word "it." Per him, the "it" that is sown is the "it" that is raised. He cites the identity in the case of Christ's resurrection as proof that ours will be identical. If this verse teaches identity of the two, it contradicts verse 37 just above, which says that we do not sow the body that shall be. And verse 42 says: "So also is the resurrection." Besides this, the "it" in that passage is only an expletive, an ornament, an appositive with the subject. "A natural body is sown, a spiritual body is raised (raises itself)" is a structural translation of that passage. There is no "it" in the sentence nor scripture for that philosophy.

One man quotes Phil. 3:20,21 (q.v.). He then avers: "This is the change from mortality to immortality." Oh, that Paul had only used the word for resurrect instead of the word for change just here! He could have done so had that been the idea he wished to convey. Since he did not say resurrect, he evidently did not mean resurrect. He said change (or its equivalent). The change he here treats is, "according to the working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself." The power by which Christ subdues all things is the gospel (Rom. 1:16). The last enemy he subdues is death (I Cor. 15:26). The power he uses in subduing ends at death. But the resurrection comes after death. Also, the words "that it may be" (vs. 21) are not in the original (see AVS). They may do violence to the thought--if wrongly used. Study the sentence structurally, omitting that clause and the thought is improved. So the "change" of Phil. 3:20,21 is not the resurrection of the dead.

If the body used by the risen Christ in Palestine was changed, was different, from the natural one, it was His spiritual body, for there were only the two. There is no mediate state. If that was His spiritual body it went into heaven thus and will be thus throughout eternity. It will show the nail prints in His hands and feet, and the sword mark in His side forever and forever. Redeemed souls will look upon those cruel marks whenever they see Him there--if that philosophy be scriptural. If that experience of our Lord is a type of our resurrection, it means that every age, stage, and condition of human bodies placed in tombs on earth will be there. If one is buried eyeless he will never behold the beauties of heaven, nor see his blessed Lord. If he were deaf when he was buried, he will never hear the anthems of praise that are sung, nor the hallelujahs that resound throughout the courts of heaven. The scarred, the maimed, the crippled, deformed, armless, legless, wounded, the babe and even the pre-natally dead, every age even unto Methuselah will be there and manifest, open, seen and known thus throughout eternity, as when buried. If that were true, John certainly blundered when he said: "It is not yet made manifest what we shall be," for Christ looked like He did at death and so shall we. Just as you saw your friend at the grave, so he will be manifested in the resurrection. Such are necessary deductions when we carry that philosophy to its finality. The heartening fact is that the Bible does not so teach. We should not then accept such teaching nor advocate such errors.

Our Lord walked the Judean hills in His crucified body, resurrected. He thus fulfilled David's prophecy that His body would not decay (A. 2:31). David thereby teaches that Christ's body would be handled differently from human bodies in general. Or else, why should such behavior be named? The fact that his body arose indicates rather that ours will not rise. In I Corinthians 15:35 the writer anticipates the querist with the two-fold question: "How are the dead raised? And with what manner of body do they come?" In verse 42 he says: "So also is the resurrection of the dead." Between these are verses 36-41. These latter constitute the lesson which is "so" (thus) likened to the resurrection of the dead. What is that lesson? Wherein is the likeness of things here said to the resurrection? We must learn that lesson thoroughly if we would know its application in the verses following.

Verses 36-41 are illustrative, parabolic. A parable is a thing well or easily understood by the hearer or reader with which the author compares the lesson he is teaching. It is a reasoning from the known to the unknown. A parable may contain two or more possible lessons, yet only one of them fits the setting. When several parables are used, four in this case, to teach one certain lesson, they each must teach that lesson. A lesson inherent in one of the four parables which is not apparent in each of the others cannot be the lesson of the four: In this case the "so" of verse 42 includes all four parables, and can only mean that each and all of these parables teach the one lesson which the author would have us learn.

These six verses contain the following illustrations, parables: (1) The grain and its plant body; (2) Different flesh bodies--men, beasts, birds, fish; (3) Earthly bodies and heavenly bodies; (4) Varied glories among heavenly bodies.

Now what lesson inheres with all these illustrations? That lesson must be evident in each one of them. It is given emphasis by being repeated the four times. By using four parables the author lessens the liability of error by the reader; he increases one's culpability if he fails to get the proper lesson. The lesson here taught must answer the dual question of verse 35 above.

In the seed there is a life germ which, properly conditioned, is reproduced in the plant. Among flesh beings there is a semen, which properly conditioned, results in a man, or beast, or bird, or fish. Truly there are such relations here in this physical world. Should we then conclude that a germ in the physical man develops into the spiritual being which comes forth at the resurrection? Is that the lesson of those illustrations? Are there not other possible lessons to be had from those parables? A writer on this theme recently says: "-that little germ is what survives when the body of the grain dies and goes back to dust. Paul declares this to be a similitude of the resurrection." If that is the lesson of verses 36-38, what is the lesson of verses 39-41? These latter three verses say nothing of the plant and its germ. They treat three other illustrations. Can that writer see in the terrestrial and celestial bodies a relation such as there is in the life germ of a seed and its plant? Or of semen and its flesh body? Do the glories of sun, moon, stars bear such a relation? Is there some germ in some earthly body which grows up into some heavenly body? Does that heavenly body in turn mature an earthly body similar to the one that (supposedly) produced that heavenly body? Or vice versa? And does that rotation go on and on among the countless stars and the numberless earthly bodies? Does the glory of a tiny star bud forth into the brilliance and glory of the sun? Does the sun mature tiny stars with which to deck the blue dome above us? Do these stars in turn develop brilliant suns? Is there in each tiny star the germ of a sun? To ask these questions is to answer them. We all know that such is not done. If the relativity of seed and its plant, semen and its body, be the lesson here taught, we must see such relativity among the bodies of the other two illustrations. But such doe's not inhere with them. So, that germ philosophy is not the lesson of these verses.

Those who have accepted the germ theory treated above seem to ignore completely verses 39, 40, 41. What do they teach? Were they just thrown in for good measure? Or are they good for nothing? The sacred writings do not contain worthless, insignificant words. "Every word of God is tried," and is "profitable." The similitude expressed in verse 42 includes the lesson of all the verses 36 to 41. Each of the last three verses in that group teaches the same lesson that is taught by verses 36-38 (the germ theory verses). Now let those who have written extensively on the germ theory explain verses 39-41, please.

The writer of these verses implies that the lesson he intends is easily observed. Except that it pleased God to hide things to certain ones (Matt. 11:25,26). He is a "foolish one" who would ask such questions--the how? and the what? of the resurrection. He then shows that the how and the what in this material universe about us cannot be answered by man. How that seed becomes a plant we know not. How the semen becomes a flesh body no human can tell. How the terrestrial and celestial bodies are what they are we know not. The varied glories among the stars is a problem too deep for man. Yet we recognize these variations about us. "With what manner of body do they come?" To impress this lesson, go into a seed store. Look upon samples of 100 different seeds. Examine them closely. Then walk into a plot of ground where there are growing plants representative of each class of these seeds. How many of them do you recognize? At the season of year when your earth is decked with a gorgeous robe of varied vegetation, stroll a while. Admire their varied and numerous forms, not less than scores of them. Then step into a seed store where samples of seeds of all these plants are displayed. How many of them can you recognize?--and name? When the specialist in botany tells you that a certain seed is progenitor of a certain plant such as you had beheld while strolling, you do not become alarmed. You accept his word. He knows that field of learning. So with the resurrection body. God says it. He knows. We should accept it by faith. The manner of body and the how of that body we know not, save that the resurrection body is different--as are these things in nature. Amidst our activities here we meet with different bodies, even among those called by the same name. God gave all these their forms, constituencies, and characteristics. That same God has decreed a resurrection body which man cannot envision. It is different from the natural body but just as real. Its form, constituencies, characteristics, are not those of the natural man. Otherwise we would know them.

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