What does 1 Corinthians 15:37 mean?
ESV: And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain.
NIV: When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.
NASB: and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else.
CSB: And as for what you sow—you are not sowing the body that will be, but only a seed, perhaps of wheat or another grain.
NLT: And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting.
KJV: 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:
NKJV: And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain.
Verse Commentary:
Paul is directly addressing those who have been saying that there is no resurrection from the dead for believers (1 Corinthians 15:12). Using an anticipated question, he reveals how some of them look at the concept of a resurrected human body exactly backwards. They imagine, perhaps, a reanimated corpse. Or, they struggle to see how a burnt or turned-to-dust body could function. In short, these critics picture something inferior to a living, breathing body that once flourished before death. Instead, Paul is using the metaphor of planting a seed to show that the resurrected body is the ideal version, and the point of the process.

What is sown or planted in the ground is not the plant but a "bare kernel." He compares this to our pre-death physical human bodies. These bodies that we know and are familiar with are like a seed compared to the plant in full bloom that grows from it. As he wrote in the previous verse, the seed—meaning these bodies—must die in order for the plant to spring to life as intended.
Verse Context:
First Corinthians 15:35–49 describes how the resurrected bodies of believers will be different from our current bodies. Resurrected bodies will not be reanimated corpses or some lesser version of our pre-death frame. The opposite is true. Our current, corrupt bodies are like seeds that are sown to bring to life the plant. These forms are temporary, dishonorable, and weak. Our transformed bodies will be eternal, glorified, and powerful, made from the materials of heaven, not earth, and built for an eternity with God.
Chapter Summary:
Paul provides thorough teaching about the resurrection of Christians from the dead. This is a direct counter to some group of Corinthians who did not believe in such a resurrection. He shows that natural death is not the end of life for Christians; it is the last step before receiving a glorified, resurrected body like that of the risen Christ. That ''spiritual'' body will be as different from our current bodies as a star is from a fish. In that moment, for all who have believed in Christ, living and dead, death will be defeated for good.
Chapter Context:
In chapters 12, 13, and 14, Scripture focused on the concept of spiritual gifts and how best to use them. This follows several other ideas where Paul corrected errors in the Corinthians' thinking. Chapter 15 contains extensive teaching on one last issue about which some Corinthians were confused or misled. Apparently, they harbored some doubts about the physical resurrection of Christians from the dead. After clearing up these confusions, Paul will address various other items, of a less doctrinal nature, and close out his letter.
Book Summary:
First Corinthians is one of the more practical books of the New Testament. Paul writes to a church immersed in a city associated with trade, but also with corruption and immorality. These believers are struggling to properly apply spiritual gifts and to resist the ungodly practices of the surrounding culture. Paul's letter gives instructions for real-life concerns such as marriage and spirituality. He also deals with the importance of unity and gives one of the Bible's more well-known descriptions of love in chapter 13.
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