What does 1 Corinthians 15:39 mean?
ESV: For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.
NIV: Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.
NASB: All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of mankind, another flesh of animals, another flesh of birds, and another of fish.
CSB: Not all flesh is the same flesh; there is one flesh for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.
NLT: Similarly there are different kinds of flesh — one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.
KJV: 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.
NKJV: All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.
Verse Commentary:
Paul continues to answer and instruct those in Corinth who have been saying there is no resurrection from the dead for Christians (1 Corinthians 15:12). He has called "foolish" the one who rejects belief in resurrection based on a lack of understanding about how God could resurrect a human body. The objection seems to assume Christian "resurrection" means restoring movement and awareness to a decayed corpse.

In contrast, Scripture indicates that the resurrected body will not be some lesser form of the pre-death body. Rather, the form into which a believer is re-born is the ultimate form of their body! This, much like the plant is the ultimate form of the seed. Beyond that, though, the resurrected body will be of its own "kind," meaning that it will be as different as a bird is from a fish.

Taken on its own, Paul's statement here is obvious: human and animal "flesh" are different, belonging to different creatures. He will develop the point, though, to show that our resurrected bodies will be substantially different from our pre-death bodies.
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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