What does 1 Corinthians 15:40 mean?
ESV: There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another.
NIV: There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.
NASB: There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another.
CSB: There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is different from that of the earthly ones.
NLT: There are also bodies in the heavens and bodies on the earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies.
KJV: There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
Verse Commentary:
Using a shallow objection for contrast (1 Corinthians 15:35), Paul is helping the Corinthians understand the resurrection of the believer's body. They should not be thinking of a decaying corpse returning to life and staggering around like a zombie. Nor should they wonder how or if God can restore life to a burnt or crushed form. Instead, they should be thinking of the resurrected body as something new, springing to life out of the seed of the pre-death body.

He has shown in the previous verses that bodies can be very different depending on the species. Human bodies are different from animals, bird bodies are different than fish bodies.

Now Paul begins to bring this analogy home, saying there are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, each with their own kind of glory. He seems to mean there is a difference between the bodies of people and animals on earth and the bodies of stars and planets that occupy the heavens. The bodies of God's earthly creation reveal His glory in a different way than the heavenly bodies He has made. Paul will go on to suggest a connection between these heavenly bodies and the resurrected bodies of believers. They will have a glory all their own.
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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