“Howbeit that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; then that which is spiritual.
The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is of heaven.
As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” 1Co 15:46-49
In the above passage heaven has a spiritual significance. Consider the blessings we have in Christ in the heavenly places:
Eph 2:6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
How are we seated with Christ in the heavenly places? This is again spiritual and not literal.
Spiritual significance of heavenly places:
Eph 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
Eph 2:5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved
I.e. God has given us everything we need for our salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus – irrespective of our worldly status.
Mercy, Love, Grace and made alive all from heaven i.e. the heavenly blessings.
Not of this world
Eph 2:2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience
The world we live in is assumed to be in darkness. Paul writes to the Ephesians that they used to follow the course of this world. It is obvious that we follow the course of this world because we are of the world and not of heaven or another planet. Yet, we are encouraged to live as though we do not belong to this world but of heaven where God is. That is we ought to be spiritually or heavenly focussed.
Jesus in his parable contrasted the children of the world v/s the sons of light:
Luk 16:8 The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.
Notice how Paul uses ‘sons of disobedience’ in Eph 2:2
Jesus explained at his trial: “My kingdom is not of this world”
Joh 18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
While Jesus lived in this world he exclaimed that he was not of the world and belonged to a different kingdom. We also then like Jesus ought to also disown this world and seek the kingdom of God:
Mat 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
This of course brings us in conflict with the world as we chose to give our first allegiance to God who is in heaven.
Our spiritual journey and focus:
Heb 11:14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.
Heb 11:15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return.
Heb 11:16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
Php 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven;
Col 1:5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in the heavens, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel,
Heb 3:1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling,
The great calling:
Joh 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
Jesus explicitly calls us to live outside the world. Out of the world is not contrasted with living in another planet but to be heavenly or spiritually focussed:
Col 3:2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Joh 17:14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
Joh 17:15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.
Joh 17:16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
Jesus prayed for the disciples that they be kept safe because they are not of this world. Jesus said they (we) are not of this world just as he was not of this world. If then follows, that, if Jesus was literally not of this world then his disciples were also not of this world – but Jesus was using spiritual expressions.
Again, Jesus differentiates between those who are earthy to those who are not and excludes the worldly from his prayer:
Joh 17:9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.
John writes later on:
1Jn 5:19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in the evil one.
Our calling is to overcome the world:
1Jn 5:4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
“Such are they also that are heavenly” (1Co 15:48 RV)
The emphasis of 1 Corinthians is that Jesus was a man (Not a God man):
1Co 15:21 For since by man came death, by MAN came also the resurrection of the dead.
1Co 15:45 So also it is written, The first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
When we contrast Jesus and Adam we see one was spiritual and the other was earthly. Adam on account of his fall represents the early but Jesus on account of his victory is the spiritual one:
1Co 15:47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is of heaven.
Adonai YHWH is Father & God of both Adam and Jesus. One he made from dust the other he begot through a woman. Being men, both died. One remains dead while the other was raised from his dead state.
‘of heaven’ has a spiritual rather than literal meaning i.e. ‘the authorised/spiritual man of God / Heaven’. Jesus was sent by God – not meaning literally jumped down from heaven, rather that he was consecrated from birth to do the will of his Father.
Consider the following examples:
“The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven or from men?” (Mat 21:25)
“We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in the evil one.” (1Jn 5:19)
Now when it says ‘we are of God‘ does John mean we are from heaven?
Or Did John the baptist step down from heaven?
1Co 15:48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
How are you heavenly? Did you come from heaven? Obviously Paul is speaking spiritually.
We aught to live our lives as ones not of this world but of heaven – i.e. spiritually focussed like the Jesus was the man for heaven or the spiritual one. Hence he is our exemplar of faith.
“Bear the image of the heavenly” (1Co 15:49) – What/How?
What is the image of the heavenly? This is the hope of resurrection. The first man brought death the second man brings life through resurrection:
1Co 15:20 But now hath Christ been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of them that are asleep.
Reflect: What fruits are called first fruits?
1Co 15:23 Christ the firstfruits; then they that are Christ’s, at his coming.
As we bore the image of the first man we will also bear the image of the second man. His image is the spiritually resurrected human body.
1Co 15:44 it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
There is no teaching about a spirit body in heaven but that Jesus had a natural body that died and was buried but raised a spiritual body. We also have hope in that we will also bear the image of the spiritual one as immortals.
An example of how to live out of this world
“Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”” 1Co 5:8-13
Paul differentiates those ‘of this world’ and those ‘within’ and we should keep ourselves from the sins of this world:
A note about orthodoxy mischief (1 Corinthians 15:47)
(ASV) The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is of heaven.
(ESV) The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.
(KJV) The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.
(RV) The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is of heaven.
As you will note some scribes found it difficult to accept that Jesus should be called the second man, and so by their own authority inserted ‘Lord’ to sync it with their false teaching of incarnation. As we note above, various Trinitarian translators do not agree with each other hence we can note the corruptions within translations by the orthodoxy party.