The Christian view of the afterlife
what did paul believe of the afterlife? Did his view change overtime or was he ever static? 1 corinthians 15 is the most extensive treatment on the subject of the resurrection. First Paul deals with the reality of resurrection as a whole. Right from the beginning of chapter 15, it would seem some teachers or believers in the church at Corinth had begun to deny the reality of the resurrection of believers. First Paul deals with defining the Gospel, he says
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.”
It was important for Paul to deal with the gospel first since that is the motivation for their beliefs in anything the apostles taught in the first place. He then defended his position among the apostles. I think it is interesting when the apostleship of pauls is doubted today. Here it would seem some believers in the first century also challenged Paul’s authority as an apostle. Yet his vindications come from the reality that he now believes that which he once persecuted. Not only that he is also approved by the actual apostles that he does teach the same Gospel they received from Jesus Christ. Peter in 2 Peter 3:15 actually mentions Paul as a brother. And it seems as a teacher with equal status as an apostle. but that's beyond the scope of this class…
After Paul defends his apostleship, he uses Christ as the fulfillment of the resurrection and as the reality of the fulfillment of the Gospel. In that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and appeared before Paul, the apostles, and about five hundred others who are still alive at the time this letter was written. To Pauls is obviously ample evidence of a resurrection. In verse 35 he deals with the following up question of the type of resurrection body. It seems in the first century there were those who believe Jesus's resurrection body was an illusion and not a physical body. This would later be known as Docetism. Instead of an illusional body, Paul believes there are different types of physical flesh. He calls it earthly bodies and heavenly bodies.