Q&A: Flesh and Blood Cannot Inherit the Kingdom?

Flesh and Blood Cannot Inherit the Kingdom?

Question

Paul says flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom - 1 Corinthians 15:20. However, Scripture speaks about a physical resurrection composed of flesh and bone (Luke 24:39).

Answer

1 Corinthians 15:50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

To more fully understand this verse, we must look at the fuller context of what Paul is saying. Paul is not saying that flesh and blood will not inherit the Kingdom, but "corruptible" (KJV) flesh and blood will not. He is comparing the natural to the spiritual (vs. 44), the earthly to the heavenly (vs. 49), and the perishable to the imperishable (vs. 50). These mortal bodies will put on immortality (vs. 53). Paul is simply saying a resurrection with a bodily change is coming.

As you commented, Jesus himself is "incorruptible" flesh and bone. Luke writes, in Luke 24:37-39:

They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have."
John writes in John 20:27:

Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."

Though there are many things about the new resurrection body we do not know, Jesus' resurrection body is literal flesh and blood - resurrection flesh and blood! He is the firstborn from the dead (Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5) and the rest of his body (the invisible church) will follow (1Cor. 15:38; Eph. 5:30) with resurrection bodies at the last day.

The Westminster Confession of Faith (Chapter XXXII - Of the State of Men after Death, and of the Resurrection of the Dead) states:

II. At the last day, such as are found alive shall not die, but be changed: [5] and all the dead shall be raised up, with the selfsame bodies, and none other (although with different qualities), which shall be united again to their souls forever. [6]

5. I Thess. 4:17; I Cor. 15: 51-52
6. John 5:25-29; Acts 24:15; Job 19:26-27; Dan. 12:2; I Cor. 15:42-44

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).