Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom - This is a Hebrew periphrasis for man, and man in his present state of infirmity and decay. Man, in his present state, cannot inherit the kingdom of God; his nature is not suited to that place; he could not, in his present weak state, endure an exceeding great and eternal weight of glory. Therefore, it is necessary that he should die, or be changed; that he should have a celestial body suited to the celestial state. The apostle is certainly not speaking of flesh and blood in a moral sense, to signify corruption of mind and heart; but in a natural sense; as such, flesh and blood cannot inherit glory, for the reasons already assigned.
Now this I say, brethren - “I make this affirmation in regard to this whole subject. I do it as containing the substance of all that I have said. I do it in order to prevent all mistake in regard to the nature of the bodies which shall be raised up.” This affirmation is made respecting all the dead and all the living, that there must be a material and important change in regard to them before they can be prepared for heaven. Paul had proved in the previous verses that it was possible for God to give us bodies different from those which we now possess; he here affirms, in the most positive manner, that it was indispensable that we should have bodies different from what we now have.
Flesh and blood - Bodies organized as ours now are. “Flesh and blood” denotes such bodies as we have here, bodies that are fragile. weak, liable to disease, subject to pain and death. They are composed of changing particles; to be repaired and strengthened daily; they are subject to decay, and are wasted away by sickness, and of course they cannot be suited to a world where there shall be no decay and and no death.
Cannot inherit - Cannot be admitted as heir to the kingdom of God. The future world of glory is often represented as an heirship; see the note on Romans 8:17.
The kingdom of God - Heaven; appropriately called his kingdom, because he shall reign there in undivided and perfect glory forever.
Neither doth corruption - Neither can that which is in its nature corruptible, and liable to decay, be adapted to a world where all is incorruptible. The apostle here simply states the fact. He does not tell us why it is impossible. It may be because the mode of communication there is not by the bodily senses; it may be because such bodies as ours would not be suited to relish the pure and exalted pleasures of an incorruptible world; it may be because they would interfere with the exalted worship, the active service, and the sleepless employments of the heavenly world; it may be because such a body is constituted to derive pleasure from objects which shall not be found in heaven. It is adapted to enjoyment in eating and drinking, and the pleasures of the eye, the ear, the taste, the touch; in heaven the soul shall be awake to more elevated and pure enjoyments than these, and, of course, such bodies as we here have would impede our progress and destroy our comforts, and be ill adapted to all the employments and enjoyments of that heavenly world.
At His coming the righteous dead will be raised, and the righteous living will be changed. “We shall not all sleep,” says Paul, “but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-53. And in his letter to the Thessalonians, after describing the coming of the Lord, he says: “The dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17. GC 322.1
Not until the personal advent of Christ can His people receive the kingdom. The Saviour said: “When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Matthew 25:31-34. We have seen by the scriptures just given that when the Son of man comes, the dead are raised incorruptible and the living are changed. By this great change they are prepared to receive the kingdom; for Paul says: “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” 1 Corinthians 15:50. Man in his present state is mortal, corruptible; but the kingdom of God will be incorruptible, enduring forever. Therefore man in his present state cannot enter into the kingdom of God. But when Jesus comes, He confers immortality upon His people; and then He calls them to inherit the kingdom of which they have hitherto been only heirs. GC 322.2Read in context »