“Not all flesh is alike, but there is one flesh for human beings, another for animals, another for birds and another for fish.”
~ First Corinthians 15.39, NRSV
Paul begins chapter fifteen by reminding the members of the church at Corinth of how Christ fulfills Scripture and of the many times and number of people that Christ revealed himself to after the resurrection. There are many witnesses and while they include Jesus’ inner circle, it also includes many others. And Paul is one of them.
This former door- to- door persecutor of the Church is among those that Christ appears to. It’s important to note and to make this distinction because Paul was not a friend of Jesus– to say the least. Jesus doesn’t just appear to his “favorites,” to those he chose, to those who walked with him or that believed in him. But, he came to one who was trying to destroy the Church and to erase the gospel, one member at a time. It is for the Corinthian church a reminder of what their belief is based on– rooted in Scripture and tied to its fulfillment in Christ: “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain” (vs. 12-14).
Paul is addressing questions as to how the resurrection will happen when he writes this wisdom on the kinds of flesh: “Not all flesh is alike, but there is one flesh for human beings, another for animals, another for birds and another for fish.” This truth concerning resurrection leads to another that is worth believing and repeating. There is only one flesh for human beings.
Yes, we make look different and we may not all dress alike. Yes, there are different shades of skin. Some skin has hair and some does not. But, there is only one kind of flesh for human beings. Now, if you want to claim otherwise, then you can also claim to be another creature, an animal, a bird or a fish, perhaps.
We use the Bible for many things but as the source of our Christian identity, that is life beyond the flesh, there is seldom a word. But, the apostle Paul, says clearly that race’s categories don’t matter. There is only one flesh and it is not colored- colored. There is only one flesh and prejudice and stereotypes will not determine its resurrection. No, we will rise from the dead because of what Christ has done– not according to the imagined kinds of flesh that we wear.