Paul Versus Plato on the Resurrection
THE apostle Paul wrote about the resurrection at 1 Corinthians 15:35-58 and 2 Corinthians 5:1-10. In doing so, did he follow the immortal-soul ideas of Plato and the Greek philosophers, or was he in harmony with the teaching of Jesus and the rest of the Scriptures?
The booklet Immortality of the Soul or Resurrection of the Individual: St. Paul’s View with Special Reference to Plato, written in 1974 and endorsed by the archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church of North and South America, gives a revealing answer. After discussing the nature of the resurrection in the above-mentioned scriptures and the Hellenistic influences of the time, the author reaches the following conclusion:
“Plato teaches that the soul continues in unending and eternal existence, apart from the body. The soul for Plato is inherently and intrinsically immortal . . . St. Paul neither teaches such a view nor makes any claim to do so . . .
“The Apostle Paul is not concerned with the immortality of the psyche or spirit as separate and distinct parts but with the resurrection of the whole complex soul-spirit body of man as the consequence of Christ’s resurrection. Paul’s conception of the resurrection body has nothing to do with the resuscitation of dead bodies from the grave.
“His conception of resurrection body may be better expressed as the transformation, re-creation, and reconstitution, by the power of God, of the whole man’s unity, of the same person, of the personality, of the psycho-somatic organism, of the true psycho-physical individual. Our future resurrection will take place not as our own natural possession, but as the royal gift of God.”
Yes, immortality is not an inherent possession of any human. Rather, it is a prized and gracious gift from Jehovah through our Lord Jesus Christ to those who make up the anointed Christian congregation.—1 Corinthians 15:20, 57; Philippians 3:14.
[Picture on page 9]
Greek philosopher Plato
Vatican Museum photograph