Question: Does the statement in 1 Corinthians 15:50 that flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom of heaven mean that resurrected beings cannot enter heaven?

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Question: Does the statement in 1 Corinthians 15:50 that flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom of heaven mean that resurrected beings cannot enter heaven?

To intepret 1 Corinthians to mean that no flesh and blood can enter into heaven discards the beliefs of several founding fathers of modern day Christianity

Critics attempt to use 1 Corinthians 15:50 to demonstrate that a resurrected being with a physical body cannot enter into heaven, therefore excluding a God with a body as well as resurrected mortals.

To intepret 1 Corinthians to mean that no flesh and blood can enter into heaven discards the beliefs of several founding fathers of modern day Christianity. They correctly taught the true meaning of the word 'flesh' as not being literal, otherwise, Christ Himself would not be allowed into heaven.

While Latter-day Saints do not base their theology on tradition or the early Fathers, that early Christians agree with modern-day revelation is another witness of its accuracy.

The early Christians interpreted this scripture to mean something very different than our critics do

In 207 A.D., Tertullian taught: “‘Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God’. He means the works of the flesh and blood, which, deprive men of the kingdom of God.” [1]

Novation noted in A.D. 235that “When it is written that ‘flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God’, it is not the substance of the flesh that is condemned...but only the guilt of the flesh.” [2]

Photius quoted Methodius in A.D. 290 as saying “‘Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.’..By ‘flesh’, he did not mean the flesh itself, but the irrational impulse towards the immoral pleasures of the should.” [3]

The great father Origen also taught a deeper, alternate meaning for the word 'flesh' in A.D. 225:

At the time of the flood, when all persons had corrupted their way before God, it is recorded that God spoke in this manner, concerning undeserving men and sinners: ‘My Spirit will not abide with those men forever, because they are flesh.’ By this it is clearly shown that the Spirit of God is taken away from all who are unworthy. [4]

Tertullian also taught that Christ has a body of flesh and bone, yet dwells in the heavens. “Jesus is still sitting there at the right hand of the Father. He is man, yet also God. He is the last Adam; yet, He is also the primary Word. He is flesh and blood, yet purer than ours, and he will ‘descend in like manner as He ascended into heaven.’ That is, He will be the same both in substance and in form.” [5]

Tertullian could have partially been basing this belief off of Luke 24:39 when Christ admonishes the Apostles to touch Him. He said "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have."


To see citations to the critical sources for these claims, click here

Notes

  1. Ante-Nicene Fathers 3:451, Tertullian 207 AD, W
  2. Ante-Nicene Fathers 5:620, Novation 235 AD, W
  3. Ante-Nicene Fathers 6:374, Methodius, as quoted by Photius, 290 AD, E
  4. Ante-Nicene Fathers 4:254, Origen, 225 AD, E
  5. Ante-Nicene Fathers 3:584, Tertullian, 197 AD, W