But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” I Corinthians 15:35)
Answer a fool according to his folly. ... Answer not a fool according to his folly. (Proverbs 26: 4, 5)The Corinthians had a question for Paul: what kind of a body will we have in the resurrection? Many have asked questions like this. Will we recognize each other? Will we have a resemblance to how we look now? (Ugh!) Or will we look like we did in our late 20s? (Better!) Will we be able to get up a game of baseball and not supernaturally crash home runs on every pitch? Odd questions, some of them, but ones we want to ask.
Paul, however, answers the question with a sharp rebuke: "Fools!" (I Corinthians 15:36)
With all due respect to Paul, those questions aren't foolish at all. We want answers. Why does he call the Corinthians fools for asking a question that any of us might ask?
Understanding Paul's response to the Corinthians' question can act as an excellent example of a cardinal rule of Bible study: get the context.
The Corinthian church was a troubled church. They were blessed with many gifts (I Corinthians 12 & 14), but along with their many gifts they carried baggage from their background. Their Classical Greek culture led them to ask a lot of questions, many of which we see Paul referring to throughout this letter (7:1, 25; 8:1; 9:1, etc.) Along with this admirable quality, they were also infused with Dualism, a carryover from Greek philosophy, which manifested itself in Christianity in the form of Gnosticism. Gnosticism in all its various forms made a sharp distinction between the physical and spiritual. Paul's epistles, the General Epistles, and many of the next generation of church leaders confronted this heresy, and it's evident from Paul's frequent references to "knowledge" (Greek: gnosis) in I Corinthians that it was an issue in this congregation.
At its core Gnosticism teaches that the physical world including our physical bodies are ultimately worthless. In some iterations of Gnosticism the physical is completely evil and the creation of an evil demiurge who was the Yahweh of the Old Testament. Therefore at death our souls would be would be released from this demon-inspired physical world and freed into the spirit realm, which is of the true God.
If that is the case, why is there any need for a resurrection of the body? Why was there a need for Jesus' physical body to disappear from the tomb? Wouldn't it make sense that being liberated from the evil physical world would eliminate any need for a "resurrection"? A resurrection to what? Wouldn't his soul already in a glorified, spiritual place?
This is exactly what Paul felt a need to address in I Corinthians 15. "Now if is preached that he rose from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection from the dead?" (Verse 12). So when they ask the questions, "How are the dead raised up?" and "with what body do the come?" they likely weren't asking the question because they wanted an answer. Some of them had their minds made up and were trying to trap Paul. They wanted nothing more than to be contentious.
When you and I ask that question, I would hope we ask it because we really want an answer. Paul would have given us the answer without first calling us fools. Even then, he answered the question anyway because, as the proverb says, "Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit."