As Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1531) unpacks the tension between the present and future anthropologies set forth by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, some aspects of his theological anthropology emerge. Zwingli clearly differentiates between the body and the soul, recognizing that while the two elements are meant to be united, they will be separated between the time of death and the resurrection of the body.

Zwingli also keenly feels the impact of the fall on humankind, and he finds the status of the earthly nature cast into stark relief by Paul as he looks towards Christ, the second Adam. The redemption brought by Christ’s union with the first Adam is therefore the hope of the believer, who looks beyond humanity’s present pain and struggle toward eternal felicity.

Image Bearers of the First and Second Adam

If at the present time we bear the image of an earthly human being, made of dust, we will one day bear the image of the heavenly Adam. For, just as Christ initially carried around an earthly body, later, after his resurrection, he had a heavenly, spiritual, and immortal body.

And so also we who believe in Christ initially bear this earthly and corruptible body, but will one day bear a spiritual and heavenly body. And just as Christ died in the body—and yet his soul lived on—so too we also will sleep in the body,Therefore, as the first body that dies and decays comes from Adam, so the second body that rises again resplendent, glorious, and immortal is from Christ—for we bear the image of both. that is, we will die but our souls will live on. This is how those people understood that article of faith in the Apostles’ Creed, which stated:“I believe in the resurrection of the flesh and the life everlasting.”

Now by this confession they not only understood the life that would come after the judgment day, but also the life believers in Christ experience immediately after death. For Christ says: “Those who believe in me will have eternal life.” But this life is not eternal sleeping—it is not sleep—but perpetual laughter, rejoicing, and indescribable gladness. Therefore God the Father wished to show us these things in the death and life of his Son so that we might have certainty that—being finally united with Christ—he who took on flesh for us was born for us, lived for us, died for us, and at last was resurrected and brought back to life for us. This is what Irenaeus says: “Christ’s body feeds our bodies to immortality,” namely, that our souls will certainly be rendered victorious, just as was the soul of Christ. And also that our flesh will arise to immortality, just as our flesh has been united with the divine Christ. Therefore, as the first body that dies and decays comes from Adam, so the second body that rises again resplendent, glorious, and immortal is from Christ—for we bear the image of both. And both are our parents: the first is the source of corruption and sin; the second is the source immortality and grace. In the former, we live with affliction and trouble; in the latter we experience neither trouble nor difficulties. That is the reason Christ has united with our flesh and blood.

Annotations on 1 Corinthians 15:49.

1 Corinthians., ed. Scott M. Manetsch, Reformation Commentary on Scripture, NT vol. IXA, p. 396.


RCS Series: Pauline Anthropology

Martin Bucer | The Inexpubgable Notio Dei Implanted by God

Huldrych Zwingli | Image Bearers of the First and Second Adam

John Davenant | The Natural Image and the Redeemed Image

Johannes Brenz | A Wolf, a Serpent, and Forgiveness in Spite of the Old Nature

Johann Wild | Spiritual Sacrifices of the Spiritual Priesthood

Martin Luther | There Is No Such Thing as Free Will

Peter Martyr Vermigli | The Whole Person Affected by Original Sin

Martin Luther | Men Are Like the Sun, Women Are Like the Moon

Johannes Bugenhagen | What Human Reason Is Good For