Paul and the three degrees of glory

Even though D&C 76 was prompted by revision of John 5:29, it also creatively draws from Paul’s discussion of resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15.

Because the revelation of the three degrees of glory is framed as lost biblical material (see the section heading), it can come as a surprise to learn just how different Paul’s views of heaven were from modern LDS beliefs.

In 1 Corinthians 15:40-43 (KJV as always), we do find the words celestial and terrestrial as well as reference to the glories of the sun and moon and stars.

We don’t find the word telestial there (or much anywhere).

And from an ancient Mediterranean cosmological perspective it would be rather odd for the terrestrial to be linked to the moon since the moon was generally considered a major planet then, not a satellite of Earth (terra).

In other words, if Paul were going to link them, he’d link the celestial to the sun, moon, and stars, leaving the terrestrial for the bodies of mortal life on Earth.

But those aren’t the big difference, which is that Paul was not about marriage and family here or likely in the hereafter.

Celibacy was his thing.

Check out 1 Corinthians 7.

Given our understanding of D&C 131 and 132, it’s not uncommon for us to believe that at the top heaven is an eternity of marriage/s. We even speculate about the anatomy of resurrected bodies, celestial sexual reproduction more or less, and the raising of infinite spirit children.

To say the least, Paul would not agree with our church doctrine that celibacy is somehow lesser than marriage now and forever.

If his view of the future mirrored his view of the present, as does ours, he would say that the unmarried in heaven would do better than the married. He would allow for celestial marriage and celestial sex, but only where people lacked his gift for self-control, and in order to prevent celestial fornication/adultery. He would see marriage and family in heaven as a distraction from God.

Arguably it was the other way around, though. Paul’s view of the present mirrored his view of the future: he would have taken it for granted that there was no such thing as marriage in heaven, one of the reasons why marriage was not a priority for him while he was alive.

Paul would have taken it for granted … along with Jesus, according to Mark followed by Matthew and Luke:

Mark 12:24-25 And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.

Matthew 22:29-30 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

Luke 20:34-36 And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.

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