Strawbridge, Jennifer. "How the Body of Lazarus Helps to Solve a Pauline Problem." New Testament Studies (2017) 63, pp. 588-603.
1 Corinthians 15 offers a detailed description of the resurrection of the dead. Strawbridge observes that Paul's reference to the body in the resurrection as a "spiritual body" (15:44) has been taken in opposition to the hope of a bodily resurrection (Strawbridge 2017, 589). At issue to Strawbridge is the type of body which will be present in the resurrection. This is not entirely clear based on Paul's language.
Strawbridge notes there is a wide variety of interpretations attached to the concept of flesh and blood, and especially as detailed in 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 within early Christian commentary (Strawbridge 2017, 590). In particular, Strawbridge notes the rise of Gnostic texts, which would distance the Christian life from physicality in the resurrection (Strawbridge 2017, 591). In the Gospel of Philip, the physical resurrection is the body and blood of Christ which hcas been received in communion. John 6, then, refers to a spiritual resurrection of the Christian, who will be clothed in the flesh of Christ.
Counter to this view, Irenaeus sees the description of 1 Corinthians 15 as a very literal bodily resurrection, but a denial of "flesh and blood" as that which rejects God's Spirit (Strawbridge 2017, 592). Tertullian likewise takes Paul's use of "flesh and blood" to be something more than its face value. He sees it as that which is done in a fleshly, i.e. non-spiritual manner (Strawbridge 2017, 593).
Strawbridge observes that numerous early Christian authors refeerred to Jesus' raising of Lazarus as a means to interpret Paul's teaching about the resurrection (Strawbridge 2017, 594-5). Though Lazarus, once resurrected, did die again, the verbs used to describe his resurrection create a strong parallel between his resurrection and that of Jesus. The substantive issue was thus the bringing back to life of a dead and decaying human body. The time period was sufficient to know that this was no kind of a resuscitation. It differed in this from the accounts of Jairus' daughter or the widow's son (Strawbridge 2017, 596).
Strawbridge goes on to describe, in turn, the arguments of Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Augustine as they affirm a bodily resurrection based on Lazarus, despite the language of a spiritual resurrection based on 1 Corinthians 15 (Strawbridge 2017, 596ff). Irenaeus argues that the flesh and blood of Christ is proof of his humanity, and that his healing of people's bodies demonstrates their value (Strawbridge 2017, 597). The raising of Lazarus bodily from the dead indicates the value Jesus puts on the body, which will later be raised in an incorruptible form. This is thus an important element in our understanding of the resurrection (Strawbridge 2017, 598). Tertullian understands the flesh to be inseparable from the soul. Therefore, a spiritual resurrection without a body is incomplete (Strawbridge 2017, 599). The resurrection thus is of body and soul together. Paul teaches the unity of body and soul. To use 1 Corinthians 15 as a means of separating body and soul is therefore illegitimate (Strawbridge 2017, 600)., Augustine likewise believes that the body must be raised. However, he takes Lazarus and his smell of decay to indicate the spiritual state of sin, out of which we will be raised (Strawbridge 2017, 601). The flesh will be purified and made spiritual.
Strawbridge concludes that early Christianity, though having a commitment to a spiritual resurrection, also affirmed a bodily resurrection, and tended to look to John 11 and Lazarus to articulate the raising of the body and spirit (Strawbridge 2017, 603).