The End of Death

When certain members of the Corinthian congregation denied the future resurrection of the righteous, Paul appealed to the past resurrection of Jesus as the precedent and grounds for this coming resurrection. His faithful disciples will be raised bodily from the dead when he “arrives” at the end of the age, and Death itself will be terminated.

Paul reveals something new. Believers who are alive on the day when Jesus “arrives” will be transformed and receive immortal bodies. He also presents the sequence of key events that will precede the arrival” of Jesus.

Cemetery with cross - Photo by Georg Arthur Pflueger on Unsplash
[Photo by Georg Arthur Pflueger on Unsplash]

The Apostle begins with the rhetorical question - “
If Christ is proclaimed that he has been raised from among the dead, how say some of you there is no resurrection of the dead?” – (1 Corinthians 15:12).

The crux of the matter is the absolute necessity for bodily resurrection and all his arguments are compsed to support this proposition. The basis of his position is the past resurrection of Jesus.

If there is no future resurrection, then “not even Christ has been raised,” and if that is the case, then the Gospel is null and void. Thus, the resurrection of believers is based on the past resurrection of the Son of God, and it is pivotal to the teachings and hope of his Church.

Paul argues that “all will be made alive, but each in his own rank” or “order.” Jesus was the “first fruits” - He rose first - The rest will follow “at his arrival.” That event will constitute “the END when he delivers up the Kingdom to God and brings to nothing all rule, authority, and power.”

Thus, the raising of the dead began with Jesus, the “firstborn of the dead,” and at his “arrival,” this process will be consummated - (1 Corinthians 15:23).

HIS RETURN


Elsewhere, Paul uses the Greek noun ‘Parousia’ for the “coming” or “arrival” of Jesus as he does here. For example, in his first letter to the Thessalonians, he links the resurrection of dead believers to the “arrival” of Jesus from Heaven - (1 Thessalonians 4:12-15, 5:23, 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2:8).

His ‘Parousia’ will mean “the end” of the present age, the subjugation of all his enemies, and the termination of Death. The latter is the “Last Enemy” that must and will be destroyed. Only then will he deliver the "Kingdom” to his God and Father, after which, God will be “all in all” - (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).

Paul’s purpose is not to present all the details related to the return of Jesus. Specific subjects are introduced because they support his argument for the necessity of the resurrection.

Jesus was raised as the “first fruits” of those who “sleep.” Logically, dead believers who “sleep” will participate in the same kind of resurrection that he did, though only at the appointed time. In the conclusion of his argument, Paul returns to the subjects of the resurrection and Death:

  • (1 Corinthians 15:51-58) - “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed… During the last trumpet, for it shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

Sunflower Sunset - Photo by Jeb Buchman on Unsplash
[Photo by Jeb Buchman on Unsplash]

The cessation of death will coincide with the “
arrival” of Jesus. That day will mark the final overthrow of all God’s enemies and the consummation of His rule. After that, there will be no more enemies to conquer, therefore, DEATH WILL BE NO MORE.

The bodily resurrection does not mean the resuscitation of dead corpses. Our mortal bodies will be transformed into another kind of body, ones that are geared for life in the Spirit and are no longer subject to disease, decay, and death. 

The evidence for this latter hope is the glorified body of Jesus. Life in the future age will be an embodied existence, not a disembodied state - (1 Corinthians 15:35-50).

The “mystery” that is now revealed is that believers who remain alive on Earth when Jesus arrives will be physically transformed. They will not experience death before their transformation. 

The hope of the Assembly rests on belief in the future resurrection and life in the New Creation, which, in turn, is based on the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.



RELATED POSTS:
  • Sympathetic High Priest - (Through death, Jesus has become the merciful and faithful High Priest who intercedes for his brethren)
  • Defeating Death - (The source of Paul's apostleship is the same God and Father who raised His Son, Jesus Christ, from the dead)
  • Raised from the Dead - (Jesus will return from Heaven at the “end” of the present age accompanied by great power and glory, an event of great finality)


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