The Death of Death

Certain members of the Corinthian congregation denied the future resurrection of the righteous. Paul responded by stressing how necessary our resurrection is and by appealing to the past Death and Resurrection of Jesus. His resurrection was and remains the precedent for our future resurrection. We will be raised bodily when he “arrives,” and his appearance will mean nothing less than the termination of Death itself.

Paul revealed something new in his defense of the resurrection. Believers still alive on the Last Day will be transformed and receive immortal bodies. He also described the key events that will precede the ‘Parousia’ or “arrival” of Jesus.

Grave Flowers - Photo by Richard Bell on Unsplash
[Photo by Richard Bell on Unsplash]

The Apostle began 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).

From his perspective, the heart of the matter was the absolute necessity for bodily resurrection. All his arguments are crafted to support that proposition, and its basis 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, our coming resurrection is based on the past resurrection of the Son of God. Furthermore, it is pivotal to the teachings and salvation hope of the Church.

Paul then 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


Paul uses the Greek noun ‘Parousia’ for the “coming” or “arrival” of Jesus. 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 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 was not to present all the details related to the return of Jesus. Specific subjects are introduced because they support his argument for the resurrection of the righteous dead.

Jesus was raised as the “first fruits” of those who “sleep.” Logically, dead believers 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 the end of 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.”

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.

However, the bodily resurrection does not mean the resuscitation of corpses. Instead, our mortal bodies will be transformed into another kind of body geared for life in the Spirit. That body will not be subject to disease, decay, and death. The evidence for this hope is the glorified body of Jesus. We, likewise, will inherit glorified bodies. Our life in the coming age will be an embodied existence, not a disembodied state - (1 Corinthians 15:35-50).

The “mystery” that is revealed in the passage is that believers who remain alive when Jesus arrives will be physically transformed. They will not experience death. 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 past death and the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.



RELATED POSTS:
  • Sorrow Not - (Foundational to the believer’s future hope is the bodily resurrection of the righteous dead when Jesus arrives in glory)
  • Abolishing Death - (Through his death and resurrection, Jesus rendered death ineffective for believers)
  • Final Events - (The return of Jesus will be an event of great finality)


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