In writing to the Corinthians, Paul outlines the events that will occur at or shortly before the “arrival” or ‘Parousia’ of Jesus on the “Day of Christ.” ‘Parousia’ is one of several Greek terms applied by the Apostle to the future coming of the Lord. Regardless of which term is used, he always refers to one “coming,” “appearance,” “revelation,” or “appearance” of Jesus at the end of the age, never two (or more).
Moreover, nowhere in his Letters does Paul use any Greek term for that event that equates to English terms like ‘rapture,’ ‘translate,’ ‘transport,’ or ‘remove.’ He speaks of the coming,” “revelation,” and “arrival” of Jesus on the “Day of the Lord” at which time he will raise the dead and gather his elect.
|[Sundown - Photo by Jenna Beekhuis on Unsplash]|
In the New Testament, the resurrection of the righteous, the final judgment, and the New Creation are all linked to his return, and this also is the case in First Corinthians:
- “But now has Christ been raised from among the dead, a first fruit of them who have fallen asleep; for since, indeed, through a man came death, through a man also comes the raising of the dead… For, just as in Adam all die, so also, in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own rank: Christ, a first fruit, after that, they who are the Christ’s at his arrival. Afterward, the end, whensoever he delivers up the Kingdom to his God and Father, whensoever he shall bring to nothing all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign until he shall put all his enemies under his feet: As a last enemy, death is to be destroyed; for He put all things in subjection under his feet” - (1 Corinthians 15:20-28).
In the preceding passage, Paul does not provide a detailed roadmap of future events and prophetic timetables. His purpose is to demonstrate the necessity for the bodily resurrection of the saints. Apparently, some believers were denying the reality of or necessity for the resurrection of believers - (1 Corinthians 15:12).
Paul anchors the future resurrection of the saints in the past resurrection of Jesus. If there is no future resurrection, then “not even Christ has been raised, and if Christ has not been raised…to no purpose is our faith, we are yet in our sins.”
Thus, the coming resurrection is linked inextricably to the past resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Believers will experience a resurrection of the same kind as did the Lord, only theirs will occur at a different time. His resurrection is the “first fruits” of the general resurrection of the dead at the end of the age.
His “arrival” or ‘Parousia’ will be preceded by the subjugation of “all his enemies,” and when that day does occur, the dead will be raised and believers who remain alive will be transformed. It is at that time that the righteous receive immortality, “death, the last enemy” will cease, the Kingdom of God will be consummated, and the present age will end.
In addition, in the second half of the chapter, Paul explains what kind of body the saints will inherit at the resurrection (“How are the dead raised and with what manner of body do they come?”).
Our mortal bodies will be raised “incorruptible, in glory and power.” Thereafter, the resurrection body will be dominated by the Spirit. No longer will the believer’s body be subjected to death or decay - “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit in-corruption.”
Paul concludes his discussion by demonstrating the necessity for the transformation of the human body before believers can inherit everlasting life. The bodies of both living and dead saints must be changed into bodies that are dominated by the “Spirit,” as well as ones that are incorruptible and no longer subject to disease, age, decay, or death:
- (1 Corinthians 15:49-57) – “And even as we have borne the image of the man of earth, let us also bear the image of the man of heaven. And this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s Kingdom. Neither does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, a mystery do I declare to you: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, during the last trumpet; for it shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must clothe itself with incorruptibility, and this mortal clothe itself with immortality…”
The resurrection will occur at the Parousia or “arrival” of Jesus, an event that will also terminate the jurisdiction of death, which means that thereafter there will be no more enemies to defeat.
Paul leaves no doubt that “resurrection” means life in an immortal “body” and not in a disembodied state. However much that future life will differ from the present one, for the believer, it will be an EMBODIED existence.
Moreover, the receipt of an immortal body that is no longer subject to death will mean the arrival of the “New Creation” since reconstituting dead men and women as immortal beings is nothing less than an act of new creation – (Romans 8:20-23).