Day of Jesus Christ
Jesus will arrive on the Day of the Lord when the dead are raised, the wicked are judged, and death will cease forevermore. The coming of Jesus is not a major topic in Paul's two surviving letters to the Corinthians as it is in his Thessalonian correspondence, but he does touch on several aspects of that event, including its identification with the “Day of the Lord,” the consummation of God’s kingdom, the resurrection, the judgment, and the cessation of death.
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He begins his first Letter to the Corinthians by thanking God for His grace to the Assembly, and he puts the proper perspective on spiritual gifts by pointing to the expectation of Christ’s return.
- (1 Corinthians 1:4-9) - “I give thanks unto my God at all times concerning you… That you come short in no gift of grace, ardently awaiting the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who will also confirm you unto the end, unimpeachable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is God through whom you have been called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Rather than overvalue spiritual gifts, believers must remember that they are still waiting for the much fuller glories to be dispensed at his “revelation” on the “Day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The term rendered “revelation” translates the Greek noun apokalupsis, meaning “revelation, disclosure, unveiling” - (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10, Luke 17:30, 1 Peter 1:13, 1 Peter 4:13).
The English word “unimpeachable” translates a legal term that was applied to someone against whom legal charges could no longer be leveled (anegklétos, Strong’s - #G410). Thus, on the “Day of Christ,” no one will bring charges against believers in God’s court since He has “confirmed” them.
In Paul’s writings, the “Day of our Lord Jesus Christ” becomes synonymous with the “Day of the Lord” in the Hebrew Bible, the day when Yahweh would deliver His people and judge His enemies. By adding “Jesus Christ” to the phrase, Paul focuses this ancient hope on him - (Amos 5:18-20, Joel 2:31, Philippians 1:6, 2:16, 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 2 Peter 3:10).
UNTIL THE LORD COMES
The Apostle deals with inappropriate attitudes in the congregation. Some members were questioning his teachings and apostolic authority. He responded by employing the image of household servants or stewards. As a faithful “steward,” Paul was entrusted with the “mysteries” of God - (1 Corinthians 4:3-5).
However, he was accountable only to the Master of the household, and therefore, the evaluation of him by the Corinthians was of no real consequence. Only the judgment of Jesus mattered, and his valuation would become evident when he arrived at the end of the age.
A few verses earlier, Paul wrote of the coming day of evaluation when each man’s work would be examined to see whether it was built on the proper foundation. Again, that judgment would occur on the “Day of the Lord” - (1 Corinthians 3:13-15).
Paul had to deal with a shameful incident that brought the congregation into disrepute. A member was having sexual relations with his stepmother. While fornication and adultery were common enough in Greco-Roman society, engaging in sex with one’s stepmother was beyond the pale even for pagans. Rather than boast of their spirituality, he exhorted the Corinthians to “mourn” that such an egregious sinner was in their midst - (1 Corinthians 5:4-5).
The Apostle admonished the Assembly to expel this man so that his “spirit may be saved on the Day of the Lord.” The “destruction of the flesh” would become part of his remedial process. This meant the destruction of what was carnal in the man as he was buffeted by the satanic forces that operated outside of the believing community.
The result Paul hoped for was the offender’s repentance and salvation on the “Day of the Lord.” Once again, the Apostle associated that Day with judgment, including the assessment of believers by Jesus. Final salvation and judgment would be realized on that day.
Paul next mentioned the “coming” of Jesus in his discussion on proper behavior during the Lord’s Supper, especially in consideration of his impending arrival in glory - (1 Corinthians 11:24-26). In his explanation, he combined the commemoration of Christ’s death with the promise of his return. By eating the bread and drinking the wine, the congregation was proclaiming his death “until he comes,” linking the two events, and both were (and are) essential to the Gospel.
AT HIS COMING
Paul also responded to men who were denying the future resurrection, and he argued for it from 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, void is our proclamation, void also our faith” - (1 Corinthians 15:22-28).
In Chapter 15, he presents the general order of events leading up to the day when Jesus “arrives.” He is the “first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” – the first participant in the larger resurrection, and therefore, his past resurrection is inextricably connected to the future resurrection of the believer.
Since death came into existence through a man, Adam, so “through a man,” Christ, would come the raising of the dead. Just as “in Adam, all die,” so in Jesus, all would be made alive. His followers in Corinth were waiting to be raised at his arrival on the “Day of Christ” - (1 Thessalonians 1: 2:19, 3:13, 4:15, 5:23, 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2:8).
Paul provided the key as to when the resurrection would occur. First, he correlated it with the “arrival” or parousia of Jesus. Second, he specified that it would mean nothing less than “the end” of death itself. All this would occur after Jesus “delivers up the kingdom to his God and Father, whenever he brings to nothing all rule and all authority and power,” including the “last enemy” – Death.
Paul’s purpose in Chapter 15 was not to provide all the details relating to the coming of Jesus, but to substantiate his argument for the future resurrection of believers. At issue was not the return of Jesus, but the bodily resurrection of the saints.
Thus, in his Corinthian correspondence, Paul referred several times to the “Day of the Lord Jesus,” whereas, the Old Testament speaks of the “Day of Yahweh,” the time of deliverance for the people of God, and the day of destruction for His enemies – (1 Corinthians 1:8, 5:5, Philippians 1:6, 1:10, 2:16, 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 2 Thessalonians 2:1).
In the Letter, the Apostle described key aspects of that event. First, he expected only one future coming of Jesus. Second, his “arrival” would occur on the “Day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Third, it would include the examination and judgment of the righteous. Fourth, Jesus would “arrive” after he subjugated all God’s enemies. Fifth, his coming would include the bodily resurrection of the dead and the cessation of death. All this is to occur on the coming “Day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”