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A Full Preterist Exposition of the Resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15

I am currently working on a second book entitled, Matthew 24-25 and the Resurrection of the Dead Fulfilled by AD 70.  At Matthew 24:30-31 I give an exegesis on the resurrection of 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 and 1 Corinthians 15.  Below is my unedited material on 1 Corinthians 15 thus far.

1 Corinthians 15 and Matthew 24:30-31

There are several exegetical observations which demonstrate Paul’s eschatology and doctrine of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15 is not a depiction of an individual biological resurrection that takes place for all men at the end of world history:

  • The parallels and analogy of faith with Matthew 24 demonstrates a first century generation fulfillment of 1 Corinthians 15.
  • Paul’s argumentation and use of logic (modus tollens) demonstrates the resurrection of the dead deniers at Corinth were not denying resurrection in general, but a resurrection for a particular group (the OC dead of Israel).
  • Paul’s use of the present tense of the resurrection already taking place demonstrates it is not an end of time biological resurrection.
  • Paul’s use of familiar corporate body words and phrases within the Corinthian letters and within his other Epistles demonstrates an individual biological corpse resurrection is wrong.
  • Paul’s appeal to Hosea 13 and Isaiah 25 demonstrate that an end of the world biological resurrection is not in view.
  • There would be no victory over “the death” until victory over the Mosaic OC “the law” was reached. This does not fit within a futurist frame work, but does within the Full Preterist one, because “the law” (administration of death) was “soon” to vanish at the end of the OC age in AD 70 in Paul’s day.

The Parallels – Analogy of Faith

Again, let’s look at those parallels that demonstrate Paul’s eschatology here in 1 Corinthians 15 is that of Jesus’ in Matthew 24/Luke 21:

  • Christ to come (Greek parousia) – Matthew 24:27 = 1 Corinthians 15:23
  • His people to be gathered/changed – Matthew 24:31 = 1 Corinthians 15:51-52
  • Comes with the sound of a trumpet – Matthew 24:31 = 1 Corinthians 15:52
  • To be “the end” (Greek telos – the goal) – Matthew 24:3, 14 = 1 Corinthians 15:24
  • Kingdom consummation (goal reached) – Luke 21:30-32 = 1 Corinthians 15:24
  • All prophecy fulfilled at this time – Luke 21:22 = 1 Corinthians 15:54-55
  • Victory over the law/temple – Matthew 24:1 = 1 Corinthians 15:55-56
  • Same contemporary “you” or “we” – Matthew 24:2ff. = 1 Corinthians 15:51-52

Premise #1:  If it is true and orthodox to believe that the coming of Christ in Matthew 24 was fulfilled in AD 70.

Premise #2:  And if it is true and orthodox to believe that the trumpet coming-end of the age- gathering of Matthew 24:30-31 is the coming and resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15.

Conclusion/Synthesis:  Then it is also true and orthodox to believe that the coming of Christ in both 1 Corinthians 15 and Matthew 24 was fulfilled in AD 70.

 1 Corinthians 15:1-15

 ONE Gospel Preached

Most futurist commentaries on 1 Corinthians 15 merely assume the resurrection of the dead deniers at Corinth denied the resurrection of Jesus and the resurrection in general.  They believe Paul’s appeal to the 500 who witnessed Jesus’ resurrection is the beginning of his correction that the group rejected Jesus’ resurrection.

This view has many problems which we will cover shortly, but in reality Paul lays forth the historical resurrection of Christ in the beginning of the resurrection conflict at Corinth NOT because the resurrection deniers at Corinth denied Jesus’ resurrection, but because the Gentile Christians were pridefully and ignorantly denying the resurrection of a Jewish sect (the OC dead one’s whom had died prior to Christ).  This denial was similar to what some Gentile believers were saying about Israel and the Church at Rome (see Romans 11).  One group or party was denying the resurrection of the other.  The schisms of the various groups at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:10 – 3:23) reach their main conflict here in chapter 15 in which Paul now desires to set straight.  Paul being the leader of the erring gentile party whom boasted of themselves and Paul as their leader, now humbles himself among the Apostles (vss. 7-9) in order to correct this arrogant spirit.  He ties his gospel message in as being ONE with the leaders of the Jewish leaders (v. 11-12).  The resurrection of Jesus and gospel message was united and agreed upon in the preaching of Christ’s resurrection by all the parties!  Paul will use this agreement to make his case against them!

Perhaps some of their misunderstandings and arrogance began as early as (Acts 18) when they heard Paul say, “Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean.  From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”  I believe that a misunderstanding of Paul here and perhaps some of his teaching that gentiles were one body with the Jews and that a true Jew was one who had been circumcised of heart led to a replacement theology and denial of an OC Jewish (the dead ones) eschaton/resurrection.  After humbling himself and showing his solidarity with the Jewish leaders in preaching the same doctrine, Paul now begins to correct their error.

1 Corinthians 15:12-19

 Paul’s Modus Tollens form of Argumentation

To further prove that the resurrection of the dead deniers were not denying Christ’s resurrection or the resurrection for all in general, we need to take a look at Paul’s form of argumentation.  The futurist view makes no contextual sense if you follow Paul’s argumentation and the logic he uses.  Paul uses a familiar modus tollens or if then logical argument.  That is, “If P, then Q.  Therefore, not P.”

1)       “If P”

“If there is no resurrection of the dead ones…”

2)       “Then Q”

If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then not even Christ has been raised.

If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then our preaching is useless…

If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then and so is your faith [useless].

If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then we are found to be false witnesses about God.

If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.

If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then your and my baptism (of suffering & martyrdom) on the part of the dead is meaningless.

If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then the Father is subject to Christ.

If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then some of you are ignorant of God.

If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then why are some undergoing a baptism (of suffering & persecution) on behalf of the dead?

If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…then there will be no resurrection for anyone and why all might as well eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.

3)      “Therefore, not P”

Therefore, your (resurrection of the dead deniers) premise that the resurrection of the (OC) dead will not take place is false (or “therefore, not P”).

Paul’s argument is also known as reduction ad absurdum.  This form of argument demonstrates that a statement is false (the dead will not rise) by showing that a false, untenable, undesirable or absurd result follows from its acceptance.  Again, Paul is using things he has in common with them and that they would affirm in order to overthrow and show how absurd their false premise that the dead ones would not rise actually was.

The Error Identified

Since the Corinthians believed in Christ’s resurrection and a resurrection for those whom had died “in Christ,” then to whom is left to deny a resurrection for?  In short, the error at Corinth was an extreme view (or a hyper-dispensational or replacement theology of sorts) that divided up the people of God in extreme ways.  They could not reconcile how the dead prior to Christ’s arrival could be raised into or with the Body of Christ.  In short, they were denying a key ingredient to “the better resurrection” that the writer to the Hebrews outlines:

Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they [the OT or Old Covenant dead] might obtain a better resurrection:   And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:  They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;  (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.  And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they (“the [OT/OC] dead”) without us (the NT/NC saints “in Christ”) should not be made perfect (Heb. 11:35-40).

The resurrection of the dead deniers at Corinth saw the “better things” for those who were “in Christ” (dead or alive – their side of the cross), but could not reconcile how the OT or Old Covenant dead (on the other side of the cross) could participate in order for both groups to be “made perfect” together in the Body of Christ.  They had the NC “better things,” and thus the OT or OC dead were left without participation in the better resurrection to come – was their reasoning and error.  They did not deny the doctrine of the resurrection in general, just the all-ness or oneness (with all of God’s of people) to the resurrection.

Extreme views and excluding the righteous dead was not uncommon – even among the Jews.  Some Jews believed that anyone who died outside of the Promised Land would not participate in the resurrection:

“The Talmud records speculations on the various matters connected with the process of Resurrection.  There was a firm belief that the momentous event would take place in the Holy Land.  Some Rabbi took the extreme view that only they who were interred there would share in the future life.  ‘Those who die outside the land of Israel will not live again; as it is said, “I will set delight in the land of the living.”  (Ezek. 26:20)—those who die in the land of My delight will live again, but they who do not die there will not’…” “Even a Cananite maidservant in the land of Israel is assured of inheriting the World to Come’…” (Rev. Dr. A. Cohen, Everyman’s TALMUD, (New York:  E.P. DUTTON & CO., INC., 1949), 361-362).

So in this extreme view those righteous dead who died outside of being “in the land” would not participate in Israel’s corporate resurrection.  Similarly, some at Corinth took Paul’s teaching that all prophecy or all the promises of God were fulfilled spiritually “in Christ,” to far in that they concluded the resurrection could only take place for those who believed “in Christ” (their side of the cross) – and all others perished outside of being in Him.  Therefore, since the OC dead were not present to place their faith in Christ, then they couldn’t be apart of the spiritual body that was in the process of being raised in their day.  They lost sight of the great cloud of witnesses whom saw Christ’s day and were glad and would thus share in the “better resurrection” with them.  According to both of these extreme views, men such as Moses had no resurrection hope but perished outside of being “in the land” or perished outside of being “in Christ.”

We see a similar inability to reconcile the OT promises made to Israel and how they would be fulfilled in the NT Body of Christ coming from modern day Dispensationalists whom think there are opposing theologies between the OT and NT.  There are two complete separate bodies of believers or peoples of God needing two separate comings of Christ or programs of salvation etc…  Of particular interest to our discussion here is in the comparison of dividing the OT dead from those that died “in Christ.”  Dispensationalists such as Charles Ryrie and Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer argue,

“those who died before Christ’s first advent” are not among “the dead in Christ” (Charles Ryrie).  “The Old Testament saints were not part of the New Creation in Christ,” and “the nation of Israel sustains no relation to the resurrection of Christ” (Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer).  And again per Chafer, the dead OT saints were not “in the new federal headship of the resurrected Christ…” (taken from:  Curtis Crenshaw and Grove Gunn, Dispensationalism Today, Yesterday, and Tomorrow, p. 204).

In 1937 William Everett Bell argued against Pretribulationalism providing evidence that at Christ’s Second Coming (after the Tribulation period), all the righteous dead were to be raised.  The ever evolving pertrib rapture theory countered with a two resurrection view – one for those that died “in Christ” at the “rapture” “coming,” and then one for those that died outside of being “in Christ” (OT dead not “in Christ”) seven years later (after the Tribulation) at the Second Coming.  The resurrection of the dead deniers also divided God’s people up in a way that was contrary to the teachings of Paul, except for them, the best way to avoid the problem (they created for themselves) was to deny resurrection for the dead – period and only accept a resurrection for those “in Christ.”

These examples (one within the Talmud and modern ones) should be sufficient to demonstrate how it could be possible for some to miss how the OT dead could or even would participate in the salvation of the ONE NC Body of Christ.

Romans 11 & 1 Corinthians 15

Perhaps the best parallel to what is taking place among the Gentile resurrection of the dead deniers at Corinth can be found in Romans 11.  Paul has to explain that the Gentiles did not replace OC Israel and that there remained a future eschaton and expectation of fulfillment for her.  And this future is explained in such a way that without God fulfilling those promises to OC Israel, there would be no forgiveness of sin or resurrection life for the Gentiles (cf. Roms. 11:13-27).  In Romans the Gentile arrogance over against the Jews was illustrated by an olive tree, branches, and the root to demonstrate the solidarity of the Gentiles with Israel’s resurrection and covenant promises.  As we will see in our next point, Paul uses the illustration of the “first-fruits” harvest to connect the two.

1 Corinthians 15:20-28

First-fruits and Solidarity

Paul is going to now further his argument to connect Christ’s resurrection with that of Israel’s, by using the first-fruits analogy.  How could the gentiles deny Israel’s role in the resurrection when they themselves (along with the believing Jews) were apart of the first-fruits awaiting the harvest at Christ’s return (Jms. 1:18, Rms. 8, Rev. 14)?  Paul’s resurrection hope was the “hope of Israel” and the harvest is Israel’s harvest of which they were blessed to be apart of.  To deny “the dead” or Israel’s future role in the resurrection/harvest was akin to theologically denying Christ’s and theirs at the end of the OC age harvest.

First-fruits, Imminence & Analogy of Faith

Whenever the first-fruits were offered up as a pledge this was a symbol that not only the harvest was guaranteed, but that it was already ripe and being cut.  Paul uses this argument of Christ being the “first-fruits” resurrection to teach that He controls the destiny of Israel’s harvest (the dead) – that Paul’s first century “we” audience would experience at “the end” of the OC age.

The imminence of this coming harvest judgment was first developed by John the Baptist.  He warned of an “about to” come wrath and punishment (Mt. 3:7GNT).  His ax and winnowing fork were already in His hand – indicating that the judgment and end time harvest would take place in some of their lifetimes (Mt. 3:10-12).

Jesus also taught a spiritual sowing and coming judgment / resurrection harvest which would take place at “the end” of His Jewish audiences “this age” (which was the OC age) in Matthew 13.

The first-fruits and harvest resurrection and judgment of Revelation 7 and 14 was to be fulfilled “shortly” at Christ’s “soon” and “at hand” AD 70 Second Coming (Rev. 1:1—22:6-7, 10-12, 20).

Paul’s inspired teaching on an imminent harvest resurrection to take place at “the end” (of the OC age) is in harmony with the teaching and eschatology of John the Baptist, John the Apostle and Jesus.

Premise #1:  If it is true and orthodox to believe the harvest judgment and resurrection of Matthew 3:7-12; Matthew 13:39-43; Revelation 7 and 14 were fulfilled at the end of the OC age in AD 70 (Partial Preterist view)…,

Premise #2:  And if it is true and orthodox to believe that the harvest judgment and resurrection of Matthew 3:7-12; Matthew 13:39-43; Revelation 7 & 14 and 1 Corinthians 15 is ONE and the same event (Classic Amillennial view)…,

Conclusion/Synthesis:  THEN it is also true and orthodox to believe that the ONE harvest judgment / resurrection of Matthew 3:7-12; Matthew 13:39-43; Revelation 7 & 14 and 1 Corinthians 15 was fulfilled at the end of the OC age in AD 70 (Full Preterism).

First-fruits and the Nature of Jesus’ Resurrection Body

In Pauline theology, Christ is described as the “First” (first-fruit or first-born Cols. 1:18) from among the dead ones.  Since clearly Jesus was not the first to be raised from biological death, many futurists reason that this must then mean He was the first to be raised with a glorified and immortal body the third day – which they assert was different because it could walk through walls and could never biologically die again.  But there is no exegetical evidence that Jesus’ biological body that was raised the third day was substantially different (glorified) than the one He had before He was crucified.  Prior to His resurrection, He was able to walk on water, disappear in the midst of a crowd and transport/teleport Himself and a boat full of disciples instantly to the shore (i.e. defy physics).  So to assume that just because Jesus could appear or disappear after His resurrection, does not prove that His body was different and that somehow at the end of history we too will get a “body” like His (that can defy the laws of physics etc…).

The truth however, is that Jesus’ body wouldn’t be glorified until some 40 days later at His ascension/enthronement and just prior to the giving of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, the resurrection body of Christ that came out of the tomb is not the “same” or “first” “immortal” and “glorified” body that we allegedly will get at the end of world history.  If it was and ours will be just like it, then since Jesus still had His wounds, then will Christians be raised without limbs, deformities etc…?

But Jesus was the “first” to overcome covenantal sin/death or spiritual separation that came from Adam the very day he sinned against God and was banished from His presence.  Jesus “became sin for us…” – that is He took the full curse (of separation) for His posterity, was raised and 40 days later glorified and restored into the “glory” and presence of the Father He had before the world began.  Exactly how Jesus “became sin” for us and was abandoned by the Father’s presence contains concepts that we will not be able to fully understand (such as the incarnation and trinity) – but it is what Scripture teaches nonetheless.  At Christ’s parousia in AD 70, He restored God’s presence with the righteous dead (OC & NC) along with the living.

Therefore, the purpose of Jesus being raised from the dead on the third day was to be a sign (like all of His other miracles that pointed to a deeper spiritual truth) that validated He alone had conquered the curse (sin/death/separation) which came through Adam.  Jesus never came to conquer biological death for Christians.  Jesus repeatedly taught that those who believe on Him (alive or dead – Jn. 8:51; 11:25-26) would “never die.”  In other word’s “never die” is synonymous with “eternal life” (i.e. spiritual life and existence in God’s presence).

In Adam or in Christ

Through the corporate body of Adam – “all” come into this world spiritually dead and separated from God (15:21-22), while through Christ and His overcoming of that death, “all” His corporate body or covenant posterity will be restored to God’s presence and have their sin completely taken away at His parousia.  We will pick up Paul’s in Adam or in Christ doctrine and how he addresses these terms and concepts in Romans 5-8 in verses 44-58.

At His Parousia

Paul’s teaching on the parousia (15:23) is not different than what Christ taught of His parousia to take place in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Mt. 24:27-34).

Then Comes the End & the Kingdom

“The end” (15:24) here is consistent with Jesus’ teaching on the end of the OC “this age” to be fulfilled in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Mt. 13:39-43; Mt. 24).

It is Daniel’s “time of the end” (not the end of time) when the resurrection would occur at Jerusalem’s destruction in AD 70 – i.e. “when the power of the holy people would be completely shattered” (Dan. 12:1-7).

In harmony with Jesus’ teaching on the end of the age, before we even approach 1 Corinthians 15, Paul has already informed us that “the end” of the [OC] world was “shortened” and the end of the [OC] age was to take place in the lifetime of the Corinthians (cf. 1 Cor. 7:29, 31; 10:11).

Paul taught that the NC Church age was an “age without end” (Ephs. 3:20-21) so why would he here teach he expected its end in the lifetime of the Corinthians?  It is the OC age that is in view.  The NC age was “about to” come, therefore the OC age was about to end (Ephs. 1:21WUEST).

Concerning the timing of the consummation of the Kingdom: – Per Daniel chapter seven, the Kingdom would arrive in its fulfilled inherited form just after a time of severe persecution (Dan. 7:21) and at Christ’s Second Coming (Dan. 7:13, 18, 22).  Jesus informs us when Daniel’s prophecy would be fulfilled in Matthew 24.  He instructs His disciples that just after a severe persecution takes place, just prior to His parousia, the Kingdom would be inherited in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Lk. 21:1-32).

Christ’s Pre-parousia Reign & His Enemies Placed Under His Feet

As David and Solomon’s reigns over Israel were 40 years, so too was Jesus’ pre-parousia reign (roughly from AD 30 – AD 70).  Through the proclamation and power of the gospel, the power of the Holy Spirit given in the midst of imprisonment and persecutions, and the imprecatory prayer’s of the saints against their first century Jewish persecutors, Christ’s enemies were being placed under His feet and would at the end of the OC age.  This is consistent with the teaching of the author to the Hebrews when He instructs us that the first century Jewish “enemies” to be “made his footstool” were “about to” experience a judgment of fire at Christ’s “in a very little while” AD 70 coming that could not be delayed (Heb. 10:13-37YLT).

Last Enemy “The Death” Was in the Process of Being Destroyed

Note that death was in the process of BEING destroyed (present passive indicative):

“As a last enemy, [the] death is being abolished, for all things He put in subjection under His feet.” (Wuest, K. S. (1997). The New Testament : An expanded translation (1 Co 15:20–28). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

Gordon Fee in his work on 1 Corinthians puzzles over this,

“The grammar of this sentence is somewhat puzzling…” “The sentence literally reads, “The last enemy is being destroyed.” (Gordon D. Fee, THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS, (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans pub., 1987, 756).

Others comment on the reality of the present tense here:

“It is difficult to do justice to the present passive καταργεῖται in translation. As it stands, the Greek states, The last enemy is being annihilated, (namely) death (v. 26). It is arguable that Paul uses the present to denote the process of annihilation already set in motion by Christ’s (past) death and resurrection. (Thiselton, A. C. (2000). The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A commentary on the Greek text (1234). Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, emphasis MJS).

There is no confusion or difficulty over the last enemy of “the death” being destroyed during Paul’s day when we realize that this death was spiritual Adamic death which was being magnified through Israel’s OC Torah – “the law” or “administration of death” (1 Cor. 15:56-57; 2 Cor. 3).  When the definite article “the” is in front of death, it is the spiritual death that came through Adam the very day he sinned that is in view.

However, there is understandable confusion and difficulty for the present tense of the death being destroyed for futurists who assume it is biological death and resurrection that is the last enemy to be destroyed throughout 1 Corinthians 15.  How was biological death in the process of being destroyed in Paul’s day and up to ours for the last 2,000 years?!?  Are arms sticking up out of the graveyards today – with biological corpses in the process of rising and overcoming death?!?  Obviously Paul has something else in view and futurists are not understanding him correctly.

The Present Passive Indicative – The Dead Were Rising

Related to the problem for the futurist for “the death” in the process of “being destroyed” in Paul’s day, is Paul’s use of the present passive indicative in other places in this chapter.  Although it is rare that a translation or commentator will point this issue out here in 15:26 (as I have cited above), they are all virtually silent when the present tense is being used in the following verses:

“But God is giving it a body” (v.32).

“…it is being sown…” (v. 38).

“…it is being raised in glory…” (43).

“…it is being raised in power…” (v. 43)

“…It is being sown a natural body, it is being raised a spiritual body…” (v. 43).

Since most think that the giving of a “body” and it being “sown” a natural body and then being raised in glory and power is allegedly addressing a biologically transformed individual body at Christ’s parousia to end world history, the present tense seems impossible.  But when the corporate body of Christ (the OC dead, those dead “in Christ” and those alive – that constitute that ONE body) is in view, Paul’s theology/eschatology begins to make more sense.

That God May Be All in All

This is the eschatological goal of the NT – that “all” of God’s presence would be in “all” of God’s people (the NC body Jew and Gentile).  The Holy Spirit’s presence was with the early church through the charismata and in forming Christ’s image (a spiritual transformation) in the Church.  But it was only at the Second Coming of Jesus in AD 70 that the Father and the Son would then make their home within the Church (ex. John 14:2-3, 23, 29; Lk. 17:20-21ff.; Cols. 1:27).  At the “end” of Christ’s pre-parousia reign, He would deliver the kingdom up to the Father and its process of being changed (2 Cor. 3) would be complete and consummated into it’s heavenly form.

1 Corinthians 15:29-34

Baptism on Behalf of the Dead

There has been much debate on the meaning of those being baptized on behalf of the dead (15:29).  However, the context would seem to indicate this is a baptism of suffering that is in view (vss. 30-32; see also Lk. 12:50/Mt. 20:20-23; Mt. 23:29-36; Heb. 11:39-40).  Paul’s point and overall argument is that if the OC dead were not and would not participate in the resurrection, then those Christians (such as Himself) that were undergoing a baptism of suffering, persecution and death/martyrdom on their behalf (the ONE body of Christ that included the OC dead) – were suffering and perishing in vain.  If the dead would not rise with those who had fallen asleep “in Christ,” then one might as well adopt the fatalistic mindset of “eat and drink, for tomorrow we die,” – for there would be no resurrection for anyone.

1 Corinthians 15:35-58

The Body (Greek soma) & Consistency within Pauline Theological Terms & Motifs

Much has been said and debated in recent years in regards to Paul’s use of the “body” (Greek soma) in his various epistles.  Many would insist that when Paul uses “body” in his letters to the various churches, he is mostly referring to an individualistic biological or fleshly body.  However, theologians such as Tom Holland are developing a proper cultural context in which Paul is writing with a Hebraic mindset or within a worldview that is rooted in the OT Scriptures – which sees the body more in a corporate sense and context.  Holland does a great job developing this in Romans 5-7 and 1 Corinthians 1-12 but we find him inconsistent and drops the ball in Romans 8 and 1 Corinthians 15.

Holland also has correctly observed that most of the time Paul uses particular theological phrases and terms in a consist way in writing to various churches – so that there is little confusion among them.  (Holland, Tom, CONTOURS IN PAULINE THEOLOGY, Mentor Imprint Christian Focus Pub., 2004, see pages 90 – 107 for this discussion).  And while we agree with this, we believe Holland is inconsistent with Paul’s consistent use of “the law” “the sin” and “the death” in relationship to being “in Adam” or “in Christ” when addressed in Romans 5-8 and then how he understands these terms and themes in 1 Corinthians 15.  In Romans Paul does not use these terms and the Adam / Christ motif to be discussing biological death and resurrection, but rather corporate modes of existence.  We argue that Paul uses these terms and motifs virtually the same way in 1 Corinthians 15 and thus is not addressing a biological death and resurrection motif of biological corpses.

Paul’s Seed Analogy & Being Buried Alive

Since the resurrection of the dead deniers did not deny a corporate bodily resurrection for themselves and those that had died “in Christ” (their side of the cross), then what is Paul’s point in using the seed analogy?  If Paul was correct in what he was saying thus far in his argumentation, then their objection would be something like, “How or what kind of body could the OC dead ones possibly be raised in since they died in the state of death found in Adam prior to Christ’s coming (thus they were susceptible to weakness, perishable and merely natural) – unattached from us who are “in Christ” where resurrection life is being realized (cf. 15:35)?”

Paul’s statement, “When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be,…” summarizes their thinking and error.  For them, they were the one spiritual body that was BOTH being sown spiritually and would be raised spiritually.  In other word’s they thought they sowed the same spiritual body that would be, which couldn’t be attached to the OC body that perished outside of Christ.  Paul uses the seed analogy to demonstrate that they (along with the OC dead ones) were not sown a spiritual body, but rather they had the same sowing/seed origins that the OC dead ones were in – i.e. still in a “perishable,” “dishonorable,” “weak,” “natural,” “Adamic” body of death.  The corporate body of Christ did not originate their side of the cross out of thin air, it originated in and came out of the form of the Adamic OC body (along with the OC dead ones).  The resurrection of the dead deniers needed to see that they were still apart of the OC body/world (with the OC dead) that had not passed away yet.

If Paul has a resurrection of biological corpses in view, then he doesn’t know how to teach and use illustrations very well.  Futurists believe the passage teaches that in biological death the body dies and then is buried or sown into the earth to be raised at the end of world history into a different form.  But for Paul in verse 36, the seed/body was not only in the process of being sown (under the earth), it was still alive and concurrently dying only to be raised into a different form.  Futurists are at odds with Paul’s teaching and illustration – which would amount to burrying  corpses while alive, only to undergo a process of dying and then be raised.

In order to understand Paul’s buried alive and concurrently dying doctrine, or how “body” here in 1 Corinthians 15 is not a fleshly individual body but a corporate body, we must allow Paul to interpret himself elsewhere.  We will pick this subject up in Romans 5-8 when addressing the nature of the body in Adam or Christ when it surfaces again in verses 44-58.

Don K. Preston’s thesis of Paul using Hosea 6 – 13 as an inclusio and working outline in 1 Corinthians 15 has much warrant to it:

Hosea: The Outline for Paul’s Resurrection Hope! (Don K. Preston, 2005, 2712 Mt. Washington Rd.Ardmore, Ok.)

Hosea: “He has torn but he will heal, After two days He will raise us up.”

1 Corinthians 15: Christ rose 3rd Day according to the Scriptures Paul introduces Hosea at the very beginning of his discourse– and he closes his discourse by quoting Hosea.

 

Hosea: Israel the Seed (Jezreel–God sows): Israel sown in the earth (2.23).

1 Corinthians 15: Except a Seed– “That which you sow is not quickened unless it die” (Jhn. 12).

 

Hosea: Israel destroyed/died (1.5– I will cause to cease the house of Israel):  Continuity/discontinuity Israel destroyed–Israel restored.

1 Corinthians 15: You do not sow that which shall be (v. 37) That which you reap is not what you sow–that which is spiritual is not first, but the natural.

 

Hosea: Israel of Old carnal, sinful.

1 Corinthians 15: It is sown a natural body (v. 42f).

 

Hosea: Israel sown in the earth (2.23).

1 Corinthians 15: As we have borne the image of the earthy.

 

Hosea: Harvest appointed for Judah when I return my people (6.11).

1 Corinthians 15: Jesus the first fruits (Jesus of Judah), of those who slept; OT saints i.e. Israel!! (15.12f).

 

Hosea: Time of the harvest= resurrection (13.14).

1 Corinthians 15: Resurrection when Hosea fulfilled (15:54-56).

 

Hosea: Israel like the first fruit (9:10).

1 Corinthians 15: Christ the first fruit of Israel (15:20f).

 

Hosea: They transgressed the covenant (6.7; they died, (v. 5; 13.1-2, 10)– Death for violating the Covenant.

1 Corinthians 15: The strength of sin is “the law.” (15.56)–Death for violating the Law.

 

Hosea: New Covenant of Peace (2:18; Cf. Ez. 37:12, 25f)—> Covenant is covenant of marriage.

1 Corinthians 15: 15:25– sit at my right hand…Heb. 10:14–time of the New Covenant (Rm. 11:26f.)– The marriage, thus, the Covenant —>Rev. 19:6.

 

Hosea: Israel restored in the last days when “David”  rules (3.4-5).

1 Corinthians 15: End of the ages has arrived (10.11), “then comes the end (15.20f) Christ on the throne (15.24f).

 

Hosea: I will be your God. I will be your king! (Hos. 13:10).

1 Corinthians 15: 1 Corinthians 15:28 (God shall be all in all).

 

Hosea: Resurrection= restoration to fellowship.

1 Corinthians 15: Resurrection when “the sin,” the sting of “the death, removed.

The resurrection of the dead deniers needed to be reminded that they were apart of OC Israel’s seed/body that was promised to be raised in the last days harvest to close her age.  Without their union in them into that seed/body, there would be no resurrection.

Israel had been sown in death and captivity but she was in the process of being raised, united together, and transformed through the good news of the new covenant.  Israel’s process of being transformed and being sown and rising from old covenant glory into new covenant glory in 1 Corinthians 15 & 2 Corinthians 3 should be viewed together.

The Natural Body & Spiritual Body

In the rest of the NT and within 1 Corinthians it’s self, “natural” does not have the meaning of a fleshly body or physicality:

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”  (1Co 2:14)

This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.”(Jas 3:15)

“These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.”(Jude 1:19)

The point of contrast is not the physical substance of man but rather man’s relationship to God under the realm of a covenant of death or being filled with the Holy Spirit walking in the newness of life under the NC.

It is difficult to see how the futurist view of a fleshly biological death and resurrection is in view when Paul goes out of his way to describe the resurrection for those in Christ were being raised into a “spiritual body” (15:44).  Or if they believe “flesh and blood” is literal, that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,…” (15:50).

As we will see below, it is not a stretch to understand Paul’s Adamic “natural body” to be the Pauline Adamic “body of sin and death” or “old man.” Likewise, Paul’s in Christ or being conformed to His image = “spiritual body” to be Paul’s “new man” that was in the process of dying and rising and being conformed to Christ’s image.  Paul’s doctrine of the Church being in the process of taking off the old man and putting on the new while dying and rising in Romans and Colossians is in harmony with the Adamic seed/body simultaneously dying and rising in 1 Corinthians 15.

In Adam or in Christ & the Corporate Body Cont.

 Let’s take a look at the Pauline view of being in the corporate bodies of Adam (as a type) and Christ.

 “But the death did reign from Adam till Moses, even upon those not having sinned in the likeness of Adam’s transgression, who is a type of him who is coming (Greek mello – or is about to come)” (Rms. 5:14 YLT).

To further demonstrate the resurrection for those in Christ is a spiritual resurrection is to notice that in Pauline “in Adam” or “in Christ” theology, Adam is a “type” and Christ the anti-type.  In the book of Hebrews the first was the physical type and shadow with the second and better being the spiritual anti-type.  The point is the anti-type is always spiritual, and that is what we see here in 1 Corinthians 15 of the second being a “spiritual body” that the NC Israel/Church is raised up into.

As I pointed out earlier, there are many similarities between Romans 5-8 and 1 Corinthians 15.  Therefore, let’s spend some time here in Romans to see how Paul develops these themes.  Here in Romans 5:14, the context is involving an eschatological future (“about to”) coming of Christ who is the anti-type of Adam.  It will be when the future hope of glory in verse 1-5 is realized (which Rms. 8:18YLT says was “about to be revealed”) and when they would be saved from a coming wrath in verse 10.

Most futurists such as Keith Mathison believe Romans 5:12 teaches physical death for man and decay for the planet earth came through Adam’s sin and thus at Christ’s return He will reverse what Adam had brought upon the planet,

“As Paul explains, death entered the world because of Adam’s sin (Roms. 5:12).  God’s entire work of redemption from the moment of the Fall onward has been aimed at reversing the effects of sin in man and in creation.” (WSTTB?, p.196).

However, the immediate context of verse 12 is dealing with spiritual salvation described as “reconciliation” being given to the believer in verse 11.  The phrase “…death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…” is discussing spiritual death not physical death or people would physically die when they “sin.”  As I discussed before in Genesis, Adam died spiritually the day he sinned.  Through Adam came the reign of spiritual “death” and “condemnation” in verse 18.  This spiritual death and condemnation that came through Adam is countered by Christ because through Him the “free gift” of the gospel which is “grace” (v. 15), “justification” (v. 16), a “reign of life” (v.17), of which makes one “righteous” (v. 19) before God is realized.  These are spiritual graces upon the heart of man undoing the reign of spiritual death and condemnation brought through Adam.

Verses 20-21 are important, “Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  When the Mosaic law entered the picture it did not make physical death any worse, but it did increase and magnify the power and reign of spiritual death and sin in the heart of man.  This is most eloquently described by Paul in his struggle of what the law produced when it was brought upon his conscience in chapter 7.  Saul and the self righteous Jew thought they were “alive” under the law but when they realized that the law could only magnify their sin and it could not completely take it away they “died” (7:9).  Obviously Paul did not biologically die the day he realized this.  The entire context of Romans is dealing with overcoming the spiritual death passed down through Adam which was magnified through the giving of Torah.  This spiritual death was found in the corporate body of the sin, the death, and the flesh which Paul brings into and develops more in chapter 6.

As previously mentioned, fortunately, some Pauline reformed theologians are beginning to see what we have in these Pauline terms.  Paul is not addressing an individual resurrection of a physical “fleshly” corpse in Romans 6.

“the concrete mode of existence of sinful man, can sometimes be identified with sin as the ‘body of sin’ (Rom. 6:6), the ‘body of flesh’ (Col. 2:11), the ‘body of death’ (Rom. 7:24).  Accordingly, the life from Christ by the Holy Spirit can be typified as a ‘doing away with the body of sin’, ‘putting off of the body of the flesh, ‘putting to death the earthly members’, ‘deliverance from the body of this death’ Rom. 6:6; Col. 2:11; 3:5; Rom. 7:24) … All these expressions are obviously not intended of the body itself, but of the sinful mode of existence of man. (Tom Holland, CONTOURS OF PAULINE THEOLOGY A RADICAL NEW SURVEY OF THE INFLUENCE ON PAUL’S BIBLICAL WRITINGS, (Mentor Imprint, Scotland, UK:  2004), 90, emphasis MJS).

Quoting T.F. Torrance,

“in his death, the many who inhered in him died too, and indeed the whole body of sin, the whole company of sinners into which he incorporated himself to make their guilt and their judgment his own, that through his death he might destroy the body of sin, redeem them from the power of guilt and death, and through his resurrection raise them up as the new Israel” (Holland, ibid, 91).

This corporate view of the “body of sin” is also shared by F.F. Bruce,

“This ‘body of sin’ is more than an individual affair, it is rather that old solidarity of sin and death which all share ‘in Adam, but which has been broken by the death of Christ with a view to the creation of the new solidarity of righteousness and life of which believers are made part ‘in Christ.’” (Holland, ibid, 91, emphasis MJS)

Holland feels that T.W. Manson has come the closest to the truth,

“He questioned the traditional assumption that in the phrase ‘body of Sin’ the term ‘of Sin’ is a genitive of quality; he argued that it ‘does not yield a very good sense’.  He took it to be a possessive genitive, and said, ‘It is perhaps better to regard “the body of sin” as the opposite of “the body of Christ”.  It is the mass of unredeemed humanity in bondage to the evil power.  Every conversion means that the body of sin loses a member and the body of Christ gains one’” (Holland, ibid, 91, emphasis MJS)

And developing the corporate body motif commenting on (Roms. 6:6),

“Also, in 6:6 Paul refers to ‘putting off the old man’.  Once again this has traditionally been seen as a reference to the sinful self that dominated the life of the believer in the pre-converted state.  However, the same terminology is used in the Ephesisans 2:15 where Paul says ‘to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace’.  He then goes on to say in 4:22-23, ‘put off your old self (anthropos – man), created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.’  The exhortation is parallel to that in Romans 6:6ff.  Thus, the new man, which Paul exhorts the Romans to put on, is corporate, for ‘the new man’ in Ephesians is the church, and the two who have been united to form this new man are the believing Jews and the believing Gentiles.  This corporate understanding is further supported by Colossians 3:9-15…  The realm where distinctions are abolished (here there is no Greek or Jew, v. 11) is clearly corporate.  This is indicated by two considerations.  First, ‘here’ is clearly the realm where all distinctions are abolished, and this is the new man.  Second, the meaning of the one body into which they were called (v. 15) is obviously corporate.  These descriptions of corporateness are in the context of the description of the old and new self (vv. 9, 10).  The rendering of anthropos as self by the NIV and sarx as flesh in the AV has inevitably promoted the individualistic understanding and confused the mind of the English reader.  Furthermore, that Paul’s exhortation is corporate is shown in that he appeals to them, “as God’s chosen people clothe yourselves’ (v. 12).  Thus, identifying the imagery of the old and new man as being corporate, and appreciating that it is part of the description of the ‘body of Sin’ in Romans 6:6, along with the other considerations we have presented, establishes a corporate meaning for the term the ‘body of Sin’.” (Holland, ibid, 95-96).

Holland, I believe is correct in seeing a corporate understanding of these Pauline terms and phrases and I would agree with him that Paul has a “system of theology” that he draws on when he uses certain words, terms, and phrases throughout his various writings:

“Also, it seems quite inconceivable that a man of Paul’s intellectual caliber should be so haphazard as to be indifferent to these alleged inconsistencies.  At Paul’s instruction, his letters were being passed around the churches (Cols. 4:16).  Was he not concerned with consistency?” (Holland, ibid, p.107, emphasis MJS).

Paul’s theme’s of being in a corporate body, whether in “Adam” or “Christ” in Romans and 1 Corinthians 15 and being raised in the likeness of Christ or experiencing deliverance from “law” (Adam in the garden) or “THE law” (Israel groaning under the Mosaic law) has nothing to do with a casket resurrection from biological death for believers.  This is a soteriological resurrection from the spiritual death inherited from Adam.  The order of being planted or buried first and then simultaneously dying only to be changed and resurrected into Christ’s image is also the same in Romans and 1 Corinthians 15.

David Green helps harmonize Paul’s corporate body motifs,

“To find Paul’s meaning, we need only find where in Scripture Paul elaborated on the doctrine of a human “body” that had to be sown/planted/entombed and concurrently put to death, in order that it could be made alive and changed in the resurrection of the dead.  This takes us to Romans 6-8, Colossians 2, and Philippians 3.

In these Scriptures, especially in Romans 6, Paul teaches that believers had been bodily “planted,” through Spirit-baptism, into death / into the death of Christ, in order that the body that had been planted/buried (the “body of Sin,” the “mortal body,” the “body of Death,” the “body of the sins of the flesh,” the “vile body”) would be abolished / put to death, and then be made alive and changed/conformed to the image of the Son of God in the kingdom of heaven. Note the order: Burial then death.

This sequence in Romans 6 is exactly, step by step, what Paul teaches concerning the resurrection of the body in 1 Cor. 15:36-37 and its context.  Romans 6-8 and 1 Corinthians 15 both speak of concurrent bodyburial and body-death, followed by consummated body-death, bodyresurrection, and body-change. Futurist assumptions notwithstanding, there is no doubt that 1 Corinthians 15 and Romans 6-8 are speaking of the same burial, death, resurrection, and change—and therefore of the same body.

The Body

What then is “the body” that was being put to death in Romans 6-8 and 1 Corinthians 15? What is the meaning of the word “body” in these contexts?  Essentially, or basically, the “body” is the “self” or “person/personality” or “individual,” whether that of a singular saint or of the singular

church universal (the body of Christ). According to definition 1b of the word σωμα (body) in Arndt and Gingrich’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, the word “body” in Paul’s writings is sometimes “almost synonymous with the whole personality . . . σώματα [bodies] = themselves.”[5]

Note how that “body” and “yourselves” are used interchangeably in Romans 6:12-13:

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting your members [of your mortal body] to sin as instruments of unrighteousness;

but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members [of your mortal body] as instruments of righteousness to God.

Compare also 1 Corinthians 6:15 and 12:27, where “you” and “your bodies” are synonymous:

. . . your bodies are members of Christ . . . . (1 Cor. 6:15)

. . . you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. (1 Cor. 12:27)

See also Ephesians 5:28, where a man’s body-union with his wife is equated with “himself”:

So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself.

However, the word “body,” when it is used in reference to the eschatological resurrection, means more than merely the “self.” Paul is not using the word as a common reference to “the whole person.”

It does not refer to man’s anthropological wholeness (i.e., Material body+soul+spirit=the body). Paul is using the word in a theological eschatological sense to describe God’s people as they are defined either by the wholeness/fullness (body) of Adamic Sin and Death or the wholeness/fullness (body) of Christ. The body is either the “person” united with Sin and Death, or the “person” united with Christ, whether individually or corporately.

We can begin to see this in Colossians 3:5 (KJV), where the body parts (members) of the Sin-body are not arms and legs or other physical limbs. The members of the “earthly body” were death-producing “deeds,” such as “fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness . . . ” (cf. Rom. 8:13). Thus John Calvin wrote in his commentary on Romans 6:6: “The body of sin . . . does not mean flesh and bones, but the corrupted mass . . . of sin.” Since a body is the sum of its parts, and since the parts of the Sin-body are sins/sinful deeds, it follows that “the body of Sin” is not the physical aspect of

man. Instead, the whole of the sins/deeds of the body equals the body of Sin. Or more accurately, the body of Sin was God’s people as they were identified with and defined by the Sin-reviving, Sin-increasing, Death-producing world of the Law.

When Paul said that believers were no longer walking according to “the flesh” (Rom. 8:1, 4, 9), he was saying that believers were putting to death the deeds of the “body” (Rom. 8:10-11, 13). The parts/members of the body equaled the deeds of “the body,” which equaled the walk of “the

flesh.” “Flesh” and “body” in this context, therefore, describe man as he was defined by Sin, not man as he was defined by material body parts.

In Colossians 2:11, Paul said that God had buried believers with Christ, raised them up with Him, and had removed “the body of the flesh.” “The body of the flesh” was not the physical body. It was the Adamic man/self/person that had been dead in transgressions and in the spiritual uncircumcision of his “flesh” (Col. 2:13). That “body” (or as Ridderbos puts it, that “sinful mode of existence”)[6] had been “removed” in Christ and was soon to be changed into the glorious, resurrected “body” of Christ.

As a comparison of Colossians 2:11 and Colossians 3:9 reveals, “the body” of Sin is virtually synonymous with “the old man”:

. . . the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh . . . . (Col. 2:11)

. . . having put off the old man with his practices (Col. 3:9; cf. Eph. 4:22)

Compare also 1 Corinthians 15:42 with Ephesians 4:22:

[The body] is sown in corruption . . . . (1 Cor. 15:42)

. . . the old man being corrupted . . . . (Eph. 4:22)

Compare also the references to “man” and “body” in Romans 7:24:

Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from this body of Death?

And in Romans 6:6:

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Rom. 6:6)

And in 1 Corinthians 15:44, 45:

. . . There is a natural body [the old man], and there is a spiritual body [the new Man]. And so it is written, the first [old] man [the natural body] Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam [the last Man, the spiritual body] a quickening spirit. Since the natural body is nearly synonymous with the old man, we should expect that the spiritual body is nearly synonymous with “the new man,” the Lord Jesus Christ. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:53-54 with Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10 and Romans 13:14:

For this perishable [body] must put on the imperishable [body] . . . . (1 Cor. 15:53-54) and put on the new man [the spiritual body], which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (Eph. 4:24) and have put on the new man [the spiritual body] who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One

who created him. (Col. 3:10)

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ [the new man, the spiritual body], and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. (Rom. 13:14)

As most futurists agree, “the old man” and “the new man” are not expressions that describe man in terms of physicality. “The old man” was man as he was in Adam, alienated from God and dead in Sin. He was “the body of Sin.” The new Man is man as he is reconciled to God in Christ, the lifegiving Spiritual Body.” (David Green, Ed Hassertt, Michael Sullivan, House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be?, Ramona, CA: 2009 Second Edition, 206-210).

The Eschatological Mystery

 Elsewhere in Paul’s teaching on God’s “mystery,” he demonstrates how the OT predicted (and the NT revelatory gifts developed) the Jew / Gentile unity in the body of Christ.  Here, Paul is demonstrating how the living will be changed and raised with “all” the dead (including the OC dead) together – into the ONE raised and glorified body of Christ.

The Trumpet Change

 

While no one disputes Paul’s trumpet change here is the same trumpet catching away in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, Partial Preterist’s object that it is somehow different than Jesus’ trumpet gathering at His parousia in Matthew 24:27-31.  Of course this is pure eisegesis on their part and a failure to harmonize Jesus’ eschatology with Paul’s – as previously demonstrated.  Partial Preterists such as Keith Mathison have to actually come to the conclusion that Christ’s coming in Matthew 24-25 was fulfilled in AD 70 but is not His actually Second Coming event – which he sees only Paul developing in 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15.  While we agree that the coming of Christ in Matthew 24-25 was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70, we disagree with Mathison’s un-creedal and unorthodox position that Matthew 24-25 is not the Second Coming event and disagree with his error that Matthew 24-25 is not the same parousia and resurrection event as described for us in 1 Corinthians 15!

Paul is in harmony with Jesus when he says not everyone in his contemporary audience would die before experiencing Christ’s Second Coming trumpet change/gathering into the Kingdom (Mt. 16:27-28; 24:30-34/Lk. 21:27-32).

The living would be “changed” not in their physical biological substance, but rather in their covenantal stance before God.  The Adamic and OC body of death was natural, weak, mortal, and subject to being perishable.  It needed to be clothed and changed by the heavenly man.

The Perishable to be Clothed with Imperishable – the Mortal with Immortality & 2 Cor. 3-6

 Paul is not describing an individuals biological body as being “perishable” and “mortal,” but rather the Adamic and Mosaic corporate body as “perishable” and “mortal” needing to be “clothed.”  To better understand Paul here, again it is important to let him interpret himself.

In 2 Corinthians 3-6 Paul contrasts the glories of the OC and NC with two houses/temples.  In 2 Corinthians 4 the resurrection is in view (vss. 13-14) and closes by expressing that this hope is not grounded on things which can be seen (that is physical and temporal), but on things that cannot be seen (that is spiritual and eternal) (v. 18).  The “earthly tent/house/temple” in 5:1 that would be destroyed is the corporate OC temple/house/system and the the spiritual “heavenly dwelling/temple/house” is the corporate NC system.  Their groaning for this house to be revealed from heaven to clothe them is realized in an AD 70 “soon” and “shortly” time frame in the form of the glorified New Jerusalem (which is the corporate body of the Church) coming down from heaven to earth in Revelation 21-22.  The NIV correctly captures the “already and not yet” of the New Jerusalem already being in the process of coming down (Rev. 3:12).  This already and not yet process is in harmony with the eschatological Pauline process of putting on Christ, being transformed into the image of Christ, dying and rising, and being sown and rising into a spiritual body.

Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:16 further elaborates that the NC Temple promised in Ezekiel 37:27 (and thus that of 40-47), is the corporate body of the Church.  Premillennial Dispensationalists would do well to follow the contextual flow of Paul and heed his teaching instead of following their hyper-literal hermeneutic which forces them to believe Ezekiel’s Temple promise will be a literal structure with Jesus sitting on a throne smelling its animal sacrifices in an imaginary future 1,000 year millennial period.

The “groaning” to be further clothed in 2 Corinthians 5:2ff. which correlates to the clothing resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15 is the “groaning” and AD 70 imminent “about to be revealing” of God’s glory within the Church – which in context, results in the full adoption of sons, the liberation of creation (of God’s people) and the “redemption of the body.”  Partial Preterist Gary DeMar admits the Greek word mello in Romans 8:18YLT should be translated as “about to be” and was fulfilled in AD 70.  But to admit this is to admit the events of 18-23 were also fulfilled in AD 70.  Partial Preterist John Lightfoot concedes the Greek word kitisis “creation” in Romans 8 is not referring to the planet earth, but the creature/creation of God’s people (as in Cols. 1:23).      

Paul’s OT Echo’s – Hosea 13 / Isaiah 25

As there is a movement within the Reformed and Evangelical community that seeks to develop Paul’s Hebraic corporate body origins that is beginning to see what Full Preterist’s have for the last 30 years, there is also a movement led by Richard Hayes which emphasizes developing the OT context of an OT reference or echo mentioned in the NT.  For example Hayes writes,

“Thematic Coherence How well does the alleged echo fit into the line of argument that Paul is developing?  Does the proposed precursor text fit together with the point Paul is making?  Can one see in Paul’s use of the material a coherent “reading” of the source text?  Is his use of the Isaiah texts consonant with his overall argument and/or use made of other texts? (Richard Hays, The CONVERSION of the IMAGINATION Paul as Interpreter of Israel’s Scripture, Eerdmans pub., 2005, 38).

“Satisfaction  Does the proposed intertextual reading illuminate the surrounding discourse and make some larger sense of Paul’s argument as a whole?  “…A proposed intertextual reading fulfills the test of satisfaction when we find ourselves saying, “Oh, so that is what Paul means here in passage x; and furthermore, if that’s right, then we can begin to understand what he means in passage y and why he uses these certain words in that place.”  (Hayes, ibid. 44).

In other words, one is encouraged to find and develop as many similarities between that OT original context with the context and flow of the NT author in order to understand how he is using it.  Therefore, it is important to examine what kind of bodily death and resurrection are taking place in Hosea 13 and in Isaiah’s little apocalypse Isaiah 24-28, to help understand Pauls use of them in 1 Corinthians 15:54-55.  This will help us understand the kind of bodily resurrection Paul has in mind.

Isaiah 24-28 – Isaiah’s Little Apocalypse

Due to Israel breaking her OC law (primarily for persecuting and putting to death their poor brethren – the sin of blood guilt), Israel’s covenantal world undergoes an apocalyptic de-creation and shaking process and she corporately and spiritually dies in the form of being ruled over by Gentile leaders.  Through captivity and bondage, Babylon scattered her outside of her land.  When Israel repents and is gathered back into the land she undergoes a spiritual, corporate and covenantal resurrection as described in Ezekiel 37.

In other word’s Israel is a corporate Adam, and just as when Adam broke Edenic covenantal law and died a spiritual covenantal death resulting in Him being scattered from God’s presence, so too when Israel broke covenant, she underwent a covenantal spiritual death that resulted in her being scattered from God’s presence away from their temple and land.

The time of the eschatological wedding is the time of the resurrection (Isa. 25:6-8) and Jesus identifies the time of the wedding to take place when the Roman armies would judge and burn Jerusalem, or within the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Mt. 22:1-14; Mt. 24:27-34—25:1-13).

Paul’s other reference to Isaiah is his trumpet change which takes place at Christ’s parousia bringing about the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:23, 52 is the trumpet gathering of Isaiah 27:12-13.  And again, this is the OT echo and foundation to the trumpet gathering and trumpet catching away of Matthew 24:30-31 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 that would take place in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” and of which Paul taught (under inspiration) and thus expected his first century “we” audience to experience.

 Hosea

Hosea’s context is clear enough as well.  Due to Israel’s spiritual adultery with Baal and breaking their OC law, God gave Israel a certificate of divorcement.  The corporate body of Israel breaking the OC law resulted not only in a divorce, but is also described as Israel dying a covenantal and spiritual death.  This death is described as God sowing Israel as a seed into the Gentile lands throughout the Assyrian Empire.  Once again we see the same kind of corporate covenantal death that came through Adam and Israel when they broke covenant and became spiritually dead and scattered/separated from God’s presence.

But Israel would once again be betrothed and married to God in her “last days.”  The “last days” are the last days of the OC age which ended in AD 70 and is consistent with the “this generation” coming of Christ that results in the eschatological wedding/marriage that takes place in the OD.

Don Preston’s parallels between Hosea and 1 Corinthians 15 are worth looking at again:

Hosea: The Outline for Paul’s Resurrection Hope! (Don K. Preston, 2005, 2712 Mt. Washington Rd. Ardmore, Ok.)

Hosea: “He has torn but he will heal, After two days He will raise us up.”

1 Corinthians 15: Christ rose 3rd Day according to the Scriptures Paul introduces Hosea at the very beginning of his discourse– and he closes his discourse by quoting Hosea.

 

Hosea: Israel the Seed (Jezreel–God sows): Israel sown in the earth (2.23).

1 Corinthians 15: Except a Seed– “That which you sow is not quickened unless it die” (Jhn. 12).

 

Hosea: Israel destroyed/died (1.5– I will cause to cease the house of Israel):  Continuity/discontinuity Israel destroyed–Israel restored

1 Corinthians 15: You do not sow that which shall be (v. 37) That which you reap is not what you sow–that which is spiritual is not first, but the natural.

 

Hosea: Israel of Old carnal, sinful.

1 Corinthians 15: It is sown a natural body (v. 42f).

 

Hosea: Israel sown in the earth (2.23).

1 Corinthians 15: As we have borne the image of the earthy.

 

 Hosea: Harvest appointed for Judah when I return my people (6.11).

1 Corinthians 15: Jesus the first fruits (Jesus of Judah), of those who slept; OT saints i.e. Israel!! (15.12f).

 

Hosea: Time of the harvest= resurrection (13.14).

1 Corinthians 15: Resurrection when Hosea fulfilled (15:54-56).

 

Hosea: Israel like the first fruit (9:10).

1 Corinthians 15: Christ the first fruit of Israel (15:20f).

 

Hosea: They transgressed the covenant (6.7; they died, (v. 5; 13.1-2, 10)– Death for violating the Covenant.

1 Corinthians 15: The strength of sin is “the law.” (15.56)–Death for violating the Law.

 

Hosea: New Covenant of Peace (2:18; Cf. Ez. 37:12, 25f)—> Covenant is covenant of marriage.

1 Corinthians 15: 15:25– sit at my right hand…Heb. 10:14–time of the New Covenant (Rm. 11:26f.)– The marriage, thus, the Covenant —>Rev. 19:6.

 

Hosea: Israel restored in the last days when “David”  rules (3.4-5).

1 Corinthians 15: End of the ages has arrived (10.11), “then comes the end (15.20f) Christ on the throne (15.24f).

 

Hosea: I will be your God. I will be your king! (Hos. 13:10).

1 Corinthians 15: 1 Corinthians 15:28 (God shall be all in all).

 

Hosea: Resurrection= restoration to fellowship.

1 Corinthians 15: Resurrection when “the sin,” the sting of “the death, removed.

Simply put there is no biological casket resurrection that takes place at the end of world history found in Hosea or Isaiah – of which Paul uses as his source for the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15.  The parallels are a spiritual corporate and covenantal resurrection – not an individual  biological resurrection.  This is consistent with what we have seen earlier when harmonizing Paul with Paul in Romans 5-8 and 1 Corinthians 15.

Victory Over the Mosaic OC “the Law” = Victory Over “the Sin” and “the Death”

Some commentators not only puzzle over the present tense of “the death” being destroyed in Paul’s day, but they also puzzle over his reference to the OC “the law” thrown in with the timing of the victory over “the sin” and “the death.”  These last two references seem to correlate well with the resurrection, but what does the Mosaic OC “the law” have to do with it — especially since most futurists see the OC Mosaic law being done away with at the cross?

However, there is no problem for the Full Preterist who correctly sees the resurrection as “about to” take place in Paul’s day bringing an end to the OC’s “this age” at Christ’s “this generation” parousia (Acts 24:15YLT; Mt. 13:39-43; Mt. 24:27-31, 34).  When it came to Paul’s teaching on the resurrection before his accusers, he claimed he wasn’t teaching anything that couldn’t be found in the law and prophets – and Hosea 13 / Isaiah 25 / Daniel 12 are resurrection passages contained in the OC “the law” and prophets which Jesus said would be fulfilled in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (cf. Lk. 21:22, 32).  Jesus does not posit the OC “heaven and earth” of the law and prophets to be fulfilled at the cross, but rather in His generation (Mt. 5:17-18 / Mt. 24:34-35).  This is when it was all fulfilled and that heaven and earth system “soon” “vanished” (Heb. 8:13).

Death would be swallowed up and victory over it’s sting would only be accomplished when victory over “the law” was attained.  This was brought to fruition at Christ’s first century generation parousia that closed the Mosaic OC age of “the law.”

Concluding 1 Corinthians 15          

After a careful examination of Paul’s modus tollens logical form of argumentation it becomes evident that the resurrection of the dead deniers were not denying Christ’s resurrection or those Christians that had died “in Christ” (the NC side of the cross).  They were in effect denying resurrection to a specific group – the OC dead, whom they assumed they had replaced or were not a part of the NC body of Christ as they were.

As we have seen the parallels between Matthew 24 and 1 Corinthians 15 demonstrate that a AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” and contemporary first century “we” expectation of the parousia and resurrection was realized and fulfilled in AD 70.

When we allowed Paul to interpret himself (using Romans 5-8) we came to a Scriptural understanding of “the body” that was in the process of concurrently dying and rising (present tense) and was “about to be” redeemed.  The corporate and covenantal context and transformation of 2 Corinthians 3-6 also helped us understand what kind of body the early church was “clothed” with (and continues to be clothed with) at Christ’s parousia in AD 70.

The examination of Paul’s OT texts (Isa. 25 & Hos. 13) to support His resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15 were found to have nothing to do with a casket resurrection of individual biological corpses.  Rather, the cohesiveness and harmony for using those OT texts for Paul was to develop a spiritual, corporate and covenantal resurrection.

When victory over the Mosaic OC “the law” came, then victory and resurrection over “the sin” and “the death” was realized.  Victory over the OC “the law” was realized when all of it’s promises were fulfilled and or it’s “heaven and earth” “soon” passed away at Christ’s imminent AD 70 “in a very little while” Second Coming which ended the last days of the OC age (Lk. 21:22-32; Mt. 5:17-18; Heb. 8:13; 9:26-28; 10:37).

“Orthodox” Partial Preterism is teaching that there was a spiritual, corporate covenantal resurrection for Israel and the church in AD 70 that resulted in souls being raised out from the realm of the dead into God’s presence at the parousia of Christ in AD 70 (per Dan. 12:1-7,13 and other texts).  As we have seen, THIS IS the resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15!  Selah.

 

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