The Righteous Shining Like the Sun in the Kingdom – the Resurrection Failure, Future or Fulfilled in AD 70?
Job 19:25-27 / Daniel 12:2-7 / Matthew 13:39-43 / John 5-6; 11:25-27 / Luke 20:27-40 / Acts 23–26 / Philippians 3–4:5 / Romans 8:18-23; 13:11-12 / 1 Corinthians 15
Jewish Views on the Resurrection
Many Talmudic Zionists, Muslims and Dispensational Zionists simply assume that the only concept of the resurrection of the dead in the OT and during Jesus’ day was a biological fleshly one in which an alleged individual’s physical/spiritual body would emerge from the literal grave at the end of time and thus be fitted for the afterlife in the New Creation or some paradise of earth. But this is simply not the case.
I like how Lester L. Grabbe points out that during the Second Temple period the interpretations of the resurrection in the OT were not all necessarily understood to refer to the physical body. They included the view that the resurrection involved only the souls/spirits of individuals being fit for God’s presence either at death, or only their souls were raised at a general judgment of the dead event. He points out there is no evidence that the physical view was any more dominant than the spiritual view. While lengthy, I think his historical comments will be helpful before we begin an exegesis of the OT and NT resurrection texts and simply assume they are addressing a biological resurrection at the end of time when Jesus or Messiah comes.
“It is sometimes asserted that the resurrection of the body was the characteristic Jewish belief. This is not borne out by the data. A variety of beliefs seem to be attested about the same time in Israelite history. One of these was the resurrection of the body, but there is little reason to think that it was earlier or more characteristic of Jewish thinking than the immortality of the soul or resurrection of the spirit. And it is clear that some Jews still maintained the older belief in no afterlife. The Sadducees (see section 2.7) are one group who thought so; so did Ben Sira. Writing about 190 bce Ben Sira does not seem to think of any life beyond death, as interpreted by the vast majority of scholars. Therefore, it would be quite wrong to refer to any of these beliefs as ‘characteristically’ Jewish or the Jewish belief on the subject.”
“The exact form of the resurrection is not always specified, but we should not expect it always to entail resurrection of the body. Sometimes only the resurrection of the spirit is in mind, as in Jubilees 23:20–22:
And at that time the Lord will heal his servants, and they shall be exalted and prosper greatly; and they shall drive out their adversaries. And the righteous shall see it and be thankful, and rejoice with joy for ever and ever; and they shall see all the punishments and curses that had been their lot falling on their enemies. And their bones shall rest in the earth, and their spirits shall have much joy; and they shall know that the Lord is one who executes judgement, and shows mercy to hundreds, and to tens of thousands, and to all that love him.
Belief in the immortality of the soul is known at least as early as the Book of Watchers (1 Enoch1–36). The souls of the various sorts of people are preserved in hollow places after death (1 Enoch 22):
And from there I went to another place, and he showed me in the west a large and high mountain, and a hard rock and four beautiful places, and inside it was deep and wide and very smooth . . . Then Raphael, one of the holy angels who was with me, answered me and said to me, These beautiful places are intended for this, that the spirits, the souls of the dead, might be gathered into them; for them they were created, that here they might gather all the souls of the sons of men. And these places they made where they will keep them until the day of their judgement and until their appointed time – and that appointed time will be long – until the great judgement comes upon them.
As the rest of the passage indicates, the souls of the dead are already experiencing reward and punishment in their intermediate state. In this case, the existence of the soul after death seems to be combined with the idea of a final judgement. This may imply a general resurrection, though this is not stated explicitly. In other sections of 1 Enoch, a resurrection is mentioned (46:6; 51:1; 90:33; 91:10; 92:3–4).
Other sources give no indication of a resurrection at all, only the immortal soul. A good example is Wisdom of Solomon which speaks of the soul (e.g., 3:1–9) but does not mention the resurrection. Whether Wisdom thinks the souls of all are immortal, or only those of the righteous, is debated. Many feel that immortality is not inherent in the soul itself but is a gift given only to the righteous.
The Testament of Abraham gives the clearest picture of how the souls are judged after death (Version A 11–14; Version B 9–11). The souls are brought before a throne on which Abel sits as judge. The one who presents the souls for judgement is Enoch, the scribe of righteousness (Version B only). The judged souls go either through the strait gate which leads to life (for the righteous) or the broad gate to destruction (for the sinners). Although there is a brief indication of belief in a general resurrection in the Testament of Abraham (Version B 7:16), judgement of each individual seems to take place immediately after death, and the emphasis is on this immediate judgement of the soul while the body rests in the grave.
On the other hand, the immortal souls and the resurrection may be combined, as in 2 Baruch 29–30:
[30:2] And it shall come to pass at that time that the treasuries will be opened in which is preserved the number of the souls of the righteous, and they will come out, and the multitude of souls will appear together in one single assembly; and those who are first will rejoice, and those who are last will not be cast down. For each one of them will know that the predetermined end of the times has come. But the souls of the wicked, when they see all this, will be the more discomforted. For they will know that their torment is upon them and that their perdition has arrived.”
Murray J. Harris after examining the intertestamental period of Judaism agrees,
“And there is the concept of the immortality of the soul or spirit that is gained at death or at the End [of the Mosaic age], with or without a resurrection of the [physical] body.”
Christian Views of a Spiritual Resurrection in AD 70
Many Christians are unaware that Reformed Partial Preterism teaches there was a spiritual resurrection of the dead at the coming of Christ in AD 70. This position teaches the exact same concepts I will be developing in that the OT and NT supports there was:
1). A spiritual, progressive, corporate and covenantal resurrection from the condemnation and death of the Old Covenant body of Israel being transformed and rising into the imputed righteousness and resurrection life of the New Covenant body of Israel between AD 30 – AD 70.
2). This spiritual, progressive, corporate and covenantal resurrection is consummated at Christ’s coming upon the clouds in the events of AD 67 – AD 70 when God empties the souls from Abraham’s Bosom or Hades and causes His righteous to inherit God’s presence and eternal life.
Unfortunately, the weakness of this position is that both the OT and NT teach this is the ONE end of the age (Old Covenant age) consummative resurrection event and not just “a” resurrection.
I will be arguing in this chapter that the above “orthodox” Christian understanding of a spiritual, progressive, covenantal and corporate body resurrection, is THE general end of the age resurrection event that was fulfilled imminently by AD 70.
The resurrection of Job 19:25-27?
- “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me” (Job 19:25-27).
Note how the American Standard Bible translates verse 26 having the exact opposite meaning as the physical resurrection proponents would read it,
“And after my skin, even this body, is destroyed, Then, without my flesh shall I see God;”
The Anchor Bible reads and understands the Hebrew as “without my flesh” and the NIV concedes this can be the meaning and adds a note “from my flesh.”
OT and Hebrew scholars Keil and Delitzsch translate the Hebrew in the key verse thus,
“And after my skin, thus torn to pieces, And without my flesh shall I behold Eloah,…”
And further elaborate that this text should not be used to support a fleshly resurrection,
“If we have correctly understood על־עפר, Job 19:25, we cannot in this speech find that the hope of a bodily recovery is expressed.”
Barne’s Notes on the Bible renders it,
“after I shall awake, though this body be destroyed, yet out of my flesh shall I see God.”
The Hebrew can actually teach the exact opposite of an expectation of a physical resurrection in that Job is saying “apart from my flesh” or “without my flesh” he would see God. Therefore, this passage could easily be supporting an understanding of a resurrection of the soul in seeing God and if so, would be consistent with spiritual Jewish views we just looked at.
Some have postulated that Job was one of those raised out of the tombs with Jesus in Matthew 27 and therefore saw Jesus standing on the earth before He ascended. If so, there is no evidence that Job took a physical body to heaven or ascended with Christ. If such a view was correct (and I don’t think it is), then Job’s physical resurrection was a “sign” type miracle, and he went into the town testifying of Christ and then would die again – as the purpose of Lazarus’ resurrection served.
A more probable interpretation given by Futurists and Preterists alike is that Job is looking for vindication in this life and is not discussing a physical or spiritual resurrection hope in the afterlife. As David Green writes,
“But even if we translate the phrase to read, “from my flesh” (i.e., from the vantage point of my flesh), this could be taken to mean that Job expected to see God within his own lifetime, while still in his flesh. And, as a matter of fact, that is exactly what happened.
After Job’s time of tribulation and anguish, his Redeemer at last arose on the dust and answered Job out of the whirlwind (Job 38:1). After God’s “archers”/“troops” (i.e., Job’s accusers) surrounded and “devoured” Job, and after Job was filled up with the afflictions of his flesh, he was redeemed from his sufferings. He was vindicated as “a perfect and upright man” and his enemies were judged (cf. Job 19:29 and 42:79). Thus Job, with his own eyes, and from his flesh, saw God: I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye has seen You. (Job 42:5)
Regarding Job 14:13-17:
O that You would hide me in Sheol, that You would keep me secret, until Your wrath be past, that You would appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time [literally, “warfare”]will I wait, till my change come [or, “until my exchanging or replacement come”]. You shall call, and I will answer You. You will have a desire to the work of Your hands. (Job 14:13-15)
If Job was prophesying concerning the resurrection of the dead in this passage, then we must say that Job was triumphing in the idea that his wretched and miserable condition (his “warfare”) would continue for hundreds or even thousands of additional years while in Sheol (Job 14:14), and that only at the end of human history would God’s “wrath” (Job 14:13) against him pass, and that only then would Job be relieved from his warfare as a battle-wearied soldier is replaced by another (“changed”) (cf. Job 10:17; 14:14-15).
Either God remained/remains angry with Job for hundreds or thousands of years after Job’s death, or Job was not speaking of a vindication at the resurrection of the dead. As the context leads us to believe, what Job desired was vindication instead of death. Instead of resigning himself to dying, stricken of God, Job yearned by faith for vindication and redemption in his own lifetime. He hoped that God would not crush him as an enemy, but would instead relent and restore him to Himself (Job 14:14b, 15). As we know, Job’s hope was not deferred, as per futurism (Prov. 13:12). Instead, it was fulfilled, and Job was delivered and vindicated in his own lifetime. “So, the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning” (Job 42:12).”
The resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3
- “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above;[a] and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. 4 But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” (Daniel asks and is told by the angel when all this would be fulfilled in v. 7)7…that it would be for a time, times, and half a time, and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be finished” (Dan. 12:1-4, 7).
Daniel 12:2-3 is by far the most important and clearest OT text on the resurrection. Jesus and NT writers appeal to its fulfillment in Matthew 13:39-43; John 5; Acts 24:25; Revelation 20:5-15 and even 1 Corinthians 15.
“All these things” (Dan. 12:7)
Daniel is clearly told in verse 7, that the judgment and resurrection of verses 2-4 would be fulfilled at the same time as the “tribulation” period and during the “time of the end [of the Old Covenant Mosaic age].” Verse 7 also informs us that this would be a 3 ½ years period of time [the last half of the last 7 years of the Daniel 9:24-27 prophecy] when God would “shatter the power of the holy people” in the events of AD 67 – AD 70.
Jesus has already connected the “end of the age” resurrection “gathering” and “tribulation” period to be a part of the “all these things” to be fulfilled in Jesus’ contemporary “this generation” (Mt. 24:3-34). This “end of the [Old Covenant] age” gathering is the same event Jesus described in Matthew 13:39-43. Let’s get a visual for the parallels and connections:
|Since A (Daniel 12) is = to B (Matthew 13):|
|Tribulation on National Israel as never before||12:1||13:40-42|
|Time of the end / end of “this” OC age separation||12:1, 4, 9, 13||13:39-41|
|Saints rise and shine in the eternal kingdom||12:2-3||13:43|
|Wicked rise to shame in eternal condemnation||12:2||13:39-42|
|And if B (Matthew 13) is = to C (Matthew 24-25):|
|Pre-kingdom evangelism by Jesus’ evangelism||13:37-38||24:14|
|Tribulation on National Israel as never before||13:40-42||24:21-22|
|End of “this” age / end of the age separation||13:39-41||24:30-31; 25:31-41|
|Sons of the day / hour shine with the Son||13:43||24:27, 30-31, 36|
|Inheritance of and entrance into the kingdom||13:43||25:34/Luke 21:30-32|
|Then A (Daniel 12) is = to C (Matthew 24-25)|
|Tribulation and sanctification / Great Tribulation||12:1, 10||24:21-22|
|Hour / day / time of the judgment (aka separation)||12:1-2, 4 (OG) LXX||24:36; 25:31-33|
|Fulfillment at the time of the end / end of the age / the shattering of Israel’s world/power or her “heaven and earth” (the Temple etc…) / during the “3 ½ years” or “time of the Gentiles” treading down Jerusalem (AD 67 – AD 70)||12:4, 7, 9, 13||24:3, 13-14, 28-29, 34-35; Lk. 21:24|
|Inheritance of and entrance into the kingdom||12:2-3, 13||25:34/Luke 21:30-32|
|The sons of the day / hour shine with the Son of life||12:3||24:27, 30-31, 36|
|Kingdom age evangelism via God’s shining ones||12:3||24:14, 25:29|
|Two or more things that are equal to another thing are also equal to each other|
|Kingdom age evangelism||Dan. 12 = Mt. 13 = Mt. 24-25|
|Tribulation like never before||Dan. 12 = Mt. 13 = Mt. 24-25|
|Time of the end (shattering of Israel’s power) / end of the Old Covenant age (destruction of OC Israel’s Temple)||Dan. 12 = Mt. 13 = Mt. 24-25|
|Chosen ones raised and shine to eternal life and wicked raised to eternal condemnation / the righteous raised to shine and tares burn / sheep inherit eternal life goats to eternal punishment||Dan. 12 = Mt. 13 = Mt. 24-25|
Partial Preterist James Jordan now understands the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 (and Daniel’s personal resurrection [his soul] in verse 13) as being a spiritual and corporate resurrection that took place from Jesus’ earthly ministry to AD 70. Jordan even believes that Daniel’s soul was raised out of Abraham’s bosom according to Revelation 20 in AD 70. Here are some selected quotes from his commentary on Daniel:
- “The resurrection of [Dan. 12:2] seems to connect to the evangelistic and teaching ministry spoken of in verse 3; thus, it is some kind of historical resurrection that is spoke of, a resurrectional event in this world, in our history.”
- “…Daniel 12:2 tells us that in the days of Jesus the nation will undergo a last spiritual resurrection, but some will not persevere and their resurrection will only be unto destruction. The Parable of the soils fits here (Mt. 13:3-23): three different kinds of people come to life, but only one of the three different kinds of people come to like, but only one of the three kinds is awakened to persevering, everlasting life.
During His ministry, Jesus raised the nation back to life. He healed the sick, cleansed the unclean, brought dead people back to life, restored the Law, entered the Temple as King, etc. Then, as always, the restored people fell into sin and crucified Him.
Thus, a resurrection of Israel is in view. The wicked are raised, but do not profit from it, and are destroyed. The saints experience a great distress, and live with God forever and ever.”
- “The death of the Church in the Great Tribulation, and her resurrection after that event, were the great proof that Jesus had accomplished the work He came to do. The fact that the Church exists today, nearly 2000 years after her death in the Great Tribulation, is the ongoing vindication of Jesus work.”
- “Revelation takes up where Daniel leaves off, and deals mostly with the Apostolic Age and the death and resurrection of the Church.”
- “What Daniel is promised is that after his rest in Abraham’s bosom, he will stand up with all God’s saints and join Michael on a throne in heaven, as described in Revelation 20, an event that came after the Great Tribulation and in the year AD 70.”
After challenging Kenneth Gentry for many years on the timing of the resurrection of Daniel 12, he too has had a recent epiphany recognizing that there had to have been some kind of spiritual resurrection of Daniel 12 fulfilled in AD 70:
- “In Daniel 12:1-2 we find a passage that clearly speaks of the great tribulation in AD 70.”
- “…But it also seems to speak of the resurrection occurring at that time…”
- “Daniel appears to be presenting Israel as a grave site under God’s curse: Israel as a corporate body is in the “dust” (Da 12:2; cp. Ge 3:14, 19). In this he follows Ezekiel’s pattern in his vision of the dry bones, which represent Israel’s “death” in the Babylonian dispersion (Eze 37). In Daniel’s prophecy many will awaken, as it were, during the great tribulation to suffer the full fury of the divine wrath, while others will enjoy God’s grace in receiving everlasting life. Luke presents similar imagery in Luke 2:34 in a prophecy about the results of Jesus’s birth for Israel: “And Simeon blessed them, and said to Marry His mother, ‘Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed.’”
Christ Himself points out that some from Israel will believe and be saved, while others will not (e.g., Mt. 10:34-36; 13:11-15), that in the removing of the kingdom from Israel many will be crushed and scattered like dust (Mt. 21:43-45). He even speaks of the saved Jews as arising from the “shadow of death” (Mt. 4:16). Though in AD 70 elect Jews will flee Israel and will live (Mt. 24:22), the rest of the nation will be a corpse: “wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather” (Mt. 24:28). Indeed, in AD 70 we see in the destruction of the city of Jerusalem (Mt. 22:7) that “many are called, but few are chosen” (Mt. 22:14). Elsewhere he employs the imagery of “regeneration” to the arising of the new Israel from out of the dead, old covenant Israel in AD 70: “You who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you also shall sit upon tweleve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Mt. 19:28).”
- “…it appears that Daniel is drawing from the hope of a future, literal resurrection and applying it symbolically to the first century leading up the tribulation in AD 70. That is, he is portraying God’s separating believing Jews out of Israel through the winnowing of Israel in AD 70.”
- “Daniel only picks up on resurrection imagery and, like Ezekiel, applies that to corporate Israel. He is teaching that in the events of AD 70, the true Israel will arise from old Israel’s carcass, as in a resurrection.”
Let’s summarize the position of Jordan and Gentry here on what the resurrection of Daniel 12 entails:
1). It is Israel’s last spiritual and corporate resurrection.
2). Both Israel and the Church participate in this spiritual, covenantal and corporate resurrection whereby the New Covenant Church or New Israel of God is raised out of the corpse of Old Covenant Israel in AD 70.
3). There was an “already and not yet” type evangelism taking place between Christ’s earthly ministry to His coming in AD 70 which brought about the consummative resurrection or “end” of Israel during the events of AD 67 – AD 70.
4). This resurrection resulted in Daniel’s soul being raised out of Abraham’s bosom to be seated on a throne to reign with Christ and inherit eternal life.
Response – Jordan appeals to the evangelism taking place in the parable of the soils instead of dealing with the evangelism taking place where Jesus actually quotes Daniel 12:2-3, and that is in the parable of the wheat and tares (cf. Mt. 13:39-43). Jesus clearly places this pre-kingdom evangelism and the resurrection of Daniel 12 to be fulfilled at the end of the Old Covenant age and nowhere else! And as I demonstrated earlier in our discussion of the end of the age in Matthew 24:3 and 13:39-43, a colleague of Jordan and Gentry’s is Joel McDurmon, who does admit the end of the age in Matthew 13:39-43 is the Old Covenant age. This places the resurrection ONLY at the end of the Old Covenant age and no other time.
It is important to note that Gentry at one time criticized Dispensational Zionism for having two resurrection (one before and one after the 1,000 years millennial period) doctrines:
“Contrary to dispensationalism and historic premillennialism, there is but one resurrection and one judgment, which occur simultaneously at the end of history: Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:31-32; John 5:28-29…Acts 24:15).”
Gentry NOW says “it appears” there is a double fulfillment of the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 (one in AD 70 and another at the end of world history). Yet he argues against other views giving the tribulation period a double fulfillment or any kind of fulfillment beyond the 3 ½ years Daniel mentions which he correctly sees being fulfilled in the events of AD 67 – AD 70. Daniel is told “all these things” (the tribulation and resurrection) would be fulfilled together during the “time of the end” [of the Old Covenant age] or during the 3 ½ years–when Israel’s power is completely shattered.
When we harmonize Jordan, Gentry (#1 and #2) and McDurmon on the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 and Matthew 13:39-43 we get the biblical position of NT resurrection:
Major Premise: The resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 is “one” general resurrection of the just and unjust to be fulfilled “at the end of the age” and forms the resurrection of Jesus’ teaching and that of the NT authors [cf. Mt. 13:39-43; John 5; Acts 24:15; 1 Cor. 15; Rev. 20:5-15; etc.] (Gentry #1).
Minor Premise (A): But the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 has an “already and not yet” pre-kingdom evangelism connected with it that addresses the inward heart and soul of man or the living (Jordan). This pre-kingdom evangelism is mentioned in Matthew 13:39-43 and 24:14 and was a sign fulfilled before the “end of the Old Covenant age” in AD 70 (McDurmon).
Minor Premise (B): But Daniel’s soul was raised out of Abraham’s bosom in AD 70 at this last spiritual and corporate resurrection in which the New Covenant Body of Israel was raised out from the Old Covenant Body of Israel in AD 70 (Jordan and Gentry#2).
Conclusion: The “ONE” “end of the age” (spiritual, progressive, corporate and covenantal) resurrection of the just and unjust was fulfilled after a pre-kingdom evangelism affecting the hearts of the living –roughly from AD 27 – AD 67. This resulted in the New Covenant Body of Israel being raised out from the corpse of the Old Covenant Body of Israel—a historic event in AD 70 which also resulted in souls being emptied out of Abraham’s bosom to inherit God’s presence and eternal life in AD 70 at the end of the Old Covenant age (the position of the author – “Reformed and always reforming” – Sovereign Grace Full Preterism).
Some get confused over Daniel’s phrase “sleep in the dust.” This is merely a figure of speech as David Green points out,
“The dead were not literally sleeping, nor were they literally in the dust. They were “in dust” only insofar as, in their death, they had not ascended into God’s presence in Christ. In terms of the righteousness and life of God, they were earth-bound. From a literal standpoint, they were in Sheol/Hades (the abode of the Adamic dead), and it was from out of Sheol that they were raised to stand before the heavenly throne of God (Dan. 12:1-2).”
Shining like the Sun in the Kingdom
- “And the enemy who sowed them is the devil.The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear” (Mt. 13:39-43).
Let’s once again read what Partial Preterist Joel McDurmon, has to say on this key resurrection text and what “end of the age” it would be fulfilled at,
“It is clear that Jesus did not have in mind the end of the world, nor did He mean the final judgment. Rather, Matthew 13:2430, 36-43 describe the judgment that would come upon unbelieving Jerusalem. During this time, the angels would “gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity” (13:41) and these would be judged with fire. Many of them literally were burned in fire during the destruction of Jerusalem. During this same time, however, the elect of Christ— “the children of the kingdom” (v. 38)—will be harvested. While the explanation of the parable does not tell us their final end, the parable itself has the householder instructing the harvesters to “gather the wheat into my barn.” In other words, they are protected and saved by God.
This, of course, is exactly what happened to the Christians. Not only were they saved in soul, but they mostly fled Jerusalem before the Roman siege. This was consequent to Jesus’ advice to flee and not look back once the signs arose (Matt. 24:16-22); indeed, this would correspond with the angels’ work of harvesting the elect (24:30).”
Partial Preterist Peter Leithart also agrees that this parable is not fulfilled at the end of the Christian age or world history, but was fulfilled at the end of Jesus’ contemporary generation,
“Jesus has now come with His winnowing fork, and before the end of the age, the wheat and tares will be separated. The end of the age thus refers…to the close of “this generation.”
But of course, it is predictable that neither McDurmon nor Leithart address that Jesus is quoting from the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3:
- Many sleeping in the ground will wake up. Some will wake up to live forever, but others will wake up to be ashamed and disgraced forever. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness on the horizon. Those who lead many people to righteousness will shine like the stars forever and ever” (Dan. 12:2-3GWT).
Daniel is told in the next verse when this resurrection will take place,
- But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” (Dan. 12:4).
Jesus clearly places the resurrection of the just and unjust to take place at the end His Old Covenant age (according to McDurmon) and thus within His contemporary “this generation” (according to Leithart). McDurmon makes it abundantly clear what Jesus means by “the end of this age” (v. 40),
“Here Jesus speaks about this age and the age to come, in both of which the same rules for belief and profession of faith stand. This shows that He had His current age in mind—“this age” was His age that would obviously give way to another age yet to come (for His listeners anyway).
In fact, many of the Greek manuscripts for Matthew 13:40 also include the word “this” and read “The harvest is the close of this age.” While the word is missing from the oldest manuscripts we have, its attestation in a large portion of texts should not be ignored totally.”
N.T. Wright also admits Jesus’ use of “the end of the age” here in Matthew 13:39, 40 and 24:3 is “linked to the fall of Jerusalem” and “belongs closely within the two-age structure of chronology…of mainstream Pharisaic/rabbinic Judaism, and also of early Christianity, particularly Paul.”
McDurmon seems to agree even developing Jesus’ two age model (“this age” = Old Covenant age) and “age to come” or “age about to come” (the New Covenant age) in Pauline eschatology to be one and the same. After making his case in Ephesians 1:21; 2:1-7; 3:8-11; Colossians 1:26; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Hebrews 9:26, he concludes,
“So, from the teaching of Jesus, Paul and the author of Hebrews, we get a very clear picture of the two primary ages: one that endured up until the time of Christ, and another that began around that same period. I believe these two periods, being hindged upon the coming and work of Christ, pertain obviously to the Old and New Covenant administrations.”
On Ezekiel 4:4-5 and Daniel 9:24-27 Lester L. Grabbe points out how many Jews understood Messiah would be cut off for forty years just before the end of the age,
“There are statements to the effect that a period of forty years would elapse between the death of the teacher [Messiah]and the end of the age [Mosaic OC age].”
And Dr. Cohen clarifies this would be a time in which Messiah would have a temporary reign between the Old Covenant age and the Messianic or New Covenant age,
“Many Rabbis believed that the period of the Messiah was to be only a transitionary stage between this world [age] and the World to Come [age to come], and opinions differed on the time of its duration. ‘How long will the days of Messiah last? R. Akiba said, forty years, as long as the Israelites were in the wilderness.”
If it is true Jesus and Paul were following the “two-age” structure of first century Judaism, then they were teaching the resurrection would be fulfilled at the end of their Mosaic or Old Covenant age and not the end of the New Covenant age.
But again, why didn’t McDurmon not mention that Jesus is clearly referencing Daniel 12:2-4 and identifying the resurrection of the just and unjust to be fulfilled at the end of Jesus’ “this age” or the Old Covenant age? This is just sloppy and irresponsible exegesis. Especially since Joel wrote this in 2011 and was very aware of James Jordan teaching the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 was spiritually fulfilled in AD 70 in 2007 (both men are published by American Vision and Joel works at AV). Joel obviously didn’t want to address why this wasn’t fulfilled spiritually in AD 70 as Jordan was teaching because he didn’t want to find himself in some creedal hot water. But when we combine the teaching of Jordan on Daniel 12:2-4 and McDurmon on Matthew 13:39-40, this Reformed orthodox publication (American Vision) is clearly teaching that the resurrection of Daniel 12 was fulfilled spiritually at the end of the Old Covenant age in AD 70 and no other age. We need not “add” to the Word of God in order to have it conform to our “traditions.” This is the way of the Pharisee not the man who fears and seeks to honor God and His Word.
Harmonizing Matthew 24:27/Luke 17:20-24 with Matthew 13:43
At this point I don’t think we can ignore that there is a clear connection between Jesus teaching “the righteous would shine like the Sun in the Kingdom” at the end of the Old Covenant age with Him coming as the “Sun of Righteousness” or the great light of the Sun shining from east to the west in Matthew 24:27/Luke 17:24 and Malachi 4:2. Both occur at the end of the Old Covenant age in AD 70. This was the time of inheriting the “kingdom” (Lk. 21:31-32) and Jesus describes it as a spiritual “within” parousia/kingdom/resurrection event.
Partial Preterist Steve Gregg agrees with me on Christ coming as the Sun in Matthew 24:27 but he is off in connecting this coming as future and connecting it with a future resurrection,
“His coming will resemble a sunrise,…Is it that the Kingdom’s glory will increase more and more until the moment Jesus appears…The increasing light is the progressive glorification of the saints into the image of Christ as Paul described.”
“The coming of the Lord resembles a sunrise, in that its near approach will be heralded by the people of the Kingdom displaying greater and greater likeness to Him. This is the appearing of the “full grain” of the Kingdom “in the head,” and the transformation of the Body to a “mature man.”
Here is my brief critique of Steve Gregg in connecting the coming of Christ in Matthew 24:27 with a progressive resurrection into the image of Christ:
1). Gregg does no work on the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3, 7 and Matthew 13:39-43 where the resurrection is clearly connected to the 3 ½ years of AD 67 – AD 70 and the arrival of the end of the Old Covenant age in AD 70. This is when the righteous “shine like the sun in the Kingdom” and when Jesus says He will come as the Sun in Matthew 24:27.
2). Gregg connects Malachi 4:1-2 with Christ’s first coming, but does no work on Malachi 3–4:5 which connects Christ coming in judgment and fire to the burning of the Temple in AD 70 with His coming as the “Sun of Righteousness” and “the great and awesome day of the LORD.”
3). Gregg is extremely arbitrary (so as to not violate the traditions of men) in his exegesis of the Olivet Discourse in giving the coming of Christ in Matthew 24:27 a physical visible return at the end of world history while at the same time giving the coming of Christ in verse 30 a spiritual AD 70 coming. There is no exegetical evidence that Jesus has two different comings in view and in verse 34 He says that “all these things” (including vss. 27-30) would be fulfilled in His “this generation” (v. 34), not “some of these things.”
There is one coming of Christ mentioned in Mark 13 and Luke 21 so Gregg makes them look like fools for forgetting that Christ was really teaching on two comings spanning thousands of years in His Olivet Discourse teaching.
As discussed earlier in our study of Matthew 24-25, Matthew is using common Hebraic and prophetic recapitulation. Matthew is describing the same coming and judgment event in both chapters which now is easily harmonized with Mark 13 and Luke 21 describing one Second Coming event to occur in Jesus’ contemporary generation.
4). He mentions that the “night is far gone; the day is at hand” (Rms. 13:11-12) is referring to an end of world history coming of Jesus and yet Paul said it was “at hand.” If the coming of Christ in Matthew 24:30 and in Mark 13 and Luke 21 was a spiritual coming to take place imminently in AD 70, why isn’t this what Paul says was “at hand” in his day?
5). He mentions an “already and not yet” type of progressive glorification connecting this “increasing light…” “displaying greater and greater likeness to Him” as, us “increasingly surrendering to His will, walking in justice, mercy, faithfulness and humility, and exhibiting the holiness and unity that is the fruit of agape love. He cites 2 Corinthians 3:18 for this process.
A). The context of 2 Corinthians 3:18 is the “already and not yet” of the fading glory of the Old Covenant which was “passing away” and the New Covenant which was “increasing.” This has to be a period in which the two covenants and their ages were overlapping and that places this transformation into Christ’s image for the “Body of Christ” (he also cites Ephs. 4:13 as this maturing process) to be between AD 30 – AD 70.
B). The transforming into the image of Christ process the early Church was going through was not biological and neither would it’s “at hand” or “about to be” resurrection and judgment of the dead event be (Acts 24:15YLT; 1 Pet. 4:5-7; Rev. 11:8ff.). Paul is very clear elsewhere that in Romans 6 and Philippians 3 that to be “united with Him in a death like his” was not a biological death by physical crucifixion, and to be “united with Him in a resurrection like his” was to be baptized/united by faith in Him or to “walk in newness of life.” Paul had attained to a degree to this resurrection but would fully at the “at hand” coming of the Christ (Phil. 3:3—4:5). The transforming process of the lowly or vile body is the Old Covenant body into the glorious New Covenant body of Christ.
6). Greg connects the coming of Christ in Matthew 24:27 with the arrival of the New Jerusalem where “there shall be no night there” (Rev. 21:25; 22:5). Of course, Gregg doesn’t address two verses later which describes this event as taking place at Christ’s “soon” Second Coming event (Rev. 22:7, 10, 20). This obviously harmonizes with Christ coming like the Sun “near” and within the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Mt. 24:27-34).
7). In AD 70 when Christ came as the “Sun of Righteousness” and raised and matured His Body (the Church), is when the New Covenant “world of righteousness” arrived (2 Pet. 3). According to Peter the Old Covenant world and its elements were already in the process of “being destroyed” (2 Pet. 3:11LEB). When the elements of that Old Covenant world passed away in AD 70, is when the new took its place. This was the “inheritance” and “salvation of the soul”that was “ready to be revealed” and was thus “at hand” (1 Pet. 1:4-12; 4:5-7). The “righteousness” and “healing in His rays” was “eagerly awaited” for because it was “about to be reckoned” to the first century Church (cf. Rms. 4:24LSV Greek mello; Gals. 5:5).
I agree with Steve Gregg in connecting some of these passages together, but unfortunately, he takes most of them out of context, is arbitrary on the time texts and conflates positional truth and symbolic language with progressive sanctification and biological transformations at the end of world history—none of which the Bible does teaches.
But I do appreciate having someone else to cite who agrees with me on the coming of the Son of Man in Matthew 24:27 being Christ coming as the bright light of the Sun shining from the east to the west.
Before getting into our next resurrection text (John 5) and the meaning of coming out of the graves, we should not forget that Gentry and Jordan have understood the resurrection of Daniel 12 to be similar to that of Ezekiel 37 which was a non-biological coming out of the “graves” or covenantal and corporate resurrection. We agree with these men that “dust” does not have to refer to the literal dirt and graves need not be referring to the literal grave yard.
The resurrection of John 5:20-29
- “For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. 25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (Jn. 5:20-29).
Commentators have long understood Daniel 12:2 is the source for Jesus’ teaching on the resurrection in John 5:28-29 because the only OT passage which mentions a resurrection for both the righteous and the wicked is Daniel 12:2. This, and the only OT passage addressing “eternal life” is Daniel 12:2. G.K. Beale points out an additional connection – in that Jesus is following the (OG) LXX of Daniel 12:1-2, 4 when it comes to this coming resurrection “hour” of both believers and unbelievers. Beale points out that Jesus gives the resurrection hour of Daniel 12:1-2 a soteriological and eschatological “already and not yet” period,
“…notice that Jesus also clearly refers to the same Daniel prophecy in verses 24-25 and applies it to people presently (or imminently) coming to life (“an hour is coming and now is”). He provides this helpful chart and adds,:
|Daniel 12:1-2 (OG)||John 5:24-25, 28-29|
|12:1: “And at that hour…12:2: “Many of those who sleep in the width of the earth will arise [anatesontai]…some unto eternal life and others to reproach…and to eternal shame.”||5:24: “…he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”5:25: “…an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.”
5:28: “…for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,”5:29: “and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection [anatasin] of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection [anatasin] of judgment.”
“Jesus understands the Dan. 12 prophecy [and the coming “hour”] to have begun fulfillment.” But adds, “Dan. 12:1-2 refers to the hour of tribulation followed by resurrection. In fact, the “hour” of Dan. 12:1 is further understood as “the hour of the end” in Dan. 12:4 OG.”
But as we have seen in combining the writings of James Jordan, Kenneth Gentry and Joel McDurmon, in Daniel 12:1-3 and Matthew 13:39-43, Jesus has placed the “already and not yet” of the resurrection to find its consummation at the end of the Old Covenant age in AD 70. This was when Israel and the Church were receiving eternal life and being raised from the death of the fleshly Old Covenant Body of Israel into the spiritual New Covenant Body of Israel. This “last” “already and not yet” resurrection for Israel would result in souls being raised out of Abraham’s bosom or Hades into God’s presence.
I was able to share Beale’s concept of the already and not yet hour of Daniel 12 and John 5 with my co-author David Green in our second edtion of House Divided, along with the chiastic structure connecting “the coming hour and now is” of John 4 with chapter 5. Green was able to add even a better response to Strimple on this key passage,
“In order to understand John 5:28 and 29, we must first look three verses above it, in John 5:25, where Jesus said that the hour “now is” when “the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.” As most Reformed interpreters agree, Jesus in that verse was referring to the preaching of His death and resurrection. The preaching of that message commenced at Pentecost. “The dead” were physically living people who were spiritually dead in sin, and “the voice of the Son of God” was the gospel. Having heard the gospel, those who were spiritually “dead” were spiritually resurrected. They lived in that they received eternal life through faith in the gospel (“the voice of the Son of God”).
Then, in verses 28 and 29, Jesus expanded His teaching on the resurrection to include those who were not only spiritually dead, but who were also physically dead. He did not call them “dead” (as He had already called the living who were spiritually dead), but He referred to them through another figure of speech as “all who are in the graves.” They were not literally in their graves or tombs, of course, but were in Hades/Sheol.
What is often missed in this passage is that, like the physically living in verse 25, the physically dead in verse 28 were also going to live by means of hearing Christ’s “voice.” As we know from verse 25, that “voice” is the gospel. The physically dead therefore were going to hear the gospel (cf. 1 Pet. 4:6.) and were, as a result of hearing the gospel, going to be resurrected (regenerated, born from out of death and Hades). This means that the physically dead were, like the physically living, spiritually dead. And this inescapably means that both the physically living and the physically dead were going to be spiritually resurrected by means of the gospel-voice of the Son of God. One resurrection in two main stages: First, the last days saints; then, the Old Testament dead (“the rest of the dead” in Revelation 20:5). Note the parallels between John 4:21, 23 and John 5:25, 28:
- . . [T]he hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. . . . (Jn. 4:23)
- . . [T]he hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. (Jn. 4:21)
- . . [T]he hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. (Jn. 5:25)
- . . [T]he hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice. . . . (Jn. 5:28)
These two sets of prophecies are parallel. They speak of the same timeframes, which were these:
Pentecost (AD 30)
- The true worshipers would worship the Father in spirit and in truth.
- The dead would hear the voice of the Son of God, and live.
Fall of Jerusalem (AD 70)
- God’s worshipers would no longer worship Him in Jerusalem.
- All who were in the graves would hear His voice.
After hearing the gospel, the dead were raised out of their Adamic graves (Hades) in the end of the age. And those among them who believed the gospel received eternal life in the kingdom of God. But those who hated the gospel (those who had done evil) were raised out of Hades only to stand before God and to enter into “eternal punishment” / “the second death” (Matt. 25:46; Jn. 5:28-29; Rev. 20:14).”
Excellent Job by David Green! Let me briefly point out the chiastic structure connecting “the hour that was coming, and now is” of John 4-5 that didn’t make in the second edition:
(A) [T]he hour cometh (the “not yet”), when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. (Jn. 4:21)
(B) [T]he hour cometh, and now is (the “already”), when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. . . . (Jn. 4:23)
(B) [T]he hour is coming, and now is (the “already”), when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. (Jn. 5:25)
(A). [T]he hour is coming (the “not yet”), in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice. . . . (Jn. 5:28)
This is interesting in that Kenneth Gentry gives the “already and not yet” of “the coming hour and now is” of John 4 as referring to AD 27/30 – AD 70 in that the “not yet” of the “hour” was realized in AD 70 when the earthly Temple was destroyed—the Church now worships God in spirit and in truth as we communion with Him as God’s Mount Zion. In appealing to John 4:21-23 Gentry writes,
“The New Testament anticipates this imminent change of the old typological temple era into the new final era of spiritual worship.”
For Gentry, Jesus’ teaching in John 4:21-23,
“…concludes the anticipatory old covenant era (John 4:20-23; Heb. 1:1; 12:18-29), which “will soon disappear” (Heb. 8:13); it finally and forever closes down the typological sacrificial system, reorienting the worship of God (Heb. 9-10); and it effectively universalizes the Christian faith by freeing it from all Jewish constraints…”
Gentry equates Jesus’ phrase, “the hour has come” (the eschatological “not yet”) with other AD 70 time texts such as “the time is short,” “the day is approaching,” “it is the last hour,” “in just a little while.”
Therefore, since John is linking John 4-5 together with this chiasm, it should be very apparent that the “already and not yet” of the “hour is coming and now is” of John 5 is also referring to the AD 27/30 – AD 70 transition period. If not, why not? Especially since Gentry has already conceded that the resurrection of Daniel 12 was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70 and that John 5 is the resurrection of Daniel 12! And if not, the burden of proof is upon the Futurist and Gentry to prove the phrase an “hour is coming and now is,” in John 5 is being used of a completely different time period than that of John 4:21-23!
It’s not difficult to know when the eschatological “not yet” “hour” of John 4:21 and John 5:28 would arrive when we allow John to interpret himself:
- “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore, we know that it is the last hour.” (1 John 2:17-18)
- “And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come…” (Rev. 14:7)
- “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” So, he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.” (Rev. 14:15-16).
And of course, Partial Preterists such as Gentry understand this eschatological “not yet”
“hour” of John in these texts as imminently fulfilled when the Old Covenant world passed away, when Babylon (Jerusalem) was judged, or when Israel’s harvest/resurrection was fulfilled in the events of AD 67 – AD 70.
Major Premise: The “already and not yet” resurrection “hour” of Daniel 12:1-4 (OG) is the resurrection “already and not yet” “hour” of John 5:25-29. The “not yet” consummation to this hour is further described by John in 1 John 2:17-18 and Revelation 14:7, 15-16.
Minor Premise: But the “not yet” resurrection “hour” of Daniel 12:1-4 (OG) was spiritually fulfilled in the “hour/time of the end” described as the “3 ½ years” “when the power of the holy people would be completely shattered” – i.e., in the events of AD 67 – AD 70. As John and his contemporaries approached or where in the AD 67 – AD 70 time frame, he stated clearly that the “last hour” of that harvest judgment and resurrection of Israel had come.
Conclusion: The eschatological “already and not yet” “hour/time of the end” resurrection of Daniel 12:1-4 (OG) and John 5:25-29 was a progressive, spiritual, covenantal resurrection in which the New Covenant Body of Israel was being raised out of the death of the Old Covenant Body between AD 27/30 – AD 70. It would include “all” the souls of the wicked and righteous being raised out of Abraham’s bosom or Hades to either inherit God’s presence/eternal life, or eternal punishment.
There needs to be compelling evidence that the “hour is coming, and now is” of John 4:21-23 is a different time period than the “hour is coming, and now is” of John 5:25-28–and Gentry provides none!
There needs to be compelling evidence that the spiritual “already and not yet” resurrection Jordan and Gentry give us for Daniel 12:2-3 that took place between AD 27/30 – AD 70 is not the same “already and not yet” resurrection time frame of John 5:25-29–and we receive none.
Just as Jesus placed the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 at the end of the Old Covenant age in AD 70 (cf. Mt. 13:39-43), He consistently is taking the “coming hour” judgment and resurrection of Daniel 12:1-4 (OG) in John 4:21-23–5:25-29 as something imminent and to be fulfilled by AD 70.
The last day resurrection of John 6:37-40
- “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (Jn. 6:37-40).
The “last day” is simply the last day of Israel’s “already and not yet” “last days” eschaton from AD 30 – AD 70. Those living within that generation who believed and were thus sovereignly called to do so (vss. 37, 44), would be raised up to inherit resurrection eternal life at the same time the dead would (cf. Jn. 11:25-27). God’s “longsuffering” was working out His salvation and granting repentance – not willing that any of His Jewish or Gentile elect ones should perish (2 Pet. 3:9-10). As the gospel was being preached throughout the Roman Empire before “the end” of the Old Covenant age (Mt. 24:14), the Father had given the Son a Jewish remnant and group of in-grafted Gentiles to believe in Him before the events of AD 67 – AD 70 unfolded.
Since God has always been and always will be omniscient, omnipotent and all sovereign, those coming through the gates of the New Jerusalem and partaking of the living waters are also ordained or chosen to do so (Rev. 22:17). This will always ring true as long as there are sinners and the gospel is preached – “Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple” (Ps. 65:4).
As the cross is an in-time historical event accomplished for our salvation and the forgiveness of sins, so too was His second appearing apart from sin to save the members of His Body – the Church. The first century elect ones were anticipating being raised into eternal life in AD 70. Positionally through Christ’s redemptive work–His death, resurrection and Second Coming, His entire Body (past, present and future) have been raised and made perfect in His sight. Those that believed in Christ living to AD 70 were raised at the last day of the Old Covenant age and they “never die,” just as we today who believe the gospel have been raised and “never die.” And to that subject we now turn our attention. But before we do, there is no exegetical evidence that John 5-6 teaches a biological resurrection at the end of world history.
A spiritual resurrection for the dead and living in John 11:25-26
- “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die [OT worthies like Abraham or Daniel along with those who recently died prior to AD 70], yet shall he live [be raised out of Abraham’s bosom or Hades to inherit God’s presence and eternal life], and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die [that is not that they would never see biological death, but rather inherit God’s “within” Kingdom and presence of eternal life]. Do you believe this (John 11:25-26)?”
The death that held both the believing dead [in Abraham’s bosom or Hades] and the living prior to AD 70 in its grip, awaiting Christ’s redemption through the cross and Second Coming, was the spiritual death that came through Adam. Consider the following 7 points or arguments that supports this premises and exegesis.
1). Common Hebraic parallelism in our text makes it clear that both “resurrection” and reception of “life” are equivalent to each other in meaning. Therefore, since the reception of “life” through faith means to “never die” (overcoming the spiritual death that came through Adam the very day he sinned), then the “resurrection” for those that had died in faith should have the same or similar meaning. That is, both the dead and the living would receive spiritual New Covenant or resurrection life and enjoy God’s presence forever in His Kingdom.
2). An examination of Jesus’ “I am” statements also supports a spiritual fulfillment of the resurrection. Thus far in the gospel of John all of Jesus’ “I am” statements are spiritual:
- I am the Bread/Water of Life (John 6:35) – spiritual Bread & Light
2. I am the Light of the world (John 9:5) – spiritual Light
3. I am the Door (John 10:9) – spiritual Door
4. I am the Good Shepherd (John 10:11) spiritual shepherd
5. I am the Resurrection (John 11:25) – is this the only “I am” that is physical?
6. I am the True Vine (John 15:1) – spiritual Vine
7. I am the Way (John 14:6) – spiritual Way
Those that believe in Christ as “Bread” or “Water” – partake of Him or find this fulfilled spiritually. The same can be true of all of these “Light,” “Way,” abiding in Him as the “Vine” etc.
3). Thus far in the gospel of John all references to “life” are spiritual (cf. chapters 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 10).
4). In John, the primary purpose of miracles (other than proving Jesus is a prophet sent by the Father, or He is the Great “I Am”), is to point to a spiritual truth. Feeding a great multitude is to point to the fact that Jesus is the bread from heaven who gives spiritual eternal life (Jn. 6:26-35). He heals the blind to prove He can heal those who are spiritually blind [thus those who are spiritually dead] (John 9:39). In Mark’s gospel, Jesus heals a cripple man to prove He has the power to forgive sin (Mrk. 2:10-11). So here in John 11 Jesus is going to perform a physical sign miracle of raising Lazarus biologically, to prove and point to a deeper meaning that He is “the (spiritual) resurrection and (spiritual) life.”
5). We must allow John to interpret John elsewhere. In John’s version of the Olivet Discourse (the book of Revelation) we learn the following on when and what the resurrection looks like:
A). The judgment of the dead and or the resurrection out of Hades into God’s Most Holy Place presence, is connected to something that would be fulfilled “shortly” or “soon” and therefore by AD 70 and not the end of world history (Rev. 1:1—22:20).
B). The judgment of the dead [and thus the resurrection of the dead] was connected to when the “Great City” “Egypt” “Sodom” “Babylon” (Old Covenant Jerusalem – “where the Lord was crucified”) would be judged in AD 70 (Rev. 11:8-19; see also the harvest/resurrection motif in chapters 7 and 14). Revelation 11 also mentions the 3 ½ years that is connected with the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-7.
C). Revelation 20-22 mentions NO biological resurrection of corpses, just souls being emptied out of Hades at the “soon” Second Coming bringing an end to the millennial period (Rev. 20–22:7, 20).
“In the resurrection whose wife will she be”? (Lk. 20:27-40)
- There came to him some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children. And the second and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. Afterward the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.” And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.” Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” 40 For they no longer dared to ask him any question” (Lk. 20:27-40).
This argument by the Sadducees (who denied life of the soul/spirit after death) worked well against their Pharisee opponents. Why? Because many of the Pharisees believed that the Mosaic OT Torah would be carried into the New Creation or Messianic age. Therefore, the Sadducee challenge could be summarized like this:
“Since you believe in a physical bodily resurrection to fit men and women to live in the New Creation and you believe Torah will be practiced at that time, then explain to us whose wife will this woman belong to once all seven brothers are raised and they are all living in the new heavens and new earth together?!? After all, there are women giving birth in the new creation (cf. Isa. 65:23) so are these illegitimate children? Are these births taking place within Torah ordained marriages? So, is this woman raised in the resurrection with her seven husbands going to have children by all of her husbands? Whose wife will she be”?
You can almost hear them chuckling because this was forcing the Pharisees into the practice of polyandry (the practice of a woman having more than one husband at once), which unlike polygamy (which was condoned and practiced under the OT law) was not lawful and considered an abomination of sorts.
While this argument worked for the Pharisees it did not work for Jesus. Why?
First, Jesus did not teach that the resurrection involved physical bodies capable and ready to sexually produce (as they had in their lives upon earth). Believers in Abrahams Bosom or Hades would be raised out of Hades into God’s presence to be like the angels in heaven – spiritual beings not producing offspring in the spiritual or heavenly realm. They would not be placed upon the earth in physical resurrected bodies to be united with their loved ones or prior spouses.
Secondly, Jesus refutes the notion that the OT law (Levirate marriage law) would be applicable in the New Creation or New Covenant age. The practice of marrying your husband’s brother for the purpose of raising up physical seed was inseparably tied to inheritance laws connected to being “in the land” and was typological and “ready to vanish” in AD 70 (Heb. 8:13). In the New Covenant age, sons of the resurrection are produced or “raising up” through the gospel and producing an inheritance found “in Christ” (not “in the land”).
Jesus effectively silenced BOTH groups. He silenced the Sadducees who denied that Abraham and the rest of the dead were still alive in the afterlife–“He is not the God of the dead (Sadducees view), but of the living” (inferring that Torah supports and He likewise teaches Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were still very much alive).
He also refuted or silenced the Pharisees on two points. First, by teaching the dead would be raised from Hades to be “like the angels” (not having physical bodies) so the issue of “marrying” and producing biological children is a moot point for them. And for the living who inherit the Kingdom and continue in the New Covenant Messianic age, the Pharisees were also wrong to think the Mosaic law (and thus the Leverite marriage law), would continue being applicable.
Jesus’ teaching silenced and amazed both groups and the crowd listening to this critical debate on how the resurrection would be played out in the Messianic New Covenant age.
This however does pose a challenging question to the Talmudic or Torah Zionist or Premillennial Zionist and that is, if you employ a literal hermeneutic to Isaiah 65:17-23 and if everything is perfect in the New Creation, then why are there sinners and biological death there and are these births taking place painless deliveries? And if there is no marriage after the resurrection and within the New Creation, are these illegitimate births taking place in Isaiah 65?
Luke 20:27-40 poses the same plaguing problem for the Partial Preterist who admits Jesus’ “this age” or the “end of the age” is referring to the Old Covenant age in AD 70. Here is but another passage where Jesus places the resurrection to take place at the end of his contemporary Old Covenant “this age.” The resurrection or Messianic New Covenant age would follow the Old Covenant “this age.” The Partial Preterist has to read into the teachings of Jesus here in Luke 20:34 and Matthew 13:39-43 that there was a spiritual resurrection for souls at the end of the Old Covenant age in AD 70, but there is also another physical one at the end of the New Covenant age. This end of the New Covenant age resurrection simply has no chapter and verse in the teachings of Christ.
Concluding Jesus’ teaching on the resurrection
At the beginning of this section, we looked Jewish and Christian views which taught at the end of the Mosaic Old Covenant “this age,” or during the “general resurrection judgment” there would be a resurrection of souls or spirits (not a biological fleshly corpse resurrection) out of Abraham’s Bosom or Hades to inherit everlasting life in God’s presence, or inherit everlasting punishment and condemnation.
We also looked at Christian views which teach there was a progressive Great Commission “already and not yet” period or “coming hour and now is” between AD 27/30 – AD 70 before the Old Covenant “this age” would end, whereby the New Covenant Body of Israel was being raised out from the death of the Old Covenant Body of Israel. Not only this, but at the end of this process in AD 70, souls were raised out of Abraham’s Bosom or Hades to inherit God’s presence and eternal life while ruling with Him.
In examining Jesus’ teaching on the resurrection, we find His teaching to be in harmony with these historical spiritual concepts of the resurrection which were believed by Jews before His ministry in the intertestamental period and were continued to be believed by some during His ministry. This understanding of the resurrection has even continued with us in an orthodox Christian exegesis of Daniel 12:2-3. We simply argue that Daniel 12:1-4 does not teach two or double fulfillments of an “already and not yet” eschaton(s) or resurrection(s) for Israel and the Church separated by thousands or millions of years. The exegetical evidence within Daniel 12:1-7 itself and how the NT develops this passage, — supports there is only ONE consummative “end of the age” resurrection event and it was fulfilled at the end of the Old Covenant age in the events of AD 67 – AD 70.
Paul on trial and His hope of an “about to be” resurrection of Acts 23:6-9 / 24:13-15YLT
- “Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.” When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things.). There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously. “We find nothing wrong with this man,” they said. “What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him (Acts 23:6-9).”
- “You can easily verify that no more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. My accusers did not find me arguing with anyone at the temple,or stirring up a crowd in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city. 13 And they cannot prove to you the charges they are now making against me. However, I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets,“…nor are they able to prove against me the things concerning which they now accuse me. ‘And I confess this to thee, that, according to the way that they call a sect, so serve I the God of the fathers, believing all things that in the law and the prophets have been written, having hope toward God, which they themselves also wait for, that there is about to be a rising again of the dead, both of righteous and unrighteous; and in this I do exercise myself, to have a conscience void of offence toward God and men always” (Acts 24:11-15 YLT).
- “And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king!Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?” “…To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: (Acts 26:6-8, 22)
Paul’s trial and accusations of insurrection
Initially the Pharisee sect upon hearing that Paul was a Pharisee and on trial for his hope of Israel’s resurrection said, “we find nothing wrong with this man.” After all, the real problem were those Sadducees that didn’t believe in any afterlife or resurrection. But as time went on, they learned something about his resurrection beliefs that caused them to join in with the false accusation that Paul was guilty of insurrection against Rome. But every time Rome heard his case the Romans were convinced that Paul was on trial for religious and doctrinal issues with his fellow Jews and was guilty of being no threat to Rome.
Futurists assume that because Paul had a Pharisee background that he must have held to an end of time biological resurrection like all of them believed. But as I began this chapter, I pointed out that there were various views of the resurrection among the Jews and I don’t see any definitive proof here that all sects of the Pharisees believed in a fleshly resurrection.
But since there were some Pharisees or a sect of Pharisees present that believed in a physical resurrection of the dead that was inseparably connected with a physical resurrection of national Israel this created a problem. Why? Because for this sect, it was believed that if you were a Jew and you died outside of the land, you either would not participate and ceased to exist, or resurrection entailed one tunneling his way underground all the way back to the land and pop up and be resurrected living a life in the New Age under TORAH. They did not separate their physical resurrection hopes from their carnal physical land and kingdom hopes of ruling over the Gentiles from Jerusalem with Torah and the Temple still in place.
But for Paul the resurrection was grounded in Jesus being the Resurrection (cf. Jn. 11:25) and His presence within him was his hope of glory (cf. Cols. 1:27). These Pharisees definitely disagreed with any resurrection hope that was connected with Jesus, because after all He had rejected their carnal views of a Messianic Kingdom on earth (cf. Jn. 6) and they knew there was no separating the two. They despised this aspect of the resurrection in which Paul was in the process of attaining to in Philippians 3—in which he had grounds of boasting as a Pharisee under the law, but he considered that life as having “confidence in the flesh” and to be “lost” in order “to gain life and righteousness in Christ” the law could not give. In fact, Paul considered the life he led under Torah as the Pharisee of Pharisees was nothing but “dung/crap” (cf. Phil. 3:3-9). So why Paul did believe in a resurrection of souls out from Hades into God’s presence, perhaps the main thing they objected to concerning Paul’s hope of an imminent resurrection was that it would not include a physical restoration or resurrection of national Israel under Torah with the Temple intact etc.
For these reasons, Paul had to go. As Don Preston observes,
“The Pharisees charged Paul with “sedition,” but the Roman authorities rejected that charge. They did not believe Paul was inciting anti-Roman rebellion. However, Paul was most assuredly teaching a sedition against the Pharisees and their nationalistic kingdom / resurrection hopes!”
“After all, at first they believed that both Jesus and Paul were their allies. But they quickly learned differently and put them both on trial for their teachings on the kingdom and the resurrection. They sought to kill both Jesus and Paul for the very thing they were supposed to believe in!
|Jesus taught / offered the kingdom.||Paul taught / offered the kingdom.|
|Jews initially accepted the offer.||Pharisees initially thought Paul taught the resurrection like they did.|
|Jesus rejected the offer of kingship.||The Pharisees came to reject Paul’s doctrine of resurrection.|
|When Jesus rejected the Jewish offer, they put Jesus on trial for being seditious – claiming to be king – His kingship was not the kind they were claiming – as Pilate affirmed.||When the Pharisees came to understand Paul’s resurrection doctrine, they put him on trial with the false charge of sedition – the Romans found Paul innocent of political sedition – the real issue was the resurrection.|
|Jesus: My kingdom is not of this world / The kingdom does not come with observation.||“We do not look on the things that are seen, but unseen / “The Jerusalem that is above, the mother of us all” / We have here no abiding city, but seek one about to come” (2 Cor. 4:16f. / Gal. 4:22f. / Hebrews 13:14).|
For those Futurists that boast they have the same kind of physical resurrection and kingdom hope the Pharisees who condemned Paul had, we must ask them the following: 1). Do you believe the dead soul hovers over the “Luz bones” of a person, and then will 2). Tunnel itself all the way to the land of Israel to be raised in the land, only to then 3). Enjoy life in the New Age under Torah? We prefer to stick with the spiritual Kingdom and Resurrection hopes and teachings of Jesus and Paul.
Paul’s imminent expectation of the resurrection of Daniel 12:2
Paul’s imminent expectation of the resurrection can be found in the following literal translations, properly translating the Greek word mello in Acts 24:15 as “about to be”:
“…there is about to be a rising again of the dead, both of righteous and unrighteous…” (Young’s Literal Translation)
“having a hope in God, which they themselves also await, that there is about to be a resurrection, both of the just and of the unjust.” (The Berean Literal Bible)
“having hope toward God, which they themselves also wait for, [that] there is about to be a resurrection of the dead, both of righteous and unrighteous;” (Literal Standard Version).
“and having a hope directed towards God, which my accusers themselves also entertain, that before long there will be a resurrection both of the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Weymouth New Testament)
“Having hope to God, which they themselves also admit, a rising from the dead about to be, both of just and unjust.” (Smith’s Literal Translation)
The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament, (1897) and The Lexham English Septuagint (LES) Interlinear works also translate mello here in Acts 24:15 as “about to be.”
What was Paul’s source for his resurrection hope? Paul was accused of teaching things contrary to the Law and the Prophets. Yet in his own defense he stood there and boldly countered saying that he testified and preached no other things except that which could be found in the Law and Prophets. This statement coupled with the fact there is no other OT text which describes a resurrection for the just and unjust places Daniel 12:2 as Paul “about to be” resurrection expectation.
Paul declared that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 was the ONE “hope” of Israel. Notice Paul does not give the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 a double meaning or double fulfillment! He clearly does NOT teach an imminent spiritual resurrection coming to close the Old Covenant age in AD 70 and then another future physical one for the just and unjust at the end of world history.
Does this not fit the orthodox Christian view and exegesis of Daniel 12:2 such as that of James Jordan and Kenneth Gentry?
Jordan teaches the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 is referring to “…in the days of Jesus the nation [Israel] will undergo…[one] last [in AD 70] spiritual resurrection…” that would result in Daniel’s soul being raised out of Abraham’s Bosom. Paul says Daniel 12:2 is his and Israel’s one “hope” (singular) of the resurrection and that it was “about to” take place.
And Kenneth Gentry usually appeals to the Young’s Literal Translation and that of other Literal Translations when wanting mello to be translated as “about to be” in the book of Revelation, so according to that standard, why doesn’t Paul have an imminent expectation of the resurrection here in AD 70 as well. I cited several translations and Greek works that have no problem with mello being translated as “about to” take place.
And what about Gentry interpreting the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 as, “He is teaching that in the events of AD 70, the true Israel will arise from old Israel’s carcass, as in a resurrection”?!? There are no other Mosaic Old Covenant Israel’s beyond AD 70 in Mr. Gentry’s theology – as far that I know of. That and Paul does not say there are TWO hope(s) of Israel regarding the resurrection of Daniel 12:2.
Therefore, Paul interpreted the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 as his contemporary twelve tribes of Israel ONE “hope” and that it was “about to be” fulfilled in the coming events of AD 67 – AD 70 to close the Old Covenant age. Paul’s imminent expectation of the spiritual resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 is in complete harmony with Jesus’ teaching of it in Matthew 13:39-43 and John 5:25-28.
- “For it is we who are the circumcision,we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a]Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press ontoward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Phil. 3:4-21).
- “The Lord is near” (Phil. 4:5).
Many miss the context of Paul’s discussion on the resurrection of Philippians 3:21. There is an “already not yet” or what I like to call an “already becoming / transforming and not yet” to Paul’s teaching on the resurrection here. Paul considered his life under the Old Covenant Mosaic law to be garbage or dung and that he had already attained to some degree of being conformed to the resurrection of Christ. Obviously, this is not a biological resurrection – Paul was not half glowing our something like that. The Old Covenant Law was “garbage” or “dung/crap” and he was being conformed from that “vile/lowly” Old Covenant Body of Adam and Moses to Christ’s glorious New Covenant Body. This “already transforming and not yet” resurrection process would be completed at the “near” Second Coming event (Phil. 4:5).
Paul and the “about to be” glorification and “redemption of the body” (Rms. 8:18-23YLT)
- “For I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory about to berevealed in us; for the earnest looking out of the creation doth expect the revelation of the sons of God; for to vanity was the creation made subject—not of its will, but because of Him who did subject it—in hope, that also the creation itself shall be set free from the servitude of the corruption to the liberty of the glory of the children of God; for we have known that all the creation doth groan together, and doth travail in pain together till now. And not only so, but also we ourselves, having the first-fruit of the Spirit, we also ourselves in ourselves do groan, adoption expecting—the redemption of our body;…” (Rms. 8:18-23 YLT)
As I discussed in our exegesis of the Olivet Discourse, how one interprets the discourse is how one will understand NT eschatology in general. Why? Because in a nutshell, it is the eschatology of the NT. So, I would agree with those like John Murray who understood the “redemption” of Luke 21 being Paul’s redemption hope here in Romans:
“Now in Luke 21:28 . . . [t]his word ‘redemption’ (apolutrosin), when used with reference to the future, has a distinctly eschatological connotation, the final redemption, the consummation of the redemptive process (cf. Rom 8:23…). Hence analogy would again point to the eschatological complex of events.”
Since Gentry adds Matthew 24:28 as a text supporting his view that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 was a corporate resurrection for Israel in which the New Covenant corporate body of Israel was raised from the corporate corpse/body of Old Covenant Israel in AD 70, I have added it as a possible parallel. This and that one of Ken’s favorite theologians John Lightfoot, understands the “redemption of the body” to be a corporate body (the Church).
|A = The Olivet Discourse & Luke 17||B = Romans 8:17-23YLT|
|Suffering to come (Mt. 24:9)||Present sufferings (Rom. 8:17–18)|
|Christ comes in glory (Mt. 24:30)||Receive and share in Christ’s glory(Rom. 8:17–18)|
|Kingdom would be realized “within” a person at Christ’s return(Lk.17:21–37; 21:27–32)||Glory to be “in” believers(Rom. 8:18)|
|Redemption and salvation – resurrection (Lk. 21:27–28; Mt. 24:13, 30–31/Mt. 13:39-43)||Redemption and salvation (“at hand” “nearer”) – resurrection(Rom. 8:23–24; cf. 11:15–27; 13:11–12)|
|Birth pains of the tribulation (Mt. 24:8)||Birth pains together (Rom. 8:22)|
|“Heaven & earth” of the Old Covenant “age”was to “pass away”(Mt. 24:3, 29, 35)||The Old Covenant “creation” of Israel was “eagerly longing” & “groaning” for “adoption” and “liberation” (Rom. 8:19-23)|
|All Fulfilled in the 1st century AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Mt. 24:34)||All “at hand” & “about to be” (Greek mello)fulfilled (Rom. 8:18-23YLT; 13:11-12; 16:20)|
|Gentry interprets the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 as Old Covenant Israel being a corporate body “corpse” (cf. Mt. 24:28) that would be raised into the spiritual New Covenant Body of Israel in AD 70||Paul believed the glorification and redemption of the corporate body of Israel/Church was “about to be” fulfilled (cf. Rms. 8:18-23–11:25-27—13:11-12)|
The creation of men groaning – not planet earth
As we saw in our study of the Olivet Discourse, terms like God establishing the heaven and earth and then Him destroying or causing the heaven and earth to pass away (Jer. 4) can refer to God forming the creation of Old Covenant Israel (Isa. 51:15-16) and then causing her to pass away in AD 70 (Mt. 5:17-18; 24:35) – while at the same time establishing a New Covenant heaven and earth or New Covenant people. This is exactly what we have Paul doing here in Romans 8:18-23. The “creation” here is not referring to the physical planet at all. It is referring to the creation of men – most likely the creation of men of Israel groaning under the law seeking Messianic redemption.
Reformed theologian John Lightfoot correctly associated the “earnest expectation of the creature” and the “whole creation groaning” with the mind and heart of man, and interpreted this passage as having nothing to do with the planet Earth— not even poetically:
“. . . [T]his vanity [or futility] is improperly applied to this vanishing, changeable, dying state of the [physical] creation. For vanity, doth not so much denote the vanishing condition of the outward state, as it doth the inward vanity and emptiness of the mind. The Romans to whom this apostle writes, knew well enough how many and how great predictions and promises it had pleased God to publish by his prophets, concerning gathering together and adopting sons to himself among the Gentiles: the manifestation and production of which sons, the whole Gentile world doth now wait for, as it were, with an out-stretched neck.”
“The Gentile world shall in time be delivered from the bondage of their sinful corruption, that is, the bondage of their lusts and vile affections, (under which it hath lain for so long a time,) into a noble liberty, such as the sons of God enjoy. If it be inquired how the Gentile world groaned and travailed in pain, let them who expound this of the fabric of the material world tell us how that groaneth and travaileth. They must needs own it to be a borrowed and allusive phrase.”
Lightfoot is on solid ground here citing 2 Peter 1:4; 2 Corinthians 11:3; and 1 Corinthians 15:33. Not only is there lexical evidence to interpret “vanity,” “corruption,” and “decay” as ethical and moral putrefaction in the heart and mind of man, but contextually the passage has nothing to do with hydrogen or oxygen or squirrels longing for a better day when they won’t get hit by cars.
“Redemption of the body” the corporate body of the Church – not individual biological resurrections at the end of time
John Lightfoot not only interpreted the “creation” of Romans 8 to be the creation of men and NOT the physical planet, but he understood the “redemption of the body” to not be a resurrection of physical bodies, but rather, the “mystical [corporate] body” of the Church. In his sermon on “Many Mansions” Lightfoot states,
“And of the same body [in context he is referring to the corporate body of Christ just mentioned in Ephs. 4:13], is his meaning in that obscure and much-mistaken place (Rom. viii.23; “And not only they,” i.e. ‘the whole creation,’ or πασα κτισις, ‘every creature,’ which means no other thing, than ‘the Gentile or heathen world;’ “not only they groan to come into the evangelical liberty of the children of God,–but we, also, of the Jewish nation, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan within ourselves, waiting for the redemption,–to wit, the adoption of our body:” we wait for the redeeming and adopting of the Gentiles, to make up our mystical body.”
Clearly Lightfoot understood the “creation” to mean the creation of men and not the planet earth and “redemption of the body” to be the “mystical body” of the corporate Jew/Gentile Church and not an individual physical body. He was a head of his time!
Paul’s reference to the “sufferings of this present time” does not have anything to do with losing one’s hair, gaining weight, cancer, etc. Paul’s mention of the “sufferings” and “the redemption of the body” have nothing to do with those kinds of issues. The context of the “groaning” of the first-century Christians can be found in the previous chapter. The sufferings Paul has in mind here were eschatological —the birth pains that were to precede Christ’s return in AD 70 (Mt. 24:8; Rom. 8:22). They had to do with the last days persecutions and with the saints of the universal church groaning under the tyranny of Sin and Condemnation of the Law.
For Paul, Sin had produced “death,” but obviously not physical death. Contrary to Postmillennial and most Futurist assertions, “the body,” “death,” and “the flesh” in Romans 5–8 have nothing to do with the idea of men biologically dying as a result of Adam’s sin. Paul’s concern is with corporate-covenantal Death, as even some Reformed theologians teach. Tom Holland is a Reformed theologian who sees Paul’s “body” of flesh, sin, and death not referring to our physical flesh but to the corporate body of Sin in contrast to the corporate Body of Christ—the Church. He counters Gundry’s individualistic views of soma in Paul’s writings. He also argues for “consistency” in Paul’s use of corporate terms. “Bondage,” according to the immediate context, had to do with groaning under the condemnation of the Law (cf. Rom. 7:2, 7, 15).
For Paul, the glorification, liberation and redemption of this corporate body/creation was “about to” take place (Rms. 8:18ff.YLT)
Still, one might object that the “redemption” associated with the coming of Christ in Luke 21:27-28 has a clear time text (“this generation”) associated with it (v. 32), but the “redemption of the body” in Romans 8 does not; therefore, one might conclude the two passages are not necessarily parallel. Those who argue this way suggest that the redemption in Luke 21 might simply refer to relief from persecution and nothing more. The premise of their objection, however, is false.
There is an imminence text associated with the redemption of the body in Romans 8. Verse 18 reads,
“For I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory about to be revealed in us” (YLT; cf. NSRV, AV, & WEY: “soon to be manifested”).
At least Partial Preterist Postmillennialists such as Gary DeMar concede the “glory” in Romans 8:18YLT was “about to be” fulfilled in AD 70 but pretends he doesn’t know what it is,
“Whatever the glory is it was ‘about to be revealed…”
DeMar also understands the “salvation of all Israel” in Romans 11 to be fulfilled in AD 70. Thus, the “salvation” and “redemption of the body” in Romans 8 and 11 are not dealing with biological or planetary events at the end of time, but rather, imminent redemptive events for the mystical Jew/Gentile corporate body/creation change or resurrection that was to imminently take place in AD 70.
Partial Preterists such as Kenneth Gentry and Keith Mathison don’t address mello here in Romans 8:18. But interestingly enough though, according to Gentry and Mathison one of the things that was “about to come after” John wrote Revelation 1:19YLT was the arrival of the New Jerusalem and New Creation of Revelation 21:1ff. Mathison and Gentry tell us in their other works that the time texts in Revelation point to a near fulfillment of the passing of “the first heaven and earth.” They point out that Revelation 21:1 is referring to the passing of the Old Covenant “creation” in AD 70 and is a fulfillment of Isaiah 65–66. Gentry even says:
“The absence of the sea (Rev. 21:1) speaks of harmony and peace within. In Scripture the sea often symbolizes discord and sin (13:1–2; cf. Isa. 8:7–8; 23:10; 57:20; Jer. 6:23; 46:7; Ezek. 9:10). Christianity offers the opposite: peace with God and among humankind (Luke 2:14; Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:12–18; Phil. 4:7, 9).”
If the removal of the sea represents the removal of sin and discord within, then AD 70 was much more than a physical flight to Pella – it was a soteriological event just as the cross was.
Gentry argues that “when used with the aorist infinitive—as in Revelation 1:19, mello’s predominant usage and preferred meaning is: ‘be on the point of, be about to.’ The same is true when the word is used with the present infinitive, as in Rev. 3:10. The basic meaning in both
Thayer and Abbott-Smith is: ‘to be about to.” Gentry is correct. The problem, however, is that when the word mellorefers to the resurrection and judgment of the living and dead in Acts 17:31; 24:15 and 24:25, it is used with the infinitive. In the case of Acts 24:15 in a recent article on his site Gentry appeals to BDAG to somehow prove that when mello is used with the future infinitive, it communicates certainty and shouldn’t be translated as “about to” take place. But of course, as I pointed out in our exegesis of Acts 24:15, there are translations, lexicons and Interlinears that do render mellothere as “about to.”
Not only that, but Gentry and Mathison also fail to address in their writings that mello in Romans 8:18 is in the aorist infinitive (of which they say has the “preferred meaning” of “be on the point of, be about to”) and they make no mention that our passage has two other imminent Greek words within the immediate context – apokaradokia and apekdekomai. This serves to further solidify the ranslation of mello to“be about to be.” And lastly, BDAG (Gentry’s source for trying to place Acts 24:15 at the end of world history) places mello in Romans 8:18 as being translated “about to be revealed.” So much for consistency!
Contextually there is no reason to not understand Paul’s expectation of the “about to be” glorification and “redemption of the body” to be when the corporate New Covenant Body of Israel was raised from the corporate Old Covenant Body of Israel in AD 70. This Body/Creation was groaning under spiritual Adamic death (magnified by Torah) and was liberated from that death into the life and liberty of Christ’s “at hand” salvation/coming in AD 70. And to that we now turn our attention in Paul’s understanding of when Daniel 12:2-3 would be fulfilled.
Like Jesus, Paul understood the “hour” of Daniel 12:1-4 (OG) resurrection in Romans 13:11-12 to be “at hand”
- “Besides this you know the time, that the hour [Dan. 12:1-4 OG] has come for you to wake from sleep [Dan. 12:2]. For salvation [or “redemption of the body”] is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand [when the righteous would shine like the Sun when Christ came as the Sun of Righteousness – Mt. 13:43/Mt. 24:27/Mal. 4:2].”
It is not a stretch to see Daniel’s “hour” in Daniel 12:1-2 (OG) of awaking to resurrection is not only Jesus’ eschatological “hour” (John 4:21-23–5:25-28) but also Paul’s imminent “hour” here in Romans 13:
|Daniel 12||Romans 13|
|12:1 “And at that hour…”||13:11: “…you know what hour it is…|
|12:4: “the hour/time of the end”||13:11: “how it is full time…”|
|12:2: “Many of those who sleep in the width of the earth will arise…”||13:11: “The hour has come for you to wake up from your sleep…”|
Paul in Romans 8:18-23YLT and 13:11-12, expected the “about to be” corporate bodily resurrection of the New Covenant Creation/Body and for her members to “awake” out of the “hour” of “sleep” of Daniel 12:1-4, 7-13. Paul not only sees the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 to be “about to be” fulfilled in Acts 24:15, he sees it imminently fulfilled in these crucial eschatological chapters in Romans as well.
Paul expected some of his contemporaries to be alive and witness the coming of Christ and the resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15
Space does not permit me to give an in-depth exegesis of every verse of 1 Corinthians 15, but I will address much of it. For a detailed exegesis of 1 Corinthians 15 see my co-authored book, House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology… and David Green’s exegesis.
Before beginning, I think we need to stick with just the basics on what we have learned so far and ask the following questions and make the following points:
1). No one disputes that the resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15 is the same resurrection as Daniel 12:2-13.
2). Having established this, we have learned from the immediate context of Daniel 12 that this resurrection would be at the same time as the Tribulation and the “time of the end” – that is, “all these things” would be fulfilled together and during a 3 ½ years period of time “when the power of the holy people would be completely shattered” (Dan. 12:7). As we will see below Paul expected the eschatological “end” and resurrection of Daniel 12 in 1 Corinthians 15 to take place within the lifetime of some of those he wrote to in Corinth.
3). Most agree that Jesus’ teaching on the “Tribulation” and “end of the age” in Matthew 24 is the same “Tribulation” and “time of the end” found in Daniel 12:1-4. And yet Jesus places the end of the Old Covenant age and Tribulation to be fulfilled during the times of the Gentiles or the 3 ½ years period of AD 67 – AD 70 in His contemporary “this generation” (Mt. 24:3, 21f.; Lk. 21:20-24, 31-32).
So then if Matthew 24/Luke 21 is equivalent to the same time frame and events as Daniel 12:1-7 and Daniel 12 is the same resurrection as 1 Corinthians 15, lets break this down more and get a logical visual.
A (Mt. 24/Lk. 21)
B (Daniel 12:1-7)
C (1 Cor. 15)
|If A (Mt. 24/Lk. 21) is = to B (Daniel 12:1-7, 13)|
|Tribulation as never before 24:21-22||Tribulation as never before 12:1|
|Evangelism 24:14||Leading others to righteousness 12:3|
|End of the [OC] age 24:3, 14||Time of the end 12:4|
|Resurrection & inheritance of the Kingdom 24:31; 13:43; Lk. 21:31-32||Resurrection & or inheritance of the Kingdom 12:2-3, 13/Mt. 13:43|
|Jerusalem surrounded, trodden down/times of the Gentiles (AD 67 – AD 70) Lk. 21:20, 24||Consummation – 3 ½ years when power of the holy people is shattered 12:7|
|And if B (Daniel 12:1-7, 13) is = to C (1 Cor. 15)|
|Resurrection unto eternal life 12:2||Resurrection unto incorruptibility or immortality 15:52-53|
|time of the end 12:4||time of the end 15:24|
|When the power [the Mosaic OC Law] of the Holy people is completely shattered 12:7||Victory over “the [Mosaic OC] Law” 15:26|
|At the “end” of the OC age, OT dead would be raised at the same time the NT righteous living would shine in the Kingdom 12:2-3, 13||If the dead of the OT are not raised, neither would those who died in Christ be raised & living unforgiven 15:15-18|
|Then A (Mt. 24/Lk. 21) is = to C (1 Cor. 15)|
|Christ to come (Greek: parousia) at sound of a trumpet 24:27-31||Christ to come (Greek: parousia) at sound of a trumpet 15:23, 52|
|“The end” (Greek telos, the goal) 24:3, 14||“The end” (Greek telos, the goal) 15:24|
|Kingdom (goal reached) Lk. 21:31-32||Kingdom consummation (goal reached) 15:24|
|All prophecy fulfilled at this point Lk. 21:22||All prophecy fulfilled at this point 15:54-55|
|Victory over the Mosaic Law/Temple 24:1||Victory over the Mosaic Law 15:55-56|
|Same contemporary “you” or “we” 24:2ff.||Same contemporary “you” or “we” 15:51-52|
|“All” of the elect (even the dead) gathered (or raised) in the Kingdom 24:31; Lk. 21:28-32||“The [OT] dead” raised with the dead “in Christ” 15:15-18|
|Two or more things that are equal to another thing are also equal to each other|
|Matthew 24/Luke 21||Daniel 12:1-7, 13||1 Corinthians 15|
|Gather/Raise “all” (dead & living) the elect at “end” of OC age 24:3, 31||OT dead raised with NT saints at the end of OC age 12:2-4, 13/Mt. 13:43||OT dead raised with NT dead & living at “the end” of the OC age 15:15-18, 24, 51|
|All OT fulfilled when Jerusalem surrounded & times of Gentiles (3 ½ yrs.) fulfilled Lk. 21:22-24 – AD 67 – AD 70||Judgment and resurrection of the dead fulfilled at the end of the OC age, in a 3 ½ years period when Israel’s power shattered||Resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3, 13; Hosea 13:14 and Isaiah 25:8 fulfilled at the end of OC age & in the lifetime of Paul’s 1st cent. audience 15:51, 54-55|
We have also learned up to this point the following:
4). A Christian orthodox position on the resurrection of Daniel 12 involves an “already not yet” progressive, spiritual, corporate and covenantal resurrection taking place between AD 27/30 – AD 70 whereby the New Covenant Body of Israel was being raised out from the death of the Old Covenant Body of Israel by AD 70. Can a progressive, corporate bodily resurrection be seen in 1 Corinthians 15?
5). As we have just seen, the Apostle Paul has elsewhere taught under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 was “about to be” fulfilled or was “at hand” (Acts 24:15YLT; Rms. 8:18-23YLT; Rms. 13:11-12). So the burden of proof would be to prove Paul’s “ONE” resurrection hope he had in Acts and Romans has now turned into two.
Therefore, as we approach the resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15, we want to see if this critical chapter also involves what we have found thus far in Paul’s teaching on the resurrection. That is, does 1 Corinthians 15 teach a corporate body resurrection that was in the process of taking place in Paul’s day–of which he taught under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit would be fulfilled within the lifetime of some of his contemporaries? We believe so.
There are several exegetical observations that demonstrate Paul’s eschatology in 1 Corinthians 15 is not a depiction of a biological casket type resurrection for all men that will occur 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 the resurrection of Christ or the doctrine of resurrection in general, but a resurrection for a particular group (the Old Covenant dead of Israel).
- Paul’s use of the present passive indicative as already in the process of being fulfilled 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 and the contexts of 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 Torah “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 Old Covenant age in AD 70 and thus truly imminent 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
The classic Amillennial position as does the Historic Premillennial position agrees with us that the above parallels support Paul’s eschatological one hope as expressed in 1 Corinthians 15 is the same teaching Jesus and resurrection developed by Jesus in the Olive Discourse.
However, we also agree with Partial Preterists that Matthew 24 was fulfilled in AD 70.
Therefore, I can use the following historical “reformed and always reforming,” and Scriptural “the Scripture alone” / “analogy of faith” argument:
Major Premise: The “parousia,” resurrection “gathering,” “trumpet” call at “the end” of the age of Matthew 24 is the same eschatological “parousia,” resurrection “change,” “trumpet” call at “the end” of the age for Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. Paul’s eschatology is Jesus! (Classic Amillennialism and Historic Premilllenialism)
Minor Premise: But the “parousia,” “gathering,” “trumpet” call at “the end” of the age of Matthew 24 was fulfilled spiritually in Jesus’ contemporary generation at the end of the Old Covenant age in AD 70 (Partial Preterism mostly Postmillennial).
Conclusion: Therefore, the one and the same “parousia,” resurrection “gathering/change,” “trumpet” call at “the end” in 1 Corinthians 15 and Matthew 24 was fulfilled spiritually in Jesus’ generation and thus at the end of the Old Covenant age in AD 70 (Full Preterism).
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. It is more than difficult to see how Paul could have still referred to them as “Saints” etc. if they believed such! Most who take this position 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 who 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 the 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 the heart led to a replacement theology and denial of an Old Covenant 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)…thennot even Christ has been raised.
- If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…thenour preaching is useless…
- If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…thenand so is your faith [useless].
- If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…thenwe are found to be false witnesses about God.
- If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…thenthose also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.
- If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…thenyour and my baptism (of suffering & martyrdom) on the part of the dead is meaningless.
- If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…thenthe Father is subject to Christ.
- If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…thensome of you are ignorant of God.
- If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…thenwhy are some undergoing a baptism (of suffering & persecution) on behalf of the dead?
- If the dead are not rising (and will rise)…thenthere will be no resurrection for anyone and we 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 Resurrection of the Dead Error Identified
Since the Corinthians believed in Christ’s resurrection and a resurrection for those who 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 pre-mature 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 they were now a part of. 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 a resurrection with those who had died in Christ or be “made perfect” together in the Body of Christ. They had the New Covenant “better things,” and thus the OT or Old Covenant 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 of excluding even 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’…”
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,” (2 Cor. 1:20) too 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 Old Covenant dead perished and were not present to place their faith in Christ, then they couldn’t be a part of the spiritual New Covenant body that was in the process of being raised in their day. They lost sight of the great cloud of witnesses who saw Christ’s day and were glad and would thus share in the “better resurrection” with them.
According to both of these extreme Jewish or Christian views, men such as Moses had no resurrection hope but perished outside of being either “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 Dispensational Zionists who 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…”
Sounds like elements of the resurrection of the dead deniers doctrine and confusion was picked up within the confusion of Dispensational teaching.
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 pre-tribulational 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 OT 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 NT or New Covenant 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 completely replace Old Covenant 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 Old Covenant Israel, there would be no forgiveness of sin or resurrection life for the Gentiles (cf. Rms. 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 a part 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 a part of or engrafted into. 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 Old Covenant 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 Old Covenant 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 Old Covenant age) in Matthew 13:39-43.
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 Old Covenant age) is in harmony with the teaching and eschatology of John the Baptist, John the Apostle and Jesus.
Major Premise: 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 end of the age harvest resurrection event (Classic Amillennialism).
Minor Premise: But the harvest judgment and resurrection of Matthew 3:7-12; Matthew 13:39-43; Revelation 7 & 14 was “about to be” fulfilled spiritually and “short” at the end of the Old Covenant age in AD 70 (Partial Preterism mostly Postmillennialists).
Conclusion: The ONE and the same harvest judgment and resurrection of Matthew 3:7-12; Matthew 13:39-43; Revelation 7 & 14 and 1 Corinthians 15 was fulfilled spiritually at the endof the Old Covenant 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 (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” and was separated (“My God why have you forsaken Me”) on our account contains concepts that we will not be able to fully understand (such as the incarnation and trinity) – but it is what Scripture teach 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 words “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 verses 44-58 and Romans 5-8.
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, 37). The NT knows of only ONE hope or eschatological parousia of Christ to bring about ONE eschatological “the end” or “end of the age” and that was His parousia to close “the end” or “end of the [OC] age” in AD 70.
Then Comes the End & the Kingdom
“The end” (15:24) here is consistent with Jesus’ teaching on the end of the Old Covenant “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 the three and a half years between AD 67 – AD 70 – i.e. “when the power of the holy people would be completely shattered” (Dan. 12:1-7).
Before we approach 1 Corinthians 15, Paul has already informed us that “the end” of the world was “shortened” and the end of the age was to take place in the lifetime of the Corinthians (cf. 1 Cor. 7:29, 31; 10:11). The miraculous sign and revelatory gifts would confirm the Church until “the end” or Day of the Lord (1 Cor. 1:4-8).
Paul taught that the New Covenant Church age was an “age without end” (Ephs. 3:20-21) so why would he here be teaching that he expected its end to take place within the lifetime of the Corinthians? It is the Old Covenant age that is in view and indeed did pass away within the lifetime of Paul’s audience. The New Covenant age was “about to” fully come in – therefore, the Old Covenant age was about to end (Ephs. 1:21 WUESTNT).
The “increase” (that is the everlasting gospel) of Jesus’ government (that is His kingdom and thus His rule in the New Covenant Messianic age) is also described as having “no end” in the OT (Isa. 9:7).
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, the surrounding of Jerusalem with armies (the abomination that causes desolation), and just prior to His parousia, the Kingdom would be inherited in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Lk. 21:1-32). How many consumations to the Messianic Kingdom do Jesus and Paul teach?
Paul’s “end” here is connected to the end or fulfillment of the OT Mosaic “THE Law” which was the strength of sin in 1 Corinthians 15:55-56. This is consistent with Jesus teaching that all that was written in the OT would be fulfilled in His generation (Lk. 21:22-32).
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 prayers 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 Old Covenant 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 – The Present Passive Indicative – The Dead Were Rising
Before addressing the present passive indicative Paul uses here in 1 Corinthians 15 and point out that there is a bias in the translators, I want to quote Gary DeMar seeing something similar in 2 Peter 3,
“In fact, St. Peter was quite specific about the fact that he was not referring to an event thousands of years in their future, but to something that was already taking place:
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements (stoicheia) will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things are being dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements (stoicheia) are being melted with fervent heat? (2 Pet. 3:10–12)
Contrary to the misleading renderings of translators blinded by their presuppositions, St. Peter insists that the dissolution of “the present heaven and earth”—the Old Covenant system with its obligatory rituals and bloody sacrifices—was already beginning to occur: the “universe” of the Old Covenant was coming apart, never to be revived.”
I just want to point out that the LEB translation of 2 Peter 3:11 does point out that the elements were in the process of “being destroyed.”
Surely Gary would be correct to go to other NT passages which demonstrate it was the Old Covenant world that was in the process of passing away such as,
“those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away” (1 Cor. 7:31).
“The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God remains forever” (1 Jn. 2:17).
But could DeMar and other Futurists and translator’s be “blinded by their presuppositions” when the NT is quite specific about the fact that the resurrection was not referring to an event thousands of years off in their future, but to something that was already taking place and would “soon” be fulfilled? And as we have seen there are plenty of “already not yet” resurrection texts Jesus and Paul elaborate on. And if there is an “already and not yet” resurrection process of Daniel 12:2-3 that Gary, Jordan and Gentry recognize, then why isn’t 1 Corinthians 15 fall in that same process? Let’s look at the evidence.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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 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.
Related to the problem for the Futurist of “the death” being 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:
- “death is being destroyed” (v. 26).
- “But God is givingit a body” (v. 32).
- “…it is being..” (v. 38).
- “…it is beingraised in glory…” (v. 43).
- “…it is beingraised in power…” (v. 43)
- “…It is beingsown 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 at the end world history, the present tense seems impossible. But when the corporate body of Christ (the Old Covenant dead who had the gospel preached to them by Christ, those dead “in Christ” and those alive – that constitute that ONE body) is in view, Paul’s theology/eschatology begins to make more sense. Christ was still in the process of fulfilling OT Scripture and thus the New Covenant corporate body was still being raised from and saved from the Adamic and Mosaic body of death.
Let’s not forget that Postmillennialists such as James Jordan and Kenneth Gentry believe the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 was a progressive spiritual resurrection between AD 30 – AD 70 with Jordan making it clear that this resulted in Daniel’s soul being raised out of the realm of the dead ones into God’s presence in AD 70. And on the other hand, we have the Reformed orthodox position telling us the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 and 1 Corinthians 15 is ONE and the SAME resurrection event. Therefore, there is simply no reason to not see the progressive and spiritual resurrection that was taking place between AD 30 – AD 70 both Daniel 12 and 1 Corinthians 15 as being the same “already and not yet” eschaton that resulted in souls being raised into God’s presence, at Christ’s parousia in AD 70.
According to Paul, the ONE resurrection hope of Israel had already broken in and there was an “already and not yet” reality to it (Rms. 11:7; Phil. 3).
Was physical death to be overcome at the imminent parousia in Paul’s contemporary “we” audience OR the spiritual death and separation brought through Adam the very day he sinned?
That God May Be All in All
This is the eschatological goal of the NT – that “all” of God’s presence (the Father, Son and Spirit) would be in “all” of God’s people (the New Covenant body of the 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.; Rms. 8:18YLT; 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 its heavenly form.
The promise of God being “all in all” is the fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles which we covered in Matthew 24:30-31 and Zechariah 12-14.
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 Old Covenant 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 Old Covenant 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 regard 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 the various churches – so that there is little confusion among them. 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 in Adam / in 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.
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 Old Covenant 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 New Covenant eternal 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 Old Covenant body which they believed perished outside of Christ. Paul uses the seed analogy to demonstrate that they (along with the Old Covenant dead ones) were not sown a spiritual body, but rather they had the same sowing/seed origins that the Old Covenant 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 from within the Adamic Old Covenant body (along with the Old Covenant dead ones). The resurrection of the dead deniers needed to see that they were still apart of the Old Covenant body/seed/world (with the Old Covenant 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 burying 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 the “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 in Christ when it surfaces again in verses 44-58.
I believe Don K. Preston’s thesis of Paul using Hosea 6 – 13 as an inclusio as a possible working outline in 1 Corinthians 15 is an excellent observation.
|“Hosea: The Outline for Paul’s Resurrection Hope|
|Hosea||1 Corinthians 15|
|1). “He has torn but he will heal, after two days He will raise us up.||1). 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.|
|2). Israel the Seed (Jezreel–God sows): Israel sown in the earth (2.23).||2). Except a Seed– “That which you sow is not quickened unless it die” (Jhn. 12).|
|3). Israel destroyed/died (1.5– I will cause to cease the house of Israel): continuity / discontinuity – Israel destroyed / Israel restored.||3). 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.|
|4). Israel of Old carnal, sinful.||4). It is sown a natural body (v. 42f).|
|5). Israel sown in the earth (2.23).||5). As we have borne the image of the earthy.|
|6). Harvest appointed for Judah when I return my people (6.11).||6). Jesus the first fruits (Jesus of Judah), of those who slept; OT saints i.e. Israel!! (15.12f).|
|7). Time of the harvest= resurrection (13.14).||7). Resurrection when Hosea fulfilled (15:54-56).|
|8). Israel like the first fruit (9:10).||8). Christ the first fruit of Israel (15:20f).|
|9). They transgressed the covenant (6.7; they died, (v. 5; 13.1-2, 10)– Death for violating the Covenant.||9). The strength of sin is “the law.” (15.56)–Death for violating the Law.|
|10). New Covenant of Peace (2:18; Cf. Ez. 37:12, 25f)—> Covenant is covenant of marriage.||10). Sit at my right hand…Heb. 10:14–time of the New Covenant (Rm. 11:26f.)– The marriage, thus, the Covenant —>Rev. 19:6.|
|11). Israel restored in the last days when “David” rules (3.4-5).||11). End of the ages has arrived (10.11), “then comes the end (15.20f) Christ on the throne (15.24f).|
|12). I will be your God. I will be your king! (Hos. 13:10).||12). 1 Corinthians 15:28 (God shall be all in all).|
|13). Resurrection= restoration to fellowship.||13). 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 Old Covenant Israel’s seed/body that was promised to be raised in the last day’s harvest to close her age. Without their union into that seed/body, there would be no resurrection for either group.
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. Just as a spiritual seeing of God’s face in a glass or mirror found in 1 Corinthians 13 and 2 Corinthians 3-4 should be interpreted together. We must allow Paul to interpret himself, especially when writing to the same church. It’s just basic hermeneutics.
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 or in 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 “about to” [Smith’s Literal Translation correctly translates mello here] come” (Rms. 5:14).
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 New Covenant 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.
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 Postmillennialist 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.”
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 very 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 is “grace” (v. 15), “justification” (v. 16), a “reign of life” (v.17), of which makes one “righteous” (v. 19). 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 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.”
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”
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 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’”
And developing the corporate body motif commenting on Romans 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 Ephesians 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’.”
What is the Soteriological and Eschatological Goal of Christ’s Substitutionary Work?
Before we leave the topic of being in Adam or in Christ, we should probably really define what Christ’s substitutionary redemption and mission is and what it isn’t.
If one defines Christ’s substitutionary work to be–Christ died physically so that we don’t have to, then Christ’s redemption has been an epic failure for some 2,000 plus years and counting. But as we have seen the WUESTNT correctly translates 1 Corinthians 15:26 as “the death” (that came through Adam – spiritual death and separation) was already in the process of “beING destroyed” due to Christ’s work on the cross and what He would imminently do at His parousia to bring an “end” to the Old Covenant age in AD 70. If physical death was “being destroyed” in Paul’s day and our ours, we should expect physical corpses beginning to rise and walk about like the “Walking Dead” show. Or we should see men living to be 200 – 900 years old.
And if the “wages of sin is biological death,” and Christ’s substitutionary work on the cross was designed to reverse this process, then again why do we still sin and die physically? Jesus said that if one believed in Him and kept his commandments he would “never die.” Again, if this is physical death, then once again Christ’s work and your faith proves Christ and Christians are epic failures.
But if Christ’s substitutionary and redemptive work on the cross and at His parousia in AD 70 was designed to overcome the spiritual death that came through Adam, now we can understand the following passages:
- “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt. 27:46).
And why Paul teaches:
- “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern/type of the one [Greek mello] about to come. But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous” (Rms. 5:12-21).
- “God made him who had no sinto be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21)
- “Truly, truly, truly, I tell you, if anyone keeps My word, he will never see death” (Jn. 8:51). “…and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this” (Jn. 10:26)?
Here is a chart that may help:
|Adam’s ONE Trespass||Christ’s ONE Righteous Act|
|Sin entered the world||Righteousness entered the world|
|Spiritual death entered the world||Spiritual eternal life entered the world|
|Spiritual death and separation reigned from Adam to Moses w/ Torah magnifying how sinful sin is and how short we fall.||For those in Christ, spiritual eternal life and righteousness reigns and brings us into God’s presence.|
|Many died spiritually in their covenant head of Adam||Many are made alive in their covenant head of Christ|
|Spiritual judgment and condemnation came through Adam||Spiritual gift of grace brings justification through Christ|
|One act of disobedience made those in Adam sinners||One act of obedience made those in Christ righteous before God|
|Christ became sin for us so that ||…we might become the righteousness of God|
It should be clear that spiritual death and life and positional truth is what is being communicated here by Jesus and Paul. If we are in Adam, we are subject to sins power which results in spiritual separation and death from God’s presence. But if we place our faith in Christ and we are granted the gift of His grace, then positionally and spiritually, we “never die,” “become the righteousness of God,” are “justified before Him,” and “righteousness reigns in us.”
Christ died to sin or became the curse of Adam’s sin/death which separated us from God’s presence. This “last enemy” and curse of spiritual death is what was in the process of “being destroyed” in Paul’s day. When Adam sinned, he died spiritually. Christ lived a perfect life and committed no sin so He was a perfect sacrifice capable of satisfying God’s righteous and just wrath so that “we might become the righteousness of God.” Now through Christ’s redemptive work on the cross and parousia, we live in the New Covenant Creation or the “world of righteousness” and are perfectly forgiven in His sight. And this gift of faith and of His unconditional grace causes us to born of God whereby we “do not sin, because His seed/presence remains in us, and we cannot sin because we are born of God” (1 Jn. 3:9). That is, a true child of God cannot commit the specific sin “leading to death” (1 Jn. 5:16-18) which would once again bring us into the spiritual death and headship of Adam. Or as John would reinforce his meaning in Revelation 3:12, those of us that are in the righteousness of the New Jerusalem, we will never leave the gates and return to the spiritual death and darkness of being in Adam.
The Sovereign Grace Full Preterist has a substitutionary redemption that has been “accomplished and applied” that has produced the 100% goal Christ came to accomplish between AD 30 – AD 70. We are “in Christ,” “we are His righteousness,” and we will “never die” and be found outside of His marvelous grace! We are made perfect before the Father and behold His face because of what Christ has accomplished in the cross and through His “soon” Second Coming (1 Cor. 13:10-12/Rev. 22:4-7, 10, 20). Selah.
Paul’s Consistent Use of Terms
Not only do I agree with Holland in his development of Paul being a Hebrew and thinking in Jewish collective or corporate body terms, but I also 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?”
Paul’s themes 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. We will look at this shortly.
Corruption v Incorruption
Here is how Paul elsewhere uses “corruption”
1). “that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rms. 8:21).
We should quote from John Lightfoot once again who not only saw the “redemption of the body” in Romans 8 to be the corporate body of the Church (which we are arguing is also the case here in 1 Cor. 15), but also identified “vanity” “corruption,” etc… to be internal spiritual vices within the heart of man,
“. . . [T]his vanity [or futility] is improperly applied to this vanishing, changeable, dying state of the [physical] creation. For vanity, doth not so much denote the vanishing condition of the outward state, as it doth the inward vanity and emptiness of the mind. The Romans to whom this apostle writes, knew well enough how many and how great predictions and promises it had pleased God to publish by his prophets, concerning gathering together and adopting sons to himself among the Gentiles: the manifestation and production of which sons, the whole Gentile world doth now wait for, as it were, with an out stretched neck.”
“The Gentile world shall in time be delivered from the bondage of their sinful corruption, that is, the bondage of their lusts and vile affections, (under which it hath lain for so long a time,) into a noble liberty, such as the sons of God enjoy. If it be inquired how the Gentile world groaned and travailed in pain, let them who expound this of the fabric of the material world tell us how that groaneth and travaileth. They must needs own it to be a borrowed and allusive phrase.”
2). For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Gals. 6:8).
Sowing to the flesh has to do with giving in to internal temptations of the mind and heart and reaping “corruption” has to do with inheriting (in this world and the next) the consequences of sin. But if one sows to the Spirit, he reaps “eternal life” in this world and the next. “Corruption” does not have to do with biological flesh.
3). “Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that are unto corruption in the using [or perish as they are used])—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh” (Cols. 2:18-22).
“Corruption” here is referring to the seducing Judaizers seeking to influence Jewish and or their proselyte Gentile Christians into going back under the Mosaic Law to be justified before God. Seeking to be justified by the Mosaic Law as a means of salvation was to be under the “corruption” of these false teachers and this system which would soon perish with its teachers in the events of AD 70. Again, “corruption” is an internal reality of the heart and mind connected to sin and false teaching – not a biological change.
4). “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins” (2 Peter 1:3-9).
It was the knowledge and life of the gospel that delivered them from the inner “corruption” that was in the Jewish or heathen world of false religion. Peter is consistent with Pauline theology. Paul taught that through faith they were already being transformed into the image of Christ which was obviously not a biological process that had already begun (cf. 2 Cor. 3:18). And according to Paul in Colossians 3:9-10, Christians were “putting off the old self” and “putting on the new self” as a process of “being renewed in the knowledge after the image of its creator.” Being in the “image of the creator,” “being transformed into the image of Christ,” or “partaking in the divine nature” for Peter and Paul, were non-biological events and had to do with a change of mind and heart the gospel had produced and was producing within the hearts of Christians.
5). “For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first” (2 Peter 2:18-20).
Once again, we have a warning to not go back to false religion which enslaved men’s hearts and minds to the vices of sin and “corruption” of which the inner “knowledge of Christ” had delivered them from. As we have seen, this Greek word for “corruption” as used elsewhere in the NT, does not entail a biological corruption of physical flesh needing a biological resurrection or change and nor is it being used this way by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15.
But what of Paul’s use of “Incorruption” or “immortality”?
If “corruption” had to do with internal sin, then “incorruption” would seem to be the opposite. The Adamic or Mosaic world and belief system could only produce, expose and magnify the “corruption” of sin in the heart. The New Covenant world and body of the gospel imputed Christ’s righteousness resulting in eternal life or “incorruptibility.”
1). “He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury” (Rms. 2:7-8).
Here “immortality” or “incorruptibility” are equivalent to “eternal life.” Earlier, we looked at the “already and not yet” (AD 27-30—AD 70) “hour” (Dan. 12:1-4 OG) of the early church receiving eternal or resurrection life and it had nothing to do with a biological change that was taking place.
2). “Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible” (Ephs. 6:24).
The New Covenant gospel and love of Christ for His Church and Her love for Him (and family members) cannot be corrupted or fail (1 Cor. 13:7-8).
3). “who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me” (II Tim. 1:10).
To understand this passage better we need to go to chapter four,
“I do fully testify, then, before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who is about to judge living and dead at his manifestation and his reign—preach the word; be earnest in season, out of season, convict, rebuke, exhort, in all long-suffering and teaching, for there shall be a season when the sound teaching they will not suffer, but according to their own desires to themselves they shall heap up teachers—itching in the hearing, and indeed, from the truth the hearing they shall turn away, and to the fables they shall be turned aside. And thou—watch in all things; suffer evil; do the work of one proclaiming good news; of thy ministration make full assurance, for I am already being poured out, and the time of my release hath arrived; the good strife I have striven, the course I have finished, the faith I have kept, henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of the righteousness that the Lord—the Righteous Judge—shall give to me in that day, and not only to me, but also to all those loving his manifestation” (2 Tim. 4:1-8 YLT, BLB, LSV).
Paul was entrusted with the gospel which brings immortality or eternal life to the soul of man. Paul knew severe persecutions were coming for him before the “about to” approaching “day” of the Lord. His confidence was in knowing that God was going to guard his God given faith and soul as a precious deposit as that day was “about to” come and his life was going to be poured out and of course was – just prior to the evens of AD 67 – AD 70.
There is nothing here about Paul having a hope that was connected to an “incorruptible” physical body that he would get at the end of world history. His deposit was his faith and assurance that his soul was about to receive the gift of eternal life or incorruptibility and immortality.
Peter defined this “ready to be revealed” “inheritance” as the “salvation of the soul” (1 Pet. 1:4-9).
After reading the above verses to see how Paul and the other New Testament writers use them elsewhere, it can be seen that the term “corruption” has reference to life under the Law of Moses and life “in Adam.” Notice that it was possible to be under a state of “corruption” without having to be dead physically. Instead, this term had reference to life under the dominion of sin.
Likewise, “incorruption” was used to describe those in the body of Christ. Those enjoying the “incorruption” or “immortality” were those who had been added to the body (Church) of Christ by responding positively to the gospel. Just as the Church had to progress towards perfection, the individual Christians within the Church had “incorruption” while at the same time waiting for it to come on the day when God’s wrath would be revealed (Romans 2:7). This idea is called by some as the “already but not yet” of Eschatology. Because the “already” was not of a physical nature, it makes sense that the “not yet” would be of the same nature. If you saw the head of a dog coming around a corner, you would expect to see the tail of a dog – not of a cat – following shortly thereafter. The dog doesn’t change into something else just because it is fully revealed. In like manner, the nature of the incorruption (the spiritual salvation of the soul) remains the same from initiation to consummation.
Natural v Spiritual
1). “Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:6-14).
In the next chapter Paul explains the when the “things” were coming that the natural man could not understand,
“So then, let no one glory in men, for all things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things about to be — all are yours,” (1 Cor. 3:22 YLT).
The rulers of Paul’s “this age” were the civil and religious rulers of the Old Covenant age that had crucified Christ and were “natural” men – unable to discern the spiritual blessings coming under the New Covenant Creation. They and their system of power and authority were going to “pass away.”
Many exegetes are correct to point out that Paul combines the “things” of Isaiah 64:4 with the coming inheritance of the New Creation of Isaiah 65:17 in this OT echo. Paul in verses 10-14 teaches that the natural man could not accept these New Covenant or New Creation “things” that were being revealed by the Spirit – because these were “spiritual truths.” The natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit – the new birth or God’s people becoming a spiritual “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17/Isa. 65). The inheritance of the “things” of the New Creation of Isaiah 65 were “about to be” received or inherited by the New Covenant Body of the Church while the rulers of the Old Covenant “this age” were going to pass away.
2). “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly/natural, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (Jms. 3:15).
When was the harvest of judgment and righteousness coming(?),
“Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door” (Jms. 5:7-9)
The rich professing Christians were causing division and persecuting the poor Christians in the Church. Some Christians were even getting caught up into natural/earthly thinking that was demonic and from below – not from New Covenant living which was “from above.” It was important for true Christians to live out their New Covenant faith and thus demonstrate their faith was genuine and without hypocrisy–because the Judge was “at the door” and “at hand.” Those who were natural/earthy were like grass and a flower that would soon be burned up or pass away while others would inherit the Crown of Life (eternal life) at Christ’s imminent coming in AD 70 (Jms. 1:11-12/5:7-9; 1 Pet. 1:24/4:5-7, 17/2 Pet. 3).
3). “It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage. But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly/carnal/earthy people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life” (Jude 1:19-21).
Judaizers are here described as “carnal” false teachers seeking to place believers back under the Law. 1 Enoch and other Dead Sea Scroll documents predicted the end of the age judgment of Satan, the Watchers and the wicked would be judged in the first century and by AD 70 just as Jesus and the NT develops. Very similar to what we just saw in the book of James – being “carnal” or “worldly” has nothing to do with the physical flesh of man, but being corrupted inwardly with sin and being “devoid of the Spirit.”
Earthy v Heavenly
The Greek word for “earthy” is only used by Paul here in 1 Corinthians 15:47, 48, 49. However, we can do a study of “heavenly” in the NT to understand what Paul is referring to.
1). “Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water even the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above (or again).’ The wind5 blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So, it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things (Jn. 3:5-12)?”
Citizens of the Old Covenant Kingdom were born by flesh and blood – sons of Abraham. But under the New Covenant Kingdom, one had to be “born from above” through the Spirit and faith in the Messiah/Jesus – “not of flesh and blood” “nor of the will of man, but of God” (Jn. 1:11-13).
2). “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephs. 2:4-10).
According to Paul when would the coming age arrive or when would the full inheritance into this heavenly realm arrive(?),
“…not only in this age, but also in the one about to come” (Ephs. 1:21 WUESTNT).
For Paul, one could experience spiritual resurrection and be in “heavenly places” while being in a physical body. This spiritual existence would continue for the living in the New Covenant “age about to” arrive in AD 70. So, to be “heavenly” does not mean to undergo a biological change. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 is teaching that the Church (comprised of the OT dead and the living) was in the process of being raised a “Spiritual Body.”
3). “But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So, I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (2 Tim. 4:17-18).
Again, within the immediate context, when did Paul see full access into this “heavenly kingdom” to take place(?),
I do fully testify, then, before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who is about to judge living and dead at his manifestation and his Kingdom/Reign…” (2 Tim. 4:1 YLT, BLB, LSV).
While Paul had been delivered by the lions of the Jewish persecution, as we have seen elsewhere in his writings and as time progressed, it was revealed to him that he would die and his life would be poured out (martyred). No matter if Paul was alive, he understood that he was raised spiritually and currently in “heavenly places,” or if he were to die, his soul was “about to” experience the inheritance of the “Crown of Life” (eternal life) and thus the “manifestation of His Kingdom” at Christ’s imminent coming. No evidence here that to be raised in a spiritual body means to undergo a biological corpse resurrection.
4). Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, 6 but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope” (Heb. 3:1-6).
“Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Heb. 9:23-28).
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (Heb. 12:22-24).
According to the writer of Hebrews, when would the “heavenly Jerusalem/City” arrive(?),
“For we have no permanent city here, but we are longing for the city which is soon to be ours” (Heb. 13:14 Weymouth New Testament, see also “one about to come” – Worrell NT; Worsley NT; Smith’s Literal Translation)
Through the “heavenly calling” of the gospel, biologically living Christians were already being raised and experiencing and tasting the heavenly realm and calling (having come to or among angels, Christ and the spirits of just men made perfect). Moses was over a physical Old Covenant “house,” while Jesus was an administer and trailblazer in perfecting the New Covenant spiritual “house” — which is the Body of Christ. In Hebrews 9-10 the spiritual New Covenant Body is depicted as the “second” (typified as the Most Holy Place House), and when Christ would come in “a very little while and would not delay” in AD 70, the “first” (the “present age” of the Old Covenant system or typified as the Holy Place) would not be standing or have legal standing (Heb. 9:1—10:37). This is when the “heavenly Jerusalem/City” that was “soon” or “about to” come did. Post AD 70, God has raised and filled His spiritual Body or House / New Jerusalem / Most Holy Place with His presence (cf. Rev. 21:16—22:17). There was no biological fleshly change or resurrection for the saints to undergo to experience this “better resurrection” under the New Covenant. Nor is Paul teaching a biological resurrection of flesh is necessary to be raised a spiritual or heavenly body in 1 Corinthians 15.
The weakness of Flesh v. Power
1). “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 16:13-17).
The revelation of who Christ is or entrance into Christ’s Kingdom, is not something that the power of “flesh and blood” can achieve – it is only something God who is in heaven can grant.
2). “who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:13)
Again, under the Old Covenant Kingdom, one was and could be born of the blood and flesh of Abraham, but under the New Covenant Kingdom, one had to be “born of God” “born from above” “born of the Spirit.” This was and is nothing the power of natural man (“flesh and blood”) can achieve.
3). “For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh/anyone;” (Gals. 1:11-16).
“Flesh” nor anyone can ultimately be said to bring one into the Kingdom. It is solely the work of God and His grace. The power of any man/flesh cannot achieve or bring one into the Kingdom – it is a revelation and birth only God can grant.
Back to the Corporate Body Motif
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 body-burial and body-death, followed by consummated body-death, body-resurrection, 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.
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.”
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”) 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.”
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 OT 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. While we agree that the coming of Christ in Matthew 24-25 was fulfilled spiritually in AD 70, we disagree with Partial Preterists such as Gary DeMar and Keith Mathison’s un-creedal and unorthodox position that Matthew 24-25 is not the “actual” Second Coming event and disagree with their 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 Old Covenant body of death was natural, weak, mortal, and subject to being perishable. It needed to be clothed and changed by the heavenly man.
The trumpet call at Christ’s parousia here is fulfilling multiple OT concepts. It is the trumpet blown at the wedding in Jewish culture that I have discussed in Matthew 24-25.
Jesus has already been described as the “first fruits” so we also have the trumpet being blown to fulfill the first fruits of the harvest / resurrection motif or Succot (the feast of harvest).
The blowing the trumpet here also fulfills the typological ceremonial law or the feast of the new moon festival or the feast of trumpets. These last three feasts that were in the ceremonial law had already broken into Paul’s “already and not yet” eschaton in Colossians 2-3 and Hebrews 9-12 and they are present here in 1 Corinthians 15 as well. Again, if the trumpet call and resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15 hasn’t been fulfilled and the OT Mosaic “the law” (v. 55-56) hasn’t been fulfilled, then the Church remains under “every jot and tittle” of the OT Mosaic Law today (Mt. 5:17-19). One cannot posit the end and fulfillment of all of the ceremonial law to be fulfilled at the cross or Pentecost, because the ceremonial feast days composed the entire structure and function for Israel’s calendar year. There were three more to be fulfilled post Pentecost. According to Paul in Colossians and the writer to the Hebrews, those ceremonial type and shadow ceremonial laws and feasts were “about to be” fulfilled at Christ’s “in a very little while and will not delay” Second Coming (Cols. 2-3; Heb. 9-10:37).
The Perishable to be Clothed with Imperishable – the Mortal with Immortality & 2 Cor. 3-6
Paul is not describing an individual’s 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 Old Covenant and New Covenant 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 Old Covenant temple/house/system and the spiritual “heavenly dwelling/temple/house” is the corporate New Covenant 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 (cf. 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, looking at God’s face spiritually in a dim glass or mirror, a boy maturing into manhood and or here in 1 Corinthians 15 – being sown and rising into a spiritual body.
Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:16 further elaborates that the New Covenant Temple promised in Ezekiel 37:27 (and thus that of 40-47), is the corporate body of the Church. So the corporate and covenantal context between 2 Corinthians 3 extends to chapter 6:16.
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” (Rms. 8:18-23YLT).
As we have seen, 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. Lightfoot correctly observed the “redemption of the BODY” is the corporate body of Christ as in Ephesians 4:13. Of course we agree, there was a corporate bodily change that was “about to be” fulfilled according to Paul and that was a transformation from groaning in and being under the Adamic/Mosaic body of death to be liberated and raised into the glorious and redeemed body of Christ at Christ’s coming in AD 70.
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?”
“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.”
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 Paul’s 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 Old Covenant Mosaic 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 (the garden/temple), 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. This 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’s context is clear enough as well. Due to Israel’s spiritual adultery with Baal and breaking their Old Covenant law, God gave Israel a certificate of divorcement. The corporate body of Israel breaking the Old Covenant law resulted not only in a divorce, but it 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 Old Covenant 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.
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” in the process of “being destroyed” in Paul’s day, but they also puzzle over his reference to the Old Covenant Mosaic “the law” thrown in with the timing of victory over “the sin” and “the death.” These last two references seem to correlate well with the resurrection, but what does the Mosaic Old Covenant “the law” have to do with it — especially since most Futurists see the Old Covenant Mosaic law being done away with at the cross or possibly by AD 70?
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 Old Covenant’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 Old Covenant “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 Old Covenant “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 when that heaven and earth system “soon vanished” (Heb. 8:13).
Death would be swallowed up and victory over its 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 and fulfilled the promises contained in the Mosaic Old Covenant 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 New Covenant side of the cross). They could hardly be considered as Christians or saints for denying Christ’s resurrection. They were in effect denying resurrection to a specific group – the Old Covenant dead, whom they assumed they had replaced or were not a part of the New Covenant body of Christ as they were.
As we have seen the parallels between Matthew 24 and 1 Corinthians 15 demonstrate that an 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 [corporate] 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 the Temple/Body 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 and beyond.
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 to close the Old Covenant age in AD 70 at Christ’s ONE imminent parousia.
When victory over the Mosaic Old Covenant “the law” came, then victory and resurrection over “the sin” and “the death” was realized. Victory over the Old Covenant “the law” was realized when all of its promises were fulfilled and or it’s “heaven and earth” “soon” passed away in AD 70 (Lk. 21:22-32; Mt. 5:17-18; Heb. 8:13; 9:26-28; 10:37).
“Orthodox” Postmillennial Partial Preterism is teaching that there was a progressive, spiritual, corporate, covenantal resurrection for Israel and the Church between AD 30 – AD 70 which 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.
Individual Body and Corporate Body
When we read 1 Corinthians 15 or 2 Corinthians 5 it sounds very much like Paul is describing a spiritual individual body to describe the ONE corporate Body of Christ-the Church. And to a degree, I think that is what he is doing. When one died prior to AD 70 we learn that His soul was gathered back to God who created it (Ecl. 12:7). Because Christ had not come, even righteous men were separated from God in Abraham’s Bosom or Hades. In this state, they were not shadows or ghosts, but had individual spiritual bodies that reflected the images they had here on earth. God allowed Samuel’s soul to be disturbed and come up to visit Saul in 1 Samuel 28:11-20. Here we see that Samuel’s soul/spirit had a body that was recognizable from the body and appearance he had while on earth.
We often speak of our aging relatives on their death beds with language such as, “Grandma is in ‘her last days’ get a flight out here quickly!” Or “come quickly and say your goodbyes, because ‘grandpa is fading away quickly’ or ‘passing away quickly.’” We realize that there is a transition and transformation that takes place at biological death where the temporal shell of our body goes back to the earth and our spirit or soul (our essence – personality, memories, volition, etc.) receive a different form and can continue in that form forever. In fact even some of our own critics describe the soul leaving the body into God’s presence is a resurrection,
“…resurrection occurs when he our she departs this life and is immediately ushered in to the presence of Christ to reign with Him.”
In a similar way, The Old Covenant Man/Kingdom was never designed to live on this earth forever. He was temporal and would at some point enter into his “last days” and “soon vanish,” but at the same time would experience a change or transformation into another form – a spiritual one fit for eternity. God’s Kingdom is now a Kingdom of Heaven “not of this world” and we are blessed to be in it. When we die this side of Christ’s Second Coming in AD 70 and the end of the Old Covenant age, we are blessed to experience this eternal life separated from the distractions of life here on earth. We will have a spiritual body that is recognizable and will forever live in His majestic presence.
Before leaving the subject of the resurrection, many Futurists have taken 2 Timothy 2:17-18 out of context in order to try and condemn Full Preterism as “heretical.” Therefore, before leaving this subject we should address this crucial passage.
2 Timothy 2:17–18
- “and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some” (2 Tim. 2:17-18).
Without 2 Timothy 2:17–18, the Futurist doesn’t have a biblical leg to stand on in his condemnation of Full Preterists.
Far from being an anti-preterist passage, 2 Timothy 2:17–18 is actually a condemnation of the implications of Futurism. Allow me to explain. First of all, Hymenaeus and Philetus were Judaizers. They were of a class of deceivers who taught Jewish “myths” and “genealogies” (1 Tim. 1:4; Titus 1:4), and were self-appointed “teachers of the Law” (1 Tim. 1:7). They taught believers to abstain from foods (1 Tim. 4:3), no doubt using the Levitical dietary laws as a basis of their teaching.
It is because Hymenaeus and Philetus were Judaizers that Paul compared them to “Jannes and Jambres” (2 Tim. 3:8). According to ancient historians, Jannes and Jambres were Egyptian magicians who challenged Moses’ authority in Egypt. Like Jannes and Jambres, Hymenaeus and Philetus were teaching the strange doctrines of “Egypt” (Rev. 11:8), and were challenging Paul’s gospel-authority, attempting to deceive Christians into believing that God’s new wine (the new covenant land of promise) could be contained within the old, “Egyptian” wineskins of the old covenant world.
Likewise, in 2 Timothy 2:19, Paul connects Hymenaeus and Philetus to the rebellion of Korah in Numbers 16:5, 26. Korah had led hundreds of the sons of Israel to challenge Moses’ authority. As God had destroyed Korah and his followers in the wilderness, so God was “about to judge” (2 Timothy 4:1) and destroy the Judaizers Hymenaeus and Philetus and others like them (cf. Heb. 3:16–19).
According to the teaching of Hymenaeus and Philetus, because Jerusalem and the temple still stood (in about AD 67) after the resurrection had allegedly already taken place, it irresistibly followed that “the sons according to the flesh” were now the heirs of the eternal kingdom and that Paul’s Jew-Gentile gospel of grace was a lie. The blasphemous error of Hymenaeus and Philetus was that the world of the Mosaic covenant would remain forever established after the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets had taken place and the new heavens and new earth (“the resurrection”) had arrived.
This “Hymenaean” heresy is the diametric opposite of Full Preterism. According to Preterism, the Old Covenant came to an eternal and irrevocable termination in “the resurrection,” when all things were fulfilled in AD 70. There is absolutely no theological connection between Preterism and Hymenaeus’ blasphemous lie of an everlasting “ministration of death.”
However, there is a clear connection between the heresy of Hymenaeus and the implications of Futurism: If “the Law and the Prophets” are not fulfilled today, and “heaven and earth” have not passed away, and the jots and tittles of the Law have not passed away, and all things are not yet fulfilled, as futurism says, then logically and scripturally, the Law of Moses remains “imposed” to this day (Matt. 5:17–19; Heb. 8:13; 9:10). This implication of Futurism is exactly what the Judaizers, Hymenaeus and Philetus, taught when they said the resurrection was already past in AD 67.
It is also interesting how Paul’s apologetic against Hymenaeus and Philetus is similar to that of those in Thessalonica who were teaching the Day of the Lord had “already” happened (2 Thess. 2:3). Notice Paul says nothing like our opponents try and reason against us such as,
“How in the world could you believe anyone teaching the Second Coming and resurrection has already been fulfilled in AD 70?!? Just look around. We are still here so the rapture hasn’t taken place has it? Corpses are still in the graveyards, aren’t they? The planet hasn’t been burned up and everything isn’t perfect yet is it? So how in the world could you believe the Second Coming and resurrection has already been fulfilled or is a past event?”
Futurists constantly feel this “just look around” “there’s no physical manifestations of the kingdom” type “arguments” is their first and best appeals at refuting Full Preterism and yet Paul never uses them. Why? Because Paul was a Full Preterist and understood that the Second Coming and resurrection were spiritual and unseen events and that they were “about to be” fulfilled in his future. Paul had no beef with those teaching these were spiritual events, he just refuted the timing of their teaching (AD 70 and the destruction of the Temple were still future to Paul and his audience) and their connections with the heresy of the Judaizers and seeking to usurp his authority and the Torah-free gospel he preached.
 Lester L. Grabbe, An Introduction to Second Temple Judaism: History and Religion of the Jews in the Time of Nehemiah, the Maccabees, Hillel, and Jesus, (T&T Clark Publishing, 2010), see pages 93-96
 Murray J. Harris, FROM GRAVE to GLORY RESURRECTION IN THE NEW TESTAMENT Including a Response to Norman L. Geisler, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1990), 70
 Kiel and Delitzsch, The Pulpit Commentary, https://biblehub.com/commentaries/job/19-26.htm
 Green, Hassertt and Sullivan, House Divided, Ibid., 194-195
 James B. Jordan, THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL A Commentary on the Book of Daniel, (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 2007), 618
 Ibid., 618-619
 Ibid., 620
 Ibid. 621
 Ibid., 628
 Kenneth L. Gentry, JR., HE SHALL HAVE DOMINION A POSTMILLENNIAL ESCHATOLOGY THIRD EDITION REVISED AND EXPANDED, (Draper, VA: Apologetics Group Media, 2009), 538
 Ibid., 538 emphasis MJS
 Ibid., 538-539 emphasis MJS
 Ibid., 539 emphasis MJS
 Ibid., 540 emphasis MJS
 Kenneth Gentry, The GREATNESS OF THE BREAT COMMISSION, (Tyler, TX: ICE Publishing, 1990), 142 emphasis MJS
 Green, Hassertt, Sullivan, House Divided Second Edition, Ibid., 178
 Joel McDurmon, Jesus v. Jerusalem: A Commentary on Luke 9:51 – 20:26, Jesus’ Lawsuit Against Israel (Powder Springs, GA: The American Vision, Inc., 2011), 48-49; see entire section 43-51.
 Peter J. Leithart, The Promise of His Appearing: An Exposition of Second Peter (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2004), 95
 McDurmon, ibid., 45-46
 N.T. Wright, THE RESURRECTION OF THE SON OF GOD, (Minneapolis, MN: 2003), 645 and footnote 42
 Ibid., 46-47
 Lester L. Grabbe, An Introduction to First Century Judaism: Jewish Religion and History in the Second Temple Period, (Edinburg: Continuum T&T Clark, 1995), pp. 86-87. Bold emphasis added. Other Jewish Christian scholars such as Dr. Michael Brown have pointed out Rashi and others understood Daniel 9:24-27 to be Messianic, ANSWERING JEWISH OBJECTIONS to JESUS, Volume Three, (Grand Rapids: MI, Baker Books, 2003, pp. 89-90.
 Dr. BOAZ COHEN, NEW AMERICAN EDITION Everyman’s TALMUD, (New York: E.P. Dutton & CO., 1949), 356.
 Gregg, Ibid., 389
 Gregg, Ibid., 389-390
 Gregg, Ibid., 387, footnote 51.
 Ibid., footnote 54.
 G.K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of The Old Testament In The New (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011), 131-132.
 Ibid., 131
 Ibid., 132
 Ibid., 132
 Ibid., 132
 Green, Hassertt, Sullivan, House Divided Second Edition, Ibid., 179-178
 Kenneth Gentry, co-authored book, FOUR VIEWS ON THE BOOK OF REVELATION, (Grand Rapids, MI: 1998), 89.
 Ibid. 46
 Kenneth Gentry, co-authored book, THREE VIEWS ON THE MILLENNIUM AND BEYOND, (Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan, 1999), 246 footnote 45.
 Don K. Preston, Paul on Trial, PAUL, THE PHARISEES AND RESURRECTION, (Ardmore, OK: JaDon, 2020), 123
 Ibid. 125
 Ibid. 75
 John Lightfoot, Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, Volume 4 (Hendrickson publications), 157. Lightfoot, Hammond, and Gill understand the “creation” to be referring to Gentiles. “ . . . Crellius (Comm., Para.) explains it as a reference to regenerate Christians and Le Clerc (Supp., NT) refers it particularly to Gentile Christians.” See also John Locke, The Clarendon Edition of the Works of John Locke. I tend to see it as more of believers within Old Covenant Israel groaning under the law (Rms. 7) awaiting Messianic deliverance, but there is no reason to exclude righteous Gentiles also longing for the seed of the woman to deliver them from Adamic death and sin which the Mosaic Law only magnified.
 Ibid., 158–159, emphases MJS
 John Lightfoot, Sermon on “Many Mansions,” cf. https://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/lightfoot/vol06.pdf… pp. 322-323
 Tom Holland, Contours In Pauline Theology (Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2004), 85–110.
 Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness, Ibid., 225
 Kenneth Gentry, co-authored work/debate, FOUR VIEWS OF THE BOOK OF REVELATION, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 89
 Kenneth Gentry, Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation (Tyler, TX: Institute for Biblical Economics, 1989), 141-142, MJS
 Rev. Dr. A. Cohen, Everyman’s TALMUD, (New York: E.P. DUTTON & CO., INC., 1949), 361-362
 quotes taken from: Curtis Crenshaw and Grove Gunn, Dispensationalism Today, Yesterday, and Tomorrow, 204
 Gary DeMar, What Does Peter Mean by the Passing Away of Heaven and Earth? A Study of 2 Peter 3
 Wuest, K. S. (1997). The New Testament: An expanded translation (1 Co 15:20–28). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans
 Gordon D. Fee, THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans pub., 1987), 756
 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
 Holland, Ibid., see 90 – 107 for this discussion
 Don K. Preston, 2005, 2712 Mt. Washington Rd. Ardmore, Ok.
 Keith A. Mathison, co-authored book, WHEN SHALL THESE THINGS BE? A REFORMED RESPONSE TO HYPER-PRETERISM, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2004), 196
 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
 Ibid, 91
 Ibid., 91
 Ibid., 91
 Ibid., 95-96
 Ibid. 107 emphasis MJS
 John Lightfoot, Ibid., Vol. 4 (Hendrickson publications), 157.
 Ibid., 158–159, emphases MJS
 Green, Hassertt, Sullivan, Ibid., 206-210
 For a good discussion on the present tense found in 1 Corinthians 15 as well as seeing how this chapter fulfills the last three feast days of Israel, see Don K. Preston, Paul on Trial, PAUL THE PHARISEES AND RESURRECTION (JanDon, 1405 4th Ave. N.W. #109, Ardmore, OK. 73401, 2020), 95f.
 Richard Hays, The CONVERSION of the IMAGINATION Paul as Interpreter of Israel’s Scripture, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 2005), 38
 Ibid., 41
 It is interesting that even some critics of Full Preterism describe a Chrstian’s soul/spirit leaving the body at death and going into God’s presence as a resurrection – see Robert Strimple, THREE VIEWS ON THE MILLENNIUM AND BEYOND, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999), 127
 William Hendriksen; Simon J. Kistemaker: New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 268.