Friday, November 24, 2006

The dead in Christ shall rise

Christ is both the model and dynamic of the believers resurrection hope. Believers will be raised from the dead by Christ and be made like him. The believer’s lowly body, corrupted by sin and broken by the fall will be conformed to Christ’s glorious resurrection body,

The Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ…will transform our lowly body that it might be conformed to his glorious body (Philippians 3:20 & 21).

In addressing the Corinthian’s question “How are the dead raised up?” (1 Corinthians 15:35), Paul says that the body we now possess now is like a “seed” that is “sown in corruption, dishonour and weakness” (15:42 & 43). Christ is able to give us a body that is suitable for the glory of the age to come. Our bodies will be raised “in incorruption, glory and power (15:42 & 43). The antithesis is perfect; our humanity, broken by the ravages of sin and death will be made perfectly and gloriously whole in Christ.

The resurrection of the believer will not simply be a return to bodily life after death. As with the resurrection of Christ, resurrection means transformation. Those who hope in Christ will be made like the Lord from heaven, “As we have born the image of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man”. (15:49 cf. 1 John 3:1-3.)

The trigger-point of the day of resurrection will be the return of Christ in power and glory. The Church at Thessalonica was concerned that those who had died before Christ retuned would somehow miss out on resurrection glory. Paul wrote these words to reassure them: (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17.)

When the day of the Lord comes, the dead in Christ will rise from the grave first. Then believers who are alive on that day will be caught up with the resurrected saints to be forever with the Lord in the environs of the new creation.

Paul concludes his defence of the Christian hope of resurrection with an eloquent description on the day of the Lord: (1 Corinthians 15:51-54.)

Not all believers will “sleep” or experience death before the coming of Christ. But all will be changed when he comes. Then death will be defeated as believers exchange corruption and mortality for incorruption and immortality. Death will be completely destroyed, “swallowed up in victory”.

It is worth noting that it is only in connection with the final resurrected state that the Bible uses the term “immortality” of human beings. The idea of an inherently “immortal soul” belongs more to Plato than the Bible,
immortality of the soul…is often used in an unbiblical way to minimise the reality of death and to render almost superfluous any further hope of the resurrection of the body. (The Promise of the Future, Cornelius Venema, Baner of Truth Trust, 2000, p. 39-40.)
It is “our Saviour Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10). The final “immortal” state for believers is to be made like Christ in resurrection glory, not to “go to heaven when they die”. But this begs the question, "What happens to believers after death and before the resurrection?" I will attempt to provide an answer in a future post.


Steven Carr said...

'Paul says that the body we now possess now is like a “seed” that is “sown in corruption, dishonour and weakness”'

Paul never says 'the body' is sown in corruption, dishonour and weakness.

There is no subject in those particular phrases. The nearest subject is 'the dead'.

If you want to put in a subject, the translation would be 'So also is the resurrection of the dead, one of the dead is sown in decay, one of the dead is raised in indestructibility'.

And Paul never states that the same body is sown and raised.

Indeed he says exactly the opposite 'You do not plant the body that will be'.

For Paul, the corpse is just a seed which perishes. God creates a new body after the old has perished, just as God creates new plants after the seeds have died.

The new body is made from a different material to the old corpse, just as your quote of Paul implies.

'“As we have born the image of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man”.

Corpses turn to dust, and the resurrected person will not be made from dust, ie will not be made from a corpse or other earthly materials.

'The first man is of dirt from the Earth , the second man from heaven. As is the one of dirt, so also are those of dirt, and is the one in heaven, so also are those in heaven.

According to Paul , it was a category mistake to think that God would reform corpses to make resurrected bodies.

Paul explains that they a resurrected body and a corpse are entirely different things. He uses the examples of fish, birds, men , the sun and the moon to teach the Corinthians that different bodies are made of different materials and that one does not turn into the other - no more than a fish can turn into the moon.

When Paul does use 'body' as a subject , he has *two* subjects, hence *two* bodies. 'A biological body is sown, a spiritual body is raised'.

I use the term 'biological', because, as you rightly point out, Paul had no concept of a 'soul'.

For him , 'psyche' did not mean 'soul', but 'life'. It wa what you lost when you died.

As for the passage from Philippians, the verb 'metaschematizo' usually means 'change' as in 'changing one's clothes' - see Josephus Antiquites of the Jews books 7 and 8.

It seems that Paul is using a clothing metaphor, just as he often does when discussing the resurrection.

We are wearing our present bodies like clothes.

We will get new clothes. We will change clothes.

But changing clothes means discarding the old clothes and putting on new ones.

It is interesting that Philippians 3 is also the chapter where Paul describes his former beliefs as a Pharisee as 'rubbish' (skybala)

'When death will be defeated as believers exchange corruption and mortality for incorruption and immortality.'

Does Paul say that believers will *exchange* corruption for incorruption?

He says believers will 'put on' imperishability.

Something will be put on top of something else.

What was put 'on top' of Jesus's corpse?

The analogy doesn't fit does it?

To put something on top of a corpse leaves a corpse underneath.

However, Paul's clothing analogy fits his 'put on' beautifully.

We take off the 'body of death' and put on a new , imperishable body.

Guy Davies said...


As you are an atheist, your great need at the moment is not to discuss the finer points of eschatology. Repent and believe the gospel. Then what you presently find so difficult to understand will be made abundantly clear.

Unknown said...

Dear Exiled Preacher, greetings!

It is a pleasure to read your explanation about the destination of the dead in Christ. So many "preachers" have got this issue mixed up. They want to take easy on those that are mourning and "lie" to them twisting the real meaning of the Scriptures! You so right! And I thank God for you determination to tell the truth. I sent you article to a inmate that was asking me about it.
Thank you very much.
May God continue giving you His wisdom for you to teach others like myself.

Sister Edite
Missionary from Brazil