In writing to the Corinthians, Paul outlines the events that will occur at or precede the “arrival” or ‘parousia’ of Jesus, one of several Greek terms applied by him to Christ’s future coming. Regardless of which term he uses, he always refers to one “coming,” “revelation,” or “appearance” of Jesus at the end of the age, not two.
Moreover, nowhere in his letters does the Apostle use any Greek term for that event that equates to English terms like ‘rapture,’ ‘translate,’ ‘transport,’ or ‘remove.’ He speaks of Christ’s “coming” and “arrival” on the “day of the Lord” when he will raise the dead and gather his elect to himself.
In the New Testament, the resurrection of the righteous, the final judgment, and the New Creation are all linked to his return, and this also is the case in 1 Corinthians 15:20-28.
RESURRECTION IS PIVOTAL
And in First Corinthians, Paul does not provide a detailed roadmap of future events and chronologies. His purpose is to demonstrate the necessity for the future bodily resurrection.
Apparently, some believers are denying the reality of or necessity for the bodily resurrection of believers – (1 Corinthians 15:12).
Paul anchors the future resurrection in the past resurrection of Jesus Christ. If there is no future resurrection, then “not even Christ has been raised, and if Christ has not been raised…to no purpose is our faith, we are yet in our sins.”
Thus, the resurrection of believers when Jesus arrives in glory is linked inextricably to his own past resurrection. Believers experience a resurrection of the same order as did the Lord, only theirs occurs at a different time. His resurrection is the “first fruit” of the general resurrection at the end of the age.
His “arrival” will be preceded by the subjugation of “all his enemies,” and when that day does occur, the dead will be raised and believers still alive will be transformed. It is at that time that the righteous receive immortality, “death, the last enemy,” will cease, the kingdom of God will be consummated, and the present age will end.
In addition, Paul explains what kind of body we will inherit at the resurrection (“How are the dead raised and with what manner of body do they come?”).
The disciple’s mortal body will be raised “incorruptible, in glory and power.” Thereafter, the resurrection body will be dominated by the Spirit. No longer will the believer’s body be subjected to death or decay:
- “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit in-corruption.”
Paul concludes his discussion by demonstrating the necessity for the transformation of the human body before it can inherit everlasting life. The bodies of both living and dead saints must be changed into bodies that are dominated by the “Spirit,” as well as ones that are incorruptible and immortal:
- (1 Corinthians 15:49-57) – “And even as we have borne the image of the man of the earth, let us also bear the image of the man of heaven. And this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom. Neither does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, a mystery do I declare to you: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, during the last trumpet; for it shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must clothe itself with incorruptibility, and this mortal clothe itself with immortality…”
Thus, according to the Apostle, the resurrection will occur at the parousia or “arrival” of Jesus at the end of the age, an event that also terminates the jurisdiction of death, and that means there will be no more enemies left to defeat.
And Paul leaves no doubt that “resurrection” means life in an immortal “body” and not in a disembodied state. However much that life will differ from the present one, for the believer, it will be an embodied existence.
And the receipt of the immortal body that is no longer subject to death will mean the arrival of the “new creation.” Reconstituting dead men and women as immortal beings is nothing less than an act of new creation.
5 thoughts on “Final Events”