WELCOME TO THEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES

 

WHEN DOES CHRIST RETURN?  PART TWELVE

      
 

Paul on the issue of death:

       Because of the manner in which Paul sometimes speaks of death, it is believed he is speaking of “spiritual death” as opposed to physical death. In Romans 5 20-21 Paul speaks of sin reigning in death.  In Romans 6:16, Paul speaks of being slaves to sin which leads to death. In Romans 7:5-6 Paul speaks of being controlled by the sinful nature bearing fruit for death.  In various other passages of Scripture we see Paul showing death is the result of sin (Romans 7:10-11, 7:13, 7:24, 8:6, 8:13).

       Nowhere does Paul use the phrase “spiritual death” when discussing the matter of sin and death. As already discussed, Paul made it clear that since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  It is clear that Paul’s understanding of death was it being a cessation of life and through resurrection such life can be restored.

       This being the case, when Paul speaks of death in his writings there is no reason to conclude Paul is speaking of death in any way other than the cessation of physical/biological life and not a so-called spiritual death where physical/biological life continues while at the same time one is spiritually dead which is to be spiritually separated from God.  As already discussed, the Greek word rendered death occurs 119 times in the NT and by context can be seen over and over again to clearly identify physical/biological death.

       Paul sees the association between sin and death as an actual law which he contrasts with what he called the law of the Spirit. Paul frequently speaks in terms of sin leading to death while behavior in line with righteousness leads to life. There is no reason to conclude Paul is using the term death to describe spiritual separation from God as opposed to literal biological death. 

       Romans 8:2: because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

       Romans 8:6: The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.

       Paul told the Ephesians they were dead in their transgressions and sins but made alive in with Christ and adds it is by grace they were saved.

       Ephesians 2:1: As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,

       Ephesians 2:4-5: But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved.

       How were these Ephesians dead?  Where they dead in some spiritual sense or where they dead in that they were doomed to eternal death because of sin?  Paul concludes they were saved by grace. We see in Scripture that because of the grace of God we are saved from the penalty of death.  Throughout the NT we see death as the cessation of physical life.  As already discussed, nowhere is death defined as spiritual.

       When Paul told the Ephesians they were dead in their sins, there is no reason to believe Paul is talking about any kind of death other than the eternal death sins produces.  Being made alive with Christ is to be given indwelling spirit life which is the seed of the eternal life.  Upon physical death this eternal life is manifested in the granting of a spiritual body to replace the physical body that died. This is the spiritual rebirth Jesus spoke of in John 3.

       Now it could be argued that the spirit in man is what generates sin and therefore sin is spiritual in nature. However, even though sin may be spiritual in nature, the fact remains that it results in eternal biological death.  While it can be argued that spiritual sin causes separation from God, nowhere in Scripture is such separation defined as spiritual death. The death that is seen in Scripture is cessation of physical life not cessation of a spiritual relationship with God or the cessation of spirit life. Paul speaks of sin reigning in death and contrasts it with eternal life through Christ.  There is nothing here to suggest Paul is speaking of spiritual death.

       Romans 5:20-21: The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

       It is clear that when Paul says that the body is dead because of sin, he is speaking of being eternally dead.  Jesus taught we physically die but can be made alive through Him. Jesus is recorded as saying in John 11:25 “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.” Paul shows how this is accomplished.

       Romans 8:10-11: But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

       Our bodies are mortal, subject to biological death. Death is seen throughout Scripture as pertaining to our physical bodies. On the other hand, life is associated with spirit. It is through spirit we are restored to life, not mortal life but spirit life.  As discussed above, Paul taught there is a natural body and there is a spiritual body. 

       Adam was a natural biological perishable human made from the dust of the ground. As such he was subject to biological death. When he sinned he became subject to eternal death. All humans have the same perishable body as did Adam and reap the wages of sin which is the eternal death of the perishable body. Jesus was born a physical/biological human subject to physical/biological death.  Because Jesus never sinned, He was not subject to eternal death. However, Jesus took our sins upon Himself thus making Himself subject to eternal death. Because Jesus never personally sinned, death couldn’t hold Jesus and God the Father resurrected Jesus and gave him a transformed spiritual body.

       Acts 2:24: But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.   

Physical Death versus Spiritual life:

       While it may be appropriate to say sin creates a spiritual separation between God and man, it may be best to classify such separation simply as spiritual separation and not spiritual death.  The terms spirit and spiritual are not seen in Scripture to be connected with death. Instead these terms are frequently connected to life.  As already discussed, Paul wrote that “through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”  Paul also wrote that “if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.”

       The term spirit in Scripture is associated with life, not with death. Therefore, the concept of spiritual death appears contrary to how spirit is seen and used by Scriptural writers.  It should be apparent that we are all subject to physical/biological death because of having been created mortal and we become subject to staying dead because of sin as was the case with Adam and Eve.  The Christ event does not do away with physical/biological death.  It does away with staying dead. The Christ event facilitates removal of sin death (eternal death). Sin death is not spiritual death. It is the cessation of life as we know it.  Resurrection is restoration of life that ceased to be. The removal of sin death results in being given an immortal spiritual body.  Thus eternal death is replaced by eternal life.    

Were Adam and Eve “provisionally saved”?

       Since Adam and Eve remained physically alive for many years after being told they would die if they ate of the forbidden fruit, some believe they were “provisionally saved” from physical death when God supposedly killed an animal to make garments to cloth them. It is believed the animals shed blood covered their sin and saved them from physical death

       Genesis 3:21: The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

       There is noting here that says God killed an animal to make the garments for Adam and Eve. There is nothing here or anywhere else in Scripture that tells us God shed the blood of an animal to provide atonement for Adam and Eve’s sin so they would not physically die the day they sinned.  As discussed above, God said "dying you shall die" when they ate of the forbidden fruit. Since they did ultimately die, it is apparent their sin was not atoned for.  

       From the beginning God established that the penalty for sin is eternal death. He also established that only through the death of a sinless person can this penalty of eternal death be atoned for.  Scripture shows that life is in the blood.  When Jesus shed His blood he gave up his life to fulfill the requirement of eternal death for sin.  However, eternal death could not hold Jesus because he never met the criteria for eternal death which is sin. Jesus never sinned. Jesus was resurrected to eternal life and in so doing facilitated our resurrection to eternal life as well. 

       It is often said that Jesus paid the penalty of death in our stead. Then why do we continue to physically die?  The sacrifice of Jesus does not prevent our physical death. Physical death is the normal and natural consequence of being born a human.  We all physically/biologically die.  Paul clearly said that all die in Adam (1 Corinthians 15:22). The writer to the Hebrews said that all men are destined to die once Hebrews 9:27).   The death of Jesus paid the penalty of death for sin in so much that it prevents that penalty from being eternal. 

How did Jesus die?

       In Romans 6, Paul said the death Christ died was to sin and that is why He could not die again. Christ physically died and was resurrected to eternal life which means He could not die again. Through resurrection to eternal life, Jesus destroyed eternal death. Paul reveals what the cause of eternal death is.

       1 Corinthians 15:56: The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

       2 Corinthians 3:6-10: He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant-not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory.

       Romans 10:4: Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

        Galatians 3:13: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.’

        The law defined sin. Paul said in Romans 5:13 that where there is no law there is no sin. Paul also shows in Romans 5 that sin had been around since Adam. Therefore law had been in place since Adam. Paul explained that the Old Covenant codified law system facilitated by Moses was actually added to increase sin (Romans 5:20). By codifying the law, it made it even more apparent when law was broken and sin occurred. Scripture defines sin as lawlessness (1 John 3:4). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Man was never able to avoid breaking law and avoid sinning. Since sin causes eternal death, man was unable to avoid such death.

       Breaking God’s law demands eternal death. Jesus voluntarily took our sins upon Himself and in so doing payed the eternal death penalty in our stead. Since this is the case, wouldn't Jesus have had to remain eternally dead? How can it be said He paid the eternal death penalty on our behalf if he didn't remain eternally dead?  

        Jesus didn't remain eternally dead because God choose to negate that penalty by resurrecting Jesus from the dead and forever do away with the penalty of eternal death.  The eternal death penalty for breaking the law has been satisfied for all time. The resurrection of Jesus provided the way to escape eternal death (remaining dead forever).

Did Jesus experience a "spiritual death" on the cross?

      Because of what Jesus cried out on the cross, it is believed He experienced a so-called spiritual death as well as the physical death He experienced when He drew His last breath.

       Matthew 27:46: About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’

         The Greek word translated “forsaken” means to “abandon, desert or leave helpless,” (see Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). Some believe this indicates Jesus  experienced a momentary spiritual separation from God which is seen as a “spiritual death,” the same kind of death it is believe Adam and Eve experienced in the Garden and the same kind of death it is believed we all experience in addition to physical/biological death. 

       The statement “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” is taken from Psalm 22:1. Psalm 22 appears to be prophetic of the events associated with the crucifixion of Jesus. A careful reading of this Psalm reveals the physical ordeal Jesus experienced at the time of His crucifixion. There is absolutely nothing in this Psalm that indicates a so-called spiritual death. The content of this Psalm speaks to the dynamics of Christ’s physical death and nothing more.  The following is an example of some of the language used to describe the physical trauma Christ experienced.

       Psalm 22:15-18: My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.   I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.  They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.

       In verse 8 we read "He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him."  It should be obvious this relates to deliverance from the physical death Jesus was experiencing and not a so-called spiritual death.  There simply is nothing in Psalm 22 about “spiritual death.”   While God did abandon Jesus to physical death, there is no Scriptural reason to believe God ever abandoned Jesus to a so-called spiritual death, a spiritual separation from God.  Furthermore, it is the physical body of Jesus that is seen as being the sacrifice for sin and nothing more.

       Hebrews 10:10b: we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.  

       All the Old Testament prophecies associated with the death of Jesus discuss his death in physical terms. In addition to Psalm 22, here is what we see in Isaiah 53.   

       Isaiah 53:4-5: Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

      Isaiah 53: 8c-10a: For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer.

       A review of all Scripture that pertains to the death of Jesus shows His death to be physical in nature.  Jesus experienced the same physical/biological death penalty for sin we all do.  However, since Jesus never sinned, He didn’t experience this penalty for His sins but for ours. Through His resurrection to life, Jesus made resurrection to life possible for us all. 

Death and Covenantal Transition:

         We see death as the penalty for sin being extant since the events that took place in the Garden of Eden. Paul taught that sin and death reigned from the time of Adam to Moses and has continued throughout time in that all men have sinned.

       Romans 5:12-14a: Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned-- for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses.

       Paul relates how sin entered the world through Adam and produced death and the death it produced has come to all men because all men have sinned (See my essay on The Doctrine of Original Sin). Paul makes it clear that in order for there to be death there must be sin and for there to be sin there must be law. Since death has been in evidence since the time of Adam, it must be that sin has been extant since Adam with its accompanying penalty of death. 

       The “law that was given” is a reference to the Old Covenant law that God gave to Israel. This was a codified version of various laws that had been extant since creation with the addition of certain laws for Israel only. This law was never consistently obeyed and became known as a law of death because failure to obey it produced death just as disobedience to law produced death from the time of Adam to the giving of the codified law (Old Covenant Law) to Israel.  

       The Old Covenant required strict obedience to the law that defined that Covenant. That law was composed of the Ten Commandments, numerous other behavioral requirements, civil law and a variety of religious Holy Day and ceremonial statutes. Disobedience to that law, as is true of all God ordained law, was defined as sin and sin required death. Because Israel was unable to obey this Law in any consistent manner, the very law that was meant for their good became a ministration of death for them (2 Corinthians 7).  

       The death of Jesus is seen as facilitating a transition from the Old Covenant ministration of death to the New Covenant ministration of life. Under the New Covenant, death is replaced with life through the Christ event. The death penalty for sin is paid for by Christ resulting in a transition to life.  This transition is actuated by the Spirit of God facilitating indwelling eternal life which leads to being given a spiritual body at the time of physical death, a death we all experience because of sin.  As already discussed, the sacrificial death of Christ does not do away with physical/biological death.  It does away with staying dead. 

       2 Corinthians 5:17-19a, 21: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them.

       God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

            The New Covenant brings life by bestowing the perfect righteousness of Christ on us so that before God we appear righteous. Therefore, we are no longer subject to eternal death.

      Romans 8:10: But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.

       Paul said our body is dead as a result of sin which is certainly true.   The wages of sin is death. There is nothing here to suggest that it is anything but the death of the physical/biological body of flesh and blood that is meant. However, our spirit is alive because of righteousness.  The perfectly righteous Christ Jesus has destroyed sin and death by paying the death penalty for sin and being resurrected to life. His righteousness is imputed to us providing for our reconciliation with God.  At the time of our physical death we are given a spiritual body that enters into the full presence of God. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul says this:

       Colossians 2:11-14: In Him you were circumcised in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with Him in baptism and raised with Him through your faith in the power of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross.

       Paul shows that we were dead in our sins but made alive through Christ as a result of His resurrection from the dead. The implication is that we are alive now with Christ through resurrection. That is why we go through the ritual of baptism to demonstrate the movement from death unto life. Even though we remain in a physical state until our physical death, we already have spirit life dwelling within us. Christ appeared physically after his death to prove to the world that he truly was alive and had through His death paid the price of our sin. His resurrection was not to show that humans will be resurrected in the same manner, but to show that passing from death unto life was possible. Resurrection is all about our moving from a state of death to a state of life.

       Ephesians 2:4-5: But because of His great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions.

       John 5:24: Christ said: ‘I tell you the truth, whoever hears my words and believes Him that sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.’ my word, he will never see death.

       Jesus says that believers will never die. Obviously all those that He was speaking to died physically. Jesus is showing that we can, in the here and now, have eternal life dwelling in us. This is tantamount to passing from death unto life. This is what resurrection is all about. Paul shows that it is because of law that sin occurs which in turn leads to death.  He then shows that through Christ death is eliminated. 

       1 Corinthians 15:55-57: Where, O death, is your victory? Where O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

       In a letter to Timothy, Paul wrote that Christ had destroyed death and had brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (1 Timothy 1:10). In a letter to the Philippians Paul wrote that he wants to experience the power of the resurrection and become like Christ in His death so somehow he could attain to the resurrection of the dead (Philippians 3:10). Bringing life and immortality to light through the gospel shows the gospel is about restoring life that has been destroyed through sin. Paul wanting to become like Christ in His death and attain to the resurrection of the dead is Paul wanting to experience the destruction of death as did Jesus and like Jesus experience resurrection to life. 

Resurrection and “the last day.”

       Christ spoke over and over again about raising up those at the last day who were committed to Him. Most Christians believe this to be an event still future to us. What is the last day that Christ is referring to?  Is this some kind of last day at the end of time or is this a last day at the time of the end? There is a big difference between speaking about the end of time and the time of the end. The Scriptures nowhere address the end of time. The Scriptures say a lot about the time of the end. What time and what end are being addressed?

       John 6:39-40: And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that He has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day.

       John 6:54: Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

       John 12:48: There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.

       The same apostle John that recorded the words of Christ relative to the last day speaks of living during the time of the “last hour.” Is the last hour discussed in John’s letter the same as the last day that Christ was speaking about?  Remember that this is the same John who wrote the Revelation wherein he shows an imminent return of Christ as covered earlier in this series.

       1 John 2:18: Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many Antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.

       John taught that the last hour was upon them. Is John’s last hour synonymous with Christ’s last day?  In Luke 21:22, within the overall context of Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, Jesus says, “For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written.”  Christ Jesus goes on to tell how dreadful things will be and what great distress there will be upon the land and wrath upon the people. In verse 28 Jesus says, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” What redemption is He talking about and how does it relate to the resurrection and the last time?

        In Galatians 3:13, Paul said, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law.” The curse of the law was death. Redemption is therefore related to passing from death unto life, which is what resurrection is all about. Paul speaks of their redemption as yet future and something they are hoping for when all things reach their fulfillment.

       Romans 8:22-25: We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies (Greek singular, “body”). For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

       Ephesians 1:3-10: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will­-to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment-to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

       Ephesians 4:30: And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

        Paul instructs that redemption is something viewed as a thing to be put into effect when all things have reached their fulfillment. Christ said the time of fulfillment of all things was when the temple would be destroyed. Paul speaks about the redemption of our body. Paul is speaking about death being replaced with life. This redemption began at the return of Christ in the first century and has been available ever since.   

       Apostle Peter shows that the salvation to be revealed in the last time is tied to the revealing of Christ.  We have already shown that the revealing of Christ was considered imminent to the first-century Christians.  Therefore, the “last time” was something to occur in the first century and not thousands of years into the future and counting.  Let’s again look at what Peter said:

        1 Peter 1:3-7: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

       1 Peter 2:12: Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

       1 Peter 1:5: To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be (Greek mellousēs which should be rendered "about to be") revealed (See my discussion of the Greek mello elsewhere in this series).

     Here we find Peter teaching that salvation is something yet future to them. It would occur at a period called “the last time.” The last time period is tied to the revealing of Christ.  As has been shown, the revealing of Christ is associated with His return. The return of Christ is seen as the time when “he (God) visits us.”  The “us” are the folks Peter is addressing in this letter. They are being told God is going to visit them by sending his Son to deliver them from the coming wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:10).  This is a first century context.  Those being addressed are being told of things that are about to take place.  Peter speaks of having to suffer for a little while in the context of them anticipating the revealing of Christ in their lifetime, not in the lifetime of those living thousands of years into the future. Peter speaks in terms of the glory about to be revealed.

Resurrection and the Corinthians:

      We have discussed how eternal death is the penalty Adam and Eve paid for committing sin.  Since we all sin, we all pay that penalty.  Because Jesus took our sins upon Himself, He paid the same death penalty we pay. However, death couldn’t hold Jesus because Jesus never sinned. Consequently He was resurrected to life.  By the sinless Jesus taking our sin upon Himself and paying the same penalty we pay, He cancelled out the penalty we pay. He paid the penalty in our stead in that we don't remain dead. If it wasn't for the Christ event, we would remain dead. Through Jesus the penalty of sin death is forgiven. Consequently, death can’t any longer hold us. Upon physical death we are given a transformed spiritual body.

       You may ask how it can be said that Jesus paid the penalty of death on our behalf when it is obvious we all die and thus appear to pay the penalty for sin ourselves.  We die because we are temporal physical/biological Beings.  The death of Jesus wasn't for the purpose of preventing physical/biological death.  The death of Jesus prevents us from staying dead forever. It provides for having life restored. It provides for resurrection from eternal death, Resurrection to life began with the resurrection of Jesus.  What kind of resurrection did Jesus experience and what kind of resurrection do we experience?   How is life restored?  We will go to 1 Corinthians 15 to answer these questions. 

       The fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians speaks a great deal about resurrection. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian Church deals with a variety of problems and issues that this Church was dealing with at the time.  A major problem was that various Corinthian brethren were aligning themselves with specific Christian leaders and, in so doing, causing division in the Church.  Paul also had to deal with immorality, lawsuits, questions about marriage, foods sacrificed to idols, spiritual gifts and the proper way to keep the Lord’s Supper.  In addition, Paul had to deal with some Corinthians believing there was no resurrection of the dead.

       As was true of many of the first century churches, the Corinthian church was made up of Gentiles and Jewish converts to Christianity.  These folks had come to believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus.  To be Christian was to believe in the resurrection of Jesus.  The whole focus of the preaching of Paul, Peter and every other Apostle and minister, was the death and resurrection of Jesus and what that meant for humanity.  Both Jews and Gentiles became Christian because of their belief in the resurrection of Christ.  Being a Christian was defined by belief in the resurrection.  How then, could some of these Corinthian Christians question the reality of resurrection?

    1 Corinthians 15:12: But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?

        In verses one through eleven of this chapter, Paul sets out to remind the Corinthians that the gospel he had preached to them was defined by the death and resurrection of Christ.  Paul relates that it is this gospel that the Corinthians believed and on which the Corinthian Christians have taken their stand.  It would, therefore, appear that the resurrection of Jesus is not what is being questioned.  In essence, Paul is saying that since Christ is preached as having been raised from the dead, which is what you believe and base your Christianity on, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead?      

      It is apparent that these Corinthian’s were not questioning Christ’s resurrection. They understood the resurrection of Jesus was a special extraordinary event facilitated by God for a specific purpose.  They were, however, questioning how others could resurrect from the dead. Paul goes on to show the absurdity of questioning resurrection of the dead in view of their belief that Christ was resurrected from the dead.

       1 Corinthians 15:13-19: If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. 

       It is instructive that Paul shows that without the resurrection of Christ, those Paul was addressing would be still in their sins and those who had fallen asleep in Christ (died in Christ) are lost. This shows that it is both the death and the resurrection of Christ that is necessary for our redemption from the consequences of sin. If Christ stayed dead then we stay dead. Those referred to as having died in Christ is a reference to their physical/biological death which should be obvious from the context.     

       Paul here shows the contradiction that exists if the dead are not raised.  The purpose of the resurrection of Jesus was to facilitate the passing from death unto life.  If there no passing from death unto life, which is what resurrection is all about, then Christ hasn’t been raised either.  Neither will those who have died in Christ be raised.  Paul is showing the folly of their thinking.  Paul is saying you can’t believe Christ was resurrected and not believe that resurrection is now unavailable.  He then instructs that Christ has indeed been raised from the dead  

          1 Corinthians 15:20: But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

         Colossians 1:18: And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

       Some look at these passages of Scripture and question how Jesus could be the firstfruits and firstborn from the dead seeing there have been various other resurrections prior to Christ. Jesus performed some during His ministry.  However, as we will see, Paul isn’t talking about returning to the physical body that dies. He was talking about a transformed spiritual body that was no longer capable of dying. Jesus became the first to be born with a transformed spiritual body that could never die again.

       Why did some question resurrection from the dead?  Sine this was a Gentile church Paul was addressing, it may be that some may have retained beliefs from the pagan world which by and large didn't believe in bodily resurrection. Some may have been influenced by the Jewish religious party of the Sadducees who didn't believe in resurrection or an after life.

How are the dead raised?

       1 Corinthians 15:35-38: But someone may ask, ‘How are the dead raised? [Present passive is used here to signify “being raised.”] With what kind of body will they come?’ How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.

       Paul shows that what is sown must first die before it can come to life.  Paul compares the sown body to a seed.  A seed dies in the process of generating new life.  In this respect the seed and the plant it produces are in continuity, insomuch as the seed provides the raw materials for the new plant and therefore becomes part of the new plant.  Paul’s seed analogy appears to parallel baptism. 

       In baptism we bury the natural man so that the new spiritual man can be raised in newness of life.  Therefore, we already have the new spiritual man abiding in us and upon physical death, we are granted a spiritual body. This is what Paul appears to mean when He says the body that is planted is not the body that will be.  Whether the components of the physical body that died are actually transformed in some way into the components that make up a spiritual body is unclear. Scripture tells us the body of Jesus was not allowed to decay and appears to have been transformed into a spiritual body.  When Paul speaks of the natural man or the natural body, he appears to be referring to the physical/biological body of sin and death. This body must be buried before the new spiritual body of life is able to rise up. 

      1 Corinthians 15:42-49: So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: ‘The first man Adam became a living being, the last Adam, a life giving spirit.’ The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.

      Paul makes it clear we start with a natural body patterned after that of Adam and we are resurrected as a spiritual body like that of Jesus.  First century Christians anticipated this change from a natural body to a spiritual body to occur in their lifetime as seen throughout this discussion. This was expected to occur when Christ returned in association with the destruction of the temple and the city on Jerusalem.  Christians who had died were expected to be raised to eternal life in the heavenly realm.  What about living Christians?  What happened to them?  There are two views on this issue. One view is that they were given eternal life to be resident within them and when they physically died they received their transformed body and were ushered into the heavenly realm. This view is embraced by those who take the corporate body view of resurrection discussed earlier. The other view is that the living Christians were given a transformed body (physical to spiritual) and taken into the heavenly realm at the time of Christ' return.  This is what is generally referred to as a rapture.

Resurrection and the Thessalonians:

       Paul, Silas and Timothy (1 Thessalonians 1:1) address the Thessalonian Christians in much the same way as Paul addressed the Corinthians regarding the return of Christ and the resurrection.  Let’s take a look at what this letter says regarding resurrection and the return of Christ.

       1 Thessalonians 4:13-17: Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

      Throughout this series of essays we have cited dozens of Scriptural passages that show the return of Christ was going to occur in the lifetime of the first-century Church.  Jesus taught that this event would occur before the generation He was addressing would pass.  The apostles all taught that the return of Jesus was about to occur.  As covered previously, the Thessalonian Christians were expecting relief from persecutions when Christ returned.  Now they are being told that some of them would be alive at Christ’s coming.  The context is clearly first century. 

       Christians living thousands of years in the future are not being addressed here.  Paul and his associates are speaking about an event that would occur while some of those being addressed would still be alive. The reference to meeting in the clouds is symbolic language.  As shown earlier, such language was commonly used by Scriptural writers to describe the power and glory of God as He intervenes in the affairs of men. 

       A reading of the full text of this letter to the Thessalonian Christians should make it apparent the writers (Paul, Silas and Timothy) were addressing what they believed to be a first-century event in speaking of Christ’s return and being raised to meet Him.  Let’s look at what is said just a little farther along in this same letter.

       1 Thessalonians 5:1-4: Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.

       The Thessalonian Christians had just been told that when Christ comes, the dead would rise and those of them still alive would also be caught up to be with Christ.  Now they are being told that when the day of the Lord will come, it will come like a thief in the night.  Has the subject changed?  Has there been a sudden shift from discussing a return of Christ involving the Thessalonian Christians rising to meet Him to discussing some other event that would be far off in the future after all those being addressed would be dead?  In terms of what is written, this simply cannot be the case.

        The writers of this letter, in a very unambiguous and straightforward manner, write the following: “But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief” (1 Thessalonians 5:4).  How could this day not surprise the Thessalonian Christians like a thief if they are all dead in their graves and this event was to first take place thousands of years into the future?  These Thessalonian Christians are obviously being told that because they live in the light of the truth, they will see the day of Christ approaching while others will not.  They would escape the coming destruction while others would not.

       This destruction is the same destruction prophesied by Christ and all the Apostles. This is the wrath to come that John the Baptist spoke about. Much of the message to the Thessalonians is reflective of what Jesus taught in the Olivet Discourse about events that would take place in conjunction with the destruction of the temple.  The destruction and wrath spoken of was the Roman-Jewish War of A.D. 66 to 73 that resulted in the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem and brought to an end the means to administer the Old Covenant system.  Now let’s read more of this letter.

       1 Thessalonians 5:23: May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

       The context remains the coming of Christ.  These Thessalonians are seen as alive at the coming of Christ.  The writers speak of their "whole spirit, soul and body being kept blameless (preserved blameless in the KJV) at the return of Christ.  You don’t find any preserved bodies of Thessalonian Christians walking around in the 21st century still waiting for Christ to appear. It should be obvious that what is anticipated here is a first-century event.

       In this letter to the Thessalonian Christians, we see them experiencing persecutions from those opposed to the gospel message. The writers then speak of these persecutors experiencing the coming wrath and destruction while those responding to the gospel would be granted salvation.  In chapter one, verse ten, the writers speak of the Thessalonians waiting for Christ to appear in order to be rescued from the coming wrath. In chapter five, verse nine, the Thessalonian Christians are seen as not being appointed to experience the coming wrath but instead salvation through Christ.

       The entire context of this letter relates to an event about to occur. The return of Christ and the resurrection had to take place in some fashion in the first century.  The wrath and destruction that the Thessalonians were to escape was not a wrath and destruction to occur thousands of years into the future. Such a conclusion is ludicrous.

       In the letters to both the Thessalonian and the Corinthian Christians, resurrection is being addressed within the context of an imminent return of Christ. This return brought wrath and destruction upon those in opposition to the gospel. This return brought salvation to those that received the gospel.  This return also provided salvation to the dead in Christ, those who had accepted the gospel message but who died before Christ’s return.

        The Scriptures indicate that many who had died in past generations would also rise up at the time of Christ’s return.  Some would rise to life while others would rise to condemnation (judgement).  The dynamics associated with this process are unclear in Scripture. The fate of the "unsaved dead," both past and future, is a subject I address in a separate series of essays on this website entitled, What Happens After Death.      

The parousia of Christ:

     It is instructive that the Greek word rendered “coming” in the New Testament is the word “parousia.”  This words basic meaning is "presence."  It is interesting that the New Testament writers used this word to describe the coming of Christ.  In his Companion Bible, Bullinger footnotes “parousia” in Matthew 24:3 to explain that the “Papyri show that from the Ptolemaic period down to the second century A.D. the word is traced in the East as a technical expression for the arrival or visit of the King or emperor.”  This Greek word can also mean the coming of a “divinity who makes his presence felt by a revelation of his power.” (See, A Greek-English Lexicon, by Arndt, Gingrich and Bauer).

       The presence of Christ was experienced by first century Christians when He came a second time in the first century to fully implement resurrection from eternal death to eternal life. This resurrection from death to life was made possible by Jesus paying the death penalty for sin on mans behalf. This allows man to virtually become a new creation. This new creation is facilitated by man becoming reconciled to God because through Christ mans sins are no longer counted against him.

       2 Corinthians 5:17-19a: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them.

       We all continue to physically/biologically die. Under the Old Covenant, our sins would have made that death eternal. Because of the Christ event, the death penalty has been removed and we have eternal life residing in us which negates the permanency of death due to sin. Eternal life residing in us allows for our transformation from having a natural body to a spiritual body upon physical death. Again let's look at what Paul wrote

       1 Corinthians 15:44a-49: If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.   So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.  As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.

       As previously covered, the Greek word rendered natural is ψυχικόν (psychikon) and means having the nature and characteristics of animal life (See Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). The natural body is seen as a physical/biological entity made of the dust of the earth. The Greek rendered “spiritual” is πνευματικν (pneumatikon) and has the general meaning of something non-physical.

       Jesus was resurrected to having a non-physical spiritual body as witnessed by His after resurrection ability to appear and disappear at will.  While He was able to interact with His disciples in a physical manner, it is apparent His composition had changed. It is this change in composition that first century Christians were looking forward to at the appearing of Jesus. 

Documentation problem:

       Based on the clearly documented expectations of the first century Christians as recorded in the NT Scriptures, It must be assumed that the deceased saints were invisibly raised from the dead at the expected return of Christ in the first century.  They were given spiritual bodies and transported into the Kingdom of God in the heavenly realm.  However, it is also apparent that first century Christians and their leadership firmly believed and expected that those alive at the expected near at hand return of Christ would also be changed from having physical bodies to having spiritual bodies. 

       Living Christians would not have to wait for physical death to receive a spiritual body. Paul taught that both the living and the dead would experience this change.  The dead saints would be revivified and given spiritual bodies.  Alive saints would be instantly transformed from having a physical body to having a spiritual body.  Both groups would join Christ in the heavenly realm and enter the Kingdom of God.

        The problem with this perspective is that while dead saints could have been resurrected unseen into the heavenly realm, this would not have been true of living saints. The disappearance of living saints would not have gone unnoticed.  Yet there is no written or oral witness to such an event occurring. 

       By this point in the development of the Christian Church, all evidence points to there being tens of thousands of both Jewish and Gentile Christians spread across the Roman Empire.  Yet nothing is written about Christians suddenly disappearing from their homes, jobs, schools, the marketplace or anywhere else.

       Some argue that this is the case because there were no Christians left to write about this event. The living Christians had all been raptured. However, there are no writings from secular historians of the time showing this event to have happened. Furthermore, when Christian writing does again appear early in the second century, there is no mention of a resurrection/rapture having occurred but instead we see writing that points to a yet future return of Christ and all associated events. 

       What complicates this matter even more is that Jesus, in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24), advised His disciples to flee Jerusalem when they saw its destruction was about to occur. There is some historical evidence that the Jerusalem based Christians fled to the city of Pella in the Decapolis on the other side of the Jordan River.  While it could be argued that they fled early in the war before Christ directly intervened, the question must be asked that if a rapture of living saints was to occur when Christ returned in judgement against first century Israel, why the need for the saints to flee Jerusalem?  Why were they not raptured out of Jerusalem?  There is no documentation of Christians being raptured out of Jerusalem, Pella or any other location.  Proponents of CBV see this as indicative of living Christians continuing to remain but now having eternal life abiding in them resulting in their receiving a spiritual body at the time of their physical death. 

        Since it is believed the leadership of the NT church were led by the Holy Spirit in coming to believe to believe what they did, it is argued that the Holy Spirit could not have led the NT leadership to anticipate these events happening in their lifetime if it wasn’t going to happen.  Therefore, it must have happened and the recorded expectation that it was going to happen is believed to be documentation enough.  To this point in this series, we have shown conclusively that the leadership of the NT church believed and taught that the coming of Jesus and the related events of judgement, resurrection and establishment of the Kingdom was about to occur and would occur in their generation.

       It appears Jesus made it very plain to His disciples shortly before His crucifixion that he was going to prepare a place for them and would return to bring them to the place He had prepared. 

       During the meal Jesus was sharing with his disciples just before his arrest, Jesus made a very encouraging promise to the disciples as recorded in John 14. Keep in mind here that Jesus is addressing His disciples who were present with Him at the time. They would have understood Jesus to be making this promise to them, not to people living hundreds and thousands of years in the future.  Here is the promise.

       John 14:1-3: "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

        While it is true this passage has had a variety of interpretations, the general interpretive consensus is that Jesus is speaking literally of going to where the Father resides to prepare a place for His disciples and will return to bring them to this place so that they can reside with Jesus where Jesus is which is apparently where the Father is.  Many Scriptures show the Father resides in the heavenly realm which is were the seat of authority is for the Kingdom.

       Since Scripture shows Jesus ascended to the Father 40 days after His resurrection and we know the Father resides in the heavenly realm, it would appear it was into the heavenly realm that Jesus ascended and it was there where He was going to prepare a place where both the dead and the living saints would be taken.

        Most Christians look at this passage and completely ignore audience relevance. They conclude Jesus is addressing all Christians of all ages.  However, the context is Jesus’ imminent crucifixion and his absence from being with His disciples. He is trying to reassure them that after all is said and done, He is going to return to them and take them to be where He is.  He reiterates in verse 28 that He is coming back to them.  This would have been of little encouragement to them if His returning to them wasn’t going to take place until after they were dead for thousands of years.  

        John 14:27-28: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. "You heard me say, `I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 

       Some see Jesus' promise about going to the Father and returning as relating to His resurrection from the dead where Scripture shows He did ascend to the Father but then returned and spent 40 days with his disciples teaching them about the Kingdom before re-ascending to the Father.  Preparing a place for them is seen as preparing a spiritual place and that through His crucifixion and resurrection Jesus had facilitated a spiritual union with Jesus and the Father.  This view, however, does not harmonize with Jesus speaking of there being many rooms (Greek: μοναὶ, meaning "abodes") in the Father's house. Nor does it harmonize with the Scriptural passages we have discussed that speak of being clothed with a heavenly dwelling and the Kingdom having residential location. 

       Paul shows we cannot be in the Kingdom as flesh and blood, perishable Beings. We must be transformed into a Being of different composition, an imperishable Being that will live forever.  Paul clearly speaks of this transformation occurring for both the dead and the living Christians at the anticipated return of Christ in his generation.

       1 Corinthians 15:50: I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

       As shown in the Chapter in this series on the Kingdom, we as physical Beings can participate in the spiritual dynamics of the Kingdom. These dynamics pertain to our conduct before God and man.  While physical, we can also have imperishable eternal life abiding in us through the action of the Holy Spirit. In this respect, we are provisionally in the Kingdom.  While this was also true for first century converts to Christ, it is also apparent that these first century converts expected to have the eternal life abiding in them to become manifest in experiencing a transformation from having a physical body to having a spiritual body at the return of Christ. 

      1 Corinthians 15:51-57: Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

        Paul says, “we will not all sleep.”  Many interpreters view this as an editorial "we" in that Paul meant those Christians alive at a yet future to us (future to our 21st century time) return of Christ.  However, it is evident from the entire corpus of Paul's writings that he believed and taught that Christ would return in his generation and this is when resurrection would occur.  Thus the “we” he is addressing are the Corinthian Christians.  Paul is not addressing people living thousands of years into the future.  Paul is speaking of an event that he anticipated would take place shortly before some of those he was addressing would die.  Paul says the “we” will be changed.  That change for the “we” would take place at the same time the dead in Christ were receiving their change.  Paul speaks of this in his letter to the Philippian Church and also discusses this ttransformation In a second letter to the Corinthians.

       Philippians 3:20-21.  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.

       2 Corinthians 5:1-5: Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.     

       At the return of Christ during the events associated with the destruction of the temple, it was at that moment in history that Christ consummated the process of change from the Old Covenant ministration of death to the New Covenant ministration of live.  The power of sin to produce eternal death was broken. The victory over death was won and continues won to this day. This appears to be certain.  What remains uncertain are the dynamics of how this all played relative to resurrection of the dead and the living when Christ returned in the first century. 

Unresolved:

     This all being said, we still have the problem of documentation.  We don’t have written witness to either resurrection of the dead or transformation of the living actually taking place in the first century.  While first century historian Josephus records reports of several "supernatural" events occurring in association with the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the Temple, these reported events are not independently substantiated nor do they give  evidence to a resurrection/rapture taking place.

       What we do have are NT documents that record great expectation and anticipation of these events. What we have is a great deal of Scriptural assertion that the return of Christ and related events was imminent to first century Christians. This is a very critical issue for the Christian doctrinal system. If these events didn’t happen in the generation being addressed by Paul, the other Apostles and Christ Himself, then the early Christians were taught false doctrine by their leaders. The ramifications of this for the integrity of the Scriptures and the Christian doctrinal system are enormous.  If the teaching that a first century return of Christ accompanied by all associated events was a false teaching, the reliability of Scriptural content becomes extremely compromised and very problematical.

       At the time of the first century return of Christ, it is believed deceased believers in Christ and OT righteous were resurrected and given transformed spiritual bodies. This is believed by proponents of both CBV and by those who also believe in a first century rapture of living saints. What is unclear is what happened to the OT unrighteous dead? All indications are that they were to be resurrected as well. We see this in a passage in Daniel 12 that appears to be associated with the return of Christ.

       Daniel 12: 1-3:  "At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people--everyone whose name is found written in the book--will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise  will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.

       In view of our discussion so far as to resurrection, the multitudes that awake to everlasting life can be seen as both OT and NT saints being resurrected at the first century return of Christ. However, this passage also speaks of others being awakened to everlasting contempt. Who are these folks?  Are they all the "wicked" who have ever lived?  What does it mean for them to be awakened to everlasting contempt. Are thy consciously alive in some place of punishment to this very day?

       An even greater question is what has been going on since the first century parousia?  Paul made it clear that “as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). Paul believed “there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked” (Acts 24:15) and "we will all stand before God's judgment seat" (Romans 14:10).  The writer to the Hebrews said "man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).  It appears Jesus taught a judgment of all humans who have ever lived (See Matthew 10:15,11:11, 12:41) 

       Is Paul and other teachers thinking only in terms of events associated with the first century return of Christ or are they speaking of all humans who have been and will be born throughout human history?   If it is all humans, what is the nature of their resurrection/judgement? 

       For additional discussion of these questions and the dynamics of life and death as seen in the Biblical Scriptures, go to What Happens After Death?       

PART THIRTEEN