Blaine Robison, M.A.
An Exegetical Commentary
Published 19 August 2009; Revised 3 September 2019
Scripture Text: The text of 1 Corinthians 15 is prepared by Blaine Robison based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. See my web article The Jewish New Testament. For Scripture quotations from selected versions, click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions.
Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited and resources consulted may be found at the end of this chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); available online at Halakhah.com. Click here for Talmud Abbreviations. Citations for Josephus (37─100 A.D.), the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus trans. William Whiston (1737); online. Citations for Philo, (25 B.C.─A.D. 50), the first century Jewish philosopher, are from the works of Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, online.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), and Besekh (New Testament). The abbreviation LXX stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which was in use by Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C. The LXX with English translation may be found here.
Grammar: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations.
Please see Paul's Letters to Corinth for background information on the letter.
Overview of Chapter 15
In this chapter Paul confronts doubts about the resurrection of the dead and provides the most thorough discussion of the subject in the apostolic writings.
The Good News of Messiah, 15:1-11
The Pledge of Resurrection, 15:12-19
Messiah the First Fruits, 15:20-28
Warning of Self-Deception, 15:29-34
The Nature of Resurrection, 15:35-41
The Perfection of Resurrection, 15:42-49
The Victory of Resurrection, 15:50-58
The Good News of Messiah, 15:1-11
1— Now I am making known to you, brothers and sisters, the good news which I proclaimed to you, and which you received, and in which you stand,
Now: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also" (BAG). I am making known: Grk. gnōrizō, pres., to share information about something; make known, inform about. to you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pron. brothers and sisters: Grk. adelphos, m. pl., lit. "of the same womb," in secular Greek meant "brother or male sibling." In the apostolic narratives adelphos primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites who are of the same blood by virtue of descent from Jacob. In the LXX adelphos is used for the Heb. ach, meaning (1) brother, a male sibling (Gen 4:2) or also half-sibling (Gen 20:5); (2) indefinite of relative, of the same tribe, of the same people (Gen 13:18); or (3) another (Gen 9:5).
The use of adelphos emphasizes the fact that the constituency of congregations in the apostolic era was primarily Jewish. The plural vocative case (direct address) in this verse could be translated as "brothers and sisters" given that he is addressing the entire congregation (Danker), and is so rendered in some versions (CEB, CSB, GW, NCV, NIRV, NIV, NLT, NRSV). It's inconceivable that the vocative case would not include the women, given the importance of Paul's instruction to the entire congregation.
the good news: Grk. euangelion originally meant a reward for good news and then simply good news. The noun is translated as "gospel" in Christian versions. In the LXX euangelion renders besorah, which may mean either a reward for good news (2Sam 4:10) or glad tidings (2Sam 18:20, 22). Most Evangelical Christians think of the gospel only as 'Jesus died on the cross to save me from my sins and give me a home in heaven.' Notice the "me" and "my," similar to the narcissistic song that "when Jesus was on the cross I was on his mind." This self-serving message is totally divorced from the original Jewish context. Given the origin of "gospel" in Old English, many Jews regard the word as a distinctively Christian word.
In the Septuagint (LXX) euangelion renders besorah, which may mean either a reward for good news (2Sam 4:10; 18:22) or glad tidings (2Sam 18:20, 25; 2Kgs 7:9). For Jews the good news began with the messages given to Zechariah (Luke 1:13, 16-17), Miriam (Luke 1:30-33), and Joseph (Matt 1:20-21), and which Zechariah then declared to his fellow Jews (Luke 1:68-75). The good news was declared by angels to the shepherds (Luke 2:10-11), and then repeated by Simeon to Joseph and Miriam (Luke 2:29-32). All of these announcements reflected the Jewish hopes and expectations of a redeemer and deliverer.
Consistent with these prior announcements Paul and the other apostles declared that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah, who fulfilled the promises made to Israel through the prophets; that God has made Yeshua Lord; that forgiveness of sins is available to all through Yeshua’s atoning sacrifice; and that the proof of God’s Word is that Yeshua was raised from the dead (Acts 2:14-40; 10:34-43; 13:16-41). Gentiles were therefore called to turn to the God of Israel and serve him. Only the God of Israel saves (Jer 16:19-20; Acts 17:23-31). which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that.
I proclaimed: Grk. euangelizō, aor. mid., simply means to announce good news. In the LXX euangelizō stands for Heb. basar, to publish or bear tidings, whether good or bad (DNTT 2:108-109). Initially basar referred to news of armed conflict delivered by a messenger (1Sam 31:9; 2Sam 1:20; 4:10; 18:19-20). The concept of the messenger fresh from the field of battle is at the heart of the more theological usages in Isaiah and the Psalms. Here it is the Lord who is victorious over his enemies and he comes to deliver the captives (Ps 68:11; Isa 61:1). The watchman waits eagerly for the messenger (Isa 52:7) who will bring this good news. At first, only Zion knows the truth (Isa 40:9; 41:27), but eventually all nations will tell the story (Isa 60:6). The reality of basar is only finally met in the Messiah (Luke 4:16-21; 1Cor 15:54-56; Col 1:5-6; 2:13-15).
to you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pronoun. Paul refers to when he brought the good news to Corinth, as Luke records: "After these things Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. … And he was debating every Shabbat in the synagogue, trying to persuade both Jewish and Greek people. Now when Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul became occupied with the message, urgently testifying to the Jewish people that Yeshua is the Messiah" (Acts 18:1, 4-5 TLV).
and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh, occurring over 9,000 times (BibleHub). The excessive use of conjunctions is evidence of either an original Hebrew text or Jewish Greek. See my note on the significance of conjunctions in the Besekh.
which: Grk. hos. you received: Grk. paralambanō, aor., to receive to one's side. and: Grk. kai, conj. in: Grk. en, prep., the root meaning is "within," but may be used to indicate direction, position, relation, agency, means, cause or association (DM 105, 114). Here the preposition marks position. which: Grk. hos. you stand: Grk. histēmi, perf., to cause to be in a place or position, set, place, make stand or establish. Paul summarizes the process. First, the good news was proclaimed, then it was received and through further teaching internalized, so that the new disciples can take a stand on it, making it the foundation of one’s life.
2— through which also you are being saved, if you hold fast to that message which I proclaimed to you, except, unless, you trusted in vain.
through: Grk. dia, prep. (from duo, "two"), the basic sense is 'between' or 'through' (DM 101). Here the preposition conveys instrumentality, 'by means of.' which: Grk. hos, rel. pron. also: Grk. kai, conj. you are being saved: Grk. sōzō, pres. pass., to rescue from a hazardous condition or circumstance; save, rescue. In the LXX sōzō translates no less than 15 different Hebrew verbs, but the most important yasha, used in the Hiphil meaning to deliver and save (e.g., 1Sam 23:5), and malat, used in the Piel meaning to escape, deliver, save (e.g., 1Kgs 1:12).The Hebrew verbs are used in relation to various external threats and bodily peril, especially enemies (DNTT 3:206). Two important principles may be noted in the Tanakh.
First, deliverance may come about through men, even though possessing significant limitations (e.g., Gideon, Jdg 7:2). Second, the pious Israelite was aware of the fact that deliverance comes ultimately from God himself (Ps 18:2; 44:3). It is by His power and name that foes are vanquished and evil defeated. In the Besekh sōzō frequently refers to rescue from spiritual peril, including deliverance from God's wrath on the Day of the Lord. if: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker used here to introduce a circumstance assumed to be valid for the sake of argument. you hold fast: Grk. katechō, pres., maintain a strong interest in or right to something; hold fast. Paul introduces a condition to ultimate salvation. Holding fast refers to faithfulness or loyalty.
to that: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun; someone, anyone, a certain one or thing. message: Grk. logos, vocalized expression; word, discourse, statement, message or speech. In the LXX logos stands principally for Heb. dabar, which has a range of meaning, including "speech, word, report, command, advice, counsel, thing, and matter" (Gen 29:13; BDB 182) (DNTT 3:1087). which: Grk. hos. I proclaimed: Grk. euangelizō, aor. mid. See the previous verse. to you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pronoun. except: Grk. ektos, adv., suggesting disconnectedness; apart from, except. unless: Grk. ei mē, lit. "if not." This contingent expression adds another nuance to the hypothetical proposition. Most versions leave the expression untranslated.
you trusted: Grk. pisteuō, aor. (derived from pistis, trust, faithfulness), to have confidence or faith in the reliability or trustworthiness of some thing or someone. In the Besekh the verb often has the sense of a personal trust in God's power and His nearness to help. In the LXX pisteuō renders Heb. aman, to confirm or support, first used in Gen 15:6 where it describes Abraham's response to God. The Hebrew verb also means to be true, reliable or faithful, and to stand firm or trust (BDB 52). in vain: Grk. eikē, adv., without success or effect; in vain (Thayer). Paul did not say that we are saved by works, that is, keeping the traditions valued by the Pharisees. He is saying that we will be saved if we continue steadfast in our loyalty to the God of Israel.
For: Grk. gar, conj., is generally accepted as a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that." I delivered: Grk. paradidōmi, aor., to convey from one position to another, in general "to hand over," here used of conveying instruction. to you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pronoun. in: Grk. en, prep. the foremost: Grk. prōtos, the superlative of pro, which indicates precedence. The basic idea has to do with 'beforeness.' The term is used in two ways: (1) having primary position in a temporal sequence; first, earlier, earliest; and (2) standing out in significance or importance; first, most prominent, most important, first of all. The second meaning fits best here. In other words, Paul delivered the most important message that could ever be spoken.
what: Grk. hos, rel. pron. I also received: Grk. paralambanō, aor., to receive to one's side; take, receive; or to cause to go along; take. The verb refers primarily to the good news and his commission received directly from Yeshua (Acts 9:3-31; 22:3-21). that: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, whether (1) defining a demonstrative pronoun; that; (2) introducing a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) introducing a direct quotation and functioning as quotation marks; or (4) indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as. The first usage applies here to introduce what Paul had received by revelation (Gal 1:11-12), the core truths of the good news (the death, burial and resurrection of Yeshua).
Messiah: Grk. Christos, the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Anointed One or Messiah. The English "Christ" transliterates the Greek title, but does not translate it. In Greek culture christos comes from chriein, to rub lightly, and in its secular use had no religious connotation at all. Christos as an adjective described someone smeared with whitewash, cosmetics or paint (DNTT 2:334). Jewish translators of the LXX chose Christos to render Heb. Mashiach and in so doing infused new meaning into the Greek word. The title Mashiach means 'anointed one' or 'poured on.' Mashiach was used in the Tanakh for (1) the patriarchs (1Chr 16:16-22; Ps 105:15); (2) the High Priest (Lev 4:5); (3) the King (1Sam 12:3; 2Sam 22:51; Isa 45:1); and (4) the Messiah (Ps 2:2; Dan 9:25-26). This last usage defined the term among Jews in the first century A.D. The title of "Anointed One" alludes to a ceremony of pouring olive oil on the head to invest one with the authority of an office (Ex 29:7; Lev 8:12; Ps 133:2). There was no comparable concept in Greek culture.
The primary identification of Messiah is the King of the Jews, the Son of David. Biblical prophecies speak of his rule over Israel from David's throne in Jerusalem. In the Introduction to his Complete Jewish Bible, David Stern lists 54 specific prophecies in the Tanakh fulfilled by Yeshua (CJB xliii-xlvii). Yeshua recounted these prophecies to his disciples after his resurrection (Luke 24:44-47). Jews eagerly anticipated the coming of the Messiah to deliver them from their enemies and establish His kingdom on the earth (Luke 1:69-75). Thus, "Messiah" has special meaning as the hope of Israel, whereas the word "Christ" has an alien and even negative meaning to Jews (Stern 1-2).
died: Grk. apothnēskō, aor., to die, generally used of physical death of humans without regard to cause. Paul’s passive emphasis on Yeshua dying is striking considering his blunt words to the Thessalonians regarding the Judean Jewish leadership, "who both killed the Lord Yeshua and the prophets, and drove us out" (1Th 2:15). Peter and Stephen used much harsher language, accusing Sanhedrin members of unlawful execution and murder (Acts 2:23, 36; 4:10; 7:52). Paul’s point is that the Messiah promised by the Jewish prophets voluntarily "died for us" (Rom 5:8; 1Th 5:10). Yeshua declined to heal himself on the cross and surrendered his life as a ransom for all (1Tim 2:6). for: Grk. huper, prep. used to express a stance of concern or interest relating to someone, here related to the interest of Yeshua to serve as a sin offering.
our: Grk. hēmeis, 1p-pl. pron. In the proximate sense "our" refers to Israel. sins: pl. of Grk. hamartia may refer to (1) a behavioral action, a misdeed that creates liability, every departure from the way of righteousness; (2) the result of sinning or the condition of being sinful; or (3) an invasive evil power. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX hamartia translates a range of Hebrew words for guilt and sin, particularly Heb. chata (miss, go wrong, lapse, sin; Gen 20:6) and avôn (iniquity, guilt; Gen 15:16). Throughout Scripture sin as a behavior is a violation of God's written commandments. The degree of intentionality is not a factor in defining sinful behavior, only whether God's specified requirements or prohibitions have been violated. Intentionality is only relevant to the degree and manner of punishment. Also, in Scripture hamartia does not include the imperfections that separate humanity from divinity, "falling short of the glory" (Rom 3:23).
Yeshua died a meritorious death to atone for sins (2Cor 5:21). Greeks did not believe in the reality of sin, but the Scriptures assert that sin separates from God (Isa 59:2). From the beginning, the penalty for sin is the death of the sinner (Gen 2:17). To avoid the eternal consequences of sin, there must be atonement provided by a sinless one. Animal sacrifices initially provided the means for atonement, but this was a temporary solution. A human death was needed to atone for human sin, so the death of a sinless Messiah for our sins was foretold in Isaiah 52:13–53:12.
according to: Grk. kata, prep., the root meaning is "down," but here the word is used in reference to agreement or conformity to a standard, thus "according to" (Thayer). the Scriptures: pl. of Grk. graphē, writing, and in the Jewish context and apostolic usage meaning the sacred Hebrew Bible (24 books) referred to by the acronym "Tanakh," corresponding to the Protestant Old Testament (39 books) and its translation into Greek, the Septuagint. The term "Scripture," which occurs over 50 times in the Besekh, summarizes the body of literature containing God's inspired, infallible, inerrant words penned by over 25 writers, from Moses to Malachi. This is the only Bible Yeshua and the apostles knew and as Scripture they upheld its authority over the traditions of men.
The Tanakh contains divine revelation given to Israel intended to bless the whole world. Without it the apostolic writings are incomprehensible. Yeshua himself explained to his disciples that his death, burial and resurrection were prophesied in the three divisions of the Tanakh (Luke 24:25-27). Paul means that the Messiah is prophetically defined in the Tanakh. Paul emphasizes the importance of this fact by saying it twice. Walter Kaiser identifies 65 direct predictions of the Messiah in the Tanakh (Kaiser 240-242). Every major point of the good news proclaimed by the apostles is spoken of or prophesied in the Tanakh. See my web article The Messiah.
4— and that he was buried, and that he was resurrected the third day according to the Scriptures,
and: Grk. kai, conj. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See the previous verse. Again, hoti introduces what Paul had received by revelation. he was buried, Grk. thaptō, aor. pass. In Greek culture the word referred to "honoring with funeral rites," whatever the manner of disposal of the dead, whether placing the remains under ground, in an above ground tomb or burning on a pyre. In the LXX thaptō refers principally to burial in a tomb. "Inhumation" or placing corpses in caves or rock-sepulchres was universal Jewish practice during all time periods. During the first century times Jews practiced a secondary burial, placing the bones in "ossuaries" which were stored in extended family sepulchres (see Matt 8:21) (DNTT 1:263-264). Yeshua was buried according to Jewish custom as predicted in Isaiah 53:9. For the Greeks Yeshua's death and burial signified that he was not a spiritual being masquerading as human (a theory known as the docetic heresy).
and: Grk. kai, conj. that: Grk. hoti, conj. he was resurrected: Grk. egeirō, perf. pass., to move from an inert state or position, to rise or raise, and used here in the sense of recalling the dead to life. The common translation of "raised" may be misleading. When people die the spirit goes either to Heaven or Hades (Luke 16:22). Many Christians believe that Yeshua went to Hades after he died and was resurrected from there as declared in the Apostles' Creed. However, Scripture does not say anywhere that Yeshua descended into Hades, which is a place of torment and punishment and the abode of demons and fallen angels. (For this unbiblical claim see my article Is the Apostles' Creed Apostolic?)
The verb signifies that the dead body of Yeshua was transformed into an immortal body with his spirit returned from heaven and enabled to assume an erect position so that he could leave the tomb. Unlike previously resurrected people who had to die again, Yeshua was given victory over death so that he could never die again. Paul makes the point, which is uniformly and consistently declared in the Besekh, that God resurrected Yeshua from death (Acts 2:24, 32; 3:15, 26; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30, 33, 37; 26:8; Rom 4:24-25; 6:4, 9; 7:4; 8:11; 10:9; 1Cor 6:14; 2Cor 4:14; 5:15; Gal 1:1; Eph 1:20; Col 2:12; 1Th 1:10; 2Tim 2:8; 1Pet 1:21). Yeshua did not resurrect himself. Any claim that the resurrection of Yeshua was a fabrication (cf. Matt 27:62-65) or a delusion is implicitly denied.
Paul as a Pharisee believed that the Scriptures (e.g., Isa 26:14; Dan 12:2) pointed to resurrection of the dead (Sanhedrin 90a-b; 91b). Pharisees felt so strongly about the subject that they declared anyone who says the resurrection of the dead is not intimated in the Torah has no part in the world to come (Sanhedrin 11:1). However, now as an apostle of Yeshua, he immediately places the fact of resurrection in the context of the good news, because belief in the resurrection is an indispensable component of it, not a side issue. Only after reminding the Corinthians how important resurrection is can he address the difficulty which prevented some from believing in it, namely, their inability to imagine how it could happen (vv. 35–58 below).
the third day: Yeshua states the timeframe of his resurrection most frequently as "the third day" (Matt 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; Luke 9:22; 13:32; 18:33). We know Yeshua did not spend three days and nights (72 hours) in a tomb, nor did he spend any of that time in Hades, because his spirit went to Paradise after death (Matt 27:50; Luke 23:43, 46; John 19:30; cf. Ps 16:10). If we recognize that "the third day" ends something that begins on the "first day" then we ask, what happened on the first day? Yeshua presented a timeline ending on the third day (or three days later), which began with being "delivered" (Grk. paradidōmi) to the authorities, i.e., arrested (Matt 17:22-23; 20:18-19; Mark 9:31; 10:33-34; Luke 24:7, 21, 46).
Yeshua was arrested sometime during the third watch of the night (Midnight to 3 am), called "cock-crowing" (Mark 14:30, 68, 72). After the arrest the timeline predicts being taken to the chief priests, being condemned as a result of a trial and then handed over to Gentiles, after which he would be killed. Counting the days and nights recognizes that in the Hebrew mind part of a day counted as a whole (cf. 1Sam 30:12-13; Esth 4:16; 5:1. Finally, the manner of counting days inclusively is confirmed in Luke 13:32 where Yeshua says, "today and tomorrow, and the third day."
according to: Grk. kata, prep. See the previous verse. the Scriptures: Grk. graphē, f. pl. See the previous verse. Yeshua summarized for his disciples (Luke 24:44-47) that the resurrection of the Messiah may be found in all three divisions of the Hebrew Scriptures—the Torah (Lev 23:9–15; see v. 20), the Prophets (Isa 53:10–12a) and the Writings (Ps 16:9–11). While a number of passages might be cited to prove a belief in resurrection, along with Yeshua’s own appeal to the revelation given to Moses (Matt 22:32), one might wonder about the reference to resurrection of the Messiah on the third day.
Yeshua, of course, pointed to the "sign" of Jonah (Matt 12:38-42; 16:4). In other words, the experience of Jonah of being three days and nights inside a fish (Jon 1:17) amounted to a Messianic type. Stern comments that the concept of the third day may also be drawn from 2Kings 20:8 in which King Hezekiah is raised up on the third day from terminal illness to go up to the Temple, and Hosea 6:2, which says, "After two days, he will revive us; on the third day, he will raise us up; and we will live in his presence" (CJB).
5— and that "he appeared to Kêpha, then to the twelve.
In verses 5-8 Paul presents the evidence of eyewitnesses. A person may question the resurrection of Yeshua on philosophical grounds, but at some point the reliability of the witnesses must be considered. The sheer numbers of people who saw Yeshua alive after his crucifixion and burial cannot be simply dismissed.
and: Grk. kai, conj. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 3 above. he appeared: Grk. horaō, aor. pass., to perceive physically with the eye, or in a fig. sense to experience extraordinary mental or inward perception. to Kêpha: Grk. Kēphas ("rock"), a transliteration of the Hebrew name Kêpha ("kay-fah," "rock"), and rendered in Christian versions as "Cephas." Although commentators typically say the name is Aramaic, Hamp says that Kêpha is probably of Aramaic origin, but the root kêph ("rock," SH-3710) is found twice in the Hebrew Bible (Job 30:6; Jer 4:29) (19f). BDB says kêpha is a loanword in Hebrew (495), which for all practical purposes makes it Hebrew. (Many English words have their origin in other languages, but they are still part of English vocabulary.)
His birth name was Simon or Heb. Shimon, which occurs over 70 times in the apostolic writings, but none in the Pauline epistles. Yeshua assigned him the name Kêpha (John 1:42), which is translated into the Greek Petros, or Peter. The name "Peter" occurs only twice in the Pauline epistles (Gal 2:7-8). In listing eyewitnesses Paul suggests an order of appearance from which Stern interprets that, according to Luke 24:34, Kêpha was the first one to see the resurrected Yeshua. Peter may have been the first apostle to see Yeshua, but Miriam of Magdala was the first person to see Yeshua alive (Mark 16:9). It is ironic that Paul does not mention the women who saw the resurrected Yeshua.
then: Grk. eita, conj. introducing what is next in sequence; then, next. to the Twelve: pl. of Grk. dōdeka, the number twelve, an allusion to the principal apostles on the day of Yeshua's resurrection (Luke 24:33–51; John 20:19–29). Paul may be speaking of the original twelve as a corporate entity, even though there were only eleven at the time of the resurrection after Judas hanged himself (Matt 27:5; Acts 1:13, 23–26); or he may mean the twelve as constituted after the addition of Matthias (Acts 1:26; 6:2). Presumptively the candidates to replace Judas had seen the resurrected Yeshua. The report of the Twelve adds considerable strength to the testimony of Peter who was well known and respected by the Corinthian congregation (1Cor 1:12; 9:5).
6— "Thereafter he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once, of whom the greater part remain until now, but some have fallen asleep;
Thereafter: Grk. epeita, adv. with the idea of addition as component; thereupon, then, thereafter, afterwards. he appeared: Grk. horaō, aor. pass. See the previous verse. to more than: Grk. epanō, adv., above, more than. five hundred: Grk. pentakosioi, m. pl., the number 500. brothers: Grk. adelphos, m. pl. See verse 1 above. The noun should be take literally here of adult men. When census data is given in Scripture with a specific number, women are not normally included (e.g., Matt 14:21; 15:38). at once: Grk. ephapax, adv., may mean (1) once, opposite of 'repeatedly; or (2) at one time, simultaneously. The second meaning applies here. of: Grk. ek, prep. used to denote separation, lit. "out of, from within" (DM 102).
whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun, m. pl. the greater part: Grk. pleiōn, adj., m. pl., a superlative of polus, extensive in scope, many, much, great. remain: Grk. menō, pres., to be in a situation for a length of time, to remain or stay. The verb implies "remain alive." until: Grk. heōs, prep., a particle marking a limit, until. now: Grk. arti, adv. expressing concurrence of event with time viewed as present, (just) now. but: Grk. de, conj. some: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun, anyone, someone, a certain one or thing. have fallen asleep: Grk. koimaō, aor. pass., normally used of sleep, but used here as a euphemism of death.
Paul makes a comparison of those who had seen Yeshua and how many still remained alive at the time of this letter writing, some 20–25 years after the event took place. This appearance likely took place in Galilee (Matt 28:7) and may be the incident recorded in Matthew 28:16–20. Some commentators believe Paul is referring to another appearance not recorded elsewhere. While a skeptic might allege a conspiracy of the Twelve to falsify a resurrection report, getting over 500 people to do the same would be impossible. Moreover, the majority of the group were still alive and could be consulted for their memory of the event. When one considers the matter logically and rationally the evidence for the resurrection of Yeshua is overwhelming and requires, as Stern says, no great "leap of faith" to believe it.
7— "then he appeared to Jacob, then to all the apostles;
then: Grk. epeita, adv. See the previous verse. he appeared: Grk. horaō, aor. pass. See verse 5 above. to Jacob: Grk. Iakōbos is a Grecized form of Iakōb ("Jacob"), which transliterates the Heb. Ya'akov ("Jacob"). Iakōbos is often used in the writings of Josephus for the patriarch (BAG 368). The name is rendered as "James" in Christian Bibles. The name of Jacob was greatly esteemed in Israel so it is not surprising that five men besides the patriarch bear this name in the apostolic narratives. This Jacob is the half-brother of Yeshua. During Yeshua's earthly ministry his brother Jacob was not a disciple (Matt 13:55; Mark 6:3). Indeed, Jacob probably shared the opinion of his siblings and mother that Yeshua had "lost his senses" (Mark 3:21).
It would require the resurrection appearance of Yeshua to him, as noted here, to bring about his acceptance of his brother as the Messiah. After the ascension, Jacob joined with the other disciples in Jerusalem to await the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14). In time, Jacob assumed the leadership of the Jerusalem congregation and became a prominent leader of the Body of Messiah (Acts 12:17; 15:1, 13; 21:18; 1Cor 9:5; Gal 1:19; 2:9, 12). The letter of Jacob (called "James") written to Messianic Jews is perhaps the earliest apostolic letter, written about AD 40–50.
Jacob, the Lord's brother, perceived his calling as to the "circumcised" (Gal 2:9). While commentators normally take the term to mean Jews in general, it is more likely a technical term for Hebraic Jews aligned with the Pharisees (Act 15:5; cf. the use of the term in Acts 10:45; 11:2; 15:1; Rom 4:12; 15:8; Gal 2:12; Col 4:11; Titus 1:10). Except for his contribution to the Jerusalem Council, the Besekh says nothing more of Jacob's ministry or death. Josephus records that the death of Jacob was at the instigation of Ananus, who was the high priest.
then: Grk. eita, conj. See verse 5 above. to all the apostles: Grk. apostolos, m. pl., a delegate, ambassador, envoy, messenger, emissary or official representative. Only here does Mark use the word "apostles" for the disciples. In this context the title is descriptive of their function and is not a title. In Greek culture apostolos was used of an envoy representing a king and a commander of a naval expedition. In the LXX apostolos occurs only in 1Kings 14:6 where it translates Heb. shaluach, pass. part. of the verb shalach (SH-7971), "one being sent." Josephus also uses apostolos one time of a group of Jewish ambassadors sent to Rome to complain about the appointment of Archelaus (Ant. XVII, 11:1).
Apostolos appears in no other early Jewish literature, but it is grounded in Jewish culture in the office of shaliach. In first century Judaism a shaliach acted as an official messenger or a proxy for and with the full authority of the sender (Ber. 5:5). The shaliach's mission was "limited in scope and duration by definite commission and terminating on its completion" (DNTT 1:128). When the high priest authorized Paul to initiate persecution against the disciples he was acting as the priest's shaliach (Acts 9:1-2). A peculiarity of the shaliach is that these representatives were not missionaries to win others to Judaism. Nevertheless, when Yeshua, the Great High Priest, appointed the twelve disciples and Paul as his shlichim (pl. of shaliach), the mission was broad and its duration indefinite.
In the Besekh the term "apostle" is first applied to the original Twelve (Matt 10:2), then Mattathias (Acts 1:25-26), Paul (Acts 9:15; 14:14), Barnabas (Acts 14:14) and Jacob (the half-brother of Yeshua, Gal 1:19), because they too had "seen the Lord" and been approved to speak on His behalf (Acts 9:27; 1Cor 9:1; 15:6; 1Jn 1:1). All true apostles had the authority to proclaim the gospel, determine orthodox doctrine, impose requirements ("bind and loose," Matt 16:19; 18:18), and shepherd the congregations they founded (cf. 1Cor 14:37). While the gift of apostleship (e.g., serving as a cross-cultural missionary), continued beyond the first century (1Cor 12:28), the unique authority of the apostolic office ended with the original apostles and the publication of their sacred writings.
8— "and last of all, as the untimely birth, he appeared also to me."
and: Grk. de, conj. last: Grk. eschatos, adj., coming at the end or after all others; end, last. The adj. is used here of position. of all: Grk. pas, adj., m. pl. as: Grk. hōsperei, adv. functioning with a cautionary tone; just as if, as it were. The adverb occurs only here in the Besekh. the untimely birth: Grk. ektrōma, untimely birth, as of a premature birth or miscarriage. The term occurs only here in the Besekh. Rienecker notes that the term points to the results of the birth and was used to indicate that which is incapable of sustaining life of its own volition and requires divine intervention if it is to continue. It emphasizes Paul's weakness and his dependence on God's grace.
The shocking self-description provides the basis for the declaration of the next verse. Stern interprets Paul's description of his spiritual birth as too late, that is, after Yeshua had already lived, died, been resurrected and gone up to heaven. Mare suggests that Paul conveys his feeling that he was not a "normal" member of the apostolic group, but one who had been "snatched" out of his sin and rebellion by the glorified Messiah (Acts 9:3-6). he appeared: Grk. horaō, aor. pass. See verse 5 above. also to me: Grk. kagō, formed from combining kai and egō and serves to link in parallel or contrasting fashion a personal affirmation by way of addition to or confirmation of a preceding statement; 'and I.'
Paul alludes to his Damascus road encounter with Yeshua (9:3-5), which he recounts in later defense sermons (Acts 22:6-11; 26:14), but later (Acts 22:18 and 23:11, fulfilling Acts 22:14). Yeshua also personally visited Paul in later occasions (Acts 22:17-18; 23:11).
9— For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the congregation of God.
For: Grk. gar, conj. I: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. am: Grk. eimi, pres., to be, exist; a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). the least: Grk. elachistos, adj., functions as a superlative of mikros, 'smallest,' and is used (1) of status; least, most insignificant; or (2) of being very low on a scale of values; least, trivial. The term is used here of status. of the apostles: Grk. apostolos, m. pl. See verse 7 above. who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. am: Grk. eimi, pres. not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in denial or negation, typically an unqualified strong denial of an alleged fact; no, not (DM 264f). worthy: Grk. hikanos, adj., of a quality or extent this is quite enough and used here in the personal sense of adequacy; qualified, good enough, worthy.
to be called: Grk. kaleō, pres. pass. inf., to identify by name or give a term to; call. an apostle: Grk. apostolos. because: Grk. dioti, conj. (derived from dia, 'through' and hoti, 'because') which introduces a rationale or motive for the affirmation that precedes it; in view of the fact that, on the account that, for the reason that, because, therefore, inasmuch as. I persecuted: Grk. diōkō, aor., to put to flight, to pursue, to persecute. the congregation: Grk. ekklēsia means assembly, gathering, meeting, or congregation, translated in Christian Bibles as "church." In secular use ekklēsia referred to a political body or a public meeting of citizens (Acts 19:32, 39, 41), but occurs 111 times in the Besekh for a religious body.
The popular interpretation of ekklēsia as "called out ones" is based on etymology and not usage, and thus has little value in understanding the word in its biblical context. In the LXX ekklēsia renders the Heb. qahal (DNTT 1:292-295), which means assembly, convocation, or congregation (BDB 874). In the Tanakh qahal denotes the people of God in a corporate sense, often in the context of being gathered for worship or instruction (Deut 4:10; 31:30; Ps 35:18). The English translation of "church" was first introduced in the Wycliffe Bible (1395). The instructions to the translators of the 1611 KJV show that the reason for using "church" was to maintain the ecclesiastical language of Christianity.
This translation decision created a permanent wedge between Christianity and its Jewish roots. We should avoid reading modern church organization into first century settings. In the apostolic writings ekklēsia is never treated as an institution, a building, a specific polity or even a specific size of group as the English word "church" can mean. Everywhere in the apostolic writings ekklēsia refers to either the entire Body of the Messiah, the sum total of the Jewish and Gentile believers in a particular city, or the disciples meeting together in someone's home. Most importantly, the term emphasizes a spiritual bond based on common trust in the God of Israel and his Messiah (Stern 54).
of God: Grk. theos, God or god, which must be determined from the context. In the LXX theos primarily renders the name of the Creator God Elohim (2568 times), but sometimes YHVH (300 times) (DNTT 2:67-70). Given the plural nature of Elohim the full triunity of God must be represented in theos. The only God in existence is the God who created the heavens and the earth out of nothing (Gen 1:1) and who chose Israel out of all the nations on the earth for a covenantal relationship (Ex 19:5; Isa 44:6; 45:5-6; 46:9). In the Besekh theos is used overwhelmingly for the God of Israel. The God of Israel is the only God there is. The deities of all other religions and cults are the product of Satan-inspired imagination. The record of Paul's hateful campaign against the followers of Yeshua is summarized in Acts 8:3, 9:1–2 (cf. Gal 1:13, 23; Php 3:6; 1Tim 1:12–15). Paul persecuted Jewish followers of the Jewish Messiah. He is not talking about a church as conceived of in later history that thought it replaced Israel.
10— But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me has not become ineffective; but I toiled more abundantly than them all, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.
But: Grk. de, conj. by the grace: Grk. charis, disposition marked by inclination to generosity, frequently unmotivated by the worth of the recipient; thus, grace, gracefulness, graciousness, favor, thanks or gratitude. In the LXX charis occurs about 190 times of which only about 75 have a Hebrew equivalent, of which 61 are for Heb. hēn (favor) (DNTT 2:116). The use of hēn in biblical history depicts the stronger coming to the help of the weaker who stands in need of help by reason of his circumstances or natural weakness. of God: Grk. theos. See the previous verse. I am: Grk. eimi, pres. See the previous verse. what: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. I am: Grk. eimi, pres. and: Grk. kai, conj. His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same.
grace: Grk. charis. toward: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to a direction toward a goal or place and consequent arrival; into, to, towards. me: Grk. egō. has not: Grk. ou, adv. become: Grk. ginomai, aor. pass., to transfer from one state or condition to another, which may be expressed in one of three ways: (1) come into being birth or natural process; be born or produced; (2) exist through application of will or effort by a person; be made, be performed; or (3) undergo a state of existence, change or development; come to be, become, take place, happen, occur, arise, be, appear, come, arrive. The third meaning applies here. ineffective: Grk. kenos, devoid of contents, without result, in vain, for nothing, fruitless.
but: Grk. alla, conj. used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. I toiled: Grk. kopiaō, aor., may mean (1) experience fatigue as a result of exertion, or (2) engage in fatiguing activity; work hard, toil. The second meaning applies here. more abundantly: Grk. perissos, extraordinary in number, size or quality; surplus, abundance, more. The word is used here in a comparative sense. than them: Grk. autos, pers. pron., 3p-pl. all, yet: Grk. de, conj. not: Grk. ou, adv. I: Grk. egō. but: Grk. alla, conj. the grace: Grk. charis. of God: Grk. theos. with: Grk. sun ("soon"), prep. used to denote association or connection. me: Grk. egō.
Paul applies what was a national experience with God to his personal appointment as an apostle. He could only marvel. Being chosen in such a miraculous manner motivated Paul to spend all his efforts and resources serving the one he had opposed. The knowledge of God’s lavish grace continually energized him to push his limits of endurance and in so doing produce lasting fruit for his Messiah and the respect of his fellow apostles (cf. 2Pet 3:15).
11— So whether I or they, thus we proclaim and thus you believed.
So: Grk. oun, an inferential conj., which may (1) indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding, 'so, therefore, consequently, then;' (2) indicate that one takes account of something in the narrative immediately preceding, 'then;' or (3) simply indicate a stage in the narrative, 'so, then.' The first application fits here. whether: Grk. eite, conj. ordinarily used in combination; and if, if also, whether. I: Grk. ego. or: Grk. eite, conj. they: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun, m. pl., typically used to refer to a noun (person or thing) immediately preceding in the Greek text; that, that one there. thus: Grk. houtōs, demonstrative pronoun, thus, so, in this manner.
we proclaim: Grk. kērussō, pres., to make a public announcement in the manner of a herald. The verb refers to the proclamation of the content of the good news by an authorized representative of Yeshua. The verb is present tense, so Paul is referring to message he originally proclaimed and still declares. and thus: Grk. houtōs. you believed, Grk. pisteuō, aor. See verse 2 above. The past tense verb points to when the Corinthians first accepted the message of Yeshua as Messiah and Savior and put their trust in the atoning blood for the forgiveness of their sins.
The Pledge of Resurrection, 15:12-19
12— Now if Messiah is proclaimed, that "he has been raised from the dead," how do some among you say that "there is not a resurrection of the dead?"
Now: Grk. de, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj. See verse 2 above. Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 3 above. is proclaimed: Grk. kērussō, pres. mid. See the previous verse. The present tense points to continual proclamation. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 3 above. he has been raised: Grk. egeirō, perf. pass. See verse 4 above. The perfect tense means "he lives at the present as the risen Savior" (Grosheide). from: Grk. ek, prep. the dead: Grk. nekros, m. pl., without life in the physical sense; dead. The noun is plural throughout this chapter and in the context of the chapter refers in a universal sense to all who have died. how: Grk. pōs, interrogative adv. introducing a query concerning manner, way, or reason in respect to a matter; how? in what manner/way? do some: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. among: Grk. en, prep.
you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pronoun. say: Grk. legō, pres., to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or in written form; say, tell, declare. The Greek verb "say" functions as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation. that: Grk. hoti, conj. used here to introduce a quotation. there is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 9 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. a resurrection: Grk. anastasis, the principal Greek word in the New Testament for resurrection, meaning a "standing up," with references divided between the resurrection of Yeshua and the resurrection at the end of the age. In common usage anastasis referred to standing in contrast to sitting (Lam 3:63; Zech 3:7f LXX) and was used as a religious metaphor to depict the opposite of falling (Luke 2:34). The noun is derived from the verb anistēmi, which means to rise, stand up or get up and in its ordinary use refers to one who is sitting or lying down.
of the dead: Grk. nekros. Paul makes no distinction in the first half of the chapter between the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked as is found in other passages (Dan 12:2; John 5:29; Acts 24:15; Rev 20:4-5, 11-15). Although the belief in bodily resurrection did not exist in Greek culture, Jewish rabbis chose words that conveyed a physical motion and then infused those words with entirely new meaning. Just because the Greek words commandeered to describe "resurrection" refer to standing up from a sitting or lying position or being roused from sleep does not mean that the deceased disciples are in a heavenly bed, snoring away the years or in some sort of coma-like stasis.
The Jewish point in using those words is that we all shall "stand" before God (Matt 12:41; Rom 14:10; Jude 1:24). Indeed, the "souls" John saw in heaven were clothed and standing before the throne (Rev 6:9; 7:9; 10:5). Apparently someone in the Corinthian congregation was saying that just because Yeshua was raised doesn't mean there will be a general resurrection of all the corpses that have long dissolved into dust. Rienecker suggests that the ones denying resurrection were influenced by a Hellenistic, dualistic concept of after-life current among popular cults. Indeed, pagan philosophers mocked the apostolic doctrine of resurrection on the basis of the decay and dissolution of the body.
The Greeks did believe in the immortality of the soul. When a person died he went to Hades, the general place of the dead, located in the lower parts of the earth and consisted of various regions. If the person had been especially good he would go to a paradise region called Elysium and enjoy eternal blessedness. If he had been wicked he would go to Tartarus where he is tortured for eternity. However, various Greek philosophers proposed the idea that after a period of purification in Hades the soul migrated back to earth to find its way into human or animal bodies, what we call reincarnation. There is some evidence to suggest that this idea was brought back from India.
Paul proceeds to explain five consequences if there is no resurrection of the dead.
13— Now if there is not a resurrection of the dead, not even Messiah has been raised;
Now: Grk. de, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj. there is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 9 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. a resurrection: Grk. anastasis. See the previous verse. of the dead: Grk. nekros. See the previous verse. not even: Grk. oude, adv., negative marker used to link a negative statement to a preceding statement in terms of explanation; not even. Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 3 above. has been raised: Grk. egeirō, perf. pass. See verse 4 above.
Consequence #1: No general resurrection means no resurrection of Yeshua. He repeats this principle in verse 16.
14— and if Messiah has not been raised, then our proclamation is vain, your trust also is vain.
and: Grk. de, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj. Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 3 above. has not: Grk. ou, adv. been raised: Grk. egeirō, perf. pass. See verse 4 above. then: Grk. ara, marker of inference; then, so. Grosheide says the word implies the inevitable nature of the conclusion. our: Grk. hēmeis, 1p-pl. pronoun. proclamation: Grk. kērugma, an important public announcement or proclamation. The technical term derives from kērux, which in Greece denoted a man commissioned by his ruler or the state to call out with a clear voice some item of news and so to make it known (DNTT 3:48). In the LXX kērugma occurs only four times, each in reference to a separate kind of proclamation: (1) the proclamation of Hezekiah for all Israel to celebrate Passover (2Chr 30:5; Prov 9:3; Jon 3:2; 1Esdras 9:3; cf. Ezra 10:7).
Of interest is that kērugma occurs on the lips of Yeshua only in reference to the proclamation against Nineveh (Matt 12:41; para. Luke 11:42). The remaining occurrences of kērugma in the apostolic writings occur only in the letters of Paul to refer to apostolic teaching in general (1Cor 1:21), and especially his own teaching (Rom 16:25; 1Cor 2:4; 2Tim 4:17; Titus 1:3). is vain: Grk. kenos. See verse 10 above. your: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pronoun. trust: Grk. pistis incorporates two facets of meaning, first that which causes trust and faith, i.e., faithfulness or reliability, and second, trust or confidence in an active sense (BAG).
Pistis is used in the LXX to twice render Heb. emun (e.g., Deut 32:20; Prov 13:17; 'faithfulness,' BDB 53), but renders Heb. emunah ('firmness, steadfastness, fidelity,' BDB 53) over 20 times, mainly of men's faithfulness (1Sam 26:23; 2Kgs 12:15; 22:7; Prov 3:3; 12:17, 22) but also of God's faithfulness (Ps 33:4; Lam 3:23; Hab 2:4). Pistis also translates Heb. aman (to confirm, to support, Jer 15:18), amanah ('fixed support,' Neh 9:38; 11:23; SS 4:8) and emet (firmness, faithfulness, truth, Prov 14:22; Jer 28:9; 33:6). The LXX usage emphasizes that the Hebrew meaning of faithfulness is the primary focus of pistis.
Paul builds on this meaning and represents pistis as composed of two elements. The first element of faithfulness is confidence or trust: "And without faith[fulness] it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Heb 11:6; cf. Heb 4:2). True faith leads one to seek God and then trust Him to respond with His good gifts. The second element of faithfulness involves commitment, constancy and obedience, which includes following God's direction for life and producing works of righteousness (cf. Eph 2:8-10). There is no essential difference between the faith or faithfulness of the Hebrew patriarchs and the faith spoken of by Yeshua and the apostles. also: Grk. kai, conj. is vain: Grk. kenos.
Consequence #2: No general resurrection means that trust in Yeshua's atoning work is worthless since the efficacy of that work is dependent on his resurrection. He repeats this principle in verse 17.
15— Moreover also we are found false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Messiah, whom He did not raise, if then the dead are not raised.
Moreover: Grk. de, conj. also: Grk. kai, conj. we are found: Grk. heuriskō, pres., to come upon by seeking; find, locate, discover, acquire, obtain. false witnesses: pl. of Grk. pseudomartus, one who testifies contrary to the facts. of God: Grk. theos. See verse 9 above. Rienecker notes that the genitive case of "God" could be either an objective genitive, "a false witness about God," or a subjective genitive, "a false witness claiming to be from God." Such a false witness would make his message a myth, a human composition which arises from human wishes, and at the same time he would be claiming that his message was the word of God.
because: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 3 above. we testified: Grk. martureō, aor., to attest to a fact or truth, often in a legal context; testify, attest. The verb points not to relating opinion or hearsay, but what is objective truth. against: Grk. kata, prep. God: Grk. theos. that: Grk. hoti. He raised: Grk. egeirō, aor. See verse 4 above. Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 3 above. whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. He did not: Grk. ou, adv. raise: Grk. egeirō, aor. if: Grk. eiper, conditional particle; if indeed, if so, if perhaps. then: Grk. ara, conj. the dead: Grk. nekros. See verse 12 above. are not: Grk. ou. raised: Grk. egeirō, pres. pass.
Consequence #3: No general resurrection means that Paul and his fellow apostles have been false witnesses. Note that the third use of "raised" is a present passive, which might seem to allude to a contemporary event in contrast to the future event of verse 52 where he uses a future passive form of the verb. However, the present tense can be used for an anticipated future event or an action purposed.
16— If indeed the dead are not raised, not even Messiah has been raised;
If: Grk. ei, conj. indeed: Grk. gar, conj., used here in an inferential sense. See verse 3 above. The addition of gar strengthens the particle ei to introduce a condition which is assumed as true for the sake of argument (Rienecker). the dead: Grk. nekros. See verse 12 above. are not: Grk. ou, adv. raised: Grk. egeirō, pres. pass. See verse 4 above. not even: Grk. oude, negative particle. See verse 13 above. Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 3 above. has been raised: Grk. egeirō, perf. pass. With slightly different wording this verse repeats the consequence described in verse 13 above.
17— moreover if Messiah has not been raised, your trust is futile; you are still in your sins.
With slightly different wording this verse repeats the consequence described in verse 14 above, but Paul adds another element. moreover: Grk. de, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj. Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 3 above. has not: Grk. ou, adv. been raised: Grk. egeirō, perf. pass. See verse 4 above. your: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pronoun. trust: Grk. pistis. See verse 14 above. is futile: Grk. mataios, adj., without purpose, futile. Trust presumes the hope of the resurrection. If Yeshua was not raised then why believe in him? you are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 9 above. still: Grk. eti, adv. expressing continuance of an action or circumstance; still, yet even now. in: Grk. en, prep. your: Grk. humeis. sins: pl. of Grk. hamartia. See verse 3 above.
Consequence #4: If Messiah has not been raised you are still in your sins and will still face the wrath of God at the end of the age without hope of deliverance. In other words, the situation is as it was under the Old Covenant when Gentiles were "excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world" (Eph 2:12 NASB).
18— Then also the ones having fallen asleep in Messiah have perished.
Then: Grk. ara, conj. also: Grk. kai, conj. the ones: Grk. ho, definite article, m. pl., but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having fallen asleep: Grk. koimaō, aor. pass. part. See verse 6 above. in: Grk. en, prep. Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 3 above. Those that are "in Messiah" are ardent single-minded disciples. have perished: Grk. apollumi, aor. mid., may mean (1) cause severe damage; destroy, kill; or (2) experience disconnection or separation; lose, perish. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX apollumi renders 38 different Hebrew words. Most frequently it translates abad (SH–7), to be lost, perish or to destroy (DNTT 1:463). The verb depicts a situation that threatens the very existence of an individual or group.
Consequence #5: Worst of all is that if there is no general resurrection then those who have died believing in Yeshua have perished, meaning they have been judged without the benefit of redemption.
Additional Note on "In Messiah"
Paul's teaching focuses a great deal of attention on the person and work of the Messiah and so he frequently employs an expression that has stimulated considerable scholarly discussion: "in Messiah" (Grk. en Christō). The expression is formed from the preposition en ("in, into, within, with, among") and the dative case of Christos, the Jewish Messiah. The dative case describes some aspect of personal relations and may be one of four types (DM 84f), two of which have a bearing on Paul's expression "in Messiah."
The dative of indirect object indicates the one for whom or in whose interest an act is performed. The dative of possession emphasizes that the personal interest is particularized to the point of ownership. So when Paul speaks of being "in Messiah" he means that he is the property of the Messiah, thus Yeshua is Lord, and Paul acts always in the interest of the Messiah. By the same token the Messiah acts in the interest of his disciples. The practical meaning would be "united with Messiah."
Paul employs this expression over 80 times in his letters. In examining these passages it is apparent that, besides the basic meaning suggested by the dative case, "in Messiah" is a multi-dimensional expression for Paul. Accepting Yeshua as Messiah was a truly all encompassing transformation. The old things had passed away. No longer was he dead in trespasses and sins. No longer was he simply living to obey Torah and satisfy the Pharisaic code. In Messiah he found real life, real freedom. He had entered into both the death of the Messiah and the resurrection life of the Messiah. He discovered that all the promises of God were "yes" in Messiah and in Yeshua all the blessings of God were given.
19— If we are having hope in Messiah only in this life, we are pitiable of all men.
If: Grk. ei, conj., assumes the hypothetical condition is true. we are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 9 above. having hope: Grk. elpizō, perf. part., to look for; hope, expect. The perfect participle may emphasize a continual condition, a state of hoping, or may be substitutive in nature, "we are hopers" (Rienecker). in: Grk. en, prep. Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 3 above. only: Grk. monon, adv. marking a narrow limitation; merely, just, only. in: Grk. en. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. life: Grk. zōē, alive in contrast with being dead. we are: Grk. eimi, pres. pitiable: Grk. eleeinos, pitiable, pathetic, wretched, in great need of mercy. This word occurs only twice in the Besekh (also Rev 3:17).
of all: Grk. pas, m. pl., comprehensive in scope; all, every. men: Grk. anthrōpos, m. pl., human being, man or mankind. In the LXX anthrōpos renders three Hebrew words: (1) adam, SH-444, used for a human male or generically for humans as a contrast to animals (e.g., Gen 1:26, 27; 2:5); (2) ish, SH-376, an adult male or husband (Gen 2:23, 24) and (3) enosh, SH-582, a man or mankind, often signifying the aspect of weakness and mortality (Job 5:17; Ps 8:4-5); as well as Aram. enash, man (Ezra 6:11) (DNTT 2:564). Some versions translate the plural noun as "people."
Paul demeans the attitude of restricted hope. In reality, it is not hope at all. Scripture speaks of blessings for those who believe in the good news both in the present life and the age to come (Mark 10:30, 1Cor 4:4; 9:25; 1Tim 4:8). However, giving up everything in this world in order to gain the Messiah (Luke 9:23–25, Php 3:8) would be foolish if there were no resurrection.
Messiah the First Fruits, 15:20-28
20— But now Messiah has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of the ones having fallen asleep.
But: Grk. de, conj. now: Grk. nuni, adv., a strengthened form of nun ("now"), a marker of time in the present, precisely now, already, at present. Mare comments that the combination of nuni de is Paul's emphatic and conclusive way of introducing some vitally important affirmations (cf. nuni de in Rom 3:21; 6:22; 7:6; 1Cor 13:13; Col 1:22, et al.). Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 3 above. has been raised: Grk. egeirō, perf. pass. See verse 4 above. from: Grk. ek, prep. the dead: Grk. nekros. See verse 12 above. Paul provides a reality check by repeating the important truth stated in verse 4 above, which contains two important elements: (1) he knows from personal experience and the testimony of other reliable witnesses that Yeshua was raised; and (2) Yeshua did not raise himself from the dead.
the first fruits: Grk. aparchē, making a beginning in sacrifice by offering something as first fruits. The term "first fruits," which anticipates the full harvest to come, refers to the initial offering of sheaves of barley on Nisan 16 (Reishit Qatzir; Lev 23:9–15) immediately following Passover (Nisan 15), and of the first fruits of the wheat harvest (HaBikkurim) offered 50 days later on Shavuot (Feast of Weeks; Pentecost). The procedure for offering first fruits at the temple is given in Deuteronomy 26:1-11. Rabbinic regulations governing this temple offering is found in the tractate Bikkurim. The Torah does not specify the amounts or percentages of seasonal yield required for the offering of first fruits, but does say that a "sheaf" (Heb. omer) was used in the temple ceremony of waving before the LORD (Lev. 23:10–11, 15–16). Rienecker notes that in Greek literature aparchē was used for a birth certificate, which seems curiously appropriate here.
of the ones: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having fallen asleep: Grk. koimaō, perf. pass. See verse 6 above. Grosheide notes that Paul always uses this verb of believers. Paul implies that no one would deny that an integral part of the good news is the resurrection of Yeshua (verses 1-4 above). Therefore, those questioning the reality of resurrection must now accept the logical conclusion, that Yeshua's resurrection guarantees the resurrection of his disciples. Stern comments that it is not surprising that Paul sees Yeshua's resurrection as the firstfruits of the larger harvest of resurrected souls to come (verse 23 below; cf. John 14:3, 19b–20; Rom 8:29). Paul's analogy alludes to the fact that Yeshua's resurrection was unique in that he could not die again. Those who had been previously raised from the dead by the prophets and by Yeshua himself did not count as first fruits because those persons all eventually died again.
21— For since through a man came death, also through a man came resurrection of the dead.
For: Grk. gar, conj. since: Grk. epeidē, conj. that may have (1) a temporal meaning, when, after; or (2) a causal meaning, since, inasmuch. The latter meaning applies here. through: Grk. dia, prep. a man: Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 19 above. came: The verb is not in the Greek text, but implied. death: Grk. thanatos, death in the natural physical sense, extinction of life. also: Grk. kai, conj. through: Grk. dia. a man: Grk. anthrōpos. came resurrection: Grk. anastasis. See verse 12 above. of the dead: Grk. nekros. See verse 12 above. Paul makes a contrast between Adam and Yeshua, and in so doing affirms the full humanity of Yeshua. The contrast highlights both physical and spiritual aspects of the legacy left by the two men.
Death exists in mankind as a physical experience because of the curse of death imposed on Adam by God. The curse of death also had a spiritual impact because the descendants of Adam would be dominated by self-interest rather than serving the interests of God (cf. Rom 1:20-21). In contrast Yeshua does not have heirs in the physical sense, but only in the spiritual sense. In Yeshua the physical reality of resurrection, a new body, is provided to those with a spiritual birth. Paul makes a similar but more detailed comparison of Adam and Yeshua at Romans 5:12-21. Paul returns to the comparison in verses 45-49 below.
22— For even as in Adam all die, so also in Messiah all will be made alive.
For: Grk. gar, conj. even as: Grk. hōsper, adv. of manner relating events and conditions, just as, even as. in: Grk. en, prep. Adam: Grk. Adam, which transliterates Heb. Adam, (SH-120, "man, mankind"), pronounced "Ah-dahm," but Adamos in Josephus (Ant. I, 1:2) (Thayer). Josephus says that Adam "in the Hebrew tongue signifies one that is red, because he was formed out of red earth, compounded together; for of that kind is virgin and true earth" (Ant. I, 1:1). Luke traces Yeshua's ancestry back to Adam, calling him the "son of God" (Luke 3:23). Adam was the first man, created on the sixth day of creation (Gen 1:26; 2:7). His story is told in Genesis 1—5 and his name is mentioned 19 times in the Bible. He was given a woman whom God created from his own flesh (Gen 2:21-22) and whom he named Chavvah, "life" (Gen 3:20).
Until Yeshua came Adam was the most superior man to have ever lived. Being created in the image of God meant Adam possessed perfection of character. Before the serpent entered his world Adam was "sinless." He only had five commands to obey: multiply in offspring, rule the earth, cultivate the land, guard the land and avoid one tree. There was nothing to prevent remaining sinless. Being created in the image of God also meant Adam was imbued with divine power. God gave him the physical capacity to father millions in order to fill the earth. God gave him authority over every living thing on the earth, in the sky and in the sea (Gen 1:26). Adam possessed encyclopedic mental capacity and thus invented a name for every living thing (Gen 2:19-20). In order to accomplish naming Adam must have had a fully developed language, including an alphabet and vocabulary.
God put the first couple in Gan-Eden (Gen 2:19-23; 3:8-9). The translation of "Garden" can be misleading, because this was not a small acreage for cultivation but a huge territory bisected by a major river that divided into four rivers, the Pishôn, Gichôn, Chiddeqel and Perath (Gen 2:10-14). Adam likely provided these names as he did for the animals. Moses indicates that these river names were given to rivers that existed after the global deluge of Noah's time and so hints at the original size of Gan-Eden. In that land Adam and Chavvah were to derive their food from plants (Gen 1:29). Meat did not enter the human diet until after the global deluge (Gen 9:3). After their spiritual fall Adam and Chavvah became the progenitors of the human race. Adam and Chavvah had multiple sons and daughters, but only three of whom are named. Adam died at the age of 930 years (Gen 5:5).
What we know about Adam comes from Moses who produced the book of Genesis. The bulk of his composition was derived from collecting actual written records of the past and bringing them together in final form as guided by the Holy Spirit. The written records are mentioned with the Hebrew word toledoth (SH-8435), which means "generations" and is used to indicate accounts of men and their descendants, or "records of the origins." Genesis contains eleven mentions of these records and who provided them (Gen 2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10, 27; 25:12, 19; 36:1, 9; and 37:2). The first record came from Adam (Gen 2:4) who wrote the account of special creation (Gen 1:1—2:3) directly from the revelation of God. Then based on his personal experience Adam inscribed a tablet containing the narrative in Genesis 2:5—5:1a.
all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. die: Grk. apothnēskō, pres. See verse 3 above. When tempted by the Serpent first Chavvah and then Adam disobeyed God's commandment. Paul clarifies the matter by stating that it was Chavvah who was deceived (2Cor 11:3; 1Tim 2:14). Adam was with her when Chavvah was deceived (Gen 3:6), so Adam's disobedience was worse. Thus, the curse of death is blamed on him. Indeed, all of creation has suffered because of his sin. so: Grk. houtōs, adv. also: Grk. kai, conj. in: Grk. en. Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 3 above. all: pl. of Grk. pas. will be made alive: Grk. zōopoieō, fut. pass., cause to be alive; make alive, give life to. HELPS says the verb means to cause what is dead or inoperative to come to life. Paul completes the comparison between Adam and Yeshua. The comparison resumes in this chapter at verses 45–49. The contrast is that because of Adam’s sin everyone dies, but because of the resurrection of Yeshua we have the promise of life eternal.
23— But each in his own order: Messiah the first fruits, then those of Messiah at his coming,
But: Grk. de, conj. each: Grk. hekastos, adj., in reference to an individual person or thing; each, every, every one. in: Grk. en, prep. his own: Grk. idios, adj., belonging to oneself, one's own. order: Grk. tagma, relative position in a series or in a group; division, rank, order. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. Rienecker notes that the term was often used in the military sense denoting a body of troops which can be disposed according to the decision of the commanding officer. Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 3 above. the first fruits: Grk. aparchē. See verse 20 above. then: Grk. epeita, adv. See verse 6 above. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. of Messiah: Christos. at: Grk. en. his: Grk. autos, pers. pron.
coming: Grk. parousia means presence, arrival, coming or advent. The noun was used as a technical expression for the arrival or visit of the king or emperor (Rienecker). In the LXX parousia occurs only in three Apocryphal books (Judith 10:18; 2Macc 8:12; 15:21; 3Macc 3:17) (DNTT 2:898). Josephus used parousia only for the presence of God in the Shekinah (Ant. III, 5:3; 8:5; 14:4; IX, 4:3; XVIII, 8:6). However, Philo used parousia in an eschatological sense. Citing Numbers 24:7 Philo says, "a man will come forth [parousia], says the word of God, leading a host and warring furiously, who will subdue great and populous nations" (On Rewards and Punishments 16:95). Being a noun the emphasis of parousia is not on the traveling from one place to another, but the arrival, the presence after having come.
The principal use of parousia in the Besekh is to describe the personal, visible return from heaven of Yeshua, the Messiah, to raise the dead, hold the last judgment, and set up formally and gloriously the Kingdom of God (Matt 24:27, 37, 39; 1Th 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; Jas 5:8; 1Jn 2:28). Both Paul and Peter link the Parousia and the Day of the Lord (2Th 2:1-2; 2Pet 3:4, 10). For more discussion on all the events associated with the Parousia, see my web article The Rapture Debate.
24— then the end, when he will hand over the kingdom to God and the Father, when he has eliminated all rule and all authority and power.
then: Grk. eita, adv. See verse 6 above. the end: Grk. telos, a point in time that marks culmination. In the LXX telos is often used to translate the Heb. qets, "end" (DNTT 2:60). The Hebrew word qets is most often used of time, especially in phrases that speak of the end of a definite time period (e.g., Gen 8:6; 2Sam 15:7; 2Kgs 18:3) or indefinitely of the passing of a time (e.g., Gen 4:3; 1Kgs 17:7) (BDB 893). Stern notes that "then the end" must refer to the time after Yeshua returns. when: Grk. hotan, conj., a temporal marker indicating 'when' or 'whenever.' he will hand over: Grk. paradidōmi, pres. subj., to convey from one position to another, in general to hand over, used here of the transfer of power. The present tense pictures a future event.
the kingdom: Grk. basileia may mean (1) as abstract 'act of ruling' and thus 'kingship, royal power, royal rule, or kingdom; (2) a territory ruled over by a king; kingdom; or (3) the royal reign of God or kingdom of God as a chiefly eschatological concept (BAG). In the LXX basileia renders Hebrew noun derivatives of the verb malak (SH-4427, become a king; reign) (DNTT 2:373). Here "kingdom" refers to the kingdom of the Messiah. to God: Grk. theos. See verse 9 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. the Father: Grk. patēr, normally of a male biological parent or ancestor, but frequently in reference to God, which emphasizes His activity as creator, ruler and sustainer (BAG). In the LXX patēr renders ab ("av"), generally in the human sense, but also of God as father (DNTT 1:616f).
In the Tanakh God's identity as a parent is first mentioned in reference to His covenantal relationship with Israel (Deut 1:31; 8:5; 32:6; Ps 103:13; Isa 43:6; 63:16; 64:8; Jer 3:19; 31:9; Hos 1:10: Mal 1:6). Israel is specifically identified as God's son (Ex 4:22; Hos 11:1). when: Grk. hotan. he has eliminated: Grk. katargeō, aor. subj., cause to become ineffective or inoperative, annul, abolish, eliminate. all: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 19 above. rule: Grk. archē is a multi-purpose word with the basic meaning of priority with these applications: (1) The point of derivation or originating moment; beginning, start; (2) one who enjoys preeminence in earthly or supra-terrestrial realm, often plural; ruler, authority; (3) an assigned position or sphere of activity; position, domain or jurisdiction. The second meaning is intended here.
and: Grk. kai. all: Grk. pas. authority: Grk. exousia, the right to speak or act in a situation without looking or waiting for approval; authority, right, jurisdiction. BAG, Mounce and Thayer identify a second meaning as ability to do something, capability, might, power, which proceeds from having authority. and power: Grk. dunamis, the quality or state of being capable. The verb may mean (1) the ability to function effectively; power, might; (2) the exhibition of a singular capability; or (3) a powerful entity or structure of power. The third meaning applies here. The phrase "all rule and all authority and power" could refer to the "spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph 6:12), the evil powers under whose control the world has come (Rienecker). The phrase could also summarize the natural world order and political structures that do not recognize God's authority over life.
Paul identifies three significant milestones in God’s grand plan: First, Messiah's resurrection in AD 30; Second, Messiah's Second Coming, date unknown, at which time those who belong to Yeshua will also be resurrected. This is an important distinction, since Revelation 20 depicts two resurrections separated by a thousand years. Third, Yeshua will abolish all human governmental structures and systems and establish a theocracy headquartered in Jerusalem. Gill adds that there will be no more levels of ecclesiastical authority: apostles, prophets, evangelists, bishops, elders, pastors, and teachers. The elimination of authority fulfills a key promise of the New Covenant (Jer 31:34). Fourth, at some later date after Yeshua has firmly established his rule over the earth he will hand over the kingdom to the Father, date unknown.
There is a similar rabbinical teaching which speaks of
"ten kings that have ruled, from one end of the world to another; the first King is the holy and blessed God, the second Nimrod, the third Joseph, the fourth Solomon, the fifth Ahab, the sixth Nebuchadnezzar, the seventh Cyrus, the eighth Alexander the Macedonian, the ninth will be the King Messiah, according to Daniel 2:35 and of the tenth King they say, "then shall the kingdom return to its author"; or to him that was the first King, and he shall be the last; as is said in Isaiah 44:6.'' (Pirke Eliezer, c. 11; quoted by Gill).
25— For it is necessary for him to reign until which time he will have put all his enemies under his feet.
For: Grk. gar, conj. it is necessary for: Grk. dei, pres., impersonal verb from deō ('lack, stand in need of') and thus conveys the idea of something that's necessary, something that must or needs to happen. Most versions render the verb as "must." A few versions have "it is necessary for" (CEB, LEB, OJB). him: Grk. autos, pers. pron. to reign: Grk. basileuō, pres. inf., possess regal authority, be king, rule as king (Mounce). until: Grk. achri, prep., a function word signifying an interval between two points with focus on continuity, here of an extension in time; until. which time: Grk. hos, rel. pron. he will have put: Grk. tithēmi, aor. subj., to place, put, or set. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. his: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used as a demonstrative pron.
enemies: pl. of Grk. echthros, one who is inimical or hostile, enemy. under: Grk. hupo, prep., to indicate a position that is relatively lower; below, under. The preposition as used here depicts subjugation. his: Grk. autos. feet: Grk. pous, the body part that is used for walking or running; the foot. "Under his feet" is a Hebrew idiom for total conquest (Mare). The declaration of this verse amounts to a conflation of Psalm 110:1 ("Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.") and Psalm 8:6 ("You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet"). Paul makes use of this same imagery from Psalm 110:1 of God making His enemies a footstool in his general letter to Messianic Jews in the Diaspora (Heb 1:13; 10:13).
26— The last enemy to be eliminated is Death.
The last: Grk. eschatos, adj., coming at the end or after all others; end, last. The adj. is used of place, of position, of rank/status, and of time. In the LXX eschatos renders three different Heb. words: acharon (SH-314), coming after or behind, first in Gen 33:2; acharith (SH-319), the after-part, end, first in Gen 49:1; and qatseh (SH-7097), end (of a thing, a place or time) first in Deut 28:49. enemy: Grk. echthros. See the previous verse. to be eliminated: Grk. katargeō, pres. pass. See verse 24 above. is Death: Grk. thanatos. See verse 21 above. The noun has the definite article and combined with the noun "enemy" Paul employs the literary device of personification, that is, attributing personality to something inanimate, as he does of Sin (cf. Rom 5:21; 6:12, 16-23; Gen 4:7). In his Patmos experience John saw a vision of Death riding an ashen horse (Rev 6:8). Paul says more on the subject of death in verses 50-57 below.
Taking the verses 24 through 26 together Paul seems to hint at an intermediate period of reigning between the resurrection and the last judgment. Paul's prophecy thus corresponds to the Revelation account of the millennial reign. First, the reigning occurs before and continues until his enemies (Satan and his minions? rebellious nations?) have been completely conquered. Second, the intermediate reign is completed with the abolition of death. John saw Death and Hades being thrown into the lake of fire after the millennium reign concludes (Rev 20:14). Unlike some Jewish rabbis of that time Paul does not engage in any speculation as to the length of this intermediate period. Estimates of the Days of the Messiah by Jewish rabbis included 40 years, 70 years, three generations, 365 years, 400 years, 3,000 years, 4,000 years, and 7,000 years (Sanhedrin 99a). However, God chose to reveal the length of the reign only to John (Rev 20:4), one thousand years.
27— For he was subjected all things under his feet. But when he said, "All things have been subjected," it is evident that excepted is the One having subjected all things to him.
For: Grk. gar, conj. he was subjected: Grk. hupotassō, aor., to place or rank under, to be in compliance with requirements for order, to subject, so subordinate, to bring into compliance. Hupotassō is derived from hupo (under) and tassō (arrange, appoint), which originated as a military term where a rank structure is clearly defined (DNTT 1:476). all things: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. under: Grk. hupo, prep. his feet: pl. of Grk. pous. See verse 25 above. But: Grk. de, conj. when: Grk. hotan, conj. See verse 24 above. he said: Grk. legō, aor. subj. See verse 12 above. The verb refers to David who wrote Psalm 110. All things: pl. of Grk. pas. have been subjected: Grk. hupotassō, perf. pass.
it is evident: Grk. dēlos, adj., evident or clear to the mind. that: Grk. hoti, conj. excepted: Grk. ektos, prep. used to denote an exception; unless, except. is the One: Grk. ho, definite article, but used as a demonstrative pron. Among Jews "The One" was a circumlocution for God (cf. Ps 3:3; 37:24; Isa 40:26; 45:7; 49:7; Amos 9:5-6; John 1:33; 6:46; 7:18; 11:27; 12:45; 15:21; Acts 10:42; Rom 5:17; 2Cor 4:6). A few versions capitalize "One" (DLNT, EXB, NCV, OJB). having subjected: Grk. hupotassō, aor. part. all things: pl. of Grk. pas. to him: Grk. autos, pers. pron.; i.e., Messiah.
28— But when all things have been subjected to him, then also the Son himself will be subjected to the One having subjected all things to him, so that God may be all in all.
But: Grk. de, conj. when: Grk. hotan, conj. See verse 24 above. all things: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. have been subjected: Grk. hupotassō, aor. pass. subj. See the previous verse. to him: Grk. autos, pers. pron., i.e., Messiah. then: Grk. tote, temporal adv. that focuses on a time or circumstance that is closely associated with what precedes in the narrative; at that time, then, thereupon. also: Grk. kai, conj. the Son: Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios renders Heb. ben ("son," "son of"), which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity; (2) to mean not the actual father but a more distant ancestor; or (3) to mean in a broader sense of having the characteristics of, and this too applies here.
The mention of "the Son" lacks the usual descriptor "of God" or "of Man." The solitary form "Son" occurs occasionally in the Synoptic Narratives, and often in John's writings, but only twice in Paul's writings (also Heb 1:8). Since Yeshua is both Son of God (the Davidic King) and Son of Man (Daniel's divine deliverer), then the singular "Son" may merge both roles. himself: Grk. autos. will be subjected: Grk. hupotassō, fut. pass. to the One: Grk. ho, definite article, but used as a demonstrative pron. See the previous verse. having subjected: Grk. hupotassō, aor. part. all things: pl. of Grk. pas. to him: Grk. autos. so that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed, in order that, so that, that. God: Grk. theos. See verse 9 above. might be: Grk. eimi, pres. subj. See verse 9 above.
all: pl. of Grk. pas. in: Grk. en, prep. all: pl. of Grk. pas. This complex statement may reflect Peter's assessment that Paul writes some things hard to understand (2Pet 3:16). Rienecker says that by "all in all" Paul certainly does not refer either to pantheism or universalism. The main point Paul seems to be making is that although Yeshua is the King who shall rule over the earth, in the final analysis as Son he will continue to voluntarily subordinate himself to the Father's will. Stern comments that verses 27-28 give specifics of the period spoken of in the Tanakh at Zechariah 14:9 (“ADONAI will be king over all the earth; on that day ADONAI will be One and his name One") and Daniel 7:14, referring to the Messiah ("His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away").
At the end of history the Messiah's eternal rulership, in which the Messianic Community participates, is to merge with that of God the Father. Thus does Paul sum up the final outworking of resurrection. Paul proceeds now to address an important spiritual issue that has developed from the denial of resurrection.
Warning of Self-Deception, 15:29-34
29— Otherwise, what will they do, the ones immersing for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why also are they immersing for them?
Otherwise: Grk. epei, conj. used in a causal sense; since, inasmuch. because, otherwise. what: Grk. tís, interrogative pron. indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. will they do: Grk. poieō, fut., a verb of physical action that may refer to (1) producing something material; make, construct, produce, create; or (2) to be active in bringing about a state of condition; do, act, perform, work. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX poieō renders chiefly Heb. asah (SH-6213), accomplish, do, make, work (first in Gen 1:7), and used of a wide range of human and divine activity. the ones: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun to distinguish certain persons in the congregation.
immersing: Grk. baptizō, pres. mid. part., means to dip, soak, or immerse into a liquid. The verb baptizō is derived from baptō (immerse or plunge) and means that what is dipped takes on qualities of what it has been dipped in—such as cloth in dye or leather in tanning solution. In the LXX baptō translates the Heb. taval (to dip) 13 times. Baptizō occurs only four times in the LXX: in Isaiah 21:4; 2 Kings 5:14 (re: Naaman); Sirach 34:25; and Judith 12:7. While baptizō in the Isaiah passage speaks of being overwhelmed by a vision, the other three passages report incidents of self-immersion in water (DNTT 1:144). The verb could be lit. translated as "immersing themselves" (so Stern), because Jewish immersion was (and is) self-immersion. In addition, the middle voice of the verb indicates the subject of the verb participating in the results of the action.
for: Grk. huper, prep., lit. "over, above," used to express a stance of concern or interest relating to someone or something, here emphasizing a supportive aspect; for, in behalf of, in the interest of. the dead: Grk. nekros. See verse 12 above. If: Grk. ei, conj. See verse 2 above. the dead: Grk. nekros. are not: Grk. ou, adv. raised: Grk. egeirō, pres. pass. See verse 4 above. at all: Grk. holōs, adv. expressing totality, used here to amplify the negative ou; at all. why: Grk. tís. also: Grk. kai, conj. are they immersing: Grk. baptizō, pres. mid. for: Grk. huper. them: pl. of Grk. autos, pers. pron., i.e., the dead.
This is the only mention in the Bible of such a foolish practice. No other contemporary Jewish literature describes this bizarre ceremony. Proxy baptism did spring up in heretical groups in the patristic era. An allusion to this occurs in the Canon IV of the Synod of Hippo, held in 393, which declares, "The Sacraments must not be given to a dead body." In modern times the practice was adopted by the Mormons. There apparently was a faction in this dysfunctional congregation that did immerse for the dead. The practice may have resulted from the belief in the necessity of immersion for eternal life and consternation over the death of believing family members who not had been immersed.
Whatever the reason Paul certainly does not give approval to the practice. He only makes the point that immersing for the dead is hypocritical if there is no resurrection. A related practice was making atonement for the dead, which apparently Judas Maccabeus did (2Macc 12:45). In the Talmud there is a discussion about when an offering for atonement can be brought for someone who has died (Menachot 4b).
30— Why also are we in danger every hour?
Why: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. also: Grk. kai, conj. are we: Grk. hēmeis, 1p-pl. pronoun. in danger: Grk. kinduneuō, pres., be exposed to danger, be in peril. every: Grk. pas, adj. hour: Grk. hōra may mean (1) a short space of time, the twelfth part of a day; hour; (2) fig. for a period of time in the day; "the hour was already late;" or (3) fig. for a point of time as occasion for action or for an event; time. The third usage applies here.
Paul is not complaining here. He makes a point similar to the one in 4:9 where he says that God has made His apostles a public spectacle like men condemned to death. In other words, who exposes themselves to danger, risk being killed every day, face potential injuries, tortures and death, if there is no resurrection of the dead? Such men would have to be really stupid.
31— I swear by your boasting, every day I die, which I bear in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.
I swear by: Grk. nē, particle of strong affirmation, typically employed in oaths, and used with the accusative case of the thing invoked; 'by.' In Greek literature the particle was used to invoke the name of a deity (LSJ). BAG defines the word as "yes, truly," but gives the shortened meaning of "by" in order to rewrite Paul's words to say "by my pride in you." LSJ, NASBEC and SECB agree that nē is an intensive form of nai, a particle of assertion or confirmation ("yes, certainly, even so"). The particle nē occurs only here in the Besekh. your: Grk. humeteros, possessive pronoun, belonging to you in close association; your, yours. boasting: Grk. kauchēsis, boast, boasting. HELPS says the boasting may be in the "achievements" of self (negatively) or about God's grace (positively). Only two versions have "your boasting" (DARBY, DLNT).
every: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 3 above. Since the preposition is used in reference to time, it carries the meaning of "throughout," "during," or "about" (Thayer). day: Grk. hēmera may refer to (1) the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, (2) the civil or legal day that included the night, (3) an appointed day for a special purpose or (4) a longer or imprecise period, such as a timeframe for accomplishing something or a time of life or activity (BAG). Paul probably intends the second meaning. Mounce notes that in composition the combination of kata hēmera means "daily" in regards to a recurrent activity (e.g., Luke 11:3; Acts 2:46-47; 16:5; 17:11; 2Cor 11:28; Heb 7:27; 10:11). In some instances the combination has to do with public exposure to persecution (Matt 26:55; Mark 14:49; Luke 9:23; 19:47; 22:53).
I die: Grk. apothnēskō, pres. See verse 3 above. AMP interprets Paul's statement as meaning "I die to self," and in this situation he could mean "I die to my desire to be liked." which: Grk. hos, rel. pron. I bear: Grk. echō, pres., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. in: Grk. en, prep. Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 3 above. Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). The meaning of his name was explained to Joseph by an angel of the Lord, "You shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). The English rendering of "Jesus" originated with the Mace New Testament in 1729. For more information on the meaning our Lord's name, his identity, and the history of translation of the name see my web article Who is Yeshua?
our: Grk. hēmeis, 1p-pl. pron. Lord: Grk. kurios may mean either (1) one in control through possession, and therefore owner or master; or (2) one esteemed for authority or high status, thus lord or master. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, principally to replace Heb. YHVH, translated in Christian versions as upper case LORD and in Messianic Jewish versions as ADONAI. Kurios also occurs a number of times to identify men of higher rank to whom respect is owed (DNTT 2:511). Kurios is the principal title by which disciples and members of the public addressed Yeshua during his earthly ministry. The frequent use of kurios to address Yeshua in the flesh would not have considered deity. The apostles meant kurios in the sense of Heb. adôn, because Yeshua is the owner-master of his disciples.
Most versions translate the verse as if Paul was doing the boasting, that is, expressing pride in the Corinthian congregation. A few versions actually say "my pride" (ESV, GW, NEB, NLT, NOG, RSV, TLB). Clarke, Gill, Grosheide, Mare and Rienecker favor this view. (Stern offers no opinion.) Yet, the Greek text simply does not say this. If Paul had meant "his" boasting he would have used emos ("my, mine") or hēmeteros ("our"), not humeteros ("your"). Paul is in the midst of criticizing a viewpoint current in the congregation and switching to an expression of personal pride in them is not logical. After all, why would he command them in verse 34 below to stop sinning if he was proud of them?
The exception to the prevailing Christian interpretation is John Lightfoot. Noting that the boasting was by the Corinthians, Lightfoot offered the view that their boasting was against Paul, so that that he considered himself despised by them (4:272). There was certainly a faction in the congregation that considered him inferior to the other apostles and took every opportunity to demean his character (cf. 2Cor 2:5; 7:2; 10:1-11; 11:5-6). Paul comments at the beginning of this letter on their presumed wisdom and spiritual condition, but declared them still fleshly (1Cor 3:3). In 5:6 Paul says "your boasting is not good." Nevertheless Paul turns their prideful boasting into something positive by considering their contempt and reproach as a possession in Messiah (cf. 2Cor 12:10).
Textual Note: Most versions include the word "brothers (Grk. adelphoi). However, the plural noun is not found in the earliest MS, p46 (c. 200 A.D.), several other respected MSS and the quotations of the verse in Origen, Ambrosiaster, Chrysostom, Theodoret and John-Damascus. While "brothers" is found in the majority of MSS, the UBS committee gave the inclusion of the noun a "C" rating to indicate uncertainty (Metzger 501).
32— If according to man I fought wild animals in Ephesus, what is the profit to me? If the dead are not raised, we should eat and we should drink, for tomorrow we die.
If: Grk. ei, conj. according to: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 3 above. man: Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 19 above. AMP interprets "according to man" as meaning "from a human point of view." The phrase may be an allusion to his critics. I fought wild animals: Grk. thēriomacheō, aor., to fight with wild animals, perhaps an allusion to the popular "sport" in Roman arenas. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh and is intended fig. of contention with adversaries. in: Grk. en, prep. Ephesus: Grk. Ephesos, the most important city in the Asia province (now Turkey), with a population of about 300,000. Ephesus was a free city having been granted the right to self-government by Rome. Ephesus was a coastal city and had the most favorable seaport in the province, serving as a center of commerce. The business prosperity of the city was rivaled by its cultural attractions, including a 25,000-seat stadium, baths, gymnasiums and impressive buildings.
The principal attraction of Ephesus was the Temple of Artemis (or Diana, the Roman name), which was ranked as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The history of the congregation in Ephesus probably began with the efforts of Priscilla and Aquila who accompanied Paul (Acts 18:18-19). Paul returned to Ephesus (ca. 52) and remained about three years teaching in the lecture hall of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9). Paul’s ministry was so successful that the name of the Lord Yeshua became great and the sin business of idolatry suffered (Acts 19:23-27). However, the idol sellers instigated a riot in opposition and Paul escaped a mob, which may be the source of the "wild beasts" idiom (Acts 19:28-30; 20:1). After Paul left the city, Timothy apparently remained as overseer (1Tim 1:3).
what: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. is the profit: Grk. ophelos, increase or advantage connected with an activity or circumstance; profit, benefit or gain. to me: Grk. egō. Paul's argument is "Why am I dealing with persecution if there is no resurrection from the dead?" Indeed, he would not have faced martyrdom for a myth. Also, Paul had not gained materially from his lengthy ministry in Ephesus and his investment in time and resources was because of his confidence in the good news of the resurrection.
If: Grk. ei. the dead: Grk. nekros. See verse 12 above. are not: Grk. ou, adv. raised: Grk. egeirō, pres. pass. See verse 4 above. we should eat: Grk. phagō, aor. subj., (used as an alternative of esthiō, to eat, in certain tenses), to take in one's mouth, to partake of food. and: Grk. kai, conj. we should drink: Grk. pinō, aor. subj., to take in a liquid, to drink, usually of water or wine. for: Grk. gar, conj. tomorrow: Grk. aurion generally means the next day, tomorrow, but also may lack a nocturnal interval and mean soon, in a short time. we die: Grk. apothnēskō, pres. See verse 3 above. Paul argues from a proverbial saying found in Isaiah (22:13; also in 56:12). If there is no resurrection we might as well party.
33— Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good morals."
Do not: Grk. ou, adv. be deceived: Grk. planaō, pres. mid. imp., may mean (1) in the active voice to cause to go astray, in the sense of leading one from a standard of truth or conduct, mislead, deceive; or (2) in the passive voice of a physical departure from a customary course, stray or wander about; or (3) in a metaphoric extension of the idea of physical departure, go astray, be mistaken. The third meaning applies here. Paul warns against allowing anyone to lead them into error.
Bad: Grk. kakos, adj., may mean (1) morally or socially reprehensible; bad, wrong; or (2) causing harm, with focus on personal or physical injury; harmful, bad. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX kakos is used to render Heb. ra (SH-7451), which has the same dual meaning (DNTT 1:562). company: pl. of Grk. homilia, of social association; companionship, company, communion or association. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. corrupts: Grk. phtheirō, pres., cause change from a good condition to one that ends in ruin; ruin, spoil, corrupt, destroy. good: Grk. chrēstos, adj., a context-specific term for meeting approval for serviceability at a high level; helpful, to one's liking, kind, of fine quality, good. morals: pl. of Grk. ēthos, pattern of behavior that characterizes or distinguishes a group or individual; custom, way, manner, habit. The word occurs only here in the Besekh.
Paul continues his argument by quoting a well-known proverb in Greek culture. Grosheide, Stern and Thayer suggest that the proverb may have come from the Greek poet Menander, although Grosheide admits the evidence is not conclusive. The saying might have been a common proverb in Greek culture of Paul's day, but that does not mean that Paul needed to rely on pagan sources for wisdom sayings. Paul's teaching was thoroughly grounded in the Tanakh and this saying is echoed in the proverbs of Solomon (Prov 18:24; 29:3).
34— Be sober righteously, and do not continue sinning; for some have ignorance of God. I speak this to your shame.
Be sober: Grk. eknēphō, aor. imp., to become sober as the opposite of drunkenness, also figurative for coming to one’s senses. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. Some versions translate the verb as an idiom, "come to your senses" or words to that effect (CSB, NIRV, NIV, NLT, NRSV, TLV), but other versions interpret it more literally with "sober up" (CEB, LEB, MRINT, NET, NTE). ESV has "wake up from your drunken stupor." The verb could be taken literally given Paul's prior rebuke of their abuse of alcohol (11:20-21). uprightly: Grk. dikaiōs, adv., means uprightly, justly, in a just manner, or judging properly or uprightly. Taken together the two words may reflect a Hebrew idiom, "Sober up so you can judge properly." This is an implied insult that alcohol has muddled their wits.
and: Grk. kai, conj. do not: Grk. mē, a particle of qualified negation, subjective in nature, involving will and thought; not. continue sinning: Grk. hamartanō, pres. imp., cause to be alongside instead of on target; used of wrongdoing against humans or God; do wrong, sin. In the LXX the Jewish rabbis used harmartanō to render the Heb. word chata, which means to miss, to lapse, go wrong or sin as a conscious deviation from the right way. Throughout Scripture sin as a behavior is a violation of God's written commandments (Rom 4:15) The degree of intentionality is not a factor in defining sinful behavior, only whether God's specified requirements or prohibitions have been violated. Intentionality is only relevant to the degree and manner of punishment. Also, in Scripture sinning does not include the imperfections that separate humanity from divinity, "falling short of the glory" (Rom 3:23).
The imperative mood of the verb combined with the negative particle makes it a strong command to cease wrong behavior. In this case Paul is saying "do not go on sinning as you have been by teaching against the doctrine of the resurrection." Other people in Scripture were also cautioned to "sin no more," such as the man Yeshua healed at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:14) and the woman caught in adultery (John 8:11). The fact that a disciple may be instructed to cease sinning or to avoid sinning (cf. Eph 4:26; 1Tim 5:20) contradicts the assumption by some Christians that they must sin in thought, word and deed every day.
for: Grk. gar, conj. some: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. have: Grk. echō, pres. See verse 31 above. ignorance: Grk. agnōsia, lack of acquaintance with something; ignorance. of God: Grk. theos. See verse 9 above. This charge means that their conduct and attitudes are incompatible with their professed knowledge about God. Stern comments that Greek libertines (6:12) and philosophers (8:1) were especially the ones who disbelieved the resurrection, and they clearly lacked knowledge of the God of Israel and the Scriptures.
I speak: Grk. laleō, pres., is used in the Besekh primarily to mean making an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; assert, proclaim, report, say, speak, talk about, utter. to: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near or facing" (DM 110). Since the pronoun following is in the accusative case, pros would denote direction; to, towards. your: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pronoun. shame: Grk. entropē, shame, humiliation. Paul implies that certain Corinthian believers were acting as if they had no knowledge of God, and allowing this heresy to persist and thereby shamed the whole congregation.
The Nature of Resurrection, 15:35-41
35— But someone will ask, "How are the dead raised? Moreover, with what kind of body do they come?"
But: Grk. alla, conj. See verse 10 above. someone: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. will ask: Grk. ereō, fut., to ask or inquire about something, to seek for information (LSJ). How: Grk. pōs, interrogative pronoun introducing a query concerning manner, way, or reason in respect to a matter; how? in what manner/way? are the dead: Grk. nekros. See verse 12 above. raised: Grk. egeirō, pres. pass. See verse 4 above. Moreover: Grk. de, conj. The conjunction implies the question comes from someone else. with what kind: Grk. poios, interrogative pronoun used in reference to class or kind; of what kind? of body: Grk. sōma, a structured physical unit in contrast to its parts; body. The term is used in the Besekh mostly of humans, but also animals, plants and planets. do they come: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid., 'to come, come back, return or appear,' and sometimes, 'to go.'
The verb generally depicts physical movement, mostly with implication of a position from which action or movement takes place, but it also may focus on the goal for movement. The use of erchomai does not mean "come to life" as the verb used in the next verse. Rather the question acknowledges the teaching of Paul, first given to the Thessalonians, that Yeshua will return from heaven with those who had died in the faith (1Th 4:14). Since the bodies of the deceased will have long decayed into dust the question seems reasonable. Greek philosophers mocked the Jewish belief and apostolic teaching in resurrection on the basis of the decay and dissolution of the body. Resurrecting a body that is still intact, like Yeshua, is one thing. But once the body has dissolved into dust, how can it be put back together? And, if it could be restored what would it look like?
36— You fool! What you sow is not made alive unless it dies;
You: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. fool: Grk. aphrōn, adj., not making use of common sense or ordinary intelligence, characteristic of one who fails to take account of various aspects before drawing a conclusion or adopting a course of action; senseless, foolish. The personal address may seem overly strong, but Yeshua used the word on two occasions, first of hypocritical Pharisees whom he denounced (Luke 11:40) and second of the rich man who took pride in his possessions, deciding to embrace a hedonistic lifestyle, and that night suffered the judgment of God (Luke 12:20). Paul might be engaging in a Greek form of diatribe and insulting a fictive opponent that asked the questions given in the previous verse. Yet, the previous verse presumes the questions were asked by actual persons, so in reality Paul rebukes those who attack the reality of the resurrection with illogical questions.
What: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. you sow: Grk. speirō, pres., to sow seed in the agricultural sense. is not: Grk. ou, negative particle. made alive: Grk. zōopoieō, pres. pass., cause to be alive; make alive, give life to. unless: Grk. ei mē, lit. "if not." it dies: Grk. apothnēskō, aor. subj. See verse 3 above. The agricultural analogy means that in order to gain the resurrection body you must die. Paul repeats this point in verse 50. As Paul says in his letter to the Hebrews, "And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment" (Heb 9:27). There is also the possibility that Paul spoke metaphorically, that is of spiritual death, as Yeshua said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a seed of barley having fallen into the ground should die, he remains alone; but if death should occur, much fruit is produced" (John 12:24 mine).
Gruber suggests that verses 35-36 represents a Kal v'chomer kind of reasoning found in the Talmud: "If a grain of wheat, which is buried naked, comes forth clothed in much, how much more so the righteous, who are buried as one in their clothes" (Sanhedrin 90b, which is part of an argument that resurrection is taught in the Torah; cf. Ketubot 111b). (MW-Notes 281).
37— and what you sow— you do not sow the body that will be, but a bare seed, if probably of wheat or of some of the rest.
and: Grk. kai, conj. what: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. you sow: Grk. speirō, pres. See the previous verse. you do not: Grk. ou, negative particle. sow: Grk. speirō, pres. the body: Grk. sōma. See verse 35 above. that: Grk. ho, definite article but use here as a demonstrative pronoun. will be: Grk. ginomai, fut. See verse 10 above. but: Grk. alla, conj. a bare: Grk. gumnos, adj., may mean (1) naked, bare; or (2) inadequately dressed. The first meaning applies here. seed: Grk. kokkos, seed or grain. Grosheide clarifies that a "bare seed" is a grain of which nothing else can be said except that it is a grain. Yeshua also used the seed analogy (John 12:24). if: Grk. ei, conj. probably: Grk. tugchanō, aor. opt., may mean (1) be privileged to receive a benefit, happen upon; or (2) meet up with something in ordinary experience; come upon. of wheat: Grk. sitos, grain of any kind, generally wheat in the Besekh. or: Grk. ē, conj. used to denote an alternative. of some: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. of the rest: Grk. loipos, remaining of what's left, other, rest of. This noun refers to plants of the same nature as wheat (Grosheide).
Paul continues his exhortation began in verse 35 on what manner the body of the dead will come. He argues from a basic principle in farming. Seeds are sown, then later come the plants from those seeds. Just as the mature plant is dramatically different from its seed, so our present body cannot compare to the future resurrection body.
38— But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds its own body.
But: Grk. de, conj. God: Grk. theos. See verse 9 above. gives: Grk. didōmi, pres., to give, used in a wide variety of situations, often with the focus on generosity and the context determining whether the focus is on generosity or some other rationale for the giving. In the LXX didōmi generally renders Heb. natan, to give, used in one of three settings (1) by men one to another; (2) by men to God; and (3) by God to men (DNTT 2:41). it: Grk. autos, pers. pron. a body: Grk. sōma. See verse 35 above. just as: Grk. kathōs, adv. emphasizing similarity, conformity, proportion or manner; as, just as. He wished: Grk. thelō, aor., to have a desire for something or have a purpose for something; will, wish, desire.
and: Grk. kai, conj. to each: Grk. hekastos, adj. See verse 23 above. of the seeds: pl. of Grk. sperma may refer either to the source (e.g. seed, semen) or the product of propagation (e.g., posterity, descendant). its own: Grk. idios, adj. See verse 23 above. body: Grk. sōma. God designed every seed that exists and organized the molecular and mineral components in a corporeal pattern. If God did that for seeds that have no soul, what will He do for His children? He will give you a special body. Paul goes on to explore the wonder of this concept.
39— Not all flesh is the same flesh, but one indeed of mankind, and another flesh of animals, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish.
Not: Grk. ou, negative particle. all: Grk. pas, adj. flesh: Grk. sarx, has both literal and figurative uses (1) the tissue that covers the skeleton of a human or animal; (2) the whole body viewed as a substance; (3) man of flesh and blood in contrast to God and supernatural beings; (4) human or mortal nature, with its limitations; (5) the external or outward side of life; (6) theologically the willing instrument of sin that stands in opposition to the Spirit; (7) the genitals without any suggestion of sinfulness connected with it (BAG). The first meaning applies here. is the same: Grk. autos, pers. pron. See verse 10 above. The pronoun is used to contrast. flesh: Grk. sarx. Paul refers not only to the first meaning of physical tissue, but the overall physical structure and nature that distinguishes each from the other.
but: Grk. alla, conj. See verse 10 above. one: Grk. allos, adj., used to distinguish from one or more other entities; other (of two), another; another of the same kind. indeed: Grk. mén, conj., a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. Most versions do not translate this particle, but it gives added emphasis to the proposition presented. of mankind: Grk. anthrōpos, m. pl. See verse 19 above. Paul asserts the sameness of the flesh of the human race in contrast to animals and in so doing implies the origin of humans from Adam and Chavvah who were created in the image of God. Thus, all humans are genetically related. Unfortunately, Darwin's distinction between three supposed races (Caucasoid, Mongoloid and Negroid with different color and genetic characteristics) has had a devastating impact on culture worldwide.
There is also only one skin pigment ("color"), which is called melanin. Some people just happen to have more melanin than others. Thus, the politically correct term "people of color" misses the obvious and perpetuates the evolutionistic myth. See Henry Morris, The Long War Against God (Baker Book House, 1989), Chapter Two, for a definitive review of historical racism resulting from adoption of Darwinian evolution as a guiding philosophy. See also Ken Ham, Carl Wieland, and Don Batten, One Blood (Master Books, 1999), which presents the biblical and scientific arguments to prove that all people are genetically of "one blood" (Acts 17:26 NKJV).
and: Grk. kai, conj. another: Grk. allos. flesh: Grk. sarx. of animals: Grk. ktēnos, domesticated animal, whether pets, herd animals, pack animals, or animals used for riding (BAG). Thayer notes ktēnos refers to animals that would be personal property. In the LXX ktēnos renders Heb. behemah (SH-929), animal, beast, cattle, livestock, first in Genesis 1:25. The meat of animals was added to mankind's diet after the global flood (Gen 9:3), so there is no biblical ground for vegetarianism (cf. 1Tim 4:1-3). Of the animals only those that have a divided hoof and chew the cud may be eaten by Jews (Lev 11:3).
and: Grk. kai. another: Grk. allos. flesh: Grk. sarx. of birds: Grk. ptēnos, furnished with wings, i.e. birds. Scripture does not speak of flightless birds as the ostrich or penguin. The term ptēnos occurs only here in the Besekh. The word does not occur in the LXX, but it is found in other Jewish literature (Epist. of Aristeas, Philo and Sib. Or.) (BAG). The first mention of birds (Heb. oph) is in Genesis 1:20 in which their domain is depicted as the atmosphere. The Torah lists 20 specific birds prohibited to Israelites for eating and they are all carrion-eaters (Lev 11:13-18). So, the acceptable birds would be those comparable to the herbivore land animals.
and: Grk. kai. another: Grk. allos. of fish: Grk. ichthus, a generic term for fish, whether fresh-water or salt-water. In the LXX ichthus renders Heb. dag (SH-1710), first in Genesis 1:26 for the "fish of the sea" God created. Of marine animals Israelites were only to eat animals with fins and scales (Lev 11:9). As with land animals there are hundreds of sea animals excluded from eating by this strict definition, such as crustaceans (lobster, crab and shrimp), sea mammals (whale, porpoise, walrus) and animals with toxic characteristics (shark, stingray, catfish, eel). Most unclean marine animals are scavengers and literally eat anything.
In essence Paul gives a summary of the creation account of Genesis 1:20-25, although in reverse order. The differentiation between these species is testament to divine creation. The research into DNA and embryology has clearly demonstrated the inadequacy of the theory of evolution as an explanation for the distinction between species of animals, birds and fish.
40— and there are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but one truly of the heavenly glory, and that of the earthly is another.
and: Grk. kai, conj. there are heavenly: pl. of Grk. epouranios, adj., in the heavenly sphere; heavenly, celestial. bodies: pl. of Grk. sōma. See verse 35 above. and: Grk. kai. earthly: Grk. epigeios, adj., on the earth, belonging to the earth (as opposed to the sky); also fig. of unspiritual (Jas 3:15). bodies: pl. of Grk. sōma. but: Grk. de, conj. one: Grk. heteros, a distributive pronoun that may (1) distinguish one item from another in a numerical sense, other, another; or (2) express dissimilarity of one item relative to another, whether generically or qualitatively; other, another or different. The first meaning applies here. truly: Grk. mén, conj. See the previous verse. The conjunction is not translated in most versions but adds important emphasis in Paul's distinction between heavenly and earthly bodies.
of the heavenly: Grk. epouranios. glory: Grk. doxa has four categories of meaning: (1) splendor in the sense of brightness, (2) magnificence of what catches the eye, (3) fame, honor or approval, or (4) glorious as in the angelic beings and majesties. The fourth meaning has application here. In the LXX doxa translates Heb. kavôd (SH-3519), which refers to the luminous and glorious manifestation of God’s person. Characteristically, kavôd is linked with verbs of seeing and appearing and stresses the impact that the manifestation of God makes on others. In the apostolic writings doxa is a continuation of the underlying Hebrew concept (DNTT 2:45). The "one truly of the heavenly glory" is the resurrection body.
The "one truly of the heavenly glory" is the resurrection body, which may hint at the idea of resurrected people shining. Several passages allude to this: (1) The face of Moses shone from being in the presence of God (Ex 34:35). (2) Yeshua and his clothing shone on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt 17:2). In his appearance to John the face of Yeshua shone like the sun (Rev 1:16). (3) Angels appeared in shining clothing (Matt 28:1-3; Acts 10:30). (4) Yeshua promised that his people would shine, which may be taken literally as well as metaphorically:
"Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever." (Dan 12:2-3 NASB)
"Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear." (Matt 13:43)
and: Grk. kai. that: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. of the earthly: Grk. epigeios. is another: Grk. heteros. Paul makes an interesting point that the earth has a glory, because logically if other heavenly bodies have a glory, then so must the earth. Photographs taken of the earth from outer space set against the blackness of space illustrate the glory of this bright blue planet.
41— one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
Paul makes the general contrast of heavenly and earthly of the previous verse specific in this verse by comparing brightness instead of physical structure.
one: Grk. allos, adj. See verse 39 above. glory: Grk. doxa. See the previous verse. of the sun: Grk. hēlios (for Heb. shemesh), the sun, the star that is the central body of the solar system, created on the fourth day to "govern the day" (Gen 1:16-19). The core temperature of the sun produced by nuclear fusion has been estimated above 27 million degrees F and the temperature at its surface about 10,000 degrees F. In both the solar system and on the earth "there is nothing hidden from its heat" (Ps 19:6). Its mean distance from the earth is about 93 million miles from the earth, which assures the right balance of heat, light and photosynthesis to sustain all of earth's physical and biological processes. The sun moves in an orbit through the Milky Way Galaxy (Ps 19:5-6), at a speed that scientists estimate to be 600,000 mph (BBMS 165).
and: Grk. kai, conj. another: Grk. allos. glory: Grk. doxa. of the moon: Grk. selēnē (for Heb. yareach), the earth's natural satellite, orbiting the earth at a mean distance of 238,857 miles and having a diameter of 2160 miles. Like the sun the moon was created on the fourth day to "govern the night" (Gen 1:16). The "glory" of the moon is light reflected from the sun. As a result of the space program and lunar landings, the moon is now known to be completely void of life (just as the Bible indicates) but to be composed of similar rocks and minerals to those of earth. At the same time, the structure of the moon, as well as the proportions of the different rocks and minerals, is so vastly different from the corresponding attributes of Earth as to make it certain that the two could not have had a common evolutionary origin (BBMS 164). The sun and the moon were worshipped as deities in ancient pagan cultures.
and: Grk. kai. another: Grk. allos. glory: Grk. doxa. of the stars: pl. of Grk. astēr, a luminous heavenly body other than the sun. In Scripture the term may refer to any object in the heavens, whether planets, asteroids, meteors or stars. for: Grk. gar, conj. star: Grk. astēr. differs: Grk. diapherō, pres. from star: Grk. astēr. in: Grk. en, prep. glory: Grk. doxa. Henry Morris comments that all stars look alike to the naked eye and even when seen through a telescope they seem to be just points of light. However, analysis of their light spectra reveals that each is unique and different from all others. Each has its own distinctive ratio of apparent brightness to temperature, so each is different "in glory" from all others (DSB 1274).
In the beginning the heavenly lights were created to function as "signs" (Gen 1:14), and not just as aids to navigation, but portents with religious significance. The sun and moon determined the climatic "seasons," but this term Heb. mo'adim, is used in the Torah to refer to sacred seasons or festivals, especially in Leviticus 23 (BDB 417). The belief in the twelve constellations, or groupings of stars having special religious significance, is very old as alluded to in Job 9:9, "Who makes the Bear, Orion and the Pleiades, and the chambers of the south?" (Cf. Job 38:32; 2Kgs 23:5; Isa 13:10.) According to the Talmud the twelve constellations were created for the benefit of Zion (Berakoth 32b), and it was in these constellations that set forth pictorially the divine plan of redemption through the coming "seed of the woman" (Gen 3:15; cf. Rev 12:1-2), and specifically the advent of the Messiah (cf. Matt 2:2; 24:29; Luke 21:25f; 2Pet 1:19). See my commentary on Psalm 19.
The Perfection of Resurrection, 15:42-49
In this section Paul presents a series of contrasts that may be more or less equivalent. Paul realizes that he is explaining a difficult concept and approaches it from several angles to make his point. In these verses the characteristics of corruption, dishonor, weakness, soulishness (my term), and the earthy are all derived from Adam. Paul is describing what we are without the redeeming and resurrecting power of Yeshua, in whom we will receive an immortal, glorious, powerful, spiritual and heavenly body.
42— So also is the resurrection of the dead: sown in corruption, raised in immortality.
Paul next makes several contrasts between the present body and the resurrection body.
So: Grk. houtōs, adv. See verse 11 above. also: Grk. kai, conj. is the resurrection: Grk. anastasis. See verse 12 above. of the dead: Grk. nekros. See verse 12 above. sown: Grk. speirō, pres. pass. See verse 36 above. Grosheide suggests that since "sown" means putting seed in the ground, then in verses 42-44 "sown" is intended metaphorically for burial. in: Grk. en, prep. corruption: Grk. phthora may mean ruin, destruction, deterioration, corruption, or dissolution. The word is a noun depicting a state of existence, not merely an adjective that describes a physical feature of a person’s body. Corruption came about because of Adam’s sin (Rom 5:12). There are two layers of meaning here. "Sown" can refer to human fertilization and the curse of death from Adam is passed to one's offspring (verse 22 above). Then, physical death accelerates the curse through decomposition of the body and in burial the body returns to dust as decreed by God (Gen 3:19).
raised: Grk. egeirō, pres. pass. See verse 4 above. in: Grk. en. immortality: Grk. aphtharsia, incorruptibility, immortality. Again, Paul is not using an adjective as "imperishable" implies, but a noun depicting a state of existence. HELPS adds that the new condition lacks the very capacity to decay or constitutionally break down, thus no possibility of deterioration. Paul is thinking as a Hebrew of the total person. Now we are subject to the second law of thermodynamics, everything deteriorates and decays. The body is fragile and capable of perishing. In the resurrection the destructiveness of the second law will be eliminated. Paul described this contrast in his letter to the Roman congregation:
"For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body." (Rom 8:20-23 NASB)
Additional Note — Restoration Resurrection
Beginning with Clement of Rome (AD 30-100) the metaphors of sowing and raising used by Paul have been interpreted to mean that the resurrection body is like seed sown in fruitful soil that dissolves and then out of its dissolution God will one day raise it up again (First Epistle to the Corinthians, Chap. 14).
The Church in the second century expanded on Clement's approach and taught that in the resurrection God will reassemble the constituent elements of every physical body that has died and then perform the transformation for the person's spirit reoccupation. This view is expressed in a rebuttal to the Greek philosophers by Athenagoras, an early church father (AD 177), who said:
"Moreover also, that His power is sufficient for the raising of dead bodies, is shown by the creation of these same bodies. For if, when they did not exist, He made at their first formation the bodies of men, and their original elements, He will, when they are dissolved, in whatever manner that may take place, raise them again with equal ease…that same power can reunite what is dissolved, and raise up what is prostrate, and restore the dead to life again, and put the corruptible into a state of incorruption." (On the Resurrection of the Dead, Chap. 3)
Alluding to the reasoning of Athenagoras, John Wesley said, "God can distinguish and keep unmixed from all other bodies the particular dust into which our several bodies are dissolved, and can gather it together and join it again, how far soever dispersed asunder." ("On the Resurrection of the Dead," Sermons on Several Occasions: Sermon 137, 1872 ed.) Wesley, like all the former Christian writers advocating the same view probably didn’t know or consider that the human body is mostly water and as a corpse decays the water evaporates into the atmosphere.
The pagan objection was really based on unbelief in the God of the Bible. However, they lacked one vital piece of information. The modern science of genetics has demonstrated that an animal can be cloned from a single strand of DNA, so in that sense God does not need to collect all the former elements of each corpse. This process might be called the restoration theory of resurrection. Even so, the restoration theory seems terribly inefficient of God. Why begin with "something" when God is perfectly capable of creating from nothing? Pay close attention to how Paul describes resurrection.
43— sown in dishonor, raised in glory; sown in weakness, raised in power;
sown: Grk. speirō, pres. pass. See verse 36 above and the previous verse. in: Grk. en, prep. dishonor: Grk. atimia, dishonor, disgrace, shame. Rienecker notes that atimia was sometimes used of loss of the rights of citizenship. A corpse has no rights. Because of Adam's sin, the present human body is a body of sin (Rom 6:6). We cover our bodies because of this shame (Gen 3:7). raised: Grk. egeirō, pres. pass. See verse 4. in: Grk. en. glory: Grk. doxa. See verse 40 above. The resurrection body will be glorious, not tainted by sin or shame. However, we will still be clothed (Rev 19:8). This statement also hints that the restoration view of resurrection is not correct. The dead in Messiah are in heaven (Luke 16:22; 23:43; 2Cor 5:8; 1Th 4:14; Rev 6:9), so that is where their resurrection actually takes place (2Cor 5:1).
sown: Grk. speirō, pres. pass. in weakness: Grk. astheneia, sickness, disease, prone to illness, breakdown, infirmities. When seed is sown, the grain is weak when compared with the mature sheaf. raised: Grk. egeirō, pres. pass. See verse 4 above. in: Grk. en. power: Grk. dunamis, from dunamai, the quality or state of being capable. The verb may mean either (1) the ability to function effectively; power, might; or (2) express the exhibition of a singular capability. Grosheide notes that a seed has some inherent power to sprout. Thayer interprets "in power" as meaning "endued with power." The resurrection body is powerful, impervious to disease and breakdown. The expression "in power" can also hint at the divine power required to achieve resurrection.
44— sown a soulish body, raised a spiritual body. If there is a soulish body, there is also a spiritual body.
sown: Grk. speirō, pres. pass. See verse 36 and 42 above. a soulish: Grk. psuchikos, adj., at the level of physical impulse or direction; physical, unspiritual, worldly. Bible versions translate the word as "natural," but in modern English "natural" is not a negative term. I prefer the translation of soulish, that is, devoted to self-interest. Paul uses the term earlier in this letter (2:14) to describe an unspiritual man. The Lord's brother Jacob uses the term to describe unspiritual wisdom (Jas 3:15). Judah defines psuchikos as "not having the Spirit" (Jude 1:19). body: Grk. sōma. See verse 35 above. Paul is not engaging in the dualism of Hellenistic philosophy.
I think it reasonable to say that psuchikos-sōma refers to someone dominated by the soul instead of the spirit. This is the reality of the "natural man" because each person has received an "over-developed soul" from Adam. In considering this verse Watchman Nee offers this interpretation:
"The fruit of the tree of knowledge made the first man over-developed in his soul. The emotion was touched, because the fruit was pleasant to the eyes, making him 'desire;' the mind with its reasoning power was developed, for he was 'made wise;' and the will was strengthened, so that in future he could always decide which way he would go. The whole fruit ministered to the expansion and full development of the soul, so that not only was the man a living soul, but from henceforth man will live by the soul. It is not merely that man has a soul, but that from that day on the soul, with its independent powers of free choice, takes the place of the spirit as the animating power of man." (The Normal Christian Life, Chap. XII; online.)
I think that Watchman Nee has been reasonable with the text. He probably used the term "overdeveloped" in the sense of dominating the person. The unbeliever is most certainly "soulish." Born-again believers may be "soulish," as Paul accused the Corinthians, since his opponents in the congregation had not turned over every area of their lives to God's ownership. So, a "soulish-body" denotes the unspiritual person who lives without submission to the will of God. In reality, every person is "soulish" from the moment of birth. Only by a divine transformational experience can the personality be changed.
raised: Grk. egeirō, pres. pass. See verse 4 above. a spiritual: Grk. pneumatikos, transcending physical existence and influence, spiritual. The term is used of persons especially oriented toward spiritual matters or influenced by the Spirit of God (1Cor 2:15; 3:15; 14:37). body: Grk. sōma. In this life a pneumatikos-sōma is someone who has received the Spirit of God, which was the apostolic expectation of all new believers (Acts 2:38; 8:15; 10:47; 19:2). In the context of resurrection a "spiritual-body" makes one suited to heavenly immortality and gives one the ability to live in a domain totally devoted to a spiritual life.
The spiritual body will be like that of Yeshua (Php 3:20-21; 1Jn 3:2). Using Yeshua's resurrection body as a baseline Henry Morris suggests that the spiritual body will no longer be under bondage to gravitational and electromagnetic forces, as at present, but only to spiritual forces of which we now have no real knowledge (DSB 1274). We know that Yeshua was able to move through solid walls (John 20:19, 26) and move with tremendous speed between earth and God's throne in heaven (cf. Luke 23:43; John 20:17; Acts 1:9; Rev 22:7, 12, 20).
If: Grk. ei, conj. there is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 9 above. a soulish: Grk. psuchikos. body: Grk. sōma. there is: Grk. eimi, pres. also: Grk. kai, conj. a spiritual: Grk. pneumatikos. body: Grk. sōma. Paul offers a logical argument that the reality of one kind of body presumes the existence of the other. After all, creation began with a spiritual body in Adam. If he had not sinned he would have presumptively lived forever with all the advantages of the perfect body. As Paul said in 13:12 we see in a mirror dimly, but then in the resurrection we will see face to face with our Lord. Now we know in part; but in the resurrection we will fully know the Lord as we are known.
45— So also it is written, "The first man, Adam, was formed into a living soul;" the last Adam into a life-giving spirit.
So: Grk. houtōs, adv. See verse 11 above. also: Grk. kai, conj. it is written: Grk. graphō, perf. pass., to write or inscribe as a physical act, generally in reference to a document. The phrase "it is written" is the standard formula for attesting an assertion of truth and divine inspiration of Scripture, normally followed by a quote from the Tanakh, in this case Genesis 2:7. The first: Grk. prōtos, adj. See verse 3 above. man: Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 19 above. Henry Morris notes that the mention of the "first man" refutes the quasi-evolutionary theories involving pre-Adamite men (DSB 1275). Adam: Grk. Adam. See verse 22 above. was formed: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid., to become. See verse 10 above. Paul omits the mention in the quoted verse that Adam was produced from the non-living dust of the earth and that he became a "living soul" by God breathing into his nostrils.
into: eis, prep. a living: Grk. zaō, pres. part., be in the state of being alive; living. soul: Grk. psuchē, may mean (1) a quality without which a body is physically dead; life; (2) that which possesses vital being; person; or (3) that which is integral to being a person beyond physical function; life (inner) self, soul. In the LXX psuchē corresponds to Heb. nephesh (SH-5315). Nephesh is that which breathes air (Gen 1:20), is in the blood (Lev 17:11; Deut 12:23), and possesses the ability to move (Gen 1:21). Nephesh also represents the inner self and the seat of desires, passions, appetites, and emotion. The first living soul called Adam was formed in the image of God (Gen 1:26).
the last: Grk. eschatos. See verse 26 above. Adam: Grk. Adam. The last Adam (see verses 21–22 above) is a reference to Yeshua. Calling Yeshua the "last Adam" does not mean there were other "Adams" that came between Adam and Yeshua. into: Grk. eis. a life-giving: Grk. zōopoieō, pres. part. See verse 36 above. spirit: Grk. pneuma (for Heb. ruach), wind, breath or spirit. Pneuma is used for the human spirit and transcendent beings (Matt 8:16; Heb 1:14), including the Holy Spirit as God's self-expression (Gen 1:2; Mark 1:10). However, "life-giving spirit" does not refer to the Holy Spirit. Paul is saying something about Yeshua. He has divine life in himself and he is able to give eternal life to those whom he chooses (John 4:14; 5:21; 6:27, 33, 51; 10:17; 17:2).
In Romans 5:12-19, Paul depicts Adam as a contrasting type of Messiah. Both were true men, yet their bodies were formed directly by God. Adam was the first man made a living soul, the first of the human race; the Lord Yeshua was the first begotten from the dead. Adam brought sin and death into the world; Yeshua brought deliverance from sin and eternal life. In the final revelation of Scripture Yeshua says of himself, "I am the first (prōtos) and the last (eschatos)" (Rev 22:13). Yeshua has become everything that God originally intended for Adam.
46— But, the spiritual not firstly, but the soulish; afterward the spiritual.
But: Grk. alla, conj. the spiritual: Grk. pneumatikos. See verse 44 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. firstly: Grk. prōton, adv., having to do with beforeness, with resultant meanings of (1) having a primary position in sequence and (2) standing out in significance or importance. The first meaning has application here. but: Grk. alla. the soulish: Grk. psuchikos. See verse 44 above. Adam was incapable of begetting spirituality. Jews believed Adam passed on a dual nature, a good inclination (yetzer tov) and a bad inclination (yetzer ra). Unfortunately, the bad inclination has had greater influence in human culture. afterward: Grk. epeita, adv. See verse 6 above. the spiritual: Grk. pneumatikos. The spiritual came by means of the Holy Spirit, which in Old Covenant times was restricted to select individuals. With the advent of the Spirit on Pentecost spirituality became possible for everyone in the Body of Messiah.
47— The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven.
The first: Grk. prōtos, adj. See verse 3 above. man: Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 19 above. is from: Grk. ek, prep., lit. "out of." the earth: Grk. gē can mean soil (as in receiving seed), the ground, land as contrasted with the sea, and the earth in contrast to heaven. The LXX uses gē more than 2,000 times and translates the Heb. word erets (DNTT 1:517). In the Tanakh erets designates either (a) the earth in a cosmological sense, or (b) "the land" in the sense of a specific territorial area, primarily the Land of Israel (BDB 75). Here the reference to Adam being created on the earth. He didn't come from heaven.
earthy: Grk. choikos, made of earth or dust, as it says in Gen 2:7. The term occurs only four times in the Besekh, all in this chapter. Not only was Adam created on the earth but from the soil of the earth. We came from dust and we shall return to dust (Gen 3:19). the second: Grk. deuteros, adj., 'second,' whether second in a series or as a temporal reference. The former use is intended here. man: Grk. anthrōpos. is from: Grk. ek. heaven: Grk. ouranos refers to the area above the earth that encompasses the sky, interstellar space and associated phenomena or the transcendent dwelling-place of God.
In the LXX ouranos translates the Heb. hashamayim (lit. "the heavens”) (DNTT 2:191). The Hebrew and Greek words for "heaven" are used in Scripture to refer to three different places (Ps 148:1-4). In terms of direction from the ground level of the earth the first heaven is the atmosphere in which birds fly (Gen 1:20; Rev 19:17). The second heaven is interstellar space (Gen 1:1, 8; Matt 24:29) and the third heaven is the location of the throne of God and the home of angels (1Kgs 8:30; Matt 6:9; 2Cor 12:2). The third heaven is intended here. Yeshua, the Son of God, lived in heaven before coming to earth (John 3:13, 31; 6:38). Yet he was not made. He is eternal (John 1:1; Rev 1:4, 8).
48— As the earthy one, of such also the earthy ones; and as the heavenly one, of such also the heavenly ones.
As: Grk. hoios, relative pronoun introducing a qualifying description or explanation; such as, as. the earthy: Grk. choikos. See the previous verse. one: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. The "earthy one" is an allusion to Adam. of such: Grk. toioutos, pronominal adj. drawing attention to something that precedes or follows and with focus on quality or condition; such, such as this. Thayer adds "of this kind or sort, one who is of such a character, such a one." also: Grk. kai, conj. the earthy: pl. of Grk. choikos. ones: pl. of Grk. ho. The "earthy ones" alludes to all the descendants of Adam. After all, our bodies are of the same material (i.e., minerals) as Adam.
and: Grk. kai. as: Grk. hoios. the heavenly: Grk. epouranios, adj. See the verse 40 above. one: Grk. ho. The "heavenly one" alludes to Yeshua who came from heaven and returned to heaven where he now sits at the side of the Father. of such: Grk. toioutos. also: Grk. kai. the heavenly: pl. of Grk. epouranios. ones: pl. of Grk. ho. The "heavenly ones" alludes to those who will be resurrected with heavenly bodies like Yeshua.
49— And just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we also will bear the image of the heavenly.
And: Grk. kai, conj. just as: Grk. kathōs, adv. we have borne: Grk. phoreō, aor., to bear for a considerable time or regularly, hence "wear" (BAG). The verb is used literally of wearing clothing and figuratively of bearing a name or an image. Beginning with this verse through verse 51 Paul uses verbs that are first person plural. the image: Grk. eikōn, something that bears a likeness or resemblance to something else; image, likeness. of the earthy: Grk. choikos. See verse 47 above. Again, Paul alludes to Adam. Since "earthy" means made of dust, Paul is probably not referring to being sinful, but just mortal. we also: Grk. kai. will bear: Grk. phoreō, fut. the image: Grk. eikōn. of the heavenly: Grk. epiouranios. See verse 40 above. Paul again alludes to Yeshua.
Paul shifts his focus from resurrection as a general experience of all the dead to the resurrection of the people of God. Since we have the physical form of the earthy one, Adam, then, logically, we will have the physical form of the heavenly one, Yeshua. As John says,
"Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is." (1Jn 3:2)
All that we can become was made possible by Yeshua's resurrection, although this verse seems to indicate that we will not be fully "spiritual" until we are in heaven.
Additional Note on Soulishness
A synonym of psuchikos is sarkikos, "fleshly," used in 1 Corinthians 3:3. In Romans 6─8 Paul uses sarx, "flesh," to apparently mean the soul-body that overrules the spirit in man. Scholars disagree on Paul's intention by his use of sarx. Indeed, differences can be seen in how modern versions translate the word, sometimes rendering it as "natural selves" and in other places as "sinful nature." Commentators generally view "flesh" in Romans in a negative light, the willing instrument of sin that stands in opposition to God's Law. When viewed from the standpoint of Paul's Pharisaic theology being "fleshly" or "walking according to the flesh" (Rom 8:4) does not specifically mean sinning against God, but rather living according to self-interest. Being "fleshly" or soulish means behaving as if God does not exist and giving personal desires first place. It's living in the here and now. It's being more concerned about one's physical well-being than spiritual well-being. The promise of the good news is that we can walk after the Spirit to such a degree as to defeat "the flesh" as a controlling force in our lives.
The Victory of Resurrection, 15:50-58
50— Now this I declare, brothers and sisters, that "flesh and blood is not able to inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit immortality."
Now: Grk. de, conj. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. I declare: Grk. phēmi, pres., convey one's thinking through verbal communication, whether orally (as in dialogue) or in writing; say, declare. brothers and sisters: pl. of Grk. adelphos, voc. case. See verse 1 above. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 3 above. The conjunction probably serves as quotation marks here. flesh: Grk. sarx, "flesh," has both literal and figurative uses in Scripture. Sarx refers basically to being alive in an earthly or physical way, including parts of the body; flesh, human being, person. Sarx is also used of a condition of human perspective, which may reflect a natural limitation, personal desire or sinfulness.
In the LXX sarx stands for Heb. basar, which denotes flesh as (1) the food of men, Gen 41:2; (2) tissues or parts of the human body, Gen 2:21; (3) the human body in its entirety, specifying the part for the whole, Ps 63:2; and also figurative of close relations, Gen 29:14, and even all mankind, Job 34:15 (DNTT 1:672). Frequently basar emphasizes man's essential nature in contrast with God, e.g., man's transitoriness, frailty, dependence or incapacity (Ps 78:39; 119:120; Prov 5:11; Isa 31:3; 40:6, 8).
and: Grk. kai, conj. blood: Grk. haima may refer to human or animal blood. Haima also has figurative uses in the apostolic writings as the seat of life. "Flesh and blood" is an idiomatic expression for humanity as contrasted with divinity. is not: Grk. ou, adv. able: Grk. dunamai, pres. mid., to be capable of doing or achieving, to have power. to inherit: Grk. klēronomeō, aor. inf., to be an heir in a legal sense. More frequently the verb means to be a recipient of a share in something, with focus on experience of divine conferral of promised benefits. the kingdom: Grk. basileia. See verse 24 above. of God: Grk. theos. See verse 9 above. The "Kingdom of God" likely alludes to the kingdom of the age to come in which Messiah reigns on the earth.
nor: Grk. oude, conj., negative particle that links a negative statement as complementary to a preceding negative. does corruption: Grk. phthora. See verse 42 above. inherit: Grk. klēronomeō, pres. immortality: Grk. aphtharsia. See verse 42 above. Paul repeats the truth of verse 36 in another way. That which is corruption or perishable cannot inherit immortality or the imperishable. The perishable must perish. You must die to gain a resurrection body. The transformation of the living will occur in a split second, but it will involve the death of the present body.
51— Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed,
Behold: Grk. idou, aor. imp., demonstrative interjection (from eidon, "to see"), that arouses the attention of hearers or readers. The Greek particle, like its corresponding Heb. word hinneh (SH-2009, e.g., Gen 1:29), serves to enliven divine monologues and narratives, particularly as a call to closer consideration and contemplation of something, to introduce something new or to emphasize the size or importance of something; (you) see, look, behold (BAG). I tell: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 12 above. you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pronoun. a mystery: Grk. mustērion, that which awaits divine disclosure or interpretation. In Greek culture mustērion referred to a secret rite or secret teaching. The term is particularly important to Paul occurring 21 times in his writings.
In Scripture a mystery is normally a reality or plan that God kept concealed from his people but finally revealed to his apostles (cf. Eph 3:5). God had communicated several mysteries (cf. Dan 2:28f; Matt 13:11; 1Cor 4:1; 13:2) to his prophets, but the meaning remained obscure, in effect hidden in plain sight. God's secret counsels were necessary because man cannot really be trusted (John 2:24f) and Satan engages in unceasing warfare against God’s kingdom and would certainly use any intelligence to hinder God’s workings (John 10:10; cf. Eph 6:12; 1Th 2:18; 1Pet 5:8). Besides the mystery of the resurrection Paul identifies several other mysteries in his letters:
● the mystery of the hardening of Israel (Rom 11:25)
● the mystery of the good news (Rom 16:25; Eph 6:19)
● the mystery of the Messiah (1Cor 2:7-8; Eph 1:9; 3:4; Col 1:26f; 2:2; 4:3)
● the mystery of the Body of Messiah (Eph 1:9; 3:3-6; 5:32; Col 1:27)
● the mystery of lawlessness (2Th 2:7)
● the mystery of the faith (1Tim 3:9)
● the mystery of godliness (1Tim 3:16)
we will not: Grk. ou, adv. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. sleep: Grk. koimaō, fut. pass. See verse 6 above. The verb is used here figuratively of dying (cf. the death of Stephen, Acts 7:60). Paul makes an enigmatic comment that not everyone would die a natural death. (1) It might reflect a belief that the resurrection would occur in his lifetime. (2) More likely he only meant it rhetorically, that there will be disciples alive on the earth when Yeshua returns, whenever that happens. There is no intention of contradicting verse 50. Paul would have been aware that several people in biblical history were brought back to life from the dead (cf. Heb 11:43-44), such as the Shunammite's son (2Kgs 4:34-36), the man thrown into Elisha's grave (2Kgs 13:20-21), the widow's son (Luke 7:14-15), and Lazarus (John 11:43-44).
There were some key differences between their experience of being brought back from the dead and the resurrection that we anticipate. (1) All of these were restored to life within a very short time after dying; none of them had decayed into dust. (2) None of the people received an incorruptible body. They were still liable to physical weakness, suffering, pain or disease. (3) All of those people eventually died again.
but: Grk. de, conj. we will all: pl. of Grk. pas. be changed: Grk. allassō, fut. pass., to change or alter, also to exchange. This is NOT metamorphosis like a moth into a butterfly. We will be altered permanently when we exchange our present body for an eternal body. The resurrection that believers anticipate is much more than being awakened, because it is the experience of a miraculous new existence. The blessed hope for the saints is to receive immortal and incorruptible bodies like that of the Lord (cf. Rom 8:29; 2Cor 5:1; Php 3:20; 1Jn 3:2).
52— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
Paul proceeds to explain the mechanics of the resurrection event with three important elements.
in: Grk. en, prep., lit. "within." a moment, Grk. atomos, indivisible because of smallness. Among ancient Greeks atomos referred to the smallest particle of matter (DSB 1275). The speed factor means there will be no advance notice. twinkling: Grk. ripē, swift movement, twinkling. of an eye: Grk. ophthalmos, the physical organ of sight; eye. The description "twinkling of an eye" refers to a glancing movement of the eye; NOT a blink, but it would be the same principle, a split second of time. at: Grk. en, prep. the last: Grk. eschatos. See verse 8 above. The noun is used literally of a series, i.e., coming last.
trumpet: Grk. salpinx, which may refer to the instrument itself, the sound made by blowing into it or the signal given by the instrument. In Greek and Roman culture the salpinx was primarily a military trumpet used to change the guard, to sound attack or retreat or to terrify or deceive the enemy (DNTT 3:873). The term was also used as the name of a comet and figuratively of thunder (LSJ). The Greek salpinx, known since the years of Homer, consisted of a long, straight tube of narrow, cylindrical bore (roughly 90 cm) that ended in a prominent tulip-shaped bell. It was usually made of copper or bronze with a bone or metal mouthpiece.
In the LXX salpinx translates six different Hebrew terms, the most common being shofar (SH-7782), 72 times, and chatsotsrah (SH-2689), 29 times (DNTT 3:873f). The term shofar referred to originally the curved "ram’s horn," then more generally "horn" or "wind instrument," and was used for both military (Josh 6:5; Jdg 7:18-20; 1Sam 13:3; 2Sam 2:28; 18:16; Neh 4:18-20) and religious (Lev 25:9; 2Chr 5:12; Ps 81:3) purposes. Chatsotsrah was a long straight trumpet made of beaten silver that Moses had made at God's direction and used for practical, military and religious purposes (Num 10:1-10). The CJB, OJB and TLV translate salpinx here with shofar, but the MW has "trumpet." In terms of design the salpinx was most like the chatsotsrah.
for: Grk. gar, conj. a trumpet will sound: Grk. salpizō, fut., blow or sound a trumpet. In the LXX salpizō renders Heb. taqa (SH-8628), blow, blast, first in Num 10:3 of blowing the silver trumpets that Moses made. In the Olivet Discourse Yeshua prophesied a "great trumpet" that will be blown (Matt 24:31; cf. Isa 27:13), which Paul repeats, "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God" (1Th 4:16 NASB). Paul adds an important detail. Not just any trumpet will blow, but the "last."
The trumpet blowing of which Paul wrote is the last in a series. According to Jewish teaching the Resurrection will occur with seven shofars being sounded for the various stages of resurrection with Zechariah 9:14 quoted as a proof text (Stern). At the seventh trumpet all were made alive and stood up on their feet. However, it is highly unlikely that the angelic trumpets are made from ram's horns. There is no evidence of animals in heaven, much less the slaughtering of animals. The angelic trumpets were likely the pattern for the silver trumpets that Moses had made (cf. Ex 25:9, 40; Num 8:4; 1Chr 28:19).
Revelation reveals seven trumpet blasts that will announce God's final judgment on the world and the coming of the Messiah. John records the sounding of the seventh trumpet:
"And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them." (Rev 8:2 BR)
"And the seventh angel sounded his trumpet; and loud voices happened in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah; and He will reign into the ages of the ages." 16 And the twenty-four elders, sitting upon their thrones before God, fell upon their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying, "We give thanks to You, Lord, God Almighty, the One who is and the One who was, because You have taken Your great power and reigned." (Rev 11:15-17 BR)
In Revelation it is the seven archangels or "Angels of the Presence" who blow the trumpets. The "Angels of the Presence" have a well-documented history in Jewish literature, possibly commencing with Isaiah 63:9 which mentions "an angel of His presence." The seven includes Gabriel who identified himself as one who stands in the presence of God (Luke 1:19). 1Enoch, Chapter 20, gives the names and functions of seven holy angels who watch: Uri'el, Rafa'el, Ragu'el, Micha'el, Saraka'el, Gavri'el and Remi'el.
Pretribulationists say that the "last trumpet" can't refer to the seven trumpets of Revelation because it had not been written yet (DSB 1275). Paul likely alluded to Jewish tradition on the subject, but he was taken to heaven (2Cor 12:2) and may be speaking here of that revelation. In any event, Paul clearly identified the last trumpet of a series, and it's not unreasonable to assume that the complete revelation of the trumpets was given to John.
and: Grk. kai, conj. the dead: pl. of Grk. nekros. See verse 12 above. It's not immediately clear which dead Paul is talking about. Possibilities include (a) all the dead (cf. Rev 20:5); (b) the righteous dead, note "we"; (c) long dead; (d) recently dead or (e) those caught up into the air to meet Yeshua. The body must die before it can be exchanged. will be raised: Grk. egeirō, fut. pass., 3p-pl. See verse 4 above. imperishable: Grk. aphthartos, adj., not liable to corruption or decay; imperishable, immortal. and: Grk. kai, conj. we will be changed: Grk. allassō, fut. pass., 1p-pl. See the previous verse. The great exchange takes place. Passive voice means we are receiving the action, not causing it. The first person plural of the verb could be referring to Paul's generation, but more likely all the people of God.
53— For it is necessary this perishable to put on the imperishable, and this mortal to put on immortality.
For: Grk. gar, conj. it is necessary: Grk. dei, pres. See verse 25 above. The verb emphasizes what must happen. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. perishable: Grk. phthartos, subject to a condition headed for ruin; perishable. to put on: Grk. enduō, aor. mid. inf., to provide a covering, to put on or to clothe. The middle voice would mean to clothe oneself in or to wear. the imperishable: Grk. aphtharsia. See verse 42 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. this: Grk. houtos. mortal: Grk. thnētos, subject to death; mortal. to put on: Grk. enduō, aor. mid. inf. immortality: Grk. athanasia, not subject to death; unending existence, immortality. Paul uses a typical Hebrew parallelism to describe the before and after of resurrection. The resurrection is likened to changing clothes, that the body is clothing for the spirit. So, in the resurrection, the perishable body will be removed from the spirit and the imperishable body put on.
54— But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory."
But: Grk. de, conj. when: Grk. hotan, adv. See verse 24 above. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. perishable: Grk. phthartos. See the previous verse. will have put on: Grk. enduō, aor. mid. subj. See the previous verse. the imperishable: Grk. aphtharsia. See verse 42 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. this: Grk. houtos. mortal: Grk. thnētos. See the previous verse. will have put on: Grk. enduō, aor. mid. subj. immortality: Grk. athanasia. See the previous verse. then: Grk. tote, adv. See verse 28 above. will come about: Grk. ginomai, fut. mid. See verse 10 above. the saying: Grk. logos. See verse 2 above. having been written: Grk. graphō, perf. pass. part. See verse 45 above.
Death: Grk. thanatos. See verse 21 above. has been swallowed: Grk. katapinō, aor. pass., from kata, 'down' and pinō, 'drink," to gulp, swallow, drown, fig. devour, destroy. in: Grk. eis, prep. victory: Grk. nikos, victory, particularly the results of conquest by the Messiah. Paul took this saying from Isaiah 25:8,
"He will swallow up death forever. ADONAI Elohim will wipe away the tears from every face, and he will remove from all the earth the disgrace his people suffer. For ADONAI has spoken." (CJB)
In verse 26 above Paul said that death is the last enemy. Now he assures his readers that according to Scripture the last enemy will be permanently vanquished. The promise of Resurrection Day is no more death (Rev 21:4).
Additional Note — New Body Resurrection
Most Christians conceive of resurrection as a bottom to top event. That is, based on Yeshua's teaching in John 5:28-29 the dead are on the earth and they will rise out of the ground to meet Yeshua in the air. (See my commentary on the passage in John.) What does Scripture teach about where the spirit goes after death?
In the parable of the rich man and poor man, Lazarus, the rich man awoke from death in Hades and Lazarus was carried by angels to the bosom of Abraham (Luke 16:23), no doubt the heavenly city that he sought (Heb 11:10). Yeshua promised the thief on the cross that he would be in Paradise that very day (Luke 23:43). Paul said that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2Cor 5:8), who is in heaven, and affirmed that the Yeshua would bring with him from heaven those who had died in the faith (1Th 4:14).
God spoke the universe into existence out of nothing. The new birth testifies of a new creation, not merely a renewed creation (Eph 4:24; Col 3:10). There will be a new heaven and earth (Isa 65:17; 66:22; 2Pet 3:13; Rev 21:1), not a renewed heaven and earth. Therefore, there must be a new physical body, not a renewed body. Why would God take that which was cursed to remake into an eternal glorious body?
Paul has already pointed out that just as there is a natural body in the here and now, there is also a spiritual body in another realm, the realm of God. In 2 Corinthians Paul likened the human body to a tent or house,
"For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longed to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked" (2Cor 5:1 NASB).
Putting together Paul’s statement in verse 44 above that there is a "spiritual body," and his statement in verse 50 that the perishable does not inherit the imperishable and we shall experience an exchange, with his further explanation in 2 Corinthians 5:1, implies that the God's people will be given new bodies rather than the old decayed body being restored and then overhauled with new ("immortal") parts. The analogy of the heavenly tent suggests that the "old" body is not rehabilitated; it is replaced, as Paul says, "Therefore if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come" (2Cor 5:17).
55— "O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?"
O Death: Grk. thanatos, voc. case. See verse 21 above. Since the noun is in the form of direct address, it is treated as a personification. The same mention of Death as a personality occurs in Revelation (6:18; 20:13-14). where: Grk. pou, interrogative adverb of place; where, at which place. is your: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. victory: Grk. nikos. See the previous verse. O Death: Grk. thanatos, voc. case. where: Grk. pou. is your: Grk. su. sting: Grk. kentron, something with a sharp point, used here of the sting of an animal. Death is represented as a venomous creature, such as a scorpion or a hornet, which is rendered harmless. In asking these questions Paul quotes from Hosea 13:14.
"Should I ransom them from the hand of Sheol? Should I redeem them from death? O death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your sting? Comfort is hidden from My eyes." (TLV)
In this passage God treats Sheol as a personification, parallel to Death, and asks the rhetorical question whether He should ransom/redeem Israel. However, God does not want to leave His people at the mercy of Death/Sheol. He goes on to promise:
"I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like the lily, and he will take root like the cedars of Lebanon. His shoots will sprout, and his beauty will be like the olive tree and his fragrance like the cedars of Lebanon. Those who live in his shadow will again raise grain, and they will blossom like the vine. His renown will be like the wine of Lebanon." (Hos 14:5-7 NASB)
These passages promise the ultimate deliverance of His people, so that in the end "all Israel will be saved" (Rom 11:26).
56— Now the sting of Death is sin, and the power of sin is the Torah;
Now: Grk. de, conj. the sting: Grk. kentros. See the previous verse. of Death: Grk. thanatos with the definite article. See verse 21 above. Paul continues with the personification of Death. is sin: Grk. hamartia. See verse 3 above. Paul is probably not speaking of sin as a principle, such as the yetzer ra, inclination to evil, but the act of committing a transgression of God's commandments. Reverse the proposition: A sin is the sting of death. A sting is not necessarily fatal, but can be. It prods toward death, an unwanted destination. The wages of sinning is death (Rom 6:23).
and: Grk. kai, conj. the power: Grk. dunamis. See verse 24 above. Here it probably means either a power in the natural sense of being greater than a human's power or an ability inherent in certain behaviors. of sin: Grk. hamartia. is the Torah: Grk. nomos with the definite article may mean either (1) a principle or standard relating to behavior or (2) codified legislation, i.e. law. In the LXX nomos translates torah, but in the Tanakh torah not only refers to commandments, statutes and ordinances decreed by God and given to Israel through Moses, but also customs or manners of man, e.g. direction given by priests (Deut 24:8; 33:10). In the Besekh nomos represents generally the Jewish usage of Torah, which could mean:
● the commandments, ordinances and statutes given
through Moses to the nation of Israel (e.g., Matt 12:5; Luke 2:22-27; John 1:17;
8:5; Jas 2:11); OR
Two other applications were made by Yeshua and Paul, indicating a common practice. The first is nomos (Torah) as a universal principle derived from Scripture. Yeshua spoke of the "weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness (Matt 23:23) and said that the two greatest commandments summed up the entire Torah (Matt 22:36-40). Paul writes in his letter to the Romans about the "law of faith," the "law of my mind," the "law of sin," the "law of the Spirit" and the "law of righteousness." The second application is in reference to legalism, for which there was no word in either Greek or Hebrew. Legalism is the misuse of Torah (1Tim 1:8) resulting in law functioning as an oppressive system of piety (Rom 6:14-15; 1Cor 9:20; Gal 3:23; 4:4-5, 21; 5:18).
Paul's statement in the second clause of this verse presents a conundrum. The Torah is holy (Rom 7:12), spiritual (Rom 7:14) and good (Rom 7:16; 1Tim 1:8). How, then, can what is holy, spiritual and good give power to sin? Paul's letter to the congregation in Rome expounds on this subject at length, especially at Romans 3:19–31, 5:12–21, 7:1–25. Since "power" is the ability to do something, the "power of sin" reflects the freedom granted by God to make choices. The Torah defines what behaviors are sinful. "Where there is no law there is no sin" (Rom 5:13). Torah does not make people sin. But, having defined sins, those behaviors, when chosen, are invested with the power to cause death, both in the proximate sense of prescribed punishment and in the eternal sense of separation from God.
57— but thanks be to God, the One giving us the victory through our Lord Yeshua the Messiah.
but: Grk. de, conj. thanks: Grk. charis, disposition marked by inclination to generosity, frequently unmotivated by the worth of the recipient; thus, grace, gracefulness, graciousness, favor, thanks or gratitude. In the LXX charis occurs about 190 times, written as charin, which is derived from charis, "in favor of, for the sake of." Only about 75 have a Hebrew equivalent, of which 61 are for Heb. hēn (SH-2580, favor, grace), first in Genesis 6:8 (DNTT 2:116). be to God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 9 above. Paul expresses gratitude to God, because it is owed to Him in return for His grace. the One: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun and a circumlocution for God. giving: Grk. didōmi, pres. part. See verse 38 above. us: Grk. hēmeis, 1p-pl. pronoun. The plural pronoun likely means "us Jews" or "us the people of Israel."
the victory: Grk. nikos. See verse 54 above. The victory Paul speaks of is the resurrection. through: Grk. dia, prep. our: Grk. hēmeis. The repetition of the plural pronoun is emphatic. Lord: Grk. kurios. See verse 31 above. Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. See verse 31 above. the Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 3 above. Paul reminds the boastful faction that Yeshua is still their Lord. Paul expresses a similar sentiment in Romans, "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of this death? Thanks be to God through Yeshua the Messiah our Lord!" (Rom 7:24-25 mine).
58— Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not ineffective.
Therefore: Grk. hōste, conj., may be used to (1) introduce an independent clause that represents a consequence of the statement that precedes; for this reason, therefore, and so; or (2) introduces a dependent clause of an actual result; for the purpose of, with a view to, in order that. The first usage applies here. my: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. beloved: Grk. agapētos, held in affection, esteemed or dear; beloved. brothers and sisters: pl. of Grk. adelphos, voc. case. See verse 1 above. Paul addresses the congregation as a whole and then provides the final exhortation of this chapter. be: Grk. ginomai, pres. mid. imp. See verse 10 above. This is a command to become, start now and continue. steadfast: Grk. edraios, adj., in a sitting posture, then of personal stability; firm, steadfast, settled.
immovable: Grk. ametakinētos, adj., not to be moved from place to place; unshakable, immovable. The term occurs only here in the Besekh. The term is not found in the LXX, but it is used by Josephus (Ant. I, 1:4; Against Apion II, 17, 33, 36). always: Grk. pantote, adv., always, at all times. abounding: Grk. perisseuō, pres. part., be more than enough, be left over, be present in abundance (BAG). in: Grk. en, prep. the work: Grk. ergon generally means a tangible deed, action or accomplishment that may be observed. of the Lord: Grk. kurios. See verse 31 above. knowing: Grk. eidō, perf. part., to see, derived from oida, to know, which refers to experiential knowledge (BAG). In the LXX oida occurs frequently to render Heb. yada (SH-3045; e.g., Num 11:16; Deut 1:39; Josh 2:4; 2Sam 19:6), which in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge (DNTT 2:395).
that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 3 above. The conjunction has an inferential aspect in this instance. your labor: Grk. kopos, may mean (1) experience of distress; trouble, harassment, or (2) engagement in fatiguing activity; labor, hard work. In this case he means doing the work of ministry. in: Grk. en. the Lord: Grk. kurios. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 9 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. ineffective: Grk. kenos. See verse 10 above. Paul's bottom line counsel is: don't let the skeptics determine your trust in God's promises and power.
BAG: William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, eds., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, University of Chicago Press, 1957.
BBMS: Henry Morris, Biblical Basis for Modern Science. Baker Book House, 1984.
Clarke: Adam Clarke (1762-1832), Commentary on the Holy Bible (1826). Online.
DNTT: Colin Brown, ed., The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology. Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.
DSB: Henry Morris, The Defender’s Study Bible. World Publishing Co., 1995.
Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.
Grosheide: F.W. Grosheide, The First Epistle to the Corinthians. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1953. (NICNT)
HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
Kaiser: Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. The Messiah in the Old Testament. Zondervan Pub. House, 1995.
LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon. Revised and augmented by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online.
Mare: W. Harold Mare, 1 Corinthians. Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 12 vol. Zondervan Electronic Edition, 1998.
MW-Notes: Daniel Gruber, The Messianic Writings. Elijah Publishing, 2011. Annotations by the author.
NASBEC: New American Standard Bible Exhaustive Concordance, Updated Edition. Foundation Publications, Inc., 1998.
SECB: James Strong (1822-1894), Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, 1890. Online.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889.
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