Order of Final Events

In explaining the future resurrection, Paul listed the key events that would precede or coincide with the arrival of Jesus at the end of the age

Cemetary sunrise - Photo by Madeleine Maguire on Unsplash
In his letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul outlined the events that will occur at the “
arrival” or ‘parousia’ of Jesus, one of several Greek terms applied by him to Christ’s return. But regardless of which term he used, Paul always spoke of one “coming,” “revelation,” or “appearance” of Jesus at the end of the age - [Photo by Madeleine Maguire on Unsplash].

In the New Testament, the resurrection of the righteous, the final judgment, and the New Creation are all linked to the return of Jesus, and this is also the case in First Corinthians:
  • (1 Corinthians 15:20-28) – “But now has Christ been raised from among the dead, the first fruit of them who have fallen asleep; for since, indeed, through a man came death, through a man also comes the raising of the dead. For, just as in Adam all die, so also, in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own rank: Christ, a first fruit, after that, they who are the Christ’s at his arrival. Afterward, the end, whensoever he delivers up the kingdom to his God and Father, whensoever he shall bring to nothing all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign until he shall put all his enemies under his feet: As the last enemy, death is to be destroyed; For He put all things in subjection under his feet. But whensoever it shall be said, all things are in subjection, it is evident that it means, except him who did put into subjection to him all things. But whensoever have been put into subjection to him all things, then the Son himself also shall be put in subjection to him who put in subjection unto him all things, that God may be all things in all.
Paul did not provide a detailed roadmap of future events and chronologies. His purpose was to present arguments that demonstrated the necessity for the future bodily resurrection. Apparently, some believers in Corinth were denying the reality of or necessity for the resurrection of believers - (1 Corinthians 15:12).

The Apostle anchored this future resurrection in the past resurrection of Jesus Christ.  If there is no future resurrection, then “not even Christ has been raised, and if Christ has not been raised…to no purpose is our faith, we are yet in our sins.” Thus, the future resurrection of believers is linked inextricably to the past resurrection of Jesus.

His return will be preceded by the subjugation of “all his enemies.” When he does arrive, the dead will be raised, believers still alive will be transformed and receive immortality, “death” will cease, the kingdom of God will be consummated, and the present age will end.

Additionally, Paul explained what kind of body the saints will inherit at the resurrection (“How are the dead raised and with what manner of body do they come?”). It will be raised “incorruptible, in glory and power.” Thereafter, it will be dominated by the Spirit. No longer will the future body be subject to death or decay - “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit in-corruption.”

Paul concluded his discussion on the resurrection by demonstrating the necessity for the transformation of the human body before it can inherit everlasting life. The bodies of both living and dead saints must be transformed into bodies dominated by the “spirit,” as well as ones that are incorruptible and immortal:
  • (1 Corinthians 15:49-57) – “And even as we have borne the image of the man of the earth, let us also bear the image of the man of heaven. And this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom. Neither does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, a mystery do I declare to you: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, during the last trumpet; for it shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must clothe itself with incorruptibility, and this mortal clothe itself with immortality…
Thus, according to the Apostle to the Gentiles, the resurrection of the righteous is to occur at the parousia or “arrival” of Jesus, an event that also will terminate the jurisdiction of death, the “last enemy,” and that means there will be no more enemies to defeat after that day. And Paul left no doubt that “resurrection” will mean life in an immortal “body” and not in a disembodied state.

And the receipt of an immortal body that is no longer subject to death will mean the arrival of the “new creation,” for reconstituting dead men and women as immortal beings is nothing less than an act of new creation. Above all, Paul linked all these glorious events to the “arrival” of Jesus at the end of the present age.




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