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House Divided Chapter Seven The Resurrection of the Dead An Exposition of First Corinthians Chapter Fifteen

House Divided

Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to

When Shall These Things Be?

Chapter Seven

The Resurrection of the Dead

An Exposition of First Corinthians Chapter Fifteen 

David A. Green 

Copyright 2009 and 2013 All rights reserved.  No part of this book (or article) may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher or author of this chapter/article (Vision Publishing or David A. Green), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.


The position I take in this exposition is often called “the collective body

view” or “the corporate body view.” It is as follows:


Some at Corinth were denying that the pre-Christian saints[1] would

rise to inherit the kingdom at the Parousia. Those who were in error

at Corinth were not arguing with Paul about the reality of the resurrection.

They were arguing with Paul in regard to who would participate

in the resurrection. They believed that believers in Christ would be

resurrected but that “the dead” would not. Paul’s answer to their error

was that “all”—not merely some of God’s people—would be raised.

Through the Spirit-empowered dying (to Sin and to the Law) of the eschatological

church on behalf of the dead (the Old Testament saints),

the mortal “body” of Sin and Death (the Adamic/Mosaic saints and the

eschatological church; the entire “world” of God’s people) would rise

and be “changed”/“transformed” into the spiritual body of Christ in the

kingdom of God.


Though this interpretation is commonly called “collective” or “corporate,”

these terms are inadequate. Paul does not speak only or merely

in collective terms of the resurrection body. Not even in 1 Corinthians

12 is “body” simply a reference to a collective or communal “body of



The terms “body of Christ” and “body of believers” are not synonymous.

The church is not a “body” because it is a group of people who have

organized and united around Christ. Nor is it a body because it is a kind

of “corporation.” The church is the body of Christ because it is literally

the dwelling and fullness of the individual Man, the Person, Christ Jesus

(Gal. 4:19; Eph. 1:23; 4:13). “This mystery is great. . . ” (Eph. 5:32).


As we shall soon see, Paul used the word “body,” in the relevant

passages, not as a term of either physicality or collectivity, or even as a

term of mere anthropological wholeness. Paul used the word “body” as

a term of theology, much as he used the terms “spirit,” “new man,” “the

world about to come,” the “new creation,” the “kingdom of God,” and

the heavenly “house/home.” All of these eschatological terms (and their

opposites, “mortal body,” “flesh,” “old man,” etc.) are intimately related in

their meanings, and are not easily defined with exactness.


As I will explain in more detail below, “body” describes God’s people,

whether individually or as a whole, whether living or dead, in terms

of their cosmic-covenantal self or identity, as they are constituted either

in Sin and Death or in Christ. Thus the view I am presenting in this

chapter may more accurately be called “the cosmic-covenantal body



Necessary Inferences


In beginning this exposition, we must understand that reading 1 Corinthians

15 is comparable to listening to one side of one phone conversation

out of a series of phone conversations. Paul and the resurrection-of-thedead

deniers have a long established context with long established word

usages. We on the other hand, as a third party, may have our own context

and our own usages that we unwittingly apply to the conversation.


This is the problem we face in 1 Corinthians 15. We hear Paul’s refutation

of the resurrection error but we do not hear many details about

what he is refuting. All we know from explicit statements in the chapter

is that some at Corinth denied “the resurrection of the dead” because

they believed “the dead” had no “body” by means of which they could

be rising (1 Cor. 15:35). But what does this mean? What did Paul and

those who were in error at Corinth mean when they used those terms?

If we do not make correct inferences from Paul’s side of the “conversation,”

we not only misunderstand the error he was refuting, we

misunderstand the truth he was defending. This has been the historic

failure of the futurist interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15. Futurists have

resisted making necessary inferences in Paul’s arguments because those

inferences do not fit the futurist paradigm.


It is widely believed that the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers denied

the very concept of the resurrection of dead people universally,

and that they therefore denied the resurrection of Christ and of Christians.

The implications of Paul’s words, however, do not support this

view. As Paul argued, if the dead are not being raised, then:


1. “not even Christ has been raised” (1 Cor. 15:13-17)

2. the apostles are liars (1 Cor. 15:14-15)

3. “those also who have fallen asleep in Christ perished

(1 Cor. 15:18)

4. we are hoping in Christ “in this life only” (1 Cor. 15:19)


These four logical outcomes of the resurrection error were not doctrines

that the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers were teaching. These

conclusions were not designed to describe the error. They were designed

to overthrow it, through reductio ad absurdum. Paul was bringing

the resurrection error to absurd conclusions that were antithetical

to the beliefs of the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers. Paul was essentially



“We all believe in the resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 15:13-17)

and in the eschatological hope in Christ that all believers share

(1 Cor. 15:19), both living and asleep (1 Cor. 15:18); but you do

not realize that if there is no resurrection of the dead, as some

of you are saying, then these gospel truths that we all hold so

dear are nothing but falsehoods and delusions.”


We can infer from Paul’s “if . . . then” arguments that the resurrection-

of-the-dead deniers did not espouse those inevitable results of

their teaching. Instead, they agreed with Paul that:


1. Christ had been raised from the dead.

2. The apostles were faithful and true witnesses of God.

3. Christians who had “fallen asleep” had not “perished” (i.e.,

had not died in their sins).

4. All Christians, both living and “asleep,” had a sure “hope” in

Christ. Their hope in Him was not a pitiable delusion.


Because the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers believed in the resurrection

of Christ, and because they believed that sleeping Christians

had therefore not died in their sins (“perished”) but were, along with the

living, looking forward to the fulfillment of the Christological “hope,”

we must infer that the “hope” to which the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers

looked was that of the Christological resurrection of Christians,

both living and “asleep” (Acts 23:6; 24:15; 26:6-7; 28:20; Eph. 4:4). They

did not believe merely in the continuation of existence after death; they

looked forward to the fulfillment of the eschatological “hope” in Christ.


We can also reasonably surmise that since the resurrection-ofthe-

dead deniers believed that the apostles were faithful witnesses and

since they believed in the apostolic gospel of the historic resurrection

of Christ (1 Cor. 15:13-17) and in the Christian resurrection-“hope,” it is

not unlikely that they also believed the apostolic testimony that Christ

Himself had raised multiple people from the dead and that the apostles

themselves had raised multiple people from the dead.


(We can add to this that since the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers

were members of the church at Corinth, which was filled with the gifts

of the Holy Spirit, including miracles, it is not far from the realm of

possibility that resurrection-miracles were performed at the Corinthian

church before the very eyes of the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers.)


So from verses 13-19, we must infer that even though those who

were in error at Corinth denied the resurrection of “the dead,” they nevertheless

believed in the resurrected and resurrecting Christ, and in the

resurrecting apostles, and in the miracle-working church at Corinth,

and in the resurrection-“hope” of all Christians, living and asleep.


These inferences have been overlooked because under the assumption

of futurism, they make no sense. How could someone deny the

very concept and possibility of the resurrection of dead people and at

the same time believe in the resurrected and resurrecting Christ, and in

the resurrecting apostles, and in the Christological resurrection-“hope

of all Christians, living and asleep? With futurism as our starting point,

there is no answer to this question. There are only strained theories.


The problem for futurism thickens when we see other implications

of Paul’s arguments in 1 Corinthians 15. In verses 35-37 we read:


But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what

body do they come?” You fool! That which you sow does not

come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not

sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat

or of something else.


We know that Paul’s argument here was aimed at those who already

believed in the eschatological resurrection of Christians. We can infer

then that he was not trying to convince them of the concept of resurrection.

We can also infer that body-sowing and body-rising (bodyresurrection)

were “givens” in the seed analogy. The only doctrines that

Paul was defending and seeking to prove in his analogy were body-death

(“You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies”) and

body-change (“and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is

to be”). Sowing and coming to life (resurrection) were givens. Putting

the body to death and changing the body were not givens.


The resurrection-of-the-dead deniers believed in the sowing of the

body and in the resurrection of the body but they denied that the body

had to die and be changed. They erroneously espoused the burial and

resurrection of the same, unchanged, living body. This makes no sense

in the futurist framework, but we shall see below that it makes perfect

sense in Paul’s preterist framework.


We see again that the resurrection body was a given, in verse 46:

But the spiritual [body] was not first, but the natural [body],

then the spiritual [body].


No one at Corinth needed to be convinced of the coming “spiritual

body . . . that shall be” (1 Cor. 15:37), or of the “hope” of the raising up

of Christians, whether dead (“asleep”) or living (1 Cor. 15:19), or of the

coming kingdom of God (1 Cor. 15:50). They needed only to be convinced

that there was a “natural body” that came first, and that it had to

be put to death and “changed” into the different spiritual body.”


The Dead


Let us now look at one more inference we must make from Paul’s arguments—

an inference that will begin to allow us to undo the confusion of

the futurist interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15. Verse 35:


How are the dead raised? And with what body do they come?



As this verse implies, the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers could

not fathom the possibility of the resurrection of the dead. They could

not so much as conceive of “how” the dead” could have a “body” with

which they were being raised. The very idea was beyond their capability

to believe.[2]


As we have seen, those who were in error at Corinth believed in

the historic resurrection of Christ and in the “sowing” of the “spiritual

body” and the resurrection of the same “spiritual body.” They looked

forward to the fulfillment of the “hope” that all Christians, living and

asleep, would be raised with the spiritual body in the kingdom of God.

Yet at the same time, according to verse 35, we see that those who were

in error at Corinth were unable to conceive of the feasibility of the bodily

resurrection of the dead.


How can this be? In the futurist paradigm, this simply “does not

compute,” and the exegetical dilemma is mind-bogglingly insoluble.

The blinders of futurism have thus made it impossible for interpreters to

make sense of all of 1 Corinthians 15. The result has been that, through

a time-honored exegetical haze, futurism has unwittingly transformed

the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers into veritable madmen.


There is no doubt that the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers were

ignorant and foolish regarding the resurrection of the dead, but it is

not reasonable to portray them as thinking in insanely contradictory

propositions, i.e., believing in the reality of resurrection and at the same

time being unable to conceive of the very possibility of resurrection.

The resurrection-of-the-dead deniers had no rational reason to reject

the believability, imaginability, thinkability, or feasibility of a biological

resurrection of the flesh. Therefore, what they denied—and what Paul

was defending—was something else.


Those who were in error at Corinth were denying neither the existence

of, nor the futurity of, nor the somatic (bodily) character of the resurrection.

They believed in the future body-resurrection of Christians.

Yet at the same time, they denied the resurrection of “the dead” because

they could not conceive of the possibility of the dead having a body by

means of which they could rise. This means that the resurrection-of-the-

dead deniers were not denying the bodily resurrection of everyone, but

were denying only the possibility that certain people other than Christians—“

the dead”—were participating in the resurrection of the body.


“The dead” in 1 Corinthians 15 were, in contrast to dead Christians,

Hadean saints (1 Cor. 15:55). They were, as Paul says, those “out from

among” whom Christ had been raised (1 Cor. 15:12, 20). Christ did not

rise “out from among” dead, Spirit-indwelt Christians. “The dead” were

the saints who had lived and died, not in Christ, but “in Adam” (1 Cor.

15:22), before Christ. They were those who were “asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20),

in contrast to those who had “fallen asleep in Christ” (1 Cor. 15:18).

They were none other than the pre-Christian saints;[3] which inescapably

means they were primarily and for the most part those who lived

within the Abrahamic community of historic covenant Israel.[4]


Buried Alive


Let us look again at 1 Corinthians 15:36:


. . . That which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die.


As I mentioned above, Paul teaches in this verse that the body is first

sown (planted, buried, or entombed), and then it dies in order that it can

be raised a changed body. If Paul was teaching a biological resurrection

of the dead, then we must admit that he was saying that only physical

bodies that have first been buried alive and have then been put to death

underground can be raised to eternal physical life on Resurrection Day.


Futurism has thus created an absurdity and a contradiction in

verse 36. The absurdity is the teaching that only physical bodies that

have been buried alive can be resurrected. The contradiction is the

idea that physical death is a prerequisite to being resurrected. This

contradicts verse 51, where Paul said that the physically living would

be “made alive” (resurrected) and changed along with the physically

dead (cf. verse 22).


No one believes that Paul was teaching that living physical bodies

must be physically buried, and that the physically buried bodies must then

physically die underground in order that the physically buried-and-dead

bodies can then be physically resurrected and changed. Although that

is definitely what Paul’s words say in the futurist framework, no futurist

accepts this meaning. Instead, most interpreters apply themselves to Herculean

efforts to making the verse make sense in the futurist framework.


Their time, however, would be better spent finding Paul’s meaning,

letting him say what he says, rather than making his words conform to

the futurist paradigm. To find Paul’s meaning, we need only find where

in Scripture Paul elaborated on the doctrine of a human “body” that had

to be sown/planted/entombed and concurrently put to death, in order

that it could be made alive and changed in the resurrection of the dead.

This takes us to Romans 6-8, Colossians 2, and Philippians 3.


In these Scriptures, especially in Romans 6, Paul teaches that believers

had been bodily planted,” through Spirit-baptism, into death / into

the death of Christ, in order that the body that had been planted/buried

(the “body of Sin,” the “mortal body,” the “body of Death,” the “body of the

sins of the flesh,” the “vile body”) would be abolished / put to death, and

then be made alive and changed/conformed to the image of the Son of

God in the kingdom of heaven. Note the order: Burial then death.


This sequence in Romans 6 is exactly, step by step, what Paul teaches

concerning the resurrection of the body in 1 Cor. 15:36-37 and its context.

Romans 6-8 and 1 Corinthians 15 both speak of concurrent bodyburial

and body-death, followed by consummated body-death, bodyresurrection,

and body-change. Futurist assumptions notwithstanding,

there is no doubt that 1 Corinthians 15 and Romans 6-8 are speaking of

the same burial, death, resurrection, and change—and therefore of the

same body.


The Body


What then is “the body” that was being put to death in Romans 6-8 and

1 Corinthians 15? What is the meaning of the word “body” in these contexts?

Essentially, or basically, the “body” is the “self” or “person/personality

or “individual,” whether that of a singular saint or of the singular

church universal (the body of Christ). According to definition 1b

of the word σωμα (body) in Arndt and Gingrich’s Greek-English Lexicon

of the New Testament, the word “body” in Paul’s writings is sometimes

“almost synonymous with the whole personality . . . σώματα [bodies] =



Note how that “body” and “yourselves” are used interchangeably in

Romans 6:12-13:


Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you

should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting your members

[of your mortal body] to sin as instruments of unrighteousness;

but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and

your members [of your mortal body] as instruments of righteousness

to God.


Compare also 1 Corinthians 6:15 and 12:27, where “you” and “your bodies

are synonymous:


. . . your bodies are members of Christ . . . . (1 Cor. 6:15)


. . . you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.

(1 Cor. 12:27)    


See also Ephesians 5:28, where a man’s body-union with his wife is equated

with “himself”:


So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own

bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself.


However, the word “body,” when it is used in reference to the eschatological

resurrection, means more than merely the “self.” Paul

is not using the word as a common reference to “the whole person.”

It does not refer to man’s anthropological wholeness (i.e., Material

body+soul+spirit=the body). Paul is using the word in a theologicaleschatological

sense to describe God’s people as they are defined either

by the wholeness/fullness (body) of Adamic Sin and Death or the

wholeness/fullness (body) of Christ. The body is either the “person”

united with Sin and Death, or the “person” united with Christ, whether

individually or corporately.


We can begin to see this in Colossians 3:5 (KJV), where the body

parts (members) of the Sin-body are not arms and legs or other physical

limbs. The members of the “earthly body” were death-producing

deeds,” such as “fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence,

and covetousness . . . ” (cf. Rom. 8:13). Thus John Calvin

wrote in his commentary on Romans 6:6: “The body of sin . . . does not

mean flesh and bones, but the corrupted mass . . . of sin.” Since a body

is the sum of its parts, and since the parts of the Sin-body are sins/sinful

deeds, it follows that “the body of Sin” is not the physical aspect of

man. Instead, the whole of the sins/deeds of the body equals the body

of Sin. Or more accurately, the body of Sin was God’s people as they

were identified with and defined by the Sin-reviving, Sin-increasing,

Death-producing world of the Law.


When Paul said that believers were no longer walking according to

the flesh” (Rom. 8:1, 4, 9), he was saying that believers were putting to

death the deeds of the “body” (Rom. 8:10-11, 13). The parts/members of

the body equaled the deeds of “the body,” which equaled the walk of “the

flesh.” “Flesh” and “body” in this context, therefore, describe man as he

was defined by Sin, not man as he was defined by material body parts.

In Colossians 2:11, Paul said that God had buried believers with

Christ, raised them up with Him, and had removed “the body of the

flesh.” “The body of the flesh” was not the physical body. It was the

Adamic man/self/person that had been dead in transgressions and in

the spiritual uncircumcision of his “flesh” (Col. 2:13). That “body” (or as

Ridderbos puts it, that “sinful mode of existence”)[6] had been “removed

in Christ and was soon to be changed into the glorious, resurrected

“body” of Christ.


As a comparison of Colossians 2:11 and Colossians 3:9 reveals, “the

body” of Sin is virtually synonymous with “the old man”:


. . . the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh . . . .

(Col. 2:11)


. . . having put off the old man with his practices (Col. 3:9; cf.

Eph. 4:22)


Compare also 1 Corinthians 15:42 with Ephesians 4:22:


[The body] is sown in corruption . . . . (1 Cor. 15:42)


. . . the old man being corrupted . . . . (Eph. 4:22)


Compare also the references to “man” and “body” in Romans 7:24:


Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from this body

of Death?


And in Romans 6:6:


Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the

body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not

serve sin. (Rom. 6:6)


And in 1 Corinthians 15:44, 45:


. . . There is a natural body [the old man], and there is a spiritual

body [the new Man]. And so it is written, the first [old]

man [the natural body] Adam was made a living soul; the last

Adam [the last Man, the spiritual body] a quickening spirit.

Since the natural body is nearly synonymous with the old man, we

should expect that the spiritual body is nearly synonymous with “the

new man,” the Lord Jesus Christ. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:53-54 with

Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10 and Romans 13:14:


For this perishable [body] must put on the imperishable

[body] . . . . (1 Cor. 15:53-54)


and put on the new man [the spiritual body], which in the

likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness

of the truth. (Eph. 4:24)


and have put on the new man [the spiritual body] who is being

renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One

who created him. (Col. 3:10)


But put on the Lord Jesus Christ [the new man, the spiritual

body], and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

(Rom. 13:14)


As most futurists agree, “the old man” and “the new man” are not expressions

that describe man in terms of physicality. “The old man” was man

as he was in Adam, alienated from God and dead in Sin. He was “the body

of Sin.” The new Man is man as he is reconciled to God in Christ, the lifegiving

Spiritual Body.


The World-Body


Note that in Colossians 2:11-14, believers had been bodily buried and

bodily raised with Christ, but it was the “handwriting in ordinances” that

God had crucified. In Romans 6:6, it was “the old man” that had been

crucified. In Galatians 5:24, it was “the flesh” that had been crucified.

And in Galatians 6:14, it was “the world” that had been crucified.


These verses together demonstrate the “cosmic” dimension of the

Pauline, eschatological “body.” The Spirit was not merely changing

hearts and lives of individuals; He was changing the “world-body” of

Adam/Moses (Israel as it was defined by the earthly temple-system of

Law-Sin-Death) into the world-body of Christ.


Thus it is in 2 Corinthians 5 that the soon-to-be-destroyed “mortal

. . . body” is equal to the “earthly [made-with-hands] house of the tabernacle

(2 Cor. 5:1, 4, 6, 10), i.e., the old covenant world. The “house,” or

world, of the man-made temple of God was “the mortal . . . body” that

had been buried with Christ, and that was being put to death, and that

was soon to be clothed with the heavenly/spiritual body of Christ.


Though all believers were individually “putting on Christ” in anticipation

of the Last Day (Rom. 13:11-14), believers were not doing

this merely as a collective of individuals. They were together, through

the power of God, putting on (becoming clothed with) the Lord Jesus

Christ who is Himself the Tabernacle/House/Body of God from out

of heaven. They were being changed into the cosmic New Man—the

“body” of God Himself.


Through the indwelling Holy Spirit,


1) the mortal body of Sin and Death (The Adamic-Mosaic world),

2) the old man/humanity and,

3) the flesh


had been sown/planted/buried and were being put to death through

the eschatological work of the Holy Spirit, and were being raised


1) the body of the triune God (“that God may be All in all”),

2) the new Man and

3) spirit (that which is spiritual; that which is of the Spirit),

i.e., the habitation of


1) the Father,

2) the Son and

3) the Holy Spirit


The consummated change took place when the world of the handmade

city and sanctuary (the body of Sin and Death) was thrown down,

and the heavenly/spiritual city and sanctuary (the body of Christ) were

established “among men” in AD 70 (Heb. 9:8).


Through the indwelling of the Spirit, the church’s body of Sin and

Death (its old, pre-Christ world-identity; the fleshly, Adamic “man” or

self) was buried into the death of Christ. It was put to death, having been

buried with Him through the without-hands baptism of the Holy Spirit

into the dead-to-sin body of Christ. Believers had thus been “bodily”

buried together into body-death, and their body-life was hid with the

soon-to-be-revealed Savior of the Adamic world (Rom. 6:11, 13; Phil.

3:10; Col. 3:3).


The two contrasting and co-existing eschatological bodystates in

Paul’s epistles (the concurrent dying and rising and changing of “the

body” that had been buried) depended on neither physicality nor nonphysicality.

[7] They depended on the saints’ relationship to Sin or to

Christ. They depended on whether one was in Adam (under the dominion

of Sin and Death) or in Christ (under grace and indwelt by the

life-giving Spirit).


The elect before Christ were the body of Sin and Death in that they

had been incorporated into Sin and Death in Adam. They were wholly

defined, constituted, organized, systematized, and comprehended in

(i.e., indwelled by and “clothed with”) Adamic Sin and Death through

the curse of the commandment of God. They were both individually

and collectively the embodiment (the body) of Sin and Death.


But in the new world in Christ, through faith in His shed blood, all

of His saints in heaven (non-physical) and on earth (physical) are the

cosmic embodiment, “fullness,” and habitation of the triune God. The

fulfillment of the resurrection of “the body” in AD 70 brought into being

the universal communion of all the saints (old covenant and new

covenant) in the one, spiritual body (Christ Himself). This is what the

resurrection-of-the-dead deniers denied would take place. They denied

the death and resurrection with Christ of the natural body (the pre-

Christian world of God’s people) and its change/transformation into

the universal (Christian and pre-Christian), spiritual body of Christ.


The Universality[8] of the Resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20-28)


In denying the resurrection of the pre-Christian saints, or of old covenant

Israel, the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers were denying not the fact of

the resurrection, but the “all-ness” of the resurrection and the “all-ness

of Christ’s atoning work. They denied that Christ had died for “all,” and

therefore they denied that “all” would be raised. Though they agreed

with Paul that Christ had died for “our” (the eschatological church’s) sins

(1 Cor. 15:3, 11), they denied that Christ had died for the sins of “the dead.”


Contrary to their doctrine, the resurrection of Christ was not the beginning

of the resurrection of the last days church only. It was also the beginning

of the resurrection of the great cloud of saints (“the dead”/“them that

slept”) who had come and gone before the advent of the last days church.

Christ became the “First Fruits” of the eschatological church and of the

Hadean saints “out from among” whom He had been raised (1 Cor. 15:55;

Rev. 1:5). His resurrection was the beginning of the resurrection of “all” the

saints who were “in Adam” (1 Cor. 15:20), not merely of the eschatological

church. As all the saints, Christian and pre-Christian, had been condemned

and alienated from God (i.e., had died) in Adam through Sin (Gen. 2:17;

Rom. 7:9), so “all[9] were going to be raised up in “the Christ,” the second

Man” (or the second Humanity), the Savior of “the world” (1 Cor. 15:21-22).


Because Christians were “of Christ,” and because Christ was the First

Fruit of the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:23), Christians were, in Him, “first fruits

of the resurrection (James 1:18; Rev. 14:4), so that Christ was “the First

Fruits” of “the first fruits.”[10] The resurrection of Christians “in His Parousia,

therefore, was not to be the consummation of the life-giving reign of

Christ (1 Cor. 15:22-24), as the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers supposed.

The eschatological church’s resurrection in “Christ the First Fruits” was instead

the beginning of the end of the resurrection-harvest, and was to be

followed by “the end,”[11] or “consummation,” which was the resurrection of

the dead, i.e., the death of Death (the abolition of the alienation of God’s

people from Him)—when “all” the elect became the habitation of the lifegiving

Spirit through the gospel (John 5:25; 1 Cor. 15:24-28; Rev. 20:5-6).


Christ, through the Holy Spirit, was not reigning in the Spirit-indwelt,

eschatological church merely so that the church by itself would

attain unto the resurrection and inherit the kingdom. He was reigning

in the church so that the historic kingdom would, in Him, be “universalized”

in and brought under the rule of “the God and Father” of

all” the saints (1 Cor. 15:24). The Adamic saints were not going to be

left unredeemed from the “rule,” “authority,” and “power” of Satan, Sin,

Death, and Condemnation. Rather, the Father was going to place all

those kingdom-enemies under the feet of Christ, and Christ was going

to “abolish,” or “annul,” them all.


He was already in process of abolishing the last and greatest kingdom-

enemy, Death itself, through the kingdom-transforming, kingdom-

universalizing work of the Cross and the indwelling Holy Spirit (1

Cor. 15:26). “All things” (or literally, “the All Things,” the cosmic body of

Sin and Death) were going to be subjected to Christ, and changed (Phil.

3:21) in the Father, by the power of the Father, and under the authority of

the Father, so that all of the enemies would be done away; so that all of

the Father’s elect (from Adam to AD 70) would be made alive in Christ;

so that the universal church would become the habitation of the triune

God, so that He would become “All Things in all” (1 Cor. 15:28).



If the Resurrection is not Universal (1 Cor. 15:12-19; 29-34)


The Son did not come to set up His own new religion that excluded the

historic saints who had worshiped the Father in the Adamic ages. To

the contrary, the Son was sent by the Father and under the authority of

the Father for the purpose of restoring “all” the elect to the Father, to

“universalize” the Father’s dominion. Unbeknownst to the resurrectionof-

the-dead deniers, if Christ had come to save only the eschatological

church and to exclude the pre-Christian world, this would have left only

two possibilities. Either:


1. Christ would be the conqueror of the God of the pre-Christian

world, and the Father would be put in subjection under

the feet of the Son (1 Cor. 15:27).[12]




2. Christ was not sent to accomplish the Father’s cosmos-saving

work; therefore the Father had never raised Him from the

dead, and the gospel was a lie, and Christianity was merely a

man-made religion.


Of these two possibilities, Paul countered the first in passing (1 Cor.

15:27), but rigorously pursued the implications of the second. As we

know, many at Corinth were living as though the second possibility was

the truth.


As Paul reasoned: If Christ did not come to accomplish the Father’s

work of restoration (Isa. 55:11), to gather and unite “all” (Christian and

pre-Christian) who were chosen in the Father from before the world

began, then Christ was not of the Father. Then neither the doctrine of

the resurrection of Christ nor the resurrection-hope of the eschatological

church was true or valid. Then Paul and the other apostolic preachers

were liars, and Christ did not die for the sins of the eschatological

church, and the Father never raised Him from the dead (1 Cor. 15:3-4,

11, 13-16).


Consequently, Christ was not reigning. Therefore no one had been

born of the Spirit that proceeded from the Father. Then the gospel was

vain, and the faith of believers was vain (1 Cor. 15:14, 17). Then no one

had been saved and empowered by the grace of God either to preach the

gospel or to believe it (1 Cor. 15:1-2, 5-8, 10-11).


Christians were, then, still in their sins, and those who had fallen

asleep in Christ had died in their sins (1 Cor. 15:17-18). Then the resurrection-

hope that believers had in Christ was false (1 Cor. 15:19). Then

those Christians who were undergoing baptism (Spirit-led suffering and

death) on behalf of the dead (1 Cor. 15:29; Matt. 20:23; 23:34-35; Luke

12:50; Heb. 11:40; Rev. 6:9-11) were in reality suffering for nothing more

than a man-invented delusion. They were not being led by the Spirit but

were instead going to a hopeless, meaningless death.


Moreover then, the apostles were fighting with “beasts” (enemies of

the gospel) and were standing in jeopardy every hour, dying daily, not to

change the world of God’s people, but for absolutely nothing, because

their gospel sufferings were not being wrought through the cosmosresurrecting,

cosmos-changing power of the indwelling eschatological

Spirit, but through the power of mere man (1 Cor. 15:30-32).


If the gospel was a lie and there was no God-ordained, worldchanging

need of dying daily through the Spirit, of suffering hardships,

humiliations and dangers, then the apostles should logically have lived

as the arrogant, carnal Corinthians themselves were living (I Cor. 4:8).

They should have rejected their humiliating sufferings for the gospel

and put off dying for some other day (“tomorrow”) (1 Cor. 15:32-34).


In the end, the whole church, following the apostles and the Corinthians,

would have forsaken the shame of the Cross of Christ and escaped

the eschatological sufferings to which it had been called. All believers

would have lived in the status quo of the old world. Though the

resurrection-of-the-dead deniers did not know it, this was the practical,

church-corrupting result of their dead-excluding error. This is why it

was urgent for them to “awake righteously” from out of their shameful

and sinful ignorance of God.


Contrary to the resurrection error, believers were being called to

die” for (on behalf of) “all” (the whole “creation”/“body” of God’s people).

The church’s eschatological death and resurrection with Christ

was for the purpose of bringing about the transformation of the pre-

Christ world of the saints (“all Israel”). Though the resurrection-of-the

dead deniers were unaware of it, their doctrine was implicitly opposed

to the cosmic gospel-purpose of the Father.


The first-fruits church, through the indwelling Spirit of the reigning

Christ, was putting to death the Adamic world-body of Death itself

(alienation from the Father) through the newly-revealed gospel of God.

Through the Death-destroying, Life-giving, “man”-changing power of

the gospel of the death and resurrection of Christ, the fleshly, Adamic

“man” or “body” or “creation”—the whole world-system of the dominion

of Sin and Death—was being put to death and “abolished.” It was

that body which would soon be raised up and “changed” (in AD 70) into

the new, Christological, spiritual “body” in the kingdom of God (the

new covenant world).


The Seed Analogy (1 Cor. 15:35-50)


Paul’s illustrations from nature in verses 36-41 are problematic if they are

interpreted as arguments that are aimed at someone who denies the very

possibility of resurrection. How does the fact that sheep differ from sparrows

serve in any way to validate the doctrine of resurrection for someone

who does not believe in the very concept of resurrection? How does

it serve to make the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead imaginable

or feasible (345)? It doesn’t.[13]


The difficulty with Paul’s words concerning the bodies/fleshes/glories

of creation vanishes only when we let it sink into our minds that

Paul was reasoning with people who already believed in the eschatological,

body-resurrection of Christians. The resurrection-of-the-dead

deniers would have already agreed that a seed rising up to become a

plant illustrates the truth of resurrection. And that is why Paul used

the analogy. The fact of resurrection was common ground between Paul

and the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers.


Paul therefore made reference to the universal death and change of

seeds,[14] not to demonstrate the already-agreed-upon fact of resurrection,

but to demonstrate the following four things that those who were

in error at Corinth were denying:


1. The necessity of the death of the pre-resurrection body

(1 Cor. 15:36)


2. The differentness of the pre- and post-resurrection bodies

(1 Cor. 15:37)


3. The necessity of the change of the pre-resurrection body

(1 Cor. 15:38a)


4. The universality of the pre-resurrection body and the postresurrection

body (1 Cor. 15:38b)


After establishing these premises through the common-ground analogy

of the “resurrection” of seeds, Paul went on to reference the whole

of the material universe, because insofar as it is filled with innumerable,

different bodies—just like the multitudes of different kinds of seeds and

plants in verse 38b—it confirms the universality of the two different bodies

(the existence of which Paul established in the seed analogy itself).


The universal diversity of the Genesis creation served as an analogy

of the cosmos-changing work of the gospel. As the whole Genesis

creation is filled with differing bodies (fleshes, glories), so the whole

creation” (the body) of God’s chosen ones in Adam, living and dead,

from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other,” was going to

put off the old “body” of Sin and Death (the Adamic, mortal, corruptible,

dishonorable, weak, and natural “old man”), and was going to be

clothed” with the wholly other body of Christ” (the immortal, incorruptible,

glorious, powerful, and spiritual new Man; the Christological

new creation”) (Matt. 24:31; 1 Cor. 15:42-44).


The resurrection-of-the-dead deniers thought that the eschatological

church was an altogether separate entity from the Adamic, old covenant

world. They thought that the body of Christ essentially appeared

out of nowhere, as it were, absolutely disconnected from the world that

preceded it. They thought the eschatological church was buried the

spiritual body and that it was going to be raised the same spiritual body

on the Last Day.


The reality though was that the eschatological church was itself in

the mortal, corruptible, dishonorable, weak, and natural “body” of the

pre-Christ saints. It was still bearing “the image of the earthy” (1 Cor.

15:49), not in a biological sense, but in a cosmic-covenantal sense. God’s

old covenant ministration of Death and Condemnation still stood, and

God’s church was still an organic part of that world-order. It was therefore

still in the body of Sin and Death, and was putting that body to

death through the Spirit.


The pre-Christian, Adamic saints existed in a state of “mortality” in

that they did not yet have consummated eternal life, redemption, and

face-to-face union with God (Rom. 8:23; 1 Cor. 13:12; 1 John 2:25; Rev.

22:4). They were in a state of “corruptibility[15] in that they did not yet have

the incorruptible, “eternal righteousness” of Christ (Dan. 9:24). They were

in a state of “dishonor” in that they were not yet clothed with the glory of

the new covenant in Christ’s justifying blood (Rom. 4:24; 2 Cor. 3:7-18).

They were in a state of “weakness” in that, as long as the condemning old

covenant world remained standing, they had not yet inherited eternal life

(cf. 1 Cor. 6:14; Heb. 7:6; 1 Jn. 2:25). They were “natural” in that they had

not yet been made the spiritual dwelling of the triune God (John 14:23).


Before Christ, the saints bore the image of Adam, the disobedient

one. They were unable to attain to heavenly life (1 Cor. 15:45, 48-49).

Their sins had grounded them in the mundane, the worldly, the carnal,

the “corruptible.” Their worship of God consisted in earthly types, shadows,

and copies of the heavenly. Their fellowship with God was not face

to face, but was through the agency of sinful, earthly mediators. Their

sacrifices were reminders of sin. They were separated from the Father.

They were under the reign of Sin and Death.


Through its body-burial and body-death with Christ, the church was

putting to death that old, corruptible “world” or “body” or “creation” or

man” through the sin-killing Spirit on behalf of the dead. In the consummation

of the Spirit’s work in the church, the body of God’s people,

living and dead (“all Israel”), was going to be redeemed, changed, and

gathered together into the eternal, spiritual kingdom of Christ.


This is the “knowledge of God” of which the resurrection-of-thedead

deniers were woefully ignorant. Because they thought that the

eschatological church, to the exclusion of “the dead,” was “the body [of

Christ] that shall be,” they could not grasp “how” the saints of old could

be resurrected with the church. Here is an expanded paraphrase of

their objection in verse 35:


“We, the eschatological church, are the blood-bought body that

has been sown (planted, buried) with Christ through the Holy

Spirit in order that we might be raised with Him to inherit the

kingdom of God. The saints of old lived and died before Christ

arrived. They have not been sown (planted/buried) with Him,

as we have. There is no resurrection outside of Christ’s body,

and we are His body. Therefore, the dead have no part in the

resurrection body. How then are the dead being raised with us?

If your doctrine is true Paul, then answer this question: With

what body are the dead being raised?”[16]


Paul’s answer (verses 36-37):


“The dead are being raised through the burial and death of the

body of Sin, of which we are still a part (since the old covenant

world has not yet vanished). The dead, therefore, are being

raised through our (the last-days, first-fruit church’s) dying to

Sin (the burial and death of the Adamic ‘body’ with Christ) on

their behalf, and they will therefore be ‘changed’ with us into the

resurrected, spiritual body of Christ in the new covenant world.


“Look at your own experience for confirmation of this truth.

When you yourselves are planting a seed (as God has planted

us with Christ) you are not planting the tree that will be. Likewise,

God did not plant the ‘spiritual body’ of the age to come

in order that the same ‘spiritual body’ will emerge. That is not

God’s purpose. The Christological resurrection-body is not

what has been sown/buried. It is not we alone who shall be

raised. Rather, it is the Adamic ‘natural body’ that has been

sown’ with Christ, through the Spirit in us, so that the ‘natural

body’ (the dead together with the last-days-of-the-Adamic-ages

church—the whole Adamic ‘man’) is now being raised up and

changed’/‘transformed’ into the spiritual body of Christ.”


The objection of the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers was not biological;

it was theological. Though they understood that the eschatological

church had been “buried” with Christ through the Sin-killing

work of the Holy Spirit in order that the church would be raised up on

the Last Day, they erroneously thought that the church had been buried

so that the church alone would be raised up on the Last Day. Thus Paul’s

corrections in verse 44 (KJV):


. . . [T]here is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

That is, there was not a spiritual body only, as the resurrection-ofthe-

dead deniers supposed.


And in verse 46:


Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is

natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.


The spiritual body did not appear out of nowhere, as the resurrection-

of-the-dead deniers imagined. Rather, the pre-existing “natural

body” was being raised up and transformed into the “spiritual body.”


The reality that the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers did not apprehend

was that the eschatological church was in a state of Adamic bodyunion

(solidarity, interdependence) with “the dead,” and it therefore

stood in need of a universal body-change. The church was not merely

the new man and the spiritual body. It was the dying old man; the dying

body of Sin and Death.


It was not the case that the Old Testament saints would be replaced

by the body of Christ. Instead, the body of Sin had to die through the

baptism of the Holy Spirit, and be raised, and be changed by the same

Spirit (Heb. 11:40). The church could not be saved by itself. The church

was bearing the image of “the first man” and was in process of being

transformed, on behalf of the dead and with the dead, into the image of

the Christ” (Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:45-49; 2 Cor. 3:18).


Without the death and universal change of “the body” through the

power of the eschatological Spirit, not so much as one Christian could

be made alive in the Father. The resurrection in Christ was to be cosmos-

wide, or not at all. The whole world of God’s people had to be



The eschatological church thus stood in need of the consummated

world-change from the “flesh-and-blood” world-body of “corruption

(sub-divine righteousness) to the “spiritual,” Christological body of incorruptible

and eternal righteousness in the new covenant world (1 Cor.

15:50). If that change did not take place when the temple fell in AD 70,

then Christ was never raised from the dead, the gospel was a lie, and all

Christians were and are without hope. Either the eschatological church

and “the dead” were changed and God became All Things in “all,” or

Christ was never raised, and the church remains in her sins, and the

world-body of the hand-made temple of God maintains its standing before

God today.


The Universal Change (1 Cor. 15:51-58)


The coming transformation of God’s covenant-universe (dead and living,

Jew and Gentile) through the gospel of the death and resurrection

of the body of Christ was the “mystery” that had been kept secret since

the world began. It was the mystery that the resurrection-of-the-dead

deniers failed to grasp. “The dead” and the eschatological church were

going to be made alive together in Christ and were going to be united in

the Father. “All things . . . in the heavens and things upon the earth” were

going to be summed up in Christ (Rom. 11:15, 25-26; 16:15; 1 Cor. 2:7;

Eph. 1:9-10; 3:6-10; Col. 1:26-27).


The world-change, or body-change, took place and the “mystery

was fulfilled before Paul’s generation passed away (1 Cor 15:51). The

sounding of the symbolic “last trumpet[17] took place when the worldly

city and sanctuary fell in AD 70 (Rev. 10:7; 11:2, 8; cf. Heb. 9:8). When

that old “house” fell and the old Adamic “garment” was folded up and

changed,” the dead were raised and all the elect were “clothed” with the

body of Christ in the new covenant world (Heb. 1:10–12). “All” put off

the old man (Adamic Sin) and “put on” the new Man (the righteousness

of Christ). “All” God’s people were “clothed with” the tabernacle/body of

the triune God.


When the old garment was removed and the house of the old covenant

was thrown down, believers were not found “naked,” nor left “unclothed”

or homeless for even the indiscernible “moment” of “the twinkling

of an eye,” as would have been the case if there was no resurrection

of the dead and consequently no world-change (Rev. 3:17-18; 16:15;

17:16). If there was no resurrection, then the fall of the city and the

sanctuary would have been the death knell for Christians just as much

as it was for unbelieving Jews. Indeed, it would have been the death

knell for humanity. But because the dead were raised and the cosmos

of God’s people was transformed in Christ, believers were clothed in

AD 70 with the Christological, new covenant house from out of heaven

(Col. 2:2; Heb. 1:12; 8:13; Rev. 16:15).


Death (condemnation and alienation from God) was deprived of its

sting, which was Sin, when Sin was finally sealed up, covered over, and

done away in the consummation of the Adamic/Mosaic ages through

the power of Christ’s death and resurrection. This happened when

Christ appeared the second time in AD 70, having consummated His

high-priestly work of atonement (Lev. 16). This is when He swept away

the old covenant world of Sin, Death, condemnation, and alienation and

changed the universal church into the completed, anointed, Most Holy

Place of God Himself (Rev. 21:2, 16; Heb. 3:6, 9:6-8).


Sin was deprived of its power, which was the Law of Moses, when

through the power of the Cross, the Law came to its end in AD 70. That

is when the Law-covenant (the ministration of Death and Condemnation)

vanished[18] (Heb. 8:13) and “all things” in earth and in heaven (“all

the saints, living and dead) were reconciled to God (Col. 1:20).


When all these things were consummated, the corruptible and mortal

Adamic body “put on” the incorruptible and immortal body of Christ

(1 Cor. 15:53). The old, corruptible house (the old covenant world) fell.

The new, eternal house (the New Jerusalem) came down from out of

heaven. The church and the Hadean saints were raised up and united in

the one body of Christ, and were irrevocably and gloriously “changed

into the “perfect” tabernacle of God.


Thus, through the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, God gave His

church the eschatological, cosmos-transforming victory of faith over

Sin, Death, and the Law. Her gospel labors in Him bore world-transforming

fruit. Reigning with the risen “Christ of God,” her worldburying,

world-destroying, world-resurrecting, and world-changing

labors were consummated in the AD-70 realization of the hope of Israel

—in the universal gathering of “all” the saints, living and dead, in

the God and Father of all” (1 Cor. 15:57-58). Thus was the beginning

of the Christian age, “a dispensation more divine than many are disposed

to think.”[19]


Summary and Conclusion


The resurrection-of-the-dead deniers believed the following:


The eschatological church was the “spiritual body” of Christ

that had been buried with Christ and which was being raised

up the same spiritual body of Christ. There was no “natural

body” involved in the church’s resurrection with Christ. There

was no body-union between the church and the pre-Christian

saints (“the dead”). The dead were not going to be included in

the resurrection and the kingdom. God, through the indwelling

Spirit, had “sown,” or “buried,” the spiritual body of Christ

(the church) so that the church by itself (to the exclusion of the

dead) would be resurrected unchanged (still the same spiritual

body of Christ that it was when it was buried with Christ) in the



If there was no resurrection of the Old Testament dead, these were

the undesired results:


1. God did not raise Christ from the dead.

2. The eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ were liars.

3. The preaching of the apostles was vain.

4. The faith of Christians was vain.

5. Christians were still in their sins.

6. Christians who had fallen asleep had died in their sins (perished).

7. The persecuted apostles were to be pitied more than all men.

8. Christians who were being martyred for the dead were doing

so for nothing.

9. Christians were battling the enemies of the gospel by merely

human power.

10. Christians should have forsaken their sufferings and lived

mundane lives.

11. Christians would not be able to inherit the kingdom of God.

12. Christians would remain under the curse of Sin, Death, and

the Law.

13. Christians would remain clothed with corruption, mortality,

dishonor, and weakness, and would remain natural.


Here is why those results necessarily followed from the denial of the

resurrection of the Old Testament dead:


God raised Christ from the dead not so that the natural Adamic

body (the people of God in their Adamic state of Sin and Death) would

be replaced by the spiritual body of Christ (the church). The Father

raised the Son from the dead so that the Adamic body would be buried,

put to death, resurrected, and transformed into the universal body of

Christ. The eschatological church was not in a separate body from the

Adamic dead. It was part of the natural, corruptible, dishonorable, and

weak Adamic body, and was putting that body to death through the

Spirit on behalf of the dead.


Apart from the creation-wide “body-change” of “all” the elect from

Adam to the Last Day in AD 70, there could be no resurrection-life for

any Christian. The church could not inherit the kingdom of God unless

the whole universe of God’s people was resurrected and changed

together. This was the cosmic scope and purpose of the Cross of Christ.

This is what those who were in error at Corinth did not understand.


Though futurists today do not realize it, they are, in principle, unknowing

followers of the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers at Corinth.

Futurists believe that the church (the body of Christ) has been spiritually

resurrected and seated with Christ in the spiritual kingdom for 2,000

years now, but that the pre-Christian (Old Testament) dead have not yet

been resurrected into that kingdom. Though many futurists inconsistently

believe that the Old Testament saints were released from Hades

between Jesus’ death and resurrection (contradicting the timeframe of

Rev. 20:14), they do not hold that those saints have been “resurrected”

into the kingdom. As anti-preterist Strimple teaches (in contrast to anti-

premillennial Strimple), physically dead people cannot experience a

resurrection and remain physically dead.


Though futurists certainly do not deny the resurrection of the dead,

they unwittingly teach a “short circuit” in the cosmic gospel-purpose of

the Father when they teach that God gave the spiritual kingdom to the

church on Earth, but has put off “resurrecting” the Old Testament dead

into the kingdom until 2,000+ years later.


This “gap” between Christians and “the [Old Testament] dead” is

not a biblical option. As Paul argued, either the dead and the church

would inherit the kingdom together, or no one could inherit the kingdom

at all. Either all the elect, the church and the dead, were made alive

(resurrected) together in Christ in the end of the old covenant age, or all

the elect remained dead in Adam (cf. 1 Thess. 5:10). In other words, either

all the saints were resurrected in AD 70, or none were resurrected,

not even Christ. There is no other possibility.


Therefore, as with the error at Corinth, the undesired implication

of the doctrine of a yet-future resurrection of the dead is that Christ

has not been raised and that our faith is vain and that we are still in our

sins. Futurism is not a damnable doctrine, just as the error at Corinth

was not a damnable doctrine. Nevertheless, futurism, with its parousiadelay

and resurrection-delay, shares implications with the Corinthian

error which, if followed through logically, ultimately serve to destroy

the Faith. If Paul were alive today, it is possible that he would say to

futurists what he said to his Corinthian brethren, and for essentially the

same reason:


. . . [S]ome have ignorance of God. I speak this to your shame.

(1 Cor. 15:34)

[1] Those who hold to “the collective body view” of 1 Corinthians 15 believe

that the root error at Corinth was a radical kind of “replacement theology,”

i.e., a disdain for Israel and a denial that historical Israel would take part

with the church in the resurrection and in the kingdom of God. While that

interpretation of the error at Corinth may be entirely correct, I am not convinced

that it is provable that the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers had anti-

Israel or anti-Semitic sentiments (though their error was certainly implicitly

antagonistic to God’s historic covenant nation). For this reason, I confine myself

in this chapter to defining their error more generally as a denial that the

dead from Adam until Christ would be raised. 

[2] Charles Hill is therefore incorrect when he says: “It is not that the

Corinthians could not comprehend what Paul was talking about; rather, one

party in Corinth, comprehending all too well what Paul had in mind, did not

find it to their liking and were opposing it.” (104) 

[3] When we consider that 1 Corinthians was written a mere twenty-five

years after the beginning of Christianity, and when we consider that the eschatological,

first-fruits church was already partaking of the coming resurrection,

and when we consider the eager expectation in that era of the imminent

fulfillment of the end of the Adamic ages and of the resurrection the dead, we

should expect that believers in that historical moment would refer to the vast

multitudes that had lived and died before the advent of Christ as the “dead

[ones].” This is not to say that the term “the dead” in the New Testament was

code for “the dead of the Old Testament in contrast to dead Christians.” It is

to say only that in that eschatological generation, if reference were made to the

pre-Christian dead in contrast to the relatively few dead Christians (in about

AD 55), the designation “the dead” or “dead ones” sufficed.

[4] There was therefore no need for Paul to say explicitly that the dead

were primarily “historical Israel,” as Hill insists in his chapter (115). If “the

dead” were the righteous, pre-Christian dead, then they were (with relatively

few exceptions) none other than the saints of the historic, Abrahamic covenant

community (i.e., Israel) along with the saints who lived before the promises

given to Abraham. 

[5] Similarly in American law today the basic meaning of the word “body”

is “a person.” “A corporalis [bodily] injuria” is “a personal injury.” We use the

word “body” this way when we speak of “somebody,” “anybody,” “nobody,” or

“everybody.” This usage of the word used to be more common than it is today:

The foolish bodies say in their hearts: Tush, there is no God.” (Ps. 14:1, Coverdale

translation, 1535) 

[6] Although Reformed theologian Herman Ridderbos was a futurist and

expected a literal transformation of the physical bodies of believers, he nevertheless

understood that such Pauline terms as “the body of sin,” “the body of

the flesh,” “the earthly members,” and “the body of this death” “are obviously

not intended of the [material] body itself, but of the sinful mode of existence of

man.” Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans,

1975), 229; Cf., Tom Holland, Contours of Pauline Theology: A Radical

New Survey of the Influences on Paul’s Biblical Writings, Mentor, 2004.

[7] “[The spiritual body] is not in the least constituted what it is by its being

physical. It fulfills its essence by being utterly subject to Spirit, not by being

either material or immaterial.” The Body, John A. T. Robinson (SCM Press

Ltd., Bloomsbury Street London, 1966), 32. Reformed theologians Ridderbos

and Holland acknowledge that some of Robinson’s exegeses are flawed, but

they endorse the substance of his insights on “the body.” I cite Robinson here

in the same spirit. 

[8] When I use the terms “universal” and “universality,” I am not referring

to any form of “Universalism.” I am referring to the trans-historical assembly

of the saints of all generations, from Adam to AD 70, or from Adam to

the present day.

[9] All” in 1 Cor. 15:22 corresponds to “the many” in Rom. 5:15-16 and

19. When Paul says that “all” died in Adam and that “all” would be made alive

in Christ, he means that all of God’s people (the whole cosmos of Gods’ elect)

died in Adam and would be made alive in Christ.

[10] Strimple inexplicably denies this doctrine on pages 309 and 342 of


[11] In Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond, on page 62, Strimple

teaches that “the end” in 1 Cor. 15:24 is the same “end” that Jesus said would

come after the gospel was “preached in the whole world” in Matt. 24:14. Thus

Strimple holds that the resurrection of the dead takes place upon the completion

of the preaching of the gospel “in the whole world.” But this presents a

problem for Strimple, because the gospel was “preached in the whole world

almost 2,000 years ago, in Christ’s generation, shortly before the fall of the

earthly house (the old covenant world) in AD 70 (Rom. 16:25-26; Col. 1:23; 2

Tim. 4:17). If we are to accept Strimple’s sequence of events, we must conclude

that the resurrection of the dead happened at the fall of the temple in AD 70,

as Jesus and the apostles said it would. 

[12] This hyper-dispensational implication of the Corinthian resurrection-

error (i.e., that Christ came to wage war against and to conquer the God

of Israel and His law) was the root error of the doctrine that would later be

known as Gnosticism. 

[13] If the resurrection-of-the-dead deniers already believed in the historic,

physical resurrection of Christ, as Strimple admits (309, 333), why would

Paul have needed to convince them of the “feasibility,” “imaginability,” and

“thinkability” of the very concept of physical resurrection, as Strimple says

elsewhere (quoting Berkouwer) (341)? How could it be that the resurrectionof-

the-dead deniers were unable to accept the feasibility of a concept (1 Cor.

15:35) to which they already held as the gospel truth (1 Cor. 15:11)?

[14] The necessary “death” of seeds, by the way, demonstrates that physical

corruption and physical death existed before Adam sinned. The earth, by

God’s decree, brought forth seed-yielding plants on the third day of creation

(Gen. 1:11-13), and Adam was placed in the Garden to dress and keep the plants

(Gen. 2:15). Therefore the cycle of literal seed-death and seed-resurrection/

change was already in process before Sin entered the world through the disobedience

of Adam. In the same way, God’s decree to the animals and to man

that both “be fruitful and multiply” implied the cycle of biological birth, biological

reproduction, and biological death; and that cycle was instituted before

Adam sinned (Gen. 1:22, 28). Biological death did not enter the world through

Sin. It was already in the world. It was alienation from God and slavery to Sin

(Sin-consciousness, spiritual Death) that entered the world through Sin. 

[15] The terms “mortal” and “corruptible” do not describe the quality or

duration of Adam’s physicality or the quality or duration of his soul. They

describe the quality and duration of his sub-divine righteousness and works. 

[16] Strimple favorably quotes Robert Gundry as saying, “Paul uses soma

precisely because the physicality of the resurrection is central to his soteriology.”

In reality, Paul used soma precisely because the resurrection-of-the-dead

deniers used the word soma in their objection (1 Cor. 15:35). The meaning of

the word cannot be deduced from the fact that Paul repeated it. 

[17] In Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (112), Strimple says

that since the Greek word “eskatos” (“last”) is used in the term “last trumpet,”

it would “seem strange” if the “last” trumpet did not signal the end of Christ’s

mediatorial reign and of the resurrection of the dead. Yet in the same book,

Strimple does not think it “strange” when he says that the “last” (“eskatos”)

days have thus far lasted almost 2,000 years (TVMB, 64).

[18] Pratt (the author of chapter three of WSTTB) speaks for perhaps most

futurists when he puzzles over the mention of “the law” in First Corinthians

15:56: “The emergence of the second theme regarding the law, however, seems

to have no real antecedent in this letter.” (Holman New Testament Commentary:

I&II Corinthians, 272) In the futurist paradigm, there is no real connection

between the condemning power of the Law of Moses and the resurrection

of Christians in the end of world history. Paul though makes the connection

because the resurrection of the dead was going to happen when the old covenant

(the Law) vanished in his generation. The two events were simultaneous

(cf. 1 Cor. 7:29, 31; 10:11; 15:51-52). Cf., Law, Sin, and Death: An Edenic Triad?

An Examination with Reference to I Corinthians 15:56, by Chris Alex Vlachos

(Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, volume 47; June, 2004). 

[19] Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, book I, chapter II.