1 Corinthians Chapter 15: Resurrection of Jesus and his Bride, Second Coming and Reign

Nov 30th, 2009 | By | Category: 1 & 2 Corinthians, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

1 Corinthians Chapter 15: Resurrection of Jesus and his Bride, Second Coming and Reign

1 Cor. 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

Paul now entered a new field of inquiry based on a question that had arisen in the class, but he would first lay a foundation before bringing the question to the forefront. The subject matter would be the resurrection.

Comment: The brethren were familiar with Paul’s preaching, so obviously something had occurred to pollute those teachings.

Reply: The false doctrine, or thinking, that had polluted the class was no doubt a minority opinion, but action had to be taken quickly.

There were probably more different doctrines and problems in the class at Corinth than in any of the other ecclesias. Therefore, Paul’s two epistles providentially cover the issues in all of the classes. And the fact that these questions came up and Paul addressed them worked out favorably for the entire Church down through the Gospel Age, for his two epistles have been profitable and faith-strengthening to Christians subsequent to his time. Today we continue to benefit by reading Paul’s counsel on these issues.

Notice that Paul prominently used the pronoun “I” in verses 1-3. Why did he start the chapter this way? There was a precedent earlier in the epistle where he addressed the church at Corinth in connection with the role he had played. Now it was needful for Paul to again remind the Corinthian brethren that he had been like a father to them, that he had begotten them, because some were presuming to be not only equal in authority but even superior to him. “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (1 Cor. 4:15). Paul had also said, “Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?” (1 Cor. 9:1). In a special sense, Paul was used by God to establish the church at Corinth. He was not just a brother or a teacher but an apostle.

1 Cor. 15:2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

Why did Paul say, “I declare unto you the gospel … by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you”? What was the danger?

Comment: Verses 1 and 2 show a sequence or progression. Paul preached the gospel to the Corinthians, they received it, they were standing in it, and they would be saved if they continued to be faithful.

Reply: Yes. With regard to “if ye keep in memory,” the King James margin says, “if ye hold fast,” for it is easy to forget instructions. The implication is that there were divisions in the class at Corinth. Some followed Apollos, some followed Cephas, etc., but at the most Paul, Peter, and others were stewards of the mysteries of God, not lords. Those who felt aloof from the others and considered themselves more Christlike said, “I am of Christ,” implying that others were not of Christ. Instead the emphasis should have been, “We are of Christ.” The sectarian spirit was wrong.

Comment: Verse 2 is an excellent proof text for refuting the concept of “once in grace, always in grace.” Being saved and going to heaven are contingent upon an “if” clause. We are saved if we remain faithful to God’s truth.

Reply: Yes, the gospel the Corinthians had received from Paul by God’s providence resulted in their being “saved” as long as they continued in the faith.

1 Cor. 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

1 Cor. 15:4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

The purpose of verses 3 and 4 was to emphasize Christ, not Paul or any other individual. Paul continued to draw attention away from the sectarian “I” attitude and to stress “you,” “ye,” and “our.” In verses 1-3, he used plural pronouns repeatedly: “I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which … ye have received, and wherein ye stand”; “By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory … , unless ye have believed in vain”; “I delivered unto you … how that Christ died for our sins.”

Paul identified himself with the brethren in the ecclesia as being a recipient, like them, of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. As an emissary or apostle of Christ, he had preached faithfully to them “how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.” The basis of being recognized as brethren is making a personal commitment to follow Christ until death.

Christians acknowledge that they are sinners and that Christ died for their sins. Certainly the Corinthians had no problem believing Christ had died, so the problem was along another line. Earlier in this epistle, Paul asked, “Were you baptized in my name? Did I die for you?” (1 Cor. 1:13 paraphrase). No, Paul was raising the thinking of the Corinthians to a higher level, showing that their dependency was on Christ, the ever-living Savior (and also, of course, on God and His Word). No matter what trials or sorrows they experienced in their Christian walk, the stabilizing influence was that their faith was not dependent upon any man.

Verses 3 and 4 both include the phrase “according to the scriptures.” Christ died according to the Scriptures, and he rose according to the Scriptures. Even if a Christian loses his closest companion in the Lord through death, he has the living God, the living Word, and the living Christ. The fact that Christ arose from the dead gives hope of a future resurrection.

Jesus “rose again the third day”; that is, he was in the tomb parts of three days. Had he been dead for three whole days, he would have arisen on the fourth day. He died on Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. and was raised early Sunday morning.

1 Cor. 15:5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

1 Cor. 15:6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

1 Cor. 15:7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

1 Cor. 15:8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

Paul continued his rebuttal to those in Corinth who felt that they knew Jesus but that Paul had never seen him or heard him preach. However, his primary motive in verses 5-8 was to prove that Jesus had risen from the dead. As proof, Paul used a forceful argument, namely, that Jesus was seen by Peter, who was the chief apostle in the estimation of the Corinthians. Then Paul listed group evidence—Jesus was seen of all the apostles and also of more than 500 brethren.

Although these verses list a sequence of the appearances of the risen Lord to different individuals, none of the women who saw Jesus after his resurrection are mentioned. According to the custom of the day, listing just the male witnesses was a more legal way of presenting the issue. And this listing was not merely a male representation but an apostolic witnessing of the resurrection, both singly and in company.

We will consider some of the appearances in the sequential listing:

1. Jesus appeared personally and privately to Peter as a reassurance of his acceptance. This appearance was necessary because Peter had previously denied the Master three times. Either the other apostles were not aware of this appearance, or they did not attach great importance to it, for only Paul mentions it (Luke 24:34). Also, Cephas is listed first, yet Mary Magdalene was the first person to see the resurrected Jesus, and she ran to tell the others. Incidentally, when this epistle was written, Peter was probably recognized as the chief apostle, for time was required for brethren to realize that Paul had a deeper understanding of the Scriptures.

2. The question might be asked, Who are “the twelve,” since Judas deceased before Jesus was resurrected? Either for the sake of accommodation, Matthias was included as the twelfth apostle, or the term could have been used loosely as a title (Acts 1:26). Jesus was seen of “the twelve” on two occasions, but on the first occasion, Thomas was not there.

3. Next Jesus was “seen of above five hundred brethren at once.” An angel told the women, “Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen.”

Then he added, “Go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you” (Matt. 28:5-7). The Gospels refer to this gathering but do not give the number who were present. Paul now supplied the number as being about 500. Thus the net effect of Christ’s ministry produced a nucleus of approximately 500 consecrated believers, plus perhaps 200 others who could not get to Galilee because of certain obligations. The fact that Jesus rose from the dead and told the brethren to meet him in Galilee indicates that those who lived in the area, as well as in Judea, dropped everything and hastened to Galilee.

“The greater part [of the 500] remain unto this present [time], but some are fallen asleep”; that is, most of the 500 believers were still alive when Paul wrote this epistle around AD 59 or 60.

During the intervening 26 or 27 years since Christ’s death and resurrection, some of the Lord’s people had died. Notice that they did not go to heaven but were “fallen asleep” in death.

Sometimes the term “soul sleepers” is sarcastically used for those who present the scriptural teaching on this matter.

4. Jesus was seen privately by the Apostle James Zebedee. Peter, James, and John were the apostles most favored of the original twelve. Jesus appeared personally to James because he was the first apostle to die, as far as we know. The Master may have wanted to encourage James with some hint of the relative nearness of his demise, although it took some years.

5. Jesus appeared again to all of the apostles.

Jesus first appealed to the natural logic, the physical sense, of the apostles to reason with them. Then, during the same appearance, he showed the unreasonableness of their now thinking of him as a man. The Second Volume discusses the manner of Jesus’ appearances to his disciples and how he treated them gently from the standpoint that they were still natural men at that time, not having received the Holy Spirit. After appealing to them along natural lines such as eating a meal, he showed that he was now different by appearing in various bodies, going through doors, and coming and going as the wind. No man could do these miraculous things— only a spirit being. He gradually introduced them to the use of the higher, more important reasoning that pertained to the spiritual senses.

6. “Last of all he [Christ] was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.” It was as if Paul were born prematurely, and even then, he saw only a measure of Jesus’ glory. John said, “We do not know what we shall be like, but we do know that when Jesus appears, we shall see him because we will have the same nature” (1 John 3:2 paraphrase). When the 144,000 are glorified in the first resurrection, they will be able to see Jesus as he truly is, not as he appeared to others. When angels appeared to men, their glory was diminished. Sometimes they looked so much like a human being, even eating with them, that they were not recognized as spirit beings until something miraculous happened. For example, the angel who told Manoah and his wife they would have a son disappeared in the flame of the fire (Judg. 13:9-21). On other occasions, the appearance of an angel was so powerful that it knocked people down. When Gabriel appeared, Daniel fell as one who was dead (Dan. 10:5-9). In either case, however, the spirit being was not in his usual form, for only a spirit being can see a spirit being in his normal habitat and likeness. Therefore, Paul was given a premature glimpse of Christ in his glory, but even that was too much for the flesh, as proven by Paul’s damaged eyesight.

As an illustration, we cannot look at the sun at noontime and retain our sight, but we might get a glimpse. Paul saw merely the reflective glory of Jesus, not his shape or features, and just the glory of that outer light was so blinding that it seared his eyes so that he had to be led by the hand.

Paul saw Jesus as a semi-glorified being because no man can see God (or any divine being) and live. Consider Gabriel, who appeared to Daniel in different forms. In one case, he could reason with the prophet, and on another occasion, his appearance caused Daniel to fall flat on his face, almost knocking him out. When Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene at the tomb, his reply was, “Touch [embrace] me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father” (John 20:17). He thus showed a reserve. Also, he disappeared—vaporized—after he had a meal with the disciples (Luke 24:42,43,51). All of the manifestations in which he revealed his presence indicated that he would not appear again in the flesh. At the Last Supper, he said, “The world seeth me no more [in that manner]” (John 14:19). At his Second Presence, he would appear only in a revealing or personalized sense as when we came into the truth and realized the doctrine of the parousia— that his presence is secret at first and then later, in the Kingdom, all the world will know he is reigning through signs and wonders of various kinds.

Comment: The phrase “as of one born out of due time” comes from a Greek word that means “abortion.” Apparently, the usage means something that terminates the term of a normal pregnancy, hence an untimely birth. Thus a death is not necessarily involved.

Reply: Paul used a simile in likening himself to one born out of due time, one prematurely born. He did not mean that he was actually born out of due time but that he had a temporary glimpse of Jesus’ glory. Abortion is usually thought of as the killing of a fetus, but any untimely birth, where the fetus comes out in advance of the normal time, is premature.

When the women are included, Jesus appeared about 11 times after his resurrection. He first appeared to a group of women who were coming to the tomb to anoint his body with spices that they had purchased quickly before the sabbath began. However, because of the sabbath, they did not return to the tomb until the morning of the resurrection when Jesus met and saluted them, “All hail” (Matt. 28:9). Recognizing his voice and perhaps also his appearance, they held him by the feet and worshipped him. He purposely appeared in various forms such as a gardener and a stranger to show he was no longer human but a different being.

Jesus’ second appearance was to Mary, who evidently went to the tomb and was there sorrowing when she saw a “gardener” (John 20:12-17). Therefore, when Paul mentioned Cephas first, it was actually Jesus’ third appearance, or manifestation of the reality that he had indeed risen from the dead the third day as he had predicted. Incidentally, although Jesus did not appear privately to John at this time, the apostle was given a favorable appearance much later with regard to the visions in the Book of Revelation.

The Pastor used excellent reasoning in the Second Volume on the subject of “The Manner of Our Lord’s Return and Appearing.” Because Jesus had to appeal to those who were not yet Spirit-begotten, he appeared in a manner that showed it was really he who was raised, yet he was not quite the same as before. Therefore, the disciples now began to think of him more as a spirit being who was appearing in a human likeness. He appeared in different forms to show that he had a capability humans did not have.

Those of the 500 who had witnessed Jesus’ resurrection as a group and were still alive would be cognizant of Paul’s background before becoming a Christian (verse 8). Thus they could verify his testimony. Now Paul was talking to brethren in a foreign country many years later, and the testimony of these others would be a corroboration of his apostleship. Paul spoke with confidence because his testimony could be backed up if necessary.

Not only did Paul have the credentials to be an apostle, but he was preaching to the brethren so emphatically because Jesus had laid a charge upon him. He was to testify to the Gentiles, to kings as well as commoners, that he had seen the risen Lord and that Jesus had been raised from the dead (Acts 9:15).

1 Cor. 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

Although Paul was the last of the apostles to see Jesus, the appearance occurred in an even more wonderful way. However, he felt that from the standpoint of his prior deeds of persecuting Christians before becoming a disciple, he was the least worthy of the apostles. He quickly showed that the reason for Jesus’ appearance to him in this miraculous form was not any inherent greatness on his part but because of God’s grace in granting that privilege.

Q: When Paul spoke later about the individuals in the class at Corinth who were putting themselves forward and belittling his apostleship, he said, “For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles” (2 Cor. 11:5). How would we harmonize that statement with verse 9, where Paul said, “I am the least of the apostles”?

A: Some of the Corinthians thought of Paul as inferior because he came along later and was not one of the original 12 apostles. In other words, he was not seen during Jesus’ ministry, and his place was occupied at that time by Judas Iscariot. Those who wanted to assume the authority of an apostle were trying to lower Paul in the estimation of the others. Some pointed to the fact that he had persecuted the saints prior to his conversion. Here in verse 9, Paul was admitting that according to natural standards, he was “the least of the apostles … [and] not meet to be called an apostle” because he had persecuted Christians. However, later he introduced factors that neutralized this argument and built up strong reasoning as to why he was actually superior to the other apostles. Although the others had a point about the persecutions, they should have remembered that God forgave Paul and blessed him. Such remembrance would have nullified their objection to his role as an apostle.

Paul had just written a chapter showing that love is humble and kind, but he did not follow that advice with regard to the subject of his apostleship. Thus there are exceptions, where principles are involved, when love must speak sternly. Jesus called the scribes and Pharisees hypocrites, yet he was the epitome of love. His words were ultimately doing them a kindness, although onlookers would not regard them as such. If rightly taken, the rebuke of a wise man is beautiful. It is kindness to speak strongly in cases where gentle words might encourage an individual in a wrong course.

1 Cor. 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

“I laboured more abundantly than they all.” In his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul told of his many “labours” for the Lord (2 Cor. 11:23-27). “I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” Paul spent one whole day and night in the water. Imagine floating around in the water for such a long time! Because of the circumstances, it was right for Paul to call attention to his sufferings for Christ. It was needful for him to defend his apostleship.

Comment: Paul said that everything he accomplished was by “the grace of God which was with me.” He had to explain that he was an apostle, yet he had the humility to know that he was not suffering these things in his own strength but by the grace of God.

Reply: Even though Paul disclosed his sufferings, spoke bluntly, and attributed his faithfulness to the grace of God, the divisions continued to exist. Some of the Corinthians did benefit from his reasoning, which helped to confirm them in the faith. However, others (the majority of whom were probably the teachers, the “false apostles”) remained opinionated despite Paul’s logic (2 Cor. 11:13).

Comment: The clause “yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” is commendable, for the natural man tends to sit back and think about what he (or she) has accomplished.

Reply: Paul bluntly stated his motivation in 1 Corinthians 4:6, “These things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.” In other words, Paul, Apollos, and Cephas were all just servants or stewards of God, for the real founder of the Church was God, and Christ is the agency of redemption.

Comment: Paul defined humility: “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:31).

Reply: Humility is control; it is not emotional. Those who judge by conduct and appearance can be deceived, for people can disobey God yet have a pleasing appearance and be gentle and soft-spoken. Humility is putting our own mind below that of God and using His Word and His thinking and doing His will, not man’s. The sad part is that very few benefit from the Bible, but the ones God is really dealing with are helped marvelously by this instruction. His instruction is not for the majority; throughout history, it has been for the minority.

Paul was saying, “Not only did I preach this gospel to you, but I preached in such a convincing manner with personal conviction that you believed me. I spoke with conviction because I am the least of all who should be honored as a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ—and because I am the least, I have willingly suffered many trials.” How many of us, after being stoned to death for preaching the truth and then being revived, would have persevered over and over again as Paul did? He continued, “The driving force behind my ministry, the reason I speak with such sincerity and conviction, is that Jesus was so merciful to me. Before my conversion, I persecuted other Christians, and now I am preaching to you. You know my reputation as a Christian and what has happened to me in other places. Did I stop preaching? No! I am driven to be faithful as a mouthpiece of Jesus because his resurrection is a reality. The doctrine of no resurrection is not only false but also dangerous. If harbored, it will destroy your faith.”

When the Corinthians read Paul’s letter, they surely thought about this little man who had preached to them. They knew he was a human dynamo, for they had seen the power of this one, who seemed to others to be a nobody. And they had received his message. Paul was now trying to stir up their memories by recounting his experiences.

1 Cor. 15:11 Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.

“Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach.” Paul was saying, “Whether it was I who brought you the gospel or one of the other apostles or all of them is relatively immaterial, but what is preached is important—and we preach that which is proper to preach.” The instruction was in harmony with the teaching of the gospel.

Verses 1-11 are introductory. Starting with verse 12, Paul began to discuss the main issue of this chapter: the resurrection.

1 Cor. 15:12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?

The subject matter of verses 12-23 is the resurrection of the dead, a doctrine that is critical to Christianity. Paul took the standpoint that if the view of those who believed there is no resurrection of the dead were correct, then the sacrificing, testimony, and witness efforts of the Church would be of no avail. A dead Christ could not be the Redeemer. Therefore, Jesus is a living Savior—not a little baby and not an adult nailed to the Cross but a Savior who is alive and well. Moreover, he was using Paul as a mouthpiece for those who had hope in an afterlife.

In the Corinthian church, some did not believe there would be a resurrection, especially those with a Jewish Sadducee or heathen philosophy background. On Paul’s initial visit to Corinth, he first went to the synagogue to preach Christ. When he was chased out, several prominent Jews left with him and became converts to Christianity. Then Paul preached to the Gentiles. As a result, the Corinthians were a mixed group of some Jews and a large number of Gentiles.

As time went on and the zeal of the Jewish Christians with a Sadducee background started to wane, their former environment, teaching, and culture began to creep into the current thinking and imaginations of others in the class who felt that the Kingdom had already started and thus there was no need to be raised from death. To understand more fully how these “no resurrection” views got started, we will examine other Scriptures.

1 Timothy 1:19,20 reads, “Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.” Two Christians, Alexander and Hymenaeus, were delivered over to the Adversary in the hope that they would learn not to blaspheme and thus ultimately be of the Great Company. They had made shipwreck of their faith in the resurrection and thought only of the present life. Much that the Christian does is predicated on God’s promises of what will happen after death. If one ceases to have a hope for the future, his faith is destroyed.

2 Timothy 2:16-18 states, “But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.” Hymenaeus was named in both epistles to Timothy. Here we learn that he and Philetus had been teaching that the resurrection was in the past. When Paul broached the subject of the resurrection, he reasoned against the extreme view of no resurrection. It was one thing to say the resurrection is past, and it was another thing to say there is no resurrection. The doctrine of the resurrection being in the past percolated. First, some believed the resurrection had already occurred, but that thinking led others to go a step further and say that there is no resurrection at all and that the present life is the only life. In this chapter, Paul addressed the extreme view because in refuting the doctrine of no resurrection, he was, in effect, refuting the earlier error too.

Matthew 27:51-53 reads, “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” Under “Spurious Passages,” the Berean Manual indicates that the words “and the graves were opened” in verse 52 and “and went” in verse 53 (shown above in italics) are missing in the Sinaitic manuscript but that the verses appear in entirety in the Vatican manuscript. However, even if the words listed as spurious are deleted, the thought in the text does not change at all, and the passage is in the Alexandrian, the Vatican, and the Sinaitic manuscripts. Moreover, the words listed as spurious—“and the graves were opened” and “and went”—should be in the main text because written in the margin of the Sinaitic manuscript, in the same hand as that of the original copyist, is a note indicating that he made an error. In other words, since the mistake could not be corrected, the copyist put the missing words in the margin. Thus the words are an obvious unintentional omission. Perhaps 80 percent of the time, a marginal reference is a gloss or an injurious interpolation but not in this case. Therefore, nothing in verses 51-53 is spurious.

Under Matthew 27:52 in the “Biblical Comments” section of the Berean Manual, Clayton Woodworth wrote: “There are serious reasons for doubting the genuineness of this verse and the verse following. If it was the earthquake at the time of our Lord’s death that opened the graves, why should these saints have waited several days, until after his resurrection, before they came out? These holy ones could not have been the Ancient Worthies, for Paul said years later that they are not yet made perfect.”

However, Reprint No. 2811 gives comments of the Pastor that are quite different. The question was asked, “Who were those ‘saints,’ mentioned in Matt. 27:52,53, who arose and came into the holy city after the Lord’s resurrection?” A three-part answer was given.

“(1) The persons mentioned could not have been the ancient worthies, perfected; because of those the Apostle declares that ‘they without us [the Gospel church] shall not be made perfect.’

In other words, their resurrection will not be due to take place until after the first resurrection of the church has been completed.—Heb. 11:39,40. [We agree that the ‘saints’ could not be the Ancient Worthies.]

“(2) The class mentioned cannot have been saints of the Gospel church, because the church had not been selected—even the beginning of its acceptance with God had not yet taken place, and did not occur until the day of Pentecost, nearly fifty days later. [It is true that Pentecost was 50 days later and that the Church was not officially recognized in a technical sense until then, yet such recognition is not mandatory for the term ‘saints’ to be used here. However, since these individuals were awakened from death and lived past Pentecost and were written about later in the Gospel of Matthew, which referred to a past event, this second point is not a serious

objection because the passage is in the ancient manuscripts. Moreover, the term ‘saint’ was applied before the gospel Church, for Aaron is called ‘the saint of the LORD’ in Psalm 106:16.] “(3) The record seems to imply that the earthquake which occurred at the time of our Lord’s death opened these graves—produced the awakening mentioned; but that the awakened ones tarried and did not manifest themselves in the city of Jerusalem until after our Lord’s resurrection.

“At the very most it was an awakening similar to that which Lazarus experienced, and the daughter of Jairus, and the son of the widow of Nain, to die again, later on. We may be sure of this because the express declaration of 1 Cor. 15:20 is: ‘Christ is the first-fruits of them that slept’—the first one resurrected to perfection of being—the first one lifted completely out of death to perfection of life. The persons mentioned could have been no more than merely aroused from the slumber of death temporarily, and for some purpose of which we have no knowledge. We were at first inclined to doubt the genuineness of the passage, but find that a portion of it at least appears in the oldest Greek MSS, yet discovered.” [This last sentence is at variance with Clayton Woodworth’s comment. The Pastor admits that at least a portion of Matthew 27:52,53 is in the oldest manuscripts, and that portion is enough to prove the awakening.]

Comment: By resuscitating these individuals, the Lord was giving them an opportunity to run the race for the high calling, that is, to be “saints.”

Reply: There was a typical reason as well, for their being raised shows that after the “earthquake” (the death of The Christ, Head and body), the general resurrection of mankind from the tomb will take place.

With a punctuation change, Matthew 27:52,53 should be rendered as follows: “And the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves.

After his resurrection [parts of three days later], they went into the holy city and appeared unto many.” See the Diaglott—there is no “and” before the word “went.” The pronoun “they” can be inserted because it is implied in the Greek verb.

John 21:18-23 reads, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee [Peter], When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.

This spake he [Jesus], signifying by what death he [Peter] should glorify God. And when he [Jesus] had spoken this, he saith unto him [Peter], Follow me. Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple [John] whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his [Jesus’] breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he [John] tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple [John] should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him [Peter], He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?” After his resurrection, Jesus spoke about Peter’s future experiences, and then Peter inquired about John’s experiences. Notice that there was a misunderstanding about Jesus’ statement that John would tarry. Based on that statement, some of the brethren built up the theory that John did not have to die but would tarry until the resurrection was a past event. This theory was dangerous because it destroyed faith with regard to the future. Jesus was referring to the feet members, not to John personally.

We will read two passages in 1 Thessalonians. The first is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” The second text is 1 Thessalonians 5:10,11. “[Jesus Christ] Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.”

The two epistles to the Thessalonians were written five or six years before the Apostle Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 15. Since the letters to the Thessalonians were written earlier, the brethren could have referred to them for the correct thought, but unfortunately, some of the Thessalonians did not search into the matter and had faulty memories. They remembered that when the Lord would come, the dead in Christ would be raised first. But then they got the idea that those who remained at a later date would not die and would be caught up in the air to meet Jesus, yet they would reign down here. In other words, they got delusions that it would not be necessary for them to die. Some felt that the Apostle John would not die, that the resurrection was past, and that those who were asleep in Christ had been raised. The point is that the brethren got wrong ideas because they did not go back and reread Paul’s epistles. In his Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul said, “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit [doctrine], nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand” (2 Thess. 2:1,2). Having misunderstood the first letter, the Thessalonians thought that the day of Christ had already come. (The phrase “at hand” means “here,” “already present.”) They used the first letter to justify the theory that Christ was here and that they were living at the time of the Second Advent, when the sleeping saints had already been raised.

Therefore, Paul said that the word of Hymenaeus and Philetus ate like a “canker” (gangrene). The influence of the wrong doctrine that the resurrection was past or, worse yet, that there was no resurrection ate like a canker, adversely affecting many brethren. Paul effectively answered both wrong views by discussing and refuting the extreme view that there was no resurrection.

1 Cor. 15:13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:

1 Cor. 15:14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

1 Cor. 15:15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

1 Cor. 15:16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

1 Cor. 15:17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

In verses 12-16, Paul reasoned from a practical standpoint; in verse 17, he reasoned from a theoretical standpoint. If Christ was not raised, then the Church was yet in their sins because his resurrection would be the evidence, or proof, that his sacrifice had been accepted by God. If the antitypical High Priest died and was not raised so that he could go into the Most Holy, his blood could not be applied on the Mercy Seat for justification and forgiveness of sins (Rom. 4:24,25).

“If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” Why would the Corinthians (and all Christians) still be in their sins? Jesus died in Adam’s stead, and the merit of his sacrifice had to be presented to God, to Justice, in order to be effectual. If he had remained in the tomb and not been raised as one possessing the right to human life, he could not redeem the human race. Jesus was raised a spirit being, but he still had the right to human life. Not only did he die, but the human race in his loins also died. Therefore, he possessed the right to human life to give to others in addition to the life he now had as a spirit being. He presented the right to human life to the Father on the Day of Pentecost, ten days after his ascension. The human race needed not just one who died for their sin but a living Savior, who could present that life and merit and be a Priest and a King to uplift them in due time.

Paul wrote forcefully. In reading the epistle, the Corinthians would have almost felt they could hear him speaking, especially because they knew his actions. Paul was scolding them for harboring such a wrong doctrine. He was saying, “Yea, and if God had not raised up Jesus, we would be found false witnesses of God because we have testified that God raised him.” This negative reasoning gave added emphasis, vitality, clarity, and power to Paul’s words when he spoke on the positive side.

1 Cor. 15:18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

If there is no resurrection of the dead, then there is no hope for Christians who have died.

1 Cor. 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

Christians would be fools to sacrifice the pleasures of this life if there is no future resurrection. Paul was saying, “If in this life only, we have hope in Christ, we are more pitiable than all other men because we give up what little enjoyment and advantage we might have, hoping to be with Christ in the resurrection.”

1 Cor. 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

Now Paul took the positive side of the question. At the time he wrote this letter, only Jesus the Head had been resurrected, not any of the body members. Incidentally, according to the Diaglott, the word is “firstfruit” (singular) here and in verse 23. Here the word refers to Jesus only, whereas the Church is included in verse 23. “Fruit” is like the word “sheep”—it is either singular or plural in meaning depending on context and reason. By saying Christ is the firstfruit of “them that slept,” Paul was reasoning that the others were still sleeping in death at the time of the epistle.

When the Corinthians read this verse, they would have pictured Paul uttering these words with all the power of his being. Knowing Paul and his manner of speaking, they realized that these words were climactic and powerful. They could feel the power, and so can we, to a certain extent, if we put ourselves in their position. “A dead Christ would be in vain for us, but now Christ is risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.”

1 Cor. 15:21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

The word “resurrection” is the Greek anastasis, which means resurrection in the full sense. This verse reminds us of Paul’s epistle to the Romans, which deals with the subject of justification and the resulting grace. Paul followed an analytical logic: the one man, Jesus Christ, was a corresponding price for the one man, Adam. Jesus will give his life rights to Adam’s race.

Comment: Verse 21 is the Ransom in a nutshell, showing that Jesus had to be a human being.

Reply: Yes. A perfect man’s obedience was needed in order to offset the penalty of death for a perfect man’s disobedience. No one down here on earth could be a corresponding price, or ransom, for Adam. “None of them [the people] can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him” (Psa. 49:7). Therefore, someone would have to come to the planet from an outside source and take on the actual human nature, not just the semblance of man. He would have to be made flesh to be a perfect sin offering (1 John 4:2).

All death stems from the one sin of Adam—the penalty came on the whole human race because of his disobedience. While some people appear to be more wicked than others, all have the death penalty on them because of the sins inherited from Father Adam. Stated another way, the death penalty on the race is genetic. Because the condemnation came through one man, one perfect man could die for the entire race. Otherwise, to satisfy God’s justice, a separate Redeemer would be needed for every human soul who has ever lived. One man sinned, and all who came out of his loins inherited the penalty. They never had the right to life in the first place. Therefore, not only would the corresponding price have to come from a perfect man, but that perfect man would have to abstain from producing any progeny. Jesus died for Adam without marrying and having children because the seed that was in his loins had to offset the seed in Adam’s loins when the death penalty was paid. Thus the corresponding price was very comprehensive. Most people, with simplicity by faith, have just believed that Jesus died for their sins, and of course that belief was sufficient for most of the Gospel Age.

1 Cor. 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

It is not necessary to change the order of the wording as the Pastor suggests, for all in Adam do die, and only those who are “in Christ” at the end of the Kingdom will be made alive in the full sense. However, if one is thinking merely of the awakening from the grave during the Kingdom Age, rather than being made alive in the full sense, then the order could be changed; namely, “For as all in Adam die, even so all in Christ shall be made alive.” The wicked will not be “in Christ” when they come forth from the grave and hence will not get life unless they come “in[to]” him. To be “in Christ,” to get life in the full sense of the word, would mean awakening from the grave, being tutored during the Kingdom Age, and getting life by passing the test in the Little Season at the end of the Kingdom. Stated another way, the awakening from the tomb is only the beginning of a process that could be aborted. All will have an opportunity to be “in Christ” either in the present life or in the future (next) life. Romans 5:17 is a similar Scripture: “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”

If we consider the most incorrigible sinners who lived before Christ’s First Advent—individuals so wicked it would be impossible for them to repent and turn to righteousness—wouldn’t verse 22 indicate that Jesus tasted death for every man, no matter what his state in the past?

Even if a person was incorrigible, nevertheless, since he had never heard the name of Christ in the sense of being able to believe into him, he is guaranteed at least an awakening from the tomb in the Kingdom Age. However, things changed once Christ came, for from that time forward, a person became proportionately responsible depending on his degree of knowledge about Jesus and the Bible. Even those who are incorrigible in China or Africa, for example, who have never heard the name of Christ must be afforded an opportunity to at least hear. How they then react with their free moral agency will determine their destiny.

Comment: Not only will they hear in Christ’s Kingdom, but they will hear in an unobstructed or unpolluted manner. No Adversary or doctrinal errors will becloud the truth.

Reply: That is true. However, the truth they hear will only have to be simple knowledge— simple but clear and true.

Jesus tasted death for every man (Heb. 2:9). Those who have acted upon that knowledge in the present Gospel Age, in advance of the world, will get a greater reward, a better resurrection, for faithfulness, even if they are not one of the very elect.

1 Cor. 15:23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

Verse 23 shows a sequence of resurrection: “But every man [will be made alive] in his own order: [The] Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are [shall become] Christ’s at his coming [during his presence in the Kingdom].” There are stages of honor and glory in the resurrection.

One stage pertains to the spirit realm; the other, to the terrestrial realm down here. Those of the world of mankind who are obedient and pass the test at the end of the Kingdom Age will get everlasting human life, whereas the called of this age who respond and are faithful will get spirit life. The term “Christ the firstfruits” includes Jesus, his body members, and the Great Company, for the Great Company, along with the Little Flock, are partakers of the “church of the firstborn”—an expression related to the Passover picture (Heb. 12:23).

Afterward they that are Christ’s at [during] his coming [presence, Greek parousia]” refers to the general resurrection of mankind. The Ancient Worthies will be first in the order of the general resurrection. Paul used common sense, logic, and nature in his reasoning. With regard to the resurrection, he said that a seed must be buried in the ground and die before it can grow and bring forth fruit.

In his Gospel, the Apostle John viewed even everlasting life with such esteem that he used expressions to show that Christians who are faithful, but not necessarily as more-than-overcomers, will get everlasting life as a reward and be sons of God on the spirit plane.

However, the Apostle Paul kept the sights extremely high, emphasizing that Christians should run with the hope of obtaining the prize of the high calling, the chief reward. This higher emphasis seems to pervade the tenor of both John’s and Paul’s epistles. Paul’s thrust was to keep striving to make our calling and election sure, for if we aim for the Great Company and then fail a little, we may not get life at all. But if we try to serve Christ with the desire and zeal of attaining the Little Flock, we will be faithful to the level of either the Little Flock or the Great Company.

Comment: Verse 23 is comprehensive, for it includes all who will get a resurrection, human or spiritual.

Reply: Yes, God so loved the world that He gave His Son to the end that all who believe into Christ will have everlasting life (John 3:16). Life is a prize whether down here or in the spirit realm. After the “firstfruits,” the Ancient Worthies are first in line for an earthly resurrection.

The Great Company are of the firstborn class, for they are part of the church of the firstborn.

However, they are not partakers of the first resurrection. Only the Little Flock will be in the first resurrection and receive immortality. The Great Company will be raised to spirit nature just before the marriage supper (Rev. 19:9). Thus they will not attend the marriage during the half hour of silence but will be invited to the marriage supper afterwards (Rev. 8:1; Psa. 45:14).

For all to attend the marriage would distract from the honor of the Little Flock. Also, during the Kingdom Age and beyond, the Great Company will be inferior in rank to the Ancient Worthies. Therefore, verse 23 refers to the order of resurrection, not rank.

The reign over the world, the kingly and queenly prerogatives of the Kingdom, will not be exercised until after the marriage. There are two aspects to the reign: (1) the exercise of power in stilling the nations and (2) the peaceful submission of all subjects underneath that rule.

There are two aspects to the coming Time of Trouble. The fallen angels materializing in Noah’s day produced a time of trouble and violence that got increasingly worse until the Flood. The Scriptures indicate that a large factor in the great Time of Trouble yet future will again be the materialization of fallen angels, who will create havoc. Therefore, just as materialized fallen angels produced violence in the earth at the time of the Flood, so the en masse materialization of fallen angels will be a factor in the great Time of Trouble after Babylon is destroyed and Satan is bound. God will then permit the fallen angels to come in like a flood (Isa. 59:19). The second aspect of the Time of Trouble will occur when God intervenes with great judgments to save the Holy Remnant out of Jacob’s Trouble and still the violence. Thus there are two aspects: (1) the Time of Trouble on the nations and (2) God’s putting down His fist of authority with great judgments.

Satan and perhaps a few other fallen angels will be loosed as individuals earlier, when the feet members are still here. Materializations are taking place in the earth right now, but they are rare exceptions that are allowed under certain circumstances. When all manner of lying signs and delusions take place to deceive everyone but the very elect, that will not be the loosing of all the fallen angels. The lying delusions will have a lot to do with Satan’s liberty—it will be his hour of triumph. Satan will be bound just a little before the general loosing of all the fallen angels, which will cause wicked and awful acts in the earth. The fallen angels will then immediately operate openly, with no pretension or masking of their true character.

1 Cor. 15:24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.

When read as a unit, verses 24-28 show that the earth will be cleansed from all sin before Jesus hands the Kingdom over to the Father. Those of mankind who are living at that time will be a perfect and tried race. “Then cometh the end” of the Kingdom Age and Christ’s reign, when he will deliver up the Kingdom to his Father. At that time, Christ will have put down all insubordination—all enemies and antagonistic power. He will have terminated all rule and authority that are in opposition to God in any sense of the word.

When Jesus hands the Kingdom over to the Father, it will be the eighth day from the standpoint that seven seven-thousand-year days will have expired. Stated another way, it will be the end of 49,000 (7 x 7,000) years, the end of the Seven Creative Days. The 49,000 years began with the First Creative Day, when the earth was without form and void, darkness was on the face of the deep, and God’s Spirit began to move upon the face of the waters (Gen. 1:2).

The eighth day starts the “world without end” (Isa. 45:17). From one perspective, the eighth day follows the Seven Creative Days, and from another perspective, it is the eighth day from the creation of Adam. (Adam fell at the beginning of the Seventh Creative Day, which was 7,000 years long.) The interesting point is that both eras close at the same time.

The purpose of the Seventh Creative Day is to cleanse the earth from sin and opposition. Just like the previous Six Creative Days, the Seventh Creative Day began with an evening of darkness and will end with a morning of fulfillment. The Seventh Creative Day started with Adam’s fall, a dark period. When God said, “Let there be light,” at the beginning of the First Creative Day, there was darkness, for it took 7,000 years for the light to come to a sufficient brightness on planet Earth to fulfill God’s purpose (Gen. 1:3).

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psa. 30:5). The weeping is still going on—the “darkness” continues. “Morning” is considered from two standpoints: the dawning of the morning and the completion of the day. In addition to the Creative Days, other days are spoken of as evening and morning. Thus the 24-hour day is divided into two parts, which we call night and day, each being approximately 12 hours long.

1 Cor. 15:25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.

1 Cor. 15:26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

The reign will last until Christ has “put all enemies under his [own] feet,” the last enemy being death. In other words, Satan and the incorrigible fallen angels will be destroyed before death itself. Paul said that death will be “swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:54). Verse 25 is restating the thought from verse 24 that Jesus will put down all opposing rule, authority, and power.

Luke 20:34-36 reads: “The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world [the age beyond the Millennium], and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the [holy] angels [who did not sin when tested severely]; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” During the Millennial Age, both the just and the unjust of mankind will be raised from the tomb—resuscitated—so Jesus was talking about the age beyond the Millennium, when there will be no marriage or death.

Those who are accounted worthy to enter that age are likened to being resurrected. All of these characteristics will subsist in the age beyond the Millennium. The people will be counted worthy, they will be reckoned as raised from death, they will neither marry nor already be given in marriage, and they will not die anymore. Hence those of mankind who are obedient and gain life will be like the holy angels and equal unto them. While the angels may have a higher form of life, where one stands in his relationship to the Father is what matters. In God’s sight, therefore, a faithful, proven, perfect man who lives into the age beyond the Millennium will be accounted equal to a holy angel; the individual will be as much a son of God as an angel.

In summary, those who get life and enter that age will be called “children of God,” “children of the resurrection.” In other words, there will be no more death in the age beyond the Millennium, and conversely, there will be death during the Millennium, especially at the end (Rev. 21:4; 20:7-9).

Death for humanity on earth will be destroyed at the end of the Millennium. Disobedient men, angels, and Satan will be destroyed in Second Death prior to the very end of the Millennium. To say that the last enemy to be destroyed is death but that Satan will be loosed subsequently and many other deaths will occur brings confusion into the picture.

Comment: “The wages of sin is death,” so as long as there is the possibility of sin, there must be death (Rom. 6:23).

Reply: Some insert the word “Adamic” in verse 26: “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is Adamic death,” but the addition is not necessary. For all practical purposes, there will be no more death after the Little Season. If the angels who did not sin cannot “die anymore,” doesn’t that mean they will live forever? Those of earth who enter the ages beyond the Millennium will also live forever, but that does not mean others cannot die in other places. Jesus was talking about humanity and the tried classes. From that standpoint, “Death is swallowed up in victory”; it will occur no more (1 Cor. 15:54). The fact humans will still be mortal means that technically they could still die, but death will be neither a probability nor a reality.

The divine nature is different, for the Little Flock will have life within themselves. Not only will they have immortal life, not needing sustenance (food, sleep, etc.), but they will be in a position to give life to other beings. Only the Church will be raised to incorruption, a condition in which corruption is impossible morally, chemically, or any other way. Corruption is the reason one dies. Immortality means that one cannot die; one has inherent life, life within. Mortality means that one can die, for it is a sustained life. Angels, as well as men, are mortal beings. Dark Age doctrines have confused this subject.

Throughout eternity, in the billions and billions of years in the future, isn’t it possible that one of the human race could accidentally die? However, such an individual would be revitalized, resurrected, immediately. Since mankind will not have guardian angels for eternity, an occasional accident may result inadvertently in death. Surely angels will not be watching over those of mankind who are tried, proven, and perfect to make sure nothing falls on them, for example. The angels will have a lot of other works to do. The promise “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain [Kingdom]: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” is speaking in overall terms (Isa. 11:9). It is not saying that it is impossible for anyone to ever die in the billions of years to come .

Comment: If death were not a theoretical possibility for the mortal creation, then God would not have the power over death.

Reply: Yes, there are several reasons. As a principle, God will always have the power of Second Death, the prerogative of destroying both body and soul permanently, with the one exception of Jesus and the Little Flock. In the ages to come, it will not be necessary to use that prerogative on the tried, proven, and faithful of the human race on earth, but when God creates beings on other planets, He might have to exercise that prerogative.

The following is an illustration of the death sentence. A prisoner who is released because he has served his sentence could still have death in him, not as regards the sentence but as regards his habits and other factors that have left their scars on him. The merit of Christ’s sacrifice must be applied prior to the resurrection. The after-atonement, or subsequent, sacrifices of the people follow the application of the national atonement sin offering.

The end of Revelation 11:15, pertaining to the reign of God and of Christ, reads, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord [God], and of his Christ [God’s Anointed, that is, The Christ, Head and body]; and he [God] shall reign for ever and ever [after the Millennial Age].” The sounding of the seventh trump throughout the thousand years of the Millennium is like the Creative Days. When God said, “Let there be,” the objective was realized only at the conclusion of each day. At the start of each Creative Day, there was a definite beginning followed by progress and development until the objective was reached at the end of the day. And so, the completion of the sounding of the seventh trump will occur at the end of the Millennium, when God will reign forever and ever.

Comment: Revelation 11:17, two verses later, proves Jehovah will be involved in the Millennial reign, for the 24 elders will say, “We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.”

Psalm 2:2 contains similar wording: “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD [Jehovah], and against his anointed [The Christ].” The Second Psalm emphasizes the beginning of the reign, whereas Revelation chapter 11 emphasizes the conclusion.

Revelation 11:18 describes activity during the Millennium: “And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.” The Christ will reign over the earth as kings and priests for the thousand years. Beyond the thousand years, Jesus and the Church will reign in another sense. They will reign eternally from one standpoint and in a more specific sense over earth during the Millennium, when they will exercise an authoritarian rule to correct and uplift mankind. After that reign is accomplished, their reign will be more liberal, that is, without the need to keep inspecting individuals. God will always be Emperor of the universe, and Jesus will never be supplanted as Prime Minister.

Lest there be a misunderstanding, we will consider Psalm 2:2 again. “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD [Jehovah], and against his anointed [The Christ].” The reign of God and Christ occurs during the Millennial Age, but beyond the Millennium, Jesus will continue to have the prerogative of kingship, although it will not be exercised in the same way. Thus the Millennial reign, which will start in the near future, will continue forever and ever, but the first part of the reign will be of a different nature, requiring special inspection.

God and Jesus will both reign forever but in a different respect, as illustrated by Joseph and the Pharaoh of Egypt, who said, “Only in the throne will I be greater than thou” (Gen. 41:40). The people of Egypt were told that every knee must bow to Joseph, the prime minister, and in every matter, Joseph had the same authority as the Pharaoh except in the throne. Therefore, in one sense, they both ruled forever, but their reigns were on two different levels of authority.

Let us look again at verse 26: “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” This verse does not refer to Adamic death, nor should it be analyzed as Second Death, for God will always have the prerogative of Second Death. Luke 20:36 should be considered with this verse in order to get the proper slant. All those of mankind who are thoroughly tried and tested in the Kingdom and found to be obedient will get everlasting life, and hence, for all practical purposes, to them death will be destroyed. In paying the Ransom price, Jesus in effect destroyed Adamic death.

During the Kingdom, the human race will be on trial for life, and for all who are obedient through the Little Season, there will be no more (permanent) death, although occasional accidents may occur, from which one would have to be immediately resurrected.

Q: How do we harmonize verse 25, where Jesus puts all enemies under his feet, with Psalm 110:1, where God makes Jesus’ enemies his footstool? “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”

A: God will give Jesus that authority and power. Jesus has to await the Father’s time, and then the Father will say, “All right, go ahead.” By giving Jesus the divine nature, God endues Jesus with a sufficiency of power to put down even Satan. Verse 25 tells that Jesus will put down all enemy rule, which includes all of the incorrigible, spirit and human—Satan, the fallen angels, and human beings. After that, Jesus will destroy death, the last enemy. Verse 26 is really saying the same thing from another standpoint, for Satan has the power of death. Therefore, when he is eliminated, a major force will be removed. The people who remain will live forever and be like the angels. The thought is not that they will be immortal but that they will not be inclined to death. Once perfected and tried to the utmost, they will live forever and no longer need a rod-of-iron rule. Anyone who sins, or disobeys, beyond the Kingdom Age—no matter what period of time—will immediately go into Second Death, for never again will evil be tolerated.

God has allowed the permission of evil for a limited time on planet Earth for educational purposes, namely, to show mankind they need a Savior and instruction in righteousness to keep them from falling away a second time. Without experience, Adam and Eve did not know the Adversary was using the serpent to create doubt in her mind so that she would then, in turn, cause Adam to sin. When the Deceiver is removed and all of the people are healthy and have had experience with sin and death, they will not sin anymore. They will then know that anything done in opposition to God will immediately bring death. Since Second Death will never be destroyed as a prerogative, we can say that Jesus destroys Adamic death.

Of course Jesus could never put all enemies under his feet unless God gave him that power. In one sense, therefore, the Kingdom Age is the Kingdom of God, and in another sense, it is the Kingdom of Christ. And in one sense, God does not do any of the judging because He has committed all judgment to the Son (John 5:22). There will be modifications, but Christ will be the age-lasting Father, the mighty God of the Kingdom Age. When that work is complete, he will become subject to the Father.

The Scriptures intimate that some of the fallen angels will be rescued during the Kingdom Age (1 Cor. 6:3). Those who fall in line with the Kingdom arrangement will be treated just like fallen mankind. To the contrary, Satan has already incurred the sin unto Second Death. He will be destroyed in due time, and Adamic death will be lifted by the conclusion of the Kingdom Age.

Anyone who enters the age beyond the Kingdom Age will get everlasting life.

Q: Does Genesis 3:15 indicate that The Christ will destroy Satan? “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

A: Jesus and the Church will be involved in the destruction. Just as The Christ is composed of the Head authority, Jesus, and body members, so the Antichrist (from one standpoint) is composed of Satan as the head and the fallen angels as the body. In due time, the Antichrist will be destroyed, both head and body. If our thinking is correct, Jesus will take care of Satan personally, and the body members will take care of Satan’s body members in the spirit realm, as well as those who are deceived by him down here in the Little Season.

1 Cor. 15:27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.

1 Cor. 15:28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

“For he [God] hath put all things under his [Jesus’] feet. But when he [God] saith all things are put under him [Jesus], it is manifest that he [God] is excepted, which did put all things under him [Jesus].” The next verse is repetition so that the one who reads the Word of God can have complete assurance that a time is coming when sin will be totally expunged from the human family. To obey God in the future will be relatively easy, but it is not easy now because of weaknesses of the flesh, a corrupting environment, the Adversary, and influences of the world.

In short, the Christian lives under hostile conditions.

“When all things shall be subdued unto him [Jesus], then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him [God] that put all things under him [Jesus], that God may be all in all.” God will put all things under Jesus at the beginning of the exercise of the Millennial reign. In quoting from Psalm 110, Paul was showing that God will back up Jesus’ reign. Then, at the end of the Millennium, after Jesus finishes his reign, he will turn the Kingdom over to the Father and become subservient to Him so that God will be “all in all.” God will be given top honor and priority with regard to the gift of life. If the Little Season were to occur after the reign and after Jesus gave the Kingdom to the Father, would God be all in all? No! Therefore, the Little Season must occur before the end of the Millennium and during the reign (Rev. 20:3). The terminal date of the reign and the terminal date of the 49,000 years of the Seven Creative Days are the same. Satan and death must be destroyed before that date.

God will be everything in everyone who is accounted worthy to enter the age beyond the Millennium. He will be completely in every individual who survives the Little Season. Stated another way, He will be wholly in the entire living population. Christ will turn a tried and proven Kingdom over to the Father. There will be no more iniquity.

Q: How is Revelation 20:3 harmonized with the thought that the Little Season occurs before the end of the Millennium. “And [Jesus] cast him [Satan] into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

A: That is the only Scripture which would seem to contradict, but the end of the verse is translated incorrectly. The thought in the Sinaitic is “toward the close of the thousand years”; that is, it shows progress toward a termination, not following the termination. The Alexandrian manuscript is also helpful, for it contains the article “the.” And the Book of Revelation is missing in the Vatican manuscript. As the thousand years are expiring [closing], Satan will be loosed for a Little Season. Of course the Scriptures do not say how long the “close” will be. It could be a year or perhaps a month, but the terminal portion of the Millennial Age—of whatever length—is the period of the Adversary’s loosing. This understanding harmonizes the chronology, the Seven Creative Days, and the Millennium with a distinct point of time rather than an overlapping and/or two conflicting thousand-year periods. The Day of Christ, the parousia, is a thousand years long. To make the mediatorial reign also a full thousand years would mean either that Jesus’ reign over the world began at the same time or that the Day of Christ is longer than a thousand years. Neither premise is correct.

Q: Psalm 110:2 reads, “The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.” Was Jehovah telling Jesus to rule in the midst of his enemies?

A: Yes. God will put all things under Jesus at the beginning of the exercise of the Millennial reign, throughout the reign, and to the end of the reign over earth. At the start of the reign, God will give Jesus the authority to put down insubordination. With the inclusion of Revelation 11:17, which says that God will take unto Himself His great power and reign, we can see that the reign of God and the reign of Christ are synonymous, and so are the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Christ. Nevertheless, God’s authority is stronger than that of Jesus, for God will empower Jesus to reign. Therefore, if Jesus is reigning now, then so is God, which makes no sense with all the evil and the fact that Satan is still the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4).

The reign over the world, which is a feature of the Second Presence, cannot be divided into different phases. In other words, it is incorrect to say that in one period of time, only Christ reigns and that later Christ and the Church will reign. There are different phases of the presence, but the reign has only one (singular) phase. The reign will be authoritative. Jesus will mean business!

Comment: It is demeaning to say that Jesus’ reign has begun when we realize that it is God’s reign too. Almighty God has authority and power.

Reply: When the reign occurs, the people will know it. The Time of Trouble with evil powers (evil men and angels) is one thing, but God’s intervention with judgments, comparable to the Flood, will be the reign. When Jesus was in the boat on the Sea of Galilee in the storm, the angry waves pictured the earlier trouble, not the reign. The beginning of the reign occurred when the waves were stilled: “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39). The raging elements pictured the evil activity of Satan and his host. Stated another way, the great Time of Trouble is the Day of God’s Wrath. The reign will be preceded by the wrath of men and angels—retribution. The manifestation of God’s displeasure in defeating Gog and host and in delivering the Holy Remnant at the time of Jacob’s Trouble will be the start of the reign.

God is the great Emperor of the universe. His will is being done in heaven but not down here on earth at the present time in a direct sense. It is true that everything is under His control, but He will not exercise His will on earth until He takes to Himself His great power and reigns. God has the prerogative, but He is not yet bringing evil men into line.

During the permission of evil, God has been exercising His great power of the universe with the one exception of planet Earth, where His power is exercised only within certain limits. For example, not one of the consecrated can die before it is his or her time. With regard to the public at large, God’s will is not recognized as being done on earth, yet He is aware of all that happens. When He reigns forever and ever, the exercise of His will on earth will be recognized.

Comment: Verses 27 and 28 refute the Trinity by showing two personalities.

Reply: And it is clearly stated that at the end of his reign, Jesus will become subservient to the Father. Certainly there will not be equal authority under a Triune Godhead! As a result of the dispute between Arius and Athanasius about the Divinity of God, the birth of the Trinity was spawned by the Council of Nicea, with Constantine presiding. The enemies of the truth were victorious, and Athanasius was temporarily rewarded with honors.

Jesus will reign until Adamic death ceases and either real life or extinction comes to each individual depending on obedience. Several Scriptures indicate that many will not obey in the Kingdom Age.

Comment: The death that ceases will have to be “Adamic,” for Second Death will always be a possibility.

Reply: Yes. A billion years from now, with all of the people who will be created and placed on other planets in other solar systems, it would not be reasonable to think that every single person who ever lives after the Kingdom Age will be faithful, that there will not be even one failure. Any individual who disobeys will immediately bring extinction upon himself because all will be acquainted with the history of earth and the permission of evil. All will know the fruits of both obedience and disobedience, so there will be no excuse for disobedience. Second Death will always be viable to any individual who disobeys after the Kingdom Age. Only the Little Flock, having immortality, will never be liable to death.

The Sinaitic manuscript dates back to the fourth century, that is, to sometime during the 300s. The Sinaitic was one of 50 copies that Emperor Constantine ordered to be made under his authority. The name “Sinaitic” was later attached to the manuscript because of those 50 copies, the one that lasted was found in the 1800s in St. Catherine’s Monastery at Mount Sinai. At the time it was discovered, about a third of the manuscript was in the wastebasket. A Greek scholar named Tischendorf happened to be visiting the monastery to examine manuscripts.

While sitting at the table, he noticed a number of rolls in the wastebasket. When he pulled out the manuscript, he could see, to his astonishment, that the Greek capital letters indicated it had been penned sometime prior to the Byzantine period. Realizing the manuscript’s antiquity, he immediately put aside his other work and translated it. He found that it contained the Scriptures. What a unique and providential happening! The one manuscript that still exists today but was written at the time of Constantine was recognized by Tischendorf as of such importance that he sent it back to the emperor of Russia in Petrograd. When, in subsequent years, the Russian Czar fell on hard times financially, the British Museum offered to buy that manuscript, and Russia accepted. Therefore, one of the original 50 copies of the Sinaitic manuscript is in the British Museum today.

Christ will be made a king and a priest “for ever [Greek aion, that is, for the Kingdom Age] after the order of Melchisedec” (Heb. 5:6). Since a priest helps the weak and the sick to repent and reform, the priestly aspect of Jesus will cease at the end of the Kingdom.

1 Cor. 15:29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

1 Cor. 15:30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?

An understanding of present truth is needed to get the full import of verses 29 and 30. “Else what shall they [the believers] do which are baptized for the [world of mankind, who are] dead [in trespasses and sin]?” Verse 29 is a good verse to prove the Church’s share in the sin offering. Notice that Paul did not say, “Else why are we baptized unto death?” but “Why are we baptized for the dead ones [plural—that is, for others]?” Baptism, full immersion in water, is a symbol of doing God’s will unto death, but that is not what Paul said here. He was making the point that baptism is on behalf of others, as well as on behalf of ourselves. Therefore, the Church’s dying on behalf of others is their participation in the sin offering for the world.

In the Tabernacle arrangement, the goat was treated as follows: “Then shall he [Aaron] kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for [on behalf of] the people, and bring his [the goat’s] blood within the veil, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat” (Lev. 16:15). The goat did not die for its own sins but for the sins of the people; that is, it died on behalf of others. Jesus died for the Church and the world, and the Church dies for the sins of the people. Jesus’ blood is first applied to the Church. Therefore, Leviticus chapters 9 and 16 show a sequential application of the blood:  (1) the bullock justifies the goat, and (2) the justified goat is sacrificed on behalf of the people.

In verses 29 and 30, Paul was asking, “Why should we teach the subject of the Church’s share in the sin offering if there is not to be a cancellation of sin and a resurrection of mankind in the future? What is the point of our being baptized and dying on behalf of others to redeem them from death if they will not be raised from death? Why should we suffer if mankind will not come out of the grave?” To go through all the self-denial and cross bearing for Christ as a part of the sin offering would be foolish if there were no resurrection.

There are two baptisms for the Christian: (1) the death of the human will as shown by water immersion and (2) actual death. The actual death is the sin offering. Paul was saying, “I wrote this whole fifteenth chapter to prove there is a resurrection, a revitalization of a dead race. The baptism referred to here is not water immersion but a baptism for resurrection life on behalf of those who are dead.” Paul carried the subject of baptism to a higher plane of thinking. The Little Flock have been baptized for others. As part of their reward, they will be instrumental in lifting up humankind. This thought harmonizes with the prophecy of Rebekah, “Be thou the mother of thousands of millions” (Gen. 24:60). In the Kingdom Age, Jesus will be the Life-giver, and the Church will nurture and mother the human race. Just as a human father and mother each have a role in raising a child, so it will be with Jesus and the Church. For that reason, Paul said, “If there were no resurrection of the dead, then all this symbolism and sacrifice would be null and void.” The underlying theme of this chapter is the resurrection of various classes— “every man in his own order” (verse 23).

“Why stand we in jeopardy every hour?” The Christian does so because of the hope of a future life and helping mankind—the sick, the infirm—up the highway of holiness, plus the personal reward of being with Jesus as a spirit being and getting the divine nature. All of these hopes would be meaningless if there were no resurrection of the dead.

1 Cor. 15:31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.

Paul protested strongly with regard to the Corinthians’ rejoicing over their false doctrines and reasonings. They were rejoicing, and he was dying. Paul did not speak mildly and reason softly with them, for these doctrines were damaging. He frequently brought himself into the picture with the repeated use of the pronoun “I” in order to emphasize that they should listen to an apostle and not to the false teachers. The Corinthian brethren should have noticed that Paul’s behavior comported with his doctrine. No matter how fluently the others spoke, they were teaching false doctrines and were not apostles. In fact, Paul said, “Evil communications corrupt good manners [conduct]” (verse 33). Thus it was proper for him to call attention to himself.

Paul had heard about the conduct of the Corinthians, as well as their confidence in their standing with the Lord, but their rejoicing was based on wrong principles. For example, today some televangelists teach that those who obey God will prosper in temporal matters. In other words, it is claimed that God rewards Christians with the pleasures of this life and prosperity.

But the Christian has rounded-out, mixed experiences of sunshine and rain, summer and winter, the south wind and the north wind, to help develop character (Song 4:16). The Christian is rewarded spiritually. Sometimes an individual is aware of a spiritual reward, but for the most part, there is no cognizance in the present life, for treasures are being laid up in heaven to be disclosed to the Little Flock later by the Father (Matt. 6:20).

The false teaching negated suffering, but Paul said, “I die daily.” With the damaging doctrine that the dead are not raised, some of the brethren relaxed and thought they did not have to suffer with Christ. Others felt that the resurrection was past and that they were living in the Kingdom and might not have to die. There was quite a conglomeration of error.

In saying, “I die daily,” Paul was referring to the death of the human will. If dying for the Christian is daily, then so is baptism. Baptism is more than just the act of consecration or the performance of the symbol. Jesus said in Luke 12:50, “I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” Baptism is both progressive and terminating.

Verse 31 was part of Paul’s rebuttal to those who declared there is no resurrection of the dead.

The belief that there is no resurrection left the door open for a looser lifestyle. In addition, the hopes of brethren who held this doctrine were not spiritual. Scriptures such as “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” lost their thrust (Rev. 2:10). Paul was telling the Corinthians, “If what you are saying is true about the resurrection, then all of my preaching that originally led you to accept Christ and consecrate has no meaning. If you are correct, my life is in vain, for I should be living according to the flesh and getting as much pleasure as possible before I die. Don’t you realize that your objective should be the hope of a future life with Christ?”

The King James translators, who realized the spiritual hope, felt that Paul was protesting the doctrine of no resurrection and the fact that it was being put forth in a bold manner by those who proclaimed it. Not only were the false teachers boasting, but some of them felt they were equal or even superior to Paul in honor and stature. However, Paul said that persecution and suffering are proofs that a Christian is being recognized by the Father. Persecution and opposition discipline and develop one as a new creature to be bold and strong in the truth. The purpose of persecution is to ultimately give rest and reward beyond the veil.

Not believing in a resurrection led to laxity and thinking that persecution was not necessary.

Brethren who held this false doctrine were beginning to view matters from exactly the wrong standpoint. In short, Paul was protesting with regard to their rejoicing. In spite of the literal Greek, the King James translators seem to have hit on the theme more correctly than the Diaglott. Paul was upset with the boasting of the false teachers and their lack of persecution. Elsewhere in his epistles, he mentioned how other churches were suffering for the truth’s sake, and he commended the brethren accordingly, especially those of Thessalonica. This doctrine of the dead not rising was not only injurious but also unscriptural.

The Scriptures show that death is necessary for a spirit resurrection, for a change to spirit nature. “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption” (1 Cor. 15:50). “Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die” (1 Cor. 15:36). Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24). What is brought forth is not the same as what went into the ground. The kernel of wheat is changed in form to something radically different: a sheaf bearing fruit and many seeds that can later multiply.

Another Scripture is 1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” The word “spirit” is in the dative case, which means “to” or “for.” In other words, Jesus was put to death in the flesh but was raised to spirit life. He was not raised to immortality or the divine nature when he first came forth from the grave, for he had not yet ascended to heaven. He remained here, appearing on and off to the apostles for 40 days. For only a small fraction of the 40 days did he commingle with the disciples to prove that he was indeed alive but was different. He could now go through locked doors, change his appearance and clothes at will, come and go as the wind, and disappear. The purpose of the variety of manifestations was to teach that it was he but that he was now in a superior form. He could not be a divine being at the time, for he had not yet been glorified. He had simply been raised from death in the flesh to life as a spirit being. If he were a divine being at this time, no human being could have seen him, for no man can see God and live (John 1:18; 5:37). The most that humanity has “seen” of God is to hear His voice, as when Jesus was baptized (Matt. 3:17). Jesus was raised spirit, and then, when he ascended on high, he was glorified and given an honor far above the other angels (Phil. 2:9). In this fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, not only was Paul teaching that the hope of the Christian is a new life beyond the grave with a new body in a new clime in the spirit realm, but also little nuances of truth were conveyed in his explanations that help us understand a tiny bit more about life after death, especially for the Christian.

Comment: When Jesus appeared after his resurrection, he taught the disciples to recognize him not by the way he looked but according to his character and mannerisms.

Reply: Yes, he showed that it was really he. They could recognize him if they listened to his words, for he still reasoned the same way.

During his earthly ministry, Jesus depended on spirit beings to assist him in doing certain works when he spoke with authority. For instance, when Jesus walked on the water, an ice road was formed underneath—the water was congealed into a hardness that enabled him to walk on the surface. Also, when he produced the coin from the mouth of a fish to pay the tax, we can be sure that angels in heaven assisted in the miracle. However, when Jesus was raised to spirit nature after his resurrection, he could then do astounding things himself.

Paul’s dying daily was the mark and proof of his apostleship. He knew more than any of the others, he had more visions, and he talked more with the Lord, but commensurate with these qualifications, he endured more suffering—beatings, persecutions, and difficult experiences.

Just as these were the evidences for Paul, so it is with the Christian. We should note and follow the example of those who suffer for the truth and do not compromise, for such are truly living the gospel of truth. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution [of some kind]” (2 Tim. 3:12).

Q: How did Paul die daily?

A: Consider the Lord’s goat that was slain. Its being tied to the pillar of the Holy represented the submission, or death, of the will. Subsequently, the flesh was destroyed: choice organs were burned on the altar, and the hide and dung were burned outside the camp. The sum total was that time was required to consume the flesh, whereas the will, or mind, was already dead to all effects. If, mentally speaking, we are dead in Christ as humans, beheaded for his testimony, then the process of going into the tomb takes a little time. The flesh is being melted away by fire on the altar in the Court and in the particular place outside the camp where the remains of the animal were burned. Thus the animal was wholly consumed but not instantly.

Jesus buried his will at Jordan, having no more human aspirations. Now he lived only as a new creature. His old creature submitted and was put under. He sacrificed sleep and endured sufferings and weariness from the standpoint of the old man. At the same time, he was given compensatory blessings so that he grew more and more as a new creature. Thus there is a contradiction. By putting to death the flesh, the Christian makes the spirit alive more and more.

If one dies faithfully, he is completely a new creature in reality—he is a spirit being.

1 Cor. 15:32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink: for tomorrow we die.

Paul fought with figurative beasts at Ephesus, that is, with individuals who differed with him doctrinally. These men of repute strenuously differed with Paul and his teaching, and the apostle was persecuted as a result. He had to battle with these advocates of error in the figurative arena of gladiatorial combat, or fighting with lions. Satan, who was behind the opposition, is likened to a lion (1 Pet. 5:8).

The following are some examples of Paul’s fighting with “beasts”: 1. “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life” (2 Cor. 1:8).

2. “And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19:8-10). For three months, Paul disputed in the synagogue in Ephesus. Then he departed and had weekday meetings in the nature of debates in the school of Tyrannus for two years, perhaps facing several individuals consecutively. With little or no visible success, he offered rebuttals time after time. Meanwhile, some on the sidelines benefited because they became Christians at a later date. Paul would have been physically exhausted. He was truly dying daily and suffering for Christ. He stayed in Ephesus for such a long time because the opposition was so persistent that he wanted to make sure Christians in that area were relatively established before he left them. Satan must have been quite strong in Ephesus, one proof being carved footprints that led to the house of prostitution.

3. “So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season. And the same time there arose no small stir about that way” (Acts 19:22,23). Paul had some vicious infighting with the sword of the Spirit.

4. “Alexander the coppersmith did me [Paul] much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works” (2 Tim. 4:14).

After taking all the opposition and persecution, if when Paul died, there was no resurrection, he would be “of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:19). Consider how much he suffered—he was stoned, beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned, persecuted, etc. (2 Cor. 11:23-28). When he and Silas were put in prison following a severe beating, they sang hymns with their backs still bleeding. An observation of Paul’s manner of life—his faithfulness and steadfastness of purpose in his experiences and sufferings—showed that he was 100 percent convinced that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that the Hebrew Scriptures are the true Word of God.

The Grecian philosophy at that time was, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” Being fatalists, they felt that if there is no hope, why not live for pleasure?

Persecution down through the Gospel Age has taken various forms: verbal opposition, boycott, physical suffering, disfellowship on improper grounds, banishment, financial loss, etc. Thus far there has been little physical persecution in the Laodicean period. To date, persecution has been more along the lines of lack of recognition and evil speaking, but of course in the not-too-distant future, the persecution will be quite different.

1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

Paul showed earlier, from a character standpoint, that the Christian cannot dabble in immoral practices without getting corrupted. Now he was saying that the same principle applies to the teaching aspect. Thus a little leaven can leaven the whole lump from either standpoint (1 Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9).

Here in verse 33, the thrust was against false teachers, for “evil communications corrupt good manners [conduct].” One must beware of inculcating serious error in doctrine. Surely to teach that there is no resurrection of the dead is a major doctrine. For example, it was not necessary for the Church to see all down the Gospel Age that they will have a share in the sin offering, but it was necessary to have the hope of a resurrection.

If an individual remains in an atmosphere where the teaching is corrupt, he will be adversely affected, even if he opposes the teaching in the beginning. A person can be corrupted by false teaching, by the false conduct of a group, or even by a best friend who is likable but corrupt.

Leaven can pertain to either doctrine or conduct.

Paul knew that the controversy in the class about there being no resurrection could have a deleterious effect on the congregation as a whole, not only because of the difference of opinion but also because of undercutting the gospel principle of “no cross, no crown.” To answer the situation, Paul first called attention to his own experiences in connection with preaching the gospel to the Gentiles. As he went from country to country preaching in various places, he usually received persecution for his teachings. Moreover, he was saying that if this doctrine of no resurrection was harbored, if it was given equal recognition, it would undercut the faith of the brethren. It would be better to get out of that atmosphere than to allow or tolerate the doctrine. Paul was advising the brethren to either remove the false teachers or leave the class.

1 Cor. 15:34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

Paul said, “Awake to righteousness, and sin not.” Having a hope for the future should have awakened the Corinthians from their lethargy. Not believing in a resurrection had a damaging effect that could lead to fatalist reasoning; namely, “Let us enjoy the pleasures of sin because there is no resurrection.”

Imagine how Paul would have delivered this admonition in person had opportunity afforded!

He would have spoken as loudly and forcefully as he could. With verse 34 being part of his letter, we should try to discern the emphasis. He was saying, “Get out of this stupor, and sin not.

Do not harbor such thinking.” Paul likened the doctrine of no resurrection to sinning in thought because it contradicted Scripture. “For some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.” Clearly, he was rebuking those who taught this false doctrine.

1 Cor. 15:35 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?

Those who did not believe in a resurrection asked sarcastically, “How are the dead raised up?

and with what body do they come?” Instead of suffering persecution and dying daily, they felt that the present body and living for pleasure were adequate.

The Sadducees, who did not believe in a resurrection, posed an insincere question to Jesus, thinking he could not answer it: “If a woman had seven successive husbands, who will be her husband in the resurrection?” (Luke 20:27-33). Similarly, the false teaching element in Corinth asked insincere questions in an attempt to undercut Paul’s thinking and philosophy. They knew that the body decomposes when a person dies, and they mistakenly thought Paul was teaching that the same body would be resurrected. To them, therefore, the destruction of the body meant the destruction of all future hope. Not only did they lack faith in the power of God—for He could reassemble the atoms if that were His plan—but they were being hypercritical and using their natural senses and analyses rather than scriptural thinking. Besides, a new body will be given in the resurrection, as Paul showed.

1 Cor. 15:36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:

Notice how strongly Paul answered the false teaching element, who raised these questions: “Thou fool!” Jesus said, “Whosoever shall say [to his brother], Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire [judgment]” (Matt. 5:22). However, the implication is that these words can be said if a strong warning is necessary. Some people are so kind, delicate, and genteel in their thinking that they feel love is never unkind or blunt. Instead of the quality of being “slow to anger,” they feel the Christian should not get angry at all, but that is not the case (James 1:19). Here Paul correctly told the false teachers (plural), not an individual, that their reasoning was foolish.

Incidentally, we must not judge one’s final destiny, or our own standing will be in jeopardy. It is one thing to call a person a fool when he takes a stand that blatantly contradicts God’s Word—for example, a fool says in his heart there is no God—but a person is in jeopardy if he condemns a person to Second Death. A serious charge has to be seriously considered, but a Christian should be willing to risk his life to defend the faith.

A person making such a charge can be in danger of judgment if he is wrong but not if he is right.

Speaking harshly should not be done carelessly, however. When speaking strongly against someone, we must be sure we are absolutely right. For instance, the Scriptures say to warn the unruly. Sometimes the warning has to be stern in order to be grasped by the individual. Both Jesus and Paul issued strong warnings. Jesus said to the two walking to Emmaus, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken” (Luke 24:25).

As Christians, we have to know we are right in speaking out strongly, for otherwise we would be jeopardizing ourselves. On the one hand, if we love a person, we should be willing to lay down our life for him. On the other hand, if we speak idle words and are too quick with the tongue with strong statements, we will be held accountable. If we wrongly call a person a fool, we will go into Second Death. (Although the phrase “without a cause” in Matthew 5:22 is spurious, the thought is implied and correct.)

The problem with speaking softly when a stern warning is required is that the hearer(s) will simply say, “We differ on that point,” but evil communications that corrupt good conduct are dangerous. In fact, an erroneous point of great importance could undermine the character structure of the hopes of the Christian.

Matthew 5:23,24 reads, “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” Jesus was speaking about a case where a brother had a justifiable argument that an injustice had been done to him. Many brethren are offended without a cause when they are rebuked, and sometimes they should even be ashamed. More credence and consideration are often given to the wrongdoer than to the one who is wronged. In this text, the guilty party should go to the innocent one.

Q: Can brethren be mesmerized to their own condition? How can they be so well controlled that no emotion of anger is left in their members?

A: That is one extreme, for the Scriptures say, “Be ye angry, and sin not” (Eph. 4:26). In other words, the emotion of anger is proper in its proper place.

Comment: When a principle is violated, strong words are sometimes needed, and then the stand and/or reserve must be maintained—even for a long time if necessary—unless the matter is remedied.

“That which thou sowest is not quickened [made alive], except it die.” Those who felt the dead are not raised up were going by the natural senses. Paul warned that their reasoning was foolish and then proceeded to show that even their own “astute” reasoning was weak. He answered their argument with their own reasoning: “The body decomposes, and the wind blows the gases away. Or perhaps a lion eats the body, and the parts come out as excrement.

Doesn’t a seed that is planted (sown, buried) die and then grow forth in a completely different form? And so the body dies in the present life, but the individual comes forth in the resurrection in an entirely different body.”

There is another aspect to Paul’s saying, “That which you sow is not quickened unless it dies.” Not only does the bare grain disintegrate and no longer resemble what it was before it went into the ground, but the grain is not made alive unless it is put in the ground and dies. The outer encasement, or shell, of the seed dies, and then the germ, or kernel of life, begins to grow. Therefore, the process of dying daily must precede life. Those whose philosophy does not follow this reasoning are not looking for suffering and persecution.

Doctrines refer to teaching; practices refer to conduct. Good doctrines and good practices bring good results. Bad doctrines and bad practices bring bad results.

The expression “Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die” reminds us of Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5:22, “Whosoever shall say [to his brother], Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” How are the two statements reconciled? Paul was speaking to a company of brethren, not to one individual. He was not singling out and addressing a brother by name but was hypothetically saying that those who espoused this doctrine were foolish, for they were sinning against themselves. It is different when we speak to someone personally in that manner. Jesus collectively called the scribes and Pharisees a “generation of vipers,” “whited sepulchres,” etc. Thus the circumstances and the manner are the determining factors.

1 Cor. 15:37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:

1 Cor. 15:38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.

Paul continued to use common-sense logic. Bare grain is sown, but it comes forth in a new, beautiful, and different form—wheat, rye, barley, or something else. What powerful reasoning!

Paul said, “You sow not the body that shall be, but bare grain. The seed may come forth as wheat or some other grain, for God will give a new body as it pleases Him.” The bare grain that is sown comes forth in resurrection with a different body.

With regard to not believing in the resurrection, Paul was saying, “You fool. You have not considered something that is right in front of your eyes, for as farmers, you plant seed.” He was combating the Jewish Sadducee influence in the class at Corinth.

Q: Is the bare grain the soul?

A: Yes, the bare grain, the kernel, is inside the outer shell. Verses 37 and 38 are another proof that the soul does not consist of the body and the breath of life. The soul is an entity unto itself, but it has to be in a body and have breath in order to be a living soul. Without the body and the breath, it is a soul in death.

Some seeds are so similar in appearance that we do not know what kind they are until they germinate and plants come forth out of the ground. This statement is particularly true of wheat seed versus tare seed.

Verse 38 is more properly stated in the present tense: “God giveth it [the soul, the entity] a body as it pleaseth him, and to every seed his own body.” The Little Flock will be given the divine nature. The Great Company will get a spirit body but not immortality. Mankind will be raised as human beings. This fifteenth chapter particularly focuses on the spiritual seed, but the same principle applies to the earthly seed.

Even though God is the highest being who exists, Jesus described Him as “spirit,” but He is a spirit being on the highest plane possible—He is not just on the plane of the divine nature but at the top of the scale of the divine nature. “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24 RSV). Thus there are gradations of honor, or glory, in the spirit realm. Both the Little Flock and the Great Company will be raised “spirit,” but they will be on different levels.

Comment: Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).

Reply: The Pastor defined those “many mansions” as spirit planes of existence. We would add that they are residences on those various planes of existence. A proof is that above the King’s Chamber in the Great Pyramid are Construction Chambers. The top level, which is peaked and shaped like a pyramid, being a complete unit in itself, represents the divine nature, the highest form of life possessing the spirit nature. The Scriptures seem to indicate five spirit planes of existence.

With regard to the “it” of verse 38 being a soul, God has a soul, all spirit beings have souls, humans have souls, and even all beasts have souls, but they are different categories. The soul is not the body. We usually give the simple definition that the breath plus the body equals the soul, but that is not correct. When the body dies, the soul goes back to its Maker, to God, who giveth it. The breath, or air, that one expires with does not go back to the Creator. Rather, the soul returns to Him. He keeps track of all souls. The Pastor used arguments to combat the idea that the soul is immortal, but he did not explain what the soul itself is. The soul is a separate entity, but a soul cannot live without a body. A soul must have a body of some kind in order to express itself; otherwise, it is dormant. The soul is like a live tape that is recorded. When the tape is removed from the recorder and put in its carrying case and stored, it is like a dead soul—a soul that exists but is not operating. The soul has to be put into a “machine” and played in order to hear, record, and speak.

Spirit beings have bodies in semblance but not in substance like humans. “The sons of God [in heaven, that is, the angels] saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose” (Gen. 6:2). The resemblance is strikingly similar between angels and humans in that both have one head, two arms, two legs, etc. Moreover, just as man was created in the mental image of God and thus can reason and think and has a conscience and feelings, so that is true of spirit beings also. Human beings are very, very small in size and stature in comparison to spirit beings, but their shapes are the same.

Humans cannot see spirit beings as spirit beings because the flesh cannot see the invisible spirit. For a human being to see a spirit being, the latter would have to come down here and materialize, that is, assume a human form. The ability of angels to appear or disappear indicates they are superior to humans. There are multiple accounts in the Old Testament where angels appeared to man looking like human beings. For example, three angels appeared to Abraham (Gen. 18:1,2). Not until he noticed their behavior after a while did he begin to realize the three were superior beings. On other occasions, angels appeared as glorious beings with either a shining face or an illuminated body to overawe man. Gabriel appeared to Daniel with a sufficiency of glory to knock the prophet to the ground so that he had to be assisted up on his feet (Dan. 8:16-18).

The “daughters of men” were a new and different creation in that they were female. In the Scriptures, angels were always seen as males, and were called the “sons of God.” Not only was the creation of Eve unusual, but she and her progeny of daughters were so beautiful that as time went on, some of the angels in heaven were overcome with their attractiveness. As a result, they materialized and took unto themselves wives of the daughters of men whomsoever they chose. This intermarriage gave rise to mythology. Therefore, what has come down through history as mythology is a distortion of reality.

Wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that the God who created the earth with plants, animals, flowers, trees, and humans created similarities up in heaven? Wouldn’t there be houses— “mansions” as Jesus called them—up in heaven? And there would be trees, flowers, beautiful scenery, etc. The Pastor introduced this subject in the First Volume in the chapter entitled “Natures Separate and Distinct,” opening up a whole avenue of thought.

1 Cor. 15:39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.

1 Cor. 15:40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.

There are different kinds of flesh: man, beasts, fish, and birds. And there are different celestial bodies: sun, moon, and stars. Of course the stars are bigger than our sun and moon, but from our perspective, the sun looms very large and far outshines the stars. Therefore, Paul was not speaking of their actual value but of their value as it appears to man. From that standpoint, the sun is at the top of the list, the moon is a lesser light, and the stars are even lesser lights. The same is true with regard to the different kinds of flesh. Man is at the top of the list, followed in order by beasts, fish, and birds. Fish are ranked ahead of birds because of the size and intelligence of the larger ones such as dolphins.

Paul was comparing heavenly things and earthly things and pointing out the variety. Just as different kinds of flesh beings are on earth, so different kinds of spirit beings are in the celestial realm—with distinctions of nature and kind. Reason tells us that as there are animals, trees, flowers, rivers, etc., on earth, so they exist in the spirit world too. The terrestrial is an image of the celestial. In other words, heaven and earth have similarities of beauty, but they are different realms.

The one thing in common with the four examples Paul gave—men, beasts, fish, and birds—is flesh. Incidentally, Paul mentioned the “flesh” of fish, yet for many years, the Roman Catholic Church forbid the eating of meat on Friday and allowed the eating of fish. Here is an example of the lack of familiarity with the Word in the nominal Church.

The statement in verse 40, “There are also celestial bodies,” immediately indicates that there is some similarity to flesh beings but on a different scale. Although made of a different substance, there is a similarity of different gradations of spirit life just as there are four illustrations of flesh life down here on earth. In heaven, then, there can be a spiritual counterpart with male beings, animals, fish, and an environment with water, trees, etc. The Apostle Paul opened up a subject that is foreign to normal thinking because from time immemorial, almost all mankind who are not familiar with Scripture imagine that one who dies and goes to heaven still has a body of flesh. They do not realize that one must be comparable to the environment in which he lives. If one is living in a spirit world, everything is of spirit—very real but not of flesh substance.

Thus verses 39 and 40 open up an instructional realm of thought. In verse 40, Paul indicated not only similarities in the celestial realm to what is down here but also differences in glory. The words he used in contradistinction are “celestial” and “terrestrial,” and celestial “glory” and terrestrial “glory,” yet there are also similarities on the different planes of being.

1 Cor. 15:41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.

Comment: The end of verse 41 is a key Scripture to show gradations of honor in heaven. “For one star differeth from another star in glory.”

Reply: Yes. The Parables of the Talents and the Pounds also show differences of honor in glory in connection with stewardship. The Parable of the Sower is another proof, for some will bring forth “an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold” (Matt. 13:8).

When Paul mentioned that there is “one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars,” what perspective was he taking to try to get us on the same wavelength of thought? The sun is the most important celestial body. Even though our sun is insignificant compared to other stars in the heavens, Paul was reasoning from our standpoint— from the standpoint of one who is down here looking up at the heavens. The biggest star we see is our own sun. The next largest celestial body is the moon, followed by the stars, which are pinpoints at night. However, there are differences of glory because of differences in intensity of light: “one star differeth from another star in glory.” The stars are scaled with the brightest being characterized by the number 1. As the numbers go up the scale, the stars diminish in brightness from the human standpoint. The sun usually remains the same in brightness, and a full moon does not vary unless, of course, clouds come in between. Therefore, Paul used the stars, rather than the sun and the moon, to depict differences of glory and to show there is quite a variety. Paul used practical reasoning, going from the known to the unknown.

Jesus used the same type of reasoning in likening the sun to a greater glory and giving it a spiritual meaning. Collectively with Jesus, when all are glorified together, those who make their calling and election sure will be as the sun shining in the firmament. “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt. 13:43). Incidentally, the Ancient Worthies are represented by the stars: “And they [the Little Flock] that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they [the Ancient Worthies] that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Dan. 12:3).

Paul had to adapt his reasoning not to the reality of the size of the stars, the moon, and the sun but to what our little minds down here can perceive. For thousands of years, man thought that the sun was larger than the stars and that the earth was flat. All kinds of weird notions prevailed. Therefore, Paul used the little understanding in our brain to try to introduce a large, new, elevated plane of thinking.

1 Cor. 15:42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:

1 Cor. 15:43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:

1 Cor. 15:44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

“So also is the resurrection of the dead.” In verses 42-44, Paul was applying the resurrection to Christians, to the dead in Christ, not to the world of mankind, for only those who are more than overcomers will be raised in incorruption, glory, and power. Not even the Great Company will be raised in glory in the fullest sense of the word. Paul was exhorting Christians to be sure they believed in a resurrection of the dead. Incidentally, ministers often improperly quote these verses in regard to an unconsecrated individual.

“It [the soul, the being, the individual, not his flesh or breath] is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It [the soul] is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it [the soul] is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It [the soul] is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.”

Some of these promises are a process that terminates with a condition because the divine nature has not yet been given to the raised saints. How high one eventually goes and how much glory he receives are determined by God’s judgment of the individual. Since 1878, one who makes his calling and election sure is raised instantly at death—but to spirit nature in earth’s atmosphere. Jesus, too, was first raised a spirit being. Then 40 days later he ascended to his Father in heaven.

Comment: Similarly, the Ancient Worthies will first be raised as human beings, and then, at the end of the Kingdom Age, they will receive spirit nature.

Reply: Yes, there are stages of raising.

With regard to the soul, the Pastor concentrated his efforts on disproving the doctrine of the immortality of the soul—the thought that everyone has a spark of immortality in him.

However, abundant evidence shows that the soul is something specific, an entity unto itself, which goes to God. The souls of all humans, consecrated or unconsecrated, go to God at death and are put into His “bank,” to be determined later what body each will receive in the resurrection.

Comment: The illustration of the soul being like a tape that is put into a recorder has been helpful.

Reply: Yes, but of course the tape is material, and the soul is spirit. The Lord’s Word is so deep that the most anyone can do is scratch the surface. Consider the demons who said, “My name is Legion: for we are many.” More than a thousand reduced beings were in just one Gadarene (Mark 5:1-13). Spirit beings can expand to their normal size, and they can contract to a minute size if they so desire. Human beings can contract to only a very limited degree, for example, squeezing an open hand into a fist, whereas spirit beings have unusual powers. However, the extraordinary thing is that the mind of a human can be equal to that of a spirit being—and even superior through the power of the Holy Spirit. Size has nothing to do with one’s standing with God. How miraculous it is that man has the ability to reason just like an angel!

In some Scriptures, the sun pictures The Christ. “They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament [the sun]” (Dan. 12:3; Matt. 13:43). And the stars can picture the spiritual resurrection of the Ancient Worthies at the end of the Kingdom: “They that turn [or lead] many to righteousness [shall shine] as the stars for ever and ever” (Dan. 12:3). However, these pictures do not apply here in verses 41-44. Context is very important for understanding symbolism. Here Paul used the sun to picture Jesus as the Head of the Church, the moon to symbolize the apostles, and the stars to represent the rest of the Little Flock, among whom there will be gradations of glory. The seven messengers to the Church will have the highest positions of glory among the stars.

The primary thrust of this fifteenth chapter is directed to the Little Flock. The body to be received by the Great Company class, who will get life and a better resurrection than the world of mankind, would not be considered incorruptible or glorious. The sleeping saints, who have been raised but are not yet in the Father’s presence, are in earth’s atmosphere, where they await the completion of the final members of the body of Christ, so that the 144,000 will be presented as a whole assembly before the Father.

Comment: Philippians 3:20,21 is an appropriate cross-reference for the Little Flock: “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”

Reply: This passage is characteristic of Paul’s thinking, for he pointed the consecrated to the highest goal that can be attained. The Apostle John was broader in the promises he gave, for he had a high estimate of even eternal life, let alone immortality.

Comment: How strange! Many churches have taught that Jesus had a bodily resurrection, when verse 44 says his body members are sowing a spiritual body.

Reply: Yes, according to their reasoning, the Church will have a higher body than Jesus. They believe not only that Jesus will return with wounds in his hands but that every eye will literally see him, whereas a spirit being cannot be seen by human beings unless he miraculously assumes a natural form. Also, a “glorious” body would not have wounds in the hands, feet, and chest area with blood showing. So much of the theology that is taught today is not scriptural. People will fabricate a whole theme on just one single text and not compare other Scriptures that touch on the same subject.

Two skeletons were found at Masada. Presumably one skeleton was from the individual who committed suicide after killing the other Jews when it became obvious that the Romans would eventually get on top of the mount and torture them to death because of their rebellious nature in not submitting. Vessels of grain (seed) were also found at Masada, and the grain was in such good condition that it could be planted. The point is that just as grain has life, so we, as Christians, have real life, but that life can be lost if we are not faithful. When we accept Christ and his merit covers our sins, we are new creatures—we have a new life within us—but the strange thing is that the vessel, our body, which has this new life and hope in it, has to die.

Another remarkable phenomenon takes place. When a seed is put in the ground, it dies. In that seed is a tiny germ of life, but the rest of the small seed (about 98 percent of it) is material, or food. The germ in that seed cannot spring to life because it cannot digest the hard food that is stored as a seed. Thus a dormant life is inside a seed, but the seed itself underneath the shell— all the body material—decays and degenerates into such a fine-quality food that now the germ of life in the seed can feed on that material inside the shell. It feeds and grows just like a fetus grows in the womb of a woman. As the germ of life grows, it bursts the shell, and out comes the life in a completely different form. With wheat, for instance, a kernel, or bare grain, goes into the ground, and it comes forth not only as a stalk with sheaves but with kernels (many grains) of wheat.

Our Lord used the seed as a phenomenon. The seed is a miniature picture of the fetus in the womb of a woman, and the Scriptures frequently use that illustration. When the body dies, the  new creature escapes into a resurrected life. Down through the Gospel Age, that was a delayedreaction, for people slept in the grave, but since 1878, the dead who have made their calling and election sure are raised in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.

Q: With regard to the soul being sown in “dishonour,” is the dishonor a result of the fall?

A: Yes. In addition, the dishonor can come from persecution for righteousness’ sake and faithfulness to the truth.

The end of verse 44, “There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body,” is like a climax to all that was stated previously in chapter 15. Paul now made this profound but simple statement as an axiom, as a statement of truth. Earlier verses were an explanation leading up to this statement.

1 Cor. 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.

For the end of 1 Peter 3:18, the Diaglott interlinear has, “Being put to death indeed in [the] flesh, being made alive but in [the] spirit.”

“The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.”

Notice the difference in this comparison, the thrust of Paul’s emphasis. When the first Adam was made, he could beget natural children, but he needed Eve to be the mother. (The name Eve means “mother of living,” “mother of life.”) And so, the last or Second Adam being made a quickening spirit means that the resurrected and glorified Jesus, a spirit being, can beget spiritual children. Today we have the advantage of being able to discuss these verses in more detail. Just as there are a natural body and a spirit body, so Adam could have natural children and the risen Jesus can have spiritual children. Jesus first raises the Little Flock members to spirit life, to the spirit plane in earth’s atmosphere, and then later the Father will raise them to the divine nature. In other words, we do not believe that any saint who has made his calling and election sure and was raised in 1878 or subsequently has the divine nature yet.

Comment: The Father not only grants the divine nature and immortality to the Little Flock but also decides who gets life and who goes into Second Death.

Reply: Yes, and He decides the honors. When James and John Zebedee wanted to sit on the right and left side of Jesus in the Kingdom, the Master replied, “That decision is my Father’s.”

Although not Paul’s emphasis here, another difference between the first Adam and the Second Adam is the following. The first Adam was given life; the Second Adam is able to give life. Even though Adam had children, those children were born with the death sentence in them. The first Adam was a father, or life-giver, to the human race. Jesus replaced Adam, and so the Second Adam from heaven is also a Life-giver. The first, as the recipient of life, was passive. The second, having the capability to give life, is active.

In addition to being the last or Second Adam, Jesus called himself “the Son of [the] man.” In other words, all of the other sons of Adam were fallen, but “the [perfect] Son of [the perfect] man [Adam]” was the promised Ransom (or corresponding) price to cancel Adam’s sin.

Q: Will Jesus give life on both the earthly and the spirit plane?

A: Yes, he makes alive the Church, raising them to spirit nature. John 6:39,40 states, “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:54 corroborates this thought: “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” And Philippians 3:21, which was quoted earlier, reads, “[The Lord Jesus Christ] Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body [that is, into a glorious likeness of his own body], according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”

Adam was made a living soul, but instead of just saying that Jesus, the Second Adam, was made a living spirit, Paul stated the matter in a more active sense. Not only was Jesus made a living spirit, but he was made a spirit with the capability of quickening life in others. Had Adam not sinned, he could have been the father of a living race on the earthly plane. However, Jesus was made a quickening spirit capable of giving life to others on both natural and spiritual planes. Moreover, in the future, Jesus and the Church will have the capability of populating other planets with physical beings.

While the comparison of the natural and the spiritual is not evident at first, it is actually mentioned here in referring to “the first man Adam” as natural. “The last [or second] Adam,” a spiritual being who is to be the Father of the human race as Adam was originally, will nurture, or restore, the fallen human race from the tomb. Verse 45, among other texts, shows that even Jesus was not raised immediately to the divine nature. When raised from the tomb and during the 40 days before his ascension, he appeared like an angel in different kinds of human form— a gardener, a stranger on the road to Emmaus, etc. This method of appearing was evidence to Jesus’ disciples that he who was dead was indeed now alive.

1 Cor. 15:46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.

Adam was a natural being placed in the Garden of Eden. When God breathed the breath of life into the nostrils of this form of a human, Adam “became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7). Afterward came Jesus, “that which is spiritual.” God’s creation of Adam pertained to natural beings. After that came a spiritual order of beings, the New Creation.

1 Cor. 15:47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.

Verse 47 repeats the last part of verse 46 but from a slightly different perspective. The Second Adam in this illustration is not the Son of man down here but the heavenly Lord, who was raised as a spirit being and will come in his glory.

“The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.” The words “first” and “second” show a time period. At the First Advent, the name of the “second man” was Michael, the Logos. He was not known as “the Lord from heaven” at that time, yet he frequently likened himself to being the Son of Adam by saying he was “the Son of [the] man.”

The Jews knew that the promised Messiah was to be born of a woman, so they were looking for a marvelous human being who would lead them to victory and salvation. Thus, by using the expression “the Son of man,” Jesus identified himself, in a way, as the Second Adam. When Paul came on the scene, he used the terminology “the last [or second] Adam.” Just as there was a first Adam (and a first Eve), so there will be a second Adam (and a second Eve, the Church).

Therefore, the term “the Lord from heaven” evidently refers to Jesus’ appearance during the Kingdom Age as the life-giving Father. Just as Adam was the original father of the human race, so Jesus will be the Father of the regenerated human race. As the Second Adam, he will resuscitate the same beings, awakening them from death.

Another picture that shows this principle is Noah in the new “world” after the Flood. Except for eight human beings—Noah, his three sons, and the four wives—the entire race was destroyed at the time of the Flood. Thus Noah is a picture of Jesus in the Kingdom. From this standpoint, Noah was a type of the Second Adam.

1 Cor. 15:48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.

Those who did not believe in a resurrection thought the afterlife was too ethereal and nebulous to be practical. The physical, which they could see and which had an appearance, form, matter, and substance, was real to them, whereas the afterlife was unreal. But Paul reasoned that that which is spiritual is like what we think is so real down here. Beings who occupy the spiritual realm have a form and likeness, just as there is a form and likeness to human beings. Paul was trying to come down to a level that the Corinthians could appreciate. The spiritual is very much like the “earthy,” only of different substance. There is appearance, form, shape, and reality to that which is spiritual. Paul was saying, “As is the earthy, so also is the heavenly.”

Paul pursued natural logic to reason from the known to the unknown. He took the earthly illustration of the component parts of God’s creation to reason on the heavenly realm. As is the earth—man, animals, trees, plants, houses, etc.—so is the spirit realm, having the same component parts, even if we cannot see them. Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions” (John 14:2). Paul was leading the Corinthians (and us) step by step as though they were little children in need of counsel. He provided line upon line of natural logic to reason on the spiritual.

1 Cor. 15:49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

The spiritual is a reality; it will follow. Paul was reaffirming the distinction between that which is natural and that which is to come, the spiritual. There are likenesses in both realms. Stated another way, verse 49 contains a slight suggestion that spirit beings are similar to human beings, but they are heavenly, or spiritual, instead of earthy.

1 Cor. 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

The reign, the Kingdom, the life, is not on this side of the veil. All of the Church class must pass through the portal of death, for “flesh and blood [the human nature] cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” Paul was talking about the Little Flock. In addressing the consecrated who did not believe in a resurrection, he was trying to show that all of the Spirit-begotten who will comprise the Little Flock have to die before receiving their inheritance.

The Church class, the Gospel Age saints, are the “kingdom of God.” Restitution is merely an aspect of the future age in which the Kingdom class will help raise up humanity to life on the earthly plane. “The kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High” (Dan. 7:27). Jesus said of John the Baptist, “He that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matt. 11:11). Mankind will not inherit the Kingdom but will be subjects under the Kingdom. The ruling membership is the Little Flock.

The Kingdom of God will have an established order, or government, and within that order will be individuals of various ranks of authority. What the order will be beyond the Millennial Age, we do not know. The 12 apostles will sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel during the Kingdom, but that order will probably not extend into the illimitable future (Matt. 19:28). In other words, the relationship is likely to change in later generations. Just because the apostles lived at the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry does not necessarily mean they are the 12 greatest and highest of the 144,000, for other members of the Little Flock may be superior characterwise to some of the apostles. Hence after the Millennium, there may be changes in honor within the arrangement. The Twelve were selected because they were on the scene at the time, but in the ages of ages, it is possible that some others of the 144,000 will be given a higher rank. In no sense of the word can the Church be complete on this side of the veil at any time, even if the door is shut and the feet members will make their calling and election sure. While the sealing in the forehead can be a fact, the reign will not take place until all of the 144,000 are beyond the veil (Rev. 7:4). There will be a sealing in the forehead on this side of the veil, but only God will know who is sealed until all of the 144,000 have died. Stated another way, there will come a point in time when God will not call anyone else because He knows who the feet members are on this side of the veil and their number will complete the 144,000. From the perspective of the consecrated still in the flesh, the principle is, “Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off” (1 Kings 20:11). However, at the moment of death, the feet members will probably know—as Jesus did when he said, “It is finished”—that they have made their calling and election sure (John 19:30). Paul said at the end of his life, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day” (2 Tim. 4:8). He had a sensation that he would be faithful and that he had won a crown. Prior to that time, he said, “I count not myself to have apprehended” (Phil. 3:13). Therefore, just before their death, the last members may have the confidence that they have the Lord’s approval. The complete and glorified Church—the stone cut out and set up—will smite the image on its feet (Dan. 2:34).

When Paul said, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,” he was going back to verse 36, “Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die.” Intervening verses explain the difference between the natural and the spiritual.

1 Cor. 15:51 Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

Paul declared his intention to speak about a “mystery.” And what is that mystery? “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” Paul got the information about this mystery and could speak about all not sleeping but being changed in the twinkling of an eye at the last trump because he had been “caught up to the third heaven” in a private revelation and vision (2 Cor. 12:2). He saw what would happen not only down here at the end of the age but also in the spirit realm (the “third heaven”). Paul also talked about this subject in his First Epistle to the Thessalonians, which was written earlier. In his understanding, he saw the resurrection of the sleeping saints in 1878. Thus he saw that some of the dead would be raised first, and later those who were alive and remained to the end of the age would be caught up. “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:13-17).

“We [the Little Flock] shall not all sleep [in death], but we shall all be changed [in resurrection].” All of the saints who died from Pentecost up until 1878 slept in death, and in 1878, they were awakened. Subsequent to that time, any who are of the Little Flock are changed instantly at death. In a moment, they go from death to life. Even if death is like the twinkling of an eye, the extinction of the present life still has to occur. Nothing is said about the Great Company in this context, for they will not be raised from death until the Little Flock is complete. Only the Little Flock have part in the first resurrection. Jesus is the first of the firstfruits, and the Little Flock are partakers of the first resurrection, not only from the standpoint of priority and importance but also from the standpoint of time. The order of resurrection is Jesus, Little Flock, Great Company, Ancient Worthies, and the world of mankind. Thus any of the Great Company who die now are sleeping in death.

What examples of “sleeping” in death are mentioned in the New Testament? (1) Lazarus slept in death. “These things said he [Jesus]: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep” (John 11:11). (2) When Stephen was stoned to death subsequent to Pentecost, he was said to be “asleep.” “And they stoned Stephen…. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:59,60). The Scriptures do not say Stephen went to heaven.

Paul was saying that toward the end of the Gospel Age, there would come a particular date at which the dead in Christ, who had been asleep in death since Pentecost, would be raised.

Moreover, those who died as individuals after that mysterious future date would not sleep in the grave for any duration of time but would receive their change instantly. They would have to die, but their raising would be in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.

Comment: Matthew 27:52 is another corroboration of sleeping in death: “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose.”

Reply: Yes, and that incident also occurred before Pentecost. Those “saints” either made a commitment to follow Jesus during his earthly ministry or would have made a commitment had time permitted, but they died before the Crucifixion. Their resuscitation gave them an opportunity to run the race for the prize of the high calling.

Comment: 2 Peter 3:3,4 is another New Testament reference to sleeping in death. “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”

Reply: The identity of the “scoffers” becomes a critical point—whether they are consecrated or merely nominal Christians.

What did Paul mean by saying, “We shall all be changed”? At death, there would be a radical change from human to spirit nature, from earthly to spirit conditions. The word “all” includes those who have died in Christ subsequent to 1878 and those who will yet die in Christ up to the collective change of the feet members in the invisible rapture at the very end of the age.

An additional thought is suggested by the word “changed.” 1 Corinthians 15 is styled the “resurrection chapter.” Earlier Paul said that some of the Corinthians thought the dead would not rise—that there is no resurrection. Therefore, Paul also used the expression “We shall all be changed” to indicate the resurrection change is the ultimate destiny of true Christians.

There will come a period of time at the end of the Gospel Age that is the real end of the age. At a particular date in God’s timetable, not only will the door to the high calling be closed, but the feet members will collectively receive their change in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.

Jesus saw that three circumstances needed a further explanation. (1) There would come a point in time, 1878, when the dead in Christ down through the Gospel Age would be raised as a group to meet the Lord in the air, in earth’s atmosphere (1 Thess. 4:15,16). However, Christians who were alive at that time remained in the flesh to live out their consecrations. (2) At the real end of the Gospel Age, another group of saints, the feet members of the body of Christ, will be changed suddenly (1 Thess. 4:17). At that final yet future unknown date, at which the door will definitely be closed, they will be invisibly raptured as a group to meet the Lord in the air. (3) But what happens to those saints who die between 1878 and this future unknown date? As individuals, they have an instantaneous resurrection change to spirit nature to meet the Lord and the other raised saints in the air. “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth [from 1878 until the invisible rapture at the end of the age]” (Rev. 14:13).

The heel members (plural) are to be bruised (Gen. 3:15). When the future unknown date comes for the Church to be complete, all saints who are still down here must, of necessity, be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, as a group. For there to be one last member of the body of Christ would distract from the Head, Jesus Christ. The same principle applied to the high priest in the type, who could not have the anomaly of a sixth finger or toe (Lev. 21:17-21).

The body of Christ is to be definite and complete as a body. Elijah’s being taken up into the heavens by a whirlwind pictures a class (2 Kings 2:11). The wise virgins went in to the marriage together (Matt. 25:10). The marriage will be one event, not piecemeal, at some date in the near future. As a group, the entire Church—all 144,000—will be presented before the Father. The wedding ceremony of the Lamb and the Bride follows.

The saints who have received their change are gathered with Jesus in earth’s atmosphere.

When the Church is complete, they will go as a group with Jesus to God’s heaven. Meanwhile, the risen saints are being instructed and are receiving orientation with regard to which members of the human race each will be judging in the future and what the parameters of authority—both jurisdiction and duties—will be for each. An indoctrination period is in progress. The saints need to understand the life patterns of those they will be judging, and time is required for that understanding. The life pattern of every member of Adam’s race has been and is being recorded so that judgment can be rendered. For those of the Little Flock, whose judgment is rendered in advance of the world of mankind, it will be seen that God’s choice is valid. His justice, mercy, patience, and kindness will be proven. Conversely, it will be seen that those who go into Second Death merit that judgment. God will be thoroughly justified in issuing all judgments, approving or disapproving, good or evil.

The same word translated “mystery” here in verse 51 is used three times in the Gospels (Matt. 13:11; Mark 4:11; Luke 8:10). In each of the three cases, a different apostle narrated the same incident. Jesus said to the disciples, “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables” (Mark 4:11). In the Book of Revelation, which is a book of symbols, the word “mystery” is used four times (Rev. 1:20; 10:7; 17:5,7). The Apostle Paul used the word 20 times, and it is one of the unique expressions that help to identify his manner of speech.

1 Cor. 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

Comment: Combining parts of verses 51 and 52, the Diaglott reads, “We shall be changed … in [during] the last trumpet [that is, during part of this time period].”

Reply: Yes, the word “at” in the King James is incorrect.

The “last trump,” also called the seventh trumpet and the trump of God, is a period of time in which a message is being broadcast (1 Thess. 4:16). “The dead shall be raised incorruptible.”

Eventually all of the dead will be raised, but Paul was speaking here of only the Little Flock.

Incidentally, the false teachers in Corinth all thought they were of the Little Flock, yet they said there is no resurrection.

Q: Is the last trump, the seventh trumpet, the same as the Jubilee trumpet?

A: No. In the type, the seventh trumpet was blown on the first day of the seventh (or last) month of the religious calendar. The Feast of Passover occurred in the first month, the Feast of Pentecost was 50 days later, and the Feast of Ingathering took place in the seventh month. The account is silent with regard to the remaining five months of the year, for they were not part of the religious calendar. Thus the first seven months were a picture within the year of what has happened in history. In antitype, the Passover pertains to Jesus, Pentecost involves the Church, and the Feast of Tabernacles in the seventh month is for the world of mankind. At the beginning of the seventh month, the last of seven trumpets was blown. In fact, the seventh month was called the Feast of Trumpets for that reason.

The Jubilee trumpet should not be confused with the seventh trumpet. The Jubilee trumpet, which was separate, was blown on the tenth day of the seventh month. At that time, everyone was made aware of the blowing. When the antitypical Jubilee trumpet is blown, all of earth’s inhabitants will know it. The antitypical seventh trump has already sounded, but the Jubilee trumpet is yet future.

A trumpet was blown on the first day of each of the first seven months. These seven trumpets picture the seven stages of the gospel Church. In addition, the Jubilee trumpet was blown on the tenth day of the seventh month. All of the people were made aware of this trumpet but not of the one blown on the first day of that month. The seventh trumpet introduced the seventh month, during which both the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Ingathering (or Tabernacles) occurred, as well as the blowing of the Jubilee trumpet. In antitype, therefore, all things will occur: the Kingdom, the resurrection of the dead, etc.

“Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump.” Verses 51 and 52 indicate not only a time frame but also that the majority of faithful Christians did sleep down through the Gospel Age. However, there would come an exception to this general rule. The faithful prior to the Harvest period did not go to heaven immediately at death. One proof text is Paul’s statement just before his death: ”Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that [future] day” (2 Tim. 4:8). In his Christian walk, he kept pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling and did not count himself as being worthy, but in reviewing his life just before he died, he felt that he had been faithful.

Another proof text pertains to Stephen, who, being stoned to death, fell asleep. “And they stoned Stephen…. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:59,60). Now, in verses 51 and 52 of this First Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul provided the dispensational truth that there would come a time in which the more-than-overcomers would no longer be in nonexistence, in a sleep, when they died, to be awakened at some future time period—for those who die in the end period of the Gospel Age would immediately be changed. The change to spirit nature would occur “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.”

In verse 51, Paul said, “Behold, I show you a mystery.” This mystery is a prophetic picture. Three experiences are confirmed by verses 51 and 52, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, and Revelation 14:13, which reads, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” Near the end of the Gospel Age, in the year 1878, all of the more-than-overcomers who had been asleep in death since Pentecost came forth from the grave as a collective group. Since 1878, they have been in earth’s atmosphere, being instructed as to their duties in the Kingdom Age. But between that event and the final rapture of the feet members of the body of Christ as a group, any of the Little Flock who die as individuals are changed in the twinkling of an eye. The change of the last members as a class at the end of the age is also shown by Elijah’s being taken up into heaven by a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11). When Elijah was thus translated, the sons of the prophets, not knowing where he had been taken, searched for his body for three days. Elijah represents a class, just as Ahab and Jezebel represent classes. A proof text is Revelation 2:20,  “Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel [the Roman Catholic Church], which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.”

“The [last] trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” The thought of a trumpet has been incorporated into newspaper names, such as The Clarion, The Herald, and The Trumpet, indicating public messages on current events that are circulated to the populace. Accordingly, Paul was saying that at the end of the Gospel Age, a message would be broadcast in various ways and circulated to instruct God’s people on the meaning of Scripture, and even on the subject of the resurrection.

The change would come “at [in or during, Greek en] the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” The thought of “during the last trump” indicates a period of time, which has a beginning and an ending with respect to the 144,000, the very elect.

Comment: Did the seventh trumpet begin to sound in 1874 or in 1878 with the resurrection of the sleep saints?

Reply: The seventh trump began to sound in 1878, and it will continue to sound until the end of the Gospel Age.

1 Cor. 15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

1 Cor. 15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

Not only would flesh and blood not inherit the Kingdom, but the individuals would be gloriously different. The soul, or being, that is sown in weakness will be raised in power and glory. Eventually this class of mortals, who have been called down through the Gospel Age with a heavenly calling and been faithful unto death, will receive immortality. Not until the Church class is complete will all of the body members receive immortality together. At the marriage of the Lamb, when they are introduced to the Father, they will be given immortality as a wedding present.

The saying “Death is swallowed up in victory” was written by the prophets Hosea and Isaiah.

“I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes” (Hos. 13:14). “He [Jehovah] will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it” (Isa. 25:8). God predicted in the Old Testament that He would plague and destroy death and that a victory would be involved. Paul said that these prophecies would be fulfilled after “this corruptible … put on incorruption, and this mortal … put on immortality,” that is, after the complete Church class had been raised to immortality. Isaiah predicted that death would be swallowed up in victory, and Hosea spoke of the power of sin and the grave.

Paul was talking about the beginning of the swallowing up of death in victory because he was speaking of only the Little Flock, not the world of mankind. “Then shall be brought to pass the [beginning of the] saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” The Prophet Isaiah gave a broad statement to the effect that ultimately there will be no more death. After the Little Season at the end of the Kingdom, Adamic death will be extinct.

Comment: The Pastor said, “Although aptharsia [Greek for ‘incorruption’] and athanasia [Greek for ‘immortality’] represent in many respects the same thought, yet by antithesis the Apostle brings out their shaded differences in verses 53 and 54.”

Reply: There are definite differences in the two words. Many Bible scholars have contended that the terms are more or less synonymous, but the very fact two different words are used both in the Greek and in the English translation indicates they do not have the same meaning. Like an acorn, verses 53 and 54 are packed with information. The ingredients are compacted together. To understand about the dead being raised incorruptible, we first have to build up an understanding.

Jesus said in Luke 20:34-36, “The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” Jesus was talking about those who are worthy to obtain the age beyond the Millennium. Those who pass the test at the end of the Kingdom, when Satan is loosed for the final time before being destroyed, will be “children of the resurrection,” “children of God.” At the end of the Kingdom, no one will need to say, “Know the LORD,” for all will know Him from the least unto the greatest, but the people will still have to pass the test in the Little Season (Jer. 31:34; Rev. 20:3). All will be enlightened, all will have perfect health, all will have a perfect conscience, etc., and then will come the final test. Those who pass the test will be like the angels: “neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels.”

Jesus was talking not about immortality or incorruptibility but about everlasting life on the human plane. The likelihood of those individuals ever sinning again is practically zero, just as with the holy angels, who did not leave their first estate in the period prior to the Flood. The test to not materialize and cohabit with the daughters of men and to not commit violence was severe and crucial on the holy angels because they witnessed some of their fellow spirits take on the human body and even have children, and God did not punish or stop them. The holy angels waited for a severe judgment to occur, but it did not come until the Flood years later.

For many years, the earth was being corrupted by both men and angels. Proof that the corruption covered a period of time is that the offspring of angels and human females grew up as giants in the earth. The hybrid progeny and the human race drowned in the Flood with the exception of Noah and his three sons and the wives. Eight people of the human race were saved and none of the humanoids. Meanwhile, when the fallen angels dematerialized, they were locked in earth’s atmosphere, being under “house arrest,” as it were. They were bound in chains of darkness in a plane, or sphere, called tartaroo. God destroyed those of Adamic stock and the hybrid angelic progeny, but it appeared that He could not destroy those of angelic stock, for the fallen angels were merely locked in prison. As a result, Satan is convinced that God cannot destroy him. In fact, Satan is getting bolder and bolder because he thinks God cannot destroy a spirit being. All the evidence seems to prove that Satan is correct, for up to the present time, not one spirit being has ever lost his life.

Imagine being a holy angel and watching the lust and violence for, say, 50 years and seeing nothing happen to stop it. When the Flood came, God was vindicated in the eyes of the holy angels, for they realized He had purposely waited to inflict that judgment. Had the judgment come instantly, they would not have seen the degree of depravity and violence that ensued. By their patience and restraint, the holy angels proved they will not sin. After the Millennial Age, any being who commits sin will immediately be expunged. Never again will evil be permitted anywhere in the universe. The insidiousness and the contagion of sin have already been shown. God foresaw that unchecked sin would spread like an infectious disease or a plague, and the angels and man are now getting that same education with regard to the nature of sin.

The mystery (verse 51) was that at the end of the age during the Lord’s secret presence, when he would deal with his disciples in earth’s atmosphere as a spirit being but not yet be reigning, a work would be going on. The sleeping saints were raised as spirit beings in 1878—like Jesus when he arose from the dead after his crucifixion. Those of the Little Flock who have died since were also raised “spirit” (1 Pet. 3:18). A distinction is implied between the two words “corruptible” and “incorruption” and between “mortal” and “immortality.” “Incorruption” (Greek aptharsia) means “that which cannot decay.” The simple explanation of “immortality” (Greek athanasia) is deathlessness, that which is not liable to death. However, we feel there is another nuance. A more positive explanation of immortality is to have life within oneself (John 5:26). Jesus told the woman of Samaria that the “living water” (immortality) would be a well of water springing up into everlasting life; that is, it would spring up like a well (John 4:14). The fact that Paul brought up the first distinction, incorruption, as that which is not liable to decay, and then paused before giving the second distinction, “This mortal must put on immortality,” suggests the possibility of a little interval of time for a two-step process. Based on other Scriptures, we believe that inference is here.

Q: Is the thought that we could be raised incorruptible and then, later, receive immortality?

A: Yes.

1 Cor. 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

1 Cor. 15:56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

1 Cor. 15:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul effectively used the question form here. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave [Greek hades, that is, the hidden state], where is thy victory?” The sting, or virus, that produces death is sin. However, what seems to be a victory—death and the grave—will not be a victory in the final analysis. The real victory comes from God through Jesus. “O grave, where is thy victory?”

Q: Will the resurrection of the Church to immortality be the first evidence of death being swallowed up in victory?

A: Yes. The context of both Hosea 13:14 and Isaiah 25:8 pertains to the world of mankind, as well as to the Church inferentially, but the Apostle Paul used these Scriptures to prove that the resurrection of the Church is the first proof of a fulfillment of the resurrection. In other words, after the Little Flock is complete, this saying will begin to come to pass. Paul was trying to show the brethren who did not believe in a resurrection that their reasoning was foolish. He used the consecrated as an example and not the world of mankind.

In verse 56, Paul was referring to death during the present life, to Adamic death. The Jew is condemned in a double sense—through Adam and through the Mosaic Law. While Gentiles are not under the Law, the Law brings about a consciousness of sin and enlightens one as to the problems that exist. Thus the Law makes both Jews and Gentiles conscious of sin, but of course the Jew is morally obligated to fulfill the Law unless he comes into Jesus.

Verse 56 reads as follows in other translations: “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law” (RSV). “It is sin which gives death its sting, and it is the Law which gives sin its power” (Phillips). The power of the Law is that it condemns man to death because imperfect man, being a sinner, cannot perfectly obey it. Man in his weakness and imperfection cannot keep the perfect Law. Thanks to God, the Christian receives forgiveness through Jesus and ultimate victory over death if faithful. Sin is the “sting of death” in that Adam ate the sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge (Ezek. 18:2). In other words, Adam’s sin caused death.

The “strength of sin is the law.” The Law was designed for a perfect man, and since all members of Adam’s race are imperfect, none could keep the Law except the man Christ Jesus. Therefore, he got the reward of the Law, which was human life. Jesus captured the prize of the Law, and he will use that human life to redeem Adam, the father of the human race. Stated another way, Jesus’ life was a counterweight, a corresponding price, for Adam. Adam forfeited his life, but Jesus will give his right to human life to the human race so that they can legally be redeemed from the grave. The Father Himself is a spirit, and Jesus now has a spirit life, which is different from a human life. In other words, Jesus had two lives. Because he was faithful and obedient even unto the death on the Cross, God has highly exalted him. Jesus did not forfeit his extra (or spirit) life. Rather, he willingly submitted to the Crucifixion, allowing himself to be put to death by the religious leaders of that day, who unrighteously took his life. Pontius Pilate and the Romans shared in that responsibility. Therefore, the strength of sin is with fallen mortals, who cannot break out of that mold, for the principles of the Law condemn the human race.

Comment: Paul said, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law” (Rom. 7:7).

Reply: Each epistle has a certain theme, and Romans pertains to the Law and righteousness, which comes by faith. There are two ways of pleasing God. The first proved to be a failure with the human race; the other, the righteousness of faith, is a success to those who walk the narrow way of faith.

Paul ended on a victorious note: “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” From a human standpoint, there is no future because no one has been in heaven and returned. The so-called “after-death experiences” are hallucinations caused by the fallen angels.

Earlier Paul said, “Some have taught there is no resurrection.” Therefore, the whole subject of this fifteenth chapter is the resurrection—and with great detail. Jesus’ parables and discourses teach the same thing, but with a little here and a little there. Because the Holy Spirit had not yet been given, Jesus taught the resurrection in fragment form.

Comment: For Paul to be so sure there is a resurrection, he must have been given information when he was taken in vision to the “third heaven” (2 Cor. 12:2).

Reply: Yes. While Jesus brought life and immortality to light in an ingenious way that needs to be pieced together, Paul treated the subject in this fifteenth chapter (2 Tim. 1:10). Paul had liberty to speak about the resurrection, whereas Jesus did not. Jesus said, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but [I cannot because] ye cannot bear them now [because the Holy Spirit had not yet come]” (John 16:12). The implication is that if Jesus had spoken in detail about the resurrection, the disciples would not have understood what he was saying. The explanation would have been too overwhelming for natural men at that time with their Jewish minds and training. Jesus excelled on this subject (more than Paul), but hours would be required to piece together the fragments of his teaching. After his resurrection, Jesus revealed information to Paul, who was the apostle most capable of handling it because of his logic and his having studied at the feet of Gamaliel, the most notable teacher of that day. Paul was well versed in the Scriptures.

Sin is not only the sting of death but also a process. For instance, if we were poisoned by a venomous snake, we would get the sting but might not die instantly. That is what happened when Adam sinned, and the death penalty came on the human race through him. Paul broached this subject in a slightly different way, bringing it more up to date by saying, “The sting of death is sin [with Father Adam].” However, in his letter to the Romans, as well as here, he implied that the Law of commandments is also involved with the sting of death, but the Law affected only the Jews. Therefore, the sting has to go back to Adam in order to embrace both Jews and Gentiles.

“The strength of sin is the law.” Even though Corinth was a Gentile city, many in the class were Jews. The account of Paul’s first visit to Corinth is recorded in Acts 18:1-4, “After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth: And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.

And he [Paul] reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded [both] the Jews and the Greeks.” Active Christian Jews, among whom were Aquila and Priscilla, had fled from Rome to Corinth because of a decree by Emperor Claudius.

“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory [over death] through our Lord Jesus Christ.” When one cannot die anymore, death will be “swallowed up in victory” for that individual (1 Cor. 15:54). With regard to a class, death will first be swallowed up in victory for the Little Flock.

1 Cor. 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Q: This question goes back to two earlier verses. How does the statement “this corruptible shall have put on incorruption” (verse 54) relate to, or differ from, the latter part of verse 50, “Neither doth corruption inherit incorruption”?

A: For those Christians who did not believe in a resurrection, the most they could hope for was a continuation of the present life—that they would live on and on and not die. Therefore, Paul emphasized that man is actually dying whether he likes it or not. All around is evidence of his dying and going into the grave, so to deny death would be to belie one’s own senses. The corruptible present body does not put on incorruption, for the old body must first die. Then, if faithful, the individual will get a new body in a new life. All around are change and decay (corruption). The only way for the Christian to inherit incorruption is to get a complete change of body and nature to a new life.

Now Paul was saying, “Brethren, be steadfast and unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. Do not let others discourage you.” The Corinthian brethren who had the true view to start with could have become discouraged when others came along and said there is no resurrection. They could have asked, “Why am I enduring persecution for Christ if there is no resurrection? Why should I suffer and be humiliated if there is no future life?” The danger was that those Christians would slow up and change their course of action. Paul wanted them to retain their original hope, knowing that their labor in the Lord was not in vain. The future life was an incentive, and if that incentive was taken away, their behavior in the present life would be adversely affected. Not believing in a resurrection would undermine zeal and activity.

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, … ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” After a long epistle with a lot of constructive criticism in regard to what they lacked, Paul now encouraged the Corinthians. He answered ten or more problems in this first epistle.

1979, 1997, and 2001 Studies

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