Counting on Resurrection

Key Verse: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
—I Corinthians 15:55

Selected Scripture:
I Corinthians 15:42-57

THE APOSTLE PAUL in I Corinthians, chapter 15, goes into much detail concerning the hope of the resurrection that will eventually become a reality for all mankind. He says in verse 22, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” He continues (verse 23) by saying that there is to be an “order” to this resurrection. First, those who are part of the “firstfruits” class will be raised from the dead to a heavenly reward, then “afterward” the remainder of mankind will be raised during the time of Jesus Second Coming (Greek parousia, or presence) to life here upon the earth. Later in this chapter, Paul reiterates the fact that there is to be both a heavenly as well as an earthly resurrection. He explains it this way, “Someone will say, How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come? You fool! That which you sow does not come to life [in the resurrection] unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. … There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another.”—I Cor. 15:35-38,40 New American Standard Version

The Apostle Paul talks specifically about those who will receive heavenly bodies in the first phase of the resurrection. These will be the faithful members of the church, “they which follow the Lamb.” (Rev. 14:4) Paul says that the beginnings of their heavenly hope were “sown in corruption; … sown in dishonour; … sown in weakness;” of this fleshly experience, but that the result of their faithfulness even unto death will be that they are “raised in incorruption: … raised in glory: … raised in power.” (I Cor. 15:42,43) Continuing, he says “As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.”—vs. 49

In the above statement Paul shows that in order for one to partake of the heavenly resurrection, they must experience a change of nature, from the earthly to the heavenly, for “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” (I Cor. 15:50) This change will come in the resurrection. “We shall all be changed, 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, … For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (vss. 51-53) Shortly, following the completed resurrection of the church—the ‘firstfruits’ of verse 23—will be the general resurrection of all the rest of mankind. Thus the Apostle Paul could say of that time, “Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” (vs. 54) These words, together with those of the Key Verse, show the glorious outcome of God’s plan, that through the victory of the firstfruits—Christ and his church—death itself will be ‘swallowed up.’ The sting of death, and victory of the grave, will be ended with the general resurrection of mankind right here upon the earth, where they will learn righteousness.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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