The Resurrection of the Dead

Resurrection of the Dead DebateA good way to misunderstand a subject, namely resurrection of the dead, in most cases is to start at the end rather than the beginning. While there is value in looking at a summary of what points are to be discussed, the foundation of a building is the key to its strength. Such is the nature of 1 Cor. 15. Since it directly alludes to Genesis, (For as In Adam all die), there is value in seeking to understand what that means by examining the subject in Genesis where it begins.

Adamic Death is Spiritual Death – Separation From God

The death Adam dies the day he eats, Gen. 2:16, is separation from God. James distinguishes physical death (the separation of body and Spirit) from dead versus living faith. Isaiah defines spiritual death as the separation caused by sin between man and God. Isa. 59:1-2. In the following comments by Cougan Collins, a charge is made that a resurrection of the dead which occurs in AD 70 denies a bodily resurrection.

First, the charge is untrue and does not reflect a sufficient knowledge of Covenant Eschatology. To say that we do not believe 1 Cor. 15 discusses a resurrection of physical bodies from holes dug in the ground is not the same as rejecting bodily resurrection. For Collins, the discussion of resurrection does not extend beyond biology.

The Death Reigned From Adam To Moses

The death of Adam reigned from Adam to Moses, (Rom. 5:12-14). Adamic death had dominion over man both before and after God gave the Law to Moses. In fact, “the sin” which caused “the death” became stronger under the law, thereby exacerbated the problem of the death, (Rom. 5:20-21.).

What is important to note here is that Adamic death is yet the problem. There has been no transition to physical death from Adam to Moses. Man dies biologically for the same reasons animals biologically die. That is the nature of bio life.  Deliverance from Adamic death which occurs through dying with Christ is the context of (Rom. 6:1-5). There is not a single reasonable person who would argue that dying with Christ per Romans 6 is biological death.  Such would turn the gospel into a massive murder scheme.

Jesus Died To Put Away Sin and Death

Resurrection of the dead body?Jesus appeared in the “consummation of the ages” to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, Heb. 9:26. While the text says in the “consummation of the ages” it does not say at the very end of the consummation. In other words, the close of the Jewish age (in which Jesus lived, preached and died, Heb. 1:2, 1 Pet. 1:20). The idea is “within” but not at “the very end of it”.

To put away sin is to  put away death which results from sin.  Once again this cannot be physical death. 2 Tim. 1:10 says Christ has annulled “katargesontas” (aor. 1. act. part. of kartageo) “the death” through the gospel. If death is annulled and since Christ is the only one in whom life and immortality resides, then “HE” is “the Resurrection and the Life” and there is “no other” resurrection which can bring life and immortality other than Christ.

Thus, to so define resurrection otherwise is to claim immortality exists outside of and apart from Christ who alone [with the Father of course] has it. (1 Tim. 1:17; 6:17) That means apart from Christ a soul “does not” possess immortality and if it does so apart from Christ, then “Universalism” is affirmed and no one is lost. One therefore categorically and patently denies the clear teaching of all three texts in 1st and 2nd Timothy that God alone has immortality. These texts affirm that “in Christ” alone is life and immortality (which 1 Cor. 15 defines as resurrection).

Is the Rejection of An Immortal Soul Materialism?

Howard Denham argues there are only two types of death, biological and spiritual. He asserts that if a soul is not eternal, it lives forever and therefore does not die. He claims that if the soul of man dies, the result is materialism. However, if every soul lives forever and cannot die, then every soul already has immortality and the death of Christ has nothing to do with ones ability and privilege of continued existence. This would also make immortality in Christ both redundant and a necessary requirement for the punishment of the wicked. But if the wicked have immorality which is the blessing of the righteous, why punish them?

Denham does not believe this, but his doctrine on the immortality of the soul apart from Christ demands it. If life and immortality is only in Christ and if the wicked have immortality (live forever), then the wicked are in Christ! However, does 2 Tim 1:10 present immortality as conditional or unconditional? That is equivalent to asking whether the gospel of Christ is conditional or unconditional. See Mark 16:15-16.

Adam and Immortality

Resurrection of the dead and Egyptian MythsI am not a materialist. I believe man has a soul. I do not equate having a soul and immortality as equivalent concepts. Adam, formed from the dust of the ground, received the breath of life from God and became a living soul. He did not possess immortality, for God tells him in the day he eats of the forbidden tree he would die. (Gen. 2:16). So he ate and so he died. Then God said,”And now lest he put forth his hand and eat of the tree of life and live forever (receive or obtain) immortality. Gen. 3:22. It is clear from the text that Adam would be eating of the tree of life to obtain immortality. However, he was forbidden to do so.

Again note that per 2 Tim. 1:10, Christ alone has immortality. After Adam sinned, God gave him the promise of immortality, Gen. 3:15 in giving the promise of the Seed of the woman. Immortality would not be accessible to man until the manifesting or appearing of Christ, which is precisely what 2 Tim. 1:10; Heb. 9:26 teach.

The Annulling of Death

In 2 Tim. 1:10, the action of the aorist participle is “antecedent” (before) the action of the main verb, Ray Summers, Essentials of the Greek New Testament, p. 94. If my grammatical analysis is correct, the main verb of the sentence which begins in verse 8, is “has saved us”, (v. 9). Therefore, the annulling of death, must be antecedent or before the believers salvation. Jesus died to “put away sin” i.e. annul death (Heb. 9:26; 2 Tim. 1:10) that he might “save us”. His death of necessity occurs before the salvation which it brings can be obtained”.

I also believe this annulling of death must be individually appropriated and is not automatic. Otherwise there are no conditions for salvation. If these premise are not true, Jesus would have “saved us” (the Ephesians) in death, a doctrinal absurdity.

The death “put off” per the “aorist participle” can in no wise be physical death. If such were the case, then none were saved, neither in the 1st century or now, for they all physically died. We also all are going to physically die. If physical death is the death annulled, Jesus’ death has gone for naught. It is an utter failure.

Further, the same word used here, is used in 1 Cor. 15:26. The last enemy which is “being annulled” (kartegeitai, 3 per. Pres. Ind. Pass. from the same kartegeo above) is death. Since that text also speaks of both resurrection in Christ and immortality [life forever] which is only in Christ, are these two types of death, totally different one from the other? Are there two separate immoralities in Christ?

Whatever death was “being annulled” when Paul wrote the Corinthians letter, it is clear that it was already in progress. Again, if this is physical death, how can it be said to be in the process of annulment? Wouldn’t that make a transition period for the disempowering of physical death that is longer that the 40 years from the cross to AD 70?

If one defines the annulling of death in 2 Tim. 1:10 as death from sin through the gospel (which is what Christ died for per 1 Cor. 15:1-3), then is this not “sin-death” that is “annulled”? How then and by what hermeneutic do you distinguish the “death” of 2 Tim. 1:10 and the annulling here, from the death in 1 Cor. 15:26 and the annulling there? Please give us the hermeneutic as clearly as possible, BCV.

As We Bore The Image of the Earthy Man of Dust

In 1 Cor. 15:49, Paul uses the aorist, “ephoresamen” to say, “as we bore” the image of the earthy. Had they already put off their physical body? Was Paul lying about having put off the image of the earthy? Do not futurists teach the image of the earthy is the physical body? How were the Corinthians walking around “bodiless” i.e. without a physical body, but yet were waiting to put on “phoresomen” (future tense) the new body? What is it they bore (aorist) in the past per 15:49? Is that the death of 2 Tim. 1:10? Is it the eternal soul or the physical body? Please explain?

Moreover, Col. 2:11 says when the Colossians were baptized they “put off” the body of the “flesh” (See margin where “of the sins” is omitted. Thus, they put off a body of “flesh” in baptism. Is that the “as we bore” body of 1 Cor. 15? If so, what body is antithetical to that body? What body did they “put on” after putting off the body of flesh? Does not Christ have a “Spiritual body? Did not the (his) Spiritual body (the church) have to “grow to perfection” from a child to a full grown man via the work of the Spirit, 1 Cor. 13:8-10; Eph. 4:11-13 so that they become a perfect (full grown man)? Is a child’s body a different body when it becomes full grown, or is it the different state of the same body? Thus is a child an already but not yet body of an adult?. Is the same not true for the stages of kingdom growth, (Mk. 4:26-29)?

If the “as we bore” body and “image of the earthy” is the physical body, why did Paul pray that the body, soul and spirit of the Thessalonians be preserved until the parousia, 1 Thess. 5:23? Would he not be praying for a logical contradiction, i.e. to put off the body while simultaneously praying that they remained clothed with it?

Have We Borrowed A Pagan View of Immortality?

Resurrection of the deadWas Paul speaking of some sort of Egyptian mummification of the body and immortality, or the immortality found and residing only in Christ? Are the Thessalonians yet alive somewhere in a preserved body, soul and spirit since Christ’s coming allegedly is yet future? Shouldn’t they be? Why not? What would you think if someone told you, you would “remain” until the coming of Christ? What did the people think in Jn. 21:22-23? Note, Jesus never said John would not die (the rumor the brethren spread), but what if he remain “till I come”?

The common meaning of “remain” in such context means to remain alive. That is what Paul said of the 500 brethren, i.e. of whom the greater part remain but “some” had fallen asleep (died). Those who had died did not “remain” alive at the time Paul wrote.

It makes a lot of sense to remain till Jesus came if his coming was at hand, coming in a little while, soon to come to pass, ready to judge, with no more delay in the last hour. In the resurrection of 1 Cor. 15:50-54, not all to whom Paul wrote would sleep before it came to pass. Certainly doesn’t work for 1900 years and counting and still wearing bio bodies that die every three score and ten, sooner or later.

Coogan Collins and Howard Denham on 1 Cor. 15:50-54

Collins has cited 1 Cor. 15:50-54 as the fulfillment of the future resurrection of the body (without proof). However, those verses speak of:

  1. inheriting the kingdom, v. 50
  2. a prophetic time limit, i.e. before all then living died, “we shall not all sleep”
  3. at the last trumpet (Matt. 24:31) which occurred at the destruction of Jerusalem before the first century generation passed, (Matt .24:34)
  4. when the O.T. prophets were fulfilled, “then shall come to pass the saying, ‘death is swallowed up in victory’ (Isa. 25;6-8; 15:53-54; Matt. 5:17-18; Lk. 21:20-22).

Collins applies the language to the physical body, saying it is a fulfillment of Isaiah 25:6-8. But, he denies the physical body is “put off” in the putting away of sin, per 2 Tim. 1:10; 1 Cor. 15:49. He yet wears his physical body, when Paul spoke of a body they had worn in the past, “as we bore”. Does he not believe the “image of the earthy” is the physical body? Will he identify that body? We think not.

On the other hand, Denham, contradicts Collins by saying Isaiah 25:6-8 (actually through chapter 27) was fulfilled in the return from Babylonian captivity in 536 B.C. He argues that Paul only uses the language of Isaiah 25:6-8 in an accommodative sense. He states: “I said that the primary connection of the texts were with events already fulfilled. Daniel 12 does not apply to any NT text, and the verse in Isaiah 25:8 only by way of the principle of accommodation. There is no typological argument being made on the text by Paul…” Howard Denhan, Facebook, As It Is Written,  May 28.

Denham denies that Paul uses Isaiah 25:8 in a manner that shows its ultimate fulfillment or the true and higher meaning of the prophecy to be fulfilled in the eschatological resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15. This is not only false, it violates the hermeneutic principle of accommodation to which he appeals. We will address the principle of accommodation in another article. For now consider a brief reference to the sacrifices of the O.T.

What Is Meant By the Accommodative Use of Language?

According to ISBE (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia), accommodation is used in three senses. The first is “the use or application of a Scripture reference in a sense other than the obvious and literal one which lay in the mind and intent of the writer; (2) the theory that a passage, according to its original intent, may have more than one meaning or application; (3) the general principle of adaptation on the part of God in His self-revelation to man’s mental and spiritual capacity.”

The sacrifices of the Old Testament had an immediate and principal meaning for the individuals and time in which they were originally offered.

It is clear that the NT conception of the significance of OT sacrifice in connection with the death of Christ is based upon the belief that the idea embodied in the original institution could be fulfilled only in the voluntary sacrifice of Christ (see He 10:1-14). This view is justified by the facts. Dr. Davidson [O.T. Prophecy, p. 239] holds that the predictive element in the OT sacrifices lay in their imperfection. This imperfection, while inherent, could be revealed only in experience. As they gradually deepened a sense of need which they could not satisfy, more and more clearly they pointed away from themselves to that transaction which alone could realize in fact what they express in symbol.  A harmony such as obtained between OT sacrifice and the death of Christ could only be the result of design. It is all one movement, one fundamental operation; historically  prefigured and prepared for by anticipation, and historically realized. OT sacrifice was instituted both to prefigure and to prepare the way for the sacrifice of Christ in the very process of fulfilling its natural historic function in the economy of Israel.

The total outcome of the discussion is this: the interpretation of these representative OT ideas and institutions as referring to Christ and anticipating His advent is no illegitimate use of the principle of accommodation. The future reference which takes in the entire historical process which culminates in Christ lies within the immediate and original application and constitutes an essential element of its contemporary value. The original statement is in its very nature predictive and is one in doctrinal principle and historic continuity with that which forms its fulfillment, ISBE, Vol. I, p. 31, ed. James Orr, Eerdmans.

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Conclusion on the Resurrection of the Dead Part 2

We demonstrated that the resurrection of the dead is from Adamic death, the death Adam died the day he ate. This is sin-death or separation from God. It continued from Adam to Moses. The death in 2 Tim. 1:10 is revealed through the gospel of Christ who alone has life and immortality. This life is revealed in the gospel.

We demonstrated that the Bible does not teach the immortality of a soul apart from salvation in Christ. To deny such is not materialism. If so, God was a materialist for creating Adam who did not have immortality. Or, we must concluded that Adam had an immortal soul, the wicked have an immortal soul and Christ (God) alone does not possess immortality. To the contrary, immortality is only in Christ and is conditional upon faithful obedience to Christ through the gospel, 2 Tim. 1:10.

The death in 2 Tim. 1:10 which is abolished in Christ’s death antecedent to salvation brought to man is spiritual or sin-death. Jesus did not die for our bodies, but for our sins. That is the same death of which Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 15:26, saying it was “being annulled” in that post-cross-pre-AD 70 time frame. It would be completely put away at Christ’s return, 1 Cor. 15:56-57; Heb. 9:28.

We gave several examples of the putting off of a body. Not one single instance is a physical body mentioned, (2 Tim. 1:10; Rom. 6:6; Col. 2:11, 1 Cor. 15:49). In each case it referred to an event in the past, denoted by the aorist, but not yet completed (more on this in later writings). Yet these men walk in physical bio bodies in spite of the language of the text and see no contradiction in their practice and the text.

We have shown that Coogan Collins and Howard Denham hold two opposing and contradictory views on the source text of 1 Cor. 15:50-54  which is Isa. 25:6-8. The former holds it to be a future resurrection of dead bodies, while the latter claims it is an accommodative statement unrelated to resurrection of the dead, but fulfilled in the Babylonian captivity in 6th century B.C.

Finally, on accommodation in Scripture, the ISBE shows all the sacrifices of Christ had a present immediate application in the time of their offering but all spoke to or prophesied of their future yet to be fulfilled application in the death and Parousia of Christ.  We will speak more on accommodative language as we answer more of Coogan’s and Denham’s attempts to obviate the fulfillment of the resurrection of the dead at the coming of the Lord in AD70.