Resurrection of the Body Already But Not Yet

Resurrection of the BodyIn the previous article we discussed the framework of the resurrection of the body. In this article we will examine the resurrection of the body and the already but not yet. In our review, we once again appeal to the writings of Dr. Gordon Fee in His NICNT commentary on 1 Corinthians.

Why The Already But Not Yet Is Important

It is vital to our study of the resurrection of the body to understand the significance of the already but not yet. One of the major objections to the Covenant Body View is the corporate aspect versus that of the individual body. The CBV does not require physical death of the body which results in “consecutive death and life” but rather, it describes a concurrent or simultaneous action of dying and rising as expressed in the already but not yet. Later, we’ll see that this is not a recent discovery of a few Preterists.

Already But Not Yet of the Resurrection of the Body

We’ve already demonstrated that Gordon Fee holds to an “already but not yet” for the salvation received through Christ. He views that salvation as beginning with entrance into the kingdom of God, 1 Cor. 4:20, and consummating at the parousia, 1 For. 6:10-11, 15:50. That view posits a body being put off in baptism/entrance into the kingdom and consummating in resurrection, 1 Cor. 15:50. How, the kingdom morphs from spiritual, invisible, and corporate to an individual body is not explained by Fee.

Fee continues his explanation of his eschatological framework of the “already but not yet” in writing: “The gifted Corinthians still await the revelation of the Lord Jesus (1:4-8); at the the Lord’s Table we proclaim his death until he comes [11:26] Is Fee also waiting for Paul to “come” and set the rest in order? “And the rest I will set in order when I come” [11:34]. Fee continues: “On the one hand, because the future has already been set in motion, one’s entire present existence is determined by this reality (7:29-31). Note Fee’s quote “the time is short” and “the form of this world is passing away”.
Preterists understand this is the world which passed away in 70AD. That premise, when logically followed, means that the bodily resurrection paradigm is over! The futurist position maintained by Fee and others cannot be supported from the inspired text.

Fee’s Futurism and the First Fruits

“On the other hand, the future that has begun and absolutely conditions the present existence still awaits its final consummation.” He cites 1 Cor 6:14 saying the resurrection is the guarantee. Let us not omit that it says the manner in which the resurrection became effective for the saints was through the Spirit, i.e. that same eschatological Spirit which Fee above says consummates all things. Ed Stevens knows that work ceased in 70AD. That is a devastating premise to those who hold a current ongoing miraculous operation of the Spirit.
Fee continues: “Christ is the first fruits, God’s own surety of the full harvest. (p. 17). I don’t suppose a scholar such as Fee loosely chooses words such as “surety” in this context. A surety is a pledge such as the money paid by a bail bondsman that the accused will show up for court i.e. keep a promise, or they will pay the entire amount of the bail. Either way, it’s the pledge of a promise in effect. That means Fee has given us “double indemnity” on the resurrection at the harvest, by using both “first fruits” “aparche” and surety “enguos”, —Heb. 7:22).

James D. G. Dunn on the Firstfruits

Dunn writes the metaphor of the first fruits “denotes the beginning of the harvest, more or less the first swinging of the sickle. No interval is envisaged between the first fruits and the rest of the harvest. With the first fruits dedicated the harvest proceeds. The application of this metaphor to the resurrection of Jesus and the gift of the Spirit expresses the belief that with these events the eschatological harvest has begun; the resurrection of the dead has started, the end-time Spirit has been poured out.” James, D.G. Dunn, Jesus and the Spirit, quoted in Dale C. Allison, the End of the Ages Have Come.” p. 67.
Allison writes the same might be inferred from Paul’s used of “firstborn” in Rom. 8:29 and Col. 1:18; Jesus is the “firstborn” among many brethren and the “firstborn” of the dead. Op. cit.
Thus, for Fee both terms means a pledge that indicated the “general harvest” or resurrection of the body had already commenced. Note the Corinthians were called God’s “field”, (1 Cor. 3:9) meaning they had already been “sown” and “watered” (3:6) and were growing awaiting harvest at the end of the age. Compare Matthew 13:39-43.

The Collective Body or Faithful Community

Dale Allison offers these additional comments on the collective body. “But this interpretation left a few loose ends, for the eschatological words of Jesus did not have to do with the fate of one man. Their orientation was towards a “collectivity” the faithful community. Jesus had spoken not of his own death and resurrection as isolated events but of the great tribulation and the general resurrection of the dead. When, therefore, he passed through death and entered into vindication alone, this was not perfectly in harmony with the prophecies…there remained an inconsistency between the communal dimension of the promises and their initial realization in a solitary figure. Jesus had never intimated that he would rise first or by himself, or that the general resurrection would take place in stages over a stretch of time”. EOA, p. 159, (my emp)

Why Does Allison Cite The Collective or Communal Activity of the Resurrection?

He says it is straight out of the Law and the Prophets, contra many who think King, Preston, Bell, etc made it up! So, let’s take a peak in the Prophets and see if there is anything about a communal resurrection of the dead.
  • Isaiah 26:19: Your dead shall live; together with my dead body they shall arise…”
  • Hos. 6:1-2. Come and let us return to the Lord; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind US up. After two days He will revive US; On the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight.”
  • Hos: 13:14: I will ransom them from the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, [Sheol] I will be your plagues!…”
  • Ezk 37:1-14 I will open your graves…I will put My Spirit in you and you shall live…” This text is Paul’s obvious reference for resurrection through the Spirit in 1 Cor. 1 6:14 and 2 Cor. 5:5, 6:16-18.
These verses affirm the solidarity and organic unity between the resurrection of Christ and his believers as a collective body. Paul quotes Hosea 6:1-2, in 1 Corinthians 15:2-3, obviously expecting his readers to make the connection that with Christ’s resurrection as the first fruits underway, theirs had already begun in, with and through him.They are an organic whole. The solidarity of believers with Christ cannot be separated.
And by the way, 1 Cor. 6:17, does in fact teach that he who is joined to the Lord is ONE SPIRIT WITH HIM! So a merging with Christ in Spirit is not foreign to the Scriptures, nor does it mean we have lost our identity or our minds in making that claim. That text is written well over a decade before 70AD. Given Fee’s framework, it was being consummated at the parousia thus, meaning we are yet ONE SPIRIT with the Lord today, with no loss of identity, individuality or even our physical bodies as far as this life is concerned.