1 Corinthians


9. The resurrection, 15:1-58

iii] Christ's rule


In addressing the flawed understanding of the resurrection of the dead evident in the Corinthian congregation, Paul draws out the human implication of Christ's resurrection from the dead, namely, if Christ is risen, then those who believe in him will also rise. It is in making this point that Paul lets us into a mystery concerning the age to come. We are taken into the secrets of the coming age, of Christ's reign over all things and his ultimate subjection to God the Father.


i] Context: See 15:1-11.


ii] Background: The Corinthian enthusiasts and their flawed understanding of the resurrection of the dead, 15:1-11.


iii] Structure: Christ's rule:

Against the view that there is no bodily resurrection #3:


if Christ is risen, then the dead in Christ will also rise.

Argument #2:

The consequences of accepting the resurrection of Jesus, v20-28;

Christ's resurrection is the pattern, v20;

The analogy between two uniquely representative men, v21-22;

The sequential steps involved in the resurrection, v23-24;

The reign of Christ, v25-26;

The "everything" of Christ's reign is defined, v27-28.


iv] Interpretation:

Paul makes the point to the enthusiasts in Corinth that Jesus was the first to be raised to life and he will be followed by those who associate with him. The human association with Adam entails sin and death, but a human association with Jesus entails a future resurrection to life. As Holleman argues in The Christian Expectation, 1996, Paul's point is that the resurrection of believers is "a necessary sequel to Jesus' resurrection."

Paul goes on to explain the chronology, the tagmati, "order", of these two events. First Christ rises, reigning and subduing all powers and authorities, the last power being death itself. Then follows the eschatological resurrection of all believers, and with all enemies put under his feet, Christ submits himself to the Father.


When is the subduing of powers and authorities completed? In interpreting this passage, it is possible to argue that Paul intends us to see an ongoing reign of Christ post the resurrection of the dead, an eternal battle in the heavenlies against the evil "powers and authorities." During this period, Christ leads resurrected believers in an assault against the powers of darkness until "God is all in all."

The more likely interpretation is that the "enemy" is sin and death and once this enemy is put away, Satan's power is destroyed. The resurrection of the dead heralds the end of sin and death and thus, the end of Satan and his minions. With this option, life in our Tardis will be quiet and uneventful, which makes me suspect that there is a bit more to eternity than that. We will just have to wait and see!


The Dispensational interpretation of this passage. Although a less than satisfactory approach to this passage, it is widely accepted. This view was popularized some years ago in Hal Lindsay's, The Late Great Planet Earth. In this view there is an immanent "coming [of Christ] for his saints" when believers are raptured. Jesus comes secretly and raises the dead and transfigures the living to himself in the air. This is the resurrection at the first coming of Christ. Then follows seven years when the world is evangelized, Israel converted, the great tribulation occurs and the Antichrist is revealed. After this, Jesus returns with his saints to judge the world and then usher in his millennial kingdom. For some, this kingdom is an eternal one, reigning over new heavens and new earth. For others it lasts for a thousand years. Those who believe in the millennial kingdom lasting a literal thousand years, fall into two groups:

IPremillennial. This view maintains the sequence of events above with the millennial kingdom centered in Jerusalem and a new temple, a kingdom ruled by Christ and his saints with great power and glory. The reign of the earthly kingdom ends when Satan is loosed for a time. He attacks the holy city, but is ultimately defeated and judged. This ushers in the new heavens and new earth.

IPostmillennial. "A period in the later days of the church militant, when, under the special influence of the Holy Spirit, the spirit of the martyrs shall appear again, true religion is greatly quickened and revived, and the members of Christ's churches become so conscious of their strength in Christ that they shall, to an extent unknown before, triumph over the power of evil both within and without". So says Strong. The return of Christ comes at the conclusion of this millennial kingdom.

The dispensational approach tends to proof-text scripture and so is more imposed than derived. One disastrous byproduct of dispensational teaching is that it encourages support for the secular State of Israel in its occupation, subjugation, and in some cases, persecution of the Palestinian people, 10% of whom are Christian.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 15:20

The consequences of accepting the resurrection of Jesus - "Paul indicates that the final stage of the plan of redemption and the end of the present world order have already commenced: just as Christ was raised by God, so the church (believers together in Christ) will be raised", Naylor., v20-28:

i] "Christ's resurrection anticipates and exemplifies that of all believers", Naylor, v20.

nuni de "but ..... indeed" - now but. Transitional; possibly emphatic "indeed". An adversative sense in response to v19; "but in point of fact ....", Barclay. The NRSV has "but in fact." A temporal sense may be carried by nuni, explaining the way things are at the moment, namely, Christ has risen and therefore, we have life now, but it seems more logical than temporal.

ek + gen. "from" - [christ has been raised] from [the dead]. Expressing separation, "away from", or partitive.

aparch (h) "the firstfruits" - Nominative substantive standing in apposition to "Christ". Used in an illustrative sense, the first of a great number. The first grains of the harvest represent the first of a great number and Jesus' bodily / individual / personal resurrection represents the first rising to life of the resurrection of all believers. Jesus is the first cab off the rank as it were.

twn kekoimhmenwn (koimaw) gen. pas. part. "those who have fallen asleep" - of the ones having fallen asleep. The participle serves as a substantive, while the genitive is adjectival, partitive, limiting "firstfruits". A Pauline description of the state of believers who have died. Those who have died "in" Christ are asleep in his arms and will awake in the last day. The idea of "sleeping in Jesus" counters the platonic view of the soul leaving the body when we die. The scriptures clearly state that the dead in Christ rise on the day of his return, so sleeping in Jesus serves as a comforting descriptive of our waiting for that coming day. "Just as the first-fruits are the guarantee that all the rest of the harvest will follow, so [Jesus] resurrection guarantees that those who have died will rise again", Barclay.


ii] Paul now explains how it is that Christ's resurrection anticipates and exemplifies the resurrection of believers. He does this by drawing "an analogy between two uniquely representative men", Bruce, v21-22. Death came to the human race through one man, and life has come through one man. The disobedience of Adam brought death to all his seed. "In" him, that is, in our community of association with him, we face the consequence he faced. On the other hand, the obedience of Christ brought life to his seed, such that all who are in community with Christ will live.

gar "for" - More reason than cause, explaining what is meant by the statement "the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep."

epeidh "since ...... comes also ...." - Introducing a comparative construction which is a touch causal; "for insomuch as / just as in the case of Adam death came because of / through a man, so also came the resurrection of the dead persons because of / through a man, namely Christ." "For this is how the matter stands, Cassirer.

dia + gen. "[came] through" - through, by means of. An instrumental sense is likely, but causal has been suggested. "Came" is added for meaning since there are no verbs in the sentence. Without a verb the nouns become emphatic; "entered the world by means of Adam's sin."

anqrwpou (oV) "a man" - a man [came death]. Nominative subject of the assumed verb "to come." Referring to Adam and his sin.

nekrwn gen. adj. "[the resurrection] of the dead" - [so and = also through a man came a resurrection] of dead persons]. The genitive is most likely ablative, source/origin / separation, "the resurrection from the dead", or adverbial, reference, "with respect to the dead."


gar "for" - More reason than cause, expanding on the statement made in v21; "explaining how so", Fee.

w{sper ........ ou{twV kai "as ......, so ...." - A comparative construction; "just as ....., so also / even so too ......" A causal sense may be carried by the comparison; "for just as because of their relation to Adam all die, so because of their relation to Christ they will all be brought to life again", Goodspeed.

en + dat. "in" - in [adam]. The prepositional phrase is adverbial, modifying the verb "died", either instrumental, "by means of", or local, incorporative union, "in union with Adam / in union with Christ", TEV, "in the domain of Adam", B&L, "in the case of Adam / Christ", R&P,

panteV adj "all [die ..... will be made alive]" - all [die, so also in christ all]. "All" = all those associated with Adam die (the whole human race), and all those associated with Christ live (believers). The "all" certainly does not imply all people whether believers or not. "The sentence of death was not only valid for Adam as an individual, but also for all his descendants", Thrall.

zw/opoihqhsontai (zwopoiew) fut. pas. "will be made alive" - Paul has chosen this word to emphasize the quality of life found in Christ's resurrection, as opposed to the resuscitation of a dead corps.


iii] Paul now explains the sequential movement of the created order from Christ's resurrection to the divine settlement of all dominion, authority and power in the kingdom, v23-24. In this sequential movement, the resurrection of those in Christ follows his coming. At the return of Christ, the first to rise are those believers who have already "fallen asleep", immediately followed by those believers who are alive.

de "but" - but/and. Often treated as an adversative here, "yet", although the prime function of the conjunction at this point is to introduce the next step in the argument. The main verb is carried over from v22, "in Christ all will be made alive yet each will be made alive in his own order."

en + dat. "in" - [each one] in [the = his own]. Introducing an adverbial prepositional construction, modal, expressing manner / standard, "but we must each wait our turn", CEV.

tagmati (a, atoV) "turn" - proper order, orderly. The word has a military origin meaning "rank / division", but also came to mean "each in its place / sequence." "But each in the proper arranged order", Thiselton, rather than Moffatt, "each in his own division."

aparch (h) "firstfruits" - first the firstfruits [christ]. Nominative standing in apposition to "each". The first picking off a fruiting plant. So, Christ is the first human person to experience the resurrection.

epeita adv. "then" - afterward, later, then [the ones of christ]. Expressing the next in sequence; "then ...... those who belong to him." Although the passage doesn't rule out a time interval between the rising of the dead and the gathering up of the living, it does seem to imply the two events are related. This is confirmed in Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, 4:13-18. The ordering of the rising serves to underline the fact that those who have already died do not miss out, or end up last in line. It is clear though, that there is a time interval between the resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of believers, so "then, next in sequence, ..."

en + dat. "when [he comes]" - in [the coming / presence / appearing of him]. Introducing an adverbial prepositional construction, temporal, indicating when the dead in Christ rise, although causal is possible, ie., the parousia is the instrument by which the dead in Christ rise. The when is usually our greatest concern, although the where is more problematic. His appearing / coming is in the clouds in glory, but where? We automatically opt for a coming to earth, but if the perspective is that of Daniel, then Christ's coming is to heaven, to the Ancient of Days, and this with the resurrected saints. "At his arrival", Naylor.

oiJ "those" - the ones. The article serves as a nominalizer turning the genitive "of Christ" into a nominative substantive standing in apposition to "each". The genitive tou Cristou, "of Christ", is adjectival, possessive, so "those who belong to Christ."


After the resurrection of the dead, the final goal ("end") will be realized. The word ei\ta,"then", does not imply that the "end" follows immediately after the resurrection of the dead and living at Jesus' return. An interval may rightly be understood here where there is the destruction of all that opposes, and the handing over of sovereignty. The "when" this happens is an uncertain time interval, typical of a mysterious prophetic revelation. Christ is given rule by the Father and when he brings this rule to a triumphant conclusion, he will then hand back the sovereign rule to its source. This handing over of authority will follow on "after" (again, without a specific interval of time) Christ has destroyed all evil powers, "everything", including "death" itself.

ei\ta adv. "then" - then, afterwards. Temporal adverb. Probably again, "the next in sequence", although the word does not define whether or not the sequential events coincide.

to teloV (ouV to) "the end will come" - the end, conclusion, goal will come. Nominative subject of an assumed verb, eg. "will come" NIV. "Paul does not explain what this is, but possibly he is speaking about the end of human history, or in a wider sense the end of God's redemptive plan in Christ, the submission of all powers under Christ's reign, cf., Naylor, R&P, Garland. Yet, Paul may just be using the word in the sense of "climax", or "goal", a climax / goal which entails the handing over of the kingdom to the Father, so Fee. Following the resurrection of believers, and the consequential end of human history, the sequence of events moves to the ultimate goal when Christ hands over the kingdom to the Father. It is possible, although unlikely, that teloV here means "rest / remainder", so the resurrection sequence is: first Christ; then believers; and "then the rest."

oJtan + subj. "when" - when, whenever. This construction forms a temporal clause expressing a future reality of indeterminate time. As already noted, there remains the possibility that between th parousia "the coming / appearing" of Christ, entailing the resurrection of believers and the end of human history, there is an indeterminate period of time during which Christ establishes his eternal reign, along with the resurrected community of believers / saints, over all spiritual powers, prior to handing the kingdom to the Father. The more conservative position is to tie Christ's "coming / appearing" to his handing over of the kingdom to the Father. A heavenly struggle post resurrection remains speculative. The two temporal clauses are obviously temporally linked, although the "second is subordinate to the first", Conzelmann, so "after Christ has destroyed every rule and authority and power in the spirit-world, he will hand over the kingdom to God the Father", Barclay.

paradidw/ (paradidwmi) pres. subj. "he hands over" - he gives over. Variant aorist verb. Christ's handing over of authority to the Father (not "God", Conzelmann), after the annihilation of all hostile powers, is a rather strange idea, given that a division of authority in the godhead is anything but doctrinally sound (cf., trinity). It is likely that Paul is simply describing an eternal settlement of divine authority, the full realization of the kingdom of God, the final hoped-for setting of all things right, rather than all authority being vested in the Father. In Jewish thought the rule / reign of God entails the realization of the kingdom of God, of new heavens and new earth. For this we are to pray, "thy kingdom come"; for this we wait expectantly, with the spirit-filled church being but a foretaste. So, Paul is simply describing the realization of the kingdom of God after Christ's triumph over all the powers of darkness, as compared to its inauguration in the resurrection of Christ, cf., Ruef.

tw/ qew/ (oV) dat. " to God" - [the kingdom] to god [and = even the father]. Dative of indirect object. Having fulfilled his messianic role, Christ will "present to God a universe throughout which his sovereignty is perfectly established", Thrall.

katarghsh/ (katargew) pres. subj. "[after] he has destroyed" - [when] he may nullify, make of no effect, abolish. It is likely that the destruction of the evil powers of the universe is not just limited to the power structures of this world. These powers primarily reside in "heavenly places" and thus, the battle will be cosmic. As noted above, such is a matter of conjecture.

pasan adj. "all dominion, authority and power" - all, every [rule and all authority and power]. All secular and spiritual powers opposed to God, so "after crushing the opposition he hands over the kingdom to the Father", Peterson.


iv] The reign of Christ, v25-26. First, "why the Son continues to reign over the basileia kingdom", R&P, and second, the identity of the last great enemy.

gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why Christ does not hand over the kingdom to the Father immediately.

dei "must" - it is necessary. Often expressing divine necessity; bound by God's divine will. The divine will is that all enemies, earthly and cosmic, be destroyed and thus, Christ must reign until they are destroyed. Paul draws on the language of Psalm 8:6, 110:1 where the Lord invites David to sit at his right hand, in which position of authority he is to serve until all his enemies become his footstool. Paul applies this messianic promise to Christ.

basileuein (basileuw) pres. inf. "reign" - [for him] to reign. The infinitive serves as the subject of the verb "is necessary"; "to reign is necessary."

acri ou| + subj. "until" - until [he may put]. Forming an indefinite temporal clause referring to a future time in relation to the main verb; "until he has reduced all his enemies to complete subjection", Barclay.

uJpo acc. "under" - [all the = his enemies] under [the feet of him]. Spatial.


katargeitai (katargew) pres. pas. "to be destroyed" - [last enemy] being abolished, made of no effect, brought to nothing [is death]. Most translations understand the present tense as expressing "what is certain", R&P, so NIV. Yet, giving weight to the durative aspect of the present tense in the Gk. we have the sense "the last enemy is being destroyed / annihilated", expressing the thought that the process is underway now through Christ's reign, ie., "death is being led inexorably to its final doom", Naylor, cf., Barrett. The duration of Christ's sovereign reign began at the point of time when the Father handed over the authority of the universe to his Son and concludes when all that is opposed to the living God is no more. The final enemy is death itself, ie., when the enemies of God are no more, there will be no more death, Rev.20:14. The quote from Psalm 8:4-7, makes the point that Adam was given authority over the world, but lost this authority in rebellion. In Christ this authority is restored to mankind.

oJ qanatoV (oV) nom. "death" - This noun is best treated as appositional, "the last enemy is being destroyed, namely death", Thiselton.


v] These final two verses specify the "everything", v27-28. Christ's authority, of course, is not over the Father. When everything has finally been subjected to the authority of Christ, then shall the Son himself be subject to the Father. The Father himself had originally given the Son authority over everything. The purpose of this final subjection of Christ to the Father is that God might be everything in everything, that is, that everything might be complete in the living and eternal God; "that God may be everything to everyone."

gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why death is abolished, namely, because he has put all things in subjection under him. "Scripture says that God has subjected all things to him (Christ)", Barclay.

uJpo + gen. "under [his feet]" - [he subjected all things] under [the feet of him]. Spacial; metaphorically = under the authority of.

de "now" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the argument to a qualification; "but when it said ...", Cassirer. The extent of the "all things" (panta, emphatic position) that are "under his feet", doesn't include God / the Father himself. So, Paul sets out to qualify what he means by"everything".

o{tan + subj. "when it says" - when it / he (God the Father / Christ??) says. Forming an indefinite future temporal clause; "when God shall have said", R&P, ie., when God ultimately proclaims the final victory of Christ over all his enemies.

oJti "that" - that. Introducing a dependent statement, direct quote: "when it / he says 'all things have been subjected'".

uJpotetaktai (uJpotassw) perf. pas. "has been put under him" - [all things] have been subjected. The perfect tense would normally express action starting at a point and continuing, but here the action is continuing to a point.

oJti "that" - [it is clear] that. Here introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what is clear / evident; "it is clear that 'all things' excludes the one who did the subjecting to him", Fee.

ektoV + gen. "this does not include God himself" - [he is] free from, apart from, independent of = excepted. Expressing an exception; "it is plain enough that that excludes the one who subjected all things to him", Cassirer.

tou uJpotaxantoV (upotassw) aor. part. "who put [everything]" - the one having subjected [all things]. The participle serves as a substantive.

autw/ dat. pro. "under Christ" - to him. Dative of indirect object / interest.


de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the argument / concluding statement, so left untranslated.

oJtan + subj. "when [he has done this]" - when [all things are subjected to him]. Introducing an indefinite temporal clause, as above. The "all things" now subjected to Christ are the powers and authorities in the heavenly realms. Once subjected, Christ hands over his authority to the Father. As noted above, the more conservative interpretation would have the "all things" as sin and death.

tote adv. "then" - then [and = also]. Syntactically unnecessary. Serving to introduce a temporal clause, as NIV.

autoV pro. "[the Son] himself" - [the son] he = himself. Here serving as a reflective pronoun, as NIV. Variant reading of an adjunctive kai, "also", gives the sense "then also the Son himself."

tw/ uJotaxanti (uJpotassw) dat. aor. part. "[will be made subject] to him who put" - [will be subjected] to the one having subjected. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of indirect object.

autw dat. pro. "[everything] under him" - [everything] to him. Dative of indirect object / interest.

iJna + subj. "so that" - that. Introducing a purpose / hypothetical result clause. As noted above, the handing over of authority from the Son to the Father is a difficult notion to grasp for Gentiles who are not grounded in the Old Testament. Paul's qualification brings clarity to the issue; Christ having dealt with sin and its consequences, life under God gives way to unity / completeness, producing an absolutely comprehensive and unified reign in the godhead. This is not some metaphysical absorption (cf., Barrett, Fee), but a declaration that "God is over all", Garland. "Thus, in the end, shall God be wholly and absolutely God", Moffatt; "that there may continue to be, after all, in every sense, but One God", Junkins.

ta panta adj. "all" - [god may be] all things. Predicate nominative, but note it does not agree with "God", either in number or gender.

en + dat. "in [all]" - in [all]. Local, expressing sphere; "in all things." "That God might bring all things into participation with himself and thus with each other", B&L.


1 Corinthians Introduction



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