Resurrection, Part 9

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Resurrection, Part 9

Okay, in our last video one of the most important teachings on the way I believe the faith needs to be seen today was presented to us as Paul himself described what the faith will look like once Jesus had overcome all things.

Then He wraps it up for us at verse 28, saying

1st Corinthians 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.

In this passage we are forced to see some things about God the Father and His only Son, Jesus Christ.

We see that there is a hierarchy and that it is God the Father who will be all in all – this was one purpose of His Son’s work – to bring all glory to God who is the Father.

We also have to admit that as His Word became flesh, that that flesh, that human being, that Man – will forever be our Lord, Savior and King – the God Man.

He is our connection to God,  again . . . AS ONE OF US.  And as one of us, and by submitting Himself below all things, he overcame our world, and took Himself – the Man, Jesus of Nazareth, God with us – into the very presence, even to the actual right hand of, God.

There is a hierarchal relationship between God the Father and His Son, which scripture makes plain, saying in

1st Corinthians 3:23 “And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.”

Herein is our link to the Living God – and Jesus is the one to whom we give our allegiance (as our Human King).  This faithful allegiance brings glory to God who was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself.

Paul reiterates this point in 1st Corinthians 11:3, saying:

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”

Perhaps the best description for us about this relationship we have with God THROUGH Jesus Christ can be found in Philippians 2:5-11, where Paul says:

5  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 

 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Listen to Paul’s summary of God and the Lord Jesus Christ in 1st Corinthians 8:6 where he says:

“But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.”

We even find direct support of this right here in 1st Corinthians 15 when Paul wrote and which we covered in the last video, saying at verse 28

And when all things shall be subdued unto him (Jesus Christ the Lord, Savior and King), then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

This describes what the wrap up of Jesus mediatorial reign will look like, having accomplished everything on our behalf as our human King to bring us to God, His Father, again, saying:

1st Corinthians 15:28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him (Jesus Christ the Lord, Savior and King), then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

Remember guys, when Paul wrote this, this time had not come.  Reading it now, we know it has come AND gone.

(beat)

Of course, this changes nothing in the human need for Jesus.  He is still the one who made it possible for God to be all in all – and I would suggest He continues to remain Savior, Lord and KING over the entire human raceeven so much that it is He that sits on the single throne as God complete.  But that is for another day.

In the previous verses Paul wrote of the promise that all things would be subjected to God; in this verse he speaks of its being actually done – again, to him then, in the future, saying 

then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.”

To be honest, we really don’t know how to interpret the meaning of this passage I full, but let’s consider some things together here.  

First, this most evidently refers to some sort of change occurring.  We can’t say what that change is (although we can make suggestions) but some sort of change was going to occur.

Secondly, other scripture tells us that His Kingdom will not end.  It is a perpetual kingdom according to

2nd Samuel 7:16; Psalm 45:6; Isaiah 9:6,7; Daniel 2:44; 7:14; Luke 1:32,33; and  Hebrews 1:8).

Nevertheless, as Mediator between God and Man, perhaps this office is resigned and having made an atonement and recovered the world through His Son, the Father now assumes something that was not present since before the fall – Him as one reigning over all.

It is interesting that in describing Jesus in Isaiah 9:6, that he is called the “Father of the everlasting age,” – an age where He will never cease to reign.  We will talk more about this when we get to verse 28 of 1st Corinthians 15 as this topic is too full of conjecture and I’m not convinced it is beneficial to us at this stage.  Suffice it to say, some sort of change was to occur when all the things listed were complete.   So, let’s move on and we come to verse 29 which as a single verse has perplexed numerous scholars and even been the foundation of a unique practice the LDS or Mormons do in their temples.. 

But going back to verse 19 (through 28) most Bible commentators believe (and I tend to agree with them) that Paul got sidetracked off teaching on the resurrection and see these verses as a parenthetical reference.  

So, if we remove what could be considered a parenthetical reference of verses 19-28 the teaching would sound like this:

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

18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

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

Then to verse 29

29 Otherwise what will become of those who got themselves baptized for the dead? If the dead do not rise at all, why are these baptized for them?

30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?

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

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 to morrow we die. 

33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

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

As a reiteration, in verses 1-11, Paul declares that Christ, after he died for our sins, was raised from the dead, a fact amply attested to by “above 500” witnesses (verse 6), most of whom he says are still alive as he writes.  

Then in verses 12-18, then verse 29- 49, Paul marshals a series of arguments for the importance and reasonableness of the doctrine of the resurrection of the body. 

The modern reader needs to keep in mind that the Hebrew-Christian doctrine of the resurrection, which we take for granted, was considered foolishness in ancient Greek culture (and of course Corinth was a Greek city). 

In any case, what is important to see is that Paul’s mention of “baptism for the dead” (in verse 29) is one of this series of arguments introduced to serve his purpose of defending the reasonableness of resurrection itself. 

The real question to ask then is, who is it at Corinth that is practicing baptism for the dead, and do they and the practice have the apostle’s approval?  

Paul’s blunt rhetorical question in verse 12 expresses the burden of the chapter as he says:

“Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead

Remember, the entire series of arguments in verses 13-49 are specifically aimed at refuting the false teachers within the Corinthian congregation (“some among you”) who are openly denying the resurrection. 

The following outline gives an overview of the passagea:

If there is no resurrection, Christ is not risen (vv. 13,16); (therefore)

Our preaching is vain, we are yet in our sins (vv. 14,17); (therefore)

We as apostles are false witnesses (v. 15); (therefore)

The dead in Christ are perished (v. 18); (therefore)

Christians are of all people most miserable (v. 19).

Now remember that sentence where Paul says, we of all people must be MOST MISERABLE)

Then, we come to Paul’s “side bar” discussion which is so important to us today when he adds:

As death came by one man (Adam) upon all who descended from him, so resurrection to life is brought by one man (Christ) to all who belong to Him (vv. 20-22).

Then he presents the order of resurrection: Christ first, then those who are Christ’s at His return (vv. 23-28).

And then at verse 29 we come back to the false teachers who denied the resurrection as being inconsistent when they baptize for the dead, for the practice is based on the hope of resurrection (v. 29).

And then in verses 30-34 Paul continues to ask: “Why suffer abuse for the gospel if there is no resurrection (vv. 30-34)?

(NOW, in the context of all of this listen to the words associated with miserable that are in verse 30-34, including):

30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?

31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily

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

I now submit to you that what Paul means by his vague and singular reference to “baptism for the dead” has two possible meanings:

The first possible meaning of the reference is that it was being done by a mislead group who probably simultaneously denied the resurrection.

This is supported by Paul’s use of “they” and “we” in the text.  Note the King James translation:

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?  

But then note the next verse

30 And why stand WE in jeopardy in every hour?

So perhaps there is the “they” who both denied the resurrection and performed baptisms for the dead and then there is the “we” (or Paul’s audience of true believers he was hoping to reach and teach).

That’s one reasonable view of verse 29.

The second I’ve alluded to in the emphasized words orbiting around misery.  The thinking is this.  

Paul was referring to actual water baptisms when he used the phrase “baptized for the dead,” meaning that when a believer died, they were replaced by another believer in the bride at that time through the public administration of water baptism.

This sounds a bit far fetched, but before the parenthetical reference verses Paul states that if there is no resurrection then believers were of all men “most miserable.”

Then we get his rabbit trail, then he comes back and asks a rhetorical question at verse 29:

Otherwise, 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.

Then in he adds (LISTEN)

And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?

See, to receive water baptism was an invitation to suffering – even death in that day and age.  SO what he could be saying is

If there is no resurrection, why are people accepting water baptism to replace those who have been martyred in the Bride, and why stand we in jeopardy at every hour (as the most miserable of men) . . . IF there is no resurrection of the dead?

Meaning . . .

“If the rite of actual baptism for the dead was a legitimate part of apostolic teaching, we might have expected the apostle to say “what shall you do…” or “what shall we do…” who are baptized for the dead.”

Paul’s use of they and we is clear from Romans 9:1-3 and 10:1-4 where he was acutely conscious that many among his own Jewish kinsmen were outside the gospel fold and he speaks of having “great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart” for his Hebrew brethren (Romans 9:2), and declares that “my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved” (Romans 10:1). 

Certainly, if this was an accepted practice Paul, who had those in his own extended family who had gone to their graves unbaptized, would have mentioned it in places like these. 

Indeed, the impersonal “they” contrasts markedly with Paul’s practices throughout 1 Corinthians 15, where he consistently addresses his readers as “you” (vv. 1, 2, 3, 11, 12, 14, 17, 31, 34, 36, 51, 58, or, (including himself) “we” or “us” (vv. 3, 15,  19, 30, 32, 49, 51, 52) and not a “they.”

If we ask who the “they” in verse 29 refers to, the context clearly points us back to verse 12.  It is those within the Corinthian congregation who are denying the resurrection, and whom the entire passage is written to refute. 

Then the biting aspect of Paul’s argument becomes clear: These false teachers are inconsistent; they deny the resurrection, yet engage in a practicebaptism for the dead – (which either refers to some strange vicarious practice Paul never endorses OR it was actual water baptisms where new believers were baptized to replace those in the Bride who had been put to death!) but most importantly, is something people would do because it is based in the hope of resurrection.  

This is exactly the understanding of the text held by the early Christian writer Tertullian. Writing about A.D. 180, he makes this comment on 1 Corinthians 15:29:

“His [Paul’s] only aim in alluding to it was that he might all the more firmly insist upon the resurrection of the body, in proportion as they who were vainly baptized for the dead resorted to the practice from their belief of such a resurrection” 

Some wonder why Paul didn’t take the time to refute the practice in writing? 

First, Paul has already associated the rite with false teachers and his description of them as “they.”  So, in this sense, it has no positive standing and needed no special refutation.

Second, history has amply vindicated the apostle Paul’s inspired judgment. The practice of baptism for the dead, in fact, never became widespread.  In fact, only  a few isolated sects have practiced it, including the heretical Marcionite sect in the second century, and the Ephrata Society, a Christian occult group in Pennsylvania in the 1700s. 

These two groups have little in common with each other, and even less with Mormon teaching, so the claim that baptism for the dead was part of original Christianity that was lost lacks any historical or logical basis.  

Third, Paul’s statement at the beginning of 1 Corinthians, noted earlier – Christ sent me not to baptize but to preach the gospel (1:16) – is a reminder that baptism does not have the same indispensable importance to Paul that faith in Christ has. 

This is an indirect slap at the logic of baptism for the dead, which implies that baptism is indispensable for resurrection to eternal life.  

Fourth, Paul does use a tactic where he disagrees but to make a theological point.

In 1st Corinthians 8:10, the apostle refers to eating meat in an idol’s temple without showing it to be wrong in itself; however, that he believed it is wrong is clear from what he says later in 1 Corinthians 10:21.

So, getting back to those who denied the resurrection, Paul now asks:

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?

The purpose of this argumentation is clear – if there is no resurrection of the dead, why the baptisms?

Makes great simple logical sense – especially when he adds

30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?

IOW, why do we constantly risk our lives, and encounter danger of every kind by being baptized if there is no resurrection and we are, of all men, most miserable?

It seems that this reference speaks particularly to Paul himself and the other apostles, who were constantly exposed to peril by land or by sea in the arduous work of making known the gospel. 

He adds (verse 31)

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

This is a strange passage – the way its worded.  Some other translations include:

BBE Yes, truly, by your pride in me, my brothers in Christ Jesus our Lord, my life is one long death.

DBY Daily I die, by your boasting which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord.

MNT Every day I am facing death, my brothers, I affirm it by that pride in you which I have through Christ Jesus our Lord.

TCNT Daily I face death-I swear it, Brothers, by the pride in you that I feel through my union with Christ Jesus, our Lord.

YLT Every day do I die, by the glorying of you that I have in Christ Jesus our Lord:

Apparently, this is a form of oathmaking or swearing and in it Paul makes a really strong assertion.  The meaning may be, “I swear I die daily for the faith, and I assert this as strongly as I believe that you are saved.”

The part of him dying daily seems to be the point because he is alluding to the suffering he endures and he touches on this suffering in the next verse, saying:

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 to morrow we die. 

Now, as to the interpretation of this passage there are a number from scholars of old but to me, I want to take it at face value and assume the most reasonable view – Paul had some sort of contest with a wild beast at Ephesus. Why do I believe this?  

It was something that happened to Christians ( and other) in that day and age; Acts 19:1-41 tells us that the state of Ephesus when Paul was there was a reasonable environment for him to experience such a thing, and just because Luke doesn’t mention it in Acts doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

When we get to 2nd Corinthians 11:24-27 we can read between the lines and see that it was entirely possible for him to have suffered a number of things in his life not recorded but his use of the suffering “deaths often” in 2nd Corinthians 11:23 tells us a lot.

But to the point at hand as Paul asks:

What advantage would this give me? What benefit and why would I risk my life in this manner?”  

And he responds to his own query by making a suggestion, saying:

“let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die!”

Or

“Let us JUST eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die and the whole deal is over.” 

The phrase, “Let us eat and drink,” comes from Isaiah 22:13 and their original application was when the Jews where taken over by Sennacherib and the army of the Assyrians and Isaiah says, that instead of weeping, and fasting, and humiliation (which would have been good) they gave themselves up to feasts and celebration, saying, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die;”  in other words, there is no sense in trying to resist or to call upon God – so let’s just party till we’re dead.

Of course, Paul isn’t recommending this and the reason is he knows that the resurrection is a reality – and it is something to look toward as a gift from God.  Then he adds:

33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

This line seems to be referring to the damage that the false teaching that there was to be no resurrection would cause – with Paul having just previously said:

Let’s just eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die (and now)

Don’t fool yourselves – evil communications corrupt Christian behaviors.

Now – the phrase – evil communications best means: bad intercourse or engagements with others.

Bad interpersonal koinonia – bad intimate relations with others.  And the concept lends to the idea that when we get engaged with others who are different than we are, and express ideas and thoughts that are corrosive, the outcome of such intimate relations is bad behavior.

In other words, Paul is not talking about simple conversations – he is speaking of conversations in companionships – like with those in Corinth who were denying the resurrection.

What is interesting about this quote is Paul took it from a Greek Poet named, Menander – who was a popular comic in Athens educated by one Theophrastus.

He was full of elegance, wit, and refined and judicious observations.  Of one hundred and eight comedies which he wrote, nothing remains but a few fragments. 

The interesting this is that it is said that he drowned himself, when he was 52 years old (BC 293) because the compositions of his rival, Philemon, (different guy) obtained more applause than his own. 

By quoted this sentiment from a Greek poet whose own relations with another lead to his demise may have had both meaning to Paul and his audience in that day and age.

Bottom line – close relationships, with evil-minded men, can have dire consequences.  And the consequences at hand were that false brethren were denying the resurrection.  So, before going into explaining the resurrection itself, Paul says:

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

The word here translated “awake” means to not only rise up but to awake from a deep slumber or torpor – like that brought on by being drunk.

“rise up to the ways of righteousness, to a holy life, to sound doctrine,” or perhaps, rise up to what is good and right and how things should be.”

Get over these false teachings, get back to what is good and right –  there are some who have no idea about the things of God.   I say this to your shame – meaning, your slumbering nature over such things is on you.

Paul was known to use sleeping and slumber in his writings.  In Romans 13:11 he says 

“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.”

He also wrote in 1st Thessalonians 5:5 

“Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.”

You are children of the light, rise up, depart from error and relationships with men ignorant in the things of God.  This stuff can lead you into sin which can lead you away from the truth and light!

And now, having said this, he steps directly into teaching about the resurrection.  Which we will get to finally in our next video presentation.  It is revelatory and you have earned it.

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