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On 1 Corinthians 15:22

“within the Christ, all humans will keep on being made alive”


First of all, this one verse should not be taken out of Paul's context of the immediate passage.  Here is my expanded rendering of that context: 

20.  Yet now – at this present time! – Christ is roused and awake from having been raised up from out of the midst of dead people: a Firstfruit (= the first of the harvest; the Sheaf Offering, signally the beginning of the harvest [Lev. 23:10]) of those having fallen asleep, and are yet sleeping (reposing).

21.  For since through a person (or: a human; or: humanity) [came] death, through a Person (or: a Human), also, [comes] resurrection of dead people.

22.  For just as within Adam all humans keep on (or: everyone continues) dying, in the same way, also, within the Christ, all humans will keep on being made alive (or: in union with, and within the midst of, the Anointed One, everyone will one-after-another be created with Life)

23.  – yet each person within the result and effect of his or her own class (or: ordered place; appointed position [in line]; arranged time or order of succession; = place in a harvest calendar, thus, due season of maturity): Christ a Firstfruit (a First of the harvest), next after that, those belonging to the Christ (or: the ones who have their source and origin in the Anointing; those who are [a part] of the Christ) within the midst of, and in union with, His presence,

24.  thereafter, the purposed goal and destiny

            (the finished work; the embodiment of maturity and perfection; the fulfillment; the result; the outcome; the end and purpose attained; the realization of the perfect discharge; or: the end; the closing act; the consummation), when He can proceed handing over (or: would progressively pass along and entrust; should, by habit, give over) the reign (or: sphere of sovereignty; kingdom) to God, even [the] Father (or: in [His] God and Father), at the time that He would bring down to idleness (make unemployed and ineffective; nullify; abolish; render useless and unproductive) every rulership of government (all headship and sovereignty), even all authority and power (or: every right, privilege and what comes out of being – also, ability)!

25.  For it is binding and necessary for Him to be continuously reigning (ruling as King; exercising sovereignty) until which [time or situation] (or: until where) He would put (or: may place; could set) all the things that have or hold ruin (or: the enemies) under His feet.

26.  [The] last holder of ruin (or: enemy; quality having ill-will) being progressively brought down to idleness (made unemployed and ineffective; rendered useless and unproductive) [is] the Death (or: Death, a last enemy, is being presently nullified and abolished).

27.  For you see,

"He completely arranges, humbly aligns and then appends and puts under shelter all humanity (or: subjoins, supportively arranges in subordination, and brings under full control, all things) under His feet (= as supporting forces in His kingdom)." [Ps. 8:6]

Now whenever He should say that all humanity (or: everything) has been completely aligned and arranged under full, subjected and sheltered control, [it is] evident (clearly visible) that [it is] with the exception of, and outside of, the One subjecting the whole (or: arranging all things and situations in humble, subordinate, attached alignment) in Him, to Him and for Him.

28.  Now whenever the whole (or: all things) may be completely supportively-aligned in Him (or: subjected/appended to Him; subordinately sheltered and arranged for Him), then the Son Himself will also continue being supportively aligned to, fully subjoined for and humbly attached under as an arranged shelter in, the One subjecting, appending and sheltering the whole in Him (or: attaching all things to Him), to the end that God can be all things within the midst of and in union with all humanity (or: may be everything in all things; or: should exist being All in all; or: would exist being everything, within the midst of everyone).

The greater context of the chapter involves the topic of resurrection, and here, in vs. 21, the context is anthropological -- Paul is speaking about the entirety of humanity.  We find an echo of this verse in Paul's elaboration in Rom. 5:12-21. 

Verse 22 continues Paul's anthropology and "all humans" is the subject of each of the parallel clauses (‘pantes’ taken as a nominative, masculine).  The topic under discussion is not "believers" or "the church," but rather, "humans."  We see him expanding Christ's rule to "all the things..." in vs. 25, which vs. 26 instructs us as including "the Death."

In his quote of Ps. 8:6 (vs. 27) he returns to speaking of "all humanity" (taking panta as masculine, in both uses, since this fits best his anthropological theme) as he focuses on "the purposed goal and destiny" (vs. 24, telos).  In vs. 28 he again expands to "the whole" (ta panta) which calls to mind Rom. 11:36a.

But here, in 28b, he uses the most inclusive term to express the final situation: "to the end that [a purpose clause introduced by hina] God can be all things within the midst of and in union with all humanity (panta taken as a masculine -- again in line with his anthropological theme)."  Note that I also render this final panta as a neuter in the parenthetical expansion, ending with the offer of a simple inclusive/ambiguous "All in all," and then, "everything, within the midst of everyone (here rendering ‘pasin’ as a masculine, corporate noun)."

So it is within this "all" context that we must first exegete vs. 22.  Here we find the rhetoric of parallelism with contrast as an extension of Paul's statement in vs. 21 of "resurrection of dead people" that has come "through a Person (or: a Human)," meaning, through Christ.  The contrasts are between Adam and Christ, and between "keep on dying" and "will keep on being made alive."  I have rendered this second clause as a durative future, to be in parallel with the durative present tense of the first clause.  So the statements of the two clauses are:

a) "all humans keep on dying" -- modified by the prepositional phrase, "within Adam"

b) "all humans keep on being made alive" -- modified by the prepositional phrase, "within the Christ." 

We must next consider the parallel functions of the contrasting conjunctions: "just as" -- "in the same way, also."

Now to the hermeneutics: what do these two conjunctions mean?  We are informed of the first one in Paul's argument of Rom. 5:12ff.  There, in vs. 15 we read,

Yet to the contrary, [it is] not in the same way [with] the effect of grace (result of favor; the thing graciously given) as [it was with] the effect of the fall to the side (or: = the result of the stumbling aside and the offence is not simply balanced out by the result of the joyful gift of grace – the gratuitous favor).  For you see, since (or: if) by (or: in) the effect of the fall to the side (the result of the stumbling aside and the offense) of the one THE MANY (= the mass of humanity) died, MUCH MORE (= infinitely greater) [is] the Grace of God (God’s Grace; favor which is God), and the gift (or: gratuitous benefit) within Grace – a joy-producing act of Favor – by that of the One Man, Jesus Christ, surrounded (or: encircles) into encompassing superabundance (extraordinary surplus and excess) into THE MANY (= the mass of humanity).”

Then further on in Rom 5, we are instructed:

18.  Consequently, then, as [it was] through the effect of one fall to the side (or: the result of one offense) [coming] into all mankind ([permeating] into all humanity; = [extending] into the whole race) [bringing them] into a commensurate effect of a decision (a corresponding result of a negative evaluation which fell in line with the decision and followed the pattern which divided [us] down), THUS ALSO and in the same way, through one just-effect and the result of one right act which set [all humanity] right and in accord with the Way pointed out (through the result of one act of justice, equity and solidarity; through a single decree creating rightwised relationships; through one effect of rightwising which turns [people] in the right direction) [it comes] into ALL MANKIND (all humanity; all people; = the whole race) [bringing them] into a setting right of Life and a liberating rightwising from Life [including them in covenant community]

(or: Life’s turning [folks] in the right direction resulting in right relating, equity and justice which is in accord with the Way pointed out; a making of situations and conditions to be right, which pertain to Life; an expressing of fairness and equity, which is LIFE; a rightly directed solidarity coming from Life; a just-acting deliverance having the qualities of life).

19.  For you see, JUST AS through the unwillingness to listen, or to pay attention, resulting in disobedience (or: the erroneous hearing leading to disobedience) of the one person THE MANY (= the mass of humanity) were rendered (established; constituted; placed down and made to be) sinners (failures; ones who diverge and miss the target), THUS – in the same way – ALSO through the submissive listening and paying attention resulting in obedience of the One, THE MANY (= the mass of humanity) will continue being rendered “set-right folks

(placed down and established [to be] just ones; constituted folks who have been rightwised to be people in the Way pointed out; made righteous ones who are guilt-free, fair, equitable, and rightly-turned in the solidarity of covenant relationships).

20.  Now Law and custom at one point entered in alongside (or: intruded into the situation by the side) to the end that the effect of the fall to the side (or: so that the result of the offense and the stumbling aside) would increase to be more than enough (should greatly abound and become more intense).  But where the Sin (the failure; the divergence and missing of the target) increases (or: abounded to be more than enough; becomes more intense) THE GRACE ("the act producing happiness, which is granted as a favor" – Jim Coram) at once super-exceeds (or: hyper-exceeded) over and above, surrounding to excessive abundance and overflow,

21. to the end that JUST AS the Sin (the failure; the erroneous act; the deviation and digression which issued in missing the goal) at one point reigned (or: ruled as king; exercised sovereign sway) within, and in union with, the Death, THUS SO (or: in THIS way) also the Grace and joyous favor would reign (should rule as king; can exercise sovereign sway) through an eschatological deliverance that created rightwisedness (or: by means of being rightly-turned  into an existence with equity in [covenantal] solidarity of right relationships which accord to the Way; through a liberating Justice-[expression]) [which leads] into Life which belongs to, pertains to and has the characteristics of the Age (or: eonian life; Life of the Age [of Messiah]; a life for the ages) – through Jesus Christ, our Owner (Lord; Master).

This is anthropology; it is race-wide in its extent.  The next question must be whether the second clause should be read in light of these two conjunctions.  To introduce into the text theological qualifiers is to participate in eisegesis.  The text does not limit the first clause, nor does it limit the parallel second clause.  An unbiased reading of this verse takes the subjects of both clauses (all humans) as being the same group of humans (all).  The contrasting prepositional phrases inform us as the reason for dying as opposed to the reason for being made alive. 

If we move further into Paul's discussion of resurrection in this chapter, we find other sets of contrasting parallels that speak to this same topic: vss. 45 and 47.  Here Paul reintroduces Adam (first and last) and humanity (first and second).  We should not miss the "divine passive" of vs. 44a,

"It is habitually (continually; repeatedly; presently) being sown a body having the qualities and characteristics of a soul (a soulish body; or: = a body animated by soul; or: = a natural entity); it is habitually (repeatedly; constantly; presently; one after another) being awakened and raised up a spiritual body (a body having the qualities and characteristics of the Breath-effect; or: = a spiritual entity)."

This is all the work of God.   God gives birth to us as a part of the first Adam, and also gives birth to us as a part of the eschatos (last).  Again, there is no work of humans indicated in this later passage: no act of believing, receiving, assenting, etc.  This passage is again anthropology: the old humanity; the new humanity.  Adam was the "federal," or representative head of the dead humanity; Christ is the "federal," or representative, head of the second humanity.  In Paul's arguments we see no choice to be in Adam, and we observe no choice to be in Christ. 

Verse 22 must be read in its context.  Beginning with vs. 20 we read that, "Christ is roused and awake from having been raised up from out of the midst of dead people: a Firstfruit..."  We can read en in vs. 22 as "in union with."  Thus, we can understand the last clause of vs. 22 as speaking of being "in union with Christ" who is now "raised up from out of the midst of dead people."  There is a connection, in the text, of Christ's resurrection with all humans being one after another (the durative future) made alive, because of the union that God has made between all humans and the Last Adam.  But this comes about (as we have seen throughout history, since His resurrection), "each person within the result and effect of his or her own class (or: ordered place; appointed position [in line]; arranged time or order of succession; = place in a harvest calendar, thus, due season of maturity)."

All His goodness is with you,





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