A Sample Passage from the Comments on First Corinthians:

Chapter 13


This chapter is a rhetorical diversion that is different in both form and style from what has just preceded it, and from what immediately follows, in 14:1.  In 8:1b, above, Paul brought up the topic of Love, saying, “The Love (agape: urge toward unambiguous, participating, accepting reunion; fully giving of oneself to others in solidarity) progressively edifies and builds up the house,” in contrasting it to “knowledge.”  In 10:23b, above, he made the point that, “All things are authorized, permitted and out of [His] Being, but yet not all things progressively edify or build up the house.”  In the verses below he will go into specifics.  The word Love (agapē) is used most frequently in the Gospel of John, and in 1, 2 & 3 John, but is common in Paul’s other letters.  Becoming familiar with its uses in these other texts will inform a reading of Paul, here.  Harvey says of agapē, “Indeed, so far as we can tell, the word did not belong to ordinary speech at all, the commonest expressions being erōs… and philia (friendship)…. The word, in fact, is not psychological at all, but is a technical term of the Christian vocabulary.  It derives its meaning from the act of God in Christ…” (ibid p 561-2).  This chapter can be divided into three sections: vss. 1-3, 4-7 and 8-13.  Here Paul presents the antidote to the factionalism in Corinth, which this letter has confronted.  It should be noted that the Love that is discussed in this chapter is not “a gift,” unless we see that this Love is God Himself, given to us in and through His Spirit.  This Love (which we can think of as describing Christ) is in fact “the FRUIT of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22).  The Fruit of the Spirit is the Anointing, the Son of God (as in the case of Jesus, born of Mary), and Paul is speaking of the “same Spirit, same Lord and same God” of which he spoke in 12:4-6, above.  This Agapē is God, Himself:

            “God continuously exists being Love (or: God is Love and Acceptance)” (1 Jn. 4:8).

So as we read through this chapter, when we see the word Love, let us think of God, Christ, the Spirit.  This chapter is about The Way, the Truth and the Life.  The rhetoric is similar to Rom. 7: Paul sets himself (the speaker, “I”) in vss. 1-3, then gives instruction in vss. 4-10, and returns to himself in vss. 11-12.  Verses 12-13 inform us of both their present situation and the aspects of it that continue dwelling with us.


1.  If ever I could habitually speak (or as an indicative: If I continuously speak) in or with the languages of the human groups (or: by the tongues of mankind) or even of the agents (or: messengers) yet am not constantly having and continuously holding Love (a drive toward reunion with, unrestricted acceptance of, and full giving of myself to, others) I have come to be a continuously sounding (or: blaring; booming out; resounding) [piece of] brass (or: copper; bronze) or a repeatedly clashing basin or a continuously clanging cymbal!


Paul now selects one of the effects of grace that he listed in 12:10, above: “languages.”  Now recall the opening chapter of this letter where he said that he “always and progressively gives thanks to (or: for) my God concerning [them], upon the basis of God's grace” (1:4)…. because “you people are not continuing trailing behind or constantly late, so as to be deficient or fall short – not even in one effect of grace.”  So this chapter addresses the central element that must infuse and be displayed in ALL of the effects of grace: Love.  Without this, their habitual speaking, no matter what language it may be, is mere noise.  Continuous sounding will soon be ignored.  Repeated clashing becomes an affront.  Continuous clanging is nothing but irritation.  But perhaps Paul had the old covenant, or Jewish practices in mind, as exhorted in Ps. 150:5b, “praise Him on the high sounding cymbals.”


If there is no Love in it, more harm is done than good.  Paul uses this as a code word for God, for this is really the only source for “a drive toward reunion with, unrestricted acceptance of, and full giving of myself to, others.”


Call to mind the situation in Acts 12:21-23, where the people responded to Herod’s oration by shouting, "[This is] a voice of a god, and not of a human!"  Paul may be using irony and hyperbole, here.  However, consider what he said in 2 Cor. 12:3-4,

            “I have seen and know such a personsnatched away into the Paradise and heard

            inexpressible gush-effects and utterances (unutterable sayings and results of a flow;

            inexpressible matters and declarations) which are not being from out of existence in a

            person (for a human) to at any point speak.”

Cf 14:7-12, below.


2.  Even if I am continuously holding light ahead of time (or: repeatedly have prophecy), and I may have seen, and thus know, all the secrets (or: every mystery) and all the intimate knowledge (or: insight; gnosis), and if I now continuously possess all the faith and trust – so as to repeatedly transport mountains (or: to change the place and position of mountain after mountain) yet do not habitually possess (or: progressively have) Love and unambiguous, unrestricted acceptance, I am (I exist being) nothing!  [cf Mk. 11:23]


Here he cites two more results of grace, of which he spoke in 12:8, 9 and 28, above.  These three, prophecy, knowledge and faith/trust, are core ingredients of the Good News.  We should notice the definite article before the terms “mysteries/secrets” and “knowledge/insight.”  In Eph. 5:32 we read of one secret,

This secret (or: mystery) is great (= important), but I am speaking unto (or: into; with a view to) Christ, even (or: and; as well as) unto (or: into; with a view to) the called-out community (or: the called-out person; or: the summoned-forth covenant assembly).”

In Eph. 3:9 Paul instructs those in Asia Minor that he was given the privilege,

to illuminate all people (give light to everyone) [as to] what [is] the execution of the detailed plan and household administration of the secret (or: mystery) pertaining to that having been hidden (concealed) away, apart from the ages (or: disassociated from the [past] periods of time), within the midst of God…”

Paul was, of course, speaking as being a follower of Christ, in order to “have seen, and thus know, all the secrets (or: every mystery),” for we read in Col. 2:2b-3 about,

            “God's Secret: Christ, within Whom (or: in which) are all the hidden-away (or:

            concealed) treasures of the wisdom and experiential, intimate knowledge and


A person would have to be “in Christ” in order to “continuously possess all the faith and trust.”  His rhetorical target is, of course, those of the Corinthian community who might think that they possess special knowledge and spiritual abilities.


We find a summation in Rom. 16:25-27, where Paul uses the term “secret (mystery)” in a more general context:

Now by the One (in the One; to the One) being continuously able and powerful to set you steadfast (to make you stand firm and settled) in accord with (or: corresponding to; in the sphere of; in line with) my message of goodness and well-being – even the preaching and public heralding of the message of and from Jesus Christ – down from (in accord with; in line with) an unveiling of a secret (or: a revelation and a disclosure of a mystery) that had been being kept silent (or: quiet) in eonian times (or: for time periods of the [preceding] ages; to [the] times [that would] pertain to the Age [of Messiah]), but now is being brought to light and manifested, and through prophetic Scriptures, down from (in accord with, on the level of and in line with) a command of the eonian God

            (from the God Who exists through and comprises the ages; of God in relation to

            the ages; or: = from the God who created, inhabits, owns and rules the ages), [which leads] into hearing obedience from faith as well as a humble listening and paying attention belonging to trust, pertaining to confidence and which comprises loyalty – suddenly being made known unto all the ethnic multitudes (nations; Gentiles; pagans; non-Israelites) by God (or: with God; in God), alone wise, through Jesus Christ, in Whom [is] the glory (by Whom [is] the reputation) on into the ages of the ages.  It is so (Count on it; Amen)!

Paul is also probably alluding to Jesus’ words in Mat. 13:11,

To (or: For; With) you folks it has been given to intimately experience and insightfully know the secrets (mysteries) of the reign and dominion of the heavens (or: the kingdom which is the heavens; the royal rule which pertains to and has its origin in the heavens, and which emanates from the atmospheres), yet it has not been given to those people.”


It was the unveiling (revealing) of these secrets that gave Christ’s followers knowledge of the Truth, the Way (or: Path) and the Life (eonian life of the Age of the Messiah).  Understanding of all the secrets (mysteries) and now knowing all the knowledge are set in Paul’s argument as giving the possessors of these things a specific power or ability: “so as to repeatedly transport mountains (or: to change the place and position of mountain after mountain).”  Was Paul speaking of geography or geology?  No, he was speaking of kingdoms, governments or empires.  These political organizations were commonly spoken of by the symbol of a mountain.  Mount Zion was often used to refer to the kingdom of Israel, and then Judea, and in the prophecies of the OT it was a reference to God’s coming kingdom.  In Dan. 2:35b the king’s dream of the successive kingdoms ended with a stone that was “cut out of the mountain without hands (= supernaturally)…. That struck the image [and then] became a great mountain, and filled the whole land (or earth)” – Dan. 2:3-35).  In vss. 44-45 of that same chapter, Daniel explains that the stone, that became a mountain, was a figure for God’s kingdom.


All of this may lend insight to the enigmatic saying of Jesus in Mat.17:20,

I am now saying to you people, if you can progressively hold trust, habitually have faith and continue possessing fidelity (faithfulness) – as a mustard seed (grain of mustard), you folks will be saying to this mountain, 'Transfer (Move in step with, and after) from this place [to] there!' and it will be progressively transferring (moving).”

Jesus added to this last statement, in Mat. 21:21, “you can also say to this mountain range (or: hill country; mountain), 'Be uplifted, and then be flung (cast) into the midst of the lake (or: sea)!'”  To what mountain might He have been referring?  Was it perhaps the kingdom of which Jerusalem was the capital?  Was this a figure of God’s kingdom being taken away from the Jews and cast into the sea of humanity?  Was the lake perhaps the Lake of Tiberias (or: Sea of Galilee), which was considered a Gentile region?  Paul’s use of this clause here in vs. 2 may also refer to the setting of what he said in Eph. 6:12, the princes and governments of the domination systems,

because for us [other MSS: for you] the wrestling is not against (toward; with a view to) blood and flesh (= physical bodies), but rather against (toward; i.e., "face to face" with) the beginning controls and rules

            (or: original rulings; or: rulers and controllers; governments; those things or people 

            in first position; the beginning things or people; the original ones; the princes) and

            face to face with the rights and privileges (or: liberties to do as one pleases; or:

            authorities; or: aspects from out of existence), with a view to the strengths of the

            System (or: strengths of the ordered arrangement; or: universal powers of

            domination; the world's strong-ones; or: the strengths from the aggregate of


The “beginning controls and rules” of this verse may be a symbolic reference to Mt. Sinai, and the old covenant that would be moved out of its place in God’s economy.


Yet if the Corinthians (and we), as individuals or as a community, “do not habitually possess (or: progressively have) love and unambiguous, unrestricted acceptance,” they (and we) are NOTHING.  This means that they would cease being God’s temple.  John made it quite clear:

The one not habitually loving has not come to know God by intimate experience…” (1 Jn. 4:8a).

John went on to instruct us,

Within this exists (or: is) the Love, NOT that we ourselves have loved [other MSS: not that we ourselves love or accept] God, BUT, in contrast, that He Himself loves us and sends (or: urged toward reunion with us and sent) His Son as a Representative (Emissary): a cleansing, sheltering covering around our sins (failures to hit the target, errors, mistakes, deviations).  Beloved ones, since thus (or: in that manner) God loves (or: loved) us, we also are constantly indebted (or: under obligation) to habitually love and accept one another” (1 Jn. 4:10-11).

So Paul is also reaching back to 11:21, 28 and 29.  It is not just in their behavior (when eating the common meal together) that they should examine, it is also their attitude, spirit and behavior when they function in one or another of the grace-effects.  John called habitual love and acceptance an obligation, a debt, to folks.  Non-acceptance causes a severing of relationship; absence of love leads to divisions – which leads to “nothingness.”  The Light is extinguished, the branch is removed from the Vine.  Loss of love leads to a removal of the lampstand (Rev. 2:4-5).  History has seen the disappearance of many “churches.”


3.  If further I should dole out all my habitual subsistences in morsels of food – even if I should hand over (commit) my body! – so that I could boast [C, D and other, later MSS read: so that I will be burned], and yet do not habitually possess and progressively have Love, I continue being benefited (furthered; augmented; helped; profited) in not even one thing.

            [note: love (agapē) – "unambiguous love;" "an ecstatic manifestation of the Spiritual

                 Presence;"   "the drive toward reunion;" "participation in the other one;" "the acceptance

                 of the other one as a    person... the power of reunion with the other person as one

                 standing on the same ultimate ground..." – Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology III, pp

                 134-137; Perspectives on 19th and 20th Century Protestant Theology, p 200]


It may seem hard to imagine acts of mercy and humanitarian deeds as not being inherently loving activities, but Paul is digging into the depths of our motivations, e.g., “so that I could boast.”  Keep in mind that this was written to a society that held human honoring as an uppermost aspect of community life.  The alternate MSS readings, “so that I will be burned,” may stem from a MS tradition that had Paul speaking in hyperbole, giving the most extreme act of apparent “self-sacrifice” that would somehow bring a glorious reputation to that person’s life.  That would be the extreme opposite to being a criminal and having the Romans throw one’s body in the city garbage dump (that would have been Gehenna, in Jerusalem) – no honor in that!  This reading seems to us to be less plausible.  His audience could more readily relate to doing something so that a person could boast.  However, Conzelmann points to the ancient custom in India of voluntarily burning oneself that was spoken of by ancient writers (ibid p 223 n 48).


On offer are two possible implications of the present tense that Paul chose for the verb “possess; have.”  Rather than choosing the aorist tense, as found for the verb “love” in Jn. 3:16, he chose the tense that can mean either habitual action or progressive action.  We can habitually possess God’s love, but more than that, we can “progressively have” it: it can grow in us so that what we have multiplies to 30, 60 or a hundred fold (Mat. 13:8, 23; Lu. 8:8).  Love is one description of the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23; cf Jn. 15:1ff).


So boasting over something that does not have the character of God intrinsic in the action brings no benefit, augmentation or profit to the person that does “good works.”  The kingdom of God grows only by the Life of God, just as a “branch” only grows by the flow of the sap (figure of the Spirit) from the Vine.  Jesus informed His followers: “apart from (or: separated from) Me you folks continue having ability and power to do (make; construct; create; form; perform; produce) nothing!” (Jn. 15:5b)  The author of The Gospel of Philip, saying #45, reads, “Faith receives; love gives… No one will be able to give without love… we believe, but it is so that we may love and give…” (Isenberg ibid p 137).


Throughout my translation I have drawn from the exegesis of Paul Tillich on the Greek word agapē.  See the note following verse 3, above.  This word meant vastly more than the feeling or sentiment that is normally understood by our English word, “love.”  But Paul writes more, below (by way of a personifying style that is characteristic of Jewish wisdom literature), to better define “The Agapē,” i.e., God, and to inform us of it qualities, and how it behaves.


4.  The Love (or: This unrestricted acceptance, etc.) is habitually even-tempered, taking a long time to be in a heat of passion (is constantly long-enduring/suffering and patient; keeps on putting anger far away; continues slow to progress toward rushing emotions which cause violent breathing; continues passionately persevering unto the goal) it continues being usefully kind.

The Love (or: This urge toward unambiguous, accepting reunion and giving of oneself) is not constantly boiling with jealousy and envy.  The Love is not continuously bragging or “showing off” – it is not habitually being puffed up; it is not conceited or arrogant.

5.  It is not repeatedly indecent in manner or behavior (it does not continually display lack of [good] form, rudeness or improper demeanor); it is not habitually self-seeking (or: not constantly pursuing its own interests or rights); it is not continually caused to be sharp [in response] nor aroused to irritation or upset emotions; it is not habitually keeping account of the worthless thing, nor logically considering something of bad quality, nor counting the injury.

6.  It does not continue to rejoice upon [seeing or hearing of] the injustice, nor is it happy about dishonesty, inequity, or lack of the qualities of the Way pointed out, yet it repeatedly rejoices with the Truth (or: takes delight together in Reality).


These affirmations about The Love (i.e., God) need little comment, except to say be sure to read them as qualities of God, and see what comes to you.  Verse 4a gives a positive statement, then 4b-6 are all statements about what The Love (God) is NOT!  God is habitually even-tempered, and continues being “usefully kind.”  Wow.  And in vs. 5, “[God] is not habitually keeping account of the worthless thing…”  Does this remind you of 2 Cor. 5:19, “not accounting to them (not putting to their account; not logically considering for them; not reasoning in them) the results and effects of their falls to the side (their trespasses and offenses)”?


Paul’s own life was a lived-out parable of this Love, so what he is saying here is not an impossibility for the Corinthians to live-out, for all of this is the work/Being of God.  In 2 Cor. 6, Paul recounted how he and his associates lived their service to the called-out communities, and in vs. 6 states,

            “[We have served and dispensed] with pureness (or: centered in [a life of] purity); in    

            personally experienced knowledge; with forbearing patience (in taking a long time

            before becoming emotional or rushing with passion); with useful kindness; in a set-apart

            (holy) spirit (or: within the midst of [the] Holy Spirit; within a hallowed breath-effect; in a set-

            apart attitude); centered in, and with, uncritical love (or: acceptance that is free from

            prejudice and from a separating for evaluation; love that is not based on making distinctions,

            fault-finding or judging).”

He was not boasting, but was presenting an example to his listeners.  Also, from their LXX, they had the admonition of Sirach 2:4,

            “Accept whatever befalls you, and in times of humiliation be patient” (NRSV).

They would have also had The Testament of Joseph,

            “In ten testings he showed that I was approved, and in all of them I persevered, because

            perseverance is a powerful medicine and endurance provides many good things” (Kee, ibid

            p 819).

Prov. 19:11 adds another witness:

            “Those with good sense are slow to anger, and it is their glory to overlook an offense”


In Rom. 9:22, Paul reveals this, concerning God,

            “Now since God – habitually willing to display and demonstrate inherent fervor,

            natural impulse, propensity and disposition (or: teeming passion; swelling desire; or:

            anger, wrath and indignation), and also to make known by personal experience His

            power and ability – in  much long-suffering (long-breathing state of inner quietness;

            forbearance; pushing anger far away) bears and carries (or: brought forth and produced;

            or: enduringly supports while moving) containers (vessels) of natural impulse (belonging

            to a passionate disposition; displaying inherent fervor; from teeming passion and swelling

            desire; or: of anger; having the character of    wrath; owned by indignation)…”


7.  [Love] continuously covers all mankind; it is habitually loyal to all humanity; it constantly has an expectation for all mankind; it is continuously remaining under and giving support to all people.

(or, since “all” can also be neuter: It [i.e., unambiguous acceptance] progressively puts a protecting roof over all things; it is habitually trusting in, and believing for, all things; it is continually hoping in or for all things; it keeps on patiently enduring all things.)


The bold rendering gives “all” as masculine readings: “all mankind; all humanity; all people.”  Now look carefully as what God’s Love does: It (HE) continuously covers all mankind (this is “atonement”), is habitually loyal to all humanity, constantly has an expectation for all mankind and is continuously remaining under and giving support to all people.


The concept of “covers” is an allusion to the Heb. word kaphar, which literally means “to cover,” and in Ex., Lev. and Nu. Is conventionally rendered “to make atonement.”  In the NT, we are reminded of 1 Pet. 4:8b,

            “Love (the urge toward union; self-giving) is constantly covering* (habitually throwing a

            veil over; progressively concealing; [and with other MSS: will continue covering]) a

            multitude of failures (mistakes; errors; misses of the target; sins).” [cf Prov. 10:12]


The neuter reading of “all” is also beautiful.  The subject, It, is still the Love that is the subject of this chapter, and specifically of vss. 4-8a.  Look at what God’s unambiguous acceptance does!  His Love keeps on “patiently enduring all things.”  Also take note of the present tense of all the verbs.  There is no end to any of this!  And when God’s love is active within us… just think of the possibilities….


Chapter 15


45.  Thus also (or: In this way also), it has been written, "The first human (or: man), Adam, came for existence (or: was birthed) into [being] a living soul" [Gen. 2:7]; the Last Adam into [being] a continuously life-making (life-producing; life-creating; life-forming) Spirit (or: Breath-effect; Attitude).


The first Adam is the “sowing;” the “Last Adam” is the Resurrection.  We submit that Christ becoming “a continuously life-making Spirit” happened at His immersion by John, when the set-apart Breath-effect (Holy Spirit) descended upon Him (Jn. 1:32; Lu. 3:22), and thus, e.g., He could later call forth Lazarus from the dead (Jn. 11:43).  But we also see this evidenced following His resurrection:

            “He suddenly blows on, and says to, them (or: He breathes within [them], so as to inflate

            them [note: same verb as used in Gen. 2:7, LXX], and is saying to them), "Receive a set-

            apart spirit! (or: Get [the] Holy Spirit!; take the Sacred Breath-effect!; or: Receive a sacred

            attitude)” (Jn. 20:22).


We have seen in Jesus, and now in us, that these two “humans” are the same Person, and are the two aspects of the one plan of the ages. Now Jesus was planted and died in one creation, and was resurrected in the new creation.  Has not the Seed of God within us gone through the same journey?


Humanity began as a living soul, or a living being, a person.  Now the first humanity was given the ability and the directive to “be fruitful and multiply” – i.e., give life to others, as children.  But “the Last Adam” came into being (was birthed) “a continuously life-making (life-producing; life-creating; life-forming) Spirit.”  This is a remarkable statement.  Let us not now suddenly divert from Paul’s explanation about resurrection and try to fit this statement into an ontological concept about God, or Christ.  Paul is contrasting two realms of existence: the realm and existence of the soul, versus the realm and existence of the Breath-effect/spirit.  We saw this in Jesus, when He breathed upon His disciples:

He suddenly blows on, and says to, them (or: He breathes within [them], so as to inflate them [note: same verb as used in Gen. 2:7, LXX], and is saying to them), "Receive a set-apart spirit! (or: Get [the] Holy Spirit!; take the Sacred Breath-effect!; or: Receive a sacred attitude)” (Jn. 20:22).

Christ returned to the Father to continue doing the work of the Father: Breathing God’s Breath into His new, Last Adam, body – the called-out communities.  He is now being fruitful and multiplying in His new creation.  Keep on track: Paul is still speaking about Resurrection.


46.  Nevertheless, the spiritual [is] not first, but rather the one having the qualities and characteristics of a soul (the soulish; psychical), then afterwards, the spiritual (that pertaining to and having the qualities of Breath-effect and Attitude).


Again, two stages of one process, one person, one life.  Also, two covenants; two ages; two realms of existence.  We are resurrected into the “afterwards.”  In the next verse, Paul puts what he refers to in this verse as “soulish,” and “spiritual,” as two different “humans.”  We could also call these two temples, two priesthoods, two covenants, two creations or two bodies, for in vs. 44, above, we read “being sown a BODY having the qualities and characteristics of a soulbeing awakened and raised up a spiritual BODY.”  The sowing represents death/planting, while the raising up represents resurrection.  Verse 47 will designate these as TWO Humans/Humanities.  In 2:14-15, above, he spoke of the “soulish person as contrasted to the spiritual person – both existing at the same time, in his day.  Paul laid it out plainly in Rom. 8:6,

            “For the result of the thinking (mind-set; effect of the way of thinking; disposition; result of

            understanding and inclination; the minding; the opinion; the thought; the outlook) of the

            flesh (= from the human condition or the System of culture and cultus; or: = Torah keeping)

            [is; brings] death, yet the result of the thinking (mind-set; disposition; thought and way

            of thinking; outlook) of the spirit (or: from the Spirit; which is the Breath-effect) [is; brings]

            Life and Peace (joining).”

The difference between the two is determined by one’s thinking, mindset, disposition, outlook and the result of understanding and inclination.  This is why he said, “be progressively transformed (transfigured; changed in form and semblance) by the renewing (or: in the renewal; for the making-back-up-new again) of your mind” (Rom. 12:2).


What also comes to mind is the term and concept found in 1 Pet. 3:4,

            “the hidden person (concealed humanity; cloaked personality) of the heart, within the   

            incorruptible and imperishable quality of the gentle (tender; mild; calm; kind; meek)

            and still (at ease; restful; tranquil; quiet) spirit (or: attitude; disposition; or: Breath-effect)…”

Furthermore, we have the “old humanity” contrasted to the “new one,” in Col. 3:

9.  Do not keep on (or: Stop) lying unto one another!  [Be] folks at once stripping off from yourselves (undressing yourselves from; or: go out and away from) the old humanity (the old human; = the old Adam), together with its practices,

10.  and then [be] suddenly clothing yourselves with (or: entering within) the new one (the fresh one which existed only recently), the one being continuously (or: repeatedly; habitually; progressively) renewed (made back up new again, in kind and character) into full, accurate, added, intimate and experiential knowledge and insight which is down from and corresponds to the image (an exactly formed visible likeness) of its Creator (of the One framing and founding it from a state of wildness and disorder).


47.  The first human (person; humanity) [was/is] forth from out of the earth (Land; ground; soil), made of moist soil and dust (or: having the quality and characteristics of moist dirt that can be poured or mounded; soilish); the Second Human (Person; Humanity; [other MSS add: {is} the Lord]) [is made] out of heaven (or: [is] from atmosphere and sky; [p46 reads: {is} spiritual]).


First of all, let us remark that the phrases describing the materials, or the origins, of the two humans are grammatically parallel in the Greek MSS from which I have given the bold rendering.  The repeated parallelism in this passage should be noted: it is a fundamental aspect of Paul’s argument on this subject.  Verse 47 is the second half of a two-verse couplet: vss. 46 and 47.


By introducing both the material and the origin of the first person/humanity, we see an allusion to Gen. 2:7, where Adam was formed out of the moist soil and dust of the earth.  But keep in mind that Paul’s topic is eschatology, as seen clearly in the second half of this verse.  The Second humanity is the very incarnation of the eschaton, the time and realm of “the end; the goal.”  Paul may therefore also be drawing the listener’s mind into another passage concerning both dust and resurrection: Dan 12:2, the main OT passage about resurrection.  So let us rehearse this verse from Paul’s Bible, the LXX.  We should bear in mind that this passage is apocalyptic, in nature: figurative, symbolic language:

1.  And then, in that season (fitting situation; fertile moment), Michael [He who is like God; cf Jude 9; Rev. 12:7], the Great Ruler (or: Prince; Originator), will proceed in standing back up again (or: in raising Himself up; [note the figure of resurrection] upon the sons of your People [i.e., Israel]. and next there will proceed being a season (fertile moment; appointed situation) of pressure and affliction – such pressure and affliction as has not occurred since an existence of a people-group within the earth (or: from [the] Nation having been birthed on the Land), until up to that season (fertile moment; appointed situation).  Within the midst of (or: Centered in) that season (fertile moment) your People will proceed being delivered (rescued; saved; made whole; [Old Greek MS: exalted; lifted up) – all the humans having been written within the scroll.

2.  Next (or: And so) many of those folks continuing sleeping within [the] dust of earth (or: in the middle of a mounded rubble heap of loose soil; or a sepulchral mound of [the] Land; or: centered in an embankment from [the] ground) will proceed being (or: will one-after-another be) raised up forth from out of the midst: these into the midst of Life of, and pertaining to, the Age [of Messiah] (or: into a life of, for, and having the qualities of, the indefinite ages); and those into the midst of disgrace (reproach; insult; scorning; contempt) and into the midst of an indefinite period (or: age-long) embarrassed humiliation (or: shame, [during the Age of Messiah]. (Dan. 12:1-2; LXX, JM) Cf Mat. 25:34, 41, 46; Rev. 20:12, 15.


Another important OT passage to consider is Isa. 26:19,

“Your dead shall come to life again – My dead body – they shall arise!  Awake and shout for joy, you folks that dwell in dust [cf Gen. 2:7; 3:19 – same Heb. word], for ‘a dew of lights’ is your dew [LXX reads: the dew from you is healing to them], and the ground (or: Land) shall give birth to the inhabitants of the ‘underworld’.” (Rotherham; brackets, modifications, mine) ….


So we suggest that by Paul describing these two humanities, as he has, he is describing the death and resurrection of corporate humanity, as personified in the figures of the two Adams/two Humans.  The resurrection that is described in Dan. 12:2 describes the metaphorical arising of the Second Humanity (as it is joined to Christ) from out of the “dust/sepulchral mound” of the first, “soil and dust” humanity.  It is a picture of first Eph. 2:1, followed by Eph. 2:6.  It is passing from the old and being raised up into the new.


Now let us consider the experience of Jesus. Again, we see that the two humans are one, the second one just being a transformed human, the New Being (as Paul Tillich calls it).  The source of the Second is the same phrase that describes the source of the House from out of the midst of heaven, in 2 Cor. 5:2, our dwelling-house (habitation) – the one from out of the midst of heaven – and although it is a different metaphor, we think that they are parallel thoughts.  Now we agree that the house (in 2 Cor. 5) and the person (here, in vs. 47b) are one and the same thing. We suggest that the Second Human was birthed from out of the midst of the First, as with Mary being the mother of Jesus, and “the Jerusalem that is above” (Gal. 4:26), or the “heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12:22), being our mother.  We read of Adam being put to sleep (a figure of death) in Gen. 2:21, and from out of him came his wife, his body (bone of his bone; flesh of his flesh).  The types and figures are rehearsed and intertwined from Gen. to Rev.  It is the story of God’s great work: the New Humanity that is made of, and is birthed from out of, heaven (the atmosphere that covers, and shelters, the earth).


48.  As [is] the person made of and having the character and quality of moist soil or dust (mounded or poured dirt), of such sort also [are] the people [who are] made of and have the character and quality of moist soil or dust (soil-ish folks); and likewise, as [is] the Heavenly Person (or: the one made of and having the quality and character of the supra-heaven), of such sort also [are] the supra-heavenly people – those made of and having the quality and character of the supra-heaven (or: the finished and perfected atmosphere, or the added sky).


Does this not describe us now?  Are we not now seated with Christ among the celestials?  If not, then we are ones who have only the character and quality of moist soil and dust.  Because of being raised up, resurrected in Christ, we are NOW “the supra-heavenly people – those made of and having the quality and character of the supra-heaven (or: the finished and perfected atmosphere, or the added sky).”  The term “supra-heavenly” gives the force of the term “heavenly” that has the preposition epi- prefixed to it.  The “finished and perfected atmosphere, or the added sky” is an apocalyptic picture of the Anointing coming upon the human, who then becomes “clothed with Christ” (Rom. 13:14a; Gal. 3:27).


These two corporate people – the “soilish” and the “supra-heavenly” – are the same two groups with the contrasting functions and characteristics of which Paul speaks in 2 Cor. 3.  Notice the comparisons, there:

The attending service of the Deatha beaten impression of types and the outlines of patterns that exists as engravings within letters and the effects of written texts chiseled on stonesthe glorybeing progressively unemployed and nullified” (vs.7).  In contrast to…

The attending service and dispensing of the provision of the Spiritcontinues being in glory” (vs. 8).  And further…

The attending service and dispensing of the corresponding evaluations and commensurate decisions which follow the patternto a much greater degree does the attending service and the dispensing of the eschatological deliverance into fairness and equity in rightwised relationships progressively surround and continuously exceed in glory” (vs.9).  And so…

The transcending gloryis constantly surpassing [that one], and is progressively over-casting [us]” (vs. 10).  Now compared to the old, which was “being made ineffective and nullified”…

to a much greater extent is the continuously remaining one (the dwelling, abiding and enduring one) [existing] within the midst of glory” (vs. 11).

We see these contrasts in the teachings of Jesus, and all through Paul.  They are all speaking of the same thing, and here Paul is speaking of two corporate persons: one earthly; one spiritual and pertaining to the heavens/atmosphere….


53.  For it continues being necessary (it is habitually binding) for this perishable and corruptible to at some point plunge (or: sink) in and clothe itself with (or: slip on; put on) incorruption and imperishability, and for this mortal (one that is subject to death) to at some point plunge and sink in and clothe itself with (or: put on; slip on as a garment) immortality (or: the absence of death; deathlessness; undyingness).


Where did Paul speak of something that was “corruptible”?  Yes, just above, in vs. 42, where speaking of humanity being sown as a seed, he said it was, “sown within corruption (or: in union with decay and ruin; in perishability),” and like being clothed with “incorruption and imperishability” here, in vs. 53, back in vs. 42 he concludes with the seed’s destiny of being “awakened and raised up within incorruption.”  And all of this is still describing his theme of resurrection.  Furthermore, this is all set within the agricultural metaphor of the planting of a seed and then receiving a harvest.  Consider the fact that agricultural metaphors relate to existence here, in this life.  Planting, sprouting, growing and then harvesting are all in this life.  Likewise with death (that we experienced in the 1st Adam) and resurrection (that we experience in Christ).


And so when Paul speaks here about “this perishable and corruptible” and “this mortal (one that is subject to death),” he is speaking of we who have been planted in the earth (the place of death and corruption), as a part of the first Adam.  Therefore, what is the “incorruption, imperishability and immortality”?  Well…


This is the same thing as clothing ourselves with Christ, or “putting on Christ.”  The parallels of “incorruption” and “immortality” are synonymous – both are descriptions of Christ.  Paul rehearses this same thought in 2 Cor. 5:4, “to fully enter within and to add clothing upon ourselves, to the end that the mortal (or: this mortal thing) may be drunk down and swallowed under (or: by) The Life” (cf vs. 54, below).  It is one of Paul’s imperatives, something that it is necessary to do, and the process is viewed as the instant act of a snapshot (the aorist tense).  It is like what he says in Eph. 6, when we are told to put on “the whole armor, which is God.”  Again, the language here does not suggest a future event, but an immediate necessity – plunging and sinking into the midst of Christ.  Consider Peter’s words in 1 Pet. 1:23,

            ‘being folks having been born again (been regenerated; been given birth back up again),

            not from out of a corruptible (or: perishable) seed that was sown, but rather from an

            incorruptible (imperishable; undecayable) one: through God's continually living and  

            permanently remaining Logos (or: through a message or expressed thought of [the]             continuously living and constantly abiding God; or: through means of a living and dwelling

            Thought, Idea and Logically laid out Expression, Communication and Word, which is God).”

Notice the passive voice (this was the action of God) and the perfect tense (His action has been completed) of the verb “born again (regenerated; given birth back up again)” of the first clause, and now consider how this is done through an “incorruptible seed,” i.e., God’s Logos (Word; etc.).  And how about 2 Tim. 1:10?

            “and now (at the present moment), being set in clear light so as to become visible (or:             manifested) through the bringing to full light (or: the complete shining upon; the full             appearance in light; the complete manifestation by light) of our Deliverer (Savior; Rescuer),

            Christ Jesus – on the one hand, idling down death (or: The Death) so as to make it             unproductive and useless, yet on the other hand, illuminating (giving light to) life and             INCORRUPTIBILITY (the absence of the ability to decay; un-ruinableness) through means

            of the message of goodness, ease and well-being.”

Can the present reality of all this be said more clearly?  But there is more:

            “Grace and favor, in union with INCORRUPTION (or: within a state or condition of being

            unspoiled, and being incorruptible [note: see 1 Cor. 15:42]), [are] with all the people     

            continuously, unrestrictedly loving, fully giving themselves to, and experiencing the

            urge toward reunion with, our Lord (or: Owner; Master), Jesus Christ ([the] Anointed

            Jesus). Amen (It is so; Count on it)!” (Eph. 6:24).


The late 1st century AD (or early 2nd cent.) Odes of Solomon makes an insightful statement in 15:8,

            “I have put on incorruption through His Name, and stripped off corruption by His Grace”

            (trans, by J.H. Charlesworth, The OT Pseudepigrapha, Vol. 2, ibid p 748).


In regard to what is “perishable,” let us ponder Jesus’ words in Mat. 16:25,

            “You see, whoever may intend (or: should purpose; might set his will; happens to want) to

            keep his soul-life safe (rescue himself; preserve the conscious life that he is living) will

            continue   loosing-it-away and destroying it.  Yet whoever can loose-away and even

            destroy his soul-life (the consciousness of self) on My account, he will continue finding



54.  Now whenever [other MSS add: this corruptible would (or: may) put on incorruption and] this mortal would (or: may) plunge, sink in and clothe itself with (or: slip on; put on) the Immortality, then will continue taking place (or: proceed being birthed; successively come into existence) the word (the thought; the message; the saying) which has been written,

            "The Death was drunk down and swallowed into Victory (or: overcoming)!" [Isa. 25:8]


Paul grounds his arguments about the change from mortal to immortality in a quote from Isaiah.  Don Preston (ibid p 59ff) does a masterful job of connecting the dots between the prophecies of Isa. 24-27, the Dan. 12 passage, quoted above, and the NT prophecies such as Mat. 23 where Jesus reached back to the blood of Abel being shed (Gen. 4) and that of all the martyrs since him and up to Jesus’ time, indicating that the judgment for all of that would come upon His own generation.  He states that “virtually every OT prophecy of the resurrection posits the resurrection in the framework of the time of judgment of Old Covenant Israel” (ibid p 57).  He further connects Dan. 12 to Rev. 11 and Rev. 20 (ibid p 69) as all speaking to a 1st century context.


Has not this prophecy of Isa. 25 been fulfilled in Christ?  Have we not already taken the plunge into Him who alone is Immortal?  We read in 1 Tim. 6:

16. the Only One continuously holding and having possession of immortality (deathlessness), the One continuously making inaccessible (or: unapproachable) light His home (or: dwelling), Whom not one of mankind sees, saw or perceived, nor is able or has power to see or perceive, in Whom [is] honor (value; worth), and eonian strength (might having the qualities and characteristics of the Age; strength enduring through and pertaining to the eons). It is so (Amen)!

It is our being immersed into Christ that accomplishes this, and we saw above (in the verses cited from Rom. 6) that this has already happened.  The only way there is a resurrection is by the Death (the Death spoken of in Rom. 5:12, which became “the disconnect” from the Garden covenant/arrangement in Gen. 3) being “drunk down” (the cup that the Father gave Jesus to drink) and swallowed INTO Victory (the resurrection of Christ),


55.        "Where, O Death, [is] your victory (or: overcoming)?

             Where, O Death, [is] your stinger (sharp point; sting; drover’s goad; spur)?" [Hos. 13:14;

             note: TR reads "O Unseen (Hades)" in the second line, following the LXX and Heb.]

56.  Now the sharp point and stinger of (or: the sting, thus, the injection from) the Death [is] the Sin (the mistake; the error; the failure), and the power and ability of the Sin [is] the Law.


So why does Paul bring in the Law here?  Because it is the realm of death of which he has been speaking (Rom. 7, quoted below).  Christ’s death brought an end to the Law, bringing it to its goal: “Christ in US, the expectation from the Glory” (Col. 1:27).  It was the Law that brought death: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden; the Law in Israel, ever since.

We read in Rom. 7:

9. Now I was at one time (or: formerly) habitually living apart from law (or: I was once alive, independent from custom and [Torah]), yet, in connection with the coming of the implanted goal (impartation of the finished product within; inward directive; commandment), the Sin becomes alive again (or: deviation, failure, error and the missing of the target revived and comes back up to life), but I die (or: and I died; yet I die).
10. Also, the implanted goal (impartation of the finished product within; inward directive; commandment) – the one [meant to lead] into Life – this was found by me (for me; in me; to me) [to be leading] into death.
11. For the Sin (failure; error; the miss when shooting at a target; the deviation from the goal), taking a starting point (receiving an occasion and base of operation) through the implanted goal (impartation of the finished product within; inward directive; commandment), completely makes me unable to walk the Path (made me incapable to walk out; thoroughly cheats and deludes me, making me lose my Way; deceives me) and through it kills me off (or: slaughtered me).


The LXX offers an interesting reading of the first line of Hos. 13:14, “Where, O Death, [is] the way to which you point (or: the right Way)?”


In a conversation with Dan Kaplan, he offered a correlation between “the Law,” referred to here, in vs. 56, and the human will.  It was Eve’s will that came into play when she chose to listen to the serpent and to then eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  It was Cain’s will that led to him killing his brother.  All through recorded Scripture, it is human will that led to rebellion against God.  In choosing one’s own will over “the Way pointed out,” that person makes his or her will a law within himself or herself.  This “law,” this self-determination, will always give power and ability to sin: to deviate from the Path, to fail to live in Love, and to miss the target of union with Christ and others.  And this always leads to some form of death.  By following our Master, as His disciple, we are called to deny our “self” – our will – and walk the path of putting our soul (in this case, our will) to death as we carry our execution stake (a figure of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) [Cf Mat. 16:24-25].  Jesus drank His cup in the garden, by saying to the Father,

My Father, if it is possible (or: since there is power; if it be able), let this cup pass away (or: go to the side, away) from Me!  Nevertheless, more than this, [let it be; it is] not as I continue willing (wanting; intending), but to the contrary, as You [will and intend]” (Mat. 26:39b). 


Now Paul brings to a close his teaching about death and resurrection with a reference to the Law, and here, in vs. 56, we conclude that it was the Law that brought the death, and it was the resurrection from this old covenant, of which Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life” – John 11:25.  So, thankfully, we learned from Paul that,

Christ [is] an end of Law (or: for Christ [is] Law’s goal and destiny; for [the] Anointing [is] termination from [the] Law; for Christ [was the] final act of [the] Law) [leading] into the Way pointed out in fair and equitable dealings, and rightwised [covenant] relationships of justice in eschatological liberation, to, for and in everyone habitually trusting and believing

            (or: because Christ [entering] into the pointed-out Way – in everyone normally

            exercising faith with conviction, and with each person remaining loyal – [is; brings]

            Law's climax).”


In vs. 56, we see that “the sting, thus, the injection from the Death” was “the Sin (the mistake; the error; the failure)” of Adam – as in Rom. 5:12, “The Death thus also passed through in all directions into all mankind (or: into the midst of humanity; or: to all people), upon which [situation, condition, and with the result that] all people sin.”  If we read the Greek term as “the sharp point,” or “the drover’s goad,” (in relation to the Law), then we may have a clearer understanding of Acts 26:14b,

            “To keep on kicking [your heel] toward [the] goads (sharp points; e.g., as with an ox-

            goad; = futilely resisting) [makes it] hard for you.”

Saul had actually been kicking against the Law, by his persecution of the called-out folks.  Thus did he become the foremost of sinners (vs. 9, above; 1 Tim. 1:15b).


The last clause, “the power and ability of the Sin [is] the Law,” calls to mind Rom. 5:

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 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). Cf Rom. 6:23; 7:7-20

And so, look at what Paul proclaims in the next verse…


57.  But grace and joyous favor [is] in God (or: by and with God) the One presently and progressively (or: in the process of) giving the Victory (or: continuously bestowing the overcoming) to us, in us and for us through our Lord (Owner; Master), Jesus, [the] Christ!


God is “the One constantly giving the Victory” over death and the Law, through the Resurrection which is Jesus Christ, our Lord – what a gift!  And take note of the present tense of the verb.  Paul says that “the Victory” is over “the Death” (vs. 54b-55, above), and that God is “presently and progressively (or: in the process of) giving the Victory (or: continuously bestowing the overcoming) to us, in us and for us.”  Christ already gained the Victory, and now He was continuously giving it (as Himself) to us!


Let us consider Paul’s statement on “raising the dead” when he was speaking to Agrippa, in Acts 26:

6.  "And yet now I stand being repeatedly (or: constantly) judged (or: put on trial) based upon [the] expectation (or: hope) of the promise having been birthed into our fathers (= ancestors) by God –

7.  "unto which [promise] our twelve-tribed [people], constantly rendering sacred service in earnest perseverance night and day, is continuously hoping and expecting to attain.  Concerning this expectation I am now being indicted (or: charged) by the Jews, O king.

8.  "Why does it continue being judged unbelievable (or: is it repeatedly decided [to be] incredible) among (or: by) you folks – since God periodically (or: habitually; constantly) raises dead people?”

Further, Paul said in vss. 13 and 16, above,

13.  Now if there is presently no resurrection of dead people (or: if there continues being no resurrection of dead ones; if a resurrection of dead ones does not constantly exist), neither has Christ been awakened and raised up.

16.  For if dead ones are not habitually (or: presently, one after another; periodically) being awakened and raised up, neither has Christ been awakened and raised up.


58.  Consequently, my beloved brothers, progressively come to be seated and settled folks – immovable and unswerving people – continuing to always be surrounded by more than enough (or: superabounding) within the midst of the Lord's work (= [Yahweh's or Christ's] deed or act), having seen and now knowing that your fatiguing labor (or: toil) does not exist without contents (is not empty) within and in union with [the] Lord [= Christ or Yahweh].


As we think back over Paul’s letter, we recall the upheavals within the community that came through factions being formed about this or that teacher.  The community was unsettled, with some moving this way, and some moving that way.  He touched on several issues, ending with this in-depth presentation about the resurrection.  If they could receive his instruction that they were already seated together with Christ (Eph. 2:6), and thus had already been resurrected with, and in, Him, they would become settled and immovable – an unswerving temple of God that would be “surrounded by more than enough” as they continued “within the midst of the Lord's work.”  Yes, even though they had entered into the Lord’s rest (Heb. 4:1), there remains the “fatiguing labor” of sowing the Logos, the Message of Christ, into the field of the world around them, and the work of the cross within their midst.  There was the progressive building of the Temple (ch. 3, above), as God digs out the gold and silver from the group, and forms the precious stones within each member of the body.  He picks up the theme he began in vss. 12-14, above, reminding them that because of Christ’s (and our) resurrection, the labor “does not exist without contents (is not empty).”  They are people “having seen and now knowing” the reality of the message – the Good News.  He once again affirmed this to them in 2 Cor. 8:7,

            “But further, even as you folks continuously superabound within everything and

            among everyone – in faith (or: with trust; by loyalty) and in word (or: by thought, idea,

            reason, and message; with information) and in experiential knowledge and by insight,

            as well as with all haste to earnest diligence, and in the Love (with unrestricted

            acceptance; by self-giving) from     out of the midst of us in union with you [other MSS:

            the love from you [that is] within us] that you may be progressively superabounding,

            centered in this grace (amidst this favor), also.”

And then, in 2 Cor. 9:8,

            “Moreover, God is constantly able with continuous power to furnish all grace to

            surround and to make every favor superabound into (or: into the midst of) you folks, to

            the end that, continuously having every ability in yourselves to ward things off and

            constantly holding all self-sufficiency and complete contentment at all times [and]

            within every [situation] and in union with every person, you can (or: may; should;

            would) continuously superabound into every good action, excellent deed and noble


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