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THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 28
Verse 28. And when, etc. In this future time, when this shall be accomplished. This implies that the time has not yet arrived, and that his dominion is now exercised, and that he is carrying forward his plans for the subjugation of all things to God.
Shall be subdued unto him. Shall be brought under subjection. When all his enemies shall be overcome and destroyed; or when the hearts of the redeemed shall be entirely subject to God. When God's kingdom shall be fully established over the universe. It shall then be seen that he is Lord of all. In the previous verses he had spoken of the promise that all things should be subjected to God; in this he speaks of its being actually done.
Then shall the Son also himself be subject, etc. It has been proposed to render this, "even then shall the Son," etc.; implying, that he had been all along subject to God; had acted under his authority; and that this subjection would continue even then in a sense similar to that in which it had existed; and that Christ would then continue to exercise a delegated authority over his people and kingdom. See an article "on the duration of Christ's kingdom," by Prof. Mills, in Bib. Rep. vol. iii. p. 748, seq. But to this interpretation there are objections.
(1.) It is not the obvious interpretation.
(2.) It does not seem to comport with the design and scope of the passage, which most evidently refers to some change, or rendering back of the authority of the Messiah; or to some resumption of authority by the Divinity, or by God as God, in a different sense from what existed under the Messiah.
(3.) Such a statement would be unnecessary and vain. Who could reasonably doubt that the Son would be as much subject to God when all things had been subdued to him as he was before?
(4.) It is not necessary to suppose this in order to reconcile the passage with what is said of the perpetuity of Christ's kingdom and his eternal reign. That he would reign—that his kingdom would be perpetual, and that it would be unending—was indeed clearly predicted. See 2 Sa 7:16; Ps 45:6; Isa 9:6,7; Da 2:44; 7:14; Lu 1:32,33; Heb 1:8.
But these predictions may be all accomplished on the supposition that the peculiar mediatorial kingdom of the Messiah shah be given up to God, and that he shall be subject to him. For
(a.) his kingdom will be perpetual, in contradistinction from the kingdoms of this world. They are fluctuating, changing, short in their duration. His shall not cease, and shall continue to the end of time.
(b.) His kingdom shall be perpetual, because those who are brought under the laws of God, by him, shall remain subject to those laws for ever. The sceptre never shall be broken, and the kingdom shall abide to all eternity.
(c.) Christ, the Son of God, in his Divine nature, as God, shall never cease to reign. As Mediator, he may resign his commission and his peculiar office, having made an atonement, having recovered his people, having protected and guided them to heaven. Yet, as one with the Father, as the "Father of the everlasting age," (Isa 9:6,) he shall not cease to reign. The functions of a peculiar office may have been discharged, and delegated power laid down, and that which appropriately belongs to him in virtue of his own nature and relations may be resumed and executed for ever; and it shall still be true that the reign of the Son of God, in union, or in oneness with the Father, shall continue for ever.
(5.) The interpretation which affirms that the Son shall then be subject to the Father, in the sense of laying down his delegated authority, and ceasing to exercise his mediatorial reign, has been the common interpretation of all times. This remark is of value only because, in the interpretation of plain words, it is not probable that men of all classes and ranks in different ages would err.
The Son also himself. The term "Son of God" is applied to the Lord Jesus with reference to his human nature, his incarnation by the Holy Ghost, and his resurrection from the dead. See Barnes "Ro 1:4".
It refers, I apprehend, to that in this place. It does not mean that the second person in the Trinity, as such, should be subject to the first; but it means the incarnate Son, the Mediator,—the man that was born and that was raised from the dead, and to whom this wide dominion had been given,—should resign that dominion, and that the government should be reassumed by the Divinity as God. As man, he shall cease to exercise any distinct dominion. This does not mean, evidently, that the union of the divine and human nature will be dissolved; nor that important purposes may not be answered by that continued union for ever; nor that the divine perfections may not shine forth in some glorious way through the man Christ Jesus; but that the purpose of government shall no longer be exercised in that way; the mediatorial kingdom, as such, shall no longer be continued, and power shall be exercised by God as God. The redeemed will still adore their Redeemer as their incarnate God, and dwell upon the remembrance of his work and upon his perfections, (Re 1:5,6; 5:12; 11:16; ) but not as exercising the peculiar power which he now has, and which was needful to effect their redemption.
That God may be all in all. That God may be SUPREME; that the Divinity, the Godhead, may rule; and that it may be seen that he is the Sovereign over all the universe. By the word "God" (o yedv) Whitby and Hammond, I think correctly, understand the Godhead, the Divine Nature, the Divinity, consisting of the Three Persons, without respect to any peculiar office or kingdom.
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