1 Corinthians 15:20-28
20. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept,
20. Nunc autem Christus resurrexit a mortuis, primitiae eorum qui domierunt, fuit.
21. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
21. Quandoquidem enim per heminem mors, etiam per hominem resurrectio mortuorum.
22. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
22. Quemadmodum enim in Adam omnes moriuutur, ita et in Christo omnes vivificabuntur.
23. But every man in his own order: Christ the first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
23. Unusquisque autem in pro-prio ordine. Primitiae Christus, deinde, qui Christi erunt in adventu ipsius.
24. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power.
24. Postea finis, quum tradiderit regnum Deo et Patti, quum abole-verit omnem principatum, et omnem potestatem, et virtutem.
25. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
25. Oportet enim ipsum regnare, donec posuerit omnes inimicos sub pedes suos.
26. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
26. Novissimus destruetur hostis mors.
27. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith, All things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted which did put all things under him.
27. Omnia enim subjecit sub pe-des eius: quum omnia dixerit, cla-rum est, quod omnia sunt subjecta praeter eum, qui omnia illi subjecit.
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.
28. Quum autem subjecerit illi omnia, tunc et ipse Filius subjicie-tur ei, qui omnia illi subjecit, ut sit Deus omnia in omnibus.
We must observe, however, the force of the argument; for he does not contend by similitude, or by example, but has recourse to opposite causes for the purpose of proving' opposite effects. The cause of death is Adam, and we die in him: hence Christ, Whose office it is to restore to us what we lost in Adam, is the cause of life to us; and his resurrection is the ground-work and pledge of ours. And as the former was the beginning of death, so the latter is of life. In the fifth chapter of the Romans (Romans 5) he follows out the same comparison; but there is this difference, that in that passage he reasons respecting a spiritual life and death, while he treats here of the resurrection of the body, which is the fruit of spiritual life.
Hence as the world will have an end, so also will government, and magistracy, and laws, and distinctions of ranks, and different orders of dignities, and everything of that nature. There will be no more any distinction between servant and master, between king and peasant, between magistrate and private citizen. Nay more, there will be then an end put to angelic principalities in heaven, and to ministries and superiorities in the Church, that God may exercise his power and dominion by himself alone, and not by the hands of men or angels. The angels, it is true, will continue to exist, and they will also retain their distinction. The righteous, too, will shine forth, every one according to the measure of his grace; but the angels will have to resign the dominion, which they now exercise in the name and by the commandment of God. Bishops, teachers, and Prophets will cease to hold these distinctions, and will resign the office which they now discharge. Rule, and authority, and power have much the same meaning in this passage; but these three terms are conjoined to bring out the meaning more fully.
Paul, however, may seem to refine upon the word until beyond what the simple and natural meaning of the word requires; for the Spirit does not in that passage give intimation of what shall be afterwards, but simply of what must be previously. I answer, that Paul does not conclude that Christ will
The solution of the second difficulty is as follows -- that the Prophet, it is true, especially mentions fowls of heaven, fishes of the sea, and beasts of the field, because this kind of dominion is visible, and is more apparent to the eye;but at the same time the general statement reaches much farther -- to the heavens and the earth, and everything that they contain. Now the subjection must have a corrrespondence with the character of him who rules -- that is, it has a suitable-ness to his condition, so as to correspond with it. Now Christ does not need animals for food, or other creatures for any necessity. He rules, therefore, that all things may be subservient to his glory, inasmuch as he adopts us as participants in his dominion. The fruit of this openly appears in visible creatures; but believers feel in their consciences an inward fruit, which, as I have said, extends farther.
This statement, however, is at first view at variance with what we read in various passages of Scripture respecting the eternity of Christ's kingdom. For how will these things correspond -- Of his kingdom there will be no end, (Daniel 7:14, 27; Luke 1:33; 2 Peter 1:11,) and He himself shall be subjected? The solution of this question will open up Paul's meaning more clearly. In the first place, it must be observed, that all power was delivered over to Christ, inasmuch as he was manifested in the flesh. It is true that such distinguished majesty would not correspond with a mere man, but, notwithstanding,
given, him a name, before which every knee must bow, etc. (Philippians 2:9, 10.)
Farther, it must be Observed, that he has been appointed Lord and highest King, so as to be as it were the Father's Vicegerent in the government of the world -- not that he is employed and the Father unemployed (for how could that be, inasmuch as he is the wisdom and counsel of the Father, is of one essence with him, and is therefore himself God?) But the reason why the Scripture testifies, that Christ now holds dominion over the heaven and the earth in the room of the Father is -- that we may not think that there is any other governor, lord, protector, or judge of the dead and living, but may fix our contemplation on him alone 11 We acknowledge, it is true, God as the ruler, but it is in the face of the man Christ. But Christ will then restore the kingdom which he has received, that we may cleave wholly to God.12. Nor' will he in this way resign the kingdom, but will transfer it in a manner from his humanity to his glorious divinity, because a way of approach will then be opened up, from which our infirmity now keeps us back. Thus then Christ will be
This is a pious interpretation,15 and, as it corresponds sufficiently well with the Apostle's design, I willingly embrace it. There would, however, be nothing out of place in understanding it as referring exclusively to believers, in whom God has now begun his kingdom, and will then perfect it, and in such a way that they shall cleave to him wholly. Both meanings sufficiently refute of themselves the wicked frenzies of some who bring forward this passage in proof of them. Some imagine, that God will be all in all in this respect, that all things will vanish and dissolve into nothing. Paul's words, however, mean nothing but this, that all things will be brought back to God, as their alone beginning and end, that they may be closely bound to him. Others infer from this that the Devil and all the wicked will be saved -- as if God would not altogether be better known in the Devil's destruction, than if he were to associate the Devil with himself, and make him one with himself. We see then, how impudently madmen of this sort wrest this statement of Paul for maintaining their blasphemies.
1 "Although the resurrection of Christ, compared with first-fruits of any kind, has very good harmony with them, yet it more especially agrees with the offering of the sheaf, commonly called
2 "The first-fruits were by the command of God presented to him at a stated season, not only as a token of the gratitude of the Israelites for his bounty, but as an earnest of the approaching harvest. In this sense he is called the first-fruits of the dead. He was the first in order of time, for although some were restored to life by the Prophets, and by himself during his personal ministry, none came out of their graves to return to them no more till after his resurrection; and as he was the first in respect of time, so he was the first in order of succession; all the saints following him as the harvest followed the presentation of the first-fruits of the temple. The interval is long, and the dreary sterility of the grave might justify the thought, that the seed committed to it has perished for ever. But our hope rests upon his power, which can make the wilderness blossom as the rose; and we wait till heavenly influences descend as the dew of herbs, when the barren soil shall display all the luxuriance of vegetation, and death itself shall teem with life." -- Dick's Theology, volume 4. -- Ed.
3 "Le premier patron de la resurrection pour opposer a la mort d' Adam;" -- "The first pattern of the resurrection, in opposition to the death of Adam."
4 "Les premices de la resurrection;" -- "The first-fruits of the resurrection."
5 "Quand il viendra en jugement;" -- "When he will come to judgment."
6 "C'est a dire, de la resurrection;" -- "That is to say, of the resurrec. tion."
7 "It may not be improper to remark that there is an inaccuracy in our common version, which so vitiates its application that it does not seem to sustain the conclusion to which the Apostle had arrived. It was his purpose to establish the perfection of our Savior's conquest, the advancement of his triumphs, and the prostration of all enemies whatever beneath his power. Now to say that ' the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death,' by no means affords a proof of this position. Though death might be destroyed, and be the last enemy that shall be destroyed, it would not thence appear but that other enemies might remain not destroyed. But the proper rendering is, ' Death, the last enemy, should be destroyed.'" -- R. Hall's Works, (Loud. 1846,) volume 6. -- Ed.
8 "Ultimum vero seu novissimum hostem cur vocat? Chrysostomus putat, quia ultimo accessit. Primus fuit Satan, solicitaris hominem ad pecca-tum. Alter voluntas hominis, sponte se a Deo avertens. Tentius pecca-tum. Quartus denique mors, superveniens peccato. Sed baud dubie Apostolus novissimum vocat duratione, respectu aliorum externorum hos-tium Ecclesiae, quos Christus in fine abolebit omnes. Postremo et mor-tem corporalem pellet, suscitando omnes ex monte: ut hoc mortale induat immortalitatem;" -- "But why does he call it (death), the latest or last enemy? Chrysostom thinks, because it came last. The first was Satan tempting man to sin. The second -- man's will, voluntarily turning aside from God. The third -- sin. Then at length the fourth -- death, following in the train of sin. There can be no doubt, however, that the Apostle calls it the last in respect of duration, in relation to the other external enemies of the Church, all of which Christ will in the end abolish. Last of all, he will drive away the death of the body, by raising up all from death, that this mortal may put on immortality." Fareus in loc. -- Ed.
9 "Mais c'est sans danger de mort;" -- "But it is without danger of death."
11 "Mais que nous fichions les yeux de nostre entendement en luy seul;" -- "But that we may fix the eyes of our understanding on him alone."
12 "The mediatorial kingdom of Christ will end when its design is accomplished; he will cease to exercise an authority which has no longer an object. When all the elect are converted by the truth, and, being collected into one body, are presented to the Father ' a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing;' when idolatry, superstition, and heresy are overthrown, and all evil is expelled from the kingdom of God; when the plans and efforts of wicked spirits are defeated, and they are shut up in their prison, from which there is no escape; when death has yielded up his spoils, and laid his scepter at the feet of his Conqueror; when the grand assize has been held, his impartial sentence has pronounced the doom of the human race, and their everlasting abodes are allotted to the righteous and the ungodly, nothing will remain to be done by the power with which our Savior was invested at his ascension; and his work being finished, his commission will expire. On this subject we cannot speak with certainty, and are in great danger of error, because the event is future, and our information is imperfect. Here analogy fails, and the utmost caution is necessary in borrowing an illustration from human affairs; but without insinuating that the two cases are exactly similar, may we not say, that as a regent or vicegerent of a King to whom the royal authority has been intrusted for a time, resigns it at the close, and the sovereign himself resumes the reins of government; so our Redeemer, who now sways the scepter of the universe, will return his delegated power to him from whom he received it, and a new order of things will commence under which the dependence of men upon the Godhead will be immediate; and Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, one in essence, counsel, and operation, will reign for ever over the inhabitants of heaven. This is the probable meaning of the words, Then shall the Son himself be subject unto him that put all things under him." -- DickTheology, volume 3. -- Ed.
13 "Nous contemplerons nostre Dieu face a face, regnant en sa maieste;" -- "We shall behold our God face to face, reigning in his majesty."
14 "Pour nous empescher de veoir de pres la maieste de Dieu;" -- "To keep us back from a near view of the majesty of God."
15 "Ce sens contient doctrine saincte;" -- "This view contains sacred doctrine."