Everlasting Glory - Resurrection Hope

SYNOPSIS - Paul reminds Timothy of Christ’s resurrection. False teachers were denying the resurrection or claiming that it was not applicable to believers.

Lilly Photo by Verplaric Tokipukey on Unsplash
The resurrection is not a major subject in the “pastoral” letters of Paul, but he does raise the subject when dealing with the problem of false teachers. In his opening comments, he reminds Timothy that, “God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” - The themes of a “sound mind” and “sound teaching” are pivotal to his pastoral letters, and the future resurrection of the dead is a prime example of “sound teaching.” - [Photo by Verplaric Tokipukey on Unsplash].

The gospel is “sound” teaching and the “power of God, who saved and called us…according to His own purpose and grace given to us in Christ Jesus before the times of the ages.” However, this salvation has only been manifested in recent times--:
  • (2 Timothy 1:9-10) – “God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to the peculiar purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages but has now been manifested through the appearance of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and thrown light upon life and incorruptibility, through means of the gospel.
By “abolish death,” Paul does not mean that death no longer occurs in this age. The cessation of death, the “last enemy,” will not occur until the “arrival” or parousia of Jesus at the end of the age - (1 Corinthians 15:24-28 - The last enemy that shall be destroyed [katargeois death”).

The letter to the Hebrews uses the same verb (katargeo) to show that, through his death, Jesus “destroyed him that had the dominion of death, that is, the Devil; and to deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Death still occurs to believers and unbelievers alike, but it is incapable of holding believers at the end of the age when its sentence will be reversed - (Hebrews 2:14-18).

Jesus brought life and “immortality” to light (aphtharsia). The Greek noun does not mean “eternal” - It does NOT denote a sense of timelessness - of being without beginning or end. It is the opposite of death - “immortalitydeathlessness.” This is not a state that human souls possess by nature; rather, it is a new condition that Jesus inaugurated for his followers, and it certainly is not applicable to all human beings.

In the next chapter, Paul exhorts Timothy to “remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel.” Paul suffered persecution on account of this same gospel - (2 Timothy 2:8-18).

Paul may suffer for preaching this gospel, but he does so that the “elect may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with everlasting glory…If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him…If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.” Again, death still occurs but does not have the final word. “Salvation” and “everlasting glory” are the results of the resurrection from the dead - (“we will also live with him”).

Paul reminded Timothy of the resurrection of Jesus. Certain false teachers were denying the bodily resurrection of believers, or possibly claiming that it was already in the past and, therefore, not applicable to believers. He labeled such denials “profane and vain babblings.” Timothy was exhorted to avoid false claims of this sort - (1 Corinthians 15:10-20).

It is not clear what, precisely, these men taught. More accurately, the clause reads - “Declaring that resurrection already came to pass.” This suggests they claimed the resurrection was already a past event. In any case, to deny the resurrection, whether the past resurrection of Jesus or the future one promised to believers, is to abandon the faith of Jesus Christ and the fundamentals of the gospel.

Based on the beliefs common to Greco-Roman society, very likely, these false teachers rejected the idea of bodily resurrection in favor of one version or another of salvation that results in a disembodied state - (Acts 17:32, 1 Corinthians 15:12).

That Paul brings up the resurrection so easily when it is tangential to his larger argument shows how basic this hope was to the early Christian faith.


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