Sequence of Final Events

SYNOPSIS - In presenting the bodily resurrection, Paul presents several events that will occur prior to or at the arrival of Jesus – 1 Corinthians 15:20-28

Beach Sunset - Photo by Mathias Reding on Unsplash
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul outlined a sequence of events that will occur at or just prior to the “arrival” or parousia of Jesus. The Greek term is one of several applied by the Apostle to the “coming” of Jesus in his letters, and always in the singular number. Regardless of which term he used, Paul always spoke of one “coming,” “revelation,” or “appearance” of Jesus. - [Photo by Mathias Reding on Unsplash].

In the New Testament, the resurrection of the righteous, final judgment and the New Creation are all linked to the future “coming” of Christ, along with other related events - (Romans 8:18-23, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 2 Peter 3:3-12).
  • (1 Corinthians 15:20-28) – “But now hath Christ been raised from among the dead — a firstfruit of them who have fallen asleep; For since, indeed, through a man came death, through a man, also, cometh the raising of the dead; For, just as, in the Adam all die, so, also, in the Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own rank:— A firstfruit, Christ, after that they who are the Christ’s in his presence, Afterwards, the end — whensoever he delivereth up the kingdom unto his God and Father, whensoever he shall bring to nought all rule and all authority and power; For he must needs reign until he shall put all his enemies under his feet: As a last enemy, death is to be destroyed; For — He put all things in subjection under his feet. But whensoever it shall be said — all things are in subjection! — it is evident that it means — Except him who did put into subjection unto him the all things — But whensoever have been put into subjection unto him the all things, then the Son himself also shall be put in subjection unto him who put in subjection unto him the all things — that God may be all things in all.” – (The Emphasized Bible).
In this passage, Paul did not provide a detailed roadmap of future events and chronologies; instead, he was presenting arguments to prove the necessity of the bodily resurrection at the “end of the age.” Apparently, some members of the church at Corinth were denying its reality or necessity - (1 Corinthians 15:12).
Paul anchored the future resurrection of believers on the past resurrection of Jesus.  If there is no future resurrection, then “not even Christ has been raised, and if Christ has not been raised…to no purpose is our faith, we are yet in our sins.” The future resurrection is linked inextricably to the past resurrection of Jesus.
In the process of presenting his arguments, Paul listed several key events that will precede or coincide with the “arrival” of Jesus from heaven, including the collective resurrection of dead believers, the arrival of “the end,” the consummation of God’s kingdom, the final overthrow of all hostile powers, and the cessation of death.

Additionally, Paul explained what kind of body saints will inherit when the resurrection occurs - (“How are the dead raised and with what manner of body do they come?”). Our resurrection body will be raised “in incorruption, glory and power,” and thereafter, it will be dominated by the Spirit. No longer will the future body be subject to death and decay:
  • Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.”
Paul brought his arguments to a conclusion by demonstrating the necessity for the transformation of the human body for it to inherit everlasting life. The bodies of both living and dead saints must be transformed into bodies dominated by the “spirit,” as well as incorruptible and immortal:
  • (1 Corinthians 15:49-57) – “And even as we have borne the image of the man of earth, let us also bear the image of the man of heaven. And this I say, brethren — that flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom. Neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Lo! a sacred secret unto you do I declare: — we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, during the last trumpet; for it shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must needs clothe itself with incorruptibility, and this mortal clothe itself with immortality. But whensoever this mortal shall clothe itself with immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written — Death hath been swallowed up victoriously; Where, O death, is thy victory? Where, O death, is thy sting? Now, the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; —But unto God be thanks, who is giving unto us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – (The Emphasized Bible).
According to Paul, the resurrection of the righteous occurs at the parousia or “arrival” of Jesus at the “end,” an event that also terminates the jurisdiction of death. This sequence of events leads to several conclusions:
  • Bodily resurrection coincides with the “coming” Jesus.
  • Christ’s “coming” is at “the end” of this age.
  • Jesus subdues all hostile powers before his arrival, which means he is reigning in the present age.
  • The parousia results in the cessation of death and the receipt of immortality – The means nothing less than the new creation - (Romans 8:19-23).
  • Christians will be alive on the earth when Jesus arrives.
  • Resurrection life is an embodied existence, though experienced in a body of a different nature.
  • The resurrection is a collective event - All believers are resurrected at his “coming.”


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