Terminating Death

Some members of the Corinthian congregation denied the future bodily resurrection. The Apostle Paul responded not only by stressing the necessity for it but also by appealing to the past resurrection of Jesus, which was and remains the precedent for the resurrection of believers. His disciples will be raised bodily from the dead when he “arrives” at the end of the age, and his appearance will result in the termination of Death itself.

Paul begins the fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians by reiterating the basics of the Gospel. I delivered to you first of all that which also I received; namely, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he has been raised on the third day.” This sets the stage for his discourse on the resurrection of believers - (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Grave with purple flowers - Photo by Richard Bell on Unsplash
[Photo by Richard Bell on Unsplash]

Since God raised His Son from the dead, he will terminate death when he returns, both the process of dying, which will cease, as well as the existing state of death, which he will reverse by raising his saints “
out from among the dead.” By doing so, he will nullify completely and remove the sentence of death, both legally and experientially.

In his explanation of the future resurrection, Paul reveals something new. Believers who are alive on the day when Jesus “arrives” will be transformed and receive immortal bodies. He also presents the sequence of key events that will precede the ‘Parousia’ or “arrival” of Jesus, all of which will culminate in the final overthrow of Death, the “Last Enemy.”

The Apostle begins with the rhetorical question - “If Christ is proclaimed that he has been raised from among the dead, how say some of you there is no resurrection of the dead?” – (1 Corinthians 15:12).

From his perspective, the crux of the matter was the absolute necessity for bodily resurrection and all his arguments were crafted to support this proposition. The basis of his position was the past resurrection of Jesus.

If there is no resurrection, then “not even Christ has been raised,” and if that is the case, then the Gospel is null and void. Thus, the resurrection of believers is based on the past resurrection of the Son of God, and it is pivotal to the teachings and hope of his Church.

Paul then argues that “all will be made alive, but each in his own rank” or “order.” Jesus was the “first fruits” - He rose first - The rest will follow “at his arrival.” That event will constitute “the END when he delivers up the Kingdom to God and brings to nothing all rule, authority, and power.”

Thus, the raising of the dead began with Jesus, the “firstborn of the dead,” and at his “arrival,” this process will be consummated - (1 Corinthians 15:23).


Elsewhere, Paul uses the Greek noun ‘Parousia’ for the “coming” or “arrival” of Jesus. For example, in his first letter to the Thessalonians, he links the resurrection of dead believers to the “arrival” of Jesus from Heaven - (1 Thessalonians 4:12-15, 5:23, 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2:8).

His ‘Parousia’ will mean “the end” of the present age, the subjugation of all his enemies, and the termination of Death. The latter is the “Last Enemy” that must and will be destroyed. Only then will he deliver the "Kingdom” to his God and Father, after which, God will be “all in all” - (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).

Paul’s purpose was not to present all the details related to the return of Jesus. Specific subjects were introduced because they supported his argument for the necessity of the resurrection of the righteous dead.

Jesus was raised as the “first fruits” of those who “sleep.” Logically, dead believers who “sleep” will participate in the same kind of resurrection that he did, though only at the appointed time. In the conclusion of his argument, Paul returns to the subjects of the resurrection and the end of death:

  • (1 Corinthians 15:51-58) - “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed… During the last trumpet, for it shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

The cessation of death will coincide with the “arrival” of Jesus. That day will mark the final overthrow of all God’s enemies and the consummation of His rule. After that, there will be no more enemies to conquer, therefore, death will be no more.

Rainbow - Photo by Niklas Ohlrogge on Unsplash
[Rainbow - Photo by Niklas Ohlrogge on Unsplash]

However, the bodily resurrection does not mean the resuscitation of dead corpses. Instead, our mortal bodies will be
transformed into another kind of body, ones that are geared for life in the Spirit and are no longer subject to disease, decay, and death. The evidence for this hope is the glorified body of Jesus. Life in the future age will be an embodied existence, not a disembodied state - (1 Corinthians 15:35-50).

The “mystery” that is now revealed is that believers who remain alive on the Earth when Jesus arrives will be physically transformed. They will not experience death before their transformation. The hope of the Assembly rests on belief in the resurrection and life in the New Creation, which, in turn, is based on the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

  • Meeting Jesus - (Both living and resurrected saints will meet Jesus as he descends from Heaven - 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
  • Sorrow Not - (Foundational to the believer’s future hope is the bodily resurrection of the righteous dead when Jesus arrives in glory)
  • Final Events - (The future arrival of Jesus will be a day of great finality)



Silence in Heaven

Sorrow Not