Tuesday 10 March 2015

Bible Book:
1 Corinthians

“The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (v. 26)

1 Corinthians 15:21-26 Tuesday 10 March 2015

Psalm: Psalm 119:129-144


The idea of death coming from a human being (Adam) and thereforeresurrection also coming from a human being (Jesus) is quite aliento our scientific age. The Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible seemshelpful by describing Paul as using Adam and Christ to sum up humanhistory through two representative humans. The reason for doingthat seems to be to challenge the Corinthians in two ways, one ofwhich resonates with our culture:

He places their resurrection as still to come (verse 23) tochallenge a view at the time that they had already been raised andthat they were already ruling with Christ.

He challenges a very individualised understanding of salvationamong the Corinthians. That seems to chime with issues we face inour very individualised society. Paul makes it clear this is notindividual - in verse 22 he writes "for as all die in Adam, so allwill be made alive in Christ". Individualistic salvation has a verydifferent impact on the way people live their lives compared tocommunal salvation. Both Jesus and Paul have an expectation thatsalvation is communal. When people are healed part of that is to berestored to community (consider the lepers who are reconnected tocommunity through being recognised as clean by the priests (Luke17:11-19), consider Zacchaeus whose salvation reconnects himwith others and puts injustice right (Luke19:1-10), consider salvation coming to whole households (eg Acts16, especially verse 31).

At the end Paul personalises death as an enemy to defeat andthat kind of language is also very prevalent in our society -think, for example, of the language we use around cancer (fightingbattles, win/lose etc). Whenever we read of destruction of enemiesby Jesus, it is important to bear in mind how Jesus teaches andpractises defeating enemies. We see on the cross and throughout histeaching that enemies are defeated through love, forgiveness,reconciliation and self sacrifice.

To Ponder

  • How do you feel about salvation as communal rather thanindividual? How does that fit with your experiences of Christiancommunity?
  • In what ways do you find language about fighting or defeatingdeath helpful, or not?
  • In what ways might Paul's teaching help people (and you) have ahealthier attitude towards death?

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