TRANSFORMATION OF THE BODY EQUIPS ALL BELIEVERS FOR GLORY
Zeisler: All of our efforts to halt or even retard the aging process-the sagging flesh, the balding pate, the wrinkled face-are doomed to failure. The sure word of Scripture is that we are destined either to be raised imperishable in the resurrection, or that we will suffer eternal death.
I. (:50) MAIN PRINCIPLE: THE NECESSITY OF A RESURRECTION BODY –PHYSICAL BODY MUST BE TRANSFORMED INTO A BODY SUITABLE FOR THE SPIRITUAL KINGDOM
A. Transition – Closing out this section on the Resurrection of the Body
“Now I say this, brethren”
B. Main Principle Stated Twice
1. Mortality must be Transformed to Immortality – Fit for the Kingdom of God
“that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,”
Piper: “Flesh and blood” simply means “human nature as we know it”–mortal, perishable, sin-stained, decaying. Something so fragile and temporary as the body we now have will not be the stuff of the eternal, durable, unshakable, indestructible kingdom of God. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be bodies.
2. Perishable must be Transformed to Imperishable
“nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.”
II. (:51-52) THIS TRANSFORMATION APPLIES TO ALL BELIEVERS –
BOTH THE DEAD AND THOSE STILL ALIVE AT THE TIME OF CHRIST’S RETURN
A. Mystery Truth
“Behold, I tell you a mystery”
A truth that was not unfolded in the Old Testament, but now God is making it known; we would never come to know this truth apart from God’s gracious revelation.
(Matt. 13:11; Luke 8:10; Rom. 11:25; 16:25; 1 Cor. 4:1;Eph. 1:9; 3:3-4, 9; 5:32; Col. 1:26-27; 2:2; 4:3; 2 Thess 2:7; 1 Tim. 3:9, 16; Rev. 1:20; 10:7; 17:5)
Stedman: We have already come to understand that the word “mystery,” when it is used like this in Scripture, does not refer to something murky or mysterious or hard to understand. What it means, of course, is a truth that our human sense can never discover, that no scientific investigation will ever reveal, that no amount of intense research on the part of human beings will ever unravel.
B. Same Transformation – Despite Two Very Different Conditions
1. Condition of Death for Most – but not All
“we will not all sleep,”
There will be one unique group of believers that is alive at the Return of Christ
2. Reality of Transformation for All
“but we will all be changed”
C. Suddenness of the Transformation
1. Time Reference
“in a moment”
2. Physical Analogy Reference
“in the twinkling of an eye”
Stedman: There is a generation of Christians that is never going to die. Scripture constantly anticipates this. There are some who will not even have to pass through the portals of death, such as we know it, but will instantly, while they are walking around, suddenly, without warning, be changed — “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” That phrase refers to the little change of light that occurs when you blink. It is one of the fastest speeds known to our human experience, and that is how fast the change will take place to some.
D. Certainty of the Transformation for All Believers
1. The End of the Church Age and the Return of Christ Will Come
“for the trumpet will sound”
Lowery: The trumpet in the Old Testament, signaled the appearance of God (cf. Ex. 19:16). It is the last blast for the church because this appearance shall never end (cf. 1 Cor. 13:12). (There is no basis for posttribulationists equating this trumpet with the seventh trumpet in Rev. 11:15-19. The trumpets in Rev. pertain to judgments during the Tribulation, whereas the trumpet in 1 Cor. 15:52 is related to the church.)
2. The Dead will be Transformed – Implies a measure of Continuity
“and the dead will be raised imperishable”
Piper: When he says “the dead will be raised” he means we—the dead–will be raised. If God meant to start all over with no continuity between the body I have now and the one I will have why would Paul say, “the dead will be raised”? Why would he not say, “The dead will not be raised” (since they are decomposed and their molecules are scattered into plants and animals for a thousand miles) and so God will start from scratch since there are no bodies to raise, and he will make totally new bodies that have no connection with the old ones? He did not say that, because it is not true.
3. The Raised Dead and Those Still Living will All be Transformed
“and we will be changed”
III. (:53) MAIN PRINCIPLE REPEATED – THE NECESSITY OF A RESURRECTION BODY — COMPLETION OF CHIASMUS
A. Perishable must be Transformed to Imperishable
“For this perishable must put on the imperishable”
B. Mortality must be Transformed to Immortality – Fit for the Kingdom of God
“and this mortal must put on immortality”
Zeisler: Because we are destined to die, as human beings we face two dilemmas:
1) our lives will end (we are mortal), and
2) our bodies deteriorate (we are perishable).
Solomon looks at life under the sun; but the Apostle Paul takes us to the next level – that of what awaits after death.
The fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies, so dies the other. Indeed they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast. For all is vanity. All go to the same place. All come from the dust, and all return to the dust. Eccl.3:19-21
IV. (:54-57) THIS TRANSFORMATION DEFEATS SIN AND DEATH FOREVER
A. (:54) Victory Culminates at the Time of this Transformation
1. The Time of Transformation
a. Perishable Transformed to Imperishable
“But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable,”
b. Mortality Transformed to Immortality
“and this mortal will have put on immortality,”
2. The Triumph of Transformation
“then will come about the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’”
B. (:55-56) Victory Crushes All Enemies – Death, Sin, the Law = things we cannot defeat on our own
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?
The sting of death is sin,
And the power of sin is the law”
Zeisler: But the law offers no praise for good or even improving effort. It always demands absolute obedience and always condemns anything that falls short of that. This is why sin is so powerful, and why we fear death so much.
C. (:57) Victory Comes as a Gift from God through Christ
“but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Mare: If it were not for sin, death would have no sting. It is the law of God with its stringent moral demands that strengthens the power of sin by showing us how sinful we are, and thus condemns us. But death does not have the final victory!
Lenski: “Victory” connotes enemies and battle, but it is not for us, for we should never win. This stupendous victory is being given to us. The last phrase therefore names the Victor, names him as the medium through whom the victory gift becomes ours.
(:58) APPLICATION: PERSEVERE IN SERVING THE LORD
A. Transition to the Application
“Therefore, my beloved brethren”
B. 2 Exhortations to Perseverance in Serving the Lord (first two are very similar)
1. Stand Firm — “be steadfast” / “immoveable”
Don’t give up; Don’t be distracted
2. Serve to the End — “always abounding in the work of the Lord”
Stay Focused and Engaged
Assurance that Spiritual Ministry Matters
“knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”