The Triumph of the Resurrection

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The Triumph of the Resurrection: An Examination of 1 Corinthians 15:51–58

by Ron J. Bigalke Jr.

The Corinthians did not believe the truth of the eschatological resurrection of believers. Although the text does not explicitly state it, they were likely influenced by the Greek teaching on the immortality of the soul, and possibly by a pre-Gnostic belief in the evil of physical matter. Therefore, Paul’s discussion of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15 is pertinent.

First Corinthians 15:12–16 implies that the Corinthians preached Christ’s resurrection from the dead and possibly realized that His triumph over death must be demonstrated by His bodily resurrection. However, it appears that they did not see it as anything more. Therefore, Paul returned to the basics in 1 Corinthians 15. He began with the resurrection of Christ and worked his way to the relationship between Jesus’ resurrection and the eschatological resurrection of believers.

The centrality and certainty of Jesus’ resurrection is set forth in 15:1–19. The resurrection of Christ is true based on its historical verification (5–11) and is central to the salvation of sinners and the gospel message (1–4), to the eschatological resurrection of believers (12–13, 16, 19) and the remission of their sins (14, 17), and to the preaching of the apostles (15:14–15).

Jesus’ resurrection guarantees the resurrection of believers (20–28) and is the dynamic for their lives and for their subsequent suffering (29–34). The nature of the resurrection body is described in verses 35–50. Finally, Paul addresses the mystery of the resurrection in verses 51–58.

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. (15:51)

The mystery of the resurrection is that some believers will not die, yet all believers will overcome death either through translation or resurrection at the coming of Christ. The Greek particle translated “behold” is emphatic. It demands attention to the mystery that Paul was writing about. As Morris wrote, it “has the effect of focusing attention on what follows.”1

A mystery is a truth that has not been previously revealed by God, though it is not something that God intends to keep secret. Rather, in due course of time, God reveals it. Such is the case here. When God does reveal a mystery, He intends for it to be recorded and taught (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:1).

Paul made use of the word mystery 21 times. There are various mysteries given in Scripture. There are the mystery of the kingdom of heaven or kingdom of God (Matthew 13), the mystery of the resurrection and translation

1 Leon Morris, 1 Corinthians, 2nd ed., Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (1958, 1985; repr., Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 227.

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of church saints (1 Corinthians 15:50–58; 1 Thessalonians 4:14–17), the mystery of the church being composed of both Jews and Gentiles in equality (Ephesians 3:1–11), and the mystery of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:28–32). The incarnation was a mystery (Colossians 2:2, 9; 1 Corinthians 2:7). The sin arising in the presence of a holy and righteous God was the mystery of lawlessness (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Israel’s present blindness is a mystery (Romans 11:25). There is the mystery of the seven stars (Revelation 1:20) and of the harlot (Revelation 17:5, 7). There is even the mystery of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Barnes commented on the usage of “mystery”:

The word here does not mean anything which was in its nature unintelligible, but that which to them had been hitherto unknown. This commences the third subject of inquiry in this chapter—the question, what will become of those who are alive when the Lord Jesus shall return to raise the dead? This was an obvious inquiry, and the answer was, perhaps, supposed to be difficult, and says that they will undergo an instantaneous change, which will make them like the dead that shall be raised.2

The first mystery that Paul revealed to the Corinthians is “we shall not all sleep.” The Greek suggests that believers “shall not all sleep” in the future. In other words, some believers shall not die physically before the eschatological resurrection of the saints. When Paul wrote, “we shall not all sleep,” he was clearly referring to physical death,3 and not to “soul sleeping,” which would be in contrast to Philippians 1:23. The mystery is that when the resurrection occurs, there will be believers who are still living.

The use of the first plural for sleep would mean that Paul included himself with those facing the possibility of being translated while living.4 Clearly, Paul anticipated this resurrection as an imminent event that could occur in his own lifetime because there were no events preceding this resurrection (cf. Titus 2:13).

Radmacher commented, “There may be delay, but there would be no

necessary prophesied event before the coming of Christ for His church.”5

Morris believed this was an illegitimate view: “The plain fact is that Paul did not know when these events would take place, and nowhere does he claim to

2 Albert Barnes, Notes on the First Epistle to the Corinthians (London: Gall & Inglis, 1847), 383.

3 BDAG, s.v. “koimaō.”

4 See Charles Hodge, Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), 354–355; A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1931), 4:198.

5 Earl Radmacher, “The Imminent Return of the Lord,” in Issues in

Dispensationalism, ed. Wesley R. Willis and John R. Master (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994), 258.

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know. When he says we he means ‘we believers,’ ‘Christians alive at that day.’”6 In response, if the passage could mean “Christians alive at that day,” then this would include the Apostle Paul. Without doubt, Paul regarded the imminent resurrection, which could occur while he was yet living, as an

incentive for holy living (1 Corinthians 15:51; Philippians 3:20;

1 Thessalonians 4:17; Titus 2:13).

The other truth that Paul told the Corinthians is “we shall all be changed.” A believer’s body may be dead or alive at the time of the resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18). Regardless, all will be changed.7 This answers the question, What will happen to believers who do not die prior to the resurrection? How shall they take part in the resurrection of the body? “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,” so there must be a transformation (1 Corinthians 15:50; cf. Philippians 3:21). The transformation for some will be while they are still living.

It must be stated that the doctrine of the resurrection itself is not a mystery, since it is taught in the Old Testament (Job 14:14). The truth that not all will die, but that the resurrection and translation will occur for some still living is a mystery previously unknown. There will be a group of believers who will not experience the intermediate state which follows physical death and precedes the resurrection of the body (2 Corinthians 5:10).

in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (15:52)

The translation will take place instantly—“in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” The Greek word for “moment” denotes something that cannot be cut or an indivisible period of time. The change will occur so quickly that it could be said it happened in the smallest existing unit of time. A double emphasis is given with the use of the Greek noun translated “twinkling,” meaning a wink, flutter, or jerk of an eyelid.8 Beet remarked that the phrase “in the twinkling of an eye” “dwells upon, and intensifies, the idea of suddenness.”9 The suddenness of the change is given great emphasis.

The instantaneous change will occur “at the last trumpet.” The Jewish understanding regarding the last trumpet is that it will be seventh in a series of

6 Morris, 1 Corinthians, 227.

7 Paul’s statements—”we shall all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51) and “even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 4:14)—negate the idea of partial rapture.

8 Barnes, Notes on Corinthians, 384.

9 Joseph Agar Beet, Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (Albany: Ages Software, Version 6.02, 1998), 753.

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trumpet blows resulting in the dead being raised and clothed with immortality in order to stand before the “Throne of Glory.”

In the future the Holy One, blessed be He, will resurrect the dead. How will He do it? He takes the Great Shofar and blows it seven times. At the first blast, the whole world shakes and suffers pangs like a woman in childbirth. At the second, the dust is scattered and the graves open. At the third, the bones gather together. At the fourth, the limbs are stretched out. At the fifth, skin comes into being. At the sixth, spirits and souls enter the bodies. At the seventh, they live and stand up on their feet in their clothes.10

The New Testament uses the noun “trumpet” 11 times (Matthew 24:31; 1 Corinthians 14:8; 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Hebrews 12:19; Revelation 1:10; 4:1; 8:2, 6, 13; 9:14). The verb “to sound a trumpet” is found twelve times in the New Testament (Matthew 6:2; 1 Corinthians 15:52; Revelation 8:6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13; 9:1, 13; 10:7; 11:15). The four noun uses and ten verb uses in Revelation 8–11 refer to the seven trumpet judgments of the tribulation. The noun usage in Matthew 24:31 is in reference to a great sound of a trumpet following Christ’s coming in the clouds after “the tribulation of those days” (Matthew 24:29). The trumpet mentioned in the Olivet Discourse gathers the elect who have survived the tribulation and have been scattered throughout the earth as a result of the horrors of this period. In the above mentioned passages, there is no mention of translation or resurrection in connection with the trumpets. First Corinthians 15:52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16, on the other hand, do not have any reference to judgment; rather, they refer to the resurrection and translation. There is an obvious dissimilarity.

First Thessalonians 4:16 emphasizes the “trumpet of God” that would seem to be logically equated with the “last trumpet” in 1 Corinthians 15:52. Both passages speak of a resurrection of believers who are in Christ Jesus. The purpose of this coming of Christ is not to judge and then reign, but rather to meet His saints in the air and to have them “changed.” Therefore, it is perfectly logical to understand that this last trumpet is referring to the end of the dispensation of the church. It is best identified as referring to the rapture of the church prior to the tribulation, since the trumpets mentioned in the tribulation have to do with the coming of Christ in judgment to establish His visible kingdom on earth.

Some equate the “last trumpet” with the seventh trumpet in Revelation 11:15 and the trumpet in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:29–31). One of the arguments given by posttribulationalists is that the resurrection passages make no reference to an earlier, separate resurrection of all believers but place the resurrection of all believers at a point prior to the millennium (cf.

10 Rabbi Akiba, Pesiqta Hadta, BhM 6:58, quoted in Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1979), 203.

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1 Corinthians 15:23–24; Revelation 20:1–4). The simplest explanation is that this is because the rapture of the church is a “mystery” doctrine (1 Corinthians 15:51) that was previously unrevealed.

Robert Gundry challenged the pretribulational response. He firmly believes the last trumpet of 1 Corinthians “might have looked back to the trumpet at the end of the age in the oral tradition of Jesus’ discourse on the Mount of Olives.” According to Gundry, “the superintendence of the Holy Spirit would have brought about a harmony of meaning” between the trumpet references in the Olivet Discourse, 1 Corinthians 15:52, and the seven trumpets of Revelation.11 Certainly, it is theoretically possible that the last trumpet of 1 Corinthians 15 could later be connected with the seven trumpets of Revelation. God does, indeed, reveal things progressively.

The problem in arguing that God connected the last trumpet of 1 Corinthians with later revelation has to do with the context. The Corinthians would have understood Paul as speaking of an imminent return (“in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye”) of their Lord “at the last trumpet.” There is nothing in the context of 1 Corinthians that would indicate a time of intense tribulation upon the whole world that would precede the return of their Lord. Posttribulationalists are interpreting the passage by forcing the content of Revelation into what is clearly a rapture passage. The interpretation of the last trumpet in 1 Corinthians would be changed by the revelation of the seventh trumpet in Revelation.

The issue centers on whether or not “last” is limited only to a given chronological sequence. The usage of the word “last” is not limited to the last in a given chronological sequence; it can also refer to the end of a specific

period (or epoch).12 Therefore, “last” can refer to the end of something

chronologically, as in the seven trumpets of Revelation, or to the end of a specific period, e.g., the dispensation of the church. Gerald Stanton rightly stated, “the fact of subsequent trumpets is no problem” for a pretribulational interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15:52.13 Even amillennialist Barnes noted, “The word ‘last’ here does not imply that any trumpet shall have been before sounded at the resurrection, but is a word denoting that this is the consummation or close of things; it will end the economy of this world; it will be connected with the last state of things.”14

Although God’s programs for Israel and the church are distinct, both programs appear to end with the sounding of a trumpet. However, these trumpets are not identical. The last trumpet of 1 Corinthians 15:52 is not a

11 Robert H. Gundry, The Church and the Tribulation (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973), 149–150.

12 J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1964), 189. 13 Gerald B. Stanton, Kept from the Hour (Miami Springs: Schoettle, 1991), 194–195. 14 Barnes, Notes on Corinthians, 386.

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reference to the last in any preceding sequence, but is related to the end of a specific age, namely, the dispensation of the church.

The significance of the “last trumpet” in verse 15:52 may be twofold. First, the “last trumpet” may be a technical phrase denoting the end of the dispensation of the church. The word “last” is quite common when referring to events surrounding the end of the church age (Acts 2:17; 2 Timothy 3:1–5; Hebrews 1:1; James 5:3; 1 Peter 1:5, 20; 1 John 2:18; Jude 18). Second, “last trumpet” may also be a technical phrase indicating the gathering together of the church. E. Schuyler English noted that the sounding of a trumpet in Numbers 10 was to gather an assembly of the people. Therefore, “last trumpet” would be a “rallying call” indicating that the church is changing locations much like Israel changed camps in the wilderness (1 Corinthians 15:23).15 The resurrection of Christ made Him the “firstfruits,” the first resurrected from the dead. Christ’s resurrection is the firstfruits of many to be raised.

“The dead shall be raised incorruptible.” In other words, they will never die again. The dead ones are now raised immortal at the sound of the last trumpet “and as such are now partakers of the future life.”16 Once the trumpet sounds, “we shall all be changed.” The dead will be changed because of the resurrection and the living will not be denied participation in this grand event. There will not be a single believer whose body does not undergo change.

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality (15:53).17

The present active indicative of must (dei) means that the incorruptible is “binding,” “necessary,” “proper,” and “inevitable.”18 It is necessary that the earthly corruptible body be changed into a spiritual, incorruptible body that is suitable to exist in the eternal realm. Vincent described endusasthai as “the metaphor of clothing.” Furthermore, he commented, “Incorruption and immortality are to invest the spiritually-embodied personality like a garment.”19

Both those who are dead (“corruptible”) and those who are living (“mortal”) at the time of the rapture are brought to the readers’ attention. It is necessary that the mortal body, which will face corruption unless raptured, be

15 E. Schuyler English, Re-Thinking the Rapture (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1954), 109.

16 BDAG, s.v. “aftharsia.”

17 In the New Testament, immortality is only mentioned here and 1 Timothy 6:16. 18 William Mounce, The Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993), 132.

19 Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament (Peabody: Hendrickson, n.d.), 3:286.

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likewise changed into an incorruptible, immortal body fitted for the eternal realm.

Paul emphasized the difference between the present earthly body and the future glorified body by his four parallel uses of the word “this”: “this corruptible” and “this mortal” two times in verses 53 and 54.20 Paul’s point answered the question of verse 35: “How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?” A transformation of the present earthly body is essential for believers to attain the destiny of becoming like “Christ the first fruits” (1 Corinthians 15:23) “who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). Even though all will not experience death, all will experience the necessary change from corruptibility and mortality to incorruptibility and immortality. Endusasthai points to the fact that the present body is not the eternal body. “It is only its clothing,” noted Morris.21

So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (15:54)

This verse strengthens the teaching of the former. Paul wrote in the aorist tense (endusētai) to emphasize the certainty that the corruptible will be clothed in incorruption and the mortal will be clothed in immortality. It is at this time that God’s words to the prophet Isaiah will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory” (Isaiah 25:8; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:54b). The adverb tote adds “definiteness to the hoped-for moment.”22

It is when Christ returns for the living and dead saints that “the saying that is written” shall come to pass. Beet commented, “What is now a ‘written

word’ will ‘then’ become fact.”23 The quotation of Isaiah’s prophecy

emphasizes the total defeat and utter destruction of death. Commenting on this prophecy, John Gill wrote: “That is, the Messiah shall by his death, and resurrection from the dead, obtain such an entire victory over death, not only for himself, but for all his people, that in the resurrection-morn, when they will be all raised from the dead, death will be so swallowed up, that it will be no more.”24

Death is referenced as a personal enemy (cf. 15:26) that plagues every living person. It will, however, be “swallowed up in victory.” The verb katepothē is an old verb from katapinō, meaning literally “to drink down” or

20 Beet, Exposition of First Corinthians, 755; Morris, 1 Corinthians, 229. 21 Morris, 1 Corinthians, 229.

22 Beet, Exposition of First Corinthians, 758. 23 Ibid.

24 John Gill, An Exposition of the Old and New Testament (London: Hill, 1852–1854; repr., Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980), 6:272.

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“swallow down.”25 Death will be utterly overwhelmed by the power of the

triumph of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Barnes notes, “the idea may be taken from a whirlpool, or maelstrom, that absorbs all that comes near it.” This is a picture of Christ’s resurrection abolishing or removing death.26 The apostle’s point was to emphasize that death would not continue as a victor over the redeemed of God.

Death will be taken “in victory.” The idea is that death will be taken to its inevitable end. As death has swallowed the lives of many, this enemy awaits its destruction. C. H. Mackintosh expounded upon this victory as follows: “What are death, the grave and decomposition in the presence of such power as this? Talk of being dead four days as a difficulty! Millions that have been mouldering in the dust for thousands of years, shall spring up in a moment into life, immortality, and eternal glory, at the voice of that blessed One. . . .”27

O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? (15:55)

This verse comes as a shout of victory for believers. There is a textual variant here between the Majority and Alexandrian texts. However, on either reading, Paul was emphasizing that death no longer has victory over the living and dead believers because they will be either resurrected or translated instantaneously.

The apostle personified death in this verse as a cruel enemy. The reason for the shout of victory, though, is that the sting of death has been removed. The word kentron can refer to the sharp point of a human weapon (Acts 26:14) or the sting of an animal (Revelation 9:10). The sting of death is a plague to mankind. There are those Christians who claim that the sting of death is completely gone now and that believers should not lament over the passing of loved ones. However, even Christ wept at Lazarus’ tomb. Death will continue to bear its sting until the last trumpet sounds when the dead are raised and the living believers receive their new bodies. Faussett believed this verse to be written in the form of a lawsuit and rightly so, as will be seen in the following verse.28

The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. (15:56)

25 Robertson, Word Pictures, 4:198. 26 Barnes, Notes on Corinthians, 386.

27 C. H. Mackintosh, The Mackintosh Treasury: Miscellaneous Writings (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1879), 125.

28 A. R. Faussett, “The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians,” in Robert Jamieson, A. R. Faussett, and David Brown, Commentary on the New Testament (Albany: Ages Software, Version 6.02, 1998), 2:344.

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The noun, kentron, means “a sharp point,” “a prick,” or “stimulus.”29 It is this sting—sin—that produces death. There would be no death without sin (Romans 5:12). Paul again personified the character of death. It is clearly sin that gives the enemy (death) its strength.

Morris contended that it is not death specifically that is so harmful. Death has a sting because “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). In another passage, Paul spoke of death as a gain to believers, since death takes the believer into the presence of the Lord (Philippians 1:21–23). A sinner must be reconciled to his Creator through the death and resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1–3). If a condemned sinner does not believe in the gospel message, then he will inevitably experience sin as the sting of death.30

The power of sin is found in the Law of God. Paul spoke of the Law as “holy and just and good” (Romans 7:12). However, he also stated, “I would not have known sin except through the law” (Romans 7:7). Without the Law, sin would have no power over humanity. Godet explained, “The throne of death rests on two bases: sin, which calls for condemnation, and the law which pronounces it. Consequently, it is on these two powers that the work of the Deliverer bore.”31

The reason for the power of sin is that the Law cannot offer salvation to mankind. Salvation is always by grace through faith alone. The Law sets forth God’s standard of righteousness. The Greek word for sin literally means “to miss the mark.” In classical Greek, archers who failed to hit the bull’s eye in their target used the word hamartia. God’s target is perfection, but sin prevents mankind from meeting God’s holy standard. Furthermore, because of the condemnation, man is left powerless over the effects of sin, so the only hope for deliverance from the “body of death” is found in the believer’s identification with Christ’s death and resurrection (Romans 6).

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

De, which introduces this verse, is set in stark contrast to the victory that defeats death, sin, and the Law. This victory is in Jesus Christ. Paul expressed his thanks to God for providing the victory over death and sin through Jesus Christ. Robertson noted that Paul’s thanksgiving was for “triumph through

Christ over sin and death as in Romans 7:25.”32 Kenneth Wuest has a

remarkable explanation of the Greek word for grace: “Charis is used in the New Testament of that spontaneous act of God that came from the infinite

29 Mounce, Analytical Lexicon, 279. 30 Morris, 1 Corinthians, 229.

31 Frederic Louis Godet, Commentary on First Corinthians (Edinburgh: Clark, 1889), 446.

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love of His heart, in which He stepped down from His judgment throne to take upon Himself the guilt and penalty of human sin, thus satisfying His justice, maintaining His government, and making possible the bestowal of salvation upon the sinner who receives it by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who became a Sin-offering for him on the cross (Romans 3:24).”33

Charis is used over 166 times in the Bible. The Hebrew word is often translated as “favor.” The word literally means “to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior.”34 Grace is said to have come by Jesus Christ (John 1:17) and is now reigning through righteousness leading unto eternal life (Romans 5:21). There is even reference to an “epiphany” of grace that was a mystery (Titus 2:11). It is a marvelous word of the sovereign work of God in salvation.

“Through our Lord Jesus Christ” points the reader to the divine program of God. It is by the work of His hands that this will take place. Man will contribute nothing (Psalm 98:1). The present participle didonti emphasizes that God alone is to be credited with the victory. The use of didonti also marks “the certainty of the future victory.”35 The victory is both present and future. The present tense has reference to the resurrection life of believers now through Jesus Christ (cf. Philippians 3:10). It is the resurrection of Christ in the historical past that has implications for Christians in the present. For instance, the believer has a newness of life as a result of the resurrection (Romans 6:1–4). However, Paul’s main emphasis in this verse is on the eschatological victory.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (15:58)

The verse concludes the passage by giving instructions for daily living. The tenderness of the charge is indicated with the address, “beloved brethren.” The Corinthians were instructed to be “steadfast.” This word is derived from the Greek word translated “seat.” In other words, the believers are to remain “settled” and confident in the content of this revelation. They are to remain solid and firm as when one sits and is confident of the support of the chair.

The believers are to be immovable (ametakinētoi). This word is derived from a and metakineō, which is translated to “move away.” The addition of the negative, a, instructs the Corinthians that they were not to be disturbed or swayed in their faith. Morris offered the following comment: “The

33 Kenneth S. Wuest, Studies in the Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1961), 138–139.

34 James Strong, The New Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville: Nelson, 1990), 85.

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Corinthians were prone to fickleness, shifting without reason from one position to another. Let them get a firm grip on the truth of the resurrection, on God’s final plan for all people and all things, and they will not be so readily shaken.”36

The use of the imperative, ginesthe, emphasizes the urgency of being “steadfast” and “immovable.” “Always abounding in the work of the Lord” is not a suggestion. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, believers are charged to be busy about the work of the Lord. In other words, they are not to be inactive in their service of the Lord even though the rapture is imminent. The church is to be earnestly expecting the rapture, but she is also instructed to be busy fulfilling God’s commands.

“Abounding” implies that the church is to excel in the work of the Lord. The reason for this is that such labor “is not in vain.” That which the believer does for the Lord has eternal reward and is not to be considered futile or meaningless. Christians do not need to face discouragement because their work is “in the Lord.”

The Christian has a great hope in Jesus Christ. All of mankind is condemned before God, but victory over the wages of sin is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone as one’s Savior. He alone can provide the victory through either resurrection or translation. The rapture of the church is to have a purifying effect on the body of Christ since at any moment the church saints could be in His presence. The rapture should also cause Christians to be active in fulfilling the Great Commission, since Christ could come at any moment. Certainly, the church should be active in the work of the Lord so that when He returns to gather His church, she will not have any shame, but rather confidence because of a life lived in obedient, privileged service of the coming King.

Ron J. Bigalke Jr. (M.Apol., M.T.S., Ph.D.) is an author and lecturer. He is the founder and director of Eternal Ministries, a discipleship and evangelistic ministry, and associate pastor of Grace Community Church (Rincon, GA). Dr. Bigalke has taught classes for Moody Bible Institute, Tyndale Theological Seminary, and secondary schools and has served as a Christian school administrator and board member. He is a member of several Christian professional societies. His email address is bigalke@eternalministries.org.

36 Morris, 1 Corinthians, 230.

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