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Paul's most complete resurrection teaching is found in 1 Cor. 15. The first 21 verses prove the resurrection in a manner consistent with his early training as a Pharisee. The primary difference is that he proves it by Jesus' resurrection—something that no Pharisee would have dared to do. Their denominational opponents, the Sadducees, denied the idea of resurrection, being influenced by the Greek view that matter was evil and that the goal of mankind was to get rid of this “evil” body. They taught that death frees us from this body of death so that, if worthy, we might go to heaven and live in a spiritual body. If yet unworthy, we would be reincarnated in a flesh body in order to have another opportunity to achieve perfection by moral evolution.
In 1 Cor. 15:22 and 23, after using Christ’s resurrection to prove that we too will be resurrected, Paul takes his teaching to the next level, dealing with the scope of resurrection:
22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each in his own order [tagma, 'squadron'].
Here Paul compares Adam with Christ—two different men. Adam sinned; Christ did not. Adam's sin brought death to all and subjected the entire creation to vanity; Christ's righteousness brought life to all and set the entire creation free.
The comparison is in the fact that each man's act had an opposite effect upon creation. Yet the word “as” means that something is alike in that statement. Adam and Christ are not the same; sin and righteousness are not alike; death and life are opposites. The only factor that makes them alike is the “ALL” affected by these two men.
Even as Adam's sin brought death to ALL men and subjected the entire creation to vanity (Rom. 8:20), so also Christ's righteousness brought life to ALL men and set the entire creation free. “Creation was subjected to vanity not willingly,” that is, apart from its own will or choice or decision. It was adversely affected through Adam's sin, not for any sin of its own.
This is by the Law of Headship, or Authority. The decisions of the one in authority affect all of those under him for better or for worse. Thus, Rom. 5:12 says,
12 Therefore just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, ON WHICH [eph ho] all sin.
Paul explains in Romans 5 that Adam's sin was imputed to all of us. This means that we were all held accountable for Adam's sin, as if we had done it. We were legally guilty, and so all men received the penalty for Adam's sin. That penalty was death, or mortality. In becoming mortal, or death-ridden, we became morally weak or sick, and this, in turn, has caused us to sin. We received death—on which all sin.
Most translations, beginning with Jerome's Latin Vulgate, say “for that all sin” (KJV) or “because all sinned” (NASB), as if to say that we became mortal because we sinned. This is incorrect. We sin because we are mortal, not the other way around. We are born mortal before we had opportunity to sin for ourselves.
We are mortal because of Adam's sin, not because of our own sin.
The translators misunderstood Paul because they thought Paul had made a mistake. They thought he was contradicting his statement in Rom. 6:23, “the wages of sin is death.” They did not understand that the wages of Adam’s sin was the first death (mortality) which was passed down to all men; and that the wages of our own personal sins is the second death—the judgment of law at the Great White Throne.
How, then, did the translators misunderstand (and disagree with) the Apostle Paul? It began over 1600 years ago.
When Jerome translated the Latin Vulgate around 400 A.D., he rendered the last phrase of Rom. 5:12, “because all have sinned” instead of “on which all sinned.”
The Jerome Biblical Commentary, page 307, admits that this translation has a serious problem by making Paul contradict himself within the same verse:
“A difficulty often found with it is that it seems to make Paul say in 5:12c`-d something contradictory to what he says in 12:a-b. In the beginning of the verse sin and death are ascribed to Adam; now death seems to be due to man’s deeds.”
Jerome’s lack of understanding was passed down to most modern translators as well. Very few realized that Paul was talking about two kinds of death: the first being the result of Adam’s sin, and the second being the result of our own sin.
The point is that Adam’s transgression was reversed in Christ, whose righteousness and righteous act on the cross brought life to all of creation. Both acts were done outside of ourselves, not by our will. Likewise, even as we all shared in the consequences of Adam’s sin before our wills had been formed, so also do we all share in the salvation brought about by Christ’s righteous act, which was done apart from our wills. Just as Adam’s sin resulted in every man’s death, so also Christ’s righteous act resulted in every man being given life in the end.
The only caveat given in 1 Cor. 15:23 is this: “but every man in his own order.” Not all will appropriate immortality at the same time. Jesus established the FACT of universal reconciliation, but the TIMING is determined by our will and actions. The overcomers will receive aionian life (“life in The Age”) in the first resurrection (Rev. 20:4-6) so that they might reign with Him during the thousand-year Tabernacles Age.
The rest of the believers will be given life (immortality) when the thousand years is finished. This is the time of the general resurrection, when ALL who yet remain in the tombs “shall hear His voice and shall come forth” (John 5:28, 29). This will include both unbelievers and the rest of the believers who missed the first resurrection.
Those who refused Christ during their life time on earth, along with the great majority of mankind who never had opportunity to hear of Him in the life time, will confess Him as Lord at the Great White Throne. Even so, they will be judged according to their works (Rev. 20:13). Because all sin is reckoned as a debt, the great Judge will reckon each man’s “debt” according to his sin and according to his level of knowledge (Luke 12:48) and then sentence him to be “sold” according to the law in Ex. 22:3. The purchaser will be an overcomer, one with the character of Jesus Christ, who will be given authority and responsibility to teach them righteousness by personal example and by force if necessary. This judgment will endure until the Creation Jubilee.
This time of biblical slavery (being a bondservant) is how the law judges debtors. All of the judgments of the law are said to be “fire.” The totality of these judgments is called the “lake of fire” (Rev. 20:14).
No one will be tortured, for torture is not a judgment in biblical law, nor is it one of the fruits of the Spirit, nor is it consistent with the character of God as revealed in Christ. Some may receive 40 lashes with a whip, according to the law mentioned in Jesus’ parable in Luke 12:48, but that, Jesus called a “fire” in verse 49.
All sinners are indebted to the law and will be “sold” to the body of Christ, coming under their authority as “servants” or “bond-slaves.” But because they will perfectly manifest the love of Christ, they will treat each one with the love of God and will be charged with the responsibility of teaching them the ways of God. Thus, Isaiah 26:9 says,
29 . . . for when the earth experiences Thy judgments, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
The fire is the Word of God, including the “fiery law” (Deut. 33:2). It is the manifestation of the righteous character of God Himself, for He manifested Himself to Israel only as fire. He is a “consuming fire” (Deut. 4:24). When He comes in a baptism of fire, its purpose is to destroy “the flesh” and quicken our mortal bodies (Rom. 8:11).
The fire is the glory of God as well, which will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. The waters cover 100 percent of the sea; so also His glory will cover 100 percent of the earth.
The creation itself groans today under the oppression of sin, and it anxiously awaits the manifestation of the sons of God (Rom. 8:19). Not only mankind, but everything in creation will be affected by the righteous act of Jesus Christ. Even as Adam was given dominion over all things and given headship over all, so also Christ, the Last Adam, has been given headship over all.
When Adam sinned, he and his wife and children were sold to pay the debt that he could not pay. In fact, his entire estate was sold to pay his debt, and it was still insufficient to pay the debt. Jesus spoke of this in a parable in Matt. 18:25,
25 But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children AND ALL THAT HE HAD, and repayment to be made.
Jesus came as the last Adam to reverse the curse and pay the full debt that Adam could not pay. In doing so, He redeemed not only Adam, but his wife and children (descendants) and the entire estate (the creation). Everything that was lost in Adam is redeemed in Christ. Hence, 1 John 2:2 says,
2 and He Himself is the propitiation [covering] for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.
Suppose you were to purchase a store full of merchandise. When the time came to possess it, would you be satisfied if you walked into the store and found only a few items on the shelf? Of course not. If you purchased the whole store, you would not rest until you obtained everything you paid for. Jesus paid for the sin of the whole world by His blood, which is worth far more than all of creation. He will not be satisfied until He receives all that He purchased.
In Matthew 13:44 Jesus told a short parable to teach us how extensive was the effect of His work on the cross:
44 The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field.
In verse 38 Jesus said that “the field is the world.” We know from Exodus 19:5 that Israel was God’s peculiar treasure. Jesus Himself is the “man” in the parable, who searches and finds the lost sheep of the House of Israel (Ezekiel 34:11). When a man stumbles upon treasure buried in a field, the treasure rightfully belongs to the one who owns the field. For this reason, the man in the parable could not simply take the treasure without first buying the field. To do so would be theft.
So Jesus found Israel, and in order to obtain that “peculiar treasure,” He purchased the field—THE WORLD. Thus, whether one interprets the treasure to be Israel as a nation or Christians, they represent a portion of mankind hidden in the world. Regardless of our view, one thing is clear: Jesus purchased the whole world in order to obtain the treasure.
All things were put under Adam's authority (Gen. 1:26-28). Psalm 8:6 repeats this, “Thou hast put all things under his feet.” Adam lost it all, but the Last Adam has redeemed it all. Thus the New Testament applies this to Christ in Heb. 2:6-8, under whose feet all things have now been rightfully subjected. In fact, Psalm 8:6 is the most often quoted Scripture in the New Testament. For this reason it ought to be seen as one of the most important concepts to study.