1 Corinthians 15:21-22 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
Death entered the world with Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating of the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden. Paul uses Adam here as the archetype for Jesus. Paul is not concerned here with Eve but with Adam who represents all of humanity. The actual Hebrew word adam is an inclusive term for male and female (Genesis 1:26-27). God warned Adam and Eve that if they ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would die. When they sinned, death entered their lives. Something dramatic and encompassing happened at that moment. The first sign of death was the shame that they experienced. This shame was due to their separation from God. The first and primary death we all face is the death of separation from God. Pain, sorrow, guilt, and shame resulted when they ate of the fruit. Physical death began to take its affect at that moment, though it did not completely overwhelm them for many years. This death affects all people. No one can escape the affects of sin except through God’s grace.
Jesus is the second Adam in that he reversed what Adam did. Where Adam brought death, Jesus brought life. Where Adam disobeyed, Jesus obeyed in all things. It is through Jesus’ resurrection that believers will experience resurrection. His life brings life to all who are in him. Paul’s statement in v. 22 should be read within the context and not as a universal statement. The gift of eternal life is given only to those who trust in Christ. There is a sense that every person will be raised, some to eternal life and others to eternal judgment (see Revelation 20:11-15). Paul’s focus here seems to be on those who believe and will be raised to eternal life. Paul and John may have had different ideas about the end but they do not necessarily contradict one another. One way to understand this verse is to rephrase it: every one will die because they follow the path of Adam in disobeying God. Those who have put their trust in Jesus Christ will experience a resurrection like his, where our bodies are transformed into a new spiritual existence.
There is a lot of unknowns about much of what will actually happen in the future. Paul himself did not know. John in Revelations only had glimpses. We can trust in the simple truth of this passage: there is resurrection hope in Jesus Christ. When or how this resurrection actually takes place is a mystery until it happens. Paul’s key point for the Corinthians is that they were mistaken to think that this life is all that matters. Or, to think that what happens to the body in this life does not matter because we are only spirits. Paul corrects both of these to show that the body is sacred and actually part of God’s eternal plan for us. The resurrected body will not be the same as in this earth, but it will still be the essence of who we are as humans. Paul will attempt to explain this to the Corinthians later in this chapter.
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