Monday, August 23, 2010

The Mediatorial Kingship of Jesus Christ Pt.2 (1 Corinthians 15:24-28)

With the two powerful and spiritually exhilerating words "but now," Paul's argument temporarily transitions from arguments for bodily resurrection to two arguments GUARANTEEING FUTURE BODILY RESURRECTION in vv20-28. It is worth noting here, that Paul will continue the line of thought which is dropped in v19, picking it back up in vv.29-32, with two more arguments for the resurrection. This time, the arguments will be practical in nature, and then he will conclude his series of arguments in vv.33-34 with a trenchant critique of the Corinthians and an admonition to ammend their ways.

As stated above, there are two arguments set forth in vv.20-28 which serve to GUARANTEE future bodily resurrection. One argument pertains to the covenant headship of Jesus Christ, and the other pertains to the mediatorial kingship of Jesus Christ. Though the former is a rich vein of thought, our interest here lies in explaining the relationship of Christ's mediatorial kingship to Paul's guarantee of bodily resurrection, since this relationship is often obscured or overlooked entirely. It seems a significant reason why this relationship of Christ's kingship to the guarantee of bodily resurrection is overlooked is because on the surface of things, it looks like Paul temporarily drops the topic of providing pastoral consolation by unfolding the idea of guarantee, and instead, transitions to the subject of eschatology, specifically, the unfolding of the timeline of certain last days events.

Let's take just a moment to offer a possible explanation for why the relationship between Christ's mediatorial kingship and future bodily resurrection is often obscured or entirely missed altogether. In verse 23 Paul explains that when Jesus comes in glory at the end of the age the dead in Christ will be raised upon his glorious appearance. At this point, in v24, Paul begings to unfold the sequence of eschatological events which culminate in the end of the age and the consumation of the eternal kingdom of God. The beginning of verse 24 says, "then comes the end." If you connect the thought of verse 24 back to v23 you can see that Paul is saying that once Jesus returns, the resurrection will take place and then the end of the age will come. Paul spells out a sort of time line for the end times, albeit truncated and oversimplified since he leaves out a number of other details revealed in other parts of scripture. The two clauses in v24 that immediately follow "then comes the end" further unfold WHEN the end will come. Kingdom consummation will follow fast upon the heels of Jesus handing the kingdom over to the father and after he has abolished all authority and power. Those 5 facts provide a significant amount of clarity concerning the unfolding of the events of the last days: Christ returns in glory, the dead rise, Christ puts down all authority, rule, and power, Christ hands over the kingdom to the Father, and finally the end comes.

However, an important question to consider in reflecting on these 5 rich facts is why does Paul include them here? Are these facts simply given to provide the church information about the events of the last days or are these facts given as as part of Paul's argument guaranteeing the resurrection of believers? In order to answer that question and to appreciate the fact that Paul has not transitioned from one topic to another (from resurrection to eschatology), but rather develops a second, rich, theological argument guaranteeing bodily resurrection, focus must turn to the very first word of v25. Notice the first word in v25, "for." That conjunction marks cause, reason, or explanation. In this case it looks back immediately to the last clause of v24. To help clarify things a bit, we must correct the NASV translation of the last clause and change "when" to "after" since the grammatical construction requires it. That means that this second clause clarifies when the end will come; the "end" is "after" Christ has abolished his enemies, then he will deliver over the kingdom to God the Father. It is clear by the grammatical construction Paul uses that verse 25 not only explains why the end times sequence of events must unfold as Paul explains, but it also signals that Paul is developing a second argument guaranteeing the bodily resurrection. Verse 25 explains why the kingdom cannot be delivered over until AFTER all enemies listed in v24 are destroyed. It is a PROPHETIC NECESSITY that Christ reigns UNTIL he has put all his enemies under his feet. Paul quotes from Psalm 110:1 in v25 in order to ground his argument for the unfolding of the eschatogolical chain events as described in vv23-24.

At this point you might not yet fully see how this represents a second argument guaranteeing the resurrection. After all, it may seem that Paul has only explained why certain end times events must follow the order set forth by Paul in vv23-24. The connection between Christ's kingly rule and bodily resurrection is made more clear by the thought Paul adds in v26 and v27. In v26 Paul adds one more enemy to the list of things that must be destroyed by Christ before he returns, and that enemy is death. The fact that Paul is adding one more enemy to the list of enemies to be destroyed before the end is signaled by his repetition of the verb "destroyed" found in the last clause of v24. By isolating "death" and setting it off on its own, Paul is indicating that there is a climax to Christ's conquest: all authority, rule, and power, and FINALLY-----DEATH! Death is the most powerful kingdom enemy, and the conquest of death is held off until the end that its destruction will mark the punctuation of of Christ's climactic kingdom victory. So in effect, Paul is saying that Christ cannot bring about the end by handing over the kingdom unto the Father UNTIL he has destroyed all rule, authority, power, and finally, death itself.

Staying with the flow of thought a bit longer, notice that v27 gives the reason why Christ MUST destroy death: FOR HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS UNDER HIS FEET. Paul quotes here from Psalm 8:6 and explains again, that it is a PROPHETIC NECESSITY that Christ conquer death and CRUSH THIS KINGDOM ENEMY UNDER HIS FEET as part of his kingly rule. Add all this together and the relationship between Christ's mediatorial kingship and future bodily resurrection become quite clear. Paul argues that the end will come when he delivers the kingdom over to the Father after Christ's returns in glory, which simultaneously activates the resurrection of the dead and the climactic conquest of his enemies including all rule, authority, power, and death. Why must it all happen in this order? PROPHETIC NECESSITY! Psalm 110:1 and Psalm 8:6 prophecy that Christ MUST RULE AS KING until he has stomped out all opposition to his kingly rule. Only after every enemy has been DECISIVELY CONQUERED will Jesus hand over the mediatorial kingdom to the Father.

In vv.24-28 Paul brings out a huge theological argument to assure the hearts and minds of all believers that there will be a bodily resurrection in the future. Christ's mediatorial kingship requires that he must reign until death is conquered. The obvious sign of the death's total defeat is the bodily resurrection. When soul and body are gloriously and powerfully reunited there will be no doubt at all that Christ is king over all and that he has definitively DESTROYED THE POWER OF DEATH FOREVER AND EVER.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Mediatorial Kingship of Jesus Christ Pt.1 (1Corinthians 15:24-28)



1Corinthians 15 is one of the most rich and challenging passages in all of the Pauline literature. At the outset of the chapter Paul exercises the Corinthian's collective memory by reminding them of the fundamental principles of the gospel (vv.1-11). According to Paul the gospel is that which: he preacehd to them, it is what they received, what they stand upon, and is what saves them. Recounting gospel truths moves from catechesis to admonition as Paul commands the Corinthians to CONTINUE embracing the gospel unto the end in order to be saved (v2).

That pastoral note of admonition is an important rhetorical frame which contextualizes the proclamation of the bodily resurrection of Christ, which forms the central core of Paul's gospel. In unfolding the evidentiary basis of the bodily resurrection of Christ, it is apparent that Paul is doing more than ticking off a series of "facts" about Christ's resurrection. Rather than forming mere talking points in an apologetic encounter, these "facts" are both polemical and pastoral. On the one hand they are designed to provide objective proof of Christ's resurrection and on the other they are designed to innoculate the Corinthian believers against the spiritually corrosive effects of a false spirituality that seems to be within ear shot of some of the Corinthian believers. If the Corinthian Christians fail to heed Paul's admonition to continue embracing by faith the gospel he delivered to them, they are in danger of making shipwreck of their faith.

The double-edged nature of Paul's proclamation of Christ's bodily resurrection, already indicated in the admonition of verse 2, emerges in verse 12 and following. After placing the bodily resurrection of Christ on a firm factual footing, Paul discloses the driving concern of chapter 15 when he says, "12 Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised." It turns out, that the real issue in chapter 15 is not so much the apologetic need to defend the historicity of the bodily resurrection of Christ as it is to show its foundational significance both for the gospel and for believers. Specifically Paul's concern is to show the inseparable connection between Christ's resurrection and the future bodily resurrection of believers. As the logic of the argument unfolds it is clear you cannot have one without the other: either Christ rose from the dead therefore ensuring the bodily resurrection of believers, or believers don't rise bodily from the dead therefore implying Christ did not rise. The enormous danger of the novel and false spirituality circulating within hearing range of some Corinthian believers is now exposed as an ideology which is antithetical to the Christian gospel.

In verses 14-19 Paul attacks the false ideology by drawing out 1 overarching consequence of this false doctrine and then develops 4 spiritually devastating implications from it. The 1 giant overarching logical consequence of this false teaching is found in v13: if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised. Paul makes it unmistakeably plain here that the believer's resurrection is so intertwined with Christ's resurrection that if you reject a bodily resurrection of believers, you must also reject the historical fact of Christ's bodily resurrection. The rest of what Paul has to say in vv.14-19 is an UNFOLDING of the implications of that false idea:
-1- apostolic preaching is VAIN(that is, lacking in content or truth---and that the apostles are false witnesses)- v14
-2- faith is vain - v17
-3- Dead believers have perished forever – v18
-4- Christians are the most miserable of all people – v19

Fortunately for believers, the signal that these dreadful implications of the false ideology are all wrong is found in those 2 soul thrilling words at the outset of v20, "BUT NOW."

Coming to v20 it is clear that Paul is taking up a new line of thought. On the one hand those 2 words, "but now" speak a thousand words of relief for the believer. What they express is that you can come back to all those dreadful implications of vv13-19(no bodily resurrection, apostolic preaching is empty, faith is vain, hope is lost, Christianity is miserable) and turn them all INSIDE OUT so they read BUT NOW:
-there is a resurrection of the body
-apostolic preaching is fruitful
-faith is the instrument of justification
-deceased believers-are in Christ—and we will see them again
-Christianity is the only faith that makes life meaningful & brings real joy.

All these things are indisputably true because the apostles testified to a real historical FACT when they said Christ rose from the dead bodily. Because that was true, so it is true that believers will rise bodily from the dead.

On the other hand, these 2 words, "but now" move us into an argument for the GUARANTEE of the bodily resurrection of believers. In verses 20-28 Paul develops 2 lines of argument guaranteeing the resurrection of believers. The first is that the covenantal headship of Christ ensures that Christ really is the firstfruits of the resurrection (v20) and that just as certainly as all sin and die in Adam, so also, all who Christ's represents as covenant head will be raised bodily from the dead. All by itself, that is powerful and rich theological idea, but what we want to focus on here is the second argument to be developed in our next post, which is how the mediatorial kingship of Christ guarantees the bodily resurrection of believers.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Outline of Proverbs 2

• chapter 2 serves as a literary setting for what is to follow in
chapters 3-7 by introducing themes that will be developed and
expanded upon subsequently:
- internalizing wisdom – 3:1; 4:1-5; 5:1; 7:1
- wisdom and preservation – 3:22-26; 4:6,10-13; 7:4-5
- deliverance from wicked man – 4:13-17 (2:12-15)
- warnings about sexual seduction – 5:1-23; 6:20-7:27 (2:16-19)
- obedience/blessing connection – 3:2,4,7-11,22-26,33-35; 4:10; 9:11-
12 (2:20-22)

I. The structure of chapter 2
A. condition-consequence connection – 2:1-11
1. condition – 2:1-4
2. consequence – 2:5-11
a. consequence sequence #1 – 5-8
b. consequence sequence #2 – 9-11
B. wisdom’s purpose – 2:12-22
1. deliverance from evil men – 2:12-15
2. deliverance from seductive women – 2:16-19
3. securing a blessed life – 2:20-22

II. The pursuit of wisdom – 2:1-11
A. conditions of wisdom
1. reception – vv1-2
a. receive my words – v1
b. treasure my commandments within you – v1
c. make your ear attentive to wisdom; incline heart...v2
2. prayer – v3
a. cry for discernment
b. lift your voice to understanding
3. searching – v4
a. seek her as silver
b. search for her as for hidden treasure
B. consequences of wisdom
1. consequence sequence #1
a. discern the fear of the Lord – v5
b. discover the knowledge of the Lord –v5
c. for the Lord gives wisdom – v6
d. from his mouth come knowledge and understanding – v6
e. he stores up wisdom for the upright – v7
f. he is a shield to those who walk in integrity –v7
g. guarding the paths of justice – v8
h. He preserves the way of His godly ones – v8
2. consequence sequence #2
a. then you will discern righteousness and justice – v9
b. equity and every good course – v9
c. wisdom will enter your heart- v10
d. knowledge will be pleasant to your soul – v10
e. discretion will guard you – v11
f. understanding will watch over your soul – v11

III. The purpose of wisdom – 2:12-22
A. deliverance from evil men – v12-15
B. deliverance from seductive women – v16-19
C. securing a blessed life – v20-22