1 Corinthians 15:21-22
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.…
When Paul says "by man" he refers to Christ; only taking advantage of the fact that, since the Son of God incarnate, is become a proper man, it is permitted us to regard the power of salvation as included in humanity itself. Christ is not so much to be thought of as being external, but as a regenerative power so inserted in humanity as to be, in a sense, of it. The word "since" supposes an impression felt of inherent fitness, requiring the corporate disadvantages of the fall to be made good by a corporate remedy. Consider, then —
I. THE ANTECEDENT PROBABILITY OF SUCH A REMEDY, INDICATED BY FAMILIAR ANALOGIES. It is God's manner to make all things largely self-remedial when attacked by disorder. The bush that is bent, as soon as it is let go springs up suddenly by an elastic force within. Cut it down and it will set to new growths. Every animal body has a distinct self-medicating force in its own nature, called by physiologists the vis medicatrix. The same is true of all defections of character, the man must repair his losses by a process of recovery undertaken by himself; the whole world toiling at his vices and dishonors could not repair one of them. The same is true of society. What, then, shall we expect when humanity is broken by sin, but that if God organises redemption, He will do it in a way to have it appear as a redemption from within, executed in a sense by man?
II. WE NOT ONLY WANT A SUPERNATURAL SALVATION (for nothing less than that can possibly regenerate the fall of nature), BUT IN ORDER TO HAVE ANY STEADY FAITH IN IT WE MUST HAVE IT WROUGHT INTO NATURE AND MADE TO BE, AS IT WERE. ONE OF ITS OWN STOCK POWERS. Note the eagerness that turns such multitudes of our time after the doctrine of progress.
1. Yet there is no fiction more baseless than a strictly natural progress, for after the fact of sin the progress of the race must be (as we see it is) from bad to worse. We want a salvation that is to us all that this doctrine of progress pretends to be, and God gives us to see the general humanity so penetrated with the supernatural by Christ living in it, as to be, in a sense, working out redemption from within itself.
2. Meantime, if it were possible to restore the fall of our race by any kind of wholly external agency, supposing no concurrent struggles operating from within, it would reduce our character and grade of insignificance to a virtual nullity. But the Saviour being or becoming man, the salvation dignifies and raises man even before he receives it.
III. SINCE IT IS CONTINUALLY ASSUMED IN SCRIPTURE THAT WE FALL AS A CORPORATE WHOLE, WE NATURALLY LOOK FOR SOME RECUPERATIVE GRACE TO RE ENTERED INTO THE RACE, BY WHICH SO GREAT A DISADVANTAGE MAY BE REPAID OR OVERCOME, True, we are not born of Christ physiologically. The correspondence must not be understood to hold in any but a general and qualified way. Let it be enough that as Adam is our head physiologically, so is Christ our head by the head influences He inaugurates. Good souls have a power to get into the race by collateral propagations of their goodness, when bad souls have almost no such power at all. They have a destiny of headship, becoming Adams in the sublime fatherhood of their power. And so it is, illustrating the Divine by the human, that the incarnate Word of God's eternity, coming into birth and living and dying as a man, fills the race with new possibilities and powers, starts resurgent activities, and overtops the sin abounding with a grace that so much more abounds.
IV. CONSIDER NOW SOME OF THE SCRIPTURE EVIDENCE OF THE SUBJECT. It declares the the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head. The woman's whole posterity, including Christ, shall do it, God being always present in the struggle. Here and there the hidden method is departed from, and God does something for or upon our humanity and not through it, but nothing works like a power that does not work by man. When Christ comes, perfect in all Divinity, He gets into the common family register as man, and puts the struggle on as being a struggle of race. And when He is gone a gospel is born, and, though there seems nothing here but the same humanity there was before, it is a very different fight as respects the power of it. Observe how even Holy Scripture is written by man, bearing in every book the stamp of the particular mind in whose personal conception it was shaped. And the gospel of Christ is to be preached by human ministers, and the disciples are to be newer incarnations of Christ, and, in a sense, by their gifts, prayers, and sufferings, vehicles, also, of the Spirit. "Ye are the light of the world." Conclusion:
1. We have, then, a very significant presumption raised, that when any breakage or damage occurs in any legitimate institution of the world, God has put in somewhere some kind of self-remedial force to mend it.
2. Note the immense responsibility thrown upon Christ's followers. Christ lays it on them to be gospellers with Him, and to really believe is to come into the great life-struggle of Jesus.
3. Lift up your heads, O ye drooping ones! Christ is in the world. He is about us, within us, going through all things, moving onward in all. Leaven does not make a noise when it works, and yet it works. No river runs to the sea more certainly or steadily than the great salvation by man runs to conquest and a kingdom.
4. Observe the beautiful delicacy of God in His plan of salvation. He makes it not a salvation for man only, but contrives to make it, as far as possible, a salvation by man. True, it is all by Christ, and yet it is by the Christ within — the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus. And so, instead of making His mercy a mere pity that kills respect, He makes it a power that lifts into character and everlasting manhood. And when we shall go home to be with Christ, what shall we do but confess in lowliest homage — "Unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood"; raising our finale, also, to sing, in the glorified majesty of our feeling, "And hath made us kings and priests unto God."
(H. Bushnell, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.