1 Corinthians 15:21-22
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.…
I. THE RESULTS OF CHRIST'S RESURRECTION TO US. It is a pledge of the resurrection of all who share in His humanity.
1. Why does this result take place? (ver. 22). Do not understand the apostle as if he merely said, "If you sin as Adam sinned, you will die as Adam died." This was mere Pelagianism, and is expressly condemned in the article on Original Sin. According to the Scriptures we inherit the first man's nature, and that nature has in it the mortal, not the immortal. And yet there are in all of us two natures, that of the animal and that of the Spirit, an Adam and a Christ. St. Paul explains himself: "The first man was of the earth, earthy"; and again, "The first man Adam was made a living soul."(1) Recollect that the term "a living soul" means a mere natural man endowed with intellectual powers, with passions, and with those appetites which belong to us in common with the animals. In this our immortality does not reside; and it is from fixing our attention on the decay of these that doubt of our immortality begins. It is a dismal and appalling thing to witness the slow failure of living powers; as life goes on to watch the eye losing its lustre, and the cheek its roundness; to see the limbs becoming feeble and worn; to perceive the memory wander, and the features no longer bright with the light of expression; to mark the mind relax its grasp; and to ask the dreary question — Are these things immortal? You cannot but disbelieve, if you rest your hope of immortality on their endurance. Now the simple reply is, that the extinction of these powers is no proof against immortality, because they are not the seat of the immortal. They belong to the animal — to the organs of our intercourse with the visible world. Therefore it is not in what we inherit from Adam the man, but in what we hold from Christ the Spirit, that our immortality resides.
(2) Nay more, the growth of the Christ within us is in exact proportion to the decay of the Adam. "Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." And this evidence of our immortality is perpetually before us. It is no strange thing to see the spirit ripening in exact proportion to the decay of the body. Many an aged one there is who loses one by one all his physical powers, and yet the spiritual in him is mightiest at the last.
2. When will this result take place? (vers. 23, etc.) Note —
(1) That the resurrection cannot be till the kingdom is complete.
(2) That certain hindrances at present prevent the perfect operation of God in our souls. We are the victims of physical and moral evil, and till this is put down for ever, the completeness of the individual cannot be; for we are bound up with the universe. Talk of the perfect happiness of any unit man while the race still mourns and while the spiritual kingdom is incomplete! No, the golden close is yet to come, and the blessing of the individual parts can only be with the blessing of the whole. And so the apostle speaks of the whole creation groaning and travailing in pain together until now, "waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."(3) That the mediatorial kingdom of Christ shall be superseded by an immediate one; therefore the present form in which God has revealed Himself is only temporary. When the object of the present kingdom of Christ has been attained in the conquest of evil, there will be no longer need of a mediator. Then God will be known immediately. Then, when the last hindrance, the last enemy, is removed, we shall see Him face to face, know Him even as we are known, awake up satisfied in His likeness, and be transformed into pure recipients of the Divine glory. That will be the resurrection.
II. CORROBORATIVE PROOFS. These are two in number, and both are argumenta ad hominem. They are not proofs valid to all men, but cogent only to Christians.
1. When baptized, Christians made a profession of a belief in a resurrection, and St. Paul asks them here, "What, then, was the meaning of their profession? Why were they baptized into the faith of a resurrection, if there were none?" (ver. 29).
2. "Why stand we in jeopardy every hour?"(1) If the future life were no Christian doctrine, then the whole apostolic life — nay, the whole Christian life, were a monstrous and senseless folly.
(2) And again, Christian life, not merely apostolic devotedness, is "a grand impertinence." "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die," and if this life be all, we defy you to disprove the wisdom of such reasoning. How many of the myriads of the human race would do right, for the sake of right, if they were only to live fifty years, and then die for evermore? Go to the sensualist, and tell him that a noble life is better than a base one, even for that time, and he will answer: "I like pleasure better than virtue: you can do as you please; for me, I will wisely enjoy any time. It is merely a matter of taste. By taking away my hope of a resurrection you have dwarfed good and evil, and shortened their consequences. if I am only to live sixty or seventy years, there is no eternal right or wrong. By destroying the thought of immortality I have lost the sense of the infinitude of evil, and the eternal nature of good."(3) Besides, with our hopes of immortality gone, the value of humanity ceases, and people become not worth living for. We have not got a motive strong enough to keep us from sin. Christianity is to redeem from evil: it loses its power if the idea of immortal life be taken away.
(F. W. Robertson, M.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.