1 Corinthians 15: Why the resurrection matters, Part 1

deathPaul is insistent, not only that all Christians will be resurrected when Jesus returns, but also that this resurrection will be a bodily resurrection. The resurrected body will be gloriously transformed versions of our present bodies, but bodies nonetheless — in fact, bodies that are like the body Jesus had when he was resurrected.

So why was this so important to Paul? Well–

1. Denying the resurrection

Jesus left an empty tomb, and so will we. But the modern teaching of nearly all churches is that our “souls” will go to heaven, leaving our bodies in the grave. And if that’s the case, why are we insistent on the empty tomb? Why not take the position that Jesus wasn’t bodily resurrected but his soul went to heaven. Why can’t the appearances of Jesus be appearances by his soul — his ghost or spirit?

And that’s exactly the position of some liberal Christians — and others who deny the resurrection.

Do you see the problem? Our churches are teaching the same thing that many who deny the resurrection teach — because we deny the general resurrection. We are much more comfortable talking about souls going immediately to heaven than about bodies rising from the grave.

Now, some — including NT Wright — teach that the bodily resurrection is about “life after life after death.” That is, we die, we are preserved in heaven somehow, and then we return to our bodies, which are resurrected on Judgment Day. And the Churches of Christ have historically taught something similar — except we assume that we arise from our graves as disembodied souls still, to leave the earth that is about to be burned. Wright believes that we arise from our graves in redeemed bodies that will live in the New Heavens and New Earth — which are in fact the original heavens and earth, except they’ll be purified and redeemed and renewed.

Others, myself included, believe that God exists outside of time — as we experience time — and so when we die, to enter the presence of God is also to leave time as we experience it. Hence, it’s entirely possible that all who die arrive at the resurrection at once — having (from their perspective) not waited one second for the end of the age. That makes a lot of sense to me. From the perspective of those who live, the dead appear to be sleeping, but the dead experience no delay. They do not pass Go! They go straight to Judgment.

Now even under that interpretation, the deceased person will be separate from his body until Jesus returns. God solves this by allowing the deceased to pass straight to Judgment Day, but even then, for what may only be seconds, the soul and the body are separate. After all, God does not move our bodies directly to Judgment. They, quite obviously, remain in the grave. Hence, there is a sense in which God transports some part of us — our memories, our personalities — miraculously from our dead bodies to heaven, to be reconnected with our re-animated, reconstituted, resurrected bodies at the Second Coming.

I think it happens very quickly for the dead, but for those of us left behind, we can fairly think in terms of “souls” being in heaven pending Judgment, but we should not think of these souls having to wait for their reward. They receive their reward immediately upon death.

But the key lesson here is the necessity of believing that our resurrection will be like that of Jesus — or else we open the scriptures up to interpretations that challenge the empty tomb of Jesus. After all, if Christians won’t leave empty tombs, neither did Jesus.

(Phi 3:20-21 ESV)  20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,  21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

2. Christian dualism

The fact that we will have bodies in the resurrection completely contradicts a Platonic or Gnostic view of the world. Christianity has absorbed many attitudes toward the body and the Creation from pagan Hellenistic philosophy.

Plato taught a type of dualism that radically separated the good and the spiritual from the evil and the physical. Francis Schaeffer liked to explain this in terms of stories. The Greeks understood the world to have two stories —

Good, holy, spiritual, intangible, abstract
Evil, corrupt, earthly, tangible, physical

Many who were converted to Christianity retained elements of the Grecian worldview. Hence, they struggled to accept that Jesus could have been both fully God and fully human. Many decided that he was “born” with a spiritual body that left no footprints.

Or they decided that Jesus was “resurrected” as a ghost. His glorified self that went to heaven could not have had a tangible, physical body.

The Gnostics were Platonic Christians who, in the Second and later centuries, taught that God is honored by our giving up physical pleasures and even more so by our self-imposed sufferings. This led to a theology that treated sex as wrong, even between married people, and that honored Christians who lived in the desert as hermits. (And many other errors.)

Among contemporary Churches of Christ, Gnostic attitudes show up here and there. For example, the idea that some places are more “holy” than others denies the holiness of the creation. Therefore, there is nothing inherently wrong in eating together in the church building. It is not too “holy” to accommodate a meal.

After all, we could eat together in the woods. Why is Yosemite less holy than the church building. I’ve been to both, and I found being in Yosemite more spiritually moving than most church services. So why is it okay to eat together in the beauty of a national park but not in the building?

Well, because for us to feel that we are being truly “spiritual” in church, we have to convince ourselves that there is something holy and spiritual about the building, or else we couldn’t have paid for it with church funds or held communion there — a very Gnostic way of looking at things — as though Jesus could only be worshiped in a space that is separate from the created world — a world that he loves enough to die for.

saxreedJust so, our instrumental music arguments are often Gnostic. They are Gnostic, for example, when we speak ill of instruments as earthly and physical, whereas our voices are not. And, of course, our voices make sounds using air blown through very physical vocal chords — very much like a saxophone, where air is blown through a reed (which is why we so love saxophone music. At a subconscious level, it sounds more human that most other instruments).


And we are a bit Gnostic when we refuse to combine the Lord’s Supper with the Love Feast or agape. We seem to want to spiritualize the Lord’s Supper by minimizing the physical elements — bread and wine — and maximizing the intangible: the communion meditation, the blessing, reading the Bible during communion — rather than enjoying a fellowship meal, having fellowship with other Christians by talking to each other, and having enough bread and wine (or Welch’s) to be real food and drink.

I’ve had readers get upset when I reminded them that the bread in the First Century would have been freshly cooked in the woodfire oven of the hosts of the assembly. After all, they were meeting in someone’s home — and so the host would have cooked the bread right there, and part of the communion experience would have been the aroma of fresh bread mixed with the aroma of a freshly opened bottle of wine. (The alcohol greatly increases the intensity of the wine’s aroma.) The communion would have been a highly sensual experience. And some readers judged this a bad thing. And they were coming from a Gnostic attitude, that is, they figured that physical, earthly flavors and aromas of the supper would have been contrary to its spiritual purpose. And so now you know why most churches buy the most flavorless, dry bread they can. Physical pleasures don’t honor a spiritual God — even though he came to earth as a physical person who enjoyed sensual meals with other physical persons — and Jesus preached countless parables about eating a banquet with a King.

Of far more importance, is our attitude toward the afterlife. We teach that the earth will be destroyed, and the saved will escape this destruction by leaving our bodies behind and flying off to heaven as disembodied souls. But the true teaching of scripture is that the heavens and earth made by God will be renewed — made new — when heaven and earth combine so that God will come to reign on earth.

(Rev 21:1-4 ESV) Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”  

(Rev 21:5 ESV)  5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

 (Rev 22:1-6 ESV) ESV  Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb  2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.  4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.  5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”

So we see that the theme of scripture is not preparing to leave the Creation, but preparing to live in a renewed, redeemed Creation — as renewed, redeemed people.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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39 Responses to 1 Corinthians 15: Why the resurrection matters, Part 1

  1. Bob Brandon says:

    Jay, I grew up with that teaching, even my folks did. An exceedingly odd one once you look at Paul in ch. 15.

  2. Bob Brandon says:

    Always noticed how many congregants would not stay for fellowships meals after morning (or evening) service. Wondering just how revolutionary making a fellowship meal the occasion for the Lord’s Supper would be, bending our habits and practices around the center of table fellowship. Even in progressive and trendier churches, their worship structure makes it still easy to be isolated and alone.

  3. Jeff Hennen says:

    Jay, I think you’re straining a little in an effort to reconcile resurrection doctrine with modern, traditional “Church of Christ” beliefs of immediate reward upon death. “…we should not think of these souls as having to wait for their reward…They receive their reward immediately upon death.”–Peter, Paul and John all spoke vividly about the reward being received “when he comes”, “in that day”, and “at His appearing/when His glory is revealed.” Job said, “all the appointed days shall I wait, till my change come.” The state or condition of death is described as “sleep” over 60 times in the scriptures. Those who “sleep” await the return of the Lord Jesus that their reward may be manifest on that universal day. When they awake from sleep, it is likely they will have no knowledge or concept of all that elasped “time”, whether it be thousands of years, or a single day.
    Still enjoying this series, and the discussion.

  4. Price says:

    Not sure our New bodies will be dependent on our Old bodies.. What body is left in the grave after 1,000 years ? What body buried at sea or cremated survives at all… Nope, the “resurrection” will have to be something none of us can quite imagine IMO. Perhaps we will look similar to what Jesus looked liked after He arose.. Perhaps we will look like Him when He returns if that somehow is different.. Perhaps we will be all new… Perhaps we will be stuck with the “temple” we cared for on earth ? Boy, that’s a scary thought !!

  5. Dwight says:

    Jay, I think eating in the church building comes down to the Temple philosophy in that since the building is paid for from “church funds”, it is to be dedicated to God for church things, meaning worship, even though once we concede that the church is the saints, church things could be anything that the saints wish to do. But we have elevated the church building to Temple status where it is dedicated to God and only worship to God can be done in the building.
    In John 14 Jesus connects “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” to His being “the way, the truth and the Life, no man comes to the father except through me.” This indicates that Jesus is telling that He is the way to God and the way to heaven where they and we will dwell. Using Revelations 21-22 is not good to declare an literal happening and then can we forget ch.20 where “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away.” And it has already been a 1000 years since the saints were beheaded. And then there is the dragon. Real?

  6. Dwight says:

    Price, Good point. Moses carried the bones of Joseph around with them from place to place before burying them. We can’t place too much comfort in the resurrection if what we look like when we are buried or laid to rest or dumped into the ocean is what we will look like in the hereafter. Ugh! We will be us, but transformed in our nature.
    The Sadducees asked about the ressurection and Jesus said in Matt.22, “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.” So whatever our body will look like it will be like the angels and things like marriage or sex will not be an issue. We may not know what angels in heaven look like, but it doesn’t compare to what we look like now.

  7. Price says:

    @ Dwight.. Which means there won’t be any greenbean casserole or banana pudding in heaven.. LOL

  8. Jay Guin says:

    Personally, I hope to be taller. But the text says our bodies will be like Jesus’ body. And he was both recognizable and not. He still had scars from the crucifixion, and so his body was affected by his old body.

  9. Jay Guin says:


    But the thief on the cross and Transfiguration have to fit into doctrine

  10. Price says:

    Hey Jay… John says that we will be like Him when He comes… Not that we will be like Him when we saw him last.. Is that change things up any or am I reading more into it than is necessary ?

  11. Monty says:

    For the Christian, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Whatever that means, it should give us great comfort that in death we will not be separated from the Lord, but be in his presence. There may be a time when we are separated from our resurrected bodies(or maybe not) but our spiritual being will not go into some type of dormancy. Paul fully expected to die and be with Christ in some capacity, not die and be in a state of suspended animation. While I wouldn’t build a doctrine off of near death experiences, there are far too many anecdotal stories about people who flat lined on the operating table who described everything that went on in the operating room after they flat lined. How is that possible if death is a soul sleep? Many of those who flat lined not only saw and heard what was said and done they saw God(Jesus) or saw someone wrapped in light approach them or they approached Him and it was the most amazing thing they ever had happen to them. Of course for those who lived to tell, they were told “It wasn’t their time.’

  12. Price says:

    Regarding the thief on the cross….. given the lack of punctuation in the Greek… it was explained to me once that Jesus’ words to the thief could be interpreted two different ways… 1) I tell you COMMA that today you will be with me in paradise… 2) I tell you today COMMA that you will be with me in paradise… obviously there is no comma but nonetheless it could be read either way with much different meanings. any truth to this ?

  13. Jay Guin says:


    I suppose it depends on whether “today” fits with “I say to you” or “you will be with me in Paradise.”

    (Luk 23:43 ESV) And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

    (Luk 23:43 BGT) καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ἀμήν σοι λέγω, σήμερον μετ᾽ ἐμοῦ ἔσῃ ἐν τῷ παραδείσῳ

    No commas in the original. NET translator notes say,

    The Greek word for today (σήμερον, semeron) occurs eleven times in the Gospel of Luke (Luk 2:11; Luk 4:21; Luk 5:26; Luk 12:28; Luk 13:32-33; Luk 19:5, Luk 19:9; Luk 22:34, Luk 22:61; Luk 23:43) and nine times in Acts. Its use, especially in passages such as Luk 2:11, Luk 4:21, Luk 5:26; Luk 19:5, Luk 19:9, signifies the dawning of the era of messianic salvation and the fulfillment of the plan of God. Not only does it underscore the idea of present fulfillment in Jesus’ ministry, but it also indicates salvific fulfillment present in the church (cf. Act 1:6; Act 3:18; D. L. Bock, Luke [BECNT], 1:412; I. H. Marshall, Luke, [NIGTC], 873).

    From that analysis, you’d have to put “today” with the second part of the sentence. However, one commentator addressing Luke 4:21 says,

    Today. Luke gave special emphasis to this word by placing it first in Jesus’ saying. “Now” the messianic age is already realized in Jesus’ coming. See Introduction 8 (2). This period continues into the time of the church (cf. Acts 13:32–33), i.e., the time of Luke’s readers, as the Spirit who anointed Jesus then comes upon the church (Acts 2:16–21). “Today” does not mean literally in these last twenty-four hours but since the events of Luke 3:1ff.

    Robert H. Stein, Luke, The New American Commentary, (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 24:157. If “today” in Luke is used of the Christian age, then whole new interpretations are possible.

    So it’s possible that Jesus is saying something like, “Now that the new age has dawned, you will be with me in Paradise.” Or he may have been speaking from the thief’s point of view – that upon death, he would be instantly removed from earth time to join in the general resurrection.

  14. Jay Guin says:


    Interesting …

    (Phi 3:20-21 ESV) 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

    (1Jo 3:2 ESV) 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

    Then again the post-resurrection Jesus had scars —

    So maybe Jesus’ post-resurrection body — and body that could control space-time — was upgraded after the Ascension. It’s possible. But it’s hard to think of our own resurrections’ involving two different bodies — a loaner pending judgment and then a permanent one later — and Paul does keep telling us that our resurrection will be like Jesus’.

    Occam’s Razor would push toward Jesus having but the one post-resurrection body. But Occam’s Razor isn’t proof.

    And if Jesus has scars post-resurrection, well, I’d rather prefer to leave my scars behind.

  15. Dwight says:

    I heard one person argue that Jesus took the scars with Him into heaven and yet he would’t argue that John the Baptist was walking around carrying his head. I don’t know of any scripture that argues that Jesus still bore the scars that he bore while on this earth.
    If Matt.22 is correct as Jesus said it, “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.” and we shall be like Jesus, then our nature will have changed from an earthly one into a heavenly one, which can reside in heaven and will not have the earthly distinctions such as male or female. All in all I hate speculation to how we will look as we aren’t told how God or Jesus or the angels look in thier spiritual form aside from when they came down to relate to us, but we will know God and Jesus and each other.
    I must point out that Jesus didn’t directly go to paradise as he went to the grave and then rose three days later. So the thief must have went to the grave to sleep as Jesus did and Jesus gave a final destination. Unless the grave has a possible paradise or hades component to it.

  16. Dwight says:

    Jay, Lazerus was resurrected as many were when Jesus was, so were they in their final form or in their spiritual form or in the physical, after all surely they were going to die again? I have always assumed that resurrection meant they awoke, but that that was not the same as ascension and transformation into the spiritual realm.

  17. Price says:

    @ Jay… Jesus didn’t want Mary to touch him at the grave site because he said He has not yet ascended… I have no clue whatsoever what changed once He ascended but apparently something in His mind would.. I read that to suggest that if He had already ascended and returned that it might be OK to touch Him.. Whether that’s right or wrong… really, I have no clue. But, it doesn’t sound unreasonable.. at least to me.. But then I think it’s just fun speculation to try and determine if God incarnate recently resurrected from the dead might be applicable in any way to our own resurrection.. At least I wouldn’t drive the stake too deep on any conclusion..But, what do I know.

  18. John F says:

    Thomas was invited to touch the resurrected Lord, apparently prior to His ascension, unless we try to see multiple ascensions and returned “when He appeared to them over a period of 40 days”.

    Still not sure how to reconcile this with His preaching to the saints in prison
    1 Peter 3:18-21
    For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.

    Even outside of time/space, as I’ve discussed previously, how does all this work out? Who are the saints in prison? Did Christ in the sign of Jonah times, go to “the abode of the dead, who are waiting (time / place ?) for judgment day? Did He proclaim the victory, even now, but not yet?
    Are these the “cloud of witnesses” according to the Hebrew writer?

    Speculation continues while certainty eludes. . . . . ..

  19. John F says:

    Sorry, I do not proof read aw well as I should: s/b “time/ space” and “sign of Jonah”

  20. Jay Guin says:

    John F,

    The cloud of witnesses are the saints of old commended for their faith. That part is pretty clear.

    Multiple ascensions seems an odd theory.

    I have no idea why Jesus would not let Mary touch him.

    I’ve read all sorts of theories about Jesus preaching to the spirits in prison, and none is very convincing.

    But I’ve never spent much time looking at these questions.

  21. John F says:

    So your last comment reveals that we can be in complete agreement on some things 🙂 (probably on many things).

    Since the cloud of witnesses uses Olympiad terminology, are these witnesses aware of what is happening here? And are they sorrowed as they see our struggles? And is this why “God shall wipe away every tear’? (Yes, Virginia, there are tears in heaven, otherwise God could not “wipe them away; or is this symbolism as well). I don’t know what heaven will be like; I just want to be there and I will do, endure, sacrifice, submit, obey, go, stay, support, absolutely anything to be there.

  22. John F says:

    Regarding the thief on the cross and the “today” question. Normally in Greek construction the more important syntax will occur toward the beginning of the thought. That would lend weight to the translation, “Today, I tell you . . . . .
    Not sure that it helps much in the overall picture.

  23. Price says:

    Thanks Jay and John F for responding to my question regarding the “today” remark.. it seems that one should be awful cautious in using this illustration to support much more than Jesus is capable of extending grace to whom He wishes…

  24. Larry Cheek says:

    Has anyone really wondered how to correlate three communications about the Thief on the Cross by three different writers not delivering the same results? Was Luke inspired in his writings or did he really just report historical information as was his intention. Why would two other writers possibly present, portray a totally different attitude by the Thief?

  25. rich constant says:

    EXACTLY WHAT IS LUKE SAYING HERE …he was neither abandoned to Hades
    and waited their until…
    danial 7 is fulfilled by act’s 1:9 After23 he had said this, while they were watching, he was lifted up and a cloud hid him from their sight.


    7:13 I was watching in the night visions,

    “And with32 the clouds of the sky33 one like a son of man34 was approaching.

    danial 7:11 “Then I kept on watching because of the arrogant words of the horn that was speaking. I was watching29 until the beast was killed and its body destroyed and thrown into30 the flaming fire. 7:12 As for the rest of the beasts, their ruling authority had already been removed, though they were permitted to go on living31 for a time and a season. 7:13 I was watching in the night visions,

    “And with32 the clouds of the sky33

    one like a son of man34 was approaching.

    He went up to the Ancient of Days

    and was escorted35 before him.

    7:14 To him was given ruling authority, honor, and sovereignty.

    All peoples, nations, and language groups were serving36 him.

    His authority is eternal and will not pass away.37

    His kingdom will not be destroyed.38

    he was neither abandoned to Hades

    2:31 David by foreseeing this spoke about the resurrection of the Christ,62 that he was neither abandoned to Hades,63 nor did his body64 experience65 decay.66 2:32 This Jesus God raised up, and we are all witnesses of it.67

    2:22 “Men of Israel,41 listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man clearly attested to you by God with powerful deeds,42 wonders, and miraculous signs43 that God performed among you through him, just as you yourselves know – 2:23 this man, who was handed over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you executed44 by nailing him to a cross at the hands of Gentiles.45 2:24 But God raised him up,46 having released47 him from the pains48 of death, because it was not possible for him to be held in its power.49 2:25 For David says about him,

    ‘I saw the Lord always in front of me,50

    for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken.

    2:26 Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue rejoiced;

    my body51 also will live in hope,

    2:27 because you will not leave my soul in Hades,52

    nor permit your Holy One to experience53 decay.

    2:28 You have made known to me the paths of life;

    you will make me full of joy with your presence.’54

    2:29 “Brothers,55 I can speak confidently56 to you about our forefather57 David, that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 2:30 So then, because58 he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants59 on his throne,60

    2:31 David by foreseeing this61 spoke about the resurrection of the Christ,62 that he was neither abandoned to Hades,63 nor did his body64 experience65 decay.66 2:32 This Jesus God raised up, and we are all witnesses of it.67

    2:33 So then, exalted68 to the right hand69 of God, and having received70 the promise of the Holy Spirit71 from the Father, he has poured out72 what you both see and hear. 2:34 For David did not ascend into heaven, but he himself says,

    ‘The Lord said to my lord,

    “Sit73 at my right hand

    2:35 until I make your enemies a footstool74 for your feet.”’75

    2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know beyond a doubt76 that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified77 both Lord78 and Christ.”

  26. rich constant says:


  27. Jeff says:

    Jay, concerning the thief and the Transfiguration… Matthew clearly states the the Transfiguration was a VISION.. Anything can happen in a vision for any purpose that God desires. I wouldn’t want to make the case for the presence of animals in heaven based upon Peter’s vision in Acts 10!
    Not only are there no “comma’s” in the original Greek, there are not even any spaces between words. So, the translators have to sort out the syntax…many of whom were heavily leaned upon, or who couldn’t resist their own dualism biases in doing so. “Today” as used elsewhere, simply places emphasis upon the momentous nature of the occasion, and the certainty of the pronouncement. Much like “in the day” of Gen. 2:17. Our western minds of rigid literalism wonder why Adam didn’t drop dead in his tracks when he ate the fruit. He didn’t, because that was not the point. The emphasis is upon the certainty, or the momentous nature of the occasion. Notice other instances in scripture where “today” could not, and was not accomplished within 24 hours. (I Sam. 18:21, I Kings 2:41-43)
    The thief didn’t ask Jesus to “take him somewhere” that day, but to remember him later.
    And can we please stop mis-quoting II Cor. 5:8?

  28. Dwight says:

    It just occured to me that it was considered unclean to touch a corpse, if Jesus was inhabiting the body that had just come from the grave, scars and all, so that might have been why Jesus told Mary not to touch Him, but then again Jesus did tell Thomas to place His hand in His side, but maybe that was just a way of telling Thomas that there was a gap there.

  29. Monty says:

    A.R.Fausett on 2 Cor. 5:8. “willing–literally, “well content.” Translate also, “To go (literally, migrate) from our home in the body, and to come to our home with the Lord.” We should prefer to be found alive at the Lord’s coming, and to be clothed upon with our heavenly body ( 2Cr 5:2-4 ). But feeling, as we do, the sojourn in the body to be a separation from our true home “with the Lord,” we prefer even dissolution by death, so that in the intermediate disembodied state we may go to be “with the Lord” ( Phl 1:23 ). “To be with Christ” (the disembodied state) is distinguished from Christ’s coming to take us to be with Him in soul and body ( 1Th 4:14-17, “with the Lord”). Perhaps the disembodied spirits of believers have fulness of communion with Christ unseen; but not the mutual recognition of one another, until clothed with their visible bodies at the resurrection (compare 1Th 4:13-17 ), when they shall with joy recognize Christ’s image in each other perfect. ”

    David Guznik: “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord: Because Paul is confident (in part, based on the guarantee of the Holy Spirit) of his eternal destiny, he is not afraid of the world beyond. In fact, he would be well pleased to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

    i. This text deals with a question on the minds of many: what happens to believers when they die? Christians will leave these bodies, be resurrected in new bodies, and be with the Lord. Plainly speaking, to be absent from the body means we will be present with the Lord.

    ii. But will we live in heaven for a time in an intermediate, bodiless state awaiting resurrection? Some think so, based on passages like Revelation 6:9-11 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16. But here, Paul seems to see such a bodiless state as undesirable. Either the present dead in Christ are with the Lord in a spiritual body, awaiting their final resurrection body; or, because of the nature of timeless eternity, they have received their resurrection bodies already because they live in the eternal “now.”

    iii. As it is true that to be absent from the body means we will be present with the Lord, it proves two false doctrines to be false. It refutes the false doctrine of “soul sleep,” (saying that the believing dead are held in some sort of suspended animation until the resurrection occurs) and the false doctrine of “purgatory” (saying that the believing dead must be “cleaned up” through their own suffering before coming into the presence of God).

    iv. “He did not expect to be roasted alive for the next thousand years, and then to leap from purgatory to Paradise; but he did expect to go, as soon as ever his earthly house was dissolved, into his eternal house which is in the heavens. He had not even the thought of lying in a state of unconsciousness till the resurrection.” (Spurgeon) ”

    Who would say they are ready to die “prefer to be away from the body” (2 Cor.5:8) for an unconscious state of being? Those in excruciating pain, the mentally ill, the severely depressed, or to die as a martyr – yes, perhaps. But not someone in their right mind, not someone who is in relatively good health, and not someone who isn’t being persecuted for their beliefs. Only those who believe that their death is a means to and end(being in the presence of the Lord) could ever say with a straight face that they were ready to take down this tent and move on to what lies next. And Paul said that, when he was imprisoned. But in 2 Corinthians ch.1 written earlier in his life, Paul was in despair of life(fearful of dying) v9. Four chapters later he’s speaking about not being alive(being dead – was in actuality being “present” with the Lord). Paul, like most normal folks, didn’t want to die, until an old man(Phi.1:23) but he knew that if he did die that he would be with the Lord(that’s the main take away) not whether we can answer all the questions(though fun to speculate)about the exactness of our physical/spiritual composition and the timing of everything. Like Paul said in regards to this matter, we walk by faith and not by sight. For the Christian, to be away from our earthly tent, is to be in the presence of the Lord. I’m not going to sweat the details.

  30. Larry Cheek says:

    The Thief’s event was never used by any inspired writer of the scriptures as an example of how Jesus saves. Would that not have been an acceptable example for others to follow? Men today believe it to be and very commonly reference the event while attempting to persuade a lost individual to accept Christ. Do you suppose that men of the early followers of Christ used the example in the same way but did not record their messages or the responses of those being taught? Wasn’t there another action they promoted and used regularly for the saving of lost souls?
    Help me find even one instance where a lost soul was guided to the example of the Thief as instruction concerning how to accept Christ as their Savior.

  31. Jeff Hennen says:

    I take it I may be the only blue-collar working guy who follows and comments here. Wish I had more time.
    The context of II Cor. 5:1-9 is solidly in favor of the “guaranteed” hope the Christian enjoys, by virtue of the in-dwelling Spirit, of a fully-clothed, bodily-resurrected presence with the Lord. Nowhere does Paul even suggest a disembodied “intermediate state.” In fact, many bibles that supply subject headings provided by the publisher have a caption over this section entitled, “Assurance of the Resurrection.” Is Paul longing to be “unclothed” in a disembodied intermediate state, or is he “earnestly desiring” the resurrection body? He clearly affirms that mortality will be swallowed up by life when we have put on that clothing. This is in full accordance with his declaration in I Cor. 15 that immortality is “put on” (like clothing) by the righteous, in the resurrection. We receive this “clothing of immortality” and a condition of not being able to “die anymore” (Luke 20:36) at the second coming of Jesus and the resurrection of the dead. “And thus shall we always be with the Lord.” (I Th. 4:17)
    So why do so many continue to believe and teach that all a righteous person needs to do in order to “be with the Lord” is to die? In the early days of the restoration, one would be hard-pressed to hear a funeral sermon proclaiming the deceased to have “gone on to their reward” in a “better place.” Seldom was it suggested that the deceased person wasn’t really dead, and had actually gone somewhere else to live in a disembodied state. I’m confident that most of the time it was taught that the dead remain “in the graves” until they “hear His voice and come forth.” (Jn. 5:28) Maybe as the masses have become more enlightened and educated in the classics, that Platoist-Greco-Roman understanding of the anthropology of man becomes hard to resist. Maybe it’s a resurgence of a quasi-Gnosticism. Maybe, when people suffer the excruciating pain of losing someone they love, we just tend to grasp for something that makes us feel good.
    But neither Christ, Paul, Peter or John presented any such delusion. In II Cor. 5:6 Paul states that while we are still in these earthly bodies, we are “absent from the Lord.” It is only after we have been given our newly-created resurrection bodies that “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (I Jn. 3:2) Paul further says that the Lord Jesus Himself will conduct the transformation of our lowly, earthly bodies in order to be fashioned like His glorious body. (Phil. 3:20-21) Peter, Paul, James, John and Jude are all consistent in their teaching that we see Jesus, and enjoy His presence “at His coming”, “when He appears”, and “when He is revealed.” They never once explicitly proclaim that the state or condition of death is a “blessed intermediate state” in the presence of the Lord.
    So what is Paul saying in II Cor. 5:8? Rather than declaring that man can survive the death of the body and live on in a disembodied state without the benefit of being raised from the dead, I think Paul is simply longing to be through with this temporary earthly body, and to put on that permanent, glorious resurrection body. To me, this is the only reasonable means of reconciling this colorful passage with so many other very plain ones. Remember, Jesus repeatedly said, “I will raise him up at the last day.” Scripture never records Jesus saying He would take the righteous home to be with Him “when ya’ die.”
    What peeves me is when folks repeatedly claim that Paul said “absence from the body is presence with the Lord.” The text simply does not say that! He says we “prefer”, “are confident”, or would be “well-pleased” to be absent from the body AND to be present with the Lord.—There is a difference. Besides, where is the proof that absence from this body requires a disembodied ghost-like existence? Could it not be satisfied by simply being “transformed”, re-created, renewed and “done with” our present earthly form? And why does Paul’s desire to “depart and be with Christ” require his death? Would it not have been possible for him to “depart” and be with Christ without dying? Maybe besides remaining in the flesh or dying, Paul is desirous of a third option. Regardless, few who quote Phil. 1:23 as “proof” of an intermediate state bother to follow it up with 3:8-11 where Paul clearly expresses that the “gain” is to be realized be by being “found in Him” and attaining “to the resurrection from the dead.”
    We still have to come back to the topic of this blog: Why is the resurrection necessary or important? Paul simply says we have no hope without it, and if the dead do not rise, “let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die.” Doesn’t leave much wiggle room for an intermediate state. Paul seems to be affirming that the hope of the Christian is the resurrection or nothing.

  32. Monty says:

    The Jews at the time of Jesus understood the concept that the souls of the dead went to a place of either punishment or reward, to await either annihilation for some evil doers or (eternal punishment for the most wicked) or to Abraham’s bosom( a place of quiet bliss) to await the final dwelling with God in heaven. The following is a quotation from Josephus the primary Jewish scholar of the 1st century taken from a very informative article I found at http://crosscountry4jesus.com/index100.html concerning what the Jews understood about heaven, hell, and life after death during the time of Jesus.

    “Hades is a place in the world not regularly finished; a subterraneous region, wherein the light of this world does not shine; from which circumstance, that in this region the light does not shine, it cannot be but there must be in it perpetual darkness. This region is allotted as a place of custody for souls, in which angels are appointed as guardians to them, who distribute to them temporary punishments, agreeable to every one’s behavior and manners.

    2. In this region there is a certain place set apart, as a lake of unquenchable fire, hereinto we suppose no one hath hitherto been cast; but it is prepared for a day afore-determined by God, in which one righteous sentence shall deservedly be passed upon all men; when the unjust, and those that have been disobedient to God, and have given honor to such idols as have been the vain operations of the hands of men as to God himself, shall be adjudged to this everlasting punishment, as having been the causes of defilement; while the just shall obtain an incorruptible and never-fading kingdom. These are now indeed confined in Hades, but not in the same place wherein the unjust are confined.

    3. For there is one descent into this region, at whose gate we believe there stands an archangel with an host; which gate when those pass through that are conducted down by the angels appointed over souls, they do not go the same way; but the just are guided to the right hand, and are led with hymns, sung by the angels appointed over that place, unto a region of light, in which the just have dwelt from the beginning of the world; not constrained by necessity, but ever enjoying the prospect of the good things they see, and rejoice in the expectation of those new enjoyments which will be peculiar to every one of them, and esteeming those things beyond what we have here; with whom there is no place of toil, no burning heat, no piercing cold, nor are any briers there; but the countenance of the fathers and of the just, which they see, always smiles upon them, while they wait for that rest and eternal new life in heaven, which is to succeed this region. This place we call The Bosom of Abraham.

    4. But as to the unjust, they are dragged by force to the left hand by the angels allotted for punishment, no longer going with a good-will, but as prisoners driven by violence; to whom are sent the angels appointed over them to reproach them and threaten them with their terrible looks, and to thrust them still downwards. Now those angels that are set over these souls drag them into the neighborhood of hell itself; who, when they are hard by it, continually hear the noise of it, and do not stand clear of the hot vapor itself; but when they have a near view of this spectacle, as of a terrible and exceeding great prospect of fire, they are struck with a fearful expectation of a future judgment, and in effect punished thereby: and not only so, but where they see the place [or choir] of the fathers and of the just, even hereby are they punished; for a chaos deep and large is fixed between them; insomuch that a just man that hath compassion upon them cannot be admitted, nor can one that is unjust, if he were bold enough to attempt it, pass over it.

    So according to the Jewish Historian’s understanding, Hades and Abraham’s Bosom were temporary abodes of the souls of the dead, until they would be judged on the Day of Judgment. Now whether all that he said was true or not, isn’t the issue. What is the issue is whether all that Jesus said was true or not. I personally believe that Jesus always told the Truth. The important thing to understand is that this view of Hades, the Lake of Fire and Abraham’s Bosom was held by the Jewish people in the days concurrent with when Jesus walked this earth.

  33. Jay Guin says:


    The quotation from Josephus is considered improperly attributed to him. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus's_Discourse_to_the_Greeks_concerning_Hades Historians believe the text actually comes from Hippolytus. I was suspicious because the text is inconsistent with what Josephus says in his more famous works, in which he is careful to distinguish the views of various Jewish sects — such as the fact that the Sadducees denied any afterlife at all. It would hardly make sense for him to say “we” believe this, as Josephus knew, as did the NT writers, that the Jews had multiple views on the question.

  34. Jeff Hennen says:

    Alexandrian schools of Hellenistic thought held sway over most of the Mediterrainian world in Jesus’ day, and Judea was no exception. If all the Jews were correct in their theology, “afterlife beliefs”, etc., it’s doubtful that repentance and righteousness would have needed to be restored.
    For Jesus to seize the imagery of one of the prevailing “afterlife” beliefs of the day as framework for a parable does not equal an endorsement of literalism or amount to Him “telling the truth.” The point of Luke 16 is that the elitist Pharisees who thought they were “locked in” with blessed Sons-of-Abraham status were in immediate danger of having “the kingdom of God taken away from them and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.” (Mt. 21) This outside-the-gate associate of “dogs” (Lazarus) is pictured as enjoying the blessings as a true son of Abraham while the rich man (Pharisees who were “lovers of money”) observes in anguished torment from afar.–Notice how Abraham calls him “son.”
    Is Jesus out of nowhere “pulling back the curtain of the afterlife” and revealing mysteries to these wicked men? It’s doubtful, since Jesus had already told the disciples that the “mysteries of the kingdom” would not be given to others. (Mark 11:30)
    In this very topic of I Cor. 15, Paul says “behold I tell you a mystery…we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” A mystery is something that has not yet been previously revealed.
    If the story of the rich man/Lazarus/Hades was expected to be understood as an actual or literal arrangement, don’t you think that somewhere else, somebody, at least once would have pointed to it as comfort for the righteous and warning for the wicked? It simply does not happen anywhere in the remainder of the New Testament. Rather, in every instance, the faithful are directed to the second coming of Jesus and the resurrection of the dead for the accomplishment of reward for the righteous, and the wicked “getting theirs.”
    And for all the talk about the rich man and Lazarus, maybe it’s the other Lazarus we should be talking about. Wasn’t he dead for four days? Shouldn’t he have had a story to tell about the wonders of hanging out in “Abraham’s bosom? Or the dead who came out of the graves and “walked the streets” in Mt. 27. Shouldn’t there be mass reporting from them about “life on the other side?” But nary a word. It’s almost as if they were asleep the whole time.
    Death is like sleep. At least that’s what Jesus said, and I believe He was telling the truth.

  35. rich constant says:

    I lo st the post.
    You guys are sailing off into what I call “the mystic,” boy oh boy, again.
    I’ll help you out.
    This afternoon. 😉 Acts chapter 2 vs 33- 34,seems pretty plain to me
    Blessings rich

  36. rich constant says:

    a PS “the emphatic statement of Scripture” is where you start the cross is always the hinge. And Christ’s resurrection finalizes it

  37. rich constant says:

    p s p s new line I posted the scriptures ABOVE inmy last comment

  38. rich constant says:

    another PS, new line
    Paul predicates these things in Romans chapter 1 verses 1 through 7 geez

  39. rich constant says:

    ROM. 1: 1-7
    1:1 From Paul,1 a slave2 of Christ Jesus,3 called to be an apostle,4 set apart for the gospel of God.5 1:2 This gospel6 he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, 1:3 concerning his Son who was a descendant7 of David with reference to the flesh,8 1:4 who was appointed the Son-of-God-in-power9 according to the Holy Spirit10 by the resurrection11 from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1:5 Through him12 we have received grace and our apostleship13 to bring about the obedience14 of faith15 among all the Gentiles on behalf of his name. 1:6 You also are among them,16 called to belong to Jesus Christ.17 1:7 To all those loved by God in Rome,18 called to be saints:19 Grace and peace to you20 from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

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