Commentary on Titus and Jude

  June 2, 2013


Commentary on First Corinthians
By: Tom Lowe
Topic #9: The Problem of the Resurrection of Christ and of Believers,

1 Corinthians 15.1-15.58
  

Lesson 9.3: The Order of Events
 Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15.20-28

 

 

1 Cor 15.20-28 (KJV)


20 But now, now, Christ is risen from the dead, the first-fruit of those who have fallen asleep.
21 For since by man came to death, by man came also the resurrection from the dead.
22 For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.
23 But each in his own order; Christ the first-fruits, then those who belong to Christ at his appearing.
24 And then the end, when he shall hand over his kingdom to God his Father, after he has abolished all rule and authority and power.
 25 For he must rule until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is Death.
27 For He hast put all things under his feet, but in that quotation All things are put under him, it is evident that God is excepted, who put all things under Him.
28 For when everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself shall subject himself to Him who made them subject, that God may be all in all.

 

Commentary

20 But now, now, Christ is risen from the dead, the first-fruit of those who have fallen asleep.

But now,
“But now” introduces the argument, “Since the supposition that Christ has not risen involves so many suppositions which you will appropriately reject as absurd, we may assume the eternal fact that Christ has been raised.”

 now,
“Now” as the case really is.

Christ is risen from the dead,
After having shown the terrible confusion that would result, if we were to deny that the dead rise again, he now confidently states what he had previously established as fact—that Christ has risen—and continues to discourse concerning the resurrection of Christ. In the previous part of the chapter, specifically verses 12-19, Paul has demonstrated beyond all doubt that Jesus rose from the dead, and the importance of the fact of His resurrection. Here, he simply states the fact: “Christ is risen from the dead.”

The argument for the resurrection of Christ is, undeniably, very short, but on the whole solid and convincing. Now that argument with the facts he presented not only proved a resurrection to be possible, but, in addition it proved Christ was a divine teacher and the doctrine of a general resurrection, which was explicitly taught by Him.

the first-fruit of those who have fallen asleep.
The term “the first-fruit” is found in the Levitical law “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest” (Lev 23:10; KJV). The firstfruits were a small part of the harvest that was taken first and offered to God both as an acknowledgment that the whole crop was God's, and as a pledge and assurance of their enjoying the whole crop from God, and as a means by which the whole crop was consecrated and sanctified for their use.

The Jews observed “The Feast of Firstfruits” on the day after the Sabbath following Passover (see Leviticus 23:9-14). It is significant that Jesus rose from the dead on the exact day of the Feast of Firstfruits, the day after the Sabbath following the Passover. The offering at the Feast of Firstfruits was a bloodless grain offering (see Leviticus 2). No atoning sacrifice was necessary, because the Passover lamb had just been sacrificed. This corresponds perfectly with the resurrection of Jesus, because His death ended the need for sacrifice, having provided a perfect and complete atonement.

“Of those who have fallen asleep” is a reference to the pious dead; those who died after having been saved through faith in Christ. Paul says here that “Christ is the first-fruit of those who have fallen asleep;” a pledge that all united by faith to Christ would rise again. As sure as the whole harvest follows the first-fruits, so shall the saints' resurrection follow the resurrection of Christ, just as any effect follows its cause. Christ's resurrection is the wonderful cause of our resurrection; and just as it is the cause, so is it the pledge, the down payment and the full assurance of ours. Christ is called the first-fruits of them that slept; that is, the first-fruits from the dead of them that slept; which does not mean that Christ was absolutely the first that was raised from the dead, because we read of one raised by Elijah, and another by Elisha, and of Lazarus raised by Christ; but each of these would die again. They were not raised to live eternally: but Christ was; He was the first that arose never to die again. He was the first that arose by his own power, the first that arose to give others a pledge that they would arise too. Christ's resurrection is the cause, the pattern, the pledge, the assurance of the believer's resurrection.

But now, we can look back in time and say confidently, “Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep;” because, since by the sin of one man (Adam) death came into the world, by one Man (Christ) also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one must happen in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then afterward, at His Second Coming, those who are Christ’s.

Jesus was the “firstfruits” of our resurrection. In the Old Testament, the offering of firstfruits entailed bringing one sheaf of grain to represent the rest of the harvest, for a wave offering to God (see Leviticus 23:9-14). The resurrection of Jesus represents our resurrection, because “if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection” (Romans 6:5). The resurrection of Jesus also anticipates our resurrection, because we will be raised with a body like His. “As in the firstfruits offered to God, the Jews were assured of God’s blessing on the whole harvest; so by the resurrection of Christ, our resurrection is insured.” (Trapp) The resurrection of Jesus is also the firstfruits of our resurrection in the sense that He is our “entrance fee” to resurrection. Jesus paid our admission to the resurrection! The rest of the dead will follow him, like the entire harvest does the first-fruits.

Question: In what way is Christ said to be the first-fruits of those that sleep, when we read of several in Scripture that were raised from the dead before Christ was raised?
Answer.
1. Christ was the first that rose again by his own power and virtue.
2. He was the first who rose and never died again.
3. He was the first-fruits of them that sleep, and by his resurrection making a way for the resurrection of others; as the offering of the first-fruits, under the law, sanctified the whole crop.

 The general resurrection, which will occur when Christ returns to judge the world will not be limited to believers, but will include those who died without having faith in Christ—“And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust” (Acts 24:15; KJV). Of the righteous and the wicked; that is, of the entire human race.

21 For since by man came to death, by man came also the resurrection from the dead.
22 For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

By man; Adam.

By man; Jesus Christ.

The apostle makes a comparison here between Adam and Christ in order to prove that Christ's resurrection is the cause of our resurrection. He explains that they represent two origins, the one of death the other of life. In the same way that Adam's sin caused all that are partakers of his human nature to die a natural death, so will all that are partakers of Christ's divine nature, all that are his spiritual seed and offspring, be raised and made alive by him. The expressions, “in Adam” and “in Christ,” indicate causality in both, the one of death, and the other of life; the same as the death of all mankind came by Adam, the resurrection of all mankind comes by Christ. The wicked shall be raised by the power of Christ as their lord and judge: the righteous shall be raised by virtue of their union with him as their head.

The point made by the apostle follows this line of reasoning: Christ is the first-fruits, but he was not raised up merely as an individual, but so that others might be raised too. He proves it by comparing opposites— death did not come naturally, but from man’s sin; therefore, Adam did not die for himself alone, but for all of us; it follows then, that Christ in like manner, who is the antitype, did not rise for Him alone, but so that he might restore everything that had been ruined in Adam. We must pause here to break down the argument a little more, since it begins to get a little complicated. Paul does not argue by semblance, or by example, but has resorted to opposite causes for the purpose of proving opposite effects. The cause of death is Adam, and we die in him: hence Christ, whose office it is to restore to us what we lost in Adam, is the cause of life in us, because before we believed in Him we were dead in our sins and trespasses; and his resurrection is the ground-work and pledge of ours. And just as Adam was the beginning of death, so was Christ the beginning of life. That is to say, all the faithful die because by nature they were born of Adam, but because they are in Christ they are made the children of God by grace, they are made alive and restored to life by Him.

Though Paul is clearly concerned here with the resurrection of believers the question that may arise is, “Will everyone be resurrected?”  Yes and no. All will be resurrected in the sense that they will receive a resurrection body, and live forever. Jesus plainly spoke of both the resurrection of life and the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:29). So, all are resurrected, but not all will receive the resurrection of life. Some will receive the resurrection of condemnation, and live forever in a resurrected body in hell.

23 But each in his own order; Christ the first-fruits, then those who belong to Christ at his appearing.

But each in his own order;
“But each in his own order” may have been said in anticipation of a question that might arise: “If Christ’s life,” someone might ask, “draws ours along with it, why is it, since Christ has already risen from the grave, we still lie rotting there?” Paul’s answer is this verse; that God has prearranged for things to happen in a certain order. Let us therefore gladly accept that we now have in Christ the first-fruits and guarantee of our resurrection, and that we will be resurrected at His Second Coming. But until then our life must still be hid with him—“For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col 3:3; KJV). The picture this verse presents is a treasure which is "hid" or concealed in a safe place; and the idea is, that eternal life is an invaluable jewel or treasure, which is laid up with Christ in heaven where God is. There it is safely deposited. It has this security, that it is with the Redeemer, and that He is in the presence of God; and therefore, nothing can reach it or take it away. It is not left with us because we might lose it, the same as we might lose an invaluable jewel; or it might be stolen from us; but it is now kept far out of our sight, and far from the reach of all our enemies, and with One who can "keep that which we have committed to Him against that day" (2 Timothy 1:12). Our eternal life, therefore, is as safe and secure as it could possibly be made. The true condition of the Christian is that he is "dead" to this world, and that he has the prospect of immortal life, which has been made secure in the holy keeping of his Redeemer, who is now in the presence of God. It is, in fact, so secure that he should regard himself as living for heaven.

Since I am an ex-Marine, when I read “But every man in his own order,” I thought of military “rank”: generals, colonels, majors, captains, lieutenants, sergeants, corporals, privates. Though all shall rise again, all will not be saved; but, each will have his proper place. Christ is first—“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Col 1:18; KJV). And after Him comes the godly who die in Christ—“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thess 4:16; KJV). Finally, there is “the end,” the rest of the dead, those who died without accepting Christ. Christian churches, ministers, and individuals seem to be judged first “at His coming” (see Matthew 25:1-30); then “all the nations” (see Matthew 25:31-46). Christ‘s own flock will share His glory “at His coming,” which should not be confused with “the end,” or general judgment (see Revelation 20:4-6, and Revelation 20:11-15). The latter is not specifically discussed in this chapter, but only the first resurrection, namely, that of the saints; those “that are Christ‘s,” who alone in the highest sense “obtain the resurrection from the dead.” “And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:14; KJV).  “But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection” (Luke 20:35-36; KJV). “If, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil 3:11; NKJV).

The second coming of Christ is not a mere point of time, but a period beginning with the resurrection of the just at His appearing, and ending with the general judgment. The ground of the universal resurrection is the union of all mankind in nature with Christ, their representative Head, who has done away with death, by His own death in their stead: the ground of the resurrection of believers is not merely this, but their personal union with Him as their “Life”—“When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Col 3:4 (KJV).

It would be strange indeed, and inappropriate, for us to receive resurrection before Jesus.

Christ the first-fruits,
“Christ the first-fruits;” He is the first who rose from the dead, never to die again; and His resurrection was a sure pledge that His people at His Second Coming will rise too, to live and reign with him forever.
• Matthew 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.”
• (Matt 25:46; NLT) “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life”
• John 14:19 (NLT) “Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live.”
So, He receives resurrection first as “the firstfruits,” and then we receive it afterwards when He returns to establish His kingdom. But if Jesus is the firstfruits of our resurrection, does that mean He was the first one raised from the dead? What about the widow’s son in the days of Elijah (see 1 Kings 17:17-24) and Lazarus (see John 11:38-44) and Eutychus (see Acts 20:7-12), among others? Each of these was resuscitated from death, but none of them were resurrected. Each of them was raised in the same body they died in, and were raised from the dead to eventually die again. Resurrection isn’t just living again; it is living again in a new body, based on our old body, perfectly suited for life in eternity. Jesus was not the first one brought back from the dead, but He was the first one resurrected.

then those who belong to Christ at his appearing.
“those who belong to Christ” are “the dead in Christ"—“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thess 4:16; NKJV). Before the living are gathered, all the saints who slept in Christ shall be gathered around Him. In the final day, the first act is the gathering of the departed saints; the next, the gathering of the living saints.

“At his appearing” is used here for the Second Advent, and it means we will once again have His literal presence with us. It is implied (apparently) both here and in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 [“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”]: and Revelation 20:5 [“But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.”]; that there will be an interval—how long or how short we do not know—between this resurrection of the just and the final resurrection. But all the details are left dim and vague. In the meantime their very dust is precious; the dead bodies consumed by cremation and decay are not totally destroyed, because there is a substance preserved and kept secret by an influence proceeding from Christ. Hence they are said to be dead in Christ, though their flesh is rotting or consumed by fire. Then believers, that belong to Him by faith will also rise, but not before His Second Coming.

24 And then the end, when he shall hand over his kingdom to God his Father, after he has abolished all rule and authority and power.

And then the end,
It is not possible to rule out these words of life—“And then the end.” They have been perpetually recurring since there have been people living on the earth. We examine a man’s life from childhood to full manhood and old age; all the works that he will do; all the associations he will form; our eye runs along his entire existence; but at last we reach the point where, “And then the end” closes out his life on earth. The most striking thing about a man’s life may be the way in which his desires and dreads are both brought to light and exposed by this constant coming to the end of things; this stopping and restarting of the works of life.

a) There is man’s desire for the end. This partly arises from man’s natural dread of monotony. “I don’t want to live forever” has been a valid cry of the human soul. Man’s dread of monotony, and his sense of the awful weariness of living on forever, has made him rejoice that down the long road of life he could read the inscription of relief, “And then the end.” Every man has something that he wants to get rid of, something he doesn’t want to always carry with him; and so he welcomes the opportunity to say, “The end is here.” But it is not only the awareness of the evil elements in life that makes men desire that the end will come; because, that is, after all, a poor and despairing reason. When life has been a success and brought contentment and peace, then, for a man to say, “This has been a glorious life, but I am glad to see it come to an end; because, without a doubt, there is something even more glorious awaiting me in the next life”—that is a wonderful impatience. The noblest human natures have this view of life.

b) There is man’s dread of the end. The sense of the changefulness of things is undoubtedly what sends a feeling of insecurity through our lives, and fills us with feelings of dread, seeing that the souls of men shrink from change. Another reason is that a person recoils from the thought of the approaching end of the condition in which he is now living. And his sense of dread is proportionate to his awareness of how far he is from having fulfilled the prospects and prosperity of this present life. But the strongest element in our dread of change is the great uncertainty which envelops every unknown experience, the great mystery of the unlived. We dread the end even of our own imperfect condition.

Man is indeed fortunate that the end of things does not depend upon man’s choice, but comes by a will larger and wiser than his. If we were compelled at some point to give the signal when we thought the time had come for this mortal to put on immortality—how the desire and the dread would fight within us! But, by God’s grace we are spared all that. Some men say; “It comes of itself;” whereas, the Christian man with perfect reverence and insight exclaims, “God sends it.”

The saying is: only two things are certain in life; death and taxes. Well, death comes to all of us, but what Paul is talking about here is, the end of the world. The end of all the miseries and afflictions which believers meet with in this life, or the end of all our preaching and ministry, the end of the world, or the end of man; or rather, (as the next words seem to say), the end of that mediatory kingdom of Christ, which he now administers instead of his Father, and shall manage until the end of the world.

when he shall hand over his kingdom to God his Father,
What kingdom? That kingdom, which, as Mediator, he received from his Father; not his natural and essential kingdom, which as God he had with His Father from eternity past; this kingdom shall never be given up; because of this kingdom there shall be no end; even though He has completed the work which God had given Him to do—“Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God” (John 13:3; KJV). It was with a full consciousness of his divinity, of his divine power and majesty, of the glory that he had and would enjoy with God that he stooped to the menial office that he was to fill, and the work of teaching and saving His people.

In Ephesians 1:10, Paul reveals God’s eternal purpose in history: “that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth - in Him.” Paul wrote of the “gathering together” of all things in Jesus, or of the “summing up” of all things in Him. Here, in 1 Corinthians, he looks forward to the time when all things are resolved in Jesus Christ and He presents it all to God the Father, giving glory to the God who authored this eternal plan of the ages.

In what respect will Christ deliver up the kingdom to the Father? That is explained somewhat by the phrase, “God his Father,” which may be taken in two senses—either that God the Father is called the God and the Father of Christ, or that the name of Father is added by way of explanation. There is nothing either absurd, or unusual, in the saying, that Christ is inferior to God, with respect to his human nature. Whereas, scripture has shown repeatedly that they are equal with respect to their divinity.

“He shall hand over his kingdom to God his Father” seems to be in conflict with Daniel 7:14, “And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” Really, His giving up of the mediatorial kingdom to the Father, when the purpose for which the mediatorial kingdom was established has been accomplished, is altogether in harmony with its continuing everlastingly. The change which shall then take place, shall be in the manner of administration, not in the kingdom itself; God shall then come into direct contact with the earth and mankind when Christ shall have fully and finally removed everything that divides the holy God from a sinful earth—“and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col 1:20; NKJV). There could be no peace between God and man; because man was in a sinful state, and there is no peace for the wicked, therefore it required a reconciliation to be made to restore peace between heaven and earth; but peace could not be made without an atonement for sin, and the outcome shows that the blood of Christ shed on the cross was necessary to make this atonement. The glory of God is the final goal of Christ‘s mediatorial office—“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:10-11; KJV).

His co-equality with the Father is independent of His mediatorial office, and prior to it, and shall, therefore, continue when its function shall have ceased. His manhood, too, shall everlastingly continue, though, it is now, subordinate to the Father. The throne of the Lamb (but no longer mediatorial) as well as of God, shall be in the heavenly city (see Revelation 22:3; Revelation 3:21). The unity of the Godhead, and the unity of the Church, shall be simultaneously manifested at Christ‘s Second Coming (see Zephaniah 3:9; Zechariah 14:9; John 17:21-24). The oldest manuscripts for “shall have delivered up,” read, “delivereth up,” which suits the sense better. It is “when He shall have put down all rule,” that “He delivereth up the kingdom to the Father.”

after he has abolished all rule and authority and power.
At the end of the world, Christ will have subdued all His and His church's enemies, and “abolished (put down) all rule and authority and power,” both in the world and in the church. He shall deliver up his mediatorial kingdom to his Father, and no longer reign as Mediator; but He shall still reign eternally, as God equal with the Father; because His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion will endure eternally.

“After he has abolished all rule and authority and power,” the rule and authority of all the kings and princes of the earth will cease, as well as all the assistance of good angels, and all the power of evil angels; likewise, shall all the support and authority resident in the church here on earth, and all those that are the enemies of the church shall be subdued and brought under the control of Christ.

“After he has abolished all rule (every opposing power).” The word “abolished” generally signifies divesting a thing of some power, whether in a lawful manner or illegally seized, and of reducing it to a state of incapacity where it can no longer exert that power. Thus it is used in this way in the case:
• of Satan, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb 2:14; KJV).
• of death, here and 1 Corinthians 15:26
• of temporal princes, “But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim 1:10; KJV).
• of the ceremonial law, “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace” (Fph 2:15; KJV).

The resurrection of Jesus leads to the resolution of all things. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. But He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death, because “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is Himself an exception. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, so that God may be all in all.

As it stands now, God has granted a measure of rule and authority and power to men, to Satan, and even to death. But all that is temporary. Jesus will take His rightful place as the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords (see 1 Timothy 6:15). After the resurrection, God will finally resolve all of history according to His will. In raising Christ from the dead God has set in motion a chain of events that must culminate in the final destruction of death and thus of God’s being once again, as in eternity past, ‘all in all.

25 For he must rule until he has put all his enemies under his feet.

God has announced (and what he has said must come about), that Christ would, as Mediator, rule over a Kingdom in the world, until the time comes that He has subjugated all the enemies of His gospel and people; all those who have said, he shall never rule over us. Those enemies of Christ are the ones in the world that live in wickedness, with the devil, and all his allies.  God said the same thing through the writer of the Psalms—“The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Psalms 110:1; KJV). This psalm is remarkable because it sets forth the deity of Christ. You could not in any way consider this psalm and still deny His deity. This psalm is referred to many other places in the New Testament (Acts 2:34, 35; Heb. 1:13; 5:6; 6:20; 7:21; 10:12, 13).

At the time the enemies of Jesus were making their final onslaught upon Him, the Herodians, a political party, tried to trap Him by forcing Him to make a political statement that would mark Him as a traitor to Rome. When they failed to do that, the Sadducees, a liberal religious party, tried to trap Him with a ridiculous question regarding the Mosaic Law. When they failed, the Pharisees, a religious/political party, tried to trap Him. Jesus’ answer puzzled the Pharisees; so while they huddled again to plan further strategy, Jesus asked them a question: “While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions” (Matt. 22:41–46). Notice that Jesus asked a straightforward question: “What think ye of Christ?” The Pharisees answered that He was the son of David. Upon hearing this answer, the Lord pointed them to Psalm 110 to show them their insufficient knowledge of that particular portion of Scripture which the Jews interpreted as messianic. This psalm, written by David, shows Jehovah talking to Messiah. David calls Messiah “my Lord”; and any Jew who admitted Messiah was David’s descendant was faced with this psalm, where David calls Messiah his “Lord” and claims that He is superior. This showed that Messiah would be more than a king who would merely be a political ruler upon a throne. Also since David called Him “Lord” in this psalm, how can He be his son? The Lord cannot be his son by natural birth; it had to be by supernatural birth. This psalm is telling us that the Lord Jesus Christ, Israel’s Messiah, was virgin born.

“The LORD said unto my Lord….” This is an equal speaking to an equal. This is God speaking to God, if you please. Hebrews 1:13 says, “But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?” This sets forth the deity of Jesus Christ, and it could not be given to us in any stronger fashion. When folk say that the Bible does not teach the deity of Jesus, they are not acquainted with this section of the Word of God, I can assure you.

The term “until” does not signify the founding of Christ’s kingdom at that time, although his mediatory kingdom on earth will be in effect. He will reign, but not as He does now, in the midst of his enemies; conquering and subduing them.  Here Paul refers to the 1,000 year reign of Jesus described in Revelation 20:1-6—“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” After that time, there will be a final, Satan inspired rebellion (see Revelation 20:7-10), which Jesus will crush and finally and forever “put all His enemies under His feet.”

The expression “under His feet” is an Old Testament figure of speech signifying “total conquest.” We know from this phrase that the time has not yet come when Christ will turn over the kingdom to the Father, since it is evident to everyone alive today that the time has not yet come, when all things will be made right and the world is in a tranquil state, because Christ has not yet subdued all his enemies. Now that must happen first, because the Father has placed Him at his right hand with this understanding, that he is not to resign the authority that he has received, until they have been subdued under his power. And this is said for the comfort of Christ’s Christians, so that they do not become impatient on account of the long delay of the resurrection.

 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is Death.
The first enemy of Christ and of Christians is the devil, who was conquered by Christ on the Cross; the second is sin, which through the grace of Christ is conquered by Christians in this life; the third is death, which is the last of all, and it will be conquered at the Resurrection.

Death will be present during the millennial reign of Jesus according to:
• Revelation 20:9 (KJV): “And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.” These nations will be banded together for one purpose and will press on toward one goal, namely, to destroy the capital city of the King, Jerusalem, and devastate His faithful subjects. God delights in Jerusalem and calls it “the beloved city,” because outside its walls the Son of God accomplished redemption for the world in the will of the Father, and then has reigned in righteousness in that city for 1000 years. The judgment of God with “fire” on the invaders will bring them swift and final death.
• Isaiah 65:20 (KJV): “There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.” This passage proves that the better age to come on earth, though much superior to the present will not be a perfect state; sin and death shall still have a place in it, but much less frequently than now.

But after the millennial reign of Jesus, death will be abolished. It is truly the “last enemy that will be destroyed.”

Paul reminds us of something important: death is an “enemy.” When Jesus came upon the tomb of Lazarus, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled, and Jesus wept (see John 11:33, 35). Why? Not simply because Lazarus was dead, because Jesus would raise him shortly. Instead, Jesus was troubled at death itself. It was an “enemy.” Today, some are told to embrace death as a friend, but that is not Biblical thinking. Death is a defeated enemy because of the work of Jesus, an enemy that will one day “be destroyed,” and therefore an enemy we do not need to fear. But death is an enemy nonetheless.

The destruction of death was depicted at the resurrection of Jesus, when “the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many” (Matthew 27:52-53). Charles Spurgeon said, “When at the Redeemer’s resurrection many of the saints arose and came out of their graves into the holy city then was the crucified Lord proclaimed to be victorious over death and the grave . . . these were but preliminary skirmishes and mere foreshadowing’s of the grand victory by which death will be overthrown.”

If death is destroyed, why do Christians die? “Death since Jesus died is not a penal infliction upon the children of God: in that respect he has abolished it, and it can never be enforced. Why die the saints then? Why, because their bodies must be changed ere they can enter heaven . . . Saints die not now, but they are dissolved and depart.” (Spurgeon)

“Death is not the worst of enemies; death is an enemy, but he is much to be preferred to our other adversaries. It were better to die a thousand times than to sin. To be tried by death is nothing compared to being tempted by the devil. The mere physical pains connected with dissolution are comparative trifles compared with the hideous grief which is caused by sin and the burden which a sense of guilt causes to the soul.” (Spurgeon)

“Notice, that death is the last enemy to each individual Christian and the last to be destroyed . . . Brother, do not dispute the appointed order, but let the last be last. I have known a brother wanting to vanquish death long before he died. But, brother, you do not want dying grace till dying moments. What would be the good of dying grace while you are yet alive? A boat will only be needful when you reach a river. Ask for living grace, and glorify Christ thereby, and then you shall have dying grace when dying time comes.” (Spurgeon)

Christ will abolish or destroy death, when, at the general resurrection, he delivers his people from its power. Until then, there will be many enemies that resist Christ, and obstinately oppose his reign. But death will be the last enemy that will be destroyed. Hence Christ must still be the administrator of his Father’s kingdom. Let believers, therefore, take courage, and not give up hope, because everything that must precede the resurrection must be accomplished. It is asked, however, in what sense he asserts that death shall be the last enemy that will be destroyed, when it has been already destroyed by Christ’s death, or at least, by his resurrection, which is the victory over death, and the attainment of life? The answer is that it was destroyed in such a way that it is no longer deadly to believers, but not in such a way that does not create uneasiness and even grief. It is true that the Spirit of God, dwelling in us is life; but we still carry around with us a mortal body—“For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away” (1 Peter 1:24; KJV). The substance of death in us will one day be drained off, but it has not happened yet. We are born again of incorruptible seed—“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Peter 1:23; KJV)—but we have not yet arrived at perfection. What Paul teaches elsewhere about sin—“Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires” (Romans 6:12; NLT)—must be how we view death—that it dwells in us, but it does not reign

27 For He hast put all things under his feet, but in that quotation All things are put under him, it is evident that God is excepted, who put all things under Him.

For He hast put all things under his feet,
Some think that this quotation is taken from Psalms 8:6—“Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet,” and that may be true, but there would be nothing wrong in thinking this statement is a conclusion that Paul has drawn from the nature of Christ’s kingdom. Let us follow, however, the more generally accepted opinion. Paul shows from this Psalm, that God the Father has conferred upon Christ power over all things, because it says, “Thou hast put all things under his feet.” The words themselves are clear enough, if it was not for two difficulties that present themselves — first, that the Prophet does not speak of Christ alone, but of the whole human race; and secondly, that by all things he means only those things that have to do with the maintenance of the life of the body, as we find in Genesis 2:19—“And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof” (Gen 2:19; KJV). The solution of the former difficulty is easy: since Christ is the first-born of every creature, (see Colossians 1:15,) and the heir of all things (see Hebrews 1:2), God, the Father, has not conferred upon the human race the use of all creatures in such a way that it would prevent the chief power, and the rightful dominion, from remaining in Christ’s hands. Furthermore, we know that Adam lost the entitlement that had been conferred upon him, so that we can no longer call anything our own. The earth was cursed—“Then to Adam He said, "Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it': "Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life” (Gen 3:17; NKJV)—and everything that it contains; and it is through Christ alone that we recover what has been taken from us. It is appropriate, therefore, that this commendation belongs to Christ personally—that the Father has put all things under his feet. And since we rightfully possess nothing except in him, how shall we become heirs of God, if we are not his sons, and by whom are we made his sons—by Christ; through faith in Him and confidence in His resurrection. The solution of the second difficulty is as follows—the Prophet specifically mentions fowls of heaven, fishes of the sea, and beasts of the field, because this kind of dominion is visible to the eye; but at the same time the general statement reaches much farther—to the heavens and the earth, and everything that they contain. Now the subjection must have a connection with the character of him who rules—that is, it has suitableness to his condition, so that it is compatible with it. Now Christ does not need animals for food, or other creatures for any necessity. He rules, therefore, so that all things may be subservient to his glory, and He adopts us so that we can be participants in His dominion. The fruit of this openly appears in visible creatures who serve man; but believers feel in their consciences an inward fruit, which, as I have said, extends farther. We have the sense of His presence with us and in us; we see Him at work in our lives and the lives of others. We experience Him in nature, in the Word, and in the actions of the Holy Spirit.

Notice the words, “hast put,” because what God has said is the same as if it were already done, it is so sure. The Father has bestowed upon Christ Jesus, as Son of man, dominion over the whole universe.

 

but in that quotation All things are put under him, it is evident that God is excepted,

All things put under him (Jesus Christ), except him (God the Father) who put all things under him (Jesus Christ). He (God) insists upon two things — first, that all things must be brought under subjection to Christ before he restores to the Father the dominion of the world, and secondly, that the Father has given all things into the hands of his Son in such a way as to retain the principal right in his own hands. From the former of these it follows, that the hour of the last judgment has not yet come—from the second, that Christ is now the mediator and conciliator between us and the Father and He functions in a way that will eventually bring us to Him (Christ).

Paul infers here that after he (Christ) shall have subjected all things to him (Christ), then shall the Son subject himself to the Father. This statement, however, seems to be inconsistent with what we read in various passages of Scripture concerning the perpetuity of Christ’s kingdom—Of his kingdom there will be no end. Compare this verse with the following verses:
• “Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed” (Dan 7:14; NKJV). His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom. His dominion shall not pass away to any successor, much less to any invader, and his kingdom is that which shall not be destroyed. Even the gates of hell, or Satan’s infernal powers and policies, shall not prevail against it. The church shall continue to be militant to the end of time, and triumphant to the endless ages of eternity.
• “And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:33; KJV). He shall literally reign over the house of Jacob, and of His Kingdom there shall be no end.
• “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11; KJV). Since Simon Peter knew that shortly he would move out of his body and into God’s presence, he spoke of the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, knowing that there would be no Rapture ahead for him.

The solution of this seeming inconsistence will open up Paul’s meaning more clearly. In the first place, it must be understood that all power was given to Christ, while he was visible in the flesh. It is true that such distinguished majesty would not be consistent with a mere man, but, in spite of that; the Father has exalted him in the same nature in which he was humiliated, and has given him a name, before which every knee must bow (Philippians 2:9). Furthermore, it must be recognized, that He has been appointed Lord and highest King, in order that He might function as if He were the Father’s Vice-regent in the government of the world—now, the situation is not that he is employed and the Father is unemployed (because how could that be, since He is the wisdom and counsel of the Father, they share the same essence, and He is Himself God?) But the reason why the Scripture testifies, that Christ now holds dominion over the heaven and the earth in place of the Father is—in order that we may not think that there is any other Governor, Lord, Protector, or Judge of the dead and living, but may fix our expectancy and contemplation on Him alone. We acknowledge that it is true; God as the ruler, but it is through the man Jesus Christ. But Christ will, at a time predetermined by God, restore the kingdom which he has received, so that we may cleave wholly to God. But He will not resign the kingdom, but will transfer it, in a manner, from His humanity to His glorious divinity, because a way of approaching Him will then be opened up, from which our imperfection now keeps us back.

who put all things under Him.
So our Lord says, "All things are delivered unto me of my Father" (see Matthew 11:7). The universal dominion of Christ is also insisted on in:
• Ephesians 1:20-22. “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church.”
• 1 Peter 3:22 (KJV). “Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.”
Then, when the time is right, Christ will put Himself under the Father, because the veil will have been removed, and we shall clearly behold God reigning in his majesty, and Christ’s humanity will no longer intervene to keep us back from a closer view of God.

28 For when everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself shall subject himself to Him who made them subject, that God may be all in all.

For when everything is subjected to him,
“When everything has been subdued by Him,” is better.

Here the apostle confirms that God the Father has put all things, and all persons, under His Son's feet, as Mediator; God Himself being the only exception. God the Father reserved to himself His own sovereign empire and supreme authority; He gave supremacy to His Son, but exempted Himself from subjection. But when all things have been subjugated by Christ, then his mediatorial kingdom will be relinquished to his Father, from whom he received it. The Son Himself, as Mediator and Head of the church, will at that time be subject to the Deity, that is God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, so that they may be “all in all” by a full communication to, and intimate union with, the saints.

From this passage we learn:
1. That the mediatorial kingdom of Christ was given to him by God the Father, as a reward for his sufferings—“And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name” (Phil 2:8-9; KJV). Though he was thus humbled, and suffered on the Cross, he is now raised up to the throne of glory, and to universal dominion.
2. That this mediatorial kingdom was given to Christ only, while He was in His human nature; seeing that only the human nature suffered, since the divine nature is capable of no such exaltation or new dominion; therefore, he was thus exalted, “because he was the Son of man”—“and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man” (John 5:27; NKJV). He is also judge, “because he is the Son of man,” a judge who shares the nature of the judged.
3. That as long as the mediatorial kingdom of Christ continues, the Father judges no man, but commits all judgment unto his Son, giving him full power and authority to punish and reward according to his own wisdom, will, and pleasure: and as Lord of all, he gives laws to all.
4. That Christ shall certainly lay down this mediatorial kingdom, when all things are subdued by him. The exercise of his kingly power shall cease then; and in the same way that Christ is now all in all in His relationship to His church, the Godhead then will be all in all; and Christ himself, as man, will be subject to his Father, as well as the saints and angels.

The Son’s subjection to His Father, which is the issue here, does not prove His inequality with His Father with regard to essence or power; it only signifies what was said before, that Christ would deliver up his mediatory kingdom to His Father; thereby demonstrating, that whatever He had done while He was in the office of Mediator, was done in the name of His Father, and by His Father’s power and authority; and that since He was a man, He was subject to His Father.

then the Son himself shall subject himself to Him who made them subject,
When the Father has put all things under Himself, so that it appears to every eye that He is indeed Lord of all, then the Son will also be subject to him; giving up His commission to preside as universal Lord in the mediatorial kingdom, because He has accomplished the outcome for which it was given him, which is the complete salvation of all his faithful saints. And then He will introduce His saints into a state where they are in close proximity to God, have contact with Him, and converse intimately with Him; in order that God, the Trinity, may be, and that he may appear to be, all in all. The saints will then be able to enjoy complete and everlasting happiness, through communication of the divine favor to them forever. It appears that the kingdom that Christ will give up is the rule of this lower world, which is predestined to be consumed; therefore, it may not seem like a province of Christ's empire was destroyed, since what has actually happened is that His mediatorial government has been made subservient to the scheme of redemption—“That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (Eph 1:10; KJV); and is completed in the glorification of all his faithful people, and shall conclude in an honourable manner. God will declare an end to the mediatorial kingdom of Christ; and the whole body of His saints shall be introduced by Him into a state where the approach to God and communication with Him is more intimate, than had ever been known before. What must be remembered here is that Christ is spoken of in his mediatorial capacity, and that it follows in the nature of things, that his mediatorial kingdom must cease, and be given up, when the purpose of his mediatorial government is completely accomplished; so that no possible objection can be made against the true Divinity of the second Person in the Trinity, who being God before the creation of this world, and, consequently, before he assumed the office of the Redeemer of men, will and must remain God over all, blessed for ever, when the great goals of that office are entirely completed.

The relationship of Father to Son will be eternal: the Son Himself will also be subject to Him. Those who deny the deity of Jesus say this verse proves their point. They take the submission of God the Son as “proof” that He must not be equal in deity to God the Father. But the submission of Jesus to the Father doesn’t come from any inherent inferiority. Instead, it comes from the administrative order of the Godhead. A Son is always in submission to His Father, even if both are “equal” in substance. The son of a king may be the equal of his father in every attribute of his nature, though officially inferior. Likewise, the eternal Son of God may be coequal with the Father, though officially subordinate. The Son’s subjection to his Father does not prove his inequality of essence or power with his Father; it only signifies what was spoken before, that Christ would give up his mediatory kingdom to his Father. Simply put, God the Father will always be God the Father, and God the Son will always be God the Son, and for all eternity they will continue to relate to each other as Father and Son.

that God may be all in all.
Question: May “That God may be all in all”   be applied to the Devil and wicked men also? No way— unless we choose to take the phrase “be all in all” to mean, to be known, and openly beheld. In that case the meaning will be: “Since the Devil resists God, and wicked men upset the peace and order which he has established, and crime and sin appears to be never-ending, it does not appear at the present time that God is “all in all.” But when Christ will have carried out the judgment which has been committed to Him by the Father, and will have cast down Satan and all the wicked, the glory of God will be conspicuous in their destruction. The same thing may be said also with respect to earthly powers that are lawful, but in a way they hinder God being seen by us as He truly is. On the other hand, when God holds the government of the heaven and the earth by Himself, and without any medium, He will in that respect be all in all, not only in all persons, but also in all creatures.

This is a pious interpretation, and, since it corresponds sufficiently well with the Apostle’s intention, I willingly embrace it. There would, however, be nothing wrong with understanding it as referring exclusively to believers, in whom God has now begun his kingdom, and will then perfect it, and in such a way that they shall cleave to him completely. Both meanings sufficiently refute by themselves the wicked theorizing of some who offer this passage in proof of that which is false and unrelated. Some imagine that God will be “all in all” in this respect; that all things will vanish and dissolve into nothing. Paul’s words, however, mean nothing but this: that all things will be brought back to God, as their solitary beginning and end, so that they may be closely connected to Him. Others infer from this that the Devil and all the wicked will be saved—as if God would not destroy the Devil, and that instead, He would  associate with the Devil, and make him one with Himself. We can see then, how impertinent madmen wrest this statement of Paul’s and uses it for maintaining their blasphemies.

“God cannot be all in all” until sin and death are abolished; until that happens our only access to God is through Christ. But after all His enemies are trod under foot, we will have an immediate union with God; and this shall be the appropriate and everlasting praise of Christ, that He is the procurer of that union; then each person shall feel, God is all to me. All the saints shall be abundantly satisfied in heaven, with the presence of Deity alone; there is enough in God alone to fill and eternally satisfy all the blessed souls in heaven, without the addition of any creature comforts. God is completely satisfying to his children in the absence of all other enjoyments; we shall want for nothing at our journey's end, for there God will be “all in all.”

God the Son’s desire is to glorify God the Father through all eternity. Actually, each person of the Trinity desires to glorify another person of the Trinity. The Son glorifies the Father (see John 17:4), the Father glorifies the Son (see John 17:5), and the Holy Spirit glorifies the Son (see John 16:14). This aspect of the nature of God is something God wants us to walk in, having a concern for the glory of others, and not our own—“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Phil 2:3-4; KJV). Do not look out for your own interests alone, but for the interests of others rather than your own.

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