Saturday, March 20, 2010

1 Corinthians 15 and the Millennium

I think 1 Corinthians 15:23-28 provides a great outline of events:


23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that s God may be all in all.


The first thing to notice is verse 23:

"But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits"

This chapter is obviously talking about the resurrection. The verses 20 and 22 make this clear.

Christ is the firstfruits of the resurrection. He is the first to be raised. Christ was raised, therefore we will be raised, because he has defeated death. But when will we be raised?

"Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ."

The word "then" (verse 23) indicates an indeterminate amount of time between Christ's resurrection and his coming. The word "then" as Paul uses it, doesn't mean immediate succession. This is evident from its use in verses 5 and 7. The word is sometimes translated "afterward." It implies an intervening period of time. It talks about the next in an order of specified events but does not mention the issue of time between. Over nineteen hundred years have already elapsed between the resurrection of Christ and His return. I believe that this intervening period is also synonymous with:

a) Times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24 compare Romans 11:25)
b) It is described as "this age" in various places (e.g. Matthew 12:32, Luke 20:34-35, Ephesians 1:21)
c) Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21, compare Luke 21:24)
d) Includes the signs of the times (Matthew 24:5-14; Revelation 6:1-11)
e) The 42 months (Revelation 13:5)


"Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ."What happens after this time?

This period of time, this age, is ended with the Second Coming of Christ (verse 23), along with Armageddon (Revelation 19:11-21; Zechariah 14:1-4, 12-16).

Notice when "those who belong to Christ" are raised, "at his comming". This resurrection includes the rapture (or catching up), and the binding of Satan. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, Revelation 20:1-4)

Then comes the end

The word "then" (verse 24) indicates another period of time; what we know from Revelation 20 as 1000 years or millennium. Paul's explanatory "for" in verse 25, tells us the purpose of this intervening time.

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

Paul's assertion is that after Christ returns "He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet". Christ's reign (at least the full expression of it) is said to follow his return, and it is said to be in order to put down opposition.

After this rule, there is the end.

"Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power."

Satan is let loose to deceive the nations for a final battle, but is utterly crushed. (Revelation 20:7-10). Death, is defeated (verse 26, Revelation 20:13-14) and the resurrection and judgment of the unbelievers takes place. (Revelation 20:11-15).

"When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that s God may be all in all."

Christ hands the kingdom over to God the Father ("...when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father... "). There are numerous prophecies in the Old Testament, and the new Testament that teach that Christ will return to reign. Amillennialists would disagree that there is a period of time after Christ's coming where Christ reigns, and that he is reigning now. He is indeed reigning now, (Matthew 28:19-20), but indeed the consummation of his reign will happen after his coming. However, if Amillennialism is true, then Christ doesn't reign after his coming, but must immediately hand over the kingdom to God the Father to rule as this text shows, and we are living in the consummation of the rule of Christ now. However, I believe this does too much injustice to this and many other texts to be allowable.

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