It is common for Christians to hold or to ask many questions about life after physical death and life after Christ's judgment. "Where will we be when we die?" "What will happen in the judgment?" "What will heaven be like?" Two things make it difficult to satisfy our curiosity about the afterlife. (1) Scripture did not provide much information about these subjects to those who originally received it. Consequently, it is convenient for us "to read into" those statements more than the statements intended or said. (2) In the little information that does exist, much of it is in the form of illustrations based on first century realities of their world, not on realities of today's world.
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul addressed some questions about resurrection asked by Christians in Corinth. Among Paul's information on resurrection is his statement in today's text. In a brief statement, Paul discussed God's intent and purpose in Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus had a God-given mission before his death, he had a God-given mission after his resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:24-28 ...then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, "All things are put in subjection," it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.
The "He" (with the exception of the "He" [God] in verse 27) in Paul's statement is Jesus Christ. The resurrected Jesus Christ has an objective as he rules in God's behalf. With Jesus' resurrection, God conferred upon him the role of the Christ. Shortly after Jesus confirmed the reality of his resurrection to humans, God enthroned the resurrected Jesus by placing him, as ruler, at God's right hand. The resurrected Jesus rules to conquer God's enemies: each thing that opposes God and His creation including death. The last enemy Jesus Christ will abolish will be death. Until that occurs (through the general resurrection prior to judgment), Jesus Christ rules as the one to whom all things have been subjected. There is one exception: God Himself.
When God's son conquers all that opposes God, he will return the kingdom to God. God again will rule over all His creation as He did when He created. When the moment comes that the resurrected Jesus returns the kingdom to God, Jesus will subject himself to God. When he defeats all that opposes God, the resurrected Jesus will no longer rule, but will be God's subject. The objective is this: rightfully to return God to the position of All in All over everything that exists.
Note several things. (1) God the Father and Jesus Christ [the son] are distinct, separate persons. (2) The resurrected Jesus has a God-given mission: conquer and abolish everything that opposes God. (3) When the resurrected Jesus completes his mission, he will submit himself to God. (4) With that occurrence, God will be restored to His rightful position as the All in All.
Consider the same information from another perspective. (1) God created the physical creation from a formless void covered with darkness (Genesis 1:2). (2) When God viewed His completed physical creation, He declared it to be "very good" (Genesis 1:31). (3) The physical creation was "very good" because it reflected the goodness of God Who made it. (4) When the people God made rebelled against Him by rejecting Him as the All in All (Genesis 3), God's very good creation no longer reflected Him. (5) By Genesis 6:5,6, rebellious people (a) were exactly opposite God's intentions and (b) reflected that which opposed God. (6) The objective: restore God to His rightful position as the All in All over everything He created. (7) God's restoration to His rightful position will occur when the resurrected Jesus defeats all God's enemies.
Paul did not present God the Father and the resurrected Jesus as equals. God the Father is not subjected to the resurrected Jesus; the resurrected Jesus is subjected to God. God is the Father; Jesus is the Son [not the brother]. God the Father resurrects Jesus. God the Father enthrones the resurrected Jesus. The resurrected Jesus rules at the direction of and with the permission of God the Father.
The basic problem existing in the physical creation began when people rebelled against [rejected] God. While God could have exerted His power, destroyed all his physical creation, and through destruction regained His position, such was not His will. He loves people. He originally made them in His image and likeness. Through mercy and grace, He produced the opportunity for rebellious people to return to His rule (2 Peter 3:9). In truth, our salvation is about God, not about us. The Holy God again will be adored by those resurrected to reverence His holiness. Christians seek to be God's holy people in physical life because they wish to reverence the Holy God through eternity.
Link to Teacher's Guide Lesson 13
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