Micah Redding — Christian Transhumanism: faith, technology & the future

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His enemies beneath his feet...

For a while, I've been trying to puzzle out the chronology of 1 Corinthians 15:20-28, and finding it incredibly difficult. But here's a little bit of what I've noticed.

Hebrews 2:5-9 talks about everything being put under Jesus' feet.

5 For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. 6 It has been testified somewhere,

“What is man, that you are mindful of him,

or the son of man, that you care for him?

7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels;

you have crowned him with glory and honor,

8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.”

Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control.
At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. 9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. (Hebrews 2:5-9)

This is taking a passage from Psalms, about the glorification of human beings, and applying it to Jesus. And what it says is that Jesus, as representative of humanity, has been given authority over everything. But this is not currently seen - the world around does not notice that this is the case. Christians, however, having experienced Jesus' death and resurrection, know the truth.

Notice how the passage begins. God has subjected the "world to come" to Jesus. So Jesus has been given authority now, will have that authority ultimately revealed, and will continue to rule the world to come.

Now, Ephesians 1:20-23:

20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:20-23)

So Jesus has been given authority over everything, both in this age and in the age to come.

Now, a few notes about 1 Corinthians 15:20-28:

Viewpoint 1:

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

So he seems to be about to describe universal resurrection.

23 But each in turn:

Christ, the firstfruits;

then, when he comes, those who belong to him.

Fairly straight-forward so far. Jesus is raised, then at his Parousia, his followers are raised. This sounds like what happens in Revelation 20, with the "first resurrection".

24 Then the end will come,

when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, 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.

So now I'm confused. This sounds like he is reigning now (time of writing), and will cease reigning when he has accomplished his purposes, handing the kingdom back over to God.

But if we take the other passages, it would seem maybe we're looking at something else. Jesus is reigning now, and the outworking of his reign is to defeat his enemies. The language is a little different, because the other passages assumed the "putting under his feet" already happened, while this approaches the "putting under his feet" as an ongoing process that Jesus accomplishes.

But the upshot is the same. It is not that Jesus gives up the kingdom at the endpoint of this, but that Jesus has succeeded in making his enemies submit to God, thus "handing them over".

Jesus can maintain control of the kingdom, but now the kingdom will be totally submissive to God, because Jesus is totally submissive to God.

27 For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:20-28)

Why would we assume Jesus will still be reigning? Because the other passages indicate Jesus would rule the "age to come" or "the world to come".

Unless…

Unless, the age to come terminates at "the end", instead of beginning at the end.

Let's look at it that way:

Viewpoint 2:

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

Okay, he's about to describe the order of universal resurrection.

23 But each in turn:

Christ, the firstfruits;

then, when he comes, those who belong to him.

Okay, so he comes, raises his followers, and begins the "age to come", reigning over it fully.

24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.

His reign continues to extend until his has finally not only shown his authority, but abolished all opposition. Then even the "age to come" ends, and Jesus' reign is complete.

26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

And that's when the resurrection of the rest of the dead occurs. This seems to be pictured in Revelation with the destruction of death and hades and the "final judgment".

27 For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:20-28)

So now we have three steps. Jesus being given the authority (resurrection and ascension), then finally making that known (coming, Parousia), then ruling until he has finally demolished all of his enemies (the end).

This, however, leaves us with some interesting stuff at the end of 1 Corinthians 15 to account for.

47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.

So this is describing what it is like to be resurrected. And is focused on "us", ie, "those who are Christ's at his coming".

50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

The inheriting of the kingdom of God should happen at Christ's coming (Parousia). The people who are inheriting are the Christians being addressed.

51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

So that first resurrection will raise the dead, but will change the living. This is the "last trumpet", and so I would have previously assumed it to be "the end", but the passage doesn't say that. It would seem to indicate the last pre-ordained moment. Perhaps "the end" is not pre-ordained to a specific time, thus not connected to a "trumpet"?

Notice that he's not saying you have to be dead to inherit the kingdom. He's saying "flesh and blood" can't inherit it, and so the living must be "clothed" with something else.

53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

This "change" marks the victory over death. For who?

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I would have previously seen this as the "defeat of death" at "the end". But the context focuses on victory over death for the Christians. So this fits.

We're dealing with some odd stuff, I'll give you that. Any thoughts, feedback?


Next: Maybe I was wrong

Christian Nuesa:

First and foremost, I love your observations. I have come to the same observations my self without any help from commentaries. 1 Cor 15:25 says - For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death. It is clearly enough that the last enemy to be abolished is death. Abolish here is cease, extinguish, be gone, or more accurately -- non-existent. The immediate context here is at the reign of Christ. Now, in verse 53 and 54, it is talking about Victory over death, and yes; it is under the context of the resurrection of believers and also this is not under the context of the reign of Christ. It seems that, at the resurrection of believers; victory over death. Wherein at the end of Christ reign; death is no more. To put simply, Victory over death did not abolish death. The resurrection is victory because dead people came back to life. But it does not mean, death is no more. I am not saying that the resurrected believers are going to die again but maybe death still applies to another? Although defeated in resurrection but still exist in another group? Maybe Matt 25:31-46 could help. Here, Christ returns to earth, then sits on the throne (indicates reign on earth), then judges the world. What He did is he separates the sheep and the goat. The sheep inherits the Kingdom (since Paul said that flesh and blood must be transformed into immortality I would then take these sheep to have been resurrected/transformed to enter the Kingdom). But what about the goats? They were banish from Christ's presence and pronounced their final destiny: hell. I noticed that the judgement is generic judgement, instead of specific (like in white throne judgement in Rev 20). Furthermore, at judgement there was no indication that these goats died right there and entered hell immediately. Therefore, I am assuming that these goats indeed were banish and eventually died of natural causes. Then in Rev 20:11-15, these goats where resurrected to receive their individual judgements. Could this be then that through the sheep, death is swallowed up in victory, but through the goats, death still exist? What do you think?