Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: The Birth of the Last Adam

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Birth of the Last Adam

The Birth of the Last Adam
I Corinthians chapter fifteen gives considerable details about the resurrection from the dead.  However, when reading the text, few consider the necessary birth of the “last Adam” to bring about the possibility of the resurrection from the dead into a New Genesis.  In other words, the resurrection of the believer from death is not merely to live again in a new human physical body within the curse of the cursed first creation.  Through His incarnation, Jesus opened a doorway into the New Genesis.  This doorway is opened and offered to all fallen sinners “by grace . . . through faith” (Ephesians 2:8).  This is not talking about a fire escape from Hell, although this is one of the outcomes of being “born again.”  I Corinthians chapter fifteen is detailing the transfiguration of the “born again” believer from a predominantly physical being to a predominantly spiritual being through what God calls glorification

          As we read I Corinthians chapter fifteen, we must carefully note that the resurrection and glorification of all truly “born again” believers in Jesus Christ is connected to the incarnation of the Son of God into humanity to generate a new species of humanity that is literally out of this world.  In other words, the phrase “last Adam” is a new type of generation of humanity that is both spiritual and eternal in existence.  Any resemblance to the old body is merely superficial.  This will be explained with another metaphor in I Corinthians 15:39-44. 

          It is clear in the statement of I Corinthians 15:36, that most people thought the resurrection from the dead was merely and eternal continuance of life as they now knew it.  This notion as addressed as foolish. 

35 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? 36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: 37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: 38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body” (I Corinthians 15:35-38).

The questions of I Corinthians 15:35 were the subject of endless theologian debate and the positing of conjectures.  The clear majority of arguments took a naturalistic view saying the new body would be similar to the present human body, except the resurrected person would never die again.  Other arguments of the naturalistic view said the new body would be the same except it would not possess a sin nature and therefore not be tempted with sin.  All naturalistic views of the resurrection appear to be ignorant of the New Genesis and the transfiguration of the human body to live within that New Genesis in perfect, eternal fellowship with God.

The point of argument of I Corinthians 15:36-38 is that the naturalistic views of the resurrection/glorification of “born again” believers are superficial in that the naturalistic views fail to see that the Creator is supernaturally involved in a New Creation in the resurrection/glorification.  Naturally, we understand that a grain seed is planted in the earth after it dies to bring forth an increase of quantity of the same grain planted.  You plant a corn seed; a stalk of corn grows with numerous ears of corn upon that stalk.  No one expects to plant corn seed and have wheat grow from that corn.  That would be miraculous and the farmer would bring the world to see that kind of miracle.  However, I Corinthians 15:36-38 addresses a supernatural occurrence exceeding this completely.  The metaphor says that the farmer can plant a dead corn seed and it produces a completely unknown grain that is not even of this world.  Taking the metaphor one step further, the supernatural operations of God in the resurrection/glorification of “born again” believers will be varied according to God’s pleasure.
In expanding upon this variety in the resurrection/glorification of believers’ new bodies, God uses several different metaphors to explain that the resurrected/glorified believer will not receive a physical body like humanity has in this life.  The emphasis of I Corinthians 15:39-44 uses the metaphors of variety of different kinds of “flesh” in different kinds of animals and different amounts of radiance from different kinds of planetary bodies.  The implication of the I Corinthians 15:39-44 appears to be there will be a wide diversity in the appearance of the believers’ new bodies.  They will not all look alike and they will not all produce the same amount of light (glory). 

39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial {above the sky} bodies, and bodies terrestrial {earthly}: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead” (I Corinthians 15:39-42).

Perhaps, these variations in resurrected bodies are rewards to eternally distinguish certain believers for the faithful quality of lives they lived within the curse.  We certainly know that rewards for faithfulness will be given to faithful believers at the Judgment Seat of Christ for the Kingdom Age (Matthew 25:14-30; the parable of the Talents).  The rewards for the Kingdom Age will involve the gift of positions of rule with Christ proportionate to the faithful witness of the believer during this life and the production of fruit through their lives.  The “light” with which a believer glorified God (i.e., revealed Him) in this life will be proportionate to the glory that will emanate from his new glorified body in the New Genesis. 

I Corinthians 15:42-44 lists four dramatic supernatural changes in the “born again” believer’s resurrected/glorified new body.  Again, these dramatic supernatural changes are to emphasize the radical difference between the natural views of the resurrection of the body. 

42 It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body” (I Corinthians 15:42-44).

          The point of the differences of which this text speaks refers to the differences between the two worlds (Matthew 12:32) that were created “in the beginning.”  The world in which we now live is primarily a physical or natural world.  This world was cursed of God and will eventually be “dissolved with fervent heat” (II Peter 3:12) at the end of the Kingdom Age.  The “world to come” will primarily be a spiritual world that the Bible calls a “new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1-8).  The word “new” used throughout Revelation 21:1-8 is translated from the Greek word kainos (kahee-nos'), not neosNeos means new of the same kindKainos means new of a different kind, or a new kind of genesis.  This is significant in that God is not going to make another world like the world created and given to Adam and Eve in the “garden of Eden.”  The “new heaven and a new earth” will be radically different.  Therefore, we should expect that the believers’ new glorified bodies will also be radically different from the bodies we presently have. 

1 And I saw a new {kainos} heaven and a new {kainos} earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new {kainos} Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new {kainos}. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:1-9).

The main difference between the natural views of the resurrection/glorification and the supernatural view is defined by the ways the supernatural will be a New Creation that is different from the original creation of “this world” and “the world to come” (Matthew 12:32).  The “this world” creation is merely a simplistic embryo of “the world to come.”  The four main differences given in I Corinthians 15:42-44 in the way the human body will be recreated during the resurrection/glorification are:

1. “It is sown in corruption {decay or ruin}; it is raised in incorruption {unending existence; never being able to be destroyed or ruined}” -
2. It is sown in dishonor {infamy, disgrace, shame, vile being totally incapable of reflecting the character and nature of God in Whose image humanity was created}; it is raised in glory {glorious or capable of reflecting the character and nature of God in Whose image humanity was created}”
3. “It is sown in weakness {morally and spiritual weak or frail thereby susceptible to deception and temptation}; it is raised in power {with miraculous power that has no susceptibility to deception and temptation}”
4. “It is sown a natural body {with all the limitations of a physical body}; it is raised a spiritual body {supernatural without all the limitations of a physical body}.” 

          There are still many unanswered questions regarding the resurrected/glorified body that will be individually created for believers by God.  God does not answer these questions in the Bible now.  We probably could not comprehend the differences now anyway. 

6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (I Corinthians 2:6-11).

          The new kind of body the believer will receive upon the resurrection/glorification is like an unopened gift.  We know God has something wondrous and incomprehensible to us as of now, but it remains unopened to our understanding until we can fully comprehend it by experiencing that new existence of that new body.  God could tell us more, but words could not explain what God will then give us.  In other words, just as God’s Word says, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (I Corinthians 2:9).
However, we can certainly see that all the naturalistic positions regarding the resurrected/glorified body are eliminated.  The future resurrected/glorified bodies of all “born again” believers will be totally disconnected and removed from the world that now is and become part of the world that is to come – the New Heaven/Earth.  There will be no place for “flesh and blood” in the world to come.  This is the substance of the statement in I Corinthians 15:45-50.  Again, another clear argument against the naturalistic view of the resurrected body. 

“45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption” (I Corinthians 15:45-50).

The phrase “last Adam” is unique to I Corinthians 15:45. The phrase “last Adam” refers to the Person of Jesus as the “firstborn” of the New Genesis; particularly to the humanity of Jesus.  The point of the text is that God planned for Jesus as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8) before Adam ever fell into sin bringing God’s curse upon His creation.  The birth of Jesus is the crown of humanity.  In Jesus, humanity was eternally united with the Creator through the Theanthropic union of the eternal Son of God and the humanity of Jesus through the virgin birth.  In uniting the Creator with the humanity of Jesus, then Jesus became the “last Adam” with the Divine power of both redemption and regeneration. 

This is expanded upon in Romans 5:12-19 providing a juxtaposition of generation between the first Adam and the “last Adam,” i.e. Jesus as the firstborn of the regeneration.  This is the significance of the phrase “the last Adam was made a quickening {life giving} spirit” (I Corinthians 15:45).  Again, the gift of life here is not just a new life like the old life a sinner had before he was saved from Hell and regenerated.  This is a new kind of life like the kind of life that Jesus had on earth.  Eventually this new life will be put into a new body just as Jesus was resurrected and glorified into a new body.  A new place of existence will be created for this new manner of existence “in Christ” and the Christ-life through the filling of the Holy Spirit Who indwells the believer when the believer is “born again.”

It is critically important to understand that a new resurrected/glorified body will only be given to those who have been saved from Hell and received the gift of redemption from eternal prison of death that is offered by faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ in the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:6-21). 

6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement {reconciliation}. 12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. 15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. 20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:6-21).

The great transcending truth here is the substance of the Kingdom of Christ.  The Kingdom of Christ is the New Genesis that exists only “in Christ.”  In the New Genesis (“the world to come;” Matthew 12:32 or “the regeneration,” Matthew 19:28), Christ Jesus is the “firstborn” as Adam was the “firstborn” of the world that now is.  The first Adam’s sin nature was seminally transfer to all his generations through procreation and genetics.  With this sin nature comes death, which is eternal separation from God.  The “last Adam” (Jesus) gifts holiness and righteousness to all His generations through the indwelling Holy Spirit in the gift of salvation and being “born again” of the Spirit of God.  Glorification is the completion of the believers’ salvation (Romans 8:29).  In the resurrection and glorification of Jesus, He became “firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29).

12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 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” (Colossians 1:12-18).

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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