The Restoration of All Things: Part 5
Sep 15, 2006
Paul's most complete resurrection teaching is found in 1 Cor. 15. The first 21 verses prove the resurrection in a manner consistent with his early training as a Pharisee. The primary difference is that he proves it by Jesus' resurrection--something that no Pharisee would have dared to do. Their denominational opponents, the Sadducees, denied the idea of resurrection, being influenced by the Greek view that matter was evil and that the goal of mankind was to get rid of this "evil" body.
Then in 1 Cor. 15:22, 23 Paul takes his teaching to the next level, dealing with the scope of resurrection:
"For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. But each in his own order[tagma, 'squadron']."
Here Paul compares Adam with Christ--two different men. Adam sinned; Christ did not. Adam's sin brought death to all and subjected the entire creation to vanity; Christ's righteousness brought life to all and set the entire creation free.
The comparison is in the fact that each man's act had an opposite effect upon creation. Yet the word "as" means that something is alike in that statement. Adam and Christ are not the same; sin and righteousness are not alike; death and life are opposites. The only factor that makes them alike is the group affected:"ALL".
Even as Adam's sin brought death to ALL men and subjected the entire creation to vanity (Rom. 8:20), so also Christ's righteousness brought life to ALL men and set the entire creation free. "Creation was subjected to vanity not willingly," that is, apart from its own will or choice or decision. It was adversely affected through Adam's sin, not for any sin of its own.
This is by the Law of Headship, or Authority. The decisions of the one in authority affect all of those under him for better or for worse. Thus, Rom. 5:12 says,
"Therefore just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, ON WHICH [eph ho] all sin."
Paul explains in Romans 5 that Adam's sin was imputed to all of us. This means that we were all held accountable for Adam's sin, as if we had done it. We were legally guilty, and so all men received the penalty for Adam's sin (death, or mortality). In becoming mortal, or death-ridden, we became morally weak or sick, and this, in turn, has caused us to sin. Death--on which all sin.
Most translations, beginning with Jerome's Latin Vulgate, say "for that all sin" (KJV) or "because all sinned" (NASB), but this is incorrect. We are mortal because of Adam's sin, not because of our own sin. We are born mortal before we had opportunity to sin for ourselves.
The translators were hung up on Rom. 6:23, "the wages of sin is death," and missed the fact that Paul was talking about Adam's sin rather than our own sin. Once we were made mortal, of course, then all men sinned in the likeness of Adam.
The point is that this situation is reversed in Christ, whose righteousness and righteous act on the cross brought life to all of creation. This, too, was an act done outside of ourselves, not by our will, but the Father's will alone. The life that Jesus brought to creation by the cross will therefore be shared by all, "but every man in his own order."
Not all will appropriate immortality at the same time. Jesus established the FACT of universal reconciliation, but the TIMING is determined by our will and actions. If we accept Christ's death on the cross by faith, we receive justification and will receive life at the general resurrection of the just and unjust (John 5:28, 29) which is at the Great White Throne (Rev. 20:12).
If, however, we go beyond justification and become an overcomer, we may receive immortality a thousand years earlier in the first resurrection (Rev. 20:4-6). Such people will RULE with Him in the Kingdom and receive aionian life (life in The Age).
Those who refuse, along with the great majority of mankind who never had opportunity to hear of Him in the life time, will confess Him as Lord at the Great White Throne and will then be trained by the overcomers and believers in that final age of the "lake of fire." Each will be judged righteously, according to their works (Rev. 20:13) and their knowledge (Luke 12:48).
No one will be tortured, for torture is not one of the fruits of the Spirit, nor is it consistent with the character of God as revealed in Christ. Some may receive 40 lashes with a whip, according to the law, but that would be the extent of the corporal punishment. Most will be "sold" to Christ (and His body) and come under their authority as "servants" or "bond-slaves." But because they will perfectly manifest the love of Christ, they will treat each one with the love of God and will be charged with the responsibility of teaching them the ways of God. Thus, Isaiah 26:9 says,
". . . for when the earth experiences Thy judgments, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness."
The fire is the Word of God, including the "fiery law" (Deut. 33:2). It is the manifestation of the righteous character of God Himself, for He manifested Himself to Israel only as fire. He is a "consuming fire" (Deut. 4:24). When He comes in a baptism of fire, its purpose is to destroy "the flesh" and quicken our mortal bodies (Rom. 8:11).
The fire is the glory of God as well, which will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. The waters cover approximately 100 percent of the sea; so also His glory will cover 100 percent of the earth.
The creation itself groans today under the oppression of sin, and it anxiously awaits the manifestation of the sons of God (Rom. 8:19). Not only mankind, but everything in creation will be affected by the righteous act of Jesus Christ, for Adam was given dominion over all things. When Adam sinned, he and his wife and children were sold to pay the debt that he could not pay. Likewise, his entire estate was sold to pay his debt, and it was still insufficient. Jesus spoke of this in a parable in Matt. 18:23,
"But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children AND ALL THAT HE HAD, and repayment to be made."
But Jesus came as the last Adam to reverse the curse and pay the full debt that Adam could not pay. In doing so, He redeemed not only Adam, but his wife and children (descendants) and the entire estate (the creation). Everything that was lost in Adam is redeemed in Christ. Hence, 1 John 2:2 says,
"and He Himself is the propitiation [covering] for our sins; and not only ours only, but also for those of the whole world."
Suppose you were to purchase a store full of merchandise. When the time came to possess it, would you be satisfied if you walked into the store and found only a few items on the shelf? Of course not. If you purchased the whole store, you would not rest until you obtained everything you paid for. Jesus paid for the sin of the whole world by His blood, which is worth far more than all of creation. He will not be satisfied until He receives all that He purchased.
All things were put under Adam's authority (Gen. 1:26-28). Psalm 8:6 repeats this, "Thou hast put all things under his feet." Adam lost it all, but the last Adam has redeemed it all. Thus the New Testament applies this to Christ in Heb. 2:6-8, under whose feet all things have now been rightfully subjected. In fact, Psalm 8:6 is the most often quoted Scripture in the New Testament. For this reason it ought to be seen as one of the most important concepts to study. We intend to do so.
This is the fifth part of a series titled "The Restoration of All Things." To view all parts, click the link below.