The Last Enemy

The arrival of Jesus at the end of the age will mean the termination of the Last Enemy, namely, DeathSome members of the congregation in Corinth were denying the future bodily resurrection of the righteous. Paul responded by stressing the necessity for it. Moreover, he appealed to the past resurrection of Jesus as the precedent for the coming resurrection of believers from the dead. The followers of the Nazarene will be raised bodily when he “arrives” at the end of the age, an event that will signal the termination of death – DEATH WILL BE NO MORE.

Cemetery Sunshine - Photo by Waldemar on Unsplash
[Photo by Waldemar on Unsplash]

In his explanation, Paul also reveals something new. Believers who are alive on the day when Jesus “
arrives” will be transformed and RECEIVE IMMORTAL BODIES. The bodily resurrection will mean nothing less than the end of death AND the arrival of the New Creation.

In advancing his argument, Paul presents the sequence of events that will precede the ‘Parousia’ or “arrival” of Jesus. He begins with the rhetorical question - “If Christ is proclaimed that he has been raised from among the dead, how say some of you there is no resurrection of the dead?” – (1 Corinthians 15:12).

From the Apostle’s perspective, the issue is the absolute necessity for bodily resurrection and all his arguments support this proposition. The basis of his argument is the PAST RESURRECTION OF JESUS.

If there is no future resurrection, then “not even Christ has been raised,” and if that is the case, then the Gospel is null and void. Thus, the future resurrection of believers is based on the past resurrection of Jesus. Furthermore, resurrection is pivotal to the faith and hope of the people of God.

Next, Paul argues that “all will be made alive, but each in his own rank” or “order.” Jesus was the “first fruits” - He rose first, and the rest will follow “at his arrival.” That event will constitute “the END when he delivers up the Kingdom to God and brings to nothing all rule, authority, and power.”

Thus, the raising of the dead began with Jesus, the “firstborn of the dead,” and at his “arrival,” the process will be consummated - (1 Corinthians 15:23).


Elsewhere in his letters, Paul uses the Greek noun ‘Parousia’ for the “coming” or “arrival” of Jesus. For example, in his first letter to the Thessalonians, he links the resurrection of dead believers to that very day - (1 Thessalonians 4:12-15, 5:23, 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2:8).

Thus, his “arrival” will mean “the end” of the present age, the subjugation of all his enemies, and the termination of Death itself. The latter is the “last enemy” that must be destroyed. Only then will Jesus deliver the "Kingdom of God” to his Father, and after that, God will be “all in all” forevermore - (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).

Paul’s purpose is not to present all the details and chronological markers related to the return of Jesus. Specific subjects are introduced in support of his main argument for the bodily resurrection of believers.

Jesus was raised as the “first fruits” of them who “sleep.” Logically, therefore, dead believers who “sleep” will participate in the same kind of resurrection that he did, though only at the proper time. In the conclusion of his argument, Paul returns to the resurrection and the end of death:

  • (1 Corinthians 15:51-58) - “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed… During the last trumpet, for it shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

The end of death will coincide with the “arrival” of Jesus at the end of the age and with the resurrection of the dead. That day will mark the final and complete overthrow of all God’s enemies and the consummation of His rule. After that, there will be no more enemies to conquer, therefore, DEATH WILL BE NO MORE.

But the bodily resurrection does not mean the resuscitation of dead corpses. Instead, our mortal bodies will be TRANSFORMED INTO ANOTHER KIND OF BODY.

The resurrection will produce bodies geared for life in the Spirit, bodies that no longer are subject to disease, decay, or death. The irrefutable evidence for this is the glorified body of Jesus. This means that life in the future age will be AN EMBODIED EXISTENCE, not life in a disembodied state - (1 Corinthians 15:35-50).

The “mystery” revealed by Paul is that the disciples of Jesus who remain alive when he returns will be physically transformed. They will not experience death before their transformation. The Assembly’s hope rests on the belief in the future resurrection and life in the New Creation, and in that new reality, death will cease forever.




Salvation for All Nations

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