Wednesday, April 27, 2011

2 Thessalonians 2:1-3

Received my copy of BIB-SAC (Bibliotheca Sacra) today, which I have subscribed to for around 40 years and in my opinion is the best Theological Journal available. This issue has a study by David Dean on 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3. He makes 5 points that are to be assumed by anyone studying this passage.

  • First, Paul had instructed the Thessalonians on endtime chronology during his stay in Thessalonica before he wrote 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and his teaching must have included the timing of the rapture with respect to the Second coming as well as the events he mentioned in 2:3-12.
  • Second, a false report of some sort, purportedly form or through Paul, had let the Thessalonians to believe that the endtime sequence had begun, and that they were already in the Day of the Lord.
  • Third, the Thessalonians’ problem was not that they had misunderstood Paul’s teaching on the endtime sequence or had failed to learn it.
  • Fourth, the false report was plausible enough to the Thessalonians to raise their concerns that it might be true, though they obviously saw some dissonance between their expectations, their experience, and the report.
  • Fifth, Paul’s response in 2 Thessalonians contains sufficient information to correct the confusion of the Thessalonians. To suggest otherwise impugns the effectiveness and sufficiency of Scripture.
"Does 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 Exclude the Pretribulational Rapture?"
BIBLOTHECA SACRA, 168 (April-June 2011): 196-216.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


  • The Living Stone on which we build (1 Peter 2:5)
  • The Living Bread on which we feed (John 6:51)
  • The Living Way by which we draw near (Hebrews 10:20)
  • The Living Priest through Whom we worship (Hebrews 9:11)
  • The Living Hope for which we wait (1 Peter 1:3)



1 CORINTHIANS 15:35-58

In dealing with the great subjection of the resurrection, Paul has shown its validity (1 Cor. 15:1-11) and its importance (15:12-34). Now Paul turns to the nature of the believers resurrection body. He begins by anticipating questions from the opponents: “But someone will say, How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?” (15:35). They rejected the idea of a physical bodily resurrection. They may have been turning the doctrine into ridicule. Their questions concerned “how” could it be? And “what kind” of body would it be? Paul calls them “foolish” but endeavors to answer the questions. The Apostle Paul answers the two objections by explaining what will happen to those who have died and their relationship to those who have not passed through death at the time of the event (15:50-53), reminding the readers that both will have victorious bodies (15:54-58).


Analogies from Nature (15:35-44).

Paul begins his answer with three analogies from nature and creation. He used these to show the reality and characteristics of the resurrected body.

  • The Analogy of the Seed (15:36-38).

I live in farm country, and every farmer knows the truth that a seed produces life and bears fruit. Paul uses this analogy as a strong rebuke to those who do not believe in the resurrection. The word “thou” in verse 36 is emphatic, hence it could be rendered “you yourself.” It denotes that their own experience is sufficient, teaching them the reality of resurrection. Their own act of sowing seed gives the answer to how. Nature itself provides the answer about the resurrection.  First, death takes place; however, death itself does not trigger resurrection. The seed does not sprout just because it appears dead. Certain conditions (it must be planted, watered, tilled, etc), must take place before the seed sprouts into a new life form. Second, there is a relationship between the seed and the plant, although they are not identical; but each is recognizable. What went into the ground is not what comes out of the ground. Wheat is sown as seed and comes out a stalk of wheat. What comes out is related to what went in, but what comes out is the result of what went in. The same will be true of the resurrected body.

  • The Analogy of Different Kinds of Flesh (15:39).

This analogy involves the various kinds of flesh found in forms of life. Man’s flesh is different from that of the animals; the flesh of animals also differs from one another. This analogy is to the difference in the flesh of the resurrected body. Lenski notes of this analogy: “In creation God was not restricted to one kind of flesh; how can he then be restricted in the resurrection? The human body which we bury shall rise again; but although it remains the very same body, it will appear wonderfully different in the resurrection” (1 and 2 CORINTHIANS, 708).

  • The Analogy of Different Kinds of Flesh (15:40-41).

This analogy takes us to differences in the glory of the universe. The emphasis is one of the aspects of glory. The earth has a different glory from that of the heavenly bodies. Likewise in resurrection, the resurrected will have a different glory than that of the earthly or natural body. Vine comments about the differences in glory: “The point in all this is not that there will be differing degrees of glory in the bodies of the saints in the resurrection; but that God, Who has arranged all things in nature in the differing degrees of glory, has the power to bring about the state bodies of believers. Differences in degrees of glory in their glorified bodies is not in view” (1 CORINTHIANS, 219).

The Contrast Between the Natural and Resurrected Bodies (15:45-49).

From these three analogies we see that the resurrection is related to the natural body: that it will be consistent with the principles of creation, but different from the natural body. Now Paul goes no to explain the differences by contrasting the natural body with the resurrected body. Note the correlation between these contrasts and the analogy of the seed above. “It is sown…it is raised” are found four times in these verses. Like a seed, the natural bodies of saints are sown in the ground, but at the appointed time they are raised with a resurrected body.

The contrasts are between:

  • Corruption and Incorruption (15:42).

The natural body is sown in corruption. The Greek word translated corruption is phtheiro, signifying the destruction by corruption. Creation is enslaved to this condition (Romans 8:21). This corruption is evident in burial. The body begins to break down, decay and return to dust. However, it will be raised in incorruption, never to break down or decay again. It will be imperishable.
  • Dishonor and Glory (15:43).

The term dishonor has nothing to do with how we treat the body in burial; rather, as Hodge says, dishonor means “despoiled of the short-lived attractiveness which it had with living” (1 CORINTHIANS, 347). The contrast of the word dishonor is by the word “glory,” not honor. The resurrected body will manifest great glory (Romans 8:18-23). It will be fashioned like His glorious body (Phil. 3:21).

  • Weakness and Power (15:43).

The body lives in weakness, climaxing in the weakest of all conditions, death. It ends totally without strength, but is raised in power. The Greek word is dynamei, denoting inherent capability and ability to perform. It is distinguished from exousia, which has to do with the right to exercise power. “The resurrection body will have an eternal self-sufficiency within it decreed by God” (Robert Gromacki, CALLED TO BE SAINTS, 194)

  • Natural and Spiritual (15:44).

The Greek word translated natural is psuchikos, meaning belonging to the psuche, soul. Vine says it could be translated “soul-governed” (1 CORINTHIANS, 219). The body is governed by the soul and its laws. This soul-governed body will be raised a “spiritual” body. A spiritual body is governed and controlled by the spirit. The distinction is important. The Greeks believed that there was a difference between a corruptible body and an incorruptible soul. Paul in this contrast shows the real difference was between the natural and the spiritual, not the body and the soul. Paul makes clear that the spiritual body is real, as real as the soul-governed body. The soul-governed body dies, it is raised a spiritual body.

  • The First and the Last Adam (15:45-49).

Paul contrasted the two headships. The “first” Adam represents the natural body; the “last” Adam [Christ] represents the resurrection body. Adam became a living soul by the breath of God into lifeless dust (Gen. 2:7). He came from the earth. By the original creation He received a “natural body.” In contrast, Christ, the last Adam, by resurrection “became a life-giving spirit.” Christ received a spiritual resurrected body. We will also.

Paul concludes this contrast with the principle of reproduction; like produces like (15:48-49). The descendants of the first Adam have natural, earthly bodies. The descendants of the last Adam will have glorified resurrected bodies. Believers will ultimately be like the last Adam [Christ] (1 John 3:2). Christ’s resurrection guarantees that all believers will bear “the image of the heavenly” (Phil. 3:30-31). Identification does not mean we will become twins of Christ, it means we will have heavenly characteristics like Christ. Our body will be spiritual, however we will not look like Christ, we will have our personal identities.  Christ kept his personal identity after His resurrection. His spiritual body had the identity of his earthly body—it had the distinct personality of Christ, even the physical marks (wounds in his hands) of the body. His was completely recognizable, as we will be.

Our resurrected bodies will be spiritual, incorruptible, of glory and power. They will be like His glorious body.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


1 CORINTHIANS 15:29-34

Now Paul draws on the truth of the resurrection to show that there are practical effects from this truth. The resurrection motivates. A careful study of these verses shows how certain Corinthian’s are motivated by the resurrection.

  • It motivated extreme positions (15:29)

    This verse has caused confusion to Bible students, and still does. One commentator reports that up to 200 explanations have been given on this verse. Most have tied it in some way to the practice of water baptism in some symbolic sense. The natural reading of the text points to an actual practice, although the exact identification of this practice is still uncertain. Some have taken the word dead as symbolic as well. However the word dead is used at lease 13 times in this chapter, and always refers to physical death. There was no known practice of vicarious baptism in the church until the second century and it is associated chiefly with heretical sects. Lowery points out that vicarious practices were known in the mystery religions of the time. He points out that across the Saronic Gulf, in Eleusis, mystery religions held to baptisms for hope in the life hereafter. He concludes that: “given the Corinthian propensity for distortion in matters of church practice (cf. 11:2-14:40), it was likely that some in Corinth (possibly influence by the Eleusinian mystery religion) were propounding a false view of baptism which Paul took up and used as an argument against those who denied the resurrection.” (BIBLE KNOWLEDGE COMMENTARY, 544).  

While no explanation is completely satisfactory, this view does satisfy the natural wording of the text. Take careful note of the word “those” in the text. It implies a different group than those he is writing to. It also shows that Paul separates himself from the practice. Paul in no way associates his readers or himself with this group. Paul’s aim is simply to indicate that they could not practice such a false doctrine if there were no resurrection. He is indicating this is a distortion of the truth.  If there were no resurrection why would they practice such a thing? This extreme view is fostered upon a truism. Truth misapplied becomes false doctrine and can lead to extreme positions.

  • It motivated Christian service (15:30-32).

It was because of the resurrection that Paul served. Note the emphasis on the words “we” and “I” in these verses. They are in sharp contrast to the “they” of verse 29.

In these verses Paul is pointing to himself to show the conviction that the hope of resurrection provides. It motivates him to serve in spite of dangerous circumstances. The resurrection motivates endurance, in spite of hardships, dangers, and even death itself.  If the resurrection is true, why would we fear? The resurrection is the assurance of life beyond death.

  • It motivates us to Holiness (15:33-34).

On the basis of the resurrection, Paul exhorts the believers to live life to the fullest in righteousness.  This exhortation is twofold:

1.      Be not deceived.” Denial of the resurrection brings deception. It deceives us to think only of the now. The word for deceived is planasthe, meaning to wander astray. When we get our eyes off the hope of the resurrection, we can be deceived and led astray so easily. Connected with this exhortation is the maxim: “Bad company corrupts good morals” (15:33). This is an acceptable maxim and true—bad company will lead stray. It has a deceptive effect. Inherent in this exhortation is the idea of separation from evil influences.
2.      Awake to righteousness, and sin not” (15:34). The word “awake” is aorist tense meaning to wake up now. It must be done. Second, “sin not” is present tense, meaning do not continue to sin. The two go together; they coexist. The result of not doing both is useless. The result is the lack of effective witness.

The denial of the resurrection produces sinfulness and prevents righteousness. The truth of the resurrection leads to holiness and negates sin. The truth of the resurrection is practical and important in effective everyday living.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Bible tells us that in this life and world there is no such thing as final security apart from the message of the gospel.

So if we are relying for our final, ultimate happiness upon anybody or anything in this world alone, then we are certain to be disappointed. If our quietness of heart depends--oh, let me put it with almost brutal realism--if we are depending for happiness and joy and a quiet heart, in a final sense, upon any individual human being, upon our family, our home, our profession, our money, our health and strength, we are doomed to experience disappointment.

Every one of these things one day will be taken from us.
--Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled (Crossway, 2009), 68