“That God May Be All In All”: 1 Corinthians 15:20–28 – Part 9

So far, we have seen Paul declare that the Corinthians will indeed be resurrected and made alive in Christ (1 Cor 15:20–22). Paul then described the first two orders of the resurrection as Christ the firstfruits and and believers who will be resurrected at His coming (1 Cor 15:23). Finally, there will be those who are resurrected at “the end,” those who do not belong to Christ (1 Cor 15:24a). This resurrection of unbelievers takes place alongside two other events that end the ages (15:24b–28a).

First, unbelievers are resurrected from the dead “when” Christ “delivers the kingdom to God the Father” (1 Cor 15:24). If this passage allows us to say anything of the timing of the kingdom of Christ, it certainly speaks to its end. What is not mentioned is its beginning.

Nonetheless, we do know that this kingdom is the mediatorial kingdom, a kingdom in which the Father rules through a mediator (Christ). This is not the universal kingdom over which the Father always has been, is, and will be King. Being yet future, this kingdom’s beginning is at the descent of Christ when He takes His throne and expels His enemies (Matt 25:31; Rev 3:21). Though there is this initial ridding of His enemies, as the kingdom progresses, enemies arise again in the end. Those who have survived the Tribulation enter the kingdom in their nonglorified bodies. Children are born to these believers (cf. Isa 65:20), multiplication continues, and many of those born during the kingdom never believe and follow Satan after his release from the abyss (Rev 20:7–8). Then, finally, Christ will rid the earth of His enemies once and for all (Rev 20:9–10). Then comes the resurrection of unbelievers at “the end” (1 Cor 15:24a; cf. Rev 20:11–15) and the end of “the kingdom” of Christ (1 Cor 15:24b).

Having said this, we have begun to explain the next of our two events, the destruction of God’s enemies. The delivery of the kingdom comes only “after” Christ’s “destroying every rule and every authority and power” (15:24). If “death” is the last of these “enemies” to be destroyed, then a “rule, authority, and power” seems to include the impersonal and yet anything else that somehow stands as an enemy of God and Christ (15:24–25).

This destruction will take place because Ps 110:1 promises that it will—“He must reign until he [Christ] has put all enemies under His feet” (15:25). “The last enemy to be destroyed is death,” and death must indeed be one of the enemies destroyed because, as Ps 8:6 promises, “God” at this time “has put all things,” death included, “in subjection under His feet” (15:26). The Father is obviously “excepted” from this subjection (15:27). Finally, even “the Son Himself will also be subjected to” the Father “who put all things in subjection under” His Son (15:28).