Why does God do what He does at any time and in any situation? While we might wish we had access to His unsearchable judgments and inscrutable ways in order to answer this question, we are at least privy to know from Scripture that God seeks in all things to bring glory to Himself. We ascribe “to him…to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord…glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever” (Jude 24–25).
And not only does God seek that there would be glory to Himself at any time, but the ages also lead to a climax in which He receives the greatest expression of glory that there has ever been. We find something of this progression in 1 Corinthians 15:20–28. In addressing the topic of the resurrection, Paul concludes that it is necessary, if for no other reason, “that God may be all in all” (1 Cor 15:28).
Getting at the passage itself, in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul addresses a number of misunderstandings concerning the resurrection. At the outset of his remarks, Paul reminded the Corinthians of the gospel he preached them, which included the essential reality that Christ “was raised on the third day” (1 Cor 15:4; cf. 15:1–11).
Paul then moved from Christ’s resurrection to the resurrection of man and asked, “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” (1 Cor 15:12). Paul went on to explain that to deny the resurrection of man would mean to deny the resurrection of Christ as well, which makes for a hopeless gospel (cf. 1 Cor 15:12–19).
Paul then gave a comprehensive teaching on the resurrection of dead in 1 Cor 15:20–28 in order to fully refute the claim by some that there was no resurrection at all (cf. 1 Cor 15:12). In this passage, Paul’s teaching on the resurrection in this passage could be summarized in three statement. First, resurrection comes to all believers because of the resurrection of Christ (1 Cor 15:20–22). Second, the resurrection for all mankind comes in stages (1 Cor 15:23–24a). Third, the resurrection is necessary in order for God the Father to be fully glorified (15:24b–28).
The goal of this study is to explain the teaching of 1 Cor 15:20–28 in detail, handle dispensational-theological questions that arise along the way, and show that, just as it is with the eschatological resurrections and events that Paul mentions in this passage, so it is with every age—that God has planned for all of these things to work together in such a way that He may eventually be glorified in every way—or as Paul puts it, “that God may be all in all” (1 Cor 15:28).