O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
Now for that post script I see there are questions regarding the Corporate and Individual Body usage in scripture. I wrote this little excerpt about 5 years ago in response to the same questions Ed brings up and is being discussed. I’m going to add a little more at the end to “flesh” it out just a tad more.
Subject: Re: The Resurrection: Corporate or Individual
As I have stated earlier I believe it is imperative that when introducing the “body” corporate understanding that we first define it in a manner that people can get their heads around and then venture further.
When we talk “corporate” we should all understand the corporate meaning of the “body of Christ”. It is a group description that most of us should comprehend the meaning of. We know that the individual enters into the “body” through faith and therefore belong to the “corporate body of Christ”.
Next we have the “body of death”. What is the difference? It is simply the covenant body which finds its origins in Adam and his failure to obey God’s first Covenant command. How do you get into that body? Well it is because we sin, we are no better at perfection than Adam was and so all men are under the condemnation of the “body of death” even those who do not sin in the same manner as Adam did.
So how does that translate into a “corporate rising”? It means that the corporate body of death could not enter into the presence of God and thus we have the entire Old righteous not able to enter into God’s presence and therefore remained in the Hadean realm, this is the essence of the “Hope of Israel” that Paul often alludes to. Now when Christ comes along and atones for Sin at the Cross and is resurrected he paves the way for those Old worthies and the rest to enter into God’s presence through His “body” at the Parousia.
This is what Paul is stating in Romans 7: 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
I had always previously taken this as a personal description of Paul concerning his own physical body and it never dawned on me to read the previous 3 chapters for the proper context. Let’s see if we can pick up the body of death somewhere previously.
Rom 6:5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
Paul here talks about the body of sin which is Adamic death previously discussed in Rom 5 and he starts applying the “body” metaphor which becomes a theme throughout his writings. We sometime miss it though as the language seems to be more individual than collective because of our cultural understanding. Take a look here in Philippians though and notice the continued trend of Paul in using the “body” language.
Phi 3: 21 who shall transform the body of our humiliation to its becoming conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working of his power, even to subject to himself the all things.
It appears that Paul is continuing to teach the body metaphor. The body of our humiliation is the old sinful “body of death” while the body of his glory can be none other than the “body of Christ”. If Paul’s audience were familiar with his meaning of “body” which I believe they were because of his teaching them over time they would not readily read “body” in the same manner that we do as they would have had the contextual understanding from Paul already explained..
Notice the similarity of Paul’s language below in 1 Cor 15 verse 43
“The body that is sown… is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power”
and compare it to the above verse from Phi 3:21 and take note of the similar words used. Humiliation, dishonor, weakness describing the body of death and glory, and power for the body of Christ. This helps us set the context for both locations as discussing the same aspects of the body.
“shall transform the body of our humiliation to its becoming conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working of his power”
1 Cor 15: 42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.
One of the problems that we should recognize with trying to individualize and personalize the body description in 1 Cor 15 is that the Bible speaks toward the group “corporate” body related to Adam. Adam comes into discussion because the “body of death” originated with him (Rom 5and 1 Cor 15:48-49) and its casting away is through Christ. This goes the same for the discussion in 2 Cor 5 where it sounds like it is discussing the individual personal body but when you read it with the plural meaning that Paul uses it also makes sense contextually with Paul’s collective meaning. We naturally are inclined to default to reading it in a personal individual understanding of body as that seems the obvious plain meaning but as Preterist we should be the first to recognize that the plain literal meaning many times bears further investigation.
Notice the collective language describing Adam and Christ in 1 Cor 15: 48 As was the earthly man, (Adam) so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven (Christ), so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.
I believe these two above verses are indisputable proof that the discussion in 1 Cor 15 are of the collective body of death through Adam and the collective body of Christ.
One of the problems that Kurt mentioned in his talk was a problem that he had with people who think we are in Heaven now. What Kurt is missing IMO is that when people sometimes have said this in the past their language was an eternal meaning more than an actual living presence in the dimension of Heaven? But having said that there are those who do misstate the implications and I agree somewhat with Kurt that the removal of the body of Death is also a legal process. What I believe happened at the Parousia was our final adoption (legal) fully back into God’s presence which was lost through Adam. It was simply as it happened when Adam ate and had an eye opening experience (legal) and not a physical happening. It is the same according to Paul who in 1 Cor 15 says the mystery would be those living would be changed in a “twinkling of an eye” (Legal). So those today that enter into the “body of Christ” do not have a physical change but enter a legal and covenantal standing through the “body of Christ”.
What we do need to understand though is that in a covenantal corporate understanding is that we have no legal recourse outside of Christ. Faith is required to enter into legal standing and I believe like Kurt that one can remove oneself from that legal standing in Christ. Now it also needs to be stated that we cannot be removed arbitrarily and we need to walk in a righteous manner. We surely though do not want to reinstate the Law and its methods by developing a new works system which we in the churches of Christ have sometimes done. This opens up another whole new discussion though for another time.
I hope this helps some that may be wondering about what the “corporate body” discussion is all about. I’m putting this out here for discussion realizing that some may disagree and some may have better explanations. I want to put forth my thoughts though so that they can be refined by the fire of examination. I want to improve my presentation and would solicit any and all that believe they may have thoughts or scriptures that serve better in presenting this information. I’m hoping to refine it for those who are even less sophisticated than our groups so please do not hesitate in offering suggestions, corrections and improvements.
I think we also need to keep in mind that Hebrews 11 includes the OT worthies past Abraham and back to Abel in the discussion of those who by faith are to be included in the resurrected body of Christ.
Heb 11:39-40 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
The Body of Christ is inclusive of those of faith from Adam and Abraham through Christ and encompasses those of faith in God; age enduring. So not only was the Body of Christ occurring during the 40 year new exodus of God’s people but it reached back covering those from the beginning and surely reaches forward eternally as well.
Now a word about Adam’s sin that lead to the “sin death”. Paul presents a concept that often goes unnoticed in Romans 5 and 7. It is the statement that “sin is not imputed when there is no Law”. There is only one place in the Biblical story where this could have occurred and that was when Adam was originally placed in the Garden and walked with God. Paul starts the discussion about Adam in Chp 5 but he picks it back up in Chp 7 when Paul says “I was alive apart from the law”.
Rom 5:13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
Rom 7:8-10 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.
We should realize that Paul contextualizes this statement back in Chp 5 when he says that
(Rom 5:14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam).
So we know that there was never a time when Paul could have been alive and under covenant with God. So Paul as some scholars have noted is speaking as the “Body of Adam” and anthropomorphizing that condition. What this means is that Paul is laying the foundation why the “Law” was the problem for the Jews and it had to go. Paul examines the Adam story for us from his Jewish perspective. It also means that “sin” was in the world of Adam even in the Garden before the “fall” which indicates that sin is a human condition of mortal man and that the Garden walk with God should have left the faithful like Adam/Israel without their natural sin being imputed. However it was “the specific sin” of the Law that brought “sin death” not our natural sin nature (because all men sin). The Law was the culprit and ruined the Garden idea for faithful communion with God. Get rid of the Law and our natural sin nature is not attributed to us of faith. This is Exactly what being in Christ does for the OT worthies of Heb 11 and the first century Christians of the new exodus and those living in the everlasting Sabbath Rest of God, age enduring.