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23 and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.(A)

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29 [a]For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.(A)

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Footnotes

  1. 8:29 Image: while man and woman were originally created in God’s image (Gn 1:26–27), it is through baptism into Christ, the image of God (2 Cor 4:4; Col 1:15), that we are renewed according to the image of the Creator (Col 3:10).

42 [a]So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible. 43 It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious. It is sown weak; it is raised powerful.(A) 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one.

45 So, too, it is written, “The first man, Adam,[b] became a living being,” the last Adam a life-giving spirit.(B) 46 But the spiritual was not first; rather the natural and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, earthly; the second man, from heaven. 48 As was the earthly one, so also are the earthly, and as is the heavenly one, so also are the heavenly. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image[c] of the heavenly one.(C)

The Resurrection Event. 50 [d]This I declare, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does corruption[e] inherit incorruption.(D) 51 [f]Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed,(E) 52 in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.(F) 53 For that which is corruptible must clothe itself with incorruptibility, and that which is mortal must clothe itself with immortality.(G) 54 [g]And when this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility and this which is mortal clothes itself with immortality, then the word that is written shall come about:(H)

“Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”(I)

56 The sting of death is sin,[h] and the power of sin is the law.(J) 57 But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.(K)

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Footnotes

  1. 15:42–44 The principles of qualitative difference before and after death (1 Cor 15:36–38) and of diversity on different levels of creation (1 Cor 15:39–41) are now applied to the human body. Before: a body animated by a lower, natural life-principle (psychē) and endowed with the properties of natural existence (corruptibility, lack of glory, weakness). After: a body animated by a higher life-principle (pneuma; cf. 1 Cor 15:45) and endowed with other qualities (incorruptibility, glory, power, spirituality), which are properties of God himself.
  2. 15:45 The analogy of the first man, Adam, is introduced by a citation from Gn 2:7. Paul alters the text slightly, adding the adjective first, and translating the Hebrew ’ādām twice, so as to give it its value both as a common noun (man) and as a proper name (Adam). 1 Cor 15:45b then specifies similarities and differences between the two Adams. The last Adam, Christ (cf. 1 Cor 15:21–22) has become a…spirit (pneuma), a life-principle transcendent with respect to the natural soul (psychē) of the first Adam (on the terminology here, cf. note on 1 Cor 3:1). Further, he is not just alive, but life-giving, a source of life for others.
  3. 15:49 We shall also bear the image: although it has less manuscript support, this reading better fits the context’s emphasis on futurity and the transforming action of God; on future transformation as conformity to the image of the Son, cf. Rom 8:29; Phil 3:21. The majority reading, “let us bear the image,” suggests that the image of the heavenly man is already present and exhorts us to conform to it.
  4. 15:50–57 These verses, an answer to the first question of 1 Cor 15:35, explain theologically how the change of properties from one image to another will take place: God has the power to transform, and he will exercise it.
  5. 15:50–53 Flesh and blood…corruption: living persons and the corpses of the dead, respectively. In both cases, the gulf between creatures and God is too wide to be bridged unless God himself transforms us.
  6. 15:51–52 A mystery: the last moment in God’s plan is disclosed; cf. notes on 1 Cor 2:1, 7–10a. The final trumpet and the awakening of the dead are stock details of the apocalyptic scenario. We shall not all fall asleep: Paul expected that some of his contemporaries might still be alive at Christ’s return; after the death of Paul and his whole generation, copyists altered this statement in various ways. We will all be changed: the statement extends to all Christians, for Paul is not directly speaking about anyone else. Whether they have died before the end or happen still to be alive, all must be transformed.
  7. 15:54–55 Death is swallowed up in victory: scripture itself predicts death’s overthrow. O death: in his prophetic vision Paul may be making Hosea’s words his own, or imagining this cry of triumph on the lips of the risen church.
  8. 15:56 The sting of death is sin: an explanation of Hosea’s metaphor. Death, scorpion-like, is equipped with a sting, sin, by which it injects its poison. Christ defeats sin, the cause of death (Gn 3:19; Rom 5:12).

18 [a]All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.(A)

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Footnotes

  1. 3:18 Another application of the veil image. All of us…with unveiled face: Christians (Israelites from whom the veil has been removed) are like Moses, standing in God’s presence, beholding and reflecting his glory. Gazing: the verb may also be translated “contemplating as in a mirror”; 2 Cor 4:6 would suggest that the mirror is Christ himself. Are being transformed: elsewhere Paul speaks of transformation, conformity to Jesus, God’s image, as a reality of the end time, and even 2 Cor 3:12 speaks of the glory as an object of hope. But the life-giving Spirit, the distinctive gift of the new covenant, is already present in the community (cf. 2 Cor 1:22, the “first installment”), and the process of transformation has already begun. Into the same image: into the image of God, which is Christ (2 Cor 4:4).

Chapter 5

Our Future Destiny. (A)For we know that if our earthly dwelling,[a] a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven. [b]For in this tent we groan, longing to be further clothed with our heavenly habitation(B) if indeed, when we have taken it off,[c] we shall not be found naked. For while we are in this tent we groan and are weighed down, because we do not wish to be unclothed[d] but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.(C) Now the one who has prepared us for this very thing is God,(D) who has given us the Spirit as a first installment.[e]

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Footnotes

  1. 5:1 Our earthly dwelling: the same contrast is restated in the imagery of a dwelling. The language recalls Jesus’ saying about the destruction of the temple and the construction of another building not made with hands (Mk 14:58), a prediction later applied to Jesus’ own body (Jn 2:20).
  2. 5:2–5 2 Cor 5:2–3 and 4 are largely parallel in structure. We groan, longing: see note on 2 Cor 5:5. Clothed with our heavenly habitation: Paul mixes his metaphors, adding the image of the garment to that of the building. Further clothed: the verb means strictly “to put one garment on over another.” Paul may desire to put the resurrection body on over his mortal body, without dying; 2 Cor 5:2, 4 permit this meaning but do not impose it. Or perhaps he imagines the resurrection body as a garment put on over the Christ-garment first received in baptism (Gal 3:27) and preserved by moral behavior (Rom 13:12–14; Col 3:12; cf. Mt 22:11–13). Some support for this interpretation may be found in the context; cf. the references to baptism (2 Cor 5:5), to judgment according to works (2 Cor 5:10), and to present renewal (2 Cor 4:16), an idea elsewhere combined with the image of “putting on” a new nature (Eph 4:22–24; Col 3:1–5, 9–10).
  3. 5:3 When we have taken it off: the majority of witnesses read “when we have put it on,” i.e., when we have been clothed (in the resurrection body), then we shall not be without a body (naked). This seems mere tautology, though some understand it to mean: whether we are “found” (by God at the judgment) clothed or naked depends upon whether we have preserved or lost our original investiture in Christ (cf. the previous note). In this case to “put it on” does not refer to the resurrection body, but to keeping intact the Christ-garment of baptism. The translation follows the western reading (Codex Bezae, Tertullian), the sense of which is clear: to “take it off” is to shed our mortal body in death, after which we shall be clothed in the resurrection body and hence not “naked” (cf. 1 Cor 15:51–53).
  4. 5:4 We do not wish to be unclothed: a clear allusion to physical death (2 Cor 4:16; 5:1). Unlike the Greeks, who found dissolution of the body desirable (cf. Socrates), Paul has a Jewish horror of it. He seems to be thinking of the “intermediate period,” an interval between death and resurrection. Swallowed up by life: cf. 1 Cor 15:54.
  5. 5:5 God has created us for resurrected bodily life and already prepares us for it by the gift of the Spirit in baptism. The Spirit as a first installment: the striking parallel to 2 Cor 5:1–5 in Rom 8:17–30 describes Christians who have received the “firstfruits” (cf. “first installment” here) of the Spirit as “groaning” (cf. 2 Cor 5:2, 4 here) for the resurrection, the complete redemption of their bodies. In place of clothing and building, Rom 8 uses other images for the resurrection: adoption and conformity to the image of the Son.

27 [a]for “he subjected everything under his feet.”(A) But when it says that everything has been subjected, it is clear that it excludes the one who subjected everything to him. 28 When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will [also] be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.(B)

Practical Arguments.[b]

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Footnotes

  1. 15:27b–28 The one who subjected everything to him: the Father is the ultimate agent in the drama, and the final end of the process, to whom the Son and everything else is ordered (24, 28). That God may be all in all: his reign is a dynamic exercise of creative power, an outpouring of life and energy through the universe, with no further resistance. This is the supremely positive meaning of “subjection”: that God may fully be God.
  2. 15:29–34 Paul concludes his treatment of logical inconsistencies with a listing of miscellaneous Christian practices that would be meaningless if the resurrection were not a fact.

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